TESTAMENT: A STAR TREK FAN-FICTION SAGA – CHAPTER 14
By M. C. Pehrson
Word Count: 58,880 (total)
Rating: PG-13 for disturbing imagery reminiscent of Jesus’ Crucifixion
Summary: When a Christ-like Savior comes to the planet Vulcan, Spock and his uncle Sparn must decide how to react, and how these unfolding events might affect Spock’s complex and often troubled family life.
At sunrise T’Lar led a small, solemn procession to the ledge where the renegade had been executed. The flesh-eaters had done a thorough job of stripping the bones. She watched the last of the night feeders skitter away from the skeleton, then signaled for the bones to be taken up.
Beside her, Dalek said, “His mother is still asking for him.”
T’Lar gave no heed to the patient woman watching from atop the cliff. Her attention remained focused on the attendants enshrouding the skeleton in a thick, white blanket. “There will be no relics to venerate,” she pronounced, “no shrine to celebrate his errors. Not even a katra remains.”
Her eyes settled on the bloodstained rock and she pointed with a bony finger. “This must be cleansed until no mark is left. Remove the spikes, also. It must be as if he had never lived.”
“Or died?” The voice came from the healer T’Annel.
T’Lar gave her a probing look and followed her movements as the procession ascended the stair path to the priests’ compound. They paused there to light torches. Then the bones were carried deep into the mountain where the ancients were buried before cremation became the custom. The air in the tunnel was cool and stale. The sounds of their footsteps echoed. At last they came to an unused tomb-hole cut halfway up a stone wall.
“Here,” T’Lar ordered.
The guards lifted their burden to shoulder level and shoved it deep into the dusty, web-filled opening. Then a tomb cap was set in place and permanently locked.
Satisfied, T’Lar touched the minds of everyone present, extracting from them a death-vow of secrecy. Last of all she came to T’Annel. As she reached for the healer, T’Annel drew back. T’Lar gazed at the healer and ordered the others to leave the tunnel. Lit by the glow of their torches, T’Lar and T’Annel faced one another.
“Give me your thoughts,” T’Lar demanded.
The healer held still. “No. I am not of your priesthood.”
“What is this renegade to you?” T’Lar questioned. “Are you a Yanashite—you, who sent him to his death in agony?”
T’Annel winced. Turning her face aside, she said, “There is much that I need to consider. I will remain here for a time, by the tomb.”
“As you wish,” T’Lar said.
Her footsteps retreated into the distance; the faint flickering of her torch was swallowed by blackness. Alone now, T’Annel stood alongside the unmarked tomb and her fingers tightened on her torch.
“T’Lar spoke rightly,” she whispered. “I sent you to your death in agony. My hand, no other. You knew what I was doing…yet you forgave me. That is not logical. But even if I were to accept your forgiveness, how then can I forgive myself?”
For hours T’Annel wrestled the problem without coming any closer to a solution. Her torch began to burn low and she was growing cold. Reluctantly she left the tomb and headed down the tunnel. Coming to the first in a series of thick metal doors, she pressed the latchplate.
A stirring of fear sidled through her stomach. Again she pressed the plate, harder.
Setting down her torch, she put both hands to the latchplate and shoved with all her strength.
The door remained tightly shut.
Panic threatened to close in on her, but she resisted. Ceasing her struggles, she picked up the failing torch. And it came to her that after all, this might not be so terrible a thing. By her injection she had condemned Yanash to a painful death. Now that T’Lar had condemned her, T’Annel saw an opportunity to accept her own death in a spirit of recompense.
She only hoped that her courage would not fail.
At midday Spock awoke from a fitful sleep, went into the living room, and scrolled through the messages on his wrist phone. There were urgent demands from Sarek and a single call from his wife on Earth expressing deep concern over Spock’s recent lack of communication. It was comforting to see Lauren and hear her voice again. All was well at their home in San Francisco. Teresa missed him, and James remained in the best of health. Simon was having difficulty coping with the loss of the prestigious Statler award and his favorite violin, but with Simon that was to be expected.
