OOC: This is going to be the first piece of STO fiction I’m writing, which focuses on my latest character T’Leia, a Vulcan tactical officer (currently level 42!).
The six-year-old girl stood partially hidden behind the marble pillar, eyes wide at the half dozen people who have gathered in the study of her new home. In the six months since they moved here, the Vulcan colony of Harmony, her family has had almost no visitors, so the arrival of these unexpected guests was particularly noteworthy. It was a break from the monotony of the quiet, reflective life, but also a visit that, even at a mere six years of age, the girl could sense was of particular import.
And even though the conversation that was taking place now was, as always, calm and collected, she could sense the tense undercurrent beneath it. Her father, in particular, was wound up and almost agitated despite his attempts to remain in control. She knew that this visit was related to her father’s retirement and her family’s move, but the exact reasons were yet beyond her youthful understanding.
Yet she listened to and remembered every word; one day she would understand.
“The Federation Council will be conducting a full investigation and expecting a formal explanation,” The eldest of the visitors declared. She remembered him; he was a friend of her father’s prior to their move; Synor was his name. “You must make yourself available for questioning.”
“I will cooperate with the investigation, of course,” Her father replied with his typical stoicism, strained as it was. “I will point out that all of the findings are documented and readily available in the Academy archives.”
“We are aware,” Another of the visitors interjected, an older woman whom the girl did not recognize. “What we require are your own testimonies. The Review Committee spoke on behalf of the Academy and made recommendations to the Vulcan High Council based on your conclusions. The Federation delegation will expect to investigate that decision.” Though her tone was even, the accusation was unmistakable.
The woman’s words brought a frown to the girl’s father. “The data analyses contained in the archives should be sufficient to explain our decision, Councilor. The Academy found no evidence to suggest the Hobus supernova could have traveled at warp speed to endanger nearby systems, let alone a system as far away as Romulus…”
“Yet here we are.” The woman interrupted.
“…There was NO evidence.” He shot back, with more than a hint of irritation in his voice. Even Synor quirked a brow at this near-outburst.
“You are displaying an emotional response, Volan.” Synor warned carefully.
“No, Councilman, I am not.” Volan attempted to recollect himself. Despite his objections, it was clear even to the girl that he was fraying. “I was merely restating and emphasizing a fact that Councilwoman T’Nakril ignores. There was no prior evidence that the Hobus supernova could have escalated to a cataclysm of such magnitude. The Review Committee convened to review the data and agreed that it would be illogical to reveal sensitive Red Matter research…”
“The data archives stated there was no evidence of a ‘naturally occurring supernova’ that could jeopardize nearby star systems,” T’Nakril again interrupted. “Has the Academy Review Committee not considered the possibility of an artificial phenomenon, or that of advanced alien technology?”
Volan pursed his lips and did not answer. The others watched him. Finally he spoke, his voice subdued. “Yes, we did so. But we calculated the likelihood of such an occurrence to be less than 0.35%, based on the highly speculative prospect of previously unknown alien technology that no one could substantiate.”
“A statistic that the Academy Review Committee neglected to report in their recommendation,” Synor spoke. “It would seem logical to act in favor of overwhelming statistics, but the Committee’s logic failed to account for the magnitude of the consequences.” There was a pause. “We are all guilty of not acting, Volan, we were wrong. You were wrong. Now we must face our mistakes.”
The conversation was quiet after that, but after the visitors left, the girl saw her father break down. His normally stoic face was buried in his hands; it was a moment of regret, a brief emotional display of sorrow, anger and disgrace, but the sight of her stern, strong, powerful father breaking down was forever etched into T’Leia’s mind.
Commander Horner pinched the bridge of his nose, before putting down the P.A.D.D. on his desk. He even heaved a sigh as he glanced up at the young Vulcan woman standing at attention opposite. Her short, close-cropped hair was typical Vulcan, albeit with a reddish tint that Horner thought was quite rare. Her features were pleasant, attentive brown eyes and sharp, angled brows; Horner could understand where all this trouble came from.
“Cadet T’Leia,” He finally spoke. “Smashing in the face of a fellow cadet is hardly the best way to start your stay at the Academy. But let me be upfront: right now this is only an investigation. The outcome will determine whether you will be reprimanded, understand?”
