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1K Weekly Series: The Calling: Chapter 13

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.

 

CHAPTER 13

 

The Grand Hall on Etalya was filled to capacity. As official guests of the crown, Archer and his crew had been allowed inside but tens of thousands of other Etalyians were not so fortunate. They gathered around the palace with more arriving by the minute from every corner of the globe. It seemed all of Etalya wanted to be present for this moment in history.

They were waiting for the arrival of Prince Bari, whose shuttle was on final approach to the pad. The fleet had pulled into orbit less than two hours ago as the entire planet seemed to be talking about how it had brought the Klingons to their knees while only losing one Etalyian ship in the campaign. Clearly, all present wanted to hear how the Prince had pulled it off.

“Quite the spectacle today, isn’t it?”

“Indeed it is,” Archer agreed as he turned to the source of the voice. “Mr…..?”

“Orlando Mansi,” the older man introduced himself with a slight bow. “Royal Weaponsmaster and father of Paulo Mansi, the Executive Officer aboard the Sicilia. At your service, Captain Archer.”

“You must be very proud of your son, especially on a day such as this.”

“Of course. I am proud of them both. The Prince and my son have been close friends almost since the cradle. I trained both of them from the time they could barely lift a sword.”

“You did well, sir. Especially in tactics.”

“Tactics? I taught them how to properly use any weapon, Captain. But in the art of tactics I feel I might have been more the student than the master when it came to the Prince.

“Even at a young age,” Mansi continued. “It was clear to us all that there was a cunning mind behind those young eyes. Our task was to see that cunning used for right and just causes. We needn’t have worried on that account. A brilliant tactician with a strong moral center, our Prince.”

“I see why he is popular with the people,” Archer remarked.

“Quite right, Captain. The people know he will always do what is right by them and by those he calls friends. Just don’t play a game of chess with him. On that field of battle he is as ruthless and without mercy as any I have ever seen.”

“So, I’ve been told,” Archer chuckled.

“I wish today was a chess game,” Mansi remarked quietly. “The stakes would only be a lost game if it were.”

“I’m not sure I follow?”

“I have told you that the Prince and my son are close friends.”

“Yes.”

“Perhaps I should have described it more as closer than brothers.”

“I have found that to be common even among my people,” Archer replied.

“Yes, but in this case there is an actual brother who resents that relationship because it is not shared with him by his own brother.”

“Francesco?”

“Yes,” Mansi sighed. “I trained him as well and watched as the two brothers grew further apart. Unfortunately, that drove Francesco to the waiting arms of the half of the Council that, quietly, opposes the Royal Family.

“Francesco has been listening to Marcus Antonius too much lately,” he continued. “Much of the strife between the Princes can be laid at Marcus’ feet. When Bari enters to give his official report to the Council, do not be surprised to hear Francesco be critical. It will be his voice, but it will be Marcus’ words.”

“Can the situation be diffused?”

“I doubt it. This is a powder keg that has been waiting for its very short fuse to be lit and today may be that day. In addition to some bad advice, Francesco tends to be more, shall we say, bloodthirsty. His temper, once aroused, does not allow for cool reconsideration once action is taken. It does not surprise me that Bari would find the appropriate point to stop operations once the objective was attained. Francesco does not have that ability. The two will clash here today, Captain, mark my words.”

Just then the rumble of a shuttle passing overhead shook the Hall and the cheering of the massive throng outside could be clearly heard. Only two minutes passed before the Court Chamberlain stepped inside the hall.

“You’re Majesties,” the old man bellowed impressively. “Members of the Council and honored guests. His Highness, Prince Bari.”

The Prince swept into the room in full dress uniform and the gathered crowd broke in applause. His left hand resting casually upon his sword as made his way to the front of the Hall when the King, Queen, Prince Francesco, and the other eleven members of the Council were seated. Bari’s own Council seat was empty. As he reached a spot a few yards from the King, he stopped and knelt, head slightly bowed and the room fell swiftly into a hushed silence.

