A/N – The Captain is not pleased by the identity of his new first officer.
Disclaimer – I don't own Star Trek, any of the canon characters, situations or settings. No money was made in the writing of this.

A Fraught Conversation

The captain of the ISS Enterprise was displeased. On board ship, he was absolute lord and master of everything he surveyed, his slightest whims and suggestions fearfully obeyed. But Starfleet and the Empire made sure he would not forget the true extent of his authority outside the Enterprise's hull – they took great pleasure in making him dance to their tune, and did not bother to hide it.

One day, he would kill them all and dance on their graves.

"Kirk," Christopher Pike said flatly. "I don't want him on this ship. He's too hungry."

"They're all hungry, Christopher," Admiral Komack drawled. "Throw him enough to keep him satisfied." His smug satisfaction made Pike want to reach through the viewscreen and throttle him. But he knew better than to reveal even the slightest sign of emotion.

"Not Kirk," Pike said. "He's insatiable. He hides it damn well but I can smell the ambition on him."

"Then you'll have to learn how to turn it to your own use, I'm afraid. I can't block his transfer any longer – he's got too many influential connections." Komack smiled cruelly. "Surely you're not afraid of him?"

Pike stiffened. An admission of fear was as good as a death sentence. "I can control him," he ground out, though secretly he felt the slow stirrings of unease. Kirk was younger, stronger, crueller, his ambition matched only by his ability. "With Spock confirmed as my XO –"

A pause.

"– Spock will be my first, won't he?"

Komack folded his arms and leaned back. "As I said, Kirk has powerful connections. Your brevet promotion was blocked and overturned."

Pike bit back a vicious curse. Spock had been his security, his cool Vulcan brilliance and ruthless logic a deterrent to any would-be assassins. He had rewarded him well over the years, careful to ensure Spock's self-interest coincided with preserving the status quo. He was crucial to Pike's long-term plans; Pike hadn't put so much work into arranging his former XO's death to see the position go to James Kirk, the smiling golden killer.

"There's nothing to be done, Christopher. In two days Kirk will become your new first officer. Sink or swim."

On that parting shot, the admiral terminated the connection.

Pike slammed his fist into his desk, gritting his teeth against the sudden flare of pain.

And then, because he was not dead yet, because he was still a starship captain, he began to make plans.