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The SS Celestial moved though the blackness of space on a normal cargo run between systems. Aboard its crew worked though their routine. Not a single human on board this vessel, every crew member was a taur of some sort. On the bridge a lone chakat sat monitoring the ship's course. Shi yawned drowsily, as not much happens between the stars.
A small red light began to blink on the console. The chakat poked at it a few times with a feline claw. Shi sighed and spoke into hir headset. "Captain, you may want to come up here. Sensors picked up something."
The captain, a stellar foxtaur, came onto the bridge and floated next to the pilot. "What do you have Trail?"
"It appears to be a spacecraft or probe of some sort. And I think it's old, maybe pre gene wars. I won't know unless we get closer." the chakat, brought up the Celestial's course and that of the unidentified object. "It's slightly off our current heading."
The captain put a paw under hir muzzle. " How much extra time would it add for an intercept course?"
Trailwalker worked the computer plotting the potential course. "Only 20 minutes if we do a flyby and snag it with the tractor, longer if we rendezvous. We do have two hours of slack worked into the drop schedule and the extra empty cargo bay."
Captain Starguide thought it over, hir ears twitching with thought. "Lay in that intercept course and tractor it aboard, maybe it might be of interest to the archaeologists on Chakona Prime."
"Yes captain" the chakat worked at setting in the new course. "Course laid in and set. two hours and four minutes to intersect."
The foxtaur turned to leave. "I'll see to waking everyone up. keep an eye on that craft. I'd like some forewarning of what we're snagging."
Starguide was in hir quarters reading a book, when the com chirped at her. Shi pressed the button. "Captain, we have the craft on full sensors, we'll be there in 20 minutes at this speed."
"I'll be right up." Shi floated though the ship to the bridge to watch the capture. "Any more info on what we're snagging?"
"It appears to be a satellite, old too. I'm seeing some solar arrays and there does seem to be a large cargo area, we won't know more till we snag it. We'll have to be careful of those solar arrays though in bringing it into the cargo bay," Ein replied, watching the sensors.
The pilot called out, "We've got visual." On the view-screen came a small bright dot that quickly got bigger.
"Ok, Ready tractors, we've only got one shot to snag it." Starguide twitched hir tail as shi waited to get closer. "And engage the tractor."
A ray of soft light reached out from the Celestial, falling on the ancient satellite, suddenly changing it's momentum and trajectory. "Captain, we have it, pulling it in," called out Ein.
Two space-suited taurs floated out in a small vehicle to help with the capture, attaching cables to several tie-downs on the satellite, letting it be towed gently into the cargo bay by the mule. "Kzz. Captain, we have a successful capture, and the sat is secure." came across the radio. "Captain, I see a doorway on the sat, permission to enter, cargo bay is still in hard vac."
Captain Starguide rubbed hir muzzle. "Permission granted, but wait for Ein. Ein, suit up and document everything."
The tawny furred chakat nodded and floated to the airlock. In moments shi was floating out of airlock and to the satellite. The three taurs made quick time unsealing the door, and looking in with their helmet lights.
"Captain, I'm seeing what looks like an airlock. Entering now." Ein floated in, followed by Silvermoon. "There isn't enough room for more then two of us, looks like it was designed just for those about human sized. Closing the outer hatch now."
The outer hatch closed, allowing the inner one to be opened. The two chakats carefully looked inside. "I'm still reading vacuum in here. I'm seeing cabinets lining the room, with the centre open. Looks like storage. There's a large hole in the top of the room, looks like access to the rest of the sat."
Ein floated over to one of the cabinets. "Each one is labeled with what looks like a name with 'Personal Effects' in English under it. I'll check the cabinets on our way out, Heading up in the sat."
Ein pushed off the bottom and floated up though the hole leading to the next room. "I don't see any ladders or supports, so I'd guess that all this was loaded in micro-g. I can see there is another level above this one." Shi looked around at hir surroundings. "I see a dozen metal cylinders ringing the room, each seems to have a control panel next to it. There's a window on the tube, covered in frost. I'm going to wipe away some of the frost to see what's inside.
Shi wiped away the frost with hir gloved paw and gasped in shock. "Captain, we have frozen bodies in here!"
Captain Starguide sat on the bridge. Shi couldn't believe what shi just heard. "Can you repeat that Ein, did you just say that there were bodies in there?"
Shi watched a feed from the cargo bay as the reply came back. "That is correct. Frozen bodies. Human so far."
"Pull back, and seal it back up, I want another staff meeting in 15." The Captain floated off to hir cabin to do some reading on procedure.
