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.
Simon huddled beside his great-aunt in the back seat of a skimmer as it flew low and fast over the desert. The Vulcan pilot and his companion frightened him; they were Nath and Dekin, the same men he had seen expelled from the temple.
Working up his courage, Simon loudly asked for the third time, “Where’s my father? What have you done with him and my uncle?”
Dekin turned in the passenger seat and looked back at him without any sign of emotion. “Why concern yourself with them? They care only for their God.”
“That’s not true,” Simon said. “You….” He broke off, alarmed, as the skimmer abruptly came in for a landing. They were nowhere near a settlement. The parched desert wasteland stretched as far as the eye could see.
The door beside Simon slid opened, and the searing influx of heat seemed to suck the air from his lungs.
“Get out,” Dekin ordered.
Simon grabbed hold of T’Prinka’s arm.
She glared at Dekin. “You said you were releasing us!”
“And so we are,” replied Nath.
Dekin spoke tonelessly. “It was within your men’s power to spare you, but they have chosen not to. You Yanashites are a cruel, illogical breed.”
“You’re the cruel ones!” Simon exploded. “My father would never allow this! How can you blame him?”
Wordlessly Dekin disembarked from the skimmer, opened T’Prinka’s door, and dragged her outside. As he turned toward Simon, she attacked him, but succeeded only in tearing his clothes before he knocked her to the ground.
Dekin reached back in for Simon. Bracing himself, Simon aimed a kick at the Vulcan’s face. Dekin caught him by the ankle and roughly yanked him out. Then seizing him with both hands, he hurled him through the air.
Simon landed face-down in the scorching red sand. He felt his skin start to burn and scrambled to his feet. The skimmer rose over his head and arced through the shimmering heat waves. Its whine slowly faded to a desolate silence.
Simon heard the blood pounding in his ears. His face stung from sand burns and the scarlet blaze of Eridani. The soles of his feet felt as if they were on fire. Each panicky breath made his throat dryer and dryer.
He remembered hearing that Vulcan’s desert temperatures could reach 160 degrees in the shade—if only there was shade in the desert. Already the sweat was running off him in rivulets.
He turned, and finding his aunt standing nearby, said, “We’re going to die…aren’t we?”
T’Prinka bent over and tore a section from her long, flowing dress. Then she draped the pale yellow fabric over Simon’s head and tucked the ends securely into his collar. The makeshift hood brought some relief.
Simon was glad that he had worn his usual loose-fitting Vulcan trousers and long-sleeved tunic that belted at the waist. Their light color reflected the worst of Eridani’s rays, but his feet were hotter than ever. The pain made him start to hop from one foot to another.
To his embarrassment, T’Prinka reached out and lifted him into her arms.
“No,” he protested. “Let me down, I can stand.”
T’Prinka gave him a stern look. “I may be old, nephew, but I am Vulcan. You do not weigh nearly as much as you think.”
Simon realized he was in no position to argue. Linking his fingers behind his aunt’s neck, he repeated, “We’ll die without any water.”
She set off walking. “Yanash knows our needs. He knows what evil has been done to us. Remember how he covered you with his burial blanket when you were cold?”
Now, with all of Simon’s world on fire, he found it hard to recapture the memory of that cool feeling. Yet he had no trouble recalling the comfort that Yanash gave him. “Yes,” he said, “I remember.”
“We will pray,” T’Prinka said with deep faith, “and perhaps this time he will protect you from the heat.”
Spock had examined every nook of the cell for some way of escape, and found none. Seated on the rough stone floor, he watched Sparn pace and bemoan the many ways in which he had failed T’Prinka during their lengthy marriage.
“I did not appreciate her sweetness; I was overbearing and made her life miserable,” Sparn was saying. “I had only begun to make some reparation. Now must she die like this?” He stopped and glared at the force field. “He called her an old woman! He called your son a mongrel!”
Spock had never seen his uncle so agitated, and he was not without his own concerns. In two weeks he and Simon would have been safely on their way to Earth. When he thought of Simon and T’Prinka wandering Vulcan’s fiercest desert, he too felt great helplessness and outrage. And if Simon died? He frankly feared what Lauren would say to him.
Suddenly Sparn turned his way. In a quiet, intense voice he said, “I feel as if we are murdering them. Surely Yanash cannot want this to happen. Perhaps he would understand if we do what Rokar is asking. After all, we need only tell him that we spoke the words of consecration. He believes that we are priests and will draw his own conclusions.”
