Posted in 1K Serials

1K Weekly Serial Series: The Calling

THE CALLING 

A Work Of Star Trek Fan Fiction By Richard Paolinelli

© 2020 RICHARD PAOLINELLI . ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO COPYING OR ANY OTHER REPRODUCTION OF THIS STORY IS PERMITTED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION. This is a work of fan fiction based in the universe of Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry. It is not intended to be sold, to be used to aid in any sale and is not to be copied or used in any other way by any other party.

 

PROLOGUE

The Mediterranean, Earth, 2048 A.D. – A time before stardates…

 

The whole planet has gone mad.

Genoa Forelni, less than a year removed from his wedding day, stood atop the highest hill on Salina Island and pronounced his homeworld’s epitaph. The gentle waves of the Mediterranean Sea lapped the beach below in stark contrast to the glow of several raging fires across the sea in Sicily that reflected upon the water. He stood rock still, listening to the soft rumble of explosions that marked the position of the battlefronts. They were drawing nearer with each passing hour. By midnight, he was certain, Sicily would fall and Salina Island would follow suit by sunrise.

“Damn them,” he muttered, finally breaking his silence. “Colonel Green, Khan Noonien Singh and all of the enemies of humanity. So-called ‘supermen’. Nothing more than rabid, power-hungry dogs. Damn them all to hell!”

The world he had been born into a quarter-century before had been one finally at peace. It had seemed peace would become a permanent fixture, that all the old troubles and hatreds had finally been laid to rest forever. Then Green and those like him had marched the planet inexorably toward World War III. And now the world burned and he was only hours away from leaving and never seeing his birth world again.

“Genoa, they are waiting for you on the pad.”

He turned away from the carnage across the waters and held out his hand to his bride. He’d known Prima Silvestri nearly his entire life. They’d grown up in the same village, attended the same university. When he worked up the courage to propose marriage her response had been far from traditional.

“Well, it’s about time,” her eyes shone above her impish smile as she replied before adding “Yes, of course, I will marry you.”

Her eyes still shone, and there was always a trace of that impish smile, whenever he looked at her now. Even though there was little reason for either to be there given the events of the past few months.

“The loading is complete?” he inquired as he took her hand.

“As are all of the pre-checks. All that remains is for the ship’s commander and his wife to board so we can launch.”

“Then let us not delay the moment any longer,” he replied, starting back down the hill. But Prima held her ground, looking back toward Sicily.

“If we had tried to build the ship on your family’s lands…” she began.

“Then we would all be dead, or being held prisoner,” Genoa finished bitterly. “The ship would be in the hands of lunatics. And we would be dead as soon as they had extracted every bit of useful information from us regarding it. We were fortunate no one knew of your father’s estate here and more so that we haven’t yet been discovered. Come.”

“I wish there was another way,” she remarked as she followed him down the path. “We will never see Earth again. Our children never will at all.”

“I wish it could be otherwise. But only death waits for us if we stay. Even if they don’t burn the world to a cinder, I will not have my children grow up in what will follow. No. We will find a new world and make it a better place to live, for their sake if for no other.”

They reached a circular black pad at the end of the path and stepped onto it. Genoa tapped a control on his belt and the pad receded into the ground. As they dropped below the surface another disc slipped into place above, leaving them in complete darkness for a few seconds until the lift lowered into a great, well-lit, cavern below.

Filling the vast opening was a ship, constructed in secret these last six months. The Cominciare would carry over two hundred young men and women, like Genoa and Prima. Couples who wanted to start new lives, new families, on a world not destined for Armageddon. Genoa’s father, Giancarlo, had been a brilliant engineer with a revolutionary idea for a new way to propel humanity to the stars.

But the Colonel Greens of the world only wanted him to build more powerful weapons, with faster ways to deliver them to their targets. When Giancarlo Forelni refused, his wife and daughter were killed. Finally, when he still refused, Green himself murdered Genoa’s father.

Genoa had only barely escaped that fate. His father’s warning coming only minutes before Green’s men had come for him. He’d been in hiding for over a year, working on his father’s revolutionary Worm Drive in secret while recruiting other like-minded people to build the ship and to colonize another world.

On the outside, the ship looked like a massive version of the old Saturn V’s that had propelled humanity to the Moon eighty years before. The three massive engines were needed to lift the ship into orbit. Only free of the Earth’s atmosphere and gravitational pull would the ship reveal its true configuration.

The outer tube and engines would fall away, revealing a long white fuselage, ten decks high and three hundred yards in length. Two nacelles would extend from the fuselage, the Worm Drive engines, and send the ship onward to her destination at incredible speeds. Their destination was Gamma Canaris. At normal speed, the journey would take hundreds of years.

But the Worm Drive did not travel at normal speed. There was nothing “normal” about it. It simply targeted its destination coordinates, opened up a wormhole, and took off. Anyone traveling within its sphere of influence would only think a few days had passed and then when the ship emerged at the other end would find themselves at the destination.

By Genoa’s calculations, they would be traveling for a week and then be so far from Earth it would literally be centuries before they saw another human being from Earth again. And that suited him just fine.

“Commander Forelni!”

“Hello, Zephram, are we ready to find out which one of us is right?”

“We are ready,” sixteen-year-old Zephram Cochrane replied with a blush. “But I think we’re both right, sir. I’m just more right.”

“Perhaps you are at that,” Genoa allowed with a laugh. “Perhaps one day your warp theory will drive great ships out into the void. But it is still a theory and my father’s Worm Drive is real and ready to go. Are you sure you won’t change your mind and come with us? You could work on your warp drive out there as well as you can down here.”

