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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - What Comes Naturally [Fin]


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Aradia had spoken with Captain Wright when they got back from the mission, and he had told her he’d put in a special request. A couple days later she received a mass email from the quartermaster, and with a shout of joy she threw on the swimsuit she had been issue and hurried downstairs. It wasn’t a good leotard, and she wasn’t looking forward to getting gawked at by all the men, but until the one she had ordered online arrived, it would have to do for now. Sure enough, part of the gym had been rearranged and there was a beautiful, shiny new set of uneven parallel bars. There was even a horse and a balance beam, as well as springboards for both. She couldn’t believe her good fortune.

It was mid-evening, and the gym was fairly crowded with people doing their daily exercises. No one was on the new equipment though, and most of the people in the gym were guys who were eyeing the stuff with trepidation. What kind of military gym base housed gymnastics equipment? Aradia didn’t hesitate, however. She warmed up with a few stretches, and walked over to the metal bucket someone had placed near the equipment. She knelt down and dipped her hands in the chalk, then stood up and dusted off the extra with a couple brisk claps. The clapping, more than anything else, drew some attention of nearby weight lifters. One guy set his weights down and murmured something to his buddy, and within a few moments a few of the guys had stopped to watch what they assumed was going to be an enjoyable few moments of some hot chick doing some simple flips on a bar. One of them made a joke about the base having to bring in girly equipment for the civilian personnel, which earned a laugh out of the others. But the laughing didn’t last long.

Aradia had decided to start with the horse as a warm up. She vaulted up, doing a flip off the springboard and skipping the two handles entirely to land balanced with one palm flat on the horse. The men watching weren’t entirely sure what to expect, and there were a couple wolf-whistles and cheers as the new girl’s perfect, muscular posterior were put on display. But even that noise didn’t last long as she began her routine. Exercise machines slowed, and then were turned off. The clanking of weights slowed and then finally silenced.

On the horse, Aradia was oblivious. This routine was for practice, so that she could get used to her element again. It had been months since she’d had the opportunity to anything but floor exercises, and she hoped she hadn’t lost her touch. She closed her eyes at first, so that she could hear the music in her head. And she began. Her movements weren’t exactly like a gymnast’s. They weren’t quick, flowing movements from one thing to the other. It was slow, steady and measured. She lifted herself up into a handstand and for a long moment she held it, her body trembling only slightly from the effort of holding herself up by a single arm. Slowly her legs began to twist, held together as she lowered them slowly to the side, until they were at almost a ninety-degree angle from her waist. That looked like it, it was quite a feat of strength, after all. But she didn’t stop there. She began to contort her legs, not in any unnatural position, but gracefully twisting them at different angles, bent and straight, together and separate. She used her other hand, the one not holding herself up, to pull one leg over and hold it for long moments. Then her legs straightened, and she moved her hand down to the horse.

People let out their breaths slowly, wondering if she was going to lower herself down now. But instead she moved her hand right next to the other, hovering in the air for a moment before she switched, transferring from one hand to the other without ever resting on both hands at once. Out in the crowd, someone dropped a weight they had been holding.

This impressive display continued for what seemed like forever. In truth, she moved, bent, and contorted herself for almost five minutes, unaware of the fact that everyone had stopped to watch. She was lost in it, she felt alive and like she was home, all at once. Her muscles burned from the intensity of holding herself up and she could feel the blood pounding in her head for most of the routine. She stayed balanced the entire time on one hand or another, never supporting her full weight with more than an arm at a time. Finally, she swung herself around and hopped off the vault, glancing around at the silent gym for the first time. She felt a faint flush creep up her cheeks as she realized she had been putting on an impromptu show without realizing it. Nevertheless, she took a sheepish bow, and smiled a bit playfully. What else was there to do, really?

I sure hope they get used to this. It’s going to get awfully annoying to be stared at every time I come to work out.

Click to reveal..
Aradia’s Performance:

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Steve started to clap, almost immediately the other on lookers joined in, but after a few moments the applause died away. As most people started to go back to whatever they were doing before, Steve walked up to Aradia and said,

"Wow, just, wow. You really got a good gift out of the artifact."