Anger seemed to rise from the depths of Spock’s soul. Standing, he faced his uncle and said, “Surely I did not hear you correctly.”
“Your son is out there, too!” Sparn snapped. “Have you no concern at all for him?”
Spock struggled against the pain inflicted by his uncle’s words. “How can you ask such a question? You know what Simon means to me, but we have pledged our lives to serve the Shiav, and he calls us to a life of integrity. You were there when Yanash restored my son James; if he chooses now to take Simon from me, I must somehow accept it, just as you must accept the loss of T’Prinka. We must trust in his wisdom and goodness. We must keep faith.”
Spock picked up the container of water and raised it for Sparn to see. “You were with me on the feast of Surak. You saw how Yanash gave himself for us. You saw how he established a way for us to revisit his sacrifice each day. He has given his own blood to be our spiritual food. If only once in a lifetime he were to come to us in this manner, it would be an event so very sacred that we would prepare ourselves for years.” He lowered the container to his side. In a gentler tone, he said, “It was you who first led me to Yanash. I cannot believe that you would dishonor his sacrifice with a blasphemous lie.”
Sparn sank to the floor and sat with his head bowed. After an interval he said, “Perhaps, if we refuse food and drink until they are returned to us…”
“Uncle, you know the desert would claim them before such a fast would even be well underway.” Though their circumstances were intensely frustrating, Spock clung to the promise of the Shiav’s unchanging love. “Simon and T’Prinka are in the care of Yanash. He holds all power over life and death. Whatever comes, we must…”
Footsteps sounded in the passage. For the third time Rokar and Dalek arrived outside the force field.
“Well?” Rokar said. “Have you produced your ‘Living Water’?”
For answer Spock upended the container and let its contents splash out on the floor.
Dalek stiffened. “Insolent!”
Rokar stayed him with a gesture. He centered his attention on Sparn, who remained seated in a dejected posture. “You Yanashites disgust me. You speak freely of love, yet you abandon your wife and your son to a slow, painful death. Their suffering means nothing to you. After all, you are comfortable. There is no heat blistering your skin, and you pour out the very water that could be saving your family. You and your Yanash are a miserable breed.”
Sparn’s head came up. “Say what you wish about us, but do not speak against the Shiav.”
Spock set down the empty container and approached the force field. “If you find Yanash so despicable, why then do want his Living Water?”
“For the power you say it holds,” Dalek replied. “If in fact it can damp the blood fever, this water rightfully belongs to all of Vulcan.”
Spock said, “Repeatedly we have told you. The Living Water helps only those who receive it in faith.”
“Faith!” Rokar said with icy scorn. “Masters of kolinahr deal only in reality. I suspect that this ‘Living Water’ is either a figment of your imaginations or a drug by which you control your weak-minded disciples.”
Spock looked upon the kolinahru with pity. “You profess to deal only with reality, yet you did not recognize the Highest Reality when he walked upon Vulcan soil. You are blind and deaf and barren because you have cut yourself off from Truth. How can you use logic to justify cold-blooded murder? First Yanash, and now a woman and child.”
Unmoved, Rokar said, “Murder is an act of unlawful killing. The High Council of Elders found Yanash guilty of crimes and sentenced him to death. As for the others, no one has killed them. If they die, it is because two uncaring Yanashites abandoned a wife and a son to the elements.”
Rokar and Dalek turned and walked away.
As the sound of their footsteps retreated, a thought suddenly occurred to Spock. “Regardless of what we do, they will kill us.”
Sparn looked up at him, raised an eyebrow, and nodded. “They dare not release us because we could testify against them.”
“Precisely,” Spock said, and his heart beat faster at the thought of relinquishing his life for Yanash. There was not even a momentary fear, but only a strange welling of joy. Oh, that he might be so privileged…
It seemed to Simon that T’Prinka had been trudging through the desert for hours. Gradually her steps grew slower. With a groan she sank down in the blazing sand and held Simon protectively in her lap. Hardly perspiring now, he lay listlessly, moaning to himself while the pain in his head raged.
“Poor child,” she murmured. “I once said I would walk barefoot through the Devil’s Anvil, but it was not my intention to have anyone suffer with me.”
A shadow slid over his makeshift hood. The heat of Eridani eased perceptively. In the distance there was rumbling that reminded him of the summer storms he had enjoyed on Earth.
