Spock. He was at the forcefield again, staring at them with his oddly clean-shaven face. Jim stood up immediately and tried talking to him again, but the Vulcan ignored him. Instead, Spock looked at the security guard who'd followed him to the cell. "I would like to speak with Doctor McCoy alone. Escort him, Lieutenant."
McCoy stood and edged back. Jim looked from Leonard to Spock in alarm. "What do you want with him?" he snapped.
"That is not your concern, Captain," Spock replied. Damn him, that Vulcan calm was the same as always, beard or no beard.
Jim bristled and advanced toward the forcefield. "The hell it's not! He's my crewman, damn you, and-"
"Captain, if you attempt to hinder me, Security will be forced to stun you." Without waiting for a response, Spock turned his eyes to Leonard. "Doctor McCoy. Come forward, please."
McCoy clenched his fists and took a step forward. Uhura and Scotty stepped forward, too, and Jim shook his head. "McCoy, stay where you are." He turned and glared at Spock. "Tell me what you want with him! You can't want information, you're the First Officer! What are you going to do to him?"
Spock raised an eyebrow. "In fact, information is my primary purpose, Captain. This transposition-"
"What transposition!? You held us in the transporter, and changed things to make-"
"That is not logical, Captain," the Vulcan said, his tone almost sharp. "Unfortunately, I do not believe that attempting to reason with you at this time will be successful." He looked at the doctor again. "Doctor McCoy is... a fellow scientist, and will be more likely to listen to reason."
McCoy's eyes widened at that. Spock thought he would listen to reason? That statement alone was so jarringly unbelievable as to make a "transposition" seem almost possible. Jim, however, wasn't convinced. "Dammit, Spock, don't do this! We all know what you mean when you say you want information, but it's Bones." The Vulcan's eyes widened slightly at the use of the doctor's nickname, though McCoy couldn't fathom why.
Spock took a slow breath that Leonard might have likened to an exasperated sigh of it hadn't come from a Vulcan. "I am at a loss to understand your reticence," Spock said at last. "But I cannot spend further time engaged in this fruitless discussion." He turned to the guards. "Bring him. If they resist, stun them."
The forcefield dropped, and Jim lunged. He was stunned immediately. McCoy knelt and checked him. Alive, thank God! Scotty stepped forward, but McCoy stood up quickly and held him back. "Stop it! They'll just stun you, too."
The engineer looked stricken. "McCoy, you know what he'll-"
"It'll happen whether he stuns you or not," McCoy said sharply.
"Very logical, Doctor."
Leonard shuddered slightly at the sound of Spock's voice. He took a step toward the door, and heard a quiet gasp from Uhura. He glanced at her worried face, but couldn't seem to muster a reassuring smile. He just shook his head slightly and stepped out of the cell. He stepped out of the cell, expecting to be shackled, but the guard merely took hold of his arm. Spock led the way, and McCoy was "escorted" to another section of the brig.
Leonard was afraid. He had no idea whether Jim was right, and Spock had somehow orchestrated these changes to confuse them, or if they'd really somehow switched places with some other crew. What he did know was how Vulcans got information from hostile prisoners, and he was terrified of the prospect. He remembered the faces of their own captives - the terror in their eyes. He remembered their agony as they tried to fight against Spock's mental assault. Some of the stronger ones cried out when their mental shields were finally broken. Then they were left, shuddering and broken - sometimes weeping - to be dealt with by Medical if the captain thought it worthwhile to repair any neurological damage the Vulcan's probing had caused. Leonard's heart raced. No matter how hard he tried to calm down, or how deeply and slowly he tried to breathe, he couldn't stop the panic washing over him. Suddenly, walking seemed to become inordinately difficult.
Leonard tried to cry out - no, no, don't call him - but his voice didn't work. All he could do was take quick, shallow breaths and struggle lamely against the guards, arms almost comically uncoordinated. "Take him into the nearest cell." Spock's voice was strained - almost as if he were worried. McCoy was surprised by the tone, but he was more concerned with his own dizziness and nausea. The guards set him gently and quickly on a low bench, and someone pressed his head down between his knees. He stayed there, struggling not to throw up. Slowly, his head began to clear, and the debilitating panic subsided. He gave himself several seconds more, not wanting to sit up too quickly only to black out.