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Aradia looked at him for a moment, then laughed slightly and shook her head.

"Wrong, boyo. The artifact doesn't have a thing to do with it. I was an acrobat before I came here! I've been able to do that stuff for years.. not because I touched some stupid artifact. The only thing that I got out of that, that I can tell, is the shape-shifting thing."

She shrugged slightly, and smiled at him.

"Regular people can still do cool shit too, you know."

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Steve looked very surprised and almost stammered, "You, but...".

Then Steve gave a short laugh and added, "OK, I stand corrected, and I'm even more impressed. You're very good, like, better than anyone I've personally met or will in the future. Good by planetary standards if I'm not mistaken."

Steve gave a half apologetic bow and added, "Sorry, I already knew you were a specialist and an attractive woman, adding world class acrobat to the list seemed a little over the top." *When caught off guard, give a compliment, preferably a true one.*

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She laughed and blushed faintly at her attractive teammate's comment, but waved her hand a bit dismissively.

"I dunno about "world class" or anything. It's just all I ever had to do, you know? I was the best in our circus, I know that.. and Richie - he was our ringleader, and the guy who ran everything - used to tell me I was better than my Mom, even in her heyday. That was good enough for me."

Her voice held a bit of malicious glee when she mentioned her mother, but it was gone quickly. She tilted her head and studied him for a minute.

"Hey, you look pretty capable. You mind spotting me on the bars? I haven't been on anything resembling a trapeze in months, and I'm afraid I'm out of practice. You don't have to do much, but if you see me do something where I look like like I've hurt myself you can help me down if I need it. Or, you know, call the ambulance if I make a total idiot out of myself."

She grinned wryly. The chances of the young woman embarrassing herself after that last performance seemed slim, but she seemed serious about wanting his help.

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Steve said, "I'd love too. I'll catch you if you fall." *I get to avoid work while watching the pretty girl. Fun all around. Although if she can shapeshift a broken bone might not be a big deal...* Steve wondered for a moment if she had an additional motive but decided he was good with that too.

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Gwyn had watched the show while keeping up his pace on the treadmill, but had drifted over once he had finished his time.

"Hey Ari, nice moves. You sure you didn't get an agility boost along with the other stuff?"

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She laughed, and shook her head in amusement.

"Yeah.. I'm sure Gwyn. C'mon, you can go watch me embarrass myself on the bars, so I can convince you that it's a regular old talent."

She walked over and dusted her hands off again lightly in the chalk. She didn't need the springboard, so she motioned one of the guys to move it off to the side. Then she stepped up, jumped to a bar, and began to swing.

True to her word, Aradia wasn't quite as fluid on the bars as she had been on the horse. The bars required quicker thought and faster reactions, and it had been awhile since she had gotten to practice those skills. It wasn't that she was bad, really - but it wasn't quite as breathtaking as the horse performance had been. That seemed to frustrate her, and as frustration can often do, it had an effect on her routine. Once or twice her fingers slipped on the bar, and she ended up grabbing with only one hand instead of two, bringing her routine to an abrupt stop.

After a couple times, she dropped down and let out an exasperated breath.

"See? Told you."

She stepped back in front of the bars, and jumped up to try again.

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Gwyn smiles at her as she dismounts, "Ok, so maybe you haven't got any enhanced agility yet. You keep pushing at it like that and it wouldn't surprise me if you develop it."

He pauses briefly before continuing, "Have you considered integrating your powers with your skills? "

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Her talk with Noah had done one thing; it had her considering exercise not as a way to push herself into becoming more physical, but as something that might be a stress-valve. Her own exercises were forgotten as she came into the gym and saw Ari. As usual, the chance to socialize gave her the excuse to put off exercising for a bit longer.

"Hey, girl," she said easily, walking over, eying the equipment. "I haven't seen bars like this since I took those dance lessons in college." She grinned at Aradia, knowing that the woman would remember Olivia telling her about the pole-dancing lessons she'd taken on a dare from Ashley. Olivia had never gotten good at it, but she'd tried.

