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Electra

Walk Softly and Carry a Collapsible Stick (IC)

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Things had finally started settling down after the craziness with Mark's dad, and Erin was glad. It was sad to see her usually irrepressible friend so depressed, but it wasn't like Rick was dead, probably. Things would get better for him eventually, they always seemed to work out that way for Mark. And given what she knew of his lineage, maybe that wasn't so surprising. For her own part, Erin knew things only went well for her when she put a lot of hard work into them, so that's what she was busy doing today. Her acrobatic talents had strengthened significantly through the winter and spring, but she still wasn't quite where she wanted to be. With the Doom Room occupied by a Next Gen training session, it was the perfect time to work in the gym.

Claremont's gym was big enough to be housed in a building all its own, a huge open expanse of floor with everything from a basketball court to wrestling mats to a full set of workout and gymnastics equipment, all ringed by an indoor running track. The high vaulted ceiling allowed for high ropes and trapezes to be hung, along with bars that allowed for jumps and flips far above the floor. Erin worked there often, but today she contented herself with the uneven bars, whipping herself around them like a demented pinwheel, then leaping from one to the other and back again, using hands, feet, elbows, anything she might need to be able to catch herself with one day. A few other students were working out as well, but they all stayed out of each others' way.

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Though she had heard much about the gym from Mr. Summers, much to her regret Eve had been unable to shake loose any free time to pay it a visit. It had been hectic from the moment she arrived in this country, and to be perfectly honest she was a bit stressed. Frazzled even. And for the young Martel, exercise was the best way she knew how to unwind.

Upon entering the gym, Eve could not help but be impressed. It was more than just the size of the gym, which was considerable, but the wide range of equipment that was available for use. "Oh," she thought to herself, a happy little smile on her face, "I am going to love it here." Settling down in her warm-up clothing, Eve started her normal stretching exercises when she noticed the student on the uneven bars. She paused for what she thought was only a moment, watching the other student's movements, unaware of the fact that she was staring.

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Erin was concentrating hard enough on her routine that she didn't notice she was being watched for several seconds, but she was too well-conditioned to ignore it for long. Flipping herself around to look at the mats, she saw one of the new kids, Eve, watching her. She didn't know Eve very well, though they'd been pulled together for the bizarre mission to Mark's-Dad-Earth, but scuttlebutt had it that the new girl was a gymnast, a really good Olympic type one. That was interesting. Erin wondered how training like that would translate into hero work.

Pulling herself up effortlessly by the arms so that she was supported for a moment above the crossbar by nothing but her hands and with her legs straight out, Erin pulled herself into an upright sitting position on the crossbar and looked nonchalantly at Eve. "Hey," she said. She knew Eve could hear, even if she couldn't talk.

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Eve started, suddenly and acutely aware that she had been staring. Her cheeks flushed and an intense wave of chagrin flowed out from her and swept across the length and breadth of the gymnasium. --Oh, hello,-- Eve haltingly replied, --Sorry, I didn't mean to stare. Euh, it was Erin, wasn't it?--

Finishing her stretching while she was speaking to Erin, Eve rose gracefully to her feet, her face still colored with embarrassment. --You move well,-- the telepath offered, --There is a lot of power in your movements. Much like myself, though your frame is a bit larger.--

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The odd sensation of feeling someone else's chagrin made Erin blink, though she was used enough to Alex's occasional mental calls that hearing the psychic in her head was nothing new. 'Sokay," she told the diminutive gymnast, "they wouldn't put bleachers in here if they didn't expect us to be observed sometimes. Better you than Mr. Archer."

She grinned at the comment about their respective frames. She had fifty pounds on Eve if she had an ounce, and probably eight inches in height as well. Eve was tiny, like most of the girls you saw tumbling around on TV. Erin could understand that, half the problems she'd had in learning acrobatic maneuvers was getting her legs the hell out of the way. "Yeah, a little larger," she agreed drolly. "I heard around that you're a serious gymnast. What do you do?"

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--Oh,-- Eve said, making a flicking motion with her hand, --You know; vault, bars, beam, floor. Did tumbling when I was just starting out but when I got serious about competition I just focused on those first four.-- Eve shrugged, --Withdrew from school, had private tutors between visits to the gym. I guess you could say I was serious.--

Eve arched an eyebrow at Erin, --How about you?--

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"Probably a totally different style," Erin told her. "I never did gymnastics or anything like that. I mostly practice survival acrobatics. Stuff you can use in a fight, or to escape a trap, stuff like that. It's really something I've picked up just since I started here, before that I was more about going toe to toe and fighting with things. The acrobatics is sort of a refinement on that." She looked from Eve to the equipment. "You gonna practice?" she asked curiously. She was interested to see what a world-class gymnast could do.

