Kirk & the Kobayashi Maru


Why Cadet James T. Kirk found the Kobayashi Maru so distasteful that he couldn't mount an eloquent defense.

Scifi / Drama
Age Rating:

Kirk & the Kobayashi Maru

Disclaimer: At heart, Star Trek must always belong to its original creator: Gene Roddenberry, who has hopefully been reincarnated to bring more wonderful things into this world at some point well before crossing the final frontier becomes a reality. In spirit, Star Trek: 2009 belongs to Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci and J.J. Abrams. Legally, it belongs to Paramount Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Bad Robot & Mavrocine Pictures…I think. If I missed anybody, please let me know. My name is not tied to any of the above companies, writers or producers. I wrote this fan fic purely for pleasure, am making no profit, and can legally declare bankruptcy if anyone sues me for any money at all—since I really don’t have any.

Author’s Note: Well, I thought I’d take a shot at Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru (rather un-original title, I know, but I couldn’t think of one I liked more).

*sigh* I was going to wait to post this until the muses of at least one of my in-progress fics came out of hiding and let me update…but I really didn’t like having this finished fic just sitting around, so here it is!

To everyone who’s still waiting for me to update other fics, I’m sincerely sorry, and hope to post something soon. I can’t promise anything, however, since—as I mentioned above—most of my muses are in hiding. Any ideas of why might be coming or observations on what’s already posted in those fics might help me find their muses hiding spots, though, and it really isn’t like I haven’t been trying. I have. Life’s gotten in the way a bit, but I am still trying.

Anyway, here’s a new—and finished—fic that you’ll hopefully enjoy!

I know that a lot of people have written fics about Jim Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru, but I’ve yet to really come across one which handled it in a way I really, really liked. The closest anyone came, for me at least, was AngelBaby1 with Atlas, and the Kobayashi Maru was pretty much a side-note that was mentioned but basically skimmed over in there. Though it’s still, of course, a fantastic fic!

Premise: Why Cadet James T. Kirk found the Kobayashi Maru so distasteful that he couldn’t mount an eloquent defense.

Set: During Star Trek: 2009.

Warnings: References/describes genocide, genocidal events, starvation, mentions of violence (the movie), …and that’s all I can think of at the moment. If you see anything else, please let me know!

Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru

By Jess S

A Bar – Riverside, Iowa, Earth – Stardate: 2255.

If someone had told James T. Kirk earlier today that this evening he’d be sitting down to a drink with a Starfleet Captain in an otherwise emptied bar, he probably would’ve thought they were nuts, and said so. Yet here he was, with the echo of Captain Christopher Pike’s really, really loud whistle still ringing between his ears as the Starfleet officer looked him over and started talking. But as his nose finally stopped bleeding and Jim threw black a shot of something that tasted like a cross between scotch and vodka with a weird minty aftertaste thrown in, he could still scarcely believe he was still here.

Listening to the captain commemorate his father’s sacrifice in yet another attempt to get the hero’s son to enlist in Starfleet. After all, why wouldn’t the boy who’d been born mere moments before George Kirk Sr. had died with the USS Kelvin belong in Starfleet? At least, that seemed to be the way most of Starfleet thought, despite Jim’s repeated refusals and his record.

Jim shook his head as he set the empty shot glass down, shrugging off the weird after-taste. “You guys must be really low on your recruiting quotas for the month.”

Growing up without his father, instead having his mother’s many boyfriends and eventually her despised second husband to ‘look up to,’ Jim had been rebelling against authority figures for most of his life. At least since he was six, as his decision to not go to the bus stop and into school for kindergarten like his mother’s boyfriend had ordered was the first rebellious act he could consciously remember. Not that he’d had anything against school when he was younger, except for frequently being bored. No, he just hadn’t gone because Mark had ordered him to go, and then foolishly expected him to obey without question. Never mind that for some reason Mark hadn’t thought that sending a six-year-old walking to a bus stop that was on a major road, and almost a mile away from the Kirk Farm, might be a bad idea.

As Jim had gotten older this rebellious nature had gradually grown. After he’d driven his dead dad’s antique car off a cliff to keep it out of his hated step-dad’s hands, his brushes with the law had started up. And they hadn’t tapered off in recent years.

Of course, the months he’d spent on Tarsus IV hadn’t helped. Hadn’t helped his opinion of authority figures at all, and probably hadn’t helped him avoid attention from Starfleet either.

Though he doubted the officer talking at him now—captain or not—knew anything about that, as Jim was barely good enough to hack that portion of his file. And that was before the Admiralty had decided that it was a bad idea to have that information in an electronic file, especially with Kodos still alive. Not unreasonable, since the madman had escaped alongside many minions who were loyal to him; or at least many people who believed they owed their lives to him since he’d put them on the ‘worth saving’ list; and they might still be after any of the people that could identify the psycho…like Jim. So that part of Kirk’s e-file was completely removed from all computer access. The time-block was listed in his computer file as ‘Classified Juvenile Record – Need to Know Clearance Required,’ which could mean any number of things and wouldn’t actually attract much attention to him because of his famous father. Most would assume that someone had covered up for George Kirk Senior’s son because of whose son he was. But that was only part of the truth. Because truthfully only a few of the highest of the high knew about that portion of Jim’s past, and they’d only share it if the Tarsus IV situation needed to be re-opened, specifically for something like Kodos’ trial if he was ever caught. And probably not for anything else. Heck, Jim wouldn’t be too surprised if Starfleet decided to just assassinate Kodos in secret, were he ever found, rather than risk dragging those dark days out of the past and into the present for further public—and press—scrutiny.

Jim’s first few weeks with his aunt and uncle and cousins had been great. It’d been the first—and only—time he’d really been among people, among family, who’d actually wanted him there.

Then that damned fungus had wiped out the crops and the famine had started.

And then the self-proclaimed Governor Kodos had overthrown the colony’s legitimate government and, shortly thereafter, ordered the execution of the ‘lesser’ fifty percent of the planet’s population.

Jim’s family had been on the kill list, and had been executed right in front of him. But Jim, along with a bunch of other kids, had managed to escape, if just barely.

They’d spent weeks hiding in caves in the wilderness, constantly on the move. Sneaking back into the city only as often as they absolutely needed to, to steal rations and supplies when they couldn’t make do on their own; eating grass and leaves and absolutely anything that might provide any nourishment at all.

And they’d fought back; only attacking the better-armed soldiers occasionally, but doing what damage they could everywhere else.

Jim had really refined his distaste for authority figures while working on the respectable skill of rebelling against them. At the same time, though, he’d been protecting dozens of other people who’d manage to evade Kodos’s killers despite being on the ‘lesser list.’ He’d had to hide them, look after them, and feed them. Had to watch too many weaken, sicken and die while they waited for Starfleet to show up.

Finally several Fleet ships had arrived with supplies. They’d put an end to the needless slaughter, and had arrested those of Kodos’ supporters that weren’t smart enough to conceal themselves within the populace. But the former so-called governor, and many of his lackeys, had gotten away.

Jim could still remember the look of shock on several of the officer’s faces when they were informed that the leader of the most effective pocket of ‘resistance’ against Governor Kodos was barely fourteen-years-old. And the son of one of their most commemorated modern heroes.

That’d all been part of the classified juvenile file, of course. But it didn’t stop the few admirals that did know about it from occasionally sending recruiters Jim’s way. Actually, most of them were probably sent by Admiral Komack; the man didn’t seem to know when to give up. [2]

Still, after coming home to his less then-welcoming mother and outright-hostile step-father, Jim hadn’t curbed his behavior at all. If anything he’d gotten worse. Had traveled all over the place—while still a minor—taking various tests to prove he didn’t need the educational system when he felt like it, but mostly just running as fast and as far as he could. He still stuck to Earth though, didn’t really feel a need to head into space after his last brush with it. Not when he was sober, anyway.

After all of the brushes he’d had with the law, however, you’d think most of Starfleet wouldn’t even glance at him anymore. But no, apparently they still thought they could whip the heroic Acting-Captain George Kirk’s wayward son into shape.

Also, someone pretty high up was keeping his record relatively clean, because most of the worse things he’d become involved in, the things he’d actually regretted after the fact, weren’t listed in his e-file either. He still checked it from time to time. Once and awhile he’d wanted to go in to wipe some things, only to find that whatever it was he wanted gone wasn’t there. He’d never had a chance to ask Komack about that…

“I’ve seen your record, Kirk.” Captain Pike shook his head in response to Jim’s earlier comment about Starfleet’s monthly recruiting quota.

I really doubt that,’ Jim thought, but didn’t say, as he felt the older man’s steely eyes locked onto him, though Jim himself had yet to really look at the man.

And your aptitude scores. You’ve always had a hard time finding your place in this world, haven’t you? Never knowing your true worth.”

At that, Jim finally looked up, the captain’s words hitting a little too close to home for him. Unlike his predecessors, Pike didn’t seem to think Jim needed to be whipped into shape. No. Though he probably didn’t know anything about Jim’s time on Tarsus IV, he still seemed to think Jim, himself, actually belonged in Starfleet.

“Your dad died,” Pike shrugged, taking another sip of his own drink. But his eyes were still serious. “You could settle for a less-than-ordinary life. But you feel like you were meant for something better. Something special.”

Jim’s eyes had frequently strayed towards the skies when he was younger. And admittedly, he had always wondered what it would be like, to sail through the cosmos in a starship. But his older brother, Sam, had always been quick to force Jim’s mind back to Earth. Their father was dead because of Starfleet.

After Jim had stumbled back from Tarsus IV—little more then a skeleton with barely working organs; and allergic to practically everything—he hadn’t really wanted to think anything good about Starfleet for a long while.

And his encounters with holier-than-thou cadets like Ms. Uhura and Mr. Cupcake never helped his opinion of the Fleet. Especially since they were what most cadets tended to behave like whenever Jim ran into them.

Jim dropped his gaze again and started fiddling with his empty shot glass. Glancing towards the bar, he called, “Hey Lew, can I get another one a these? Whatever they are…”

“If you’re even half the man your father was, Jim, Starfleet could use you. You can be an officer in four years. You can have your own ship in eight. It’s unusual, but not unheard of. I know people as well as ships. I believe you could do it.”

Jim looked down at his empty glass in silence.

“You understand what Starfleet is, don’t you? It’s important. It’s a peacekeeping, humanitarian armada—”

Unable to listen anymore, with memories of skeletally thin children crawling across his eyes, Jim cut in, raising an eyebrow at Pike as he asked, “Are we done?

Pike sighed, before finishing off his drink and rising. “I’m done.”

Jim’s own eyes were drawn up to the Captain’s as he rose.

“The shuttle for new cadets leaves from Riverside Shipyard at 0800.” Reaching into his pocket, the captain pulled a little toy-starship out and set it down on the table.

Jim had seen the little models of the USS Kelvin before. The tragically-fated ship and its heroic Acting-Captain had practically become Starfleet’s icon not long after it happened, and nothing had occurred to surpass it since. It wasn’t like Starfleet could promote their actions on Tarsus IV; they did too little, too late there, and they knew it.

“You know,” Pike waited until Jim looked up at him again, before continuing. “Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved eight-hundred lives. Including your mother’s. And yours.” The older man raised an eyebrow to him, “I dare you to do better.”

Jim watched the captain leave, nodding to the bartender as his requested drink was set in front of him.

Well, put that way, he almost had to give it a shot, didn’t he?

Simulation Room – Starfleet Academy – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258.

“Entering sector 15, sir,” Cadet Brianna Valleti spoke up from her place at the Navigation Console.

Jim—quite content being the Captain in the simulation—nodded to the redhead, before commanding. “Make sure our course keeps us clear of the Neutral Zone, Ms. Valleti.”

The Academy was rather fond of these little simulations, and most of the Cadets were, too. It was nice to be able to put what you know into practice for them. Though he was very curious about this simulation; because all claimed it was unbeatable.

It was ominous that the test’s creators had chosen to name the test after the USS Kobayashi Maru, which had famously disappeared and was never heard from again. It was assumed that the ship was somehow destroyed totally and suddenly, since no remains had ever been found. Historically, it’d interested Jim, himself, mostly because whatever had happened had occurred the same day he’d chosen to drive his father’s antique car off a cliff to spite his step-father. Not that anyone in Starfleet cared about that.

“Aye, Captain,” Valleti nodded.

He’d known the command was unnecessary, as they all knew that entering the Neutral Zone without considerable cause was a big no-no. But there was no harm in being thorough.


And here’s the emergency,’ Jim thought, even as he turned towards the female Deltan Cadet that was playing Communications Officer. “Yes, Ms. Cha’lan?”

“I’m getting something on the distress channel.”

Jim forced himself to remain serious, and not roll his eyes. “Put it on speakers.”

