Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry and remains firmly in the grasp of Paramount. If they decide to sue over a story like this, their legal department has WAAAYYY to much time on their hands. Star Traks is the creation of Alan Decker. He's too busy doing Batman impressions to sue.

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2011



Ensign Greg Mayle groaned as he lay on the bio-bed.

“He’s coming around,” a voice said.

“OK. Now remember what we talked about,” another voice replied, “Try to break the news easy this time. The last guy that got sent our way was hiding in his quarters for a month,”

“Can you really blame him? These guys are pretty much f-“

“Quiet!”

Mayle rolled onto his side, opened his mouth and vomited profusely into a strategically placed bucket.

“HAH!” the second voice exclaimed, “Told you we’d need the bucket!”

“OK,” the first voice sighed, “I’ll give you your fifty credits after we get this guy out of here.”

“Where am I?” Mayle asked, opening his eyes and squinting into the light. Why the heck did sickbay designers always put the lights right over the head of the bio-beds?

“You’re in Sickbay,” the first voice said immediately. Looking around, Mayle spotted a fairly non-descript man wearing the blue-collared uniform that put him in Sciences or Medical. Considering he was in Sickbay, Mayle decided it was the latter.

“I’m Dr. Wolfman,” the man went on, confirming Mayle’s theory, “Turns out you’ve had a bit of an accident,”

Mayle looked down and quickly checked himself out. Arms & fingers? Check. Legs & toes? Check. Genitals? Check. Vision, hearing & smell? Check.

Monster headache, sharp stomach-ache and massive nausea? Check and mate. But at least he was in one piece.

“How long was I out?” he asked.

“You were in stasis for about two months,” the second man replied. Mayle looked around, but didn’t see anybody.

“Down here,” the voice added, sounding annoyed.

Mayle struggled to sit up a bit, then noticed the other man. This one was wearing command red, and was maybe five feet tall. He was fairly slender too.

“I’m Captain Harth,” he introduced himself.

“Two months?” Mayle asked.

“Do you remember what happened?” Dr. Wolfman asked.

Mayle thought back. He’d been working on the security team aboard the USS Aerostar-A, on a mission to the Gamma Quadrant. Something to do with establishing better diplomatic ties with the Dominion, even though the big war had been years ago. There’d been a planet…guard duty…and some sort of snarling alien monster!

“I think…I think something tried to eat me!” he said shakily.

“Excellent!” Wolfman exclaimed happily, “Your memory is coming back!”

“Wait…something DID try to eat me??”

“Well, it took a big bite of you,” Harth said, “But you’re OK now. Your doctor put you in a stasis tube and shipped you to us.”

“Um…”

“Do you want the good news, or the bad news?” Wolfman jumped back in.

“Uh…the good news?” Mayle gulped.

“I replaced your spleen, liver, pancreas and large intestine,” Wolfman said, looking very pleased with himself, “The replicated organs have integrated themselves nicely. The old ones are over there if you want them, but I can’t imagine why you would,”

Mayle looked in the indicated direction, but all he could see was a pile of bloody hamburger. Wait a minute….that wasn’t hamburger!

“BLLAAAHHHHHH!!!!!” he puked again, this time with greater force.

“The bucket was definitely a good idea,” Captain Harth said, sounding strangely upbeat.

“What’s the bad news?” Mayle asked, wiping his mouth.

“Hmmm?” Wolfman had been studying his medical tricorder, “Oh. You’ve been infected with an incurable alien disease.”

“In…in…infected?” Mayle gulped.

“That’s why you were sent to this ship,” Harth said, “We’re…um…specially equipped to help you manage your condition,”

“But…but what’s wrong with me! Am I going to get sick?” Now Mayle was really starting to get scared.

“No, nothing like that,” Wolfman assured him, holding a padd in one hand and a very sharp-looking scalpel in the other, “Some medication, some counselling and you’ll be able to manage. Now, just sign this waiver so I can start taking tissue samples!”

“Easy, doc,” Harth shook his head, “Let’s let him settle in before you start taking him apart!”

“Humma…humma…humma…” Mayle stuttered. ` “No, not literally,” Harth said, patting him on the shoulder, “He’s just researching your…condition.”

“For a cure?”

“Something like that,” Harth smiled.


“You’re aboard the USS Farkas,” Chief of Security Lieutenant Commander Alice Travs explained to Mayle as she led him down the corridor, “Intrepid-class, fairly standard. We did get a nice set of sensor-reflective shields to make it a little easier to sneak around,”

“Why would we be sneaking around?” Mayle asked.

“The ship is operated by Starfleet Intelligence,” Travs explained, “The missions vary, but the overall goal is the deployment and extraction of the Howlers. That’s our security team,” she added for good measure.

“And what kind of missions do the…Howlers…do?”

“Oh, take over this outpost, hold that position, extract some whining hostage. Ordinary security stuff,” Travs shrugged.

“That sounds more like Federation Marine stuff,” Mayle frowned.

“Well, we have a few abilities the Marines don’t have,” Travs gave a small smile.

“Like what?”

“All in good time,” she said, “Your personal effects should be in your quarters. I think I saw a stasis tube in there…do you have a pet?”

“Yeah. A cat,”

“Ah,” now Travs definitely looked amused, “Well, here are your quarters. I’ll see you in the squad room in half an hour. Enjoy!”


Leaving Mayle to his new rooms, Travs returned to the Howlers Den, basically the security team squad room and training facilities. The locker & gear room was empty, but the sound of conversation coming from the adjoining briefing room told her that her troops were present. She checked herself in the mirror, making sure she was presentable. She was a petite woman with chocolate coloured skin and a slender figure. Definitely not the kind of person you’d expect to see on a security team, never mind leading it. She turned away from her reflection and stepped through the door.

“Atten-TION!” Lieutenant Morreth shouted as Travs entered.

“Relax,” she snapped, “and Morreth, I swear to God, if you don’t stop doing that I’m going to gag you!”

“It is proper protocol,” Morreth said indignantly. He was Klingon, but lacked the usual burly build of a warrior. Instead, he had a swimmers build and pale, almost pasty-looking skin. It wasn’t exactly a mystery why he’d chosen Starfleet instead of service to the Empire, “And yelling at me in front of the troops isn’t,” he finished, mostly to himself.

