by Lt. Lara Valera Ryn
Lara sat down on the ground with a plop. She did not want to exercise, but she knew that it was good for her. In fact, pilates was probably the one and only good things that she had learned in the loony bin. But that still did not mean that she actually liked doing it.
With a sigh, she laid down on her back and began to breathe deeply. After a few minutes, she found herself relaxed, thinking of nothing but her breathing.
And then a beep. . . well. . . beeped.
Lara turned her head and looked over toward the desk on the far side of the room. She knew what the beep was; it was coming from the console on the desk because she had an incoming transmission. Taking one final deep breath, she rolled on to her stomach, used her hands to arch her back, and then slowly pulled herself up. Once up, she walked over to the console and switched it on.
[Lara!] a voice from the other side of the screen said.
As soon as Lara realized who it was, a big grin crossed her lips. “Wally! It has been too long. How are you?”
[Believe it or not, sick of Earth!]
Lara shook her head. Both children of Federation Ambassadors, she and Wally had gone back decades and had practically been inseparable as kids, which was quite a feat as Lara’s mother and Wally’s father were never assigned to the same place.
“What brought you back?” Lara asked as she sat down.
[An assignment for the FHA.]
“Wait a minute. The Federation Historical Association.”
Now it was Wally’s turn to smile. [Yup.]
“You got a job with the FHA and did not tell me! When did this happen?”
The smile slid off of Wally’s face. [Eight months ago.]
“Oh,” Lara said, realizing how incommunicado she had been then. Trying to steer the conversation back to a happier topic, she then asked, “So, what is this assignment?”
[Well, you know my research is in cultural studies.]
[So, the FHA asked me to do a study of historical cities. I started with Berlin and New Berlin.] Wally paused for a moment and then sheepishly added, [My paper won a prize.]
“Congratulations!” Lara said, watching Wally blush, knowing her friend had never been one to speak praise of herself.
[Anyway, my boss liked it so much, he sent me to Leningrad.]
Wally shook her head. [I swear, if it does not involve dirt and bones.]
“We both study dead people; we just do so in different ways.”
[Whatever. Anyway, I was sent here to participate in the yearly 'we love the city' festival.]
“Someone actually named a festival that?” Lara asked.
[Well, no, but that’s what it is. It is a yearly celebration of the renaming of the city. Back in 2070 Russia was celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of Vladimir Lenin. He’s a really important historical figure to them.]
“Yes, even I know that much.”
Wally continued as if Lara had not spoken. [Long story, short, after a big fuss that year, the Russians decided to bury his preserved remains in his hometown.]
“Which is Leningrad?”
[No, another city, but we won’t get into that. Anyway, Leningrad was originally called St. Petersburg. And then it became Petrograd, and then it became Leningrad, and then it became St. Petersburg again,] Wally rattled off.
“Okay, so Lenin got buried in his hometown, but this other city was named after him.”
[Yes. And back in 2070 the people of St. Petersburg decided that they wanted to honor Lenin too, so in the following year, they held a vote and named the city Leningrad.]
“So, what did they do? Rename the city on the date of his death or something.”
Wally nodded. [Something like that. Actually, it was three days later. The first time that Leningrad was named Leningrad was three days after Lenin had died. So, the people thought it was fitting to use the same date.]
“Okay, so none of this explains why you are in Leningrad.”
[Because every year the people of the city have a festival to celebrate the renaming of the city.]
“And you were there to cover it, Wally.”
[In its full glory.]
“But why are you still there?”
A sly grin crossed Wally’s face. [Let’s just say that Romulan ale has nothing on Russian vodka.]
Lara giggled. “Send me a bottle some time.”
Lara Valera Ryn
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
USS Serendipity NCC-2012