DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2007 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.
WOLF IN THE FOLD: REMEMBER
Stardate: 3616.8, Personal Log, First Officer Spock recording.
The ceremony was long and we stood at parade rest for most of it. After one point six hours, the Humans around me began to fidget slightly -- a cautious shifting of weight from one foot to the other, a surreptitious flexing of back muscles that had begun to complain. Dr. McCoy seemed to be in the most discomfort. He was never happy in dress uniform under the best of circumstances. On the other hand, Captain Kirk could have been carved from stone. His body, his mind, his demeanor, all were rigidly controlled. He didn't want to be there, but his duty dictated our presence and he is not a man who shirks duty.
Behind me, I could sense Mr. Scott's acute distress although it was not from the high-collared tunic he wore. I doubt he was even aware of how he was attired. No, his distress was emotional, something that beat at my senses as loudly as the wails and ululations of the mourning Argellians. I believe I would have gone mad had I not been able to shield with impervious Vulcan training against the veritable cacophony around me.
I had never witnessed Argellian funeral rites before, but we four senior officers of the Enterprise were standing honor duty at Madame Sybo's antyesti. We were here both because we were all directly involved in her death and also as official representatives of the Federation at the ceremony. This was the reason Mr. Scott was barely maintaining his emotional equilibrium. It was by his hand -- if not his mind -- that the Prefect's wife had died. Scott was torn apart by this fact, feeling he had no right to be in attendance here, yet his presence was required by duty and custom.
I understood his dilemma. As a senior officer of the Enterprise, his absence would have been a direct insult to the Argellians and the recent murders had already set up a hue and cry by the populace to close Argellius as a port. We could not afford any further insults to their pride.
On a more personal level, Scott owed his presence to the family as a sign of respect for their grief. He had been acquitted of Sybo's murder by the discovery of the Redjac entity, but to fail to attend the funeral would give the impression that perhaps he was guilty, after all.
However, his presence was dangerous in such a highly charged atmosphere and could easily have incited the mourning family to a rare act of violence in their grief. Captain Kirk had wisely included two security personnel in the honor guard. Lt. Jackson and Security Chief Walker stood in red satin dress uniforms, adorned with full ceremonial accouterments and flair ... but they were also armed. Just in case.
Dr. McCoy was armed as well, but with his medikit, again just in case. Scott's condition required that the doctor be ready to address any breakdown on Scott's part, and he stood ready to sedate the engineer. Otherwise, we all stood silent and respectful, doing our best not to be too intrusive.
Argellius was settled three hundred years ago by a mixed population that came originally from Earth's Indian subcontinent area. The funeral rites we were witnessing most closely resembled those of Hindu origin, although there was a bit of Muslim influence and, of course, the rituals had changed over the centuries. Still, Sybo's body had been anointed and wrapped in white silk and placed on a pyre of seasoned, aromatic wood. The body had been covered with flowers and fragrant herbs, then Prefect Jaris had walked around the pyre three times, sprinkling it with sacred water and oil while a priest accompanied him and prayed for the soul's release.
But when it came time to light the fire, he collapsed in misery, unable to set the torch to the pyre of his beloved wife. The priest helped him to his feet and together they again circled the pyre, Jaris touching the flame to the oil-drenched wood, his hands shaking as he did so.
As the fire roared up, Captain Kirk said softly, "Ten-hut!" and all six of us snapped to perfect attention then lifted our hands, palms up, in an Argellian gesture of urging the smoke -- and Sybo's soul -- to fly upward to the heavens. All the Argellians were doing the same, their wails of grief now turned to chants of reverence and joy, though there were sobs mixed into the chants. They were setting Sybo's soul free of its old body, ready to be reincarnated in her next life.
We stood in that manner for another half-hour and then the ceremony was officially over. It would take two more days for the body to be totally cremated, but it was now time for the family to leave to begin their period of purification and private mourning. This would last for thirteen days and then mourning was officially over. Sybo would not be forgotten, but the Argellians did not believe in prolonged mourning for a soul that would come back to them in a new form. The priests would tend the pyre until it was burned to nothing but ash, then would collect the remains and seal them in an ornate casket which would be presented to the family. It would then be interred in the family vault with the other ancestors, where the family would be able to visit and commune with the souls still awaiting to be reborn.
As a Vulcan, I understand this completely. It is very much like our beliefs in the immortality of the katra and the unity of the a'Tha. As I meditate nightly, my Ancestors talk with me. They are part of my own katra and I call upon them frequently for advice and solace. I am thankful that I am Vulcan and am a part of a greater whole. It is why I do not fear to die. As long as my katra lives, I will live, and those who touch my katra will remember.