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What's the matter with Captain Pike?

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Captain Pike strolled through the undergrowth, gently pushing aside plant-life and bushes until he stepped out into a clearing which was a hive of activity. Nobody noticed his appearance at first so Pike took the opportunity to take in the scene. Science teams were dotted around the terrain, split up into groups and all huddled around their respective discoveries. He spotted Nhan covering their backs in the corner, the one place with a perfect view of the entire area. Their eyes met across the terrain and Chris nodded a greeting back; it was always good to confirm that his chief security officer was as alert as he knew her to be.

During his tactical sweep Chris spotted a few familiar faces and smiled when they glanced up at his arrival, he indicated with a gesture to continue with their work; he didn't want to get between a scientist and their latest breakthrough. It was a welcome feeling seeing the crew look so at ease; Discovery was a science vessel after all and for the first time in a while it was being just that. 

Whether the fragments of the signals emitting from the planet linked to their red signal problem remained to be seen, but until then they had a week or so free and people eager to survey a new world. Chris knew the feeling, just being able to stretch his legs on new terrain, touch alien plant life and breathe new air gave him a thrill, and the sky was something else.

His legs automatically carried him forwards, past several science teams and towards the centre of the ground team's base which overlooked a spectacular view.

Chris actually felt his throat constrict and he lost the ability to think entirely, he hadn't had the chance to simply feel in awe of something for far too long. The planet had two suns and three moons orbiting it; due to electromagnetic radiation the UV light emitting from all of them collided and became visible to the naked eye. The colours and waves morphed across the entire terrain, it was like watching the northern lights but a hundred times bigger and brighter. It definitely made his top 10 list; it was elegant, unpredictable and utterly beautiful.

Pike's attention was pulled from the phenomena when he sensed someone approach the command centre, he turned to see Ensign Tilly walking towards him with her head glued to a data pad.

Her eyes flicked up and she almost dropped the pad when she registered who she was walking towards. Chris relaxed his stance and tried an easy smile, not wanting to spook her and knowing from past experience that Tilly was unusually nervous around him. His efforts didn't stop the panicked look that invaded her face nor did it stop her stutter.

"Oh Captain! I didn't see you arrive, I mean when you did you get here, why are you here? Is there something wrong?" Tilly blabbered at the speed of light causing Chris' lips to quirk upwards in amusement; his smile widened when she stood to attention and hastily slapped a "Sir." On the end of her ramblings.

"At ease Ensign." Pike answered with a chuckle, making sure she relaxed a tad before she gave herself a heart attack.

When he was sure her brain wasn't going to catch alight he launched into answering her many questions. "About 5 minutes ago, wanted to see the 'magical' sky for myself and no." He couldn't help but tease. "Is that satisfactory enough for you Ensign?"

Tilly's mouth fell open and snapped shut a few times but no words fell out. The shocked silence lasted for all of two seconds. Her face instantly turned red and she suddenly started to word-vomit. "Oh God... Erm yeah, I'm sorry that I asked so many questions and that..."

Chris laughed properly that time and he held up a hand to stop her mid-rant. "Relax Tilly, I'm just teasing you."

Tilly's mouth slammed shut and she blinked in surprise before a relieved smile fell into place. "Thank God, I thought I'd gone and fucked that up there..." Her relief was obliterated and replaced by mortification when she realised what she'd just said and her hand moved to cover her mouth. "Oh frick..."

Chris shook his head incredulously and tried to resist smiling too hard, what was it about Tilly? Everything she did was endearing, even when she slipped up. He decided to be merciful and steered the conversation onto a subject that would hopefully prove to be a lot safer.

"Forget about it, now... tell me about what you've learnt down here."

His diversionary tactic worked a treat and Tilly immediately broke out into a huge grin, and started laying out the team's discoveries at warp speed. Her arms waved animatedly as she walked him over to the different sites, pointing out excavation sites and showing him the impressive results on their data pads.

The Captain greeted each team as Tilly walked them around, although he had to admit his mind was wandering. For some reason his senses were on alert and he felt his skin tingle with anticipation. He tried to shake off the nagging feeling in the back of his mind but to no avail, something on the edge of his awareness was warning him of something; he just didn't know what that something was.

Regardless of the fact nothing seemed obviously amiss Pike rarely ignored his instincts. As he redid a sweep he noticed that Nhan looked as uneasy as he felt, her grip on her phaser rifle tightened subconsciously and her eyes swept over the space as suspiciously as his did. 

Pike eventually glanced back to Tilly and realised that she'd wandered more towards the edge of the hillside, and that a rather large space had opened between them. He started to close the gap when suddenly somebody shouted causing everyone to snap to the interruption. 

“Hey, what's that?"

Chris snapped to the Ensign who had pointed out something; when he followed their gaze it took him a minute to see just what had been spotted. Near one of the research teams, about 10 metres away stood a humanoid figure of some sort, except it wasn't really a figure and honestly it wasn't completely humanoid. It actually reminded him of a ghost.

Pike didn't get any further time to evaluate as suddenly the apparition began moving. His heart shot into his mouth when he realised it was charging at lightening speed and that it was heading straight towards Ensign Tilly.

"Ensign watch out!" Chris yelled out, his feet already moving.

He raced against the clock to put himself between Tilly and the mystery life-form, a life-form which was moving at impossibly fast speeds and one which had only made aggressive moves.

Tilly hadn't heard his warning or if she had her brain hadn't connected it with the action to move, she was frozen in shock and still directly in the thing's path. Pike's heart thudded loudly as he pushed his body to its limits, his feet striking the ground just that little bit faster with each breath. He reached Tilly's side a fraction of a second before the entity and forcibly shoved her aside.

Chris had no idea if his intervention saved her or even if she had landed well, because suddenly all the air was stolen from his chest and he went flying sideways when an almighty force crashed into his body. The force continued to press into him, carrying him further away from safety and straight over the edge of the embankment.

Pike distantly heard people shout his name and then it was all drowned out by a high-pitch squeal, one which was so blood-curdling that he tried to bring up his hands to cover his ears despite the fact he was tumbling down a cliff.

He didn't get his hands anywhere near his head. Instead he had to focus on making his body as small and ball-like as possible, anything to protect his internal organs and bones from the spectacular tumble. Chris grunted with each impact on the ground, he yelped and cried out as each area of his body took a battering and his skin was scraped to hell by rocks and undergrowth.

Chris had lost all sense of direction and time so he had no idea how long he had been falling uncontrollably, nor did he know how much torture he had to endure before the embankment levelled out. All he knew was that everything hurt, he tasted blood in his mouth and the longer he fell the more speed he picked up.

Pike yelled out when his leg hit something hard and bent back unnaturally, slowing his descent somewhat but doing absolutely nothing to help any of his other injuries. His brief stall also meant that the thing that had pushed him off the edge had caught up, it gripped a hold of his body and forced them both to tumble downwards again at speed.

Chris tried to dislodge the surprisingly solid body by any means necessary but the thing held on tight, it clung to his body and clawed at his clothes and face, trying desperately to keep a hold of him as they fell. He gasped loudly and coughed for air when the mysterious life-form ended up elbowing his chest at the same time as he hit a boulder, which literally had him sandwiched between a rock and a hard place.

When the life-form slammed his head into the ground in time with a tumble, Chris' vision flashed white and the tumbling view of the world faded to nothing.

The next thing he knew was pain, pain and the taste of blood. Pike gasped awake and shot up with a convulsing gulp, which was not the smartest idea considering what his body, in particular his ribs, had just been through. Not to mention his head...

Chris tried to open his eyes but all he saw was the world tilting violently; his internal compass was completely off and quite honestly he felt as though he was at sea. He summarised as best he could; his head felt detached from his body, his ribs throbbed in time with each breath, he had to have a million cuts and bruises and to top it all off his leg was twisted to hell.

He clutched his midsection miserably, hacking and coughing until his lungs inflated and his vision stopped swimming so violently. Chris groaned and brought his hand up to his head when a vicious wave of nausea threatened to topple him, that was when he realised that he wasn't falling down a cliff anymore, that he seemed to be on solid ground and that he must have passed out during the fall.

Another thought came to mind, one which had him alert and on the defensive instantly; the mysterious life-form.

He straightened instinctively and blinked away the blurriness in his vision. His instincts went crazy and adrenaline kicked into overdrive as his body reacted to the threat which had been clinging to him not moments before. It didn't take him long to spot the figure; it was standing across from him and as still as a statue.

Chris swallowed down his anxiety wishing that he had something with him to defend himself. Without anything obvious in reach he had to fall back on talking, he couldn't discern anything obvious from the entity's expression or posture so he went with a pretty standard question. 

"Who are you?" He croaked, coughing when his voice cracked.

The figure said nothing in return, in fact the only sign that it had even heard him was a tilted head. 

A tense silence stretched out and Chris once again wished for some backup or at least communications, he was on his own here and fast running out of options. Out of nowhere the figure took one step forward causing Pike to jump and try to shuffle backwards in response, well he would have moved backwards if he could feel his leg.

Knowing running in his state simply wasn't an option, Chris took a deep breath and tried contact once more. "What do you want?"

The figure didn't wait for him to finish his sentence before it was racing forwards, racing right towards him. Chris back-pedalled into the dirt and his heart fell, he remembered yelling something as he desperately tried to keep away from the oncoming storm. He cried out when he felt the initial contact but this time the entity didn't stop, instead it went straight through his body.

That was when everything went dark.

 


 

Tilly raced down the cliffside in an effort to catch up to Nhan. She almost stumbled and fell multiple times and her chest was tightening with every step. She hadn’t been able to have one coherent thought since the Captain had slammed into her. The memory of how it happened was rather fragmented, the only thing she was sure of was that one minute she’d been talking to Captain Pike and the next he’d knocked into her at full pelt. Oh yeah, and she remembered the weird translucent man that had been heading straight for her…

She knew that she should have moved out of the way, but her feet had been rooted to the floor like she’d stepped in concrete. Her inability to move had almost cost her everything, the ghost was nearly upon her when suddenly she was falling sideways and downwards. Tilly landed with a pained grunt, the forceful collision with the ground snapped her out of her stupor and everything came back into focus at once.

“Captain!” Tilly cried out when she turned and caught a glimpse of him going over the edge; of him being grabbed onto by the ghostly figure, and of him being pushed into oblivion.

No! Her mind screamed as she scrambled to her feet, the aches and pains from her previous tumble forgotten. Tilly raced towards the edge; the only thought running through her mind was that this was all her fault. The Captain had been thrown off of a cliff to save her.

She would never forget what she saw when she reached the edge; Captain Pike tumbling down the hill with a hostile life-form clawing at his body. Tilly winced when she saw him crash into a rock with a pained grunt, followed by further cries when he burst through the undergrowth; that was when he disappeared from view. For a while all she had to know he was still breathing were the sounds of crashing and yelps of pain, although even that stopped after a time. 