“OK people, our next mission,” Travs said, “The Farkas is on course for Yanpir IV. There’s a Cardassian colony there that’s been taken over by an Orion Syndicate group,”

A hand went up.

“Why do we care?” asked Ensign Nacht, “I mean, I know the Cardassion economy went to hell, but what do we have to do with their Orion problem?”

“Starfleet feels exactly the same way,” Travs nodded, “But Starfleet Intelligence sees this as a chance to remind the Orions that we’re not going to look the other way while they play at being warlords. So our job is to go in, wrest control of the colony from the Orions, then get out before the Cardassians send their own reinforcements. If they manage to scrape together enough ships to send reinforncements, that is.”

“Are we taking the new guy?” Lieutenant Vanheath asked.

“Good question,” Travs replied, “Absolutely. Which means we have to be…discreet on this one,”

There was an assorted collection of shouts and complaints until Morrath shouted for silence.

“Hey, the Captain wants us to start this new guy off easy, OK?” Travs said, “Besides, you need some practice doing things the old-fashioned way. The new guy will be here in fifteen minutes. Nacht, I’m putting him in your team.”

“Goody,” Nacht sighed, “I get a rookie,”

They were in the process of going through the mission details when there was a commotion outside.

An average-looking blond human came crashing through the doors leading to the corridor, his arms frantically reaching for the cream-coloured ball of fur that had attached itself to his back. The thing was hissing and screeching, clawing at the poor guy.

“This is Ensign Mayle,” Travs introduced him calmly as he flailed around the back of the room, “And his cat, I believe,”

Instantly, the heads of every member of the team snapped around, gazing at the hissing animal. As if sensing the attention, the cat stopped its attack on Mayle, looked around the room, hissed, then took off out the door.

“I don’t know what happened!” Mayle whimpered, “Felix’s never so much as scratched me before!”

“Don’t worry,” Ensign Packman, a lanky human with unfortunate acne scarring assured him, “We’ll…take care of him,”

“Mayle, meet the squad,” Travs said, “You’re on Beta Team, along with Paulsan, Syl and Porkchop. Ensign Nacht is Beta Team leader. Lieutenant Vanheath leads Alpha team, his guys are Packman, Trimble, Vorns and Johnson. Lieutenant Morreth is my second in command. Now, we’ve got gear set aside for you. Suit up; we beam down in thirty minutes!”

“A mission?” Mayle objected, “But I just woke up an hour ago! Shouldn’t I be on…sick leave or something?”

“Why?” Morreth demanded, “Are you sick?”

“Well I…” Mayle paused. Actually, he felt really good. The nausea, headache and stomache-ache were all gone. His back burned a bit from Felix’s claws, but even that wasn’t too bad.

“No, I guess I’m good to go,” he muttered.

“Good! No malingerers here!” Morreth gave a toothy grin, “Let’s go!”


Half an hour later, as promised, the Farkas dropped out of warp in orbit of an unpleasant looking greyish planet. Beta Team was in Transporter Room 2 along with Morreth, while Travs was with Alpha Team in Transporter Room 1. Seconds after the ship dropped out of warp, Mayle felt himself dissolving then rematerializing on the planet surface.

Beta Team immediately spread out, taking cover behind the big rocks that littered the landscape. There wasn’t a lot of vegetation on the planet, and the dingy grey sky had him doubting that the place was even habitable. But sure enough, his tricorder showed a concentration of life-signs in the valley ahead; mostly Orion but with a cluster of Cardassians that might be prisoners. Snapping his tricorder shut he pulled his phaser rifle back up and followed the team as they started moving towards the colony. Alpha Team had beamed down five kilometres from their location and had likewise started moving, the plan being that the two teams would converge on the Orion-held control center.

“So, first day on the Farkas, huh?” Ensign Syl, a stocky human of French ancestry, whispered amicably.

“Uh-huh” Mayle muttered back.

“I remember my first day,” Syl said wistfully, “They had to lock me in my cabin for a month,”

“Why?” Mayle asked, “What’s with all the hush-hush, and the-“

“Quiet,” Morreth ordered, “I think I hear…hey, did anybody see my tricorder? I think I dropped it,”

Paulson, Syl and Porkchop and Nacht all groaned.

“Again?” Syl, asked, “Merde, boss!”

“We can’t stop to look for the damned thing!” Paulson sighed. Paulson was an alien, but she was one of those aliens that was almost impossible to distinguish from a human without a vivisection.

If he’d been any other Starfleet officer assigned to a new ship, Mayle might have been aghast at the apparent incompetence. But being from a ship named Aerostar, he was used to dealing with crewmates who weren’t exactly the best of the best.

“Alpha Team to Beta Team,” Travs’ voice came over the comm, “Looks like they’ve picked you up on scanners. We’ve got a group of Orions headed your way. Nothing our way yet,”

“Acknowledged,” Morreth replied, “We…uh…see the same thing,”

“No you don’t, you lost your tricorder again, didn’t you?”

“Um…”

“Look, just don’t get anybody killed except the bad guys, OK?”

“Yes ma’am!”

The group had paused behind a low hill. Morreth thought for a moment, then turned to the others.

“We’re going to run along there, staying low enough for those scruffy-looking trees to give us cover,” he said, “From there, it’s a quick jog into the colony, then we can-“

“Drop your weapons, Federation scum,” a deep, growly voice snapped.

“We’re boned,” Mayle groaned, dropping his weapon along with the rest of the team.

While chatting, the team had been surrounded by no fewer than a dozen Orions. Some of them held phasers, the rest held knives or even axes.

“Just what do you think you’re doing here, humans?” the leader growled.

“Killing you all,” Morreth said, trying to sound like a warrior, but sounding more like the nerdy kid claiming he could blow up the bully’s printer with a well-placed computer virus.

“I’m not talking to you,” the Orion backhanded Morreth, sending the Klingon flying back to the ground. He turned back to the human-looking members of the group, “Starfleet wants us dead, huh? I wonder what they’ll want after we send you back to them…in pieces!”

“Uh…boss?” one of the other Orions was looking at Morreth, “What’s wrong with his face?

Morreth’s eyes seemed to swell, his pupils changing to vertical slits. His teeth, already the standard toothy Klingon assortment, seemed to be growing right out of his mouth.

“Colis!” Syl rolled his eyes, “You should not have done that!”

