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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - Self-Improvement [Complete]


Aradia McConnell

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((Note: This fic takes place at some point during the events in Mr Specialist Goes To Washington, specifically after the meeting aboard the Al'Kesh bomber. Unless I find out otherwise in Mr. Specialist that we're gonna be there awhile then it'll be that same evening, about 6 p.m.))

Aradia wasn't exactly sure who to go to at first. I mean, they were all on about the same level, weren't they? All learning to deal with things that no living person had ever dealt with before. All having to learn to improvise and perfect their abilities in their own different ways. The only "advancement" she'd really had that she'd noticed had happened in a moment of crisis, and that wasn't really what she was going for. But finally, sitting in the cafeteria picking at her dinner, inspiration struck. She glanced up and saw Omar walk in, looking intimidating by nature and arrogant as usual. And that's when it hit her - Omar and Kyria, they did know how this works, they weren't floundering in the dark!

She jumped up out of her seat, grabbed her mostly-eaten tray, and hurried past the big man to throw it away. In a pinch he might have done, but Kyria was her teammate. And kind of like your aunt, right? Yikes.. too weird, keep going. And that made her a natural to talk to about this. She paused outside the other Specialist's door, and knocked sharply, hoping she wasn't catching her busy with something else, but hoping she was catching her in, too.

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"C'min." Kyria's voice sounded disctracted but cheerful and when Ari pushed open the door she was greeted by the usual austere surroundings (the Beta site was even less decorated at this point than the SGC) covered in books. The table, however, had been cleared of it's usual share of the library and instead had an odd assorment of items laid out: napkins, rocks, what appeared to be different lengths of metals, a glass tumbler, and a small tree sprouting out of a dirt-filled bowl from the cafeteria.

Kyria looked up from her cross-legged position on the bed and smiled at her friend. "Ari, what's up?" She waved at the materials, "Clear those off if you want and have a seat; I was just practicing a little."

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Kyria bounded up from the bed and tried to pick up the rock, which almost immediately crumbled around her hand. "Um, practice." She dusted her hand off and just pointed to the metal wires.

"Most of those were from old equipment that had been decomissioned and broken down for resuable parts. I swiped the wires from a scrap bin. They're probably thirty or fourty years old." They wires glinted in the artificial light, bright and polished as if they'd been made only a few hours before. "The rock....I made it older. A lot older. So...now it's sand."

She shrugged, still a little uncomfortable with her new abilities but wanting to make the most of them. "Like I said, practicing." She grinned in mostly good humor, "And at least so far no one's yelled at me or accused me of treason or something for doing so. Better reception than I got the first time."

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Aradia furrowed her brows slightly, looking a bit confused. She picked up the wires and turned them over in her fingertips, then looked at Kyria without comprehension. It was then that the young nova remembered that Aradia had arrived at Dec's impromptu reunion long after talk of her new ability had been quietly hushed, and that the young acrobat likely had no clue what was going on. Hell, she'd only met Declan once before he went into observation, she might not have even noticed that there was a change.

"I don't get it - how do you make something older? And if these are old, why do they look so new? Is this some kind of new ability or something?"

The telepath nodded, and Aradia shook her head, looking a little amazed.

"God, we can do some freaky shit, can't we?"

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Kyria quirked a brow at her, "Ari, given enough time, we can do anything. The Watchers were effectively gods. They created anything they wanted, including entire realities, for their own amusements and interests."

She shrugged and slid back onto the bed, one leg tucked underneath her, "That is, if you don't accrue too much taint, or don't get killed by other novas or massive natural disasters or aliens....or whatever. It's not a guarantee, but being a nova means that you truly do have unlimited potential."

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Ari studied her, and then smiled a little crookedly and cleared off a spot on the bed as she spoke, finally climbing onto it and sitting cross-legged across from the other specialist.

"I'll bet I know something you couldn't do, no matter how much time you get. I bet you can't truly ever know how scary and fucked up it feels to be a normal human one day, and somebody with a bunch of crazy super powers you never knew existed the next."

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She grinned back. "You got me there. Closest I ever came was this weird feeling in the vault of one of the Earth's that had been destroyed by an astroid lobbed at it by aliens. I felt...." She trailed off, her eyes going distant for a moment, then shrugged. "I don't even know how to explain it. I felt like most of me was missing."

She regarded her friend, "So, what's up? Is this a girls night invitation or was there something on your mind?"

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"Well.. I guess I was kind of hoping for some help. I mean, you and Omar seem to be the only ones who know how this stuff kind of works, and I was wondering.. well, I guess I was wondering if there's some kind of way to make sure we get it right. Or to make ourselves better at doing stuff. The hummingbird incident.. it was pretty damned embarrassing. And now, you know, I'm gonna have to look just like this guy, and I'm trying to figure out how to make sure I'm doing it right. Do you.. have a way? I mean do you know how we can make ourselves get better at this stuff?"

