THE CALLING: Part 2, Chapter 19
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.
“Any sign of Mr. Butler, Spock?” Forelni asked as he, Spock and Kirk collected the remains of the warhead and the missile. They’d left McCoy and Whitme back in town packing up their gear for the return trip.
“Negative,” Spock reported. “The same small traces of human DNA found at the Guardian. If the missile struck him there should be more evidence of that. And, if he jumped back, he should have arrived with the missile and tumbled to the ground. I detected no sign of a human body when the missile arrived.”
“Spock,” Kirk cut in. “Is he dead or just missing? Could the Guardian have sent him somewhere before the missile passed through?”
“Unknown. Perhaps the Guardian, restored to full function, can locate him when we return.”
Forelni slipped the disabled warhead – Spock’s transmission has in fact deactivated it prior to Forelni’s shot after all – into a pouch and handed it to the Vulcan.
“That’s the last of it,” Forelni remarked, dusting off his hands. “McCoy and Whitme should be all packed up too.”
The three men looked at each other for a few moments.
“Shouldn’t the Guardian be pulling you back?” Forelni asked.
“Indeed,” Spock replied, puzzled. “We have accomplished our mission. There is no further need for us to remain here, unless…”
“Unless something is wrong,” Forelni finished, feeling suddenly uneasy. Then, as if struck by a lightning bolt, Forelni whirled and sprinted for his mount. He couldn’t explain it to the others, even if he’d stayed behind and tried, but suddenly he knew Avion was in danger. He nearly stumbled before boarding the beast when he heard her voice calling his name in his head.
Kirk and Spock, hampered by the bags of debris, took longer to get mounted. Forelni didn’t wait for them, spurring his mount back to the town and to Avion’s residence. He dashed by the two doctors, ignoring their inquiries as to what was going on and sprinted toward the main hall. How he knew she was there he could not say. But something was aiming him there.
He bolted into the hall, spotting Briseos crumpled to the ground, bleeding from a head wound and vainly trying to rise back to his feet. At the far end of the hall, Avion was cornered by three men. She had been putting up a good fight, but she was outnumbered. Before he could act, one of the men produced a wicked looking blade and plunged it into her chest.
Without thinking, or even bothering to arm himself, Forelni hurled himself at her assassins. He was on them before they could even register his arrival. The first turned, pulling the bloody knife from his victim, but Forelni felled him with a crushing blow to the temple. The second man thrust his blade at Forelni but it struck only air where the Captain had been.
Forelni grabbed the forearm, twisted it hard enough to dislocate the elbow and drove the knife, still clutched in his assailant’s hand, through the man’s jaw and directly into his brain. The third assassin, seeing his comrades fall to this demon, chose discretion over valor, dropped his blade and fled.
Forelni let him go, kneeling down to gather Avion up in his arms. He used the edge of his desert robe to staunch the flow of blood from her wound. He looked over at Briseos, who had recovered enough to stand back up.
“Get Doctor McCoy,” he commanded. “Now!”
Briseos hurried out, calling for McCoy as he left the hall.
“Bari…,” Avion said weakly. “I’m so cold…”
Keeping the pressure on her wound, he reached over and grabbed her cape and covered her with it, drawing her as close as he could to help keep her warm.
“Hold on, McCoy is on his way. You’re going to be fine.”
He almost believed it.
McCoy ran into the hall, took in the fallen bodies and quickly made his way over to the only one of them that he could aid. The other four men quickly followed, standing a few feet away to observe in silence as McCoy waved his medical scanner over the Queen. He looked at the results for a long time before he raised his eyes to meet Forelni’s. He didn’t need to say a word. Forelni swallowed hard and drop his head.
“I’m sorry, son,” McCoy stood up and rejoined the others.
“There’s some kind of poison in her system, Jim,” he replied sadly. “If we were back…home… I might be able to do something. But here? No, Jim, there’s not a damned thing I can do.”
“The poison on the blade has no antidote, Doctor,” Briseos pointed out, the misery carrying clearly in his voice. “There was nothing any of us could do once the blade found its target.”
The old man stepped forward and kneeled next to his dying Queen. He pulled a small vial from his pouch, opened it and held it to her mouth.
“It will ease your passing, my lady,” Briseos explained as he poured the contents down her throat. Once emptied, he stood up and withdrew. He kept on walking past the other men and left the hall, tears unashamedly streaming down his face.
“It seems we are never given enough time, my love,” Avion weakly reached up to place her hand on his face.
“So it seems,” he agreed, he voice unsteady. “I will cherish every minute we were given.”
“Go back to your ship and the stars,” her voice grew steadily weaker. “I will be waiting for you out there…”
Her voice trailed off, her eyes slid closed and her hand slipped away. Forelni pulled her close.
“And I will find you,” he whispered. “No matter how far and how long I have to travel. I will find you again.”
* * * * *
Chandera custom, regarding the death of a monarch, was somewhat simple. The deceased was wrapped in a ceremonial robe and taken by the priests to a rocky area a few miles from the town. Here, the dead monarch would be laid to rest deep within the caves with all of his or her predecessors on the day of death.
