Topic: Flight of the Tiresias
"Captain's Log. Starship Tiresias. Stardate, uh... Hm. Ugh, I really can't bother to keep this shit straight. Look, this isn't my usual deal, alright? Just because I'm technically the captain by default, doesn't mean I know what fucking stardate it is. Is that even a real thing?
It's a Tuesday, 620 days after we established our little science community on Orbitar. Our happy little family. Except, everybody pretty much hates each other. That's what happens when you cram seven people in a box together for two years. None of you at corporate would know though, 'cause you never visited. Time moved real slow down there, mostly 'cause of the moronically long rotation cycle of the planet. You think getting a decent night's sleep back home sucks? Try getting a wink of it when the sun's up hundreds of hours at a time. Shit sucks, alright? That's all I'm saying.
Um, anyway. I'm recording this as an official report to the Anahita Corporation, to tell whoever's listening that all six remaining personnel have successfully evacuated the secure facility on Orbitar. A little weird you guys didn't give us a heads up about the asteroid, 'cause god knows you fancy fucks have better scanning equipment out there than what you left us with. Hey, how's Dominic doing, by the way? Dude left like three weeks ago, we expected to see him back after a couple days. Guess he was better off though, huh? Had the right idea, take a sweet ass vacation while us dirt scrapers deal with moving day. Tell the dumb bastard his loyal underlings miss the hell outta him. I dunno what the "genetic anomalies" were that you found in him, but I seriously do hope he gets better.
Anyway, it'll please you to know that we packed up all the confidential shit, real clean-like. Anette's got it all organized by name, color, flavor... heh. The usual OCD crazy chick shit. Can't wait to get away from her, honestly. Monsieur's got us all in order, though. We're lucky we got him packed with the rest of the junk.
I hope this actually reaches you guys. Do you even know if we're still alive? Our comms tower on Orbitar was probably destroyed by now, and our on-board comms definitely aren't cutting it from all the way out here. Whatever, I'll just make you listen to this in person when I get there, I guess. Chief Security Officer- er, I mean, Captain Michelle Creer, signing off."
Michelle turns off the digital recorder in the comms device strapped to her wrist. She leans forward in her seat, rubbing her temples in annoyance. Several locks of wavy brown hair fall in front of her face, and she roughly brushes it out of her right eye. She lets it sit over her left, though. Not much point in showing off the eyepatch any more than she needs to. Security's good work, but it doesn't mean she's proud of the scars she's taken in her field.
She sits in a large, almost throne-like seat in the center of the bridge of the starship Tiresias, a shipping vessel used to transport supplies to and from the Orbitar Scientific Research Station in the 42 Draconis system. The fanciful chair clashes hard with her utilitarian blue jumpsuit, the only thing she's bothered to wear in all her time on Orbitar. All five of her impromptu crew members surround her, all on some level feeling awkward at having listened to that trainwreck of a log entry. Standing directly to her left is her boyfriend and xenobiology expert, Andy. Or, Andrew, as his nametag states, but nobody but his bosses have ever called him that.
"Hey, hon, you feeling alright?" he says at almost a whisper, as he places a tender hand on her shoulder.
She side-eyes him. Same goofy expression he always has. Same messy blonde hair, same toothy grin. She can never decide whether she wants to punch or kiss that stupid mouth of his.
"Doesn't matter." she grimly replies. "Let's just get moving already. Hey, Megan? How's our route looking?"
Directly to her right is the team's star cartographer, essential in their secret research on Orbitar. During their assignment, she became Michelle's closest friend. Although, Michelle would probably word it more like "ally."
"Er, not great, Michelle. Because the Anahita Corporation insisted we avoid interstellar warp highways, we'd have to use some backdoor warps. But honestly, I can't tell you where they are. Our warpcomm tower was destroyed with the rest of Orbitar, so I'm kind of working blind here."
Michelle's face scrunches up, trying her hardest to hold back harshness. It's the one favor Michelle grants her "allies," the benefit of the doubt.
"Flying blind? Isn't your entire job pretty much completely about knowing where shit is in the sky?!" she grumbles. "What other options do we have, then?"
Megan opens her starmap on the screen in front of her. She makes several flicking motions with her fingers, looking for something in particular. She zooms in on one point on the map, and looks back up at the new captain.
"Best I can do is point us in the direction of corporate homeworld and hope we get there in time." she says with a shrug.
"In time for what?" Michelle says, straightening up a bit.
"In time for us to not die, 'Chelle."