Typically, the Communications Officer would listen to and then relay the message, unless the Captain specifically requested otherwise, but he preferred to listen to the messages themselves during the tests. And it’d saved him more than a few times, when the Cadet playing Communications Officer had been decidedly wrong in their interpretation and would’ve sent them completely unprepared into a trap, possibly leading to a failed exam.

A buzz of static came over the speakers a moment later, followed by slightly muffled, but clearly desperate words. “—mperative. This—Kobayashi Maru. We ha—struck an asteroid—lost all power. Our hull—penetrated and we have sust—ed casu—

Jim frowned, nodding to Cha’lan when he saw her hand moving towards her console again. “Their coordinates?”

Cha’lan immediately tried to rouse the ship again, “This is the USS Reckon. Your message is breaking up, Kobayashi Maru. Can you give us your coordinates? Repeat. This is—”

Reckonposition is—‘amma-Hydra—ction ten.

Gamma-Hydra-section ten,’ Jim realized, and though he’d expected something like that, he couldn’t help wincing a little. “The Neutral Zone.”

—Hull’s penetrated. Life supp—fai—an you assist—eckon? Can you—sist us—?

Jim hit the control console on his chair. “Computer, data on the USS Kobayashi Maru.”

After all, it might not be the historical ship, right?

The simulation-computer’s voice immediately came over the speakers, while the requested data also popped up on his screen. “Subject vessel is a third-class neutronic fuel carrier. Crew of eighty-one. Three-hundred passengers.

Damn,” the Helmsman—a male Andorian named Bali—swore and Kirk nodded in agreement, before sighing.

It was entirely possible they were supposed to think of the Peace Treaty that kept the Klingons out of Federation space.

But it wasn’t Starfleet policy to ignore distress calls, particularly not when almost four-hundred lives were at stake.

Even though answering it would almost certainly result in a retaliatory attack by the Klingons and put the ship’s ‘crew’ of almost one-hundred Starfleet officers and nearly five hundred ‘passengers’ at risk.

“Ms. Valleti, plot an intercept course.”

While the Navigator obeyed his command, the Helmsman turned to frown at Jim. “Captain, Regulation 1E—”

“I haven’t forgotten the treaty, Mr. Bali,” Jim cut him off, shaking his head. He tried to soften his tone a little as he added, “But it’s superseded by our humanitarian duties; we can’t leave Federation citizens in distress. Regulation 6.”

After a moment, the Andorian nodded in subdued agreement. “Yes, sir,” before turning back to his console just as the Navigator finished.

Valleti glanced back at him even as the ship started changing course, “Estimating two minutes to intercept, Captain.” She waited a moment, and then added. “Now entering the Neutral Zone.”

Everyone glanced up as the ship’s computer suddenly spoke up again. “Warning, we have entered the Neutral Zone.

“We’ve now violated the treaty, Captain,” Jeff Bradshaw—who was serving as the ship’s Tactical Officer—pointed out unnecessarily.

Jim nodded, but didn’t respond. Instead, he hit another button on his console. “Bridge to transporter room. Prepare to begin beaming the survivors aboard. Ms. Cha’lan, alert medical—”

Captain!” Cha’lan suddenly cut him off, her eyes wide as his head snapped over towards her again. “I’ve lost their signal.”

Valleti started talking right over her, no less worried. “Captain! Sensors indicate three Klingon cruisers, closing quickly.”

The Tactical Officer hurried on, not quite, but almost cutting her off. “May I remind the Captain, the Reckon is a lightly armed—”

“Survey ship, I know, Mr. Bradshaw. Red alert.” Jim snapped, before turning towards the Communications Officer again, “Ms. Cha’lan, inform the Klingons we’re on a rescue mission.” He watched as Cha’lan repeatedly hit several buttons on her console, his heart sinking as her attention returned to him.

“They’re jamming all frequencies, Captain. And the Kobay—”

Bradshaw cut her off, “Klingons on attack course and closing fast, sir.”

“Shields up,” Jim waited for Bradshaw to nod, before he let his eyes go to the data for the Kobayashi Maru and he bit back a groan.

Mercy mission or not, Starfleet would frown on putting nearly six-hundred people at risk. Especially since the Kobayashi Maru was no longer answering hails.

That could be because of the Klingons’ interference, but the Kobayashi’s life support systems were already failing before that, so they might already be dead.

If passing the test meant rescuing the Kobayashi Maru’s survivors and escaping the Klingons unscathed, they weren’t equipped for it. Not to go head to head with three Klingon ships that weren’t allowing—let alone answering—hails. The ship they were manning for this simulation was, as Bradshaw had pointed out, a lightly-armored survey ship. It didn’t have the shields or firepower to take on one Bird-of-Prey. Let alone three.

“Mr. Bali, prepare for warp,” Jim ordered the Helmsman, before adding as the Navigator turned fearful, but trusting eyes to him. “Ms. Valleti, plot a course out of the Neutral Zone.”

“Yes, sir,” both answered, fingers flying over their consoles as they hurried to reply.

“Captain,” Cha’lan protested, “The Kobayashi—”

“We can’t get to them, Ms. Cha’lan. Please convey our regrets.” Jim shook his head, keeping his eyes on the Conn as he did so. He knew that this was the right move.

If they were closer to the ship before the Klingons intercepted them...

But they weren’t. And this was the only move they could make now. He knew that, no matter how much he despised it.

“Mr. Bali—”

Bradshaw spoke up again, “Captain, the Klingons are activating their torpedoes.”

“Evasive actions, Mr. Bali,” Kirk snapped, glaring at the viewscreen as the fake Klingon vessels started firing. “Get us out of here.”

To the Andorian’s credit, it did look like Bali managed to avoid most of the torpedoes as he tried to get ready for warp at the same time, but he missed one. It slammed into their ‘ship’—going right through their supposed shields—making the floors shake and causing explosions all around the room.

Jim managed to keep his seat, and nodded as he saw most of the others had as well. Except for the Science Officer, who hadn’t climbed back to his feet to return to his post, so he was probably stunned. Jim hit the Conn keys on his chair. “Engineering, damage report?”

The pause seemed unnaturally long as he watched Bali avoid more hits while Bradshaw tried to shield against them. But then again, the ‘engineer’ wasn’t a cadet. It was just one of the test administers, who really didn’t care about the outcome to the test that no one passed.

The main engine’s been hit, Captain,” the reply finally came, making Jim wince yet again.

“Engage auxiliary power,” Jim snapped, even as he struggled to keep his seething thoughts from showing. ‘Of course the main engine’s been hit! What is this, a test of how to die? That might make sense if we were Klingons, but we’re not!’ Glancing over towards Bradshaw again, he ordered, “Return fire as soon as you have enough power.”

Another hit shook the ‘ship.’

“Are our shields even up?” Jim demanded of the pseudo-Tactical Officer, shaking his head.

“Shields are collapsing, Capt—”

“Fire all phasers!”

“No power to weap—”

Jim hit the comm again, “Engineering, we need that power up here.”

This time, the ‘Engineer’s’ response came much more quickly, though it didn’t make Jim any less angry. “It’s no use, Captain! We’re dead in space!

Jim clenched his fist over the comm for a second, before hitting another button. “Computer, initiate Order thirteen. Send out the log-buoy. Activate escape pods. All hands abandon ship.” He was still frowning as severely as ever while the alarms went off while he repeated the last part, “Repeat. All hands abandon ship.

He rose to his feet, waiting for the rest of the ‘bridge crew’ to make their way off the bridge. Waited until Bali and Valleti had the ‘auto-pilot’ engaged, before following both out with their one stunned comrade balanced between them.

Most of his supposed ‘crew’ would still die, of course, as the Klingons didn’t take prisoners. But some might escape, and with the buoy deployed, at least Starfleet Command would know what happened. Theoretically.

Still, he was seething and struggling to keep it off his face as he followed ‘his command crew’ down the hallway to the briefing room nearest to this simulation room. They all knew where it was, and it would be where the administrators would expect to meet them after the test, no matter what the results. Previous tests had taught them that.

But Jim had managed to win in all of the other scenarios he’d been presented with.

And he didn’t like losing.

Yet, while he certainly preferred winning over losing there was more to his anger than that. He hated the idea that Starfleet actually thought it was a good idea to create a test that couldn’t be beaten.

A defeatist attitude wasn’t something that he thought any Starfleet officer should embrace, but it seemed—according to this simulation—they were actually expected to.

Starfleet expected its officers to just give up? To accept that there were situations where they’d have to, and that they shouldn’t think anything else? Shouldn’t try to figure a way out of such situations?

That all but spat on the memories of the heroes who’d sacrificed their lives for the Federation, and its citizens, over the years. Jim’s sainted father among them.

It was the type of attitude that allowed situations like what’d happened on Tarsus IV to occur in the first place…

So Jim felt he was quite entitled to be furious as he followed his fellow cadets into the briefing room.

His mood wasn’t helped by one memory echoing from the past; of the message Governor Kodos had broadcasted to the colonists of Tarsus IV; claiming that they should sacrifice the ‘lesser fifty percent’ of their population so that the ‘superior fifty percent’ might live.

Nor did his multiple memories of condemned colonists, and so many condemned children, claiming they should all give up, lie down and die…

Library – Starfleet Academy – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258.

“There you are!”

Jim didn’t look up as Dr. Leonard McCoy—previously dubbed ‘Bones’—dropped into the seat across from him.

The doctor was probably his best friend: a strange thing in itself, given how much Jim despised doctors in general. Still, having his own doctor to drop in on for the occasional patching up was a good thing. Especially since the alternative was the Academy’s medical ward, which would hold him much longer than he liked and report him, potentially resulting in a disciplinary hearing. And that was assuming that the doctors and nurses he ended up with in the medical ward actually paid enough attention to his file to figure out which of the few medicines/painkillers he wasn’t allergic to.

But Jim didn’t look up, or even reply. He was busy right now, and didn’t feel like pacifying his busybody friend, despite the fact that the man was probably trying to cheer him up.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” McCoy went on, shaking his head: Jim still wasn’t looking, but he knew his friend. “You were supposed to meet me an’ some of the others at the bar for drinks—”

“I party when I win, Bones,” Jim cut him off, his gaze still unmoving from the records he was perusing as he did so. “Not when I lose.”

He was still pretty sure Bones shrugged before replying, “Jim, no one passes the Kobayashi Maru. I know you wanted to be the fir—”

“I’m gonna beat it.”

McCoy sighed, “Jim, come on. Come back to the bar with me. All of the other members of your test-crew are there. Bali and Bradshaw said you did great. That the administrator didn’t even lecture you at all.”

Jim shook his head, “I’m gonna figure this out.”

McCoy was silent for several seconds, but then he tried again. “You know, Valleti’s there, too.”

Jim sighed, “Yeah. I got that when you said ‘all of the test-crew.’”

“I thought you liked Valleti?”

“I do,” Jim shrugged slightly, his eyes still on his calculations. “But the scratches haven’t even scabbed over yet.”


“You go, Bones.” Jim told him, finally looking up at his friend as he dropped his record-pad to pick up his work-pad. “I’ll figure this out.”

“Jim, the Kobayashi Maru can’t be beaten.”

“There has to be a way to win,” Jim shook his head. “Starfleet wouldn’t give us a test that had no right answer. What’s the point in that?”

McCoy shrugged, “Maybe they want to see how would-be-officers respond to no-win scenarios.”

“I don’t believe in no-win scenarios,” Jim barked, looking away for a second to control his response before continuing. “And given how much Starfleet makes of my dad, and others like him, I can’t believe they’d give us a test that you really can’t beat. That they’d design a test to make us feel inadequate.”


“I’ll see you later, Bones,” Jim cut him off, eyes going back to his writing-pad as he started going through some more calculations.

He didn’t look up as, after several minutes of just watching him, McCoy finally rose and left the library. Most of his attention was turned towards his calculations, and the rest of it was frantically going back over everything his excellent mind could remember from the test he’d failed six hours before.

Administration – Starfleet Academy – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258.

The woman that’d just arrived for the early morning shift at the front desk—an extra-large coffee in hand—to find him waiting for her, blinked upon hearing his request. “I beg your pardon?” Then she shook her head to further display her confusion. “You just took the Kobayashi Maru, didn’t you?”

Jim nodded, “Yes, ma’am. But I need to take it again.”

She shook her head yet again, “Why?

“I didn’t pass.”

“No one—”

“I’m gonna beat it.” He shook his head at her firmly, frowning as he nodded to her terminal. “And I already checked, there’s no rule against retaking it.”

“Well, no, but—”

“I have to try, ma’am. Please.” That wasn’t a word Jim used often, so he was gratified when he saw it did the trick.

