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.
Caught by his brother’s surprise attack, Bari took a step back and to the left, dodging Francesco’s initial thrust. The momentum of the attack carried Francesco beyond Bari, who took advantage of the opening with a crisp backhanded blow to his brother’s head. The force of the slap drove Francesco to the marbled floor face first in an undignified heap.
“Enough, brother!” Bari barked, his sword still in its scabbard. “Would you really leave our parents with just one living child?”
“They already have only one child,” Francesco wiped a smear of blood from his nose. “You are no true Forelni, traitor!”
“The only traitor here is the one whose words I hear coming from your mouth, brother,” Bari replied. “You have taken in unwise counsel. I ask you once more to abandon this madness now. I have no desire to fight you.”
“Good,” Francesco snarled as he rose back to his feet. “It will make it all that much easier for me to kill you!”
He lunged once again but this time Bari was ready, swiftly drawing out his sword in a single smooth move that easily parried Francesco’s attack. Another backhanded blow landed on Francesco’s head, this one with the flat of Bari’s blade just above Francesco’s right ear. The younger Prince howled in pain, clapping a hand to the injured area.
“That would have been a death blow had I wished it, Francesco,” Bari spoke with an eerie calm. “You are no match for me Francesco, not in this arena nor any other. I say it again, stop this madness!”
“Never!” Francesco all but screamed and lunged again.
The Princes swords clashed and clattered against each other over and over again. At times those gathered inside were hard pressed to avoid getting inadvertently caught up in the battle. Francesco never seemed to find a way through the older Prince’s defenses. But time after time, the flat of Bari’s blade found it mark: An ear here, a side of the face there. An exposed forearm , the small of the back. It seemed anywhere Bari wanted to strike, he did so, demonstrating with ease that if he wanted his brother dead, he could accomplish it at any time.
“Why doesn’t the King stop this?” Archer tore his eyes away from the fight to look at his companion.
“Challenge was made and accepted,” Mansi replied sadly. “Even if the King overrode the rules of challenge, he would only be delaying the inevitable. I have no doubt he is relying on Bari’s skill to wear Francesco down without killing him. If Francesco yields, he can never again challenge his brother in this fashion.”
“Will he yield?”
“He is a stubborn fool, Captain,” Mansi shook his head in despair. “But even a fool must eventually realize when he is beaten.”
The battle raged on for another ten minutes, Francesco pressing the attack without result and Bari clearly fighting a defensive fight to wear down his brother and his brother’s wrath. But even with all of the training both had received, with all of the superior skill Bari possessed, one fateful misstep ended the battle in tragedy.
Fatigued and frustrated, Francesco feinted to his left, intending a quick step and slash to his right, but got his footwork all wrong and tripped over his own feet. Bari, anticipating such a move, had not taken the bait and had shifted to meet the slash. But Francesco’s blunder put his chest right in the path of Bari’s moving blade. The sharp sword penetrated the skin, slipped through the ribs and pierced Francesco’s heart.
The mortally wounded Prince, his right arm frozen in mid-sweep, looked down at the growing stain of crimson on his tunic in shock. His sword fell to the floor. His eyes drifted up until they met the horrified eyes of his brother. No one in the hall moved.
“Don’t move,” Bari commanded, his left hand settling on his brother’s shoulder, trying to ease him to the ground. “If the blade is removed you will die.”
Francesco’s right hand gripped Bari’s shoulder.
“Go to hell,” Francesco rasped and shoved Bari away as hard as he could.
Bari, fell back a few steps from the force of the shove. The sword was still in his hand as he watched Francesco crumple to the floor. He was likely dead even before the first guard came to his aid and was most certainly gone by the time the Queen reached his side.
Stunned, Bari look around until his gaze fell upon Antonius. In a flash, he crossed the short distance, grabbed the older Council member by the collar and had his sword at the man’s throat. He ignored the outburst from those assembled.
“This was your doing, Antonius,” he growled. “You murdered him as surely as if it was your own hand that drove this sword into his heart. I charge you with his murder and with treason against the crown and I find you guilty, Antonius. It is time for you to meet your ancestors in hell.”
“No!” Antonius screamed in unison with the King’s commanding bellow.
“You object to losing your head?” Bari asked his prisoner, ignoring the King.
“I most certainly do,” Antonius squeaked out, seeing nothing but his death in the Prince’s eyes.
“Then I will give you one alternative, you poisonous snake. You resign your seat on the Council, right now, and retire to you estate. You are never again to set foot in this city or within these walls for any reason. If I see you here ever again, or if word should reach me that you were seen where you should not be, I will remove your head from your slithering body. I will have it placed on a pike and mounted at the highest point on the castle as a warning to any more of your kind. Choose now, snake.”
“Your Majesty,” Antonius gasped out as Bari was not releasing his grip. “Members of the Council, I hereby resign my seat and accept my banish…” he choked as Bari tightened his grip briefly. “…my retirement from public life.”
“Guards,” Bari commanded the two nearest men. “Take him into custody and pull back his robe.”
The guards quickly obeyed, exposing Antonius’ tunic. Bari held up the blade, still wet with his brother’s blood. Antonius’ eyes flared wide in terror. Bari quickly wiped the blade clean, one side on each side of the exposed fabric.
“My brother’s blood is on you as much as it is on me. You will carry that stain with you for the rest of your days, never taking that tunic off even to clean it else you will feel my wrath. Do you understand me, Antonius?”
The old man merely nodded his head, not daring a single word.
“Escort him out of the city,” Bari ordered and the guards quickly hustled the former Council member away, probably fearing the Prince would change his mind.
The Prince walked slowly toward his fallen brother, eyes hooded, his face drawn in pain. He did not look up at his father, could not look at his mother. He brought his sword up and placed it in his left hand, his right still tightly grasping the hilt. Closing his left hand around the blade, he snapped the sword in half, the sound of it carried as if a bomb had exploded in the hall. Dropping the two halves to the floor, the Prince turned on his heel and strode out of the hall, leaving a trail of blood dripping from his hand in his wake.