Part V - Mandate
It really didn't bother Kirk that he had basically been ordered to cool his heels in Sickbay. It was where he preferred being right now. Pike had made enemies of the majority of the crew during the past year and Kirk's current priority was making sure the man stayed alive. Stationing himself outside of the operating room, Kirk made himself comfortable and pulled back up the initial briefing that had been sent to all of their PADDs before the meeting started. Specifically, he pulled up the image of Harrison.
The longer he studied the man's face, the surer Kirk was that he'd seen that face before. The question was where. Frowning, he shifted to reach the nearest intercom.
"Kirk to Scott."
"Think you could lock onto the wreckage of the ship that attacked Starfleet Headquarters?"
"Give me some credit, man. I could lock onto a fly buzzing over it if I put me mind to it."
Smirking, Kirk made a note to get Scott some good toys once he was back in his chair again.
"Leave the fly where he is and get that wreckage up here into an empty cargo bay. Maybe we can figure out from that where our terrorist came from and where he might have gone."
"Consider it done, sir."
Two things Scott didn't bother with - clearing the teleport with Starfleet Command or clearing it with Mister Spock. As it happened, chaos was still so prevalent at Headquarters that no-one had started to examine the wreckage yet, so it didn't draw any attention as the wreckage faded out of sight.
"Mister Kyle - take over the Transporter. I've got a large puzzle to try and sort out."
It was about an hour longer before McCoy finally emerged and sat down by Kirk.
"Pike took a hit to his back, damn it all. I've done what I can, but I'm repairing repairs now. I'm confident he'll walk again, but I don't think he'll ever be able to leave his cane behind."
"He's better off than a lot of the other Admirals, Bones. Some of them didn't live through the attack. You know what this means?"
"No, but I'm sure you're about to tell me."
"Right you are. If I'm right and Admiral Marcus was involved, the way is open for Pike to step into a role close to the Emperor again."
"But will he take it this time?"
"I don't think he'll have a choice, Bones. This blow on top of the number that were lost to Nero? Starfleet's numbers suck right now. The Emperor will want his senior staff close by in case the Romulans find out and make a move."
"Jim? Might the Romulans been behind this?"
Kirk frowned, quiet and thoughtful for several moments before finally shaking his head.
"No, doesn't really feel like their style to me. That doesn't mean they won't swoop down and take advantage if they can though."
The intercom sounded off near them.
"Scott to Kirk."
"Kirk here. What is it, Scotty?"
"Delta Vega One, sir."
"Acknowledged. Kirk out."
McCoy' s brow rose at that.
"Scotty wants you to call him on a secure comm?"
Pulling out his personal communicator, Kirk nodded and made an adjustment to the settings before calling Scott.
"You have my full and undivided attention, Scotty. The only one with me is Bones."
"I found a portable transwarp drive in the wreckage. Whoever the bastard was, he gained access to my technology."
"That proves a connection between the terrorist and Starfleet. The Enterprise is still the only ship with transwarp capability. Any idea where he went?"
"If I'm to believe these coordinates? He's in Klingon territory. Qo'noS, to be precise."
"Damn. That puts a complication on things. We're already in a war with Romulus that we're going to be hard pressed to win at Starfleet's current manning levels."
The intercom sounded off again, this time it was Uhura's voice over the speaker.
"Bridge to Kirk."
"Sir, there is a message coming over the channels from the Emperor for the Captain."
"So? Isn't Spock up there?"
"He is, but the message is directed toward you. Your presence is needed on the Bridge immediately."
"On my way. Kirk out."
Shifting back to his handheld while getting back to his feet, Kirk spoke to Scott again.
"I have to sign off. See if you can get that portable back in working order. Who knows? We might have need for it."
"Aye, sir. I'll get right on it."
Putting away his communicator, Kirk laid a hand on McCoy's shoulder as he looked toward where Pike was resting.
"Do what you need to make sure he can teleport. No telling what the orders coming across are. And let me do the worrying about the Romulans and Klingons, Bones."
With that, Kirk headed toward the Bridge. He expected to find Spock steaming and the Vulcan didn't disappoint him, but Kirk frankly didn't have time to deal with his shit.
"Uhura, put through the message."
It would have been hard pressed to guess who on the Bridge was most shocked by the fact that it wasn't a message or an Admiral, but the Emperor himself that appeared on the viewscreen. Everyone on the Bridge stood immediately, went to the side of their station and knelt - Spock included. Kirk automatically recited the words drilled into every child of the Terran Empire.
"Imperial Majesty - how may we serve?"
The voice of the Emperor was as controlled as that of any Vulcan.
"Captain James T. Kirk. You are to take immediate control of the ISS Enterprise and begin the search for the traitors Alexander Marcus and John Harrison. If possible, they are to be brought back to Imperial Command for trial. If not? Terminate with extreme prejudice. I leave that decision to your discretion. The Admiralty has been informed of my decision. Additional crew specialists have been assigned to your command and will beam aboard within the hour."
