Testament: Chapter 22

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 22

Incense curled through the crowded Temple of Seleya as deep voices chanted a litany of prayer. The solemn ceremony was approaching its climax with the priests standing in a long row, perpendicular to the altar and the great icon that now hung above it. The painting was in an ancient style, containing much symbolism and beauty. It portrayed the risen Shiav standing upon the stone where he had died, holding out his wounded hands to Vulcans gathered at his feet. The blood flowing from his wounds gradually turned into streams of water that the Vulcans were collecting in their outstretched hands. It had been painted by Relan, the priest who reproached Spock when he was planning to leave for Earth. Now, Relan stood among the other priests in a show of solidarity and affirmation for the first candidate being admitted to the priesthood.

The chanting ceased. Marek, who once called himself the Grand Master of Kolinahr, humbly knelt before Sorel and received the mark of Yanash upon his forehead and hands.

Sorel intoned, “To you I give the Spirit of Life. Be not a master, but a servant. Welcome all those who come to you seeking release from their sins. Receive their thoughts and grant them forgiveness in the holy name of Yanash. To you I give the Spirit of Life. Into your hands I place the cup of salvation. May the Living Water bring grace to all who receive it in faith. Through your teaching and example may all Vulcans learn that our God is the Father of Love.”

And he concluded, “Go forth, a priest of the Shiav Yanash forever.”

As a gong was struck, Spock felt as if Yanash stood in their midst, watching. Then from deep in the temple a single note rose, as sweet and pure as morning. The bow-on-string slowly worked into a haunting Vulcan air that made Spock’s heart swell with paternal pride. The fact that he had not requested this of his son made Simon’s performance all the more touching. Simon was playing the violin out of love for him. Spock hoped that someday Simon would also play out of love for Yanash.

The music came to an end. The priests processed out of the temple, across the land bridge. Vulcans who had attended the ordination quickly filled the courtyard. Most were full Yanashites who were not averse to some forms of touching, or even a gentle smile. Their eyes shone with an inner joy that set them apart from traditional Vulcans.

Spock saw T’Naisa approach his son, no doubt to offer some word of appreciation, but the boy noticed her coming and left the scene. Simon had not yet found it in his heart to forgive her. As for himself, Spock had thanked T’Naisa for following the lead of Yanash and being truthful with the boy. Her act of honesty had precipitated a major breakthrough in his relationship with Simon, and Spock’s own honesty had further deepened it. Although Simon could still be short-tempered and resentful when things did not go his way, the boy’s behavior was greatly improved.

A pair of Spock’s students came over to him. Nath and Dekin had recently begun their instruction in his intermediate class. Beside these others, they seemed stiff and emotionless. From the very first, Spock had experienced a strong inclination to dislike them.

For that reason he made his greeting particularly kind. “Dekin, Nath, it is good to see you taking an interest in our ordination.”

Without preliminary, Dekin said, “Marek is a master of kolinahr. How can he also be a priest of Yanash?”

“The priesthood of Yanash supersedes all other titles,” Spock replied. “Marek no longer calls himself Grand Master, for Yanash alone is Master.”

Nath spoke. “Marek was told to ‘receive thoughts’. For what purpose? What will be done with those thoughts?”

Spock raised an eyebrow. These questions had already been answered in class. “It is exactly as spoken in the ceremony. Priests receive the sins of penitents and offer the forgiveness of Yanash. Those thoughts are kept in complete confidence.”

“What does the ‘forgiveness of Yanash’ entail?” persisted Nath.

“It is a spiritual cleansing that frees us from sin and helps us serve the Shiav with humility and love.”

Dekin asked, “How does one serve the Shiav?”

Spock repressed a surge of annoyance. Such trying students were rare indeed. “One serves the Shiav by believing in him and following his commands. Did you not learn that in the first day of inquiry class?”

“But in what manner are his commands enforced?”

As patiently as possible, Spock explained, “Commandments are taught, not ‘enforced’. Whether or not one follows them is an individual choice.”

“And if we choose not to follow them?” Nath questioned.

“Then you will turn from the way of truth and its rewards.”

There was a brief moment of silence, and Spock hoped they would be satisfied with his responses and leave.

Then Dekin said, “Why are the ashes of the dead no longer scattered from this mountain? Is it not a sacred place?”

With a stirring of pain, Spock thought of his mother’s ashes lying somewhere below in the sand. “Only the grace of Yanash can make a person or a place holy. We will bestow his blessing on those Yanashites who die, but it is our belief that ashes should be held intact, not scattered. It is a matter of respect for the body.”

Dekin went on to another question. “Is it true that the priests are now performing marriages here?”

“Yes,” Spock replied. “A form of the traditional Toi-Chana bonding ceremony.”

“What of the unbonded whose blood is burning?” Nath asked a bit too loudly for a public place. “Are they not permitted the rites of Chu?”

