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Kessel Run

by Spiletta42

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Fandom: Star Wars/Star Trek Voyager
Rating: T™©
Warnings: None
Categories: Ship, Het, Humor, Action, Crossover
Pairing:Paris/Torres
Characters:Tom Paris (primary), B'Elanna Torres, Han Solo, Watto
Spoilers: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars: Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin
Star Trek Voyager: Drive.
Summary: Tom Paris meets his match.
A/N:Written for Ripples in the Pond.
Disclaimer: Voyager and its characters belong to Paramount Pictures. Infringement intended. Star Wars and its characters belong to George Lucas. No infringement intended.
Credits: Thank you to Dakota for throwing away this perfectly good plot bunny, and to A.C. Crispin for her brilliant repair of the most often quoted blunder in the history of science fiction films. Also thank you to Diana Forester and Anne Rose for beta comments.
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Kessel Run

Tom Paris groaned and tried to go back to sleep. "Five more minutes."


"Wake up, Flyboy." B'Elanna shook him again. "We're in trouble."

He blinked and tried to shield his eyes from the light. Something was different. There seemed to be a lot more sand in the bed than he remembered, and someone had cranked up the environmental controls to an obscene temperature.

Wait. Sun. Two suns? "Dorothy, we aren't in Kansas any more."

"Don't quote your old movies at me," B'Elanna snapped. "We have to find shelter."

Tom didn't disagree. This place would make a Vulcan sweat buckets. He climbed to his feet and tried to look around. The ground seemed brighter than either sun.

He tried his combadge, but heard only static.

"Don't you think I tried that?"

Tom sighed. "What would you like to do?"

"This way," B'Elanna said. "I thought I saw something move."

"I just hope that something doesn't see us as a convenient snack." Tom pointed at some prints in the sand. The wind had distorted the shape, but the size appeared troubling enough. "Do we really want to go wherever that went?"

"Stop grumbling, Flyboy, I'm sure this is your fault."

"My fault? We get abducted and you blame me?"

"You're the one who made the bet with Dalby."

"What bet?"

"How much of his homebrew did you drink? Honestly, Tom, don't play innocent with me."

"Let's just find a nice pit of molten lava to cool off in, then you can yell at me."

Tom struggled to remember a bet with Dalby. The last thing he could remember was having a few drinks in Sandrine's. Perfectly harmless drinks, though. Just synthehol. And he didn't remember any bet.

"I saw it again," B'Elanna said.

"Saw what?" Tom squinted at the horizon.

"Whatever moved before. It moved again."

"Are you sure we really want to catch up to it?" He wasn't sure if the shape ahead was moving, or just seemed to move due to the rippling effect of the extreme heat, but something had made these tracks.

They trudged onward. Perhaps whatever it was knew where to find some water.

When he dared brave the scorching brightness to again examine the horizon, Tom wasn't at all sure he liked what he saw. "I don't know what that is, but it's a lot bigger than us."

"I think I see some buildings farther ahead," B'Elanna said.

They continued, and the thing ahead of them was definitely a creature of some sort. A large four-legged creature with long, thick fur and big spiral horns.

"What does something like that eat in a place like this?" Tom asked. "That thing's at least three meters tall and we're in the middle of the desert."

"I don't think that's our priority right now," B'Elanna said. "I think we need to figure out how to get around it."

"I think we need to think twice before getting too close to it at all," Tom said. ""How about we just head that way." He pointed off to the right.

"Because we need shelter and the closest thing I see is that way." B'Elanna pointed to a spot slightly to the left of the creature.

Tom gave his combadge another tap. Still static. "We need to stay downwind of that thing."

"There is no wind."

"Are you going to argue with everything I say?"

"I won't argue with that."

They continued toward the creature. It didn't appear to have noticed them. Yet. Then again its large eyes were mostly obscured by its long, thick hair.

"Let's give it a wide berth," B'Elanna suggested.

"It already has a wide girth," Tom said.

B'Elanna hit him. "Funny, Flyboy. Real funny."

Without taking their eyes from the creature, they circled around behind it at what they randomly guessed to be a potentially safe distance. It shifted its massive weight, but it didn't prove ambitious enough to charge them.

They both let out a sigh of relief and continued on their way. Tom glanced back frequently to assure himself that the creature hadn't yet become ambitious.

The two suns continued to beat down on them. Tom hoped that the distant buildings belonged to a civilization advanced enough to have some form of environmental controls.

The wind picked up without warning just as they reached the edge of the settlement. Tom grabbed B'Elanna's hand and they ran for the nearest open door. The building was mobbed with more or less humanoid aliens of all descriptions, and a fair number of aliens that weren't humanoid and defied any description at all.

Oddly cheerful music played in open defiance of the grubbiness of the establishment. An alien with a mallet shaped head argued with a smaller blue alien in an unrecognizable language.

