On the bridge, Jamie T. Kirk had read through all the reports, signed off on them, and then sat for over an hour. Something she was not used to doing. Standing up she began to pace the bridge, slowly and casually, making laps this way and that. Starfleet command had been informed of her Acting Captain status, and she had yet to hear back from them, which could be good or bad, depending. The intercom sounded.
"Captain Kirk to Sickbay."
"Colt, you have the Conn," said Jamie, heading for the lift, looking to Tactical as she went. "Have Warrant Officer Lohki meet me in Sickbay." Then, she was gone.
Entering Sickbay, Kirk looked to where Captain Kahn had been placed, and she was gone. It was Beta shift now, Alpha having gone off shift over an hour ago. She looked to a nurse. "Where is Captain Kahn?" The nurse pointed toward the ICU. Kirk thanked the nurse and then went over to the ICU door, waving to let the doctor on duty see her, and he waved her inside. Lohki was already there, no surprise, and Azala looked to be awake, but very pale. "What's the situation?" Asked Kirk, looking at the Doctor and his rank. A Lieutenant JG.
The Doctor looked at his Acting CO. "Hello, Captain Kirk." he gave a sheepish grin. "You don't know how odd it is to say that. Anyway," he waved it off. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Captain, but it isn't good. Azala is sliding away slowly, and Kahn, her symbiote, is dying. He is ancient and this is his last host. Unfortunately, with the joining, she may pass away with him." He extended a hand, which she shook. "Doctor Thomas Borelli."
Kahn, seeing Kirk, motioned the younger woman over with a weak hand. "Please, sit. I see you brought a recorder. Good, I have much to confess."
"Confess?" Kirk was confused, rolling a stool over and sitting down, Lohki positioning himself at the foot of the bed.
"I am not who you think I am," stated Kahn. "I ran from responsibility, from brutality, and crossed into your universe. My government developed a way to bypass time and to come into your reality whenever they wished."
Jamie looked to Lohki. "You getting this?" She got a nod, his eyes on Kahn. Kirk looked to Azala. "Are you from the future, or the Mirror Universe?"
"Both," said Kahn. "I am from the future insofar as my own reality. I was a deep cover agent, sent by the Empire to infiltrate your society and start steering it towards our way of thinking. We had defeated the Klingon-Cardassian alliance, Humanity back on the rise, which meant my Trill being was no longer at the top of the food chain, no matter how much I had given to win the war. So, crossing over I spent a long time finding my double over here, explained the situation to her, and she chose to go into hiding and disappear to allow me to take her place. I had fallen in love with the ideals of the Federation, what it meant to be altruistic, and to be accepted for who I was, not WHAT I was."
Kirk stared at this woman, seeing no deception in those eyes, but now understanding why she had done what she had done to advance Jamie. But, there was still some confusion that needed to be clarified. "Why me, Captain? What is it that drives you to place me above others?"
Azala gave a grin, taking Jamie's hand. "You have the name Kirk. Though you're not related to the man, Starfleet needs to hear that name again, if for no other reason than to bring morale. Your career has momentum, and like Jim Kirk you are not a quitter. Plus..." her words trailed off as she winced.
Kirk stood and moved out of the way. "Doctor?"
Borelli stepped in and scanned his patient, looking to the biobed readings at the same time. "She's failing, Captain. Unless she rids herself of the symbiote she will not survive. And, once Kahn has perished, then Azala needs to be taken to Trill for an emergency joining."
Kirk looked at the Doctor. "That's not going to happen, Doctor Borelli. We are in the Beta Quadrant, Trill is in the Alpha Quadrant. We have a planet killer to contend with and that comes first."
Lohki looked at them both. "Put her in stasis until we can travel to Trill."
"No!" Kahn tried to sit up, but slumped back onto her bed. "Kahn and I have been together a long time, he deserves to be left alone to die. He is too old for another host, and Trill will only prolong his pangs of death for a few months. Let us go, Captain Kirk. Your Azala, from this reality, is on Trill, in seclusion. Kahn, her symbiote, is also there, keeping to himself. Part of our arrangement." Azala reached for Kirk's hand, and once grasped with Jamie stepping back in, she continued. "I put you in command, Jamie, because you will face your greatest enemy...yourself. Kirk wanted me dead for a long time, and started a coupe just before I left. She is in command of the ISS Sovereign, and will stop at nothing to raze the Federation to its foundation. Like you she is driven, for opposite reasons."
Kirk's eyes widened. "That's why you've done what you have, to secure the UFP?" Jamie leaned on the bed, still grasping the hand of a dying woman. "Azala, we need you. Your knowledge of the Mirror Universe is invaluable." Her eyes began to mist, filling with tears, her heart feeling for the woman now dying before her. "Don't give up. Stay with us."
Lohki, always the staunch one. "She will be arrested, prosecuted, and sent to prison. Not a great life, Captain."
Kirk's head turned forcefully, looking at her friend with bloodshot eyes. "I know, Lohki! Keep those thoughts to yourself for now." She looked back at Kahn. "Sorry, lost my temper."
Azala gave a weak smile. "And that, dear Jamie, is why I have set all these events in motion. You needed the chance to command, to show Starfleet that a Kirk is needed once more. Be strong and fight, but have the wisdom to know when not to."
Borelli was watching the readouts. "Her vitals are dropping..rapidly."
"Put her in stasis, now," ordered Kirk, pulling her hand free and standing tall. "I'm sorry Azala, but we need you alive. As Captain, I am making a command decision that may save my ship and crew." Looking at Borelli. "On my personal authority as Acting Captain, obey my order, Doctor."
