CHALLENGE RESPONSE: THE LEGACY
DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns it all. I'm just playing in their
backyard. No infringement intended.
SETTING: At Starfleet Academy, far in the future.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This piece is a response to a challenge posted by
AStory to the Imzadi_All list back in October of 2003. She posted
the questions of how would Will and Deanna's story be told and
what makes it so timeless. This story is a first stab at responding to
those very well-put queries.
It was mid-day at Starfleet Academy. The cafeteria bustled with the
lunch-time comings and goings of cadets and staff. It was hard to
find a quiet spot away from the clatter and din of the meal-time
crowd. But in a far corner, behind a potted plant, sat two second-
year cadets. Both of them human, one was male and the other female.
They were lost in a world of their own, focused as much on each
other as they were on their meals.
"So you're one of *the* Rikers!" exclaimed Randi Walters
propped her amused face on her arm. Her acquaintance blushed
slightly, and then attempted to clear his throat.
"So you figured it out," he said, a rueful expression on his
He looked down and shook his head. Randi reached out and put her
hand on his. Giving it a loving squeeze, she said softly, "Hey,
that's nothing to be embarrassed about. You're you, Ian. I
for who you are, not for what name you happen to bear."
"You're sure of that?" Ian asked uncertainly. Randi
comfortingly, brought Ian's hand to her mouth and kissed it. Then
they both quickly looked around; fraternizing among cadets was still
frowned on as much as it had been in the original Riker's days at
the Academy. Once they satisfied themselves that no one had seen
their little affectionate gesture, they returned to their
"You can bet on that, Ian," she smiled at him. "I mean,
have we been together now?" She searched his face with her dark,
"Since the beginning of the school year
," he answered
locking his clear blue eyes onto her dark brown ones. She smiled
"That's right. And you might as well have just changed your
together for all that your last name means to me. You're still
same Ian Riker now that you were before I learned what your
background was," she said as she stroked her thumb gently across
top of his hand.
"Okay," Ian said as he offered a tentative smile. His was met
reassuring smile on Randi's face. "Okay, then," she said
his hand another squeeze.
Her dark eyes remained locked onto his bright blue ones as they sat
silently. It was a pregnant but pleasant silence that reigned
between them for several minutes. Then, without looking away, she
began to talk.
"You know, Ian, I'd almost think I was empathic just
now," she said
"Why do you say that, Randi?" he asked sharply, the word
catching his attention.
"I could almost feel something essential about you as I watched
you," she answered.
"That's an interesting choice of words," he remarked.
continued, "But don't you think that may just be due to our
relationship? You know, lovers just knowing what one another
"Could be," she answered distractedly. Her eyes glazed over
became lost in thought.
"Ian, there's a story that's made the rounds here at the
ages. When I think about us being lovers," she smiled at him once
more, "I think of this story. And while I know we have a special
relationship, one very dear to me, I wonder if we will ever be able
to have what I've heard about."
"Which story would that be, Randi? There are loads of tales that
have become legendary around here," Ian said, being fairly
about which one she had in mind.
"Well, I think it involves someone you're related to,"
tentatively. She didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable again
about his family background. Ian nodded and smiled warmly.
"Yeah, I know which one you're talking about. That would be
story about my great-grandfather and great-grandmother," he said,
his eyes twinkling with the warmth of pleasant memories.
"Uh-huh," she replied, "that's the one. William Riker
Troi. Did you ever know them, Ian?"
"Not really. They died when I was fairly young. I know they had a
special relationship, but I've learned more about it here at the
Academy than I ever did in my family." It was now his turn to
lost in thought. He tried hard to remember his great-grandparents.
But he had been so young when they passed away. All he could
remember was a tall bearded man with a booming voice and a petite
woman with depthless dark eyes, not unlike Randi's.
"I know they were both in Starfleet at one time. And judging from
some of the legends I've heard here, he had one hell of a tenure
the Academy and in his early years in Starfleet. I wonder if this is
where he picked up that nickname?" Ian offered.
"You mean `Will the thrill'?" Randi giggled. Ian
dancing in his merry blue eyes. "Yep, that's the one," he
said. "Sounds like you've heard some of those same
"Well, some people are just cut out for that stuff, I guess,"
sighed pleasantly. "Not the rest of our family, though. In fact,
the first Riker to enter Starfleet since my great grandparents."
"That makes sense," Randi commented. "That's probably
why I didn't
connect you with the Riker legend until now.
"And it's just as well, too," Ian agreed. "It's
hard enough making
my way through the Academy without having to be constantly compared
to him or them."
Just then, the sight of another cadet approaching them caused them
to cease talking. It was Mardon, a Benzite. Like Ian and Randi,
Mardon was a second-year cadet.
"Mind if I join you?" Mardon asked pleasantly. Ian and Randi
and gestured to the remaining empty seat at their table. Mardon took
a quick breath from the atmospheric mister strapped onto her chest,
then sat down. She looked inquiringly from Ian's face to
"We were just talking about Academy and Starfleet stories and
legends," Randi said, offering a welcoming smile. Mardon nodded.
"I've heard quite a few of them, myself," she smiled.
did you all have in mind?"
