Rock and core samples were to be taken. If any plant life was encountered it was to be examined and sampled. All samples were placed in airtight containers and left outside. No foreign objects were to enter the shelter at all. So it had been for three days.
At 0400 hours ship standard time the hale storm had struck. At first it was just as on earth. A pinging as small stones hit the shelter's metal roof. Then the large stones had hit. Everyone got into their air tight suits and took shelter under the bottom bunks. The stones grew to the size of basketballs and dented the roof. The shelter seals held. The pounding of the stones seemed to diminish as the storm passed. Then the real storm hit. Stones two feet across struck. It only took moments for tears to appear. The lights went out.
Anna woke. She was trapped under the bunk. Lt. Donald Sanders, the team leader, was unconscious next to her. She crawled out the end of the bunk. Examining Sanders she found his suit torn. It was then she noticed that her own suit had several tears too. Anna pulled her suit off and stood in her coveralls. She examined her three team mates. Sanders had a bad bump where a stone had cracked the back of his helmet. Taness, the geologist, and his wife Daree were also unconscious. Anna could not find anything visibly wrong with Daree, but
Taness had had an ankle broken when their bunk had collapsed under the weight of a large stone. There was not an intact air tight suit remaining. The emergency beacon had been crushed. Anna took standard precautions against shock with her team mates. A cold pack around Taness's leg stopped the oozing of blood from the crushed ankle. As they remain unconscious Anna realized she must take care of things until they recovered.
Anna worked her way to the shelter air lock door and eventually pried it open. The outside door was hanging from one hinge. She worked her way out the door and surveyed their camp. Everything was destroyed. The extra food and water canisters were crushed. She searched the site and found only some digging tools. They would need water. A spring was nearby. They would have to life on the native vegetation and water for four more days until their relief arrived. The main ship would be out of radio range as it dropped teams on the third planet of the system.
Anna took a battered water canister and headed for the spring. They had completed bioscans on this water and had found nothing known as harmful. Some non-toxic microscopic plant-like organisms had been found. She filled the canister with water and headed back to the camp. She wanted to be around when her team mates were awake. She sipped the water and found it to taste wonderful. She failed to notice a small spot of an oily black substance stick to the side of the canister. As she carried the canister back to the camp she inadvertently smeared the substance on her left coverall thigh. It vanished in moments as it soaked through the material.
As Anna returned she heard Daree's voice cry out. Anna rushed into the shelter and saw Daree holding Taness.
"Daree, listen to me." Daree looked up through tearful eyes. "You are not alone. We must be careful and not jostle Taness or Sanders until we know the extent of their injuries. We should keep them warm and hydrated."
Daree shook her head and lowered Taness's head back to a pad. Daree looked at Anna and said "Tell me what to do?"
Anna knew they had all had survival training, but Daree was in shock and needed direction. "I need you to keep them comfortable. I will forage for food. I want you here when they wake up. Can you do that?" Daree shook her head and sat next to Taness. Anna handed Daree the canister of water. She worked her way back outside. She absentmindedly scratched her left thigh. "Just my luck I've found the first ticks" she said to herself. With Taness awake and the others in no immediate danger Anna needed to relax and plan things out for their remaining days of isolation. She decided to go to a pond that was downstream from the spring. The cool brisk water should be refreshing. She remembered wishing she could take a dip in the pond yesterday. Of course in her required air tight suit she would not have been able to really experience the cool water. Since she was now dependent on this environment she was determined to take advantage of the opportunity.
Anna removed her town coveralls and briefs. She waded into the cool water and was reminded of a mountain pool she had once bathed it. It too was cool and refreshing. She pond was four feet deep and she squatted down to immerse her tired body. She ducked her head under the surface and swallowed several gulps of the delicious water. She allowed herself several minutes to frolic before she emerged shivering but feeling very alive. It was only then that she noticed the dark silver patch on her left thigh. As she stood ankle deep in the pond she tried to rub the patch off with her hands. The patch seemed to be ingrained in her skin. At the edges of the patch Anna noticed a line of a black oily substance. She scratched at this oily material. She got some of it under the nail of her left index finger. She tried to scratch the substance off with no successful. She rubbed her finger under the clear cold water but the material remained. Anna was frustrated, but not fearful. It must be some plant oil that stained her skin. She pulled the coverall back on her body and walked back to the shelter. She gathered some berry like growths that had been analyzed as non-toxic and containing sugar. They could use the sugar for energy.