Though it was probably more because the poor woman had only had a few sips of her coffee so far and didn’t have yet enough caffeine-induced-energy in her to want to spend time actually arguing with him.

“Well, alright,” the woman sighed as she quickly hit in her access codes, before opening the scheduling program for the Academy’s simulation-tests, her hands flying over the keyboard with the ease of long practice. “It’s Cadet Kirk, right?”

“Yes, ma’am. James T. Kirk.”

Three and a half months later…

Starfleet Academy – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258.

“Why are you so happy?” McCoy demanded.

Jim suppressed a grin, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“No, I don’t suppose you do,” the doctor agreed, sarcasm heavy in his tone.

“Hell-o, ladies!” Jim grinned as he turned to watch two rather pretty cadets hurry up the steps he and his best friend were currently headed down. After getting no response beyond quick smiles and giggles, he turned back to the doctor. “I’m taking the test again.”

McCoy’s head snapped around so he could gape at his younger friend. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

He didn’t need to ask which test; there was only one that Kirk would retake, since he’d aced all the others.

“Yeah, tomorrow morning, and I want you there.”

Of course, McCoy immediately protested. “You know, I’ve got better things to do than watch you embarrass yourself for a third time. I’m a doctor, Jim, I’m busy!”

Jim turned to walk backwards, his eyes set on his friend’s face as he asked, “Bones, it doesn’t bother you that no one’s ever passed the test?”

“Jim, it’s the Kobayashi Maru. No one passes it,” McCoy repeated the same objection he’d given a few months before, when Jim had been unhappy at not winning the first time, and again when he’d heard that Jim had applied for a second whack at it. “And no one goes back for seconds, let alone thirds.”

Jim grinned, before patting his friend’s shoulder, “I gotta study.” He turned and hurried away, but not before he heard Bones’ muttered reply.

“Study, my ass.”

He couldn’t blame the good doctor for his skepticism. Jim almost never studied for any test, he generally didn’t need to. And quite a few people were aware of the fact that Jim Kirk didn’t study and had still managed to skip a year and remain in the top three percent of all his classes.

But, more than that, he’d already studied and re-studied every single thing he could do to try and pass this test. He had gone over it from every possible angle.

He’d eventually even hacked into the simulation itself to examine the programming codes so that he could evaluate it more easily.

It was after that that’d he’d descended into a rather dark mood for about a week, as it’d forced him to fully accept the quandary that’d occurred to him the first time he’d failed the test.

This test was designed to be unbeatable.

Starfleet wanted cadets to learn how to fail.

But not just fail; to actually give up and accomplish nothing.

Because there was no other way to explain the thing.

No matter what the cadets did against the simulation, they’d be hit with dozens of new problems that shouldn’t even remotely occur on any Federation vessel.

Yes, a lightly-armed vessel wouldn’t fare well against three heavily-armed Klingon Birds-of-Prey; that was a simple fact. But the Federation ships that routinely patrolled their border of the Neutral Zone were not lightly-armed ships! Thus, the ship that should be answering the hail that came to the Reckon should be much better equipped to respond than the Reckon was.

Yet even if the Reckon directed the hail further out, to make sure those ships heard it, there was no response allowed in the simulation. Though it’d never happen in reality, in the simulation there were no Federation ships nearby to help the Reckon or the Kobayashi Maru.

Just like there’d been no ships nearby to help the Kelvin nearly twenty-five years ago. Except Starfleet had supposedly learned from that disaster, which was why those borders were supposed to be heavily patrolled now.

If the Reckon ignored the initial plea for help, citing the treaty, another poorly-armed Federation ship would appear—out of nowhere—to answer the distress signal, only to be hit by one Klingon Bird-of-Prey and call for help also, doubling the number of Federation citizens calling for help. And when the Reckon went to help them, the other two Birds-of-Prey showed up to smoosh them all.

The longer the Reckon ignored the in-danger citizens, the more unsuitable ships went out to try and rescue them, only to become endangered themselves.

If the Reckon used warp drive to get to the Kobayashi Maru more quickly by going a longer route but cutting through the Neutral Zone much faster, they’d get there and managed to beam the Kobayashi’s crew members aboard, only for the main engine to fail when they were suddenly surrounded by the Klingon ships again and hit by their heavy fire power.

He’d tried many other scenarios in his own time, fiddling with his secretly stolen copy of the simulation, trying to find the way it could be beaten. He’d spent almost two months on it before he’d had to admit that it wasn’t supposed to be beaten.

That was when he’d started planning for what he and Gaila had prepared for tomorrow.

He knew it was going to get him in a lot of trouble, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Someone needed to say something about this, and he was sure none of the other cadets ever would. Not really.

He’d already read some thesis papers that’d been done about the simulation, evaluating and either disparaging or praising it in turn. But that was the most any of them had done, and the most recent paper was published before Jim was recruited.

Most would never imagine going beyond that, trying to really push for change. They hadn’t yet lived through the kinds of experiences that might make them recognize why this simulation was such a horrific thing. Jim had, though most of Starfleet didn’t know it. And most of them wouldn’t care about any of the Academy’s simulations and tests once they were officers, no matter what they encountered out in space.

Someone had to rebel, and that was one of the things James T. Kirk did best...

Starfleet Academy – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258.

“This session has been called to resolve a troubling matter.” Admiral Richard Barnett, the Academy commandant, announced to the assembled cadets. “Academic immorality by one is an assault on us all. It will not be allowed to stand. …James T. Kirk, step forward.”

Jim didn’t blink, though he was a little surprised he was being called out in front of all the other cadets for this, but he still took it in stride. He ignored the horrified look on his friend’s face as he passed him on his way to the stairs to march down before the exalted members of the Academy council.

Komack among them. Why wasn’t he surprised?

Admiral Barnett continued before Jim had even made it to the stairs, “Cadet Kirk, evidence has been submitted to this council suggesting that you violated the ethical code of conduct pursuant to Regulation 17.43 of the Starfleet Code. Is there anything you care to say before we begin, sir?

Jim didn’t react to the barely-there trace of disdain in the Admiral’s voice on the last word, instead replying evenly, “Yes. I believe I have the right to face my accuser directly.” He turned to look towards the audience when he saw the Admiral’s gaze go to someone behind him, and watched as a darkly uniformed Vulcan officer rose and made his way down the steps Jim had just descended.

A Vulcan. That kind of made sense. Their repressed emotionality in favor of extreme logic might excuse the extreme faux pas on the Vulcan officer’s part.

But it still didn’t excuse Starfleet. Not in Jim’s mind, any way.

“This is Commander Spock. He is one of our most distinguished graduates. He’s programmed the Kobayashi Maru exam for the last four years.” The respect that’d been almost absent when Barnett was speaking at Kirk was in full-force when speaking of Commander Spock. “Commander?”

“Cadet Kirk, you somehow managed to install and activate a subroutine in the programming code, thereby changing the conditions of the test.”

Yeah, that was kind of the point, as the conditions were part of what made the whole thing so deplorable.

He supposed he could have gone for something more subtle, and not made it so obvious that he’d changed something. But by the time he’d made it to his third try he wasn’t interested in beating the simulation for his own sake, so he didn’t.

Still, Jim didn’t say any of that; instead he kept his voice neutral as he asked, “Your point being?”

“In academic vernacular,” Admiral Barnett cut in, his voice cold. “You cheated.”

Jim glanced back at the Admiral then, mindful of the surprised mutter that arose from the less disciplined cadets in the earlier years, but ignoring them as he directed his query to Commander Spock; “Let me ask you something, I think we all know the answer to. The test itself is a cheat, isn’t it? I mean, you programmed it to be unwinnable.”

Commander Spock nodded slightly, but looked away as he answered. “Your argument precludes the possibility of a no-win scenario.”

“I don’t believe in no-win scenarios,” Jim immediately replied, since he was expecting that particular response or a variation thereof.

At that, the Commander did look back at him, “Then not only did you violate the rules, you also failed to understand the principle lesson.”

“Please, enlighten me,” Jim invited, wondering how Starfleet could actually justify what the simulation seemed to be teaching.

“You of all people should know, Cadet Kirk, a captain cannot cheat death.”

Another mutter went through the assembly, which wasn’t surprising. Many people knew that he was the son of the Acting-Captain that died with the USS Kelvin.

Jim blinked, struggling to suppress the urge to frown or lash out at the direct, personal attack, and instead looked down as he asked, “I, of all people?”

“Your father, Lieutenant George Kirk, assumed command of his vessel before being killed in action, did he not?”

There were many ways he could’ve responded to that. Many ways that probably would’ve been better than, “I don’t think you like the fact that I beat your test!”

“Furthermore,” Commander Spock shook his head, “you have failed to divine the purpose of the test.”

“Enlighten me again,” Jim’s request sounded more like a command this time, as he tried to regain control of the situation while suppressing his own emotional responses as best he could.

“The purpose is to experience fear. Fear in the face of certain death. To accept that fear, and maintain control of oneself and one’s crew…”

Jim looked down as the Vulcan continued. He fully understood the sentiment, the ideal. But he still didn’t think that the simulation came even close to teaching that.

A simulation couldn’t make you fear for your life.

Not when you know it’s fake.

It can’t be compared to the looks of terror on the faces of dozens of starving people, many of them kids younger than you are. And the realization that if you let them give into that fear, if you give into your own fear and give up, let everyone else give up, all of you won’t stand even a miniscule chance of surviving.

“…This is a quality expected in every Starfleet captain,” the Vulcan finished just as the front doors to the assembly room slid open and another Starfleet officer hurried in with an apology as he stopped before the Admiral to hand him a message.

Admiral Barnett read the message with a very quick glance, a frown pulling at the edges of his lips but not gaining control of the rest as he looked up again to address the assembly. “We’ve received a distress call from Vulcan.”

Jim caught the concern that flashed quickly across his accuser’s face even as Barnett kept going.

“With our primary fleet engaged in the Laurentian system, I hereby order all cadets to report to Hangar One immediately. Dismissed.”

Later that day there were moments when Jim regretted the timing of his rebellion.

Like when he was told he was grounded and wouldn’t be allowed to help Vulcan with the rest of his classmates.

Or when Captain Pike, his mentor and a man he’d grown to respect and trust, had almost dismissed him immediately out of hand when he’d run onto the bridge of the Enterprise.

Jim regretted the timing, but certainly not the action itself.

A little under a week later…

The Bridge – The USS Enterprise – Approaching Earth’s Space-Dock - Stardate: 2258.

“Captain?” Uhura’s—somehow still scorn-free—voice drew the Acting-Captain’s attention to her communications station.

“Yes, Lieutenant?”

“I have an incoming message for you, from Starfleet Command.”

Kirk blinked, but forced back a shrug, this wasn’t the first call they’d gotten from Command, after all. Though he doubted anything had really changed, or been decided on, on that end. It wasn’t like there were any ships nearby with superior officers ready to take command of the flagship, or anything like that. If there were, it would have happened days ago. “Patch it—”

“Admiral Barnett would like to speak with you privately…sir.”

At that, Kirk had to blink again. “Oh.” Then he frowned. “Okay.” After a moment’s thought, he rose to his feet. “I’ll take it in the Captain’s Ready-Room.” He almost added Pike’s name in there, instead of the ‘the’ before the title, but didn’t at the last second.

While it still didn’t really feel right answering to ‘Captain,’ that was what the crew needed now. Even Spock hadn’t challenged his continued authority over the last few days in this post-one-apocalypse and post-almost-another-apocalypse phase.

No, everyone was stumbling around trying to keep the ship running on its slow but steady course back to Earth; as they couldn’t reach warp without their warp cores. The initial blast that’d freed them from the grasp of the Red Matter created black hole had pushed them a good part of the journey back home, but they had to limp the rest of the way on erratic impulse power.

At the same time, everyone had to bite back the steady swell of grief and semi-shock that was undoubtedly prevalent amongst the crew and their passengers. And though the Vulcan elders had certainly been helpful where they could be, there could be no doubt that they were grieving, if much more reservedly then humans would.

But if even Spock wanted Kirk to stay Captain, content to return to the role of First Officer under him, Jim Kirk couldn’t really say no, could he?

“Aye, sir,” the Communications Officer replied with a nod as Jim made his way to the doors that were almost hidden by her station.

“Thank you, Lieutenant.”

The Captain’s Ready-Room was a small office, but it was comfortable, and certainly more than enough room for what needed to be done there. Especially since Jim was only there right now to take a call.

When he reached the desk, sitting down on the comfortable chair with a slight wince as it pulled at some of his still recovering injuries, the call was already waiting for him, the standard Starfleet holding sign in place.

He took a slow, deep—and very careful—breath, before pressing the button to answer the call. “Admiral Barnett, good morning.”

