THE CALLING: Part 2, Chapter 17
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 Guardian of Forever?” Forelni asked incredulously.
“It seemed a likely name,” Kirk replied as they made their way through the ruins. They had beamed down, along with Spock and McCoy, to the habitat set up to house the scientific teams researching the site but had found no one there.
“And you can actually use it to travel to any place and time? I can see why Starfleet keeps it under tight wraps and why you didn’t want to say anything until I beamed down.”
“Even the scientists that are allowed down here to study it are thoroughly vetted and sworn to secrecy,” Kirk explained as they rounded the last barrier.
“So how did the Orions find out about it?” Forelni asked.
“Assuming they did in fact know what was here, Captain,” Spock interjected. “They might have simply assumed something of import was here and decided to destroy it. While the trajectory of the Orion missile had been the exact location of the Guardian itself, they may have simply fired at the strongest energy source on the planet.”
“That doesn’t make much sense, Spock,” McCoy chimed in. “Destroying something without actually knowing what that thing actually is.”
“Orions are not known as logical beings, Doctor.”
All four men pulled up sharply as the Guardian came into view. The portal appeared to be frozen, locked on a view of a desert world. Those visible on that world were also frozen in place, as if someone had paused a recording. Scattered around the Guardian lay five members of the science team, including Dr. Whitme, who was struggling to regain his feet. The others were moving, but just barely.
“Dr. Whitme,” Forelni called out, rushing over to the fallen man and helping him to his feet. McCoy quickly scanned him and the others.
“Concussions,” McCoy reported as he pulled out a hypospray and injected each man. “Lots of bumps and assorted bruises but nothing serious.”
“What happened?” Whitme asked, rubbing the back of his head.
“We were hoping you could tell us, Doctor,” Kirk replied.
“We were reviewing the last years of Chandera…,” Whitme began.
“That’s Chandera?” Forelni interrupted, taking a long look and the frozen image. “Before or after Avion came aboard Enterprise?”
“We were recording to find out how long the planet had left,” Whitme replied. “But I’m not sure. Certainly within the last five years and after she came to the future, Captain.”
“She just over there,” Forelni said in a heart-breakingly soft tone. “Just on the other side…”
“That’s what Mr. Butler said,” Whitme replied. “We saw a quick image of her flash by and he wondered if we could step through and bring her back. I’m not sure if the Guardian would allow us to do that. But before I could say anything we heard this screaming whistle. We turned around and something flashed into the portal. Mr. Butler was standing right in front of it. I doubt he even had time to try to move out of the way. Then this massive shock wave blasted out of the Guardian and the next thing I remember is see you coming to help me.”
“I am detecting traces of human DNA at the event horizon, Captain,” Spock reported as he aimed his tricorder at the Guardian. “Just a few molecules. Not even enough to confirm identity.”
“But given he was standing there at the time, who else could it be. He was slammed into by a high-speed missile, I doubt he even knew what hit him,” Kirk remarked.
“He was a good officer,” Forelni said. “He had a lot of potential. What a damned shame.”
“I agree,” Kirk replied. “But right now we have a more pressing concern. We need to figure out why we are suddenly all that remains of the universe and how to put it back the way it was.”
“Excuse me?” Whitme asked in confusion.
“Whatever went through the Guardian has changed everything, Doctor,” Forelni replied. “As near as we can tell, those of us on the surface and aboard our two ships in orbit comprise the sum total of existence. Anywhere.”
Whitme paled and Forelni steadied the man so he wouldn’t fall back to the ground.
“First things first,” Kirk commanded. “Spock, is the Guardian functioning?”
“I..AM…FUNCTIONAL…” the Guardian spoke for the first time. To Kirk’s ear it sounded much weaker than the last time he’d spoken with it.
“Are you damaged?” Kirk stepped toward the device.
“REPAIR PROTOCOLS INITIATED…MINIMAL FUNCTIONALITY RESTORED…”
“Guardian,” Kirk pressed. “Can you tell us what has happened?”
“NOTHING IS…AS IT SHOULD BE…”
“There’s a newsflash,” McCoy cracked.
“Hush, Bones. Guardian, did the object that…penetrated…your portal cause everything to vanish?”
“Captain,” Spock broke in. “The Orion missile obviously carried a warhead designed to inflict massive damage to the target. Even though it struck Chandera in the past, we know that the missile remained anchored to the present by the still open portal.”
“So when the missile detonated the energy was released throughout all time and space?”
“Indeed. I theorize that the effect of the Guardian likely increased the energy exponentially, literally destroying everything over the last five millennia.”