The young man considered it for a moment then shook his head.

“No thanks, I think I’ll stay. Besides, once I get my warp drive up and running, I bet I’ll get to Gamma Canaris before you.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” Genoa allowed. “Well, you’d better get over there and get aboard the flitter before they leave without you. Once we take off the authorities are going to swarm this place and I’d hate to think of you rotting in a prison cell instead of working on your warp drive.”

“That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me,” Cochrane admitted, cracking a quick smile. “Good luck, Commander, Mrs. Forelni.”

Cochrane sprinted across the gangway and joined the line of technicians waiting to board the last large flitter to evacuate the cavern before launch. With a final wave, the young scientist disappeared into the hatch which slid closed behind him. Genoa watched as the flitter lifted and slipped into the underground tube that led under the sea outside.

“We’ll give them ten minutes to get clear and get lost in the civilian traffic in France before we launch,” he turned toward his own ship’s open hatch. “We’d better get up to the bridge. It wouldn’t do for the ship to leave without her commander and communications officer.”

Prima stepped through first and Genoa closed and secured the hatch after following her inside. In her current orientation, it required some climbing to get to the Cominciare’s bridge. Once in space, it would be easier to move about but gravity demanded its due on the surface.

“Well, howdy folks,” the ship’s pilot greeted them as they entered the bridge. “I was figurin’ I was about to take off without y’all.”

“Wouldn’t dream of missing this flight, Cooper,” Genoa slid into the command chair beside his pilot. Cooper Filidei’s family had emigrated from Italy to Texas toward the end of the 19th Century. He’d been visiting family when Genoa had first encountered him. Cooper’s skill as a pilot was equaled by his skill as both a smuggler and a procurer of much-needed material. Without him, Genoa readily admitted to any who asked, this ship would never have been built. Still, it was strange hearing his Texas twang among a ship full of native Italian accents.

“The last flitter has cleared the launch safety zone,” Prima reported from her station. “The ship’s cargo master reports cargo loaded and secured, passengers are strapped into their launch couches and are ready to go.”

“Thank you,” Genoa said, scanning his flight board. “What was the final count down there?”

“We’re carrying two hundred and thirty-two passengers and crew,” Cooper answered. “Plenty of food, water and seeds for two years and dozens of various critters. We’re a certified Ge-Noah’s Ark.”

The flight engineer groaned. Prima merely shook her head. Genoa favored his pilot with a withering look.

“You’ve been saving that one just for this moment, haven’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” Cooper grinned broadly.

“Remind me why I don’t leave you behind.”

“ ‘Cause you’d never get this whale past the Moon without me?”

“Hmm, I suppose we’ll have to go with that. Bring the main engines online.”

“Mains coming up, standing by for ignition,” the engineer called out.

“Forward shield in place,” Genoa called out as he toggled switches on his board. “Cracking the overhead dome.”

The top of the hill above the rocket split apart as the two heavy doors lifted up and away. Dirt, rocks, foliage and other debris slid down the hill. A small amount fell into the opening, striking the conical shield that deflected it well away from the ship underneath.

“Doors open,” Cooper called out. “We’re clear.”

“Retracting the forward shield,” Genoa watched his board intently until a specific light switched from red to green. “The shield is clear. Get us out of here, Cooper, before someone notices a hill just disappeared.”

“Roger that,” Cooper stabbed his finger down on the launch button. “Here we go!”

The three large engines rumbled to life and quickly tooled upward toward full thrust. The rocket did not start moving, held into place by massive steel locks.

“Engines at one hundred percent thrust,” the engineer shouted over the roar.

“Releasing the locks,” Cooper called out.

As the locks let go their hold on the rocket several high tension coils, suddenly free as well, helped hurl the rocket skyward. The combined power of the engines and the boost from the coils was needed to get the rocket out of the atmosphere before any Earth forces could respond and shoot it down.

Genoa felt gravity fighting to keep his ship from escaping its grasp. His body sank into his chair and a ring of black started to appear around his field of vision. Two minutes seemed to last two weeks and then the engines cut off.

“Wow, that was quick,” Cooper said.

“Not quick enough,” Genoa replied. “Status?”

“We’re in orbit, right where we should be. Engines and outer shell detaching right about…now!”

They felt the lurch that indicated a successful separation. Genoa toggled a series of switches that extended the nacelles. A pair of bumps accompanied a set of lights switching from red to green.

“Nacelles locked in place and at full power. Any sign of trouble out there?”

“I doubt anyone on the ground had time to realize what we were up to,” Cooper scanned his board. “No activity from Orbital Command and we’re too far from the platforms for them to be a threat. We’ve got a clean shot.”

“Then let’s not waste it,” Genoa quickly tapped a set of commands. “Coordinates set. Is the ship ready?”

“All green here,” the engineer reported.

“Same here, Cap’n,” Cooper added. “Let’s get going.”

“Agreed,” Genoa replied, gripping the Worm Drive’s thrust control. “It’s time to go to our new home.”

He pushed the throttle to full. The Cominciare gained speed as a vortex of energy appeared just in front of her bow. The swirling bolts of blue-green seemed to crack open space itself, forming a tunnel. A wormhole! Just as Giancarlo had predicted.

And then, carrying the hopes and dreams of over two hundred refugees looking to colonize a new world and make a better one than the one they were leaving behind, the Cominciare leapt into the beckoning wormhole and disappeared.

 

NEXT WEEK: Chapter One

*     *     *     *     *

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