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Ardra (impostor)

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Ardra was a female con artist who impersonated the mythic Ventaxian figure of Ardra.

In 2367, this con artist learned of Ardra and the lore surrounding her return. The impostor revealed herself to the Ventaxians, fooling them into believing that she was their deity, by using technology to mimic various phenomena believed to herald Ardra's return. When Captain Jean-Luc Picard came to the planet to help Acost Jared, the Ventaxian leader, Ardra suddenly appeared before them. She claimed to also be the Klingon mythological figure of Fek'lhr.

Back on board the USS Enterprise-D, the senior staff discussed who or what Ardra was, even suggesting that she was Q, or another member of the Q Continuum, but Picard concluded that neither Q nor another member of the Continuum would ever bother with contracts.

Having found Picard attractive during her initial contact with him, due to his "forceful" presence, Ardra later materialized in Picard's quarters and tried to seduce him in order to stop the investigation. When he refused her initial advances, she changed into a more Victorian appearance, to what she described as Picard's "ideal woman... prim and proper and chaste, until I succumb to your charms," then quickly assumed Deanna Troi's form to tempt him, with a "professional woman, perhaps one in a Starfleet uniform," but when that too failed, she beamed him down to Ventax in his pajamas, disabled the transporters, and then made the Enterprise-D appear to "vanish."

In order for Picard to finally reveal Ardra for who she really was, he requested a hearing, with Data as the arbitrator, so as to assist Geordi La Forge in pinpointing Ardra's base of operations. Ardra agreed to the hearing, though she claimed that it wasn't required. She demanded a steep price of Picard if he lost; she wanted "your heart, your mind, your soul, and I want you to give them to me without resistance, of your own free will." Picard agreed, as he was convinced that Ardra's claims were false and that he could prove that to be the case.

During a court case Ardra continued to use her "powers" to prove to the court that she was indeed "real", while Picard focused on disproving her existence and role in events, by pointing out that all of the changes on Ventax were gradual, natural changes, with no indication that 'Ardra' had so much as picked up a single piece of rubbish while Ventax was rebuilding its civilization.

In the meantime, La Forge discovered the impostor's starship in orbit, and assisted Picard in exposing her ruse by eliminating the source of her abilities.

During the trial, Picard revealed the source of Ardra's "powers" to be the result of "a prearranged program on her ship's computer: a fairly ingenious combination of force field projection, holography, and transporter effects," adding "Ardra controls her magic literally by the blink of an eye, centuries old technology – an implant that allows her eye movements to choose and activate each illusion." The Captain revealed that Commander Riker had lead an away team to seize control of Ardra's ship. Subsequently, the Captain was given control of Ardra's illusions. Commander Riker monitored the Captain over his communicator and executed the effects accordingly. The Captain thanked his first officer who said he was "glad to be of service."

Picard further revealed that "her crew had admitted that Ardra had used 23 aliases in that sector alone to deceive innocent people in petty schemes for years."

As a result of Picard's testimony, Ardra was taken under arrest by the Ventaxians. (TNG: "Devil's Due")

The impostor Ardra was played by Marta Dubois.
During the first six different script versions, Ardra was originally a man. (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 19, p. 10)

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