By Adrian Tullberg.
Inspired by a discussion on the God Awful Fan Fiction Forums.
Foreman's coffee shook.
This was odd, because his decaf latte was on the table a full foot away from his hand.
Now that his attention was fully drawn away from the medical journal and directed towards his surroundings, it was now obvious that the shaking wasn't limited to his 10.30 coffee. The table was humming with motion along -
- from the sound of it, the whole building was shuddering. The rattling of the pens in House's office was shrilly counterpointing the deep rumble from what sounded like the foundations.
Earthquake? His knowledge of the phenomena was admittedly limited. He glanced at the glass walls of the office with trepidation.
Getting up, he glanced outside; if other buildings were effected -
- a massive shadow was enveloping the building and surrounding area.
Foreman placed his face close to the window – ready to pull his face away if it shattered - and looked up.
The massive -
- object -
- ship -
- spaceship directly overhead the hospital -
- was the cause of the overcast conditions.
Foreman moved slowly backwards. His mind was currently putting the long term (political and historical implications beyond imagining, a moment beyond reckoning) onto the backburner, while the immediate (what the hell am I going to do?) was overwhelming everything else.
The door opened behind Foreman, jerking his head to see House lurching towards his computer.
"I know!" House sat himself down, and was opening ... an online DVD order form. "I'm getting the complete V box set. By this time tomorrow it'll go for three times it's value on E-Bay."
Foreman realised how little this surprised him. "Shouldn't we be doing something?"
House stopped inputting Wilson's American Express card into the form and started stroking his chin. "Should I upload a virus into the mother ship?"
Foreman looked up again. Large, Goodyear Blimp large at least. Mostly green, ovoid, with fins running down the side and what looked like jet or rocket nozzles at the back.
The hospital was quieting down; the shuddering was decreasing. However a new sound was emerging to the forefront of Foreman's perception; screams of terror and a general background sound of panic.
House grunted, thumping his computer. "Check your phone."
Foreman drew out his cell. The lack of bars at this point in time wasn't reassuring.
House was pocketing his own phone. "Just as the Internet went down."
"You have to be, if you're allergic to water." House got up, and looked at the spaceship.
A noise on the balcony made Foreman look at the frantic Wilson levering open the door.
"House! Spaceship! Aliens!"
"Wilson, stop leaping to conclusions." House gestured towards the hovering thing above. "The guys at Area 51 probably got wasted and got lost heading to Atlantic City."
A crash made them look down.
From the looks of it, a police cruiser had hit an invisible wall in the middle of the parking lot.
"No phone, no Internet, and a forcefield around the building. Aliens are taking over the hospital."
Wilson and Foreman turned to House.
"This isn't a military base, government building or ... anything else. What's here that's worth announcing their presence to the whole planet?"
Wilson rubbed the bridge of his nose "Maybe they wanted Jersey's best source of Vicodin?"
House stared at Wilson, then moved to the open door. "I called it first! It's mine!"
Foreman noticed movement from above. "Hey, look."
Recessed areas were sliding open on the ship. Something was moving in each of the areas.
One of them fell out -
- more were falling -
- no, jumping. Blue figures falling towards the hospital. Foreman moved away from the window -
- slowing down. All slowing to a gentle descent, roughly when they hit the same altitude; about twenty feet from the roof. They were landing in the parking lot and marching into the hospital.
And one of them was heading directly to the balcony.
Humanoid. The blue was an enveloping armour, looking like a combo of plastic and metal, with an opaque black glass section where the face would be.
And holding a big rifle.
It noticed the open door and stepped through.
Wilson raised his hands. Foreman just kept his visible. House made a peace sign.
After a brief glance, the figure marched straight past them.
House looked at the retreating figure. "Okay ..."
"Whu ... it's ... what's going on?"
House got to his feet. "Let's find out."
"Maybe we should stay here."
"Eyewitness-account books don't write themselves."