Of course, that might be better for him. He might not feel the pain of the attack if... Leonard stopped the train of thought forcibly and slowly sat up, facing Spock. The Vulcan stood a few feet away from him, watching him with more... feeling in his eyes than McCoy had expected to see. "Do you require medical attention, Doctor?" Spock asked, his calm voice belying the mild concern Leonard could see on the Vulcan's usually stony features.
McCoy looked at him in confusion. "You... you're offering me treatment?"
He seemed surprised. "Of course."
Leonard shuddered again. Maybe he had to be conscious for... McCoy swallowed. "I'm not going to pass out, if that's what you mean," he said, hoping his voice sounded more confident than he felt.
Spock inclined his head. He watched McCoy for several moments. Spock's expression changed, and Leonard began to wonder if his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. Did Spock look... tender? No, that made no sense.
Slowly, Spock moved toward him. McCoy tensed, gripping the edge of the bench tightly. He clamped down on a whimper when Spock began to reach for his face. The Vulcan's hand wasn't positioned the way McCoy had seen it before during melds, but that knowledge brought no reassurance. The doctor could almost hear his own heart pounding furiously, and he bit down on the urge to plead with Spock. There was nothing he could tell Spock about the ship that Spock didn't already know, so he had to be melding with Leonard for some other reason - possibly to torture him or drive him insane like Jim had guessed.
Leonard couldn't hold back the sharp intake of breath at the touch of Spock's hand on his chin. Spock gasped as well, and drew his hand back sharply, as if touching Leonard's face had burned. McCoy pressed himself back against the wall, but Spock didn't try to attack him again. "You are terrified," he said, amazement clear in his tone.
"What was your first clue, Spock?" Leonard snapped automatically. He regretted it immediately, but Spock didn't strike him. Instead, he raised an eyebrow, and tilted his head in obvious confusion.
"Is that one of your rhetorical questions?"
"One of my-" McCoy wavered between fear, anger, and a near-hysterical feeling of amusement. Finally, fear and anger won out. "God dammit, Spock, stop toying with me! If you're going to do it, do it and get it over with! Stop playing games!"
Spock's eyebrow rose again. "Doctor McCoy. I do not understand what you believe I will do to you that has caused you to react with such fear. But since it seems clear that there is another Vulcan of the name Spock aboard your ship, and my behavior does not seem completely uncharacteristic to you, I must assume that you are somewhat familiar with Vulcan culture. I believe it is prudent, therefore, to ask whether you have ever met an adult Vulcan who was predisposed to... 'playing games'."
McCoy opened his mouth to speak, but stopped himself, and worked on getting his panicked mind around what Spock had said. He took a deep breath, and forced himself to release his death grip on the brig's bench. "All right," he said, mostly to himself. "Okay. To answer your question, Commander, no, I've never known a Vulcan to play tricks on anyone."
Spock nodded. "Now. If I understand his statements correctly, I believe it is your Captain's hypothesis that I have personally re-outfitted the entire crew with uniforms that differ from yours, and that I usually wear a beard, but have shaved it to some purpose. Has he given an explanation of what that purpose might be?"
"I... he's not quite sure," Leonard said. "Possibly to drive us insane, so that you can take over the ship without killing us."
There went the eyebrow again. "An elaborate plan, to be sure. It is one that is also dependent upon an inordinately large number of variables." Leonard frowned, realizing how far-fetched the plan sounded only now that Spock had laid it out in his dry tone. "Tell me, Doctor," Spock continued. "Is the murder of an entire landing party by a member of the crew a likely occurrence aboard your ship?"
"Well, I'd never have thought so with you..." Leonard's voice faltered, and he swallowed hard. Something about Spock's tone - the genuine alarm he seemed to sense at the notion of a takeover - disturbed Leonard deeply. Why should something so fundamental be a surprise? If Spock were acting, he was doing a damn good job. And why pretend he didn't understand the Empire, anyway? As he'd said, playing games wasn't exactly logical - not this kind of head game, anyway. Deceit was just not Vulcan.
