Testament: Part 1

highway1

Author’s Intro:

     This story occurs midway in my “Star Trek: Beyond” series (no relation to the movie) posted at adastrafanfic.com. Spock is married to a human Starfleet doctor named Lauren Fielding. They share a home in San Francisco with their 3 children, one of whom has serious medical issues. Spock also has a grown daughter named T’Beth, from an ill-fated encounter many years ago. Having been released from prison after being falsely accused of attempted murder, Spock took on one last mission for Starfleet before retiring from the service. He is currently dappling in diplomatic affairs when dramatic events on Vulcan draw him into history’s current. The story begins with Spock’s disagreeable uncle, Sparn…

 ***

     The traffic had made Sparn late. In all his years on Vulcan he had never seen so many cars traveling the outskirts of Tareel, speeding above the roadways. And overhead, skimmers in abundance whined incessantly, all heading in the same direction.

     Fools, he thought with icy contempt, out to catch a glimpse of the crazy one—and on such a day as this, mid-Belaar, with the heat of Eridani enough to sear even a dark Vulcan’s skin.

     Sparn arrived late at his destination. With a sigh he climbed out of his air-conditioned truck and quickly powered up the retrieval equipment mounted behind the cab. He pulled on a pair of heat-resistant gloves before touching the nozzle assembly. Even so, the long handle nearly burned him as he carried it into the customer’s back garden with the thick cord reeling out behind him. Once inside, he concentrated on the handle’s sensor array. A sandclaw had dragged a family pet to its death here beneath the shifting red sand. Its barbed tentacles could easily do the same to a man.

     Sparn preferred almost any kind of retrieval to this, but it paid well—so well that he could have hired an assistant, but he preferred keeping all the profit for himself. At one time he had offered his nephew a position, knowing that the son of his illustrious brother Sarek would never accept it, despite being newly released from a Starfleet prison, and unemployed.

     Sparn’s lips pressed into a taut, bitter line, and he batted an annoying insect from his silver hair. The sun beat down mercilessly.

     No, this sort of work was too lowly for the likes of Ambassador Sarek and his halfbreed son Spock. Since leaving prison, Spock had somehow recovered his reputation and gone on to receive new honors in the service of Starfleet. Once more the names of Sarek and Spock had been lauded in news reports. Sparn found the situation galling.

     A sensor fluctuation drew his attention. His pulse quickened as he centered the broad nozzle on the ground and flipped a switch. As the unit chewed away at the sand, red dust sifted up, settling on his clothes and skin, making him cough.

     Suddenly a clawed tentacle thrust from the ground and brushed his left boot. Startled, Sparn leaped back, lost his hold on the vibrating handle, and fell. The nozzle slammed into the side of the house. Stone chips narrowly missed his eyes as he scrambled away from the sandclaw and retrieved the unit.

     Confused by so much motion, the sandclaw’s tentacle stirred a slow, circular pattern in the sand. Sparn dropped the nozzle over it, changed a setting, and the system automatically transferred the sandclaw into the truck’s storage tank.

     Sparn switched off the unit and stood trembling. Always before, the sandclaws had sought out the churning nozzle. Why had this one gone after his foot instead? Another half inch and he would have made the news.

     Returning to his truck, he reeled in the cord. He could hear the sandclaw frantically slapping the inside of the tank, and the terrified shrieks of the khree pups he had captured from another yard earlier in the day. He almost pitied the doomed khree pups. According to environmental law, they could not share the tank with a predator. He should have relocated the khree before this stop, but the traffic had been so heavy and he was running late. And it would not be the first time he had flouted the retrieval regulations.

     He climbed into the cab and started the motor. As the truck rose above the roadbed, its air conditioner quickly reduced the interior temperature to a cool 100 degrees. Feeling somewhat refreshed, he put the truck into motion and headed for the relocation site at the edge of the safebelt. But upon reaching the speedway intersection, he found it was impossible to turn left. The traffic streaming into Tareel had worsened. No one was obeying the lane assignments. He watched in disbelief as one car after another illegally swept through the intersection at improper altitudes. Had all of Vulcan gone mad?

     By now there were other vehicles piling up behind him. Horns sounded in a shameful display of impatience. Sparn saw no choice but to join the traffic driving into Tareel. The sandclaw would die in the tank and send up a horrible stench, but at least he would be home, out of the heat, away from all this insanity.

     He eased the throttle open. The truck was edging into the flow of traffic when the motor stalled and the truck dropped to the ground with jarring force. Sparn pressed the ignition. Nothing happened. He glanced at the fuel readout. A little more than half. The heat in the cab was already stifling.

     With an ancient curse on his lips, he stepped out onto the blistering roadway and lifted the truck’s hood. As he studied the engine compartment, cars flowed around him and sped on. Skimmers passed overhead, creating a steady, hot breeze.

     Through the course of his life Sparn had dabbled in many professions, but he was not a mechanic. He had begun his working career as a teacher. It had been decades since his restlessness sent him from the classroom, but he still thought of himself as a highly educated historian and therefore above all the menial business ventures he had later undertaken.

     Another car pulled around his truck and came to a stop on the shoulder. Four young men stepped out, wearing the usual sand boots and pale summer clothing.

