To Serve In Heaven
By Michael Weyer
Star Trek created by Gene Rodenberry, owned by Paramount.
I know, a lot of other fics to finish but this hit me and frankly shocked no one has ever done something so obvious before. So to rectify that, this short tale.
James T. Kirk, Captain of the Terran Empire Starship Enterprise, was not in a good mood.
This was regular for him, of course. He had come to realize that Christopher Pike's last words to him had been a true curse. "Enjoy your victory, Kirk. It'll be the last piece of happiness you have in that damned chair." Kirk knew now what he meant. He'd known being Captain would be difficult but the sheer amount of hate poured in his direction put him off his usual game. It was more than a bit difficult running a starship when you couldn't trust a single member of your crew. But that was how the Empire was and impossible for any man to change it.
He did his best to push those thoughs aside. Being on his toes was one thing, becoming paranoid would just end up doing him in. He looked over the bride, everyone at their normal stations as the ship made its patrol. He looked over to the science station. "Any signs of life, Mr. Spock?"
The bearded Vulcan was bent over his scanner. "None so far, Captain. I am detecting two Class M planets capable of sustaining life. I believe their names are Ceti Alpha V and VI."
Kirk nodded as he studied his first officer. It was always hard to gauge a Vulcan thanks to that damnable logic and keeping their emotions tight to themselves. He knew Spock wasn't so interested in taking over, if for no other reason than he wouldn't want the target Kirk had on his back. But even Vulcans had ambition so Kirk knew if the opportunity came, Spock would do what it took to advance.
He glanced over to the helm. "Status report, Mr. Sulu?"
"All systems nominal, Captain."
Kirk narrowed his eyes and leaned in. "When I say 'report,' Mr. Sulu, I mean a full report, not these sullen half-answers you find so amusing. Do you need another reminder?"
Sulu's eyes flared as he rubbed the scar on his cheek. Glancing at the man at the other station, Kirk snapped. "Wipe that smirk off your face, Mr. Chekov, you're no better." The Russian scowled but looked back at his console. He paused, frowning. "Keptain," he spoke up. "I am detecting a wessell roughly 500 kilometers off our bow."
"On screen," Kirk commanded. After a moment, the screen showed the image of a large vessel, long in shape but aged in its hull. "Analysis?" Kirk demanded.
Spock was scanning the vessel. "No weapons or warp drive detected…Composition of the craft matches that of Earth but…" He looked to Kirk, a frown on his face. "It appears to be of 20th century design."
"20th century?" Kirk was baffled. "The Empire wasn't even formed yet, we had no long-range space craft at that time." He glanced back at the screen. "Magnify the side." The picture flashed then grew to show the lettering on the side of the craft: S.S. Botany Bay.
"Captain, I am detecting a signal," Uhura called from her post. Kirk took a moment, as always, to admire her amazing body in that loose uniform and once more the idea of ravaging her passed through his mind. However, he was sure Spock would take issue with that. Which, come to think of it was a fine reason to make an attempt. "It appears to be ancient Morse code," the communications officer said.
Uhura nodded. "Indeed, Captain. An SOS of some sort."
"Mr. Sulu, I don't recall asking for your input."
Sulu glowered but nonetheless spoke up. "With all respect…Captain…I believe I recognize that ship. DY 100 Class. It was part of the ancient studies program at the Academy."
Kirk's annoyance at Sulu's impertinence was overwhelmed by curiosity. "Hmmm…they stopped making those just before the end of the 20th century." He stiffened. "This could be co-opted by an alien race. Red alert, all weapons armed, shields at maximum."
Alerts went out as everyone immediately went on edge. "I am detecting no weapons, Captain. The ship does have a breathable atmosphere, Captain," Spock announced, looking back at his scanner. "I am also detecting life signs. Human, roughly two hundred of them but signs are slowed as if…" He looked up at his captain. "As if in stasis."
"A long-range probe of some sort?" Kirk pondered.
"That period was marked by the Eugenics Wars," Spock pointed out. "Your attempt to create the perfect human being that led to global chaos."
"It was a noble goal, Mr. Spock," Kirk replied. "They were attempting to push mankind to a new level of power. In many ways, those men paved the way for the creation of the Empire."
"Yes, a fine example of humanity at its best."
