THE CALLING: Part 3, Chapter 2
A Work Of Star Trek Fan Fiction By Richard Paolinelli
© 2021 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.
Picard waited anxiously next to the transporter console. Commander Forelni was due to beam over at any moment and Picard was still filled with uncertainty over the impending mission. The release of the Ambassador and his staff had suddenly become a secondary issue. Picard was now primarily concerned with Commander Forelni’s motives for taking this mission. Picard had discovered that Forelni had volunteered for the mission, after learning the Enterprise had been assigned to Kyros VI. He’d even requested that Ensign Ro be present when he came aboard.
Picard feared Forelni was looking for some sort of reprisal against Ro, and had voiced his concern at the briefing the day before. But other than commenting that Forelni had defended her at her court-martial and that she didn’t believe he meant her any ill will, the Bajoran woman was keeping tight-lipped about the entire matter.
Picard had spent most of the night scanning the records of the Garon II mission and the court-martial that followed. It seemed Forelni was well on his way to starship command and was in charge of Security on board Wellington. Ro was a lieutenant and had just been assigned to the ship as a security officer three months before the ship pulled into orbit around Garon II.
Ro had been assigned to a nine-member landing party that consisted of the entire command staff, with the exception of Forelni. Two days later, the entire landing party was dead with one notable exception: Lieutenant Ro Laren. How Ro survived, as well as what really happened, was never discovered. Ro certainly wasn’t talking to anyone about Garon II. Despite her silence and the mounting circumstantial evidence against her, Forelni had defended her at the court-martial.
From the transcript, Picard could see Forelni had mounted a vigorous, at times combative, defense. But Ro’s silence doomed any hope of her acquittal and the same three officer panel that found her guilty, leveled a charge of incompetence at Forelni. He was stripped of command of Security on Wellington and reduced in rank to lieutenant. His resignation from Starfleet was tendered minutes later.
Apparently, he had been conscripted into Special Security and was doing quite well. But Picard could not shake the feeling that hard feelings were at play and that Forelni might be looking to avenge his ruined career. A beep from the console signaled Forelni’s impending arrival and Picard braced himself for an unpleasant visitor. Behind him, Riker, Worf and Troi closed ranks around Ro, offering whatever support they could.
Picard stepped forward to greet the new arrival as soon as he materialized on the platform. Forelni was attired in the standard all-black uniform of Starfleet Special Security, with only one piece of silver jewelry attached just above the heart. But unlike the Starfleet insignia found on Picard’s uniform, Forelni’s was the ages-old symbol of justice, an evenly balanced scale over three solid black bars. Picard knew that the bars served the same function as the pips on his collar. Three pips, or bars, introduced the wearer as a full Commander.
Picard studied his visitor, noticing that Forelni was about the same height as Riker, a little trimmer and the hawk-like, clean-shaven face gave Picard an impression of the sheer face of a cliff. Only when you looked at his eyes, did you see any warmth. They were the darkest brown he’d ever seen in human eyes and they all at once seemed to take the full measure of everyone in sight, while not losing a small glint of mischief.
“Permission to come aboard, Captain?”
“Granted, Commander,” replied Picard, “and welcome aboard.”
“An honor to be aboard, Sir,” Forelni shook Picard’s hand as Riker stepped forward. “This must be Commander Riker, a pleasure Commander.”
Forelni shook hands with the First Officer, graciously took Troi’s hand, deftly brushing a quick kiss on it while managing a half-bow, reminding Picard that Forelni was descended from Etalyian royalty, before quickly straightening back up, his nose wrinkling in distaste.
“Captain,” he said after a few sniffs, “either you recently passed a Romulan sewage plant,” he paused for effect, turning to face Worf, “or Worf, son of Mogh, is on board this vessel.”
“Strange,” the Klingon growled in retort, “I was about to suggest that it smelled like a targ pit in here, or that Paulo Forelni was on board.”
The two men faced each other, and Picard feared the two would come to blows. But before anyone could say a word, both faces broke into wide grins. Then to everyone’s surprise, the two embraced in a bear hug, accompanied by back thumping that made Picard wince in sympathy.
“Worf,” Forelni exclaimed, “you son of a targ!. It’s been a long time, my friend!”
“A long time,” Worf agreed, stoically. “It is good to see you again Commander. How is Marco?”
“He’s doing well. A lieutenant and head of Security on the Francisco.”
“Mr. Worf, I was unaware that you were acquainted with Commander Forelni.”
“My apologies, Captain,” Worf replied. “The Commander’s brother, Marco, was my roommate at the Academy and the Commander was one of my instructors during my last year.”
