Guests from a galaxy far, far away

Dr. McCoy cursed while he was scanning the life signs of the three humans they had beamed aboard from a wrecked ship they had found a few hours earlier. All three of them were unconscious, and the two droids, as the golden one had called themselves, were driving him crazy. Fortunately, Scotty was just picking them up with a smile that told McCoy Scotty was actually enjoying all this. At least they're out of my sight. They just don't stop arguing. Who created Droids like this? He wondered. But at the moment he had more urgent matters to attend to than worry about the weird construction of two droids.

The woman, and one of the men, should be awake within the next few minutes, but the other man was in some kind of coma. McCoy had no idea if he would ever wake up again. His heart was barely beating, but he breathed on his own. That was all that mattered at that moment. But if he didn't wake up soon, McCoy would have to feed him intravenously. A human could survive without nutrition only so long.

The woman was the first to wake up. She sat up. The first thing she did, was take a look at her two companions. After she had seen that both of them were still alive, she turned with a questioning look to McCoy.

"I am Doctor McCoy from the Starship Enterprise," McCoy told her while he sent Jim the message that one of the three had woken up.

"Leia. What's wrong with them, and where are the droids?"

Before McCoy could answer anything, the man woke up, too, looked first at Leia, then at the other man, and then at McCoy: "How's the kid doing?"

"Looks like he is in some kind of coma. I couldn't wake him up yet. But he isn't severely injured as well. I hoped you could tell me what is wrong with him," McCoy answered, just when Jim and Spock arrived in Sickbay. Remembering the question from Leia, he turned to her again: "The droids are with our engineer. I couldn't keep them here. They just couldn't stop arguing."

Leia and the man smiled at that. It seemed that this sort of behavior wasn't too strange for those droids. But it was very strange for the crew of the Enterprise. While Jim looked merely amused, Spock looked fascinated, and Scotty just seemed to have found new toys to play with. The only one really annoyed of them seemed to be McCoy. What annoyed him even more.

"Luke? I don't think you have to worry about him. He's probably in a healing trance, and should wake up when he's ready. The droids only argue when there isn't any danger. Then they make quite a good team," Leia answered, sensing the tension from the doctor. But she kept to herself that 3-PO and R2 tended to be a bit reckless at times. That wasn't something their rescuers had to know.

"Damnit Jim. I have enough trouble with his Vulcan numbo jumbo, and now you beam someone aboard who does the same thing, but is entirely human! Do you want to kill me?" McCoy turned to Jim.

"No, I don't. How could I know that one of them has this kind of power? All I knew was, that the ship wouldn't have lasted for another ten minutes." Jim answered with a smile. He knew that Bones wasn't half as angry as he wanted Jim to believe.

"Can you tell me what happened?" The question was meant for Leia and her friend.

"I don't know. We were pursuing someone, and then from one second to another we were somewhere completely different," Leia answered.

"Ask the imperials. They're always up to something," the man added. "Can I go to the Falcon? I have to start with repairs."

"As soon as the Doctor declares you fit you can go to your ship," Spock answered for Jim.

"They're not exactly imperials anymore. Just people who want the Empire back," Leia cut in.

Spock, McCoy and Jim stared at the two in growing confusion, though in Spock's case it was more scientific curiosity.

"Hold on a second. So you three are rebels who turned down an Empire, and have now installed a democracy. I take it you are still dealing with some leftovers from this Empire?" Jim asked them.

"It wasn't that easy, but essentially, yes," Leia confirmed.

"Not to mention that Vader destroyed her home planet in the process." Han took Leia's hand when she tensed at his remark.

"You alright? Losing one's planet leaves one hell of a trauma behind. We had something similar a few years ago," McCoy answered. But even he had to admit that the woman seemed to be alright.

"One does not always show the magnitude of a loss this big." Spock argued.

"She's not a Vulcan, who don't show emotions, and pretend they don't feel them at all," McCoy countered.

"I didn't really have time to deal with it. But once it was all over, Luke showed me a few meditation techniques to deal with it," Leia offered.

At her words McCoy turned to Luke, and checked his vitals again. Nothing had changed, but Spock was suddenly at his side, and said: "I believe, Doctor, that this man really is in a healing trance. The readings are similar to those of a Vulcan in a healing trance. I strongly advise you not to hypo him with anything."

"Are you the doctor now?" McCoy asked him, but acted according to Spock's advice. He knew that Spock knew far more about this kind of thing than he did. But that didn't mean he had to like it.

The other two were healthy enough to leave Sickbay, and Jim was leading them to the mess hall where they could eat something.

"When will I be able to get to the Falcon?" Han asked again. He didn't really feel hungry. All he wanted was to look after his ship.

"The ship is in our tractor beam for the time being. Our engineers will have a look at it. We will be able to help you with the repairs. But the ship has a unique design, and is not in a good condition. This could take a while," Spock answered, who had followed Jim. He wasn't sure yet, if they could trust their guests. So he was keeping an eye on them for the ship's safety, but mostly for Jim's safety. Spock wouldn't let anything happen to him.

"Come on, Han, who would be interested in that piece of junk, anyway?" Leia asked him with a tone in her voice that Spock had learned to identify as teasing between friends. But from the look of it, Leia and Han were more than just friends.

oOo

Later that day Spock and Jim met in Jim's quarters for their game of chess, but Jim was still thinking about their guests, and couldn't really concentrate on their game.

"Jim? What is on your mind? Clearly not chess," Spock asked after he had won without as much as a serious try to win the game from Jim.

"They are strange. They talk about a defeated empire I have never heard of. And this healing trance thing? Bones is right, Vulcans are the only ones known to be able to do such a thing."

"Did it occur to you that they may have come from another Universe? We both know that there is at least one other Universe. It is only logical to assume that there are more than one."

"That could be it. They clearly are human. Bones confirmed that to me. Anyway, they can't go anywhere in the near future, and maybe we can find something out." Jim shrugged, and wondered how Spock could always guide his thoughts on the right track. No one else in the Universe could do that. There was something about him, that made him come to the right conclusion almost on his own.

"Good night, Captain." Spock stood up.

"It's Jim, Spock. We're off duty. How many times do I have to tell you? But good night to you, too."

Spock knew that something else was on Jim's mind, too. He had seen the looks Jim had given Leia and Han when he thought no one was looking. Those had been looks of longing, like Jim wanted something similar for himself. But maybe Jim just envied everyone who had someone who loved him, because of his loveless upbringing. When he said as much, Jim smiled.

Neither knew why, but suddenly both moved towards each other, and before Jim or Spock knew what they were doing, they were kissing each other. Surprisingly for both, Jim was the first to pull away.

"I... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... I mean, I think I loved you for quite some time now, but if you don't… I really don't know why it happened now, of all times."

Hadn't Spock been Vulcan, he had been smiling at that moment. It didn't happen often, that James Kirk was stuttering. But as it was, Spock simply took Jim's hand, and transferred his feelings to him. He had known since the Khan incident that the person he really loved was James Kirk. In fact, it went much deeper than that. They were soul mates. But he didn't tell Jim that just yet. Spock doubted that Jim was ready for that, now, considering how overwhelmed Jim had been after their kiss. To be honest, the kiss had caught Spock off guard, too. But they had time.