The voice came from the corner of the room, from one of the engineers, Shapley. They were standing as tall as they could, despite their short stature. They're dressed in their typical black hoodie and torn jeans, with the hood up barely concealing their wild blue hair. Shapley was a human, but was raised on the remote planet Ovida, where all people, regardless of sex, grow up non-binary. It showed, as even though Shapley was biologically female, they wore clothes that disguised their already relatively flat chest and thin curves.
"I say we've barely got enough fuel to make it, if we have enough at all."
"We've got enough, I checked." said the blonde buxom woman standing next to Shapley, as she pushes up her glasses. She's a bold contrast to their conservative appearance. Lindsay, the other engineer onboard, makes a habit of getting on Shapley's nerves whenever possible, just as Shapley takes every opportunity they can to prove how much more competent they are at their job than Lindsay.
"If your ponytail wasn't so tight, you'd realize that the amount of fuel we started with an hour ago is more than the amount of fuel we have now. I'll go check again if it makes you feel better." Shapley snips.
Michelle groans. "Oh my god, enough with this shit. Can we go just a little while without you two trying to kill each other? Shapley, if Lindsay says we have enough, that's good enough for me. Megan, set a course, we need to get moving as soon as possible."
The people in the room all look at each other nervously. Does she really not realize how serious this situation is? The only person there who hasn't spoken up yet, Anette, stares at Andy, silently urging him to talk to Michelle.
"Erm, hon, don't you think-"
"I'm the captain, right?!" she barks. "So if I say we go forward, we go forward! That's officially an ORDER." she speaks forcefully, directing the last word toward Megan. Megan hurriedly starts programming their route on her screen.
"Now if everyone's done giving me shit for taking action before we all die out here, you can all head back to the common room." Michelle waves them off.
Everyone leaves, except for Anette. The meek girl with the black sideshave walks up to Michelle and clears her throat.
"Michelle, you and I both know what's out there..."
"Nope, sorry, you're gonna have to tell me. Today, preferably."
"The stuff we've been researching and documenting for two years. The clouds?"
"Oh. That. Right."
"They're pure energy, not like anything ever recorded in the universe. We literally don't know anything about what they're for or how they interact with organic matter, I really don't think-"
"I already gave the order, didn't I? You think I should change my mind?"
"Just, for the safety of everyone on board... maybe we should get on the interstellar warpway." Anette looks down immediately after finishing this sentence. She knows the response she's about to get, but she had to try.
"...The warpways? Didn't I literally JUST say why we couldn't do that?! I was given direct orders from the CHAIRMAN of Anahita that we were to, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES, enter public space transitways. Do I need to spell that out for you?!"
"Exactly. Back to the common room, please."
Anette turns and leaves without a second word. This is why she likes working in the archives, she never has to deal with anybody or their ridiculous horseshit.
"They probably think it can be used for fuel or something. Like, inter-galactic warp kinda fuel. The next-level tech shit."
Shapley goes on about their theories about the Anahita higher-ups to the other crew members around the common room. They're all sitting and standing around a central table, surrounded by various sofas and chairs. The room leads directly into several bedrooms, which the crew had all laid claim to practically the moment they stepped foot on the ship.
"I bet they're gonna smoke it. I mean, giant colorful clouds of who-knows-what, that's the first thing you do with it, right? Especially when you're that rich" Andy jokes, earning a laugh from the group.
Anette listens to the group but doesn't participate. She's stuck in her own head about a very similar question: what are the clouds? It's the reason they were all hired in the first place, to sit on a rock and watch the clouds for days and days. They never got much out of it, but the planet has plenty of other interesting... biological... hmm.
She stands up and leaves the room abruptly. The four turn their head when they realize she left, but Andy launches right back into his bit.
Suddenly the door opens again. It's Michelle, looking angrier than ever. She storms into the room, and whistles to usher in the crew's robotic helper, Monsieur-87. Despite his relatively expressionless face, his LED eyes make him look rather sheepish.
"Which one of you was it." Michelle speaks in a quiet, threatening tone. "Which one of you told buckethead here to send the ship toward the warpway."
The air in the room has gone deadly still.
"Well, it doesn't matter. I told him it wasn't my command, so we're back on schedule." She takes a breath to compose herself, but doesn't do a very good job of it. "I'm in charge here when Dominic's gone. I thought that was clear, but apparently I need to keep reminding you every ten minutes. Megan, I want you to take Monsieur to the bridge and make sure we're actually going the right way."