In the opposite corner, an alien with what appeared to be tusks and a pug-nosed humanoid came to blows, scattering furniture and drinks until one of them lost an arm. Those not immediately fray adjacent continued drinking without interruption. It took more than an arm on the floor to bother them.

"Don't make eye contact," Tom advised.

"Has it occurred to you that I might be able to take care of myself?" B'Elanna snapped. Quite unnecessarily, Tom thought.

"You don't have to lose your temper," Tom said. "I'd just like to get out of this place with both arms still attached."

B'Elanna pulled away from him and stalked over to a free table. Tom cringed as several aliens watched her pass. He followed.

A rather attractive man sauntered over and dropped into the seat opposite B'Elanna. "Looking for passage out of this system?"

"Can you provide it?" B'Elanna smiled at the stranger, her recent crabbiness suddenly gone.

"I'm leaving for Alderaan in just a few minutes, if you like that sort of place."

"Excuse me." Tom laid his hand on B'Elanna's shoulder. "My wife and I are just looking for a way to contact our ship."

"The lady and I were talking," the stranger said. He turned back to B'Elanna and held out his hand. "Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon."

B'Elanna ignored Tom and took Solo's outstretched hand. "B'Elanna Torres, chief engineer of the USS Voyager."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, B'Elanna." Not only did this Han Solo not release B'Elanna's hand, but he kissed the back of it.

Tom glared at him.

"So what's your deal?" Solo leaned back in his chair and made a show of looking him over.

"I'm the pilot on Voyager, and we were just leaving."

"A pilot? What's your time on the Kessel Run?" Solo didn't wait for an answer. "I covered it in under twelve parsecs in the Falcon."

"Parsecs?" Tom rolled his eyes. So the man was a fraud. "That's not even a measure of time."

"I cut so close to those black holes I actually shortened the distance," Solo bragged. "No one's ever done anything like that before."

"Question is," Tom said. "Can you ever do it again?"

"No, kid," said Solo. "The question is, can you do it?"

"Is that a challenge?"

B'Elanna finally seemed to notice he was there. "Tom, don't start something."

"There's nothing a pilot can do with a ship that I can't do," Tom said.

"A race then," Solo said. "If you've got the nerve."

"Name your bet," Tom said.

"Don't be ridiculous," B'Elanna protested. "You don't have anything to bet. Or anything to fly, for that matter, until we find a way off of this rock."

Solo shrugged. "If you win I'll take you anywhere you want to go, but you'll need to bet more than nothing to make it worth my while."

"I'll stake him." An unshaven, pot-bellied little alien hovered near, his wings beating rapidly. "If he wins, Solo, I get your ship. If he loses, I'll pay your debt to Jabba."

"Deal," said Han Solo.

Tom turned to the stranger. "Thank you, what can I -- "

"If you win, I get his ship, but if you lose, the price will be your freedom."

Tom was almost certain he imagined the evil cackle.

"Tom, you stupid pahtk, have you lost your mind?"


"What? It'll get us off this planet."

"Not if you lose," B'Elanna whispered harshly. "You're bargaining with a slave trader?"

"If you've got a better way of getting back to Voyager I'd like to hear it." Tom leaned closer. "There's no way this guy can beat me. He's full of hot air. You heard what he said about parsecs."

"Still -- "

"Hey, how can I lose with the best engineer in the galaxy?" Tom said. "Now let's go check out this ship."

The old freighter resembled nothing Tom had ever seen before. "This thing flies? In space?"


"Solo only wishes he had such a ship as this," their benefactor claimed. "She's outrun every Imp in the Outer Rim Territories. She'll win your race, I think."

The engine room stopped Tom in his tracks, but B'Elanna waved him away. "It's an engine. I'll figure it out."

He hoped that meant she'd forgiven his impulsiveness, and headed for the bridge. More properly described as a cockpit, the little room contained more dials and toggle switches than the desert had grains of sand. Tom swallowed hard.

The Delta Quadrant had served up a number of surprises over the years, but Tom had never met a ship he couldn't pilot. This one would prove no exception. Now if only he could find an operations manual.

"Tom, what are you doing up here?" B'Elanna stood in the doorway of the cockpit, her hands on her hips. "Can you fly this heap or not?"

"Of course I can fly it," he said. "Have you figured out the engines?"

"Was there any doubt?"

"Of course not."

"Han brought over -- "

"Han?" Tom spun in his seat and tried to hide his grimace when his knee struck a control panel. "You're on a first name basis with him now?"

"Jealous, Flyboy?"

"Of him? Don't be silly."

"Okay, here's the course. We're heading for a planet known as Kessel. That'll give you time to test this ship's limits. The race itself will start on Kessel and end on Kamsul in the Stenness System."