"Well, one of the biggies that's been making the rounds for
a terribly romantic one," Randi began. Mardon smiled and nodded.
"I'll bet you mean the one about that special couple
um Riker Will
Riker and, uh Deanna Troi," Mardon said. Ian and Randi smiled
"Yep, that's the one. Quite an item, those two," Randi
Looking quickly at Ian, Randi then asked Mardon what she knew of the
"The tale, as I've heard it, is really lovely in its
Riker was a Terran lieutenant in Starfleet. He was stationed on
Betazed for a while and met Deanna Troi. I know he somehow saved her
life ," Mardon related before Randi interrupted.
"I heard he saved her from Sindareen raiders," Randi
Ian and Mardon nodded.
"Yes, that's right," Mardon said. "And then Will
Riker fell in love
with Deanna Troi. Only it wasn't just love " Mardon's
off as she suddenly became lost in her thoughts.
"No, it wasn't," Ian said softly. "It was more
"`Imzadi'?" Randi asked.
"I heard that word a few times when I was growing up," Ian
explained, "but I never knew what it meant until I came here."
"What does it mean?" Randi asked, staring intently at Ian.
"It's a Betazoid word meaning `beloved'," he
answered softly. And
before either of his companions could open their mouths to speak, he
added, "But it also has a deeper meaning."
"What's that?" Randi inquired gently.
"It also means `the first'
The first not only for
relations, but also to touch the soul of another ," Ian
"What I heard," Mardon interjected gently, "is that if
Imzadi with another, if you have touched that person's soul, you
have forged an eternal connection with that person. I guess you
might call it becoming soul mates."
"Yeah, right," Ian nodded, "eternally connected. And in
Deanna's case, their bond carried an extra dimension."
"Was it that they could blend their inner selves telepathically?
That's what I heard," Randi stated. Ian and Mardon nodded.
"Yes," Ian responded dreamily. "It's as if they
carried the other
person's essence inside. And they could hear one another
telepathically. It's because Deanna was part Betazoid and
"Wow!" Randi exclaimed. "What an amazing
combination You've got
love, like anyone. But then you have this visceral blending with
another's inner being and thoughts. Almost as if two hearts are
beating as one Incredible!"
"Yes," Mardon began to speak again. "But the funny thing
about it is
that it was ages before they had the sense to live in accordance
with that bond."
"I heard he stood her up early on, and then it was years before
saw one another again," Randi offered.
"Yep," Ian said. "Then they ended up serving on the same
"As friends," Mardon completed Ian's thought. "For
years, just as
"But still with the Imzadi bond, right?" Randi asked. Ian and
nodded. "But things did eventually change for them," Randi
"Indeed. Look at me, I wouldn't be here if they
laughed. Mardon stared wide-eyed at Ian. Only then did she make the
connection between their story and Ian's last name.
"So you're one of ," Mardon sputtered.
"Yep," Ian laughed harder, "`the' Rikers!" Ian
clapped a friendly
hand on the Benzite's shoulder. "Just don't hold it
against me," Ian
snickered and gave Mardon a wink. Flustered, Mardon quickly took a
deep breath from her atmospheric mister. Then the smile fled from
"No, what they had ," he began.
And finally began to enjoy after many years," Mardon added
Was something special and unique." Absently, he stroked
shaven chin, unaware that he was imitating his
habit with his beard.
"I heard that such bonds were really rare, that that's part
makes this story so special," Randi opined.
"Yep, that's what I've heard too," Ian said. "But
think about it
Even if such a bond was rare, that alone was not reason enough for
their story to take on such legendary proportions."
"You got that one right, Ian," Randi agreed quietly.
"It's not just
the infrequency of such an occurrence. It's also the fact that
lived better than half of their lives as two inner beings, two
souls, merged into one."
"Add to that," Mardon interjected, "the fact that they
spent so many
years pretending as if they could ignore their bond."
"I heard that a trip into the Briar Patch took care of that,"
snickered. Mardon and Ian joined in her laughter; because of the
well-known effects of the Briar Patch, Federation contact with that
quadrant of space was still restricted.
Ian laughed, "Yep, it would
Not that I wouldn't mind at
in there, myself." He gave Randi a momentarily lascivious glance.
Mardon looked from Ian's face to Randi's, and then giggled,
I just missed something."
"You know," Ian began, suddenly in a more speculative manner,
in love is a remarkable thing." He looked meaningfully at Randi,
blushed slightly and looked down at the table. "There are
continued, "where I could almost believe that I could feel my
beloved's feelings in my heart. And there are other times where
something about her warms my inner being " He stretched his hand
across the table towards Randi's hands. Mardon watched silently,
understanding immediately who Ian was speaking about.
"Now imagine being able to have that kind of experience of
be your constant inner reality. That you are not merely warmed by
your love for the other, but also by her very inner soul.
Constantly. That is what I understand the Imzadi experience to be.
And I envy it," Ian said wistfully.
"As does anyone with a romantic heart and a craving for
answered gently, wrapping her hand around Ian's outstretched
"Do I see another relationship in the making here?" Mardon
she cleared her throat. Ian and Randi laughed. Winking his eye at
Mardon, Ian said, "That's a story for another time, friend.
perhaps in time, it too will become legendary. Who knows?"