"Ah, yes, compared to the wonderful peace and utopia of Vulcan." Spock's eye simply twitched but Kirk knew he'd struck with that one. He stroked his chin looking at the ship. His first thought was to simply ignore it. Such a relic couldn't possible have meaning for the Empire or his own mission. Yet something about this nagged at him, made him consider the potential inside. "Hmmm….Mr. Spock, call Mr. Scott and Doctor McCoy, have them meet me and my bodyguards at Transporter Room three."
"Aye, Captain," Spock stated. "If I may suggest, sir, you should also bring along Lieutenant McGivers."
Kirk scowled. "A historian. I don't see why we even require someone like that. The Empire should be looking to the future, not the past."
"I believe it was an Earth philosopher who stated that those who do not remember the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them."
Kirk gazed at him with a small curve of his lips. "Are you suggesting the Empire is prone to mistakes, Mr. Spock?"
Spock simply raised an eyebrow and Kirk snorted as he rose. "Very well, have her come with. Maybe she can find some dusty artifact to play with." Of course, had he his way, he'd find much more to play with than that, no matter what Marlena thought.
It was amazing to Kirk how Robin McGivers could take the classic female Imperial uniform and make it look buttoned down. There was no denying her incredible beauty and body in the loose skirt and top with long hair bundled up. Yet she seemed so cool and distant and more interested in the datapad in her hands than the leers of the men around her.
"Don't even bother, Jim." Kirk looked to where McCoy had joined him in the transporter room, both admiring McGivers. The doctor was his usual sardonic self, not happy about being taken from his duties in sick bay. "She's not interested in the usual ways of advancement."
"Sure it's not jealousy, Doctor?" Kirk needled his old ally. "I should be the one jealous as you've seen her naked."
Bones snorted. "And a lot of good it did me. Trust me, the gal is colder than a Breen winter."
"You should know I enjoy heating things up, Bones."
"Enough of that damned nickname!" McCoy hissed. "Honestly, you shatter one man's skeleton…"
"It fits you."
Bones scowled. "Be careful, Captain or your next physical may not be that pleasant."
Kirk just brushed the threat aside as he moved to the transporter deck. The rest of the team joined him, Scotty dour as ever. Nodding to the technician, Kirk braced himself as the transporter effect went into being. In seconds, he and the group found themselves standing in the hallway of the ship. The air was stale but breathable and Kirk was pleased to see his bodyguards already having phasers out and scanning the area. Good, he hated the idea of breaking in new ones.
Scotty was moving to a nearby console on the wall. "Rather rudimentary technology," he said in his thick brogue. "Should be no problem…" He pulled a switch and with a hum, the hallway lit up with bright lighting flashing about. The group noted how the halls of the ship appeared to be filled with some sort of pods, each containing a human body. "It looks like some old-fashioned stasis chambers," McGivers said. "They used these in early explorations before we discovered warp drive."
McCoy had his scanner out. "Looks like they're still alive. Perfect hibernation, vital signs slowed just enough to keep them going." He waved the scanner about. "I'm reading nearly two hundred in full. Damn, they did make this tech to last."
"They did at that," Scotty nodded as he examined a pod. "Looks like they might have made sure it was in working order before they took off." There was a loud hum as the pod suddenly slid out of the wall.
"Mr. Scott, what did you do?" Kirk demanded.
"Nothing, Captain!" the engineer defended himself. "The system must have been set up to revive this pod when the power came back on."
They all stared as the pod's plastic casing slid open to reveal the figure on the bed. His eyes were shut, seemingly at perfect peace, his face quite handsome with dark hair brushed back in a sweeping manner. He was clad in a simply jumpsuit that did little to hide his strong build. But it was his strong and proud face that drew everyone's attention, features that each of them knew well.
"Is…is that…who I think it is?" Scott whispered.
"My Gods below," Marla whispered as she knelt. "It is. I did an entire semester on him and his achievements…"
McCoy was scanning him while trying to keep his own shock away. "He's in perfect health. I'm reading higher levels of immunity and muscle growth than a normal human, in keeping with genetic engineering."
Kirk stared at the almost regal face in awe before whispering a single word.
The image on the screen of the conference room showed a proud man, regal in many ways, confident and sure, a man used to ruling. He was clad in a dark suit, standing amid a room full of others like him, yet managing to stand alone all the same.
"Khan Noonien Singh," Spock intoned. He, Kirk and McGivers were seated around the table facing the screen. "Exact date of birth unknown. One of the many subjects of eugenic breeding to produce a superior human. From 1992 to 1996, absolute ruler of over one-quarter of your planet, including Asia and the Middle East continents. A key figure in the Eugenics Wars, standing well in the in-fighting of the other genetically engineered tyrants. Their battles soon led to open revolt and Khan vanished in 1997."
