Captain's log: Stardate 56457.6, after being forced to abandon ship, we have landed on the surface of J’Tuguisa 5. Our escape pods are scattered all over the surface of the planet. We have little means of tracking how many of us made it out in time. The ship appears to be maintaining its orbit and is jamming all attempts at communication. We have not been able to find any trace of the outpost’s crew. As of now, we are doing what we can to get through the interference until help arrives.
As Barns completed his log entry, the last remaining power that the escape pod had slowly flickered out until the computers in the pod went dark. He cursed and kicked the computer with his right foot, although he doubted that would do any good. Resigning himself to the fact that the systems were offline, he exited the pod and walked to where Soatome and Backburn were waiting.
“The power systems have completely failed, it seems we’re on our own. Have either of you been able to locate any of the other pods?” he asked.
“Possibly, but the readings are inconclusive. Whatever is interfering with communication seems to be interfering with sensors. We are getting readings about 100 km west of here, we think it’s a pair of escape pods but we cannot be sure.” Soatome reported.
“The escape pod carrying the rest of the bridge crew was on a trajectory that would place them about 200 km North of here, but we cannot be sure exactly where they landed. They did appear to have sustained damage but they should have survived” Backburn informed.
“In that case we should try to contact them as soon as possible. We should set up a base camp and work on a way to get some sort of readings through that interference. Our tricorder and communicators should be working, we can use them.” Barns said. He tried to ignore the strange feeling that had begun to manifest itself in his feet and at the base of his spine. He assumed that it was some sort of injury, but for the time being he was more concerned with contacting the other escape pods.
William King shivered in the cool northern air. Their escape pod had landed in a northern region with a light coating of snow on the ground. Coniferous like trees littered the landscape. He had been attempting to contact any of the other escape pods but as of yet had had no luck. He walked back to the escape pod where Tagomi was laying down under a console on trying to get its main power back online.
“Any luck?” he asked. When the console’s power completely shutdown, he had his answer.
“Apparently not. Something is interfering with the power systems and until he can determine just what that is, I will be unable to send a message to anyone.” The young Vulcan reported. He gently scratched at his right ear, in the past 5 minutes he had been feeling a bit strange. It had started with left ear and had spread to his right, an inexplicable sensation of warmth and rasping. What he felt was illogical to say the least. The skin on his ears seemed softer, and both of his ears seemed longer. At first he thought he was hallucinating but everything else appeared coherent. Whatever was happening to him was real. King noticed his discomfort and walked closer to him.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“I’m not sure” Tagomi responded. King noticed the Vulcan’s ears, seeing that they were indeed not only longer but also appeared to be covered in a thin layer of white fur.
“Your ears!” King exclaimed. Tagomi stood up and carefully examined both ears. They were indeed longer then normal and seemed to be covered in a light coating of fur. To make matters worse, he could feel a pressure at the tips, not only had they lengthened; they were continuing to elongate!
“This is most puzzling!” he exclaimed. About to respond, King experienced a sudden tingling on his chest followed by quickly spreading warmth. He could feel his heart rate accelerating, and beads of sweat began dripping down his forehead. Where before he had felt cold, he now felt warm. Tagomi’s own condition seemed less important and he whipped out his tricorder and began to scan King. The tricorder beeped several times in alarm.
“Your heart-rate has increased to 130 beats per minute and your metabolic rate has nearly doubled. Your body temperate appears to have fallen by several degrees” he reported. The warmth on his chest quickly spread. His skin felt as if it was burning and it itched like mad.
“I think we had better find Ensign Hermann, if this is happening to us then there is no telling what is happening to him!” King vehemently said. Tagomi could feel his ears getting longer and warmer and if that wasn’t enough, it was spreading to his face.
“I am in agreement!” he said.
Ensign Jonathan Hermann had gone exploring for a source of shelter after the escape pod had landed. He had been fortunate and had discovered a cave. He had managed to walk fairly deep into the cave when his tricorder began beeping wildly. He withdrew the device from its sheave and scanned the area to see what was wrong.
“That’s weird,” he said as he studied the results of the scan. The walls of the cave were lined with an odd shiny blue rock. His tricorder informed him that they were emanating a strange form of radiation.
“Looks like we won’t be able to use this cave for shelter” he said to himself as he turned around. He hadn’t of walked more then a few meters when he felt a strange throbbing sensation on his face and hands. He placed his tricorder back into its pocket and looked at his hands in an attempt to ascertain what was wrong. He gasped in horror when he saw strange calluses appearing on the bottom of his hands and saw that his skin was turning a light gray color. The sensation in his face intensified and he reached a hand up to feel it. What he felt scared the hell out of him. His mouth seemed to be getting longer and his nose felt almost pointed.
“What the hell!” he yelled. The top of his head felt strange and he reached his other hand up only to discover that his hair was falling out in clumps.
