THE CALLING: Part 2, Chapter 10
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.
“The Audace is breaking orbit now, Captain,” Sulu reported as Forelni led the evening watch crew onto the bridge. “She’s setting a course for Etalya.”
“Good timing, Commander,” Kirk greeted as Forelni approached. “The freighter just finished a very slow orbit around Kallita.”
“A final salute over the field where our Ambassador fell, Captain,” Forelni replied, watching the departing ship. “Typical when one of ours falls on a planet other than Etalya.”
Kirk rose from the command chair as the relief crew smoothly replaced their counterparts at their respective stations.
“Message from the Audace to Commander Forelni, Captain,” Uhura called out before Ensign Fabian could claim her station. Kirk nodded.
“Go ahead and read it, Lieutenant,” Forelni said.
“We take our leave to escort our honorable sister home. The Vendicatore sends his respects. Message ends.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant. Acknowledge message received only with no reply,” Forelni ordered as he took his place in the command chair. On the screen the Audace warped out in a blaze of rainbow light. “Orders, Captain?”
“Remain in orbit, Commander. The Ambassador wants to remain nearby for a few more days to make certain the Kallitans are sincere.”
“Understood, Sir. Pleasant evening, Captain.”
“Pleasant watch, Commander,” Kirk said as he entered the turbolift and departed the bridge. Forelni stared quietly at the planet below for a few minutes before finally breaking his silence.
“Ensign Fabian, please get Under-Counsel Zuran for me.”
“It’s late evening in the capital city, Sir. He’s probably at his home.”
“No doubt,” Forelni agreed. “But I am sure there is a way he can be reached.”
The process took a few minutes, and two relays, before the young Council member appeared on the screen, sitting at a desk in his home.
“Commander Forelni,” Zuran greeted cautiously. “To what do I owe the honor?”
“I was hoping to speak with you Councilor, if the time is convenient? I’m told you alone on the Council would have Kallita be a much better place for all of her people.”
“I’m afraid that position makes me somewhat unpopular with my fellow council members,” Zuran admitted.
“Yet very popular with your people.” Forelni pointed out. “I would like to discuss that if we might?”
* * *
“The Kallita you would like to bring about is one I would like to see, Zuran,” Forelni remarked many hours later. He’d waved off his relief when the late watch had arrived to relieve the evening watch. Now, the day watch was only minutes away from taking their posts.
“But it is a vision that will take many years to fulfill, I’m afraid,” Zuran said, stifling a yawn.
“Perhaps,” Forelni admitted. “But sometimes the future does not take as long to arrive as we might think. Forgive me, Councilor, I appear to have kept you up all night.”
“It is no matter. I enjoyed our discussion. Good day, Commander.”
The screen went dark before switching back to the planet view and Forelni sat back in the chair.
“That was an interesting conversation,” Ensign Caroline Furlong remarked from the science station.
“How so?” Forelni swung the chair around.
“It was almost as if you were gauging to see how receptive he was to the idea of taking over the planetary government.”
“Merely gauging the measure of the man, Ensign, to see if he would be worthy should the moment present itself.”
“And is he, Sir?”
Forelni said nothing in reply, merely turning the chair back to face the forward screen before rising to his feet.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he stretched the kinks out of his back, “it has been a pleasure standing a watch with you this night.”
Kirk walked out onto the bridge with the rest of the day watch personnel in tow just to a chorus of “Thank you, Sir” and looked around bemused.
“I take it that was aimed at you, Commander,” he said, stepping down to the command chair. “And either you are very early…”
“…or I took the liberty of standing a watch with the night crew, Sir,” Forelni finished, stepping aside from the chair.
“Captain,” Ensign Julian Thompson called out before Uhura could step out of the second turbolift car bearing the day watch crew. “Something is happening planetside. Major uproar on all of their NewsNets, Sir.”
