Summary: In some other, kinder universe, both Ellen Landry and Veronica Stadi met a happier fate.
Characters: Landry, Stadi
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Star Trek universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
“Take it easy,” soothes a mellow voice. Ignoring it, Ellen Landry bolts upright, and almost shrieks with the resulting pain.
“What the hell happened to me?”
The last thing she recalls is the tardigrade ripping her apart. She remembers agony the likes of which she’d never experienced, Burnham shouting, and then nothing.
“Am I dead?”
A gentle hand presses her back down. “No, you’re very much alive. I tractored your stasis pod into my shuttle. You were in bad shape, but lucky for you, I have medical training.”
Landry blinks as the pain recedes, focusing on the hand on her shoulder until she can breathe without moaning. A face hovers above her. Large dark eyes, neat black chignon, and a uniform she’s never seen before.
“Who are you?” she asks.
“Lieutenant Veronica Stadi.”
“Lieutenant?” Landry pushes up slowly, in increments, inhaling and exhaling with exaggerated care. “I don’t recognise your uniform. Where are you from?”
“Betazed,” the woman answers, and with a smile, “Believe it or not, Commander, we serve the same organisation. I’m a Starfleet pilot. You don’t recognise my uniform because from your perspective, it doesn’t exist yet.”
Landry tightens her jaw. “Listen, my head’s already aching enough. You want to break that down for me?”
“Sure.” The lieutenant passes her a hydropouch – emblazoned with Starfleet insignia, Landry notices – and settles her hands in her lap. “My ship was docked at a space station. I was taking this shuttle for test run and ran into a plasma storm, which turned out to be some kind of spatial rift. When I emerged from it, I found you, floating in a stasis pod. You had no lifesigns when I beamed you aboard, but it’s amazing what a little med tech from the future can do.”
“You brought me back from the dead?” Landry repeats blankly.
Stadi nods. “Feeling better?”
Ignoring the quip, Landry hands her back the empty hydropouch. “Where did you say you were from?”
“Actually, Commander,” the young woman smiles, “what’s more important right now is where we both are. The shuttle’s sensors aren’t making any sense, and I can’t get the engines online.”
Landry presses the heel of her hand to her forehead. “Last known position of the Discovery was just outside Klingon space. If we’re anywhere close, we’re screwed.”
“Well, that all depends,” Stadi counters. “In my timeframe, the Klingons are allies.”
Landry gives her a disbelieving look.
“There’s just one more problem,” says the lieutenant. “I have no idea when we are, either.”
“2017?” Landry yelps, glaring at the chronometer as though it’s done her a personal injury. “Are you telling me we’ve somehow ended up in the year two thousand and fucking seventeen?”
“So it seems,” Stadi says calmly. “I guess we won’t be counting on help from Starfleet, then.”
“Because it doesn’t exist yet!” Landry can feel her panic spiralling higher along with her voice. “Earth won’t even achieve warp flight for fifty years! We might as well be in the fucking dark ages!”
“That’s an extremely human judgement,” Stadi points out, kicking her feet up on the console and crossing her ankles. “There are plenty of friendly warp-capable species around. Vulcans, for example.”
Landry throws her a wild stare.
“Bajor has been warp-capable for centuries. Ktaris, too. And Betazed achieved space flight about thirty years ago. As soon as we fix the engines, we can make our way to any one of those planets." She tips her head sideways. “Although Bajor might be under Cardassian occupation by now. We should avoid that at all costs.”
“How can you be so fucking calm about this?” Landry can hear the hysterical note in her own voice. “We need to find our way home!”
“We can’t,” Stadi says flatly. “The spatial rift is gone, and whatever temporal anomaly caused it has gone too. I’ve run every scan I can think of. There’s nothing out there.” She stands, grasping Landry’s face between her hands, forcing her still. “We’re stuck here, Commander. We might as well make the best of it.”
“Okay, try it again.”
Stadi presses the start-up sequence and the computer announces ‘Warp and impulse engines are online’.
“You did it!” Delighted, she swivels in her chair to see Landry crawling out from under the engineering console, hair a mess, a streak of grease on her forehead.
The other woman grins up at her. “Captain Lorca insisted on every member of his crew being able to do every job on the ship, at least to a basic level. I know my way around engines.”
Her smile falters.
“You miss him,” Stadi says softly.
“Stop that.” The bite-back is sharp.
“Reading my mind,” Landry snaps. “You don’t have the right. So keep your telepathy to yourself.”
Stadi sighs. “I hate to break it to you, Commander, but I didn’t need telepathy to figure that one out. I miss my captain, too.”
“Yeah?” Landry pushes up to her feet, hands on hips. “Bet you weren’t as close to him as I was to mine.”
“Her, actually,” Stadi corrects. “And we were friends … sort of. Not as close as you and Captain Lorca were, though. Obviously.”
She glances down to hide her expression, but it’s too late.
“What the hell are you smiling at?”
“You just … reminded me of her. The way you were standing, and that death-glare you were giving me.”
Landry folds her arms pointedly.
“Don’t stop on my account,” Stadi says, trying to hide the undercurrent of amusement in her voice. “It was actually kind of …” she trails off.
“Kind of what?”
She shrugs, an impish spark in her eye. “Sexy.”
Landry stares at her, shock warring with fury in her dark eyes. Stadi laughs.
“You’re crazy,” Landry mutters, but as she turns away, Stadi doesn’t miss the way her teeth dig into the curve of her lower lip.
“What’s this planet called again?”
Veronica Stadi smoothly guides the shuttle into orbit. “Risa.”
“And they’re not going to shoot at us or anything?”
“Relax, Ellen.” Stadi flips on the autopilot and turns to her companion, who’s leaning uncomfortably against the bulkhead. “Actually, that’s kind of the law around here. Relaxing, I mean. Risa is a pleasure planet, and they’re used to welcoming aliens from all over the quadrant.”
She stands, reaching for Landry’s hands.
“We can stop running now,” she says, gently. “We’re safe here. And we can be happy.”
Landry searches her eyes. The space between them swells with a now-familiar tension, and Stadi finds herself holding her breath.
It expels in a gasp when Ellen’s lips find hers. The kiss is slow and luscious, and everything Veronica has found herself longing for.
“Bet you didn’t see that coming,” Ellen whispers through ragged breath as she rests her forehead against Veronica’s.
“Some telepath I am,” Veronica agrees, and then, with a husky laugh, she draws Ellen close and kisses her until they’re contacted politely by Risian Orbital Control.