"The what?"

B'Elanna shrugged and handed him a local star chart.

"Is this a joke?" Tom waved the chart at her. "Multiple black holes?"

She cringed. "The captain will be sorry to have missed that."

"This asteroid field should prove interesting," Tom said. "If we survive the multiple black holes, that is."

"Second thoughts?"

"Of course not. When do we leave?"

Tom sat down in the pilot's seat on the borrowed freighter and tried to ignore the way B'Elanna stared at him from the other seat. He'd flown alien ships before. With a silent prayer, he started the ignition sequence.

"If you kill us both I want a divorce," B'Elanna said.

Tom ignored his wife and hoped the ship was supposed to shudder like that. It made a terrible whining noise and rose off the ground. Okay, good. He pulled back on the steering mechanism and shot upwards.

A little steep, but they weren't dead yet. He tried to level off a bit, glad that the ship's vibrations hid his shaky hands from B'Elanna. "This thing sure doesn't handle like the Delta Flyer."

They moved into the upper atmosphere. The moment of truth had arrived. "You sure this crate is spaceworthy?"

"Everything checked out," B'Elanna said.

The ship bucked and shivered in response. Several of the needles on the control panel pushed to the right and again Tom could only hope that was normal behavior.

Space.

The various needles leveled off and Tom worked to establish an orbit. "You said that Solo would meet us up here?"

"Any minute now."

"And we believe him why, exactly?"

B'Elanna shrugged. "I suppose he could set off for Kessel without us, claim you forfeited, and doom you to a lifetime of slavery, but he probably won't."

"Probably won't?" Tom shot his wife a look.

She smiled back at him.

The comm erupted in static, then Han Solo's voice named some coordinates. Tom looked through the viewport and spotted his rival's ship. The design differed very little from that of his own borrowed ship, and it looked just as battered. Both ships were less than thirty meters in length.

Tom stifled a sigh of relief. The ships appeared evenly matched. Han Solo wouldn't beat him by default in a sleeker, newer ship. If a firefight erupted, however, the Millennium Falcon had the distinct advantage. Tom counted five different weapons on the other ship; his own didn't seemed to be armed.

He turned to B'Elanna. "Why do you think a cargo ship needs to be armed?"

She shrugged. "Let's not find out."

They set out for the planet known as Kessel and Tom started to enjoy himself. Getting to know a new ship always gave him an adrenaline high, and this one felt different from anything he'd flown before.

Granted, the alien measures of speed were an obstacle, but the feel of the ship almost made up for it. Voyager, while a vastly superior ship, and one dear to his heart, didn't give her pilot quite the same intimate contact.

He grinned at B'Elanna. "Think the captain will let me have one of these?"

"After what happened with Alice I don't think you should push your luck."

"Will I ever live that down?"

"I might consider it," B'Elanna said. "Ask again in a decade or two."

Kessel had a grim, gritty feel. They learned that most of the planet served as an Imperial correctional facility, complete with forced labor camps. Yet for some reason smugglers frequently took on illegal cargo at the tiny spaceport and flew it to the Stenness System, a little over twelve parsecs away. Voyager could cover the distance in a little under eight days.

Han Solo claimed that the Millennium Falcon could make the journey in a day. That despite the fact that the region known as The Maw could only be navigated at sublight speed. Tom kept his skepticism to himself. If the hyperdrives on these alien freighters really could exceed warp speeds, maybe the captain would let him trade for one.

Both ships took on cargo. Tom, against his better judgment, asked what they were hauling.

"Spice."

He shrugged. It made sense to take any cargo they could get, since they were making the trip. He doubted his slave trading benefactor would want to spend the fuel for an empty run, but he wondered if spices could really cover the bill.

Tom studied the night sky. A round formation like a nebula gave off a fuzzy multicolored glow. The Maw. The first and most dangerous obstacle on the famous Kessel Run.

"Okay Paris," Solo called. "First one to land at the spaceport on Kamsul is the winner."

"Loser buys dinner," Tom shouted back. "I like my steak well done."

The little cargo ship rose into the air and climbed out of atmosphere at a much more pleasing angle. Tom smiled to himself. Nothing but multiple black holes, some neutron stars, and an asteroid field the size of a star system stood in his way now.

The Millennium Falcon flew beside them. Tom kept pace with the other ship, but didn't rush to gain an advantage. Solo knew the route. He could use the other pilot's knowledge now, then take the lead in the asteroid field, where constantly shifting bodies would make for even ground.

Tom watched as The Maw grew closer. Spherical in shape, it glowed with the light of half a dozen main sequence stars scattered throughout the region. Dust trails and ionized gas reflected the light in multicolored bands, while singularities glared at him, black hole pupils dilated within their gleaming white accretion disks.