Back at the shelter checked and found that Taness had awakened. Anna gave him some painkillers from the first aid kit. Daree was somewhat more relaxed. Sanders was still unconscious and would need constant monitoring to insure that he did not slip into a coma or an arrest of some kind. Taness and Daree offered to check Sanders regularly. They would call to Anna if there was any change. Anna agreed to provide the water and food. Anna shared the berries with Taness and Daree and took a brief nap.
Awake and refreshed Anna gathered more berries and collected several canisters of water. As it was getting dark Anna built a fire from the dried woody plant material they had collected for samples. They would need the heat from the fire for warmth. Anna would heat rocks that could be placed in the shelter. The fire might also be detected by ship's scans if the Curie returned early.
Anna set beside the small fire in the dark. She noticed that her left index finger now had the dark silver look that had been on her left thigh. She stood and dropped her coveralls. Her left thigh and knee had a dark silver metallic sheen. She was now scared. She still felt okay. The transformed skin seemed slightly firmer that usual, but all her other sensations seemed normal. She would have to be careful not to touch the others. She might contaminate them. Anna pulled her coveralls back up and found a glove for her left hand. She wanted to keep this a secret until their rescue arrived. Anna wrapped a few hot rocks in one of the torn environmental suits and carried them into the shelter. She brought back the now cooled rocks and placed them at the edge of the fire. Anna napped several times between trips with the hot rocks.
The new dawn struck Anna in the face. She woke with a start. After checking with the other she ventured down to the spring for more water. She gathered more berries and some edible plant stems and returned to the shelter. Anna wanted to try to scrub the silver from her body in the pond. She grabbed some soap and a wash rag and returned to the pond. She removed her glove and found her left hand appeared to be a skin tight silver glove. She quickly stripped. Her entire left leg was encased in a slick silver foil. Her left hip was being affected. The silver material was as flexible as her normal skin. She noticed that her tactile nerves seemed unusually sensitive in the silver areas. Simply running her hands up her silver calf felt like the caress of a lover's hand. Anna soaped of the silvered left leg and rubbed harder and harder. The harder she rubbed the harder the silver became and the less she felt. When she stopped she found her left leg was locked in position as if she were wearing a tall inflexible steel boot. She panicked and fell backward into the shallow water. She quickly sat up and controlled her panic. After a few minutes the leg slowly became flexible.
Anna carefully stood and walked out of the water. She was afraid of scaring the others, but she would have to tell them soon. She pulled on the coveralls and returned to the camp. Daree sat outside the shelter and shouted to Anna as she approached. The look on Daree's face was one of joy. Daree had gotten a hand scanner working. She explained to Anna that she had made a startling discovery.
Daree spoke with excitement. "I have been scanning the water and had noticed a black oily spot floating on the surface. I got the spot on a specimen plate. My scan showed the spot to contain DNA animal fragments. They appear terrestrial except that carbon had been replaced by silicon and iron was replaced by silver. There must have been animal life on the planet in the recent past. That animal life might still exist. The DNA complexity indicates a higher life form that might even be sentient."
Daree noticed that Anna was not reacting with her normal enthusiasm. Anna thought this was as good a time as any to reveal her secret. Anna told Daree about the oily substance and her silver skin. Daree asked to see the affected skin. Anna dropped her coveralls.
"My dear, do you feel okay" asked Daree.
"Fine, just a little scared. Can you scan it."
