Posted in 1K Serials

1K Weekly Series: The Calling: Chapter 15

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 15 

 

The Royal Palace was once again draped in the black of mourning. Prince Francesco’s body lay in state in the Great Hall and would do so for three more days until the funeral. Then he would be laid to rest in the Royal Crypt next to his ancestors. There was a casket bearing the name and likeness of the Princess Gianna, but no body lay within it marble walls. Her body had been reduced to ash by the Klingons long before the Etalyian fleet had arrived over Qo’noS.

The major families would all be in attendance, save of course the Antonius’. That they were persona non gratia would be an understatement. Gossipers at the Court wondered whom Marcus would send as his replacement on the Council. It was supposed to be done by a vote of the people of course, but in that district it was known the people voted the way they were told to.

Most settled on it being Marcellus Antonius, Marcus’ eldest son. Others doubted that choice. Marcellus and Prince Bari had a dark history going back many decades. A few wondered if Marcus would go outside the family, if only to keep whoever eventually took the seat alive longer than five minutes. There were many who doubted their Prince would allow Marcus to roam Etalya a free man for very long.

But the question on everyone’s mind centered on one question: Would the Prince attend his brother’s funeral at all? He’d locked himself away in his nearby dimora after the Royal Doctor had repaired his damaged left hand. In the days following the fatal fight, only his friend Paulo, the Chamberlain and a few servants had seen or even spoken to him. The King had sent a royal summons requiring Bari’s presence. The summons went unanswered.

Both the Chamberlain and Paulo had been dispatched to bring the Prince back to the Palace. They returned without him less than an hour later.

“Your Majesties,” the Chamberlain reported. “He….he is…”

The older man could not finish, sadly shaking his head.

“He seems like a man fighting with demons,” Paulo said softly. “Demons only he can see. And it is a fight I fear that he is losing.”

   *     *     *     *     *

The day of the funeral arrived. Archer and his command staff were in attendance in full dress uniform. It seemed all of Etalya had gathered here once again to bid farewell to a Royal child. It was an hour long affair, capped by the procession to place the casket within the crypt, and had more than a trace of Roman Catholic themes to it.

No one actually saw Prince Bari during the ceremony. Many whispered of a remote figure that kept to the shadows and kept its distance. Covered in a plain black cloak and hood, no one could make out any feature of who the mysterious figure was. But it seemed most likely this had to be the Prince. When the doors to the crypt slammed shut, signaling the end of the funeral, the mysterious figure seemed to melt in the shadows and was not seen again.

   *     *     *     *     *

The day after Francesco’s funeral, Archer arrived at the Great Hall to take his ship’s leave. The King was there to greet him.

“How is the Queen?” Archer cast a glance at her empty seat near the King’s unoccupied throne.

“Still in mourning, as we all are and will be for some time.”

“I was also hoping to say goodbye to the Prince.”

“My son is much like my wife in matters such as these, Captain,” the King sighed. “It will be of interest to see which decides to rejoin the world of the living first. As for which of them blames him the most for what has happened…”

The King offered a slight shrug as his voice trailed off.

“And does the King also blame his son?”

“A fair question. No, Captain. The King understands what happened had to happen. The father understands and does not hold his son to any blame. The mother on the other hand?” Another sigh. “It will take time for the wounds to heal and some longer than others. But they will heal.”

“Perhaps a change of scenery for a brief time might help?” Archer was struck by a sudden idea.

“What do you mean?”

“Back on Earth,” Archer began, “we are trying to form a union, a federation of sorts, of planets in this quadrant. For mutual exploration and defense. Etalya should be a part of that effort, to show that it can wage peace as well as it can wage war when it has too.”

“And you think my son…?”

“Would make a very good Ambassador to Earth for your people. And perhaps some time away from being reminded of what happened will help him too.”

“This idea has some merit at that,” the King agreed. “Come, Captain, let us both present it to my son. Assuming he will let us past his front door.”

   *     *     *     *     *

They found Bari in his gardens, staring out of the growth of flowers and bushes. An unopened bottle of wine sat on a table next to him. Another unopened bottle rested in his bandaged right hand and a clean glass sat on the top of the wall he was leaning up against.

“I am told if you open the bottle first, it is easier to consume its contents,” the King offered as they approached. The Prince did not turn to greet his visitors. He looked gaunt and pale. Rumor had it he wasn’t eating much, if anything nor had he been drinking.

“This was the bottle Francesco was to present to be if I should ascend to your throne,” the Prince’s voice sounded flat. “That one down there was the one I would have given him had he taken it instead.”

“And are you planning to drink them both?” the King asked.

“I was wondering if I should save them for a better day, assuming such a day would ever come. Or should I just toss them down on the walk below to smash the concrete and let the wine drain into the ground.”

“It seems a shame to waste them,” the King said softly, walking up to place a hand on his son’s forearm. “There are many better days ahead, my son, even though all you can see now is the darkness.”

