The electromagnetic bioscanner enveloped Petton’s small frame and began its work. The Captain watched as Dr. Teffri read the data that poured in. “Still nothing. Nothing about Petton’s body is abnormal or functioning improperly.”
“Except for the fact Petton’s a small girl.”
The doctor scratched his grey hair. “Well yeah. It just doesn’t make any sense to me Captain.”
“Maybe some kind of genetic technology?”
Teffri shook his head. Fawx trusted the doctor as he had been around for quite some time. Back in the day he had been one of the leading doctors at the academy but preferred field work. In his old age, getting close to retirement, he had been assigned to the obscure transport, the Sabine. “Captain- this goes beyond any kind of known technology. Hell, it goes beyond any theoretical models that exist. We have been studying genetics for centuries and we’ve never been able to successfully overwrite someone’s genetic code postnatal. Even prenatal genetic conditioning cannot guarantee a full override of the DNA the parent cells contribute . They can only influence it.”
The captain sighed as he looked on the young blonde woman in the bioscanner. She supposedly was Petton. “So what does that mean doc?”
“Captain Fawx- there is no way someone could transform a tall, late-20’s male into a diminutive, small, weak woman who doesn’t appear to even be of drinking age. No such medical process or technology exists.”
“ Well Dr. there appears to be something in your bioscanner that says otherwise.”
The doctor paced over to the medical station window. He gazed at the stars as they passed by. “That’s the problem captain. What we have here defies every piece of science we know. Laws of genetics, chemistry, biology, even the very basic laws conservation of mass and energy have all been violated! It’s almost like it was- I don’t know, magic or something.”
The Captain kicked the wall. “So we have nothing? Is that it? What happens if this chucklehead tries this again? How will we stop it?”
“Well- to be honest, I have no clue what or who caused this change or how they did it. Without all those details it would be difficult. Without any is impossible.”
“Captain, maybe we should start not with how but who did this. What did the assailant look like? You said he wasn’t human.”
He thought back to the attack; the figure appeared out of nowhere. He had worn a cloak that concealed most of his body. But he had seen the hand. “All I saw was its hand. It had three fingers and gray skin. He was tall too; definitely over six feet.”
Teffri scratched his beard. “Three fingers and gray skin, huh? Sounds like an Yrch probably- but he’d be VERY far away from home to be here. And the Yrch are even further behind in genetics and biology than we are.”
The captain shrugged. “We’re far away from home too- and appear to be behind whoever did this in genetics and biology- and without any way to call for help until we’re out of this god forsaken sector.”
Fawx didn’t know what to do and he couldn’t stand it. He wanted to take action but he could do nothing. First all the uniforms were altered. Now his security officer had been altered. What was the intruder’s goal? “Teffri, tell me. Why do you think this guy is modifying our uniforms?
Doctor Teffri dusted off his white uniform and leaned against the wall. “Psychological I assume. First all these strange female uniforms appeared; then, next thing you know, one of us is transformed to fit into the outfit. Everyone is on edge now. I don’t think it’s any coincidence Lt. Petton was the first to be attacked. The whole ship is thinking ‘if it could happen to the security officer, it could happen to any of us.’ I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a little worried too.”
“So your uniform was transformed as well?”
Teffri chuckled. “Yes, and it seems the bugger has a sense of irony as well. It looks like a sleeveless, mid-20th century nurse’s uniform. He even included a little nurse’s cap with a red cross on it. Cute, huh?”
The captain didn’t laugh. Teffri coughed and continued. “Speaking of psychology, we’ll have no idea what the psychological effects of the change are until Lt. Petton wakes up. You might need to prepare to be without your Security Officer for a while if he- she can’t perform her duties.”
“Doctor- I don’t even have to tell you how bad things will be if I don’t have a Security Officer during this crisis.”
The doors to the medical room opened. A man in a green uniform walked in. “Captain Fawx I got the results from that scan.”
The Captain rubbed his temples. “Thanks Lt. Moden. Tell me everything.”
Moden stared at the bioscanner and the young woman inside of it. Fear was in his voice. “How-how’s Petton?”
Fawx pounded his fist on a counter. “Damn it Lieutenant! Focus! You came here to give a report, now give it!”
Moden straightened up. He’d never seen the captain like this. The Engineering Chief held his tongue concerning Petton, knowing that bringing him- her up would only add to the stress. “Yes sir. We did a scan on Airman Wilmore’s quarters and it turned up interesting but very confusing results.”
“How so?” Captain Fawx paced the room.
