Aria spent the next few hours unpacking her bags and the few boxes that she had sent ahead. She found her musical instruments, a flute, a tin whistle, a portable piano and a large file that held thousands of pieces of music. As she carefully unpacked each one, Aria placed them next to a spare chair in front of her simple music stand near the window. The next thing that was unpacked was her small collection of antique leather bound books. They were placed on the top shelf of a bookcase in her bedroom.
As she was beginning to hang up some of her clothes, a reminder went off that alerted her of her first appointments in her new assignment. The first was with Commander Troi, the ship’s councilor who was the acting protocol officer. Next was with the resident bartender and chief of the galley so she could be brought up to date with any upcoming events so she could take over the coordination of them. There wasn’t a thing that had been set up, but she was informed that the Enterprise had her fifth anniversary. She realized that this was going to be a big deal and she had come to the ship just in time. There were several smaller meetings with department heads, obtaining their schedules of events and their requirements that they had for her. Aria’s last appointment was with the Captain and the First Officer. She was a bit nervous meeting her new captain because he was her boss, but more importantly, he was the legendary Captain Jean Luc Picard, a man she had read about while she was at the academy and who had crept into her dreams at night over the years.
With her data recorder in hand, she stood outside the Captain’s ready room and rang the chime.
“Come,” she heard for the other side of the door.
Aria took a breath and stepped into the room. Inside, she saw Commander Riker seated next to the desk. Behind the clear glass desk was the one and only Captain Picard. She had seen his photograph before and knew he was handsome, but meeting him in real life made her heart race and palms sweat. Even through his uniform she could tell he was in excellent physical condition. It wasn’t the power he held in his hand that turned her on; it was something else about him. She had to quickly push her thoughts about him out of her head and focus on the meeting.
“Lieutenant Swenson reporting as ordered, sir,” she said as she stood at attention in front of the Captain’s desk.
“At ease, Lieutenant,” her commanding officer said as he rose to meet her and extended his hand towards her. They shook hands; his handshake was firm and steady and it sent shivers down her spine. “Welcome to the Enterprise.”
“Thank you, sir,” was all she could reply as he motioned for her sit in one of the chairs on the other side of his desk.
As she sat down the captain began, “Well, Lieutenant Swenson. I have read your personnel file and honestly I have to say I am impressed with what I have seen. You speak most of the earth languages, not to mention Romulan, Vulcan, Kilingon, Cardasian and Ferengi. I must ask, why Ferengi?”
“Sir, I have found that is beneficial to know what the Ferengi are saying in their native tongue. I also can become conversational in most other languages in thirty hours if needed.”
“Good, good. Now, I would not normally appoint a Lieutenant to such an important position, but we have been impressed with your academic record, your work on Starbase 12 and Captain Zolican’s glowing recommendation. We are willing to take a chance on you. Keep in mind, Lieutenant, we can not afford a single slip especially with the heightened activity in the areas bordering Romulan territory.”
“Sir, you don’t have to worry. I will not let you or the Federation down. You or any of the senior officers give me an assignment and you can consider it done. I am here to serve, sir,” she said as she lowered her eyes a bit, almost in a bow.
“Swenson, I am glad you feel so confident.” He paused as he got up and began to pace. “I like that,” he said with a grin. “I am sure you have met with or planning to meet most of the departments that are closely associated with your position, but I would like you to meet with all the department heads and chiefs. Keep my people happy and keep the diplomats dazzled. I assume that you are aware of the ship’s anniversary?”
“I want weekly status reports from you for both myself and Commander Riker. If there is something you need or run into a problem, let Riker know right away.” He sat back down behind his desk.
“Yes, sir,” she replied enthusiastically. “Sir, I would like to get a jump start on the work I have ahead of me that’s if there isn’t anything else you would like to discuss.”
“Very good, Lieutenant. That is all, dismissed.”
“Thank you, sir,” she said as she stood up. The two men rose as she got up and left the office. Her heart was racing. She had just promised her Captain a lot and she hoped she was up to the new challenges.
Back inside her quarters much later that day, Aria saw the pile of files she had to attend to. Slumping in her chair, she began setting up schedules, both for the ship and for herself. Events, reports, important dates and reminders all had to get recorded. There was so much for her to set up that it was almost overwhelming. She was lucky that there were no translations to work on yet and only a few small events scheduled that she had to keep track of, but she had to get appointments scheduled per the Captain’s orders. And then there was the Captain. The thought of him made her knees weak. She knew that the chance of anything happening with him was non-existent, but she wondered what if…
“Number One, what are your thoughts on our new interpreter?” Picard asked.
“She’ll definitely do a good job. Her performance reports are sparkling, bordering on gushing and her language skills are amazing. Swenson can do it and if she can’t, you won’t know it.”
“How do you know that?”
“Her poker face is one of the best I have ever seen,” Riker replied, which made Picard raise an eyebrow in curiosity. “Three years ago, I met her when I was on leave on Soloron 7. She was able to bluff me and found my non-existent tell without a problem. I think she could be a deadly addition to the regular poker game.”
“What else do you know about her?”
“Not much, just what is in her file. She shipped out the next day and I haven’t heard from her since.”
Picard changed the subject to other matters of importance and nothing else was said about the young Lieutenant. After his first officer left for his shift on the bridge, Picard picked up Aria’s file and looked at her photo. She was very attractive, but young, almost too young for him, practically half his age. Age aside; he tried to convince himself that there was no room in his life for another relationship, especially with a member of his crew. That had only brought on tough situations in the past, especially when it came to away missions, but her position did keep her out of harms way for the most part. Jean Luc rose and stood next to the chair that she had occupied, still able to smell her perfume. It was light and reminded him of the gardens on Cascar. This woman was different than any he had met and it had been a long time since he was this emotionally moved over anyone he had just met. He knew that any sort of relationship, even friendship, would be difficult for both of them.
“Was it worth it?” he wondered. He was getting older with each passing day and never though he would have been this alone for so long. His younger brother had settled down long ago and was on his third child already. Robert seemed so happy, surrounded by his wife and son, on Earth at the family farm outside of Paris. Jean Luc had not thought that a family would bring so much happiness to a man until he visited Robert five years ago and saw what domestic life had done to his once renegade brother. He let himself wonder for a moment, what if…