Elexa grinned and patted Robo on the head. "I feel great. Ready to get out of this bed and start moving again."
She grabbed one of the trays and started eating enthusiastically. "Think they'll let me out soon?" She felt a little odd in her new body, and wanted to start PT again as soon as possible to get used to it again. Her stomach reminded her this was some of the first solid food she had in a while, and she almost fell getting out of bed to run to the head.
She felt lanky and a little clumsy, like she had during her growing years. It took her a moment to find her coordination again, but when she did she was amazed how quickly she moved.
Patriot was surprised as well, when she opened the door. He was standing in front of the toilet, paws up on the tank with a magazine open, and what he was doing could be clearly heard. He actually yelped when she threw the door open, jumping and missing the bowl a little. Finishing up, he flushed the toilet, pawed the magazine shut and carried it out in his jaws. The look he gave her clearly said, "Next time, knock first." He'd been looking through a Reach special addition of National Geographic while he used the toilet.
Elexa completed her business laughing her arse off. The wolves were far too human for her sanity, she didn't know how Ayla kept up with them. Probably because she had been raised around them, she reasoned. Far different from her own upbrining in ONI labs and military academies. She wondered how it would have been if she had companions like the wolves, instead of AIs and lab techs.
She shrugged it off, turning to leave when she caught her reflection in the mirror. She froze, astounded at the changes she saw. It was her but.... More. She had always been muscular and toned, but now she had large, perfectly defined muscles lacing beneath her skin. She still had curves, but they were shaped by muscles instead of soft. She flexed her stomach, watching her abs pop.
"Wow...." She breathed, running a hand over her shaved head where about an inch of her hair had regrown. Her skin still had faint pink scars tracing the lines of her bones. They would be gone soon, leaving no hint at what she had undergone.
She came back out, smiling at Ayla. "I feel like a new person."
"You look great, 'cept the hair. Like maybe you could give me a challenge at arm wrestling." Now that her perception wasn't clouded by pain, perhaps Alexa noticed that Ayla had let her hair down. If it could be called that. The back and sides were loose, but the front was pulled into a forest of thin braids tucked behind her ears. Ayla had finished her food while Alexa was in the head, easily twice what a normal marine could eat if they were gorging. The pack was elsewhere. Shoving the platters onto a lower shelf, Ayla pulled the food cart in front of her and set her elbow on it. "Let's see. This is also my chance to show you how I'm different from the men and women you saw on the entry walls." Indeed, the walls leading into the facility sported a number of framed photos of young men and women, apparently all Spartans, and one, labeled 'John-117, recruit captain' was at the top of the array. But a photo of Ayla had been on the opposite wall, framed as a motivational. "INSPIRATION. When you think you can't, think of the pioneers."
"3, 2, 1, Go." Ayla's muscles tightened visible, and their hands swayed back and forth over the midline. For a moment, they were dead even, then Ayla smiled. Smooth muscles bulged almost to the size of Alexa's new ones, and her hand was slammed to the cart so hard it dented the thing. Checking Alexa's hand for injury (there was none), Ayla said, "You mentioned Valkyries. Are you familiar with the berserker legends?" She nodded with satisfaction. "Your skin and bones have toughened up correctly." A voice came over the PA. "Please do not wreck the appliances. It scares our new employees."
Ayla's lips spread into a tight-lipped grin. "Come on." She stood, swaying a little as her muscles returned to normal. "By the way, I ask, because I was one before they found me." She shook her head briefly, then headed out, grabbing a stack of fabric on her way. The showers were a couple halls and a couple Biometrics accessed doors away. "You should be in the system now," Ayla explained. They were halfway there when a nurse fell into step beside them and jabbed a needle into Ayla's arm. "You need to keep those exertions to life-and-death situations. Oh, and Miss Durin, don't let her fool you. She's arm-wrestled every Spartan she's met, and she never needed her rage to win before."
Elexa pondered the new information, trying to remember what she knew about berserkers. Weren't they from a time long ago? Maybe some of the outer colonies still held to the old ways.
As the nurse spoke to her, she nodded and grinned. "Glad to hear I was at least a little of a challenge. I'll have to work harder."
She followed the path to the showers, wondering when she'd get to meet the other Spartans, if they were even here or if they had a base elsewhere. Mostly, she was hoping they had water showers instead of sonic ones.
They had steam showers. Ayla left the bundle for Alexa and headed to take her own. She was in and out in 10 minutes, wrapping her hair in a towel before pulling on her skinsuit. the wolves were waiting for them when they finished, all of them already in armor.
Elexa wanted to stay under the water for hours, but her soldier's upbringing had her in and out in minutes. She dressed quickly, sliding on the under armour skinsuit and taking a moment to adjust it in place. Unless she focused on it, it felt like she wasn't wearing anything at all. She grinned, patting the wolves on the head when she saw them armoured up.
Ayla joined them and led the way out. Upon stepping out of the elevator shack, she pointed across the tarmac. "You remember the shuttle ride from our landing pad. No shuttle this time." Grinning, she threw her arm forward, and the wolves bolted toward the hangars. "Race you." She took off after them. When she caught up with Alexa at the Black Cat, she was still grinning, though she never showed her teeth. "I'd say you nearly hit 50 there. Training is... classified... and still under construction. Let's go." She directed Alexa to a newly-installed upright cryo pod as the wolves stepped into similar ones that looked like bathtubs.
Elexa put her head down and sprinted as fast as she could across the tarmac. She leaped, strafed left and right, and was pleased with her footwork. She would need practice to get used to her new size and strength, not to mention speed. She almost over corrected several times. But she was fast, and she knew she would get faster. She grinned wildly at Ayla as she came up.
"That was incredible!" She wasn't even winded.
The Cat opened and Elexa arched an eyebrow at the cryotube. She hated Cryo. She schooled her face, resigned to it. She assumed the tub ones were for the wolves. She stepped up to the tube, ready to get to the training.
14.5 days later October 12, 2532 2100 ship time 0700 local time XF-063/Zeta Doradus 4/"Onyx", Zeta Doradus system, Milky Way.
"Wake up, sleepyheads." Friday's silky voice came fuzzy through the waking fog. By the time Alexa had oriented herself, Ayla was in the cockpit. The 5th planet was disappearing on their left. Their destination was ahead.