“You want me to do what?” Deanna Troi asked in alarm.
“It is Klingon tradition,” Lt. Worf insisted in his gruff Klingon way. “If you wish to marry me, Deanna, then the matriarch of my family must approve of you.”
“Helena adores me, and your birth mother is dead. Besides, it’s…” Deanna trailed off, realizing that to call Worf’s tradition ‘nonsense’ wouldn’t be the best way to start off a marriage. She set her mug of hot chocolate down on the top of their holographic table and chose her next words very carefully. “It’s not practical Worf, not with our schedules. Besides, my mother didn’t put you through a series of tests to see if you were worthy to be my husband.”
“No, she merely gave me a three hour lecture on what would happen to me if I were ever to hurt you.” Worf’s upper lip curled at the memory, indicating that it was not a happy memory. “While making me watch paint dry.”
“She did what?” the Betazoid choked on a smothered laugh.
“She was comparing your growing older to the drying of the paint.” Worf sighed, not going to admit how long of an ordeal the interview with her mother had been. “Deanna, I am pleased that my mother Helena adores you. However…I am a Klingon…and I am now a member of General Martok’s family. His wife Sirella is already on her way to rendezvous with the ENTERPRISE and if she does not approve of you…I must decided between you and my honor.”
Before Deanna could reply to that, Captain Picard’s voice over the Comm interrupted them. “Counselor Troi”
“Troi here,” she answered, her voice not betraying the ire her fiancé had sparked.
“Report to my ready room immediately.”
Deanna frowned at the tone of her captain’s tone of voice. “On my way,” she replied seriously. Standing to her feet, the petite Betazoid woman looked warmly at Worf. “I look forward to meeting this Sirella. I’ll do my best to make you proud.” Planting a kiss on his ridged forehead, she turned and left the room.
The Klingon’s eyes followed after her, admiring how she walked as a woman ready to do battle.
* * * * *
“I fought the Council,” Admiral Hamilton said softly after the captain had finished his conversation with Counselor Troi.
“You have no need to justify yourself to me,” Picard said gently. There it was again. Compassion for the woman sitting across from him, coupled with protectiveness despite her age. He wondered if it was a side effect of her high level of telepathy that caused the involuntary mind access.
“Don’t I?” she asked, only vaguely aware of the man’s thoughts. Her anxiety began to show as Virginia rose to her feet and began to pave the floor in front of his desk. “Sometimes, Picard, I hate the regulations that bind me, both Starfleet and Gandraleayian. I especially hate being a half-breed because the regs are stricter for us.”
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Picard said honestly. He had known of her mixed heritage, but not the stricter regulations that went with it.
“No, it’s not widely known. If it was, people would want to know why and Gandraleayian pride is so stiff that they’d never want to admit that Human/Gandraleayian hybrids are more powerful than purebloods. It’s bad enough that the Rogue Q faction wreaks havoc and gives us a bad name.” Virginia sat back down. “You know – I was the reason the Gandraleayian Non-Interference Regulations were created. They should have been in place long before I was born, but if they had…well, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have been born,”
“As I recall, you were the second half-breed to be recognized as having inherited the powers of your people.” Why they were talking about something so off subject of the Borg, Picard didn’t quite know, but followed the Admiral’s lead.
“Second official recognition, yes. But I was the first one to ever be conceived by blatant misuse of Gandraleayian powers…that we willingly admit anyway. There’s no telling what some of the early Q did. But then, it is hard to keep your misdeeds quite when you’re the heir to the throne as my father was.” The alien hybrid sighed. “Picard, I could destroy the Borg with a thought…all of them, everywhere…and I so desperately want to.”
“But if you were to do so,” Picard interjected, “you would become no better than the Q.”
Virginia nodded reluctantly. “Rebellious.”
“To put it mildly. I’m sure you’re aware of my own experiences with a member of that faction.”
Again the admiral nodded. “I remember him before he was a Q, when he was still called Ian. He always was a mischievous one….and after his exile…he became Q in every sense of the word. At the time, he didn’t deserve exile, but I didn’t have a say back then. Hell, I still don’t! The Oryon Council listens to me as often as the War Council does. They remind me so much of my kids when they were teenagers. “ At Picard’s chuckle, she realized what she was doing. She smiled in chagrin. “I’m sorry, Picard. You tease me about stretching the boundaries of proper protocol and here I go smashing it completely by dumping my burdens on you – a complete stranger.”
Picard considered the comment. “Not quite a complete stranger. Surely my desire to know you better was revealed to you during the moment I was made known to you.”
Virginia looked at him, startled. Then her head tilted to one side, a movement that reminded the captain of the android Data when he accessed a memory file. “You’re…I didn’t even notice! I was so taken aback by you experience with the Borg.”
Conversation had come full circle.
“Did I mention that I hate regulations sometimes?” Virginia asked.
“Once or twice,” conceded Picard. “The counselor should be here shortly.”
“Do you know…I could have ascended to the throne 10 years ago? Grandma Rixa wanted to retire and relax in her mountain home. I mean, it’s only fair since she extended her reign because of my father being taken out of the ascendancy. And did I answer the call when it came? Nooo…” she drew the word out with sarcasm. “Of course not! I begged and pleaded for more time because I enjoy it here. This has been my home for years. Not to mention that I my reign shouldn’t have be coming up for another 500 years yet…and I’m doing it again, aren’t I?”
“Yes,” answered Picard in genuine amusement. At that moment the door chime trilled. “Come.”
And the doors slid apart to admit Deanna Troi.