“I just had this uniform tailored,” Paulson complained, “You KNOW the replicators never get my measurements right!”

The Orions were looking uneasy now.

“Fine,” Paulson muttered, “Let’s do this,”


Mayle was pretty sure he was still in Sickbay, under the effects of some really great medication, because what happened next had to be some sort of drug trip.

All five of his teammates simultaneously broke out in dark brown fur, writhing as it spread down their arms and across their faces. Their uniforms bulged as their bodies contorted, shoulders bulking up like linebackers, their upper bodies thickening as their rib cage pushed outward and as muscled rippled across their backs. He watched in horror as Paulson’s mouth elongated into a snarling muzzle filled with wicked teeth and a long, lolling tounge. Her ears became pointed and moved up to the top of her head and long, sharp claws extended from her fingers. Her uniform split apart as she grew, falling in tatters to the ground to reveal a pair of overstretched, pink spandex shorts and a big bushy tail. She arched her back, roaring at the sky.

Morreth, or at least the snarling beast that used to be Morreth, had jumped to his feet and struck the lead Orion full out. Blood sprayed across the ground, along with most of the alien’s entrails. Syl gripped another Orion with both enlarged hands, then his jaws darted forward and locked on the Orion’s head, tearing it off with a loud crunch.

Paulson and Nacht were each eviscerating the now-fleeing Orions, while Porkchop had pounced on a fleeing alien and was in the process of reducing him to bloody scraps.

In seconds, it was over.

Mayle was still in the exact same spot, in the middle of the carnage. He was cowering in a standing fetal position, and he was pretty sure he’d wet himself. The big beasts that used to be his new crewmates were stalking around the area, looking for any remaining bad guys. Well, most of them were. It looked like Syl had gotten his target’s head stuck in his mouth and was making rather pathetic whimpering noises as he tried to spit it out. One of the other beasts, Paulson maybe, stalked over, grabbed the head by the hair and yanked. Syl yipped in pain, then his mouth snapped shut. He licked his chops, then his eyes fell on Mayle.

If he hadn’t wet himself before, he definitely did now. But the beast just gave a friendly little yip, then turned away.

There was a crashing sound from the nearby bushes, then Lt. Cmdr Travs and Alpha Team burst out. She surveyed the situation, then let her phaser rifle dangle on its sling.

“I TOLD you guys to be DISCREET!” she snapped. “Where’s Morreth?”

One of the beasts, this one wearing red spandex shorts (with a strategically placed hole for his tail) ambled over.

“What did I tell you?” she demanded.

Morreth just sort of grumbled, then started to turn away.

Travs grabbed him by the muzzle and pulled his head back.

“I SAID NOT TO SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF THE NEW GUY!” she yelled.

Mayle watched in amazed terror as the dainty woman pulled the panting animal’s snout down to her eye level.

“If you don’t learn to keep your guys under control and do a SIMPLE attack mission without screwing it up, I’ll have you all neutered! I don’t care if they grow back when you change!”

With that she pushed him away and walked over to Mayle.

“Don’t worry,” she said as she reached out to give him a lift, “At least you didn’t run screaming like an idiot. The last guy who did that…well…Porkchop mistook him for one of the bad guys,”

Mayle looked over at what he thought was Porkchop…the beast in the green shorts. He was straddling the body of the last Orion he’d killed, muzzle buried in the aliens chest cavity. Sensing Mayle’s gaze, he lifted his head, looked over, licked greenish blood from his chops, then buried his snout back into the alien’s rib cage.

“Wha…wha…” he stuttered.

“Morreth, get these guys under control!” she snapped. Morreth stalked over to Porkchop and gave him a backhand hit. With a yelp, Porkchop fell off the Orion, then skittered away. Travs turned back to Mayle. “Some of the…uh…animal urges are a little hard to control.

“I-Is that why Syl’s humping that tree?” Mayle managed to get out, pointing at the orange-suited beast. It had jumped onto a half-fallen tree and was thrusting for all it was worth. A few paces down, Nacht had found a perfectly healthy tree, had lifted a leg and was proceeding to mark his territory.

“I can’t take these guys anywhere,” Travs shook her head in disgust, “Look, can you hold yourself together until the Farkas swings back to pick us up? There’s still another two dozen Orions in the colony.

Biting his lip, Mayle nodded.

“Great,” Travs handed him her weapon, “OK, Alpha Team, the jig is up. Let’s at least have some fun until the ship gets back!”

And with that, her uniform tore to shreds as she transformed into yet another beast. Mayle backpedalled as the remaining human/humanoid members changed, each one giving out a loud roar as the transformation finished.

Travs lashed out with one hand-paw, tucked Mayle under her arm and ran towards the colony with the rest of the pack.


The rest of the mission was short and very bloody. The Orions barely lasted five minutes before meeting death at the razor-sharp claws or crushing jaws of the transformed security team. The Howlers sent Nacht to unlock the holding facility where the Cardassian colonist had been imprisoned, but none had actually been eager to step outside while he was still around. Travs plucked Mayle from the alley where she’d hidden him, then led the team to the beam-up point.

Suddenly, the beasts around him seemed to deflate. Muscles shrank, fur disappeared and muzzles retracted back into ordinary mouths. The sound of shifting bones put Mayle’s teeth on edge, but he managed to hold onto his lunch this time. (Possibly because he’d already puked up everything he possibly could have.)

“That was SO much fun!” Paulson laughed, opening a hidden flap on her shorts and pulling out a bikini top.

“Urp,” Porkchop belched, “Excuse me. Must be someone I ate,”

“That’s disgusting,” Syl muttered.

“Uh-huh, we saw you getting intimate with that tree,” Porkchop shot back.

“Hey, you know how bad the…urges…are!”

“Does anybody still have a comm-badge?” Morreth asked, “Mine fell off my shorts again,”

As Nacht called for beam-out, Morreth turned to Mayle.

“Honestly, most of our missions go better than this one did,”

“Uh-huh,” Mayle managed to mutter.


Back on the ship, Mayle went straight to the Captain’s ready room.

“You didn’t tell me I was going to be working with a pack of MONSTERS!” he accused.

“You didn’t ask,” Captain Harth shrugged.

“I didn’t think I had to!” he snapped. Mayle paused, suddenly remembering who he was talking to. “Uh…sir.”

