THE CALLING: Part 2, Chapter 8
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.
“Captain,” Kleine broke the shocked silence of the bridge. “I will report this to the Federation Council. We’ll have a formal protest delivered to Kallita by the morning. Until then, prudence dictates we take no provactive action.”
“Thank you, Ambassador,” Kirk replied, not pointing out that a protest would do little good to help the young woman planetside. “Ensign Fabian, see that the Ambassador’s message is sent top priority.”
Kirk returned his attention to his Security Chief, who was far too quiet for his liking.
“Commander, if you’d prefer to be relieved for this watch I’m sure Mr. Arex will not mind taking the conn.”
“Thank you, Captain, but I’d rather stay on watch and keep the conn as scheduled,” Forelni answered quietly. Then he blew out an exasperated sign as he heard the unspoken words in Kirk’s offer.
“Mr. Arex,” he ordered Sulu’s relief at the helm. “Please move us to fifty thousand kilometers beyond maximum transporter range from Kallita.”
“Aye, Sir,” the Edosian responded as he complied.
“Bridge to Transporter Room,” Forelni toggled a switch on the command chair’s armrest. “Mr. Kyle, until further notice, no one is allowed to transport off of the ship without a direct order from the Captain. Please pass that order along to the Shuttle Deck.”
“Aye, Sir,” Kyle’s voice replied over the speaker.
“This ship will take no provocative action, nor will anyone from this ship take direct action against the planet during my watch, Captain,” Forelni reported, a wry smile taking any hint of insubordination out of his actions.
“You didn’t need to do all of that, Commander,” Kirk chided.
“I did since you would have stayed awake in your cabin all night if I hadn’t, Sir.”
“I see,” Kirk surrendered the point, since that was probably what he would have done. “In that case, a pleasant watch to you Commander, ladies and gentlemen.”
A chorus of “Good night, Sirs,” followed Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Kleine into the turbolift before the closing doors cut them off.
“You really think leaving him at the conn is a good idea, Jim?”
“He’s a Starfleet Officer, Bones, he knows his duty.”
“Captain, I can monitor the bridge from my quarters…”
“And admit I don’t trust one of my officers, Spock? No. We heard the orders he gave. I trust he’ll follow them as much as every other member of my crew will.”
* * *
Forelni waited a full five seconds after the turbolift doors closed.
“Mr. Lehman, I doubt the First Counsel would have severed relations with the Federation so easily without a replacement plan at the ready. Please scan for all vessels within two days’ journey at Warp 6 from Kallita and put the results onscreen please.”
William Lehman, Checkov’s relief at the helm, quickly complied. The main viewscreen switched to a relief map with Kallita in the center. Roughly two dozen ships were within range and their names were displayed underneath a white dot indicating their current position. Forelni studied the map silently.
“Lt. Bock, I’d like you to monitor the Kallitan shield. It must take a lot of energy to maintain. Now that we are outside transporter range they might decide to lower it to conserve energy.”
Brena Bock, Spock’s relief at the science station turned toward the conn.
“I want to offer the Captian the option to mount a rescue attempt should the Kallitan’s offer us the opportunity, Lieutenant, nothing more,” Forelni added, reading the question in her stance before she could phrase it.
“Aye, Sir,” she turned back to her station.
“Ensign Fabian, please open a channel to the freighter Specter, you’ll find her roughly one light day away at 287 Mark 4. I’ll want to speak with her Captain, L’ee S’king.”
“I have Captain S’king now, Sir,” Fabian reported a minute later. “On screen.”
“L’ee, it has been far too long, old friend.”
“Bari Forelni,” S’king replied. “Still as handsome as ever. And in command of Starfleet’s flagship now.”
“Third in command, L’ee, and I’m an old bridge troll compared to you.”
“So what do I owe the great honor of the Crown Prince’s communication?”
“Boredom actually. I’m sitting here near Kallita with nothing to do. The planet just withdrew from the Federation and unless they change their minds all I can do is just sit and watch. Even if a fleet, Romulans, Klingons, or say even an organized pirate fleet at that, were to come along and attack that’s all I could do. Can’t interfere in a non-Federation world’s issues. Anyway, I noticed you were in the area and I remembered that you never did deliver that case of Romulan Ale you owe me. You still have it, don’t you?”
“Oh, of course. Would you like me to bring it to you now?”
“As a matter of fact, I’d appreciate it if you did.”