"He and his people must have decided it was better to leave Earth," Kirk noted. "Although I am surprised. His history never showed him the type to run from a fight."
"He wouldn't have seen it like that," McGivers stated. "Khan no doubt saw it as an opportunity to take over a new world and start a new empire."
Kirk glanced at her. "It seems you studied him quite…in-depth, McGivers."
She stiffened a bit. "All in the name of history, Captain."
"We are reading nearly 200 others in that ship," Spock stated. "From the initial scans, it appears they too are genetically enhanced, no doubt Khan's followers."
"He had many," Kirk stated. "He was the best of the lot. Brutal, yes, but not a monster. No great massacres or internal war, he imposed a true order." He smiled. "In so many ways, he was ahead of his time. His will to succeed against all odds, to take no dissension, he was the model of what the Empire would become."
Spock raised an eyebrow. "Captain, I have never heard you speak with such…reverence before."
Kirk shrugged. "He inspired many a person, Mr. Spock. I have to confess, growing up, Khan was in many ways my hero, a man I hoped to become."
"And now he's here," McGivers sighed. "Alive and in person."
"I would urge caution," Spock intoned. "This man was once one of the most brutal dictators in your world's history who has been in hibernation for nearly three centuries. We cannot be sure of his mentality upon waking to the present."
"If there was one thing Khan was famous for, it was his ability to adapt, Spock," Kirk intoned. There was a beeping as he pushed a button on the table. "Kirk here."
"Captain," McCoy's voice echoed. "I thought you'd like to know the patient is awake."
"Is he able to talk?"
"He just tried to throttle me so I believe he's up for a conversation."
Kirk smiled. "Usually, the attacks come after your treatment, Doctor. I'll be right there." He rose up, Spock and McGivers following. Kirk paused to adjust his uniform and took a deep breath. Even for a man used to double-crossing and fighting for his life to maintain command, meeting a man he'd idolized for years was quite intimidating.
That feeling only intensified as he entered the medical bay. Even sitting up in a bed, Khan seemed a dominating figure, his eyes instantly taking in Kirk and judging him over. He fought back his nervousness to nod. "Lord Khan. I'm Captain James Kirk. Welcome aboard the Enterprise."
"How long?" The voice was deep and smooth, the light accent giving it a special air.
"The year in the old Earth calendar is 2267," Spock intoned.
Khan glanced over at him, taking in the pointed years before settling back. "Almost three hundred years," he whispered. He looked back up. "My people?"
"All accounted for," McCoy stated. "I have to say, impressed by how long those old units stood the test of time."
"We made sure of their status before we left Earth," Khan stated. "Originally, there were to be only 84 of us. But as we prepared, more came from…other regions also seeking escape."
Kirk smiled. "Lord Khan, there's no need to hide anything."
He raised an eyebrow. "You know of me?"
"Every Earth child knows of you, Lord Khan," Kirk informed him. "Your campaign through Asia Minor is required reading at the Academy."
"And your attack on the United Nations," McGivers inserted. "That was a masterstroke in consolidating your control."
Khan's eyes took her in with a new spark. "Hmm….I see this future is more accepting of women than in my time." His lips curled up. "Most gratifying." McGivers gave a visible shudder at the stare.
Khan looked back to Kirk. "So Earth still exists?"
"It is the center of the great Terran Empire," Kirk spoke with pride. "We currently control three-fifths of the known galaxy and our reach spreads further."
Khan took that in. "You will revive the rest of my people." It was not a command but a statement of fact.
Kirk frowned. "With respect, Lord Khan, this is my ship, I give the orders here."
Khan simply stared back. "Am I a prisoner?"
"No," Kirk said. "But you must understand how…unusual this situation is, Lord Khan."
"I see." Khan paused. "Then, if I may, I would like to see some sort of historical records you may have. I am naturally eager to discover what has occurred in the last three centuries."
"Of course," Kirk said. "Lieutenant McGivers here can help with that." The small smiles on the faces of both Khan and McGivers indicated they were both quite happy with that idea.
Kirk was in a sour mood as he came back to his quarters. It had been a long day dealing with the issues of newly found ship as well as the usual fights among the crew. He entered his quarters, sighing as he rubbed at his back.
