THE CALLING: Part 2, Chapter 12
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 gently laid the tip of a single finger on his queen as he calmly studied the board. Forelni kept his face as blank as possible, affecting an air of indifference to his opponent’s actions.
But in reality he really needed Spock to move his queen, currently threatened by Forelni’s well-protected bishop, and open the door for checkmate in three moves. If Spock failed to move the Queen, instead choosing to block the attack, Forelni would have to reset his attack and the match would likely end in a draw and a needed twenty-fourth match.
However, if Spock chose to sacrifice his queen and moved his knight down from the third level, Forelni would be checkmated in two moves and there wouldn’t be a thing he could do to prevent it. Spock started to lift the queen, and then paused as an eyebrow lifted.
Uh oh, Forelni thought keeping his face a mask. Spock withdrew his hand from his queen and reached up for that white knight and moved it exactly where Forelni didn’t need it to be moved to.
Forelni scanned the board one last time, looking for a way out of the trap he’d apparently set for himself. Finding no other option he reached for his king and gently tipped it over as he rose from his chair. Several in the gallery gasped as they suddenly realized what he’d seen coming. Spock had won.
“Congratulations, Commander,” Forelni sketched a bow as the gallery applauded. “It’s been an honor, Sir.”
“Thank you, Commander,” Spock extended his hand. “You have been a worthy opponent.”
ICF President Bateman stepped forward and presented Forelni with a silver disk, given to the runner-up. She then turned to present Spock with a golden medallion suspended from a gold chain – awarded to the Galactic Grand Champion.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Bateman said after the applause died down. “On behalf of the Intergalactic Chess Federation, and in recognition of perhaps the greatest final series in tournament history, it is my honor to confer onto both you, Commander Spock, and you, Lt. Commander Bari Forelni, the status of Intergalactic Grand Master.”
As another round of applause broke out, she produced two pendants and pinned one to each of the lapels of their dress uniforms. Forelni took advantage of Ramones interviewing Spock to take his leave of the stage. Spotting several members of his security crew glumly gathered near the buffet he headed on over.
“Mr. Butler,” he greeted. “You gentlemen appear to be taking my loss harder than I am.”
“We had a bet, Sir, with the crew down in cargo control.”
“Oh? I hope it wasn’t for too many credits.”
“It wasn’t credits, Sir,” Officer Rick Ewald admitted.
“I see. How are you expected to settle your wager, Mr. Ewald?”
“We have to handle the cargo transfers, both ways, while we are in orbit over Auriga III,” Butler answered.
“That’s quite a lot of work, especially later today when we start beaming supplies down.”
“Aye, Sir, we know.”
“Well, Gentlemen, I suggest we take full advantage of this buffet and eat hearty,” Forelni said with a wave of his hand. “We’re going to need it.”
“Mr. Butler, what kind of a commanding officer would I be if I let my crew pick up the check for my shortcomings in chess?”
* * *
“Mr. Kyle, we’re starting to pile up out in the hall,” Forelni remarked later that afternoon in the main cargo hold, after the Enterprise had made orbit around Auriga III. He’d seen both Bateman and Ramones and four members of their staffs off on their shuttle. Ensign Pamela Stump, who was transferring to the Lafayette, was flying them to Starbase 16 where they would catch a ride back to Earth. Now he was helping his men settle their debt with cargo.
“Aye, Sir,” Kyle acknowledged as he adjusted the transporter console. “We’ve been picking up some odd, low-level radiation coming from Auriga ever since we made orbit. Whatever it is, it’s something Mr. Spock says he’s never seen it’s like before.”
“Should we take a look at using shuttlecraft instead?”
“No, Sir. Mr. Spock has been making adjustments to the shields based on his readings. I just need to make a few minor adjustments to the transporter. Mr. Scott has already rerouted additional power to transport console here from the Main Transporter Room since we’ll be doing all the transporting of cargo down here.”
“We’ve got two hours before Dr. Whitme’s team is scheduled to beam down,” Forelni pointed out. “Can we get this cargo down below in time to bring the main transporter back on line?”
“Shouldn’t be a problem, Sir,” Kyle looked up from the console. “We’re ready to send the first shipment down.”
“You heard the man,” Forelni helped his six-man crew load the first six containers onto the platform. Kyle completed the process and had confirmed transport as Drs. Whitme and Niskala rushed in with the rest of their team in tow.
“You’re a little early, Doctors,” Forelni said.
“We just got a message from the site,” Dr. Whitme explained. “They’ve found an intact structure below ground. They’re waiting for us to get down there before they open it up. We’d like to get down there as soon as possible.”
“I suppose that’s understandable,” Forelni looked over at Kyle. “Any problems with that transport?”
“No interference from the Auriga radiation. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Very well then. Doctors, if you and your team will step up on the pad, we’ll get you down there and we’ll get the rest of your equipment down as soon as possible.”
“Thank you, Commander,” Niskala said as she stepped onto a disc.
“Good digging. Energize, Mr. Kyle.”
The team dissolved into the transport effect and disappeared.
“Transport complete.” Kyle reported.
“Very good. Alright gentlemen, let’s get the rest of this stuff down below on the double.”
“What’s the hurry, sir?” Butler asked.
“Mr. Butler,” Forelni replied with a wicked gleam in his eyes. “The sooner we get this job done, the sooner we can start planning on our revenge on cargo for winning that bet.”
A chorus of “Aye, Aye, Sir!” rang out loud and clear on the deck.
* * *
“Remind you of anyone?” McCoy asked from the other side of the cargo deck, where he and Kirk had quietly been watching unnoticed.
