CS Ch 1: Alteration

“Captain Fawx, we’ll be in the Muffler Sector in seven minutes.”

The captain of the TSF Sabine ran his hand through his thinning, light blue hair. “Very well Garrick. Send a transmission to Space Force Command informing them of our position. It’s the last thing they’ll hear from us for a few days.”

“You got it, cap’n.”

Captain Bennis Fawx sat in his chair and sighed. The Muffler Sector made long range communication and scanning impossible due to interference from an electromagnetic anomaly. While in the sector, they would only have one-eighth the communication range they would normally have.

“Captain Fawx?”

The captain hit the button on his communicator. “Yes Lt. Petton?”

“Captain, seeing as we’re going to be in the Muffler Sector these next few days, we’ll be at a higher risk for a surprise attack. I would like to post another guard on the prisoner at all times seeing as if something goes wrong with her force sphere we’ll need the extra manpower to subdue her.”

“Permission granted Lieutenant. Proceed.” The captain turned off his communicator. “Ah yes, our prisoner- the whole reason we have to make this god forsaken trip.”

The crew of the Sabine had been given the task to transport a dangerous prisoner to a remote detainment facility on the edge of Terren space. Her name was Xaen. She was not human, but rather a Stase who’s entire race could, with training, phase through solid matter. Xaen was an assassin who had smuggled herself to the Terren settlement on the moon Spiritus where she whacked six well-known businessmen.

But she had finally been caught and had been given over to Captain Fawx and his crew to take her to a Stasian Detention Facility. She was being held in a special energy variance force sphere that prevented her from phasing out.

The pilot, Sergeant Garrick turned to the captain. “Captain, we’ve entered the Muffler Sector.”

“Understood Garrick.” The captain rubbed his temples. “Why was I assigned to deliver some petty fugitive to her prison? Doesn’t my record merit more pressing missions?” Fawx mused to himself. But he knew the answer to his question. “If I had just done what I knew I was supposed to that day…”

“Captain? Are you okay?”

Fawx broke out of his introspection and turned to his right hand man, Commander Novak. “I’m just fine. Just a bit tired.” He could tell Novak didn’t buy it. Novak had been on the same ship as Fawx that day. “Commander, I’m going to go rest my eyes. The bridge is yours.”

“Yes sir.”

As Fawx stepped off the bridge, Novak shook his head. “Let it go Bennis.”

Upon reaching his quarters, the captain removed his yellow Space Force uniform. He may have only been 35, but his six years as a captain in the Space Force had aged him a good eight or nine years more than that. He absently tossed his uniform over his desk chair, before crawling into bed. Before drifting off, he muttered, “I should have done something sooner.”

* – * – *

“-ptain? Captain Fawx, are you there?” Captain opened his eyes, realizing someone was trying to talk to him. “Captain, this is Lt. Petton.”

The captain rubbed his eyes and yawned. He glanced at his clock; only three hours of sleep. Shaking his head, he grabbed his communicator off his desk. “Yes Lt. What is it?”

“Sir… please come meet me and Lt. Moden in engineering. Some strange events have transpired in the past few hours.”

Captain wanted to return to sleep. He was going to avoid leaving his room if he could. “What do you mean strange Petton?”

I… Captain you’re just going to have to come to engineering. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Fawx shook his head in frustration. Petton was a good security officer, but he was very bull-headed and always wanted to do things his way. At times he was good; he never quit and was one of the most decisive officers he had ever had. But other times he could be very annoying. “Give me a minute. I’ll be there.”

The captain put on his uniform and went down to the elevator. “This had better be really weird otherwise I’m going to lay into Petton.”

Upon entering engineering, a blond haired man in his late 20’s, wearing a red Space Force uniform approached him. “Ok Petton. What is it?”

Petton looked at the ground. “Captain, about an hour after we hit the Muffler Sector, one of our escape pods seemed to have spontaneously jettisoned. We assumed there had been a malfunction of some kind.”

Fawx ground his teeth together. “Lt. Petton, this had better not be why you woke me up.”

A wiry black haired man about the same age as Petton popped out from behind one of the sensory arrays. “No sir, it’s more than that!”

The captain sighed and held his rage back. “What do you got for me, Lt. Moden?”

Moden, the ship’s engineering officer, moved to a display screen and started pressing buttons. “Well Captain, we first assumed it just to be an error in the escape pod. Before we got too far out of range though, I did a scan on it and found a subspace transponder signal was emanating from the pod.”

The captain leaned in, examining the display. “What was the signal?”

With a few presses of a button, a random sequence of beeps, buzzes, and doots played. Moden shook his head. “I ran it through several translation and code cracking programs and I wasn’t able to come up with anything intelligible. That means whoever sent that REALLY didn’t want us to know what it is. The really strange thing is riiiight… now!”

For a brief moment, the random noises stopped, then continued again. The captain shrugged. “What’s so odd about momentary silence?”

Moden smirked. “It wasn’t just silence, sir. I almost didn’t catch it… it was a pulse of some kind. Not sure how it works, but it goes off every 30 seconds in the signal.”

Captain scratched his head. “So what does the pulse do? More importantly, why would someone do this in the first place?”

The engineering chief paused. “Well, first off, there isn’t any solid reason for the pulse that I can see. It’s definitely not something I’ve seen done before; I’ll study up on it more. Secondly, the subspace transponder makes a lot of sense for communication. In theory, a subspace signal that is broadcast, and then decrypted would have a better chance of communicating within the Muffler Sector than with conventional communication technology.”

The captain turned off the transmission. “So someone was trying to tell someone else something—probably trying to reveal our location. The question is who? Petton, any ideas?”