Neither of them knew that McCoy thought that both of them were innocent like children when it came to feelings. Spock was because of his upbringing on Vulcan. Jim was, because nobody had ever taught him how deal with feelings. So, he hid everything behind that famous smile of his. And managed to fool almost everyone who met him.

oOo

Leia and Han turned out to be uncomplicated guests. Leia was content to stay in her and Han's quarters for most of the time, and Han was on his ship to oversee the repairs. He seemed to get along rather well with Scotty. The only thing that turned out to be quite challenging was to keep the droids in line. One day R2 was found in engineering, shouted at from 3PO, who wanted to prevent him from doing something stupid. Luckily Leia agreed to keep an eye on them. She knew them well, and they trusted her (though that concept was strange, too, to the crew of the Enterprise).

All in all, life went on as ever. Leia helped Jim on one diplomatic mission. Her diplomatic skills were far better than the skills of Jim. And that meant something, because Jim was a far better diplomat than he was letting on, and gave himself credit for.

But she was going to get worried about Luke, who still hadn't woken up. Even Spock seemed a little concerned now. But he only voiced his concerns when he was alone with Jim. The two of them had decided to keep their relationship a secret for the time being. Mostly because they still tried to figure out what exactly that was what they had with each other.

"McCoy for Captain Kirk,"

Jim sighed, and answered: "Kirk here."

"He has woken up."

"I'll be right there."

Jim gave Spock a quick kiss, notified Leia and Han, and went off to Sickbay. Maybe they would finally get some answers from him.

When he reached sickbay, Luke seemed already quite fit, considering the fact that he had been in a coma for the last couple of days.

"Damn it, stay still, I have to check you out!" McCoy told Luke, who wanted to go out of the room to meet his friends. What annoyed McCoy the most was the fact, that Luke remained completely calm. He neither raised his voice nor showed any other outward sign of his emotions.

"The healing trance took care of my injuries. There is nothing you can do," he tried to explain to the doctor.

"Good. Can you tell me what happened?" Jim asked him.

"Han and Leia already told you what happened," Luke answered.

Jim and McCoy stared at him. It seemed like they had another telepath on board, and one who didn't need skin to skin contact, too.

"You wonder how I know this. I can sense it through the force. But I didn't need the force this time. It was written all over your faces. Don't get angry, doctor, anger leads to the dark side. Control your emotions."

"Control your emotions. Pah! I get as angry as I want to be. But you might want to talk to Spock. He likes to suppress emotions as well," McCoy rolled his eyes, and gave Jim a look that said: Let Spock deal with him.

But before one of them could do anything Scotty commed them: "They ran away. I have no idea what the little one wants to do. The golden one is after him."

Luke ran out of sickbay to look after the droids, and met Han and Leia half way. McCoy could see the relief on Leia's face that her brother was awake, but also the confusion about where he was heading.

"R2's up to something. I go and look for him before he does something really stupid," he told her. Han was already following him. He had an idea where he could occupy the droid without him causing too much damage.

They found him in the transporter room where R2 was doing something with the panel. Luke sighed, and ordered him to get away from it. R2 beeped something that 3PO translated: "He says he is modifying something to make this... thing work better." 3PO didn't have a word for the Transporter.

"Right. Well, there are lots of things that need to be done on the Falcon. Maybe R2 wants to work there. He's only getting in the way here," Han suggested.

"Besides, he doesn't know the system of this ship. He could damage something," Leia added.

R2 beeped an agreement, and Han escorted him to the Falcon (which was now in the hangar deck of the Enterprise) to make sure that R2 reached his destination.

oOo

"Did the droid damage something?" Jim asked Scotty, who was checking on the transporter.

"No, sir. It seems he didn't do any damage. But he didn't modify it either," came the reply.

"What has he been doing then?" Jim asked Luke, who had remained in the transporter room.

"I think he was bored. He's lived through exiting times, saved our lives multiple times, and now he is stuck here on this ship. My guess is, he just wanted to do something," Luke answered. "But you have nothing to fear from him," he added when he sensed concern in both Spock and Jim for their ship. When it came to their ship, Jim and Han weren't that much different. Both would do anything to keep their ships in good shape. The only difference was, that Jim had more people to help him than Han did. And the Enterprise wasn't a piece of junk.

"Well, that's settled then. Now we have time to work on a way to get you three back to your universe, unless you want to stay here?" Jim asked Luke.

"All of us want to go home. Leia has the republic to worry about, and I have a Jedi order to rebuild. Unless you have Jedi here?"

"Please clarify! What is a Jedi?" Spock asked. He had never heard of such a species.

"I am a Jedi knight. Keeper of the peace. I don't like violence. Jedi keep control their feelings as anger and hate lead to the dark side. And believe me when I tell you, that you don't want to meet a Jedi who has turned to the dark side," Luke explained quickly. He didn't explain everything, but enough to make his hosts understand that he didn't mean harm to them.

"What about this healing trance of yours?" Jim asked him.

"When I am severely injured I shut down my body functions to reserve energy. This can only be accomplished with a lot of training. I also meditate to keep my feelings under control. I could show you some if you like," Luke answered.

"Well. Bones will shove him off to you whenever he gets hurt," Jim said to Spock, after Luke had gone off to catch up with his friends.

"Indeed. These Jedi seem to have a few things in common with Vulcans," Spock agreed.

"More than a few if you ask me." Jim had always like to tease Spock.

oOo

Spock and Luke worked together for the next few days to find a way to get Luke and his companions back to their universe. So far they had been unsuccessful. But Spock and Luke worked well together. Both of them were calm and controlled. Not to mention that both of them were pacifists.

McCoy watched them for a few minutes, and could hear that they weren't only talking about the work, but about their meditation techniques, healing trances, and so on. It seemed that Spock had found someone who understood this telepathy thing, even if Luke didn't need to touch people to sense what other people were feeling.

"They get along quite well; don't you think?" Jim whispered to him, a smile on his face.

"Damnit, Jim, do you have to scare me like that? To answer your question. Yes, they do," McCoy answered quietly, giving Jim a glare that would have scared most of the crew away. But Jim had become used to McCoy's glares and didn't even flinch. His smile only got brighter when he turned around to go back to the bridge.

"Did you find something out, Spock?" McCoy asked the Vulcan.

"No. Not for the moment, at least. They do not simply come from a parallel Universe, but a different galaxy," Spock answered.

"Only a Vulcan can use parallel universe and simple in the same sentence," McCoy growled.

"He is right. This universe is much different than the one I come from," Luke argued.

"Well, you two are the ones with the special powers. If anyone can figure it out, you can." McCoy growled at them.

"Your anger is clouding your judgment," Luke stated.

"The doctor is a very emotional human being," Spock explained.

Luke nodded, like that explained everything. McCoy had enough and wanted to return to his sickbay when Jim commed him and Spock to the briefing room.

