Title: Vulcan At The Temple Author: Rob Morris Series: The TOS-based AU, The Ancient Destroyer Cycle Type: Short Story Characters: AU versions of: Sarek, Amanda, Saavik and other ST characters Rating: PG13, for harsh concepts Summary: As Sarek prepares to attempt a rescue and deal with its likely consequences, he also recalls the bizarre way in which this mission came to be his Vulcan At The Temple by Rob Morris Vulcan, Spring, 2278 "To quote a better woman than me, Sarek - I'm not moving." The giant Vulcan honor guards surrounding Amanda would, as like as not, never take hold of her, both for decorum and for the simple fact that she was the mistress of the Ambassador's household. The queen was home a lot more often than the king, went the saying on as many worlds as one could count, varied though the phraseology might be, culture and history depending. But Sarek was not to be put off in this. "My wife, it is for your protection. Where Saavik and I go, you may not follow, but trouble may soon follow back. Amanda, if I have ever had your trust, I must ask for it now and in extreme measure. I will not invoke the authority of Vulcan Law in this matter unless you force my hand. I would rather endure your scorn for doing so than my own for letting you come to harm, and this is a very real possibility." The heartfelt plea seemed to embarrass the guards, and it at last moved Amanda's face to a softer look. "Husband-what is going on? Sarek, darling, what's so wrong that I have to be locked away in the main estate, supposedly for my own good?" Sarek closed his eyes. "There is everything wrong, my wife. It could even be said that perhaps nothing we know has ever been right, or true. What I and the child attempt could rescue the one last hope for all life in all its forms, everywhere." Amanda shook her head. "No! You can't say something like that and just expect to walk away clean. Just what am I supposed to do, while I'm under virtual house arrest?" Sarek gave a vague yet implicitly chilling answer. "I would recommend perhaps reading over the Christian Bible's final books, my wife." At that, Amanda said no more and moved to depart for the estate she once declared too large for a real family. She loved her home, her husband, her sons (even the one the law declared non-existent) and the sweet girl she could never allow to call her Grandma. All those elements of her life had a certain structure, and Sarek with those few words had struck a blow at that structure. When she was secure in the transport and in the company of two new guards, her former ones whispered among themselves. "Steren, is it not that the final books of the Terran Christian Bible speak of the end of all things?" "It is so, Stevdt. Yet there are also those scholars who claim it to be meant as an allegory, a spiritual guide for those who believe in that book's words during the times, as is said, that try men's souls." "Yet Vulcan has no such ‘Book Of Revelation'." "Untrue. While never so widely known to us as the Terrans know of Revelation, the Final Words Of Surak are of a like nature." "What do they speak of?" Steren's face gained the look of a struggle, a struggle with the emotion called terror. "The Gh'draeh." "But...the Ancient Destroyer is only a myth." "Myths are persistent things, Stevdt. Logic would direct us to question that persistence. Why, even in these modern times, does this myth continue to be mentioned by all peoples on all worlds?" For this, the younger of the two honor guards had no answer at all. Inside, a Sarek a great deal less calm than he let on observed Saavik's training-or was it devolution? Her path away from Hellguard had been so long and hard, made worse and ever harsher by Vulcan bigotry both simplistic and on some levels, orchestrated. The last part made a twisted sort of sense. The feud between T'Pring's ancestors and House Surak predated the departure of the Romulans, after all. Saavik was of that house, and yet as an undeclared, she enjoyed none of its privileges and only as much protection as could be given a guest. "Saavik-kam, you took 13 seconds to eviscerate that dummy target and then dispose of its remains. In Admiralty Hall's depths, you will have perhaps ten. Perhaps." She would make and break that mark, he knew. And he knew how she would do it. She would call upon every slight that she had encountered since entering the ‘civilized' world. The chastisement for publicly embracing James Kirk in public. The teachers who turned her away at the classroom door. The banishment which followed the young woman's public humiliation, her attackers claiming Saavik's presence had affected their emotional balance. "Continue your efforts while I meditate." Her collapsible lirpa split the imaginary guard lengthwise, and ‘he' was vanished eleven seconds later. "Yes, Father." Would he gain back the boy, Peter Kirk, only to lose the adoptive sister that lost boy had never met? Sarek of Vulcan was very, very far from the sort of man who trained young people to kill, or to say that the loss of innocence was worth it, if only the goal was just and necessary. But more and more it seemed, that was exactly what he would have to do, and the thing that disturbed him most was that it did not bother him more. "Very good. See to her comfort, but do not permit her to leave the estate. When this thing begins, you will be the guarantors of my wife's very life." Sarek turned off the screen and tuned out the background shouting that one did not need to be a Vulcan to hear. Amanda was not pleased, and she would be even less so. "Forgiveness, Wife whom I must for now keep the truth from. Forgiveness, Granddaughter who I cannot even reveal that simple fact to. Forgiveness, the son I kept at arm's length, and the son I cannot speak of, both infected by the Katra Tow. Forgiveness to the brave man who is like my son's brother, who must not be told that his brother's son is alive. For I am awash in lies, and I fear that I am damned as a consequence." Yet, as Sarek recalled, the ones who had set him on this latest leg of his war against The Order were, if anything, blessed. He hoped. ------------------------------ BAJOR, 2275 Sarek was as close to being openly stunned as he cared to be. Yet what Bareil Menos, Kai Of The Bajora, had just said could have taken even a Kolinahr adept at least slightly aback. "Am I a hostage?" "Ambassador, why would you think such a thing? We are a civilized people. Indeed, we were such long before most planets in your Federation, even to your Vulcan." Sarek had gone for the answer that brutal logic called for, and now tasked himself for allowing his surprise to cause him not to see other possibilities. "I ask forgiveness, Eminence. But I made a long journey to your world, solely for the purpose of opening negotiations with the ancient culture you rightly praise. Yet you have just stated to me that you have no interest whatsoever in joining the Federation, and indeed, that you never did. In the words of my son's best friend, just what in blazes am I doing here?" Sarek knew that James Kirk would have not have said ‘blazes', indeed, it was not something Sarek would have said, normally. In fact, though, his journey was long, and the thought that the long-standoffish Bajorans finally wished to enter the process of admission to the Federation had been a pleasant surprise. Once that hope was quickly dashed, much of Sarek's patience went with it. He would not yell, or bluster. He would make his displeasure clearly known. "Your son's best friend is a man named James Kirk. Among other things, he is father to a boy named Peter, who disappeared seven years ago." Sarek could almost hear his absent wife's comments about the relation of this fact to the price of tea in China. Again, the sentiment behind the emotion was not one he wholly disagreed with. "I have aided, as best I can, in making inquiries as to the young man's assassins. James Kirk is as a member of my own house, and his grief over the loss of his adopted son is palpable. Eminence, I cannot see what business it is of yours." "Mine, Sarek Of Vulcan? No, it is not any of my business. But I speak for the business of the Temple Dwellers. I will ask you to view this image." Sarek took in the viewscreen. The image on it was of Hikaru Sulu standing with a younger Bareil Menos, and an older man wearing the robes that Bareil now wore. Also in the view was a young boy with jet-black hair. "That is your predecessor as Kai?" "Yarka Devos. Aged five-hundred years when he left us to rejoin the Prophets." Sarek had studied what was available about Bajor, and it seemed Bareil's math was badly off. "Kai Bareil, your people do not live that long. Even the oldest Vulcan in myth only lived four-fifths as much." Bareil shrugged. "He was their chosen Kai. He was promised that he would not die until he beheld the Rock Of Prophecy. He met the boy while he traveled aboard his father's starship, and so was the promise fulfilled. The Rock was notably shaken by this. We did not know The Rock was unaware of his true identity." Sarek again felt compelled to correct the man. "You are translating the boy's name into its Latin meaning, Eminence. An understandable mistake, given Latin's roots in so many of Earth's languages. The name Peter does indeed mean The Rock, just as does that of a young Vulcan girl in my family's care." Bareil tested Sarek's patience with his calm certainty, a turnabout the Vulcan could have done without. "Her name is Saavik. She is your granddaughter, the product