“Onscreen, Ensign,” Kirk ordered, catching a fleeting emotion he couldn’t place race across Forelni’s face. The view switched to a planetside network report. The scene it displayed was horrifying. Several men had been hung by the neck from a cross beam in front of the Council chamber. A banner, hung from the dead mens’ feet, swayed in a gentle breeze. FOR BRYNA had been written in blood red, whether in paint or in actual blood Kirk could not tell.
“Repeating this urgent story,” a voice broadcasted from Kallita. “The First Counsel and five of the six Under-Counsels have been executed by person or persons unknown. Their bodies were discovered moments ago just as you see them here. We are getting word that Under-Counsel Zuran is unharmed and is being brought in under heavy security to take control of the government.
“We are hearing reports of mass celebrations breaking out as word of these events are getting out,” the woman continued. “Chants of ‘For Bryna’ and ‘Free Kallita’ are echoing throughout the city…”
Kirk waived for the report to be cutoff and turned to face Forelni.
“Captain,” Spock interrupted, “A small vessel has broken from orbit and is heading at high speed toward the Sun. I estimate it will plunge into the star in less than ten seconds.”
“Let him go, Captain,” Forelni said softly. “It’s what he wants.”
“Who, Commander?” Kirk demanded. “Why does he want to die?”
“The Vendicatore, Captain. He has fulfilled his duty and it is now time for him to travel to Elysium.”
The small craft plunged into the star, the Enterprise too far away to even attempt rescue.
“Explain yourself, mister,” Kirk ordered.
“One moment, Captain,” Forelni looked over at Uhura. “Please send a message to the Audace that the Vendicatore has arrived in Elysium and have a security detail report to the bride on the double.
“Captain, when my people left Earth from Sicily,” Forelni explained as Uhura made the calls, “there was a small group of engineers from Greece that went with us. Their descendants formed a small colony on Etalya and they have served the Forelni family ever since. There is an order in the colony, the Vendicatore, who live in the lone hope of dying in the service of the Royal Family. They have come to believe that is the only way they can enter Elysium, what you would call Paradise.”
“You sent him down there to do that,” Kirk pointed at the now-blank screen.
“Yes, Sir,” Forelni replied as the turbolift doors parted and two men from Security, Butler and Mike Kozlowski, stepped out. “I believe Starfleet regulations require that I be arrested until a board of inquiry can be formed, Sir?”
Kirk could only nod his head.
“Confined to quarters, not the brig,” Kirk instructed the two security officers.
“Thank you, Sir,” Forelni replied and turned for the turbolift.
“Given you will likely be drummed out of Starfleet at best and imprisoned at worst,” Kirk asked when Forelni turn back around. “Was it worth it?”
“She saved my life, Captain,” Forelni responded. “So yes, Sir, it was.”
Forelni spun on his heel and entered the lift with his guards in tow and a bridge in stunned silence behind him.
* * *
Admiral Matthew Bowman sparkled into existence on the Enterprise’s main transporter pad three days later. A short, stocky man whose stature had earned him the nickname “Munchkin” at the Academy, Bowman had the reputation of a man not to be trifled with. Especially when angry and the Admiral was an angry visitor to the ship. He stormed off the pad with his assistant in tow.
“Admiral Bowman,” Kirk greeted. “Welcome aboard, Sir. This is my First Officer, Spock.”
“Captain, Commander,” Bowman indicated his aide. “My aide, Lieutenant Lori Janeski. Are you ready to begin the Court Martial of your Security Chief?”
“As ordered, Sir. Mr. Forelni is being escorted to the briefing room now. Are you certain you want to begin right away?”
“Quite,” Bowman replied and headed out of the room. “The sooner we get this done the better. We’re damned lucky this hasn’t turned into a major diplomatic incident.”
“Admiral,” Kirk said as he followed Bowman. “It seems the Kallitan government has filed no formal protest over the matter. We’ve been told by the new First Counsel, Zuran, that his predecessor had no intention of living up to the recent agreement negotiated by Ambassador Kleine…”
“All’s well that ends well, Captain?”