"I..." Leonard looked down, and caught sight of his bizarrely unadorned uniform again. No sash. No medals. No agonizer. Just a little golden, triangular patch on his chest, that looked just like the one on Spock's chest. Would Spock really have been so thorough as to create completely new... Suddenly, McCoy stood up.
Spock seemed to brace himself. "Doctor, if you attempt-"
"I'd have to be a lunatic to attack you, Spock," Leonard said, feeling like he must be losing his mind all the same. "Can I... could you take me into the hall? I need to... see something." Spock nodded slowly, before taking firm hold of McCoy's arm and ordering the guards to release the force field. Once they were in the hall, McCoy looked down to the far wall, where the Empire's symbol should have been. He'd been in the process of fainting the first time he'd passed his way, and hadn't noticed the strikingly barren wall before. A shudder passed through him, and Spock guided him back to the cell.
"It seems," Spock said, "that you saw something you didn't expect."
"I..." Leonard swallowed, throat suddenly dry. "The Empire's insignia. It should have been on that wall, and..."
"You are aboard a Starfleet vessel within the United Federation of Planets," Spock replied, still gripping the doctor's arm. "To what 'empire' do you refer?"
"The Terran Empire," McCoy said, shuddering again. "I'm... I am a Starfleet officer. We're the Empire's military arm. The... we... we're the... strongest alliance in the known galaxy, rivaled only by the Klingon and Romulan Empires. We..." Leonard felt himself slipping, and Spock supported him and quickly helped him back to the bench.
Spock moved away as soon as the doctor was safely seated. McCoy heard him give an override command - their override command - to the replicator. A moment later, something cool was pressed into Leonard's hand. He looked down to see a small glass of dark, pungent liquor. "As illogical as it seems to me," Spock said quietly, "I have observed the beneficial effects of a moderate intake of intoxicating beverages on humans suffering from shock, and certain other forms of mental distress."
Leonard laughed - a hysterical sound that he struggled to clamp down on the moment it started to frighten him. He tossed back the fiery liquid - one of his favorite whiskeys - in two long droughts. The resultant burn was certainly "beneficial". He felt the hysteria subsiding, and his trembling limbs slowly began to steady themselves again. He looked up at the Vulcan, who was now watching Leonard with an air of polite interest. "Thank you," Leonard said.
Spock nodded and held out his hand for the glass. When McCoy passed it to him, their fingers touched. Spock didn't seem uncomfortable with the contact at all. Strange. Spock disposed of the glass and came to stand before him again. "You appear to have recovered," he noted.
Leonard nodded. "Yes, I'm fine now. As fine as I can be, anyway, considering I've been stranded in a place I shouldn't be." He looked at the Vulcan, expression somewhere between amazement and suspicion. "Why are you being so nice to me?" he asked.
Spock looked almost guilty for a second, before returning to the Vulcan impassive norm. "There is no logical reason to show you cruelty," he replied, as if that explained everything. "Now," he said, moving closer again. "I would like to know more about this Terran Empire." The doctor was on edge again immediately - he tensed and edged back slightly. Spock stopped. "Doctor, you seem to fear an attack. What is it that you believe I will do to you?"
The doctor swallowed, gripping the bench again. "You... you want information. I believe you're... going to... take it."
Spock raised an eyebrow. "Take it, Doctor? Do you refer to the Vulcan mindmeld?"
"Of course," McCoy said tightly.
The Vulcan gave him an odd expression - remorse? Guilt? He sat down at one end of the bench, and McCoy forced himself not to scramble as far away as he could. "Doctor," Spock said quietly. "I assure you, I will not force a meld with you. In extreme situations, where lives are at stake and the necessary information cannot be obtained any other way, I might resort to such a method. But forced melds are dangerous, and contrary to the principles of our people. In a situation such as this, it would be absolutely unacceptable to do such a thing. Please be assured that I will seek information simply by asking you questions."
Shut up, McCoy. "How do you know I'll tell the truth?" he asked aloud, ignoring his own directive to keep his mouth shut. Great. Give him a reason to turn your mind to mush.
