2019-11-10 - Sweat Equity


Veronica and Ava chat while working out in the gym together. Yes, two 'cripples' working out in the gym. Go figure!

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Nov 10 00:00:00 2019
Location: RESCUE Gymnasium

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The gymnasium floor at RESCUE is squeaking up a storm, as Dr. Veronica Kelsey is for once NOT wearing a white labcoat and business attire. Instead, she is dressed in sweats and a grey ribbed crop top, along with fingerless gloves, as she works up a glistening sweat - the glow of hard exertion - while pushing and twisting her wheelchair through an adjusting and adapting obstacle course. Most of the obstacles are in fact set up on various drones and robots, all hive-operating to adjust and adapt unpredictably while she tries to get around them. Intermittently, she bounces a big inflated orange sphere on the ground and then tries to throw the stupid thing through a netted hoop at one end of the court or the other.

"Nice pace!" a voice calls from the gym door. Posse's rubber-soled boots thump in as the cyborg enters in half-suit - minus the gloves, helmet, and armor panels that make up her on-duty attire. This, showing bare servos and artificial muscles, is as close as the hard-charging sergeant gets to dressed down during the day.

"Sure." Veronica pants, as she continues to push herself; Veronica may very well be the one senior member of the crew of RESCUE who works herself out almost as hard as Posse does. Her words come out few and far between, lot sof heavy breathing interspersed. "Shots still … sixty-forty." she complains. No target assistance from her suit systems, right now.

Posse smiles to watch the doctor's exertion. It's not a competition… okay, for her it /really/ is, but the cyborg can still appreciate the work of her peers. "What's target?" she asks while rolling her shoulders and bouncing lightly from foot to foot, starting to warm herself up as well.

"Alternating baskets." Veronica pants out as she spins the wheelchair around a bright orange cone … that moves at the last moment, forcing her to hang in mid-air, twist and adjust to avoid it, then struggle to re-align to take the shot — and miss. "Damnit."

Then Roni pushes off and rolls rapidly down-court, avoiding obstacles as she fetches the ball again and then has to dribble back into place to resume.

"That looks fun," Posse considers. "Would you rather do that against a live defender?"

"It's a lot more fun that way. But you'll smoke the heck out of me." Veronica offers. She dribbles over to her spot and waits, watching Posse closely. "You sure you want to deal with slow me?"

"Sure - I'll just cheat in your favor," the cyborg suggests as she moves to jumping jacks. "I'll set my suit for resistance; do ya wanna set yours for 'legs'?"

Veronica shakes her head. "No. I need to do this au-naturale. This is how I stay healthy. We know what the suit can do. This is about what I can do. Or can't." But she isn't offended at all. She just winks at her friend. "I promise not to make you chair it, though. OK?"

"Your arms still get a workout if you're standing up, but 'suit' yourself," Posse offers as she continues to bounce in place with her warmup. "I won't guard you too closely then…" Taking her eyes off the seated doctor, the cyborg's attention begins to twitch at random across the far wall as she navigates through an invisible but familiar menu.

"OK. Check." Veronica offers, bounce-passing the ball across to Posse and waiting for it to be returned. She taps a few keys on her wheelchair, and the robots move off the court, freeing up the space so that the two of them can play together. "All ready?" she asks, and then starts dribbling as she rolls forward, pushing for the paint.

Posse snaps back to focus at the bounce of the ball and her hands come out to catch it. The cyborg stands still for a moment longer to finish tuning her suit, then bounces the ball back and drops into a crouch with her arms out wide. Roni gets a loose guard while the white-haired vet warms up.

A loose guard is enough room to let Veronica make it most of the way to the paint, though she has more than enough control she never actually comes close to running over Posse's toes - armored or not. Her attempted shot, after a quick spin to try to get to an opening past the tall, built lady warrior - is not pretty. But it at least should get to the basket, even if it bounces off.