Only then did Bari turn to face his father. Archer had heard the story of Paulo’s report of Bari “fighting demons” and the face he beheld was one that had indeed been in such a battle.

“And you, Captain,” Bari looked over at Archer. “Do you see better days ahead?”

“I do.”

“Perhaps he even brings one of many to you know, my son. Etalya needs an Ambassador to Earth. There is talk of a federation of worlds forming. As you said before, Etalya needs to take her place among those worlds. Who better to be her champion than you?”

“A man who slaughtered an entire race to near extinction? A man who slew his own brother? Would you send for Cain, Captain, to make peace with his cousins after he’d murdered Abel?”

“I would,” Archer replied. “When it was Abel who was the jealous brother who attacked Cain and gave him no choice but to defend himself. And you didn’t exterminate the Klingons when you easily could have done so. You stopped the bloodshed when it needed to be stopped and gave peace in this quadrant a chance. Any man who can do that is someone we need on Earth right now.”

Bari turned away to look back over the gardens and said nothing.

“Paulo will remain as Minister of Defense,” the King added. “We will be in good hands here. You need to do this, Bari, for Etalya. But more importantly, you need to do this for you.”

Bari drew in a long breath, held it and slowly let it out. He handed his father the bottle in his hand, then picked up the other bottle and handed that one over too. The King shot his son a puzzled look.

“Keep them for me,” Bari said. “For that better day.”

The Prince turned to Archer and held out his hands.

“When do we leave?”

“Whenever you are ready, Mr. Ambassador.”

   *     *     *     *     *

This marks the end of Part One of The Calling. Next week’s episode will be “Interlude: The Time Between Sagas”. It will run on June 20th and bridges the gap between the end of this, the Star Trek: Enterprise saga, and the beginning of Part Two of The Calling, the Star Trek: The Original Series saga which will begin on June 27th.

 

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

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

 

 

 

Posted in 1K Serials

1K Weekly Series: The Calling: Chapter 14

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 14

 

Caught by his brother’s surprise attack, Bari took a step back and to the left, dodging Francesco’s initial thrust. The momentum of the attack carried Francesco beyond Bari, who took advantage of the opening with a crisp backhanded blow to his brother’s head. The force of the slap drove Francesco to the marbled floor face first in an undignified heap.

“Enough, brother!” Bari barked, his sword still in its scabbard. “Would you really leave our parents with just one living child?”

“They already have only one child,” Francesco wiped a smear of blood from his nose. “You are no true Forelni, traitor!”

“The only traitor here is the one whose words I hear coming from your mouth, brother,” Bari replied. “You have taken in unwise counsel. I ask you once more to abandon this madness now. I have no desire to fight you.”

“Good,” Francesco snarled as he rose back to his feet. “It will make it all that much easier for me to kill you!”

He lunged once again but this time Bari was ready, swiftly drawing out his sword in a single smooth move that easily parried Francesco’s attack. Another backhanded blow landed on Francesco’s head, this one with the flat of Bari’s blade just above Francesco’s right ear. The younger Prince howled in pain, clapping a hand to the injured area.

“That would have been a death blow had I wished it, Francesco,” Bari spoke with an eerie calm. “You are no match for me Francesco, not in this arena nor any other. I say it again, stop this madness!”

“Never!” Francesco all but screamed and lunged again.

The Princes swords clashed and clattered against each other over and over again. At times those gathered inside were hard pressed to avoid getting inadvertently caught up in the battle. Francesco never seemed to find a way through the older Prince’s defenses. But time after time, the flat of Bari’s blade found it mark: An ear here, a side of the face there. An exposed forearm , the small of the back. It seemed anywhere Bari wanted to strike, he did so, demonstrating with ease that if he wanted his brother dead, he could accomplish it at any time.

“Why doesn’t the King stop this?” Archer tore his eyes away from the fight to look at his companion.

“Challenge was made and accepted,” Mansi replied sadly. “Even if the King overrode the rules of challenge, he would only be delaying the inevitable. I have no doubt he is relying on Bari’s skill to wear Francesco down without killing him. If Francesco yields, he can never again challenge his brother in this fashion.”

“Will he yield?”

“He is a stubborn fool, Captain,” Mansi shook his head in despair. “But even a fool must eventually realize when he is beaten.”

The battle raged on for another ten minutes, Francesco pressing the attack without result and Bari clearly fighting a defensive fight to wear down his brother and his brother’s wrath. But even with all of the training both had received, with all of the superior skill Bari possessed, one fateful misstep ended the battle in tragedy.

Fatigued and frustrated, Francesco feinted to his left, intending a quick step and slash to his right, but got his footwork all wrong and tripped over his own feet. Bari, anticipating such a move, had not taken the bait and had shifted to meet the slash. But Francesco’s blunder put his chest right in the path of Bari’s moving blade. The sharp sword penetrated the skin, slipped through the ribs and pierced Francesco’s heart.