"A long day?" Marlena was lounging on the bed, naked, a sight that would normally excite Kirk yet today did little to alleviate his mood.
"Sulu and Chekov getting into another fight," he grumbled. "I'd throw them both in the Booth but they're too damn good at their stations and they know it."
"Plus, too far to get replacements," Marlena noted. She looked to the wall. "You do have an equalizer here."
Kirk nodded to his device, the one that allowed him to wipe out any foe with the push of a button. "I do at that. But even that has its limits. If I execute everyone who wants to strike at me, I'd have to pilot the ship myself."
Marlena shrugged. "Such is the weight of command." She reached to him. "Perhaps I can take your mind away from that."
He was reaching to her when his door chimed. Snarling, he stormed to open it. "I gave orders not to be-" He stopped as he saw who was on the other side. "Lord Khan." He nodded. "I didn't expect you."
"Captain," Khan said. He was clad in a dark red shirt and pants yet managed to make them look like a proper uniform. His hands were behind his back as he looked to Kirk. "I had hoped to be able to speak to you."
Kirk paused before stepping back, nodding. Khan entered as Kirk gave the bodyguards a look to let them know this was all right. Khan took note of Marlena, who had pulled a blanket around herself. "I see rank still has privileges," he said in a non-judgmental tone.
"Marlena, give us a moment." She rose, keeping the sheets on as she walked out with a surprising air of dignity. Khan watched her go before pacing, his hands behind his back. "I have been catching up on your history, Captain. Lieutenant McGivers has been quite the asset."
"I can imagine," Kirk intoned. The tiny smile on Khan's face told him all he needed to know. "She is a...vibrant woman. More direct than I am used to and more than willing to show her appreciation." He smiled. "Taming her would be a shame and yet she must be reminded as to who is the better."
"That is your own affair," Kirk brushed aside. "What is your assessment of the Empire?"
Khan looked about the cabin, his eyes falling on something nearby. "Ah, so you still play chess."
Kirk nodded at the small board. "Yes. While Spock prefers the tri-level version, I admit the classic still has its charms."
Khan studied a pawn piece in his hands. "The more things change.." He sighed. "Sadly, that comes to humanity as well."
"What do you mean?" Kirk asked.
"At first, I was impressed by the stories of your Empire." Khan stated as he put the pawn down. "The backbone shown by humanity was mostly absent in my time. It was how we succeeded, nearly took over the world."
"You left though," Kirk pointed out. "At the very time mankind needed your order."
"We were too divided," Khan related as he sat in a chair. "We failed to see that the fighting amongst ourselves only played into our enemies' hands until it was too late. I realized that leaving for a new world was the only way my people would survive."
"It was difficult afterward," Kirk stated. "But from the ashes of the old world, the Empire rose."
"Yes," Khan mused. "And yet…the nature of man remains." He held a hand to cut off Kirk's objection. "Come, Captain. You above all others know how things are. Your own crew is barely kept from each other's throats, any of them would kill another simply to advance. How many attempts on your own life have you dealt with? I have no issue with fighting to better yourself, Captain. That is understandable. But to play such games for such little stakes…" He shook his head. "That is truly a waste."
"It's the way we have been for a long time." Kirk said as he poured a glass of Romulan ale. He offered it but Khan waved it off. Kirk took it to sit across the table. "You promoted such ideas yourself."
"I promoted a way to better mankind," Khan pressed. "We were bred to be better, Kirk. That is not arrogance but mere fact. We were made to be conquerors. The Empire merely emulated us." He shook his head. "But they failed to realize a key factor. Conquest is easy. Control, on the other hand, is most difficult. You above all should understand that."
Kirk had to concede the point as Khan continued. "Empires have risen and fallen before, Kirk. Sooner or later, decay sets in. Worse, contentment. Your Empire is at the point where it is becoming complacent. And that, Kirk, is the point when control begins to slip."
Kirk narrowed his eyes. "That is very dangerous talk, Khan," he stated. "I hope you understand your survival is at my whim. You and your people."
Khan did not seem at all intimidated. "I merely state what any intelligent man would. Your Empire may last another century, Captain but it will fall. That is inevitable. The way it is governed, by distrust instead of true leadership, that will be its undoing. Unless something changes, everything you fight for is for naught."
"And you have a different way?" Kirk stated. "You and your followers, no doubt, taking over? Showing your superiority?"