“I don’t think anyone can argue with what we’ve seen on the surface in just three days, Sir. The practice of slavery has been abolished. Major reforms are already being put into place. It is a much better Kallita than the one we first encountered.”
“Be that as it may, Captain, we can’t have Starfleet officers running around playing kingmaker on every backwater planet they encounter.”
They arrived at main briefing with Forelni seated in the defendant’s seat in full dress and flanked by Kozlowski and Butler. McCoy and Scotty, also in full dress, were seated against the back wall and Ensign Shira Tomboulian serving as court reporter. Bowman, Kirk and Spock took their seats at the judges table while Janeski claimed a seat next to McCoy. Bowman reached over and rang the ship’s bell three times in rapid succession.
“This court of inquiry into the actions of Lieutenant Commander Bari Forelni at Kallita is now in session,” Bowman began. “Admiral Matthew Bowman, Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock serving as tribunal judges in this matter.
“Mr. Forelni,” Bowman continued. “You are accused of arranging for the assassination of six members of the lawfully established Kallitan government as well as arranging for a new government to be put in place. And that said actions represent conduct unbecoming of a Starfleet officer. How do you plead to these charges?”
“Not guilty, Sir, to the last charge at least. And I object to the wording of the first two charges, thus I must plead Not Guilty to both of those as well.”
“Would you care to explain yourself, Commander?” Bowman’s eyes narrowed.
“Gladly,” Forelni turned to face Spock. “Commander, if you would be so kind as to consult the computer as to my exact duty status at the moment I first spoke with the Captain of the Audace?”
“You were listed as on official leave to deal with an Etalyian matter,” Spock reported after consulting the computer.
“And would you be kind enough to read Section Three, Paragraph Seven, of my official transfer orders from Etalyian Space Command to detached service in Starfleet?”
Spock’s eyebrow rose sharply as he located the indicated verbiage.
“According to this document, Admiral,” Spock looked at Bowman. “In situations when the Commander was needed to act as an official representative of Etalya, once granted leave by his commanding officer to do so, he was no longer officially a member of Starfleet.”
“And was I a member of Starfleet when I handed the Vendicatore his orders at the docking port regarding the six Kallitan Councilors, Mr. Spock?”
“According to this, Commander, you were not.”
“Nor did I have any contact with the Audace or the Vendicatore to give them any further orders after I returned to active duty, correct?”
“That is correct, Commander.”
“Then in that case, Admiral,” Forelni turned his gaze to Bowman. “I ask that the conduct unbecoming charge be removed.”
“Very well, Commander, let’s toss that charge out. You still are guilty of arranging the murders of six men, are you not?”
“Would you call that murder, Admiral?”
“Yes, I would, Commander.”
“And just what would you call it then?”
Before Forelni could answer, the bridge called. Kirk saw a small smile form on Forelni’s face.
“Bridge to Admiral Bowman,” Uhura’s voice carried from the overhead speaker. “Priority message from Starfleet Command, Admiral Nogura.”
“Go ahead,” Bowman ordered.
“The Federation Council has received an order for the execution of the six murderers of Ambassador Bryna from the ruling government of Etalya, said order being issued after the criminals had been tried in absentia and found guilty under Etalyian law and lawfully sentenced to death. Further, the Etalyian Government having officially carried out the execution hereby withdraws its formal protest against Kallita, welcomes the new Kallitan government and hopes to establish long and peaceful ties between the two worlds.
“The Kallitan Government,” Uhura continued, “accepts the judgment of the Etalyian court and considers the matter closed, as does the Federation Council. By order of Starfleet Command, no further inquiry is ordered and the matter is to be considered closed with no further action taken against any of those involved. Signed Nogura, CIC, Starfleet Command.”
No one in the briefing room said a word or even so much as moved. Forelni affected a poker face that would shame a Vulcan and stared down Bowman.
“You sneaky son of a …”
“Admiral,” Forelni said softly. “My mother and I have our differences, but she is still my mother.”
“You set this all up,” Bowman accused, “right from the beginning.”
“Not quite all of it,” Forelni admitted. “But most of it, yes.”