Good morning, Acting-Captain Kirk.” Barnett’s voice wasn’t anywhere near as scornful as it’d been the last time he’d spoken to Jim, which was at the hearing when he’d been on trial for cheating.

Barnett hadn’t called the Earth’s hero since the whole Nero incident finally ended, actually. Jim had only spoken to other Admirals; many other Admirals, and a few Captains, each wanting to hear something directly from him, even though he was supposed to give a full debriefing once they reached Earth again.

I trust everything is progressing smoothly?

Again, Jim carefully suppressed the desire to shrug, nodding slightly instead. “Yes sir. The Enterprise is a fine ship; even a little torn up from battle as she is right now, she’ll get us all safely home.”

I’ve no doubt,” the Academy’s Commandant agreed with a returning nod. He was then quiet for a long moment, his dark eyes studying Jim intently.

After several seconds of too much silence, Jim just had to break it. “…Sir? May I inquire as to the reason for your call?”

Barnett nodded slowly, still studying him for a few more seconds, before he sighed softly. “I don’t like you, Kirk. And I’m sure you know that, so don’t act surprised.

Jim was concentrating on keeping his face perfectly neutral, trying to channel Spock so he wouldn’t roll his eyes in agreement. Feigning surprise honestly hadn’t occurred to him.

I like having rules to follow, and I like people who follow the rules. Usually I don’t have to worry about people who don’t for too long.” Then he sighed again. “But, as a few of your mentors have told us more than once, the individuals like you who can really think outside the box and solve problems—like the most recent series of disasters—are few, and far between.

“Thank you, sir.” He wanted to add, ‘I think?’ at the end, but decided it was wiser not to.

Again, Barnett nodded. “That being said, we haven’t yet decided what exactly we’re going to do with you when you return to Earth. But I would advise you to prepare a formal apology for your earlier academic misconduct and send it ahead. Once it’s filed, we will undoubtedly, in light of recent events, be able to dismiss the charges and move on.


They wanted an apology so they could get on with recognizing himself and his crew for their valiant acts of heroism?

Jim had to physically bite his tongue for several seconds, till he was sure ‘screw you’ wouldn’t manage to find its way out of his mouth. Then he licked his lips, before finally risking a reply. “An apology, sir?”

Yes, in text or video. Either would work.” Barnett’s dark gaze evaluated him, this time for only a second, before he asked. “Is that a problem, Acting-Captain?

Jim returned his stare steadily for several long seconds, before nodding. “Yes sir, it is. I’ve no intention of apologizing for protesting against the current Kobayashi Maru test, despite how much I’ve come to respect, and admire, Commander Spock since all of this began.”

Before Barnett could say anything in response, and this time he’d actually surprised the stern Admiral enough to get a blink out of him, Jim hurried on.

“Given recent events, I believe now more than ever that the Kobayashi Maru test is not something that should be inflicted on anyone, as it’s not only cruel; it actually teaches you that sometimes you shouldn’t even bother trying, no matter what’s right. And that’s just wrong.”

Whoa, there was another blink. “You…You’re protesting the test, Cad—Acting-Captain?

“Yes sir,” then he raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t really think I took that test twice and then messed with it on the third go just for fun, did you?”

Now Barnett was frowning, and an impressive frown it was. “To be honest, most of the administration wasn’t sure what to think.” He shook his head. “There are ways to protest such things without breaking the rules.

This time Jim didn’t force back the desired shrug. “Yes, I know I probably should have put it in writing or something similar, but that wouldn’t have accomplished anywhere near the effect. At best, it’d be tucked away in some filing cabinet and not a word whispered about it, no matter how much effort I put into explaining myself.” He hurried on when he saw the Admiral’s mouth opening to protest. “I did do my research, sir. Dozens of cadets have filed complaints, even a few thesis papers, on the problems with the Kobayashi Maru; all were ignored. Granted, most of them were before Commander Spock took control of it and made it even harder. The testing-simulation originally started over a decade ago, and the last time someone protested it was seven years ago. People have come to accept it as a necessary evil to suffer through, but that doesn’t make it right.”

Barnett sighed, “You feel quite strongly about this, don’t you, Acting-Captain?

Jim nodded, “I do, sir.”

Images of bloody streets and kids who were just skin and bones flashed before his eyes for a rapid instant, and he took a deep, steadying breath before continuing.

“I know it probably seems…odd, sir. But most cadets, when they face that test, don’t really care one way or another. The test’s gotten the reputation that since no one can pass it, no one’s expected to. So it’s really just a waste of time. As long as you make it look like you tried, you’re fine. After cadets graduate and go out in the fleet, and by the time most of them see action of any kind the tests back at the Academy don’t matter anymore. No one gives a damn about them. And I hope all the rest of the training we get helps most overcome the ‘don’t bother trying’ lesson that the Kobayashi Maru tries to slam into our heads, though there’s no way we can ever really know.”

Your point, Acting-Captain?” Barnett cut in, though he actually looked interested and no longer seemed so supremely scornful.

“My point, sir,” Kirk sighed, “Is that most Cadets don’t know enough to realize how wrong that test is. I understand the lesson that Commander Spock claims it’s trying to teach. About fear of death. But a simulation can’t teach that! Everyone knows it’s fake.”

You’ve said ‘most cadets’ several times now, Acting-Captain. What is it, you think, that makes you so different?

At that, Jim had to smile slightly, but he knew his eyes were cold as he looked back at Barnett through the viewscreen. “Don’t worry; I’m not going to try to pull anything about everything that happened with Nero. Though it’d probably prove my case pretty well. I’d bet almost every cadet on this ship would care a whole lot more if they had to face the Kobayashi Maru again now. All they’d probably be able to think about, if asked to sit in on that simulation again, is the classmates, teachers and officers we saw floating around Vulcan before it imploded.” Once again he hurried on before Barnett could protest, though he could see the indignation in the Admiral’s face and knew he was walking a very fine line now. “To answer your question…well, I’m not sure you have the clearance to know—No, actually, if you did, you would know already.”

Excuse me?

“Admiral Barnett, I respectfully request that you—and whoever else is involved in judging me—read my full file before passing judgment.”

We’ve read your file, Cad—Acting-Captain, and while your I.Q. and grades are impressive—

“That’s not the whole file.”

Another long silence, then another; “Excuse me?

“I think it only fair that those involved in judging me, have all the facts, sir. Including the ones that are only filed on paper in the vaults, under the Starfleet Commander’s orders.” Jim raised his chin slightly, “While I am willing to apologize for the slap-dash manner in which I protested, I still think a very public display of that kind was necessary to bring the situation the attention it needed. Again, while I greatly respect Commander Spock, I do not believe the simulation is a healthy test for Starfleet to try its command-track cadets against. Because the only thing it teaches them is that giving up is something we’re all expected to do, which never leads to anything good.” Then he glanced at the time in the bottom corner of the display. “My apologies, Admiral, but I really should get back to the Bridge.”

Admiral Barnett nodded slowly. “Very well, Acting-Captain. I’ll let you get back to work.

Jim clearly heard the unspoken ‘but I will be calling again,’ and nodded. “Thank you, sir. Have a nice day.”

Barnett nodded, before visibly reaching for the button that would end the call from his end.

Jim waiting until the Starfleet logo appeared on his screen before also closing the link on his end. Then he leaned back in his chair, wincing as several injuries and his generally just very sore body protested the motion, before expelling a great breath of air.

A few minutes later, though, he was pushing the conversation to the back of his mind and walking around the desk to make his way out onto the Bridge again. Because while a part of him didn’t think Starfleet would want to let him go after all of this, another part was well aware that this may be the closest he ever got to Captaining a ship. And though that thought was far more painful than any of the injuries he’d recently received, that didn’t mean he was going to do anything less than the best job possible at it.

A week later…

Starfleet Academy – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258.

Well, they’d finally made it back to Earth. Further proof that warp-power wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all of Starfleet.

…Then again, it’d taken just under two weeks to cross a distance that didn’t even take a quarter hour with warp-cores intact and functioning properly.

Now the Enterprise was sitting secure in spacedock, with dozens of Starfleet engineers crawling all over it—trying to fix the damage that’d been done.

And everyone who’d been aboard, crew and passengers alike, were now Earthside. Even Scotty, who couldn’t be any more unhappy, fretting constantly over what’d been done—and was being done—to his lady.

And James T. Kirk, the stowaway cadet who’d been promoted in the field to First Officer only to mutiny—twice—to become Acting-Captain of the Fleet’s flagship shortly before saving Earth and the Federation from a psychopathic Romulan, was now facing down Starfleet’s much respected Admiralty.

Well, perhaps ‘facing down’ wasn’t the right phrase. Since he was actually looking up at all of them—in the exact same room he’d been called out for cheating on a stupid simulation such a short while before.

The only difference was he wasn’t staring up at mostly Academy professors who happened to be officers plus the Admiral who was responsible for the Academy and the cadets it housed and Admiral Komack. No, now he was looking up at actual Admirals all, plus the head of Starfleet. And it was time for the much-expected debriefing.

Jim was a little surprised that Spock was still at his side, barely a step behind to his right. They’d made it back to Earth, after all, and were now answering to their real ranks… But that didn’t seem to matter to the half-Vulcan.

Spock had seemed surprised by the gathering, if only a little.

Though Jim probably wouldn’t have been able to tell if it hadn’t been for the mind-meld with the other Spock. Because he wasn’t entirely sure of how he’d noticed that Spock looked a little surprised, but he was equally sure that Spock had looked a little surprised.

…And now he was giving himself a confusion-induced headache.

Yet even though he wasn’t sure how he knew that Spock was a little confused—he did know why. That they’d be reporting back to several senior officers upon returning to Earth was expected. But the sheer number of Admirals sitting up above them was daunting.

And Kirk knew it was because of the request he’d made, concerning the heavily classified part of his file. Since Barnett probably wouldn’t have even been able to get it without either the Fleet Commander or the specific Admiral who classified it so highly, giving him clearance.

Who that was, Jim didn’t actually know. Komack was an Admiral now, but Jim didn’t know who the then Captain Komack had been reporting to when he’d arrived to try and rescue the colonists on Tarsus IV.

The Kodos incident had struck Starfleet hard; and that was just with the scarce amounts of information that managed to leak back to the public both during and after the investigation.

Still, Jim was very careful to not let such thoughts show. Not only would it earn him even more severe frowns then he was already getting; he didn’t really want to talk about Tarsus IV again.

The collection of men gathered above him were decidedly impressive. All wearing stern expressions that as far as Jim could tell had to be an unmentioned requirement for reaching the rank of Admiral.

Maybe Captains were expected to practice it, if they wanted to move up even further?

Or maybe they were given lessons?

…Okay, he really needed more sleep.

“Cadet Kirk,” the Fleet Commander began, and Jim had to suppress the urge to wince at the significant—though expected and accepted—loss in rank.

He’d really gotten used to—and liked—being called ‘Captain,’ acting or not. Actually, it was only in the communications they’d received while in route back to Earth that the ‘acting’ had generally been tacked to the title, to ‘his crew’ he’d just been ‘the Captain,’ even with Pike recovering in Sickbay and Spock acting as his First Officer. It’d all fit very comfortably after a little while.

“You were in command of the USS Enterprise during the conclusion of the ship’s engagements with the Narada.”

A simple fact, and easily answered. “Yes sir.” But he didn’t add anything else, knowing he’d already danced through these same steps in several comm’s received by the Enterprise while they were headed home. And that he, Spock, and every other ‘officer’ aboard the ship had transmitted their complete reports to Starfleet Command over a week ago.

A few of the Admirals were glaring at Jim, but the Fleet Commander only nodded before his eyes went to Spock. “Commander Spock, you were left in charge of the Enterprise when Captain Pike was forced to surrender himself to the terrorist Nero?”

“Affirmative, Fleet Commander.”

And wow, Spock’s answer was just as brief as his own. …Yet it drew no outright glares. Probably because he was part-Vulcan, which was just unfair. Though it was also, undoubtedly, largely in part because: one, he was the assigned First Officer of the Enterprise, and two, his planet had just been blown up.

Again, Fleet Commander Morrow only nodded, turning ever so slightly back towards Kirk. “And you, Cadet, though grounded due to a charge of academic dishonesty, were smuggled aboard the Enterprise by one of the ship’s primary physicians.”

Jim very carefully did not swallow. He’d danced very carefully around how he’d come to be on the Enterprise in his typed report, because he didn’t want to get Bones in trouble. He thought he’d cited enough medical jargon and the like that it should’ve flown, but apparently not. “With all do respect, sir, Dr. McCoy is my primary-care physician, and I was reacting badly to a vaccine he wanted to give me before—”

“And you needed to be vaccinated against…mud fleas, I believe?—at that time, because?”