Posse's arm goes up to block but the tawny woman doesn't bother trying to jump for the arcing shot. Turning as the basketball flies overhead, she drops back into a crouch and positions herself to catch the rebound. The ball bounces against the rim and the cyborg jogs off to catch it, but moving as if in slow motion from the new weight of her armor.

"Drat." Veronica offers as her shot fails. Yes. The doc said drat. Then she pushes off, rolling in close, spinning around to try blocking Posse a bit more aggressively. She's not tall enough to really jump-block, so she's trying to interrupt Posse's balance and pattern as she crosses the court. Given the other woman's skills, she's betting almost every shot she tries she would make, but she's going to try; the workout is worth it, even if she loses.

Once she retrieves the ball, Posse turns and drops into a low crouch again. The cyborg's dribble is awkwardly high and open-handed, lacking finesse enough that she even glances to it in consternation before cracking a rueful smile. "S*** that feels weird. This is more of a handicap than I thought…"

Shifting to keep her body between Roni and the ball, Posse steps back and forth to try to coax her wheelchair into one direction, then grunts as she crosses the ball behind her back and cuts in the opposite direction - springing up for a two point shot.

Roni does her best to read the other woman, noticing the oddities of her reactions to the inhibitors now engaged in her cynernetics. But she's no professional athlete, and certainly no star basketball player. More often than not, Posse will be able to fake her out; but Roni will grunt with effort and employ her skill and her shoulder and core muscles for all she's worth to sling herself back around tightly and try to get back into the way, going after Posse as much as the ball.

Once the shot goes up, though, all Roni can do is watch it sail, and then roll after it to catch the rebound. Her own dribbling isn't perfect, but it's low and tight by comparison - she's shorter by nature, and in a chair besides. She tries to fake Posse as well, but her best chance is that the limiters will prevent Posse from moving as quickly and cleanly in response, not that she'll fail the read.

The effect isn't hard to see as the cyborg goes back on the defensive, hanging back far and high, and panting as she watches the doctor. It might be to Roni's surprise, but a few of her fakes do seem to psyche her more agile opponent out and leave Posse hustling to keep between her and the basket. Exertion is starting to show on her tawny face and there's not even an attempt made to interrupt the doctor's low dribble.

The game continues for a bit, both women pushing themselves and each other to the best of their respective abilities. To be honest, Roni's not consciously keeping score; she's well aware that Posse probably is, because that's in her nature. She would never want her friend to change, so be it.

The hardest thing is eventually deciding to call it; both women want to push themselves to excel, so saying 'enough' is not a natural state for their psyches. Nevertheless, Veronica is a medical doctor, and she can read her own biology and that of her patient and friend well enough to know when it's time to call it. It's still a bit farther than some might go, and there are likely about thirty points up on the board between them before they're done, a pair of sweat-soaked panting wrecks.

"OK. That's enough. Let's break here. I could use some water and a little bit of time to breathe." Veronica offers, knowing it is wisest for her to capitulate rather than expect Posse to do the same.

That, it seems, is all the stalwart soldier needs to hear. Breathless and wide-eyed, she all-but creaks as she rises from her crouch and immediately starts flipping through her suit's menus to return it to normal condition. There's no visible sign or strobing of lights when she finds the right one, but Posse's relieved groan is hard to miss.

"Oof… my body is jelly," she replies, limply dangling her arms and staggering her way off the court. "I could use some too - then let's hit the showers."

"Water. Then stretching. Then shower." Veronica offers as she rolls off the court, cracks open her small cooler bag, and tosses Posse a bottle of water before lifting one of her own and cracking it open, taking a long, slow pull from it and letting the cold water into her core, battling against the heat she has built up as it also strives to hydrate her tissues.

"It's been a long time since I've seen you running on the governors. You OK?" Roni asks, as she sips more water, rubbing her damp half-gloved hands against her thighs.