“This is insane! Oh no, the radiation! It must be causing this somehow!” he screamed as he began to run towards the mouth of the cave as fast as his legs could carry him.
The three escape pods had landed close to each other. The first two had been from engineering and the third from around sickbay.
The escape pods from engineering were badly damaged as a result of the weapon impact in that section. Only five crewmen had made it to the escape pods from engineering and they were all badly injured. Among them was Joseph McKinley, one of the more experienced engineers. His uniform was ruined and he had a nasty burn on his chest, his right leg was broken and he had a nasty cut on his left cheek and forehead. He was struggling to stay conscious as the result of a concussion. His friend, Riley O’Henry has carried him the escape pod. He had several cuts and bruises around his body but was otherwise all right. He carried him out of the escape pod and lay him down on the shore on a lake. Of the other engineers, three of them had various injuries but managed to make it to the shore.
Dr. LeRosse walked over to McKinley and scanned the barely conscious man with her medical tricorder while her medical staff worked on the other three.
“How bad is he doc?” O’Henry inquired.
“Not good, he has a broken leg, a concussion and a severe burn on his chest, he appears to have internal injuries. I need to get him to a medical facility and fast!” she reported. Just then, they heard a noise from the water behind them.
“What is what?” O’Henry asked. His inquiry was answered when an otter surfaced and crawled onto the shore and walked up to the trio.
“Hello little guy” O’Henry said to the furry musteline. The otter stood on his hind legs and seemed to motion as if he was trying to communicate with them. Dr. LeRosse’s tricorder began to beep wildly. She again scanned McKinley and made a startling discovery.
“What is it doctor?” Piece inquired.
“This is impossible, at least for a human it’s impossible. The damage to his internal organs appears to be repairing itself. Wait a minute” she said as she examined additional readings and took additional scans.
“I’m picking up peculiar readings from within his blood stream. There appears to be something repairing his organs, something that is definitely not a normal part of his blood.” She added.
“What is it?” O’Henry asked. The otter next to them began to chitter wildly, as if he was trying to tell them something. One of LeRosse’s assistants urgently summoned her and she stood up and walked over to the assistant’s position. The assistant had been working on one of the engineers when something unexpected had happened.
The man he had been working on had felt a strange tingling at the base of his spine. When LeRosse arrived, the doctor asked the man to turn around to show her what had just happened. The man nodded his head and turned around, exposing a long furry tail with orange fur and black stripes!
From behind her, she heard O’Henry calling for help. She turned around and ran over to him.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“My chest!” he responded as he pulled up his shirt to expose a significant amount of black fur that had grown in. Dr. LeRosse reached over and touched the fur before scanning it with her tricorder. She shook her head in both confusion and fascination as she observed the readings.
“What is it Doc?” O’Henry inquired.
“That fur, it’s not human. It’s the fur of an Earth animal, a mink,” she said.
“What? Your saying I’m turning into a mink? But that’s impossible!” he said, suddenly feeling a tingling at the base of his spine. He grimaced as he felt something emerge from his spine. In a panic, he threw his pants off, exposing what the growth was. He had a tail! A long bushy black tail! It was the tail of a mink.
“No! This is impossible, I don’t want to be an animal!” he lamented. But his cries were unheeded as he began to lose mass and the black fur spread across the rest of his torso, up his arms and down his legs. The otter seemed excited and started chittered at him. A wave of dizziness suddenly overcame the young Klingon and she lost her grip of her tricorder and fell to the ground. Her chest felt very warm and both of her hands tingled. She lay on the ground on her back and as the dizziness subsided she raised her hands in front of her face. They didn’t look like hands anymore. They were covered in brown fur and had become webbed and rounded. She still had five digits on both, but her thumbs were gone. The warmth on her chest quickly spread across it and without delay, she removed her shirt. She cursed when she saw cream colored fur (not unlike that of the otters) sprouting all over her chest. As if to add insult to injury, she breasts were quickly shrinking and several additional pairs of nipples were appearing down her chest!
She was able to regain her composure and managed to get up to her knees to look at O’Henry and McKinley. She picked her tricorder up and did her best to operate it. With webbed hands it was very difficult, but she was able to record that David’s injuries had almost been completely healed and he was starting to regain conciseness. O’Henry was not doing well, he was losing mass at an incredible rate, and his entire body had since become covered in the black fur and had grown into a pelt. His arms and legs were much shorter and his hands and feet were webbed. His face had already started growing out into a muzzle. She couldn’t understand why the changes were happening so quickly for him, the others changes seemed much more gradual.
“Why is it so fast for me?” he desperately asked, his voice starting to lisp, as it became more and more difficult for him to speak.
“I don’t know, it must be random or due to a genetic factor!” she responded. Inside, she felt sorry for the man; his humanity was being very quickly stolen from him. While the same appeared to be happening to her and the others, at least it was at a gradual enough pace that she could hopefully do something about it. She suddenly perceived an odd change in the texture of David’s skin. His skin was changing to a gray color and his hair was falling out. As the young ensign slowly woke up, he looked at LeRosse in confusion.