Briseos had returned a few minutes after Avion had died in Forelni’s arms with the priests. They respectfully gathered her up and carried her away. They dressed the wound, cleaned the blood that had seeped past Forelni’s vain bid to stop the bleeding, and dressed her in a white robe. A gossamer veil was wrapped around her face.
She was placed on a litter and carried out to the funeral caverns. Forelni followed a few paces behind. Briseos, Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Whitme followed another three paces behind him and the residents of the town followed behind them. Chandera’s sun was just touching the horizon when they arrived.
“Only the priests can continue from this point,” Briseos explained as he stepped forward. “You must say goodbye now.”
Forelni, who hadn’t spoken a word since they’d taken her out of his arms, nodded and walked up to the litter. He was still wearing the blood-stained robe and her blood was still on his right hand. He leaned over and gently kissed her then stepped back. The priests continued on into the cave opening.
“There is something she would want you to have,” Briseos said, slipping a small leather pouch into a pocket of Forelni’s robe. “Open it later, my friend, when you have returned home and the pain in your heart has faded.”
The old man turned away and led the Chanderans back toward their homes, leaving the five Federation men alone. Only then did they feel the Guardian start pulling them back to their own time. Forelni didn’t fight it.
One instant they were on Chandera and the next they were stepping back though the portal, nearly five thousand years passing in an instant. Kirk looked over and wondered if the look on Forelni’s face had been the same on his when he’d stepped through, moments after he had lost Edith Keeler.
“ALL IS AS IT SHOULD BE!”
The Guardian’s voice boomed out, clearly back to full function again. Forelni turned and aimed a murderous look at the Guardian, as if he were contemplating using the phaser rifle to level the thing to the ground. That same feeling had flashed through Kirk back then too. Nothing was as it should be. Not then. Not now. He pulled out his communicator.
“Kirk to Enterprise. Status report.”
“Enterprise here, Sir.” Scotty replied. “Whatever ye did, it worked. Everything is back the way it was.”
Kirk started to reply but was cutoff but the sound of Forelni opening his own communicator.
“Forelni to…,” he paused, unable to say the name. “To the Star. Status of the Orion ships?”
“Captain?” Mansi sounded surprised. “Sir, we have life signs on the ships again but they appear to be very disoriented. Orders?”
“Clear my sky of those ships, Commander,” Forelni said very quietly.
No one in orbit or on the planet spoke, stunned into silence not only by the order but by the ice cold tone it had been delivered in.
“Sir?” Mansi finally broke the silence. Forelni closed his eyes, drew in a long breath, held it and slowly let it go.
“Belay that order,” he said a little louder.
“Aye, Sir,” the relief in Mansi’s voice was clear.
“Disable their weapons and engines,” Forelni continued. “Board those ships and place their crews under heavy restraint. Prepare to take them in tow. Contact Starbase 27 and have them send ships to rendezvous with us at best possible speed to take them off our hands. I want the lunatic in charge of that fleet in my brig by the time I beam up. Forelni out.”
He snapped his communicator shut as Mansi acknowledged the new orders. Kirk walked over and placed an understanding hand on his colleague’s shoulder.
“Where is it, Jim? Where does justice end and vengeance begin?”
“It’s a fine line, Bari, sometimes it can’t even be seen. Especially for Starship Captains. But the good ones can usually find it, especially if they have friends nearby to help.”
“They nearly killed trillions, Jim. Maybe even trillions of trillions.”
“But they didn’t. We stopped them. We saved them all.”
“Tell that to Dan Butler.”
“We’ll find him, if he’s still alive,” Kirk promised. “And if not, the Orions will pay for what they did. The right way, within the letter of the law.”
“Captain Forelni,” Whitme stepped up, offering a data chip. “I recorded the location of her grave site. Now that we know where to look we can find it. We can have it ready for you to pay your respects if you want. You really didn’t get a lot of time to say a proper goodbye.”
Forelni took the chip and nodded his thanks.
“Doctor,” Kirk said. “Perhaps you would like to accompany the Captain? We’re not going to be able to break orbit here until our relief arrives. I can have your belongings transported over from the Enterprise.”
“I can be ready in a few minutes.”
“I’ll let my ship know you’re coming, Doctor.”
“It will get better, Bari,” Kirk said as Whitme headed off to pack up his belongings at the shelter. “There will be brighter days ahead.”
“How can that be, Jim, when the only light in the universe that matters is no longer shining?”
Kirk had no answer for that.
“Forelni to the Star,” Forelni reopened his communicator. “Dr. Whitme will be joining us. Have VIP quarters prepared. Stand by to beam him up and to receive his belongings from Enterprise.”
“Aye, Sir,” Mansi replied. “Are you ready to beam up, Sir?”
“Get me the hell out of here,” Forelni ordered.
Kirk heard the echo of his own past in that order. He’d said the same thing after his first visit here. He didn’t need to ask McCoy or Spock if he’d looked back then very much like Forelni did now as the Etalyan disappeared in a sparkle of transporter effect. Like a man whose heart had been ripped out of his chest and his soul forever ripped asunder.