The mortally wounded Prince, his right arm frozen in mid-sweep, looked down at the growing stain of crimson on his tunic in shock. His sword fell to the floor. His eyes drifted up until they met the horrified eyes of his brother. No one in the hall moved.

“Don’t move,” Bari commanded, his left hand settling on his brother’s shoulder, trying to ease him to the ground.  “If the blade is removed you will die.”

Francesco’s right hand gripped Bari’s shoulder.

“Go to hell,” Francesco rasped and shoved Bari away as hard as he could.

Bari, fell back a few steps from the force of the shove. The sword was still in his hand as he watched Francesco crumple to the floor. He was likely dead even before the first guard came to his aid and was most certainly gone by the time the Queen reached his side.

Stunned, Bari look around until his gaze fell upon Antonius. In a flash, he crossed the short distance, grabbed the older Council member by the collar and had his sword at the man’s throat. He ignored the outburst from those assembled.

“This was your doing, Antonius,” he growled. “You murdered him as surely as if it was your own hand that drove this sword into his heart. I charge you with his murder and with treason against the crown and I find you guilty, Antonius. It is time for you to meet your ancestors in hell.”

“No!” Antonius screamed in unison with the King’s commanding bellow.

“You object to losing your head?” Bari asked his prisoner, ignoring the King.

“I most certainly do,” Antonius squeaked out, seeing nothing but his death in the Prince’s eyes.

“Then I will give you one alternative, you poisonous snake. You resign your seat on the Council, right now, and retire to you estate. You are never again to set foot in this city or within these walls for any reason. If I see you here ever again, or if word should reach me that you were seen where you should not be, I will remove your head from your slithering body. I will have it placed on a pike and mounted at the highest point on the castle as a warning to any more of your kind. Choose now, snake.”

“Your Majesty,” Antonius gasped out as Bari was not releasing his grip. “Members of the Council, I hereby resign my seat and accept my banish…” he choked as Bari tightened his grip briefly. “…my retirement from public life.”

“Guards,” Bari commanded the two nearest men. “Take him into custody and pull back his robe.”

The guards quickly obeyed, exposing Antonius’ tunic. Bari held up the blade, still wet with his brother’s blood. Antonius’ eyes flared wide in terror. Bari quickly wiped the blade clean, one side on each side of the exposed fabric.

“My brother’s blood is on you as much as it is on me. You will carry that stain with you for the rest of your days, never taking that tunic off even to clean it else you will feel my wrath. Do you understand me, Antonius?”

The old man merely nodded his head, not daring a single word.

“Escort him out of the city,” Bari ordered and the guards quickly hustled the former Council member away, probably fearing the Prince would change his mind.

The Prince walked slowly toward his fallen brother, eyes hooded, his face drawn in pain. He did not look up at his father, could not look at his mother. He brought his sword up and placed it in his left hand, his right still tightly grasping the hilt. Closing his left hand around the blade, he snapped the sword in half, the sound of it carried as if a bomb had exploded in the hall. Dropping the two halves to the floor, the Prince turned on his heel and strode out of the hall, leaving a trail of blood dripping from his hand in his wake.

 

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

Chapter 13

 

 

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 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.

EBOOK_COVER copy

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 1K Serials

1K Weekly Series: The Calling, Chapter 11

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 11

 

“Flash report, Capitano!” the Sicilia’s communications officer called out. “The Klingon fleet has broken orbit above Qo’noS at high warp. They are on course for Morska.”

“They’ve taken the bait!” Paulo exclaimed.

“Indeed they have,” Forelni nodded in approval to his Exec. “Any update on Kaln’s ship?”

“Still in dock, Capitano,” Communications confirmed.

“Send a flash message to the other groups,” Forelni ordered. “Include the locations of the planetary defense stations. I want them taken out first. Whichever group is closest to the dock is to take it, and Kaln’s ship, out.”

“Aye, Capitano!”

“And if Kaln is still on his ship when it is destroyed?” Paulo asked.

“Then I will reward that ship’s Capitano handsomely,” Forelni replied. “Hopefully, that vermin is still down on the surface so I can have the pleasure of killing him myself. In the meantime, Paulo, order the fleet to attack and get us heading for Qo’noS right now.”

The two ships accompanying the Sicilia followed the flagship out from a cluster of asteroids not far for the Klingon homeworld. No longer needing to remain in hiding, the ship’s sensors scanned the system. A wolfish smile spread across Forelni’s face as he saw every group, save the Littorio’s group that was serving as a decoy, break out of hiding and sprint toward Qo’noS.

“We haven’t lost a single ship,” Paulo couldn’t keep the awe from his voice as he looked at the sensor readout screen on Forelni’s command panel. “What an incredible victory this is, Capitano.”

“Let us wait until the final battle is over before we start the celebrations, my friend,” Forelni cautioned. “But I share your sentiments. I myself could not dare to dream we would escape unscathed like this.”

“Messages coming in, Capitano. Trieste’s group is attacking the dock. Audace’s, Scire’s and Sparviero’s groups are attacking planetary defense stations and command and control installations.”