One eye fixed on the recently deciphered navicomputer, Tom followed the Millennium Falcon as closely as he dared. The gravitational disturbances from the singularities registered on the unfamiliar instruments, and he hoped the other pilot really did have some skill.

They skimmed the perimeter of The Maw, and Tom was sure he could feel the pull of gravity from within the dangerous region. He knew black holes could only trap things unlucky enough to pass the event horizon, but that gave him little comfort. If he lost control of the unfamiliar ship they'd be dead long before they reached the crushing pressure of a singularity.

The sensors showed a complex region of space-time warped by the tremendous masses within it, and radiation levels were dangerously high. His knuckles turned white as he gripped the controls. He couldn't remember the last time he'd clutched a steering device this hard. Perhaps when he stole his father's runabout as a teenager. Perhaps not even then.

The Maw's giant eyes seemed to wink at him, like they had a secret they'd like to share, if only he'd fly closer. B'Elanna hadn't said a word since they'd taken off. He hoped she hadn't noticed his death grip on the steering column, but he couldn't afford to glance in her direction. He watched the Millennium Falcon and held his course steady.

The Maw failed to kill them all. Tom tried not to let that surprise him. He opened up the throttle, asking his little ship for every ounce of power it had. He wanted to catch the Millennium Falcon before they reached the Pit. He could navigate an asteroid field better than any pilot he'd ever met, but he didn't want to start that leg of the race at a disadvantage.

Asteroid fields always provided a challenge, but this one included a bonus hazard. The gaseous arm of a nebula enclosed nearly the whole field, interfering with sensors and straining a pilot's eyes.

Tom swallowed hard. He'd never flown through anything like it. His ship and the Millennium Falcon plunged into the field neck and neck. Tom overcompensated for his first near miss and was forced to turn his ship on its side to squeeze between two large asteroids. He couldn't see, and the navicomputer provided a screech of alarm but no useful information.

"Tom, are you out of your mind?"

"Sorry." He couldn't argue. He could feel the impact of smaller rocks against the shields. If not for the deflectors they'd be dead already.

He'd lost the other ship, but he didn't know if that was because the Millennium Falcon had fallen behind, or because it was obscured by the nebula. He couldn't let himself think about it.

Twisting, dodging, leaping, and ducking, Tom continued to pilot at breakneck speeds through certain death. They didn't exit the asteroid field all at once, but the giant rocks seemed to thin out and the glow of the nebula died away.

Back in open space, Tom checked the navicomputer, verified the course to Kamsul twice, and punched the hyperdrive.

"You didn't kill us," B'Elanna said, far too calmly for Tom's liking.


"Hey, where's your confidence?" His voice failed to match the bravado of his words. "We were never really in danger."

"I just hope we're ahead of Han," B'Elanna said. "I'd hate to explain to the captain that you lost yourself in a bet with a slave trader."

Tom had almost managed to forget the consequences of failure. He rubbed his sore fingers and tried to think of a witty remark. None came to mind.

The navicomputer dropped them out of warp, or hyperdrive, or whatever they called it in this crazy place. A large ship loomed before them.

The comm system crackled at him. A barely audible voice ordered him to prepare to be boarded. Out of the corner of his eye he was sure he saw the Millennium Falcon fly past on the way to Kamsul, and to victory.

Half a dozen soldiers in white body armor tore apart half the ship while Tom and B'Elanna were held at blaster point.

"By the authority of the Empire, I'm placing you under arrest for possession and trafficking of spice."

"Spice?" Tom went numb.

Behind him, B'Elanna started laughing. Had she finally snapped?

The two soldiers removed their white helmets. Chakotay laughed, clutching his sides, while the captain shook out her hair.

"What -- " Tom stared at them, trying to process this development.

The captain grinned at him. "If you could see the look on your face right now, Tom."

"Computer," B'Elanna called. She had to say it twice before she could get out the whole command without laughing. "Computer, end program."

The cargo ship shimmered away, replaced by the grey and yellow grid of the holodeck. A dozen crewmembers were on the verge of hysterics.

"I told you that your practical jokes would catch up with you," Harry Kim told him.

"But how?" Tom managed.

"Why, your drink in Sandrine's, Mister Paris." The Doctor looked rather smug. "I believe you'd call it a mickey."

He turned to the captain. "But -- "

"In light of your recent mischief, I had two choices," Janeway said. "Disciplinary action, or help with a little revenge, and you know how much I hate paperwork."

"Next time, I think I'd prefer the brig."

To Be Continued, Out of Sequence, Forever.

Flower dividers and pebble border made by Anne Rose. © 2001


Ripples

Tom Paris


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This transformative work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties are Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. Star Wars™©, its characters and related properties are Registered Trademarks of Lucasfilm Ltd. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, April 2004.