“Rise, Prince Bari,” the King intoned. “All Etalya welcomes you home in gratitude for your service and that of your fleet.”

“Gratitude,” Francesco muttered under his breath, drawing a stern rebuke from the King.

“Perhaps we could allow your brother the courtesy of making his report before we make any judgments, my son?”

The older Mansi show Archer an “I told you so” look.

“My King, my Queen, members of the Council,” Bari rose to his feet as a murmur passed through the crowd at the omission of the younger Prince. “I bring news of a great victory for our people. The Klingon responsible for the attack on our ship, the kidnapping of our Queen and the very hand that murdered Princess Gianna is dead. The Klingon fleet lies in near ruin. I daresay we may never again hear from the Klingons. While our enemy suffered great losses, we have returned home having lost only a single ship. That ship sacrificed itself to take out a major shipyard. The Klingons will not be able to replace what they lost for decades.”

The Hall burst into another round of applause that lasted several minutes until the King finally raised a hand to bring it to an end.

“An impressive campaign indeed, my son,” the King replied. “Yet, there are some who say you did not go far enough.”

Every eye in the room looked at Francesco and then at Antonius before returning to Bari.

“Of that I have no doubt, father,” Bari replied sadly. “Let them have their say then.”

“As if that would change your mind,” Francesco pounced on the opening. “Would the entire universe tell you that you were wrong, would you admit it?”

“I’d like to think I am not that stubborn, brother,” Bari replied with a cold smile. “Or that foolish. What would you and your friend Antonius have had me do? Our mission was to punish the Klingons for what they did. Are they not punished? If the Romulans forced the issue they will be hard-pressed to fight them off with what little fleet remains to them. They will not dare test our steel again, for they have seen the price that foolishness cost them.

“Would you have had me slaughter innocents? Reduce every Klingon world to a charred cinder? And why stop there? The Romulans are little better than the Klingons. Surely if we are justified in the practice of genocide in the case of the Klingons, are we not with any species that may threaten us? Where would you have the bloodshed end, Francesco?”

“I care little about the Romulans or the rest of the galaxy,” Francesco shot back. “Your mission was to remove the Klingons as a threat to Etalya.”

“Which I accomplished.”

“Indeed? Qo’noS is not burning and the Chancellor and the High Council lives.”

“No,” Bari corrected. “They do not live.”

A collective gasp raced around the Hall.

“On our way back we intercepted a transmission,” Bari reported. “There was a coup on Qo’noS shortly after we departed. The Chancellor and the entire High Council were slain. There is a new Chancellor and Council. They have ordered all ships to stay well clear of our space. We accomplished our mission, brother, and will be considered by all outside our space to have done so within accepted bounds of warfare.

“Yes, I could have slain every Klingon and burned every world,” Bari continued. “But now that we have made contact again with the rest of the galaxy we cannot just think of ourselves. We will be joining that galaxy now. Would you have them fear us as bloodthirsty savages? Or as a civilized people who will strive for peace but will defend ourselves when we must?”

Francesco said nothing and Bari let the silence hang in the air between them.

“That is why, brother, you will never sit on our father’s throne,” Bari charged and only then did the anger he felt at his brother show. “No matter how many ill-conceived alliances you form with those not fit breathe the same air as he.”

“You accuse me…” Francesco sputtered, his face going crimson.

“Not just you,” Bari cut him off, looking right at Antonius.

“That will be enough!” the King commanded, standing up. “The Council has heard the report of the action against the Klingons from its commander and accepts it and his reasonings for ending the campaign. It is indeed a great victory and this is a time of celebration.”

“You call me unfit,” Francesco growled, his hand dropping to his sword. “I call you a coward. Afraid to finish what you began and covering it in the flowery language of ‘peace’, brother. I say it is you that has no place on our father’s throne.”

“Are you challenging me, Francesco?”

“Yes,” he snarled. “Only one of us will take the throne and it will not be you. Today, you will take your rightful place; In your grave!”

Francesco withdrew his sword and lunged.

Previous Episodes:

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

 

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