“Very good,” Forelni replied. “Navigation?”

“Lined up for orbital insertion and geo-synchronous orbit above the capital city in three minutes, Capitano.”

“Weapons?”

“All weapons hot and ready to fire on your command, Capitano!”

“Capitano, look!” Paulo exclaimed pointing to the sensor readout. “That’s the K’Toch, the Chancellor’s personal flagship and she’s heading back toward Qo’noS.”

“I doubt the Chancellor is aboard at a time like this,” Forelni noted with a scowl. “Have the Zeffrio disable the K’Toch and take it in tow. We’ll see what we’ve caught in our net after we’ve got Qo’noS under control.”

The Zeffrio peeled away to corral the Klingon ship while the Sicilia and her other escort continued on. Caught unawares, the planetary defenses fell to the Etalyian fleet, getting off a handful of ineffective shots before falling to enemy bombardment. The dock holding Kaln’s ship, as well as the Klingon ship itself, never even had time to raise its shields before being reduced to atoms. In less than fifteen minutes, Qo’noS had fallen.

Shock reigned in the Great Hall as the Chancellor was faced with the unthinkable: His planet was under the guns of a dozen armed Etalyian ships and he couldn’t even so much as throw a stone at them in defense.

“Hail the Commander of that fleet,” the Chancellor rasped, defeat tightening his throat. “Ask him what his terms are.”

*     *     *     *     *

“Message from the Zeffrio,” Communications called out. “They have the K’Toch in tow and will be entering orbit in two minutes. They report the Chancellor’s family is aboard, but not the Chancellor.”

“Weapons,” Forelni punched in a set of commands. “When the K’Toch is in range, this is what I want you to do. Then stand by for further orders.”

Paulo leaned over so he could see what Forelni was ordering. He tried to keep his face neutral.

“Objections?” Forelni asked.

“Reservations, Capitano.”

“We’re being hailed by the Chancellor,” Communications interrupted before Forelni could respond.

“On screen,” Forelni ordered and the Klingon Chancellor appeared. He looked nothing like the belligerent Klingon of a few weeks before. Now he looked old and beaten. Behind him, Kaln and the members of the High Council stood in silent defeat.

“What are your terms, Etalyian,” the Chancellor muttered in a barely audible tone.

“First this,” Forelni replied then stabbed a button on his panel. “Transporter, do you have a lock yet.”

“We do, Capitano.”

“Then begin transport.”

Kaln disappeared in the glitter-glow of a transporter beam.

“And beam him out into space,” Forelni continued. “Widest possible dispersion.”

Even the crew on his own bridge paled at that order but no one raised an objection.

“Transport complete,” the officer reported quietly.

“Weapons,” Forelni intoned, his voice flat and space cold as he stared down the image of the Chancellor on the screen. “Execute phase one.”

A beam lanced out from the Sicilia and bathed the K’Toch in blue light. A view of the interior of the Klingon ship appeared on a smaller screen, a view being transmitted to the Chancellor below. Every Klingon on the K’Toch crumpled to the deck.

“Dead?” the Chancellor asked.

“Stunned,” Forelni replied. “Weapons. Phase two.”

“Phasers locked on the K’Toch,” the officer replied. “Tight beam, low power as ordered.”

“What are you going to do?” the Chancellor demanded.

“I’m going to drill a series of very small holes into the K’Toch,” Forelni replied. “Not big enough for her to implode, but enough for the air to slowly bleed out. The level of stun we used has left every Klingon conscious enough to be aware of what is happening to them. They will know they are suffocating and will be powerless to do anything about it.”

“You monster…!” the Chancellor bellowed, but Forelni cut him off.

“Monster? Who invaded our space, seized our ship, kidnapped our people and butchered an innocent woman for no reason other than to satisfy your own bloodthirst?

“You dare call me monster, Klingon,” Forelni matched the Klingon’s bellow. “By rights I should reduce that ship to dust and burn your world to a cinder for what you have done!”

The Chancellor tried to rally some semblance of protest, but the sudden defeat had knocked all of the bluster from him. He bowed his head, accepting his fate.

“You asked for my terms, Klingon.” Forelni said in a calm, quiet tone that froze the blood of all that heard it, Etalyian and Klingon. “Raise your damned head and hear them.”

The Chancellor raised his head and waited.

“You will remember my hand on your throat, Klingon. You will remember that all I need do is order phase three to be executed and Qo’noS is no more, nor is any of your family. You will remember this day and how easily we defeated you.

“Because if any Klingon ship ever again is found so much as a meter inside Etalyian space,” Forelni continued, “We will return. This time we will not stay our hand or our wrath until no Klingon lives anywhere within this universe. Do you understand?”

The Chancellor nodded.

“I need to hear you say it, Klingon.”

“I understand.”

“I am withdrawing my ships, Klingon. Do not give me a reason to send them back here.”

Forelni waved for the transmission to be cut and the screen went black.