“It’s natural for you to be a little upset,” Harth said, gesturing for Mayle to sit, “In fact, I prefer it. Ensign Purkcap started giggling like a schoolgirl when he found out. Creepy as hell.”

“Purkcap?” Mayle asked.

“Sorry. I guess he goes by Porkchop now,” Harth corrected.

“Look, sir, just give me some straight answers, please,” Mayle said, “What ARE they?”

“They’re a group of Starfleet Security officers,” Harth said immediately, “Most of them are human, though of course there’s the Klingon, the Rigellian, an-“

“Humans don’t turn into hairy monsters,” Mayle interrupted him.

“Have you seen Vanheath’s chest hair?” Harth joked, “All kidding aside, I’m sure you’ve read stories about werewolves before, right?”

Mayle laughed. Harth didn’t

“You’re kidding,” Mayle’s smile fell flat.

“Sort of,” Harth admitted, “Look, Dr. Wolfman is still trying to understand it. They’re not actually werewolves…that would be ridiculous. It’s some sort of virus that infects humanoid life-forms and starts messing with their DNA. We’ve never seen anything like it before. All we know is that every officer that’s been infected served at least one tour in the Gamma Quadrant. The current theory is that it’s probably something they picked up dealing with the Changelings, or from one of the animals on the current Changeling homeworld.”

“That makes sense,” Mayle said slowly.

“And that’s really all there is to it,” Harth shrugged, “Starfleet doesn’t want these guys on their ships for obvious reasons, we can’t release them into the public for the same reason, and Intelligence practically drooled over the chance to have a pack of werewolves at their beck and call.”

He frowned.

“Don’t call them werewolves, by the way. They really don’t like it. They don’t really care for ‘Type-5 Psionic Anomaly’ either, which is SI’s official term for them.”

“Great,” Mayle said. This wasn’t too bad. People turning into werewolves was ridiculous, superstitious nonsense. But a group of Starfleet officers suffering from the unfortunate effects of an alien virus…well that kind of thing happened all the time! Why, if only they’d told him sooner, it would have been no problem!”

“So why am I mixed up in all this?” he asked.

Harth blinked.

“Why are…oh…” he smiled weakly, “You remember that ‘incurable disease’ Dr. Wolfman mentioned to you?”

Mayle stared at him in realization, his expression shifting to one of utter horror. Then he lost consciousness.

Harth got to his feet, came around his desk, then prodded Mayle with his foot.

“Still much better than the guy that started giggling,” he shrugged.


After being called to the bridge to help drag Ensign Mayle down to his quarters, Lt. Cmdr Travs returned to the Howler’s Den. Most of the Howlers had finished their post-mission clean up, but Morreth and her two team leaders were still there checking over gear. Ensign Syl was still standing in front of a mirror near the showers, clad only in a towel, trying to pick the last few remnants of Orion from between his teeth.

“-don’t know why she was yelling at me,” Morreth was saying, “They’re YOUR team,”

“But we work for you,” Nacht pointed out, “You’re supposed to set the tone. But onto more important matters…what colour should the new guy’s shorts be?”

“Aqua?” Vanheath suggested.

“But I thought Packman was already teal…wouldn’t that be confusing?” Nacht asked.

“Oh. Um…banana yellow?” Vanheath asked.

“What part of ‘break the new guy in easily’ are you idiots just not getting?” Travs demanded, stepping into the room, “First you botch your attack approach, then you all change right in front of him without a hint of warning, now you want to make him run around in yellow spandex? You guys are sadistic!”

“Nature of the beast,” Vanheath said darkly.

“Don’t let Commander Belis hear you talk like that,” Travs warned him, referring to the Farkas’ first officer, “He’s already giving me a hard time,”

“So what?” Nacht shrugged, “If he gives us trouble, we’ll just have Syl chew his arm for a while,”

“I keeps telling you guys, I don’t eat peoples!” Syl called from the shower/bathroom area. He frowned as he dug one last chunk of green from between two teeth and flicked it into the garbage, “That is Porkchop’s raison d’etre,”

“Then maybe you can hump him into submission!” Nacht corrected with a laugh.

Travs crossed her arms, unimpressed.

“You boys do realize that if Harth and Belis convince their superiors we’re more trouble than we’re worth, we’ll end up locked up in a Starfleet Intelligence science lab for the rest of our lives?” she reminded them.

That stopped the laughing.

“Well…at least until they found a cure,” Vanheath said, uncomfortably.

“To Grethor with that,” Morreth broke into the conversation, “I am not interested in a cure! If Starfleet Int decides they don’t want us, the Empire would gladly take us on,”

“Oh you’d love that, wouldn’t you,” Nacht turned to the Klingon, “A chance to go back as something other than a skinny weakling!”

“Why you!” Morreth surged at Nacht. Vanheath and Travs held him back.

“Get out of here,” she said to all of them, “Get yourselves calmed down, then bring your teams to the holodeck at 2100,”

“What’s at 2100?” Nacht asked.

“We have to see whether or not the new guy is truly one of us,” Morreth said ominously.

“One of us, one of us,” Nacht and Vanheath started chanting, as if on cue. They broke into giggles.

“Can’t take them anywhere,” Travs said to herself, turning to leave just in time to hide her amused expression.


Greg Mayle woke up in another strange bed, the second one of the day. With a groan, he pushed himself into a sitting position, then realized that the strange bed was actually HIS bed, in his new quarters aboard the Farkas.

“I was really hoping that was just a nightmare,” he groaned.

“MMEEERRRRROOOOWW!”

He looked over to see Felix sitting in front of the doorway to his living area. He looked back at him, then hissed.

“Oh, what’s your problem?!” he demanded, “You just spent two months in stasis! I’m the one that had half my guts replaced!”

Another growl.

He climbed out of bed. Felix jumped to his feet, arched his back and hissed again as his heckles lifted.

“I’m not listening to you,” he said firmly, “And, for that matter, I’m not sitting alone in my quarters having a conversation with a cat!”

Avoiding the angry animal, he slipped into his bathroom, started his sonic shower and began undressing. In spite of himself, he couldn’t help but check his backside in the mirror for a tail.

“I’m not a monster,” he said to himself firmly, “It’s a mistake,”

Felix didn’t reply.

He stepped into the shower and let the sonics wash over him. After a moment, he changed the selector from ‘sonic’ to ‘water’ and sighed in pleasure as a wave of hot water washed over him. That was better. He’d had a rough day, he needed to relax.

