Posted in 1K Serials, Uncategorized

1K Weekly Series: The Calling: Chapter 13

THE CALLING 

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 13

 

The Grand Hall on Etalya was filled to capacity. As official guests of the crown, Archer and his crew had been allowed inside but tens of thousands of other Etalyians were not so fortunate. They gathered around the palace with more arriving by the minute from every corner of the globe. It seemed all of Etalya wanted to be present for this moment in history.

They were waiting for the arrival of Prince Bari, whose shuttle was on final approach to the pad. The fleet had pulled into orbit less than two hours ago as the entire planet seemed to be talking about how it had brought the Klingons to their knees while only losing one Etalyian ship in the campaign. Clearly, all present wanted to hear how the Prince had pulled it off.

“Quite the spectacle today, isn’t it?”

“Indeed it is,” Archer agreed as he turned to the source of the voice. “Mr…..?”

“Orlando Mansi,” the older man introduced himself with a slight bow. “Royal Weaponsmaster and father of Paulo Mansi, the Executive Officer aboard the Sicilia. At your service, Captain Archer.”

“You must be very proud of your son, especially on a day such as this.”

“Of course. I am proud of them both. The Prince and my son have been close friends almost since the cradle. I trained both of them from the time they could barely lift a sword.”

“You did well, sir. Especially in tactics.”

“Tactics? I taught them how to properly use any weapon, Captain. But in the art of tactics I feel I might have been more the student than the master when it came to the Prince.

“Even at a young age,” Mansi continued. “It was clear to us all that there was a cunning mind behind those young eyes. Our task was to see that cunning used for right and just causes. We needn’t have worried on that account. A brilliant tactician with a strong moral center, our Prince.”

“I see why he is popular with the people,” Archer remarked.

“Quite right, Captain. The people know he will always do what is right by them and by those he calls friends. Just don’t play a game of chess with him. On that field of battle he is as ruthless and without mercy as any I have ever seen.”

“So, I’ve been told,” Archer chuckled.

“I wish today was a chess game,” Mansi remarked quietly. “The stakes would only be a lost game if it were.”

“I’m not sure I follow?”

“I have told you that the Prince and my son are close friends.”

“Yes.”

“Perhaps I should have described it more as closer than brothers.”

“I have found that to be common even among my people,” Archer replied.

“Yes, but in this case there is an actual brother who resents that relationship because it is not shared with him by his own brother.”

“Francesco?”

“Yes,” Mansi sighed. “I trained him as well and watched as the two brothers grew further apart. Unfortunately, that drove Francesco to the waiting arms of the half of the Council that, quietly, opposes the Royal Family.

“Francesco has been listening to Marcus Antonius too much lately,” he continued. “Much of the strife between the Princes can be laid at Marcus’ feet. When Bari enters to give his official report to the Council, do not be surprised to hear Francesco be critical. It will be his voice, but it will be Marcus’ words.”

“Can the situation be diffused?”

“I doubt it. This is a powder keg that has been waiting for its very short fuse to be lit and today may be that day. In addition to some bad advice, Francesco tends to be more, shall we say, bloodthirsty. His temper, once aroused, does not allow for cool reconsideration once action is taken. It does not surprise me that Bari would find the appropriate point to stop operations once the objective was attained. Francesco does not have that ability. The two will clash here today, Captain, mark my words.”

Just then the rumble of a shuttle passing overhead shook the Hall and the cheering of the massive throng outside could be clearly heard. Only two minutes passed before the Court Chamberlain stepped inside the hall.

“You’re Majesties,” the old man bellowed impressively. “Members of the Council and honored guests. His Highness, Prince Bari.”

The Prince swept into the room in full dress uniform and the gathered crowd broke in applause. His left hand resting casually upon his sword as made his way to the front of the Hall when the King, Queen, Prince Francesco, and the other eleven members of the Council were seated. Bari’s own Council seat was empty. As he reached a spot a few yards from the King, he stopped and knelt, head slightly bowed and the room fell swiftly into a hushed silence.

“Rise, Prince Bari,” the King intoned. “All Etalya welcomes you home in gratitude for your service and that of your fleet.”

“Gratitude,” Francesco muttered under his breath, drawing a stern rebuke from the King.