Megan doesn't speak a word, and leaves with Monsieur without looking back. Shapley steps up. "We're going to run out of fuel," they say. "And that's going to be on you."
"Lindsay says we have enough, we have enough." She says back. Both of them are pretending to be civil, but nobody's fooled. Lindsay gives Shapley a wide smirk, which Shapley doesn't bother to acknowledge.
Andy tries to get between the two. "Hey, uh, maybe we can chill out with the death glares for a second? We've got a long trip ahead of us, I really don't think we should start it with-"
"PLEASE, Andy! Don't try to defend Shapley's insubordination. They defied a direct order and now they have to-"
"You think *I* told Monsieur to change the route? That's fucking rich." Shapley spat.
"Oh please, who else would it have been?" Lindsay called from the corner.
"Hon, please, can I talk to you in private for a sec?" Andy pleads. He takes Michelle by the hand and guides her to his room, Michelle and Shapley shouting at each other the whole time.
"Miss, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we've got a bit of an obstruction in our path." Monsieur says gently, pointing out the front of the bridge.
Megan follows his finger to a red, crackling cloud of energy, growing larger and larger in view. "You're sure we don't have the fuel to go around?"
"Quite sure. Lindsay's reports state so, and they're signed off by Captain Creer."
Megan sighs. She supposes that's the best she can get. She raises her arm and considers for a moment getting Michelle on the comm, to triple-check, but thinks again. "If I ask her again, she's going to kick my ass." she groans. "God, I really don't have a choice, do I... Okay, Monsieur, keep us straight."
"Very well, ma'am. One minute until breach."
"So you're taking their side, over mine?!"
"I'm not taking anybody's side, I'm just trying to get you to understand where they're coming from!"
Andy finds himself on the losing end of what wasn't even supposed to be an argument in the first place. Michelle didn't used to get like this when she was just security detail, but the power is clearly a bit much for her. He knows that, which is why he is trying his hardest to be patient with her.
"How am I supposed to react when my own crew doesn't respect me? And you, of all people, aren't sticking up for me? Who's supposed to be the man in this relationship?"
"Thirty seconds until breach."
In the other room, Shapley and Lindsay can only hear muffled shouts. Lindsay has her ear pressed to the wall while Shapley stands on their tippy toes, trying to reach the air vent.
"Stupid fuckin' thing doesn't have any air flow."
"Haha, can you really not reach it? Holy shit you're short." Lindsay mocks.
"Oh my god Lindsay, are you actually incapable of shutting your fucking mouth for a single god damn second?!"
Anette approaches a shelf in the storage room, reaching for a box of fossil samples on the top rung. Not quite able to reach it, she first tries to prop herself up on the shelf opposite the box, but when that doesn't give her the height she needs she resorts to climbing up the shelf like a ladder. She's just about to touch the box, when the intercom suddenly turns on, nearly blasting her ear off. There's so much feedback that she can't make out who's talking or what they're saying.
The Tiresias barrels through the storm at full speed, but the mass isn't displaced like you'd expect from an airplane puncturing a cloud. The red abstract shape instead phases through the ship, touching and intertwining with every atom in it. Anette loses her balance as the ship begins to shake, sending her falling backwards off of the shelf. She prepares for a hell of a concussion, when suddenly her feet stop her short. That's odd. She looks down at her feet and sees them firmly planted on the shelf in front of her, but she's tilted backwards at a 45° angle. Shouldn't she still be falling?
That's when she looked behind her. Sticking out of her yellow sundress are two more legs, protruding from either side of her hips, planted on the opposite shelf. She screams.
Megan watches from the bridge as the red cloud rushes at terrifying speed into view. After the thirty-second mark, Monsieur opens up the intercom to alert the crew to the danger.
"Alert, all personnel. This ride is about to get rather bumpy. I'd suggest you find something to hang on to."
Megan winces as her view from the window fills with red. She grabs onto the back of Michelle's seat with all her strength, and closes her eyes.
Suddenly it's like she wasn't holding onto anything at all. She doesn't remember letting go, but now she is undoubtedly hurtling toward the back wall of the bridge. She hits the wall hard, and falls unconscious.
Lindsay and Shapley are sent sprawling, fortunately onto a conveniently placed cushioned sofa in the common room. Lindsay hits first, and has the displeasure of breaking Shapley's impact. Lindsay looks down to see Shapley's face buried in her breasts. She shouts and tries to shake her off, but Shapley just groans and rubs their head.
