Testament: Chapter 23

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 23

Most days, Simon went to the temple soon after breakfast. It was an ideal place to practice his violin. He was there experimenting with a new composition when a rumbling startled him and the temple began to shake.

Crying out in alarm, he nearly dropped his violin.

The tremor stopped almost immediately. Heart pounding, he rose from his seat and was about to run outside when his eyes lit on the great portrait of Yanash hanging over the altar. It must have been firmly secured, because it was not even swaying—and something in the Shiav’s calm face made Simon feel secure, too.

Standing there, he thought how wonderful it would be to feel anchored like that, always. Anchored in a stone that would never quake or shatter. Anchored in someone who would never be sent away or go off into Space or get sick and die; someone who would understand him at every moment, who would know his thoughts even before he thought them, and love him even when his thoughts were bad.

Simon felt drawn to the altar. He did not know how long he remained beneath the icon, staring up at the charismatic blue eyes and the green blood and the crystalline water. But slowly he came out of the strange mood, and taking his violin, left the temple.    

At lunchtime, hunger and talk of the earthquake distracted him from his odd experience with the temple icon. After his meal, he left with every intention of commencing his studies. On the way to the learning center, he passed near the fountain annex. The day was growing very hot, and the mist in the air seemed so irresistible that he walked in and lingered near the doorway, watching the pilgrims at the gushing water.

Maybe just one quick dousing, he thought.

Simon went out to the fountain. The water hissed as it geysered high above his head. It poured down in a cool rain that quickly soaked him along with everyone else. He stepped a bit nearer, so that he had a clear view of the crack from which the water was gushing, and caught sight of a small, perfectly round hole in the stone. Curious, he bent down and slipped his index finger into the opening.

Beside him, a male Vulcan said, “It is from a spike—one of the metal rods that impaled him.”

Horrified, Simon jerked his hand away and ran back into the annex. For a moment he stood, dripping wet, shaken by emotions for which he had no name.

“Simon Spock,” a woman’s voice chided, “that fountain is not here for your amusement.”

Simon looked into the face of the annex supervisor. He found himself asking, “Yanash was buried here in a tunnel, wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” she replied, “in one of the most ancient sections. I saw it once; the way to the tomb has been clearly marked. The tunnel can be entered from the foyer of the priests’ compound, but one must first receive permission.”

Thanking her, Simon left the annex and slowly walked toward the learning center. But then something made him stop, turn around, and head back to the priests’ compound. Driven on, he left the stair path, went to the foyer, and located the tunnel door. It was not even locked. Never for a moment considering the consequences, he swung it open and stepped inside. The air smelled stale. The stone passage was very cool, lit only by a bluish glow in the distance.  

Already shivering in his wet clothes, he began walking toward the light. Three times he reached doors, opened them, and passed through. He came at last to a section that had been heavily reinforced. A single lamp shone beside an opening cut deep into the native rock.

Simon’s teeth chattered as he read the tomb’s placard. So this was it. How cold Yanash must have been, buried down here. Locked away, all alone with the woman who had helped kill him.

Tears of sympathy blurred Simon’s vision. Aloud he said, “I’m sorry they treated you so rotten, but it’s wonderful how you forgave everyone.” He swallowed hard against a lump in his throat. “Where are you now? I’m not very Vulcan at all, but my father is. You know him. You know my brother, too. You touched Jamie and he came back to life. I wish you could touch me like that.”

Dashing the tears from his eyes, he noticed a faint light in the tomb hole. And not far from the opening, there was a neatly folded blanket.

“Is that yours?” he asked.

Something urged him to reach for it. In a moment the pure white blanket was in his hands. Smiling, Simon wrapped himself in its warmth and felt as if the arms of Yanash were around him.

***

Spock was disappointed when he discovered that Simon had shirked his afternoon studies in the learning center. He had hoped that the improvement in their relationship would make it easier for Simon to obey him. What use was it to say “yes sir” if the boy later went off and did whatever he pleased? Now Spock would have to take time away from his busy schedule to find his delinquent son and deal with him.

In the fountain annex he found a woman who had seen Simon out in the water. Based on her words with the boy, she suggested that Spock look in the burial tunnel. His irritation growing, Spock lit a torch and unlocking door after door, made his way through the black passages, to the tomb of Yanash. There beneath the tomb’s opening, his son lay wrapped in a blanket, sound asleep.

How had he gotten his hands on a tunnel key? Then Spock took a closer look at the blanket and all thought of keys fled from his mind.

Anger flooded him and he thundered, “Simon!”

The boy’s eyes snapped open. He sleepily raised himself on one elbow, but his burgeoning smile faded when he saw the look on his father’s face.

“Oh no,” Simon said. “What time is it?”

“It is time for an explanation,” Spock informed him. Reaching down, he snatched the precious blanket off his son and ordered, “Stand up!”

Simon obeyed with a frightened look.

Spock held the blanket out to him. “This is the Shiav’s burial cloth. Of all things for you to take!”

The boy’s eyes widened. He hugged his arms tightly and began to shiver. “I…I found it inside the tomb. Back where it’s light.”