Fearing the worst, Tilly, Nhan and a medical officer started to pick their way down to the bottom of the cliffside. They tried to calculate the Captain’s trajectory and work out where he would have ended up based upping the initial fall. The rest of the team remained up top and made securing the command centre a priority, as well as coordinating with Discovery.

With Commander Reno left in charge on the surface, the trio were free to search for their missing Captain; their brave, reckless, selfless Captain.

Thankfully it didn’t take them long to find the destructive trail down the cliff, nor did it take long to find the man himself. The not so good news was that he was unconscious and he looked like shit.

Tilly zoned out again and all she could focus on was the blood trickling down his face, how still and pale he looked and his his leg was bent at an unnatural angle. She distantly clocked Nhan forming a perimeter around them all, her phaser scanning the area for any threats or sign of the hostile life-form. 

She snapped back into focus when the medic raced forward and began administering hypos. Tilly took the final few steps forward and was about to offer the medic her help when Captain Pike's eyes flew open; he bolted upright into a seated position and immediately started panicking.

"What?" He muttered, his eyes wide and wildly swinging around the area; for some reason he didn't seem to recognise them or that they were here to help.

"Keep still Sir, you've got a concussion."

The medic's suggestion didn't go down well at all. Pike tried to scramble away from the man, muttering curses and words that Tilly couldn't decipher. She rushed forward to intercept his path before he did anymore damage to his body; she could already see by the way he clutched his ribs and leg that his body was in misery.

"Don't touch me with that..." Pike ground out as he tried to escape, albeit not very fast.

The medic tried to close the distance again, not relinquishing his hold on the hypo or tri-corder. "Captain, it's just painkillers. You've got a concussion okay? You need to let us take care of you."

Yeah, Tilly could tell none of this was registering. The Captain looked like a horse about to bolt. 

She reached his side and gently tried to get his attention, waving the medic off for the moment. "Hey Captain, it's me; Ensign Tilly."

He wasn't backing away anymore but his eyebrows were still furrowed, and he appeared to be searching her face for something. Tilly took this as a positive sign and continued.

"Do you remember what happened? We were at the command base, I was showing you our results and then you pushed me out of the way of a ghost." She indicated to his disheveled state, his ripped uniform and blood stained skin. "You had quite a ride down the cliff."

Pike followed her words sluggishly, his eyes looking distant for a moment. When she indicated his injuries it was like closing a connection; he gasped, clutched his ailments and suddenly looked alert.

"I remember..." He muttered, mostly to himself.

Nhan was shooting him worried glances, and from the looks of it she hadn't had any luck tracking down the hostile alien. "Captain, did you see where the life-form went?"

Pike's attention snapped to her, something unidentifiable flickered across his face but only for a second. He nodded his head to the clearing. "I think I saw him go that way, it was just before I passed out."

"Speaking of which." The medic interrupted, moving forwards with his medical beg tentatively. "May I Sir?"

Pike hesitated for a second before eventually nodding, allowing the medic to begin to treat him. Tilly thought his reluctance was strange but she didn't comment on it, perhaps the Captain didn't like Doctors?

Whilst the medic began to assess the more serious injuries and provide relief, Nhan began her scan in the direction Pike had indicated, her rifle swinging over the undergrowth as she went.

The Doctor's tri-corder beeped and he read from the readout. "Well Captain, you've been very lucky. You have a mild sprain in your left leg, bruised ribs and superficial cuts and bruises. Your most serious injury is the head wound but that appears to be nothing more than a concussion."

The Captain looked distracted throughout the diagnosis, his eyes wandered over the area and once or twice lingered on Nhan. When the Doctor finished, Chris managed a strained smile and quipped. "I don't feel very lucky."

Tilly frowned when she caught the wince he tried to hide, her eyes travelled down his body, to all of the bruised and cuts. When she saw the swelling and the pain flickering across his face, the guilt hit her all at once.

"I'm so sorry Captain." She suddenly stuttered.

Pike frowned and his gaze flicked to her, seeming on edge for some reason. "What for?"

Tilly waved her arms at him dramatically. "For this! If I'd moved out of the way then you wouldn't have had to out yourself in danger, you wouldn't be laying here bleeding and hurting..." she trailed off when she noticed a trickle of blood creep down his neck.

The medic noticed it too and began to clean up the back of his patient's head. Chris smiled kindly and tried his most reassuring tone. "Don't worry about it Ensign, it was my decision and I'm alright."

Tilly scoffed despite the situation, how could anyone call this alright?

"You got thrown down a cliff." She dead-panned in disbelief.

Pike's lips quirked but strangely his gaze started to wander again and he almost looked nervous. "What doesn't kill you..." The accompanying smile didn't reach his eyes, which was unusual for him, and why did he look so distracted?

Tilly didn't have an opportunity to think more on the oddities of the situation, because Commander Nhan chose that moment to return.

"There's no sign of the hostile life-form." Nhan informed the trio, her phaser still held tightly and an air of suspicion clinging to her. "Discovery can't pick anything up either and the ground team are all clear."

Pike seemed to take the news in his stride. "It must have scarpered." He mused, before chuckling. "Maybe we scared it away."

Nhan didn't look so convinced, she still hadn't dropped her alert state. "Perhaps..." She eventually allowed.

The medic finished his full checkup and pulled out his communicator. "We need to get you to Discovery for a full medical check up." He stated calmly, far more calmly than anyone should be whilst ordering a full blown medical check up.

The Captain didn't look calm at all, he was fidgeting and his eyes were swinging over the landscape nervously, seeming on edge. Honestly, Tilly didn't blame him.

"What's wrong?" She blurted out, her worry for Pike overriding the requirement to not ask demanding questions.

The medic glanced to her and smiled reassuringly. "Probably nothing, but it's standard procedure after coming into contact with an unknown element."

The news seemed to calm Pike a little and he worked to bury the worst of his fear. He nodded to Nhan. "Commander, take charge down here. I'll be back as soon as I can."

Nhan accepted the order and started to prepare for a transport to the cliffside. Tilly walked over to Nhan wanting to hitch a ride back to the top; she had ongoing experiments to worry about as well as data collection tasks. 

She took one last wistful look at the Captain, who was being supported upright by the Doctor, before they all got enveloped in a blinding light. They all began to phase out of view from the planet, to be transported to their respective destinations. As Tilly watched Pike grow more distracted and detached, she couldn't help but listen to the nagging thought in the back of her mind.

No matter how hard she tired, Tilly couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong...

 


 

Commander Saru was stunned when he received a message from the ground team about an accident, or more accurately some kind of unknown attack. What he was not surprised about was the fact that it was Captain Pike who was the unfortunate soul who had been injured; the human had an illogical knack for ending up on the wrong end of a scuffle at a rather ridiculous rate. Really, how was Saru supposed to do his job and keep his Captain safe when the man insisted in diving off cliffs?

Saru sighed wearily when he entered sickbay, already seeing a commotion around Pike’s bed and the many hands wiping blood away and securing bandages. The patient didn’t look happy to be there, in fact he was practically glaring at the nurses who were insisting on wrapping his sprained leg and bruised ribs. Well, perhaps if Captain Pike didn’t like the medic’s attention then he should take better care of himself. Saru kept all of these thoughts to himself of course; he strode up to his Captain’s injured side and studied the proceedings in silence.

He’d already been informed by Doctor Culber that the Captain’s injuries weren’t deemed to be life-threatening, the only real concern was the head injury and determining any effects of coming into contact with an alien life-form. That was something which Captain Pike vehemently denied, he didn’t believe that there were any negative effects and he kept insisting that he felt perfectly fine. Doctor Culber didn’t seem too convinced, that was until the scans came back clear; besides the physical injuries Captain Pike was apparently completely healthy. So why did Saru have an uneasy feeling around his commanding officer?

Saru approached Pike as he was being prepared for release, as usual the Captain didn’t want to stick around in sickbay for long. “Commander Nhan reports that there’s no sign of the entity.”

The Captain turned to face him, his head titled to the side whilst his lips pursed together showing his confusion, which was odd.

“Huh?” Pike eventually managed, he shook his head a few times like he was gathering his thoughts. After a few moments he finally nodded in understanding. “Oh right yeah… I doubt they will find it, if the entity ever existed in the first place.”

Saru stared at Pike with trepidation, had the knock on the head affected his memory more than Culber had diagnosed? “Captain, the entire landing party have reported seeing the entity and it was the reason you were pushed off the edge of the cliff. It definitely existed.”

Pike raised his eyebrows in disbelief and answered diplomatically. “As you say Commander.”

Saru decided the best course of action was to let the issue go, Commander Nhan and the security team on the planet would keep an eye out for any dangers even if the Captain had forgotten the entity and the threat from anything planet-side.

He remained on the outskirts of the medical team and waited patently until Pike was discharged from sickbay, even if Culber was reluctant to sign the papers. When the duo left sickbay Saru started to inform the Captain just what he had missed in his sickbay stay. 

Saru fell into step behind his Captain and listened to Captain Pike’s orders. “I want all teams evacuated off the planet. We need to get moving.”

“Captain?” Saru queried, his utter bewilderment showing. “We have still got research to carry out and the Discovery hasn’t determined the location of the red signal yet. The signals are our number one priority.”

Pike stopped walking abruptly and turned to his first officer aggressively. “I decide what’s a priority Mr Saru.” He snarled uncharacteristically. "Now get those teams back on board before I find someone who will. That’s an order.”

The Captain snapped the command and turned about to leave without waiting for a response, leaving Saru to stare after his CO and wonder what he had done to earn such open aggression? Captain Pike had never acted like this before, he was kind and considerate and he always had a good reason for his orders. Frankly his current actions reminded Saru of another Captain; of one he thought he’d forgotten. Saru gulped hard when Pike’s words caused a nasty flashback to serving under Gabriel Lorca...

 


 

Chris jolted awake, no that wasn't right. He had already been awake, he must have been. His eyes had been open, he was dressed and in the ready room and he'd been partway through a search whilst sitting upright in his chair. So why did it feel like he'd just woken up and why was his memory fuzzy?

He rubbed a hand over his tired features and squinted at the terminal in front of him; he frowned when he saw the search parameters. What was he doing searching for a planet in Klingon space?

The more he thought about things the more questions he had, the most prominent one being: Why was he in his ready room when he had no memory of coming here?

The last thing Pike remembered was transporting to the planet, seeing the science teams, the mysterious tackling life-form and then nothing. As far as he was aware this was his first time waking up since that thing had charged towards him, but how could that be?

When he started to analyse his thoughts and really think about his past movements, he knew his internal records must be wrong. He had memories where the gaps were; memories that weren't his. Memories of Tilly and Nhan planet-side, of sickbay and Doctor Culber, and of snapping at Saru...

Did he really do that?

