"And These Are My Friends----"




Deanna Troi lowered her book and let out a long sigh.  It had been quite a week.  Three family crises, two

promotion evaluations, a major supervisor problem, and, Troi fingered her collar --- I am now a full

commander, and a real, certified bridge officer.


Normally, she enjoyed getting out of her uniform and into something lighter and looser as soon as she got

off duty, but this week was different.  Somehow, she wanted to stay in uniform, so, Troi laughed, if a

Romulan attack started and she had to Captain the ship, at least she'd look the part.


Troi was just settling back into the pages of her current ancient western when the door chimed.




"No, no, no.  You come to the door"  Troi heard both the words and the laughter in her head.


Enjoying the moment, she sent back "Why should I?"


"I've got chocolate."


"Well, Will, why didn't you say so?"  Troi rolled off the couch and headed for the door.


When the doors separated, she was confronted with not only a grinning Will Riker, but LaForge, Crusher,

Worf, and Data.  The humans were snickering, Worf was as close as he ever came to a smile, and Data was,

well, busy observing.


Riker stuffed a bundle of white cloth at her.  "Here, put this on."


Troi was caught a bit off guard.  "Would someone mind telling me what is going on?"


Riker just kept grinning.  "I said, put this on.  We're taking you to the holodek."


Troi stood her ground.  "I repeat, would someone mind telling me what is going on?"


"Get dressed, Deanna" Crusher taunted.  "There's a party on the holodek, and you're the guest of honor."


Troi unravelled the bundle.  It was some sort of long, white, flowing robe.  "And I have to wear this?"


"Get changed now, or I'll do it for you" Riker returned.


Troi pulled herself up to her full height, and answered in the most formal tone she could muster "Given a

choice, Commander, I'll change myself."


As soon as she disappeared back into her quarters, the mob in the hall broke into excited chatter.  "Great,

great," LaForge bubbled "she doesn't have any idea what's going happen."


Data continued to observe the interaction.  "Geordi, what is the purpose of such ceremonies?  My research

indicates that such rituals extend back to ‑‑‑"


"The purpose," LaForge explained "is to have fun.  And to congratulate an officer on a new promotion."


"Will, Worf, did you get the program set up?  I mean, is it authentic?  Will it look right?" Crusher queried.


Worf rumbled his reply.  "I assure you, doctor, the setting is suitable.  We have programmed an arena,

seating, and large terran felines."


"Not to mention a throne for the Emperor!"  Riker chuckled.


"Speaking of "The Emperor"" LaForge asked, "Where is he?"


"He said he'd meet us at holodek two" Crusher assured.  "Don't worry, he'll show.  I threatened him

sufficiently.  He'll show."


At that point, Troi reappeared, and the noisy group began herding the somewhat puzzled counselor down

the corridor.




Riker snickered as he spotted the captain waiting at the holodek doors.  Oh, it's good for him, Riker mused.

He needs to relax and enjoy himself more.


"Jean‑Luc"  Crusher said sweetly "Is the Emperor ready to preside over the ceremonies?"


Troi shuddered and shook her head.  "The Emperor?"


"I assure you all, I am ready to assume my duties."  Picard stated formally.  "And the prisoner appears to be



Troi took two steps back, but Riker caught her arm.  "Prisoner?" she tentatively asked.


"Yes, prisoner."  Worf replied.  "Prepare to meet with justice."


Troi gasped as the holodek opened.  The setting was unmistakable to anyone who had studied earth history.  It was a coliseum, straight out of ancient Rome, complete with an Emperor's throne, balcony seating over the main arena, and, down on the stadium floor, there were, --- my God, Troi realized, LIONS?


Picard settled into the "throne".  "Bring the prisoner forward!"


Crusher and LaForge each grabbed an arm and turned her to face Picard.


Troi was starting to laugh.  Okay, this was it.  They were rewarding her for her promotion.  Most of the time,

these ceremonies involved a routine on an old sailing ship.  Apparently, they had decided on something

different for her.  Well, she chuckled, relax and enjoy it.


"Emperor" Picard began "Number One, please read the charges against the prisoner."


Riker produced a long, parchment‑like scroll.  "We, your friends and comrades, do hereby charge with the

following crimes, both overt and heinous:  You have performed far above the call of duty on numerous

occasions.  You have been a constant source of wisdom and emotional support for the entire crew.  You

have acted with great courage.  Recently, you have overstepped the previous bounds of your duties and

experience and become a certified bridge officer."  Riker looked up from the scroll and grinned.  "And you

have committed the most serious wrong of all --- being the best friend anyone could ever have."


"How do you answer these charges?" Picard demanded.


"I-I don't know" Troi was laughing so hard she could barely speak.


"Number One, add disrespect to the list of crimes.  And prepare the prisoner for the lions!"


LaForge produced a length of rope.  "Since I'm the one you "killed" to get this promotion, I get to tie you up."

Troi wrinkled her nose and pointed at the rope.  "Is that really necessary?"


"Counselor, I suggest you cooperate"  Worf warned ominously. 


Still grinning ear to ear, LaForge finished wrapping the rope around Deanna's middle and secured her hands loosely behind her back.


Dead-pan, Picard ordered her "Prisoner, prepare to meet your god."


The lions began to pace and twitch hungrily.


"And, since I had to put up with you while you taking that bridge exam," Riker snickered "I get to toss you in."

He scooped up the counselor and held her over the railing that marked the balcony's edge.


Troi knew it was all a joke, but she couldn't block fear totally out of her mind.  Riker was holding her over a

six meter drop, and those lions did look pretty hungry.  With her hands tied, she couldn't grab onto him, or

punch him the nose either, for that matter.


"ONE!"  Riker swung her out over the railing.  Troi screeched.  The other humanoids chuckled.


"TWO!"  Another swing, more screaming, more laughter.


At that moment, Troi heard Crusher yell "Computer, change program, to Riker number forty-four!"


"THREE!"  Her ropes disappeared, and Riker let go, sending her shrieking over the railing, and plunging to

certain doom.


SPLASH!  Troi hit the water butt first, and when she got herself back to the surface, she saw that the arena

had been transformed to what she guessed was a Roman public bath, except that she had it all to herself.


Crusher giggled at the soaked, toga-wrapped woman in the pool.  "Nice hairdo, Deanna!  Mott must have

worked overtime on that one!"


Worf licked his lips.  "Betazoids like water, I'm told.  We hope you appreciate the setting for your party."


LaForge just kept on laughing.  Data just kept on observing.


Riker could hardly stand it.  Tears ran down his face.  "Worf's right, Imzadi, you always liked a good swim."


Picard said nothing.  He simply leaned over the railing and waved a taunting hello.


Well, Troi thought, treading water and letting her robe float out around her, it could be worse.  I could have

REALLY been thrown to the lions.  Or, I could have missed out on having friends like these people.


Troi smacked the water in front of her in a futile attempt to splash the spectators high above on the balcony.

"You're all dead!  I'll get every one of you!  When you least expect it!  You're dead!"


Deanna Troi's colleagues and friends continued to laugh, hooting and whistling as she flapped in the pool