The three barged out of the office. "You'd sit down and write a book?"
"There's a lot of unemployed ghost writers out there."
More blue soldiers, marching through the corridors, all heading with the same purpose.
"They're going downstairs."
House stabbed the elevator control, getting the doors open almost immediately. Any other time, Wilson would have braced himself for House to become even more insufferable for the rest of the day, but all House did was tap the ground floor button as soon as he got in.
"It's a siege. They're taking the building hostage."
It opened, leading them out to the ground floor. Foreman's observation proved correct, as more of the soldiers were positioning themselves around the lobby.
"That forcefield's doing the job for them. What's downstairs that they want?"
A thundering sound behind them made them turn and nearly collide with Dr. Robert Chase, who sidestepped and continued towards -
- the ER, where there was a greater concentration of soldiers.
House, his daily exercise of ducking clinic duty as long as humanly possible having given him an unrivaled knowledge of the hospital corridors, quickly pointed out an alternate route.
Two side corridors and one walk-through linen storage area later, they were inside the ER. Wilson would have preferred to find an abandoned section of the building, contact the outside world and play the comical sidekick to Bruce Willis or Sylvester Stallone. Hell, he'd even take Jean-Claude Van Dammne.
Cuddy was there, shouting at the soldiers who showed remarkable training and fortitude by ignoring her completely. "I demand to know what the hell is going on! Who is your leader! Answer me goddamnit!"
House was reminded of the various exercises on the innumerable military bases he'd been stuck at during his youth. Specifically the security drills. They were looking, looking for someone. Every patient was glanced at then ignored, all failing some unspoken criteria.
Then Cameron was there, trying to stop a soldier grabbing a multiple GSW.
The soldier did a classic double take - as far as House could tell under that armour - and motioned to another in the crowd.
Another blue figure; some gold bars were on it's shoulders. Rank?
"Allison! Don't you-"
A rampaging Chase was grabbed and slammed into a wall, pinned.
Every blue figure was stopping, turning, looking at Cameron, who was just realising that she was the sole focus of attention for a horde of alien soldiers.
The one with the rank, the officer, approached her, and raised his palm towards her face. A red light shone on Cameron's cheek for a split second.
After a moment, the officer reached up, grabbing his helmet, and pulled his headgear off.
House was disappointed; an almost Ken-Doll handsome man with a tan, instead of orange and tentacles. A purple device was in his ear, along with a similar-shaded device on his throat, directly over his voicebox.
Ken-Doll's expression was awed, verging on adulation.
"My ... Your Highness ..."
He knelt on one knee.
And every other soldier facing Cameron immediately dropped to the same position.
From the looks of this, Cameron was even more surprised than everybody else.
The officer stood at ease in the center of Cuddy's office.
Cuddy had already positioned herself, standing in front of her desk. House had parked his buttocks on the edge of the desk. Foreman and Wilson were standing around the room. Chase, having being released earlier, had stayed near Cameron, and was right next to her as they stood near the window.
The four soldiers positioned outside the office doors, having scared off the secretary, didn't say much.
"We didn't get your name."
"I am Captain Neren of the Royal Guard."
His mouth moved, but not in sync with the sound. House was reminded of the Chop-Sockys played late at night on cable.
"Hi. This here is Chesty McMounds."
"I'm Doctor Lisa Cuddy. Just ignore Limpy O'Tiny here." She crossed her arms. "We'd like to know why you've invaded this hospital. You understand what ... function a hospital plays on ..."
Wilson took up the spiel. "... this planet?"
"Yes. This planet." Cuddy glanced upwards, then muttered through her teeth; "... I can't believe I'm saying this ..."
"I regret any disruption we have caused, but there is a measure of urgency involved." Neren glanced at Cameron. "I have to take the Princess Aeris home."
Chase was already moving in front of Cameron. "You've got to be joking."
Neren seemed to notice Chase for the first time. "And who are you?"
"Her Royal Concubine."
