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Chapter 7: The Past Is Prologue

46 years ago…

The year: 2239

Location: City of Shi’Kahr, Vulcan

With a slight smile on his face, nine year old Spock scratched his loyal pet behind the ears. The sehlat’s eyes had dropped closed in contentment a few minutes earlier, but suddenly they opened again without warning. I-Chaya’s ears turned forwards and his head lifted from the ground.

Spock’s fingers stopped their repetitive motion. “What is it, boy?” Spock tilted his head slightly, trying to hear whatever it was that his sehlat was reacting to. At first he heard nothing, which caused him to frown. This was yet another instance in the constant stream of reminders in his life that he was part human -- had he been fully Vulcan he would have heard the sound of the skimmer’s engines long before I-Chaya had.

The action of frowning caused Spock to wince: the movement of his facial muscles reignited the pain he experienced from his split lower lip and the sizable bruise on his right cheek. The sudden sting made his eyes water.

A few seconds passed, and at last Spock was able to hear the sound of the skimmer just as the rumbling sound of the engine died away. He glanced down at I-Chaya, and the frown on his face was replaced by another smile. “They’re back! I’ll see you later, I-Chaya.”

Spock dashed through the hallways of his home, going in search of his fifteen year old half-brother. Sybok and their father had just returned from a ceremony at Mt. Seleya commemorating the first anniversary of the death of Sybok’s mother, T’Rea. His own mother had gone to the ceremony as well; as Sarek’s wife, tradition had demanded her presence at the commemoration. Spock had been left behind, however; for reasons not explained to him, his father had told him that his presence would not have been deemed “appropriate.” Spock had only been able to conclude that he was being excluded on purpose…for the same reason that his schoolmates constantly tormented him: he was not truly Vulcan.

It wasn’t an unreasonable conclusion to make. He had been singled out countless times, separate from the rest of Vulcan society, on account of his human heritage. Even his father saw him differently from his classmates, having declared him “so human” on the day of his birth. At best he was the equivalent of a neglected house pet in the eyes of his fellow Vulcans: while he was allowed into the metaphorical house of Vulcan society and would never be chased out, the other residents of that house would never welcome him into their ranks nor do much more than tolerate his presence.

His only true friend, besides faithful I-Chaya, was his half-brother. Ever since Sybok had come to live with them a year ago, he had been a source of sympathy and understanding for Spock. For some reason Sybok had always comprehended the conflicts that he felt within him, and his half-brother had always managed to console him whenever he became angry or sad from the injustices he constantly endured due to his mixed heritage. In return Spock adored him, even hero worshiped him a little bit.

Spock found his half-brother in the inner courtyard of their home, his back facing towards the courtyard entrance. He ran across the garden, heading straight for where Sybok was sitting on a stone bench, his mind already imagining Sybok soothing the emotional hurts that he was experiencing at his exclusion from the ceremony and his most recent fight with some of his schoolmates. “Sybok!”

Sybok did not turn to face his younger sibling. “Leave me in peace.”

The pace of Spock’s footfalls slowed. Sybok’s voice had sounded odd, strained in a way that Spock was not accustomed to hearing. He stopped behind Sybok, stretched out an arm, and touched Sybok on the shoulder. “Brother?”

At the soft question, Sybok turned his head over his shoulder. Spock quickly withdrew his hand. “Brother!” he exclaimed, startled. “You are crying!”

Sybok wiped wet streaks from his cheeks. “What if I am?”

“Vulcans don’t cry,” Spock replied automatically, as though reciting a lesson learned from the cradle.

“On the contrary, you cry a great deal when our father is not looking, and you’re Vulcan.”

“Yes but…I’m not completely…” Spock drifted off before completing the rest of his thought. “…and anyway, you’re an Adept of Gol.”

“The fact that I am studying to become a master of logic does not render me incapable of crying, Spock,” Sybok said quietly.

His own hurts forgotten, Spock slid onto the bench next to his elder half-sibling, determined now to make Sybok feel better as Sybok had always done for him in the past. “Why do you weep, brother? Because of the ceremony today?”

Sybok nodded gravely.