Damnit, Jim. You never give me a break, do you? McCoy and Spock went to the briefing room while Luke went to Han. He wanted to help with the repairs on the Falcon, and keep an eye on the droids.

oOo

Jim was already waiting for them when Spock and McCoy reached the briefing room. Jim cast Spock a glance at which Spock shook his head, Jim nodded, and went straight to business.

"Hey! Since when do you two talk without words? What was going on?" McCoy asked the two of them. He felt a bit left out.

"I was merely asking how far he's gotten in getting our guests back to their own galaxy," Jim answered.

"Hm. I have the feeling there is more going on here than you two are telling me. But don't worry about it. I'll get behind it eventually," McCoy answered. No matter how much he would have liked to press the matter, there were more important matters at hand at the moment.

"OK. Bones, Spock. We just received a distress call from a planet a few light years away who requested medical assistance. The problem is that they are a bit wary when it comes to humans. So I'll be sending the two of you down there. Spock will be able to persuade them that they can trust us."

"Why did they call us then, when they don't like humans?" McCoy asked.

"We are the nearest ship. I don't have any more information than that. But I'll be sending a security team down with you to be on the safe side," Jim answered who didn't like this any more than McCoy did. But he didn't have a choice. He had to answer distress calls.

McCoy could see in his friend's face that Jim wasn't entirely happy about the situation either, but all three of them knew that they had no choice but to do what was required of them.

A short time later all three of them were standing in the transporter room. Jim gave McCoy and Spock some last instructions, and watched them go.

"You have a bad feeling about this," someone suddenly said to him.

Jim turned around, and saw Luke standing behind him. He still wasn't used to the fact that Luke's telepathic abilities were much more powerful than Spock's. But the man was right, so he nodded.

"Well. If anything should happen, I'd be happy to help you," Luke answered before he left the transporter room.

Jim sighed. He hoped that he wouldn't have to take him up on it. Unfortunately, his instincts told him something different, and his instincts were usually right. But only time would tell if they were right in this case, too.

oOo

Once landed on the planet McCoy, Spock and the security team were surrounded by indigenous people. On first sight they looked just like humans. At second sight, though, McCoy could make out some differences. They were slightly taller than humans, and seemed to be stronger, too. But they didn't look like they needed help. He had the suspicion that the distress call had been a fake to get them here. But why?

"Why did you call us here on false grounds?" asked Spock who had made the same assumption as McCoy, but acted quicker than the still slightly confused doctor.

"We wanted you off the ship. Without his telepathic friend on board, the captain will have no choice but to do as we say," one of the creatures told them.

"He won't," McCoy stated.

"He will. We have you two. And he will do everything to keep the one he loves save," one of the creatures argued.

Before Spock or McCoy could answer they were thrown into a cell in one of the buildings. McCoy was wondering what the creature had meant with that last remark. Jim did care for him, but not enough to put the safety of the ship in jeopardy. Then he noticed that Spock was unusually quiet. And something dawned to him. Something that should have dawned to him a lot sooner.

"Don't tell me that guy meant what I think he meant!"

"I'm afraid he did, Doctor. Jim and I are in a romantic relationship. We wanted to tell you once we were sure about it," Spock answered.

"Great, Spock. Jim was doing everything to get you back before you two were together. I can't imagine what he might do now. But there's still one telepathic being on the Enterprise," McCoy reminded him. He must be really worried when he forgets that.

Spock looked at him, and thought for a few moments. Then he nodded: "He is our only chance to keep Jim out of trouble. And the fact that they don't know about our visitors is our only advantage. I just wonder who told them about Jim and me. They cannot have been in my mind as my shields are fully up."

"Maybe we have a spy on board the ship." McCoy spoke more to himself, but Spock heard him nonetheless.

"That is pure speculation, doctor. We do not know anything yet. In our position we can only wait until either we can rescue ourselves on our own or until the Enterprise finds us," he answered the Doctor. Spock could see that the Doctor was slowly losing his nerves. Unlike Jim he didn't get in this kind of situation often, and he didn't have Jim's unique talent to get them out of these situations either. Neither had Spock. He was intelligent and logical, but more often than not, logic hadn't been the thing that had helped him. But there was one thing he was sure of: Jim would do anything to get them back to the ship once he realized something wasn't right.

OOo

It didn't take long for Jim to realize that something was very wrong on that planet that he had sent the two people, who meant most to him, to. The first sign was, that they didn't check in to report that they had arrived on the planet without difficulties. The second sign was when his ship was suddenly attacked by the very people who had sent the distress call. Jim didn't have any trouble making them unable to attack them anymore, but he had no idea what was going on.

"Captain. They're hailing us," Uhura announced suddenly.

"On screen," he ordered.

Uhura did as she was told, and all of them got to see beings that looked just like humans. Just not very friendly ones.

"What have you done to my crewmen?" Jim demanded to know.

"They're fine for now," was the not very satisfactory answer.

"What do you want from them?" Jim asked further.

"Nothing. We want something from you. But you'll have to beam to the planet first."

"And if I don't?" Jim asked.

"They will die. And you don't want that, do you?"

Jim stared at them. How they had come to know that he would do anything for the two men on the planet was a mystery he couldn't solve at that moment. The only thing he could do, was to sacrifice himself to safe them. That, at least, was something he could do. That was the thing he was best at.

"He's telling the truth. Once he has you, he will beam the others back to the ship," Luke suddenly whispered into his ear. Jim had no idea where the man had suddenly come from, but he was thankful nonetheless.

Turning back to the person on the screen, he answered: "Alright. You beam them back to the ship once I have arrived on the planet."

"You really do anything to keep him safe, don't you?" the human asked Jim.

Jim didn't answer to that, and after a nod from him, Uhura cut off the communication while Jim headed to the transporter room. Luke, Han, and Leia followed him.

"Captain, wait!" Luke shouted when he had caught up with Jim, who gave him a questioning look.

"Let me come with you. I may be able to help you down there," Luke offered.

"I'm not sure they will agree to that," Jim argued lamely.

"That won't stop him. Take him with you. He really can help you," Leia cut in, even if the worry for her brother was clear on her face. That, more than her words, showed him that he could trust Luke.

"The kid sure can do some amazing things. But take care. He's the worst trouble magnet I have ever met. He might drag you into danger," Han added with a fond smile.

"Well, Bones always says I am the worst trouble magnet in the universe. So I should he alright." Jim smiled back.

As no one had anything to add to that, Jim and Luke walked to the transporter padds, and were beamed down from Scotty, who couldn't hide the worried look on his face.

Not long after Jim and Luke had disappeared, McCoy and Spock appeared on the platform. While Spock looked as always, McCoy had a worried look in his eyes, and asked Scotty: "What has he done now to get us back?"

"He beamed down to that planet," Scotty answered.

All McCoy could do, was stare at him.

"Why did he do that?" Spock asked.

"They threatened to kill the two of you. Apparently they want something from him, which the Captain can only give them on the planet," Uhura answered, who had come down to discuss what to do next with Spock.

"He's not alone. Luke went with him," Leia said to comfort them. But she was saying it more to Spock. She could sense that Spock was shaken by the news, even if he didn't acknowledge it to anybody. Not even himself.

oOo

Jim materialized on the surface just in time to see his friends being beamed away from the planet. They stood with their backs to him, and couldn't see him. But he was glad that they, at least, were out of danger for the moment.