Shi floated down the to the common room 10 minutes later, and hooked hir paws under the bar at the head of the table and looked at the others gathered. "I've gone over the regs, and I can't find one to cover this situation." Shi looked at Ein and Snow, the ship's doctor. "I need an opinion from you both how to go forward."
Ein spoke up. "Captain, I think we should first make sure that all the systems are working correctly, and that the people in cryo and still... viable. If it is pre war, then we have no idea if any of them have survived, no one has been in cryo that long before."
Captain Starguide turned to Snow, and hy spoke up. "I would agree, our first responsibility should be for the health of those in cryo, and worst case, we may have to thaw them out to save them, if things are deteriorating."
Starguide took a few deep breaths in thought. "Ok, you two go in, and I want a full tricorder scan of the inside. Assess the health of that craft and the people inside. Maybe there's a computer or some record on why these people were in cryo. I think it might be best for safety if we pressurize the cargo hold, just in case. Sunstorm, if you could see to it. Ein, Snow, get what equipment you need to get down there. I'll monitor you from the bridge. Let's get to work." Shi unhooked her paws, and headed off to the bridge.
Snow headed off to medbay, and Ein down to engineering with Sunstorm. Snow and Ein meet up at the pressurized cargo bay and looked up at the satellite. Ein turned to Snow. "I'll go in first, then you can follow. Take as many readings as possible. The cryo pods are on the 2nd and 3rd levels." Shi pushed off and floated up to the entry hatch, the skunktaur following behind.
Ein opened the airlock, and a small rush of air filled the vacuum inside. "Captain, we're going to need some extra air in here. I'm going to tie myself onto the sat, while I open the inner airlock, it's still under vacuum."
"Understood, the environmentals are set to compensate," came the reply over the radio.
"Ok, breaking seal now." Shi undid the inner hatch and air around became a torrent as it seeked to fill the sat. After a bit, the wind stopped. "I think we have the pressure equalized. We're going in now."
Ein floated into the lower compartment of the sat. "I'm going to see if I can get anything out of the computer, you go up and check on the people."
Snow nodded and took off to the upper compartments. Hy started to scan each tube. "Not looking promising. The cryo on most of these have been compromised, the coldness of space kept the bodies from decaying, but.. all the ones so far are too far gone to be revived. It looks like they were dead before they were loaded." Hy finished hys scans. "None of the ones on this deck can be revived. I'm heading up to the next one."
Snow headed up to the upper deck, while Ein worked on interfacing with the sat's computer. Ein spoke over the com, "Captain, I've got a connection, but his thing is old. The tricorder has more processing power then the hunk of silicon in here, but I am getting data. The satellite says it's owned by a company called CryoStar, and it seems that all the people aboard were put on in a attempt to cheat death. I've got a launch date Captain, 2019. It must've broken orbit, and gotten flung out of the sol system."
Snow interrupted, "Captain, we have two in here that are intact, and could live, but I'm not sure if we could revive them. Plus, Ein, could you come up here and check these scans. I think the cryogenics is failing. Captain, if we want to save these two, we may have to do it quickly."
Ein floated up beside Snow. "Captain, I concur the readings Snow is getting. I think if we hadn't come by when we did, they might have been too far gone to save."
"Captain, I would like to bring tanks 13 and 22 into medbay and see if we can save these humans," Snow spoke over the comlink.
Captain Starguide had hir paw under her muzzle in thought again. "We need to, saving lives is more important than anything else. Do what you need to make it happen."
It took a few hours to unhook and move the cryo tubes, hooking them up to a better power supply. Snow worked on both humans, carefully working to unfreeze them, and repair any damage for resuscitation.
Snow let out a deep sigh. "Captain, please come to medbay. We need to talk.:"
Starguide glided into the medbay a few moments later. "What's wrong Snow?"
"It's their bodies, they're just too far gone, the primitive cryo just did too much damage to fix. But their minds are intact, if there was some way to save them." Snow hung hys head.
Ein came into medbay from the small science station in the next compartment, "Captain, there may be one way to save them, but it's a very long shot."
"I think a longshot is all they have right now, what is it Ein?" Starguide floated next to the beds with the two humans.
"Remember that human who was accidentally turned into a chakat during a transporter accident? There's been some work on duplicating the results, with some success. We might try the same with our transporter. But for it to work, we'd need someone to volunteer their body to be copied."
Starguide looked a bit shocked. "That is an interesting idea. But could it work... we do have some extra cargo containers that can be used as the extra mass needed. Ein, get right on making the preparations. Sounds like time for another staff meeting." Shi took off for the common room.