"It is what we were bred for." Khan rose from his chair to face Kirk. "Yet I know I cannot do it alone, Captain. Every revolution begins with a small act. But it also begins with the gathering of those with like minds." He smiled. "You and I, Kirk, are much alike. You are a man of great intellect and daring. Had you been alive in my time, I believe you could have gone far." He moved closer. "A man like you is one I would gladly have on my side."
Kirk straightened. "My primary duty…"
"Is to yourself," Khan interrupted. "I respect that. As I'm sure you respect my wish to make something better for ourselves in this universe." He smiled. "We all have our dreams, Captain. Perhaps we can achieve ours together." He turned to leave, Kirk standing behind to mull over what he had just heard.
While not in the official protocols of the Imperial Starfleet, it was well known that there was a key rule on the Enterprise: Never interrupt the Captain in his off-duty. That Spock had dared to break that meant something serious so Kirk had wasted little time getting dressed upon receiving the summons. When he heard the reason why, his already irritable mood darkened considerably.
"How in all the hells did he get out of his room, let alone aboard his ship?" he demanded as he stalked to the bridge.
"He is quite resourceful," Spock intoned, calm as ever against his captain's rage. "He had a background in engineering in his youth. It appears he understood our systems better than expected. As for his escape, security and the transporter room chief are both confused to say the least."
"Security and the transporter chief are both dead to say the least," Kirk spat as they took the turbo lift. "I don't care how intelligent he is, he couldn't have gotten this far without…" He stopped and closed his eyes. "McGivers. That bitch sold us out to him."
"I did warn you that placing someone of her mentality with someone like him…"
"Spare me the gloating, Spock," Kirk snapped as the doors opened to the bridge. He stormed in, everyone instinctively backing up before him. "Where is he?"
"The ship is still resting off our bow, Captain," Sulu informed him. "They must be having trouble with the engines."
Spock was at his station scanning the ship. "I am detecting elevated life signs, Captain. It appears Khan has revived his crew."
"Weapons on full, Keptain," Chekov stated. "Ready to fire on command." He seemed to almost salivate at the thought of destroying the ship.
Kirk put his hands to his chin and pondered. "No."
Everyone looked at him in surprise. "Sir?" Sulu blurted.
"No," Kirk repeated. "I'm not giving him the chance to have an honorable death. Not after this." He hit the console on his chair. "Transporter room, lock onto Khan."
"Have a security team be on site. As soon as they arrive, transport him alone and bring him into custody."
There were a few minutes of tense silence on the bridge, everyone sharing uneasy looks. After a crackle of static, the voice returned. "They have him, sir. It took four stun blasts but he's finally down."
"Keep him there, I'll be right down." Kirk rose from his chair and marched to the turbolift. Frowning, Spock followed him into the tubrolift. He felt a need to ask but something told him Kirk was in no mood for questions right now and even Spock knew better than to push him.
They exited the hall onto the transporter room deck and saw a quartet of guards doing their best to drag Khan down the hallway. Even after the stun blasts, Khan was still in fighting condition and glared at Kirk. "Captain," he hissed. "I find your hospitality lacking."
Kirk stepped forward to glare at him. "I gave you a chance," he said in hard tone, his voice low. "A chance to accept a new life in the Empire. But you choose to rebel instead."
"I bow to no man," Khan stated. "Not to you or your Empire."
"Then you'll reap the consequences," Kirk stated. "This is how your legacy dies, Khan. I'm taking you and your people to the nearest Starbase. They can find someplace for you. The great Khan Singh, to live out the rest of his days on some pitiful rock of a prison planet." He turned to march away. "Put him in the Brig."
"You are a coward, Kirk!"
He froze before turning back. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me." Khan did his best to rise in the guards' grip. "You're afraid to stand against that you know is wrong. You are afraid to face the fact your precious Empire is doomed. And most of all…you fear me."
"I don't fear you, Khan."
"That is why you used trickery to capture me? Why you leave my people adrift and have your underlings take me?" Khan shook his head. "I thought you a stronger man, Kirk. But now, I see, you are as weak as the rest of humanity. Time has changed very little."
Kirk stared at him for a long moment. "Mr. Spock," he announced, his eyes fixed on Khan. "One of the planets in this system is capable of sustaining human life, correct?"
"Yes, Captain," the science officer confirmed. "Ceti Alpha V."
Kirk nodded. "All right. Find a place on the planet that can hold the crews of our ship and Khan's people." He narrowed his eyes. "You want to settle this, Khan, fine. We settle this, man to man, to the death."