“Doctor, what’s happening to me? Why do I feel so strange? Why is your shirt off? Why do you have fur on your chest?” he softly asked. LeRosse looked down at her chest. He breasts were gone, only several pairs of nipples remained. Her entire chest was coated in a thick layer of cream colored fur, and the fur was slowly crawling up her arms and neck.
“There appears to be a virus or some other force that is changing our bodies, I have been unable to ascertain exactly what it is. For the time being try to remain calm.” She requested. To her right, she suddenly heard an animalistic sound. She turned her head to see what looked like a giant mink in a panic desperately trying to get clothing off. She didn’t need long to realize that the mink was O’Henry. The giant mink was still losing mass and she estimated he would be undistinguishable from a natural mink in less then a minute.
She dropped her tricorder and put both of her hands on the mink’s shoulders.
“Mr. O’Henry, listen to my voice. You need to stay focused! We will be rescued and a way will be found to reverse this! Do not let it win!” she desperately said. The quickly shrinking mink seemed to understand her and sadly nodded its furry head.
She turned her attention back to David who was rubbing his chest as if he were trying to get his shirt off. She asked if it was okay to help him remove it and he nodded his head.
With his shirt removed, she was able to see the problem. In place of the light hair on his chest, David now had A light covering of white feathers on his chest!
“This is not good!” she exclaimed.
The odd feelings in Barns feet and at the base of his spine had worsened in the last couple of hours. Unfortunately, it has also spread. His skin was itching and he was sweating. He couldn’t understand why he felt so warm; it was mild out but hardly hot. While Soatome and Backburn sought out shelter, he had elected to stay behind in case someone else found their escape pod and contacted them.
The strange feeling in his feet was quickly becoming more then a simple strange feeling. His shoes were starting to feel very constrictive and something inside of him was begging him to remove them. He found a large smooth rock, sat down and quickly untied and removed both shoes and his socks.
His feet were still aching and he gently rubbed them with his hands. Something about them felt off, they felt longer, and softer!
“What the hell?” he cursed as he massaged them and looked down to see that a soft layer of light orange fur had grown in while he had been rubbing them. But that wasn’t all, a large black padding had developed on the underside of both feet. Both of his feet abruptly started to tingle and before his horrified eyes, they both started getting longer! Their ‘arch’ flattened out and they seemed to get thinner. A peculiar sensation manifested in his toes and he could only observe in terror as his big toes toenails grew into long black claws and his pinkie and ring toes merged into a single toe. His middle and index toes followed suit and merged to form a third longer toe, leaving him with only three digits per foot. The toenails of each of his new toes grew into long black claws to complete the change. His feet continued to grow longer until they were nearly twice the size that they had been.
He stared as his now kangaroo feet in mystification. What he supposed to do now? How was he to explain this to his colleagues? As he contemplated his situation, the changes spread. The tingling in the base of his spine that had been nagging for the past couple of hours suddenly erupted in the form of a massive growth that forced him to stand up as it shredded the back of his pants. It grew and grew, until it was nearly a meter long. Its weight was impressive enough to completely throw off his center of gravity and he fell on his right side onto the ground.
As he lay on his side, he grabbed his new appendage with his hands and simply stroked it in fascination. He had a tail, a long furry and very strong tail! He could only guess what would happen next. He had no idea how he was supposed to live like this. As if sensing his despair, his legs tingled and a massive pressure began to build up in his hips. He closed his eyes, unwilling to watch the next terrible change his body was about to undergo. His hips suddenly began to expand, tearing the waist of his pants to shreds as they near doubled in width in less then 30 seconds. He knew that such growth in so little time should have been impossible, yet it was happening to him even as he thought those very thoughts. As if on cue, his legs began to grow until they were nearly 50 percent longer then before. Massive amounts of muscles developed inside of them, which would greatly augment his ability to run, or more specifically hop. He opened his eyes and gazed upon he impossible; from the waist down he was a kangaroo, there was no sign that any part below there had ever been human. His legs had seemed to balance out his center of gravity and for the first time, he stood up on his new feet. Strange new feelings nearly overcame him as a cool breeze blew against his furry tail and new powerful legs. His pants had been so badly ripped by his expanding hips and legs that he saw no need to keep them on, they weren’t giving him any coverage anyway, so he torso the tattered remains of them off.
Every pour of his skin was suddenly overwhelmed by a tremendous radiance and prickling sensation. He closed his eyes from the bizarre feeling just as his skin was completely covered by the growth of light orange fur. He opened his eyes and looked at his body. He was furry, a fact which scared the hell out of him. As if losing his ship was bad enough, having his humanity torn from him like this was almost unbearable. This cowardly act by whoever was in that massive ship orbiting the planet enraged him. How was he supposed to fight them and avenge the loss of his ship if he was going to be a marsupial? How was he supposed to even take himself seriously trapped in the body of an animal he had seen at zoos?