Daree ran the scanner over Anna's left leg and hip. Anna held out her left and it was scanned. Daree worked for several minutes adjusting and rescanning the transformed flesh. "My god, Anna, the scan show traces of the same DNA fragments. However, the fragments seem to be interacting with your DNA to form a more complex strand. The growth is at a fantastic rate and seemed to be accelerating. Are you in any pain?"
Anna sighed. "No pain. The silver does get hard if it is rubbed."
"Show me" demanded Daree.
Anna rubbed her silver left hand over her left thigh. The skin hardened. Her left knee and hip became stiff. Daree continued to scan after Anna stopped rubbing. After several more minutes Daree explained. "The DNA becomes compressed. Metallic ions are flushed to the surface in the capillaries. A metallic gel is ‘sweated’ through your pores. It appeared to be a protective action. When the rubbing stops the gel is reabsorbed into you blood stream." Daree looked up from her scanner and gasped as she saw the silvered skin slowly expanding visibly. The silver had expanded through Anna's crotch and ass and was now moving down her right thigh. The silver was also moving up to the small of Anna's back and her stomach.
Anna ran her hand down to her crotch and realized all her hair was gone. Only her bare silver pussy crotch came into contact with her hand. Anna started to cry and ran naked from the camp.
"Stop. Stay with us. We need each other" shouted Daree. Anna disappeared from sight. Anna ran for several minutes before she slumped to the ground in tears. She feared she was going to die. Even if a rescue party arrived she could not return to the ship without contaminating everyone. An hour later she heard Daree calling her name. Anna sat up and watched Daree approach. Daree stopped several feet in front of Anna. After a pause Daree spoke.
"I've talked it over with Taness. He agrees we need each other to survive. Your scans showed only the change, but no indicating that your were dying."
Anna sniffled and said "I'll come back but you must keep your distance so you are not affected."
Daree responded. "Fine. Do you want your coveralls?"
Anna realized she was still naked. Daree tossed the coveralls to Anna and she pulled them on and fastened them shut. Anna silently stood and followed Daree back to the camp. Anna sat next to the campfire for the rest of the day. Daree checked on Taness and Sanders regularly.
As night fell the silver transformation left only Anna's head unaffected. Daree was helping with the hot rocks for the shelter. Daree's help was as much to maintain some contact with the now seriously depressed Anna. When Daree noticed Anna pick up the hot rocks with her bare hands she shouted "Careful, you'll burn yourself."
'My silver skin has its uses. The hands toughen when I touch the hot rocks. The pain is very brief and there is no blistering."
"Just be careful. We don't know what the long term effects might be."
Anna looked up at Daree. She saw the look of concern and relaxed. "Don't worry. I am not trying to hurt myself."
Daree smiled back. "Good. Besides, you are going to have company soon too." Daree held out her right hand. The finger tips were silvery. "I guess I wasn't as careful preparing that specimen as I thought. I'm just a day behind you."
Anna declared "Oh, Daree. I'm so sorry. I was hoping no one else would be infected."
"It's not your fault. Taness has it too. I was putting wet compresses on his ankle and now it has several silver spots."
Daree and Anna sat resolutely around the fire and spent most of the night in silence.
Daree and Anna had fallen asleep next to the fire. They awoke to the sound of Taness's voice. "Well, this silver plague has some beneficial side-effects." Taness stood between the women. He tore pant leg showed a silver ankle of normal size and shape. This stuff seemed to have repair my broken ankle. There is very little pain."
Anna stretched. She was very stiff. Anna stood. Daree and Taness looked at her with wide-eyed wonder. Anna reached up to her head to brush her hair back. The strands fell from her head. Daree gasped "You're all silver."
Anna pulled her coveralls from her shoulders to her waist. She was completely silver. Her skin was firm, smooth, flexible metal. Taness exclaimed "You look like a metal sculpture. Your eyes have silver in place of the whites."
Daree pulled her coverall to her waist. Her right arm, her chest, breasts and upper back were of the same silvery appearance. Taness ran his hand over Daree right breast. "You are even more beautiful than when me meet."
Daree gasped. "Not in front of the children, dear." She laughed and pulled the coverall back up to her shoulders.