Posse catches the bottle left-handed before crouching down and sitting back against a wall with her legs splayed limply open. If she were more lucid, the cyborg might be thankful her metal parts don't tire like the rest of her. A need for water wins out first and the white-haired woman manages a few big gulps between pants for breath. "A lil' smoked," she confesses in understatement as she looks back up at the soaked doctor. "You?"

Veronica nods a bit, then keeps drinking at her water in slow, steady sips. It won't last long at this rate. "I'm doing alright. Winded, sweaty, a bit achey. But those are good things. Pushing that hard is part of what helps me keep my body in good shape, to support my mind." That's it. That's why she works out so hard: so that she stays healthy, rather than becoming just a brain in a meat shell. "How was the rest of your day?" she asks conversationally.

"Heh, good, I'd hate to think I let you off easy," Posse chuckles weakly. She sips a little more at her own water but doesn't devour it. That's likely to come later - maybe when she gets her hands on a drink mix. "It's been solid. Today's down-tempo - nothing big going on with security and I've got liberty from PCB."

Pushing back up from the ground, the cyborg stands with surprising ease into a wall-sit that puts her head-height with the seated doctor and sighs heavily as her breathing starts to return to normal. She's definitely using her suit for assistance now. "Yours?"

"My day hasn't been too bad, I would say." Roni offers, watching Posse closely. Granted, she's also a conversation partner, so facing her and paying attention to her comes naturally; but Veronica is letting part of her brain actually do the processing, considering the other woman's medical state and needs. "I checked on the police officer we saved last week. His recovery is going well. Amazingly well given that without Nadia, the poor man would have been paste on the wall. That damned bomb."

Yes. Roni has issues with this stuff. Real issues. She takes it personally when people use weapons and try to destroy other human lives. She cannot help it; she is a doctor, and she exists to help others and make their lives better.

"That's good," Posse agrees genuinely before cracking a joking smile as she leans her head back against the wall. "Saves you the work of rebuilding him. Police work around here is a small charlie foxtrot," she snorts, "'Never know what's around the bend."

Veronica sighs and nods. "It is good. And I am glad the man did not need to be 'rebuilt'. I'd prefer to avoid anyone ever needing that, if I could." She doesn't regret helping Ava at all; she regrets that Ava needed the help in the first place. Roni finishes her own water, and decides to ask for another, working on rehydrating. "I am really looking forward to the benefits of having enlisted Nadia's help around here. She might even be able to help us troubleshoot the instability issue of the interface."

"Forget the interface, ask her about growing human limbs," Posse advises. "If you two can crack the nut of replacing those there's not a Nobel Prize big enough for you. Don't get me wrong, you wired me to the best substitutes money can buy," the cyborg mollifies as she flexes her metal left arm, as spry and tireless as it was when she first walked in. The veteran's eyes rest upon it fondly before returning to the doctor who created it. "But not everyone can deal with the upkeep."

Veronica frowns a bit, and shrugs. "Well, if you don't mind I'll keep trying to do both. Regeneration is a rather tough nut to crack, where I think being able to better and more stably tune the biointerface for the cyberunits is much closer to being within our grasp." She hangs her head a bit, pausing with her water. "I'm sorry, Ava. I really am. I swear to you, if I thought I could actually regrow your original biology? I'd do it in a heartbeat."

The rebuilt amputee smiles back at her doctor with a warm and reassuring gaze rarely seen from her in public. "I've told you before don't beat yourself up about that. You're supposed to be the smart one, right? What have you got to do with me arriving as damaged goods?"

Ava's eyes narrow slyly, resting on the chair-bound doctor with a look that's altogether different. "'Sides I mentioned limbs because she's already done it, whole limb, and even reattached one. It's just the process was a marathon surgery so it isn't ready for prime time yet. I figure you've wired enough metal arms to do that better."