“Order the fleet to return to Etalyian space, Paulo, and make sure the Littorio and her escorts are on their way out before we leave Klingon space.”

Paulo relayed the orders then turned to Forelni in surprise.

“You were prepared to exterminate everything on that planet,” he said softly, having seen what phase three entailed. “What changed your mind?”

“We accomplished what we came here to do, Paulo,” Forelni replied. “My sister’s murderer is dead by my order. The Klingons have been punished for the invasion of our space and the taking of our ship and the Queen. Our retribution is justified.

“But if we had continued on,” Forelni continued. “We would be no better than the Klingons. We would have become murderers. The thin line between justice and revenge, Paulo. We dangled perilously over that edge. I dangled perilously over that edge.”

Forelni fell quiet as his fleet broke orbit, heading back toward home at top speed.

“We are going to reclaim our place with the rest of the human race now that a ship from Earth has visited us. We are going to become a part of the galactic family too. We will not do so as blood-thirsty warmongers, Paulo. Not at my hands at least.”

Previous Episodes:

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Posted in 1K Serials

1K Weekly Series: The Calling, Chapter 10

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 10

 

“Utter one more syllable, Kaln,” the Klingon Chancellor bellowed, the point of his drawn d’k tahg digging into the Klingon Commander’s throat. “Even the slightest sound and I will gut you were you stand and feed you to my Targ while your heart is still beating.”

Kaln wisely kept his mouth shut, and his head intact with his neck, as a thin trickle of purple blood dripped down his tunic and onto the floor of the High Council.

“It is because of your…,” the Chancellor struggled to find the right word. “…stupidity that we are in this situation.”

“I was obeying my orders,” Kaln braved against the threat of the d’k tahg.

“Your orders were to harass Etalyian shipping among their outer worlds,” the Chancellor reminded as he withdrew the blade and stepped closer. “Not to attack the Royal transport, kidnap their Queen and bring their Princess into Klingon space!”

Kaln remained silent as the Chancellor sheathed his blade and stormed away a few paces, muttering curses under his breath.

“It was clear that we intended to go to war with Etalya,” he ventured when the Chancellor fell silent.

“Yes, that was our intent,” the Chancellor agreed, spinning back around to face the disgraced Commander. “At a time of our choosing. After we had finished gathering intelligence on their fleet strength and capabilities, once we had formulated our strategies and gathered our resources. Then we would begin on the offensive.

“Not,” the Chancellor’s bellow rose to a new decibel level, “having to fight a defensive action against an overwhelming invasion force because of some addled-brained QI’yaH!”

Even those not the target of that last insult stiffened. No Klingon could take such an insult and remain silent. Yet, in Kaln’s circumstance, he had no other choice but to suffer it in silent shame.

“Then allow me to regain my honor,” Kaln finally spoke, his voice barely audible in the hall. “Allow me and my ship to leave orbit and face Forelni. I will bring the shattered remains of his hull to you.”

“I think you’ve done quite enough already, Kaln,” the Chancellor growled. “When you brought your hostage into Klingon space, you signed her death warrant, as well as your own. Now I must do whatever I can to see to it that you have not signed the death warrant for our entire Empire.

“Take this petaQ from my sight and lock him away,” the Chancellor ordered his guards, turning his back on Kaln. “His stench offends my nose.”

Two guards, huge even by Klingon standards, grabbed an arm of the unarmed Commander and hauled him toward the exit that led to the dungeons below the Great Hall. Two more guards, each carrying an intimidating painstik followed closely behind. Their expressions conveying their earnest desire for Kaln to be a coward and make a break for it. Kaln made no such bid for his freedom and the heavy door slammed behind him as his escorts hauled him into the pit below.

The Chancellor sat down heavily upon his throne, glancing at the latest intelligence report on the status of the war before throwing it aside in disgust. No one asked him what the report conveyed, the look on his face said all that was needed.

“I am surprised you didn’t kill him on the spot,” K’enbgh, one of the Chancellor’s closest advisors, remarked. “He clearly cannot be allowed to live.”

“No, he cannot,” the Chancellor agreed. “But perhaps the time and circumstance of his departure from this life can be of service to the Empire yet.”

“How so?”

“You have seen the same battle reports that I have, old friend. Barring the miraculous resurrection of Kahless himself, I have no doubt in my mind that devil Forelni and his fleet will arrive at Qo’noS sooner rather than later.”

“And when he does?”

“Then to save the Empire,” the Chancellor growled softly, “we will feed him that petaQ and that garbage scow he commands and hope that is enough to spare the rest of our Empire.”

“It was Kaln’s blade that struck the blow that began this,” K’enbgh pointed out. “But it was your order that sent that blade into action. How can you be certain Kaln’s head and ship will prove sufficient?”

“I don’t,” the Chancellor admitted. “But we make that move when, and if, the time comes. If that is not sufficient, we have one last move to play to save what we can.”

