"Set a course to rendezvous with the starship Galaxy, Ensign Travis," ordered Lieutenant Haskell.
"Yes, Lieutenant," replied Ensign Travis.
He laid in his course settings and reported, "Course: two-two-seven point six, mark three."
"Make that two-two-seven point five," ordered the Lieutenant."
"That will take us awfully close to the star, Delta Vega," warned Travis.
"It will also shave nearly a day off our trip home," replied Haskell.
"But, Lieutenant, I don't think we should take that risk," Travis advised.
"May I remind you, Ensign James Travis, that you are the junior officer aboard this shuttlecraft?" scolded the Lieutenant.
"Yes, Ma'am!" came the reply. "Course: two-twenty seven point five, mark three," he reported.
The two Starfleet officers settled in for the tree day journey to the Galaxy. They had been assigned to make a detailed survey of habitable planets in this sector and report back to their captain with their findings. In nearly a week's worth of searching they only found one planet capable of sustaining life. They were tired and ready to go home.
Ensign James Travis, only six months out of the academy, had already made a name for himself piloting shuttlecraft and was well on his way to becoming chief helmsman on board the starship Galaxy.
Lieutenant Cheryl Haskell, a brash, young officer was the highest ranking second tier crew member aboard the Galaxy. Captain Rice often assigned her to take junior officers on training missions because of her leadership ability.
"Well, James," said Cheryl, "let's settle in and relax. We've got a long ride home."
"Yes, Ma'am. Three days," replied the Ensign.
"James, my name is Cheryl. We can speak informally until we get back to the Galaxy."
James always felt a little uneasy around Lt. Haskell. She was a strict officer who commanded respect from her juniors. She was also strikingly beautiful. She was tall and lean with shoulder length, dark brown hair which contrasted her green eyes. She always wore her Starfleet uniform buttoned up to the collar, even when she was off duty. It was a rare occasion when she showed her ample cleavage under her tight fitting clothes. Most of the male junior officers clamored to be assigned to her command. James usually felt awkward around women but he knew that his comrades envied his position. Every one of them would have given their eye teeth to be stuck in a shuttlecraft with her for ten days.
"I'm sorry, Lieutenant... I mean, Cheryl," stammered James, "it's force of habit."
"Well, during informal situations, officers may be permitted to speak on a first name basis."
"Thank you," smiled James.
The two of them sat back in their chairs and relaxed. James took out an electronic book and read silently while Cheryl put on a pair of earphones, leaned back and listened to some music. The shuttlecraft was on autopilot and only needed to be monitored occasionally to be sure it was on course. It would be a long, monotonous journey back to the starship.
A short time later, Cheryl put away her earphones and tapped James on the shoulder. "Why don't you go back to your bunk?" she said. "I'll take the first watch."
"You don't have to," replied the Ensign.
"Protocol," she answered. "You've been piloting the whole mission. You need some rest. You'll have to be sharp when we return to the Galaxy for docking.
James agreed. He headed aft to the bunks and turned in. Cheryl took a position at the helm and dimmed the cabin lights. She slouched down in her chair and stared at the forward view screen. It was the same featureless view of space she had been looking at for six days. "I just want to get home," she thought to herself. It wasn't long before her eyes fell shut and she slowly drifted off to sleep.
James was jolted awake by the sudden buffeting of the cabin. The entire ship rocked violently to starboard. He was almost shaken out of his bunk. He sprang to his feet and sprinted for the helm. "What's happening?" he shouted.
"I don't know, I fell asleep," answered Cheryl as she sprung to attention. The sound of the ship's alarm jarred her back to reality.
"Darn it!" shouted James. "It looks like some kind of flare from that star!" he exclaimed, wrestling for control of the ship.
"WARNING!" sounded the computer voice. "Stellar flare approaching!"
"Shields!" shouted the Ensign.
"Not responding!" replied the Lieutenant.
"Well, then, HOLD ON!" he said, "This could be rough!"
The flare overtook the tiny shuttle, shaking the crew violently and overloading the ship's computer systems. The engines failed then the entire cabin went dark.
"Damn it!" exclaimed James. "I knew we shouldn't have come this close!"
"I'm sorry!" replied Cheryl. "I just wanted to get home!"
"I shouldn't have listened," he growled. "Now we're dead in space!"
"I think I can bring some reserve power on line," said Cheryl.