“Yes, sir.” She answered without even flinching. Again, typically Vulcan.
“Alright, why don’t you start by giving me your version of the story?”
T’Leia shifted her gaze to meet the Commander’s. “There is only one version of the story, sir. At 08:13 Cadet Tennon, along with Cadets Imura and Stevens approached me in the cafeteria with unwelcome attention…”
“Unwelcome attention?” Horner raised a brow.
In turn, T’Leia cocked her head slightly. “He suggested intimacy of a sexual nature, which I do not welcome.”
“Verbally, I assume.”
“That is correct.” The Vulcan simply nodded. “However by Academy regulations this can be construed as harassment.”
Horner rubbed his forehead. “Go on.”
“I made two explicit statements to Cadet Tennon that his attention was unwelcome, and both times I requested him to desist in further attempts to engage me,” T’Leia recited. “He chose to ignore my requests and continued with his provocations. In response I gave him a Vulcan nerve pinch.”
“Cadet Tennon complained that you broke his nose, in front of the whole cafeteria,” Horner picked up his P.A.D.D. again. “As did his friends.”
“A table broke his nose.” She replied calmly. “He was immobilized by the nerve pinch, and was shoved into the table when Cadets Imura and Stevens attempted to catch him.”
Horner managed to bite back a laugh, as he finally formed the picture in his mind. Of course Tennon filed the report; he was trying to salvage something out of being humiliated in front of his classmates. Still, his job was to make sure Academy regulations were followed. “Cadet T’Leia, the Academy has strict regulations against use of force of any kind on campus. Did you actually feel you had no other option but to stop Cadet Tennon forcefully?”
T’Leia considered for a brief moment. “Yes, sir. Cadet Tennon was demonstrating persistence after two explicit requests to desist. I judged that his intent and behavior were deliberately offensive to secure himself a dominant position within his social circle, and was unlikely to back down as it would run contrary to his goal. The logical and effective response was to remove his presence by a minimal application of force.”
Horner listened, and idly tapped the P.A.D.D. against his knee. “You don’t think he would’ve left you alone if you kept telling him to go away?”
“Leaving me alone would be viewed as weakness by his friends, and his social status would suffer,” T’Leia shook her head. “Cadet Tennon unwisely employed a strategy that effectively forced himself into a situation of very limited choices.” There was a brief pause. “Furthermore, I judged that a demonstration of force would have the desired effect of dissuading Cadets Tennon, Imura and Stevens from future harassment of other students, based on typical behavior norm of human males in their age group.”
Dealing with Vulcans was always troublesome, Horner reminded himself. “Be that as it may, Cadet, you injured a fellow student when you chose to use force.” The P.A.D.D. was tossed back on to the desk. “I’m satisfied that you didn’t intend him to be injured, so I’ll let it go this time. But – ” He paused for effect here, before leaning forward and steepled his fingers together. “- I want you to remember this, T’Leia: you are here to be trained as a Starfleet officer. Use of force is a last resort of Starfleet, not the first or second or even third option; we’re not Klingons, we don’t fight when there are other options.” Horner lifted his chin and pointed to a scar that ran from his right jaw down to his collar bone. “And you don’t always win; every time you get into a fight, you better be sure you’re prepared to come out on the losing side. If you want to succeed in Starfleet, you need to be a lot more prudent. Do you understand me?”
T’Leia stood there for a moment, lips pursed in silent contemplation. Finally, she nodded. “Understood, Commander. I will go and apologize to Cadet Tennon.”
Her statement brought a quirk to Horner’s brow. “You will?”
“Yes. I will also warn him against future unwanted attention to myself, and other cadets,” T’Leia inclined her head. “Your logic is sound, sir. I see now that my actions had the potential to place myself into a situation where I, too, would have had very limited choices. Thank you for your insight, Commander.”
Horner was surprised, to say the least, but he simply nodded. “Very good, cadet. You’re dismissed.” And as the young Vulcan turned and left his office, Horner smiled. T’Leia was one of the very few Vulcans he has met who wasn’t so stubborn and smug about their own infallibility, that she could actually be reasoned with; more importantly, she clearly wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. Yes, the young woman showed promise; he would have to watch her career with interest.