A torrid gust of wind flipped the hood away from his face. Simon’s eyes cracked open. A line of tremendous clouds towered in the red sky; their roiling peaks reached just high enough to block Eridani’s rays. Lightening forked from the dark underbelly of the tallest cloud. Enticing streaks of rain trailed to the sand below.
Simon listened hopefully for the sound of thunder. Several seconds passed and the booming came, a bit stronger this time. Sighing, he said, “I’m so thirsty. Will it come this way?”
“If Yanash so wills,” T’Prinka answered wearily. “Pray, Simon. The heat has kept the sandclaws deep, but when the desert’s surface begins to cool, they will forage.”
Simon looked at the unbroken miles of desert, and shuddered. Sparn had told him stories about people being dragged under the sand by barbed tentacles. He admired his uncle’s courage—the way Sparn used to go out and single-handedly capture sandclaws with his retrieval equipment. He wished Sparn and his rig were here now. He wished his father was here, too. He was worried about both of them.
Simon tried to ignore the sandclaws and the terrible throbbing that filled his head. His mind drifted and he found himself talking to Yanash about what Christmas would like in San Francisco. Crisp ocean air, all the water he could drink, even water to bathe in. And the sweet pine scent of the tree Mom would decorate—his mother, who had tried to understand him even when he was lashing out at everyone around him; even when he was saying hateful things about his own father. Let me see her again, he prayed, give me a chance to show her how I’ve changed, and show Teresa and Jamie that I really do love them.
A sob tore at his chest, but no tears would come. Now his skin was completely dry, and his tongue felt too large for his mouth.
There was more thunder in the distance. It seemed to echo forever, a low rumble like orchestra drums, and a swirl of wind that sang like a note on his violin. Dust billowed in his face, making him cough.
And then, voices.
Cool fingers touched his cheek. As if in a dream, he felt himself being lifted. Weakly he opened his eyes and looked into the face of a blue-eyed, sandy-haired man. He felt no surprise that the man was human or that he was now lying on the back seat of a skimmer. He no longer felt much of anything.
T’Prinka climbed up front and doors closed. As the temperature inside the skimmer began to plummet, the man positioned himself between the front seats and quickly stripped Simon of everything but his briefs. He then picked up a bottle, poured chilled water over Simon’s skin, and began soaking his hair.
Simon gasped, seized the bottle with trembling hands and gulped the last of its contents. The man reached into a compartment up front and produced another bottle, which he gave to T’Prinka.
“Here,” he said in Vulcan’s First Language, “drink half, then give the rest to the boy.”
Simon watched him rummage in an equipment pouch and pull out a scanning device that reminded him of his mother’s. The scanner hummed as the man passed it over Simon’s body.
Simon spoke to him in Vulcan so T’Prinka would understand. “Are you a doctor?”
“Yes,” the man said as he filled a sprayhypo. Adjusting the settings, he lowered it to Simon’s arm. “This will help moderate your body temperature.”
The hypo delivered its dose with a hiss that left Simon’s arm stinging. He rubbed weakly at the spot until T’Prinka passed the water bottle. When he had gulped down his share, he found the doctor studying him and T’Prinka.
“Alright,” the man said, “my name is Travis Van Allen. Now suppose you tell me who you are and…” he suddenly reverted to Standard “…what the bloody hell you were doing out here in the goddam middle of nowhere.”
Simon’s aunt spoke. “I am S’chn T’gai T’Prinka, wife of Sparn. The boy is S’chn T’gai Simon, the son of my nephew Spock.”
Van Allen looked startled. “Spock? The ambassador’s son?”
“Yes,” T’Prinka acknowledged.
The doctor turned and his eyes roamed over Simon’s blistered face. “So you are Spock’s boy! Yes, I can see that now, but there is a bit of your mother there, too.” His face grew stern as he swept the scanner over Simon and checked the readings. His stilted Vulcan words did not seem to suit his nature. “It looks as if you will be alright. It is most fortunate that the storm made me change course or I would never have seen you. How did you get out here? Did you not realize the danger?”
T’Prinka explained, “We were abducted by kolinahrus and deliberately stranded here. Your finding us was not a matter of fortune, but of divine providence. Doctor, I thank you for your help. If you will be so kind as to deliver us to Mount Seleya, I will see that you are generously reimbursed for your time and your services.”
“Seleya!” Van Allen gaped at them in astonishment. “But…” he broke off and began again. “Are you Yanashites?”
T’Prinka smiled in affirmation.
“Well then, yes…” he said, somewhat flustered. “It looks as if you really are.”
At that, he slid behind the controls and they were on their way.