"Mayday! Mayday!" James called into the emergency transmitter. "This is Ensign James Travis and Lieutenant Cheryl Haskell aboard the shuttlecraft Alpha... Mayday! Mayday!" he repeated. "We have been hit by a plasma flare from the star, Delta Vega. All major systems are off-line!"
"Ensign!" called Lt. Haskell. "Remember, there's a habitable planet in this star system!"
"Yes, I remember!" the Ensign replied. "The third. Right?" he asked. Lieutenant Haskell nodded in confirmation.
"Impulse engines are back on-line but only seventy percent power," reported the Lieutenant.
"Hold on!" he said. "I can bring her in but it's going to be a bumpy ride!"
They both fastened their safety restraints and braced themselves. The Ensign fought for control of the ship.
"This is Lieutenant Cheryl Haskell aboard the shuttlecraft Alpha," she spoke into the microphone. "We are making an emergency landing on the planet, Delta Vega Three. Please send rescue party immediately!" She ejected the locator beacon just as the ship began to enter the planet's atmosphere.
"Okay! We're going in!" reported the Ensign, "Brace for entry!"
Lt. Haskell braced herself, put her head down and said a silent prayer, hoping that Ens. Travis wouldn't notice. Ens. Travis strained to keep the ship under control. He, too, hoped his companion wouldn't notice him praying under his breath.
It only took a few minutes for the ship to reach the surface but it seemed like hours. It was a hard landing but Ens. Travis was able to bring the ship down safely. They both breathed a sigh of relief when the it finally skidded to a stop.
"Nice flying!" commended the Lieutenant.
"Thanks," he said, "but, with all due respect, Ma'am, would you please listen the next time I give advice?"
"Sorry!" she replied, "I just wanted to get back to the ship."
"Now, look where we are!" he shouted back.
"Well, there's no use crying over spilled milk!" she exclaimed, "Let's figure out a way to get off this planet... Ensign!"
"All engines and communication systems are down," reported Ensign Travis, "life support is on emergency backup."
"This planet supports life so we should be all right," Lieutenant Haskel said, "let's hope the Galaxy finds our emergency beacon."
"They'll come looking for us after we're more than twenty-four hours overdue," said Travis.
"We've got six day's rations left," Haskell said, "we should be able to hold out until they come for us."
The two sat in silence for a few moments while they collected their thoughts. "Any injuries?" asked the Lieutenant.
"None," he said. "You?"
"Just a scratch on the elbow," she replied.
"Break out the med kit and patch it up," said Travis, "then, let's rest up before we go explore the planet."
"I'm not going out there!" exclaimed Haskell.
"Well, excuse me, LIEUTENANT HASKELL..." said the Ensign with an annoyed voice, "We have to find food and water then set up camp. We don't know how long we'll be stuck here."
"As your superior officer, ENSIGN..." retorted Lieutenant Haskell.
"Let's not fight!" interrupted James, "It doesn't matter how we got here, anymore. If we're going to survive, we have to work together. Right, Cheryl?"
Cheryl was taken aback by James' sudden grip on authority but she felt a certain sexual excitement at the same time.
"Agreed, James!" she answered, "I'll collect the first aid and the rations. You try to salvage some communications gear."
They both worked silently, as they went about their agreed-upon tasks. James stopped briefly, when he thought Cheryl wasn't looking, to sneak a look at the curvaceous lines of her uniform. The Lieutenant always noticed when the guys checked her out but she never let on that she knew. James was a young officer, fresh out of the Academy. He was strong and muscular. Cheryl knew that protocol prevented her from fraternizing with officers her junior but that didn't stop her from appreciating his firm, muscular ass under his tight fitting pants.
Lt. Haskell was a good officer. She was one of the best that Captain Rice ever had on his team. She was stern and efficient. She was, perhaps, a little too stern for Captain Rice's taste. That is the reason she never caught on to the fact that, Travis, the best looking young officer on the ship, just happened to be assigned to her command so soon after being posted to duty aboard the Galaxy.
"I might have a tricorder working, here," James reported, "but it's not 100 percent."
"Good work!" Cheryl exclaimed. "Anything's better than nothing."
"I don't know how much daylight there is left," said James. "We should probably do some exploring before it gets dark."
"Right!" said Cheryl.
"Ready to go?" he asked.
"Ready!" she replied as she picked up the tricorder and turned it on. "It looks like the atmosphere is breathable. Life form readings are inconclusive but I don't think there are any hostile beings out there."
