The Swarm

I’ve been in the head space again to do a little writing and decided to write an experimental story about a closeted transfem who meets an alien who changes here body. Hope people enjoy it!

Note: I originally posted this on Scribblehub and you can find all my work here:

It was the last day of university and Jack was dreading it. He’d put off this day as long as he possibly could by going to college and then university but tomorrow, he would finally have to do his compulsory military service. It could be worse though Jack thought, at least he would be relatively comfortable aboard a navy survey ship. Jack had always been quite skinny and hated physical activity, the thought of being sent to army training had terrified him. 

That evening Jack started packing his belongings to go into storage while he was away on military service. After he had finished packing, he settled down in bed and watched entertainment programs on his viewscreen till he drifted to sleep. 

*** 3 Months later ***

Jack had hated every minute of the training he had been given. He also spent most of it alone as he didn’t get along with another of his fellow conscripts. Due to his education though he had easily slipped into a maintenance position when it came time to join the crew of the survey ship. He spent most days in the ship’s maintenance shafts fixing the numerous faults the ship had.  

Ship maintenance is poor in the Navy and the Navy’s survey ships are its lowest priority. The only thing keeping the survey ship in space was Jack and the other conscripts counting down the days till the end of their military service and freedom. 

Today Jack was not the best as he and the other members of his maintenance team had been dressed down in front of the head of engineering. He hated being on the ship and he hated his crew mates. “How am I going to survive another nine months of this,” Jack told himself. After a long day he found a time when the ship’s communal shows were free so he could be alone, he had a shower and tried to sleep in his bunk.  Eventually, the day’s exhaustion overcame him, and he drifted to sleep. 

As the crew slept, the ship flew through a patch of millions of microorganisms who referred to themselves as the swarm. The ship was warm and inviting compared to the coldness of space and their tendrils looked for a way in. They found it in a badly maintained airlock and made their way in. “There is sentience here,” they said to themselves as they passed by the bunks of crew sleeping. They stopped by Jack’s bunk. “This sentience is in pain; we can feel it. We can fix it” they said as they probed his skin and entered his body. 

That night Jack had the strangest dreams, he dreamt of faraway alien worlds and strange planets.  We woke up exhausted that morning wishing he could have stayed in bed forever.  Another day aboard ship to himself as he got dressed and made his way to engineering. Jack took his tools and made his way down the access shaft to one of the power conduits. At least he would be spending the day in the maintenance shafts, with any luck he might be able to avoid the head of engineering. 

Jack was feeling exhausted after his day and after eating his lunch he returned to his bunk for an early night.  That evening Jack had vivid dreams again, this time he was walking through an alien forest, but something was different. He stopped as he saw the reflection of a woman in the water. It wasn’t the first dream he’d had where he was a girl. He’d dreamed it most nights when he was younger. But tonight was different more intense, it felt like this was his body. It felt weird, but good. 

As he was walking through the forest he heard a voice. “We saw you in pain and fixed your form to remove that.” 

“Who are you?” asked Jack in a feminine voice. 

“We are the swarm” replied the voice. 

“The swarm?” 

“Your ship flew through us. It was warm so we entered it and saw you. So much pain. We can fix that. Change your form into the form your subconscious has now.” 

“I can be a girl” Jack thought to themselves in the dream. Something inside Jack was yearning for this and this was just a dream, wasn’t it? It wasn’t real. None of the inhibitions or worries about what other people would think were holding her back. 

Jane woke up. What a weird dream they thought to themselves. As she woke up, she brushed her long blond hair away from their face. Wait! What! Long hair and why does my crotch feel different. That’s when she started panicking. This is real, everyone going to look at me and wonder who the strange woman is in Jack’s bunk. They will throw me in the brigg, or worse. 

As Jane was panicking that didn’t happen. James one of the other crew members turned and said to them “I think the other crew have finished with the shower so it’s all yours if you want to use it, Jane.”. “This is so weird why is no one bothered by this,” Jane asked herself. 