Chris suddenly gasped aloud and dropped the pad, which landed with a heavy thunk on the table. He clutched his head as a thudding pain took hold; its only purpose seemingly was to drive him out of his mind. He knew something wasn't right; the pain in his head and the fragmented memories all but confirming it, not to mention the reports from the planet about the teams packing up...

The splitting pain suddenly got a whole lot worse, honestly it was agonising and all encompassing. Pike fell to the ground and writhed on the floor, anything to escape the burning raging through his mind. What the hell was wrong with him, was he dying?

As he lay there on the floor in misery, he started to hear voices and thoughts that didn't belong to him. He felt someone else's emotions; someone else's rage.

"We must destroy." The voice echoed throughout his mind, hissing and burning as it spread.

Chris curled up into a foetal position, still clutching his head which he honestly thought was about to split in two. “Destroy what?” he managed to gasp, his concern from the threat overriding his own agony.

“Everything.” Came the cold reply.

Pike didn't have a chance to respond to the terrifying declaration, as that was when everything behind his head exploded at once and he tumbled into the darkness.

Chapter Text

Michael glanced up to the Captain from her science station for the umpteenth time that hour, and she couldn’t help but notice the subtle differences in Pike’s attitude. His entire posture was tense, he stabbed at the console with naked aggression and he snapped orders with an unusual bite in his tone. There was a general aura of anxiety surrounding the bridge, one which had all the crew members on edge and one which gave Michael nasty flashbacks to Lorca and the mirror universe…

Michael tried to stay objective and banish the past to where it belonged but she simply couldn't stop making comparisons, not when Pike continued to be so cold to the crew, and not when he was acting like a military dictator with little regard to other’s opinions. His current behaviour was about as far from Captain Pike’s character as one could get, and Michael was… concerned.

Michael started to suspect something was off when the order flowed through to start evacuating the planet, and so did the rest of the officers on the bridge but like the good officers they were; they performed their duty and did what was required of them. Perhaps there was a good reason to cut this mission short, one which the Captain hadn’t had a chance to brief the senior staff on yet?

That theory went straight out of the window when Pike stalked onto the bridge grumpily, no warm hello as usual, and sat down in the chair without a word looking a little worse for where. Her first thoughts were that the Captain had been released from sickbay too early but then again Saru would never have let him leave without being checked over fully, neither would Culber. Saru entered a few moments later and Michael noted that her friend looked shaken; that didn’t happen often. She wanted desperately to take him aside and ask him what the hell was going on, but Pike soon put a stop to that. He ordered everyone to remain at their posts, keep quiet so he could think and then he absorbed himself in the chair’s terminal. 

Very odd…

Michael made silent notes and kept her eyes on the Captain and the rest of the crew, content to simply observe until the Captain issued an order that she simply could not ignore. “Detmer, plot a course - 2.1 mark 3."

It took a few silent seconds for the crew to understand the numerous problems with that order, the where’s of it and how exactly the ship would have to travel to get to it. The coordinates were in Klingon space, smack bang in the middle of the hostile zone, where the treaty specifically stated that no federation vessels could ever go. Michael double checked the coordinates and swallowed hard as the computer showed her the same warning that was ringing in her head; she frowned heavily and shot Saru a worried glance.

Saru stepped around his terminal towards the Captain’s chair. “Captain, I’m not sure if you’re aware but that area of space is out of bounds without express permission from the Klingon High Chancellor.”

Pike turned to Saru coldly; Michael noted that the entire bridge crew had stopped and Detmer was awaiting confirmation before setting such a suicidal course. She never thought she’d see the day when the bridge crew questioned Pike’s orders, not with his integrity and honour, but here they were.

“What is it with you and not following my orders today Mr Saru? I do not need to explain myself to you.” Pike snarled uncharacteristically.

Right okay, something was really wrong here.

Michael too stepped out from her station and strode towards the chair purposefully, coming to Saru’s defence and hoping to mediate this conflict. All the bridge’s eyes were on her. “Sir, with all due respect…"

Pike snapped to her and she almost recoiled when she saw the naked anger burning in his gaze. “I don’t need you telling me where I can and cannot go either Burnham.”

Michael swallowed down the snarky retort on the tip of her tongue and tried to instil some calm into the proceedings, although after seeing just how furious Pike was it wasn’t easy. He was all coiled up with rage, like a spring and he looked about ready to explode. It just wasn’t him, Captain Pike was a good man. “If you could just explain why we’re leaving the signal behind Captain, and who issued the order for us to travel off course. If you don’t mind me saying, this all seems a little strange and you have suffered a head injury recently..."

Pike’s eyes blazed brighter and he got to his feet, causing Michael and Saru to step back automatically as their bodies reacted to the threat. “I am fine.” He snarled, and then turned his impassioned gaze to Detmer. “Why the hell are we not at warp yet? What do I have to do around here to get people to listen to me?” He yelled the last part.

Detmer glanced anxiously towards Michael and Saru, wanting to follow orders but unsure if she should. Saru took one look at his raging Captain and made a quick decision, one which Michael approved of even if she hated the circumstances that brought this on. “Belay that Lieutenant. Maintain position.”

Pike whirled on his first officer like a raging storm, only just refraining himself from physically taking a hold of him. “Who do you think are? I’m going to have you up on charges for this…”

Michael noticed the plain aggression and more importantly how close Pike was to escalating this confrontation to a physical altercation. The signs were all there; the clenched fists, the puffed out chest, the invasion into Saru’s personal space. Her senses for danger went off the chart and she stepped forwards automatically, wanting to get to the Captain before he did something stupid. Something was seriously wrong here; he clearly needed medical attention.

Saru clearly agreed; he stayed calm somehow and addressed the Captain in a steady voice. “Captain Pike I am relieving you of your duty. Commander Burnham please escort the Captain to medical for a full work-up."

Michael nodded sharply and moved to do as ordered, that was until Pike took a step back out of range and pointed angrily at Saru. “You can’t relieve me, I’m the Captain of this vessel!” 

This was the most alien Captain Pike had sounded since this out-of-character attitude had started. Michael was growing seriously worried for him and what this could mean for all their futures. Pike was kind, compassionate and not at all like whoever or whatever had done this to him.

The Captain turned towards Burnham suddenly, something desperate clouded his gaze and Michael got the impression that he was falling apart. “Burnham, escort Saru to the brig for mutiny.” His voice even cracked.

Michael glanced sideways to Saru and their gazes met wistfully. The irony wasn’t lost on Michael that they were both in a situation like this again, the only difference this time was that Saru was in the right where she hadn’t been. Mutiny wasn’t mutiny when the Captain was impaired or not in his right mind.

Michael closed the distance between her and Captain Pike and placed a comforting hand on his arm, gentle enough to not be forceful but strong enough to make sure he didn’t scarper away or hurt himself. “I’m sorry Captain but this is for your own good, you’re not acting like yourself.”

She was half expecting further abuse or shouting, what she hadn’t expected was for Pike’s furious expression to crack and for him to fall to his knees screaming whilst he clutched his head in agony. Everyone around the bridge fell into a shocked silence, then several people acted at once. Michael went to grab Pike before he hit the ground and injured himself even further; Saru had similar thoughts. She heard Bryce contact medical teams and somebody else paged Doctor Culber directly.

The only small mercy was that Saru and Michael managed to catch their falling Captain before he hit his head again; they slowly lowered him to the ground and tried to keep his limbs in place. Despite their restraining hands, his body thrashed wildly beneath them and he cried out in agony over and over. Finally, after a few moments of hell, his limbs ceased moving and Michael got a glimpse of Pike’s blue eyes. They were clouded with pain and confused but they were his; they were kind, familiar and devoid of the rage that had consumed them just seconds before.

Pike blinked around the space blearily, tears forming in the corners of his eyes as his face screwed up in misery again. He groaned and his whole body tensed as another shockwave wracked his body. Michael didn’t know what to do with this, there were no obvious wounds to address; she hadn’t felt as helpless like this in some time.

“Captain? What’s happening? Talk to me.” Burnham pleaded.

Chris glanced between Saru and Michael, he didn’t seem to be able to look them in the eye like he was remembering what had happened and the guilt was hitting him all at once. Pike suddenly screamed and thrashed against their hands; he started to mutter something about someone else, and that he couldn’t let him do this. Michael stared down at her Captain and shook her head in bewilderment at his words, she could barely hear him let alone understand just what he was trying to tell her.

In between spasms Pike managed to splutter a sentence out, even if it was broken. “Burnham… You’ve got to stop me… before I hurt... something inside of me… wants to… wants to…”

Michael’s mind whirred at a lightening fast speed and her eyes widened in shock, her mouth going dry when she realised just what Pike had admitted. This man beneath her, the one in incredible pain and fighting to hold on was her Captain. This was the real Captain Pike that they had all grown to love; something was attacking him from the inside and Michael felt so helpless sat here and unable to stop his anguish.

“It wants to what Captain?” She muttered quietly, unsure if she actually wanted to hear his answer. Michael saw him drifting again so she shook his body urgently. “Captain stay with me, you can fight this.”

Pike’s body suddenly stilled and he stopped pushing against their restraining hold; he opened his eyes, his expression blank and replied in an alien voice. “It wants you all dead."

That was when the Captain snapped.

Michael felt her head explode in a symphony of pain, her nose erupted under the assault and she belatedly acknowledged that Pike, her Captain, had just elbowed her in the face. She yelled out in shock and fell back on her haunches, her limbs buckling and muscles going weak.

Chaos reigned supreme across the bridge. Michael heard her crew-mates begin to shout out orders for security alongside the fierce sounds of a fight breaking out.

She blinked through her own pain and managed to focus in on the threatening sounds; she kneeled up from the floor and her attention snapped to the fierce battle taking place next to the Captain’s chair. Michael almost did a double take when she saw it was Pike and Saru that were locking horns, and the pair of them were giving as good as they got. She knew Saru was strong and his long limbs allowed for extra reach but seeing him sparring in person was something else. The real shock though was the Captain. Pike was fighting like a whirlwind, jabbing at Saru and with everything he had and striking out viciously, a feral snarl plastered across his face. 

One particularly underhanded move floored Saru in a tangle of limbs and the Kelpian collapsed in on himself. The sight of Saru sprawled helplessly out over the floor with Pike standing over him spurred Michael into action. She got to her feet and raced towards the Captain knowing she needed to restrain him before this all went to hell, well more to hell. 

The Captain took one look at Michael coming his way and decided on a tactical retreat. Michael couldn’t help but notice the desperate look in his eyes, the animal look returned from earlier; his usual kind blue eyes cruelly obliterated by this new beast. Michael was faster than Pike and managed to clamp her hand on his shoulder; in return Pike growled, spun around and tried to sweep her legs. Michael foresaw the move, sidestepped the vicious aggression, ducked and delivered two quick jabs to Pike’s ribs causing a large crack to echo throughout the room. The Captain staggered back and clutched his ribs whilst gasping for air, Michael didn’t have the time to analyse whether she was overdoing it, not when the threat was still active.