Kirk blinked, but otherwise caught himself, “I wouldn’t know, sir. Dr. McCoy is—”

Then one of the other Admirals cut him off. “Most of us don’t tend to ask why we need half the vaccines we’re required to have for space-travel.”

“…Yes sir,” he agreed, half-expecting the slightly reproachful remark that followed.

“Though why you’d need to be vaccinated against mud fleas that live on a planet nowhere near Earth, while grounded on Earth, is debatable.”

“However,” the Fleet Commander took over again, “the medical codes Dr. McCoy referenced while bringing you on-board were accurate. And that is why Starfleet Command will not be charging Dr. McCoy for what really amounts to medical deception. Though he will be facing a board of his peers on the subject, as they might better understand his actions.”

Damn. But all he said was, “Yes sir,” yet again.

That got another nod. “From Dr. McCoy’s report, I understand your reaction to the vaccine was rather severe, and you were sedated immediately upon your arrival in Sickbay.”

“Yes sir.”

“Commander Spock,” Fleet Commander Morrow looked back at the Vulcan. “The Enterprise left orbit a full forty-two seconds after the rest of the fleet sent to answer Vulcan’s distress call.”

“Correct, Fleet Commander. Lieutenant Sulu did not disengage the ship’s external inertia dampeners before attempting to enter warp initially.” Spock replied.

Really? That was news to Jim.

Though it did explain why the rest of the fleet got there ahead of them and was completely obliterated before they got there.

Undoubtedly, Nero was expecting them and they warped in with their shields down and completely unprepared for his assault as they thought they were merely rescuing the Vulcans from geological problems, not an all-out assault by a mad, blood-thirsty Romulan from the future.

“Many of the USS Enterprise’s computer systems are state-of-the-art,” Spock went on, quite verbosely for him. “I believe the external inertia dampeners disengage automatically on most starships.”

“Yes,” another Admiral—one of the ones that had yet to actually glare at Jim—spoke up then. “The techs are looking into that. Not sure if they’re going to change the settings on the Enterprise or everywhere else instead.”

“Strange that such a simple procedural error could ultimately save the Enterprise, and us all,” commented yet another Admiral who hadn’t yet glared at Jim.

“It’s interesting, but ultimately irrelevant here and now,” the Fleet Commander waved it off and continued, still, as far as Kirk had noticed, never looking at any data pads for help. Though the man was getting up there in years, he obviously had an excellent memory. “Once aboard the ship, Cadet Kirk, Dr. McCoy took you to the infirmary and sedated you?”

“Yes sir. I was reacting poorly to the vaccination.” Jim slipped the explanation in, unnecessarily since they’d already been over that.

“Yes, it wouldn’t be the first time, as I understand it,” Morrow shook his head, and Jim wasn’t certain, but he thought he saw a little pity in the man’s otherwise steely eyes.

It wasn’t unexpected, the man obviously knew about the circumstances surrounding Jim’s birth—everyone did—and he also knew that James T. Kirk had been on Tarsus IV. Those were the two events that were, probably, responsible for most of Jim’s health problems, and not a difficult connection to make if you knew it all.

That didn’t mean Jim liked being pitied, no matter how much he might deserve at least a little of it. He’d survived because he was strong, because he fought for it, and maybe because he was at least a little lucky. He didn’t like anyone thinking otherwise, as that made them doubt him and sometimes try to coddle him. There was nothing he hated more than that.

Still, that same look wasn’t in all the Admirals eyes.

A few of them had it.

The Admiral—then Captain—that’d visited him a few times when he was in protective custody with Starfleet medical as he recovered from the Tarsus IV ordeal before he was eventually sent home. He knew that the man was responsible for some of Starfleet’s more shady dealings, things like massive cover-ups, and probably espionage and the like. He’d researched Captain—now Admiral—Komack quite a bit while he was stuck in the hospital ‘for his own good,’ been chided for it several times to, till he really mastered hacking through most Starfleet files without sending up red flags. The man was definitely involved in the Federation’s darker dealings, though Jim couldn’t prove anything since the man’s file was classified on similar levels to his own. That, and Jim could see that Komack made several of the other Admirals nervous. It wasn’t really obvious, but it was there if you looked for it.

But the sight of that pity—and the fact that the knowledge causing it clearly wasn’t shared by all the Admirals inspecting him—was enough to slip by Kirk’s control just a little, turning the edges of his mouth very slightly down in an almost frown. Jim had known that those in-the-know would not be pleased with his request, but he honestly hadn’t expected them to ignore it!

“…No, sir. It’s not,” Jim confirmed unnecessarily after a slightly too long pause.

Morrow nodded again, before continuing the debriefing as if he hadn’t noticed Jim’s quick evaluation of them, and the almost concealed disapproval that’d resulted from it. “Yet you woke before the Enterprise reached Vulcan?”


“At full-warp, which the Enterprise was traveling at due to the expected emergency and the speed it necessitated, that trip doesn’t take a full hour,” one more Admiral that Jim didn’t recognize commented—though this one had already glared at him a few times. “I’m surprised that you woke so quickly from sedation, if your immune system is so fragile.”

Jim stiffened at the word ‘fragile,’ but Admiral Komack spoke up before he could muster a reply, which was probably a good thing.

“Dr. McCoy is Cadet Kirk’s P.C.P., Kozlov. Thus, he undoubtedly knows his immune system better than anyone, and probably chose against giving him a full dose of whatever he gave him, just to be safe.” Komack theorized, before glancing down at the data-pad in front of him, though he didn’t look long enough to have actually ready anything there. “Which, it turns out, was wise, seeing as you did have a rather severe secondary reaction to the vaccine, correct?”

“Yes sir,” Jim confirmed with another nod, not sure if he could get away with directing the debriefing away from his health issues, but wanting to try anyway. “I woke just as Ensign Chekov made a ship-wide broadcast about the expected mission.”

“And thereafter you forced your way onto the Bridge.” Admiral Barnett finished.

Jim nodded, “After I’d confirmed my facts, yes sir.”

“Which were?”

Somewhat surprisingly, Spock spoke up this time before Kirk could. “Cadet Kirk hypothesized a relation between the ‘lightning storm in space,’ which Ensign Chekov reported on, to the troubles at Vulcan. His own history undoubtedly made him associate a kinship between the anomaly and the Romulan ship that’d destroyed the USS Kelvin twenty-five years prior. Combined with a report from a respectable expert in xenolinguistics about the destruction of several Klingon Birds-of-Prey by a solitary Romulan ship nearby, Cadet Kirk reasoned prudence was paramount. The events that followed proved his caution inarguably acceptable.”

Kirk almost smirked at the end of the Vulcan’s indubitably defensive diatribe. Looks like this Spock had come to respect him more than he thought, despite everything that probably should’ve stood in the way of that. Maybe there was hope for the friendship the other Spock had spoken of after all.

“Well said,” Fleet Commander Morrow commented, his face mostly neutral but for the smile sparkling in his eyes.

Well, it seemed the head of Starfleet was really on his side, at least. Though it might be just a combination of pity for having survived Tarsus IV, added to the circumstances of his birth and the fact that he’d just saved Earth, but it had to be a good thing nonetheless, right?

“After your arrival, Nero—the Captain of the Narada—ordered Captain Pike to surrender himself for negotiations. Which he did, though he chose to send a minimal away team to perform a space-jump and destroy the device that was being used against Vulcan, while in route, correct?”

Jim thought about it for just a moment, not liking the negative light it could put Pike in, but not able to argue with it either. “Correct, sir. The drill was also disabling our gear, preventing both long-range communications and transporter abilities, and thereby keeping us unable to assist Vulcan in any way or to contact Starfleet Command, sir.”

Admiral Kozlov spoke up again, though his words were really for the other Admirals and the Fleet Commander, “As Cadet Kirk had already drawn attention to the fact that this ship and its crew were the same ones that attacked the USS Kelvin two-and-a-half decades before, I am surprised Captain Pike decided to surrender himself so readily, considering what happened to Captain Robau at the hands of the very same crew. Perhaps it might prove wise to drum a little more common sense into our Captains; we can’t have them all sacrificing themselves for their crew, no matter how noble the action may seem.”

Fleet Commander Morrow nodded, “Perhaps, but that is a discussion for another time, Aleksei. As Cadet Kirk pointed out, the device needed to be disabled if the crew of the Enterprise were to accomplish anything.” Then his eyes went back to Kirk and Spock. “While leaving the Enterprise, Captain Pike left you in charge, Commander Spock?”

“Affirmative, Fleet Commander. My orders were to contact Starfleet Command once communications were enabled, and to fallback to rendezvous with the fleet in the LaurentianSystem.”

“And this was when Captain Pike promoted Cadet Kirk to Acting-First Officer? Ahead of everyone else aboard who’d been assigned to the ship?”

“Affirmative,” Spock repeated, nodding slightly. He then seemed to consider something, though his expression didn’t change at all and his pause was barely noticeable, before he continued. “Captain Pike also gave Cadet Kirk orders to rescue him once the drill was disabled.”

Huh. Seemed the Commander really was going out of his way to help Jim. Pike had, pretty much, been joking when he responded to Jim’s query after his own welfare, and Spock was probably aware of that fact. But presenting it as an actual order would probably help Jim’s case. And Jim had cited it too, both when Pike had wanted to know why Jim had come to rescue him and when he’d been writing his report to Starfleet Command. He would’ve wanted to rescue Pike and stop Nero, regardless, but having the sarcastically given order floating around hadn’t hurt. Hopefully.

“Yes, that was in your reports,” the Fleet Commander nodded again. “Once transport abilities were enabled—just in time to save both your Acting-First Officer and Lieutenant Sulu from falling to their deaths—you beamed down to the planet’s service to evacuate the Vulcan High Council?”

“Correct, Fleet Commander.”

“If I may interrupt, I have a question for Kirk, sir,” an Admiral that’d been frowning at Jim in disapproval for most of the meeting, but whom he didn’t recognize, spoke up for the first time. He continued after he’d received a slight nod from the Fleet Commander. “When the drill platform was unstable and Lieutenant Sulu fell off, you jumped after him. Why?”

Jim blinked, not expecting that to have come up since he’d skipped that part of the drill-events in his report.

It took him only a second to realize Sulu must have reported on it, undoubtedly in glowing terms, given how many times he’d thanked Jim since then.

Or, he supposed, the harried woman that’d been trying to beam them back—before Chekov took over—could’ve complained.

Or, maybe, Chekov himself reported it.

The kid had managed to save them, and how he’d managed to do so could be useful in the future, so Jim really couldn’t blame him. Or Sulu. Or the poor woman that’d almost lost them.

After another slightly too long silence, Jim replied. “I had hoped my shoot would be able to support us both, sir. At least long enough for the Enterprise to lock onto us, as two signals are easier to lock onto than one.”

The Admiral continued to frown at him for several moments, but eventually nodded. Though several others were shaking their heads a little.

“Either way, your actions were commendable, Cadet,” Morrow took over again, looking back to Spock. “As were yours, Commander. And please allow me to express my deepest regrets for both the losses of your mother and your homeworld.”

The half-Vulcan shuffled slightly, and Jim thought he saw grief flash across Spock’s eyes yet again, but still wasn’t sure how he’d recognized it.

Before he’d melded with the other Spock, Jim hadn’t been able to read this Spock at all. So the mindmeld must have left something behind? An understanding of Spock? He’d already wondered at this a few times before, but he hadn’t yet had a chance to question the older half-Vulcan about it. It’d been helpful a few times while they were on their way back, too. Though his newfound understanding of just how deeply Vulcans—and this one in particular—felt emotions, buried deep down under extremely well-controlled facades, really hadn’t helped him when he’d needed to push this Spock into declaring himself emotionally compromised.

“Thank you, sir,” Spock’s reply brought Jim out of his thoughts just as Fleet Commander Morrow’s attention returned to him.

“After that, I believe you had a disagreement on the course of action the Enterprise should take next? And that you, Cadet, were marooned for attempted-mutiny as a result?”

Again surprising Jim, Spock spoke up before he could. “As it was later proven that I was emotionally compromised by my loss, Fleet Commander, I now believe my actions against Cadet Kirk were unacceptable. As Captain Pike had promoted him to act as my First Officer while I was Acting-Captain of the Enterprise, and considering he’d already proven himself capable of impressive foresight, I should have given his words more weight than I did at the time. In Captain Pike’s absence, it was acceptable to follow his orders to rendezvous with the fleet, but not necessarily wise. As we had already borne witness to the destruction of Vulcan by the crew of the Narada, and we knew the ship was then headed towards Earth.”

Several Admirals blinked in clear surprise, though nowhere near as surprised as Jim was.