Spock’s forehead wrinkled in confusion. “But why? The occasion of your first mind-melding with your mother’s vre-katra ought to have been a satisfying one.”

Sybok shook his head once. “It was not…and the elders have decreed that my first melding was to be my only melding. The priestesses have already entombed her katric ark in a sealed chamber within the Hall of Ancient Thought.”

“Sealed?” Spock looked up at Sybok, trying to comprehend the total meaning of his brother’s statement. The katric arks of important Vulcans were never placed in sealed chambers. The entire purpose of enshrining the knowledge of an individual’s katra within a katric ark was to allow future generations to meld with it and learn from the deceased individual. Sealing the chamber that housed T’Rea’s vre-katra made absolutely no sense to him -- T’Rea had been the High Priestess of Gol once. He could not begin to imagine why the elders would deny all future generations of Vulcans access to her valuable knowledge and unique insight. “Why sealed?”

Sybok looked down at his younger half-brother, a strange fire glinting in his eyes. “Because of what she knew…The elders may say that the ancient stories are false, that they are merely part of a mythology from our primitive past, but I know now that they are wrong. I have seen the truth, Spock.” Sybok closed his eyes, his head tilting back in the air as he drew in a deep breath, as though he were truly breathing for the first time in his life. “I felt its force the moment I joined with her.”

Spock gaped up at Sybok, hanging on his half-brother’s every word. “What did you know, brother?”

“That Surak was wrong, brother.” Sybok placed a hand firmly on his shoulder, gave the joint a tight squeeze. “Vulcans should never have given up emotions in favor of logic. Be grateful that you can feel so freely, Spock. You are purer Vulcan than basically everyone else on this planet.”

After a moment of silence, Sybok released his shoulder and stood up from the bench. He began to walk away.

Dazed from his half-brother’s words, it took Spock a moment to react. He hastened to catch up with Sybok before his sibling could leave the courtyard. “Brother, where are you going?”

Sybok stopped walking out of the garden. For a few seconds he paused before turning around to face Spock once again. “I know that you will not understand this, Spock, but I must bid you farewell. I do not believe that I will be welcome in our father’s house after tonight.”

Spock just stood there. Sybok was right -- at this exact moment, he did not understand at all what his brother was talking about. Why would Sybok, his own half-brother, his confidant and his friend, be saying good-bye to him, as if for the last time?

Sybok continued quietly. “I must release her…they should all be released. But I will start with her. What they have endured is unnatural. Our people should never have condemned them all to endless torture for the simple sake of recording their knowledge as if they were all some kind of glorified history textbook. All things must come to an end, Spock.”

A wild look sparkled in Sybok’s eyes, as though he had been possessed by some unknown righteous purpose. Spock got the feeling that Sybok’s words were no longer directed towards him, but to the silent and deaf air that surrounded them. “She should not have to endure the ages alone. Tonight I shall free her…and one day, I will take her to the place where she can finally rest in peace.”

Sybok laid both of his hands on Spock’s shoulders. “So farewell, my brother. I hope that we shall be reunited some day, when you too have discovered the truth as I have. Until that day arrives, remember that I love you.”

Spock was too stunned by Sybok’s open declaration of emotion for him to be able to make a reply. He was already replaying their conversation in his head, trying to comprehend everything that Sybok had said to him. He knew that he was too young to understand his half-brother’s words, but he also knew that he would never forget them.


16 years ago…

The year: 2269

Location: City of Shi’Kahr, Vulcan

Spock stepped out onto the private balcony that was attached to his personal sleeping chamber in his parents’ home. The sleeping chamber had been his throughout his childhood, and though he had returned home only infrequently since entering adulthood, his mother had kept the room as he had left it all those years ago upon leaving for Starfleet Academy. Faithful I-Chaya, with whom he had shared his room as a child, had died many years ago and left him as the room’s single occupant. But now he could share the room once more whenever he came home to Vulcan: with Jim, his bondmate of four months.

