Title: Five things Telford taught the Ursini when he first met them on the Seed Ship
Author: Shenandoah Risu
Content Flags: none
Spoilers: Season 2 "Awakening" and "Resurgence"
Characters: David Telford, the Ursini
Word Count: 1,120
Excerpt: To Telford they sounded like a bunch of hamsters, but hey, beggars can't be choosers.
Author's Notes: Written for prompt set #136 at the LJ Comm sg1_five_things. Telford's time among the Ursini on the Seed Ship fascinates me.
Disclaimer: I don't own SGU. I wouldn't know what to do with it. Now, Young... Young I'd know what to do with. ;-)
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Five things Telford taught the Ursini when he first met them on the Seed Ship
Trying to fit in with the Ursini was like making friends with a herd of moose: no matter what you do, you always stick out. Telford gave up pretty quickly trying to act like them – and he discovered very soon that they were much more talented at imitating him anyway. They were bored on the Seed Ship, and especially bored with each other, and Telford became the recreational cheerleader almost by default.
They chattered excitedly (at least, it sounded like excitement to Telford's ears) when he lined them up along a wall in the cavernous and long since stalled Gate factory. Standing on the opposite wall he lifted his arms and smoothly brought them back down to his sides. The Ursini followed suit – and it was like seeing a mirror image of his movement fractured into dozens of identical ones.
He praised them, then motioned them to stay put, repeating the gesture with the first Ursini in the line, then the next, and so forth. It took them a while to learn to wait their turn, but eventually they got it.
Then he repeated the gesture while walking past them – and after a few moments of confusion and clicking-noise-conversations they had it figured out.
It was the most perfect example of The Wave that Telford had ever seen, and for the first time in his life he regretted never having taken ballet classes as a kid, because having the Ursini do The Nutcracker or Swan Lake – while undeniably funny – would have been an exercise of precision and identical movement the likes of which human dancers could only dream about.
Walking along the railing in another defunct storage area Telford ran a stick along the railing supports and discovered that either the Ancients responsible for their construction got their materials composition all wrong, or – more likely – the fact that they all had a different pitch was entirely intentional.
Telford had never learned to play a musical instrument, although he did sing in a garage band as a teenager and prided himself on his not too shabby singing voice. So it took him a while but eventually he figured out the combination for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
The Ursini – ever watchful of his exploration of the ship – looked on in utter confusion, but soon they started imitating him again. "No, no, no, no," Telford shook his head. "Guys, you can't just use any set of posts in this order. You have to start with this one, or else the melody doesn't make sense. It's a song, you see, and it has to sound the same every time."
He handed his stick to the next Ursini and pointed at the starting post. It took a little bit of coaching to get the speed right but they learned quickly.
About a week later they were even able to hum along with the music, a little off-key, mind you, but always eager to improve. To Telford they sounded like a bunch of hamsters, but hey, beggars can't be choosers.
Encouraged by the earlier foray into football stadium choreography and seeing how much the Ursini enjoyed doing three-legged races in their off time (and really, Telford had no idea whether he was looking at a team-bonding exercise, a philosophical discussion or some passionate mating ritual) he taught them the Hokey Pokey. The first few tries ended up as utter disasters, because the Ursini, having their center of gravity far lower in their bodies than human beings, simply fell over when putting their right foot in.
At first that's how far they got until Telford realized it was simple physics, not lack of dancing abilities that kept the Hokey Pokey from enjoying the same popularity it had on Earth. So he split them up into groups of two, tied their neighboring ankles together, and presto – no more stability issues.
They learned the music to the song pretty quickly after that, singing along wordlessly, but occasionally Telford detected the semblance of an English word here and there. "Poki Poki," they cheered, and slapped their foreheads in unison – apparently the Ursini way of applauding.
Oddly enough, they picked up Pattycakes like birds taking to flight. After a few demonstrations his Ursini friend surprised him by taking over and continuing the slap-and-clap game, going faster with each turn until Telford bowed out, all exhausted. He took the Ursini by the claw and they ambled down to one of the empty storage rooms to show the others.
The whole group began to jump up and down excitedly, and suddenly random Pattycakes games erupted all over the room, mostly with two, but Telford also observed teams of three and four, and even one six-some.
The speed at which the Ursini executed the increasingly complex patterns boggled Telford's mind, and occasionally he noticed an actual sequence. He himself stuck to the basic version he learned as a kid, but he sure enjoyed watching the others.
One day he found himself sitting against a wall in the control room, twiddling his thumbs, or rather, his thumbs and index fingers. One of the Ursini came closer and pointed at his hands.
"Oh, it's a kid's song," Telford explained. "It goes like this: The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout…"
"Itsy Itsy?" the Ursini tilted its head.
"Sure, itsy itsy is a good start. Here, let me show you." And he kneeled behind the little alien, gently grasping his hands and putting his clawed fingers together in the proper order.
"Down came the rain and washed the spider out…"
The other Ursini left their consoles and slowly came closer.
"Out came the sun and dried up all the rain…"
They started imitating his hands, indicating the sunrise and the rain evaporating.
"And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again."
They all slapped their foreheads.
"Funny thing," Telford said, "it may be a kiddie game, but it talks about never giving up. If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again, you know? And even if you do succeed, keep at it. Because some things have to be fought for and earned every single time."
It turned out to be their favorite thing he taught them, and after a few weeks they even had the lyrics down. Okay, so it sounded more like "eh itsy itsy a-yah up up-e wa-wa ow", but the Ursini loved it.
Strangely enough, the simple song's deeper message was what kept Telford going, day after day, lost all by himself among a tribe of aliens who were also stranded on a ship that had gone missing a long time ago.
And he didn't feel quite so lonely anymore.
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