“I think we can arrange that. We’ll see you soon.”
The screen went dark and Forelni sat back with a cold smile.
* * *
“Commander,” Lehman shouted. “Ten vessels just dropped out of warp and are on an attack run toward Kallita. It appears the Specter is the lead ship and the others match configurations for known or suspected Orion pirates ships.”
“I’d heard there was a rumor that L’ee had joined up with the Orions, but I never believed it was true,” Forelni remarked calmly.
“Shouldn’t we raise shields and go to Red Alert, Sir,” Arex inquired as the invading ships opened fire on the Kallitan shield.
“Are any of those ships targeting Enterprise or any other Federation vessel or world, Mr. Arex?”
“Then this not a matter of concern to us, is it?”
“Shouldn’t we at least raise shields?” Bock asked. “In case there is a stray shot.”
“A prudent precaution, Lieutenant. Mr. Lehman, raise shields please.”
“Sound General Quarters, sir?”
“Not yet, Ensign Fabian. I’ll report to the Captain first and see if he wishes us to go to GQ.”
Fabian’s board whistled for attention.
“Incoming communication from Kallita, Sir,” Fabian reported. “It’s the First Counsel.”
“I’m sure it is,” Forelni replied softly as he toggled the comm switch on his armrest. “Answer the hail and put him on hold until after I’ve reported to the Captain. Bridge to Captain Kirk.”
“Kirk here.” You weren’t resting at all, were you Captain, Forelni thought with a knowing smile.
“It appears a fleet of pirates, possibly Orion or Orion-backed, are attacking Kallita. I have raised shields but as none of them are targeting us or any Federation interest I have not yet gone to Yellow Alert.”
“I’m on my way up, Commander, order Yellow Alert.”
“Aye, Sir,” Forelni snapped off the comm and pressed the necessary tab on his armrest to trigger Yellow Alert. “All hands, Yellow Alert. I say again, all hands Yellow Alert, this is no drill.”
Forelni glanced over his shoulder.
“Put the First Counsel on screen,” he ordered as he rose out of the chair. An angry and frightened First Counsel quickly formed on the main viewscreen.
“Enterprise, we are under attack..you!” the First Counsel sputtered when he realized he was addressing Forelni. “Where’s the Captain?”
“Captain Kirk is off duty and I have the conn, First Counsel,” Forelni said calmly. “We have noticed the attack. It does seem like you have a problem, sir.”
“A problem,” the First Counsel roared. “Those ships are battering our shield down and once they get past that they will cause no end of death and destruction!”
“Indeed they will.”
“Well, are you just going to sit there?”
“Actually, that is exactly what this ship is going to do until it or any other Federation interest comes under attack. As Kallita is not a part of the Federation this ship is prohibited from interfering in any of its affairs. I’m sorry, but my hands are tied. I wish you good luck, First Counsel. Enterprise out…”
“Wait,” the man all but screamed the word before regaining his composure.
“Yes,” Forelni asked with maddening calm.
* * *
Kirk listened to the exchange between Forelni and the First Counsel on the way up inside the turolift. Spock, McCoy and Kleine had joined him.
“Technically, the Commander is correct,” Spock offered. “But I doubt Star Fleet Command would object to interfering during an attack by Orion pirates, Captain.”
“He knows that, Spock,” Kirk agreed. “But the First Counsel doesn’t.”
The doors parted as the four men exited. A security officer, Dan Butler, who’d come aboard when they’d picked up Ambassador Kleine, started to announce his Captain. Kirk placed a hand on the young man’s shoulder and waved him off. Holding up his other hand, he stopped the others from stepping out onto the bridge. He was ready to step in if needed, but Forelni had clearly set this up and he wanted to see what was next.
“We were too hasty when we withdrew from the Federation,” the First Counsel stammered. “I can see that now. We formally rescind our withdrawal from the Federation.”
“Only to reinstate it once the present danger has passed?”
“No, Commander, my solemn word. We will not withdraw again.”
“I see,” Forelni paused a beat. “Very well. Stand by to lower your shield and produce Ambassador Bryna for immediate bean-up. Put the First Counsel on hold, Ensign Fabian, inform the transporter room to stand by for a beam up and have a medical team sent to the transporter room. Have an armed security team report to the transporter room as well. Then get me the Captain of the Specter.
“Mr. Arex,” Forelni continued, “move us toward the attacking fleet and within transporter range of the Capital City, best possible speed.”
