Richard Paolinelli

The Calling, Part 2: Chapter 18

THE CALLING: Part 2, Chapter 18

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.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

The five men stepped onto the desert sands on ancient Chandera, the planet’s star directly overhead. Forelni turned to look behind the party and saw nothing but endless sand.

“If we succeed here,” Kirk explained, discerning the reason why Forelni was looking behind them, “the Guardian will pull us back. Until then, there’s no portal back home for us to walk through.”

Forelni nodded and turned back to look ahead. The small town where Avion reigned as Queen lay just ahead. It was exactly as she had described it. While most of the planet was a desert world, there were oases of rock and enough farmable land to grow enough crops to feed a small population. Above ground cisterns captured what water fell during the rainy season, but the primary source of water came from underground caverns.

Most of the town was carved into the rocky outcroppings. The rest appeared to be large tents staked into the sands along the outskirts. A rough barrier had been constructed around the outskirts forcing any visitors toenter through a main gate. The Queen resided in a castle cut into the very top of the outcropping, towering over the town. He could see the sloping steps that led up to the entrance.

“Captains,” Spock called out, looking up from his tricorder. “Using the data from the Guardian, I calculate we have arrived four days, three hours and 41 minutes – local time – prior to the arrival of the Orion missile.”

“Not too bad considering the shape the Guardian was in,” Kirk replied. “At least we’ll have enough time to get set up.”

“Indeed,” Spock agreed. “The missile will strike less than a kilometer from the town ahead. If we can take position at the top of the outcropping we should have a clear field to send the signal to deactivate the warhead. It will also give Captain Forelni seven-point-four seconds to fire the phaser rifle at the warhead should that option be required.”

“Shall we proceed?” Forelni headed toward the town. The Guardian had dropped them within a thousand yards and no one appeared to have noticed their sudden arrival. Dressed in native attire they looked very much the part of travelers arriving at their destination as they arrived at the entry gate.

“What is your business here?” a burly-looking guard demanded, glowering at them as they approached.

“I am Crown Prince Bari Forelni, of Etalya,” Forelni replied. “We have travelled a great distance to seek audience with your Queen.”

“The Queen does not receive vagabonds,” the man replied dismissively. “I have never heard of this Etalya you claim to come from, desert rat.”

“Nor should she,” Forelni answered evenly, taking one deliberate step toward the guard who did have a couple of inches in height on Forelni. “But she will receive us just as soon as you inform her that I stand at this gate.”

“And why is that?”

In the blink of an eye the guard found himself flat on his back, disarmed and with Forelni’s booted foot planted firmly on his chest.

“Because if you don’t,” Forelni said calmly, giving no indication that he’d exerted himself at all in felling the guard, and nodding his head at a man standing nearby, “I will send that one over there to inform her Majesty that I am here and that she will need to assign a replacement to your post.”

The fallen guard gave it all of ten seconds of thought and made up his mind.

“You there,” he said to the bystander. “Send word to the Queen that Prince…”

“Bari Forelni of Etalya,” Forelni reminded him when he faltered.

“…has arrived and seeks audience,” the guard finished, adding, when the man remained rooted to the spot, “and be quick about it, man!”

The man turned and bolted down the main road toward Avion’s residence.

“You think you should let him up?” Kirk quietly asked from behind.

“I don’t know,” Forelni answered, looking down. “Is he going to behave himself if I do?”

The guard nodded in defeat. He might as well have been pinned to the ground by a mountain for all the good his attempts to get out from under Forelni’s planted foot had done for him. Forelni considered for a moment, then lifted his foot and stepped back.

“Thank you, m’lord,” the guard mumbled as he regained his feet. Forelni tossed him back the staff weapon and turned his back on the guard, looking off toward where the messenger had gone. It was as complete a dismissal of the guard as any kind of threat Kirk had ever seen.

“Someone’s as anxious as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” McCoy observed. “And as about as even-tempered as a lion with a toothache.”

“Why would anyone have a room full of rocking chairs…”

“Spock, Bones,” Kirk interrupted the old game. “Shut up.”

The messanger must have reached his destination for a sudden flurry of activity erupted near the Queen’s residence. Within a minute a group of five hooded and robed riders burst onto the street and headed straight for the gate. The creatures they rode resembled Earth’s ostriches, only the Chanderan version was bulkier and its plumage was bright red. When the group reached the gate, an older man nudged his mount ahead of the rest.

“I am Briseos,” he announced. “Her Majesty’s Chief Adviser. Who here claims to be Prince Forelni?”

“I do,” Forelni stepped forward, slipping the hood of his robe from off his head.

The old man looked back at the others as one dismounted, the hood hiding the face. Two slender hands reached up and slipped the hood back.

“Bari,” Avion said in shocked disbelief. “Is that truly you?”

“My lady,” he replied with a simple bow.

For a long second no one spoke or moved, all eyes on the reunited lovers. Then, with a squeal of delight, Avion rushed into Forelni’s arms.