The courtyard had all but cleared, but Spock beckoned the two men into a secluded corner. Lowering his voice, he explained the delicate matter in plain language. “The rites of Chu are condemned by Yanash since all intimacies of that nature belong only in marriage. But Yanash has promised that those who in faith receive the Living Water will experience a much milder form of pon farr.”

“How can that be?” asked Nath. “All males must endure the pon farr. It is a natural biological function.”

Spock began by quoting Yanash. “’All things are possible with a God of love’. The Shiav teaches that pon farr is the result of sinful excesses in Vulcan’s past. By his death, he has freed us from sin’s power. When we live in cooperation with his grace, we are raised with him into a new life.”

Nath’s eyes narrowed. “And one need only drink this Living Water?”

“In faith,” Spock stressed.

Dekin spoke. “And this Living Water contains…”

Yet again Spock repeated, “Living Water is ordinary water that has been consecrated by a priest and so contains the very essence of God.”

Nath and Dekin exchanged a bland look.

Then Nath turned to Spock and said, “Something so very precious must be kept safe from unbelievers. Where do you store this Living Water?”

Spock found the blunt, interrogative nature of the conversation increasingly disturbing. It was a moment before he answered. “In view of present conditions on Vulcan, no place is safe enough. For now we consecrate only that which can be consumed during the daily Kuru.”

He was about to firmly excuse himself when Nath and Dekin took leave of him and exited the courtyard. Greatly relieved, he was heading for the compound when his uncle approached him.

Sparn said, “I see those two are still at it. I could not help but overhear some of your discussion. In my inquiry class they persisted in asking many of those same questions.” With a sigh he added, “It may be wrong of me, but I do not trust them.”

***

Now that Simon regularly played his violin in the temple, his father had relieved him of most other duties so he could spend more time on his music. The Seleyan computer system gave Simon access to the planet’s rich musical history, and he enjoyed working that unique Vulcan sound into his own original compositions.

Today in the temple his violin was joined by Vulcan woodwinds in a sweet but somber piece he had entitled “Daybreak”. Simon felt it was his best work to date because it truly captured the sense of Yanash’s holiness that he found in the pages of his father’s notebook. He knew that holiness meant to be without sin. The Yanashites believed that their Shiav was not only holy, but The Source of all holiness. This belief was reflected in every sacramental ritual. Today, some graduates of Yanashite classes were receiving sacraments for the first time. Earlier Simon had watched his Aunt T’Prinka receive the Living Water. Now that evening had fallen, his father’s group was preparing to confess.

The music came to an end. Simon lowered his violin. From his place near the sanctuary he watched the Vulcan penitents line up before the priests. One by one they came forward and dropped to their knees. As always, Simon’s stomach went leaden at the sight. What must it be like? He could not imagine anything more embarrassing. Was it worth it? Afterwards, did they feel forgiven? Did they feel clean inside? Did Yanash really take away their sins?

He remembered a saying he had once heard on Earth. You can’t fool a Vulcan.

How then could all these Vulcans be fooled?

His eyes settled on the icon of Yanash high above the altar. The powerful but kindly eyes seemed to be looking directly at him. Simon quickly shifted his attention back to the ritual. A man had just knelt before Sorel. The leader reached out, put his paired fingers on the penitent’s forehead, and closed his eyes. By now Simon had seen the process many times, but on this occasion something went wrong.

Sorel drew back his fingers as if burnt. His eyes snapped open and smoldered with anger as he said, “Yanash will not be deceived. Dalek, leave here at once.”

The man got up and walked out of the temple. The next man in line went to his knees.

Looking at him, Sorel warned, “Nath, be very certain of what you are doing.”

Sorel waited a moment, then reached for Nath’s forehead. Abruptly Nath pushed the hand aside, sprang to his feet, and disappeared into the night.

After the ceremony, Simon found his father and uncle standing together with Marek. Father was saying, “Sparn, you were right to distrust them. Dekin and Nath have no interest in following the Way. According to Sorel, they are student-adepts of kolinahr, sent from the Hall of Ancient Thought to observe us.”

“In that case I should have known them,” said Marek. “It would seem that Rokar has been keeping some of his disciples hidden…and I can think of only one logical reason.”

Father said, “He must have been instructing them in a path you would not approve.”

“Precisely,” Marek answered in a grim tone, “and it troubles me that he has joined forces with Dalek. The priests want Mount Seleya back, and they have shown that they will resort to treachery. Spock, be careful.”

Later, in the privacy of their room, Simon questioned his father. “Why did Marek warn only you to be careful?”

Spock had been writing in his notebook and stopped to say, “I am sure the warning was meant for us all.”

Simon had an uneasy feeling. “But that isn’t what he said. Vulcans always say exactly what they mean. He singled you out. Why?”

Father gave him a stern look. “Only Marek can know why he spoke the way he did. Simon, I don’t want to hear any more about it. You should be in bed.”

“Yes, sir,” Simon responded. He did not notice how his father’s eyebrow lifted when he said “sir”. He was too surprised at himself to do anything but obey. Stretching out with his face to the wall, he lay thinking.

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