Khan's lips curled up. "Ah, Kirk. So you have backbone after all. It shall be a shame to crush it." His gaze hardened. "But I will ever be victorious."
"We'll see, Khan. We'll see."
The place chosen as the makeshift arena was a rock quarry on the southern continent of the planet. It was a large area, the rock walls marked with pockets able to hold members of each crew. The Starfleet officers took one side with Khan's people on the other. The latter were under careful watch by armed guards but still showed great strength and silent dedication for their leader. McGivers was on their side, giving her former crewmates a defiant look and standing close to her new leader. Khan himself was doing a series of exercises to prepare himself, clad in a red suit.
On the other side of the area, Spock and McCoy were with Kirk, who had changed into a workout suit. "Captain, I must go on record protesting this action," Spock stated.
"For once, Jim, I have to agree with the green-blood," McCoy said. "This man has more strength than you."
"He doesn't have my training," Kirk stated. "I can handle him."
"If you do not…"
"I'm sure you'll make a fine captain, Mr. Spock." Kirk turned to march away. McCoy glanced at Spock and sniffed. "I'm not saluting you."
Kirk and Khan moved to the center of the arena, each carefully gauging the other. No words were spoken, they both knew what was at stake. Kirk moved first, throwing a punch Khan easily blocked and followed it with a kick. Khan threw his fist out for a blow that staggered Kirk but he shook it off to dodge a follow-up. Khan swooped in for another punch, Kirk barely dodging this one but it left him open for a savage chop to the side.
Kirk backed up as Khan moved in, kicking a cloud of sand at his face. Khan blinked and Kirk pressed the advantage, striking with a series of blows, hearing the cheers from his crew as he went on. He threw out another punch only to have Khan catch his fist in a hand. Kirk gasped as Khan clenched his hand, hearing knuckles crack. Khan lashed out to smash Kirk with a pair of backhands that made his ears ring. He twisted the arm, producing a loud breaking sound and Kirk couldn't help letting out a cry of pain. "Give it up, Kirk," Khan hissed. "I have five times your strength, you cannot defeat me."
Kirk slammed a kick into his midsection, causing Khan to release his hold. With his arm limp, Kirk nonetheless pushed past the pain to attack, punching at Khan. The man rolled with the blow to throw out a powerful kick. His foot planted into Kirk's chest, sending him flying back. Khan knelt on him, a knee pushing into Kirk's chest as his hand clutched the man's throat.
Kirk choked for breath but refused to give in. "Do it," he hissed. "If you want to, do it. I'm not begging."
Khan looked to the crowd surrounding them. "Shall I kill him?"
A loud roar went up and Kirk couldn't be honestly surprised to hear his own crew cheering his imminent demise on. "Is that what you want?" Khan called out. He ignored the responding cheer as he rose up. "Is that truly what you want? To continue this cycle you have bound yourselves to?"
The crowd quieted, confused as to what Khan was doing. The man spread out his hands. "Is this truly what you want?" he bellowed. "Kill this captain, let you all rise up in rank? Is this what humanity has come to?" He shook his head. "I fought for a humanity that knew how to use their strength well. I was made to rule over those who were inferior. I believed that three hundred years could change things…and yet it has not. The corruption, the weak desires, they are still there and undoing the backbone of what could be."
He looked around, the attention of every person on him. "That so much strength and potential can be wasted is appalling. And yet…" He paused, studying the people around him. "And yet, that desire to succeed is still there. That overwhelming push to make something of yourselves, to be the greatest, to do whatever it takes to achieve victory. That still remains ingrained in you all. The only problem is that is in the wrong cause.
"Look at yourselves. What do you fight for? Promotion? Rank? To raise higher so people will target you for the same reasons you target others? Why? Because that is the way of your Empire? An Empire that seeks merely to rule, to no longer truly conquer? An Empire content to rest on what they have rather than make a better future? An Empire that is destined to fall. Perhaps not now but eventually, it will fall and what will your achievements mean then? Why waste yourselves like that?"
He paused to look at his own people. "Two hundred years ago, we ruled an empire of our own. I was a king but we were too divided to understand the dangers facing us. Or the opportunity we were given. But now…now, I see before me something that needs to be changed. This Empire cannot exist as it is. It needs leadership that understand the burdens of command, that can change, that can adapt…That can face the rigors the future will bring us." He extended his arms. "And I see the people who can make that happen."