With the delicate flexing of muscles, Spock closed his inner eyelids in order to filter out the excessive heat, dust, and brightness of the Vulcan midday. Vulcan’s primary sun, the giant 40 Eridani A, was a blinding yellow ball in the sky that had yet to reach its zenith. Vulcan’s secondary sun, the red dwarf 40 Eridani C, had just begun its lazy descent towards the western horizon, while Vulcan’s most distant and tertiary sun, the white dwarf 40 Eridani B, glowed a brilliant white low in the sky, hardly more than a pinprick of light compared to its sister stars. On the eastern horizon Vulcan’s sister planet, T’Khut, was just beginning to emerge. The volcanically active planet typically dominated the evening skies, looming large, forbidding, and very…orange…during the night. And if Spock had bothered to squint his eyes just right, he would have been able to make out a tiny dot of white against T’Khut’s orange surface -- T’Khut’s small ice moon, T'Rukhemai.

Beyond the circular imprint of Shi’Kahr on the planet’s surface Spock could see the distant spires of the L-langon Mountains on the northwest horizon. The mountains, ten days distance from the city by foot, rose like sharp craggy knives in all conceivable angles from the desert, as though the mountains were trying to cut the suns and T’Khut from the sky.

Spock shifted his gaze westward, to where a small break appeared in the mountains. A vast desert canyon split the ground at that geographic point. Colloquially it was known simply as “the Gateway,” as it marked the beginning of the great pilgrimage walk. If one were to continue into the canyon past the Gateway, one would enter the Plain of Blood. It was not actually a plain at all, but an arid badland formation known for its intense heat. And if one was brave (or foolish) enough to cross the Plain of Blood, one would then find oneself in the heart of Vulcan’s Forge, which was home to predatory le-matyas and the worst electrical sandstorms found anywhere on the planet. And if the element-beaten traveler managed to survive the long journey on foot through the Forge, one would be rewarded with the sight of Vulcan’s highest and most important mountain peak rising dramatically from the desert: Mt. Seleya.

From behind him, Spock heard his father’s voice. Sarek never spoke louder than was needed, and though his voice was quiet, it was one that demanded the respect of those around him. “Spock, I would speak with you.”

Spock turned around, slightly surprised, as he had not realized that his father had returned from his day trip to Shi’Kahr. He saw that Sarek was dressed in the formal robes of their clan and family: long sweeping layers of brown and gold trim, with a sash of violent purple tied around his waist. From this alone Spock was able to deduce that Sarek must have been speaking with the council of elders. “Of course, father,” he answered while bowing his head as a sign of respect.

Sarek folded his hands stiffly behind his back, his right hand cupped by his left. “Where are your bondmate and Dr. McCoy?”

“I believe mother is giving them a tour of the house and the grounds at present.”

“I see.” Sarek slowly approached, until he was standing side-by-side with him on the balcony, looking out at the landscape. “Did she remember to offer them water?”

Spock tilted his head slightly in the affirmative. “She did.”

“Good,” Sarek answered tranquilly. “Tradition must be observed for our most honored guests.”

Spock flinched at his father’s words about observing traditions. Sarek had used the phrasing intentionally, as a rebuke for his own recent behavior. He and Jim had become bondmates without consulting Sarek first, in a clear violation of tradition. And though he would not have changed the manner in which he and Jim had bonded, Sarek’s words still stung him now.

Sarek continued, the inflection of his voice not changing in the least. “What plans have you made for the rest of the day?”

Spock took a moment to calm his mind before making his response. “Dr. McCoy has requested that we take a trip by skimmer for an activity that he called ‘sight-seeing.’ I was thinking of taking the doctor and Jim to Mt. Seleya.”

“A logical choice as it is Vulcan’s most famous landmark. It will certainly prove to be of interest to them.”

Spock turned the focus of his eyes away from the L-langon Mountains and towards his father. “What did the council of elders wish to speak with you about?”

“You, my son.”

One of Spock’s eyebrows shot up like a bolt towards his hairline. “Indeed.”

“The council has ruled that your essence shall be preserved in a vre-katra upon your death.” Sarek also turned his gaze away from the landscape, towards his son. There seemed to be a faint glimmer of pride in his eyes. “Your vessel is currently located next to my own, on the display pedestal in the main entry. When you return to the Enterprise you must remember to take it with you, so that you may begin the joining process with it.”

