Michael Burnham

Name: Michael Burnham
Position: Science Specialist
Age: 30

Starfleet History
2249: Assigned to USS Shenzou as Xenoanthropologist
pre 2256: Promoted to Commander and named First Officer
2256: Stripped of rank
2256: Reassigned to USS Discovery as Science Specialist

Personal History
Burnham was born on Earth, in 2226. In the early 2230s, Burnham's parents were stationed on Doctari Alpha. They originally planned a vacation to Mars but a young Burnham begged them to stay three more days to witness a nearby star go supernova. The Klingons then attacked. Burnham's father attempted to barricade the kitchen door, while her mother hid her in a cabinet. Burnham did not witness the death of her parents, but she heard everything happen, saying that they killed her father quickly, but took longer with her mother. The Klingons then sat down on Burnham's family table, ate the dinner the family had prepared and laughed. She was then raised on Vulcan by Sarek and Amanda Grayson and was the first Human to ever attend the Vulcan Learning Center. She initially struggled to adapt, having to recall the events of her parents' death in a series of questions posed by the Centre. Sarek assured her that when emotion brought her ghosts from the past, only logic can root her in the present. A young Burnham suggested she learn Vulcan, but Sarek told her it was her Human heart, not her Human tongue that was the problem. Shortly after she arrived on Vulcan, Burnham was targeted by Vulcan logic extremists who believed that Humans were a threat to their logical civilization and who launched an attack on the Learning Center. The bombing left Burnham physically dead for three minutes, forcing Sarek to initiate a mind meld with Burnham in order to revive her. As a result of this, a portion of Sarek's katra remained inside her mind, which later allowed him to communicate with her across interstellar distances and the two to share physical sensations such as pain. During her childhood, her foster mother often read to Michael and to her biological son, Spock, particularly Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Even as an adult, Michael still owned a physical copy of this book, which was a gift from Amanda. On Burnham's tenth birthday, she and Amanda visited the seventh moon of Eridani D to attend a book exchange, an ancient Human ritual. In 2245, Burnham began attending the Vulcan Science Academy, where she studied quantum physics. She graduated four years later at the top of her class, and was a recipient of the Vulcan Scientific Legion of Honor. After her graduation, Burnham applied to join the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. Unbeknownst to Burnham, the Group rejected her application on the basis of Burnham being Human, and forced Sarek to choose between allowing Michael to join now, or allowing Spock – who was half-Human – to join in the future. After reluctantly choosing Spock over Michael, Sarek hid the truth out of personal shame and reported her rejection as being a result of her "insufficient" abilities. This led Burnham to believe that it was her weaknesses that resulted in the decision, and that Sarek was wrong to believe in her – a sentiment her foster mother dismissed. Sarek's shame ultimately only grew when, eventually, Spock unexpectedly chose to join Starfleet instead of the Expeditionary Group, rendering Sarek's sacrifice of Michael's Vulcan career pointless.

Sarek sought to find Burnham a place where she could thrive, and approached Captain Philippa Georgiou to give his ward an opportunity in Starfleet. Burnham therefore joined the service and was assigned to the Shenzhou under the command of Georgiou in 2249, at the age of 23. Serving as a xenoanthropologist, she eventually rose to the rank of commander, and by 2256, had become Georgiou's first officer.