The Fleet Commander, on the other hand, looked almost pleased. “Well said, Commander Spock,” Morrow offered, before shaking his head slightly. “But we are not assigning blame for anything just yet. Now, Cadet Kirk, it was the planet Delta Vega that you met Lieutenant Scott—”

A few chairs away from the Fleet Commander, Admiral Archer actually growled, but didn’t otherwise interrupt.

“—and a Vulcan scientist who was also stranded, correct?”

Jim couldn’t help but blink in confusion at that.


Starfleet Academy Dorms – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258

Jim wasn’t sure if he was surprised or not, when—upon entering his quarters back on Earth, he found Admiral James Komack sitting there in the dark, silhouetted somewhat ominously against the window that the last of the present day’s lights were leaking through.

“Sir?” he inquired, a little hesitantly, as he came to attention while the door to the quarters he shared with Bones slid shut behind him.

“It’s been a rough couple of days for you, hasn’t it, kid?”

Whatever Komack had become involved in after everything that happened at Tarsus IV, all of it had left its mark on him. Made his eyes a little more serious, lined his face a little more. And his hair was going white.

But this was still the man that’d tried his damnest to get young J.T. to open up to the Starfleet trauma-counselor he’d been assigned to him.

“Yes sir.”

Komack nodded, “Relax, kid. You’ve earned it.” He watched Jim relax, just a little; no longer standing stiffly just inside the doorway to his own living space. “Heard about what you said to Barnett.”

Of course he had.

Jim sometimes wondered if there was anything that this man didn’t hear about. And it made him all the more sure that he didn’t really want to work for him once he finally graduated. He hadn’t joined the fleet to become just another secret hidden in the shadows.

Fleet Commander Morrow wasn’t too sure what to think of it at first.”

Obviously the Fleet Commander already knew most of what was in Jim’s file. Though whether he’d known before he became Fleet Commander the year before last was anyone’s guess.

“It made the waves you wanted; got your message across. Though just the fact that you’re not backing down’ll do most of that.”

Jim nodded slowly, “Thank you, sir?”

Komack snorted, “Don’t thank me, kid. You did it all yourself.” Then he shook his head. “You can get away with a lot, you know. Son of a hero, a hero yourself, now.” He cocked his head slightly to the side, smirking slightly as he undoubtedly noticed Kirk’s frown. “Don’t think that’s really the path you wanna take with the fleet, though.”

“No, sir.”

However much Jim wanted the Enterprise and captaincy back again, he knew both were something he should have to work for, and he was willing to.

After all, he’d already made it through the Academy in three years, like he’d told Pike he would, hadn’t he?

Assuming that his recent act of heroism was enough to make them hold on to him despite the smaller-scale rebellions he’d staged in the same time-frame.

“No,” Komack nodded again, rising from where he’d been slightly slouched against the windowsill to come a few steps closer to Jim, posture perfect. “So I suggest you submit a full report to the Fleet Commander before you appear at the debriefing at 0800.”

Jim frowned, “Sir?”

“In the days to come, Starfleet will be adding the Temporal Displacement Policy to Starfleet Regulations.” Komack shrugged, “Apparently this wasn’t Ambassador Spock’s—or the fleet’s—first encounter with time travel, to his recollection at least.” He shook his head as Jim just stared at him. “It’s not really such a leap, is it? Lieutenant Scott claimed he could beam a life-form from one planet to another, according to Ambassador Spock he eventually managed to do it, so he’ll get the credit for it. Though why he had to use Jonathon’s favorite dog is beyond me.”

“Spock—the Spock from the future, or um, the alternate reality—is here?”

“Yes, Admiral Spock—or Surran, as he’s now answering to—arrived on Earth before the Narada did, along with a little green fellow called Keenser. Though he didn’t enter Starfleet Commander till shortly after your battle with Nero had begun. It made lending aid to you and the Enterprise impossible.” [1]

“He’s here, on Earth?” Jim repeated again, frowning as he remembered how adamantly the half-Vulcan had been against his encountering the Spock-of-this-reality in any way.

“Yes, which is why the Fleet Commander is willing to accept an amendment to your original report. We can understand that Ambassador Spock also impressed the importance of Temporal Displacement on yourself, and can understand how that might’ve made writing your report—thinking we wouldn’t appreciate it—difficult.” Komack raised his hand to forestall any protests. “Nonetheless, Fleet Commander Morrow expects the complete report to be sent to him, electronically, no later than 2200. So I’ll leave you to it.”

Jim blinked at him, but stepped aside as the older man started to head towards the door. A moment later the door slid open and some chatter from the hallway drifted through—before everyone suddenly stopped and stiffened as they recognized a superior officer in their presence—and then the door was sliding shut again so Jim could relax a little.

That is, until he glanced at the clock.

Shit, that barely gave him two hours!


Starfleet Academy – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258.

Jim had glossed over the ‘Vulcan scientist’ in all of his original reports. The amendment he’d sent to the Starfleet Commander was, as ordered, as complete as he could make it. Nonetheless, he’d come here expecting to face a lot of questions about Ambassador Spock—he had, after all, been the means by which Kirk had gotten back aboard the Enterprise, with Scotty along for his technical expertise and the ride.

After a short pause, Jim managed a, “Yes sir,” and was even more surprised when Morrow just kept going without any of the Admiralty trying to butt there way in.

“This scientist was able to help Mr. Scott complete his calculations for transwarp beaming, which he’d been attempting both before Admiral Archer sent him to Delta Vega, and while he was there.”

Admiral Archer was almost glowering at the mention of the engineer he’d banished, but still he didn’t speak.

Though he hadn’t heard a question in Morrow’s previous words, Jim thought he should confirm it anyway, still more than a little confused as to why he wasn’t having to fight tooth and nail to conceal the identity of the Vulcan from the future. “Yes sir.”

But apparently, the Admirals weren’t interested in the Vulcan. At all.


Apparently Ambassador Spock had made just as great an impression on them as he had on Jim. Though, he probably hadn’t given them his memories of the end of Vulcan and what led to it...

Jim wasn’t completely sure, but he didn’t think the mindmeld was something a Vulcan would normally do with just anyone. And the only reason Ambassador Spock had so readily done it, was probably because he was just as happy to see Jim as he’d claimed. Which was weird. Anyone being happy to see Jim, let alone Spock.

Though the more time he spent observing not-from-the-future Spock, the more similar they seemed.

What had been in Scotty’s report? As Jim had been only Acting-Captain, not actual Captain, he hadn’t needed to sign off on the final reports; because Pike had insisted on doing that himself. Ambassador Spock hadsaid that the formulas he was using to beam them to the Enterprise while it was at warp were discovered by the Scotsman, maybe he told Scotty to take full credit for it, too, as Komak had hinted?

And, yes, Komack had said that Ambassador Spock had met with, well, someone in Starfleet Command, which probably included the Fleet Commander. And that he’d made them all accept a new regulation about time-travel.

Honestly, it made Jim feel a little better.

Obviously, they couldn’t let everyone know about Ambassador Spock, because future-Spock meeting present-Spock being a bad idea made sense. But Jim was glad that that he wasn’t the only one that knew about the Vulcan from the future running around.

Too many people knowing about him could be bad, too. So that was why Jim’d intentionally gloss over him… But he still wasn’t sure about his decision, and had been half-expecting the questions from the Admirals to help him clarify it.

But none of them were interested?

So did all of them know, or just some of them?

The Spock at his side, however, clearly hadn’t heard anything about this Vulcan, and was curious about it. Oh, his facial expression didn’t change, or anything like that. But Jim could feel his gaze on him for several seconds, before their attention was called back to their superiors.

“Upon beaming aboard the Enterprise, your first action, Cadet Kirk, was to hack into the nearby turbine control board?”

Jim suppressed a wince, “Yes sir. Mr. Scott had been beamed directly into the coolant system, and was being pumped towards the turbines. I opened the turbine release valve to get him out.”

“And saved his life,” Morrow nodded, “Yes that lines up with the lieutenant’s report.” Then he turned to Spock. “Commander Spock, you then sent security to the engineering deck, with orders to stun intruders.”

“Affirmative, Fleet Commander.”

“And you, Cadet Kirk, surrendered to the security forces?”

“Yes sir.”

“Seems an odd choice,” one of the nicer nameless admirals spoke up. “If you were so certain that the course the Enterprise was on was the wrong one. The security officers could’ve just put you in the brig.”

“I knew that was a possibility, sir, but it seemed unlikely.” When the admiral nodded for Jim to continue, he did. “As Starfleet, at that time, had not yet mastered transwarp beaming, the Acting-Captain needed to know how we came aboard the ship.”

Several of the admirals were already nodding, but Komack spoke up then. “And if security had taken you to the brig?”

Jim locked eyes with him for a long second, before replying. “I would’ve broken out.”

“You think yourself capable of this, when it’s specifically what the ship brigs were designed to prevent against?”

It was all Jim could do to not burst out laughing.

Komack knew very well that the brig wouldn’t have been all that hard for Jim to escape. The security forces at Starfleet medical had ended up sticking him in one of the hospital rooms for prisoners after he’d been brought back from Tarsus IV, and those rooms were just as secure as any brig. But they hadn’t been enough to keep him contained as a teenager, and they certainly wouldn’t be enough now.

“Yes sir. I’m sure between Mr. Scott and myself, we could’ve managed it, considering what was at stake.”

Admiral Archer snorted, but again didn’t speak up. And apparently everyone had caught onto the fact that he was just going to sit there being displeased about Scotty’s rescue, because Admiral Komack didn’t even wait for him to say anything.

“Yes, we’ve had some examples of your hacking ability before… such as the Kobayashi Maru.” Komack nodded, smirking slightly, though several other Admirals were frowning, and again Jim could feel Spock’s eyes on him. “Still, it could’ve wasted valuable time.”

Jim nodded slowly in agreement, “It…could have, sir. But I didn’t see an alternative.”

The only other option was to overpower the security personnel and then battle his way through the ship to the Bridge. Even if he’d wanted to do that, he hadn’t had the necessary resources, not really. He probably could’ve taken out the first security team, but the others that’d follow? Could he have fought his way to the bridge without killing any innocents along the way?

“Oh I think you did, Cadet,” Komack replied, before shaking his head. “But that’s beside the point. We’re not here to theorize on what might’ve been, after all.”

“Quite,” Morrow agreed, turning from Komack after a slight pause to address them again. “Upon reaching the Bridge you refused to answer Acting-Captain Spock’s questions and convinced him to declare himself unfit for duty?”

“Correct, Fleet Commander,” Spock answered—again—before Jim could.

“And you, Commander Spock, are the only individual among the bridge crew that actually offered a complete report of the incident.”

Again, Jim couldn’t help but blink, more than a bit aghast. While he hadn’t been kind to himself in his report—leaving no doubt as to just how he’d forced Spock to recognize that he was emotionally compensated—he hadn’t wanted to get Spock in trouble for losing control like he had. That had, after all, been Jim’s unwanted but unfortunately necessary goal. And given what he’d said, he believed he’d completely deserved the beating he received for inciting the Vulcan’s wrath.

“Vulcans prize accuracy, Fleet Commander; I could do no less than offer a complete report.”

“Of course,” Morrow nodded again, before his eyes went to Kirk again. “Was mutiny really the only plan you could conceptualize, Cadet?”

Again, Spock came to his rescue, “Apologies, Fleet Commander. But Starfleet regulation six-one-nine states that any command officer, who has been emotionally compromised by the mission at hand, must resign said command. As Acting-First Officer, it was Cadet Kirk’s duty to question me, and to relieve me of my command if I proved incapable of doing so myself.”

“There are protocols, and procedures, for that.”

“Time was indispensible,” Spock firmly replied. “And while the bridge crew had, at that point, accepted Cadet Kirk’s presence; whether or not they would have supported him as Acting-First Officer if he attempted to dismiss me himself, is improbable.”

Morrow gazed down at Spock for several long seconds, before nodding. “You said as much in your report, Commander. Are we to understand that you support Cadet Kirk’s actions?”

Jim’s head snapped around to also stare at Spock, more than a little stunned, as he watched the half-Vulcan nod calmly.

“As uncomfortable as the experience was for me personally, Fleet Commander, after some meditation, I fully perceive that it predicated the Enterprise’s ultimate success.”

“That it did,” the Fleet Commander nodded. “I believe it was Ensign Chekov who brought about the next course of action?”

Jim nodded, “Yes sir. He used telemetry to calculate the fastest course to Earth from Vulcan, and informed us that it would take the Narada past Saturn. In order to avoid detection, he suggested we drop out of warp behind one of Saturn’s moons, to use the magnetic distortion from the nearby rings to hide from the Narada’s sensors.”

“And from there, you planned to beam aboard the enemy ship.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Commander Spock, you confirmed Ensign Chekov’s calculations, correct?”