"That is a calculated risk," Spock replied. "As I said to Captain Kirk - you are a scientist. I believe you will agree that no logical purpose could be served by your lying to me. Your landing party must be returned to your Empire, and I must have my own crewmates back. Any information you provide could only add to our understanding. Conversely, nothing you tell me could possibly be used against your captain, so there can be no question of loyalty or of divulging proprietary information. I will, therefore, operate under the assumption that the information you provide will be the truth."
The doctor felt himself slowly relaxing as this "United Federation of Planets" version of Spock laid out the logical reasons for why he didn't plan to force his way into Leonard's mind to extract what he wanted. They were similar in their love (dare he use the word) for logic, and if this Spock was like his own, he wouldn't tell him all this and then force a meld anyway. His own Spock didn't tend to use melds unless speed was needed, or a prisoner was torture resistant. And here, apparently, he wasn't going to be tortured, either, which was quite a relief.
Relieved, McCoy cleared his throat and said, "Well, I'll answer what I can. I suppose if anyone could help us get home, it would be you."
Spock smiled ever so slightly, and McCoy thought he might pass out from the sight. He held it together well enough, though, and the Vulcan's smile only seemed to grow that much more real. Finally, Spock said, "I will most certainly do my best."
Spock seemed to grow increasingly alarmed as McCoy told him about the political structure of the Empire, and the operations of Starfleet. He was diplomatic about the information he received. He didn't judge Leonard's society, but he seemed concerned for the safety of his own crewmen. He told McCoy of the way the Federation was run, and it seemed like some kind of Utopian dream land by comparison - an impossibility. They certainly hadn't eradicated violence here, but killing a superior officer was absolutely unheard of. Their laws didn't distinguish successful mutinies from unsuccessful ones, and any mutiny was actually a punishable offense - one which hadn't occurred in this version of Starfleet - ever.
"What will happen if Captain Kirk... my Captain Kirk and the others are discovered?"
"That depends on what my Spock makes of the situation," Leonard replied. "He'll be the most likely person to discover that they're not us. If Spock thinks they had something to do with our disappearance, your crew will probably be tortured for information." Spock's brow furrowed, and McCoy nodded grimly. "If they don't break under torture, he'll... well, he'll do what I was afraid you would do - he'll go into their minds and take the information forcibly." There was a sharp intake of breath, and McCoy lowered his eyes until he figured the Vulcan would have a chance to get the horrified look off of his face. The concept of a forced mindmeld must be really horrible in this version of the world, for the Vulcan to have shown such raw emotion. He couldn't even imagine his own Spock making his emotions so obvious in front of McCoy. Of course, he couldn't imagine his own Spock casually brushing hands with him, either.
"Apparently, there are certain aspects of Vulcan culture that are a constant between our two universes," Spock said. His voice was steady, and when McCoy looked up at him, his face was stoic. "Thank you for averting your eyes from my emotional display. Your consideration is appreciated." McCoy nodded. "It is my hope that your Spock will not have occasion to resort to forced melds upon any of the crew."
Leonard couldn’t suppress a slight shudder at the thought, even though he was obviously safe from any such fate. "Well, hopefully they're able to blend in better than we were," he said. "How did you discover us before we even got out of the transporter room?"
"Captain Kirk's command to begin destroying Halkan cities was, as Humans say, 'a dead giveaway'," Spock replied. "We do not destroy civilizations for refusing to grant us mining rights."
"Ah," McCoy said with a nod. "I'm afraid that might just prove to be an issue for your crew, Commander. Our Spock will expect Jim to retaliate immediately. Terror must be maintained, and the orders of Starfleet Command must be obeyed."
Spock steepled his hands in front of his face and took a deep breath. "Thank you for answering my questions, Doctor," he said. "Our Engineering and Science departments are at work attempting to discover how to return you to your proper universe. It is our hypothesis that the ion storm caused a power surge which affected the transporter beams, transposing our respective landing parties. Our engineers are skilled, but Mr. Scott's expertise would be welcome. Do you believe he would be willing to assist me?"