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--Well, I didn't come here to watch,-- Eve said with a grin, --Despite previous actions to the contrary.--

While she was talking to Erin, Eve was stepping out of her warm-up clothing. The leotard she wore underneath was in Claremont blue and gold, which was weird to Eve for as far as she knew she was still banned from competition, so why place her on the team? --It's funny,-- Eve reflected, --but I took the opposite approach. It was only after the FIG barred me from competing for 'possessing an unfair advantage, and posing a potential danger to other athletes' that I became serious about fighting.--

The mindwalker smiled at Erin, --Need to stay active or I start going crazy, you know?--

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It was a little funny to realize that Eve was wearing a smaller version of the same uniform Erin wore, which was apparently a standard practice uniform. Most of the members of Next Gen and Young Freedom had custom costumes that fit with their powers or code names, but at least in everything Eve had seen, Wander wore the same blue and gold outfit and blue headband. And, even now while she was just working out, her uniform included a small silver stick holstered at her side. "Yeah, I understand that," Erin told her with a nod, still speaking aloud for her half the conversation. She hopped down from the uneven bars, waving an arm as if to offer them to Eve. It wasn't a dare, but it was close. Maybe a challenge.

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--Don't mind if I do,-- Eve said cheerfully, poking through the gym bag she had brought with her and fishing out her grips. Slipped her ring and middle fingers though the holes provided, Eve adjusted the padding around her wrist before strapping the grips into place. For a moment Eve eyed the uneven bars, head tilted to one side before nodding and trotting over to a springboard that was set off to the side. Lining it up with the low bar, she pulled it back far enough to where it wouldn't interfere with her routine, but still well within her jump range. Making a satisfied sounding hum, the telepath dusted her hands with some chalk from the basin and lined up with the springboard.

Darting toward the springboard, Eve started to do a cartwheel but did a half-twist so she was now facing the direction she started. As she landed she continued to use the momentum that she had building, immediately kicking off with her legs and jumping backward, arching her back, her legs whipping up and over before finally meeting the springboard. She hit the platform with enough power and momentum that Eve easily launched herself over the lower bar, performing a half-twist as she clears it, tucking her legs into her chest as she performed a somersault before grabbing onto the top bar.

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Erin sat crosslegged on the mat and watched the performance, grinning a little when Eve bothered with things like grips and the springboard. It looked just like the Olympics when you did it that way! Still, the new girl was good, very good, with the grace and perfect economy of motion that spoke of years of practice and peak physical condition. She even noted a few refinements of motion to try out herself, figuring that somebody with that much experience probably knew exactly how to hold her hands and arms. Erin waited quietly till Eve finished and dismounted, then nodded. "You're really good. I see why you almost went to the Olympics."

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Panting a little, Eve wandered over to where Erin was seated and flopped down on the mat next to her, bottoms of her feet on the padded surface, knees up and tucked together and her white her splayed out. --Thanks,-- Eve replied, her breathing becoming a bit steadier, --I keep hoping I can go some day, but that would require a rules change to allow 'metahumans' to participate. I still have a few years before I'm out of the 'zone', as it were.-- Eve rolled her head to the side, looking up and over at Erin. --I saw you on those bars, you know you're good enough to compete too, right?--

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Erin shrugged. "It's not something I'm interested in. It's just a means to an end for me. I practice on the bars and the pommel horse because it's easier than finding a set of flagpoles or a low wall to work with, but it's all geared towards surviving in a fight. If the bad guy can't guess where I'm coming from, because I've flipped over and changed directions while he wasn't looking, then I've got the upper hand. I don't think I could take it seriously for its own sake, for like, artiness, set to music and all that. 'Sides, like you said, metahumans can't participate anyway. You getting fighting training now that you're here, or are you a hands-off type?"

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Eve chuckled; it was a rich, throaty sound and it was accompanied a brief wave of amusement. --Oh, definitely a hands-on type.-- Eve shifted into a cross-legged sitting position and angled her body to face Erin. --I've had some training,-- Eve continued, as she removed her grips and tossed them over toward her gym bag, --but as far as I know nobody teaches Krav Maga here, which is a shame because I rather liked the aggressive nature of it.--

Placing her hands behind her, Eve shifted her weight to lean back on them, a curious expression on her face, --Why do you ask? Looking to get a little hand to hand time in?--

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Erin couldn't help chuckling, looking at the small teenager. "No thanks," she said easily, "I've already done two hours today and have another session tonight at eleven, I'm pretty topped up. Have you tried sparring with Chris or Trevor?" It wasn't that Erin doubted that Eve had gotten some instruction in something like Krav Maga, it was amazing what you could get a trainer for if you had the money, but she didn't want to lay out and embarrass a new student who was probably way, way more into gymnastics than fighting.