Her grin became teasing as she asked, "Are you going to teach my teammate how to ride the horse?" She winked at Gwyn, her smile unrepentant.

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Originally Posted By: Aradia McConnell
True to her word, Aradia wasn't quite as fluid on the bars as she had been on the horse. The bars required quicker thought and faster reactions, and it had been awhile since she had gotten to practice those skills. It wasn't that she was bad, really - but it wasn't quite as breathtaking as the horse performance had been. That seemed to frustrate her, and as frustration can often do, it had an effect on her routine. Once or twice her fingers slipped on the bar, and she ended up grabbing with only one hand instead of two, bringing her routine to an abrupt stop.
The first time when Aradia 'almost' slipped Steve realized he'd volunteered to do more than watch. Each time he reached out to catch her or at least try to break her 'fall'.

Quote:
After a couple times, she dropped down and let out an exasperated breath.

"See? Told you."
Steve commented, "Impressive none the less."

At Olivia's enterance and seeming familiarity with Aradia, Steve said, "Hey, you two know each other?" confused

Originally Posted By: Rorx
Gwyn laughed, and grinned back at her as he replied to them both, "Oh I've ridden lots of things in my time, I'd be only too happy for Ari to continue that education."
Steve said under his breath, "Me too." laugh
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At Steve's mutter, Olivia shot him a look that would remove paint. There was only one way to interpret that remark, or that shit-eating grin. She probably shouldn't have heard him, but he remembered that rumor that she could hear anything said on the base. Apparently, he hearing was very good.

"Aradia's like the little sister I never had," Olivia said, smiling tightly.

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Originally Posted By: Olivia Jenings-Izumi
Olivia blinked at her teammate, trying to decide if he'd just made a sexual pun or if she was the one who jumped to a dirty place. "Well, she's a good teacher - she taught me how to do some small tricks several years ago, so she can teach anyone," Olivia said as she recovered and smiled. "You're in good hands, Gwyn."


Gwyn's grin gets broader at Olivia's reply to him, "Oh, I'm sure I am Doc. Perhaps in private she might tell me what tricks she taught you."

He turns more fully to Ari, "So when could you fit me into your training regime?"
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As Livy approached and began to speak, Aradia twisted around on the upper bar, and used her leverage to twist around to a sitting position on the lower, front bar. Then she hopped off, listening to the interplay between other three. She grinned wickedly at Livy's mention of dancing lessons, and nodded to indicate that she remembered. She addressed Steve first, then turned her attention to Gwyn.

"Livy and I go way back.. we've known each other over ten years now? That sounds about right. And I'd be happy to teach anyone who'd like to learn. In public. On the equipment. If you get my drift."

She smirked at Gwyn, and her expression was one of a woman more than used to deflecting lame come-ons.

"I've got plenty of time I guess, they haven't really assigned me to doing anything other than missions so far. Maybe I'm getting time to acclimate.. maybe they figure there's nothing else I'm good at, I dunno. But just lemme know when you've got free time, Gwyn. Now.. just whaddya mean by "power-ups"? I haven't heard anything about that..."

She had a gleam in her eye, as if they'd mentioned winning some kind of jackpot. Olivia recognized that gleam - Gwyn had doomed himself by asking for lessons, because Aradia was a hard teacher. But that's only cause she was twice as hard on herself.. she knew that if the other woman could figure out some way to make herself better at what she did, she'd throw her whole heart and soul into it, no matter the effort it took.

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Gwyn grins back at Ari, "Yes, maam. Well I guess Capt Wright is still getting settled in at the moment. Major Caine has us training in one way or another from breakfast until about 4:30. I usually then go learn some more about alien science and technology until dinner time about 7pm. I guess the best time would have to be after dinner sometime, if that suits you?"

He gets a more serious as he answers Ari's other question, "Power ups? Well I've noticed that since the initial effect of the Artifact there has been further effects. Olivia has gained additional sensory abilities. My flight speed has increased, and I think recently my agility has improved again. So, if you keep training at it there is the chance that you could get an improvement in that area yourself at some stage."