of your son Spock's violation when betrayed and sold into captivity by another son. The boy Peter is not James Kirk's son merely by adoption, but by birth. Despite being the one who asked his brother to sire the child, the sterile man-idiot Sam Kirk always resented both. The depths of betrayal by fallen Slayer Aurelan Sorel Kirk are of an even greater degree..." Sarek rose from his chair. The time for decorum was done. His extended family's privacy had been violated, and on a primal level. Bred to peace or not, no Vulcan took that lightly. "I will wish you good day, sir, and that only as a diplomat." Sarek expected to receive an apology, or to even be arrested. As he left Bareil's office chamber, he got exactly what he did not expect. Outside those chambers was no longer the series of offices staffed by always-busy Bajoran clerics, answering and seeking answers to the problems of the living and of those passed beyond it. It was a place of faith and the spirits, but not a Bajoran one. "The Temple Of Mount Seleya. Sra Sra T'Pau?" It was T'Pau, at least to his eyes. But her tone was now completely bereft of all emotion, even the most guarded. "This is the one? The Gift Of The Stars?" Indeed, that was one direct translation of Sarek's name, given him by T'Pau as an infant, upon his recovery from the loss of Vulcania Colony, its fate only confirmed after a series of doomed expeditions. "I am Sarek Of Vulcan, Ambassador for my people. I am bred to peace, and would have peaceful relations with whatever beings now contact me, using the image and voice of my grandmother." In fact, Sarek felt a wrongness about him that was difficult to describe. He had little doubt that these beings were of a positive nature. One did not need to be a Vulcan to sense that. Yet he reasoned that his incomprehension of them was perhaps eclipsed by their own lack regarding the Vulcan. The Seleya they presented was not alive with the spirits of those whose katras dwelt there. In the true Temple, even the dust was charged with their presence. "Are you they who Kai Bareil referred to as The Dwellers In The Celestial Temple?" Another being appeared, this one in the form of T'Pau's younger sister Healer T'Nia, she who had raised the orphaned Sarek, until T'Pau declared her healer's emotions a negative influence. The feud between the sisters was old, somehow dating back to Vulcan's first contact with Earth. "We are of Bajor. Bajor is of us. We speak to the one before us, as we spoke to the one called Surak." Sarek felt the truth of their stunning words and from them made a logical stab. "Surak was not given to prophecy, save in his final words before dying, and the departure of the Rihannsi that followed. He spoke of three heads, the teeth of those heads, and the one who would shatter those teeth like glass. Do you now claim authorship of this vision?" Now it was Spock who appeared to him, albeit wearing the wanderer's robes of Selek, the nomadic relative who had saved the confused boy from the half-brother all had trusted until that blood-soaked night. "We are those who spoke. We are not the crafters of visions, but the enablers of such." Sarek would not allow himself to be unnerved, though this was a struggle. "Why do you speak with me?" Sarek had almost said ‘why do you speak with me now', but he began to suspect that these beings knew little of time as most would term it. Like as not, they considered their contact with Surak to be as little as a moment ago. The cold monotone that now replaced his Amanda's voice nearly undid his struggle for the appearance of calm. "We speak for the sake of the boy. The Rock. The bearer of our words to the faithful, when the Beast draws near them. The one who exists for when the Last Hope has fallen." The image of a boy now appeared, but it was not an image, any more than Sarek was. He looked Human, about thirteen years of age, and very, very frightened. "Mister Spock? Did you come back, sir? You promised me you'd come back, and get me out of here." Though younger and smaller in frame, Sarek would have had to have been blind not to see James Kirk in the boy's face. "You are Peter Kirk." The boy cried as he nodded. "Yes! I knew I had a name. They said I didn't anymore, but I do. Why are they so mean?" Sarek knelt beside the boy, seeing that his wrists and ankles had bruises, and a closed gash showed across his forehead. "They who hold you have mistreated you?" A look of great shame crossed the boy's face, and Sarek did not have to guess at its meaning for long. "It-it hurt. I asked them to stop-but they just laughed. And then they mocked my father's name. They didn't do that for long. They paid-I made them pay!" Sarek saw the boy begin to fade, and so desperately placed his hand to the boy's