“Well sir, the energy reading we received was one type of energy to be sure… but it turned up positive for being a thermal, electrical, chemical, magnetic, gravitational, nuclear, kinetic, and even relativistic energy signature yet there is no evidence of transduction.”
The captain just gave him a blank stare. “Meaning?”
“The energy state didn’t change at all. They were all those kinds of energy at the same time! It doesn’t make a lick of sense!”
Teffri scoffed, doing more scans on the young woman. “We seem to be getting a lot of that lately.”
“Moden, what do you mean it’s all of them?”
The engineer’s voice began to accelerate as it often did when explaining technical details. “Well, in our understandings of physics and such, we can convert one form of energy to another. Our body turns the food we eat into chemical energy into kinetic energy as we move into thermal energy in the friction our movement causes. But what we read in… there was no conversion happening. It was every known energy type in a single energy reading. It has multiple frequencies and signatures. This goes beyond the theoretical Captain. Unless something is wrong with the readings we got, whatever this is would redefine several basic laws of physics.”
“Well what the hell isn’t lately?” Captain Fawx sighed. “So you think this same mystery energy is what he used to transform Petton?”
“It was what he used to transform the uniform in Airman Wilmore’s quarters. We have no evidence that would suggest he transformed Petton using any other method.”
“Fine- so how is this guy waltzing around our ship without us noticing?”
Moden tapped his glasses, thinking. “Some kind of cloaking technology?”
The captain shook his head. “The Yrch may have cloaking technology but the mechanisms fill an entire deck on their ships. What’s the likelihood of them shrinking it down to the point where a single person can carry it around?”
The engineer shrugged. “I don’t know. What’s the likelihood of modifying the entire wardrobe and Security Officer of the ship?”
“Good point,” the Captain conceded.
The captain’s communicator went of. “Captain Fawx. This is Commander Novak.”
Fawx picked up his communicator. “Yes Novak. What is it?”
“Sir, he showed up again on deck 17. He nailed Private Coates and Airman Rodriguez. They’ve been transformed into young women too.”
The Captain scowled. “Where is he now?”
“We don’t know sir. A soon as he was done transforming them he disappeared again. We can’t find any trace of him. I’m accompanying them to the medical station to be examined by Dr. Teffri.”
Rage filled Fawx’s eyes. “Very well Commander. I’ll get to the bridge.”
He closed the communicator. He stood for a moment looking at the ground. “Rarg!” Swinging his leg, he punted a tray of medical supplies across the room.
The engineer and doctor held still, both unsure what to say or do.
The captain held still, both unsure what to say or do. Something had to be done. The buck stopped at him. No one else could make the calls he had to make. Whether it was the right thing or not, he had to provide this ship with a direction.
“Lt. Moden- I don’t care how you do it. Find him. Find him before he can do this again. And once you find him, neutralize him by whatever means you deem necessary. That’s your number one priority. Got it?”
Without flinching he turned to the good doctor. “Doctor Teffri, when Lt. Petton wakes up, tell her she has orders to come and see me ASAP. I’ll be briefing her on the situation. I need my Security Chief.”
“Captain Fawx, I don’t think…”
“And when those other two come, analyze them and then get them back to work as soon as you can. We don’t have the luxury to worry about the psychological effects, Doctor. I need everyone at their posts. We have a dangerous assassin who can move through objects like air in our custody and an unidentified enemy on our ship who is slowly stripping us of our bodies! Whether those two are connected or not, we don’t know. I have to prepare for the worst. I need everyone! That understood, Doctor?”
Teffri was older than the Captain. He had been in the Terren Space Force before Fawx had even stepped foot in the TSF Academy. He had more experience in tight spots than most of the crew would have imagined-
“Aye sir.” And it was that experience that led him to never doubt his Captain.
Before Captain Fawx could leave the medical station, Moden asked one more question. “Captain? What about finding out how this does this transforming? What about finding a way to reverse it?”
Pausing in the doorway, he answered, “Find out where he is first so we can stop him. Any one of us could be next Lieutenant. We must stop the bleeding before we can mend the wound. Now we all need to get to work.”
The doors closed. Fawx trudged towards the bridge. “Two more- that makes it three- three of MY fifty-three.” His gripped his side-blaster and turned the safety off. “You won’t catch me flat on my feet next time. Not by a long shot.”
This chapter was tough for me to write but I really liked it. I like the Dr. Teffri character. He’s kind of an amalgamation of a lot of different grandfather like people I’ve met in my life and seen in media. Is serious and tries to use his wisdom to help others but doesn’t stand in the way of others’ ability to make decisions. Also a hint of playfulness to them. They aren’t as fast as they used to be but mentally they are that much sharper from their experiences.