Posted in 1K Serials

1K Weekly Series: The Calling: Chapter 15

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 15 

 

The Royal Palace was once again draped in the black of mourning. Prince Francesco’s body lay in state in the Great Hall and would do so for three more days until the funeral. Then he would be laid to rest in the Royal Crypt next to his ancestors. There was a casket bearing the name and likeness of the Princess Gianna, but no body lay within it marble walls. Her body had been reduced to ash by the Klingons long before the Etalyian fleet had arrived over Qo’noS.

The major families would all be in attendance, save of course the Antonius’. That they were persona non gratia would be an understatement. Gossipers at the Court wondered whom Marcus would send as his replacement on the Council. It was supposed to be done by a vote of the people of course, but in that district it was known the people voted the way they were told to.

Most settled on it being Marcellus Antonius, Marcus’ eldest son. Others doubted that choice. Marcellus and Prince Bari had a dark history going back many decades. A few wondered if Marcus would go outside the family, if only to keep whoever eventually took the seat alive longer than five minutes. There were many who doubted their Prince would allow Marcus to roam Etalya a free man for very long.

But the question on everyone’s mind centered on one question: Would the Prince attend his brother’s funeral at all? He’d locked himself away in his nearby dimora after the Royal Doctor had repaired his damaged left hand. In the days following the fatal fight, only his friend Paulo, the Chamberlain and a few servants had seen or even spoken to him. The King had sent a royal summons requiring Bari’s presence. The summons went unanswered.

Both the Chamberlain and Paulo had been dispatched to bring the Prince back to the Palace. They returned without him less than an hour later.

“Your Majesties,” the Chamberlain reported. “He….he is…”

The older man could not finish, sadly shaking his head.

“He seems like a man fighting with demons,” Paulo said softly. “Demons only he can see. And it is a fight I fear that he is losing.”

   *     *     *     *     *

The day of the funeral arrived. Archer and his command staff were in attendance in full dress uniform. It seemed all of Etalya had gathered here once again to bid farewell to a Royal child. It was an hour long affair, capped by the procession to place the casket within the crypt, and had more than a trace of Roman Catholic themes to it.

No one actually saw Prince Bari during the ceremony. Many whispered of a remote figure that kept to the shadows and kept its distance. Covered in a plain black cloak and hood, no one could make out any feature of who the mysterious figure was. But it seemed most likely this had to be the Prince. When the doors to the crypt slammed shut, signaling the end of the funeral, the mysterious figure seemed to melt in the shadows and was not seen again.

   *     *     *     *     *

The day after Francesco’s funeral, Archer arrived at the Great Hall to take his ship’s leave. The King was there to greet him.

“How is the Queen?” Archer cast a glance at her empty seat near the King’s unoccupied throne.

“Still in mourning, as we all are and will be for some time.”

“I was also hoping to say goodbye to the Prince.”

“My son is much like my wife in matters such as these, Captain,” the King sighed. “It will be of interest to see which decides to rejoin the world of the living first. As for which of them blames him the most for what has happened…”

The King offered a slight shrug as his voice trailed off.

“And does the King also blame his son?”

“A fair question. No, Captain. The King understands what happened had to happen. The father understands and does not hold his son to any blame. The mother on the other hand?” Another sigh. “It will take time for the wounds to heal and some longer than others. But they will heal.”

“Perhaps a change of scenery for a brief time might help?” Archer was struck by a sudden idea.

“What do you mean?”

“Back on Earth,” Archer began, “we are trying to form a union, a federation of sorts, of planets in this quadrant. For mutual exploration and defense. Etalya should be a part of that effort, to show that it can wage peace as well as it can wage war when it has too.”

“And you think my son…?”

“Would make a very good Ambassador to Earth for your people. And perhaps some time away from being reminded of what happened will help him too.”

“This idea has some merit at that,” the King agreed. “Come, Captain, let us both present it to my son. Assuming he will let us past his front door.”

   *     *     *     *     *

They found Bari in his gardens, staring out of the growth of flowers and bushes. An unopened bottle of wine sat on a table next to him. Another unopened bottle rested in his bandaged right hand and a clean glass sat on the top of the wall he was leaning up against.

“I am told if you open the bottle first, it is easier to consume its contents,” the King offered as they approached. The Prince did not turn to greet his visitors. He looked gaunt and pale. Rumor had it he wasn’t eating much, if anything nor had he been drinking.

“This was the bottle Francesco was to present to be if I should ascend to your throne,” the Prince’s voice sounded flat. “That one down there was the one I would have given him had he taken it instead.”

“And are you planning to drink them both?” the King asked.

“I was wondering if I should save them for a better day, assuming such a day would ever come. Or should I just toss them down on the walk below to smash the concrete and let the wine drain into the ground.”

“It seems a shame to waste them,” the King said softly, walking up to place a hand on his son’s forearm. “There are many better days ahead, my son, even though all you can see now is the darkness.”

Only then did Bari turn to face his father. Archer had heard the story of Paulo’s report of Bari “fighting demons” and the face he beheld was one that had indeed been in such a battle.

“And you, Captain,” Bari looked over at Archer. “Do you see better days ahead?”

“I do.”

“Perhaps he even brings one of many to you know, my son. Etalya needs an Ambassador to Earth. There is talk of a federation of worlds forming. As you said before, Etalya needs to take her place among those worlds. Who better to be her champion than you?”

“A man who slaughtered an entire race to near extinction? A man who slew his own brother? Would you send for Cain, Captain, to make peace with his cousins after he’d murdered Abel?”

“I would,” Archer replied. “When it was Abel who was the jealous brother who attacked Cain and gave him no choice but to defend himself. And you didn’t exterminate the Klingons when you easily could have done so. You stopped the bloodshed when it needed to be stopped and gave peace in this quadrant a chance. Any man who can do that is someone we need on Earth right now.”

Bari turned away to look back over the gardens and said nothing.

“Paulo will remain as Minister of Defense,” the King added. “We will be in good hands here. You need to do this, Bari, for Etalya. But more importantly, you need to do this for you.”

Bari drew in a long breath, held it and slowly let it out. He handed his father the bottle in his hand, then picked up the other bottle and handed that one over too. The King shot his son a puzzled look.

“Keep them for me,” Bari said. “For that better day.”

The Prince turned to Archer and held out his hands.

“When do we leave?”

“Whenever you are ready, Mr. Ambassador.”

   *     *     *     *     *

This marks the end of Part One of The Calling. Next week’s episode will be “Interlude: The Time Between Sagas”. It will run on June 20th and bridges the gap between the end of this, the Star Trek: Enterprise saga, and the beginning of Part Two of The Calling, the Star Trek: The Original Series saga which will begin on June 27th.

 

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

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

 

 

 

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