Testament: Chapter 21

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.

ArchiVulcan1
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Chapter 21

Simon had been on Mount Seleya for three weeks when he awoke at the first hint of dawn and found his father dressing. He pretended to be asleep until Spock left the room, then got up and followed the Vulcans heading for the temple. It was not the first time he had watched the early morning ritual called Kuru. He knew that only one of the priests would wear the special robe, only one would lead the ceremony and speak words over the red cup before sharing its contents.

At an early age, Simon had been taught the Vulcan language. He had no trouble following the words of the priest, but the speaking of the “consecration” gave him an uncomfortable feeling—a queasiness in the pit of his stomach—because at that point Spock knelt down with all the others.

Before coming to Seleya, he had never seen his father kneel or even bow to anyone. Now his father was doing it every day because of this dead Vulcan they called the Shiav. Acutely embarrassed, Simon left early and went back to their room. He was still there when his father returned from the ritual.

It was all Simon could do to look at him, and suddenly the question burst out. “Why do you kneel at the consecration? That stuff is just water.”

Father turned and gave him his full attention. “At the consecration is becomes the Living Water, which makes Yanash present to us in a sacramental way. A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by the Shiav to give us grace, which is a sharing in God’s own life.”

Simon thought it over. “So it’s like the Communion they have in some churches on Earth?”

“Yes, certain Christian churches share a similar belief.”

“If it’s so good for people, why do you have to be a Yanashite to drink it?”

Father said, “It is a matter of receiving the sacrament in full knowledge and faith. One must first be properly instructed.”

Quite sure of himself, Simon said, “I’ll never be a Yanashite! Anyway, how could I? I’m not even a Vulcan.”

His father just looked at him.

Simon decided to ask another question. “I’ve seen people kneel in front of the priests, and the priests touch them on the forehead and say something. What’s that?”

“It is the Forgiving Touch,” Father replied. “In that way, sins are brought before the priests and forgiven in the name of Yanash.”

Simon felt his color rising. “Why do they have to do that? Why don’t they just tell their sins to God?”

“I do not presume to question that which has been ordained by Yanash. He is well acquainted with the prideful Vulcan mind. The priest acts on the Shiav’s behalf, bringing a vital element of accountability.”

“Well, I think it’s a rotten idea,” Simon declared. “The priests get to see what everyone’s been up to, but I bet no one checks on them.”

“They also confess,” Father said. Drily he added, “But if you feel a need to ‘check on them’, you may certainly do so, as long as you don’t neglect any of your duties.”

Simon did not find his father’s idea of humor very amusing. Sarcasm always made him angry. He ate breakfast in a resentful mood, then went to the children’s area and played music that was dark and brooding. Before heading to his next job, he overheard a conversation. It seemed that Spock and a companion had left the mountain and would not be back for hours.

Simon felt almost giddy with freedom. There was something he had been wanting to do for days, and here was the ideal opportunity. Every night he saw his father writing in a paper notebook that was kept on a very high shelf. His curiosity burned to know what secrets lay in those pages.

Postponing his work, he made a furtive beeline to their room. There he dragged his cot beneath the shelf and climbed up. A moment later the notebook was in his hands. With a wicked feeling of triumph, he settled onto his cot and riffled through the pages. The book was half filled with the busy, geometric script of Vulcan’s First Language.

Simon picked a page at random and began to read. It was not as easy for him as speaking the language, but little by little he managed to translate and found an incredible story about his little brother James. He would never have imagined that his father would write fiction—or worse yet, lie. Spock was always so big on telling the truth, yet here he was, claiming that James had been brought back to life instead of being healed by Yanash, like Mom said.

Flipping back through pages, he found another whopper about Yanash stopping a sandstorm. He could not believe it any more than the talk about Yanash rising from the dead. That kind of thing only happened in Bible stories.

It was hours before his stomach reminded him that it was almost time for lunch. After replacing the notebook exactly as he had found it, he pulled his cot back under the high, deep-set window and hurried down the stair path to the work he had neglected. The fountain annex had been built so that it opened directly onto the meditation ledge where Yanash died. Each day hundreds of Vulcans passed through it as they left the fountain, each one of their feet tracking a never-ending trail of dirt. The floor looked worse than Simon had ever seen it. The towels set out for the pilgrims’ use were soaked and grimy.