“Worf even spent a summer at my home on Etalya,” Forelni added, the glint of mischief spreading from his eyes to cover his face. “One of the most interesting summers on the planet in recent memory.”
Knowing the history of Etalya and the Klingon Empire, they had been at war with each other as recently as the last century, and judging from the expressions on the two men’s faces, Picard could just imagine how “interesting” that summer had been. The Captain found himself relaxing, his misgivings about the Commander’s arrival fading away. But then Forelni focused his attention on the one officer he’d not yet been introduced to.
“Commander. It’s good to see you again, sir.”
“Likewise, Ensign,” there was none of the genuine warmth that greeted Worf, but there was also no sign of hostility, either hidden or out in the open between the two. “It’s good to see you back in uniform, Ensign. I’m looking forward to working with you again.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Captain, I assume you received the briefing package and you’ve all had a chance to review it?” Forelni asked. Picard nodded in assent. “Good. We can have a formal briefing after I’ve settled in, that is if there are any questions or comments?”
“Your package was very thorough, Commander,” Riker pitched in when everyone had shook their head in response.
“It seems like a pretty straightforward mission.”
“Indeed,” added Picard. “Number One, set a course for Kyros, maximum warp. Mr. Worf, please show the Commander to his quarters.”
Picard waited for the officers to acknowledge his orders, before dismissing Troi and Ro to their duties. He then turned to Forelni.
“Commander,” he began, “there were one or two points I’d like to discuss with you, nothing that requires a formal briefing, but if you don’t mind talking on the way to your quarters?”
“Of course, Captain,” and that glint of mischief was back in his eyes. “Lead on, Mr. Worf, and step lively man, I expect a bottle of blood wine to be ready and waiting in my quarters.”
“I have one bottle of blood wine in my quarters, Commander,” Worf growled, “and I’m saving it for a special occasion.”
“That’s okay, Lieutenant, I brought a bottle of Romulan ale. You can have the first glass,” Forelni clapped the Klingon on the shoulder and both men shared a laugh, while Picard chuckled and shook his head as the trio stepped out into the hallway. As the men navigated the busy corridor Picard addressed his concerns with the mission.
“Commander, your presence here tells me that Starfleet doesn’t hold out much hope in my abilities as a diplomat.”
“On the contrary, Captain,” Forleni responded. “Starfleet has every faith in your abilities. It’s the Kyrosian government they’re not sure of. The mission to release the ambassador is yours, and trust me Captain, I certainly hope you’re successful. I’m only here as a last resort, in case the Kyrosians don’t listen to reason.”
“I see,” Picard said as they entered Forelni’s quarters. “Then I retain command of both the ship and the mission throughout?” Picard had heard of instances where Special Security took temporary command of a ship until the mission was completed.
“Yes, at least until it is apparent that diplomatic measures are failing,” Forelni replied solemnly. “And then I only take command of the mission, the ship is yours no matter what.”
“Good,” Picard said, relieved that his ship was still his ship. “There was one other matter, Commander…” Picard broke off, glancing at Worf, who immediately got the hint that the Captain wanted privacy.
“Perhaps I will make an exception and get that bottle of blood wine after all,” Worf headed for the door.
“And now drops the other shoe,” Forelni remarked as soon as the door had closed. “This other matter, it involves Ensign Ro?”
“Am I that transparent?” Picard asked, seating himself.
“No, but you wouldn’t be a very good captain if you weren’t concerned about your crew,” Forelni replied, taking a seat across from Picard. “I assume you think I have an ulterior motive toward Ro. You needn’t worry. I thought Ro was an excellent officer on the Wellington. You probably know that I defended her at her court-martial. I thought she was innocent then and I still do today, despite the ruling against her.”
“Forgive me, Commander,” Picard was struck by the genuine honesty of the statement. “I seemed to have misjudged you.”
“No offense taken, Captain. Like I said, you wouldn’t be a good CO if you hadn’t been concerned. One last thing Captain, about the mission and our Ensign Ro. I want to be on the first away team, just to get a firsthand look at what we’re facing, in case things don’t go well.
“I’d like Worf to stay on the ship,” he continued, “to plan any rescue attempt, but I’d like Ro to accompany you on all away teams.”
“Is there any particular reason why you want Ro down there?” Picard inquired.
“Yes,” Forelni replied simply, leaning back in his chair with that look of mischief shining brightly, and said nothing more.
“I see,” Picard conceded, standing up to leave. “Very well then Commander, we should be arriving at Kyros VI in the morning, we’ll beam down an hour after we achieve orbit.”
“I’ll be there. Good night, Captain.”