"Someone's coming," Luke told him, who was scanning the area with his Jedi senses.

"I see them," Jim answered. He had just made out three figures walking towards him. They seemed surprised to see that he wasn't alone.

"You really came." It wasn't a question. So Jim just remained silent, and waited what would happen next.

"Not many people would sacrifice themselves to save their loved ones. But you would go that far, wouldn't you?" the other one asked him.

Jim was confused. He had no idea what this was all about. But he didn't say anything. All he could do was, focus on thinking nothing in case one of these humans decided to have a look into his head. That was a trick he had learned from Spock. While he wasn't able to form a shield around his mind, he was still able to think of nothing. That would at least confuse other telepathic species for some time. It was time he needed. Time to think of something to get them all out of this mess.

"Who is that?" the man suddenly asked after he had seen Luke.

"You told me to come down with him," Luke said before Jim could even come up with an explanation.

The man looked confused, and didn't react as fast as Luke was used to, probably due to the fact that the man himself was telepathic, but in the end he nodded, and led the two of them to the leader of the planet.

"How did you do that?" Jim whispered.

"That's one of the easy tricks. Good work with clouding your thoughts, though. Who taught you that?" Luke answered just as quietly.

"Spock."

Luke nodded. He had suspected as much. Jim had to have to have minimal powers with the force to do something like that. Not enough to do anything big. But enough to communicate telepathically with people like him and Spock.

Once they were in what looked like a conference room, Jim asked the man sitting there, what they wanted from him. Luke remained silent, ready to defend himself and Jim at any moment.

"Let's just say we don't like the Federation," the man answered.

"Why?"

"None of your concern."

"Why do you hate us?" Jim asked him.

But he didn't get an answer. Instead he and Luke were escorted to a cell, and left alone. Before he said anything Luke made sure that no one could hear them.

"There is a lot he is not telling us."

"I doubt that what he told us is the truth. This whole affair gets more confusing by the minute. What do they want me for when they are after the Federation?" Jim answered.

"He isn't lying. I am sure of it," Luke kept arguing. Jim looked at him. The man seemed so sure about the matter that he didn't say anything more about it.

"I could get us out of here," Luke suggested after some time.

"Could you get us near them so we can hear what they are planning to do?" Jim asked.

"There is no guarantee that we will hear anything important, but we can go back to the room where they questioned us," Luke nodded.

oOo

"So he really sacrificed himself to get us out of there?" McCoy asked. He still couldn't believe it. But he wasn't that much surprised either. "Sometimes the kid is too much like his father for his own good," he added.

Leia gave him a questioning look.

"His father sacrificed himself to save him, his mother and hundreds of other people. Jim was born the minute his father died. His family couldn't deal with the fact that he is very much like his father in more ways than just his looks. It didn't help either that he was bored to death on that Iowa farm where he lived most of his life." McCoy added.

He was in the conference room with the bridge crew and Han and Leia. Uhura had told them what had happened.

"Another farmboy with father issues? That's great. The two of them have a lot in common. I just hope that Luke doesn't get your Captain into trouble. The kid's a trouble magnet," Han sighed. Despite his words he was worried about Luke.

"Great. Jim's quite a trouble magnet himself. I wonder what they said to him to get him down there?" McCoy answered, but smiled at Han. Han smiled, too. It seemed that the two of them had a very similar relationship to their best friend, and hid their worries behind a rough appearance.

"They didn't hurt Luke. Is there anything we can do from here?" Leia cut in.

Great. Another one with powers I don't understand. McCoy thought.

"No. The shields on the planet are up, and the population would know when we do something," Spock answered.

Leia nodded. She had guessed as much. But she sensed that the situation took its toll on Spock, who seemed worried sick. But only someone with use of the force was able to see that.

"Luke can take care of himself. He'll be alright, and I guess your Captain isn't helpless either. They will find a way," was the final thing she said before she left the room, pulling Han with her, to give the crew of the Enterprise the chance to discuss some business that neither she nor Han were concerned with. She would know anyway, when something bad happened.

"So. Where do we go from here?" McCoy asked Spock.

"We can only wait until the Captain contacts us," Spock answered.

"But..."

"May I remind you that we still don' know what it is they want? But we can try to find out who gave them the information that one of us is very dear to the Captain. Uhura, can you give me a list of new assigned crew members?" Spock interrupted McCoy.

"Yes, sir. I can do that. The list shouldn't be too long," Uhura answered, and was already on her way to the communication station.

He was as worried as McCoy was. Maybe even more. But he had to keep the ship running during the Captain's absence. His duty came first, and there was a chance that Jim was able to gather information on that planet. Especially with the help of Luke Skywalker. The young man was extremely unique, and Spock trusted him to keep the Captain out of too much trouble.

A short time later he was commed by Scotty, who sounded a bit agitated: "Sir, you'd better get down to engineering."

When Spock arrived in Engineering he was greeted by a most interesting sight. One of the droids was doing something to the controls, and Scotty stood completely helpless next to him. Hadn't it been for Leia's and Han's presence Spock was sure the Scot would have dragged the Droid away. But these two seemed to trust the droids. Given the fact that Scotty trusted Han the most, who stood there completely at ease, was the only thing that kept Scotty standing where he was.

"What's happening?" he asked Scotty.

"I don't know, sir. R2's doing something but I can't make any sense out of his beeping," he answered, a little helpless, as Spock happened to notice. Jim would have been very amused by this, Spock couldn't help to think.

It seemed like he had been waiting for a key word, because in that moment the golden Droid came into the room, looked at the scene before him, and asked R2: "What have you done now?"

R2 beeped an answer, which 3PO translated: "He's saying he optimized the technology in a way that the people on the planet can't detect them when you are scanning for Master Luke and your Captain."

"Mr. Scott?" Spock asked.

"I'd have to examine it, but if it's true we can finally do something. But it could take a few hours." Scotty answered. He didn't sound too happy, but carefully optimistic. The engineer didn't like it when someone else than him changed something in his territory.

"Very well. Carry on."

"Gladly, sir." Scotty seemed to be longing to do something as much as McCoy and Spock were. The only exception was that he could finally do something.

Spock and the Doctor, on the other hand, were still condemned to do nothing.

oOo

Jim didn't know whether it was because of Luke's skills with the force (whatever that was; he still didn't fully understand that) or because the whole building was deserted. Their captors clearly didn't expect them to be able to break out of their cell.

Luke led him the quickest way to the interrogation room. At first Jim thought the room, was empty, and wanted to leave, but Luke stopped him: "Wait! There are people in there. We should be hearing something in a few minutes. Be patient!"

"Patience isn't my strongest suit, but I'll try," Jim answered quietly.

Luckily for him they didn't have to wait long until they heard something. Unfortunately, it wasn't something important. What they heard were merely reports of their interrogation, and they knew everything about that. Jim would have gone after the first two sentences, but Luke waited until it became clear that they wouldn't hear anything important. At some point, much to Jim's relief, even Luke agreed that they wouldn't find out anything important, they returned to their cell just in time. One of the guards unlocked the door to give them something to eat.