Simon felt a stirring of apprehension and knew he should begin cleaning at once, but the day had grown terribly hot and the mist coming in the doorway was very tempting.

He was outside enjoying the fountain when someone grabbed him by the back of his collar and propelled him into the dirty annex. Simon looked up at Spock and the bottom fell out of his stomach. He searched hard for an excuse, but it was glaringly apparent that no work had been done here all day.

“I was just going to start,” he insisted.

“Yes, you will start now,” Father said, “and forego meals for the rest of the day.”

No lunch and no dinner! Until that very instant, Simon had not believed that his father would do anything more than lecture him. Glowering, he got to work.

***

At dinner, T’Naisa asked Spock, “Where is your son? I didn’t see him at lunch, either.”

For a moment Spock seemed to look inward. A muscle moved along his jaw. Then he said, “Simon is fasting.”

“Oh,” she said, and left it at that, but it not seem healthy for a growing child to fast.

Later that evening she came upon the boy in an unlit corner of the courtyard. Simon lay on his back, head pillowed in his hands, glaring at the face of T’Khut.

“Hello,” she said.

Although they had spoken on several occasions, this time Simon acted as if she was not even there. He looked very angry about something.

She tried again. “Why are you fasting?”

Simon rose up and sat with one leg crossed under him. Fiercely he said, “I hate him! I hate it here and I want to go home!”

The words saddened T’Naisa. There was really no need to ask, but she said it anyway. “Who do you hate?”

“Mister Know-it-all,” Simon seethed. “My father thinks he’s so perfect, so smart.”

T’Naisa sighed and sat down near him. Obviously he did not know about his father’s role as an informer or he would never have made such a remark. But she would not be the one to tell him. Quietly she said, “I used to be mad at Spock, too.”

Simon turned his head and looked at her. “You did? Why?”

The reasons were complex, but she said, “He wouldn’t let me get away with anything. Your father is a man of high character.”

“Character,” he huffed. “That’s one of his favorite words.”

“It’s more than just a word to him, Simon.”

The boy stared at her. “You say he made you mad. Why? You’re such a nice person, I’m sure he deserved it.”

T’Naisa hesitated. This was fast becoming dangerous ground. How open and honest should she be? If only Yanash were here to advise her—but then she remembered. Though Yanash had returned bodily to the Father, his Spirit was very much present

Deep in her heart, T’Naisa asked for the Shiav’s guidance…and the answer that came made her mouth go dry. She could not meet the boy’s penetrating gaze—the eyes set so much like his father’s, only blue. Hesitantly she said, “I’m ashamed for you to know, but…I’m not as nice as you think. I was a cadet at Starfleet Academy while your father headed the school. Because of my behavior, I was expelled. I’d been given every chance; your father tried hard to help me…but even so, I blamed him for everything that happened. Out of spite I began to harass your family. You were probably too young to remember that. I even took a gun and went after him…but thankfully your sister T’Beth intervened in time.”

Simon’s eyes were wide open. Even if he didn’t remember the actual events, he had probably heard stories about it.

T’Naisa took a deep breath and went on to say the rest. “After that I was locked up for a while, but it doesn’t end there. While on parole I devised a way to get back at him. There’d been a terrible accident during a planet survey. Captain Kirk and your father barely survived. I…used a Vulcan technique to alter the memories of two witnesses. I made it seem as if it was no accident at all—as if your father had tried to murder his friend Kirk.”

Simon leapt to his feet, eyes blazing. “You! You’re the one who –” His voice broke off, his features twisted with rage. “You sent him to prison!”

Shamefaced, T’Naisa bowed her head in acknowledgement.

The boy spat a hateful expletive and ran off into the night.

***

Simon’s bedtime had come and passed without any sign of the boy. Spock was about to go in search of his errant son when he heard the pounding of sandals and the door sprang open. Simon ran in and stood before him, his face full of anguish.

Alarm brought Spock to his feet. “Simon—what has happened?”

The boy pointed a finger toward the open door. “That…that woman. T’Naisa. Is she really the one?”

Spock closed the door. “Which one?” he asked, though already anticipating a reply that seemed utterly impossible.

“The one…the one who put you in prison!”