Exasperated by the lie, Spock said, “There is no light inside the tomb, and as you well know, this blanket is not kept there.”

“But that’s where I found it!” Simon insisted. He turned and stared at the dark opening. His voice took on a note of desperation. “A light was in there—I saw it—I really did!”

Spock almost slapped him. Bringing himself under some control, he curtly said, “Come with me.”

They left the tunnel and went to the hidden closet where items sacred to the Yanashites were stored. Simon watched in silence as Spock carefully folded the blanket and returned it to its case.

Securely locking the cabinet, Spock said, “Of course you realize I will have to inform Sorel of what you have done, and he may very well expel you.” And he nearly added, I should never have brought you here.

“But I didn’t do anything,” Simon stubbornly asserted. “I’ve never even seen this room before!”

Wordlessly Spock took the boy to their quarters, got out a belt, and doubled it in his hands. It occurred to him that he was too out of control to deal with his son just now, and that this would better be left until later, but the enormity of Simon’s misconduct seemed to demand immediate, severe punishment.

“You neglected your studies,” Spock said. “You misappropriated a sacred object and treated it like…like a beach towel. You made up outrageous lies to hide what you have done. Simon, what has come over you?”

Simon hung his head. His lower lip trembled, his face contorted, and he began to cry.

Annoyed, Spock snapped, “If you have anything at all to say, speak up!”

As Simon struggled for composure, Spock recalled yet another aspect of the situation. “And what of the keys you used to open the cabinet and the tunnel doors? What has become of them?”

“There were no keys,” the boy insisted against all logic. “I didn’t need one in the tunnel because the doors weren’t locked! And the blanket was already there, just like I told you!”

More lies. Spock’s lips pressed together in a taut line. Taking Simon by the arm, he turned him over the meditation bench and was about to whip him when an image of Solkar arose. It was in just such a manner that Spock’s great-grandfather had beaten him on many an occasion. For that reason he had resolved never to strike a child. One time only he had spanked Simon—with calm purpose, not overcome by anger.

Coming to his senses, he tossed the belt aside and strode from the chamber. After delegating a few Community matters to his assistant, he retreated to the temple and remained there until darkness descended. There by himself he reviewed every detail of the incident. How could Simon have behaved so irresponsibly? Why was he lying in so brazen a manner?

When Spock left the temple, a brisk wind was blowing. Out past the land bridge, a single torch would be seen burning in the courtyard. Its flame writhed with each movement of the air. For a time he stood watching, his mind still deeply occupied. With a particularly strong gust the flame twisted and flickered almost to the point of extinction, then suddenly caught hold again. And at that instant a new thought struck him.

Spock hurried back to his room. Simon had lit the small meditation lamp and was lying on his cot.

Seeing him, the boy stirred and spoke in a voice choked with tears. “Father…are you going to whip me?”

Spock had not yet decided what to do with him. Moving closer, he said, “I saw no torch with you in the tunnel. How did you light your way?”

Simon sniffled and sat up, eyes downcast. “I didn’t think I needed a torch. There was always enough light, just up ahead.”

Spock had been in the tunnel many times. The darkness deep in the mountain was absolute. No one ventured there without some reliable source of light. Torches were most often used for two reasons: a healthy flame indicated a safe level of oxygen, and a torch also gave off welcome heat.

“Light just up ahead,” Spock repeated with skepticism. “Perhaps the beam from your own flashlight?”

“No,” the boy insisted. “It was a bluish glow, like the light inside the tomb. I just kept following it.” Bitterly he said, “But you won’t believe me, you don’t believe any of it. Yanash knows I’m not lying. Why don’t you ask him?”

At the unexpected mention of the Shiav, Spock felt a tightening in his stomach very different from anger. For the first time he actively considered the possibility that—however unlikely—Simon might actually be telling the truth.

Quietly he said, “Explain to me again why you were at the tomb. From the beginning.”

Simon bowed his head. “I wasn’t trying to get out of studying. It was just a feeling that came over me. I felt it this morning when the earthquake hit…and again, at the fountain. I…I guess I just wanted to get close to Yanash. When I reached the tomb, I tried to talk to him like I’m talking to you now. I was wet and cold. When I saw the blanket, I thought maybe he’d put it there just for me. It felt so good and warm. I didn’t know that I was doing anything wrong, Father, honest. It’s the truth—look into my mind if you want.”

The words were uttered with such simplicity that Spock slowly reached down, and placing his fingers on Simon’s face, soon learned the truth. Both logic and emotion had failed him; he had looked for natural explanations to explain a supernatural event. Today Yanash had visited his son, but Spock had refused to acknowledge it. He had called Simon son a liar and come close to beating him.

Stricken with remorse, Spock broke the meld and said, “What have I done?” Numbly he sank down beside his son and stared hard at the attunement flame. “I had wanted to show you the Shiav’s love; instead I showed you the worst of myself.”

After a moment Simon slipped an arm around his waist and leaned against him, completely silent. And for now there was no need for more.

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