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

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 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 Series: The Calling, Chapter 8

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 8

 

“Your new friend wasn’t kidding, Captain,” Admiral Gibson’s face, dominating the main screen on the bridge of the Enterprise, looked grim.

“How so, sir?” Archer asked, remembering the last words Forelni had spoken to him back on Etalya.

“They’ve shot the hell out of the Klingon fleet,” Gibson explained. “Those they haven’t damaged or destroyed, are running all over Klingon space trying to track down the Etalyian ships without effect. Our intelligence reports indicate the Klingons have taken major damage to several military installations as well.”

“How long can they keep that up?”

“For as long as they want to as far as we can tell,” Gibson shook his head as he scanned the reports in front of him. “Despite what the Klingons are telling their people, we cannot confirm a single Etalyian ship destroyed or even damaged enough to be captured. The Klingons may have started with an advantage in ships, but the Etalyians are cutting that down by the hour.”

Gibson set aside the reports and looked directly at the camera on his end of the conversation.

“Which is why I’m calling you, Captain. For now, the Klingons are fighting this war without drawing their ships away from their border with the Romulans. Eventually, they are going to have to do so.

“However, the instant they do so they leave themselves wide open for a Romulan incursion into their territory,” Gibson continued. “I’m sure you’ll agree the Romulans wouldn’t pass up a chance to make the Klingons fight a two-front war. Even if the Klingons leave their border fleet in place, eventually the Etalyians will pick off enough ships to leave the Klingons too weak to fight off the Romulans anyway.”

“This doesn’t sound good for the Empire, sir.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Gibson agreed. “Nor is it so good for the quadrant. If the Romulans do invade then in all likelihood we’re looking at a war that could drag everyone else into the fray. The Vulcans are trying to negotiate a truce before things go too far, if they haven’t already.

“They’ve asked us to have a word with our ‘cousins’ about calling off the dogs,” Gibson continued. “You’re right there on the border and you’ve already been introduced. I want you to return to Etalya and begin negotiating a stand down and withdrawal of their forces in Klingon space.”

Archer glanced around his bridge. By the look on his bridge crews’ faces he gathered they shared his skepticism.

“Admiral,” Archer began carefully. “The impression I got when I left Etalya has me doubting they are going to amenable to outside interference.”

“I’ve read your reports, Captain,” the Admiral replied kindly. “And I got the same impression. But if we can’t put a stop to this a lot of people are going to die. We have to try.”

“Aye, sir, we’ll do our best. What am I authorized to offer in exchange for the stand down?”

“Given the circumstances, Captain, I’m inclined to tell you to offer whatever it takes to get them to withdraw. If the Vulcans can get the Klingons to do the same, we may keep this from getting any worse. Good luck, Captain.”

“Thank you, sir,” Archer replied as the screen faded to black and reverted back to an outside view of the space his ship occupied. A hush fell over the bridge as the seriousness of their mission settled in.

“Travis,” Archer broke the silence. “Set a course back to Etalya, maximum speed. Hoshi, send a message to the planet and let them know we’re coming on a diplomatic mission. Repeat the message every half hour until we get a response and clearance to approach. Malcolm, make sure we’re ready in case we get an unfriendly welcome.”

The three officers acknowledged their orders and got busy carrying them out. Archer drifted over to the science station and addressed his first officer.

“Assuming we can talk the Etalyians into doing so,” he began. “How likely is it that your people can talk sense into the Klingons. Granted they started this mess by assassinating the Princess, but I’m having a hard time believing they are just going to forget what the Etalyians have done to them.”

“The Klingons are most stubborn,” T’Pol agreed. “Their warrior mentality will be an impediment to a successful détente. However, even the Klingons must accept reality. If Admiral Gibson’s information is accurate, they will not be in a position to escalate the conflict in the foreseeable if they wish to survive as an Empire.”

“I have a feeling, Commander, that Klingon pride will trump Klingon logic. I hope Vulcan logic fares better.”