A murmur went out as Khan pointed at Kirk, who had managed to get to his feet. "This man…he did not stop, no matter the odds. He kept fighting me. I am his superior but he is no man's inferior. That is the spirit I want, the spirit required to survive, to build a new force." He waved his hands about. "Instead of wasting your energies fighting each other for petty annoyances, you can use it for something better. Something that can transform this Empire into a truly and lasting foundation.
"This is your chance. The chance for all of you to become something greater than what you are. The chance to rise above the pettiness and small dreams that have held you back. Join with me and you will be more than just a crew of small-minded figures, you will be an army that will make this galaxy tremble!" He spread his hands wide to encompass the entire arena as his voice built to a booming shout. "Will you fight among yourselves like jackals? Or will you join me and rule as lions?"
The cheers of the crowd erupted as the Enterprise crew made their answer. Even Spock was letting out a shout, although not quite as loud. Khan's own followers joined in, all united behind the man's stunning presence. Khan looked to Kirk, the captain staring back with a shred of defiance. With his good hand, Kirk reached to his uniform and, with ceremony, tore the Imperial insignia off it. He held it up before throwing it down to his feet.
The sound of tears echoed through the rock walls as embalms floated down, creating a field of cloth in the arena. Kirk held up his first and cried out to his crew. "Khan! KHAAAAAAAAN!" The crew took up the cry, Khan's followers joining in. He stood in the center of the pit, his hands still stretched and a look of sheer triumph on his face as once more, the voices of the strong swept over him. In that moment, victory was never so sure in his mind.
Kirk was nursing a glass in his hands, the officer's room empty. His right hand was still encased in a cast but it wouldn't take long to heal. His face showed bruises but otherwise no injuries as he gazed out the window at the stars passing by. He turned his head as the door opened to show Bones and Spock. Both men entered, their uniforms still showing the place where the insignias had been torn off. "Is he settling in?" Kirk asked.
"Lord Khan appears to find your quarters most pleasing, Captain," Spock stated. "You might be interested to know that Marlena is now in your new room."
Kirk was surprised. "I had assumed Khan would take her as well."
"Evidentially, McGivers is all he wants," McCoy said as he took the bottle and poured ale into his glass. He saw Kirk's look and smirked. "You're not in command anymore, remember?"
"True," Kirk admitted as he leaned back. There was silence before he looked over to see both men staring at him. "Something on your mind, gentlemen?"
"Just when did you and Khan cook this up?" McCoy demanded.
"Cook what up?"
"Oh, cut the crap, Kirk, we've known each other too long. I had my suspicions but I realized you and Khan set this all up."
"Your actions were not logical at all, Captain," Spock noted. "That you had preplanned this encounter was the only avenue that made sense."
"Not all of it," Kirk winced, feeling his ribs. "I had thought he'd pull his punches a bit more."
McCoy shook his head. "Of all the damned fool...why? Why commit treason like this?"
"I must confess to confusion myself," Spock admitted. "I am used to illogical moments from you but this defies reason."
Kirk was silent, sipping his drink before answering. "I did it…because he was right. You know it, Spock, the Empire won't last, not the way it is. We need something to change it in order for it to survive."
"And Khan is it?"
"You saw him, Bones. You saw how the crew reacted. Sulu and Chekov hate each other but they're willing to follow that man into hell. He's united this crew in a way I never could." He shook his head. "A man like that…you don't fight him. You either get out of his way or be on his side."
"No, Spock. Revolution. We're not the only ones who feel the same way about the Empire. There are more out there, more ships, more people willing to follow Khan. We gather a force before Starfleet knows what's happening. Once his message gets out, I know people will flock to Khan's side. He can lead the change better than anyone I know and make it last."
"And us?" McCoy asked.
Kirk smiled. "I'm willing to stand as his aide. I've been in the big chair, Bones, all it got me was a lot of headache. If Khan wants to rule, so be it. Frankly, I don't think anyone would challenge him and those who do will fail."
Spock seemed dubious. "It is a surprise, Captain, to hear you willing to settle for second after going to such lengths to be Captain."
Kirk shrugged as he gazed outward. "Perhaps it's time to hear an old Earth saying, Mr. Spock. It's better to serve in heaven than rule in Hell."
The three men were silent as they all mused on the seeds they had just helped plant in this galaxy.
Just a one-shot that hit me, all comments welcomed.