He looked down at his torso, checking for scars. He could see a patch of shiny new skin where Dr. Wolfman had opened him up to replace his damaged organs, but no sign of anything that would become a scar.

Why had Wolfman done that work anyway? Why hadn’t his doctor on the Aerostar-A at least done that much before they stuck him in a suspended animation tube and shipped him off?

The obvious answer was that Starfleet knew exactly what had happened to him, when it had happened to him. Which meant that this had happened often enough that the ships in the Gamma Quadrant knew to watch for it. In fact, considering the number of Howlers on the ship, it must have happened at least eleven times before it happened to him.

“Would have been nice if they’d warned the lower ranks about this,” he muttered.

What would his mother say if she knew he turned into a hairy animal at the full mood? For that matter, would he turn on a full moon? The Howlers seemed to transform at will.

He looked down at his hand and willed it to change. He imagined the long claws sprouting from his fingertips, the coarse hair sprouting on the back of his hand.

Nothing happened.

Not sure if he should be disappointed or relieved, he shut off the water and got dressed.

Felix danced back out of his way, still hissing as he stepped into his living room. He stood in front of the replicator for a while, then decided he needed to get of his quarters.

Maybe supper in the lounge would work a bit better.


Located at the front of the ship on Deck 2, the Farkas’ mess hall was fairly small. Most of the facilities on the ship were fairly small, considering the ship only had 15 decks and about 150 crewmembers. Designed for shorter missions, as opposed to the massive vessels built for long term exploration, the Farkas had in fact left Deep Space Nine only two days before.

It was half an hour before the shift change, so there were only a few crewmembers sitting at the small, gray tables. Most of the people lined up at the replicator were having their meals replicated ‘to go’.

Mayle got in line behind a Vulcan male and waited. The Vulcan turned, regarded him for a moment, then spoke.

“You are Ensign Mayle,” he said, “If memory serves, we picked you up at Deep Space Nine.”

“Greg,” Mayle said pleasantly. He knew better than to offer his hand to a Vulcan…being touch-telepaths, they disliked physical contact.

“Fascinating,” the Vulcan replied, “I am Lieutenant Soruk, Science Officer,”

“Ah,”

They picked up their meals, but as Mayle turned from the replicator he saw that Soruk had just taken the last available seat at his chosen table. Mayle settled in at the next table over.

“So what sort of science work do you do on this ship?” he asked, “Lt. Cmdr. Travs told me the ship mostly just ferries around the…uh…”

“The wolf-pack?” one of the other officers at the table laughed. Judging by his blue collar, he was probably also on the science team, “Yeah, between shuttling them around and studying them, they keep the rest of us pretty busy. You must be new…you one of the new engineering guys we picked up last week?”

“Ensign Mayle joined us at Deep Space Nine,” Soruk said before Mayle could answer.

Instantly, a chill seemed to settle over the table.

“Oh…you’re the guy Dr. Wolfman was working on,” another officer said, “Well…welcome to the ship,”

With that, they turned back to their own conversation.

Slightly taken aback, Mayle started picking at his pasta. He downed a few bites, but something just didn’t taste right. He was debating a return trip to the replicator when a heavy hand fell on his shoulder.

“I think you’re in the wrong room, furball,” a deep voice grunted.

Mayle turned around to see a hulking Xenexian and an equally hulking Andorian standing behind him.

“I thought this was the mess hall,” he said, confused.

“It is,” the Andorian said, “But do you see a doggy dish anywhere?”

“What?” Mayle looked helplessly over at Soruk’s table. The other three officers were pretending not to notice, but the Vulcan turned to regard the situation.

“There is no logical reason why the Ensign cannot consume his meal here,” he told the two.

“We don’t want him here,” the Xenexian said, digging his fingers deeper into Mayle’s shoulder as the Andorian closed in, “That’s reason enough.”

A sudden surge of anger running through him, Mayle shrugged the alien away.

“Back off, blueberry!” he growled, starting to rise.

“Bad dog!” the Xenexian said, pushing him back in his chair, “Sit! Stay!”

Several of the other crewmen nearby chuckled.

“He thinks he’s people!” the Andorian remarked, “Sitting at the table and everything!”

“What’s going on here?” another voice broke in. Mayle and his two assailants turned to see a dark-haired man in command red stepping through the double doors.

“Nothing, Commander Belis,” the Xenexian said, “Just having a little chat with our new…colleague,”

Mayle looked around, but nobody was about to contradict him.

“Then I’m sure you won’t mind if Mr. Mayle and I have a little chat of our own?” Belis said, stepping over to the replicator and grabbing a bowl of soup.

“No sir!” the Andorian said smartly. The two grabbed a couple of meals to go and left.

Evidently the three officers accompanying Lt. Soruk had finished, as there were also standing to leave.

Belis sat across from Mayle.

“Sir,” Mayle started, “I-“

“I’m not stupid, Ensign,” the commander replied, “I know what was going on.”

“Why-“

“Why would a pair of Starfleet Intelligence officers have a problem with a potentially dangerous threat? Is that what you’re about to ask?” Belis said bluntly.

“I just sat down to have dinner!” Mayle blurted, “I’m not dangerous!”

“That remains to be seen,” Belis said after a moment. “Look, Ensign, I’ll be honest with you. I know you didn’t ask for this, and I’m sorry it happened to you. But until we find a way to cure you and the rest of the werewo…the rest of the security team, I think you’re all very dangerous. So do a lot of people on this ship,”

“But I haven’t done anything!” Mayle said, “I’ve never…changed, or anything! I still think this is all some kind of mix-up!”

“Maybe,” Belis conceded, “But I still believe in being careful.” He spooned up the last of his soup then stood to leave.

“By the way, it would be better if you avoided the mess hall from now on,” he said, “Some of the crew are a little uncomfortable with the Howlers, and I’d hate for there to be any more…misunderstandings.”

With that, he left.

Mayle sat there for a moment, trying to understand what had just happened.

“If you are free tomorrow, I am most eager to begin my scans of your physiology,” Soruk commented.

Maybe it was time for a workout, Mayle thought glumly as he left the mess hall. Dinner sure as hell wasn’t helping him relax.