“Hope is illogical, Captain,” T’Pol said cooly. “However, given what is at stake, perhaps a little ‘hope’ is exactly what is needed.”

“If a Vulcan can hope, Commander, then perhaps we have a chance after all.”

“Captain,” Hoshi called out from her communications station. “Our signal to Etalya has been received and acknowledged. We are granted clearance to return to Etalya and enter orbit.”

“Acknowledge them and send my thanks,” Archer replied with a slight smile. “I’ll take that as a good omen.”

The Enterprise streaked across the border that marked Etalyian space even as a Vulcan envoy flew to meet with the Klingon Ambassador. Both ships sailing on missions to stop a galactic war from starting.

Deep within the space claimed by the Empire, Klingon ships clashed with Etalyian vessels and the bloodshed continued unabated. As the ships battled, the rest of the quadrant teetered on the brink of a war that no one could lay claim to as its winner.

 

Previous Episodes:

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

 

 

Posted in 1K Serials

1K Weekly Serial Series: The Calling

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.

 

PROLOGUE

The Mediterranean, Earth, 2048 A.D. – A time before stardates…

 

The whole planet has gone mad.

Genoa Forelni, less than a year removed from his wedding day, stood atop the highest hill on Salina Island and pronounced his homeworld’s epitaph. The gentle waves of the Mediterranean Sea lapped the beach below in stark contrast to the glow of several raging fires across the sea in Sicily that reflected upon the water. He stood rock still, listening to the soft rumble of explosions that marked the position of the battlefronts. They were drawing nearer with each passing hour. By midnight, he was certain, Sicily would fall and Salina Island would follow suit by sunrise.

“Damn them,” he muttered, finally breaking his silence. “Colonel Green, Khan Noonien Singh and all of the enemies of humanity. So-called ‘supermen’. Nothing more than rabid, power-hungry dogs. Damn them all to hell!”

The world he had been born into a quarter-century before had been one finally at peace. It had seemed peace would become a permanent fixture, that all the old troubles and hatreds had finally been laid to rest forever. Then Green and those like him had marched the planet inexorably toward World War III. And now the world burned and he was only hours away from leaving and never seeing his birth world again.

“Genoa, they are waiting for you on the pad.”

He turned away from the carnage across the waters and held out his hand to his bride. He’d known Prima Silvestri nearly his entire life. They’d grown up in the same village, attended the same university. When he worked up the courage to propose marriage her response had been far from traditional.

“Well, it’s about time,” her eyes shone above her impish smile as she replied before adding “Yes, of course, I will marry you.”

Her eyes still shone, and there was always a trace of that impish smile, whenever he looked at her now. Even though there was little reason for either to be there given the events of the past few months.

“The loading is complete?” he inquired as he took her hand.

“As are all of the pre-checks. All that remains is for the ship’s commander and his wife to board so we can launch.”

“Then let us not delay the moment any longer,” he replied, starting back down the hill. But Prima held her ground, looking back toward Sicily.

“If we had tried to build the ship on your family’s lands…” she began.

“Then we would all be dead, or being held prisoner,” Genoa finished bitterly. “The ship would be in the hands of lunatics. And we would be dead as soon as they had extracted every bit of useful information from us regarding it. We were fortunate no one knew of your father’s estate here and more so that we haven’t yet been discovered. Come.”

“I wish there was another way,” she remarked as she followed him down the path. “We will never see Earth again. Our children never will at all.”

“I wish it could be otherwise. But only death waits for us if we stay. Even if they don’t burn the world to a cinder, I will not have my children grow up in what will follow. No. We will find a new world and make it a better place to live, for their sake if for no other.”

They reached a circular black pad at the end of the path and stepped onto it. Genoa tapped a control on his belt and the pad receded into the ground. As they dropped below the surface another disc slipped into place above, leaving them in complete darkness for a few seconds until the lift lowered into a great, well-lit, cavern below.

