THE CALLING: Part 2, Chapter 11
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.
Spock released his hold on his white bishop, completing his trap of Forelni’s black King.
“Indeed it is, Commander,” Forelni said, foregoing the traditional post-match handshake by lifting his hand in a Vulcan salute as he rose from his chair. “An excellently played game.”
Spock returned the gesture and nodded his head.
“This concludes the twenty-second match,” Sondra Bateman, the President of the Intergalactic Chess Federation, announced. “The series is now tied at six wins each with ten draws. Tomorrow’s match will be for the Galactic Championship. Should it end in a draw, another match will be played and we will continue until a match end with a victor.”
“Commander Spock, may I have a moment of two of your time?” L.J. Ramones, from Starfleet’s Public Relations Office, stepped up as Forelni turned away from the chess table set up in Main Rec. Ramones, like Bateman, had boarded the ship at Starbase 28 and the tournament finals had immediately gotten underway. Playing two matches a day, Spock and Forelni had spent the last eleven days playing what many of the ‘Nets were calling the best chess seen in the history of the game.
“An interesting decision, Commander,” Kirk observed as he walked over to where Forelni had taken station, near one of the vid screens.
“What decision, Captain?”
“You could have easily played to a draw,” Kirk explained. “Then all you would need to do would secure another draw tomorrow and the title would be yours.”
“I played for the win,” Forelni agreed with a slight shrug. “And Spock figured out what I was up to and made me pay the price for it. Besides, it doesn’t seem…”
“Sporting?” Kirk offered when Forelni paused.
“Honorable,” Forelni settled on a word. “Playing it safe in battle when prudence dictates is one thing. Playing it safe in chess? What’s the point of that?”
Before Kirk could reply, the comm panel whistled for attention.
“Bridge to Commander Forelni.”
“Go ahead, Uhura,” Forelni thumbed the switch and the vid screen flared to life with Uhura’s image..
“Receiving transmission for you from the Grand Palazzo on Etalya.”
“Send it down here, Uhura.”
The viewer shifted and Forelni did a very good imitation of a raised Spockian eyebrow.
“Father, this is an unexpected surprise,” he said when he recovered his voice. “Allow me to present my commanding officer, Captain James T. Kirk.”
“Your majesty,” Kirk greeted with a slight bow of his head. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“The pleasure is mine, Captain,” the King returned. “You must bring your ship to Etalya so we may meet in person. I trust my son, aside from recent events, has otherwise been behaving himself?”
The younger Forelni bit off the long-suffering sigh universal among all sons when their father is teasing them.
“He’s been doing just fine so far,” Kirk answered, diplomatically hiding a grin.
“That is good to hear, Captain. Still, if you should need…
“Was there a specific purpose to your call, Father?” Bari Forelni cut in.
“A proud father cannot call to congratulate his son on how well he is representing our world in the chess championships?”
“Very well, my son, I wanted to make sure you had received the video packet of Ambassador Bryna’s funeral.”
“I did. Thank you for sending it and please send my thanks to the Chamberlain. He did a splendid job on the arrangements.”
“I will do so. I also wanted to tell you that most of Etalya shared your outrage at her death. I need not tell you that they approved of how you handled getting justice for her. When you take the throne, my son, you may do so with more popularity than Genoa himself.”
“Most, you say. I suppose I need not ask who can be counted among those who disapproved.”
“The usual suspects, of course. Which is why I wanted to call and speak to you.”
“I care little about what Marcus Antonius and his lapdogs on the Consiglio think of my actions, father.”
“This I know all too well, but that was not the reason for my call. I could not help but notice that the number of Antonius’ cadre on the Consiglio is the same number of Kallitan councilors you sent the Vendicatore after.”
“A coincidence,” Bari Forelni replied, but Kirk heard uncertainty in his tone.
“Perhaps,” the King allowed. “Or perhaps all of the anger, the guilt over what happened to Francesco that you have carried in your heart for over a century and the fact that you could not strike down those you felt were responsible finally found an outlet? You stayed your hand back then, because politically it made sense. But here was a situation where you did not need to exercise such restraint, as long as you could maneuver the situation exactly the way you did. And no one would protest the result.”
The Prince remained silent.
“Let Kallita be the end of carrying that weight from so long ago, Bari. And do not carry any guilt over the death of Bryna for the next century. You have avenged the dead, my son, let them – and yourself – find their peace.
“Captain, it has been a pleasure,” the King continued. “Keep an eye on my son and bring him home sooner rather than later.”
The screen went dark and Forelni stared at it for a very long time.
“You know, I really hate it when he does that,” he finally broke the silence.
“What’s that, Commander?”
“Makes a point that I can’t counter,” Forelni replied, a slight smile forming. “Especially when he’s right. It’s damned annoying.”
“Father’s seem to be really good at that,” Kirk agreed. “It’s a universal trait.”
Forelni nodded, still thinking over what his father had just said.
“Commander, you’re going to be a starship Captain pretty soon…”
“That’s still not yet settled, Captain…”
“Don’t give me that,” Kirk held up a hand. “You’ve earned it, even if you weren’t the frontrunner all along. And yes, I say that even in light of Kallita. But your father is right. You can’t carry around the guilt of those you couldn’t save. All you can do is try to do better the next time.”
“Aye, Sir, and thank you, Captain.”
“It looks like they are finally done with Spock,” Kirk clapped a hand on Forelni’s shoulder. “It’s your turn to be interviewed. I’ll see you at the dinner later.”
* * *
“Congratulations on your victory this afternoon, Mr. Spock,” Dr. Bear Whitme greeted the First Officer as he arrived for the officer’s dinner. Whitme was the head of the team that would be working the ruins found on Auriga III.
“Thank you, Doctor. Commander Forelni has been a most formidable opponent.”
“Well, I for one am glad we’ll get to see the last match before we arrive at Auriga III tomorrow,” Dr. Kirsi-Marja Niskala replied. “I hope what we discover down on the planet is half as exciting as the first twenty-two matches have been.”
“Oh, I think we can arrange that, Dr. Niskala,” Forelni said as he came up from behind the two Doctors. “If Commander Spock tries to pull that same move with his bishop tomorrow I’ll draw my phaser and shoot it off the board.”
“Not only would that be most illogical, Commander,” Spock raised an obligatory eyebrow. “It would also be quite illegal.”
“Hmmm. Such a stickler for the rules. Well, I suppose I will have to devise some other strategy for tomorrow then. Speaking of strategies, Doctors, once we get you beamed down and settled in, how will you proceed with the dig?”
“Much easier than the initial dig was able to, thanks to the presence of your ship in orbit for starters,” Dr. Whitme replied. “Apparently what remained of Auriga III after its Sun burned out was a perfect hideout for smugglers. They didn’t appreciate the presence of an archaeological team digging about and the team had to evacuate quickly.
“What they did discover before they had to flee,” Dr. Whitme continued, “indicated a culture that was rapidly, and quite unexpectedly, advancing just before the end came. We’re hoping to find out exactly what triggered that rapid advance.”
“That sounds like quite a mystery to solve,” Forelni replied. “As we’ll remain in orbit for a while, to make sure those smugglers don’t come back, I hope you’ll find the answer before we break orbit.”
“Commander, most digs like this require a lot of work before they reveal their secrets. You may not be in orbit when we find those answers.”
“Well, one week, one year or more,” Forelni said. “I’ll leave a bottle of Etalyian wine behind for you to open when you finally find your answers, Doctor.”
“I would think you would save that for celebrating, or commiserating, depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s match?”
“Oh heavens no, Doctor,” Forelni quipped. “I have a bottle of Saurian Brandy set aside for that.”