Travs, Morreth, Nacht and Vanheath, along with most of the Howlers, were lounging under a simulated sun in Holodeck 2 when the heavy doors hissed open and Ensign Mayle was shoved roughly through.

“Hey,” a stocky Tellarite shouted in, “This one was in our gym. Why don’t you show him where he can play?”

“Try to keep him off our lawn,” a second voice called.

“Come in here and say that!” Morreth shouted.

The two SI officers exchanged a glance, then looked at the half-dozen visible Howlers. Travs crossed her arms and gave the two a dark look.

“Sorry ma’am,” the Tellarite said, looking abashed.

“Just helping him back to his part of the ship,” his partner added. They quickly left.

As the doors hissed shut, Travs sighed.

She got up and walked over to Mayle.

“I’m sorry, Ensign,” she said, “I thought you’d be sleeping a little longer. Did they give you much trouble?”

Mayle quickly told her about his encounter in the mess hall.

“I don’t get it,” he said, “I’ve had crewmates injured, infected or disfigured before…but everybody always pulls together until they recover.” He frowned, “Or die.”

“They fear us,” Morreth said, “They know we could kill them all in about fifeteen minutes,”

“Unfortunately, he’s mostly right,” Travs agreed, “It’s easy to console a wounded friend, but you know how uncomfortable some people get around sick people. And when those people have a serious disease, the fear is even worse. Imagine dealing with people who’s illness happens to turn them into perfect killing machines?”

“But they can’t…it’s not catching, is it?”

“No…and in Fraks case, that’s part of the problem,” Nacht piped in.

“Fraks?”

“The Xenexian,” Nacht said, “He was on a tour in the Gamma Quadrant. He was slashed by some kind of animal on a moon in the Changeling’s home system and sent here. But the virus didn’t take. It vanished from his system almost immediately.”

“So he’s not…one of you,” Mayle said.

“One of us,” Travs corrected.

“They kept him on board, since this ship is sort of secret,” Vanheath said, “But I think he’s jealous,”

“Ah,”

The conversation died down and Mayle started looking around. The holodeck was simulating a cottage in the middle of a thick forest. Several lounge chairs had been setup on the broad lawn, and a small pool rippled nearby. The cottage itself was an almost disgustingly rustic two storey affair, complete with a little white picket fence.

“Where are we?” he asked.

“Grandma’s cottage,” Vanheath replied with a twisted grin.

“Huh?”

“Go in and see,” Vanheath shrugged.

Hoping the holodeck safeties were on, Mayle opened the door and stepped inside. The foyer was empty, the small living area deserted. He peeked into the kitchen, but aside from a pile of dirty dishes it too was empty.

He heard something from upstairs.

He climbed the steps, then turned down the narrow hall. The sound was coming from the last door down…

He pushed the door open, then gave a yell of surprise as he found himself confronted by one of the Howlers in beast form, dressed in a pink flannel night-gown and cap. The beast was sitting up in a small bed that barely seemed to support it, with a big, fluffy comforter drawn up to its waist and a book carefully clutched in one clawed hand.

The beast looked back at him, almost seeming to grin.

“My,” Mayle said, recovering from his earlier shock, “What big teeth you have, grandma,”

With an urf-urf-urf of laughter, the thing went back to its reading.


“At least he didn’t pass out, wet himself or run screaming that time,” Paulsan said to Nacht as Mayle walked back out of the cottage, “That’s gotta be a good sign,”

“Let’s hope,” Nacht replied.

“So, you guys spend a lot of time here?” Mayle asked.

“The captain set aside this holodeck for us,” Travs said, “We also have our own dining and workout rooms just off the squad room.”

“These SI guys are such a welcoming bunch,” Vanheath said dryly.

“Anyway, let’s get down to why you’re here,” Travs said, growing serious. The rest of the Howlers were gathering around now.

“Why are we here?” Mayle asked, suddenly nervous. He noticed that night was quickly falling over the holographic forest. And, big surprise, it was a full moon.

“The transformation isn’t easy,” Travs said, “Especially the first time. It takes a lot of effort. But it gets easier over time.”

So that was it. They expected him to…wolf out.

“Look,” he said, “I’m sorry about whatever…disease you guys have, but I tried this in the shower. I tried to get my hand to change. Nothing happened!”

“You can’t just change part of yourself,” Vanheath said stripping down to his brightly coloured shorts, “It’s all or nothing.”

With that, he closed his eyes. Fur rippled across his body and his bones rearranged themselves. His torso and arms elongated, his legs thickened with bunched muscle. His snout pushed out, and he let out a loud howl as the transformation finished.

Shaking his head, he dropped to all fours and ran into the woods. Mayle stared as he returned a moment later, a stick the size of a small tree clenched in his jaws. He dropped the stick in front of Mayle, stood back up on his hind legs and yipped playfully.

“You guys are…in control, when you do this?” he asked.

“More or less,” Travs said. She nodded at Syl, who was in the process of changing, “There are a lot of animal instincts to deal with, and some of us are better at dealing with them than others. But you’re still…you.”

“Uh-huh,” Mayle noticed ‘grandma’ coming out of the cottage, discarding the pink night attire and pouncing on Syl. The two rolled around on the grass, wrestling.

All around him, the Howlers were changing to their beast forms. Nacht was chasing a rabbit, a rabbit that quickly died in a spray of holographic blood.

Mayle suddenly felt very, very out of place.

“What about the full moon?” he asked.

“An issue,” Travs said slowly, “A holographic moon does nothing, of course. But if you’re on a planet, or even sometimes on an orbiting ship, a full moon makes you change.”

Nacht had come up behind Travs, walking on his hind legs, his chops still damp with holographic rabbit blood. He gestured at Mayle.

“You’re right, I’m sorry,” she addressed Nacht, then turned to Mayle, “We’ll have plenty of time for details later. Change,” she gave him a grin, “Little Red Riding Hood’s going to be here any minute now. You don’t want to disappoint her!”

“But…I…”

“Focus your mind,” she told him firmly, “find that animal inside you, and let him out.”

She grimaced, then sighed.

“I know, that sounds horribly cliché,” she said, “But it’s the best way to describe it.”

Looking around nervously, Mayle closed his eyes and focused.

“Nothing happened,” he said, his eyes popping back open.