She tucked a streak of light brown back behind her ear, and tried not to look too self-conscious. What she was asking probably sounded pretty stupid, but she was afraid of screwing this mission up.. the ability to be other things was the only really useful trait she had.

Other than the ability to look pretty while doing somersaults, I guess.

She had to make sure she was perfect at it.

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She blinked and then took a breath, "Well, there were trainers at home and drugs that could dampen or even cancel out a nova's ability to use their powers until they were able to learn control. That's really not an option here, so mostly it's going to be trial and error. Practice and then practice, and then some more practice until you're out of quantum and have to rest for a bit before more practice."

She nodded to the table, "That's what I've been doing. This is the first time I've really had to train my own abilities, but I think it's helping. I'm learning how to control this new power and I think I may have figured out how to do something with my telepathy that I couldn't before. It's still....wobbly, but hey, that's more than I had before."

"As for 'getting it right', other than pushing yourself too hard and getting backlash...taint...there really isn't a 'getting it wrong'. If you want to try and develop a particular power, I'd either focus on it and see if you can stretch your existing powers towards something similar, or practice with someone that already has a similar power so your own q-field can get a 'read' on how to do it yourself."

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"Oh come on, you don't think a giant, flightless hummingbird is a bit of a screw-up?"

She arched a brow at the other woman, looking a bit amused at the situation, now that it was long enough ago for he embarrassment to be a little less fresh. Then she shrugged, studying the other young woman for a long moment before speaking again.

"What about if I try and practice becoming you? I mean, you're different, I can't seem to get you right no matter what I do. Maybe if I practice that then I could get better at normal people.. even if I can't quite get you down. What do you think? Would.. you mind? I've tried off your picture and stuff but.. it's different. Seeing someone in person is different."

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Kyria shrugged and stood up to give Ari an easier time to look her over. "Sure, though if you do get me down, you-as-me and I have to go pay General Oneill a visit."

Her grin was pure girl evil, "I want to see the look on his face when he thinks that there's two of me."

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Aradia laughed then, and nodded.

"That sounds like a deal. But you can totally go back to doing your own stuff if you want, you don't have to just sit there or anything. Maybe watching how you move will help.. who knows."

So she studied the ethereally beautiful nova, as if she was trying to figure out what made her.. her. As if perhaps by studying her expression or the curve of her body or the angle of her cheekbones long enough, she could figure out exactly how to become the other woman, like an artist trying to paint a portrait. Finally, she got to work - though the canvas was her own body, and not any simple sketchbook. Her initial representation, like before, was similar.. but not quite enough. Something about the color of the eyes, or the luminescence of her skin, or perhaps the sheen of her hair.

Aradia/Kyria studied, and shifted, her eyes tilting up a little more or less, the red of her hair shifting from one shade to another, even the shape of her hands adjusting in front of their eyes. At some point she dug around until she found a small hand mirror, so she could study herself in it between tries. A couple times she sat there, unmoving, just watching her for ten or fifteen minutes before even something little would change, and then she'd compare herself in the mirror to the person she was studying in real life.

Finally, about an hour and a half later, she slammed the mirror down against the bedspread (thankfully, the fabric was soft enough to cushion the blow) and let out an exasperated sigh.

"This SO isn't working! I mean, is it like an exercise? Do you get better by doing it over and over and over, and that's it? Cause I don't feel like I'm getting any better - there's just something about you I can't get, and I don't know why!"

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At first Kyria was mildly self-concious about being watched, but as she dove into her own practice she gradually forgot the Aradia was in the room. She nearly jumped out of her skin when the former acrobat burst out in her frustration.

"Well, part of my quantum signature is my looks. When Omar and I first came here we were drained....lessened? This universe seems to have a much weaker quantum field than ours did, so things were less. Anyways, the first bit of time here I looked....I don't know. Different. Less attractive than I am now, so maybe that's what's holding you up. My looks are quantum fueled themselves. Imitating me means you'd need to learn how to express your q-sig that way as well."

She sat down on the bed next to her and grinned helpfully. "Think pretty thoughts?"

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She laughed a little, but it was more ironic than amused. That sounded like her luck - the one thing she really set her mind to in this god-forsaken place and she couldn't do it.

"I don't know if I'm very good at pretty thoughts. I don't really care about pretty, you know? It's not like it gets you anywhere, no matter how well you use it."

She stood up and began to pace slightly, letting out a frustrated sigh.