Filling the vast opening was a ship, constructed in secret these last six months. The Cominciare would carry over two hundred young men and women, like Genoa and Prima. Couples who wanted to start new lives, new families, on a world not destined for Armageddon. Genoa’s father, Giancarlo, had been a brilliant engineer with a revolutionary idea for a new way to propel humanity to the stars.

But the Colonel Greens of the world only wanted him to build more powerful weapons, with faster ways to deliver them to their targets. When Giancarlo Forelni refused, his wife and daughter were killed. Finally, when he still refused, Green himself murdered Genoa’s father.

Genoa had only barely escaped that fate. His father’s warning coming only minutes before Green’s men had come for him. He’d been in hiding for over a year, working on his father’s revolutionary Worm Drive in secret while recruiting other like-minded people to build the ship and to colonize another world.

On the outside, the ship looked like a massive version of the old Saturn V’s that had propelled humanity to the Moon eighty years before. The three massive engines were needed to lift the ship into orbit. Only free of the Earth’s atmosphere and gravitational pull would the ship reveal its true configuration.

The outer tube and engines would fall away, revealing a long white fuselage, ten decks high and three hundred yards in length. Two nacelles would extend from the fuselage, the Worm Drive engines, and send the ship onward to her destination at incredible speeds. Their destination was Gamma Canaris. At normal speed, the journey would take hundreds of years.

But the Worm Drive did not travel at normal speed. There was nothing “normal” about it. It simply targeted its destination coordinates, opened up a wormhole, and took off. Anyone traveling within its sphere of influence would only think a few days had passed and then when the ship emerged at the other end would find themselves at the destination.

By Genoa’s calculations, they would be traveling for a week and then be so far from Earth it would literally be centuries before they saw another human being from Earth again. And that suited him just fine.

“Commander Forelni!”

“Hello, Zephram, are we ready to find out which one of us is right?”

“We are ready,” sixteen-year-old Zephram Cochrane replied with a blush. “But I think we’re both right, sir. I’m just more right.”

“Perhaps you are at that,” Genoa allowed with a laugh. “Perhaps one day your warp theory will drive great ships out into the void. But it is still a theory and my father’s Worm Drive is real and ready to go. Are you sure you won’t change your mind and come with us? You could work on your warp drive out there as well as you can down here.”

The young man considered it for a moment then shook his head.

“No thanks, I think I’ll stay. Besides, once I get my warp drive up and running, I bet I’ll get to Gamma Canaris before you.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” Genoa allowed. “Well, you’d better get over there and get aboard the flitter before they leave without you. Once we take off the authorities are going to swarm this place and I’d hate to think of you rotting in a prison cell instead of working on your warp drive.”

“That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me,” Cochrane admitted, cracking a quick smile. “Good luck, Commander, Mrs. Forelni.”

Cochrane sprinted across the gangway and joined the line of technicians waiting to board the last large flitter to evacuate the cavern before launch. With a final wave, the young scientist disappeared into the hatch which slid closed behind him. Genoa watched as the flitter lifted and slipped into the underground tube that led under the sea outside.

“We’ll give them ten minutes to get clear and get lost in the civilian traffic in France before we launch,” he turned toward his own ship’s open hatch. “We’d better get up to the bridge. It wouldn’t do for the ship to leave without her commander and communications officer.”

Prima stepped through first and Genoa closed and secured the hatch after following her inside. In her current orientation, it required some climbing to get to the Cominciare’s bridge. Once in space, it would be easier to move about but gravity demanded its due on the surface.

“Well, howdy folks,” the ship’s pilot greeted them as they entered the bridge. “I was figurin’ I was about to take off without y’all.”

