Aria stood outside the holodeck doors. She wore an amazing gold Elizabethan style gown. It had a heavily boned bodice that was tight fitting and had a plunging neckline. It looked amazing on her and she felt like she could conquer the galaxy single handed in it. Her hair was curled and styled loosely up, barely exposing the nape of her neck. Her mask matched her gown but didn’t really hide her identity. It was tied on her face with lavish gold ribbons that matched her gown. She hoped that everyone was going to enjoy the celebration that she worked so hard on with Captain Picard. It wasn’t everyday that the crew celebrated their ship’s fifth anniversary.
At the console by the door, she executed the program that she had been slaving over for the past two months. After all the celebrations, she had to really buckle down and prepare for the Malrata Conference that she and Picard were going to attend. Aria was very nervous about being alone with the Captain for such lengths of time. She was looking at an eight-hour shuttle trip, seven days on Malrata and another long shuttle trip back to the Enterprise.
The doors shushed open for Aria and she entered one of her greatest creations. Inside was the great hall that looked like it was right out of Queen Elizabeth’s court. Everyone attending would be in masquerade. She and the Captain had thought it was nice to have a change of pace for such a special occasion since most of the other events for the crew were in uniform.
The tables were set up for the grand feast the crew would dine upon and the holo-musicians stood at the ready, awaiting Aria’s execution. It was fairly well lit because there was going to be so many people there. She was very happy that so many crew members planned on attending.
The Captain had approved everything with the program for the evening, but had not seen the final product. Aria wanted it to be as much of a surprise for him as the rest of the crew. He had grown to trust her and they had the beginnings of a nice friendship. She just hoped that he did not pick up on her true feelings for him. The foundation of their friendship was more important to her than anything that could be romantic between them.
A little bit before twenty hundred hours, small groups of people started to enter the party, all in costume. Aria nervousness was beginning to subside as the guests looked like they were having fun. The room filled up quickly with costumed Starfleet officers. What a sight to see these twenty-fourth century people could be magically transported to sixteenth century England.
“Aria, you have done a terrific job. Things look so amazing,” said a masked female. By the voice, she could tell it was her friend Deanna Troi. The ship’s counselor looked amazing in a blue and green gown with matching mask.
“Yeah, Aria. Good job and I must say, you look almost as good as the counselor here,” Commander Riker said following her in a coordinating outfit. The two looked so cute together. They said that they were going together as friends, but Aria knew better than that. She was really happy for her two friends’ budding romance.
“Oh, thank you, guys. You both look terrific. I am so glad that everyone is really getting in the spirit of things. There is even some one dressed as a court jester,” she replied to her friends.
“Thank you. You look amazing yourself. I heard that Ensign Kent was bringing you to the party. Is that true?” Deanna asked.
“Ladies, this sounds like girl talk, so I will take my leave of you,” Will said with a bow and kissed both of the women’s’ hands and left. Aria had become good friends with the councilor her short time on board and the two were often found talking together.
“No, it is so hard to work one of these things and have a date. It is easier for everyone for me to work the party and not worry about a date. Anyway, I’m not interested in him that way. For us to show up at something like this, it would give him the wrong idea of my intentions. Anyway we are not dating anymore. Who told you that I was coming with Ensign Kent?”
“Oh, just something I heard in the gym.”
“Deanna, I am not really interested in a relationship, other than friendship, with Tom. I thought I told you that.”
“Yes, but you’ve been so busy working on tonight that I have not had a chance to ask you before tonight.”
“Things always get busy before an event and I wanted everything perfect for the crew.”
“Well, it’s definitely paid off. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is not the best event in the history of the Enterprise. You’ve done a very good job Aria,” Deanna hugged her friend. “Now, I better see what kind of trouble Will has gotten himself into. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Sure, and please enjoy the night.”
Her friend thanked her again and disappeared into the sea of people. She saw many of her new friends in the crowd and they all came over to her to tell her of what a great job she had done putting the night together and all the fun they were having. Even Tom came over with his date, a little blond yeoman who seemed thrilled to be at his side. Aria though that it was amusing that the yeoman was so happy to be with Tom. It did not bother her that he had a date and she was happy for him that he had found someone that reciprocated similar feelings for him. Tom was a very nice guy and deserved to be happy.
Aria was so glad that things were going so well, but she was looking for Picard to get his final analysis of the evening. She finally saw him enter the room. Oh, he was a site. The Captain wore a costume of white and silver with matching mask and cape tied over one shoulder. It made him look as if he had stepped from the pages of history. He looked so elegant and in the right place. She could not have dreamed of him looking any more fantastic that he did right at that moment, admiring her work and seeing his happy crew enjoying the evening’s festivities. After a few moments, a smile came across his face and he began to move through the room, greeting every member of his crew. When he finally saw her, he began to walk directly towards her. She had an overwhelming urge to run but her feet would not obey. She wondered was it because she was afraid of the final and most important opinion of her work or was is because he looked so spectacular and he was coming to talk to her?
Before she knew it he was standing next to her, close to be able to speak above the growing noise level. She held the breath as he said, “Lieutenant Swenson, I am very pleased with the event tonight. It turned out better than I could have expected. Thank you.”
Finally, she let out the breath and said, “No, thank you Sir. It was a pleasure working with you on this project and I am overwhelmed that it is such a success.”
“You did all the work, and I now realize that you need a small staff. I know this took up much of your time and your duties will be growing. We will talk later about your additions. By the way, you look stunning.”
“Thank you Sir,” was all she could say.
“I must go and talk to others, but we will talk later, I promise,” he said as he took her hand much as Riker did and kissed it. Tingles surged all over her body and she thought she was going to faint.
“Thank you, Sir,” was all she could whisper as she curtsied to him. She did not even know if he had heard her. Picard left her side and someone that asked her a question about food placement that brought Aria back to reality.