Jim sat down on the floor and couldn't stop wondering what this was all about. He had never been in a position like this when he hadn't known a thing. He didn't know who was holding him, he didn't know why he was held, and he was missing Spock's logical approach to things more and more along with the soothing presence of the ever calm Vulcan. Luke was nice and had his own qualities, but he just wasn't Spock.

"You're not going to figure it out sitting on the floor," Luke suddenly said.

"Are you reading my mind?" Jim asked him.

"Not. But given the circumstances it is not difficult to guess."

"What are you suggesting, then?" Jim asked him, slightly curious. He had known the man only for a short time but he knew that much about him to guess that Luke would come up with a unconventional idea. And Jim Kirk was always for unconventional ideas. Most of the time he came up with them himself. This was a nice change for him to give the responsibility to another person.

Before Jim could say anything the door opened, and he was carried away. But he could get one final look at Luke, and tried to tell with that look to get away as fast as he could. Jim couldn't tell whether Luke had understood the message, but hoped for the best. That guy wasn't stupid, after all. Not that Jim had much time to worry about Luke.

Once he was once again in the interrogation room he was tied down a little too tight to make this whole thing a normal interrogation. This time was torture involved. That much was sure. All Jim's hopes lay on Luke and Spock. One of them trying to get to the ship, and the other trying to get to him. With the joined forces of the two of them these men wouldn't stand a chance. But until this would happen, he had to hang on long enough. Luckily for him torture wasn't anything he was unfamiliar with. But his interrogators didn't know that.

"You still want to pretend that you don't know what this is about?" He was asked.

Jim just stared at him, and didn't say anything. Nothing he could have said or done would change anything. These people had decided to punish him for something, no matter what. The best thing was, just to grit his teeth and endure whatever they might do to him. He was a fighter. They would soon learn that.

oOo

Luke had no intention of leaving Jim alone with his interrogators. After Jim had been dragged away he waited a few minutes before he left the cell to explore his surroundings. He was intent on finding out what exactly it was that they had against Jim. Luke had a feeling that the whole thing was a fight on a personal level. And whatever Jim had done in the past (or the people thought Jim had done), was blowing up in his face right now. And Luke had to help him. This wasn't just a "Jedi-Thing", as Mara had once called it, but a Luke Skywalker-Thing. It was in his nature to help his friends. And he called Jim Kirk a friend.

Silently he went through the strangely empty corridors. It seemed like the building wasn't as crowded as he and Jim had thought. It would have been easy to escape them. Nevertheless, he still hadn't to search long until he heard two guards talking. And what he heard didn't cease his bad feeling, but it helped him a bit to put the pieces together.

"He still has no idea what he's doing here, has he?" one of the guards asked the other one.

"No. It's quite funny actually."

"What exactly has the human done to our boss?"

"No one told you?"

Luke couldn't see the two of them, but apparently the second guard had gotten a 'No' for an answer as he explained the situation to his colleague and Luke (though he didn't know that): "Well. The boss had a deal with the Federation and the Federation broke it. Now he is punishing every captain he can get his hands on. And this one is the big hero. If he is in captivity, they will do what we want. Or the man will break. And he will break. These humans are easy to break."

You might be surprised about this one. Luke thought.

oOo

After a few hours his captors realized that they wouldn't get anything out of Jim that day, and released him back to the cell he shared with Luke. The cell was empty, and Jim assumed that Luke had taken his advice to go back to the Enterprise. Little did he know about Jedi, and their need to help those in need. And he did know even less about a Jedi called Skywalker. Well, Jim didn't really see himself as someone in need. A chance to escape would come up sooner or later. He didn't believe in No-Win-Scenarios, after all. This wasn't one either. End of discussion.

The guards, or soldiers, or whatever they were, pushed Jim into the cell, and left him alone with his thoughts. To his great surprise, he wasn't alone for long, because suddenly Luke came walking through the door. Jim had no idea where the man had come from or how he had managed to open the door again. But he was grateful for his presence. That didn't stop him from asking, though: "Where did you come from? I thought I told you to go back to the others?"

"I couldn't leave you alone. I have no answer for your first question. Let's just say I have abilities that can't be explained by science. But I have gained some information that may be useful for you," Luke answered. Before Jim could ask what that information was, Luke told him everything he had overheard.

"We have to get out of here, and tell my crew," Jim told him.

Luke nodded: "I have found your communicators. You can contact them, and they can... What do you call it?"

"Beam us up?" Jim offered. Luke nodded. That was the word he had been looking for.

"That could work. But we have to be careful. If we do this, you can't leave my side. My people may only get one chance to beam us up before these people here do something to jam the signal."

Luke had already guessed that much, and let Jim do his work while he stood beside him. It was his universe, after all, and all of his abilities with the force couldn't help him to understand everything at once. It didn't take long, and the two of were back on the Enterprise.

Leia and Han were there to greet them. Jim gave Luke a clap on the shoulder, and left the room. Jim thought it better to let Luke do the explaining to his friends while Jim would do the same to his friends. But he didn't look forward to it.

oOo

McCoy was happy that he had his best friend mostly unhurt for once. Physically, at least. But Jim looked like he was thinking hard about something.

"Uhura? Can find out the name of this species and what they had to do with the Federation in the past? They seem to be out for revenge, and I want to know why."

"I see what I can do, Captain."

Jim nodded, and let her do her work. He needed to find out what this was all about. Starfleet just couldn't deal with another madman after Nero and Khan both had pushed Starfleet to its limits. And Jim knew that the Enterprise would be fighting on the front line. That was something he wanted to spare his crew. They needed a few months of regular space work, because that was something none of them had ever done before. They all worked well in an emergency situation but none of them ever had experienced the normal day to day life on a starship. Somehow Jim had the suspicion that they probably never were going to get it.

When he was in his cabin both Spock and Bones came to visit him, as if they knew there was something he hadn't told the crew.

"What's going on, Jim?" Bones asked him.

"I don't know. Really."

"You have your suspicions," Spock stated.

"These I have. But I don't have proof for anything."

"That usually doesn't stop you from telling us anyway," McCoy argued.

Jim was looking at his friends but both Spock and McCoy had the feeling (or suspicion in Spock's case) that he was seeing something else entirely. Something was worrying their friend. And what was worrying Jim Kirk was reason for them, too, to worry.

"Just tell us, Jim. I can see it is eating at you," McCoy tried another time while Spock just stood there, and observed his friend. In his opinion McCoy was fighting a lost battle, because Jim would tell them when he was ready. And he clearly wasn't ready yet. Just when he was going to tell this the doctor, McCoy was coming to the same conclusion himself, and left Jim in peace.

"Thank you for not saying anything," Jim told Spock after McCoy had left.

"You were not ready to tell him. Are you ready to tell me?"

"I don't even know what there is to tell you after what I already have told you. There is definitely something going on. But I am not sure whether it is just me they're after or if it's the Federation."

"From what Luke told you it is Federation they are after. They want to use you as a tool to get what they want."