Starguide sighed and pushed a stray strand of headfur that had floated into hir view. Shi looked at her frazzled crew around the common table. “I'm sorry to keep calling these, but this is a very unusual situation. As I'm sure you know, the satellite held humans in cryo. Unfortunately, the cryo was so primitive that only two have survived, but not enough that we can revive them intact. Ein has a possible way to save both of them. Shi is wanting to use the transporter to copy their minds into new bodies. We would need two volunteers though to copy. I won't order anyone for the copy, but this would be saving two lives that can't wait for planetfall.” Shi looked around the room at hir crew.
Ashera raised hys paw. “You can copy me for one. Anything I can do to help,” the skunktaur spoke up.
Starguide looked out. “Anyone else?”
“I'll do it. If it will help,” Sunstorm replied. Hir long fennec ears twitching nervously.
Starguide took a deep breath and let it out. “Ok, you two talk with Ein, and let's hope this works. Snow can also fill you both in about your copies, who they are. The rest of you, back to your duties."
Half the crew left for whatever duties had been assigned. Ein looked at the nervous skunktaur and stellar. "I'm sure you both have questions, so ask."
"How is this going to work?" Ashera quietly asked.
Ein answered, "As you know, the transporter is actually two transporters in one. One for the body, and one for the mind. Normally when you are transported, you mind and body are separated then put back together on the receiving end. For this, we're going to use an existing pattern in the transporter, one copied from each of you, to put the mind of the humans into."
Ashera looks skeptical, "This can be done?"
"I'm going to use information from an accident and from some new research following the accident. I believe it can be done," Ein answered.
"Who are these people?," Sunstorm spoke up.
"We have some information from the sat's computers. All the humans in cryo were in there because they had passed away, and were hoping that some future medicine would be able to revive them." Snow passed over two padds with the information retrieved, and continued, "Greg Johnson, 34, died due to a cancer spread though his body. It says that he was a software engineer. It says he was an avid baseball player, but not much more."
Snow pointed to the other pad. "This is an interesting one. Stephanie Raccoon, 38, transgendered, died due to an accidental drug overdose. The transgender may help us here, as she may adjust better. It says she was a photographer, and a 'furry'. We're not sure what that last part means, but there are some entries in the ship's computer about a group of people who talked about morphs before the first was geengineered. We've already prepared two of the unoccupied cabins we normally use for passengers for them. I wish we knew more about these two, but the records are spotty."
"What is going to happen to them after this?" Sunstorm asked Ein and Snow.
"We don't know, that will be up to the authorities on Chakona," Ein replied.
Sunstorm looked at Ashera, then back at Ein and Snow. "I'm ready to do this."
Ashera nodded in agreement. "I'm ready as well.
Ein stood at the controls of the ship's transporter and looks at the platform with a very nervous skunktaur standing on it. The gravity generators had been turned on to make it easier to position on the transporter. "Are you ready Ashea?"
Ashea nodded hys head. Ein powered on the transporter, a glow surrounded as the skunktaur was converted into energy. Ein reversed the transport, and Ashea reformed on the transporter pad. "Ok, pattern has been saved. You can step down. We'll try the first transport now." Ein spoke into hir com, "Snow are you ready for the first transport?"
"I'm ready at this end, I've got Mr Johnson on life support, and about to start cerebral resuscitation." Snow pressed a button on hys tricorder, and a jolt went though the dead human."I have brainwave patterns, he's there. Ready for transport."
Ein powered up the transporter, the human on the table vanishing with a sparkling glow, along with two storage containers next to him. "Applying the new pattern now." Shi pushed more buttons on the controls. A glow came apon the pad, and formed into a skunktaur exactly like Ashera. The transporter went silent, and the skunktaur on the pad slumped over.
Ein rushed up. "Hy's breathing, that's a good sign, let's get hym back to medbay." Ein and Ashera carefully moved the unconscious skunktaur onto a stretcher, and out to sickbay, carefully putting hym onto a scanner table.
Snow started the medical scanner, "We have good vitals and brainwaves are looking good. I think it worked, but we'll have to wake hym first." Snow reached over and grabbed a hypospray. Hy pressed it against the new Greg, and injected a mild stimulant.
The skunktaur on the table opened hys eyes with a small groan. "Whad haggen?" Hys words a bit garbled.
Snow squeezed hys hand. "You're safe. You may feel different, but you are safe."
Greg clumsily turned towards Snow, and his eyes opened in fright. Hy screamed and fainted, slumping back on the table.
Captian Starguide could hear the yell from the bridge, as could the whole rest of the ship. Shi spoke into her com. "Snow? Ein? Is everything ok?"
"Everything is fine, but I think things could have gone a bit better. We did the first transfer, and I don't think Greg was ready for the sight of us." Show replied over the com. "looks like we'll have to ease hym into the idea of non humans."