     “Sir, do you need assistance?” asked the youngest Vulcan.

     “It stopped suddenly,” Sparn said, stepping aside.

     His attention was drawn to the tallest of the group. The man appeared to be around forty years of age, blue-eyed with light brown hair combed away from his forehead. It was an uncommon style and Sparn did not approve of it, yet there was a handsome nobility to this stranger.

     The Vulcan spoke. “Sorel, do what you can.”

     “As you say, Yanash,” replied the younger man.

     Yanash? This was Yanash?

     Sparn stared at the fine-looking Vulcan and felt a sense of outrage begin to grow. Eridani’s heat baked him, the traffic continued to swirl by, and still he stared. “You!” he said at last, curtly gesturing at the scene around them. “You are responsible for all this disorder!”

     Yanash seemed unperturbed. “They follow me everywhere. They are so hungry…”

     “Then have them go home and eat,” Sparn retorted.

     Yanash turned and looked sadly at the passing vehicles. “They seek the food that only I can give them.”

     “What food it that?” Sparn said with scorn. He struggled to contain his anger. “Is it true that you eat animal flesh?”

     Behind him, the truck started. Sorel closed the hood, and all but Yanash returned to their car. Yanash gazed upon Sparn and he felt as if the strange blue eyes were probing the depths of his heart.

     “Come,” Yanash invited, “see for yourself. Bring your bondmate.”

     “My bondmate…is no longer with me,” Sparn said in a voice hushed with pain. Let him draw his own conclusions. Let him think she was dead.

     Yanash spoke softly. “It is true that you have no bondmate living at home, for this past year she left you and is considering a divorce.”

     Sparn was stunned to hear his secret shame spoken aloud. Not even his brother knew that T’Prinka’s departure was likely permanent.

     Time seemed to stand still as Yanash continued in the same kindly voice. “She had her fill of your cold, demanding ways…but now I will show you a better way. Come, Sparn. Follow me.”

     Somehow Sparn was in his truck, following, before he realized that Yanash had called him by name.

***

     The sound of three melodious tones drew Spock’s attention to the announcement that followed. “Approaching the Sy-Don Corridor, sir.”

     Alone in the passenger compartment, Spock turned off his datapadd and returned it to his valise. Then he stood and adjusted his civilian suit before entering the cockpit, where he sat down beside the pilot. Ensign Murphy was barely twenty-four, and though Spock was aware of the young man’s excellent record, he sometimes felt more comfortable here by the controls.

     Twin planets loomed in the viewscreen—Sydok, as rich and verdant as Earth, and parched Vulcan-like Donari which would host tomorrow’s meeting of the Sy-Don Security Council.

     As Murphy prepared their Donari approach, Spock found his thoughts turning to his eldest daughter on Sydok. T’Beth was thirty now; though they regularly communicated by subspace coms, they had not been together in two years. At the council she would be working in her usual role of cultural advisor. Later he would take time to visit her Sy home, but there was another idea that had been forming for some time, and now it returned to him in force.

     His courier was arriving hours ahead of schedule, and at T’Beth’s residence evening would scarcely have begun. Vulcans did not normally “drop in unannounced”, but here was an opportunity to catch her unawares and determine the veracity of troubling rumors that had persisted for years.

     Decisively Spock said, “Change of course. We are landing on Sydok, at the home of Jondar Jo-Ree. I will lay in the coordinates.”

Murphy swung around and gaped at him. “Sir? Land at a private home? Not a spaceport?”

“He has a small landing facility.”

“But sir. Those aren’t my orders…”

     Spock found it simplest just to take the controls himself. Twenty minutes later he disembarked on a dark grassy knoll overlooking the parliamentarian’s two-story house. A light rain was falling. Donning a hooded cloak, he make his way down to the brightly lit porch.

     As he reached for the door chime his sensitive hearing caught the sound of voices—Jo-Ree’s deep tones, T’Beth, and then…a child’s laughter. For an instant he hesitated, finger to the button, his emotions rioting. Then from inside the home, more laughter…and he knew why it must be now, like this, without warning. For far too long he had denied his mounting suspicions.

     Preparing himself, Spock rang the chime.

     Silence fell over the house. Then footsteps approached and the door swung open, releasing an agreeable scent of food. For a split second T’Beth looked at him without recognition. Then Spock pulled back his hood and her jaw dropped.

     “Father!” she gasped.

     To Spock, it seemed more an expression of horror than one of greeting. “Yes, T’Beth,” he said, watching her reactions closely, hoping he was wrong about them and about her.

     She did not immediately invite him into the house. Looking shaken, she glanced over her shoulder and called to Jo-Ree in an unnatural voice. “Grandfather—it’s Spock!”

     Jo-Ree stepped into the entryway, a small golden-haired girl at his side.

     “Grandfather!” T’Beth cried out, openly distressed.

     “No,” Jo-Ree said firmly. “No more, my child. It is best.”

     T’Beth glanced once more at Spock, tears flowing freely down her anguished face. Then her head dropped and she rushed out of sight.

     A small voice asked, “Who’s dat? What’s the matter with Mommy?”

     Silent and aching, Spock gazed at the lovely child, then turned and walked back up the hill.

 —

By M.C. Pehrson

 

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