“Perhaps we could allow your brother the courtesy of making his report before we make any judgments, my son?”

The older Mansi show Archer an “I told you so” look.

“My King, my Queen, members of the Council,” Bari rose to his feet as a murmur passed through the crowd at the omission of the younger Prince. “I bring news of a great victory for our people. The Klingon responsible for the attack on our ship, the kidnapping of our Queen and the very hand that murdered Princess Gianna is dead. The Klingon fleet lies in near ruin. I daresay we may never again hear from the Klingons. While our enemy suffered great losses, we have returned home having lost only a single ship. That ship sacrificed itself to take out a major shipyard. The Klingons will not be able to replace what they lost for decades.”

The Hall burst into another round of applause that lasted several minutes until the King finally raised a hand to bring it to an end.

“An impressive campaign indeed, my son,” the King replied. “Yet, there are some who say you did not go far enough.”

Every eye in the room looked at Francesco and then at Antonius before returning to Bari.

“Of that I have no doubt, father,” Bari replied sadly. “Let them have their say then.”

“As if that would change your mind,” Francesco pounced on the opening. “Would the entire universe tell you that you were wrong, would you admit it?”

“I’d like to think I am not that stubborn, brother,” Bari replied with a cold smile. “Or that foolish. What would you and your friend Antonius have had me do? Our mission was to punish the Klingons for what they did. Are they not punished? If the Romulans forced the issue they will be hard-pressed to fight them off with what little fleet remains to them. They will not dare test our steel again, for they have seen the price that foolishness cost them.

“Would you have had me slaughter innocents? Reduce every Klingon world to a charred cinder? And why stop there? The Romulans are little better than the Klingons. Surely if we are justified in the practice of genocide in the case of the Klingons, are we not with any species that may threaten us? Where would you have the bloodshed end, Francesco?”

“I care little about the Romulans or the rest of the galaxy,” Francesco shot back. “Your mission was to remove the Klingons as a threat to Etalya.”

“Which I accomplished.”

“Indeed? Qo’noS is not burning and the Chancellor and the High Council lives.”

“No,” Bari corrected. “They do not live.”

A collective gasp raced around the Hall.

“On our way back we intercepted a transmission,” Bari reported. “There was a coup on Qo’noS shortly after we departed. The Chancellor and the entire High Council were slain. There is a new Chancellor and Council. They have ordered all ships to stay well clear of our space. We accomplished our mission, brother, and will be considered by all outside our space to have done so within accepted bounds of warfare.

“Yes, I could have slain every Klingon and burned every world,” Bari continued. “But now that we have made contact again with the rest of the galaxy we cannot just think of ourselves. We will be joining that galaxy now. Would you have them fear us as bloodthirsty savages? Or as a civilized people who will strive for peace but will defend ourselves when we must?”

Francesco said nothing and Bari let the silence hang in the air between them.

“That is why, brother, you will never sit on our father’s throne,” Bari charged and only then did the anger he felt at his brother show. “No matter how many ill-conceived alliances you form with those not fit breathe the same air as he.”

“You accuse me…” Francesco sputtered, his face going crimson.

“Not just you,” Bari cut him off, looking right at Antonius.

“That will be enough!” the King commanded, standing up. “The Council has heard the report of the action against the Klingons from its commander and accepts it and his reasonings for ending the campaign. It is indeed a great victory and this is a time of celebration.”

“You call me unfit,” Francesco growled, his hand dropping to his sword. “I call you a coward. Afraid to finish what you began and covering it in the flowery language of ‘peace’, brother. I say it is you that has no place on our father’s throne.”

“Are you challenging me, Francesco?”

“Yes,” he snarled. “Only one of us will take the throne and it will not be you. Today, you will take your rightful place; In your grave!”

Francesco withdrew his sword and lunged.

Previous Episodes:

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

 

Posted in Free Read Friday

FREE READ FRIDAY: Pilot Error, A Galactic Cold War Story, by Dan Moren

Its Friday!!! That means its time for you to download another free book for your Kindle device!

41pivQOv89LThis week it is: Pilot Error, A Galactic Cold War Story, by Dan Moren

It’s been six months—six endless months—since former starfighter pilot Eli Brody helped Simon Kovalic and his team of Commonwealth covert operatives take on a terrorist organization on his home planet of Caledonia. But instead of being swept up in a new life of intrigue and excitement, Eli has instead been tasked with sharpening his rusty piloting skills on routine asteroid mining missions.

