By Christina Moore
May 15, 2378 – 1935 hours
She approached him nervously. Working on Earth was one thing—being on a starship seemed another matter. The attitudes of the officers who lived and worked in space were harder, edgier, than those who served on Earth.
“Lt. Praeger, may I join you?” Myrian Anil asked, coming to stand at his side.
Aviri Praeger looked up. “Hullo, Doctor.” He indicated the chair across the table. “Please, you’re more than welcome.”
Myrian smiled. Sitting quickly, she took a sip of tea from her cup before she spoke. “I was wondering if I could ask you something, Lieutenant.”
Aviri put down his fork. “What would you like to know?”
“By birth you’re an Argelian-Trill hybrid, which only serves to remind me that Trill hybrids are rare,” the Romulan began, “but you have a distinctly English accent—and your surname is more Anglo-Saxon than either Argelian or Trill. I was wondering about that.”
The ship’s science officer grimaced, but his smile returned quickly. “My mum was the Argelian, and my birth father the Trill—my conception was of those unfortunate accidents which occur when a female officer is on leave and has forgotten to get her contraceptive shot.”
Myrian felt her cheeks coloring with mild embarrassment. “I didn’t mean to pry, Lieutenant.”
“I guess our fine doctor has not yet read my profile,” said her companion.
She chuckled. “Not all of it. I’ve fifty-nine new medical histories to learn, so I’ve only made cursory inspections of the other material.”
Aviri smiled again. “Well, I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours, Doctor.”
Myrian laughed. “It’s a deal.”
A sigh escaped the younger man, and a faraway look came into his eyes for a moment before he focused them on her face. “My birth name is Aviri Kinva, and I was born on Argelius II. My mother, Prenn Kinva, was Starfleet—served on the Melbourne. As I said, I was conceived one night while she was on leave with a man she never saw again, so I never knew my father. When I was twelve, my mother died in battle.”
A ghost of a memory flitted across Myrian’s consciousness before it dawned on her precisely what Aviri was referring to. The U.S.S. Melbourne was one of the ships lost at Wolf 359, during the first battle with the Borg.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.
Aviri acknowledged her sympathy with a nod. “My mother had no family, and with my father listed as ‘unknown’ on my birth record, Starfleet was at something of a loss as to what to do with me,” he continued. “At the time, I was staying with a friend of hers. Diane Praeger was her closest friend, although she wasn’t in Starfleet herself.”
“Then how did they meet?”
“Diane was dating one of my mother’s Academy chums, a fellow by the name of Nicholas Praeger,” Aviri continued. “She got herself a flat in San Francisco so she could be near him while he was in training, and eventually they married. She keeps up their home in Canterbury while he’s out on assignment.
“I lived on the Melbourne with Mother, of course, and the ship had stopped in at ES McKinley for…hell, I don’t even remember why we were there, now. It’s where we were when the call came in about the Borg, and the captain ordered all non-essential personnel put off the ship.”
Not all the ships were that lucky, Myrian thought sadly.
Aviri’s voice was quiet when he spoke next. “I was with Diane, Nick, and their boy Vincent when we received word about the aftermath,” he told her. “When Starfleet came to realize that they were responsible for my welfare, they attempted to locate my mother’s family. But since she had none…
“As it came to be, the Praegers offered to take me in—said I was already like family, as was my mother. I lived with them in Canterbury, which is how I picked up the accent. When I entered in Starfleet, I took the name Praeger to honor everything they had done for me.”
Aviri smiled again for the first time in several moments. “Diane’s maiden name is Blue. She can actually trace her ancestry to the earliest Roman settlers of the island, and the Blues also have the oldest coat of arms in the whole country.”
The Romulan’s eyebrows rose. “That’s impressive.”
“Indeed. I’m really proud that I get to call them family now, except for the motto, which is ‘To walk in arrogance.’”
Myrian grinned. “I get you there, Lieutenant.”
“Know what else? I also have to wonder if the whole bloody country’s hard of hearing. Because when I first moved there, most of the people we knew would get my name wrong. They kept calling me Ave-ry, instead of enunciating all three syllables, and saying A-vir-i.”
That made Myrian laugh. “You know, I had the same problem when I first met my husband’s family.”
Aviri smiled. “Oh, please. Do tell.”
“I suppose I should start at the beginning, like you did. You see, I met my husband in San Francisco the summer before I entered medical school. He was a commander at the time, and I only an ensign—so you can imagine how much I was intimidated at first simply by making his acquaintance. But love knows nothing of rank…or privilege. Alden Sumner is not only three ranks above me in service, but he’s honest-to-goodness English nobility.”
The scientist’s eyes widened. “No kidding?” he queried, sitting forward. “Now this was a story worth hearing.”
Myrian nodded. “No kidding, Lieutenant. He’s the second-born son of the Duke of Berkshire—his brother Gordon will become Duke when their father passes, which makes Alden a Lord by title.”
“Do you get called Lady Berkshire or Lady Sumner?” Aviri asked cheekily.
A blush rose. “Actually, yes, Lady Sumner—but only by the staff when I’m visiting my in-laws, and sometimes by the townspeople in Berkshire. At our home, though, I’m just Myrian or Mother.”
“You’ve a child?”
Now the Romulan’s face split into a wide, open smile. “A son. Anil, who will be twelve on September 1st. And, as if you hadn’t guessed, he is my pride and joy. Anyway, when I first met my husband’s family, they would call me Marian or Miriam. Took me a while to get them used to how my name is pronounced.”
“It would seem we’ve both had our problems with the English language,” Aviri pointed out.
His companion nodded. “But we both love the English, Mr. Praeger.”
“No doubt about it.” The Argellian raised his glass. “A toast, Doctor… To England?”
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