Michael took a step forward warily, thinking she could restrain her Captain without causing further harm. Pike suddenly howled and tried swinging at her again, it was a clumsy desperate jab and one which she foresaw coming a mile away. Michael grabbed his arm and wrenched it up behind his back, she slammed him forward into the wall and winced when she heard his face take the brunt of the force. When she heard his cry of pain her hold on his arm lessened, her guilt getting the better of her. The fact that this was their Captain, their good, honourable Captain in pain got the better of her.

Pike used her hesitance to his advantage. He slammed his head back and caught Michael’s head straight on with devastating force. She yelled out from the sudden, blinding pain; her already tender nose took the brunt of the blow and caused her synapses to explode. Stunned, Michael released her hold on Pike immediately and fell back to the floor clutching her bloodied nose.

When she glanced back up again Pike was already in the turbo lift, snarling down at her with blood dripping down his face. Michael gulped heavily when she saw saw the insane, crazed look in his eyes. She blearily watched the doors begin to close and she heard the Captain lock down the bridge, effectively sealing her and her bewildered colleagues in whilst he made his escape to god knows where. The thing Michael couldn’t forget whilst sat there, bleeding, was Pike’s declaration that the thing inside of him wanted everyone dead...

 


 

The entity snarled as the Captain’s access codes were denied, the bridge crew must have found a way to revoke his access for good; he knew he should have killed them when he had the chance…

He raced along the unfamiliar corridors and fought against the Captain’s mind to gain access to his memories, the meddlesome human was fighting him every step of the way and it was becoming tiresome. When he’d knocked the first security guard unconscious, the human had almost regained control, the entity felt his fury at being used to hurt his own people and it marvelled at just how familiar the rage felt. Who knew the human’s had such potential?

The entity wrestled the Captain’s mind back into submission and relieved the security guard of his weapon; he snarled at the ceiling when a ship-wide announcement informed everyone of his location and that the priority was to restrain him. Like hell he would let that happen. He needed to escape.

The entity hurtled along the corridors, blocking off areas he could with phaser blasts whilst stunning or knocking anyone out in his path. Their surprised faces were rather amusing, seeing their Captain running towards them and then nothing…

The more people he shot at the more difficult it became to access the human’s mind, the more anguish he felt and it was becoming harder to physically pull the trigger. The entity screamed into the air furiously and ruthlessly pressed the human’s psyche down beneath his own. He needed Pike’s memories, his internal map of the ship to find the shuttle bay. He needed to get off this ship before these meddling humans stopped him. If he couldn’t take control of this ship then he would take another, and another, and another…

He was prepared to blast through anyone who got in his way, which was rather aptly demonstrated by the trail of bodies behind him.

The entity was making good progress, he was taking out security teams before they got the chance to stun him and he was making good use of Pike’s memories. It was all going so well that the sudden malfunction of his body came as a complete shock.

Chris cried out and collapsed to the floor with a pained grunt. He quickly shook off the effects of the tumble and glanced around at his surroundings, confused and lost. This wasn’t the ready room, had he blacked out again? He could remember things that hadn’t happened, things that couldn’t be his memories…

He snapped alert when he heard the red alert blaring through the corridors, heard the security announcement over the speakers and felt something solid and warm in his hand. Chris glanced down at the thing in his head and almost dropped it when he saw that it was a phaser, and when his eyes roamed further he saw bodies sprawled all the way up the corridor. His mouth felt dry and he could taste his own terror on the tip of his tongue, his head thudded in time with his racing heart and he felt his body tremble. Had he done this?

A flash of a memory answered his question, a memory that felt as alien to him as the scene he had been dropped into. This was like some kind of nightmare, how could he have shot so many so callously?

"No, no, no." He muttered desperately, wild eyes scanning the floor and the still bodies surrounding him. Pike checked the phaser; he let out a strangled cry and clutched his chest in relief when he saw that it was set to stun, and when he stopped shaking enough to be able to see that the bodies were still breathing.

He clutched his head when a sudden spike of pain shot through him, one which felt identical to the attack in his ready room and one which caused a flash of memories to surface.

Pike groaned and slid down the wall as wave after wave hit, the intensity threatening to overcome him. He saw himself yelling at the bridge crew, trying to arrest Saru, and of him striking Michael... He recoiled at the memory, at the image of seeing one of his friends hurt and bleeding on the floor because of him. She had been trying to help him, and he had rewarded her with an elbow to the face.

The memories only got worse from there, and so did the blinding agony in his mind. Chris clutched his head and clawed desperately when the voices returned, the voices from the entity and its unbounded anger for all life. He could actually feel the thing inside of him struggling to break through, to retake control and carry on hurting his crew.

Pike couldn't let it take control again; he couldn't let this destruction and violence continue. With considerable effort he flipped the phaser around to point at his own chest, and yelled against the resistance which was trying to yank his hand back. It was like playing tug of war with an invisible opponent.

Chris finally managed to steady the weapon and move his finger to hover over the trigger. He went to pull the trigger, that was when his mind exploded inwards and he collapsed forwards into darkness.

The imposter shot awake. He dragged the Captain's stolen body to his feet and used the wall to steady himself, this constant war of minds was proving more of a strain on this human body than the entity had anticipated. He felt the phaser in his hand and he snarled down at it, this instrument and the Captain's iron-will had come so close to ruining everything. He had underestimated the human...

The entity tossed the weapon away with a growl; as much as he would prefer to be armed he knew keeping it could very well be his downfall, especially if the human tried something so stupidly heroic again. He glanced around at the stunned bodies and stiffened when he heard approaching footsteps. The near miss and sounds of backup fuelled his rage and his need to get off of the ship and escape.

He broke out into a run and recalled from Pike's memories a way round this new obstacle, and it wasn't long before he was back on track and heading towards the shuttle bay. An awareness pricked at the back of his mind and his eyes darted along the corridor suspiciously. Why was everything suddenly so quiet? Even the red alert had been muted.

The entity skidded around the corridor and came to a sudden stop when he sensed that he was no longer alone. Standing in the middle of the junction were two officers, a quick check on Pike’s memories identified these two as Spock and Nhan, and that they were both accomplished fighters. The entity took in this information in a matter of seconds, performing a tactical sweep at the same time which revealed that it was just the three of them and that Nhan was the only party armed.

Spock took a purposeful step forward. “Captain, you must stop."

“Spock, get out of my way.” Pike snarled back as he took a step forwards in kind.

The entity didn’t miss that his aggressive action pulled Nhan into action, she lifted her weapon to point his way and flicked her eyes to Spock anxiously. The action made one thing clear; if he made a move against Spock she would fire. The entity realised that he needed to find another way out of this otherwise this damned crew were going to take him out of action.

Spock tilted his head to the side, narrowed his eyes and appraised his Captain. “We know that you are not yourself, let us help you.”

The entity trawled the human’s mind for a solution or for any advantage he could glean about these two. He soon learned that they had both served with the human for a long time and that their trust in one another was absolute, the entity could use that…

Out of nowhere he let his eyes roll into the back of his head and telegraphed a collapse, letting his legs tremble and his knees begin to buckle. He hoped that Spock would take the bait, his concern for the human overriding the possible danger. The kid did. As soon as Spock moved in, the entity struck out brutally. He threw Spock towards Nhan and they clattered together in a tangle of limbs, letting out a surprised yelp of surprise. The tumble caused Nhan to fumble with and then drop her weapon, Pike stepped forward and kicked the phaser far out of range. With the ranged weapon out of play the entity moved to incapacitate the two officers.

With Spock still dazed, the entity focussed on Nhan. He got within a metre of her when she made her move, one which he hadn’t seen coming and one which caused his temper to return with a vengeance. He slammed down into the floor with a pained cry when Nhan’s legs swept his feet from under him; from there the fight was a desperate scrabble of limbs. He and Nhan tangled on the floor together, both getting and taking their fair share of jabs and blows during the ruckus. The entity saw an opening and took it, he rolled atop of Nhan and curled his hands around her throat. 

The only flaw in his plan: the female was stronger than she looked.

He cried out when her feet slammed into his chest with enough force to buck him off of her body, knock him sideways and steal all the breath from his lungs. As he gasped for breath, stumbling back from his opponent desperately, he realised something important; Spock wasn’t on the floor anymore. 

The entity glanced wildly around the space seeking out the Vulcan; that was when a hand landed on his shoulder and pinched his neck. Pike screamed out and dropped to his knees, a fiery agony raced down his shoulder and through every nerve in his spine. Pike’s memories were telling him that this was dangerous; that this would incapacitate him, and that it already should have done.

Out of pure desperation the entity slammed his head back and thrashed out wildly, his goal to head-butt the Vulcan before he passed out. The entity was rewarded with a grunt of pain and felt his head collide with another’s face; Spock was caught off guard and he fell backwards in surprise, his hand breaking the contact with Pike’s neck. The entity collapsed forward in a heap and breathed heavily, his vision was hazy and he could hear the blood pounding through his body at an accelerated rate. His limbs trembled under his weight and he cursed the human body’s weakness’. The nerve pinch should have taken him out immediately; it nearly had.

Nhan noticed his weakness and she rushed over to grab his arm in a restraining hold. The entity growled menacingly and tried to swing out of the hold, but she held him firm and kept his legs pinned to the floor.

“Hold him!” Spock yelled out desperately.

The entity spat and snarled against the two of them; his legs scraped against the floor as Nhan forced him to his knees whilst Spock took a hold of his other arm and pinned it to his side. Spock gripped his shoulder and pressed down. The entity screamed when the pinch clamped down on his nerves again and squeezed; it wasn’t long before he became lightheaded. He grunted with each movement as he struggled weakly against their strong holds, his vision already turning black at the edges.

Nhan muttered apologies into his ear as Spock held onto his nerve with a steady grip.

“I am sorry Captain, but this is for your own good.”

That was the last thing that the entity and Pike heard before he lost consciousness.

Chapter Text

A crowd formed around the bio-bed in sick-bay, a bio-bed which held their Captain’s life in the balance. Burnham, Saru and Spock listened to Doctor Culber’s diagnosis whilst he talked through the brain scans animatedly. The whole time Michael couldn’t help but let her eyes drift to the Captain’s face, to where she had caused the laceration above his right eye, and down to the bandages over his ribs of which she had cracked. Seeing him like this, covered in bandages, bruises and expression screwed up in pain broke her heart. The cuffs just made the situation ten times worse.

He had soft restraints wrapped around his wrists and ankles which in turn were strapped to the underside of the bed. Michael wished they weren’t necessary but Captain Pike had already shown what happened when they hesitated and when they let their feelings for him override the danger; the simple truth was that the man laying there wasn’t Captain Pike anymore, not really. Culber hadn’t even been able to administer the usual pain killers, or rather he had but they weren’t having any effect. Pike continued to writhe even whilst deeply sedated; he wasn’t aware of them but his brain activity never once dipped. It was like the thing inside of him was fighting to surface against the drugs, even now.