"Being pretty isn't useful - being good at what you do is. It would figure, the only thing I'm good at and I can't get it right. I spent my whole life trying to be good at something, trying to get it perfect. And now that's useless - completely fuckin' useless! What good is it gonna be to be able to back flip off a trapeze bar while on a mission? It's not useful at all now!"

Her voice had started to take on an aggravated tone, and after a moment she paused, shoving her hands in the pockets of her BDU's, and turned away. After a moment, she kept going, but her voice had become low and angry and bitter.

"I hate feeling useless. I mean, what happens when we're out on one of these missions and I can't do what I'm supposed to do? That giant bird thing wasn't funny, it was humiliating. What if it had been important? You know, really important? What if I got stuck that way? Did you know I got stuck once? Stuck as a fuckin' goldfish, and they had to keep me in that bowl for days because I couldn't focus on anything long enough to figure out how to turn back! That's what not knowing how to do stuff right does for you - it just screws people over! And not just you - you know what happens to people who get screwed by people who aren't perfect at what they do? They get hurt."

She shifted them, from a short young woman with hair streaked different shades of brown, to a taller, thinner woman with long black hair. The BDU's remained, but she lifted the t-shirt and tugged down on the pants to reveal a long, puckered, painful looking scar that wrapped from underneath her bra, down across her stomach and over her hip.

"This is what happened when Mom woke up one morning hung over, even though you're never supposed to drink the night before a show! Krystal has to work the tents now because Mom didn't just drop her, she practically threw her out of the ring. She'll never do acrobatics again."

She shifted again then as she kept talking, first into a woman with dried out blond hair and faded brown eyes, too many wrinkles at the corners of her eyes and age spots on her skin. Then it changed again, into the same woman but filled with beauty, and radiance, and life. It was almost a copy of the picture that Kyria had seen, the one that showed a picture of Aradia's grandmother in it, but with Micheal's eyes and the same curve of the brow.

"This is what useless looks like - you look twenty years older cause you spent so much time drinking and drugging and fucking that your body just couldn't keep up. She could've looked like this instead, but no - she was useless! And if we're out on the field, and I can't look like Vinny-"

She shifted into a perfect replica of their Commander then, cigar and all..

"Or Steve.."

She shifted into their sly-looking teammate, and somehow it looked better than it did the last time she'd tried..

"Or you.."

And this time, when she shifted, it was perfect - the exact shade of crimson-colored hair, and the perfect glint in her frustrated eyes, and that indefinable quantum "something" that made Kyria exact who she was.

"..then I'm gonna get somebody hurt, or even killed, cause I can't do the only thing I'm actually useful for around here just right!!"

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Aradia froze, catching her appearance in the mirror and reaching up to touch her face lightly, fingertips brushing over her cheeks.

"How.. what did.. I thought you said I couldn't do it? That it was tied to your quantum sign, or signature, or whatever?"

The anger seemed to have left her in a rush, and she sunk down onto the bed again across from her mirror image, looking almost amusingly perplexed.

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"Quantumn energies require a focus or long-term temper to make the jumps and leaps that equate to our powers. Apparently anger is a good focus for you. Or frustration."

Kyria reached out a pale hand and brushed a strand of hair from her 'twin's' face. "Remember that I also said that a nova is unlimited potential. That means also that it's different for all of us."

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"So.. what you're saying is that we really can do anything we want, as long as we can figure out what personally we have to do in order to change? That I can use my anger or determination to make changes, but that it might be different for someone else - that something might drive them that's different than what drives me?"

She reached out and touched the mirror lightly, and her features slowly faded back to familiar brown eyes and hair streaked with chunks of light brown. It was different though, somehow permanently altered. Her lips were a touch fuller, her eyes a richer brown, her hair glossier, her eyes a little wider. It may have been more than that, a million different tiny changes, but ultimately, it meant the same thing - Aradia had managed to change her own quantum signature, and was now just a little less human than she had once been. She stared at her own reflection for a moment, looking a bit dazed, before she finally focused on Kyria.

"I still look different. Is it permanent? I mean.. is this what I look like now.. without trying to look like someone else?"

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"Mmhm. This is what you will look like from now on unless you change your signature again or you learn to dorm. Dorming is something some first generation novas can learn to do; it basically turns off your quantumn signature and puts you back how you were as a baseline. I can't dorm, so if you want to learn more about that you'll probably have to talk to Omar. He was a baseline once; I don't know if he knows how to dorm, but he might."

Kyria was smiling at the other girl, happy to have been able to help, however haphazardly.

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Aradia smiled back a little sheepishly, and tucked the other loose strand of hair behind her ear.

"I dunno - it might not be worth it to learn, if it means having to deal with Omar."

She grinned a little then, and offered the other young nova a shrug.

"Thanks for the help. Sorry you had to listen to all that ranting and stuff. I guess I got on a little bit of a tangent there."

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