Three days later, hours before the Enterprise was scheduled to ship out, Aria said good-bye to her friends and left them at the air lock. She walked down the corridor to her new assignment. With her duffel bag on her shoulder and suitcase in hand, she approached the ship’s airlock. The star base had been a great assignment for her, especially right out of the academy, but Aria had hit the big time with this assignment.
As the air lock got closer and closer, the reality began to set in for her. The letters on the bulkhead grew larger and larger until the letters were too big to ignore and it hit her like a brick. The letters ‘USS Enterprise’ were now starring her in the face. She had gotten her dream job; interpreter and protocol officer and she knew that there would be amazing adventures in store for her on board the flagship of the Federation. This was the Enterprise. You could not land a better assignment. The doors opened for her and her future lay before her only feet away.
Aria stepped through the air lock and handed over her orders to the administration officer stationed at the door. He looked them over and with out even looking at her, he handed her one back with her assignment to her quarters. It was all so abrupt. Before she knew it, her transfer was complete. Just as she was beginning to feel gypped with the whole experience, over his shoulder, the administrative officer said, “Welcome to the Enterprise, Lieutenant.”
“Thank you, sir,” she replied with a smile. All of her dreams had not been dashed.
She walked down the hall to the turbo lift and casually watched her fellow cremates going about their business. Everything seemed routine and reminder her of life on the star base. The sleek halls were dotted with small groups of uniformed personnel talking or the occasional person out of uniform milled around her. There were even children on board, something that she had forgotten until then. Aria felt like she stuck out like a sore thumb with her two huge bags. She made it to the end of the hall and put down her bags, waiting for the turbo lift. The doors opened more quickly than she was accustomed to and scrambled for her bags, making her stumble into the doorway.
“Here, I’ll help you,” said a voice over her shoulder and the weight from her duffel bag disappeared.
“Thanks, uh…” Aria said as she came face to face with Commander William Riker. Straightening up as quickly as she could to regain some of her composure she quickly said a much more formal “Thank you, sir.”
“You’re welcome, Lieutenant,” he replied as they entered the lift. “You must be new, I’m Commander Riker.” The doors closed and Aria ordered the lift to deck 10.
“I’m Lieutenant Aria Swenson, your new interpreter and protocol officer, sir.”
“Welcome aboard,” he said as he looked at her for a moment. “Have we met before?”
“Yes, sir. On Soloron 7, three years ago.”
“Soloron 7, ah yes. Now I remember, the little casino next to the hotel. The poker table I believe.”
“That’s right, sir. It was my last night on leave and your first. I was on my way to Starbase 12.”
“Yes, that was some night. If I remember correctly, you were quite the poker player.”
“Still am sir.”
“That sounds like a challenge, Lieutenant.”
“If you say so, sir,” she replied with a smile. The doors opened on deck ten and they stepped out.
“Can I help you find your quarters?” he asked politely.
“That would be great, sir. Thank you. I’ve been assigned to…. Deck ten, room 310,” Aria replied.
They chatted politely as Riker walked the young Lieutenant to her quarters. They went inside her new quarters and Riker put her bag down on the floor next to the door.
“Thank you very much for all your help, Commander. I think I would still be looking for my quarters if it wasn’t for you.”
“It was no problem,” he said as he turned to leave. “It was nice meeting you again and I will let you know when the next poker game is. Welcome aboard.” He turned and left her quarters.
Aria looked around her new home. It wasn’t much bigger than her old quarters, but she had to share with a roommate back on Starbase 12. She had a living area, a bedroom and her own bathroom. For the first time in her life it was going to be nice not to have to share a bathroom with anyone else. All the rooms were fully furnished with very neutral tones. She looked forward to personalizing her quarters to make it her home.
Aria set her bags in her bedroom and sat down on the couch for a moment, thinking back to three years ago. Soloron 7 was a resort that many young Starfleet officers went to when they were on leave. Aria was there right after graduation with a few of her friends before they all went off in different directions to their first assignments. They had all been a bit wild on this vacation and on their last night there, Aria found herself at the poker tables. After many hands and many drinks, Aria and Commander Riker were the only ones at the table. They both had a few too many drinks and they did kiss once. When he pulled his lips away from her’s, Aria couldn’t help but laugh. He wasn’t upset and actually found things very amused with her reaction. It had felt so weird to her, like a stage kiss, but as they spent time together and sobered up, they realized that they were not meant to ever be lovers, but maybe friends. When the night or rather early morning came to an end Aria had to take the first transport to Starbase 12. They promised that they would keep in touch, but really knew that would probably never happen.
Aria thought Riker was one hell of an attractive man, but she felt nothing but friendship for him. She enjoyed his company and if the situation had been different, she had hoped that they could be close friends but because of their duty assignments, that was most likely not going to happen. Now they had gotten a second chance at that friendship.