Luke was not one to pull rank. Much as he enjoyed his command of Rogue Squadron, he had always preferred the camraderie that came from being on the same level as his pilots. For the most part, they had never given him a reason to exercise his authority in an extreme situation.

The man before him, though, was not one of his pilots. For one thing, he had no sense of humor and that would have made his life in the Starfighter Command miserable. For another, he followed the rules to the letter of the law and that would have made him a rotten tactician.

Most of all, the man was supposed to be a medic and had the bedside manner of a Hutt on a starvation diet. Luke would have tolerated that on a good day, but instead, he was in a foul mood and wanted to personally send the man out of the airlock. In fact, if this went on much longer, Luke would do the unthinkable and call in Leia to negotiate.

Hopefully, it wouldn't come to that. Luke was going to give him five minutes to stop being an idiot.

"I'm sorry, Commander," the man was saying, "but this just isn't going to be possible."

Well, maybe three minutes.

"I don't see why not," Luke said patiently. "I'm in serious need of medical attention and you should be able to give it to me."

In fact, he'd gone for several days without any more medical attention than massive amounts of painkillers and antibiotics just to make sure that his severed hand was the least of his worries. Leia had done the best that she could, but the Falcon's medkit had not been equipped for much of anything other than blaster wound care.

"In theory, that is correct," the medic agreed.

More like two minutes. One minute, thirty seconds if the guy was lucky.

"What do you mean, in theory?" Luke asked in an icily undiplomatic tone that Leia would have balked at.

The medic smiled patiently, clasping his hands in front of him. Luke would have imitated him, but, as the man seemed to have forgotten, that was why he was in the medcenter in the first place.

"You are a loyal member of the Alliance," the medic stated, "and a fine officer."

"Thank you," Luke said flatly. "What do you mean, in theory?"

The medic passed over a datapad and Luke read it rather hazily. It was a lot of legal nonsense, as usual, but he recognized the same general insurance policy that he'd had to sign when he joined the Alliance.

"All right," he muttered, "I remember something in here about Accidental Death and Dismemberment. Can we talk about that?"

"You remember the clause correctly," the medic assured him with a slightly patronizing look, "but you said it yourself."

"What?" Luke challenged. "Accidental Death and Dismemberment?"

"Accidental," the medic repeated. "I don't believe you accidentally severed your own hand."

"And I don't think I intended it to happen," Luke mimicked angrily. "Do I need to have Darth Vader sign off on the procedure or something?"

"No," the other man sniffed, "but one wonders what you were doing taking on Darth Vader in the first place."

"I was saving my friends," Luke snapped. "You know, Princess Leia..."

"I'm well aware of who rescued you," he retorted, "but your orders should have placed you at Dubrillion. Instead of being there with Rogue Squadron, you were getting dismembered by Darth Vader in the Anoat system."

Luke just nodded. Another thirty seconds and Leia would understand that he'd reached his diplomatic limit.

"Did you get...lost?" the medic asked.

"No," Luke said immediately.

"You were there intentionally," the medic reminded him, "and chose to fight him with a lightsaber."

"There weren't really handy turbolasers around," Luke contested.

"Granted," his opponent agreed, "but turbolasers would have been acceptable weapons."

"Is this where I find out what in the sands you mean by in theory?" Luke gritted out.

"Indeed, Commander Skywalker," the medic said with a smirk. "You see, there are several policy issues that arise in this case. The first of them is that the Alliance did not agree to cover any of your injuries resulting from a lightsaber."

"But doesn't it say that all cases are subject to review under special circumstances?" Luke retorted, jabbing at the datapad with his only index finger. "Especially for a loyal officer of the Alliance?"

"It certainly does."

"Then where's the problem?"

He was starting to hate that man's smirk. Even worse, he was hating himself for leaving his lightsaber at the bottom of a shaft on Bespin.

"The clause insuring you in case of Accidental Death or Dismemberment is rendered null and void by any circumstance in which the policy-holder engages in reckless self-endangerment," the medic recited.

"I was trying to save my friends!" Luke protested.

"You were half a galaxy away from your assigned squadron and picking a fight with Darth Vader," the medic replied with feigned patience. "You didn't even win the fight."

Luke's hand was itching to pick up his comlink and get Leia in here. After all, she'd gone to law school on Alderaan and had probably known the guy who wrote the Alliance health insurance policy. At least, she could argue her way out of this mess. Or she could help hold the man down while Luke knocked out a few of his teeth.

"Well," Luke said instead, trying to keep his voice steady, "I guess I'll have to ask your boss what exempted me from that clause for the last three years."

Finally, that broke the man's concentration. He blinked not once, but twice, then let the smirk slide off his face.

"Three years?" he echoed.

"Yes," Luke smirked in kind. "I've been engaging in reckless self-endangerment every time I climb into my cockpit."

"That was for the good of the cause," came the response.

"So was trying to kill Vader," Luke reasoned half-heartedly.

The medic sighed, tapping his stylus steadily against his datapad. He had the look of someone who knew how close he was to being defeated, but who would fight anyway.


"All right," he said at last. "I don't suppose you remembered to retrieve the severed limb?"

And so the stupidity cycle started all over again.