"Will do, Captain." Borelli called in his team of nurses and they got to work.
Kirk took Lohki aside. "You recorded all that. Send it to Starfleet Command immediately, coded. Move."
Lohki nodded and left.
With a last look back at Kahn, seeing the anger and understanding in Kahn's eyes, Kirk left Sickbay.
"Bridge to Captain Kirk."
Jamie stopped walking, tapping her badge. "Kirk here."
"Captain, you ahve a holo-conference waiting for you to join. All flag officers with Starfleet Command."
"On my way, Bridge. Send it to my ready room." Tapping her badge closed Kirk made her way to the bridge, then the ready room. Standing in front of the desk, facing the back of the room she would see from sitting at it, she hit the holo-comm. Four flag officers appeared, all in different offices, but all tied in to one location; her office. "Good evening, Gentlemen. What can I do for you?" Commodore Bob Wesley. Commodore Aaron Stone. Commodore Nick Silver. Commodore Joseph Waterston. All in Starfleet personnel, and all carrying voices in ship assignments, especially for newly graduated cadets and promoted officers.
Commodore Stone, one of Jamie's guest instructors at the Academy, spoke up first. "Talk to us, Jamie. What's this about?"
Kirk, standing casually, but respectfully, tilted her head. "What is what about, Sir?"
Wesley leaned in, his expression not a kind one. "I think you know, 'Captain'."
Jamie gave a slight grin. "Yes, Sir, I do. Apologies for my attitude. I was just privy to a confession by Captain Kahn that she is from the Mirror Universe, and has been here for decades. Warrant Officer Lohki should be sending the entire conversation to you within the next few minutes. Well, sending it to SFHQ, anyway."
Waterston sat up. "Kahn is Mirror? How is that even possible?"
Jamie decided to be as honest as possible. "She did not give specifics, Commodores. According to her I am to be Acting Captain since it is my double I will be facing in the near future, and who better to fight oneself than yourself? That's what I gathered from the conversation. She also stated she was from a slightly advanced future in the Mirror, and that what is happening with the planet killer is directly related to that reality. The ISS Sovereign is leading the charge, Sirs."
Silver rubbed his forehead like he had a headache. "I hate all this time travel, Mirror shit. Gives me gas." He then looked at Jamie. "What are your intentions, Kirk?"
"Honestly, Sir," responded Kirk. "We will continue our mission, get there, then evaluate our options. I have ordered the dying Azala Kahn be placed in stasis until we can return to Trill and see to her needs by her own people. Beyond that, I am at a loss."
Stone raised a finger. "Wait a minute, Kirk. We're receiving the confession." For several long minutes the four men were riveted to their screens, but had it muted so Jamie had no idea which part they were watching. Another ten minutes went by while she gathered a raktajino for herself and allowed them to confer, coming back to her central location between their holographic selves. "Kirk, we're ready to continue."
Jamie gave a nod. "Very well, Sir." She was ready to hand it all over to Miller.
"Apparently Azala Kahn holds you in high regard," continued Stone. "Despite her duplicity she has always been a stellar officer, a Captain of worth, and we will have taken her decisions into consideration. Given the situation, and what she says is going to happen, we have no choice but to see it through."
Silver, the more direct and serious one, took over. "Captain Jamie T. Kirk, you will maintain that rank, but not as an acting captain, but AS Captain. The Sovereign is yours, for the duration of this mission profile, to be re-evaluated after it is over. Kahn is removed as Captain. We cannot ignore what she has done, despite our feelings for her as an upstanding officer."
Kirk wanted to smile, but the shock of acceptance had her a bit flustered. "You will have my best, Sirs."
Stone came back to speaking. "Captain Kirk, command your ship and see to this issue. If there is an attack being planned by the Mirror universe, we need it to be thwarted, and you are the only one en route."
"The Sovereign can handle it, Sirs." Kirk felt fully confident in that.
"We expect nothing less, Captain," said Waterston.
THree of the men faded, leaving Stone. "Jamie, you are brilliant, but is this over your head? I am putting my reputation on the line for you, Captain."
Kirk, now in the know that she was a CAPTAIN, stood tall before a man she considered family. "Commodore, I have never felt as content as I do now. This crew is superb, and with them aiding me as commanding officer, I don't see any problem the Sovereign can't handle. I got this, Sir."
Stone gave a grin. "How did I know you'd say that?"
"I'm a Kirk, that's how," said Kirk with a smile. "Aaron, I am fine, really. We got this. Sovereign is a good crew and a good ship. If we don't succeed, then we'll be the early warning. All I can ask of my people, Sir."
"Fair enough," said Stone. "Congratulations, Captain." He killed the comm.
Kirk went to the replicator, creating ehr new gunmetal grey-balck mock neck shirt with the four pips on it, and a vest variant. Removing her green variant she donned her new uniform items, the pride and humility equal. This was now her office, and as daunting as that should have seemed, it wasn't. Seeing Stone had left her comfortable and content. So, she walked out to the bridge. "McLean. Gather some OPS people and have them pack up Kahn's personal belongings from the CO's quarters, and put them in storage. Clean and disinfect the cabin, please." He acknowledged the orders. Lookig around at the rest. "It is official. Command has given the Sovereign to me. Pass this on. If any crew disagree they may file for a transfer, no questions asked, and I will sign it. If not, get back to the duty lists and carry on. Thank you." Leaving the bridge to the deck officer, and being deep into the Beta shift, Kirk decided she needed some sleep. One more night in her quarters, then she would move to the Captain's quarters.