"Get off you fucking moron, you're on my tits! Ugh, why do youf feel so squishfy?"
Lindsay pauses for a second, wondering why that came out weird. Shapley starts to come to, and, realizing where they're laying, quickly sits up on the couch. The action, though, earns them a fair bit more movement than they had expected from their chest area. They put a hand to their breasts. Shapley had never needed to wear a bra before, so they weren't particularly knowledgeable about cup sizes, but these were certainly not the A-cups they've had their whole life. They felt a bit swollen, more around the B-cup range. They tent open the front of their hoodie to check and, yep, where the hell did those come from? And what the fuck is going on underneath them?! They unzip their hoodie and lift the bottom of the shirt underneath to find not two, but SIX breasts now sitting on their petite frame.
"Th-th-th-th..." they stammer. They've frozen up, baffled by what they're seeing. Lindsay thinks she's seeing things, and reaches for her glasses that had fallen onto the floor in the chaos. She puts them on to get a look, but the second she lets go they fall right off her head. Confused, she tries again, but they fall off once more. She reaches up and feels the bridge of her nose, or what's left of it. She can feel it now, flattening out as it retreats between two fleshy fat pads on either side. She traces the pads down to the sides of her mouth, which leads her to touch her lips. The sensation is like an electric shock. She pulls out her compact to get a look, and she sees her mouth shrinking as her lips pull up into a more and more vertical configuration.
"Whaf the fufk if haffemimg fo me?!" she yells, muffled by the mess of changing flesh on her face. Shapley is shaken from their own changes by this, and gawks at the sight in front of them. Lindsay, so recently a regular, attractive woman, now has a vagina for a mouth, running up into a clitoris where her nose should be. Lindsay tries to open her "mouth" as wide as possible, and sees that there's still a tongue inside, but no sign of teeth. She sticks her tongue out as far as it can go, but having it run along her new lips elicits the start of a soft moan, and she stops.
"ANDY! PUT ME DOWN RIGHT NOW YOU PIECE OF SHIT!"
The frightening energy in the room is cut by Michelle's piercing shout. Andy exits his room looking shellshocked, with a very obvious pair of new arms hiking up his shirt right under his original pair. He locks eye contact with Lindsay, looking aghast at the "face" in front of him. Right behind him comes Michelle, or at least a person they assume is Michelle. Gone is the toned 6 foot body of the imposing woman they were just getting an earful from. Now in front of them is someone almost half that height. She's practically draped in the shirt of her jumpsuit, wearing it like a dress. Her stature could almost be described as childlike if she wasn't so outrageously curvy.
Michelle seems hardly bothered by her crewmates' new features. She takes one glance around, then looks down at herself.
"Get Monsieur on the comm. NOW."
Megan's head is swimming. She's seeing stars. Wait, are those stars? No, she's face down on the floor. Time to correct that. She splays her legs wide and tries to get her arms to push her up, but they don't respond. Must've hit my head worse than I thought, she thinks. From her vantage on the floor, she can see Monsieur speaking on the comm on the other side of the room. Her ears are ringing too loud for her to make out what he's saying, though.
He gives her a look. She can tell he's worried about her. When you spend enough time around the guy, you pick up on his mannerisms. She liked how much he worried about her sometimes. Nobody else does around here. She closes her eyes and smiles to herself, about to drift off again, when she makes out something he says.
"Yes, Miss was similarly affected. I think it's fair to assume all organic beings on board were in some way or another..."
"mons...i...uer..." she cracks, trying to get his attention. Man, I'm really in bad shape... she realizes. The back of her head feels wet. Blood? She tries to feel for any blood, but again, her arms don't feel like listening today. She rolls to her side to try to get up again, but upon doing so she sees something weird: an empty sleeve draped to her side. That... how did that happen? Did the cloud... knock my top off?
No, that can't be right. She can still feel the fabric on her body. Oh well, no mystery that a good night's rest can't solve. Her vision narrows and she drifts off again.
The next time Megan opens her eyes, everybody on the ship is on the bridge again. Well, as far as she knows. Everything is still kind of blurry, and some of them look all sorts of strange. They're all arguing, as per usual. No bother trying to follow what it's about this time. She realizes she's sitting in a chair now. How'd that happen? Monsieur puts a cold, yet comforting hand on her shoulder. She turns to look at him with a weak grin, and he looks down with the same. She tries to feel her head again, but the same problem occurs.
"What... what's wrong with my arms..."
The group goes quiet, and they all look her way. Monsieur pipes up.