Smoothly getting back to his feet, Kirk gave the Imperial salute to the screen.
"As Your Imperial Majesty commands, so let it be done."
There was a moment of pure silence as the Emperor seemed to contemplate Kirk, who remained in place, holding the salute without trace of a tremor in his outstretched arm. Then a smile came and went so quickly that it might have been imagined.
"Carry on, Captain."
With that final word, the transmission cut off. Chekov was still staring at the screen in awe, stunned enough to speak out loud.
"I have never seen a live broadcast from the Emperor before."
Kirk took another moment to regain his own composure, then snapped out his orders.
"Alright, people, we have our orders. Mister Sulu, go to the Transporter Room and get the records on our new personnel. Mister Spock, get in contact with Starfleet - I want everything they have on Marcus and Harrison down to their damn shoe size. Uhura, you have the conn. I'll be in Sickbay."
When Kirk arrived back in Sickbay, he found McCoy and Chapel in the room with Pike.
"Nurse Chapel, I need to speak with the doctor and the Admiral privately. Anyone tries to get past you, you have my permission to get creative."
The smile that formed on the blonde nurse's face could have made a Vulcan shudder as she left to guard the outer door. Kirk didn't speak again until the door shut behind her.
"Have I told you lately that your nursing staff make our Security guys look like wimps?"
"No, but I'll make sure to note that in their next evaluations. Get the message?"
The silence from Kirk as he sat down drew both McCoy and Pike's full focus.
"It wasn't a message. It was a direct transmission from the Emperor. We need somewhere safe to leave you, Admiral. The Enterprise is mine again and we're going hunting."
"Jim, why don't we send him to Rashea? Lady has talents and it's doubtful anyone would look for him there. He needs recovery time more than a doctor at this point."
They both looked to Pike, who gave a resigned nod.
"Too many sharks scenting blood at Headquarters. I want to be back on my feet before I face them, even if its with a cane."
"Fine. Bones, get Rashea on a secure line and let her know what's going on. We've got people I don't know coming aboard and I'd like Pike to be gone before any of them see him."
McCoy already had Pike ready, so after contacting Rashea and getting the coordinates, Kirk had Kyle beam Pike and Leslie down to Joanna's room at the Fontana Institute. McCoy left him with just one warning.
"Don't be bringing trouble around my baby sister."
"I'll be having a chat with the Headmaster and make it plain that if anyone discovers where I am, I'll know exactly who to blame and so will you and James."
"Good. Don't be undoing all my work either. Rest up as much as you can there."
"We'll be in touch, old man."
"Go kick those bastards' asses, men."
"It will be my pleasure, Admiral."
Kirk and McCoy didn't even have time to leave the Transporter Room before the signal came that the specialists were ready to beam aboard.
"Stay here with me, Bones. Let's see what we have to work with."
When the transporter effect faded, two men and two women stood on the pads. Sulu kept a close eye on them, but since Kirk was there, he waited for the Captain to take the lead.
The lead woman, a blonde in science blue, stepped forward first.
"Permission to come aboard, Captain."
"Granted. Names and specialties."
"Lieutenant Carol Wallace. Science Officer."
"Lieutenant Marlena Moreau. Weapons Specialist."
"Lieutenant Richard Galen. Klingon anthropology."
"Lieutenant Harry Kim. Romulan anthropology."
"Welcome aboard. We will be leaving orbit within the hour. Mister Sulu will show you to your temporary quarters until arrangements can be made for more permanent ones. You are to give your record chips to him, drop your gear and report to Mister Spock for assignment in thirty minutes. Any questions?"
Without another word, Kirk signaled McCoy and the two left the Transporter Room together. They were halfway to Sickbay before Kirk spoke again.
"I can understand a weapons specialist and the anthropologists, but why another science officer?"
"Maybe the Admiralty finally decided that Spock can't be First Officer and Science Officer too?"
"Maybe. Hell, I don't have time to try and translate their games right now. I want a full report on those four as soon as you can examine them - including that weird braille thing you do. I'll tell Spock to rotate them to you one at a time as part of their first assignments. Meet me in my quarters at the end of Alpha shift."
It was almost as if Kirk wanted to say something else, but instead, he just frowned again and headed for the Bridge. McCoy watched him move away for a brief moment before quickening his pace to Sickbay.
McCoy was troubled as well. Something wasn't right. Something was off. McCoy was in the middle of giving instructions to Chapel when it hit him. Kirk, Scott and himself knew the assassin had fled to a Klingon planet - no-one else had been told yet. So why had the Admiralty assigned a Klingon expert to them?
As his grandfather used to say, there was definitely a polecat in the henhouse.