“Then why are we still here, Commander?” Forelni asked.
“The massive waves that erupted from the Guardian shielded us, anchoring us to the planet much the same way as before.”
“And the Orions? They were caught up in that too. Why did they disappear?”
“BECAUSE … I… MADE IT… SO,” the Guardian answered.
“That’s not the least bit unsettling,” McCoy replied.
“We’ll leave that for later,” Kirk said. “Our first order of business is fixing this. Guardian, can you reverse what has happened?”
“THAT IS BEYOND MY ABILITIES… EVEN AT FULL CAPACITY.”
“Okay,” Kirk blew air out as he thought. “We can’t slingshot because there’s no nearby star to use. So that option is out.”
“Slingshot?” Forelni asked.
“Something we had to do not too long ago,” Kirk replied. “It was classified…”
“Like the Guardian? When we’re done here, we are going to have a long talk about some of these classified items that I really should know about, Jim.”
“Another time, Bari,” Kirk replied. “So what can we do?”
“If we stop the detonation we stop this from happening,” Forelni said. “If we can’t do that here and now, can we do it on Chandera in the past?”
“Spock?” Kirk tossed the ball into the Vulcan’s court.
“Possibly. We would have a 15-second window in which to hit the warhead with a strong enough pulse to render it inactive when it makes contact with Chandera. Should that fail, we would have a few seconds to sever the warhead with a directed beam from a phaser rifle at a specific point to accomplish the same result.”
“Hit a high-speed missile with a phaser,” McCoy scoffed. “What are the odds of that working?”
“Well,” Forelni jumped in, “as loathe as I am to brag, I am a pretty fair shot with a phaser rifle. I’d be willing to give it a try.”
“You really think you can pull that off?”
“Given the alternative, Doctor, I’d rather die trying than die under a perpetually pitch black sky.”
“Okay, we have a plan,” Kirk cut in. “Just one problem. How do we get there? Guardian, can you get us to Chandera before the missile strikes?”
“YES…BUT MY TARGETING SYSTEM IS NOT FULLY FUNCTIONAL. YOU MAY ARRIVE MANY DAYS EARLY.”
“Better early than late,” Kirk replied.
“BE WARNED. I HAVE THE POWER TO GET YOU THERE. BUT IF YOU FAIL TO PREVENT THE DETONATION, I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BRING YOU BACK.”
“Potentially a one-way trip,” Kirk said aloud.
“And no other choice but to take it,” Forelni replied. “We should brief our ships, in case we don’t make it back. Some will want to make a go of it here on the surface. Others will want to strike out and see if there is anything else out there.”
“That could be a very long trip, Captain.”
“We Etalyans are long-lived people, Doctor. We can handle making the Star a colony ship for an extended voyage.”
The two Captains stepped away to call their respective ships. Forelni filled his First Officer in on what had occurred, what their plan of action was and what they should do if they failed to return.”
“There’s one more thing, Paulo,” Forelni added after making sure Mansi was alone. “Even if we succeed, I may not come back.”
“You’re going to stay there with her, even though there will be less than a handful of years remaining to you?”
“Two years with her? I would trade all three centuries of my lifespan for those two years, Paulo.”
“I wish I could have met her in person, Bari.”
“So do I my friend. You’ll explain what happened to the King and Queen if we succeed and I don’t return? Tell them… tell them I was happy.”
“I will, my friend. And I will miss you.”
“And I you, my brother. Take good care of my ship.”
“I will. Goodbye, brother.”
“Forelni out,” he snapped the communicator lid shut and returned to the portal just as Kirk was returning from his discussion with Scotty.
“Spock?” Kirk asked.
“The ship will be beaming down the requested materials and clothing for five momentarily.”
“Five?” Kirk asked.
“I can’t pass up this chance to see Chandera as it was, Captain,” Whitme explained. “And I’d rather go there than be stuck here.”
“Very well, Doctor, five it is.”
The materials sparkled into existence and the five men quickly changed into native Chandera clothing. Forelni collected the phaser rifle and slung it over his shoulder while Spock gathered up a duffel bag containing the electronic gear they’d need to deactivate the warhead.
“Guardian, we are ready when you are,” Kirk said as they stepped up to the portal.
The portal winked out, even the lights in the stone arch winked out. A long thirty seconds later the lights winked back on and the portal resolved itself to a view of the capital city of Chandera as it had been five thousand years ago.
“Ready, Captain?” Kirk asked.
“She’s there, Jim. Let’s get going,” Bari replied as he stepped through the portal. The other four quickly followed. The portal winked out and the lights dimmed before finally blinking out.