The muscles of Spock’s jaw clenched tightly. So, after all these years, the rest of Vulcan had finally decided to accept him into their ranks. Only now, after 15 years of illustrious service aboard the Enterprise, had his life and experiences been deemed worthy of preservation in the Hall of Ancient Thought. “Of course, father. I will not forget.”

Sarek pulled his hands out from behind his back and touched Spock lightly on one shoulder. The touch startled Spock, though his facial expression did not reveal his surprise. The action of that touch was extremely uncharacteristic for his usually stoic father. “I am…most gratified…that one day your vre-katra will stand next to my own, as well as those of your forefather Skon and second forefather Solkar, in our family’s chamber for the ages to come.”

“Yes,” Spock echoed quietly, “it is a great honor.”

Sarek’s hand drifted away from his shoulder.

As Spock watched his father depart, he felt his insides filling with a chilling dread. He walked into his sleeping chamber in a daze, sank lifelessly down into a chair. In the background he could just hear the voices of his mother and his bondmate.

Eternity in a vre-katra: it had been ruled by the council. But what of Jim? With his essence trapped in a vre-katra, his soul would never be able to find Jim’s after death. The thought made Spock shudder, for he could not bear the thought of being denied the peace to be found when twin souls rested together after death had come.

The council had ruled, and Spock had seen with his own eyes the pride that the ruling had given to his father. But what of Jim?


“Mt. Seleya,” Spock said quietly, in a tone of the utmost solemnity.

Jim smiled over at his bondmate. // It’s beautiful, ashayam. //

Spock quirked an eyebrow at his beloved. // It is aesthetically pleasing, to be sure, but that is not why I chose to bring you here, t’hy’la. This is where the Vulcan heart was born. //

Spock and Jim walked slowly side by side, their hands not quite touching, while McCoy trotted on ahead of them up the steps that led to the summit. “You’d think Surak could have chosen someplace a little more hospitable to sit contemplating life, the universe, and everything…” grunted McCoy softly as he wiped away beads of sweat that were running down his forehead. When he’d asked Spock about the possibility of visiting some geographical points of interest, McCoy hadn’t figured on Spock dragging them out to see them all during the hottest part of the day.

The sight of a half dozen Vulcan females, all with long hair that hung down to their waists, caught Jim’s attention. He squinted slightly against the desert glare to better watch them as they made their way single file along what looked like a twisting narrow path up the mountain side, one that seemed like a far more treacherous walk than their own journey up smoothly paved steps. “What’re they doing, Spock?” Any minute now Jim was sure one of the white-robed females was going to fall to a most painful death.

It took Spock a few seconds to figure out where Jim was looking, and to whom he was referring. “Priestesses -- on their way to the Hall of Ancient Thought, no doubt,” Spock said in an off-handed manner, his attention already drifting back to the rigors of their own climb.

Jim paused on a step, holding a hand to the stitch that had formed itself in his side. “The Hall of Ancient Thought?” he panted out, feeling a bit stupid that he didn’t know what his bondmate was talking about. No matter how much time he seemed to spend researching Vulcan culture, it never seemed to be enough to do more than scratch the surface of the who-knew-how-many-millennia-years-old traditions, many of which were still shrouded in mystery to outsiders.

“It is where the memory of Surak is held,” Spock answered simply while offering his own water pouch to his parched sounding bondmate, which Jim quickly seized upon. “It contains the cultural legacy of many of Vulcan’s greatest citizens, preserving their knowledge for future generations.”

Though he was busy taking a drink of water, Jim didn’t miss the tone of quiet…well, he wasn’t sure what to call it…disapproval? distaste?...in Spock’s voice. He shot his bondmate a curious glance, hoping that he would provide an answer without his asking for one.

“It is a practice from ancient times. Out-dated, many would say. And one I would not care to endure myself.” Spock looked away, to some distant point on the hazy horizon. “All things must come to an end.”

His bondmate’s cryptic statements left Jim with more questions than he’d had when this whole conversation had started, but he didn’t pursue the matter any further. Spock had seemed to shut down emotionally while providing his short explanation, which meant that Jim had accidentally stumbled onto a sensitive topic…whatever it was all about, it probably had to do with some disagreement between Spock and his father, which meant Jim likely wasn’t going to get a better explanation any time soon.


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