Ask Questions Afterwards

By Kathryn Andersen

Challenge: Multiverse 2005
Recipient: Vanzetti
Request: Leia Organa (SW) & "Bones" McCoy (TOS)
Words: 1620
Set between "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Return of the Jedi"


She would never have risked it normally. Going into hyperdrive near the gravity reefs of Bael Kanu was certifiably insane. Doing so with no deflector shields and a damaged compensator was tantamount to suicide. But she couldn't let Vader capture her again. She'd rather die.

###

Her first feeling was surprise. Surprise that she was still alive. Then the pain hit. Pain when she breathed, pain in her head. She was breathing though. There was air. She cracked open her eyes. Most of the instruments were dead. She hit the panel in Han's time-honoured manner, but all she succeeded in doing was hurting her hand. Han, she thought. Am I ever going to see him again? She squashed that thought ruthlessly. She was alive, now was the time to be practical, and survive.

She assessed the facts the few remaining instruments told her. Not good. No idea where she was, no hyperdrive, no sublight drive, and probably a slow leak, from the way her ears were popping.

There was a crackle on the communicator. "...prize. Come in... hear me..."

She stayed silent. Bounty hunters, were they? Let them think this was space junk, think she was dead.

She felt a jerk. "Dammit!" Her ship was caught in a tractor beam. She stood up shakily, and unholstered her blaster, holding it behind her back. They wouldn't get her without a fight.

There was a tingle, and suddenly she was somewhere else.

She blinked at the brighter light. Had she blacked out? No matter, she still had her blaster. There was a cluster of men at a console of some kind; the room was wide enough for this to be a large ship, or a space station, perhaps.

"She's injured!" One of the men broke away from the group, an older man with a craggy face. "Let's get you to sick bay, young lady."

"I haven't been a young lady since I was eight," she said, allowing him to step onto the platform she was on.

"Have you injured your arm?" he asked.

"No," she said lifting it from behind her back to point the blaster at his sternum. "Hands up," she ordered calmly. "Nobody move, or your friend gets it." She could see the aborted move for what she assumed were weapons. "I mean it!"

"Better do as she says," the man said.

"Where's my ship?" she asked. "What did you do with it?"

"It should be in one of the shuttle bays," he said. "It was badly damaged."

"I know that it's damaged," she said.

"As are you too, by the looks of it," he said. "Let me take a look at that wound -" his hand moved towards her head.

"Don't. Move." she bit out.

He froze.

"So you're a meditechnician, are you? How convenient," she said dryly.

"I'm a Doctor," he snapped. "Doctor McCoy. Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise."

She could feel her arm weakening, and she changed her grip to use both hands. Her head pounded.

"Look, why don't you put that down before you fall down," McCoy said. "Nobody here's going to hurt you."

"And I have a pile of Santrigean Flusel Eggs to sell you," she said sarcastically.

"What's your name?"

"Don't pretend you don't know," she sneered. Who were these people? She was a known rebel, they had to be bounty hunters, didn't they? Her head felt like it was full of helium, and there was a ringing in her ears. She knew she couldn't keep up this standoff, not with a blaster and her own frail hands. What she wouldn't give for a nice, powerful thermal detonator. Might as well ask for all the spices of Kalmeron while she was at it.

"Turn around," she said. "Put your hands on your head." She stuck the gun in McCoy's back. She could feel her hands and her legs trembling. Hold on, she told herself. You can't give up now.

But her body didn't listen to her. There was a roaring in her ears, and her vision went black.

###

Consciousness, but this time without pain. A pleasant lethargy filled her limbs. She blinked her eyes open. She was lying on a slightly raised bed in another spacious room. She could see two other empty beds nearby with some sort of readouts above them, currently dark. She craned her neck and saw the same sort of panel above her head, this one blinking and flashing in time to her heartbeat. She must be in some sort of medical treatment area.

"Ah, you're awake." It was Doctor McCoy. "You're more trouble than a barrel full of rattlesnakes, you know that?" He pulled up a chair and sat down beside her bed. "Fortunately, you're human enough that you can take o-neg blood, and nothing was actually broken, so you should be fine in another day or two."