"Just call him 'Wednesday and Sunday'."
Wilson knew House could get into trouble with his mouth; he never imagined an interplanetary incident ...
"I used to be 'Thursday til Monday' until Her Majesty did my leg in."
Neren glanced at Cuddy. "According to my staff's briefing, I understood the position of Court Jester was obsolete."
"Trust me, some are born for the role."
"Excuse me ..." Foreman was moving towards Neren. "You think Doctor Allison Cameron here is a Princess - your Princess?"
"We are absolutely certain."
"Okay ... why?"
"Because the genetic scan I performed on her was transmitted and verified by the Medical Corps on board the Mother Ship."
"The Mother Ship ... in orbit?"
"Not in orbit."
"Strictly speaking, it's behind your moon."
"Your various military forces might be able to mount a warhead on a conventional orbital vehicle, but one with the range to reach your moon is a far greater challenge. It's standard policy to keep a planetary body between you and a potentially hostile enemy, no matter how remote the actual probability of a successful attack."
"This ... this is ..." Cameron managed to get her first words out. "Tell me why you think I'm your ..."
Neren turned towards Cameron, his professional mask slipping towards dark introspection. "Your Highness ... our Empire has suffered a Civil War. More accurately, a series of civil wars for over thirty years. Your father died early in the initial engagements. Your mother had to flee ... and she refused to place you in such a dangerous position."
"My mother ... she lives in ..."
"The planet Earth has long been a site of scientific interest when it first proved the concept of -" Neren's throat box stopped and hummed for a second "-Parallel Evolution."
Cuddy frowned. "Same evolutionary conditions, same end result?"
"Exactly. Earth was declared a ... a nature preserve? For long-range study only. How people on the Home World lived long before. Too far away for smugglers and criminals to bother with. Merely scientific curiosity. However, when the Queen wished to keep her last child safe, there was no better place."
Cameron's mouth was moving, but no sounds were coming out.
"A cruiser took you here, and the crew stayed long enough to ensure you were taken in, before leaving. Her Majesty knew that ... if worst came to worst, you would live a relatively normal life among the humans. Being physically compatible with humans would even ensure the bloodline."
House raised his hand. "So why rain on her parade?"
"The war is over ... we've finally won. But Her Majesty died in the final offensive. Her last command to me was to find Her Highness. For the last two years we've been looking. We only just found her when long-range monitoring picked up a ... documentary ... on you, Doctor House."
Cameron should have been mortified, again, at this reminder of her Freudian slip. Instead this dizzying sense of disassociation with the world only slightly abated.
Neren reached towards his belt, producing a small red sphere, resembling glass. "Your Highness ..."
The sphere glowed slightly, then something shimmered in front of it. A life size image, a hologram of a woman. Regal in bearing.
And a dead resemblance for Cameron in twenty-odd years.
Robert was holding her. She was grateful for that, for any sort of physical support really, because she'd never felt this close to fainting in her life.
It wasn't often House was left unsupervised in Cuddy's office. Well, with permission. More accurately, Cuddy was too busy trying to keep the peace in the still hysterical lower levels of the hospital.
House was watching Cameron, on her own on the balcony. Wilson was nearby, keeping half his attention on Neren and the guards keeping an eagle eye on Cameron.
"When's Neren going to stop jamming the rest of the world?"
Cameron suddenly started dialing on her cell.
"We're back baby."
Suddenly, Cuddy's phone started ringing. All the lines lit up at once.
House wondered if he should take advantage of this, or behave in a mature fashion.
He wondered why he wasted time with these debates as he picked up the receiver and stabbed at the buttons.
"Don't fall asleep! Don't fall asleep!" Click. "The Truth! It's Out There!" Click. "Klingons on the starboard bow!" Click. "Use the Force!" Click. "The Probe! THE ANAL PROBE IS ... surprisingly gentle ..."
Cameron's body language was becoming increasingly violent.