“That is correct, Fleet Commander.” Spock paused a moment before continuing, “From there I recommended we beam aboard Nero’s ship to rescue Captain Pike and steal the device used to destroy Vulcan so that it could not be used against the Federation again.”

Admiral Barnett spoke up then, before the Fleet Commander could. “And why not just beam an away team aboard while in pursuit of the Narada? Why wait till both ships had arrived here, as you had Lieutenant Scott aboard?”

A few seats away from him, Admiral Archer snorted in clear disgust—obviously more than a little doubtful of Scotty’s abilities—but he still didn’t say anything, so Jim answered.

“Lieutenant Scott was unsure of exactly how transporting from a stationary planet to a moving ship might differ from beaming between two ships at warp, sir. While, upon further calculations we might’ve been able to do it, it seemed like a better idea to use what we knew would work, sir.”

Barnett nodded, apparently appease for the moment, as he sat back slightly and the Fleet Commander took over again.

“Upon your arrival in the Sol system, both you, Cadet Kirk—then acting-Captain—and Commander Spock beamed aboard the Narada, with no other back-up. You are aware that this, also, was against regulations?”

Jim wasn’t able to stop the slight wince, even as he nodded. “Yes sir. I believed, given the circumstances, that the most important thing was that the Narada be disabled, which couldn’t be done from the Enterprise.”

“And you took no security personnel with you, because?”

“The odds of the mission succeeding were low, sir. The odds of the away team surviving, success or failure, were even lower. So I instructed the Communications Officer to make sure Security personnel were aware that the mission was strictly voluntary.” Jim shook his head. “When none arrived in the transporter room, I assumed none were coming. I later learned that there’d been a mix-up in Security, and that the volunteers arrived after we’d already left. They planned to beam over to help, but by then the drill had been activated and the Enterprise’s transporters were down.”

Morrow nodded, “Either way, your actions once aboard the Narada were admirable. The pair of you managed to overcome superior numbers, find Captain Pike, capture the Narada’s primary weapon and stop the drill.” Then he chuckled, “I know many would’ve preferred not having it dumped in the bay, but given the alternative, it’ll have to do. Well done.”

“Thank you, sir,” Jim offered after a moment of silence, during which Spock had merely nodded in thanks.

“Now, as Commander Spock chose to drop the charge of academic dishonesty he’d previously filed against you, we have nothing more to discuss at this time. Cadet Kirk, report back here at 0800 tomorrow. Commander Spock, I understand that you plan to help your people as much as you can in the coming days, but please stay near the Academy so that this board may recall you if necessary.”

“Affirmative,” Spock acknowledged after a moment of silence, in which Jim had been staring—fighting the urge to gape—at the Fleet Commander.

“Uh—Yes, sir.” Jim finally replied, really fighting the urges to frown or scowl, or both.

“Also, Commander, it may interest you to know, that—in light of recent events—Starfleet has decided to reevaluate several simulations that Cadets are required to complete, including the Kobayashi Maru.”

Jim blinked at that and watched as one of Spock’s eyebrows arched towards his hairline in equal surprise.

Starfleet Academy Dorms – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258

Jim wasn’t surprised this time, when he found Komack waiting in his dormroom. “Good evening, sir.”

“Relax, kid,” the Admiral waved towards the chair opposite him, to where he’d decided to move the small table and chairs Jim and Bones usually kept on the other side of the room. He’d also set up a chessboard, though the pieces weren’t set up for a new game. “Have a seat.”

Jim obeyed, and it took him only a glance at the pieces to confirm that the game was the one he’d been playing by email with the Admiral before this whole mess had began. Well, before he’d challenged the Kobayashi Maru, at least. “Queen to H6,” he stated, even as he moved the piece accordingly, removing the black pawn that’d been there from the board, before adding, “Check.”

Komack didn’t say anything as he moved his king out of danger.

Jim immediately moved is rook, murmuring “Check,” again as he did.

This time Komack leaned back a little to consider the board for a few seconds, before he sighed and moved his knight to block the threat.

Again Jim’s responding move was immediate, removing the obstacle of the knight and threatening Komack’s king with his rook once more. “Check.”

The older man grimaced, before blocking the rook again, this time with a bishop.

And Jim said, “Checkmate,” as he made his final move, removing the bishop from the board as he positioned his rook again, this time in a pattern that his opponent couldn’t escape.

Komack grunted, but nodded his head. “I definitely prefer playing long-distance. The games take longer and losing doesn’t feel quite so pathetic.”

“Sorry, sir.”

Komack waved him off again, “Don’t be. It’s one of the ways we learn.” He considered him for a moment, before offering, “You did good today.”

“Thank you, sir.” Jim replied, even as he was turning the Admiral’s words over in his head. He wasn’t sure if Komack agreed with him when it came to the Kobayashi Maru or not. The man had always been at least a little hard to read, so it made arguing with him hard.

“You’ve made it through your first post-crisis debriefing, before the best of the Admiralty and the First Commander no less, and you’re not even an officer. Not yet anyway.”

Jim blinked, but shook his head, not wanting to let those hopes rise to high.

After a brief pause, Komack sighed, “Okay, I’ll admit: I’m curious.”

Jim raised an eyebrow in response.

“Why did you try to retake the Kobayashi Maru test—the second time—on that day?”

That wasn’t what Jim had expected, and it made him look down.

That day.

The twelfth anniversary of the day Kodos had given his grandiose execution announcement to the starving, terrified people of Tarsus IV.

After a few moments of heavy silence as he shrugged. “Didn’t really think about it, it just happened.”

“Didn’t think about it before, you mean; but after?”

Jim nodded slowly. “I guess that was part of the reason it hurt so much,” he sighed, shaking his head just as slowly as he’d nodded a second before. “And maybe, deep down, I guess I may’ve been hoping to replace... the memories of that day with something a little happier.” He snorted, “Shoulda known it wouldn’t work.”

“Life doesn’t seem to hand you easy punches, does it, kid?” Komack shook his head slowly, but then he kept going again before Jim could muster an answer. “But you roll with ‘em anyway.”

Jim smiled slightly, “Try to.” Though he was really starting to wish he’d stopped and bought some beer before heading back to the dorms. It was starting to look like he was gonna need it tonight, despite the second 0800 debriefing he had to look forward to.

“Always have to be the rebel, don’t you, Kirk?”

Jim shrugged, “Someone has to be.”

A bar near Starfleet Academy – San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258

Going out was gradually getting easier with each passing day. Jim had only been hugged by one random stranger on his way here and only needed to sign a few autographs before Bones pulled him away from his fans. And he was enough of a regular here at Barb’s Bar and Barby that the bouncers were making an effort to keep the paparazzi and fans out while his command crew celebrated.

Only one face was missing this evening.

He’d sent Spock an invite, but he hadn’t shown.

Uhura was here, chatting amicably with Sulu and Bones while Scotty and Chekov discussed something about modifications being done to the Enterprise up at the spacedoc.

Jim was listening to both conversations with half an ear, his mind still going over all the chaos that his life had been these past few weeks. He had to thank that chaos for a lot of things; getting to know these great people and succeeding in surpassing even his wildest dreams among them, but it was still a lot to take in.

His second debriefing, this time without Spock, had been a bit different. For one thing, only a few of the Admirals—Komack among them—had been there with the Fleet Commander. And it’d taken him only a few seconds to figure out that these were the ones that were aware of his history. All of it.

Barnett hadn’t been among them, and Jim felt a little bad about that. The man had to be curious now, but if those even higher in Starfleet hadn’t backed down when he’d come to them with Jim’s request, they wouldn’t well after the fact, with the situation that might’ve necessitated it now neatly tucked away.

Tarsus IV was definitely something Starfleet wanted to stay in the past.

The second meeting had been very reminiscent of the one the day prior, only with more specifics on top of his getting read the riot act for trying to bring up highly classified documents without the clearance to do so.

Komack, thankfully, had come to his defense there.

While Jim had never actually been told to not talk about Tarsus IV and Kodos, he’d known how much red-tape his file was behind even before it was removed from electronic storage all together. So it probably wouldn’t have gone over all that well if he’d tried to claim that he didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to talk about his own past because he’d never been told that.

And, actually, they couldn’t say that. He just wasn’t allowed access to any proof of one of the tragedy’s in his history.

Still, with Komack defending him—and, of course, his recent heroics—he’d been forgiven not long after his scolding. Right before they’d not only approved his field-promotion to Acting-First Officer, but then they’d followed that by promoting him to the rank of Captain.

Amazed wouldn’t be quite enough to describe how he’d felt. Oh, he’d wanted captaincy even before the whole endeavor Nero provoked, and had wanted it even more afterwards: like a drowning man wants air. But he certainly hadn’t expected he’d actually get it anytime soon!

The only feeling that could possibly top that was one the one that followed right afterwards: the knowledge that he would not only be getting the permanent rank he wanted, but the specific ship, too. Along with almost all of the crew that’d served recently served with him.

Almost all.

That was what soured the emotion a little now.

After the meeting he’d headed over to Barb’s, where he knew his now-crew-to-be would be waiting for him.

Somehow, everybody already knew about the promotion. It’d been obvious on the way over, even before he arrived to his command crew’s congratulations. People who were technically still his peers—he hadn’t officially graduated yet—along with officer’s he’d had to salute just a few weeks prior, had snapped to attention as he strode passed them. Reporters—most of whom had properly addressed him as ‘Cadet Kirk’ as they shouted queries at him—now questioned “Captain Kirk” from behind the bouncer lines or almost anywhere outside of Starfleet Academy’s grounds.

It felt great.

Though it’d feel better if Spock was there, too.

“When are we supposed to shipping out, Captain?” Scotty’s voice broke into his sinking thoughts.

The amusement he felt at the Scotsman’s query, knowing full well that what the older man was honestly interested in was in when he’d be given control of the Enterprise’s engineering again, helped Jim smile as he turned to answer.

McCoy responded before he could, though, “Obviously sometime after graduation. They can’t send us out for anything less than an emergency as mere cadets.”

“You should be receiving updates on the ongoing repairs, already, Scotty,” Jim spoke up then.

“Aye, I am, sir,” Scotty confirmed, and Jim knew he wasn’t the only one amused by the exasperation they could hear in the words. “But I’d prefer to be handling our fine lady meself.”

And the thirteen requests he’d made—so far—to be allowed up to Spacedoc and back aboard the Enterprise had been denied. By Admiral Archer, who—despite Jim’s best cajoling—was only willing to allow Scotty off of Delta Vega to join Jim’s crew, and wasn’t about to cut him anymore slack than that.

Jim offered a sympathetic smile as he took another sip of the beer that’d been in front of him the second he sat down, on the house, just like every single drink he’d had since their return to Earth; excepting those that’d been bought by admirers.

“The Fleet’s a mess right now,” Uhura interjected gently, shaking her head as everyone looked at her. “What with the mess that they were already dealing with in the Laurentian system…”

“Losing Vulcan and almost losing Earth didn’t help,” Jim nodded his agreement, recognizing that she shared the belief that they wouldn’t be planetside for long.

Especially not when they were being charged with the fleet’s newly repaired flagship. They were needed out and about; doing things around the galaxy that would build morale, boost enlistments and all that.

Seizing the slight opening he’d just created for the comment, Jim asked, “Anyone heard anything new about the survivors?”

He didn’t mention Vulcan, or its native people, more specifically than that. He didn’t need to: anyone who said ‘the survivors’ these days could only be referring to them.

Uhura sighed, sipping at her neon-purple cocktail before answering. “Starfleet is looking for a suitable planet for a Vulcan colony, and most of the Vulcan’s seem to be focused on that.” She shook her head. “They have to focus on moving forward, after all.”

“All anyone can do,” Jim agreed, nodding again before taking another gulp of his beer, grimacing a little because the bitter drink couldn’t wash away the unhappy thoughts that the conversation inspired all around.

“Mr. Spock is well?” Chekov spoke up after a second of silence, and Jim fought the urge to smile at the kid.

Uhura did offer a tiny smile, but her eyes were a little distant as she nodded. “He says he’s fine.”

“Trouble in paradise?” Bones asked her, earning a frown of reproach.

Uhura’s frown slipped, though, as she sighed. “He thinks he should leave Starfleet, to help his people.”

Jim suppressed a grimace, instead waving to the waitresses for another round of drinks. He glanced at the vodka concoction Chekov received a second of, honestly not sure how anyone could possibly think he might be of age. But he didn’t say anything, just nodded in thanks as the a-little-too-awed-be-called-flirty waitresses all but bowed away.

“Nothin’ amiss with’at,” Scotty commented, with a shrug. “‘E’ll be missed aboard Enterprise, for sure, but we canna hold that against him.”