“Against a Romulan, a Vulcan or even an Earther that move might work,” K’enbgh remarked. “Against someone capable of leading the kind of barbarism we are seeing…?”

“What else can we do? We will play the game out to its conclusion and if it is the fate of the Empire to die at the hands of this man, then we will fight to the last breath with honor and I will see you in Sto-vo-kor.”

The two older Klingons fell silent, condemned men waiting for the executioner’s blade to fall upon their necks. Proud warriors facing the unthinkable, the destruction of the Empire they’d served their entire lives. A warrior dashed into the Great Hall holding a data pad and shouting for the Chancellor’s attention.

“Chancellor, we have him!”

“Have who?”

“The Sicilia was spotted, her course has her on the way to Morska,” the warrior reported. “A message was intercepted ordering the Etalyian fleet to attack the orbital depot at Morska.”

“General Merj and his fleet…?”

“Are in perfect position to intercept the Sicilia. He asks for home fleet to be dispatched to close in behind the Etalyian ships.”

“We can crush his fleet between our two fleets,” K’enbgh exclaimed. “Forelni is sailing straight into the jaws of death.”

“Indeed,” the Chancellor agreed. “Perhaps our miracle has come just in time. Order every ship between here and Morska to join up with Merj. I want that troublesome Forelni and his ships reduced to dust!”

 

Previous Episodes:

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Posted in 1K Serials

1K Weekly Series: The Calling, Chapter 9

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 9

 

“Captain Archer,” the King settled on his throne in the great hall. “I appreciate the point you are making. And I understand your superiors’ concerns. The last thing I would want is for Etalya to spark an intergalactic war.”

“Then you will send word to your ships to withdraw from Klingon space?” Archer couldn’t keep a hopeful tone from his voice as he addressed the planet’s monarch.

“I would consider doing so, Captain. But even if I should decide to end hostilities with the Klingons, I would not be able to do so.”

The reply caught Archer short and he failed to keep the dismay from his face.

“But why…?”

“Captain,” the King interrupted. “We have been dealing with Klingon hostility for a very long time. We tolerated their occasional forays into our space only because they failed to even inconvenience us.

“But this…,” anger and grief caught in the ruler’s throat and he was a moment recovering it. “They kidnapped my wife. Murdered my only daughter in cold blood.”

“And they have paid a steep price for their crimes, sir,” Archer argued. “You’ve seen the same reports we have. The losses on the Klingon side are massive. Surely you have exacted enough revenge by now.”

“We are not seeking revenge, Captain. We are seeking justice. We are seeking an assurance that the Klingons will never again threaten my people.”

“Even if it means exterminating an entire race and putting billions of other lives in jeopardy?”

“You have a dramatic way of making your point, Captain.”

“Would you at least consider sending our concerns to the Prince?” Archer made one last pitch. “Perhaps he can accomplish your objectives without drawing in the Romulans and the rest of the quadrant?”

“We have had to plan to deal with Klingons for a very long time and my son has been planning a possible invasion for decades. If anyone could find a way to adjust to our battle plans on the fly, it would be him

“But there is one problem, Captain,” the King continued with a sigh. “There is no way for us to get any such message to him.”

“Why not?”

“His plan called for his fleet to cut off all communications with Etalya once they crossed the border. We haven’t heard a single word from any of our ships since they departed our space. Your reports are the first we’ve heard how the invasion progresses.”

“You mean…”

“We won’t hear a word from him or his fleet until they return to Etalyian space. This war will end when he decides the Klingons have paid for their crimes and not one second before.”

*   *   *

The Sicilia and two other Etalyian ships held station within an asteroid field in the system of Qo’noS.  It had taken them the better part of three weeks to work themselves into this position after the initial strike against a major Klingon military base at Forcas IV.

All thirty Etalyian warships had struck the base in a battle that was more massacre than battle. Within two hours, nothing of the base or the Klingon ships in orbit remained. From there the ship broke away in packs of three and scattered throughout Klingon space.

Striking in hit and run fashion, the ten mini-fleets had the Klingons tied up in knots. Adding to the confusion, by design, three other Etalyian vessels were bearing the name of the fleet commander’s flagship. It seemed to the Klingons that the Sicilia was flying about space at Warp Thirty. None of the groups communicated with the other, keeping the Klingons from intercepting messages and figuring out what the next target was.

The disadvantage to Forelni, was that he had no way to make any adjustments to the attack plans. Fortunately, according to the intercepts between the Klingon ships and Qo’noS, he was able to piece together how well the invasion was proceeding as his three-ship fleet closed in on its target: The Klingon homeworld.

So far, against all odds, the Klingons hadn’t been able to claim a single Etalyian ship destroyed during the campaign. The losses, at least those the Klingons were openly admitting to, were adding up. Their enemy had paid a heavy price for their Chancellor’s act of murder.

Perhaps too high, Forelni mused as he sat in his command chair. Well, there is only a little more left for them to pay before we can mark them as paid in full.

“Capitano?”

