There were many times when he longed to step in, to warn someone, to steer events in a different direction, but in only one instance did Spock follow the desire of his human heart, rather than the dictates of logic. It took him some months, but he finally located Sybok, and took ship to persuade his brother to come home.
Though Sybok had left Vulcan some years before on his quest to find Sha Ka Ree, he was still deep in his research. His madness was as yet only personal: he had not begun to have even glimmers of plans for recruiting followers. The quest had led him to Memory Beta on Epsilon Theta IV which also supported a dilithium mining colony. There he spent his time researching various cultures' ideas of heaven, comparing mythological references to star charts. He knew that Sha Ka Ree was a physical place, perhaps where all life, not just Vulcans, had come from.
The common fallacy among other races held that Vulcans had no emotions. This was simply not true. Vulcan emotions were raw and volatile, dangerous when loosed. They simmered beneath the calm, still surface of logic like magma beneath the placid face of a caldera, and only a few dedicated souls achieved Kolinahr and truly purged themselves of all emotion. Sybok would never be one of those; he had long ago rejected logic for the more primal passions of Vulcan's antiquity. He felt, and he felt deeply.
Thus when Spock finally located his brother, he found the apostate Vulcan in the midst of a bar brawl of epic proportions. Not even James Kirk at his worst had indulged in such belligerence -- not in the line of duty, at any rate. Spock debated wading into the battle, but his violent days were past, and, in any case, the local constabulary was arriving. Spock melted into the shadows.
The biggest drawback to his rejection of the Vulcan way of life, Sybok had discovered, was boredom. Vulcan elders, his father and his father's father among them, had never seemed bored. Boring, perhaps, but not bored.
Since leaving Vulcan, he had been in a variety of jails and while the inmates thereof were often quite fascinating, the interrogation rooms generally were not. The one he currently occupied was a stellar example of the type: walls a middling shade of grey with a black stripe halfway to the ceiling; table extruded from the floor, as were the two chairs to either side. He occupied the chair facing the door. Surveillance devices near the ceiling blinked yellow eyes at him. It took him less than two minutes to calculate a dozen methods of escape, but what would escape get him? He would still need to seek passage on a ship, and after that brawl, finding passage with any of the miners would be difficult at best.
The door opened and a grey-haired Vulcan stepped into the room. Though Sybok had never seen this individual before, something about him seemed familiar. The Elder sat in the facing chair and folded his hands on the table before him. Feeling perverse as always when confronted with an Elder, Sybok slouched and scowled, knowing it often unnerved other Vulcans, though they did not, of course, show it.
This Elder, however, allowed a faint smile to cross his face. "Greetings, Sybok."
The Elder would have gotten his name from the prison guards, of course. "I don't believe we've met," he answered.
"We...have not," the Elder acknowledged. "And yet, we played together as children."
Sybok frowned. "I am in no mood for riddles. Who are you?"
The Elder held up a graceful, long-fingered hand. "First, I must ask you if you have heard the latest news of Vulcan."
"Latest news? From staid old Vulcan?" Sybok scoffed. He decided to try a course of deliberate offensiveness. "What, has T'Pau farted in public?"
The Elder cocked his head and raised a brow, as if considering the matter. The gesture caught something in Sybok's memory, but the image would not surface. "I do not believe so," he said. "The news to which I am referring is far more serious than that, Sybok."
"You are obviously dying to tell me, so tell me."
"It is of death that I wish to speak."
At that, Sybok straightened a bit. "Sarek?" He blurted the name without truly intending to. "Spock?"
"I am gratified that your first thoughts are of your family," the Elder said, "but, no. Both Sarek and Spock are well."
"Then, who? Surely you would not track me down to tell me that my father's wife had died." His relationship with his father's human wife had been complicated; while Amanda had done her best to raise both of Sarek's sons as her own, he had taken his anger at his own mother's death out on her. Still, he had been fond of her, and he thought she had some affection for him. To learn that she had died would be upsetting
Something flickered across the Elder's face. "There has been an...incident," he said. "Vulcan is no more."
Sybok stared at the Elder, disbelief plain on his face. "A...joke?"
The Elder shook his head, his face settling into deep lines. "No, Sybok. No joke. Vulcan has been destroyed."
Sybok stared at the old one, his mind in chaos, trying to process such a thing. How could Vulcan be gone? He might have rejected everything Surak and his followers stood for, but he was still himself a Vulcan. Even as he embraced his self-imposed exile, he had always, in some part of his mind, known that Vulcan was behind him, that if he should so choose, he could return. He had always hoped to return, bringing the truth that he knew waited somewhere in the cosmos.
"What...happened?" he asked finally, his voice rasping as he suppressed a need to weep.
The Elder did not answer right away. Oddly, he looked down at his hands instead of at Sybok as he spoke. "I have heard," he said, "that you have developed a method for the sharing of deep-rooted pain."
"Where did you hear such a thing?" Sybok demanded.
"I have my sources," the Elder said dryly, his gaze once more on Sybok. "I have need, I believe, to share this pain."
Sybok glanced at the monitoring devices. "You understand that this process will involve a melding?"
"I do," the Elder said. He unlaced his fingers and stretched forth his hand. "Do you require physical contact at this stage?"
Sybok put his hand over the other's. "Each man harbors a secret pain," he said, the ritualized words initiating the proper mindset. "Share your pain and gain strength from the sharing."