"That's good because both phasers are dead," said James.
Cheryl shook her head. "No sense worrying about it, now," she said as she punched the button on the airlock and opened the cabin doors. "Be my guest!" she said.
"Oh, no!" James smirked, "I'm the one wearing the red uniform! I'm not going first!" James often joked under pressure.
"You big baby!" laughed Cheryl as she playfully pushed him out the door. "You're supposed to protect the ladies," she said.
James and Cheryl stood just outside the ship, surveying the landscape around them. They looked around for several minutes while Cheryl scanned the area with the tricorder. James kept his eyes and ears open for signs of people or animals.
"It doesn't look like there's anybody here but us," said, Cheryl.
"Okay, let's move out," said James.
James and Cheryl hiked over the hilly terrain for several kilometers. The landscape was rocky and barren with only a few plants growing in sparse clumps. Cheryl stopped to adjust the tricorder. "This thing only works intermittently," she complained.
"The stellar flare must have overloaded its power supply," James replied. "Our communicators and phasers are completely dead," he added.
"We'll have to stick together for safety," Cheryl ordered. She didn't want to admit that she felt afraid.
James sensed her anxiety and tried to reassure her.
"Shuttle pilots have to go on several survival missions before they can be certified for duty," he said. "When was the last time you camped out?"
"Never in the wilderness," she replied.
"All right," he said, "stay close by and follow my lead. I can pull us through this mess until the Galaxy arrives."
James' act of bravado seemed to be working. Cheryl became visibly more calm. "What do we do first?"
"We're going to need to locate a source of water. Then we can try to find a place to signal the Galaxy from. They'll need a safe place to land the rescue craft." James said.
"Can't they beam us out?" Cheryl asked.
"Do you want to transport through that plasma storm?" James replied. "They'll have to make a landing rescue."
The Lieutenant nodded in an attempt to play down her ignorance. The Ensign pretended he didn't notice.
"Keep your eyes peeled for any possible source of food or water," instructed James, "and do not touch anything until we know if it's safe!" he added.
"Don't shout orders at me, Ensign!" barked Haskell.
"We're marooned on this planet, no thanks to your mistake!" Travis shouted. "I'm not going to let you pull rank and get us into another mess!" He paused a few seconds for effect. "Besides, this is survival. There is no such thing as rank, anymore. We have to act as a team!"
Lt. Haskell knew that Travis was right but she didn't want to admit she was in over her head. She made no reply. She was tired and didn't want to fight anymore. They pressed onward, climbing uphill in search of a vantage point from which to survey the area. Ens. Travis stopped to give his crew mate a hand climbing the steep grade. They reached the top and stood, looking out over the landscape. The weather was hot and humid. Lt. Haskell took out her canteen and took a long drink as she wiped the sweat off her brow.
"Go easy on that water!" warned Travis, "That's all we've got to survive!"
"I'm hot and thirsty!" complained Haskell.
"We've got to conserve water until we find a source," Travis said.
Cheryl put away the canteen then began to unzip her uniform. James stood silently, pretending not to notice as she pulled her zipper all the way down to her waist. He carefully strained to get a peek at the body that, until now, had always remained hidden beneath heavy fabric. The front of her uniform swayed open revealing a glimpse of her ample breasts, supported by her low-cut bra. James quickly looked away when she glanced in his direction. Cheryl knew that he was noticing her. She pretended to be unaware as she loosened her top, exposing her lean stomach. "Whew! It's hot!" she said in a matter-of-fact tone.
James followed suit. He unfastened his own uniform and pretended to fan himself with the flaps. Cheryl made no attempt to hide the fact that she was looking at James' muscular chest and well defined abs. He felt a little bit embarrassed and aroused at the same time. "I guess we've got to make due in this heat," said James as a thinly disguised excuse. They stood in awkward silence for several minutes, looking out over the horizon.
"That looks like a clearing down there," said Cheryl.
"Yes, I see it," replied James.
"There must be water because there's grass growing," she said.
"It doesn't look like grass,' he answered.
They stared down at the large valley, rimmed by a low wall of worn rock and low growing vegetation. It appeared to be a kilometer wide and, at least, two or three kilometers long. The whole floor of the valley appeared to be covered in a lush brown carpet of short grass but it didn't look quite right to be grass. They stood quietly, trying to decide what it was. A stiff breeze blew up, causing the vegetation around them to rustle in the wind. Suddenly, they looked at each other. Cheryl spoke first, "Does that look like fur to you?" The grass in the clearing waved in the air currents. "I think you're right!" said James, "I think it is fur!"