Petton shook his head. “I’ve run a profile check on all 53 crew members. I couldn’t find a reason for betrayal in any of them. On top of that, to launch the escape pod, one has to either be directly outside of the escape pod or in it. No one fulfilled either requirement.”

Fawx scratched his head. “So we have no motive, no suspects, and no evidence. Well this is just wonderful.”

The captain noticed Moden and Petton giving one another uneasy looks. “You guys got something else on your minds?”

The awkward stared continued before finally Petton broke the silence. “You discovered it first. You show him.”

The engineering chief sighed. “Fine. Uh, captain something else happened while you were asleep. Everyone’s spare uniforms- changed.”

“What do you mean?”

“They- well- they changed!”

Captain shook his head. “Changed into what? What happened?”

Moden opened a drawer that was behind him. “Well, when we first sensed the pulse coming from the escape pod, I went into my quarters to grab my telemetric tools. I keep them in my closet. Upon opening my closet, I noticed all my clothes were gone… in its place- was this!”

Moden pulled a out what at first appeared to be his spare uniform and boots… but the uniform was far too small to be his uniform… and the boots had a two-inch heel to them. Both had a glossy texture to them that wasn’t there before. Also, there was no cloth covering the shoulders. And strangely enough, there were no pant legs; instead it had… a very short skirt? “Lieutenant Moden- is this a joke?”

Petton opened another drawer. “I’m afraid not Captain Fawx.” Petton then pulled out a uniform and boots identical to the Moden had pulled out, save that Petton’s was the standard security team red and Moden’s was the usual engineering team green. “As you can see, my spare uniform and boots have been altered as well.” The security officer examined the outfit. “I swear it looks like something a young, nubile woman would wear in a vulgar and indecent movie that parodies Space Force life.” Moden raised his eyebrow at Petton, who broke a sweat. “Not that I’ve seen any movies like that before.”

The captain massaged the bridge of his nose. “Petton. Moden. I’m tired. I’m grumpy, and I’m confused. Please tell me what the hell is going on.”

Moden examined the material of his refashioned uniform. “I can’t really say sir. But this goes beyond just some kind of prank someone may be pulling. 27 other members of the crew have reported the same thing happen to them.”

Petton put the scanty skirt-uniform down onto the table. “And there appears to be no pattern to the targets. Someone will return from duty or just being away from their room and discover all their other clothes are missing, only to be replaced by these mockeries of their actual uniforms.”

Moden placed the green, exaggerated female uniform back in the drawer. “Yeah, Airman Marris went to be bed only in his boxers and when he woke up with all of his other clothes were gone and both of his uniforms had been changed.”

Captain Fawx paced over to a window and watched as the stars passed by. “All I want to know is who did it, how did they do it, and WHY they decided to transform our uniforms into something from someone’s sexual fantasies? Could either of you PLEASE give me an answer?”

The security officer sighed. “I’m afraid not captain. It makes no sense. But we do think that somehow the bizarre uniform alterations and the escape pod transmission are related. Seeing as we’re carrying a Stasian prisoner, I don’t think it too big a stretch to assume she’s got connections to all this… somehow.”

The captain sat down and rubbed his temples. This had to be the strangest problem he had ever had to face as a captain… and definitely wasn’t what he wanted to wake up to. “Ok… so you think they’re connected. Who did it?”

Petton scratched his head. “I’m no so certain on that captain. There are definitely only two possibilities though: either it’s a crew member or we have an intruder who’s doing all this.”

Captain Fawx sighed. “I don’t like either scenario. All right, we have to assume it’s someone trying to free our prisoner. Petton, have three guards on her at all times. Lengthen people’s shifts if you have to. Since it might be a crew member, make sure no guards share shifts twice in one day. Even they can’t be trusted.”

“Yes sir!”

The ever-rational engineer raised his hand. “Sir, not to nit-pick but would a uniform alteration have to do with our transportation of Xaen? It doesn’t seem connected at all.”

“Maybe it has nothing to do with the prisoner at all Moden. But I have to assume it does. As of right now, her transportation to the Stasian detention facility is our number one priority. It may be a crappy mission that should be beneath my and my crew’s talents but it was the mission we were given. Therefore it is of higher priority than worrying about overly-sexual female uniforms. We’ll just keep wearing our current uniforms and deal with the smell until we solve that mystery.”

Moden nodded.“Aye sir.

The captain yawned and turned to leave. “Moden, because the person responsible could be an intruder I want you scanning the ship to find someone who doesn’t belong. If there is an intruder, we’ll catch them ourselves and detain them. While you’re at it, scan for the lost clothing. I refuse to believe in changing clothing until I see it.”

Moden sighed, knowing he had a lot of work ahead of him. “I will sir.”

“If anything drastic happens wake me up… I’m going to bed!” The captain marched out of the engineering bay back to his room. Standing by his bed he began to undress. His thoughts went to the altered uniforms. Petton and Moden had said it had only happened to uniforms that weren’t being worn.

Captain crawled into his bed with his uniform on. “When we find out who’s doing this…” He drifted off to sleep, leaving his threat unfinished.

Yay for a brand new story! I felt like doing something Sci-fi and Crew Shift is the result of that. I haven’t watched much of it, but I’m basing the concept of the Terren Space Force off of the idea of the fleet used for Star Trek.
I liked the idea of the Muffler Sector even though I couldn’t come up with a better name. I hate it when I can’t come up with a good name for something. I’ve was struggling for quite some time before I finally decided I’d call the story Crew Shift. I’m just always so picky about my names and titles.
-Taralynn Andrews

2 thoughts on “CS Ch 1: Alteration”

  1. Beautiful, well written and thought out. Very enjoyable.
    Who knows, with a few changes in names, places, technology, etc. it could even be a Star Trek (or Star Wars) short – and be published as such.

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