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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - Help Wanted [Complete]

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(Occurs two mornings after "Secrets and Revelations", about 10:30 a.m.)

Aradia stood outside Major Caine's office, and took a deep breath. She wasn't sure if he was the right person to ask or not - she should probably be asking Vinny, but she had already bothered him yesterday about the restaurant incident. And he didn't necessarily seem like the type to give a shit about this particular situation anyway, so here she was. After all, Caine had offered to help if she needed anything. She she raised a hand, and rapped sharply at his office door.

(Edited for continuity.)

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Caine said,

"Come in."

When he say it was Aradia, he got up and came around his desk. He shook her hand and then leaned on his desk, affecting a casual air.

"What can I do you for Specialist? Is this an SGU matter, or personel?"

He was afraid it was personal and that it was good odds on being Olivia. Hadn't that poor women been through enough?

"Make yourself at ease. What can I do to help?"

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She walked in, and leaned casually against one of his chairs, perching herself on the arm of it.

"Kinda both, Major. You told me to come to you if I had an issue. Well.. I kinda need to know what the party line is, I guess. I need to call my Dad, tell him I'm okay - he hasn't heard from me in six months. He's Air Force too, and he knows me well enough to know - no offense - that you couldn't have recruited me into the military if you dragged me into a one of those places kicking and screaming. I've always been a circus girl, I never had any plans to change, and he knew it. So.. I don't have a clue what to tell him when I call. I mean, if I give him an address for my APO Box to send me shit, he's gonna know.. hell, even my cell phone area code will link him back to this town, and there ain't shit here - pardon my language - except this base. He's an inquisitive kinda guy, you know? And he's gonna be real worried - and pissed - that he hasn't heard from me in over six months. So.. I dunno what to do. I guess I need some advice."

She paused for a second, fidgeting a little before looking up at him.

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Caine sighed inwardly. It wasn't Olivia ... well not directly, though he could see her hand in this somehow, someway. He just didn't know how, yet.

"Tells as much of the truth as you can. You have been recruited into a special project of the United States Air Force. You possess the genetic potential that the government needs to explore for some indefinite time. Maybe a year - maybe five - I can't see anyone being forced to stay here longer than that."

"Tell him you are categorized as a Speicialst and said paygrade and that you have various responsibilites inside the service which include hazard pay and travel. You are given nominal PT as well as course work that better allows you to fullfill your duties. Otherwise, you are covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement."

"Does that about cover it? Is there any other aspect of your work here you feel comfortable talking to him about?"

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Her lips twitched a little in amusement, and she shook her head.

"I guess I can tell him you brought in special PT gear for me, so I could keep in practice with my acrobatics. That'll throw him for a loop. So I can really say that, huh? That I possess genetic potential that you need to explore? I'm surprised that we're allowed to say that much.. isn't that a bit too close to the truth? Can I tell him I'm stationed here, then?"

Inwardly, she was surprised - that was more than she had expected to be allowed to tell people.

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Caine shrugs. She had a point, but the problem was it was like looking up Pizza on the Internet - Genetics were everywhere.

"Genetics are the new fingerprints. Law Enforcement has been using it for a decade. The armed services for two decades. Hospitals are starting to use it on a regular basis now to. When you come in for surgery, to taking fetal cells at birth."

"The best thing about it is you aren't lying. If you didn't have the proper genetic markers, I'm told that you would be dead from that device. Now, mind you, you can't discuss the nature of that genetic potential, or the purpose around the research, so he will just have to imagine."

"This also explains your 'friends' here in the SGC. You can talk about knowing a stock broker and a academic researcher along with doctors and soldiers. We can meet your family if you are so inclined. This way they don't have to have curiousity eating them up about why you know all these people."

"Here in the SGC," cough,"if not the IOA, we are about misdirection, not outright lies. We don't expect our people to be liars, or mute. We hope we give you enough information so that those that care about you know enough to be prepared for whatever happens to you. Don't forget, we are at war and we are on the front lines."

"When your Dad hears 'Hazard Pay' he will know exactly what that means."

"Sorry, don't mean to be a wet blanket."

He said this all so politely that Aradia almost couldn't help herself from being at ease. It made so much sense and it was clearly obvious that he cared about her relationship with her Father.

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She relaxed a little, and smiled at him. He made it all sound so easy, and she could feel some of the anxiety that had been building up for the last week or so ease a bit. She let it, feeling the stress slip away, and nodding slightly. She tilted her head a little at him though, something he had said at first coming back to her.

"Do you really think so? About not holding us longer than that, I mean. You really think we're ever gonna get to go anywhere? I mean.. think about it. I could be anyone or anything I ever wanted. I could walk into a bank and look like anyone to rob it. I could turn into a fly and eavesdrop in the White House. It's gonna be awfully hard to convince me that we're ever gonna be allowed to be anywhere, other than here."

