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“A Shifting Journey”
JL by Cadet Katelyn McCaffrey
Kate left Professor Trumbull's class a bit unsatisfied. She wondered what happened that made the Professor so...subdued. She knew it had something to do with some cadets taking weapons from the survival class and getting into trouble with them. Hatfield. She sighed in frustration. He was certainly a thorn in everyone's side. Why does that kid have to act the way he does anyway? If he doesn't want to be here at starfleet and follow the starfleet's ways, then he should just leave already and stop causing problems for the rest of us!
But somehow she thought perhaps there was more to the Professor's change in mood than simply a couple of cadets breaking rules. She hoped he was okay.
As Katelyn walked down the paths on campus her mind wondered to Kober. He seemed pretty chummy with Nightwind today…€…..didn't even look at me…€….guess he's forgotten we were supposed to be friends. Kober had talked to her briefly last week in Trumbull's class. He had told her he had wanted to talk...but then he hadn't contacted her since. She sighed again, this time somewhat bittersweetly. Maybe he hasn't forgiven me for changing him. He's stuck not Klingon again...and who knows when/if he'll change again…€….or what else my DNA has done to him!
Her feet walked aimlessly as she got lost in thought. Classes were over for the day, so she didn't have to worry about getting anywhere any time soon. She thought about shifting into her cat form or maybe her hawk form and just running (or flying) away for a while.
Then suddenly, Kate paused for a moment as a thought came to her. She recalled Counselor Rinaldi suggesting she go shift to different forms, gain insight from each form, and try to find peace for herself. Immediately she changed her direction toward the recreation building; she hoped one of the holorooms were available.
Upon arrival, Kate was pleased to find one holoroom left available to reserve for the next hour. She reserved the room, and then gave the computer the parameters for the specific program she wanted to run. Once the computer voiced its readiness, she entered the holoroom to begin her journey.
Instantly, Kate was aboard a boat in the middle of the ocean. She jumped into the ocean, changing quickly into a giant octopus. Then, she sunk to the bottom of the ocean. It was pleasant feeling the water flow all around her. The precise control of movement she had in the water as an octopus was freeing. It was the same feeling she got when she was flying in her hawk form, or zooming around or leaping to tall branches in her cat form -- she didn't get that feeling very much when she was in her human form. Humans were too constricted; too rigid.
Once Kate reached the bottom surface of the ocean she crawled/swam her way to a nice cave to sit in; her skin changing automatically to the color of her surroundings. There she waited and let her octopus instincts take over. Wildlife swam/floated/crawled past her; seemingly oblivious to her presence. A crab came crawling up; it's aroma was strong and if she were human she would say it made her mouth drool. In a flash one of her eight arms swept toward the crab and before it could react, it was stuck to her suction cup. The crab began to squirm, but to no avail--the suction was too great for it's little crab body to overcome. A moment later she had it at her mouth, and her strong beak took a bite--sending a toxin into the crab's body; rendering it paralyzed. A few moments later and her meal was finished. If her powerful octopus beak had the capacity to smile--it would be in full grin. It was a very satisfying meal!
After resting a moment, Kate came out of her cave and immediately shifted into a blue tang fish: thin, blue with a thick black stripe on the sides at the top, and yellow fins. She began swimming forward, her flexible body moving back and forth as she moved. Kate swam up, down, turned around a few times and then spotted a coral reef. Soon she was poking around the reef and munching on the algae that was growing on it.
Next she swam out where there was enough space and shifted into a dolphin. As she began swimming her, now, large mammal body through the water she let out a few high pitched clicks to help her navigate the environment. As the echos of the sound she transmitted bounced back to her, she was able to pinpoint exactly where the surrounding fish, rocks, and various objects were along her path.
Kate dolphin giggled as she flew through the water; every once and awhile sending out new clicks to gain new information as she swam. With great speed she made her way to the top; jumping easily into the air, breathing out to clear her airway of any excess water, then took a deep breath in as her body leaped out of the water into a magnificent 10 foot jump. Her body gracefully completed a triple spin before she landed effortlessly back into the water. Kate was quite jubilee in her dolphin form; she jumped three more times; trying different heights and tricks each time. Then on the fourth jump she shifted into a seagull at the peak of the jump and glided out over the water.
She remained a seagull as the terrain changed from ocean to beach. Her seagull call echoed in the air. As Kate began to approach a forest, she shifted into a hawk and after finding the perfect tree, she landed on tallest; most stable of branches. Kate-hawk sat perched on the branch for a while--looking out over the treetops and listening to the surroundings as she shifted her head back and forth.