Starguide shook hir head. "I am guessing you're going to try with the second transfer while hy's out?"
"We'll be starting with that momentarily." Snow confirmed.
Ein stood at the controls while a very nervous fennec taur stood on the transporter. "Are you ready Sunstorm?
The stellar nodded, and Ein used the controls to turn Sunstorm to energy and back again, capturing her pattern. Sunstorm walked off the platform, and waited to help.
"Snow, are you ready?" Ein spoke into the com.
"I'm ready." Hy pressed the button to send a jolt of life bringing electricity into the dead brain of the human on the table. "And, got brain activity, Energize."
Ein started the transport, and the human vanished along with the extra mass needed for being a taur.
A glow formed in on the transporter pad and a new foxtaur appeared. Shi slumped over much like the last taur, but Sunstorm was ready to catch hir. "Ein? Why is her fur blue?"
Ein came over with the stretcher. "I do not know, there must've been a sight corruption in the pattern. Shi is breathing, but we need to get hir to sickbay to make sure everything is fine."
Sunstorm and Ein carried the new foxtaur into the sickbay, thankful for the micro-g outside of the transporter room. They carefully strapped Stephanie to one of the medical beds, so shi would not float away.
Snow glided over and waved the scanner for hys tricorder over the unconscious foxtaur. "Biosigns are good. Seeing no abnormalities other then the fur. That is a very odd shade of blue, almost looks fake, but it's very much part of hir."
Sunstorm looked at Snow, and asked, "Are we going to wake hir now?"
Snow nodded and picked up a hypospray. "Shi's stable enough, let's see how shi reacts." Snow pressed the hypospray against the new taur's neck and with a hiss, Stephanie woke up.
The blue taur blinked a few times, "Where am I," shi asked with a slurred tongue.
Snow put a paw on the blue fur. "You're safe."
Stephanie looked up at the voice. Seeing the skunktaur over her, shi looked puzzled. "Am I dreaming?"
Snow shook hys head. "No, you're not dreaming. We're as real as you are. What is the last thing you remember?"
"I was at work, setting up for the day's shoot, and that's it," shi answered a bit mangled due to the new muzzle. "I feel weird, and my mouth isn't forming the words right."
Snow held Stephanie's paw. "There was an accident, one of the medications you take was defective, and you got an overdose. It killed you, but you were put into cryogenic stasis in hopes you could be revived in the future. Well, welcome to the future."
Stephanie went wide eyed. "I died?" Shi brought a paw to hir muzzle, and blinked seeing it. "I... I... I'm changed?"
Snow blushed, hys ears flushing red. "In order to save you, we had to put you in a new body. Your old one was too far damaged from the drugs and the effects of being cryogenicly frozen. I'm sorry, there wasn't a human aboard that we could use for your new form."
Stephanie looked at hir paw, wiggling hir fingers. "I must be dreaming. No way I'm this lucky." Shi started to laugh, then cry in joy.
Both new taurs were moved into quarters next to their doubles, and the long process of teaching them about their bodies and the universe they woke up to.
"I can live with fox, I can live with taur, but why in the name of dog did I have to wake up with a body part I spent 10 years trying to get rid of?" Stephanie fumed in hir quarters with Sunstorm floating across from hir.
Sunstorm pointed a finger at Stephanie. "I'm not the one who designed us, but I happen to like being a herm. You think you've got issues with it, Greg has been freaking out about the whole thing since we woke hym up again."
Stephanie laid hir ears back, still a new feeling for hir. "I do feel sorry for him, I mean hym. Darn pronouns. Hy wasn't prepared for any of this. At least I fantasized about morphs, though I didn't think they'd ever be real." Shi looked at hir new sister. "I hope the sessions with Snow help."
"Hy'll adapt. That's what humans do best right? Even if hy's not human anymore." Sunstorm smiled at hir double.
There was a beep at the door. "Come in," Stephanie shouted.
Ein opened the door and glided in, followed by Ashera carrying a box. "We have made sure there was nothing hazardous in your personal belongings, and they have been decontaminated," Ein spoke to Stephanie. "The Captain thought you might want them as soon as possible, to help in making you feel at home. I'd be careful with them though, I have a feeling that the archaeologists on Chakona Prime would love to look them over."
Stephanie blinked. "Personal Belongings? I didn't think they'd be able to put anything in orbit other then us." Shi grabbed the box, and looked inside. Shi pulled out a padded bag. "Oh my... it can't be." Shi quickly unzipped the bag, careful of hir new claws. "My camera, they shipped my camera!"