The screen split into two images, the now-muted First Counsel on the left and Captain S’king on the right.
“Commander invading fleet,” Forelni affected an overly-formal tone. “You are attacking a Federation planet. You will cease hostilities immediately and withdraw to a distance of one million kilometers from the planet and hold there for further instructions.”
“We were told this was no longer a Federation world,” S’king affected an air of outrage.
“You were misinformed,” Forelni replied. “Withdraw or we will destroy your fleet.”
“Of course we will withdraw. We would never knowingly attack a planet of the mighty Federation.”
Half of the screen went dark.
“The pirate fleet is breaking off their attack,” Lehman reported. “They are moving out to the specified distance, sir.”
“Put the First Counsel back on, Ensign,” Forelni waited a beat. “The invading fleet have broken off their attack and have moved out of firing range. Lower your shield and produce the Ambassador.”
Looking ashen, the First Counsel nodded his head at someone out of range of the pickup.
“Shield down, sir,” Lehman reported then audibly gasped as Bryna was carried into range of the pickup. He wasn’t the only person on the bridge to do so. It appeared she’d suffered even more abuse in the time since they’d last seen her on the screen.
Kirk readied himself to step in and countermand any order should Forelni decide to correct his earlier oversight regarding the First Counsel’s status as a living being, even as he fought down the urge to let Forelni do whatever he wanted to the monster capable of what they’d witnessed.
“Transporter Room,” Forelni’s voice was frighteningly calm. “Lock on to the woman on the main screen and beam her aboard now.”
“Locked on,” the tech reported. “Beaming up now. Transport confirmed, the medical team has her now.”
“Is the security team there?”
“Aye, Sir. They’re standing by.”
“Them beam everyone else in that room up now. Have them escorted to the Main Briefing room to await the pleasure of the Captain and Ambassador Kleine.”
The entire council of Kallita faded from the room below in a sparkle of transporter effect and Forelni waved for communications to be ended.
“They’re all aboard and being escorted as ordered.”
“Thank you, Bridge out.”
A hushed silence fell over the bridge, even the computers and control panels seemed to have gone quiet as everyone watched the center of the bridge as if waiting for a supernova to erupt.
“Dr. McCoy,” Forelni broke the silence without turning around. “I believe you have a patient in need of your services in Sick Bay.”
McCoy shot a look at Kirk before entering the turbolift.
“Mr. Butler,” Forelni still held his gaze on the viewscreen. “The Captain of this ship walked onto this bridge less than two minutes ago, did he not?”
“And yet, I did not hear you announce him. I believe that is one of your duties when on the bridge, especially during an alert?” Forelni finally turned around and walked over to his security officer.
“I told him not to, Commander,” Kirk stepped in. Forelni narrowed his eyes.
“I see,” he favored Butler with a piercing gaze. “I suppose in that case we’ll let it slide. This time, Mr. Butler.”
“Aye, sir, thank you, sir.”
“Hmmm,” Forelni turned back to the screen. “Put Captain S’king back on, Ensign.”
“On screen, Sir.”
“Captain, I’m inclined to overlook this incident as are the Kallitans as no actual damage was done. However, I’m sure we would all feel much better if you and your ships were to go on your way. Immediately.”
“Of course, Commander. Most gracious of you. I understand there was a matter of a shipment of Romulan Ale…”
“What shipment of Romulan Ale would that be, Captain?” Forelni deadpanned.
“I seemed to be misinformed once again, Commander. Must be my day for it. Good day.”
The screen darkened and switched to the fleet turning away from Kallita and jumping back into warp.
“Well, Mr. Lehman, I think we can lower shields and call of Yellow Alert now. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Aye, Sir. All hands, stand down from Yellow Alert.”
Forelni turned back to the Ambassador.
“I believe you now have a more receptive audience to negotiate with, Ambassador. Captain, would you like the conn back now?”
“I think Mr. Spock and I will join the Ambassador to make sure the First Counsel behaves himself, Commander. Have Mr. Arex relieve you of the conn. I don’t think we’ll have any more excitement tonight.”
“Sir?” Forelni asked.
“I assumed you’d rather be down in Sick Bay.”
“Aye, sir, I would. Thank you, sir. Mr. Arex, the conn is yours,” Forelni headed for the turbolift.
“Commander,” Kirk called out as Forelni stepped inside.
Forelni nodded, keeping a smile from his face, but not out of his eyes as the doors slid shut.