Next, Katelyn shaped into a squirrel and began making her way quickly down the trunk of the tree. At the bottom she found an acorn, her little squirrel hands grabbed it and she began munching on it. Her nose and ears twitched at any smell or sound as her squirrel mind remained alert for any dangers as she chomped on the nut.
After a few moments she disposed of any unused part of the nut and scurried her way further out from the tree, then shifted into a wolf. A quick howl, and then a split second as she listened. Soon she heard others howling in response. Kate took off running through the forest. Running as a wolf was quite different than running as a cat. Though she still had considerable speed, she was more massive and less graceful. What she lacked in feline poise though, she made up for in sheer muscle strength and sense of smell. Her wolf nose could pick up any potential prey or danger for miles on end as she sprinted through the forest. Also, the wolf's sense of smell was incredibly detailed. She could tell not only what was there around her now, but what had been there, how long ago it left, and in what direction it went.
Kate kept sprinting through the forest until she came to a cottage in a clearing. When she came to the door she shifted back into her Kate form. She opened the door and walked inside. The cottage was old fashioned; made of wood. There wasn't any fancy computers or replicators or anything all that technical. The living room was full of antique furniture: a couch, an armchair with an ottoman, a wooden coffee table, a wooden dresser, and several wooden bookshelves full of books.
She made her way to the bedroom. There was a full length, standing mirror in the room. Katelyn stood in front of the mirror and gazed at herself: a young teenage woman with pale white skin, long straight dark brown hair, pink lips, lavender eyes and wearing a cadet's uniform. Kate scrutinized herself. What had she learned from all her shifting today? What pieces from each of the creatures she became today can she internalize, and what wisdom can she gain from it all?
Katelyn wasn't sure how long she stood there staring at herself, but it seemed like ages had passed without fruition.
Then her mind began pondering those she cared about, how her actions affected them, how certain events had caused them harm, and how helpless she felt because of it. What good was her ability to shapeshift if she couldn't keep those she loved safe?
The image in the mirror quickly morphed as she pondered. Now she stared into the mirror and saw a human male, appearing in his early 60s, greying short black hair, soft brown eyes, thin (but not too skinny) figure, with medium tan skin, sitting in a wheelchair with braces on his legs. She reached up and touched her face and watched the mirror image of the man do the same. The touch of his face had a hint of sharpness as the stubble of his growing beard just barely poked out. Besides the stubble, the feel of the skin was slightly roughened reflecting age and weather. Kate frowned and so did the image of the man.. A look of longing, regret, and sadness could be seen in the image's eyes as Kate stared at him.
Then, the image morphed again. Now Kobor stood there staring back at her through the mirror. This was Kobor as he was. The klingon Kobor. The memory of their blood oath flashed in her mind, and suddenly it was Kobor the human male. Her mind thought of Nightwind…€…and now the mirror showed the calico colored Sivaoan. Her orange tail swayed back and forth passively as her green felinoid eyes stared back at Kate curiously. The felinoid's face had a neutral look initially before a sad and perhaps slightly angry look appeared. Kate's emotions and thoughts continued to mix and rumble around inside her as she tried to make sense of it all.
As her thoughts continued to linger on Kobor, the image in the mirror morphed into Kobor once again. This time in all his felinoid-klingon glory. She stared at his image for a long time. Longer than she had stared at her own image. Kate searched for something that would give her peace over it all. She searched for understanding, for redemption, for closure. At the very least she searched for purpose. What good, if any, came out of all of this??
Kate sighed a heavy sigh. She closed her eyes and contemplated her journey through creatures. What did I learn from all of this? …€……€… nature. Nature is instinct, there is order, there is reason. But it's not always expected. It changes. It morphs. There are dangers lurking in dark, unforeseen places. You can't protect yourself from everything, and you can't always predict what you'll have to face. So, you do the best you can with what you are given. You use your uniqueness to your advantage, and you enjoy the journey, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the challenges along the way.
Kate heard the sound of the holoroom shutting down. She shot opened her eyes and saw the surroundings disappear to be replaced with the hologrid as the computer announced her hour session had ended. Kate quickly shifted back to herself and exited the room. There was another cadet waiting to enter, she nodded politely as she left. On her way back to her dorm room she reflected once again on her shifting journey. Kate still had quite a bit to work through. She still had the same mixed emotions on the whole felinoid Kobor situation, her father's illness, and her inability to help either of them. But now, she at least had an overall sense of self-acceptance and willingness to allow herself some peace of mind.
When she arrived at home she noticed a package waiting for her. What's this? She thought before looking at the tag. It was addressed to her…€….from Kobor.