Sybok was strong. He had used this technique on a dozen people, and always been in control of the meld. But as his mind made contact with the Elder's, he found himself swept away in a maelstrom of deep emotions, guilt foremost. At first, he saw only chaotic images: Faces he did not recognize; the bridge of a starship; a viscous, red fluid; a cataclysmic explosion. Exerting his will, he found his anchorage, and slowly imposed order on the Elder's flashing memories. "Share your pain," he said again.
And the Elder did. Images flowed through the meld in stately order. Sybok watched as the Elder made a pact with the Romulans, as he loaded his vessel with Red Matter, as he failed to achieve his goal and was pulled through a black hole into the past. Through the Elder's eyes, he saw Vulcan destroyed.
He would have broken the meld then, fled gasping into himself to nurse his own pain, but the Elder now directed the sharing, and Sybok saw a new set of images. A desolate planet (Nimbus III, the Elder's voice whispered in his thoughts). A much younger version of the Elder, clothed in a Starfleet uniform to judge by the insignia on the chest; his own face, bearded, older, laughing. The images shifted again, to a different planet, though no less desolate than the first. A shuttlecraft settled on the planet's surface and the Elder, accompanied by his own older self and two humans also clad in Starfleet uniforms exited. Within a ring of stones, an immense face appeared.
And now he could hear, as well. "Excuse me," said one of the humans, "what does God need with a starship?" and then the Elder said, "Sybok, this is not the God of Sha Ka Ree."
The meld was broken, then, as the Elder withdrew his hand.
Sybok sat where he was, stunned by what he had seen. His homeworld, destroyed, his quest, futile. What purpose was there now in his life?
"You did not find Sha Ka Ree, Sybok," the Elder said gently, "and you gave your life that the Enterprise and her crew might escape from the being caged beyond the Great Barrier."
"Who are you?" Sybok demanded. "How do you know these things?"
"I am Spock," the Elder replied.
Sybok laughed. "You are insane."
The Elder raised an eyebrow and appeared to be considering the notion. "I may very well be," he responded. "But despite Doctor McCoy's assertions to that effect through the years, I do not believe I am."
Sybok knew that he had long since lost control of the conversation. "You would not," he responded.
The Elder acknowledged the point with a nod. "You are correct, of course. However, I am Spock. I can, of course, prove it to you, but I would prefer that you accepted my word."
Sybok sat back in his chair, his hands folded before him on the table, consciously echoing the Elder's pose. He chewed his lip as he studied the Elder, compared the man before him to the younger man he had seen in the meld, compared that man to his younger half-brother. There was an undeniable resemblance. But his brother in Starfleet? Surely not. Spock, like Sybok before him, had been destined for the Vulcan Science Academy -- but Sybok had rebelled and left Vulcan.
"My brother would not have joined Starfleet," Sybok said, at last.
The Elder inclined his head. "Much changed for Spock after you left Vulcan," he answered steadily. "And there was the small matter of your own example to live up to. Spock found that he did not wish to follow the path that Sarek laid before him, but find his own way through life."
"And Sarek did not approve."
"He did not," the Elder said dryly. "Though he later reconsidered his opinion."
"Sarek?" Sybok's bark of laughter echoed harshly off the walls of the interrogation room. He modulated his voice almost without thinking. "Changed his mind about something? Now I can almost believe in the end of the world."
"It did take some years," the Elder acknowledged, "and my death and resurrection through the rite of Fal Tor Pan."
"You seem very healthy for a dead man."
"Did I mention 'resurrection?'" the Elder asked, his voice shaded with irony. "Sybok, I can sit here and cross verbal swords with you until your release date, but it would be far simpler if you would just accept my story. My own younger self and our father have both accepted it. Why do you find it so difficult?"
"Why are you here?" Sybok asked, avoiding the question. "No. How are you here? If you are who you say you are?"
"I showed you," the Elder said.
"Indeed. Nor is it the first time. I have traveled through time on many occasions."
"So why do you not go back where you came from?"
"My ship no longer exists. And...." The Elder's voice trailed off, most uncharacteristically for a Vulcan, and he briefly closed his eyes. When he opened them, Sybok saw infinite weariness and a world of pain reflected in them. But his voice was steady when he continued. "I cannot return to the future from whence I came; my presence here has altered the timeline. Any future I could go to from this time would not be the future I left. Also, it is by my actions that Vulcan was destroyed. It is incumbent upon me to help with the rebuilding."
"Rebuilding?" Sybok echoed.
"A suitable world has been found and a colony begun," the Elder said. "Few enough Vulcans are left that all Vulcans are needed." He did not lean forward. His posture did not change at all, but in his voice was the plea that he could not articulate. "Please, Sybok. I have shown you that your quest will only end in your death. There is still time for you to change your course."
Although neither Vulcan moved, Sybok retreated from the Elder into his own mind. There, he allowed his thoughts to flow in half-forgotten patterns. Point: the person before him could very well be Spock. Point: Given the news he brought, which Sybok could verify easily enough, it did not actually matter if he were Spock or not. Query: At any given time, how many Vulcans were actually off-planet? Response: Perhaps enough to perpetuate the species, but only if all Vulcans were involved. Point: It appeared that he was mistaken in his search for Sha Ka Ree. Point: If he found the situation untenable, he could always leave again. He laughed to himself. Perhaps he, too, could join Starfleet. Resolved: He must return.
"I have never had an elder brother before," he said, at last.
A flicker of something -- relief, affection? -- passed through Spock's eyes. "Nor have I had a younger brother," he answered in kind. "Shall we go?"
He stood and offered Sybok his hand, not in sharing this time, but in simple fellowship. Sybok took it, and together, the brothers left the interrogation room.