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"I believe that because we are US citizens and I and all members of the Armed Servies are theoretically here to fight for the protection of your right. You aren't contagious. You aren't a threat to yourself or others. You are not a threat to national security - that is what the NDA is for."

"They can declare a state of emergancy, which is what they have basically done, because we are at war, but there is a Constitutional limit to even that. You are capable of saying 'No More' and sitting down. It is hard to justify keeping a soldier who won't fight, didn't volunteer, and wasn't drafted."

He pokes her kiddingly.

"You are a Specialist you know. That is a designation as well as a descriptor of what we are. You are a civilian. You have the right of a lawyer - even if its a JAG officer. You can pursue of case for your emancipation. Aradia, this isn't a prison for anyone, though Omar and Kyria come the closest to feeling that way. They are 'non-entities' as the come from another reality. Hope we never end up there."

"If you want out, I will help you get out. I'm here to help and I mean that."

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"Yeah.. sure Major. Thanks. I appreciate the advice."

She stood up and offered him a salute before heading for the door. Personally, she thought it was a bunch of bull. She shouldn't have to "pursue a case for emancipation". Like he said, she didn't sign up, she wasn't drafted, and she didn't volunteer. But she was pretty sure she'd wind up locked in a cell somewhere before they'd let her pursue a case for anything. Anyone with any intelligence would realize she was too damned dangerous to let go - they all were.

She headed out after she was dismissed and headed back to her room, unsure of what to do now and not really much better off than she was before.

"What a line of shit."

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Finally, she picked up the cell phone and dialed. Even if what Caine had had to say about the rest was total bullshit, the part about what to tell her father was pretty solid, and she couldn't think of anything better anyway. So she took a deep breath and waited, her nervousness building with each ring.

"Jack McConnell."

"Hey Dad."

"Aradia - baby! What the hell happened?! Where have you been?! You dropped off the face of the planet, Markie at the circus didn't know where you went, he said you left everything in your trailer except your purse and you were just gone one morning! I even called your Mother to find out if she knew what the hell had happened?! Are you okay? You're not hurt, are-"

"Whoa, buddy! You want me to answer any of these questions, or you just gonna keep tossin' em at me?"

She tried to make her voice sound playful, so that he would be able to tell that she was okay, and hopefully stem the worrying a bit. Her father was quiet for a moment, then finally he spoke again, his voice sounding a little less frantic.

"Yeah.. yeah, I'm sorry. So.. what happened?"

She took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. This wasn't going to go over well.

"I can't tell you, Dad."

"WHAT?! The hell you can't, you'd better start-"

"Dad, I can't, really. But I can explain."

"Alright then.. start explaining."

"I'm with the government now, Dad."


"No, seriously..."

Aradia spent the next hour basically telling her what Caine had said to say. Her father tried to drill her for more, but in the end he was too much of a military man to not respect an NDA. It took her longer than that to convince him that she was okay there, and that she could handle herself, and for him to rattle off all the advice he could on dealing with military personnel. She finally calmed him down a bit at the end with some surprising news.

"Hey - I've ever got a couple friends here, Dad. You remember Livy, right? You met her once. She's here.. she works here. And her brother Wakiki is moving close by.. to be closer to his sister."

Her father caught the odd note in her voice, and like all fathers, began to hone in with his "Daddy" radar.

"Wakiki, huh? Have I met him before?"

"No, Dad. Just Livy."

"Uh-huh. And you're friends with him?"

"Yeah, Dad.. Waki and I go way back, I went on a road trip with them back when I was fourteen."

"And your Mom allowed that?! Wait - nevermind. It is your mother."


There was a moment of silence, and finally Ari sighed, and flopped back on her bed.

"Okay, Dad - we went on a date! Last night. Happy?"

"Yes!! I kept waiting for you to bring a girlfriend home, I was afraid I was never gonna get any grandkids!"

"Oh my god.. it's one date. We're not talking babies, okay? And what - just cause I don't date you think I'm a lesbo? I mean, that woulda totally been opposite of Mom, but shit, Dad!"

She could hear her father laughing on the other end, and she rolled her eyes.

"Alright, alright.. now you know. I'll keep you posted, okay? And hey.. I'm gonna have Markie ship my shit to you when I call him, so I can pick it up next time I see you, alright? I'll come visit on my next leave or whatever - would you like that?"

"You know I would, baby. And you know what else?"

"What, Dad?"

"Whatever the reason.. and whatever it is you're doing.. if you're doing it for your country, I'm proud of you."

She was quiet for a long moment after that, as she felt the guilt swirl in her stomach and a wave of sadness threatened to overwhelm her. Finally though, she responded quietly, her voice sounding serious, and contemplative.

"Thanks, Dad."

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