Before he could even finish those questions, the inside of his torso ached considerably. Waves of dizziness and nausea nearly overwhelmed him as his organs and bone structures were rearranged into a form more fitting for a kangaroo and less fitting for a man. He flexed the muscles in his arms in rage, whoever was causing this was going to pay. Unfortunately, the changes had other ideas. As they spread to his arms, his muscles seemed to diminish, strength flowed out of them almost if someone had tapped into and was physically siphoning it away. His arm very quickly lost much of their usefulness and would soon be regulated to little more then picking berries and leafs off of bushes for eating. The final changes to his arms commenced as his hands temporarily went numb. His thumbs were absorbed into his hands as his fingers reshaped into shorter digits with large black claws. A fifth digit grew out from each hand; each growing a short black claw before the feeling in his hands turned paws returned. Barns could only sob in distress. From the neck down, he was an animal.
He had been hopeful that his head would remain human so at least some part of his human self could be preserved but his hopes were dashed as the changes worked their way to his head and face. The area surrounding his nose and mouth tingled and felt incredibly warm as his face grew out into a long snout. His head changed from a more rounded human shape into a longer kangaroo like shape. He felt his tongue and vocal cords change and knew that it would be very difficult if not impossible for him to speak. His ears began to grow, becoming more rounded and huge. As his snout finished its growth, he reached up his right paw and felt it. It felt strange to be touched by a kangaroo’s paw, and felt even stranger to feel a snout and long face. He felt the rest of his face with his paw, when he reached his ears, he was in awe at their immense, almost comical proportions. The warmth in his face subsided and his changed seemed complete. He was no longer human; the human Timothy Barns no longer existed, at least in body. He was now a red kangaroo.
Barns couldn’t help but feel amusement at the fact that he still had his shirt on. The kangaroo part of his mind told him to take it off, as kangaroos don’t wear clothes. He really didn’t have anything better to do, so he complied. Although he was technically naked as he stood there, he didn’t feel as such. Oddly, he felt perfectly natural. His new enhanced sense of hearing alerted him to the sound of two people approaching his position. The entire world seemed to come alive as he took in the sounds that, as a human had only been a whisper. He wondered how good his sense of smell was and took a deep breach. His mind as almost overwhelmed with dozens of smells he hadn’t of been able to smell at all before. Despite the fact that he was trapped in the body of a beast, the entire world seemed much more alive to him. He started to sort out the scents that he had received just moments ago. Two of them were oddly familiar and they seemed to be coming from the two people he could hear approaching him. His instincts were telling him to hop away. But the rational side of him, his human side told him to stay. Somehow, he had to let them know who he really was. He may have been a kangaroo in body but in his mind he was still very much himself.
Soatome and Backburn walked back to the site of the escape pod. Something strange was going on for both of them.
Both of Soatome's arms had become thicker but a little shorter and very furry, both were covered in a thick pelt of brown fur. The most shocking effect though was his hands. His thumbs had absorbed into his hands and his hands had become much thicker. His fingers had shrunk somewhat, but had also become a lot thicker, and very furry. He had developed pads on the bottom of each finger and on the bottom of his hands. At this point he had to admit that paws seemed to be a better words to describe them. It had not stopped there. His chest was now sprouting the same fur, although it was a much lighter shade.
Backburn had undergone changes of his own. A long tail had grown from the base of his spine. It was covered in brown fur similar to the fur on Soatome’s arms. They appeared to be becoming the same species. His feet had undergone changes like Soatome hands had. His feet were now rounder and look like a large version of a cat’s paw. The claws that had grown from his toenails were very sharp. Each toe only had four digits; the big toes on both of his feet had absorbed into them as he had changed. He had lost some height as his legs had shortened, but much like Soatome’s arms also become thicker and much more powerful. His pants were too long for him in this state and his tail interfered with wear them, so he had removed them. At the first sign of the changes they had tried to contact Barns, but they had been unable to establish a link due to interference.
As they approached the location of their escape pod, they saw something completely unexpected. A kangaroo stood by the pod, as if waiting for them.
Soatome clued in to the fact that this process was probably not exclusive to them. He nudged Backburn gently and told him that he thought that the kangaroo was indeed Barns. At first Backburn looked at him like he was crazy, but then he realized that given their current predicament, such a suggestion wasn’t altogether unlikely. Backburn slowly approached the terrified looking kangaroo.
“Captain? Is that you in there.” He asked.
With a sad look on his face, the kangaroo nodded his head.
“I don’t understand, why would he fully change if we’ve only partially changed?” Soatome asked.
“Whatever is causing this probably effects everyone a bit differently, it’s not suspiring that some people would change faster then others,” Backburn said.