Michael’s attention snapped back to the view screen when Culber loaded up the detailed brain scans. “As far as I can tell there aren’t any major differences between the brain scan from his last physical and now.” 

A couple of areas were highlighted in red on the next slide. “These are the only hints of different activity, but honestly this really isn’t my area of expertise. I’ve never dealt with anything like this.” Culber tailed off in defeat and his shoulders dropped visibly. 

The foursome stared down at their Captain, their confusion, helplessness and need to do something shining from all of their faces. 

“Have we pinpointed where, when or how this transformation took place?” Michael eventually voiced, trying to take her emotions out of the mix and gather the facts. She had to admit this was outside of her experience as well. Crew mates being possessed, in what universe did this kind of thing happen?

“Clearly the possession must have taken place on the planet; when the Captain was tackled by the unknown life form. It must have merged with him when they were both out of sight.” Spock made his theory actually sound normal, and like this madness was as likely as contracting a cold.

Of course, this kind of madness existed in Spock’s world. In deep space outside of Federation territory... 

Michael mused that one day she would like to hear some of those stories, the ones which allowed Spock to utter such ridiculousness without batting an eyelid.

When Spock’s declaration was met with silence he added, “it is the only logical explanation."

"That may be so but that fact does not help Captain Pike. All of the data from the science teams has been sorted through meticulously; nothing has come to light that we don’t already know.” Saru sighed wearily. “We didn't manage to capture anything about the unknown life form.”

Culber picked up from Saru and shook his head with a grim expression in place. “I doubt it would change the Captain's predicament even if we knew what the life form was. How do we get our heads around these brainwaves? How did this thing 'merge' with the Captain in the first place, and what does it want?” 

“I cannot answer those questions.” Spock responded quietly, then he tilted his head which caught Michael’s attention. If she knew her brother well enough, that sign indicated he'd had an idea. “But I may know someone who can.”

“Who?” Culber and Saru asked as one.

“Doctor Boyce, the chief medical officer stationed aboard the Enterprise.”

Culber crossed his arms, not looking terribly convinced with Spock’s suggestion. “How?”

“He is the one person who know’s Captain Pike’s mind better than anyone else; due to the nature of our missions he’s had to put it back together again multiple times.” Spock answered with a straight face.

Culber and Saru stifled a smile and Michael could tell they thought Spock was stretching the truth. When Spock’s expression remained stoic, Hugh frowned. “You are joking right?”

“Vulcans do not make jokes.” Spock dead-panned.

 


 

Una ran a weary hand through her hair and glared at the amount of emails left in her inbox. It was full to the brim with maintenance requests, work schedules and other repair work forms that she had to read through, fill out and sign off on. Even with all this paperwork this was the most peace she’d had all week, what with the engineering department fighting over the holographic system, the many people she’d had to boot up the ass to get supplies here faster and the not so simple act of keeping people on task whilst being so close to home. The Enterprise had had a tough time of it recently, but that didn’t stop Number One. She wanted the Enterprise space-worthy for when Captain Pike returned, whenever the hell that might be…

Being stuck in space dock did have a few advantages though and with the Captain gone all the decisions were falling to her. That meant she’d finally been able to make the changes she had wanted to for years, if they were building the system up from the ground then they might as well do it right. Also she’d heard on the grapevine about some new tactical flyers...

Una was interrupted from her work when an incoming call pinged on her terminal. She put aside the emails, glanced at the caller idea and frowned when she saw who was calling: Spock.

When she accepted the call her bad feeling took on a life of its own. Spock was sat on the other end of the screen with visible bruises and sporting a grim expression that Una recognised. “Spock, what’s happened?” She had no time for pleasantries, not when alarm bells were ringing.

Spock swallowed gravely. “Captain Pike has been injured, he needs you, and Doctor Boyce.”

Number One’s stomach dropped like she’d swallowed lead and she had to stamp down on the sheer panic brought on by those words; this was her worst nightmare. She knew Pike would do something stupidly heroic one day, and on Discovery she wasn’t there to curb Chris’ ridiculous penchant for danger and life-threatening situations. The fact that Spock was asking for Boyce was a further red flag, she knew full well that Discovery had perfectly capable medics so this had to be serious or strange, or both.

Una didn’t ask for any further information; she wouldn’t until she had rounded up Boyce, got him aboard a ship and flown them into the highest warp speed she could manage. She simply signed off with a promise. “We’re on our way,” before closing the connection and rushing out of the room.

 


 

Tilly paced outside the doors of sickbay and fiddled with her hands nervously. She’d been hovering by the door for the past few minutes, debating whether she should go in and see the Captain which was why she’d travelled all this way, or walk away. She’d heard about the incident on the bridge and the violence across the ship, well, incident was putting it mildly. Captain Pike, well not actually Captain Pike because that was insane, but whatever was controlling Captain Pike had torn the place apart and injured a hell of a lot of people in its wake.

Maybe that’s why she hesitated at the door, she was scared of him, but what if it was Captain Pike in there again? She needed to see that he was okay; she felt responsible for this entire mess and it was now clear that the Captain had saved her from more than just a fall. If only she’d stepped out of the way…

’Stop it.’ She admonished herself and stopped pacing.

Tilly took a deep breath, faced the intimidating sickbay doors and psyched herself up for whatever or whoever lay on the other side. 'Come on Tilly, you can do this.’ 

Before she could change her mind, Tilly swiped the door controls and strode confidently into the space; hiding her inner turmoil was second nature to her by now. Voices caught her attention and she followed them to Culber’s office, she could see Spock and Michael talking to somebody over a terminal screen, someone she didn’t recognise. 

Tilly's attention soon swung around to the back of sickbay, far away from anyone else's bed and where she knew the Captain would be. She turned the corner and lo and behold strapped to a bed at the end of the room was the Captain.

Her steps slowed when she caught sight of him, or more accurately the restraints wrapped around his wrists and ankles. It was a harsh reminder of just how dangerous he was to others at the moment. Tilly made her way over to his bed in silence and noticed that Doctor Pollard was the one at the foot of his bed, writing notes by the looks of it.

Pollard caught her approach and intercepted her a few metres away from the patient. 

“Can I talk to him?” Tilly asked anxiously, just now noticing that Pike currently had his eyes closed.

Pollard glanced back at the peaceful looking patient, sighed and then eventually nodded. “You can, although I can’t promise who you’ll be talking to. He’s been in and out."

"Right, thanks." Tilly replied meekly, the ever present reminder that this might not be the Captain who always made time for her, the Captain who accepted her peculiarities in his stride, the Captain who made her smile...

The Doctor noticed her reaction, she squeezed her shoulder reassuringly. "I'll be right over there if you need me." With that said, Pollard left to check up on other patients.

Tilly wandered over to the Captain's bedside, taking him in as she went. He looked like hell, his face was bruised, bandages were wrapped tightly around his midsection and the restraints around his wrists slammed the image home. The whole picture just screamed 'wrong'.

Her eyes flicked between all the injuries guiltily; all of this pain and grief was her fault. The Captain shouldn't be going through this, she should be. This was supposed to happen to her, the entity had been heading her way before the Captain threw them both off a cliff. He shouldn't be suffering like this... and all for just her.

Tilly was so busy feeling sorry for herself that she didn't noticed his eyes opening. When she looked at his face again and saw his persistent gaze on her she almost jumped out of her skin. Tilly blinked rapidly and tried to form words, anxious and unsure how to go forward from here.

Thankfully Pike was his usual charming self. He smiled at her warmly and exuded calmness from every fibre of his being. Tilly breathed out a sigh of relief and smiled back, it sure looked like Captain Pike was back.

"How are you feeling Sir?"

Chris shrugged lightly, "sore," the corners of his lips quirking upwards.

Tilly laughed and marvelled at the way her fears seemed to disappear; they’d been obliterated by Pike's familiar smile, it was the same as that first day on the bridge.

Knowing that she'd come here for a reason, and that it was irrational to fear Captain Pike, she closed the distance to the bed finally. Feeling fearful felt silly now. How could Captain Pike ever scare her? “I wanted to thank you, for what you did for me on the planet.”

Pike stayed quiet, his only response was a light frown which reminded Tilly of his head injury and that the concussion might have scrambled his brain a little, not to mention the effects from a life-form invading his mind.

She elaborated nervously. “When you pushed me out of the way?”

Chris made an 'ah' sound and nodded his understanding. “That’s quite alright Ensign.” 

He glanced around the sickbay almost like he was looking for someone, but his warm eyes soon fell back on her. “Any chance you could release one of my hands? Everything's gone numb and I would really appreciate a bit of a stretch.”

Tilly frowned and she became alert immediately. Had he just been scanning sickbay for prying eyes? She glanced down at him suspiciously. “Captain you know I can’t do that. You could hurt people; you could hurt yourself.”

Pike’s face twitched angrily. He stamped down on the reaction, but Tilly saw it anyway and her sinking feeling got worse. “Ensign, I’m just asking for a little kindness, after all I did save your life.”

A cold feeling washed over her, slapping her roughly awake with a hard truth. This definitely wasn't Captain Pike. He never pressured nor did he hold things over people; he was as selfless as they came. Out of nowhere terror struck, terror and the overwhelming urge to cry. Tilly took a fearful step back from the imposter, her eyes widened and her hands began to tremble. Pike clocked her crack in composure and he tensed against the restraints. 

“Captain Pike wouldn’t ask me to do that, not when it would put the crew at risk.” She declared shakily, as her grief threatened to overcome her, but no, she needed to get this out.

"The real Captain Pike is selfless, the real Captain Pike saved my life. You aren’t him, you could never be him." She argued fiercely, anger overtaking some of the sadness as she shifted her thoughts to the evil thing inside of her Captain.

Pike’s nostrils flared, his face morphed into an angry snarl and he bucked against the restraints whilst shouting. “Get me out of these Ensign that’s an order!”

Tilly continued to back away from the thing that was controlling Captain Pike; the more violent his struggles became the more she worried that maybe he could be strong enough to break free. She didn't know what to do; she didn't know how to help him and that terrified her more than the monstrous look in her Captain's eyes.

Thankfully others in sickbay noticed the commotion. Pollard and a group of medical raced past her and started to administer sedatives. Tilly swallowed the lump in her throat and wiped the tears out of her eyes fiercely. She watched the Captain thrash against the restraints and Doctor's hands, snarling and spitting at anyone who came close and trying with all his might to hit them. Seeing him now like this... she now believed that he was capable of the mindless violence that had happened across the ship...

What made this nightmare worse was the knowledge that he was going through all of this because he had saved her. Captain Pike was a good man, the very best, and he could die.