“Try harder than that!” Travs crossed her arms, “I know this is new to you, and we all know you didn’t want it. But you’re already aboard the Farkas, which means you’re either going to be a Howler, or you’re going to be a bitter officer forced to babysit a bunch of freaks. Now what’s it going to be?”

Mayle honestly wasn’t sure what the answer to that question was. OK, no, he didn’t want a disease, and he didn’t want to eat anybody! But at the same time, the chance to turn into something other than just another human was…alluring. Something about running through the night, chasing prey and hunting with the rest of team seemed to call to him.

He closed his eyes again, and tried to channel that call into his body, to let every part of him, every cell and every molecule hear that call.

After a moment, he cracked open one eye.

Nothing had happened.

Travs was looking at him expectantly…so was the entire squad.

Mayle looked back at her, confused.

“Well, that’s not what I expected,” she admitted.


“Couldn’t this have waited until morning?” Dr. Wolfman asked. He’d met them in Sickbay and proceeded to lead them to Science Lab 3, which had been setup specifically for studying the Howlers. Mayle had been pushed onto a slightly reclined scan platform and a variety of sensor devices had descended around him.

“We tried for half an hour,” Travs said, “Even Porkchop managed his first time after ten minutes or so!”

“Well, I could give him a Viagra and let you two try again in twenty minutes,” Wolfman joked.

“Not funny, doc,” Travs said.

Mayle lay quietly as the scanners did their work. Just like in the shower, he was somewhere between relief and disappointment. Relief because maybe he was right…maybe this was a big mistake and he wasn’t actually a freak of nature. Disappointment because part of him really did want to…er…let his hair down. To become something savage and brutal…unstoppable.

“Well, he’s definitely infected,” Wolfman said after a moment, “The virus is in his bloodstream.”

“They why can’t he change?”

“No clue. You might remember that this whole thing is a bit of a mystery to us,” Wolfman said dryly.

“Maybe I’m getting better?” Mayle commented.

“Hmmm…possible, but I doubt it,” Wolfman said, “We had a couple of cases where the virus disappeared shortly after the subject was exposed, but that doesn’t seem to be happening here.”

“I’ll need some time to review these scans,” he said, “For now, I suggest you go to bed and get some rest. Try again tomorrow.


Mayle went back to his quarters, tried to ignore Felix’s startled growling when he stomped through the doors and tried to pretend that he hadn’t realized that his quarters, his teammates’ quarters, the Howler’s Den, Holodeck 2 and the security team’s dining and fitness facilities were all on the same two decks of the ship. Whoever was running this show had probably figured it would be more ‘efficient’ that way, but it also conveniently isolated the infected officers from everybody else.

He collapsed on his couch, only to have Felix jump on his lap, clawing angrily. With a curse, he retreated to his bedroom, barely closing the doors before the enraged feline could get in.

Blowing a breath out, he undressed and collapsed onto the bed.


The next day, after eating a quick breakfast in the Howler’s mess hall (and not having anybody threaten to kick him out), Mayle met with Morreth, Natch and Vanheath in the holodeck.

“Maybe we’ve just got to set the mood,” Natch said.

“Is that why we’re standing in the middle of the Cryptkeeper’s house?” Mayle asked dryly.

“Just try it!” Natch said.

Again, Mayle closed his eyes and imagined the changes coming over his body.

Nothing happened.

“Well, I didn’t think this scene was going to help anyway,” Vanheath shrugged, “Computer, load ‘American Werewolf in Paris’!”

This time, Mayle found himself in the middle of a crowded yet dilapidated church. A bunch of poorly dressed youths, evidently in the middle of some kind of party, were watching a group of monks inject something into their arms. Suddenly, the monks began transforming into beasts similar to, but not quite the same as the Howlers.

“At least we don’t have to do that,” Nacht said.

The holographic werewolves were now proceeding to slaughter the crowd of partygoers. Mayle`s stomach turned as he watched one werewolf eviscerate a dark-haired, shirtless male. Morreth was unconsciously licking his lips.

“I don’t think this scene’s going to help either,” Mayle said.

“Just try!”


By the time they broke for lunch, they’d tried fifteen different settings, mostly fictional, but also an empty field during a full moon, a bleak-looking grotto, even Stonehenge. Nothing worked.

They left the holodeck and returned to the mess hall for lunch. Nobody said anything, but it was clear that the other Howlers didn’t know what to make of him. Morreth, Nacht and Vanheath were friendly enough and Travs stopped by to say a brief hello, but the other team members stayed at their own tables, shooting questioning glances at the team leaders.

The doors hissed open, and everybody except Mayle turned to see who it was, some of their nostrils even flaring as they sniffed at the air. It was Dr. Wolfman.

“I…uh…wanted to discuss your test results,” he said. Syl had started sniffing at his back. Wolfman started to look back over his shoulder, but Porkchop pulled Syl away just in time.

“What did you find?” Mayle asked eagerly. Around him, the Howlers weren’t exactly being subtle in their attempt to listen in.

“You’re infected,” Wolfman shrugged, turning back to him, “We already knew that. But the amount of virus in your system is lower than expected, though it is rising.” He shifted in his seat. “Anyway, if you have any further questions you know where to find me. I’ll…just be on my way,”

With that, he made a quick exit.

Travs smacked Syl upside the head.

“It’s no wonder the rest of the crew doesn’t like us!” she snapped. Mayle was looking down at his lunch. Travs gave Morreth and the team leaders a little ‘get to it’ gesture.

“The change is not always easy,” Morreth said, sitting across from Mayle, “Especially if you have already changed that day. The most any of us has been able to manage is three in one day,”

“It’s got to be something in your head,” Vanheath said, half to himself, half to Mayle. He was starting to pace, Nacht folling in step. It might have started as pacing, but it quickly changed into something resembling a pair of predators circling their prey. “Some kind of block…”

“Almost like you don’t really want to be one of us,” one of the other Howlers called out.

“I’m trying, I really am,” Mayle said quietly, “You think I want to spend the rest of my career with the other pricks on this ship?”

As he said it, he knew it was true. As long as the virus was in his system, he had two options: join the Howlers or try to fit in with the crew. And they hadn’t exactly rolled out the red carpet for him.

He closed his eyes again and focused every piece of willpower he had on ‘bringing out the beast’, as Travs had put it.