“You mean it could accelerate for one or both of us at any time?” Soatome inquired. Backburn nodded his head just as Soatome’s chest tingled oddly. With a little help from Backburn, he was able to get his shirt off. He saw something startling. The fur on his chest had been busy in its growth. There was no skin visible though the fur, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that he suddenly had eight nipples on his chest.
“Nipples? But I thought only the females had nipples?” Soatome nervously asked as he examined the nipples with his furry paws. He suddenly felt a very disturbing pushing feeling in his manhood, and he knew exactly what it meant.
“Oh my god, I think I’m turning into a female!” he explained, far less then happy at the prospect.
“Try to stay calm, for all we know, panicking only accelerates it! The longer we can hold out the better the chance of rescue!” Backburn yelled in a desperate attempt to calm to young man down.
Soatome desperately clawed at his pants, he had to know for sure if he was even a ‘he’ anymore. After a few minutes of struggling, he managed to get them off and what he saw horrified him. Nothing ‘down there’ looked male anymore and he appeared to be starting to grow a tail not unlike Backburn’s.
“It’s true! This thing has made me a female! This isn’t fair, I didn’t ask for this!” Soatome wailed.
Backburn put his hands on the ensign’s shoulders in a desperate attempt to calm him down. He could feel his own changes progressing as his chest began to feel warm and tingly.
“Whatever happens we have to hold ourselves together! We can’t give up! If they can do this to us then certainly it can be reversed! Hold out hope ensign! We will get though this!” Backburn exclaimed. With a tear in her eye, Soatome looked him in the eye and nodded her head.
The small shuttle skimmed across the surface of the planet. It had managed to evade detection for days now by hiding within a chain of mountains. After they had detected the battle in orbit of the planet, they had withdrawn from their hiding place to locate any survivors.
At the helm of the craft was Doctor Tanya Umsley, she was the only one of the group who was able to operate the shuttle in her new form. Three days ago, she had found herself changing and despite her best efforts, she couldn’t do a thing about it. When her changes had concluded, her human self was gone and she found herself trapped in the body of a gray kangaroo. It had been a battle ever since to maintain her composure. Parts of her wanted to fly the shuttle to an environment more suited to her new body and simply run off and go wild. But the rest of her did not want to resign to being a wild animal and fought diligently to maintain control.
Her four colleagues that had been surveying the area with her for wildlife had become a badger, hyena, chinchilla and horse respectively. Out of fear of the badger and hyena succumbing to their instincts, she had allowed the chinchilla to stay in her pouch for the ride. The strange scents of the former human occupants in the shuttle were nearly driving her insane. Her sense of smell was far stronger in this form and the combination of scents from the badger and horse had almost driven her to land the shuttle and hop out.
The past 3 days had been a struggle, communication at first had been impossible but Tanya had managed to jury rig a universal translator to translate their animal sounds. She wasn’t aware exactly how or why, but she could understand the calls of a kangaroo. Twenty minutes into the journey, she had requested the computer play classical music as it helped her to relax.
When the shuttle's power had again begun to fluctuate shortly after the escape pods had landed, she had managed to raise a shield to deflect the dampening field that seemed to be causing the power drain. As the shuttle flew over a cooler forested region, she picked up three lifesigns within close proximity to an escape pod. She chittered in delight at her discovery of survivors and prepared to land the shuttle close to them.
Tagomi sat over Ensign Hermann, as the young man lay on the ground in obvious discomfort. He scanned the ensign with his tricorder in an effort to ascertain why his changes were progressing so oddly.
“I don’t understand, it is as if your DNA and cellular structure is being altered to conform to several different species.” He said in bewilderment.
It was difficult for Hermann to speak his mouth and nose had formed into a hairless snout with several whiskers at the end.
“The radiation from that cave, it must have caused this somehow,” he said, struggling to speak.
The hair on the rest of his body had since fallen out. His hands resembled the paws of a rat but appeared bonier. All of his skin was turning a pinkish color and taking on a dry texture. He had lost a considerable amount of mass and height. He was only about ½ his normal height. Tagomi had been forced to remove his clothes to prevent his falling into and possibly suffocating within them. A long rat like segmented tail had grown out from the base of his spine and his hips and the shape of his legs had altered such that they appeared more suited for quadrupedal locomotion rather then bipedal. He looked much like a massive version of a Cartesian vole.
To help keep Tagomi and Hermann warm, King had used his phaser to heat a small group of rocks a couple of meters away from them. But he didn’t need them to keep warm. He had since removed his clothes out of desperation. A thick pelt of fur had covered his entire body; it was dark brown on top and light brown on his belly. He had lost some height as his legs had decreased in length but increased in width. His feet had become huge and resembled furry miniature snowshoes. Whatever he was becoming, it appeared to be a species that would thrive in the cold air and snow. An hour ago, the changes had progressed to their current level in a matter of minutes. Neither he nor Tagomi would figure out why the changes seemed to progress differently in everyone.