McCoy thought about it. "He might be, if I can convince them that this is really a different universe. He'll want to get back home if he can."
"Good. Then I must ask you to enlist his cooperation. Your crew does not trust me, but I believe they will listen to someone they do not assume is attempting to overthrow their captain's command."
"I'll do my best," he replied.
"Thank you, Doctor."
Spock led him back to their original cell, much to the relief of Uhura and Scotty. Jim had been placed on a bench, and seemed to still be unconscious, but the other two moved toward the forcefield the moment they saw him. "Doctor, are ya all right? What did that-"
Leonard raised a hand. "I'm fine, Scotty," he said. "He didn't hurt me."
Spock glanced at the guard that had escorted him from the room. "Ready yourself." The guard raised his phaser, and Spock turned toward Mr. Scott and the Lieutenant. "Stand back from the threshold," he said. Scotty and Uhura scowled, but backed up slightly. The forcefield dropped, and McCoy stepped inside.
Uhura stepped toward him once the forcefield snapped on again. "Are you sure you're all right, sir?" Uhura asked.
"Fine, Lieutenant," he said. "But... he's not lying. This is a different place. A different universe." They frowned, and he beckoned them toward the forcefield. "Look out there. The Globe and Dagger are nowhere."
"But he could have-"
"No, Mr. Scott," Leonard said. "It's not just the walls surrounding our cell. It's like that through the whole brig."
"What the hell?" Scott whispered. "How... that isn't-"
"What..." Uhura stepped back from the forcefield, as if the blank walls made her nervous. "How could something like that have happened?"
"The storm," McCoy replied. "Remember, we saw our transporter room for a moment, and then we were here? They think the ion storm is going on in our universe, too, and when we beamed up, we got switched with their people." He looked at Scotty. "They're trying to get us back home," he said.
Scotty shook his head. "You believe him?" he asked incredulously. "It could still be a trap. Just Spock, trying to-"
"I don't think so," Leonard said, remembering the whiskey, and the casual brush of Spock's hand against his. "I'm sure he really wants to get his own crew back. Besides, if this were our Spock, would we really still be alive right now?"
They seemed to consider this for a moment, but Leonard could tell they weren't convinced. Scotty shook his head. "That's a good point Doctor, but how can you be sure this Vulcan wants to help us? He could be happy with his own crew staying right where they are!"
"That's right!" Uhura said. "He could kill us and take over his own ship if they never come back."
He heard Spock sigh, but the Vulcan didn't say anything. "If he wanted to do that, he could have ejected our programs from the transporter mechanism before we ever beamed aboard," McCoy said. Uhura shuddered at the idea. "Listen, Scotty, he... they want your help. They've got some theories, but their Engineering expert is stuck on our ship."
Scotty frowned, and looked at Spock. "I'll not go anywhere without the Captain's permission," he said.
Spock nodded. "That is understandable," he said. "When Captain Kirk recovers, please discuss the situation with him, and inform Security to contact me when you have made your decision." He looked at the three of them in turn. "Please make that decision as quickly as possible. The field density between our universes is increasing, and transference will become impossible after four point three seven standard hours."
Scotty's scowl deepened. Apparently, that bit of astrophysicist gobbled-gook meant something to him. "Right. I'll ask him as soon as he comes to."
The Vulcan nodded again, and looked at McCoy. "Thank you for your assistance, Leonard," he said. He turned and walked away, leaving McCoy to stare after him, completely stunned.
"Leonard?" There was amusement in Uhura's voice. McCoy spun and glared fiercely at her, and her smile disappeared immediately. "Sorry, sir," she whispered, scurrying away to check on the captain. He scowled at Scott for good measure, and the Engineer wisely lowered his eyes. Leonard turned away to stare out at the barren walls, and pretended not to hear Scotty's snicker.
The engineer was shocked. "You... you want me to help them, sir?" Leonard shared Scotty's surprise. Jim seemed to have been fairly easily convinced that they were in some kind of utopian-mirror plane once they'd explained about the insignia missing from the walls, and Spock's apparent desire to help. But this instant desire to cooperate was uncanny.