Burnham and Philippa Georgiou had almost a mother–daughter relationship; after taking on Burnham as a member of her crew, Georgiou decided to take a chance on Burnham and made her first officer. From their first encounter, Philippa boosted Michael's self-esteem, telling her that her confidence was justified, much to Michael's shock and complimenting her back. Over the course of seven years, they developed an extremely close relationship. Georgiou grew to trust Burnham, and while exploring with her in 2256, said she trusted her with her life. On a relatively primitive planet, the duo opened a well, and enabled the planet's residents to survive a coming eighty-nine-year drought. Burnham warned Georgiou of her encounter with a Klingon, and with hesitation, Georgiou believed her and locked weaponry on the object. Starfleet ordered the Shenzhou to wait until reinforcements arrived. When Burnham recommended firing first against the Klingons, Georgiou refused. Burnham disabled Georgiou with a Vulcan nerve pinch and took command of the ship, ordering an attack on the Klingon vessel. Georgiou recovered in time to stop the attack. Georgiou arrested and imprisoned Burnham for mutiny. However, Burnham escaped the brig after telepathic encouragement from Sarek, and convinced Georgiou to take T'Kuvma hostage, instead of making him a martyr. Georgiou told Burnham she worried that one day her Vulcan upbringing would cloud her Human side, and was disappointed to learn that she had such an ego to believe she could rip the Vulcan shell away from Burnham. Burnham retorted that she turned against her because she believed it was the only viable option to avoid a full scale war, and to save her life as well as the crew's, which was worth going against Starfleet's principles. Georgiou did not respond to her justification, but agreed to go with her plan to infiltrate the ship together, rather than Burnham alone as she originally suggested, indicating Georgiou had not given up on her. Using an explosive sent to T'Kuvma's ship with a Klingon corpse as a distraction, the duo boarded the ship and attacked. Burnham fought off Voq, but Georgiou was killed during the Battle of the Binary Stars, by T'Kuvma. A moment later, Burnham shot T'Kuvma and made a martyr of him. Burnham was distraught, weeping at the loss of her friend and captain, and becoming consumed with grief. Following Georgiou's death, Burnham felt she was responsible for the death of her captain and friend, completely guilt-ridden. Just prior to the Battle of the Binary Stars, Burnham was charged with mutiny after incapacitating Captain Georgiou and taking command of the Shenzhou, preparing to attack the Klingons by firing on them first. She subsequently pled guilty to these charges during a court martial, and was stripped of rank and sentenced to life in prison. She thus became the first and only officer ever convicted of mutiny in the history of Starfleet to that date.

After serving six months in prison, Burnham was transported via shuttlecraft to another facility at Tellun. The shuttle transporting them was disabled, but she and three other prisoners were rescued by the USS Discovery. Following orders by Captain Gabriel Lorca, she participated in a boarding party aboard the USS Glenn. Lorca then offered her a berth aboard Discovery, assuring her that her life sentence would not be a problem. Burnham began sharing quarters with Sylvia Tilly. Burnham was reassigned from the command division to the sciences division and allowed to wear a Starfleet uniform again, albeit without any rank or other insignia. Lorca assigned her to work on the tardigrade, which had been captured aboard the Glenn. Burnham named the creature "Ripper," because of its strength and ability to damage even a starship's tritanium hull. In collaboration with Tilly and Paul Stamets, she discovered the tardigrade's connection to the mycelial network, which enabled the full utilization of the spore drive in order to stop the Klingon attack on Corvan II. In the following weeks, the Discovery used the spore drive several times; Burnham grew concerned with the effects of this usage on the tardigrade, which became weaker and seemed to be at great discomfort when utilized for the drive. After voicing her concerns to acting captain Saru, she was confined to quarters by him. Following the successful mission to rescue Captain Lorca, she and Tilly released the tardigrade into space, where it regained its strength and traveled away. After recovering Sarek from an assassination attempt by the same extremists who had targeted her as a young girl, Burnham was offered a position as bridge science specialist by Lorca, which she accepted. In the process, Burnham learned the truth about her rejection by the Expeditionary Group – Sarek had chosen to enable Spock to serve with the Group instead (although Spock had turned down that offer). Burnham then assisted Stamets in stopping Harry Mudd from stealing the Discovery and selling it to the Klingons. Burnham, Lorca and Tyler then turned Mudd over to his fiance, Stella Grimes and her father Grimes. During this time, she and Tyler developed feelings for each other. Burnham then went with Tyler and Saru to Pahvo. There, they hope to use a crystal structure to act as a SONAR in order to detect cloaked Klingon ships. During this time, Burnham noticed that Saru had become fearless after making first contact with the Pahvans. However, he had become hostile toward her and Tyler. Burnham was then able to convince the Pahvans to withdraw their influence over him and allow to complete their mission. Burnham was successful and the three of them returned to Discovery.

Burnham felt having to face Georgiou's terran counterpart, the emperor, was a reckoning for her betrayal. She remained feeling extremely guilty for having went against her captain's wishes. After revealing her true identity, Burnham told Emperor Georgiou that their bond seemed to cross universes, as Burnham and Georgiou's mother/daughter-like bond is a literal mother/daughter bond in the mirror universe. Burnham's guilt over her captain's death led her to declare she would not let Emperor Georgiou die, no matter how cruel or ruthless she is. When she returned to the prime universe with Georgiou, having kept her promise, she admitted she wanted to show her a place of morality and hope. Mirror Georgiou told her that she wished to save her because she couldn't save her own Georgiou, and that it weakens her, to which Michael responded, "Well I feel it every day of my life."

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