Jim thought about it. It could be true. He had been all over the news both after Nero and Khan. Enemies of the Federation had to think they could get everything once they got hold of him. How he had become the golden boy Jim didn't know. People who hated his guts he could handle. People who were after him for an autograph not so much.

"I can't handle this hero-thing, Spock. I am not a hero. I'm the broken boy from a farm in Iowa. No one wants me for my sake. I think I can handle this being a tool thing. It's what I've always been."

"You are much more important than you give yourself credit for", Spock stated. It was a mystery to him how Jim could be so insecure about himself when he could stand fearless in front of a loaded Klingon gun. He didn't like what Jim had let slip through in his speech about his childhood. Spock's own childhood hadn't been easy. But it seemed that you didn't have to be half human/ half Vulcan to have a difficult childhood.

"That's what Bones always tells me."

"In this case I have to agree with the Doctor, then."

"That's a first." Jim smiled slightly.

oOo

"What's wrong with you, Doctor?" Nurse Chapel asked McCoy when he returned to sickbay. He didn't know what to say to that. Usually it was him who asked the question. But Nurse Chapel wasn't his favorite nurse for nothing. She was smart, capable, and she had the guts to tell him what he needed to hear when she thought that was necessary.

"Confused, worried, I don't know." He finally answered. "There is something he doesn't tell me."

"But he told you what happened on the planet?"

"Yes. But he didn't tell me what he thinks about it. And that's the more important part. I'm worried he might risk his life again."

Nurse Chapel nodded. Everyone on the Enterprise was worried that the Captain would sacrifice his own life to save the crew and that every time he would do that could be the last.

"So don't let him out of your sight, then. He needs you."

McCoy nodded. He knew that. But there was one person on the ship he trusted more than himself to keep Jim out of trouble. The only problem was that this person didn't really like McCoy. They argued a lot. But I will do it for Jim. McCoy thought.

"McCoy to Spock." He spoke into the comm unit on the wall.

"Spock here. What is it, Doctor?" came the reply.

"I need to talk to you, please."

"Very well. But keep it brief. I am on my way."

Five minutes later Spock arrived in Sickbay where McCoy was already waiting for him. But he was smiling at Spock which caused Spock to slightly raise his eyebrows. McCoy never smiled at him. He figured that McCoy wanted to ask something from him.

"Spock. I'm worried about Jim. We all are. Do you think he will risk his life again to save someone?" McCoy came straight to the point.

"Not at the moment. And I will not let him." Came the simple answer.

McCoy was wondering how someone could make an answer to a question concerning Jim Kirk sound so simple. That was near to impossible.

"Well. You're about the only person who might be up to the task. But you will need all the luck in the universe to achieve that goal, Spock. All I'm ever good for is to patch him back up again."

"You are doing a good job, doctor. Jim is lucky to have you as a friend."

McCoy didn't know what to say to that. It seemed he and Spock could have the same opinion, after all. They weren't friends, exactly, but they had come to a mutual understanding to try to keep Jim Kirk out of trouble and it seemed that they could work well together to achieve that goal.

"If that is all, I will be going to the bridge, Doctor."

Spock, too, had come to a new understanding of his relationship to the often grumpy doctor. Beneath all that grumpiness the doctor cared deeply about Jim. Spock just hadn't seen that before. But Jim had seen it the moment he met the Doctor, Spock knew. But it still was a mystery to him how these two men could become so close friends. But the galaxy was full of mysteries. Jim Kirk and Leonard McCoy were only two of them.

oOo

When Spock entered the Bridge Jim was in a deep Conversation with Uhura. The two of them worked well together now. Uhura had learned that Jim was a good Captain, and Jim saw more a sister in her now than a woman he could hit on. Apparently Uhura had found something about the aliens they had encountered. She was telling Jim all about it. When she was finished, Jim said to her: "I think you know as much as I or Spock do, about computers. You just have a different approach. You talk to them instead of hacking them."

"Thank you, Captain." Uhura answered, clearly surprised.

"What did she find out?" Spock asked Jim.

"Well. It seems these aliens are right in claiming the Federation did wrong on them. They just want what was promised to them. They are just doing it the wrong way. Apparently the Federation got something from them a few years back, but didn't pay the negotiated price. Why they waited this long to avenge this, I have no idea."

"So, technically it was the Federation who put you in danger?" Spock asked him.

"The Federation put me in danger from the moment I was born," Jim countered. He had long come to the conclusion that his mother shouldn't have been in Space in the first place when Nero had attacked the first time.

"And that is why you don't care whether you put yourself in danger." It wasn't a question. Spock made a mental note to find out what exactly had happened to Jim as a child.

"Yes. You have the conn, Spock. I have to call Starfleet Command and figure what this is all about."

Jim gave him one of his smiles and walked off the bridge.

Spock hoped Starfleet Command would tell him something he could work with. Pike probably would. But there was no guarantee Jim would talk to Pike. If nobody told him anything, Jim would have to rely on his instincts. While his instincts usually worked, they tended to get him into mortal danger.

Then suddenly a ship almost came out of nowhere. Mr. Sulu barely had time to move the Enterprise out of harm's way. But he wasn't the best pilot of the Federation for nothing.

Spock was at his consols in an instant, trying to figure out what it was that had almost flown into them. But the ship wasn't of any design he had ever seen. It had a slightly similarity to a Bird of Prey, but Klingons didn't crash into Starships. They sneaked up on them, shot at them but they didn't accidentally crash into them. They were too good for that.

"Spock to Captain Kirk."

"Kirk here. What was that?"

"I tell you once you have arrived on the bridge."

"Now you are making me curious. And I'm bringing Luke with me. Maybe he can help us."

It didn't take them long to get to the bridge. Jim went at once to Spock to see what his readings were showing him. It wasn't a ship he had ever seen either.

"Mr. Sulu. Put it on screen," Jim ordered. Maybe someone of the others had seen a ship like this. He knew that he wasn't the only genius on the bridge. The Enterprise was a ship full of young geniuses, Chekov being the youngest and McCoy being the oldest. And Jim was smart enough to know that there were things others might know better. That was one of the reasons why he listened to the advice of his crew more than other Captains. That was also one of the reasons why he encouraged his crew to say what they were thinking as long as it helped solving the problem.

"Blast it!" Jim heard Luke say quietly.

"What is it?" he asked him.

"A stardestroyer," Luke answered. He wasn't really that much surprised that one had made it into this universe. The only question that remained was: How many had made it or was this the only one?

"I take it that this is one of the vessels from the empire you were talking about." Spock stated. It wasn't a question. Luke's mimic was telling him enough. He didn't show any noticeable emotions for the other humans aboard but Spock had grown up on Vulcan and was used to see even minimal changes in the expressions of others.

"Yes."

"Do you have any suggestions how we can get rid of this vessel?" Spock asked Luke.

"I have to think about it," Luke answered and went to discuss this with his friends.

oOo

Before Jim could say anything they were hailed by the commander of the aliens they had encountered before.

"We have made a decision, Captain. We will leave your crew and your precious Federation alone."

"And where is the catch?" Jim asked, and shared a look with Spock. Both knew that these aliens didn't make an offer like this without wanting something in return.