Cheryl started climbing eagerly down the hill. "Come on! Let's go check it out!"
"Wait!" called James, "We don't know what it is yet!"
Cheryl sprinted several meters ahead. Rocks and debris slid down the steep trail in front of her. James ran ahead to catch up. "Be careful!" he called out. It was only a minute before he caught up to her. He grabbed her by the back of her uniform and stopped her just as they reached the edge of the grass-fur meadow.
"Hey!" shouted Cheryl as her uniform slipped off her shoulders. She struggled to free her arms from the sleeves then let the top of her leotard fall down and hang around her waist. James was surprised when his crew mate made no attempt to cover herself up but the weather was hot and she had been complaining about the heat. He put aside his lustful urge and continued with his warning.
"You don't know what could be in there!" James instructed. "We have to check things out first."
Cheryl picked up the tricorder and scanned the area. "No life readings," she reported hastily.
"That thing's not reliable," James answered. "Let's go back to the ship before it gets dark," he said. "We can start exploring again at first light."
Cheryl reached down and touched the brown growth at her feet, in front of her. "It IS fur!" she exclaimed, "It's really soft!"
A subtle scent wafted up when Cheryl's hands brushed through the fur. She inhaled the rich, musky fragrance. A sense of exhilaration came over her as she ran both hands back and forth. The more she rubbed the stronger the scent became. Cheryl felt her inhibitions slip away. She didn't recognize the drug like effect it had on her. The more she inhaled the more she wanted.
Thirty seconds later, the fur's aphrodisiac properties had completely intoxicated her. She was overcome by the strong desire to touch and to be touched by the fur.
"It will be safer if we make camp back by the shuttlecraft!" James exclaimed.
Cheryl acted like she didn't hear him. She kneeled down to unfasten her boots before kicking them off her feet. She waded, barefoot, into the fur and stood about two meters from the edge of the land. "See, there's nothing wrong," she said.
James just stood on the shore and shook his head as his shipmate turned and walked farther out into the sea of fur. She danced and frolicked like a little girl. "It's nice!" she said, "It feels so soft on my feet!" A moment later, she took off running, full speed, out into the middle of the furry meadow. "Come on!" she called, "Let's have some fun before we go back to camp!" She didn't stop running until she had reached the middle.
James was aroused by the sight of Cheryl running, nearly topless, through the sea of soft, sensuous fur. The scent of the pelts was beginning to take its effect on his mind, too. The setting sun silhouetted her form. Her breasts bounced and jiggled as she ran. He inhaled the fur's musky drug once more. James was overcome by the desire to wade out there and take her in the middle of the giant lake of fur. His attention wandered as he daydreamed about the beautiful woman dancing in front of him. Cheryl's screams suddenly jolted him back to reality.
"I'm stuck!" shouted Cheryl, "Help!"
James looked up and saw that Cheryl had somehow sunk almost knee deep into the ground. "Get out of there!" he hollered back.
"I can't, I keep sinking!" she shouted back. She struggled for a few moments and finally freed one foot then, after more struggling, the other came free.
"Get out! Run!" shouted James.
Cheryl sprinted for shore but she sank in, deeper and deeper, with every step. Her gait became more and more labored the farther she sank. The soggy ground seemed to ripple like water around her as she fought to stay on top. Her legs began to tire. Her muscles felt like spaghetti as she tried to high-step her way through the deepening quagmire of fur.
"Help me!" she cried out in terror.
James hesitated for a moment before stepping into the fur. He tested the ground with his foot. It felt solid. He stood with his full weight in the fur. He felt as steady as if he was standing on solid ground. He sprinted out to Cheryl, still sinking in the fur. By the time he reached her, she had sunk up to her mid thighs.
"I'm sinking!" she screamed.
James grabbed Cheryl by the arms and tried to pull her free. She kicked her legs, struggling to battle her way out. James pulled even harder and finally, he succeeded in freeing Cheryl from the fur bog.
"My uniform!" shouted Cheryl.
Cheryl was free but, in the process, she slipped out of her uniform which was still stuck in the fur. She bent down and tried to pull it loose to no avail. It seemed like something below the ground was pulling against her. A moment later, Cheryl lost her grip and the garment disappeared below the surface.