Tagomi’s changes had ceased after his ears had become long and furry and the fur had spread to his face. His black hair had fallen out and been replaced by white fur. His ears were slowly moving towards the top of hip head. Otherwise, the changes had suspended.
King paced back and forth. He was feeling very nervous and restless. The sound of something in the distance caught his ear. He looked up to see a Federation shuttlecraft fly above them and come to a landing several meters away. He was hopeful that help had arrived and told Tagomi’s to stay with Hermann while he investigated.
As fast as his legs could carry him, he quickly ran towards the shuttle. When he arrived, he saw the door to it opening. His hopes of rescue were dashed when he saw a gray kangaroo with a chinchilla in her pouch hop out.
“Who are you?” he asked. Tanya retrieved a PADD from her pouch and typed at it before handing it to him. He read over what it said, she was part of the crew of the outpost. They had presumably all been changed like this; her group was surveying a mountainous region and had managed to evade the scans from the ship in orbit. She had managed to maintain the shuttle power through this time around by erecting a special shield. Tanya shivered in the cool air; this climate was not exactly a pristine climate for a kangaroo.
“This isn’t exactly the right weather for a kangaroo, I have 2 other people with me. If we can fit them in your shuttle then maybe we can find others and can someone get out of here.” King said. Tanya nodded her head.
As King walked back towards Tagomi and Hermann a sudden wave of nauseous overcame him.
“Damn it! NO!” he yelled. Strange emotions began pouring into his mind, which made it difficult to concentrate. A heat built up in his arms and hands as his arms began to shorten slightly until they were no longer then his already short legs. His arms began to thicken as his hands enlarged. Both is his thumbs were drawn into his hands. He fell to the ground as his center of gravity went haywire. A warm tingling sensation spread across his torso as his face began to tingle. Massive amount of muscle and fat were added to his torso, as it became rounder and rounder. His nose and mouth felt as if a great pressure were building from under them as they pushed into and merged to form a muzzle. He tried to speak but only animalistic growling sounds emerged from his newly acquired muzzle. His ears changed shape and became furry and rounded. The bones in his neck altered shape and his head was forced into a position that would be looking forward if he were standing on all fours. His skull altered in shape and position so that the top of his neck met with the top of his skull. The rest of his skull grew longer as his forehead changed from a shape of angling straight to a shape of angling down towards his muzzle. He could only guess how his brain survived this terrible procedure intact. Somehow, what was causing this assured that it would. His torso felt huge, round and incredibly strong and sturdy as the final changes to this body were completed. Instinctively, he stood up on fours and surveyed the area. He could see Tanya and Tagomi approach him, but something seemed different. He could smell the white fur on Tagomi’s face and recognized his ears. His instincts were telling him that it was the fur and ears of a rabbit, his food. He turned around to see Tanya looking at him in fear. His instincts didn’t recognize her, but her scents seemed appealing to her. Whatever she was, she smelled tasty.
Tagomi cautionary approached the animal that King had become.
“Sir? Can you hear me? Are you in there?” he asked.
The sound of a familiar voice calmed his instincts somewhat and he nodded his head. Tagomi scanned him with his tricorder to figure out what he had become.
“In case you’re wondering sir, you’re a wolverine.” He said. The prospect seemed interesting to King but at the same time terrifying. His career plans didn’t exactly involve being stranded on a planet and getting turned into an animal. He could smell something else close by, something that smelled very appetizing. He walked towards the scent with Tagomi and Tanya following closely. What he found confused his instincts.
Having turned around Ensign Hermann lay on his stomach as his final changes taking hold. He tried to say something, but only a shrill squeak emitted from his snout. He watched as the former human, who now appeared similar in appeared to a large Cardasian vole gazed at him in terror. His stomach started to growl and his instincts clouded his judgment, he had to have that animal.
Tagomi could tell what he was thinking and tried to restrain him.
“Mr. King, you have to restrain yourself! If you allow your instincts to take over and control you, you may lose all chances of regaining your humanity.” He said. King shook his head, he knew he needed to regain control, but he also needed to satisfy this sudden hunger.
As if on queue, the group heard a strange noise several meters to their right. King suddenly smelt another source of food and he followed the scent until he came to a large pile of various types of meat that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. The human part of his mind questioned where this new source of food came from, but the wolverine part of his mind didn’t care. He was hungry and there was food and that was all that mattered. Without another thought, the wolverine ran toward the meat and began to devour it.
As he ate, Tagomi suddenly felt a strange wave of dizziness. His chest felt itchy, as his arms and legs. He could tell that his own changes were possibly about to progress.