But, as he’s about to discover, those missions can quickly become anything but routine…

So get your copy now. Did I mention that it is free?

And, speaking of free, tomorrow morning the 13th chapter of The Calling, my Weekly 1K Serial series, drops right here on my blog and it too is absolutely free to read. There are only two more chapters after tomorrow in the Star Trek: Enterprise saga then Part One of The Calling concludes. Then Part Two, the Star Trek: The Original Series saga, begins the following week.  

 

Posted in Off The Top Of My Head

It’s About Time

One the biggest highlights of my newspaper writing days (1991-2011) came when I got to interview John Glenn, former U.S. Senator and astronaut, for a special section the AV The_Space_Shuttle_1_Cover_for_KindleNews put out to mark the end of the Space Shuttle program.

I was five-years-old when Apollo 11 launched to put the first men, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the Moon. But the names I grew up hearing were Alan Shepard and John Glenn. Shepard was the first American to launch aboard a U.S. rocket and Glenn was the first to orbit the Earth after the USSR’s Yuri Gagarin. Unlike the heroes on the silver screen, these were real-life heroes.

So when Mr. Glenn agreed to spend an hour of his time on the phone with me I was ecstatic. We talked about his days with the Mercury project, his finally getting back to space aboard the Space Shuttle over 30 years later and then we turned to the future of the U.S. Space Program.

And that’s when I found out what it is like to be around a legend when he gets good and mad. We were shutting down the Space Shuttle without a replacement mode of transport in place and ready to send U.S. astronauts into space aboard U.S. rockets from a launch pad in the U.S. He was furious with both the Bush and Obama Administrations for this decision to rely on the Russians to haul U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station that would never have been built had it not been for the Shuttles.

5ecc40533f7370578b394e65It has taken nine years, but this afternoon, from the same pad that sent Apollo 11 on toward its destiny, an American-built rocket, carrying American astronauts will launch from U.S. soil and send these two men to the ISS.  I imagine somewhere, John Glenn is saying its about damn time.

As for me, I’ll be watching today’s launch with the same excitement that I had back in 1969. It’s a great moment and one that should be remembered by us all. So godspeed to both astronauts, may their journey be safe and successful and may they return to the same heroes welcome reserved for Shepard, Glenn, Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post: Ray Daley on Space Force

Author Ray Daley takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The book is available to be purchased as both an e-book and print edition at the link above. Ray’s story is: For The Duty.  

 

I’m Ray Daley. I contributed “For The Duty”. That wasn’t my first sub to the anthology, but after a quick rejection Doug suggested I write something based on my military experience.

My time in the RAF during the 1990’s wasn’t exactly what you’d call “fun” what with the first Gulf War and a conflict with Bosnia as UNPROFOR staff. I wore many hats during my relatively short 6-year career. A good amount of my time was spent on my war role (Operational Message Clerk), in a nuclear bunker. Anything up to

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fifteen hours spent underground per day on rolling day and night shifts meant you had to be adaptable.

I was young, able to sleep whenever I needed it. I kept my mental health problems between me and a friendly bottle of Jack Daniels I kept in my room.

My interactions with US Space Command were probably my favourite parts of that job.

Just so you understand, I’m still bound by The Official Secrets Act. Once signed, your bound until you die. So if I’m vague in places, that’s why. OpSec is still a thing.

Part of my job was the sending and receiving of secure comms (Voice & data). I’d get calls to mostly receive stuff in the wee small hours, a lot of onward direction for folks who couldn’t find any NATO staff awake at 3 AM in the UK for the obvious reason. Several of those calls came from the good folks in Cheyenne Mountain.

I was mostly interacting with these folks after 1994 so the Stargate movie was globally known, and they’d probably heard every joke and throwaway comment about it by the time I was speaking with them. Apparently, they didn’t get many Wargames references though.

