The next day, the opening remarks were not scheduled until later in the afternoon, so after Aria had everything arranged and double-checked anything and everything possible plus the hour that she needed to be available to rehearse with her mother. When it came to rehearsal and performances, Claudia was all business and did not take it easy on anyone, including her daughter. Claudia Swenson was a professional and took every performance seriously.
After they were done, Aria went back to her quarters, exhausted by her mother’s rehearsal. She changed into her dress uniform. It took her a bit longer than she expected since she rarely worn the uniform. The white jacket was very stiff but it was very sharp looking. She let her hair down and curled it, pulling the sides into a gold clip at the back of her head. Satisfied wither appearance; she headed out to the ceremony, which was to begin in forty-five minutes.
Inside the auditorium, Aria checked for at least the third time that day, to make sure everything was in place. Riker came in the massive room to also check on how things were coming along.
“Lieutenant, is everything going as planned?” he asked her.
“So far, sir. But there is plenty of time left for the unexpected.”
“I’m sure everything will go according to your schedule.”
“I sure hope so. I don’t mean to be rude, but I do have a few more things to check on before people start arriving.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” he asked.
“Uh, yes. Could you tell me how many chairs are set out?” she asked as she checked the signs on the assigned seating and the programs that were set on each one.
A few minutes later, Riker called from across the room, “There are one hundred forty eight chairs with room for more.”
“Thanks, that should be enough. I do think everything is ready.”
Like on cue, the first of the delegates began to arrive and take their seats. Aria watched form the back of the room as the room filled up quickly.
The Captain came up next to her, and said, “Looks like a full house, Lieutenant.”
“Yes, Sir. I believe that all of our honored guests have arrived and seem to be content with their quarters.”
“Excellent job, Swenson. I look forward to enjoying the celebrations,” and he shook her hand, sending shivers through her body. “I would like you to meet someone, Lieutenant.” He quickly caught the arm of a man slightly older then himself. “Lieutenant Swenson, I would like you to meet Admiral Jack O’Neill. Admiral, this is the Lieutenant I told you about. The one who has single handedly arranged all of the week’s festivities.”
“It is an honor to meet you, Sir,” Aria said as she shook his hand. From her history classes at the Academy, she knew that Admiral O’Neill was one of the greatest Starfleet officers of his time. His battles plans were required reading.
“Than you. Jean Luc did tell me about you arranging everything, but never said how beautiful you were.”
“Thank you, Sir. I am flattered,” she said a bid embarrassed.
“I also had the pleasure of meeting your mother, I presume.”
“Yes, her opera company was taking some time off and the timing worked out so that she was able to visit. I just regret that I don’t have more time to spend with her on this time, but duty comes first and she understands that as much as I do. She will actually be performing tonight after dinner.”
“That sounds like a wonderful treat for all of us,” the Admiral said.
“And our Lieutenant failed to add that she was to accompany her mother in tonight’s performance,” Picard interjected.
“Really, Lieutenant. I was unaware that you shared some of the same talents as your mother.”
“Yes Sir. Before I went to the Academy, I studied opera in New York City. I do have to say that I much prefer the life of a Starfleet officer over the life of an aspiring opera diva.”
“I am glad to hear that. It must be a whole different world you grew up in.”
“Yes, Sir. It is.” Aria quickly looked around the room. “Sir, I am sorry to say that it is time to take our seats. I do hope I will have the opportunity to speak to you again before you leave the Enterprise. It was a pleasure meeting you, Sir. I hope you enjoy your stay. If you need anything while you are here, I can see that it is arranged for you.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant Swenson. I will let you know.” Admiral O’Neill left the two officers at the back of the room and sat down in his assigned seat in the front room, facing the crowd and behind the podium.
“He is very impressed with your work and so am I. Thank you,” Picard told his very young protocol officer. The Captain then took his leave of her and took his seat next to his friend the Admiral while Aria stayed in the back in case she had to attend to something.
“A very confident woman you have there,” Admiral O’Neill told his old friend.
“You should see her play poker. She has not lost a hand to Will Riker yet.”
“Her mother is very interesting but I find Swenson more intriguing. I may be looking for a good interpreter…”
“You’re not going to steal her away from me, Jack,”
“Really Jean Luc, if I didn’t know better, I would think that you are interested in more than just her interpretation skills.”
“This is not the time nor the place for this discussion,” Jean Luc told his friend as he got up to give the opening remarks.