DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. This story was written for the enjoyment of the author and no infringement of any existing copyright is intended nor is any profit realized or expected. The story contents are the creation and property of Chris Dickenson and copyright 1992 by Chris Dickenson. This story is rated PG. It is reprinted from Federation Classic #1.

And Gain Strength from the Sharing

Chris Dickenson

Sybok watched J'onn patiently as the settler gathered up his few possessions. Taking in the man's wasted frame, the way his bones seemed to protrude from every joint, Sybok was overcome with a wave of sympathy.

"I must say goodbye to Sarah," the cachectic farmer whispered, the light going out in his eyes as he glanced toward the fresh grave beside the ramshackle hut. His grief had overwhelmed Sybok during their mind touch, his pain as raw and new as the grave dug only that morning.

Sybok squinted through the harsh light of Nimbus III's yellow sun which filtered through the blowing sand and nodded his head solemnly. "Of course, J'onn. Say your farewells. I will wait."

Sybok's chest tightened as he watched J'onn limp over to his wife's grave and sink to his knees, head bowed reverently. Sarah had been J'onn's life, his love, his reason for existing. Sybok knew that just as he knew J'onn had blamed himself for her death. There was nothing about this simple man that Sybok didn't know now. The knowledge saddened him. J'onn had come to homestead on Nimbus, to start a new life, and he had found only hardship and want. There were too many J'onns here on Nimbus III, too many Sarahs buried beneath the shifting sands. These were God's people too, yet they were denied even the most simple necessities.

J'onn was speaking to his lost love now in tearful whispers, shaking his head as he took his leave of her. "I don't want to leave you alone," he said. But he knew, as Sybok did, that there was nothing of Sarah to leave. Not the Sarah who had laughed and cried and lived. That Sarah was gone.

Sybok, losing himself in the agony of this parting, found himself recalling another parting, one which had occurred long ago. The details of it were as fresh in his mind as J'onn's grief.

* * *

T'Ariz awaited him on the balcony of her tiny apartment, her unbound hair fanning out behind her like an ebony mane in the early evening breeze. Neither of them had reached sexual maturity, their relationship as yet untried by the burning crucible of pon farr. Yet at this moment he was seized by sudden desire for her. Coupled with his need was an almost unbearable sadness that they would never share that ultimate bond. Leaving Vulcan would grieve him enough. To contemplate casting this divine creature from him ... was agony.

T'Ariz, always sensitive to his presence, turned, a tiny smile illuminating her sharply aristocratic features. "It is past your usual time, Husband."

Sybok nodded, unable to even feign amusement at her gentle tease. In a world where punctuality was a given, Sybok was often late, notoriously so. The burden of shielding his thoughts from her was wearing at him; the tension stiffened his entire body unnaturally.

T'Ariz's expression sobered as she sensed the psionic banier he had thrust between them. "Sybok?"

Unable to speak, he closed the distance between them, taking her in his arms and holding her with a force which would have crushed a Human female. For many long minutes he merely embraced her on the balcony, allowing the heat of her body to warm the sudden chill in his.

Tears watered his view of the familiar sere landscape which stretched a copper and russet panorama far below. As Eridani sank behind the L-Langon mountain range, he knew this was the last sunset he would ever behold on the planet of his ancestors. Instead of reveling in the beautiful shifting kaleidoscope of teal, lavender and molten gold as he had done on so many evenings, Sybok let it pierce his soul like a dagger. Everything mocked him -- the sweet scent of the air, the gentle chimes which wafted up from Surak's Square, even T'Ariz's heartbeat as she pressed close.

"Tell me," T'Ariz prompted finally, pulling away from him so she could meet his watery gaze. "I cannot feel your pain, but I know--"

Sybok brushed his fingers tenderly across her lips, silencing her. "I have been accused of heresy."

The light never flickered in her eyes; her expression never changed. "You must speak with Sarek, Husband."

"And recant?" Sybok smiled wearily, shaking his head. "No. What they accuse me of..." He shook his head once more, admitting, "It is true. All of it."

The confession settled between them, hovering unchecked as Vulcan's sky darkened as only a desert sky can into twilight. For the first time in his life, Sybok was blind to the beauty of his world. The bittersweet finality of his decision momentarily overwhelmed him.

T'Ariz did not respond until the first evening star twinkled overhead, a thoughtful passage of time which gave weight to her whispered words. "Then I shall accompany you."

"No," Sybok bit out harshly then repeated softly. "No, I cannot ask you to share my exile."

"I am your wife."

Sybok shook his head. "I release you." The words were almost as painful as his first admission to her, but Sybok knew it must be thus.

T'Ariz paled."Sybok, do not do this thing. We are one."

"There is no alternative," he said firmly. "Please, do not attempt to dissuade me. My decision is made. I will not ask you to share exile." He paused. "And to stay would be ... dangerous."

"Your mother--" T'Ariz began, her eyes widening as she recalled T'Rea's choice, death or banishment. Sybok rarely spoke of his mother, of his grief over her death. She knew only what was said of her, that she had committed the worst offense a Vulcan could be accused of. T'Sai, high priestess of Gol, had passed sentence on T'Rea. The choices she'd offered, self-inflicted poison or banishment, were as ancient as T'Rea's crime, a remnant of Vulcan's barbaric past. T'Rea had died by her own hand.

"No," Sybok reassured her. "No, I do not fear for my life, only for my soul. If I stay, they will wrest it from me. My vision..." His face relaxed, bathed in a glow of serenity. "My vision is pure, and I cannot allow them to silence me."

"Then I will accompany you," T'Ariz said. "Without you, there is nothing for me."

"The vision is mine alone," Sybok protested. "Once I leave, I shall never be permitted to return. My name will no longer be spoken. It will be as if I never existed. It was wrong of me to allow Sarek to bond us."

"But I knew," she insisted. "I have always known. Since the first time we touched," she admitted softly. "If what you are did not please me, I would never have agreed to bond with you. I was well past the age of consent."

Sybok took her by the shoulders, his smile warm with memories. "You have been my greatest joy. Remember that always." He shook his head, bemused. "You and Spock, both so willing to cast your futures aside to join me. I cannot tell you how much you have meant to me or how much it costs me to sever our bond. Know only that I cannot allow your sacrifice on my behalf."

"Sybok!" Tears glistened on T'Ariz's lashes as he held her from him. He allowed himself a final, brief mingling of the souls, a wellspring of grief surging between them before he separated from her.

"Live your life, T'Ariz," he murmured, releasing her. "And know that mine will be forever richer for what we have shared."

Before she could protest further, or Sybok could change his mind -- for that is what his broken heart cried out for him to do -- he swept out of the apartment and fled down the narrow stairs. As he hurried into the darkening night, he experienced a sense of loss so profound that he was compelled to hug himself against it. The hollowness within seemed for that instant to encompass his entire soul.

* * *

Sybok watched as J'onn limped toward him. The expression on the pioneer's face was one Sybok knew only too well. J'onn's arms were wrapped snugly about his waist, as if reeling from a blow to his gut. Sybok knew that sensation also.

"Come," he encouraged softly. "We seek peace."

"Where?" J'onn queried, childlike in his trust.

Sybok stared sightlessly into the blowing dust of Nimbus Three and broke into a radiant smile. "Sha ka ree, brother. For there, God awaits us."