Days like this made her wonder about
the sanity of Starfleet Command.
November in San Francisco was still quite lovely, so Hoshi did not mind terribly that her duties today required her to be here, sitting on a bench outside Headquarters. The sky was clear and blue, after all, and it was pleasant enough that she did not need a jacket. There was even a nice breeze coming in off the bay that, thankfully, did not reek of dead fish and motor oil for a change. So all in all, she’d been in worse places. What did bother her was the nature of the job she’d been tasked to do.
Dressed in surprisingly trendy civilian clothes, Subcommander T’Pol sat alongside her, watching the comings and goings of Starfleet with a dispassionate, almost bored expression. The Vulcan’s hair was short once more – longer than Hoshi recalled it ever being while the subcommander served aboard Enterprise, it was nowhere near what it had been when she and Commander Tucker reappeared. T’Pol was also no longer on the unhealthy side of thin, once more looking to be epitome of health and fitness. Officially, the Vulcan was here on business – Hoshi had heard through the grapevine that Starfleet Intelligence had wanted to speak with her about something – but anyone who actually knew the subcommander could see that she was just killing time without actually looking like that was what she was doing. And that meant she was simply waiting for Trip to get out of his latest briefing with Command.
To her great disgust, Hoshi had been given orders to keep an eye on T’Pol and act as an ‘assistant’ while the subcommander was present at Headquarters. The orders had come from an irritated Malcolm, who had passed them on from a righteously indignant Captain Archer, who had been given the orders by some admiral in Command who clearly needed to retire. Yes, T’Pol was technically a foreign national, but it wasn’t like she was a spy or anything! But orders were orders and Hoshi wasn’t going to lose her commission over something stupid like this …
And the idiot admiral never told her she couldn’t tell T’Pol about her instructions.
With the truth out in the open, it was much easier to talk to the subcommander and Hoshi spent a couple of hours quizzing T’Pol about the Ekosian language that she and Commander Tucker had been forced to learn while stranded on that planet. It was a fascinating language, with enough similarities to human dialects that picking it up was frankly rather easy for Hoshi. She still stumbled over particularly complicated words or concepts, but overall, she was confident that she could at least make herself understood.
Of course, picking it up this easily was one of the reasons Starfleet Command had yet again threatened to transfer her back to the Academy. If she was honest with herself, Hoshi would admit that for the first time in a long time, she was seriously considering just saying okay. Enterprise wasn’t quite the same without Travis there and here on Earth, she was more likely to be able to communicate with him more frequently than while aboard the NX-01. That was far from the primary reason to accept such a transfer – her career wasn’t going to really advance any further while she was aboard Enterprise and she really did miss teaching students – but she would be a liar if she claimed it wasn’t at least a factor.
Hoshi shook her head. Now was not the time to get distracted by thoughts of a certain Travis Mayweather, not when their friendship was better than ever before thanks to the weekly letter exchanges that she’d started. They were both cautiously moving forward in setting out the groundwork for any future relationship by discussing every feasible topic that could possibly come up, particularly things that they’d never have talked about before. Hoshi was actually quite pleased with their progress – she knew that Travis was interested in her, he knew that she felt the same way, so there really wasn’t anything to complain about.
Glancing up, she caught sight of T’Pol still watching the crowds with that enigmatic non-expression expression of hers. The subcommander had been rather quiet for the last thirty minutes or so which normally would not have been a surprise, not this soon after their most recent escape from yet another irritating journalist. Hoshi still wasn’t sure why these reporters kept thinking that they would convince T’Pol to answer personal questions that no Vulcan anywhere would ever consider responding to but, to her disgust, they persisted in asking. It was not totally a surprise, of course. Ever since those two Boomers had released their own version of the events that led to the Nausicaan ambush, the press had gone into a feeding frenzy regarding the relationship between Trip and T’Pol. The more professional networks had tried to strike a balance between fact and supposition, but even they occasionally slipped into the sort of salacious theory that their tabloid brethren lived and breathed. Neither of the commanders would comment – not even on the latest bit of gossip making the rounds that something big had happened on Vulcan – and their steadfast refusal to play the game only fired the imagination further. Hoshi had her own theories based on her understanding of T’Pol’s culture and her study of the Kir’shara, though she would never embarrass the subcommander by asking for anything resembling confirmation.
But by God, she was tempted.
In the instant that she looked at T’Pol, however, she noticed the subcommander’s body language change to one of alertness. It was a subtle thing – a minute stiffening of the spine, the barely perceptible narrowing of the eyes, even a fractional tightening of the jaw – but as an expert in most forms of communications, the change stood out to Hoshi at once. She followed the line of the subcommander’s gaze and tried to figure out where the threat was. There were the usual assembly of Starfleet personnel, moving to and from duty locations or on errands. More than a handful of civilians were out today, but given how close they were to the Academy graduation ceremony, that wasn’t an especially big surprise. No one really stood out … wait. Those men there. The way they were watching people, the way their bodies talked…
“Starfleet Security, Crewman Womack speaking.” Hoshi almost jumped at the sudden words and shot a look at T’Pol. The subcommander had discreetly pulled out her personal communicator and activated it, all without drawing notice.