Tanya was feeling hungry herself. It didn’t take the duo long to see that several others types of food had appeared along side the meat. There was more then enough food for everyone. Whoever had teleported this food to their location clearly wanted to ensure that there was enough to avoid competition. Tanya hopped over to what appeared to be a collection of various types of plant matter. She took in their scent and gently grabbed at a small piece of it and tried it. It’s taste pleased her and she took another piece and another until she had eaten enough to satisfy her appetite. King seemed to have stopped eating. Tagomi scanned him and ascertained that he was indeed full. The new wolverine looked at the group, he seemed to be happy that he had found a source of food that would prevent him having to hunt for his own. His slowly walked back towards the escape pod (with Tagomi and Tanya following) and lay down beside the pod and went to sleep.
Tagomi observed Ensign Hermann to figure out exactly what he was going to do with him when his entire body began to itch like mad. He scratched the itching and eventually lifted up his shirt and discovered the same white fur that had grown on his face growing in his chest.
“I don’t think I’m going to be able to hold out for much longer. You cannot survive in this climate, I recommend you find a warmer climate to settle in.” Tagomi said to Tanya.
Tanya had little choice, she knew she couldn’t survive here and that it might be a long time before rescue came. She felt terrible about leaving Tagomi there and typed an offer on her PADD asking him to come with her.
“Thank you for the offer but I cannot leave my colleagues behind. A wolverine is a northern climate animal and this climate seems suitable for Mr. King in his new form. I must stay behind to ensure Ensign Herman’s safety. I will attempt to use your modifications on the escape pod to call for help. In the meantime, find a place you can survive, we might be here a very long time, perhaps for the rest of our lives.”
Having little options left, Tanya nodded her head and hopped back towards her shuttle.
The fur on Tagomi’s body was getting thicker by the second. What before was a cool temperature was quickly becoming a warm temperature. By all logical definition, what was happening was impossible. However, the fact that he had a sleeping wolverine that used to be human and a vole like creature standing only a meter away from him, seemed to confirm that despite the logical impossibility of what was happening, it was indeed possible.
Knowing that he might have little time before his ability to manipulate objects was completely lost; Tagomi rushed towards the escape pod. He had an idea to generate a shield around it like the one Tanya's shuttle was using but he was unsure he would be able to set it up in time. The heat from the growth of fur on his chest was becoming almost unbearable so he threw his shirt off and discarded it on the ground. He ran into the escape pod and opened a hatch under a console to the right of the one he had worked on earlier. As he did so, the growth of fur began spreading down his arms.
Waves of nausea and dizziness began to flow through him, but he knew that he had to stay focused. He grabbed a small tool and began to work at the circuits. Raising the type of shield would require some rerouting of circuits but he felt that he could do it before his changes had extended to such a level that he would be unable to operate the equipment. As he rerouted the first circuit, the fur seemed to cease at his arms and began to spread down his legs and onto his feet. He felt a sinking feeling and the world seemed to be getting bigger. He was shrinking and he knew it! A pressure built up in both of his feet and his legs began their process of reshaping into a shape much more suited for hopping. Instinctively, he maneuvered his feet around to be able to kick his shoes and socks off. His feet felt very different in his shoes, as did the feeling of the fabric against his leg. With his feet free, he instinctively put down his tool and pulled his pants off. They were several sizes too big for him anyway, although he wondered why he’d even have them on in the first place, animals don’t wear clothes! As he picked the tool back up and resumed work, he tried his best to concentrate mentally. He could feel himself starting to slip away and he knew that he had to concentrate, lest he fail and doom everyone to spend the rest of their lives as simple animals on an isolated world over a thousand light years away from their homeworlds. If he could have seen his feet, he would have seen that they had not only become furry, but they had also become longer relative to the size of his body, and developed pads on the bottom. The big toe and index on each foot had fused and become short, rounded and covered with a thick insulating layer of fur. The pinkie and ring toes had followed suit, as had the middle toes. His feet were a long 3-toed shape like those you’d expect to find on a rabbit. As he re-routed the third and fourth circuits, the world seemed to get ever bigger and it became difficult to reach the circuits. He knew that if he could just hold on a few seconds more that he would be able to reroute the last few circuits. This would allow him to activate a basic shield that would permit him to get enough power back to the pod to send out a basic distress signal.
As he reached up to reroute the 3rd circuit, he felt a tingling at the base of his spine, if only he could have seen the short fluffy tail that had grown in those few seconds, he might have realized how little time he had left. His torso began to shrink and he could feel his organs and bones reshaping. It didn’t hurt much but the feeling was bizarre enough to make him feel ill. He shook it off and finished work on re-routing the third circuits before moving to the fourth. The fur growth on his arms resumed its progress and spread to his hands. His fingers started going numb as they began to shrink. He hoped that he could use his mental abilities to stop the change before it affected his hands enough that he could not be able to manipulate objects and closed his eyes and pictured the change moving to his almost normal feeling (albeit smaller) legs and hips. As he did so, the feeling temporarily return to his fingers, he looked at them and say that they had developed a light coating of white fur and were a bit stubbier but he was still able to use them to hold the tool. As he resumed work, he felt his legs begin to twitch, massive warmth came over his hips and they felt as if they were melting. He concentrated on his work as best as he could to take his mind off of the terrible process his body was undergoing. Again, the world seemed to get bigger and just before it became impossible to reach the controls, he finished the work. Now all he had to do was to use the last bit of emergency power to reactivate the shield thus allowing the pod to function normally. His legs and hips stopped tingling and the warmth died down and he was able to get a look at his body. His torso was much rounder and his legs stuck on the air from the sides of his body rather then the bottom. From the neck down, with the exception of his arms and hands, he looked like a giant rabbit.