Spock’s mind raced. The fact that a lie by T’Naisa had somehow sent him to prison was known by some of their Seleya companions, but who among them would discuss it with the boy? “Simon, I must know who told you such a thing.”

“She told me herself!”

“T’Naisa?” Spock could scarcely believe it, yet it did seem the likeliest of all the unlikely possibilities.

“Is it true?” Simon demanded.

Spock drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Yes. It is true.”

Simon’s hands clenched into fists. “Then I’ll kill her!”

“No,” Spock firmly retorted, “you will not.” Taking hold of Simon’s shoulders, he felt waves of painful emotions pounding against his mental shields. The boy must be calmed, and quickly. But how?

By some unVulcan instinct Spock drew his son into his arms and held him for the first time in many years. Simon did not struggle or push him away. The boy’s fingers clutched at Spock’s clothing and Simon began to weep bitterly.

“Why?” he lamented, “why did she have to do it?”

“Godless lives produce Godless acts,” Spock answered. “T’Naisa has changed since those days. She has come to know the Shiav. I am sure she did not tell you those things to hurt you.”

“How can you say that?” the boy cried. “She ruined our lives!”

Spock felt his throat constricting and swallowed hard. “Those were indeed difficult times,” he agreed, “but with Yanash I am coming to see the past differently. I am more troubled by the pain I caused others, than by any harm that was done to me.”

Simon’s voice muffled against his shoulder. “I thought I’d die when they took you away. Things were never the same again. It’s not fair. I needed you!”

Tears pressed behind Spock’s eyes and his arms tightened around the boy. “Sa-fu-kam…” The endearment tore at his throat. My dear son. “You know that I didn’t leave you willingly. Don’t be angry anymore. You have always had my love.”

Simon drew back and searched his face wonderingly. “You really do love me? After everything I’ve done?”

“You are my firstborn son,” Spock told him. And a part of his mind thought: this is how God must love us—beyond all reason and all logic. Wholeheartedly. And somehow Simon must be made to see the love of that Father, too. There would never be any lesson quite so important.

The boy was much calmer now. Spock remembered that Simon had not eaten anything since breakfast, and deciding it was punishment enough, asked, “Are you hungry?”

Simon wiped a hand across his face and nodded. “Starving.”

Spock took him into the deserted kitchen and found some food left over from dinner. They sat together at a small table in a corner of the room. Simon ate quickly, silently.

When the boy’s hunger was satisfied, Spock spoke to him about the healing Yanash brought into people’s lives. It was not the first time, but for once Simon listened intently, so Spock gave a more thorough account that included all the grim details of the Shiav’s death.

It was growing late when Spock said, “You have been entrusted with an important duty at the annex. The fountain is not just someplace ‘fun’. From now on, when you work, think occasionally of the blood that was poured out on that stone.”

Simon was very quiet. But back at their room, as he was preparing for bed, he suddenly turned to his father and said, “I…heard that Yanash brought my brother back from the dead. You haven’t said anything to me about it. Is it true?”

The question was completely unexpected. Spock knew that Lauren had decided against telling the children the full story until they had grown beyond the age of petty jealousies. She had thought that Simon, in particular, would be a problem.

He asked, “Did your mother say that?”

Simon took on a guilty look. His eyes went to a shelf high in the corner of the room. “I read it,” he admitted. “There, in that book of yours.”

With a stab of apprehension, Spock wondered what else the boy had read. Reaching up on the shelf, he brought down the manuscript entitled “Betrayal and Redemption”. Holding it, he said, “Everything in these pages is true. James died exactly as I have written. In his goodness, the Shiav restored him.”

“Then why didn’t Mom tell me?” the boy asked with some suspicion.

“What would you have done with the information? How would you have treated your brother?” When Simon did not respond, Spock finished, “Perhaps now you understand.” And then he resolutely pressed onward, for it was a day of truths. “There is something else you must understand. Belief in Yanash did not come easily for me. I was an atheist who joined his followers in an attempt to discredit him, and I issued reports to that end. I…even recommended his arrest.”

Simon’s eyes grew wide with astonishment. “You?”

“With the understanding that he would be exiled according the law. But that does not excuse me.”

Shaking his head, Simon softly said, “And they let you stay here…”

“It is the Way of Yanash.” Spock put the notebook into his hands. “From now on, you are welcome to read it all.”

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