Shi tried to lift it to hir eye, but bumped her muzzle into the back of the camera. "Erf.... Forgot about the muzzle. Hope it still works after years in space." Shi looked though the rest of the box, pulling out a book. There was a sticky note on it, 'Hope this helps on the other side, Kris.' Shi looked at the title, and laughed. "Transhuman Space, that is so you Kris."
Shi felt hir ears droop and hir eyes fill with tears. "They're all gone, everyone. Gone." Shi started to cry with a deep grief. Shi felt arms go around hir, holding hir tight. "I just hadn't thought about it yet. This was like a wonderful dream. Everyone, everything I knew is gone, and I'm still here."
Stephanie cried, tears leaving streaks in hir fur. Sunstorm held tight. "We're all here, you're not alone," shi said comfortingly.
Stephanie cried in the arms of the other taur, letting out repressed grief at hir situation. "I'm sorry. I didn't expect it to hurt this much."
"It's ok, no one expects you to be all sunshine and roses." Sunstorm smiled. "It will take time, and you've been though a lot. But everyone here is going to help in any way they can."
"Thank you. Thank you both." Stephanie sighed, hir ears drooping, a yet another new sensation for hir. "I should go though the rest of the box, see what else was packed."
Stephanie returned to the box, with the two taurs looking over hir shoulder. Shi picked up a plastic box. "Oh, a Solid State drive. Must be full of data, but can we access it?" Shi looked at Ein.
"It should not be hard. I'm sure I'll be able to fab up a connector, and I'm sure the ship's computer will be able to figure out it's data." Ein patted Stephanie's shoulder with a paw. "I do see three more in there, they did send a lot of data with you. We'll have to see what they thought was important to send."
A smile grew on Stephanie's muzzle. "I hope it's my photos and the contents of my computer. I had nearly 20 years worth of stuff on there." Shi pulled out the drives and set them aside.
A blue paw reached into the box searching for what precious treasure was next. "A card?" Shi pulled it out of the envelope and started to read out-loud. "Stephanie, if you are reading this, then you beat the odds. If this isn't Stephanie, hello aliens from the people of earth, please don't destroy us." Shi couldn't stop hirself from giggling, but continued.
"Stephanie, It's been a long five years since your death, all of us haven't forgotten you. Everyone from the list has helped pack up the small cube full of your worldly possessions. What do you know, you really can take them with you. We scanned and converted what we could, and put them on the drives in this box. You've got five years of comics and TV shows to catch up on.
"I hope your camera makes it though ok, and you can find a way to power it. Some thought that your sketchbooks were too precious to scan, so we included them. Maybe they'll help in getting the body of your dreams if genetech is advanced enough. Kris put the game book in, and I found your dice and put them in too, along with a few small souvenirs you had on your desk.
"The listies had our bash this weekend in Florida, and had a huge going away party. There were many toasts in your name. We sent you a picture of the group from that night, all signed on the back with good wishes. Good luck and we will all miss you."
Stephanie touched a paw to the picture, full of human faces. "I miss you all too."
Stephanie watched out the window, careful to keep her forepaws tucked under the bar on the floor so shi wouldn't float awake. Shi saw a reflection in the window and turned around. "Hello Greg. Feeling any better?" Shi asked of the skunktaur floating at her.
Greg frowned, ears following the expression. "Better then when I woke up, but I still feel like a freak."
Stephanie frowned too. "You're not a freak, Greg, just like no one on this ship is a freak. Everyone just looks a little different." Shi put a paw on Greg's shoulder. "I'm sorry this happened to you, I was prepared for this, you never were. What's happened, happened. This was the only option to save us."
"I know, I know, I know. It's just still weird." Greg sighed. "Can we please change the subject. What are you looking at, and what'cha got there?"
"Oh, this is my camera, it was in the personal belongings sent up with us. Ein got it working again, and even figured out a eyepiece extender so I can use it with a muzzle. You don't know how may times I've bumped my nose on it." Stephanie smiled.
"I'm just looking out at space. I just can't get over it. We're in space. Floating in Micro-G. Traveling between the stars. It's amazing," Stephanie exclaimed in joy.
Greg looked out the window, as if for the first time since waking up. "You're right, we're in space. I hadn't thought about it, I've been so wrapped up in my own issues to think about it. I use to watch the shuttle launches from my backyard when I was little, but to actually be here."
Hy quickly grabbed and hugged a surprised fennectaur. "Thank you, I needed a happy thought after all this."
Stephanie giggled. "I think we're both going to be ok. Now, there has been something I've been dying to try. Keep holding me." Shi quickly attached the cable release to the camera and put it out in front of them, floating in the micro-g. "Look Ma, no tripod," and shi pressed the button.