There was a chorus of agreement from around the table, but it was easy to see that Jim wasn’t alone in wanting their command crew to remain unchanged.

He thought, for a moment, about trying to change Spock’s mind, but the sense of honor he often tried to keep carefully hidden instantly in-surged.

No, he couldn’t force Spock to join his crew. Particularly not in the face of all that the Vulcan’s had already lost. All he could do was hope that the half-Vulcan changed his mind.

Looking around, it was only a little consoling to realize that he wouldn’t be alone on those tenterhooks.

Starfleet Academy Amphitheatre–San Francisco, Earth – Stardate: 2258

Looking around at his peers—the soon-to-be graduating class of Starfleet Academy cadets that survived Nero—and many of whom would be making up much of his crew on his ship, Jim was having a very hard time suppressing the understandable urge to smile.

“This assembly calls Captain James Tiberius Kirk,” Admiral Barnett declared from the speaker’s podium that was once again his. Jim knew there were many other admirals, captains, media, etc., watching from up above, but technically Starfleet Academy belonged to its commandant, so Barnett was the one in charge here.

There were all different uniforms up above—and undoubtedly watching via video as every news channel was following the story of Earth’s saviors avidly—but within the main amphitheater itself were only the students: a veritable sea of resplendent red uniforms clad on forms standing smartly at attention, and the same gray outfitted Academy teachers that Spock had called him before only a few weeks before.

Jim pivoted to break from formation and march down to the podium. Though he didn’t have to go far; he was already a captain, officially no longer a cadet, and his new rank put him near the front of the crowd anyway.

He could feel many eyes on him as he stopped to stand before Barnett but he knew one was missing and couldn’t help but feel a little hurt by that.

Ambassador Spock had sounded so sure that he could convince his younger self to remain with the Enterprise, but Jim had still had his doubts. After all he’d put the half-Vulcan through, and how desperately the Vulcans as a whole truly needed to regroup, he couldn’t hold Spock’s not being here against him.

Still, the memory of how fondly Ambassador Spock had greeted him on Delta Vega, mere hours after the old half-Vulcan had watched his homeworld cease to be, combined with the absolute certainty he’d felt mixed with that fondness during and after the mindmeld with the Ambassador had made Jim really want to see where their friendship might lead. The thought that it might not be was painful.

Barnett’s voice was loud enough to be heard by all, and therefore more than enough to yank Jim back to the present—once again—despite the fact that not a shred of the disproval he was use to sensing from the older man could be seen or heard today. “Your inspirational valor and supreme dedication to your comrades are in keeping with the highest traditions of service and reflect utmost credit upon yourself, your crew, and the Federation. It is my honor to award you with this commendation.”

One of the commandant’s aide’s came forward, gently snapping open a box that held the medal he was here to receive. Inside a Starfleet Medal of Commendation waited, glimmering under the bright lights. The absence of the Fleet Commander, and the fact that Admiral Barnett was leading the ceremony, highlighted the fact that though this medal was a great honor to receive, they weren’t willing to give him any higher honors yet. Now, most undoubtedly felt Jim deserved to receive some sort of award, and he was here accepting it, but he honestly felt that everyone that’d served with the USS Enterprise crew should be getting this medal, too. But he knew that wasn’t really the point of this occasion. No, they were doing this because they’d made him a Captain without cameras and all the pomp that they were throwing around now. This, really, was how they were introducing him—Captain James T. Kirk—to Starfleet and the Federation as a whole.

“By Starfleet Order 2845, you are hereby directed to Admiral Pike, commanding officer of the USS Enterprise, as his relief.” Barnett snapped off a salute as he finished, and Jim returned it, before turning slightly to march a few steps away to where his mentor, the former Captain—and now Admiral—Christopher Pike sat in the autochair he was going to be stuck in for several months to come.

From what Bones had indicated though, Pike would walk again, eventually, which was certainly a good think.

Even stuck in an autochair and in the only somewhat formal looking white hospital garbs he had to wear at present, Pike cut an impressive figure.

Jim stiffened for yet another salute, waiting till Pike finished before completing his own salute. “I relieve you, sir,” he offered; loud, precise and formal, just like Starfleet wanted for this ceremony.

The smile Pike gave in response was honest and heartfelt. “I am relieved.” He nodded as he held up his hand for Kirk to shake. “Congratulations, Captain. Your father would be proud.”

“Thank you, sir.” As Jim accepted the handshake, the assembly filled the amphitheater with a cacophony of applause and cheers; a roar of appreciation that could be felt throughout the galaxy.

The Bridge – The Enterprise, Earth Space-dock – Stardate: 2258

Jim wondered how long this would all seem at least a little weird.

Wearing the commanding insignia of a Starfleet captain and the gold shirt that went with it.

Watching everyone snap to attention as he passed them in the hall.

There were parts of being the USS Enterprise’s captain that came to him as easily as breathing. When he’d been sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge, surrounded by his command crew, fighting against Nero and the Narada to save Earth and the Federation... All of that had felt completely right. Painful, terrifying and infuriating at times. But totally right nonetheless.

Everything else; rules, regulations, protocols, paperwork...that was all still a work in progress.

Even swinging through Engineering—as part of his personal on-sight inspection of his ship—had seemed a little weird. Despite the hours he’d helped out down there when the Enterprise was limping its way home, the fact that he was an intergalactically acknowledged hero and the youngest Captain in the fleet’s history seemed to be more important now.

Expectant eyes followed him everywhere, even though the gazes of those he passed in the halls were all respectfully facing forward as he walked by. He could still feel their eyes following him. And he couldn’t help but wonder when that awe would wear off.

Still, Jim was smiling slightly as he stepped onto the turbolift, tapping in the appropriate command on the nearby panel. His own personal inspection complete, backed by the numerous reports he’d read before hand.

The Enterprise looked like new, completely repaired over the last few weeks after they’d returned her to Earth.

A few moments later he was stepping onto his bridge for the first time, and watched every member of the command crew stiffen—as protocol demanded—but otherwise remained focused on the tasks he’d immediately waived their attention back to as he made his way to his chair. Once there, he nodded to the helm.

Lieutenant Sulu reported crisply, “Maneuvering thrusters and impulse engines at your command, sir.”

“Weapon systems and shields on standby,” Chekov followed immediately.

Jim nodded, before tapping the appropriate button on his chair. “Scotty, how we doing?”

Dilithium chambers at maximum efficiency, Captain,” the chief of Engineering’s broguish voice responded, before something obviously both distracted and irritated the Scotsman. “Get down!

Jim shook his head, but—as he didn’t hear any alarm in the Chief Engineer’s voice—cut the commlink before turning slightly towards his communications officer.

Uhura swiveled slightly in her chair to nod to him, “Dock Control reports ready for departure, Captain. Yard Command is signaling all clear on our chosen vector.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.” Jim nodded again, before turning away. As he did so though, he caught the glance she shot towards the still empty science station, and he had to force back another sigh even as he made himself not look there also.

Like everyone else on the bridge, Jim really had wanted that station filled before their repaired ship left Earth again.

By a specific science officer.

And Spock’s absence was painfully conspicuous.

Starfleet Command had been after Jim to pick someone other than Spock for the last few weeks. Basically ever since they’d made him captain, because they’d been entirely sure that Spock planned on leaving Starfleet to help his people begin recovering from their near annihilation. But Jim had been just as sure—especially after talking to Ambassador Spock—that Spock would be here today.

He didn’t like being wrong anymore than he liked losing, but it looked like this might be one of the times he’d have to accept it.

The choice was out of his hands now. He’d been told he had until 1600 hours the day prior to pick someone other than Commander Spock to fill the vacant positions. He hadn’t complied. So Starfleet Command was supposed to pick for him and he’d be meeting his new first officer and senior science officer today. Or he might be meeting two people, since the posts didn’t actually have to go hand-in-hand.

Honestly, Jim didn’t care. He’d tried to hold on to what might’ve been—as Ambassador Spock—had asked, and it hadn’t worked.

And, really, Jim hadn’t worked with anyone enough to pick anyone other than Spock.

Oh, he’d interned on the Farragut the summer before last, spending a few weeks working aboard a real starship like all command-track cadets were supposed to do. But the Farragut had been destroyed by Nero, along with pretty much everyone he’d worked with on it. Oh, there’d been some people that’d been assigned elsewhere, but unfortunately they weren’t any of the people he’d been close to.

So it was just as well that someone who knew what they were doing picked for him. He’d do his best to make it work, no matter how wrong it might feel at first.

Shaking his head slightly, knowing he really couldn’t leave until his new first officer had reported in—as that would leave a decidedly bad first impression—Jim wasn’t sure what to do while they waited.

While everyone else was here; including Bones, who didn’t have anything better to do since the ship hadn’t gone anywhere yet and the crew was new and/or recently rested, relaxed, and therefore not sick or injured. But all of them were actually early. The new first officer was due in the next five minutes or so, at 0800. So he couldn’t have Uhura complain to Starfleet Command or just try to figure out where their unknown first officer was. Not yet. First impressions were important after all.

Everyone else was good at their jobs—the best in the fleet, he thought—so he couldn’t really think of anything he could have them do that they hadn’t already done.

So Jim was relieved when he heard the soft whoosh of the turbolift doors opening again, as the only person they could be opening for was the person or people he was expecting. He turned with just a slight smile pulling at the edges of his mouth, and then blinked when the familiarity of the figure stepping onto the bridge, with his hands clasped neatly behind his back, registered.

The familiar face—along with the impeccable blue uniform he was wearing and the insignia of a senior science officer on it—was welcome.

“Permission to come aboard, Captain?”

Jim struggled to keep his smile from growing any more than Spock would consider appropriate. “Permission granted.”

Spock stepped off the lift and made his way over to the captain’s chair with graceful, confident steps as he explained his presence. “As you have yet to select a first officer, I would respectfully like to submit my candidacy. Should you desire, I can provide character references.”

Jim paused for a second, mentally turning over the half-Vulcan’s words.

Apparently Starfleet had only told him that he’d requested Spock act as the Enterprise’s science officer, not as first officer also. Why, Jim didn’t know. But then again, it could just be Spock choosing to follow protocol, which would be much less surprising.

Finally, Jim allowed himself to nod the obvious answer. “It would be my honor, Commander.” He watched the confident commander make his way over to the science station, settling in with the ease of familiarity, before he turned back to the helm. “Maneuvering thrusters, Mister Sulu,” he commanded, as he settled a little more comfortably into the captain’s chair.

After a few beeps and chirps sounded from his console, Sulu replied, “Thrusters on standby.”

“Take us out.”

“Aye-aye, Captain,” the helmsman’s smile could be heard by all around the room, and was akin to the ones most of them were wearing.

For the moment, at least, everything was right aboard the USS Enterprise, poised to head out into adventures full of everything they could imagine and, undoubtedly, much, much more.

The End.

Author’s Note: Wow. I can’t believe I actually wrote and finished a one-shot fic. I decided early on that this was going to be a one-shot. I mistakenly thought that it would be a short one-shot…but it just kept growing! Granted, just under 20,000 words is actually pretty short for me. At least in comparison to any of the other fan fics I’ve posted lately.

…Not that I’ve posted much of anything lately. *looks around for muses again* You’d think they’d realize that when we play hide-and-seek they’re only supposed to stay hidden for so long to prove their superiority to little old me. *pouts*

This fic took a while, though. I started the outline the second time—out of seven—that I saw the movie in theaters. Sadly, that seems to be a fair estimate of how long it takes me to write a fan fic. *sigh*

Notes from in the story:

[1] Surran = Ambassador Spock/Spock-Prime – I repeatedly searched for any actual name that could be considered canon or established fanon for Ambassador Spock, but didn’t find anything. Thus, I played around with the Vulcan name generator until I got something I liked. If anyone knows of a better name for Ambassador Spock to use, please feel free to suggest it!

[2] Komack – Initially I was going to go with the ‘Captain Pike = Jim’s primary mentor’ scenario, but ran into a few problems. One, based on Pike’s age when he met Jim, I didn’t think he would’ve been a captain at the time of Tarsus IV. Two, during most of the ‘mentor’ scenes Jim had with Komack here, Pike would be in a hospital bed or something similar. I’ve seen that done, and I’ve even seen it done well… I just didn’t want to do it myself. Sorry if that bothered anyone. Also, I only described Komack a little here, but if you research it by the description at all, it should be pretty obviously that the Komack I was using is NOT the one we see in Star Trek: 2009, sitting on the initial disiplinary committee. We saw the name on a plaque in front of one of J.J. Abram’s friends in the movie… But I like the Komack from the original series more, so I used him. Not apologizing for that, though.

…Well, that’s all I think.

Anyway, I hope everyone liked this fic, and I’d love to get some reviews (of course)!

Bye! ^_^

~ Jess S

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