Spock froze Lauren’s recorded image and stared at it for several minutes. Finally he began a response. “Lauren. By now you may have heard that Yanash…has been executed.” Fresh guilt surged up as he sought words to describe the recent, unspeakable events. “The atrocities that I witnessed yesterday are…” Entirely my fault? He could not continue. Putting the message on hold, he turned to find his uncle walking into the room.
Sparn looked as if he had aged thirty years. Clearly disheartened, he said, “I know that you did not believe Yanash was the Shiav, and perhaps you were right, but you cannot deny that he was a man of great power and wisdom.”
“Yes,” Spock quietly agreed.
“Surak took us from barbarism to civilization, but as time went on, the ever-increasing severity of the Surakians’ strictures created a new form of bondage. Yanash offered something more. He offered us a richer emotional and spiritual life, and they murdered him. What now, Spock? According to all reports, the followers have disbanded. Yanash was a great man…but he is gone. When Yanash died, it would seem that his work died with him.”
Spock nodded. “Even if his disciples are released, it would be suicidal for them—or for you—to openly promote the teachings of Yanash.”
“I fear you are correct,” Sparn said. “Yet if asked, I will not deny my involvement with the Master. He was no criminal, Spock. They had no right to kill him.”
As the day wore on, Spock attempted to rise above his depression and finish his message to Lauren. “I am having difficulty assimilating the horror of what I witnessed yesterday at Mount Seleya. I cannot believe that the powers Yanash possessed were in any way supernatural. It is only that we did not understand them. He was not a god, but a man—and any man is entitled to justice under the law. Upon my return I intend to pursue every avenue of protest against the Vulcan High Council and the Seleyan priesthood. Their actions in this matter were abominable.”
For now, he did not tell her of his own part in Yanash’s death. As he considered his next sentence, a chime sounded at the door. He turned in his chair and met the eyes of his uncle who was seated across the room. There was still a strong possibility that they would be arrested.
The chime came again, followed by an insistent knocking. Sparn rose and opened the door. His face registered surprise and he quickly brought Sorel inside. Sorel was the first of Yanash’s Chosen Ones to be freed. As if by prearrangement, others arrived. By evening all had found their way to Sparn’s house, along with T’Naisa and a few other followers.
The solemn, shaken group seated themselves around the floor and plied Spock and his uncle with questions about Yanash’s execution. In turn, those who had been arrested gave accounts of their confinement and interrogation. Though no formal charges had been leveled, they were ordered to disband and cautioned against spreading the “dangerous Yanashite errors”.
As darkness settled in, T’Naisa and another woman received Sparn’s permission to prepare a meal. Before long they were passing out dinner, and the aroma of the food finally awakened Spock’s hunger.
T’Naisa came to Spock’s corner carrying two plates, and handed him one. He did not like being served by her. Nevertheless he accepted the food, but when she settled on her floor beside him, he started to move.
She quickly reached for his arm, not quite touching him. “No,” she softly pleaded in Standard. “Stay. Hear what I have to say.”
Spock relented and for a moment they ate in awkward silence.
Then T’Naisa bowed her head over her plate and said in a voice meant only for his ears, “You have every reason to dislike me. I deliberately harmed you and your family. I have no right to ask for your forgiveness. I don’t deserve it.”
Spock’s heart remained hardened toward her. “You have spoken truly. You don’t merit any forgiveness.” Rising, he removed himself from the young woman’s presence, but all the while he wondered how she—how any them—would react if they knew he had been involved in their Shiav’s arrest. The sooner he left here, the better.
T’Annel’s inner timesense told her that she had been trapped in the cool tunnel for 33 hours, but it seemed a great deal longer. The torch had guttered away quickly, depriving her of both light and warmth. Alone in the blackness, she huddled beneath Yanash’s tomb and shivered. She was thirsty, and the mental technique for reserving body heat seemed to be losing its effectiveness, but what right had she to complain after consigning a man to hours of death-agony?
