Expanding Horizons, Part I: First Flight

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The survey mission had been going so well. Namunk had just planned to make a quick sweep by the planet, slingshot around the sun, then hibernate all the way home. Then the alarms went off on approach. Something was wrong, the hull was collapsing. Fast. And if the shell fractured out here in the vacuum of space, it would be all over. But if he ditched his ship in the atmosphere and there was nowhere for him to go he'd be just as gone. He turned the controls and aimed towards the blue orb ahead of him. If he found a suitable shelter, he could wait for a rescue indefinitely. Otherwise he'd just wind up a green flash in a black sky...


"Damn!" Julia kicked at a rock. I should have known better, she thought. Roxanne and her friends were the 'popular' girls at school, there really hadn't been any reason for them to invite her along. She should have been suspicious from the start, and shouldn't have been surprised when she came back and saw the jeep was gone. Now here she was, stuck near the peak of the mountain with night falling all around her. Too dark for her to find her way back, so she would have to wait until morning. Oh well, might as well enjoy the view.

Julia lifted her head to see a falling star streaking its way across the sky. "I wish I were home. I wish I could just fly away from here," she whispered, to nobody in particular. But then, almost as if the blazing light had heard her speak, it burst into a bright flash of sparkling powder. Julia felt a slight chill come over her.

She set off for a nearby ledge to get a view of the valley below. A massive expanse of darkness greeted Julia. She couldn't make out anything in the inky night. She sighed. In a flight of fancy she closed her eyes, spread her arms out, and pretended she could take off from that ledge if she really wanted to. And she really did want to. Tired, Julia took in a long slow breath to help relax.

But much to her surprise, it seemed as though she had lost control of her breathing. Julia kept right on inhaling, far past what her lungs should be able to hold. She was more curious than concerned, until she noticed her stomach was beginning to bulge.

"What the -- what's happening?" she gasped, still taking in air. Her bust started to fill out, her modest endowment swelling to an alarmingly large pair of orbs as it tried to keep pace with her stomach. She tried to reach around her breasts to squeeze them back down, and it was only when she felt the difficulty in bending her arms that she realized that they too were puffing up with air.

Amazingly her clothes stretched to accommodate her massively burgeoning flesh. Her jeans billowed out as her legs swelled and though the buttons on her shirt strained they held on. Even her bra, which wasn't designed to hold anything larger than a B cup, was expanding right along with her though it was becoming rather tight.

Slowly but surely Julia's body ballooned out. Her fattened limbs looked comically short as they barely protruded from her inflating bulk. And though she struggled to stop, she continued to inhale. Her body swelled up into a massive ball, engulfing her limbs out to her wrists and ankles. How funny I must look, she thought absently. A huge balloon, half blue denim below, red plaid above. But her thoughts rushed back to earth as she felt her feet slowly leaving it.

A panicked thought flashed through her mind. Oh my God, I'm floating! It didn't make sense that filling up with air would make her lift up from the ground. But then, it didn't make sense that she was filling up with air in the first place. She was still steadily inflating, the broad expanse of her own body now filling most of her field of vision. I'm enormous! The gaps between the buttons on her flannel were now several feet apart, but the cloth steadfastly refused to tear and kept stretching. And the ground fell farther away.

As the pressure inside her continued to rise, Julia realized she could no longer move her hands and feet. Though she'd lost sight of them long ago, she could guess what had happened by the way her taut flesh was beginning to bulge up around her head. Am I going to smother myself? But then she noticed how quickly her skin was being pulled tighter and tighter, the seams in her clothes beginning to make pained groaning noises, and she realized that suffocation wasn't the most pressing problem here.

I've got to stop this, she thought, trying to regain control of her rampant intake of breath. She simply couldn't. Bigger and bigger she swelled, higher and higher she rose, the pressure building with every passing second. Any second now, it's too much, I can't take any more, I'm going to pop I just know I --

Suddenly the world vanished in a mind-shattering boom.

Julia sat bolt upright in her bed, panting and sweating. It was dark, but as she looked around she could still make out the familiar surroundings of her bedroom. She laughed nervously and let out a sigh of relief. "It was all just a dream." Then she stopped. Julia froze in confusion as she realized that, although she was in her bed under the covers, she was still wearing her red flannel shirt, blue jeans, and hiking boots.


"Extraordinary creatures these things are," Namunk muttered. Almost entirely matter based, they made quite good shelters, and were quite easy to maintain as well. He'd managed a partial tap into its thoughts, but still needed some time to study this one. But time was something he had plenty of right now. But after making such an astonishing discovery on this world, Command might even forgive him for losing his ship.

And there were so many more experiments he wanted to try...

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