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The smaller teen's disappointment was evident, but she smiled anyway. --Maybe some other time? No offense to Hunter or Kenzie but they both look a bit scrawny. I'm afraid I might hurt them.-- Eve shrugged, --I know they're probably a bit tougher than they look but, well…-- she trailed off as she gave Erin an appraising look.

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Erin raised an amused eyebrow at that claim, giving Eve another look. "He's tougher than he looks," she said mildly. "Both of them are. And fast with it. Have you had a placement test yet? Archer runs you through your paces and tells you what level you're at, and who you should be training with in what. Pain in the ass, but it's effective. Without that, it's hard to tell who's a good fight for you and who's liable to hurt you really badly." Though she was obviously not trying to boast, Erin's tone suggested that she would probably be one in the "hurt really badly" category.

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Eve shook her head. --I haven't had that opportunity yet. I'm surprised I managed to wrestle free some time to visit the gym today. It's been... rather hectic for me,-- she admitted, a little frustration creeping into her mental voice. --Right now they seem more concerned with my control. I guess so I don't bring another crowd to its knees in agony,-- she quietly murmured.

Eve shook her head, shaking off the sour mood that started to overtake her. Eve caught the implication of Erin's last statement. She wasn't sure how much of it was an underestimation on Erin's part, but then Eve wasn't sure if she was overestimating her own abilities. She hadn't been training as a fighter for very long, and she had to do so in concert with mastering her own abilities. It was the sort of challenge that Eve enjoyed, one that pushed her to the edge of pain, doubt and fatigue, and then overcome it. Eve sensed Erin might provide the same sort of challenge, so she wasn't going to let the taller girl off the hook that easy.

--You sure you don't want to spar or something,-- Eve asked hopefully. --Just for fun?--

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Erin caught the hopeful look and shrugged mentally. She was confident enough in her own abilities by now to be pretty sure she wasn't going to hurt anyone on accident, especially when she was calm and centered. Maybe looks were very deceiving in this case, who knew? "All right," she finally said, "just a quick one, though, cause I've gotta be in class in half an hour and I need to shower, kay?" She gestured for Eve to lead the way to the practice mats.

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With a quick nod, Eve headed over to the practice mats and settled down into a fighting stance. As Eve watched Erin take her position on the mats, she took a moment to admire the movement and physique of the taller girl, and it left little doubt in Eve's mind that Erin knew exactly what she was doing. It also occurred to Eve for the first time that she might be outmatched, but she dismissed that thought from her mind. She had to focus on the challenge in front of her, the time for examination and reflection came after.

--Whenever you're ready,-- Eve said coolly, outwardly calm but there was a subtle undercurrent of nervousness.

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Erin nodded. "Ready," she said, then immediately sprang into action. No flashy moves, no tricks, just a lunge that was almost too fast to see. In a heartbeat, she was across the mat, knocking Sage to the padded mat. Another eyeblink had her rolling the psychic girl onto her stomach and pinning her arms behind her in a neat and near-painless maneuver that bespoke a great deal of practice.

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Eve blinked and in that moment she was sent sprawling to the mat. Before her mind could catch up with what was happened she was flipped over onto her chest with her arms pinned behind her though given the telepath's flexibility the position of her arms was neither painful nor uncomfortable. The mindwalker tried to twist her way out of the hold but found that Erin's grip and superior leverage prevented her from breaking free.

A quiet laugh escaped from Eve as she turned her head to the side and looked back at Erin. --That ended quicker than I expected,-- she said with a smile.

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Erin released her grip and stood up, offering Eve a hand to her feet. "Nobody here's going to go easy on you," she warned soberly. "The learning curve is too high once you get out on the streets, and the bad guys aren't going to have pity on anyone because they're young or inexperienced. But you'll learn a lot, and really fast. Being an acrobat is going to help." She cracked half a smile. "I had to learn all that from scratch, and man, it was a pain."

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Eve's expression turned serious though a ghost of a smile still remained. --I would have been insulted if someone took it easy on me. I am pleased, very pleased, that you did not, so thank you for that Erin. If you are willing, perhaps we could work out some other time? There are things you know that I wish to learn, if you would be willing to teach me, of course.-- The faint smile transformed itself into a mischievous grin, --Besides, you can throw me around the mat a bit more.--

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"Sure, if you want to," Erin said with a shrug. "I'm not really a very good teacher, but if you want to train together, that's okay. I'm always around anyway." She made a gesture that might have encompassed the gym or the entire campus. "You really should have sparring partners at your own experience level, too, though. I train way out of my league when I want to challenge myself," she added, "but I learn more when I'm fighting someone I'm a close match for." She didn't mention that Archer'd been having to get more and more creative lately in finding new challenges, not entirely sure how competitive Eve was going to be about that, too. She changed the subject instead. "How are you liking school here so far?"

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