"The what?" The alien clearly hadn't understood Jim's question.

"What do you want in return?" Jim clarified.

"You." Came the answer.

"We need time to think about it."

"You have 60 Earth Minutes."

Jim gave Uhura a wink to shut the transmission on standby. He wanted to talk to Spock without them knowing what he was saying.

"That is out of the question," Spock answered before Jim could say anything.

"What was that, Spock? If that is our only option to save the Federation, then that's what we're gonna do."

"What are you gonna do?" McCoy suddenly asked. Nobody had heard him coming to the bridge. But for once Spock was glad about it. He knew that he had one ally in wanting to keep Jim where he was. They didn't agree often, but when it came to Jim Kirk, McCoy and Spock could work surprisingly well together.

Jim filled him in on what had happened. He also told him Spock's opinion about it. McCoy was watching the two of them and the other Bridge Members closely. He could feel the tension on the bridge. It was also clear why there was any tension to begin with. Everytime Jim and Spock had different opinions about something there was tension. The moment Spock and Jim had started to like each other, the teamwork of the crew had gotten better and better. Without the two of them in synch they just weren't at their best.

"Well. As much as I hate to agree with Spock, Jim, I'd say he is right. You aren't going anywhere."

"Maybe we could send someone pretending to be the Captain to them and figure something out later," Chekov suggested.

"That wouldn't work. There's no one on this ship who can imitate his personality," McCoy answered as much as he liked the idea.

"They would figure it out anyway," Jim added.

oOo

"Something's happening," Luke suddenly said. He was sitting with Han and Leia in his quarters discussing how to get back home, and how to get rid of the Stardestroyer in this Universe, when he felt it.

"What? Don't tell me you have a bad feeling again, Luke." Han sighed, even when he knew that Luke's bad feelings more often than not were right.

"Don't know. But I intend to find out," Luke answered, and was running away.

"Blast it! Your brother's driving me crazy," Han cursed when he and Leia followed Luke.

"Just keep going. There will probably some fighting coming up, and you like those things." Leia urged him to go on. She had felt something, too, but unlike Luke she couldn't tell what it was that she had felt. Luke was much better with the force than her.

When they arrived on the bridge they found the officers agitated. They didn't look it but even Leia could feel the emotions coming from them with the force. Leia didn't realize at once why that was the case but Luke quickly turned to the Captain, and asked him: "What did they want?"

"Luke! I think you know that already. We have one hour to decide," the Captain answered him. But his tone made it clear to Luke that he had already made his decision. The Captain would do anything to save his crew. Even go to his enemy. Just like Luke had gone onto the Deathstar to face Vader a second time.

"No, Jim! You can't do that! There has to be another way!" the Doctor interrupted the silence that had been on the bridge since Luke and his friends had entered the bridge. McCoy knew his friend well enough to guess in which direction the Captain's thoughts had gone. Apparently not even Spock had been able to convince him otherwise.

"The Doctor is right. There is no guarantee that your sacrifice would achieve anything," Spock joined in.

Jim sighed. He hated it when the two of them decided to team up against him. He knew they wanted to keep him save, but sometimes a Captain just had to do some things to keep his crew save.

"Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself to give your friends a fighting chance," Luke said more to himself, but he underestimated Spock's Vulcan hearing.

"You sound like someone who has made a similar experience," Spock stated. "Like you have made a sacrifice yourself." He added when he saw the questioning looks of the others.

"Not to this extend," Luke answered. Leia shot him a look that everyone could read as: Are you kidding me?

"Come on, Luke. You willingly went onto the second Death Star to face Vader again, who was your own father. You did all that to give us a fighting chance," Han put his thoughts, and a little frustration, into words.

"I turned him to the bright side of the force. It was worth everything."

"And you nearly died in the process." Leia added. "Not exactly something to recommend to others, don't you think?" Leia asked him quietly after that.

Luke shrugged: "It wasn't that bad. I had everything under control."

"Blast it, Luke. You went willingly into a trap. Twice. Only to safe us. Don't tell me you don't have a secret Death wish," Han countered.

"I wouldn't go that far, Han. Just a helping syndrome with a tendency to put his own life at risk," Leia interrupted the two friends.

McCoy rolled his eyes. Just what he needed. Another one with a death wish or helping syndrome or whatever one wanted to call it. Luke seemed to have character traits of both Jim and Spock. Luke was as calm as the Vulcan, but seemed to be as reckless and self-sacrificing, among other things, as Jim. This can't be good. But I see now why both Jim and Spock get along with Luke so well. He thought.

But before anyone could say anything more, Uhura announced another incoming transmission. Jim didn't ask who it was, and ordered her to put it on screen straight away.

"What is your answer, Kirk?" the person on the screen asked.

"I go with you if you let my people alone," Jim answered.

"No," said both Spock and McCoy simultaneously.

"Captain!" the rest of the crew almost shouted. None of them wanted to lose their Captain a second time.

oOo

Spock stared at the place where Jim had stood until he was taken away from him. He wasn't able to do anything for a moment.

McCoy looked shocked.

"Doctor. These beings want something from him. They won't kill him," Luke tried to assure both of them.

"Is this the Luke optimism or the Jedi optimism?" Han asked him.

"Neither. I just have a feeling, "Luke answered. Han rolled his eyes, but Spock beat him to say anything: "A feeling isn't very much to go on."

Well. He said the same thing to Jim once. I Wonder what Luke has to say to it. McCoy thought.

"Sometimes, a feeling is all a human has to go on," Luke answered calmly. He raised an eyebrow in an almost Spock-like fashion when the whole bridge crew and McCoy burst out laughing.

"You are unbelievable. Jim answered the very same thing once. And now you give a perfect imitation of Spock," McCoy said.

"Yes. You are Jim and Spock merged to one person," Chekov added.

"Gentlemen, we still have to decide how to get our Captain back." Spock brought them back to their most pressing problem.

"I did some more digging into the circumstances of the encounter between Starfleet and those beings," Uhura sais, and gave Spock a padd with her notes. She had connections throughout Starfleet. From time to time she used them to get information for her Captain or Spock. All communication Officers had these connections. It was a huge help for doing their job.

Spock took it from her. He could always trust her to do her best: "Thank you. I will look through it. We need to keep an eye on the planet in case they try to bring Jim off planet."

Spock went into his room to go over the information alone. He was worried about Jim for two reasons: He didn't know whether the captors would go so far as to torture Jim, and he didn't know how much Jim would fight back. And that could aggress them more than they already were.

There wasn't much more information there. But it didn't surprise him that the one responsible for the mess they were in now was an Admiral Marcus. The same Admiral who had been responsible for the Khan-Incident, as it was called on the Enterprise.

"What did Uhura find out?" McCoy asked.

Spock had no idea how the Doctor constantly managed to come out of nowhere. He would have to ask Jim about that some time. The two had been roommates at the academy. Maybe he knew how to avoid that.

"Not much. But it seems that Admiral Marcus was responsible for the fact that the Federation didn't keep her side of the whatever bargain they agreed on," Spock answered.