The character of SAC Ray Daley is me, or was me. I worked in Air Staff Registry for almost two years, the largest registry in the Royal Air Force. Anything involved in combat flight went through us, both fixed-wing and helicopters. You went on Exercise Red Flag to Nevada? Thank me and my colleagues who worked their asses off, frequently after hours, to ensure you and your jet/ground crew got to the States. You’re welcome. Where the hell are the Oakleys/beers/coffee/chocolate you promised us? Yeah, we never got your thank you cards either.

You may see me reference the movie Behind Enemy Lines. You can read my involvement in that on my blog:- https://raymondwriteswrongs.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/a-message-to-former-usaf-captain-scott-ogrady/

That’s not classified, it was just off-book, done as a favour from one air force brother to another. If you know Captain O’Grady, feel free to mention me to him.

While I may have left the Royal Air Force in 1996, it’s never really left me. Heck, I’m still writing stories about it! My first ever sale was something based on a signal I’d seen during the Gulf War (now declassified, you can call off the Provosts!) and a recent sale was a science fiction retelling of my recruit training at RAF Swinderby.

I’m always happy to share old war stories if you want to pull up a sandbag?

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.
Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post: Chris DiNote on Space Force

New Author Chris “MOGS” Dinote takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The book is available today in both e-book and print editions at the link above. MOGS’s story is: Frickin’ Guard Guys!

 

We’ve all seen the memes, right? The minute the world started talking about the mere idea of a United States Space Force, we were all instantly greeted by “LOL, Space National Guard/Space Force Reserves!” Notably, many of these parodies feature poor Jek Porkins, and that guy just can’t catch a break.

All joking aside, the irreverent interservice banter and, shall we say, “robust,” back-and-forth on social media reflects the very real, and very important, national-level discussions about creating a new military service branch. Part and parcel of building a military service, is how to organize, train, and equip its reserve component (or components, if we end up following the three-component model of the present-day US Army and US Air Force). As the anthology’s theme is “the first 100 years of the Space Force,” what we decide to do now and in the next few years will set the tone for those first 100 years. That’s not a small thing.

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Regardless of whether we construct one or more reserve components to the US Space Force, the development of a unique reserve culture will inevitably follow. Currently, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units comprise the majority of reserve component space capabilities. If those organizations “swap patches,” then Space Force reserve culture will resemble the parent service components for a long time to come. However, as in the present day, reserve culture isn’t quite the same as the active component, and that’s perfectly okay.

I think the Guard in particular, with its unique dual-status existence, will still and always be “the Guard,” which is also perfectly okay, and that idea formed the basis of my story in this anthology.

The relationship between the parent services and their National Guard components is something I’ve experienced personally for about 14 of my 21 years in uniform so far. I’ve seen it go through many, many ups, downs, freezes and thaws. I recently completed a two-and-a-half year sentence assignment at the Pentagon, so I had a front row seat with the extra jumbo-sized popcorn to some of the conversations, staff work, research, arguments, politics, thinking, and pontificating on the Space Force itself, and the still unsettled questions about the role of the Guard and Reserve in its formation. As a professional, I’ll protect the integrity of what I bore witness to, but trust me, I do also have my own opinions.

While my story doesn’t take itself too seriously, it deals with some very serious experiences and issues, albeit with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Guard units are like families, and in many cases, they literally are families. They are often the closest and most direct community interaction that most of parts of America ever have with the US military, given that the majority of units aren’t on an active duty post and instead live in tiny armories and readiness centers, or on regional airports scattered throughout the country. Missions change, aircraft change, names change, but usually, the people don’t. To them, the unit is that much a part of life, and many if not most will stick it out unless the organization is no-kidding disbanded or moved so far away that commuting to drill isn’t a viable option for them. The dual lives of most guard members provide the military access to diverse skills, ideas, and perspectives that you often can’t readily find in the active component, in combinations that sometimes need to be seen to be believed.

Transitioning from the active-duty Air Force to my first Guard unit in 2006, the culture shock was very real. Then, as a full-time guardsman, later a staff officer, and as a squadron commander, I experienced and presided over drastic unit conversions, something else I briefly touch on in my story. Personally, I think there will be a Space National Guard in some form or another, and not just because the Guard’s actually been doing space missions since about 1995. Over time, the expansion and integration of space into the economic and social fabric of our states and communities, our daily lives, will only grow. Just a few short years ago, conventional wisdom didn’t see much of a role for the Guard and Reserve in cyber. Today, that role is significant, and rarely questioned, and that is largely because domestic cybersecurity demands emerged from our states, territories, and communities that few in the national-level defense establishment readily understood or foresaw. I think the same thing will happen with space, and that will spawn second, third, and nth-order effects we haven’t even thought of yet. I bet the Guard will be there for it too.

