"Do you know why Sarek asked me to take you on? I was a Human who had seen a life of loss, but still chose hope."
– Philippa Georgiou to Michael Burnham, 2256
Philippa Georgiou was a highly decorated Starfleet Captain, who served as the commanding officer aboard the USS Shenzhou.
Philippa Georgiou was born on Earth in Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia in 2202. Her family prized science, especially astronomy, handing down a telescope to each generation.
Ration Georgiou joined Starfleet Academy in 2220. She stood out from her classmates with her intelligence and fierceness. She met Christopher Pike during her time at the Academy, and he later admitted that she drank him and many other cadets under the table while still being able to commit every Starfleet regulation to memory. She graduated in 2224 and also earned a diploma from the Laikan Military Academy on Andoria for Advanced Interstellar Combat.
During her time as an officer, she earned an impressive number of commendations including the Legion of Honor and the Star Cross.
Georgiou served on the USS Archimedes, a science vessel, as a Lieutenant. In 2239 she encountered a message from Kaminar, a pre-warp civilization. After communicating for a time with one of its inhabitants, she sought permission from Starfleet to transport that being from the planet. Granted based on this Kelpians high intelligence and his ability to manipulate a much more advanced technology than their own, she landed and retrieved Saru.
During the 2240s she was granted command of the USS Shenzhou, and took on the recently graduated Michael Burnham. Burnham was the first human to ever attend the Vulcan Learning Center and was also the adopted daughter of the famed Vulcan Sarek, who asked Georgiou to take Burnham under her wing. Saru, the Kelpian from Kaminar that she had rescued years ago, joined her to serve as the Science officer.
Georgiou grew into her command, engaging crew members with a relaxed style that was often in playful banter, which also helped grow the humanity of the Vulcan raised Burnham. She also encouraged an energetic rivalry between Saru and Burnham, as it, as she put it, "amused" her.
In 2256, Georgiou and Burnham went on a mission to the Crepusculan home world. They were a pre-warp civilization facing extinction due to radiation from a nearby meteor drilling accident that had lowered the planet’s water table to beyond the reach of the planet’s inhabitants. They planned to covertly dig and release water in a well to save them but were observed by several Crepusculans.
The Battle of the Binary Stars
In 2256, Starfleet dispatched the USS Shenzhou to a binary star system to investigate a damaged interstellar relay. Using her family’s ancient telescope, Georgiou was able to identify an unknown object among the large debris field caused by its collision with the relay. Saru found a signal coming from the object and believed the damage to the array to be intentional. To analyze the debris field and investigate further, they would have to use a spacesuit and rocket thruster pack as the field was too dense for a shuttle pod.
Burnham volunteered and traveled the two thousand kilometers to the object. Communications with the USS Shenzhou were disrupted as she approached but she continued anyway and discovered a beautiful unknown sculpture-like object. She ignored her orders to just do a "flyby" and continued to investigate the object. She was suddenly surprised by a Klingon warrior, and even more so by him swinging his bat'leth at her. She managed to fire her suits thrusters and defend herself sending the bat'leth at the Klingon, piercing his suit and impaling the warrior, killing him. The Klingons retrieved the dead Klingons body who was called Rejac, and proclaimed that the Shinzhou would be a "sacred beacon" for the fight ahead. Meanwhile, the Shinzhou located an injured, irradiated, unconscious, drifting and in critical condition Michael Burnham. She awakened and stopped her radiation and concussive treatments so that she could brief her Captain and Crew about the Klingon she encountered. Given her condition, Burnham was met with skepticism and doubt by Saru, but Georgiou believed her. Discovery locked weapons on to the cloaked Bird of Prey, which surprisingly disengaged, leaving Georgiou in a difficult position. Burnham (her "number one") suggested an offensive course of action, but being concerned for a nearby Andorian colony, Georgiou's gut feeling was for caution. While she considering how to proceed, a piercing electromagnetic signal shot through the ship and disrupted everything. Burnham, in the heat of the tense situation, asked Georgiou to leave the bridge to contact her father Sarek in order to ask him how the Vulcans handled the Klingons in the past. She returned to the bridge and recommended a preemptive attack before the Klingons could attack them which would be a show of strength. This, as recommended by Sarek, would make the Klingons reconsider their aggressions. Georgiou dismissed Burnham’s recommendation, incensing her into a full objection in front of the crew. Shocked, Georgiou pulled Burnham into her ready room to dress her down for contradicting her openly before the crew. Without warning, Burnham disabled her with a Vulcan nerve pinch, and committed mutiny. She then re-emerged from the ready room and ordered the crew to attack the Klingons, but Saru refused. Georgiou recovered and returned to the bridge, phaser aimed at Burnham. Burnham pleaded for her to reconsider just as the signal beacon from the Klingons stopped and many warp signatures (Klingon ones) were picked up by the Shenzhou's sensors.. The Klingons then attacked and the Shenzhou was severely damaged, even with Federation ships coming to aid them. Burnham who was now in the brig for her earlier actions was nearly killed in the battle.
Diplomacy had failed and the Klingons told the Federation ships that they were superior to any species in the Federation.
After a vicious battle between the Klingon and Federation fleets, all of the Klingon ships except for one, disengaged and left the system. Georgiou was determined to seek revenge on the Klingons new leader, T'Kuvma. Burnham reported to the bridge, letting Georgiou know that she was loyal to Georgiou and the Shenzhou and that her motives were pure and that she put the lives of the crew above Starfleet principles. Saru came up with a plan to hit the Klingon ship with a torpedo that was hidden in the drifting Klingon corpses that T'Kuvma was retrieving. Using the ensuing explosion, Burnham and Georgiou beamed over to capture, not kill T'Kuvma, as killing him would make him a martyr.
The fight between T'Kuvma and Georgiou was intense and Burnham was unable to assist her Captain as she was also fighting another Klingon named Voq. She could do nothing but watch as Georgiou was overpowered and impaled by T'Kuvma. In her rage, Burnham shot T'Kuvma in the back with her phaser killing him and avenging her Captain's death. Burnham was devastated though because she could not save her Captain. Saru was only able to lock on to Burnham’s signal and she was beamed back aboard the Shenzhou, leaving her mentor and friend’s body behind.