“Yes, Paulo?” he addressed his Executive Officer.

“We’ve received a tight beam message from one of the Littorio’s pods. He’s in position in orbit over Qo’noS. The Littorio’s group is in position and will proceed as planned in three hours.”

“Excellent,” Forelni allowed a slight smile to form. “The forces around Qo’noS are  forming up in preparation to depart.”

“The Todaro’s attack appears to have succeeded.”

“Indeed, Capitano, and they managed to let ‘slip’ where there next ‘destination’ was going to be and when they were going to strike.”

“So it appears,” Forelni agreed. “In three hours, the Littorio breaks radio silence and allows herself and her group to be spotted when they send a general strike message to the fleet. And when they sign that message as the Sicilia, every one of those ships will take off after her.”

“Leaving Qo’noS wide open,” Paulo finished. “How many of the other groups are out there in position?”

“Enough, Paulo, enough. Even if it is just our three ships it will be enough,” Forelni paused. “Did he mention Kaln’s ship in his report?”

“He did,” Paulo confirmed. “Kaln’s ship is in orbital dock and is not showing signs of being readied for action. Perhaps Kaln has already been executed? I’m sure the Chancellor is already wishing he’d never laid eyes on that Merda.”

“Perhaps,” Forelni agreed. “If he isn’t already dead, he will be before we are through here.”

“Capitano,” Paulo lowered his voice. “You haven’t clarified the rules of engagement. Once the planet’s defenses have been neutralized what are your intentions regarding the civilian population?”

“Are you asking me if I intend to burn Qo’noS to a cinder, Paulo?”

The Exec felt his blood run cold. They had been friends since childhood and he, more than anyone outside the Royal Family, knew the Prince’s temper. The icy cool manner that Forelni had asked that question frightened the Exec.

“Are you?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

 

Previous Episodes:

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

 

Posted in 1K Serials

1K Weekly Serial: The Calling, Chapter 2

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 TWO

 

“Commander Kaln,” Archer began in a measured tone. “May I remind you that such an action on your part would be considered an act of war, one your High Command might not be so eager to initiate. Not to mention the fact that you will lose at least one ship and many lives in an exchange of fire with my ship.”

“It is a good day to die, Earther,” Kaln displayed a fanged smile. “As for the High Command, they will believe it was your ship’s attack on our science vessel that was the act of war.”

“You know we had nothing to do with that.”

“A pity you won’t be around to tell anyone your side of the story, isn’t it?” Kaln turned slightly to give the order to attack. Archer followed suit but before either could issue any orders Reed suddenly shouted out.

“Captain! Multiple ships dropping out of warp. Six, seven, ten…twelve ships of unknown configuration! They have us and the Klingons englobed. I’m getting energy readings consistent with weapons being armed on all ships.”

Archer looked back to the main screen and found the Klingon Commander had lost all of his bluster. If anything, he looked something most un-Klingon. He looked very afraid.

“Captain,” Hoshi called out. “We are being hailed by the lead ship. In Standard.”

“Put them on,” Archer failed to keep the surprise off his face and from his tone.

The screen switched to the bridge of one of the unknown ships, revealing a very human-looking man of nearly thirty years of age sitting at ease in a central command chair. A gold collar above a wine tunic, with no clear indication of rank anywhere to be found, and black trousers and boots served as the Etalyian uniform. He was a handsome man, with dark hair and piercing blue-steel eyes. He carried an aura of absolute authority that belied a man of his younger age.

“Greetings, Enterprise,” he said in a casual tone that seemed somewhat out of place under the circumstances. “I am Capitano Bari Forelni of the Etalyian cruiser, Sicilia. I welcome you to Etalyian space.”

“I’m Captain Jonathan Archer. I thank you for your welcome but it seems not everyone is happy to see us here…”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Forelni cracked a bemused smile. “Our good friend Kaln. One moment, Captain.”

The transmission from the Etalyian ship switched to a split-screen of Forelni and Kaln.

“Commander, you are quite some distance beyond the Klingon border. I would be somewhat willing to chalk it up to yet another error of incompetent Klingon navigation,” Kaln face twisted in rage, but the Klingon held his tongue. “Provided of course your three ships turn around and head back to Klingon space immediately.”

“We will collect our science vessel…”

“You will do no such thing,” Forelni interrupted, his tone no longer casual or friendly. “You towed that derelict into our space three days ago to set a trap for the next ship to wander by. We’ve been waiting to see what you would do when that happened. So that you will not be tempted to try this little trick again…”

Forelni snapped his fingers. The image of Kaln was replaced with an exterior view of one of the Etalyian ships turning about and opening fire on the deserted Klingon ship until nothing remained but dust. Once done, the ship turned back and joined ten of the other ships in closing ranks on the three Klingon vessels, leaving the Sicilia and the Enterprise outside the firing zone.

