"Is the holodeck program all set up, Mr LaForge?" I ask.
"It certainly is, Captain." he replies, "We're ready to go."
I open the door to reveal what looks like the inner workings of a Borg Cube. As we walk in, we can see a dance area, a section where the catering is set up, and a bandstand for the Borg group The Strolling Drones.
"Any sign of the Alpha Borg Queen, Captain?" Riker asks me, "We're supposed to give her the red carpet treatment."
"Long range sensors show that she is on her way, Commander." Data answers.
"Right then." I say, "Everybody in position. The first guests are coming on to the Enterprise!"
The first guest to the Party is Michael Manning
This year proved to be difficult for a number of very obvious reasons. My Respect for Captain Picard precludes that I NOT look at Bev with a "wandering eye", as they say (of course, we all know who "they" are).
The Borg drones are here not only serving appetizers, but-dare I say it?--droning on with Rick Springfield's 1981 hit "Jesse's Girl" under their own banner as--and I love this--"The Strolling Drones". "Tell me, why can't I find a woman like that?", they intone.
Immediately, with my Martini (shaken, not stirred) I gaze over to Karena and wonder if she has even taken note of me. She is smiling and looking at messages on her Enterprise Cellular Phone.
Then it happens! She looks at me and winks!!
I sip my Martini and my mind races. What if Ensign Britney is here? Where DID I valet my ATV space vehicle? Did I leave it on "hover"? And did Karena really get married, or was it similar to "the dream sequence" in the old USA TV Series "Dallas", where Bobby is not dead, but merely in the shower as his wife awakens from--yes--a bad dream? Could this event be "the dream" sequence?
I approach Karena before the party begins to get crowded. Remember, the RSVP list included numerous planetary origination and destination sites.
Karena opens the conversation. "I noticed your stare".
"Oh, sorry if I offended. But you can hardly blame me. A wonderful ambiance, a Martini to 'Die Another Day' for, the Hologram fireplace, and then of course you. Beautiful fragrance by the way. What is it?" I ask wistfully.
"Prelude du Beay", she answers.
"Most alluring, like your eyes" I intone.
"You presume a bit much Mr. Manning".
A volley is required here: "Au Contraire", I respond. "A beautiful woman should never be neglected on an evening such as this. I'm merely here to keep away the womanizers".
Karena smiles and picks up her own drink, a Fontane du Asteroid.
"Well, that's very thoughtful of you".
My turn. "Yes, well a gentleman takes note of many nuances. And of course, your looks are but a gift from--shall we say--the universe?"
The Captain approaches.
"Ah, Michael (firm handshake) good of you to cross the galaxy".
I reply: "Yes well, Sir Richard Branson made an exception and I was placed on stand by with a flight and full access to his ATV space vehicle. I could hardly say no".
The Captain notices my wandering eye for Karena.
"Allow me to give you both a tour of the new Bridge", he says.
We walk on. As I gently take Karena's elbow I say, "Captain, I think tonight is the beginning of a beautful friendship".
The Captain looks at me, then over to a now smiling Karena and raises an eyeborw as we walk to the Hologram Bridge.
Curmudgeon is the next guest to appear.
Personal Log, Star Date Unknown.
I never could figure out these #@!$%!! star dates.
It's hard to believe that this is my third invitation to the Enterprise Christmas Party. I have formulated a new hypothesis as to why I'm growing so old so quickly: It must be because I am ageing in both the 21st and 24th Centuries.
I always enjoy my visits to the Enterprise, but I must admit some apprehension as I approach this year's party. Once again the Holodeck will be configured to appear like a Borg Cube. I hate to admit any prejudice, but, frankly, the Borg really creep me out.
And the Strolling Drones are scheduled to play this year. Again. Keith Richard (I guess he did finally give in and change it to "Richards" during my original timeline) -- but, anyway, Keith Richard was scary enough when he was a human.
Well, sort of a human.
Actually, now that I think about it, he doesn't really look that much different as a Borg. Maybe a bit less leathery.
And the other problem is buying presents. In my culture, it's expected to exchange gifts at Christmastime. On the Enterprise they have replicators. I mean, what am I going to do? Buy Counselor Troi a box of chocolate? She sashays over to the computer and brings up chocolate that outclasses anything I can hope to bring. This year, though, I do have a box of Krispy Kremes for Commander Riker. The replicator seems to gum up whenever it tries to recreate these. And I did find a Tin Man collectible for Mr. Data, and large bottle of prune juice for Commander Worf.
I have a tin of cookies for everyone else on the Senior Staff. I hope these will do.
Curmudgeon log entry out.
* * * * * * * *
I suppose I needn't have been so apprehensive. I was seated at Lt. Barclay's table for dinner.
If there's anyone more skittish about the Borg than he is, I don't want to meet them. I felt braver just by comparison. And Montgomery Scott stopped by, in full tartan plaid, to chat. He was looking for engineers to talk to but Barclay was too n-n-n-n-nervous to t-t-t-talk about engineering and Mr. Scott was on the point of leaving when I asked if he would join me in a wee dram of single malt Scotch.
Well, one wee dram led to another and soon thereafter the Borg didn't bother me so much.
My recollection becomes hazy after awhile... but I think Mr. Scott and I were invited to leave after we tried to pour Scotch into one of the Borg waiters.
"Now, we're going to ashimilate you, you shemi-mechanical beastie," Mr. Scott said. I remember that very distinctly.
And I remember Dr. Crusher looking at me very crossly in Sick Bay the next morning, too....
More Party guests tomorrow in Part Two!