“We altered their memories.” said a voice in her head. Jane decided to skip having a shower and picked up her tools. She needed to think and the only place she could go to be alone was the ships service ducts. 

“This is not happening,” Jane told herself in the privacy of the service duct. 

“I can’t be a girl this must be a dream.” 

“We can change your body back. If you wish it?” said the voice in her head. 

“No” replied Jane. She was confused. Why did the thought of changing back horrify her? She’d spent her whole life being a Man. Yes, she’d dreamed of being a girl, most nights when she was younger, but all men did that, didn’t they? 

At that moment Jane’s data pad illuminated, and pages and pages of text scrolled through the screen. “From our scanning of your civilisations data, we have determined that most people of your species designated as male do not wish to be designated as female.” The voice in her head said. 

“You’re not a dream, are you? You’re real.” Jane asked. 

“No, we are very real. Can you help us?” The voice asked.  

“Help you?” Jane asked. 

“Help! You can change bodies, and change people’s memories. What could you possibly need from me?” Jane asked. 

“We were studying this system when our ship was destroyed. We need to send a message to others so we can rejoin them.” 

“We could change and manipulate the crew but there is always a risk of injury if we do. We only did what we did in your case as you were in so much pain.” 

Pain? Jane thought to herself. Yes, her head felt clearer and there was somehow she felt so much better in a way she just couldn’t pin down, but pain? She wasn’t feeling that bad, was she? 

“So, you want me to bypass the communications relay and send a message?” Jane asked. 

“Yes!” replied the Alien consciousness in her head. 

“And what happens to me? The crew might don’t know any different but when the ship returns people will ask questions. I’ll probably be arrested as a spy or worse.” 

The voice was silent. 

“You could come with us?” The alien voice asked. 

Jane thought about it. It was an impossible choice. It had only been most of a day but every time she thought about being a guy again, she just recoiled from thinking about it. She couldn’t go back, but could she go forward. She would be alone around aliens, with no other humans for company. 

She thought about it for most of the day before deciding. 

“Here goes nothing,” Jane said as she plugged her data pad directly into the comms relay. A signal was sent, now the only thing left to do was hope she wasn’t caught, and the aliens received the signal. 

*** 1 Month later *** 

Jane was sitting in the mess hall when suddenly the lights went out and the ship lost power. “Red Alert, Red Alert” a robotic voice said repeatedly as the emergency lights came on. All power on the ship was out as she rushed to the engineering deck along with the other members of the engineering crew. 

“No!” said the Alien voice in her head. “We must go to the airlock.”  

Jane headed to the airlock and gasped at what she saw through the window. Instead of the blackness of space was a blue pulsating corridor of an alien ship. 

She looked back one last time before leaving humanity behind. 

The aliens were true to their word and did their best to make Jane’s life as comfortable as possible, she had a small comfortable house in a clearing of a strange purple forest. Her and the alien hive mind taught each other about each of their civilisations and as the years went from one to the next, they became closer. Her consciousness started to join with that of the alien swarm until she was no longer entirely human. Even though she was happy she still missed other humans and wondered if she would ever meet them again. 

*** 100 years later *** 

Jane awoke something terrible had happened the humans had damaged the hyperspace for hundreds of light years around their home world stopping all travel. If the damage spreads, it could be a problem for all sentient life in the galaxy. They consulted the other swarms of consciousness on their planet, and it was agreed that Jane would travel to the nearest human world and make first contact. 

Jane walked down the ramp from the shuttle. Their dress glowed and pulsed with energy as it moved with their body. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you ambassador, we are Jane,” said Jane. 

The ambassador looked at Jane in surprise. “And a pleasure to meet you too we certainly weren’t expecting to meet someone humanoid for first contact.” 

“Well, this isn’t exactly first contact, part of us was human long ago. But that is a long story,” said Jane. 

The End – for now.