Regrettably, Picard was captaining the flagship. He wished he was out in unexplored space nearly getting torn in half by some sort of society of goo monsters that had decided having too shiny a head was illegal. The Betazoid ambassador had made a big enough fuss about possible secession that the Federation government felt they needed to show goodwill by sending their most iconic ship to ferry her. Picard said “We’ll be there by 1800 hours, Admiral” and closed the channel. He read the passenger manifest that had been sent along with the transmission. The Ambassador herself, the standard complement of aides, and…. She’s married now? That’s a relief. He hoped that this “Lon Suder” would be able to keep her in check, at least long enough to get her to the conference.
The greeting party had had a few hours to prepare themselves. They’d all dealt with Lwaxana before. Worf had managed to weasel his way out, so it was Picard, Riker, Troi, Data, and a Vulcan crewman Picard had all but designated as Lwaxana handler. The transporter chief pushed the button, and everyone in the room stiffened. The Ambassador’s party materialized. Lwaxana had her typical grin on, her aides looked extremely tired, and Suder certainly looked the part of an ambassador’s husband. Traditional clothes and a diplomatic smile that meant absolutely nothing. Greetings were made, but it seemed the Ambassador was holding her usual brand of fucking with people for fun back for the moment. “Good” thought Picard. “This husband seems to have mellowed her somewhat, at least for the time being. If I can interact with her exclusively when he’s around, this might not go so poorly.”, he faintly hoped.
A chill went down Troi’s spine. This man had unmistakably murderous intent. Murderous intent toward the Captain. She had a good guess why. Empathic sensations don’t lie, not when they’re coming through this clearly. She tried to determine if anyone else saw it. He didn’t have the “nothing behind the eyes” look, and herself, her mother, and Suder were the only three empaths around…. Lwaxana had to know, right? There’s no way she couldn’t. Something this strong-
She realized people were talking at her now. Suder had his hand out for a handshake, and she tried not to look hesitant in taking it. “Pleased to meet you” she said, trying her best to ensure there’s no way he could tell she was on to him. She tried not to think about just how far south today had gone so quickly.
It took only a few more minutes until Alpha shift ended, and Troi took the first opportunity to leave.
Once the Ambassador was settled in, Riker returned to their shared quarters. Troi couldn’t handle it for another second. She spilled it all at once the moment the door shut, frantically telling him every detail of the situation.
Riker knew what he had to do.
“But Will, that’s ridiculous. Can’t we just-”
“What? What exactly do you think we could do to get us out of this without involving anyone else? What do you want to happen here?”
“I- I just. I thought I’d escaped her. But every time she comes back- I just want this all to go away.”
“I do too, Imzadi. But you know your mother, she’s a force of nature. We have to deal with this without her knowing. I know I promised I’d always deal with any trouble she caused for you, but…… I think we’re out of options here. We’re in above our heads. We need to bite the bullet and accept help from people we can trust.”
“I- Okay. Just. No more than three people. I don’t want this becoming shipwide gossip”
Riker turned away, and began to write three messages.
Picard was already making a face normally reserved for when Q showed up, despite the fact that all things considered, this was going quite well so far. One of the scattered PADDS from the normally neatly organized stack he kept on his desk pinged. Looks like a short message. His first officer had a plan to get through this mess, and the fact that he didn’t specify what said plan was was….. concerning, to say the least. He sighed and went back to his own preparations. He really wasn’t planning on ever misdirecting quite this way, but that feeling was nothing new for him.
Geordi was blissfully unaware of the entire situation until the message crossed his desk, like a child not realizing that he’d broken the toaster while making waffles in English class the previous day.
“Well that’s a new one”, he mumbled to himself. “How about if we- no, that one didn’t work at the Academy. Hmm. I wonder if. Oh. Right. Conference room.”
Data was working comms when he got the message, deftly dispatching administrative messages with the dispassionate vigor of a man on his fourth attempt trying to light his cigarette with a broken toaster.
“Lieutenant Gomez, replicator 21B on deck 12 is malfunctioning. Priority 3.”
“Ensign Freeman, your child is attempting to glue horns on the Cetacean Ops personnel again, could you please come collect her or-”
“Crewman Stonk, the ambassador is requesting another-”
He noticed the chime on his personal terminal. He quickly read the message and made a mental note to prepare some materials.
Riker stepped into the lower-deck conference room the Beta shift had been using as a combination small electronics workshop and game room until Geordi temporarily evicted them for this meeting a couple hours prior.
“Thanks to everyone for showing up on such short notice. Thanks to Commander LaForge for finding somewhere to do this. Now we have to deal with this quick, so here’s the situation: Our honored guest has set her sights on our very asexual captain. She doesn’t seem to care he’s not interested, and her husband is jealous. According to Commander Troi here, there’s no mistaking that he has both murderous intent and the means to do something about it. Given the situation, we have to deal with this delicately. So. Initial thoughts?”
“It would appear the ambassador believes the Captain, despite his repeated insistence to the contrary, is employing a tactic known as “hard to get” in which one prospective romantic partner-”
“Thank you, Data.”
“In common parlance, this is known as a “dick move””
Riker didn’t even miss a beat at the fact that the robot had learned to curse. “Oh yeah. A big one.”
Troi, on the other hand, missed several beats.
While she was recovering, Riker continued: “So what we do is make him hard to want.”
“But that’s ridiculous!” sputtered Troi. “This is a serious issue, we can’t just slap a fannypack on him and hope that saves his life!”
“Well, do you see another alternative?”
“Well for one, we could try talking to the Captain. Tell him to try and make some excuse or another to not be around. Or maybe use the hundreds of security personnel we have to protect him?”
“Mmm, that can’t work.” said Geordi. “This isn’t like last time. To stop a diplomatic incident, we have to make sure that the Captain is there AND our homicidal friend out there, the great Harlineus Recedus, never makes the attempt in the first place.”
“And that’s a bit of a tall order” followed Riker. “And that’s why we’re all here today. We have to figure out just how to go about doing that. Now, my preferred solution is to make the Captain undesirable. He has enough acting experience to pull it off, and the balance our diplomats have tried to establish is maintained. We’re four of the only five people on the ship close enough to the Captain to make this work. If there are no other alternatives, we can move on to brainstorming the details.”
Troi truly tried throwing trifling trite thoughts to trounce this terrible treatment, though that tactic truthfully toughened their theory thoroughly through thick temerity. Terrific.
Data chimed in: “I have compiled a list of behavioral patterns seen as unattractive in typical Betazoid culture as a potential starting point. As Counselor Troi suggested, putting a fannypack on him would break at least four widely observed Betazoid cultural sensitivities.”
Geordi looked directly at him. “This is why I love you.”
They continued down the list like a runaway tricycle down a hill, slow but picking up speed, stable and chaotic, absolutely full of homemade glitterbombs and stolen pencils from school, and Troi was the increasingly horrified small child clinging to the seat, suddenly realizing there were no brakes and that garage door over there looks way closer than it did a second ago. This was quickly evolving into a big fucking problem.