“Wouldn’t dream of missing this flight, Cooper,” Genoa slid into the command chair beside his pilot. Cooper Filidei’s family had emigrated from Italy to Texas toward the end of the 19th Century. He’d been visiting family when Genoa had first encountered him. Cooper’s skill as a pilot was equaled by his skill as both a smuggler and a procurer of much-needed material. Without him, Genoa readily admitted to any who asked, this ship would never have been built. Still, it was strange hearing his Texas twang among a ship full of native Italian accents.

“The last flitter has cleared the launch safety zone,” Prima reported from her station. “The ship’s cargo master reports cargo loaded and secured, passengers are strapped into their launch couches and are ready to go.”

“Thank you,” Genoa said, scanning his flight board. “What was the final count down there?”

“We’re carrying two hundred and thirty-two passengers and crew,” Cooper answered. “Plenty of food, water and seeds for two years and dozens of various critters. We’re a certified Ge-Noah’s Ark.”

The flight engineer groaned. Prima merely shook her head. Genoa favored his pilot with a withering look.

“You’ve been saving that one just for this moment, haven’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” Cooper grinned broadly.

“Remind me why I don’t leave you behind.”

“ ‘Cause you’d never get this whale past the Moon without me?”

“Hmm, I suppose we’ll have to go with that. Bring the main engines online.”

“Mains coming up, standing by for ignition,” the engineer called out.

“Forward shield in place,” Genoa called out as he toggled switches on his board. “Cracking the overhead dome.”

The top of the hill above the rocket split apart as the two heavy doors lifted up and away. Dirt, rocks, foliage and other debris slid down the hill. A small amount fell into the opening, striking the conical shield that deflected it well away from the ship underneath.

“Doors open,” Cooper called out. “We’re clear.”

“Retracting the forward shield,” Genoa watched his board intently until a specific light switched from red to green. “The shield is clear. Get us out of here, Cooper, before someone notices a hill just disappeared.”

“Roger that,” Cooper stabbed his finger down on the launch button. “Here we go!”

The three large engines rumbled to life and quickly tooled upward toward full thrust. The rocket did not start moving, held into place by massive steel locks.

“Engines at one hundred percent thrust,” the engineer shouted over the roar.

“Releasing the locks,” Cooper called out.

As the locks let go their hold on the rocket several high tension coils, suddenly free as well, helped hurl the rocket skyward. The combined power of the engines and the boost from the coils was needed to get the rocket out of the atmosphere before any Earth forces could respond and shoot it down.

Genoa felt gravity fighting to keep his ship from escaping its grasp. His body sank into his chair and a ring of black started to appear around his field of vision. Two minutes seemed to last two weeks and then the engines cut off.

“Wow, that was quick,” Cooper said.

“Not quick enough,” Genoa replied. “Status?”

“We’re in orbit, right where we should be. Engines and outer shell detaching right about…now!”

They felt the lurch that indicated a successful separation. Genoa toggled a series of switches that extended the nacelles. A pair of bumps accompanied a set of lights switching from red to green.

“Nacelles locked in place and at full power. Any sign of trouble out there?”

“I doubt anyone on the ground had time to realize what we were up to,” Cooper scanned his board. “No activity from Orbital Command and we’re too far from the platforms for them to be a threat. We’ve got a clean shot.”

“Then let’s not waste it,” Genoa quickly tapped a set of commands. “Coordinates set. Is the ship ready?”

“All green here,” the engineer reported.

“Same here, Cap’n,” Cooper added. “Let’s get going.”

“Agreed,” Genoa replied, gripping the Worm Drive’s thrust control. “It’s time to go to our new home.”

He pushed the throttle to full. The Cominciare gained speed as a vortex of energy appeared just in front of her bow. The swirling bolts of blue-green seemed to crack open space itself, forming a tunnel. A wormhole! Just as Giancarlo had predicted.

And then, carrying the hopes and dreams of over two hundred refugees looking to colonize a new world and make a better one than the one they were leaving behind, the Cominciare leapt into the beckoning wormhole and disappeared.

 

NEXT WEEK: Chapter One

*     *     *     *     *

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