Christopher “MOGS” Dinote, has served twenty-one years so far in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard. Chris is currently serving an extended active duty tour in the Florida Panhandle. He has deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Noble Eagle. The views expressed in this article do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense of the U.S. Government.

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.
Posted in New Release, News

The Path To Space Force

Most of last week my blog hosted authors who share one thing in common: They were among the 11 chosen by editor Doug Irvin to have their stories included in Space Force: Building The Legacy. The new military sci-fi anthology, based on the newly created United States Space Force, is now live on Amazon as both an e-book and in print.

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When Doug approached me with the idea, I was intrigued, not only for the potential of the anthology, but by the overall concept of the United States Space Force itself. As someone who has read, watched, listened to and otherwise mentally devoured science fiction for nearly five decades, the real and the fictional USSF was right up my alley.

After I moved to Nebraska two years ago, I started a podcast produced by Midlands Scribes Productions. I created that entity with an eye on eventually expanding it into a publishing imprint that focused on Midwestern authors. Tuscany Bay Books remains open to all authors everywhere, but Midlands Scribes Publishing will have a narrower focus.

Doug Irvin, being a Texan, had delivered a perfect first opportunity for MSP and I took on the role as the anthologies publisher while Doug went out and rustled up some submissions. And, according to Doug, we got quite a few and from all over the world. In the end, the book is an international effort with authors from the United States, Canada and the U.K.

Among the 11 authors you will also find members, both current and former, of the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force. One author even was assigned to the United States Air Force Space Command at one time. From the depths of both experience and imagination you will find 11 incredible stories that I am sure you will enjoy reading as much as Doug and I did.

That being said, when we first embarked on this journey, I had no intention of submitting a story to it. I’ve never written military sci-fi. I’ve barely read it aside from less than a dozen short stories and books. But one thing you’ll notice from my bibliography is that I’m not afraid to take on a new genre when the muse strikes. And, at literally the 11th hour, the muse knocked on the door and tempted me with a story concept.

So I put together CAG, which Navy folk will recognize as – Commander Air Group – polished it up a bit and sent it over to Doug.

Lest you think that I was an automatic accepted story because I’m the publisher, allow me to insert this edict I’ve given to every editor of an anthology I’ve published from this one to the Planetary Anthology Series: If you don’t like my story it does NOT make it into the book! I want the best possible collection to be presented and I’m also an old enough dog in this business to understand that rejections are part of the deal and my feels don’t get bent out of shape when I get them. And yes, I still get them.

Back to CAG, off it went to Doug, who obviously liked it because it is one of the 11 stories in Space Force: Building The Legacy. As an author you know you’ve hot the mark when the editor tells you that even though they’ve read the story several times and know what’s coming it still hits them emotionally.

CAG in this story is Lt. CMDR Robert “Cag” Carrington, Commander Air Group on board the carrier USS Shepard. Cag and his wingman, Matthew “Preacher” Carson, are on patrol in near-Earth orbit. Escorting cargo ships, keeping an eye out for pirates and other menaces is their daily routine. Carrington is a widower, his only child already embarking on his own career in Space Force and is reflecting upon his career as he enters his final month in the service.

But on this patrol, the two pilots will be put into the crucible. There’s will be the only ships standing between Earth and an asteroid on a collision course with our world. If they cannot stop it, no one on the surface below will survive.

As I mentioned before, Doug loved the story and I have to admit, despite my trepidations at tackling the genre for the first time, I’m really happy with it myself. The challenge with all short stories is developing both the characters and a fully in-depth plot in such a short space. With CAG, I believe I found that balance and accomplished both.

I hope you enjoy reading my entry into this incredible anthology as much as I did in writing it. And I also hope you enjoy reading the other 10 stories as much as I did too.

You can get Space Force: Building The Legacy on Amazon in e-book and print right here:

SPACE FORCE: BUILDING THE LEGACY

 

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.