"Well. Can't say I am surprised it was him. But whatever it is they agreed on. I doubt it was a good thing."

"Agreed."

"We have to get Jim out of there."

"Any suggestions, doctor?"

"Send Luke. He has a few tricks. And he isn't Starfleet."

"However. We cannot order him. But I will ask him," Spock answered. Seeing that the Doctor was about to say something he added: "However, we could use that fact to our advantage. And Luke and Jim have similar thinking patterns."

"Is that Vulcan for saying 'that's a good idea'?" McCoy asked him.

"Do not push it, Doctor. It has been some time since I have been able to meditate," Spock answered.

Well, that was his way of saying he is close to being emotional compromised. And we all know how that ends up for someone who gets in his way. McCoy thought. But he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut.

oOo

"What is it you want? Starfleet won't lift a finger to get me out of here," Jim demanded to know.

"I don't like your tone, young man," One of his captors said.

"I don't like yours, either." Jim wasn't that easily intimidated.

"You have spirit. I give you that. But the problem is. The Federation wronged us. And you will help us getting what we deserve."

"I would have done that without you kidnapping me," Jim answered. He knew the Federation well enough to know, that these people could be right. There had been too much black sheep lately.

"You're not even denying it." The man sounded surprised.

"I am not denying the possibility that you may be right. But I don't know for sure," Jim corrected him. But deep down he had a feeling that this man was right. Nobody knew yet how much damage Admiral Marcus had done. Internal Investigation was still investigating the whole affair.

"I must say. You are very different from what I expected you to be." The man didn't seem so angry anymore.

"How did you think I am?" Jim asked him. The man had made him curious.

"Naïve, completely in love with your precious Starfleet."

"Well. I never really was in love in Starfleet. Just give me all you've got, and I will see what I can do. But next time just try and talk to us. You aren't such a bad guy, you know?" Jime was beginning to like the man.

"Okay. Give me ten earth minutes, and I give you all I have. Then we will beam you back to your ship."

Jm didn't even have to wait ten minutes. In five he had all he needed. After quick glance at the files he could see that, these men, really were right. Starfleet and the Federation had wronged them. But he wasn't sure how to act on this knowledge. Even after all the times he had saved Earth, some still hated his guts. But that was a problem he could give into Spock's capable hands.

"We are ready to beam you up now. Please tell us what the Federation decides." Jim nodded.

oOo

"Sir, the Transporter just went online," Uhura reported. The Ensign on duty had just called her.

"I am on my way. You have the bridge, Mister Sulu." Spock quickly went to the Transporter room.

To his surprise he saw Jim walking from the Transporter Pad, looking unhurt, and, surprisingly, almost happy.

"Spock. Admiral Marcus has done them wrong. I have the whole file here. But I need your help to check them out. As it turns out, these guys can be really nice."

"We can go through them in your quarters," Spock answered, hoping Jim understood his intentions. As it turned out, Jim had understood him perfectly well. Without even trying to argue, he led the way to his quarters.

"Did they hurt you?" Spock asked Jim once they were in Jim's quarters, far away from any eavesdropping crewmember.

"No. They threatened me a bit in the beginning."

Spock looked closely at Jim. But he really seemed unhurt. It seemed that, for once, Jim had managed to get out of a dangerous situation without getting hurt. Spock had never thought he would see the day this would happen.

"Don't look so surprised. I can take care of myself. And besides, we have much more important matters to discuss."

Reluctantly, Spock nodded. Together they went through the files. After a while Spock knew that neither of them could really solve this problem. This was a matter for Starfleet Lawyers. They just weren't sure which one to trust.

Jim sighed: "I hate it. I want to help these people, but I can't. But I also don't know who to trust anymore."

"I could ask my father. He is well connected," Spock offered. Even if he didn't get along with his father, he knew that Sarek was on the right side of things. He also was a good judge of character.

"You do that. I will go to Bones, tell him, that I am back, before he beams down there and causes a diplomatic incident." Jim agreed.

"Yes. He is a very good doctor with many valuable skills. But diplomacy isn't one of them." Spock gave Jim a last check up, to see if he really was unhurt, and let him go, before he contacted his father for advice.

oOo

Jim quickly went to Sickbay to see his best friend. Bones was currently busy with a patient. Jim just waited in the doorway until he was finished. Bones turned around, and almost got a heart attack. He hadn't expected to see his friend.

"Jim! Do you want to kill me?" He tried to look angry, but the relief to see his friend unhurt on the ship again won over after a few moments. Despite Jim's protests he gave him a quick check up. But Jim was definitely unhurt. When he heard what Jim had found out from the strangers, he only shook his head.

"In moments like this I can understand everyone who hates the Federation and Starfleet. Are you sure Sarek can solve this?"

"At least he can tell us who to trust. Any progress on getting our guests home?"

"Not that I heard of. But from what Scotty told me, they got the ship of theirs flying again. It, at least, is ready to go."

"I go check up on them" Jim winked him a goodbye, and went to check up on Luke, Leia and Han.

The three of them were deep in a discussion in the mess hall when Jim found them. Luke noticed him first.

"I trust, your meeting with the aliens didn't go as expected." It wasn't a question.

"You could say that." Jim summed the events up for them. "Now all that is left to do, is to get you three home. Any ideas?"

"Not yet. Your team has tried very hard, but they haven't found a solution yet, either," Leia answered.

"What? Spock hasn't found a solution for a problem? That one is hard to believe."

"I believe that he had his thoughts somewhere else," Luke suggested.

"But I am sure he will get to it right away, now that he knows you are safe," Leia added.

Han rolled his eyes: "Let the man sit down before you jump on him."

"It's alright. They're much more gentle than other people I know. And I know what it's like to be stuck somewhere and the need to go home." Jim didn't mind. If it were up to him, these three would join the crew of the Enterprise. He could use people like them.

He went to the com panel, and asked Spock if he had found out something. As it turned out. Spock had found a way for them to return home.

oOo

"So this is goodbye then?" McCoy asked Jim.

"Yes. Spock explained them everything there is to know. The rest is up to them."

"You are sorry to let them go, aren't you?" McCoy was keeping a close eye on his friend. He seemed uneasy.

"Yes. They would have made great friends and powerful allies for all the Universe has left to throw at me."

"It can stop doing that. You already had more thrown at you than most people have in a lifetime." McCoy sometimes didn't know how Jim was handling all these things. Deep down he had the suspicion that he wasn't handling them at all. But he had Spock now to keep him grounded.

"What about the other thing?"

Jim didn't need to ask what other thing his friend was referring to.

"Sarek is handling it. From what Spock told me, Sarek thinks he is the best person to handle it, and I am inclined to agree."

McCoy shook his head. And now he begins to talk like them. Spock is clearly rubbing off on him. Let's just hope he is keeping him alive and in one piece. Khan has shown that I alone am not up to the task.

"Luke Skywalker to Starship Enterprise."

"Enterprise hears," Uhura answered smiling, leaving the channel open for everyone to hear.

"We just wanted to say Goodbye and thank you for all you have done to us. May the Force be with you."

"Live long and prosper," Spock answered in the name of the whole crew.