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"That's cool.. it's good to know we can get better at this stuff. And I guess all that makes sense. After dinner sounds fine, Gwyn.. you wanna start today? I can meet you back here about seven thirty?"

She could stay here and work out for now.. maybe they were right. If she worked hard enough, maybe she could get some kind of improvement. Of course, she should probably work on her shape-shifting abilities then.. but the idea of being more agile than she already was was just too appealing not to try.

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Gwyn grins at Olivia. "Well, 'power ups' was your 'little sisters' phrase, you'll have to query her on it. Although I agree it sounds like something from an old arcade game."

Gwyn nods to Ari, "1930? Yeah, that shouldn't be a problem. Any particular kit I'm going to need? You've also avoided one of my earlier questions, have you tried integrating your power with your evident skill? Like seeing how it goes when you've got a prehensile tail, or multiple arms or whatever you cna do with your shapeshifting."

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Aradia thought about it for a minute, then shook her head.

"No.. I guess I never thought about it! That's kinda cool though.. I'll have to give it a thought. And no.. just.. wear normal PT gear, I guess. Stuff you can move in, you know? Besides.. we're kinda like comic book characters if you think about it. Though that's a little weird to consider too. But for Livy's sake, I guess I'll stick to 'improvements'."

She chuckled a little, shooting Livy a playful smile.

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"I'd take lessons, too," Olivia confessed, which was the first time Aradia had heard her express interest in it, "but Caine's assigned me a huge project, and I'm finding that my free time is more limited lately." She smiled at her 'sister'. "Maybe later, though?"

She seemed interested, genuinely. Olivia had never had an issue with the height but about falling and getting hurt. Now there was a willingness to try that hadn't been there before. It was the first really positive change that Aradia had seen in her.

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Originally Posted By: Olivia Jenings-Izumi
At Steve's mutter, Olivia shot him a look that would remove paint. There was only one way to interpret that remark, or that shit-eating grin. She probably shouldn't have heard him, but he remembered that rumor that she could hear anything said on the base. Apparently, he hearing was very good.

"Aradia's like the little sister I never had," Olivia said, smiling tightly.
Steve raised an eye brow, *Hey, I was a perfect gentleman when I was alone with you.*


Originally Posted By: Aradia McConnell
"Livy and I go way back.. we've known each other over ten years now? That sounds about right. And I'd be happy to teach anyone who'd like to learn. In public. On the equipment. If you get my drift."

She smirked at Gwyn, and her expression was one of a woman more than used to deflecting lame come-ons.
Steve slowly, "Actually... I think I'd like to take you up on that. The world has gotten..." Steve struggled for a word, "...something. 'Slower' I guess."
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Aradia shrugged, and nodded at her teammate with a smile.

"Sure.. same bat time, same bat place - I can you'll both be starting on the floor mats anyway so it's not like I can't handle you both at once. After all, you've gotta learn to crawl before you can learn to walk, right?"

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Gwyn nods at Ari's comment, "Oh yeah, you need a solid foundation to develop any skill on. I might have a slight advantage on you, Steve in that some of the martial arts I dabbled with included some floor work. Break falls, rolls, cartwheels, dive rolls, and we were just starting some flips when I moved away."

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Aradia nodded, and waved at Livy as she retreated. Then she turned back to the other guys, and nodded at them.

"Well, then, I'll see you guys after dinner? I'm gonna break in the new equipment for a bit longer, and I'll see you around at seven-thirty, right?"

Time to see just how much effort it's going to take to acquire some "improvements"..

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Gwyn checks his watch, "Ok, I guess if I'm going to eat first I better go do it now, so it has time to settle a bit before we start. I'll see you at 1930 then Ari."

He turns to Steve as he starts to go, "You want to join me?"

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Originally Posted By: Rorx
He turns to Steve as he starts to go, "You want to join me?"
Steve nodded and said, "Oh yeah. I don't know how some people function without food. My hunger at least doubled ever since I went special. How about you?"
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