Leaning back against the tunnel wall, she closed her eyes, for she had discovered that doing this eased the sense of total blindness. She focused her attention on the faint noises she occasionally heard; scurries and scuttling of tiny creatures that lived deep in the earth…perhaps even creatures that had fed on Yanash…creatures that would soon be feeding on her dead body.
Suddenly there came a sound like a clap of thunder. With a start, she peered into the impenetrable darkness and had scarcely drawn a breath before a rumbling began. It grew louder and louder. Then the world began to shake violently.
Rocks fell from the tunnel ceiling and crashed around her. Dirt sifted through the air. Coughing, she crouched down and put her hands over the back of her neck for some protection. And in her terror she lost track of the minutes. Two? Three?
With a sharp, wrenching jolt the quaking ended, but smaller stones continued to pelt down.
T’Annel heard the anxious sound of her own breathing, and cautiously began to raise her head. Light burst upon her eyes, warm and sweet and radiant. Had the mountain cracked wide open? But this was no red-hued Vulcan daylight; this was not any form of illumination she had ever observed.
Her vision focused. A shining figure stood beside an open tomb. Light spilled from his clothing. His beautiful face shone as he gazed down upon her.
“T’Annel,” he said kindly, “do not be afraid. It is I…Yanash.”
Dumbstruck, she stared at him.
He extended his hand toward her. She clearly saw the wounds left by the spikes that had impaled him, and for the first time since earliest childhood she began to weep. With tears of joy she drew his warm, living hand to her lips and kissed it repeatedly. Bending low, she buried her face in the hem of his radiant robe.
“Slay me,” she sobbed brokenly, “for I…I do not deserve to live!”
Reaching down, he gently drew her to her feet.
T’Annel did not consider questioning her sanity. The supernatural reality confronting her was beyond any question her world-bound mind could possibly conceive. It was enough that Yanash was here and she was here with him.
“Come,” he said, “there is work to be done.”
T’Annel let herself be led through the earthquake rubble. At tunnel’s end the heavy metal door opened easily at Yanash’s touch, and they continued through several junctions until they reached the main tunnel exit. There Yanash turned to her and said, “Care for the injured. For now, speak of what you have seen only to Marek.”
“Marek?” she questioned. “But…his mind….”
“Go now,” Yanash urged.
T’Annel nodded. Wiping the tears from her face, she opened the door. The adjoining foyer was empty and seemed undamaged, but shouts could be heard from the outer compound. Crossing the foyer, she stepped out into a scene of devastation. Main support pillars had collapsed, dropping an entire section of the priests’ quarters. All those not seriously injured were rushing about, tossing aside the manageable pieces of rubble. Emergency workers began to transport directly into the courtyard.
Dalek spotted her and hurried over. “T’Lar was inside,” he said in a taut voice.
T’Annel looked at the collapsed building and thought of T’Lar’s aged body pinned under tons of rock. How could she possibly be alive?
Her healer’s instinct reviving, she said, “The emergency crew will use sensors to locate her. If there is still life, they will transport her directly to the hospital.”
She noticed a small gash bleeding on Dalek’s wrist. She brought him over to a bench and took a protoplaser from the medical pouch that she always kept at her waist. Though her hands trembled, the wound closed easily. She was wiping away the blood when she caught a sharp, pleasant scent rare on this arid mountain. As she lifted her face, she seemed to feel a bit of moisture in the air.
“Water?” she questioned.
“A result of the earthquake,” Dalek said. He pointed to the eastern perimeter of the courtyard.
T’Annel rose and walked over to the wall. A sudden breeze blew a refreshing mist into her face as she looked down the cliff. The ledge where Yanash died had been split in two. Water gushed forth from it like a geyser.