Richard Paolinelli

THE CALLING: Part 3, Chapter 5

THE CALLING: Part 3, Chapter 5

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.

CHAPTER FIVE

Eventually the negotiations concluded and the Enterprise moved on. Ro accompanied Forelni back to Starfleet Command for a new hearing on the Garon II incident. She would soon return to the Enterprise after attending advanced tactical training school and it seemed her career was back on track. Then came the mission from Admiral Nechayev to have Ro infiltrate the Maquis. But the mission ended in disaster and Riker returned with his report on Ro’s desertion.

Riker concluded by setting the pad in his hand on Picard’s desk. He paused for a moment, seemingly searching for something to say to his Captain and his friend, anything to lift the dark mood that had settled in the room. But the words eluded him and he simply left Picard to his thoughts. Picard sat perfectly still in his chair, absorbing the impact of Ro’s decision to turn her back on Starfleet, on him. After a few moments he levered himself up from the chair and walked over to the food replicator.

“Tea, Earl Gray, hot,” he ordered, his voice barely above a whisper. A steaming cup materialized within seconds. Picard picked it up and raised it to his lips. But he suddenly put it down untouched on his desk and looked out instead into the dark void of deep space beyond his office window. A beep from his desk interrupted his musings.

“Priority message for Captain Jean-Luc Picard,” the computer intoned.

Odd, Picard thought, Priority messages are usually routed through the bridge. “Computer, accept communication.”

The screen flickered from the UFP seal to a close-up of a recent Enterprise visitor.

“Commander Forelni, I can’t say I’m surprised.”

“You shouldn’t be,” Forelni replied dryly. “Nor should Nechayev. What did the two of you think she would do, given her history, when you sent her to infiltrate the Maquis? Are you really surprised by her actions?”

“No, I suppose not,” Picard admitted ruefully, a slight smile tugging at his lips, a smile that quickly turned into a suspicious frown.

“Commander, I haven’t yet submitted a report to Starfleet Command regarding the conclusion of this mission, how is it that you already know what has happened here?” Picard accused.

“She’s been in contact with me since the mission began,” Forelni replied. “She had doubts from the beginning and they only got worse with each passing hour. She told me what she was planning to do.”

“And you encouraged her to throw away a promising career, even after all you went through to clear her record?” Picard was incredulous. “I must confess Commander, I’ll never understand why so many Starfleet officers are resigning their commissions to join up with the Maquis.”

“Perhaps they disagree with the Federation’s policy regarding the DMZ and the Cardassians,” Forelni began. “Or maybe they see themselves as Davy Crockett at the Alamo.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Crockett was a former Congressman from the United States, the fight at the Alamo was between Texas settlers and Mexico, it wasn’t Crockett’s fight and it was a hopeless one at that, but there he was anyway, because he thought it was the right thing to do,” Forelni leaned back from the pickup allowing Picard to see that he was in civilian clothes and on a ship. “These officers feel Starfleet is wrong and they’ve chosen to fight on the right side, even if the fight is a losing one. It’s a matter of principle, Captain, not disloyalty.”

Picard had to concede the point, even as he registered the fact that Forelni was sitting on the empty bridge of a small Starfleet vessel in civilian clothing. Suddenly their conversation took on a whole new meaning.

“Oh, not you too, Commander.”

Forelni smiled to soften the blow.

“As of five minutes before I called you. I’m afraid I requisitioned this ship and some supplies before I tendered my resignation,” he paused long enough to reset a control in front of him.

“I estimate it will be a few days before Starfleet receives it, red tape being what it is these days, but technically, I’m no longer allowed to be addressed as Commander Forelni anymore,” he glanced back down at the console before continuing. “By the way Captain, please give Starfleet my thanks, and the thanks of the Maquis, for their generous donation to our cause.”

Picard shook his head in disbelief.

“Why?”

“Because it’s the right thing to do, Captain, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like, fighting for a good cause, even when the fight looks hopeless,” Forelni leaned forward and seemed to gaze right into Picard’s eyes. “Besides, I once said that some time ago I discovered that being with her, no matter where in the universe it was, had become more important to me than anything else in my life.”

Picard was struck silent by the sheer honesty of the moment. Whether or not he agreed with their decision, it was their right to make it and he had to respect that right.

“Captain, just one more thing. Tell Starfleet that our dispute is with the Cardassians. We will not engage Federation ships unless we are given no other choice. In a way we’re still Starfleet officers, we don’t want to fight our friends if we don’t have to.”

“I will relay your message Com…Mr. Forelni, but I fear a conflict between Starfleet and the Maquis will take place despite our best intentions,” Picard predicted. “Nevertheless, good luck to you both, and tell Ro, she never gave me cause to be disappointed in her, not even now.”

“Thank you Captain,” Forelni’s smile, which had been full of mischief, turned warm and serious. “She’ll be glad to hear that. Good bye, sir.”

The screen blanked out to be replaced by the UFP seal. Picard shut the computer off and returned to the window,  pausing long enough to pick up his tea. Once there he took a long sip, feeling the liquid’s warmth spread through him and some of the gloom that had enveloped him melted away.

Looking out at deep space Picard realized he wasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, he was proud of them both and there was even a small part of him that would like to have joined them in their stand against the Cardassians. Taking another sip of tea Picard addressed the universe beyond his window.

“Goodbye,” he whispered with genuine warmth, “and bonne chance mon amis.”

 

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