“What exactly are you implying, Bones?”
“That he’s going to make a hell of a Starship Captain.”
“That’s what I told him.”
“I thought you were supposed to keep that quiet?”
Kirk just shrugged. McCoy chuckled.
“Like I said, doesn’t he remind you of someone?”
* * *
Five days passed quietly. There was limited space under the temporary dome and construction of the larger, more permanent dome was still incomplete. Which meant no one from the ship could beam down to the surface and check out the dig.
Spock and his science department focus their attention on the old star, trying to determine what was generating the odd radiation waves that occasionally spiked and required the ship to raise shields. The dome’s shielding was sufficient to keep those on the surface safe.
The rest of the crew made use of the quiet time to catch up on less important work that usually got set aside during normal ship’s activity. Forelni ran a few security drills but Kirk never heard what, if anything, Security had done in regards to the lost wager with Cargo.
“Message from Dr. Whitme, Captain,” Uhura announced.
“On screen,” Kirk ordered. “Doctor, how goes the dig?”
“Very well, Captain. Maybe even too well. We’re running out of space to store the artifacts after we catalogue them. I was wondering if we could send up some containers and have you take them back to Starbase 28 so they can be shipped back to our University on Centauri IV?”
Kirk hesitated, as he knew his orders weren’t going to send Enterprise back to Starbase 28. But, they would pass close enough to the Centauri system that he could detour long enough to drop off whatever was sent up at the University.
“I wouldn’t ask if we had any other place to safely store them until the permanent dome is finished, Captain,” Dr. Whitme added, mistaking Kirk’s silence for reluctance.
“It’s not a problem, Doctor. It’s just that we are scheduled to depart in less than two days,” Kirk explained. “The Sierra will be nearby to make sure no smugglers return to the area. I’m not sure how much we’ll be able to beam up and store on the Enterprise before we depart.”
“Anything you can take on would be a great help, Captain.”
“Very well, Doctor, we’ll start beaming up as soon as you are ready.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
“Mr. Forelni, it looks like you’ve just drawn a lot of overtime for you and your men,” Kirk closed communication with the planet as he swiveled toward the Security station.
“So it would seem,” Forelni agreed, toggling the communications button at his station. “Bridge to Lieutenant Piatt.”
“Here, sir,” Paul Piatt, the ship’s Cargo Officer replied.
“Mr. Piatt, bet or no bet, we’ve got a lot of cargo coming our way from the surface and little time to get it up here,” Forelni informed the officer. “Get all your people up and meet me and all of my available Security personnel on the Cargo Deck in five minutes. You might as well wake up Mr. Kyle and ruin his off duty time too.”
“Have fun down there, Mr. Forelni,” Kirk said as his Security Chief headed for the turbolift. He got a dour look in return just before the doors closed.
“Next time, Captain, remind me to use the phaser-to-white-knight-2 maneuver.”
* * *
“Just one more item to send up and I think we’ll be able to handle the rest until the dome is finished, Commander,” Dr. Niskala reported thirty-six hours later.
“That’s good to hear, Doctor,” Forelni replied. “I’m not sure we have room for anything else up here. You really hit the jackpot down there.”
“We sure did,” she agreed. “It looks like we found the Royal Palace. We’ll be studying this site for years if this location is any indication.”
“I don’t doubt it. So what is our final item?”
“Here, I’ll show you.”
The view from the Doctor’s pad swung away from her to a life-sized portrait of a woman. She wore a crown over raven-black hair, a necklace of several large jewels and a dark blue cape over a lighter blue full-length gown. Whoever the artist had been he or she had been a master, the model a stunning beauty, and the blue eyes on the portrait seemed to be alive.
“Wow,” Forelni said softly.
“That seemed to be the consensus reaction down here when we discovered it.”
“Well, let’s bring it on up as soon as you are ready, Doctor.”
“Go ahead, Commander,” Niskala said after making sure the portrait was secured in its case.
“Energize, Mr. Kyle.”
“Transporting now, Sir,” Kyle replied as he manipulated the controls.
“Incoming radiation spike,” Spock reported, “increasing power to the shields.”
“I can’t complete the transport until the shields go back down, sir,” Kyle said. “And I can’t reverse it either.”
“Can you hold the pattern?”
“Not for much longer without more power and I’m at maximum now.”
“Cargo Transporter to Engineering,” Forelni stabbed to comm panel. “I need emergency power to the transporter now.”
“We can’t divert any from the shields, Commander,” Scotty reported.
“Can you tap into the warp engines?”
“Aye, lad, that I can give ye. Stand by.”
“Quickly, Mr. Scott.”
“Power levels increasing, Sir,” Kyle exclaimed.
“Cargo Transporter to Bridge. Is there an estimate on how long until we can lower shields?”
“This wave should pass in fifteen seconds, Commander,” Spock answered. Forelni glanced at Kyle, who nodded that he could hold the pattern that long.
“The danger has passed,” Spock called out fifteen seconds later. “Lowering shields now.”
“Alright, Mr. Kyle, finish bringing it aboard.”
Kyle’s hands flew over the console. But instead of a large rectangle shape forming on the pad, a humanoid form was taking shape, solidifying into a very human-looking woman as Kyle announced transport complete.
A raven-haired woman with piercing blue eyes, garbed in a blue cape and gown with a gleaming gold crown in her hair. In a flash she withdrew a very nasty-looking blade from the scabbard at her belt – an item the artist had failed to record in the original portrait, or Forelni hadn’t seen when he looked at it.
Obviously frightened and disoriented, her gaze darted around as if she were trying to decide who she was going to stick that blade into first.