"Isn't that what I said, Mr. Scott?" Jim asked sharply.
"W-well, aye, sir, but-"
Jim patted Scotty on the arm. "Help him, Scotty. Give him your complete cooperation." Jim smiled, and spoke in a low voice. "While you're out there, find a way to drain power from the brig."
Mr. Scott smiled broadly. "Aye, Captain," he said.
"Give us five or ten seconds, then meet us in the transporter room," he said. "Can you do that?"
"Aye, if their technology's anything like ours I can manage it, sir."
Leonard frowned. "Jim, are you sure we... I mean, I didn't get the feeling this Spock wanted to hurt us. I think he's genuine."
"He might be, Bones," Jim replied. "But then again he might not. I don't take kindly to being trapped behind a forcefield, no matter what the situation. And if he's not genuinely trying to help us, I'm not going to sit here and wait for him to figure out he wants to kill us, then let him shoot us like so many fish in a barrel. We're getting out of here."
McCoy nodded. He wasn't exactly thrilled about the plan, but he couldn't deny that Jim had a point. They didn't really know what motivated this Spock.
"What will we do when the power goes out," Uhura asked softly.
Jim glanced at the cell's entrance. "There are two guards out there." Jim looked at the doctor. "You up for it?" McCoy nodded. "Good. We rush them, fast as soon as the field shuts down. Bones, you take the one on the right - there's a corner there, and it'll give you a better advantage. Uhura, you get out of here as fast as you can once the fight starts. We shouldn't need help, but I'll let you know."
"Yes, Captain. I didn't see any knives on the guards, did you?"
Jim shook his head. "I never saw anything, but we can use heavy stun, and check their boots."
McCoy nearly corrected them, knowing from his conversation with Spock that officers did not carry daggers aboard ship in this Starfleet. He thought better of it, though. If his silence prevented the needless deaths of two men, so much the better.
Jim stood up and approached the field. "You," he snapped.
One of the guards turned to look at him. "Can I help you with something?"
Jim chuckled. "Very polite," he sneered. "Contact your commander. Tell him I'm going to let him borrow my engineer." Without answering, the guard used a wall-comm to communicate with Spock, and a moment later, they dropped the forcefield again, and let Mr. Scott out. Jim made no move to get out this time - he just wished Mr. Scott luck, and went casually back to the bench.
Waiting was the hardest part. It always was. McCoy sat, tense, waiting, watching the forcefield so intently that he felt like he might go cross-eyed if he had to look at it much longer. The tension began to get to Uhura as well after a while. She paced the floor, looking up every few seconds, and sighing when the field showed no sign of winking out. Jim was the only one of them who remained completely calm - at least outwardly so. He sat on the bench, body deceptively relaxed, not fidgeting in the slightest, and apparently completely unconcerned. Once Jim had set something into motion, he could wait for hours without succumbing to the stress of anticipation.
Hours did pass. Leonard began to worry about the field density Spock had mentioned. He didn't know exactly what he'd meant - he was a doctor, not a goddamn engineer - but Spock had said there was a deadline after which there would be no way to get back. How much time had passed, exactly? How long did they have left? He sighed and got up, unable to sit still any longer. He paced the floor in counterpoint with Uhura, and Jim watched them, a small smile on his face.
Darkness! McCoy tensed, and bolted for the door. He attacked the startled guard on the right, shoving him into the wall and punching him hard, pleased that he'd managed to connect with the man's head. Leonard fumbled for the guard's phaser, snatched it away, and backed up. The lights came back on, and he took a precious second to make sure the phaser wasn't set to kill. Before the dazed man could rush him, McCoy fired and the young guard dropped.
Only then did McCoy look around to check on Jim and Uhura. They were already checking the boots of the guard Jim had taken down. "Nothing!" Uhura hissed, frustrated.
"Doesn't matter," Jim said. "We'll cover you. Come on. Ready, Bones?"
They ran through the halls, Jim leading the way, and McCoy bringing up the rear. They came across two more security guards in the brig. They aimed, but Jim fired first, and one man disappeared. A fraction of a second later, the other man dropped, stunned by McCoy's stolen phaser. There was a curious look from Jim, but there wasn't time for discussion. They kept running, pausing nervously when they arrived at the secure brig turbolift. "Damn," Jim hissed. He looked at the retina scanner, then glanced at Bones.