Dr. Kelsey is … flabberghasted. Flummoxed. Pole-axed. That anyone could have actually managed to re-grow a limb and reattach it cleanly is one of the holy grails of her specialty. Surely she would have heard of this, read about it. And regrown natural organic limbs would be infinitely preferable to her cybernetic replacements, however capable they may be. "I had no idea, Ava. I didn't even know that was possible." But now she does, and one can imagine she intends to have a very intense conversation with Nadia about this.

Ava's eyes flit to the top-left corner of her vision for a moment, checking the digital clock super-imposed on her vision, then she smiles at the doctor in empathy. "Five seconds to sink in, I called it," she can't help quipping to herself in amusement. "That's the same look I had when Nadia told me but she was dead serious. Black-budget Russian work she made it sound like. Have fun picking her brain."

Veronica grimmaces, but she nods sharply, fiercely. "I most definitely will, Ava. I swear it." And it is more than words; it is a true oath. That is how important this is to Roni. "I can imagine how striking it was for you." Just as Ava was able to imagine how it would affect her to hear it, too. Roni shrugs her shoulders, trying to loosen some of the tension built up there now. Then she glances back at the basketball court. "I think we can call it. I'm going to head to the showers."

"Well yeah," Ava admits, taking the matter more lightly. She has, unlike Veronica, had time to digest it. "Hear that my impossible dream is the product of some Russian suits out in some secret Siberian gulag and they never breathed a word of it to the whole world." The cyborg smiles in wry humor at the absurdity of it all. "If even the Russkis are that far along it really makes me wonder about SHIELD… and how many doctors got a three-bullet suicide to keep it under wraps. You're all pretty serious about that Hippocratic oath," she adds with a fond gaze towards the chair-bound woman before rising to stand and rolling her neck.

"Well let's go then. I'll give you a push and help you wash?" Ava offers even as she walks around towards Veronica's back.

Veronica chuckles wrly at her friend, shaking her head slightly. "I do love your sense of humor, even in the darkest times." the doctor offers as her hands fall to her wheels, turning her chair and heading in the direction of the locker room. "Has to be from your military time." She glances up over her shoulder at Ava. "I admit, I worry you may be right. That SHIELD and others like them have been keeping these things secret. But I can't just not pursue this. It's too goddamned important, Ava." And she knows Ava will understand.

" straight," the white-haired veteran agrees as her hands grasp the back of Veronica's chair and its wheels begin to turn without the doctor's help. Ava is aware of her independence streak, but this time it seems she's not giving her the option. As her footfalls carry them both towards the women's locker room, all the fatigue from their matches evaporates behind the smooth, effortless stride so distinctive of the cyborg in her suit. "And I ain't telling you not to."

"You know," she adds in a hush while stepping around one side to pull the locker room door open ahead of them, "I couldn't give two s for them, but you and Toni keep doing this long enough and we'll have Langley on our doorstop."

"Keep doing what?" Veronica questions, huffing with mild annoyance as Ava takes over propelling her chair when Roni quite clearly intended to take care of that herself. "Hiring Russian ex-patriots? Or questioning them? Or looking into secret off-books scientific discoveries?" All of those could be reasons why the CIA, FBI and others would come looking into RESCUE. "What else would you have us do, Ava?"

"Hold course and let 'em off," the cyborg answers back directly, profane and firm perhaps but not heated. Veronica's annoyance draws a light smile from Posse as she continues into the room and finally lets the wheelchair go only when it can coast the last short way to the doctor's locker. "I'm looking forward to the day they come with an empty cup because you egg-heads outdid their tax-funded brain trust, but you'll want your records in a row and a speech prepared. And if you want to get upset at the lift ya' just get, do it at yourself," Ava advises as she stands straight with her arms out to either side, allowing the panels and joints of her armor to click apart and open. Her bi-hued green eyes look down to Veronica with a private fondness, and just a little twinkle from knowing she got under the doctor's skin.

"Your tech gave us both a free ride."

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