 


 

Too loud… where am I?… too many drugs… fuzzy… dark… pain… can’t move… can’t move… can’t move!

The entity gasped awake and broke through the remaining effects of the sedatives, he felt like he was breaking through the fog for his first breath. It took a few moments for him to realise that the darkness wasn’t just the human’s poor eyesight, the prison he’d been incased in was dark all around; the lights were out; nobody was home in sickbay.

He tugged at his wrists and snarled down at the restraints that kept his arms pinned to his side; his ankles were in a similar state and no amount of yanking thus far had broken the crude implements, not that he’d had much of a chance. Each time he’d awoken in this god forsaken place, Doctors soon appeared and after prodding him all over sent him back off to sleep again with a not so subtle sedative injection. The human’s head was still swimming from the effects, so here he lay yet again being hindered by the Captain’s physical limits, these blasted humans.

If he didn’t get off this ship soon it would be too late, they would find a way to make him leave the Captain’s body or worse. He couldn’t go back to that planet again… The thought of banishment spurred the entity on, he made a tactical sweep of the sickbay and was satisfied to see no Doctors in sight and the little team of hangers-on had magically vanished too. If there was a time to escape this stinking ship, it was now.

With that in mind the alien summoned all of his and the human’s strength combined and pulled sharply on the restraint around his right wrist. He could feel the Captain’s muscles and ligaments beginning to tear, but he gritted his teeth and ruthlessly shoved down the pain the action caused. Pike could live without a working wrist after all…

The entity had to muffle a yelp when the restraint suddenly snapped and his wrist buckled with it; he soon diagnosed the injury as nothing more than a nuisance and got to work on the other restraints. With his limbs free the entity swung his legs round and jumped out of the bed, hanging on and groaning when the world titled violently. Damn this body’s weaknesses; he needed something to counteract the sedatives.

The alien stumbled towards the medical cupboards and used Pike’s knowledge to find a hypospray and a shot of adrenaline. The entity cracked a satisfied smile at the injection and without ceremony slammed it home.

He closed his eyes, gasped and revelled in the fire reawakening his body. “That’s better.” 

Now that Pike wasn’t going to fall flat on his face, the entity planned his escape. He quickly spotted a weapon that may come in handy and snatched a scalpel instrument from the Doctor’s drawers. The entity started to make his way towards the sickbay exit, on alert for any surprise appearances from the night shift. He pressed himself against a wall when he saw lights come on in the distance and heard voices approaching.

He tightened his grip on the weapon and decided to make a run for it before Pike tried anything stupid; he could already feel the Captain’s mind awakening and fighting for control. Perhaps the adrenaline hadn’t been such a good idea…

The entity waited for the voices to die down before he scarpered around the corner. He made it all the way to the sickbay doors when they suddenly opened, admitting a large group of people. He panicked and grabbed the first person he could get his hands on, which just so happened to be the first person through the door. Before anyone could intervene the entity had the person in his grip, spun around to face the new group with the scalpel pressed against his neck.

The scalpel certainly got the new group’s attention.

Everyone in the doorway froze on the spot, their wide-eyes blinking rapidly as each of them came to terms with the fact that he wasn’t strapped to a bed anymore. As the entity noticed each face in turn he recognised Spock, Burnham, Nhan and Una. Wait, what the hell was his first officer from Pike’s other ship doing here? When he spied a glance at the man in his grip he recognised Doctor Boyce, another curious appearance but their involvement wasn’t going to stop his escape.

Either the Captain’s mind was broken or the Enterprise was involved. Maybe he could get his hands on another ship after all...

The entity noticed people’s awareness begin to return so he yelled out a warning, “get back!”, he sliced the scalpel into the Doctor’s neck superficially, and yanked his arm up and behind his back into a powerful restraining hold.

Boyce cried out. “Jesus, Chris what the hell are you doing?”

“I’m not him.” The entity hissed darkly.

That statement caused everyone’s eyebrows to raise in surprise, even the Vulcan’s. It was the first time that he had openly admitted that he wasn’t Captain Pike; he was done playing games and he was done playing nice. 

Pike’s first officer, Number One, took a cautious step forward as her eyes flicked between him, the Doctor and the scalpel poised to take a life. “Captain, we know you’re in there somewhere. Keep on fighting this, Phil is your friend. I’m your friend, you don’t want to hurt us.” 

The entity tried to make his feet move but nothing happened, he also had no idea why he couldn’t shout at Number One to stay back, or why he couldn’t threaten the man in his arms even though he so desperately wanted to. Each time he tried he felt an almighty tug which kept his limbs solidly in place, it was like something was stopping his muscles from moving. The alien growled furiously when he realised it must be Pike.

Una took the growl as a bad sign and stopped moving forwards, she held up her hands in a calming gesture and implored, “Captain? Come on, you’ve been through much worse than this. We all have. Let Phil go, let us help you.”

The entity felt a flash of agony spike straight through his mind, something flashed in front of his vision and his muscles jerked. Pike was fighting for control and he was winning. He felt the Doctor begin to struggle against his grip, perhaps sensing his lessening strength and hoping to take advantage. The entity managed to fight the Captain down and pressed the scalpel harder into the Doctor’s neck.

“Don’t move Phil, I don’t want to hurt you.” That hadn’t been him speaking, what the hell was going on?

Boyce stilled in his grip immediately. “Chris, is that you?” 

The entity was about to shatter the Doctor’s hopes about his friend saving him when everything exploded in a symphony of light.

Chris screamed the whole way back into the land of the living, the only thing on his mind was to get Phil away from him before the entity carried out its wish. He’d felt how much it had wanted to kill his friend; he could still feel Phil’s blood trickling down his fingers…

With an almighty cry, Chris released his crushing hold on Phil and forcefully shoved him away and into Number One’s waiting arms. He took some shaky breaths and focussed on holding the monster at bay, if he could just do that then maybe he wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Chris heard someone mutter and his eyes shot up to stare, when he clocked Una and Boyce looking his way he had to question if this was some kind of dream or not. They weren’t supposed to be here…

A loud clatter snapped him out of the moment, he stared down to the cause of the noise and saw the scalpel that he had been previously holding so tightly, so tightly that it had left an imprint on his palm. 

“Chris?” Una called out softly.

Chris watched her approach silently, he frowned when he noticed that Phil was clutching his shoulder in pain; he grimaced and screwed up his features when he remembered that it was his hands who’d caused that pain.

Agony shot through his body like a thunder strike and he crashed to the floor to land in a collapsed heap, he could hear the entity’s voice getting louder in his head, he could feel it taking control of his limbs and thoughts one by one.

Let me back in Pike. We’ve got work to do.

There’s nothing you can do to stop me.

This is inevitable. Your friends will die. All of you will die.

Let me in.

Let me in!

“No!” Chris yelled out into the air, slamming his fractured wrist against the floor in an attempt to pull his mind away from the controlling force. 

It worked to an extent, the voices grew muted but he could still feel the entity’s presence on the edge of his awareness, waiting to strike. He heard more mutterings and tried to follow the voices, which lead him to his friends. 

Chris couldn't help the whimper that escaped his lips when the entity slammed into his mind with the force of a shuttle. He needed them to stop him before the entity took control, before it carried out its threat of murder and violence. He couldn't be responsible for death... seeing the bruises on his friend’s faces was torture enough, anything more would send him over the edge.

“Kill me…” He pleaded brokenly, “please kill me before I kill you…"

They were all staring down at him, mouths wide in disbelief and expressions frozen in shock. Number One recovered first; she shook her head fiercely and moved forward to embrace him. “No way in hell Chris, we’re not letting you go."

Chris howled when the entity forced its way back into his body; every nerve ending scorched and burned until he felt like he'd been lit on fire. He felt Una’s hands grab at him but more worryingly felt his limbs move without his input. Before he could stop it, the entity reached out and pushed her away mercilessly, sending her flying across the room.

The entity ruthlessly shoved Pike's psyche deep down into the corners of his mind. He leapt to his feet and snarled viciously at the group, whilst working out his next target and imagining how much he was going to enjoy tearing them all apart one by one.

Well that had been the plan, up until Nhan shot him squarely in the chest with a stun blast that had him crashing to the floor and into darkness.

Chapter Text

Una watched on in shock from her position on the floor, she wasn't sure if she was more surprised by Chris' sudden gain in strength, the murderous rage in his eyes or the fact that he was now also sprawled backwards over the floor after being floored by a stun blast.

The conjoined shock lasted for only a few seconds, their training kicked in and the shell-shocked group moved as one to contain the danger. 

Whilst the majority of the two crews went towards Pike, Nhan stayed back and covered the Captain from afar, all the whilst radioing for more security. Una thought the security chief looked a little shaken at how close that one had been, hell, they all were.

The group approached Pike's still body cautiously, and only after confirming that he was in fact out-for-the-count, did they get the go ahead to proceed. After gripping a hold of each of his limbs they all lifted Pike and carried him back to a bio-bed, this time fitted with double restraints. Strapping his ankles and wrists to the frame had felt like a betrayal, one look at the unhappy faces around the bed told Number One that they all felt this way. 

Whilst watching him sleeping Una mused that he looked peaceful and free from the entity’s hold; it was ridiculous that they were strapping him down so tightly, he didn’t look capable of hurting anyone in this state…

But no, that was the danger. The Captain posed a genuine threat to life, they’d all just been witness to first-hand proof of that fact.

It was why Doctor Culber and Boyce immediately pumped his body full of more sedatives, and it was why Nhan posted a permanent armed guard who stood just a few feet from his bedside. It was also why she was currently performing a ship-wide security review, including setting up force fields and lock-out procedures for all exits and shuttle bays. 

They couldn’t take the chance of Chris escaping again, not when the thing possessing him was so bent on maiming and killing as many people as it could get his hands on. Una would never forget the feral look in Chris’ eyes… It was so alien, and honestly she hadn’t thought Pike capable of expressing such hatred.

Seeing their Captain out of control like that, being used like that broke all their hearts, and when he had begged them to kill him… Una took a deep breath and shut down that memory before it consumed her. She would never do that to Chris; she couldn’t. She’d told the shocked group that much after Pike had gone down, well, more accurately she’d yelled that nobody was to do anything so stupid. No-one questioned her order, in fact they’d all agreed vehemently. Discovery had clearly adopted Chris as one of their own, just like Enterprise had. It was funny how he had that effect on people; he brought out an instinctual protective streak in all of them.

“I know you said it was serious… but I didn’t imagine it would be anything like this.” Una muttered darkly as she stared down at her Captain’s unconscious body.

“We don’t know what to do to help him.” Culber gestured to the fine tremors running through the Captain’s body. “The sedatives aren’t strong enough anymore and we can’t up the dose further without causing permanent damage.” 

“So we need to do something sooner rather than later.” Boyce summarised grimly.