The doctor shook his head. "I don't know, Jim."
Jim's jaw tightened, and he rested his head on the brace and allowed the computer to scan him. "Name: James Tiberius Kirk," a slightly mechanical female voice said. "Rank: Captain. Authorization: Level One-A." The doors opened, but for a moment, they were all so stunned they just stared at the lift in awe. It was one thing to see a different paint job, different uniforms, and to know that they were in an alternate universe. It was completely different to realize without doubt that there were doubles of each of them - not just Spock - and that the doubles were identical right down to the retinal detail.
Whatever philosophical turmoil that had suddenly been sprung upon each of them at the knowledge that they were not individuals was shoved to the back burner when turbolift chimed a warning. Survival first. Existential meaning of life meditations second. As a unit, they hurried inside just as the doors began to close.
They only had to go up one level before they were on the regular decks, and had to transfer to a regular lift - which was exactly where it would have been aboard their own ship. They ignored the few unarmed crewmen they passed - some of whom Leonard recognized, and all of whom were clean-shaven - even the ones who "should" have had facial hair. Absurdly, considering the situation, Leonard found himself regretting that he hadn't thought to discuss with Spock whether the United Federation of Planets' version of Starfleet had stricter grooming regulations than their own fleet, or if there was simply a different aesthetic in this universe.
The general crew didn't seem to be aware that there were look-alike intruders aboard, and no one tried to stop Jim and his party. After a few moments, they made it to the transporter room, and Jim brandished the phaser at a doppelganger of Mr. Kyle. "Back up, mister," Jim snapped. "This is set to kill." Kyle raised his hands and backed away from the transporter controls.
"Where's Mr. Scott," Uhura said nervously.
"Give him some time, he'll be here." Without taking his eyes off Kyle, Jim tilted his head toward Leonard. "Bones, keep your eye on him." McCoy aimed his phaser at Kyle, and Jim lowered his weapon and took a look at the transporter controls. "Shit! There isn't much time," he hissed. He glanced back at the door. "Come on, Scotty."
They waited for a few more tense minutes when suddenly, the transporter room door opened, and Mr. Scott stepped in. McCoy's relief died instantly when he saw the other Spock gripping Scotty's arm, pointing a phaser at him. Three more security officers trotted in behind them.
Jim leveled his weapon at Spock. "Jim, don't!" McCoy hissed.
"Captain Kirk," Spock said, speaking calmly as if this weren't a life or death situation. "You have precisely seventeen point nine seconds before return to your own universe becomes impossible. I strongly suggest that you disarm and move to the transporter pad immediately."
"It's true, Captain," he said.
"Jim, please," the doctor said. "Let's get out of here!" He glanced toward the transporter pad. Uhura was already edging toward it.
Jim didn't budge. "Let my engineer go right now, Spock," he snapped.
The Vulcan hesitated for a moment. He glanced at McCoy, then released Mr. Scott. "Get on the pad, Scotty," Kirk said, still pointing the phaser at Spock. "Bones, you too."
"Jim, what about-"
"Now!" McCoy dropped his weapon and slid it to the far side of the room, away from Kyle. With a glance at the other Spock, he made his way to the transporter pad.
"Captain," Spock said. "You must go as well. I will operate the transporter controls."
"And how do I know you won't just transport us into space?"
"Because it would be illogical for me to kill you," Spock answered. "You must return to your universe, and I must have my captain back. There are six point three seconds left, sir."
Jim smiled. "Loyal to a fault here, too."
"Dammit, Jim, get on the pad!" Bones hissed.
Jim backed up until he'd reached the platform. Finally, he gritted his teeth, then slid his own phaser across the floor and took his place on the transporter pad. Spock moved quickly to the controls but before he put his hands on them, McCoy felt the beam. Spock gasped, and looked directly at him. McCoy managed a smile before the beam took him over. As the transporter room faded from view, he sent up a prayer that they were headed to the right place.