Nothing. He opened his eyes to see eleven disappointed faces looking back at him.\


The Howlers had another mission the next afternoon, after Mayle endured another evening largely spent hiding from his cat. This one wasn’t as major as the Orion operation…simply a fugitive who was trying to hide out on an isolated planet. Travs beamed down in human form, with the rest of the squad changing in the transporter room before beaming down. The transporter operator had swallowed nervously as she watched, then nearly jumped out of her skin when Mayle stood next to her at the transporter panel.

“I’ll take over monitoring,” he said.

With a grateful smile, she proceeded to get the hell away from the lot of them.

Mayle sighed, then started following the team with the transporter sensors. The mission wasn’t complicated; the guy was a convicted serial killer from a colony world with a knack for technology. He was an expert at hiding his life-signs, and while that might be a problem for a standard Starfleet security team it wasn’t an issue for a wolf pack and their combined noses.

Several hours later, after combing a large area of terrain with amazing speed, the pack started converging on Packman’s position. The enemy had managed to lead them on a chase that would have confounded any other team, but once Packman caught his scent it was just a matter of time.

“Travs to Farkas, I need a site to site,” the comm chirped, “I need to be there to arrest him in person,”

“So to speak,” Mayle muttered as he worked the transporter controls.

He was definitely not in a good mood. This state of limbo was only a couple of days old, but it was already old news. He just wasn’t used to being the outsider! At the Academy, he’d been pulled into his squad, then his sector almost at once. Both ships he’d been posted to, the USS Constantinople and the USS Aerostar, had been quick to welcome him onto their crews. This middle ground, with the SI crew on one side and the Howlers on the other, was really starting to piss him off.

“Farkas, we’ve apprehended the fugitive,” Travs’ voice came over the comm, “Beam us up now, then bring up the rest of the team on my order,”

“Acknowledged,” replied Captain Harth’s voice.

Mayle slid his fingers up the sliders and watched as Travs and a very frightened-looking lizard-alien appeared.

“What WERE those??” he was saying frantically, “What planet are they from? Or are they something you crazy Starfleet people cooked up in a lab??”

“Get him to Sickbay,” Travs ordered two regular security officers who had just stepped through the doors, “Make sure Dr. Wolfman gives him a good memory wipe,”

“Memory wipe? Hey! You can’t do that!” the reptile shouted.

As the first officer led the criminal out of the transporter room, Mayle beamed up the first six Howlers. They’d already changed back to their human (or equivalent) forms and looked just a bit silly standing there in their spandex.

“Nice undies,” the second guard said as he was leaving.

“Kiss my ass!” Porkchop called out, turning to show the guard his backside, complete with a bare patch of exposed skin right at his tailbone. Morreth bared his teeth and cocked his fist, only to be held back by Nacht. Oblivious, the guard left.

“I’ve gotta ask,” Mayle said, hoping to defuse the tension, “Why the fluorescent spandex?”

“It’s a little hard to tell us apart, otherwise,” Nacht said.

“For people, anyway,” Vanheath corrected.

“Yeah. People have a terrible sense of smell,”

They started giggling, until Travs threw folded uniforms in their direction.

“Cover up, pups,” she said, “Post-mission in fifteen minutes.

Maybe this was his lot in life, Mayle thought to himself. Maybe the Howlers and the Farkas crew really did need him. It was clear the Farkas crew had problems with their charges, and it was equally clear that antagonising a dozen werewolves was the path to bad, bad news.

But maybe he could…bridge that gap? The Howlers didn’t really accept him, but they could deal with him. And if the Farkas crew learned that he couldn’t wolf out on them, maybe their relations would improve?

Right. Then he could deal with both sides, but not belong to either one.

“Thanks for keeping an eye on us, Mayle!” Paulsan have him a smile as she finished dressing and walked towards the exit.

He forced a smile.

“No problem!”


The first thing Mayle heard when he opened his door was the sound of purring. For one split second, he thought that maybe he’d have a peaceful night. Then he noticed that his couch and his chair were both shredded beyond repair, with bits of fluff floating in the air. The few knick-knacks he’d unpacked were scattered across the floor, mostly broken, and the standard-issue Starfleet Plant-in-a-Vase had been knocked over, the water soaking into the carpet.

As soon as Felix saw him, he jumped up from where he’d curled up in the remains of the couch, flicked back his ears and hissed.

“Why, Felix?” Mayle asked tiredly, “Is it the new ship? Is it the werewolf thing? I can’t help either one, you know! And I’m not even a real werewolf!”

He stepped towards Felix, only to have the cat jump away and scamper between his legs. He darted at him, barely missing his tail as he ran out the door. That little rat! If he really had been a wereworld, he’d turn fuzzier than that damned cat and swallow her whole! If ONLY he he could!

Grabbing the cat-sized stasis tube, he ran towards the door.


“I guess he’s not one of us after all,” Morreth said to Travs.

“How’s that even possible?” Nacht asked, “He has the virus, right?”

“Right,” Travs nodded.

“But he can’t…perform…”

“Look, we don’t even understand what we are, how are we supposed to figure him out?” Travs shook her head, then stopped. “Hey do you hear that?”

“Aw, look,” Morreth pointed, “His cat got out again!”

The cream-coloured cat suddenly bolted, running past them.

“What the-“

Mayle quickly followed, stasis tube in hand, his lips pulled back in an angry snarl.

“GET BACK HERE YOU STUPID CAT!” he shouted.

Travs shrugged.

“Well, he may not be a real Howler, but I’d say he’s got the right attitude anyway,” she said.

“Liaison officer?” Morreth asked.

“Lord knows we could use one on this ship,” Travs agreed.

“At least we’ll have somebody on the squad the crew won’t be terrified of,” Nacht added.

“Shall we help him out with his little problem?” Travs suggested.

“We talking kill or capture?” Morreth asked.

“Capture, you idiot. You think killing his cat would get him on our side?”

“Good point,”

With matching roars, the three of them transformed to wolf form and took off down the corridor.


End


Wonder where the Howlers idea came from? Check out this YouTube footage from the game that started it. Warning though, spoilers for Skyrim…


Next: Ensign Mayle didn’t ask to be the creamy center of the Farkas vs Howlers Oreo, but when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Or you demand to see life’s manager and insist he take the lemons back, but since adding Cave Johnson into this story would just make things far too confusing, will stick with the lemonade. On the other hand…werewolves with exploding lemons? Maybe that would be interesting…no promises though.