With great effort was able to use his arms to turn himself over and push himself out from under the console. As he did so, he felt a terrible sinking feeling that felt almost as if he were falling. He watched in horror, as everything very quickly became huge. He was shrinking and would soon be the size of a normal rabbit! His time was almost out, all he had to do was to activate a single console and he could get help. As he stood up on his now hind legs he felt his new center of gravity take hold. Regular walking would be very difficult; he would have to hop. He looked up at the console and gauged whether or not he could make it. He felt pretty silly; his body looked like a rabbit’s body but his with the exception of his ears and the fur, his face still looked Vulcan. But that was about to change. He was having trouble gauging whether or not he would be able to make it to the console in a single jump when his hands began to tingle again. The changes to them resumed as the fur began to grow until it was a white pelt. His thumbs were absorbed into his hands as his fingers shrunk down until they were very short and stubby. They grew thicker until each finger was touching another and was little more then a digit. It would very difficult, if not impossible to manipulate an object now, he thought. The changes spread up his neck and resumed work on his face.
His head began to reshape into a shorter and more rounded shape. His mouth and nose merged to form a short and blunt muzzle. His teeth and gums felt very odd, as all but his top and bottom two front teeth became loose fell out and crumbled to dust. He felt his top and bottom two teeth reshaping into a classic bucktooth shape, as they became sharper and developed into a lagomorphic shape and structure. He would need to find something to gnaw on, these teeth would continuously grow and he would have to keep them trim. He had no idea where that thought came from; all he could surmise was that the changes were responsible. His eyes suddenly felt strange and almost like putty and his vision went blurry and incoherent. In response he closed his eyes as they began to move to the sides of his face and took on a darker appearance. As the feeling ceased, he opened his eyes to see that his vision had changed. He now saw the world through the eyes of a rabbit. The final stages of his transformation manifested itself as his ears migrated to the top of his head. The nausea and other feelings settled it and it was complete. He was a rabbit.
He stood on his hind legs and examined his body as best as he could. Instinct was trying to overwhelm him, telling him to hop away and find shelter. He sniffed the air and could smell the wolverine that King had become. His instincts went into full alert, telling him to get out of there.
But, despite his current form and predicament, he knew he had to stay focused at least long enough to get the shield operational and get the distress signal out. He again looked up at the console and immediately jumped up to it. His new legs were powerful and jumping was now like a game to him. He no longer had to think about it; it simply came to him. He didn’t have time to think about this though. He quickly hopped over to the part of the console with the startup sequence, with his paws, it would be difficulty to manipulate the controls but he would try his best.
He activated the console and tied every spare watt of energy the emergency generators could spare into the shield generator. A few seconds later, the newly configured shield came online and slowly powered up. As it did, the effect of the power drain became less and less prominent as the pod’s power systems began to power back up. Sensing the power up, the vole like creature that Herman had become scampered into the pod and eyed the rabbit that Tagomi had become. Tagomi slowly hopped over to the communications station. With his altered vision it was difficult but he managed to press the right buttons to send out a distress signal. The computer beeped and informed him that interference was preventing a signal from getting through. But he wasn’t about to give up hope. He hopped over to the power allocation station and again, despite the challenges his new body offered him, he did his best to concentrate and operate the controls. He allocated all power (except that from the shield) into the transceiver array to strengthen the signal as much as possible. He knew doing so would blow it out after only a few seconds, but hopefully those few seconds would be enough to get the signal though. As the final changes were made, the computer warned him about the overload, if he could speak, he would have simply told the computer it was alright, but instead he had to type the confirmation onto the console. Having done that, his sensitive ears could hear the sounds of various power systems failing as power was reallocated. He hopped back over to the communications station and waited for the computers to confirm. Once it did, he hit the button to send the distress signal and again the signal went out. He could hear the console starting to overload, and hopped off of it as fast as his legs would carry him. As he landed on the ground he heard the computer say that the signal had been successfully sent and. A second later, the communications console sparked and every system in the pod went dead, including the shield. He had done it, now all he could do was wait for help to arrive.
Breathing a sigh of relief, the rabbit hopped out of the pod and surveyed the world before him. The wolverine that King had become was still sleeping and his instincts were telling him to get out of there before he woke up, lest he end up dinner. He knew that at this point, surviving was his top priority and allowed his instincts to be his guide. With one last look at the pod, he hopped away from it towards a group of trees in the distance.