“But how,” she asked when they finally broke the kiss. “Why?”

“That is a conversation to be had when there are fewer ears about to hear it,” Forelni replied.

*     *     *     *     *

“It’s so…fantastic,” Avion struggled to find the right word as they walked along a hall in the residence’s interior. Spock had filled her in on what had occurred in the future and why they’d undertaken the trip back to the past. “All of existence wiped out and it begins here on Chandera.”

“If we don’t stop that missile then all that will remain is a huge black void, one dead world and the crews of two starships,” Forelni replied. “Fantastic is a good word for it. Terrifying is another.”

“This device, this Guardian, can be used to travel anywhere and anywhen?”

“Yes, but we are only supposed to use it to view events in the past, we are not allowed to step through lest we change the past is some terrible way.”

“Is that why you never came here after I left the Enterprise?”

“No,” Forelni said, taking her hands in his. “I never used it to come back to the instant you returned to Chandera, because I didn’t know of the Guardian’s existence until less than a day ago.”

“And now that you know?” she asked, suddenly very serious. “Will you come and go? Can I return to your time perhaps?”

“No,” he replied. “As far as I know, when we have completed our mission, only those who came here from the future can return. We cannot take someone from the past back with us, lest we trigger some other cataclysm by changing the past.”

“So you will leave and I will never see you again?” her eyes were bright with unshed tears.

“You will see me every day,” he promised. “When the others return, I will remain behind.”

“But you are a Captain now, you sail the stars in your own ship…”

“You never asked me what the name of my ship is. They let me name her.”

“What name did you give your ship?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

Avion’s Star,” he answered and then the tears could not be held back any longer.

“You would give all of that up for me?”

“We Forelni’s have always followed the calling of our heart,” he said, smiling. “You are the calling of my heart, Avion of Chandera. Wherever you are, that is the only place in the universe I want to be.”

*     *     *     *     *

“Are you sure about this, Bari?” Kirk asked days later.

They had taken up station at the highest point of the outcropping. Spock had estimated the missile’s arrival in this time was less than an hour away. They were as ready for it as they could be and now all they could do was await it and stop it. Avion had just been called away on a matter of state.

“I am, Jim. I lost her once. I can’t lose her again. When we are done here and the Guardian opens the way back, I’m not coming with you.”

“There’s less than five years remaining before Chandera’s star burns out,” Kirk replied.

“I know. But I’ll happily trade every year I would have had left in our present for every day we’ll have together here, Jim.”

Try as he might Kirk couldn’t find the words to try to talk him out of it.

“Then in that case,” Kirk said instead, “we’d better say goodbye now, in case we don’t have time later.”

“It’s been an honor, Jim,” Forelni extended his hand.

“The honor is still mine, Bari,” Kirk shook the proffered hand and clapped Forelni on the shoulder. “I wish you both all the happiness you can find.”

“Thank you, Jim.”

“Son,” McCoy said, having overheard the conversation. “Normally I’d say you need to have your head examined. But I’ve seen the lady and you’d have to have your head examined if you didn’t stay. Good luck to you both.”

“Thank you, Leonard, for both of us.”

“Captains,” Spock looked up from his equipment. “I am detecting a temporal anomaly.”

“Where, Spock?” Kirk asked as Forelni brought the phaser rifle up and checked the settings.

“Six kilometers high and at your one o’clock, Captain Forelni.”

Kirk looked up as Forelni sighted on the spot.

“At the speed that thing will be going, Commander,” Forelni asked. “About a fifty-meter lead on the shot?”

“Aim fifty-point-two meters ahead of the target, Captain.”

“Yeah, piece of cake,” Forelni muttered as the missile suddenly appeared out of the distortion.

“Sending disarming sequence now,” Spock reported.

“Any indication signal received, Spock?”

“Unknown, Captain,” Spock replied. “Captain Forelni…”

“Got it,” Forelni tracked the missile in his sights, keeping his aiming point ahead of the streaking object.

“Fifteen seconds to impact,” Spock called out.

“Bari…” Kirk urged.

Forelni squeezed the triggered without slowing the movement of the rifle. The shot erupted from the rifle and struck the missile, severing it half and sending the remains tumbling along the original track.

“Five seconds to impact,” Spock intoned. They’d either succeeded or they had a few seconds of life remaining.

The debris hammered into the desert sand a mere two hundred meters away. A huge cloud of dust, sand and debris billowed up into the sky and began to fall down on the town. A long silence fell.

“Did we die?” McCoy asked after the silence had stretch into a long minute.

“No, Doctor, we did not,” Spock replied. “The warhead did not detonate.”

“Congratulations Captain, Commander,” Kirk said with a broad smile. “You just saved the universe.”

“Thank you, Captain,” Spock replied.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, Jim,” Forelni said as he powered down the rifle. “But let’s go collect that warhead so you folks can go on back home.”

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