“Why didn’t you just explain this on the bridge,” Kirk asked.
“Because I needed to wait for Etalya to file the documents with the Federation and have the Council’s decision trickle down to Starfleet Command.”
“So everything you did here would be legally sanctioned.” Bowman finished.
“Aye, Sir. With no blame falling on Starfleet or on Captain Kirk.”
“You really think this is the way the Federation and Starfleet should operate, Commander,” Bowman asked. “Cloak and dagger regime change?”
“When it is confronted with its own member planets keeping its citizens in chains for no other reason than an accident of birth? Yes, Admiral, that is exactly what it should do and not by cloak and dagger, either.
“Whenever we see even one individual wrongfully chained,” Forelni continued. “Whenever one group stands up and denies any being’s right to life and liberty for no other sake than to enrich themselves or to empower themselves, we should each of us stand up and say no. This is not right. This will not stand!”
“You say that for every individual everywhere in the galaxy, Commander?”
“Yes, Sir, I do.”
“Would you be this passionate about Kallita if you were not personally connected to this Bryna person?”
“Yes, Sir, I would.”
“Then it appears that you are a better man than I, Commander.”
“Yes, Sir, I am.” Forelni replied and only then did Kirk realize just how angry his Security Chief had really been this past week. Because all of that anger carried through in all four words of his response and everyone in the room could feel it as he stared down the Admiral.
Bowman reached over and rang the bell sharply, twice in rapid succession.
“Given the recent communique from Starfleet Command,” he kept his gaze locked on Forelni. “This board of inquiry is hereby dissolved and Commander Forelni is returned to active duty. You are dismissed, Commander.”
“Orders, Captain?” Forelni looked at Kirk.
“I think it has been a long day, Commander, suppose you call it a day and report for duty in the morning.”
“Aye, Sir, thank you,” Forelni nodded and exited the room. The others followed suit, leaving only Bowman, Kirk and Spock behind.
“You know something,” Bowman said, staring at the closed doors. “He’s going to make a hell of a Starfleet Captain, if he doesn’t get himself killed or tossed in the brig first.”
“That is a most surprising reaction, Admiral,” Spock remarked.
“Oh, I actually agree with a lot of what he said, Commander,” Bowman admitted. “And I can’t say the universe isn’t a better place without those six despots around. I may disagree with his methods, but I can’t disagree with the results.
“There was one other task I have to complete, now that this hearing has concluded the way it has,” Bowman added, pulling a data chip from his pocket and handing it to Kirk. “Your orders, Captain. Since Mr. Spock here and your fire-breathing Security Chief are playing for the Galactic Chess championship, Starfleet wants to take full advantage of the PR opportunity.”
“How so, Admiral?”
“By ordering Enterprise to Starbase 28 where you will pick up a team of archaeologists and transport them to Auriga III. It’s a dead world now but they have discovered an old civilization there. The team wants to dig it out and Enterprise will remain in orbit to make sure the team is not bothered by any pirates or smugglers while the chess tournament plays out on ship.
“Once the tournament concludes and the team is settled with proper security to keep the pirates at bay,” Bowman continued. “You will receive new orders to transport Commander Forelni to Earth where he will take command of the new Federation-Class Dreadnought, nearing completion as we speak.”
“I thought he was getting the new starship being constructed at Mars?” Kirk asked.
“They’ve hit a delay and someone at Starfleet decided to turn Mr. Forelni and his all-Etalyian crew loose on the galaxy in a dreadnought instead. He’ll give it a proper shakedown and begin patrolling along the Romulan Neutral Zone. But you are not to tell him until the official orders are cut. No need making him even more insufferable than he already is.”
“Yes, Sir,” Kirk replied diplomatically as Bowman turned to leave.
“Oh, and Mr. Spock,” Bowman stopped and looked back. “About that upcoming chess tournament?”
“Good luck,” Bowman said as he continued out the door. “You’re going to need it.”
“Indeed,” Spock agreed, one eyebrow rising.