Some months later…
The assembly hall was filled to capacity. There was not one seat spare. The heat of the San Francisco sun was beating down on those sat in the assembly hall. Some had taken to fanning themselves with the programmes. Others were simply suffering in silence. The hall was eerily silent for a long time, before a male figure made his way onto the stage. His shoes clacked on the wooden floor and his steps were measured and deliberate. The attendees all clapped when they saw who had stepped onto the stage. It was the President of the United Federation of Planets. Hikaru Sulu.
"Ladies and gentleman, deserving cadets, proud parents and distinguished visitors," the man began, after clearing his throat and surveying the room. "Welcome to Starfleet Academy's Annual Recognition Assembly. For those of you who haven't attended one of these ceremonies, this is Starfleet's platform for celebrating those cadets in out academy who have gone beyond what is expected of their rank, and these celebrations are reserved for the rare few. In fact, the only cadet in Starfleet's two-hundred year history to have had the privilege of receiving two awards in one of these ceremonies is James Tiberius Kirk." He cleared his throat and smiled at the front row of the audience, casting his mind back both to the great service of the cadets, and also back to his time serving under the great Admiral Kirk.
"Right, and now for the interesting bit," the admiral continued. "In alphabetical order, can Cadet Data stand up and make his way to the stage?"
The android got to his feet in one swift movement, wearing his ceremonial dress, and left his seat for Admiral Tucker's side. The admiral gestured to one of the wings, and out appeared a very familiar figure. He was elderly and moved slowly but commanded great respect from not only the audience and the cadets but from Admiral Sulu himself.
"May I introduce Admiral Leonard H McCoy," Sulu said proudly, and McCoy came over. He shared a long, meaningful glance with Sulu. McCoy was holding a medal. Engraved into the metal were Starfleet's motto Per ardua ad astra, as well as Data's name." McCoy shook the android's hand and heartily congratulated him.
"Cadet Data is awarded the Starfleet Medal of Commendation. Can we please have a round of applause?"
The audience eagerly complied, not only clapping but also whooping and cheering, and Data stood by the side of the stage, next to McCoy.
"Next, can we have Cadet Charles Louis Garfield?"
Charles bit his lip and looked at his sister, who was sat next to him. Lara squeezed his hand, which was all the encouragement that he needed. He found his way to the stage, and before he knew it, he had shaken hands with one of the most highly-regarded medical professionals in the entire Federation, and maybe galaxy, Dr Leonard McCoy.
"Cadet Charles Garfield is awarded the Starfleet Decoration for Gallantry," Sulu announced, and Charles accepted his medal from McCoy, before going to stand next to Data.
"And now can we have Cadet Lara Elizabeth Garfield?"
Lara took a deep breath and as she made her way up the stairs to the stage, she caught sight of her parents waving at her and her brother near the back of the assembly hall. They smiled at her and she returned the smile, composing herself. Sat next to where she had been sat, she saw Jo'rek, who was no longer wearing his Romulan military clothes. It warmed her heart every time she saw him in his new Starfleet cadet uniform. Before she knew it, she was on the stage, had shaken hands with McCoy and had heard Admiral Tucker say, "Cadet Lara Garfield is awarded the Cochrane Medal of Excellence."
She thanked the admiral and then stood beside Charles. She, and he, knew who was next, whose name would leave Sulu's lips next. She saw that her brother had a small tear in his eye. He reached up to wipe it away before it could fall, and then he took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and seemed prepared.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen, I think that it is only fitting that we have a minute's silence in which to remember the actions of Cadet Sebastian Richards, who sadly cannot be with us today. His actions saved not only the lives of his friends and comrades, but also very likely prevented a galactic war on a scale unseen before." Admiral Sulu's words, this time, changed the tone, and it became sombre and reflective. The audience complied with his wish for some respectful silence, and then Sulu announced, "It is only fitting, therefore, that Cadet Richards, for his sacrifice, is awarded the Christopher Pike Medal of Valour. As Cadet Richards' parents have requested, his medal will be placed in his coffin."
"Now," Sulu continued. "Last and not least, it is with great pleasure that I welcome onto the stage the very first Romulan initiate into Starfleet Academy. The war between our two factions a two centuries ago was indeed fraught with despair and chaos, but that it in the past now, and this young man is a prime example of that. Cadet Jo'rek, will you please come to the stage?"
Jo'rek looked at Lara, who nodded and beamed at him. Admiral McCoy shook the Romulan's hand and thanked him. Jo'rek looked rather bewildered but Sulu put him at ease.
"This young man, ladies and gentlemen, will be talked of in years to come. It is because of him that the Romulan way of life has been opened up to us, and as such, it is our sincere hope that there will one day be peace and understanding between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire." He paused while the audience clapped, and Jo'rek went to stand with the other cadets.
"That will be all. Thank you."
A/N: While it took me a long time to actually post this (it had been sitting about on my computer for four years or so), I hope to have another (Data-centric!) story out quite soon - it will be a sequel to 'Private Conflict' and will follow Gina Monroe and General Markeil, two of my OCs.
According to Memory Beta, Sulu served as the United Federation of Planets' president sometime between the 2320s and the 2360s, so I decided that he would be the best choice for president here. And, chronology aside, who wouldn't want a Sulu-McCoy reunion!
Live long and prosper!