Anna dropped her coveralls and stepped out of them. He body was a flawless nude woman. No blemishes marred the surface. She ran her hand down her stomach and to her pussy. She felt her pussy harden to her touch. Anna was alive with desire. She rubbed her pussy and it hardened to rigidity. She ran her hands up to her breasts and squeezed her nipples. The nipples and then the breasts took on an unyielding rock hard surface. Anna ached for relief, but everywhere she touched went rigid until she finally was completely frozen with her fingers trying to part her rigidly shut pussy lips.
Daree and Taness stood in amazement. After a few moments Daree picked up the scanner and ran it over Anna's rigid form. "Her body seems to be in some form of deep sleep. Her vitals are incredibly slow. Her mind seems to be active as if in REM sleep. I think she is dreaming."
Taness was struck by the erotic pose and took a few more moments to recovered. "Do you think she will be all right?"
Daree answered "I hope so. Otherwise, arousal will become a lethal problem."
Taness and Daree talked it over and thought they should lay Anna on her back. If she fell over in her rigid stance, she might be hurt. They carefully rocked her back and lowered her to the ground. Daree place the coveralls over Anna to cover her breasts and crotch. Taness sat at the fire's edge and thought. Daree went back to check on Sanders.
To Daree's surprise Lt. Sanders was awake. After a few moments of disorientation he asked the situation. Daree gave him a description of the events. Sanders sat dumbfounded as Daree told the story of Anna's current condition. He insisted that he be brought out to see her. Sander's legs were weak. He had to lean on Daree as they left the shelter. Sanders said next to Taness and shook his head. Daree brought him some water and he ate some berries in silence.
Three days later the rescue party arrived. A silver tipped Lt. Sanders reported to the rescuers in their environment suits. Sander's voice was flatly unemotional. He seemed emotionally drained. The Curie-2's first officer listened to the story in silence. Other rescuers scanned Anna's immobile silver form. After relating Daree's and Taness's description of Anna freezing in her position, Sanders paused.
Commander Mychells asked "Where are Taness and Daree?"
Sanders sighed and replied. "Yesterday morning I found them in the shelter. They must have succumbed to the their desires. You'll find they bodies locked together on the remains of a bunk. I was afraid if I tried to pull them apart, something might get hurt. They are immobile like Ensign Anna Dombs here."
"We'll place you in isolation and take you back home. The labs should be able to figure something that will free you."
Sanders handed Mychells the scanner. "If you look at the analysis by Taness, Daree and me you will find that the DNA changed are irreversible. If you remove us from the planets environment not only will the alien DNA break down, but our modified human DNA will also fragment. The alien material processes the native air, sunlight and contaminated water and provides food to the infected organism in a symbiotic relationship. That is the only food our modified DNA can process. We will die if we leave."
"But will you become a statue like the others?" asked Mychells.
"Not if I can control myself. After a few days the analysis indicates our mobility should return. We just have to be careful. There is an upside to all this. While immobilized the alien DNA seems to repair all damage due to aging. We can probably outlive you by hundreds of years. Just leave us a long range communicator. We must stay. You must go."
After two weeks of analysis Mychells gave his report. "Captain, Lt. Donald Sanders report is confirmed. They can not leave the planet. At Sanders' request I feel we should leave long range communications gear and leave the four on the planet. Now that Ensign Anna Dombs, Taness and Daree have recovered from their immobile states, they report that they were conscious of events around them while immobile. They say they found their immobility to be enjoyable. They confirm Donald Sanders statements of the events and their analysis."
Captain Luciua shook his head. "This is part of the price we pay for exploration. It is regrettable, but I will accept your recommendations. As soon as the comm gear is in place at their campsite, we will break orbit and continue our survey mission."
The Curie-2 broke orbit and said good-bye. Ten minutes later four naked silver forms stood at the campsite. They paired off and walked in opposite directions. Minutes later Anna and Donald dropped to the ground and were quickly locked in a embrace..............immobile..........rigid...