“Now then,” Forelni returned to that same maddeningly calm tone. “There is nothing keeping you in our space, Kaln. The High Command has been informed of this incident. As you are a privateer and not official Klingon Navy, nothing further will come of it. But if I were you, Kaln, I would set a course for the Outmarches along the Romulan border and find some Kuve to defeat in battle before I showed my face near Qo’Nos ever again.”

The Klingon looked as if he would explode. Suddenly, he spat out something in Klingonese and his half of the screen went dark, replaced by the view of the three outnumbered ships. The Klingon fleet turned and headed back toward Klingon space with nine Etalyian vessels following close behind.

“He didn’t even say goodbye,” Forelni quipped. “How rude.”

“I suspect he is saying plenty about both of us right now,” Archer remarked. “Thank you, Captain, your arrival seems to have prevented a fight.”

“We simply cannot have visitors attacked by interstellar highwaymen, Captain,” Forelni replied. “Our Minister of Tourism and Trade simply won’t stand for it. I assume you are from Earth? We’ve been wondering if you’d ever get out this way.”

“Yes, we are from Earth,” Archer acknowledged. “But, how exactly would you know that? We were told this was an area of space that no one had explored yet.”

Archer turned to look over at T’Pol as it had been the Vulcans who had made the claim originally. Forelni followed Archer’s glance and caught sight of the First Officer at the edge of the visual pickup.

“A Vulcanian! It has been a long time since we’ve had contact with one. Live long and prosper, T…” Forelni offered a well-executed Vulcan greeting with his right hand but paused as he did not yet know the name of who he was addressing.

“T’Pol, Captaino,” she informed him as she returned the gesture. “Peace and long life.”

“I am surprised, Captain. You have a Vulcanian on board and yet you say you thought this space was….,” Forelni stopped as understanding dawned. “Ah, I see. My apologies, Captain. It seems when S’urnaq visited our world some decades back, he took our desire not to leave our world somewhat literally. He must have decided not to report our presence here at all.”

“That does seem to be the most logical explanation, Captains,” T’Pol affirmed.

“As for how we know of Earth, Captain,” Forelni continued. “That is a very long and complicated story. May I invite you and your ship to accompany us to Etalya? Your crew would be welcome to take shore leave.”

“Meeting new people is why we’re out here, Capitano,” Archer agreed.

“I see you have warp drive,” Forelni remarked. “What is your top speed?”

“We can do Warp 5 if needed.”

“Etalya is only ten hours away at Warp 4. My navigator will send you the coordinates,” Forelni paused. “Hmmm, only Warp 5 you say? It seems Cochrane didn’t completely resolve all of his issues with his warp engines after all.”

“You’ve heard of Zefram Cochrane?”

“Oh yes, he aided my great-grandfather in building the ship that brought our forefathers to Etalya four hundred years ago.”

Archer hesitated. Cochrane hadn’t even been born four centuries ago. But before he could formulate a question, Forelni took pity on him.

“The math isn’t adding up, is it? Yet, Cochrane was part of a team that built a colony ship that left Earth in the mid-21st Century. That same ship made planetfall on Etalya four centuries ago.”

“Capitano,” Archer said carefully. “That’s doesn’t seem possible.”

“And yet, I assure you that it is. Come to Etalya, Captain. I will show you its many wonders and I will explain its greatest mystery.”

 

Previous Episodes:

Prologue

Chapter 1

Posted in New Release

Planetary Anthology Series: Pluto

Tuscany Bay Books presents the first book in its Planetary Anthology Series: Pluto. Twenty-one tales of death and great wealth. Sci-fi/Fantasy adventures told by today’s up and coming authors.

Pluto, the Roman god of death and wealth, ruled the underworld far away from all of the other gods. So it was only fitting when, in 1930 and working on a theorized ninth planet proposed by Percival Lowell, Clyde Tombaugh used the telescope at Lowell Observatory to locate the ninth planet in our solar system, far, far away from its brothers and sister.

red spiritual smoke on black background with copy space

Then came that day in July of 2015. Like the Romans when they found themselves within Pluto’s realm and discovered it was nothing like the desolate fires of damnation assigned to his Greek counterpart, Hades, those of us in modern time discovered that Pluto was nothing like we had imagined since 1930.

That iconic photo of Pluto, with the heart-shaped plain later named Tombaugh Regio, told us that there was so much more to the planet. First, it was not blue and not just solid ice as so many had expected it to be. Just like Pluto’s mythological domain, the planet displayed a variety of features and composition.

In this volume, what you will find in the pages that follow are twenty-one amazing stories of death and wealth set around a wandering cousin far out in the cold edges of our solar system. You will find Vikings, knights, warriors defending home and hearth, of triumph and tragedy, and, yes, even the god himself. You will read tales of great courage and great loss. Of sacrifice for a greater good and of justice delivered to the overly greedy. You will even find the aforementioned Walt Disney himself.

Pre-order the e-Book here: Pluto. The print edition will be out soon.

Meanwhile, check out the book trailer here: PAS: Pluto Book Trailer

*     *     *     *     *

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