“Suggestions?” Saru and Number One commanded at the same time. They both tailed off and glanced at one another in surprise. Number One managed a wry smile; it was funny how they both easily fell into this role, Pike’s command style had clearly rubbed off on Discovery’s crew too.

For a few moments, there was silence. That was until Spock came up with a plan that was stretching, even by his standards. “We could attempt to converse with the entity.”

Michael threw her brother a deeply unimpressed look and responded in a dry tone. “I don’t think it wants to talk Spock, each time we’ve tried it’s almost killed somebody.”

Spock turned to his sister and fell into their life-long pattern, giving and taking, arguing their point of view. “Whilst that is true, the situation has now changed. The life-form must know that its options are limited.” Spock paused and analysed the faces of the people gathered around the bed, after noting the uncertainty he nailed home his winning argument, one which none of them could ignore. “It is what Captain Pike would do, try and find a diplomatic solution.” 

Una shook her head and looked to the ceiling. For somebody who didn’t express emotions… Spock was bloody good at manipulating and bending them to his will. “He would…” She eventually admitted.

Boyce looked from Spock to Pike’s limp body, and waved his hands animatedly. “What the hell do we ask it?”

“What it wants.” Culber offered with a shrug.

“I think it’s made that very clear.” Michael muttered darkly, Una caught the grimace on the Commander’s face even though she tried very hard to mask it. Years of practise having to decipher Spock’s emotions meant reading Burnham was a cake-walk. Burnham and this entity had definitely tangled, and it had left its mark.

Culber shot her a sympathetic look but continued his line of thinking, “maybe, but we don't know why it’s doing this. We might be able to reason with it.” Una felt it rather amusing that this Doctor seemed to be the stark opposite of Boyce. Culber was optimistic and gentle. Boyce was… well, Boyce wasn’t those things.

Una looked around at the group and recognised that the time had come to make a decision, one which she was more than happy to make if it meant they could be doing something. Standing around whilst their Captain died was not something she wanted to continue doing.

Number One cleared her throat. “It’s worth a shot. I know it’s hard but we have to keep him restrained and covered by a phaser the entire time he’s conscious, even if it sounds like Captain Pike it probably isn’t.”

“Doctor we’ll need sedatives standing by as well.” Saru seamlessly picked up where she had left off, and Una marvelled at how well Discovery’s first officer was fitting around others. No wonder Chris had always given glowing reports of his new crew. “Commander Una is right to advise caution, even if he says he’s the Captain we can’t release him, under any circumstances.”

Saru didn’t let up until they all agreed to the conditions, Spock did immediately as did Culber. Una, Burnham and Boyce were just a few seconds behind but their difficulty with the situation was noted by the others. Una broke the silence with an anxious cough and gripped her hands together tightly to forestall any fidgeting. “Right, whilst we’re chatting to the murderous entity we’re going to need people working on other options.”

“I have one or two ideas.” Burnham replied instantly, answering at the same time as Spock had. “I have already started developing pos-” Spock tailed off when he noticed what had happened, the two siblings looked to each other and shared a look which Una would almost describe as familiar. The moment was gone as quickly as it had appeared and the pair of them averted their gazes awkwardly.

The odd moment seemed to have been missed entirely by Saru who just indicated to the two of them with a nod of the head. “You have the full roster at your disposal, liaises with the engineering and science core.”  

Spock strode out immediately, Burnham lingered though, her gaze drifting to Captain Pike’s still form and something pained flashed across her face. Spock soon noticed his sister wasn’t following, Una expected him to call Burnham to him or simply just to leave but he simply waited for Michael to collect her thoughts. As Number One watched the scene she noticed Spock’s eyes slip to Pike. Boyce chose that moment to step forward and block her view and by the time Una had moved her head Spock had already looked away, and Burnham and he were on their way out of sickbay with purpose.

Number One turned her attention back to Boyce who was squinting at the data pad and flicking through the brain scans in more detail, his brow furrowed in concentration. He suddenly glanced to Una. “Can you handle talking to him? I’m going to see if I can make sense of these, there’s got to be something we can do medically to separate the two.” 

“Yes, we’ll be fine.” Una answered automatically. Whether that was the case or not was rather beside the point, Boyce needed to concentrate if he was going to have a chance at fixing this cluster-fuck. Whether she liked it or not, the task of talking to Chris fell to her, even if it was going to be a living nightmare seeing him possessed by something so hateful...

Whilst Una psyched herself up for the encounter the two Doctors huddled around the data pad. Boyce gestured the device to the Discovery Doctor. “Can I have a copy of these scans? I can use my own files from Enterprise to help with my investigation.”

“Sure.” Culber replied and started to lead him to his office. “Use my office, I’ll get you set up. Hopefully you’ll be able to make better sense of this mess.” 

“I have rummaged around in Chris’ head on more than one occasion.” Boyce joked offhandedly. 

Culber managed a strained smile. “Spock did mention something about that. We thought he was joking…” 

 


 

The Conversation with their excessively violent possessed Captain went about as well as they had expected, Una had secretly hoped for more but it turned out Burnham's skepticism had been on the money.

Waking Pike up had been the most uneventful part of the whole operation; he'd been groggy and fairly muted at first, so much so that for a moment there they thought they were actually dealing with Chris. He disillusioned them of that idea as soon as he opened his mouth.

The entity started making demands accompanied by threats, some of which were quite inventive but all followed the basic pattern of - 'let me go now, or I will kill all of you. I will kill all of you anyway." From a logical stand point the threats really didn't make sense and if this weren't so serious Una may have made a pithy joke about that fact, how could the entity expect to have his demands met if he openly admitted that he would just kill them all anyway?

That was then they started to suspect that Chris was still in there and he was still fighting; he was the one trying to get the truth out, he was the one who really knew what the entity wanted and why the hell it was doing this. Much to Number One and Saru's disappointment it turned out that he would remain the only one who knew...

Each time they posed a question, the entity would spew back a colourful threat followed by a sudden fit of thrashing against the restraints. The first time he tried it the security team almost stunned his ass off the bat; they only backed off when they saw the double restraints were holding him securely for now. After the initial outburst the Doctors around the bedside made sure to have sedatives to hand, and Una noted just how tense the atmosphere had become. The air almost felt charged.

The mindless threats and mutterings continued until Una had asked to speak to Chris, and then brought up the notion of releasing their Captain. It turned out the entity didn't like that plan one bit, so much so that the entity screamed bloody murder, all the while he thrashed against the restraints so violently and uncontrollably that he almost managed to break Pike's wrists. 

So much for a diplomatic solution...

That was when the team of Doctor's stepped in. They all leapt forward to hold the spitting and snarling entity down, determined to not let it hurt their Captain or anyone else. He didn't stand a chance, not with Pike's body pinned by so many people and the sheer amount of sedatives being pumped into his system. 

Una held Chris' arm down until she felt his body begin to weaken. She looked him in the eyes as his fluttered shut, something pained and so broken stirring within. He was in there, their Captain, her friend, was in there somewhere, lost and trapped inside his own skin. Seeing that spark of familiarity in those blue depths, and seeing the fear and misery there lit a fire of determination for all of them. They were going to help their Captain beat this thing; they had to. 

Whilst the talking strategy didn’t go well, the other teams had far more luck. The entire ship had heard about their Captain's latest ailment and everyone was pitching in, including people who were on leave and off shift. With the consolidated force of the ship's complement, Spock and Michael led the investigation and had teams working around the clock to come up with solutions. The siblings focussed on the data from the planet surface, whilst Tilly and Stamets coordinated the engineering teams.

Doctor Boyce and Discovery’s neuro-specialists had been pouring over Captain Pike’s medical history and the brain scans taken after the entity’s invasion. It turned out that Spock had been right about Boyce; he actually knew Chris’ mind better than he knew his own. The Enterprise and her crew had been through some serious situations in the past, some really crazy and out-of-this-world stuff that would break most people, and the majority of it had been thrown right at their Captain. Boyce had been given the task of piecing Pike back together again far more than he should have, what with the Talosians, Rigel and Enterprise’s own encounters with mind-altering entities…

The fact that the situation was familiar didn’t make seeing Pike like this any easier; in fact each time something like this happened it took a deeper toll on the crew and an even bigger one on Chris. What did make the nightmare slightly more palatable was the fact that Boyce was getting somewhere, and after combining his theories with Spock and Michael's, they finally had an idea as to how this had happened and more importantly about how they could fix it.

"The entity has latched itself onto and inside the Captain's nervous system, but it's also constantly mutating and moving through cells which makes tracking it down with modern medicine impossible." Boyce began to explain before showing the next load of scans. 

"His DNA is already starting to be rewritten which makes me believe that this entity plans on changing his biology, permanently. Now, so far the changes are still reversible but if the entity keeps this up much longer..." he sighed and ran a weary hand over his face. "Well, let's just say that Chris has hours left, not days."

Una frowned down at Chris as she imagined all the changes that were happening in his body, it was like the entity was invading him like a virus. She slapped her hands against her legs and exclaimed, "so this thing is like a tumour, can't you operate on it or cut it out?"

Boyce shook his head. "No, not with the way it's moving. We'd kill Chris if we tried." He turned to address the group as a whole, something a little more hopeful in his gaze. "We need to take him back to where this happened, we need the same conditions if we have any chance of reversing the process."

“What’s so special about the planet?"

It turned out that the answer to Una's rather valid question was rather complicated, so much so that it took the combined effort of Boyce, Michael and Spock to explain their findings.

The atmosphere down on the planet had a natural charge running through it, the closest thing they could compare it to would be an electromagnetic field crossed with some kind of unknown energy source. Whatever the case, the unique properties allowed the entity and Captain Pike’s cells to merge and form in the first place. They were going to need the same kind of conditions to work with to be able to separate the two life forms.

“And how the hell are we going to do that?” Number One exclaimed animatedly.

Spock’s eyebrow rose and he very calmly stated; “In simple terms we are going to fire a high intensity beam of energy at the Captain.”

“You’re going to what?!” 

Boyce stepped in before Una exploded entirely. “We’re going to put Chris inside of an energy field and then utilise a frequency generator of sorts.”

Michael picked up from the Doctor. “Tilly and Stamets are finalising the simulations now and they’ll have the correct harmonic pattern narrowed down within the hour. Reno and her engineers have already modified the transporter to carry out the separation procedure.”

“The end result should be Captain Pike in one containment field, and the entity in the other.” Spock finished.

Spock rarely promised anything unless he was certain but Una didn’t miss the slight pause he made before saying ‘should’, it was unsettling hearing Spock sound dubious in his own plan. "Should?"

After glancing to the Captain furtively Spock’s expression schooled and he gazed at Una steadily. “It is the Captain’s only chance, even though the solution is theoretical I believe it will work.” 