face. "Call to me-I will find you. You have my word." "Mister Spock promised, too. But he never came back." Sarek refused to ponder the meaning of that for now. He needed something else. "Peter, tell me where you are." But the boy faded entirely. "Bring him back! I must know his location, if I am to aid him." Unlike Spock, Sybok's Katra Tow did not allow him to function in normal society. But the tones of the banished one were even and somewhat pleasant in the image that now spoke, giving Sarek a painful glimpse into what his elder son could have been. "The boy dwells for a time in the place some Terrans have called - The Lake Of Fire." While it was not unknown for the Vulcan diplomat to deal in vagueness, his patience for it on this day was done with. "That is not enough. You must reveal to me...." "It Shouts." ----------------------------------------- Sarek found himself back in the chamber of the Kai. Bareil Menos now actually looked somewhat apologetic. "I realize now the information I was given about your family was not publicly known. I ask forgiveness, Ambassador. It is said that only our Emissary, when he should come, will be able to fully understand the words of the Prophets. I have been vexed by their words, and tasked for being angered by them." Sarek, though still reeling and needing to sit, listened to Bareil's words. "When was this, if I may ask?" "Ambassador, Peter Kirk was a boy I had met. I know enough of Terran culture to know that the Lake Of Fire means Hell, a place reserved not for prophesied champions of light and order. I asked what he had done to earn this. They said he had done nothing. I then cried out and asked where was justice, that an innocent child should suffer so. It was the last time I spoke with them until I was told of your family and friends. I shall never see the visions the Prophets offer as clearly as I once had. My punishment for questioning them." Rather than call into question ‘gods' who would treat a caring man so, Sarek spoke of the task these ‘Prophets' had given him. "How shall I find the boy? James Kirk has many powerful enemies, and as is said, space is wide and long." Bareil nodded. "The politician in me can help there, Ambassador. Seek out those enemies of James Kirk with the most practice and polish in lying. Make your inquiries blindly, and then await the interest of the true suspects in your activities. The ones who have not done this will not care how you spend your time. When the ones that do care make contact, then you will know what you wish." ------------------------------------------------------------------- Vulcan, 2278 Sarek had done just that. When a call came from Starfleet Grand Admiral Brock Cartwright, it had been ostensibly to offer help, citing embarrassment in Starfleet's having failed to solve the ‘murders' of Peter Kirk and his grandmother in Iowa. When Sarek had told him with a straight face that he believed the Orion Pirate King had ordered the ‘hit', the relief on Cartwright's face was palpable. Admiralty Hall was a place known for near-xenophobia and a view of authority that allowed no dissent of any kind within Starfleet. Sarek had always known that it housed the Order of The Ancient Destroyer on Earth, though he dismissed this version as a sickening but stable hate-group that mostly talked among themselves. Sarek now also knew it as a place that kidnapped and violated young children. The break came when an inside source offered certain information on the boy's captivity. Sarek's thoughts consumed him.*Could it be in fact that the next leap is also true? Could it be that the Ancient Destroyer actually exists? For if the boy. Peter Kirk, is in fact the Rock Of Prophecy, then is the existence of his sworn foe also a given?* Not for comfort but for focus, Sarek read aloud the final words of Surak. "Three Heads Do I Remember, and these are the heads of The Ancient Destroyer Of Worlds. When the time of its return is seen, it shall not be turned back. The mightiest warriors fall, as do the craftiest schemers. Seekers of the power of perfection, and seekers of the protection of power shall be made irrelevant and the links will be broken. Vulcan will find herself so reduced as to fit in a crater of T'Kuht. In worlds not yet known, the boldest explorers will find themselves as yet blind to this coming and the depths of true evil, a blindness those once called brother will aid in. Behold Gh'draeh, formed from hateful lies. Behold, The Ancient Destroyer! Then die." Sarek entered the training area, and saw that Saavik's time was now at five seconds per destroyed opponent. He could permit himself to be neither pleased nor disgusted by this. He merely said four words to a girl he wished to say so much more to. "We will depart now."