"How do you think she's coping?"
Wilson rubbed the back of his head. "Well, the whole 'you didn't tell me I was adopted' talk generally doesn't go down well."
"She's got it better here."
"Better than a Princess of an Interplanetary Empire?"
"Better Doctor Allison Cameron than Princess Aeris. I mean, come on. One day somebody'll call her Princess Anus."
"You're becoming increasingly puerile. I want you to know that."
"I intend to grow old very disgracefully."
Cameron had stopped talking, slumping against the railing.
"I suppose you'd cope knowing you were adopted."
"Adopted, maybe. What would really bum me out was the fact I was rocketed here to Earth as a baby, and I didn't get any superpowers."
Cameron was seated in the deserted Diagnostic Medicine Office.
Chase was looking at her from across the room.
"I ... I have to."
"You don't have to."
"I was shown ... footage. TV shows. Recordings. There's a political situation up ... out there ... it could mean another war. Billions of lives Robert."
Chase sat down, reached for her hand, stroking it. "I'm coming with you."
"They won't let you."
"I asked them. Demanded. Only ... only a queen can revoke a previous decree. And I haven't been coronated yet. And ..."
"... so that's it?"
Cameron tried to say something, then nodded. "Yeah ... Robert, I'm ... I wish ..."
Chase nodded, leaning forward, kissing her on the forehead, holding her tight.
They stayed like this for a while.
What looked like thousands of media were gathered as close to the forcefield as they could, with a truly insignificant number of police in front of them. House smiled and waved, and mimed cupping his ear; no sound was currently traveling through the field. Apparently someone from cable news had queried if they'd impregnated any Earth women.
A metal platform was in front of the hospital lobby, a circle ringed by a railing. House had watched most of the soldiers had returned to the ship via similar platforms, lowering, taking their passengers, and silently ascending.
He hadn't stuck around when Cameron started saying goodbye, hugging everyone. Neither did Chase.
Now House was standing near the platform, face unreadable.
Cameron approached the platform, flanked by Neren and two guards.
House nodded his head in a rough approximation of a bow. "Your Princess Barbie-ness."
"I'm not that blonde."
"Give it time. Peroxide seeps into the brain stem."
"I am going to come back."
"I knew you wouldn't give up your Frequent Fliers that easily."
"The Empire has incredible medical sciences. I want to start a formal trade agreement with Earth's governments."
House looked furtively around, then leaned closer, stage whispering in her ear. "If there's any oil out there, keep it under your hat."
"Any other words of advice?"
"Those who say they're your friends usually aren't. Unless they're called Wilson. Every new long lost relative you'll meet is going to stab you in the back for the slightest political advantage, real or otherwise. Don't start a war unless you absolutely have to. If you're going to threaten someone, only threaten them with something you're willing and capable to do to them right there on the spot, otherwise you'll look weak and stupid. Keep your word, so don't make any stupid promises. Remember the consequences of your decisions are for you, and not for some politically convenient scapegoat. And most importantly, there's going to be a whole bunch of people who'll give you advice. Smart guys, stupid but well connected guys. You'll spot the one's with agendas, with a side deal. You'll also have those with actual intelligence and curiosity give you their opinion. Listen to them all. Invite debate and ideas. But always remember-"
House took Cameron's hand, and placed something in her palm ...
... the black whiteboard marker.
"-that is always yours."
Cameron hugged him.
House wished, right now, more than anything, that he'd gone a little further with Cameron.
It'd really boost the advance for the book.
"See you, your Highness."
Cameron released him, then stepped on the platform.
The platform smoothly rose, then ascended into the air. House watched as the figures, then object was swallowed up by the spaceship. The ship then moved, rising gracefully and silently into the sky.
The forcefield vanished, and the thousands of press behind the barrier were suddenly audible, asking, pleading, demanding questions.
House ignored them, lurching into the hospital.
If he was lucky, Cuddy had probably forgotten all about clinic duty ...