"Am I a prisoner?" she asked. Who were these people? Anyone else would have just locked her up, not treated her wounds. Were they trying to soften her up?

"Are you going to pull a gun on me again?" he said.

"I don't have a gun to pull on you, do I?" They had been wise enough to take it away from her, at least.

"Tell me, who's Vader?"

"Pretending you don't know who I am, that's one thing," she said. "Pretending you don't know who Darth Vader is, that's another thing. How stupid do you think I am?"

"Stupid enough to faint from loss of blood rather than let me help you," McCoy said. "This Vader hurt you, didn't he?"

Her face froze.

"Don't you be looking at me like that, missy," he said. "You were talking in your sleep." His eyes narrowed. "Enough to make my blood curdle."

"You really don't know, do you?" she said. "Who are you people? Where am I?"

"This is the United Federation of Planets Starship Enterprise, and you're in my sickbay," Doctor McCoy said. "Who is Darth Vader?" he asked again.

"Darth Vader is the second most powerful man in the Empire, second only to the Emperor himself," she said, forcing herself to a dispassionate recitation. "He captured and... tortured... me, to try to force me to reveal our base. It didn't - I didn't - I didn't tell him anything. But then he threatened to destroy my homeworld, with his newly built Death Star. So I gave him the location of one of our old bases. And then..." her breath caught, and she couldn't stop the tears welling in her eyes, "he - he destroyed my home planet anyway. Millions of people!"

"Destroyed a planet?"

"That's what a Death Star does," Leia said.

At that moment, the door whooshed open, and three men came in. They wore the same soft uniforms as the doctor but in different colours: sand and blue and red. The one in red must have been some sort of guard, because he stood by the door, grimly, with his hand on a device in a holster. It looked too small to be a blaster, but the attitude was unmistakable.

Doctor McCoy got up and spoke to the one in the sandy uniform. She couldn't hear everything he said, but he seemed agitated. "Dammit, Jim!... can't put her in the brig... injuries... monsters!"

The three of them came closer. She noticed that the newcomer in blue had sallow skin and pointed ears. Interesting; most nonhuman species did not resemble humans so closely.

"Has she even told you her name, yet, Bones?" the sandy-uniformed one addressed the doctor.

"Princess Leia Organa," she said. From the doctor's reaction, she was now convinced that these people had never even heard of the Empire, impossible though that was.

"A princess, eh?" Doctor McCoy smiled and shot a look at the sandy-uniformed one. "Well, your highness, this is James Kirk, Captain of the Enterprise," he gestured at the sandy-uniformed one. Then he waved at the pointy-eared one, "And this is our First Officer, Mister Spock."

Captain Kirk spoke. "At the remonstrance of Doctor McCoy, I am not going to throw you into the brig. But that still leaves us with the question of what we are going to do with you."

"I believe I have resolved the conundrum," said Spock. "As has already been established, the ship is of an unknown type, containing technology which - while based on similar fundamental principles - reveals a different application of those principles. It is as if this technology had been developed from different roots to our own, and took a somewhat different path."

"Yes, Spock, all that tells us is that she comes from somewhere we don't know about," McCoy said. "I could have told you that the moment she pulled a gun on me."

"If you will allow me to continue," Spock said, "further analysis of the materials of the ship reveals a slightly different quantum signature to our own. In other words, she comes from a different universe."

After that, there was much exclamation, discussion, and planning. She was astonished at how helpful the Enterprise people were, fixing her ship, devising a way to get her safely back through the spacial anomaly that had brought her here. But then again, she wasn't surprised. Away from the corruption and fear engendered by the Emperor, why shouldn't they be noble and friendly?

"Don't idealize us too much, your highness," Doctor McCoy said. "Starfleet is the best of the best. The rest of the Federation is your usual mixture, with plenty of scoundrels amongst them."

"Leia," she corrected. She kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For forgiving me," she said. "For overcoming bad first impressions."

He smiled. "You're a sight better-behaved than some princesses I've met."

~finis~