“This is Subcommander T’Pol,” she said flatly. “Connect me to your supervisor at once.”
“I am well aware that I am under Security surveillance, Crewman. Connect me to your supervisor immediately.”
“This is Lieutenant King,” came a new voice moments later.
“Be advised, Lieutenant,” T’Pol said without bothering to reintroduce herself, “that there is a security issue developing near my location. I have visual on six … correction: seven unknown civilians acting in a suspicious manner near the central hub.”
The sudden, violent explosion of a parked vehicle drowned out whatever else T’Pol intended to say.
Hoshi was caught unprepared by the sheer force the detonation. The fierce thunderclap of sound and light blew her backward, knocking her from her seat and hurling her onto the ground with bruising force. Her breath was momentarily torn away by the force of the impact and she fought to recover, sucking in oxygen desperately. For a moment, she couldn’t hear anything but a loud, hollow ringing, but her ears recovered just in time to be assaulted by a terrible cacophony of agonized screams and combat alerts. It was the klaxons that snapped her out of shock – battle-hardened instincts drilled into her by a year in enemy territory and an insane tactical officer who demanded perfection kicked in and Hoshi scrambled to her feet, swaying only slightly.
T’Pol was already in motion, having recovered her footing moments before, and was charging down the small incline toward the burning wreck that had been a groundcar. An armed man lurched into view, automatically turning toward the sprinting Vulcan, but T’Pol was too fast for him. She hit him low and hard, driving him back into the ruined vehicle with such power that the groundcar actually shifted in place. The man was out of the fight almost at once, likely suffering from broken bones or internal trauma, and he fell senseless to the ground the moment T’Pol released him, his weapon tumbling free from nerveless fingers.
Hoshi knew this because she was exactly three steps behind the subcommander.
She scooped up the dropped weapon – it was a much older version of the MACO particle rifle – and quickly checked the ammunition counter before sliding into place beside T’Pol. To her surprise, the Vulcan was focused on the door of the burning groundcar and, with a grunt, tore it open.
The whine of a weapons discharge prevented Hoshi from seeing whatever T’Pol was trying to do and she snapped her head around, instantly locking in on one of the men she’d noticed earlier. He was crouched behind another vehicle and exchanging fire with newly arrived Starfleet Security personnel.
“Terra Prime forever!” someone bellowed and Hoshi felt her temper spike. She’d read the security reports about these terrorists, but to see their madness firsthand? Without realizing her intent, she’d aimed her captured rifle at the terrorist she could see, confirmed her sight picture exactly like Amanda had taught her, and squeezed the trigger.
The weapon was not set to stun.
His back smoking from where she’d shot him, the terrorist fell forward, his own weapon slipping free, and Hoshi scanned the hub for another target. She found two, one of whom was advancing on a cowering family of Denobulans and the other who was wrestling with a man in a Starfleet uniform. Making the choice to aid the civilian family was easy and her second shot was just as lethal as her first. Part of her knew she had likely just killed two men, but she could not bring herself to mourn these monsters, not when she saw the charred body of the young girl T’Pol had pulled from the wrecked car. She met the subcommander’s eyes, saw the grief and rage swimming there, and went back to scanning for more terrorists to shoot.
By then, it was over. Starfleet Security and armored MACOs had flooded into view. They swept through the courtyard aggressively, dropping the remaining terrorists in fierce exchanges of fire that left nine Starfleet personnel dead or critically injured but none of the other Terra Prime hostiles still active. Hoshi tried to surrender her captured rifle to the first MACO who approached, but his attention was too focused on the terrorist stretched on ground to notice.
“Medic!” he bellowed. “I need a medic here now!” When no one immediately responded, he keyed his headset communicator. “This is Danvers. I need a medic at my location ASAP.” Hoshi couldn’t hear the response he received but she definitely saw his scowl. “Because I have a surviving terrorist here, that’s why! Get a fucking medic over here now, dammit!”
Paramedics appeared within minutes, stabilizing the terrorist but ensuring that he would not wake up any time soon. He was whisked away under armed guard and it was only when Hoshi found herself ordered by a captain from Starfleet Intelligence to keep her mouth shut about any survivors that she wondered about the man’s fate. Would he be aggressively interrogated and then charged for his role in this madness? Or was he simply going to disappear entirely and never been seen or heard of again?
And looking at the carnage wrought by him and his associates, at the bodies of the men and women and children who had been only hours earlier excited about being her to see their friends or loved ones graduate, at seeing the lives forever shattered by Terra Prime’s madness, Hoshi realized that she honestly didn’t care what happened to him.