"I'm afraid we've had a bit of an incident.
After getting up to speed, Megan's head starts to feel a lot clearer. Looking around, she can't believe the things she's seeing are real. Is she sure she isn't still unconscious? She'd slap herself to find out, but, well...
Most of the changes are apparent. Lindsay, though, is in the corner of the room wearing a surgical mask. Megan assumes her change had something to do with her mouth. She looks more down than usual. Good, Megan thinks. Nice to take her down a peg every now and then.
Her attention shifts as Shapley teases Michelle for how silly she looks, sitting in her proportionally huge captain's seat, especially in her new makeshift clothing. Michelle has wrapped a scarf around her chest to form a functional top, and is wearing a pair of stretchy shorts as a bottom. Andy goes to put a hand on her shoulder to soothe her, but his lack of mastery over his new limbs results in him raising a lower arm too, accidentally hitting her in the ass. She glares at him, and he backs up a couple paces.
"Monsieur, you said the cloud is directly responsible for these changes?" Andy asks.
"Yes sir, it's very likely. However, physical changes of this nature are completely unprecedented, scientifically speaking. I'm not actually sure how this is possible."
Anette pipes up, awkwardly stumbling from her chair with her now bizarrely wide hips. She shuffles her feet awkwardly over to the nearby table, where her fossil samples are sitting.
"I can't tell you why, but I can tell you it is definitely precedented. Look at these microbial fossils." She focuses a microscope on the specimen, then brings up an image projected on her screen. "On the screen you can see the typical mactythicae we find on Orbitar, ordinarily at impact sites. They come from the system's asteroid belt. They're super common, yeah? Well, look at the fossils. They're different. Not SUPER different, but different enough to matter. You could write it off as evolution doing it's thing, but look closely. Every single specimen in the same fossil is a variation on the original species. I think these microbes passed through a cloud, just like we did."
Andy gets a closer look, and is shocked.
"She's right. That's... that's weird as hell."
"THAT'S weird as hell?!" Michelle yells. "Look at me! I'm a fucking Oompa-Loompa! It's a good thing we're bringing all our research on the clouds with us, otherwise I don't know how the hell Anahita would fix us."
"Sorry sir," Monsieur interjects. "But I feel obligated to point out that there is a significant chance that, even with your research, Anahita Corporation won't know how to solve your problem. And the chance is even greater that we'll pass through more clouds on our trip there, making the mutations significantly more difficult for them to deal with."
Michelle pauses, thinking about her options. "Monsieur, stall the ship until we can figure out a gameplan. I'm not dealing with any more weird-ass changes."
"Stall the ship?!" Shapley shouts. "How many times do I have to tell you, the ship is LOW ON FUEL you half-sized moron?"
"Ve coulb bifabwe augfiwiawy fyfpemf fap bom'f biwecpwy wewate po mafigafum ow wife fuppowp..." Lindsay chokes out.
"What the hell did she just say?" Michelle asks, briefly breaking her death stare with Shapley.
"She said we could disable auxiliary systems that don't directly relate to navigation or life support." Shapley says.
"If Lindsay thinks it'll work, then you'd both better get on it." Michelle orders.
"Oh, well if Lindsay says..." Shapley mumbles sardonically as the two leave the bridge.
"Monsieur, halt the ship immediately."
"Afraid not, sir." Monsieur says without an inch of emotion.
"...Pardon me?" Michelle is taken aback.
"For the safety of the crew and the cargo, I cannot go through with an order that I believe will result in total disaster. It strikes me as exponentially more important to preserve the lives of our crew over their forms."
"I hate to say it, but I agree with him." Anette says. "As annoying as this is, it's manageable. Asphyxiating to death isn't so manageable."
"Fine!!" Michelle barks. "If you're not interested in what the captain has to say, then you might as well get the hell out of here!"
"I agree wholeheartedly." Anette responds. "If you need me, you'll find me in the archives."
She leaves the room in a flurry of confused steps, carrying her box of fossils with her. The sound of her footsteps alternative between shoes and bare feet can be heard through the silence for a good while after she's gone.
"If we're stalling, then I could take the time to find us an alternate path." says Megan.
"Don't bother, you're useless in the state you're in. Even ignoring your total lack of fingers, you're concussed as hell. Monsieur, take her to her room so she can recover."
Andy gives Megan an apologetic look. Monsieur hesitantly concedes and puts his arms around Megan, helping her walk out of the room. "Best not to argue with her right now. She's dealing with a lot."
"And we aren't?"