Una ran her hand over her face and sighed heavily, hearing that this was Chris’ only chance wasn’t exactly music to her ears but if Spock believed it would work… That was good enough for her. She glanced around at the determined faces of those closest to Chris, the two crews; two families. Their Captain was relying on them and they weren’t going to let him down.

“Let’s do this.”

 


 

Discovery high-tailed it back to the planet and set up the equipment and personnel in record time. The engineering team were being coordinated like a fine-tuned machine by Stamets; Tilly and Spock were in command of configuring the force fields correctly and Reno was in charge of the transport link aboard Discovery.

They weren’t taking any chances with security this time, Nhan had a full security complement ready and waiting. Culber was on standby in sickbay for an emergency medical beam back, whilst Boyce took point on the ground. The ground team was finished off by Michael and Una, who had the unpleasant job of handling their unconscious Captain.

The two of them carried Pike over to one of the containment fields as gently as they could, Una couldn’t help but let her eyes stray to his handcuffed hands. This was so wrong, Chris in handcuffs and unconscious was wrong. What was even worse was when they had to leave him on the ground - alone and defenceless.

If Una could have stayed in there with him then she would have but Boyce wouldn’t allow it, hell nobody would allow it. So it was with regret that she and Burnham left their Captain on his own and trapped behind a force field.

Just before the teams were ready to start up the generator, Pike woke up, or rather the entity woke up. He soon worked out that he was restrained and contained within a force field. The entity immediately started to shout obscenities and threats at everyone he could, spitting and raging whilst he demanded to be let go.

The entity's mood got a hundred times worse when he realised just exactly where they were, and when he noticed all of the equipment…

He slammed Pike’s body against the force field over and over again whilst screaming bloody murder; it didn’t seem to care what damage it was doing to its host’s body.

Una took a step forward, and her heart started to race as panic seeped in. She winced when Pike’s body slammed into the wall over and over again, bruising muscles and breaking bones without a second thought. 

The entity’s attacks were growing more violent and when Una saw blood she shouted, “Get the process started, it’s killing him!” 

Stamets dialled in a few more settings hurriedly and slammed home the configuration. The air felt charged for a second and then the atmosphere burst into life. The effect was instantaneous; the entity stopped moving entirely, Chris started screaming and he fell to his knees.

The Captain writhed on the floor in agony whilst the crew watched on in varying levels of despair. Una’s heart clenched as she watched the display, even though it was the worst thing in the world to watch she wouldn’t let him go through this alone. She clenched her fists and resisted the urge to race forwards when his spine arched and his atoms were forced apart one by one.

As much as they wanted their Captain’s suffering to end, they had to let the process finish. They had to make sure all Pike’s cells were separated; this was their one and only chance.

After a torturous length of time, both for Chris and everyone watching, Stamets shouted that the process was ready.

“Now!” Michael cried into the communicator.

A golden transporter light formed over Pike’s writhing body, and then the shimmering
particles started to materialise in the adjacent force field. Chris fell silent and the ground team watched on tensely as a humanoid ghostly figure began to form, whilst Pike’s body fell limp in his own containment field.

After an age of anxious waiting, the transport completed its cycle and everyone remained silent. That was everyone except for the entity that was banging against the force field it was stuck behind, but thankfully its murderous rage was muted and the even better news was that the entity was completely separate from the Captain.

It had worked. Well, the separation had, whether Chris was alright or not was another matter entirely.

Number One and Boyce raced towards their fallen Captain whilst Spock released his force field. They reached him within seconds and Boyce began running his tricorder down his body, whilst Una tried to work out whether Pike was even conscious. 

When she gripped his arm he made a distressed mumbling sound, after Boyce’s prompting Una helped to manoeuvre Chris upwards and into a seated position. Number One breathed a sigh of relief when he groaned and opened bleary eyes, blue familiar eyes, not clouded with anger but just confused and echoing pain. She could have kissed him she was so happy.

Chris glanced between the pair of them and blinked rapidly. “Una? Phil? What the hell are you doing here?” 

His voice was gravelly and hoarse, because of all the shouting the entity had forced him to endure, not to mention all the screaming that the transfer had caused. Regardless of the broken tone, Chris’ voice was music to their ears, it had been so long...

"Some friends of yours called.” Una replied with a smile, indicating over her shoulder to everyone else.

Phil beamed and clapped Chris on the shoulder, confusing him even further with his comment. “Glad to have you back with us Captain."

Chris looked seriously confused, and his scrunched up features indicated he was still in quite a bit of pain. Una frowned when she noticed just how stiff he was and how he winced with each breath.

Chris being Chris ignored the misery in lieu of his curiosity. He glanced around the space, noticed the thing in the force field, the Discovery crew standing in the distance, and the fact that he was in handcuffs. He turned back to the both of them and his forehead creased comically. “Did I miss something?”

 


 

Chris found that most of his memories were a blur, everything from the entity, to Discovery and sickbay only came back in flashes so when he woke up screaming on the floor handcuffed… It was a little confusing to say the least.

Una and Boyce soon took care of the restraint problem, the other issues took much longer to deal with, including the entity that had possessed him and the marks it had left behind. He was soon whisked away to Discovery sick-bay where Boyce and Culber poked and prodded him until the tests came back all clear, well the brain scans at least.

The good news was that he was free from the alien entity, the bad news was that in its effort to escape it had broken his wrist, a number of his ribs and caused plenty of bruises and surface wounds. It was nothing that the medical team couldn’t sort but it did set his recovery back, and it booked him a room in sickbay for the foreseeable future.

Before beaming up Chris had insisted on seeing the entity for himself, from the other side. He’d tried to talk to the alien but had gotten absolutely nowhere, if anything the thing was more angry at him than the rest of the crew which was ironic after everything it had put Pike through.

He remembered what it was like sharing a body and mind with it, he’d never felt so many negative emotions in all his life. After spending all that time in the thing’s grasp he knew there was no talking with it; no reasoning. 

The Discovery command team were in complete agreement about the next steps. They beamed away, released the force field and marked the planet as dangerous, writing to Starfleet about the near-miss. God forbid if the crew had actually carried out his orders, he knew the entity wanted to cause as much damage and chaos as possible.

It fed off of negative emotions and pain; it would have started a war just to feed. Chris shivered as he remembered the thoughts, the hunger and need for death, for suffering. He was still having flashes of what the entity had forced him to do whilst in control: the way he’d attacked and shot his own crew, the harsh words he had shouted at all of them, the pain he had caused.

The entity had been marooned on the planet in the past, as a prisoner and as an eternal punishment. It couldn't die but its people couldn't let it roam free across the galaxy, not when it thrived on other's misery and death. It had been starving for centuries, so when the Discovery came along it found a way out of its exile. It would do anything to feed including restarting the Klingon war.

Saru was holding the bridge, and had taken over as acting Captain until Pike was cleared for active duty. Chris had already started apologising profusely, for what he had said and when he had hit Saru. Saru told him not to worry, and that he too was sorry for the injuries he'd had to regrettably inflict. Chris still felt awful about it even though Saru was over everything. How was the crew going to trust him now? Especially after their fiasco with Lorca? Surely all they’d see was him at his worst?

“So, is the patient going to be alright?” Una voiced, trying to keep the atmosphere around the bio-bed light after the heavy diagnosis.

Boyce smirked and glanced at the charts. “He’s back to his usual self if that’s what you mean.” He threw Chris a knowing look.

Chris looked offended. “What's that supposed to mean?"

“You’re brooding, blaming yourself; so back to normal.” Boyce deadpanned.

Chris averted his gaze, glanced down at his chest and closed his eyes. The well of guilt opening in his chest again. “Well it is my fault. I attacked members of my crew, I shot people. I could have started a war…"

“Bullshit.” Una called out immediately, making Chris’ gaze shoot up. “This isn’t your fault and everyone here knows that. And as for staring a war…” 

“If you ever think that any of us would let you do something so far out of your character then you are very much mistaken Captain.” Spock concluded passionately making Pike blink.

Michael glanced sideways at her brother and smiled before meeting Chris’ gaze. “We don’t blame you Captain, nobody does. Being taken over by an alien entity grants you a get out of jail free card."

Chris knew she was trying to keep it light, but he couldn’t accept that, not when he could see what he’d done to Michael all over her face. He swallowed guiltily and gestured with his hand. “I did that.” He turned to Boyce. “I almost slit your throat,” then to Spock. “I wanted to snap your neck,” and finally to Tilly and Una. “I wanted to kill all of you, it was so hard not too.” His voice cracked towards the end.

Una gripped his hand vigorously. “Hey, stop it. Chris stop blaming yourself for things out of your control. You did none of that, it was the alien. The only reason it didn’t succeed was because you fought it every step of the way."

“But-"

“But nothing. Do you think we enjoyed taking you down? Do you think we wanted to hit you in the face, to restrain you until you screamed? To strap you to a bed and watch you writhe and almost break your wrists? To leave you on the floor in that containment field and be the cause of your agony."

Chris blinked, he hadn’t realised those actions would affect the crew so much. He could feel the injuries Una was talking about of course, he deserved them. Glancing around at all the faces now, he realised he wasn’t the only one feeling guilty. They hadn’t wanted to hurt him he hadn’t wanted to hurt them, and yet they were both forced to do exactly that.

Not knowing what else to say, especially to Number One who looked like she was a second away from bursting into tears or tearing him a new one. “Sorry.” He muttered to her, and then to everyone. “I’m sorry.” 

Una gripped his hand and shook it fiercely. “There’s nothing to be sorry for, for any of us. Okay?” 

Chris looked around at all the faces, seeing they all agreed with Number One. If they could put aside their own guilt then so could he. “Okay.” He eventually replied, burying the guilt and memories deep inside his mind for now. He would have to work through that particular problem another time, but for now his acceptance was enough for his audience.

Pike glanced around the circle and marvelled at the two groups of people; the Discovery and Enterprise crews sitting together. He laughed suddenly, realising how odd this was, earning a few quizzical stares in return. “I was just thinking that this is like some weird crossover, seeing you all together in one place. What did I ever do to deserve two crews like you?"

Everyone smiled warmly, even Spock’s lips twitched upwards. They all glanced at one another and acknowledged that the reason they were all connected was because of the Captain, of their Captain.

Una chuckled and shook her head. “The real question is how did we deserve a Captain like you.” She was usually so aloof, so full of jokes and because of that her bare honesty almost toppled Chris. He felt like he’d been punched in the gut; those words hitting him straight in the heart.

Her words rendered him completely speechless. He stared around at all the smiling faces, they were nodding proudly, and staring at him like he was some kind of magical being or god. Why did he deserve such reverence, such respect? He was unbelievably proud to say that he was the Captain of Enterprise and Discovery.

Pike was humbled by their trust in him and that they had dropped everything and come to his aid when he needed them most; he was humbled that he got to be a part of this family. This family that spanned two ships and consisted of the very best people he had ever had the pleasure of meeting. 

Finis