Sentinel of Bajor
By Donna Smith
Lt. James Ellison rubbed his aching temple as he looked out the window of the shuttle. Deep Space 9--a big, ugly piece of war-weary metal hovering near Bajor. He sighed. Would this place be any better than the last? He’d requested reassignment three times in the last year and a half. It was like he was searching for something, but couldn’t find it. Starfleet was becoming reluctant to grant his requests. He had a feeling they only did it as a favor to his old friend Captain Simon Banks, a man who was well liked and greatly respected in the Federation. The Captain was probably the only friend he had left in Starfleet now. He’d even defended him before the inquiry board after that fiasco on the U.S.S. Rainier. If it hadn’t been for Simon, Jim would probably be out of the Fleet all together instead of just having been busted from Commander to Lieutenant.
Jim winced. Who put this bucket of bolts together? It sounded like it was about to shake apart. Didn’t anyone else hear how much noise the shuttle was making? He looked at the helmsman and his co-pilot. They acted like nothing was wrong. Jim bit his lip and forced himself to keep quiet. It was probably just the auditory hallucinations again. But they always seemed so real. He’d been to see many doctors, but none of them could find anything wrong. His scans had only shown slightly elevated levels of krosinin—not something that would cause his hallucinations. He’d even been tested for telepathy, but showed only average readings. A couple of doctors wanted to have him admitted to psychiatric care for a thorough evaluation. One doctor had even accused Jim of having had himself genetically enhanced--said the hallucinations were a side effect of sloppy splicing. Jim had worked hard to convince the doctor that he’d never undergone any such procedure. Genetic enhancements had been illegal since the Eugenics Wars on Earth (for more information, see the classic Trek episode “Space Seed”, the movie “Wrath of Kahn”, and the DS9 episode “Dr. Bashir, I Presume”). If the work were done correctly, genetically enhanced humans couldn’t be detected by normal medical scans and would have an unfair advantage over regular humans. They could be smarter, stronger, faster, more agile. Whatever the person was willing to pay for. If discovered, they would never be able to serve in Starfleet, though—it was against regulations. Jim had never had any enhancements, but even rumors of such a thing could damage his already shaky career. Starfleet was the only thing that kept him going, all he had left in his life that meant anything to him. If he couldn’t be a part of that…
After seeing that doctor, Jim never told anyone else about his problem again. He pretended that he was “cured”. It hadn’t been easy.
“Lieutenant? Lieutenant? We’ve docked.”
Jim noticed the two of them staring at him. He glared menacingly back at them until they looked away. Jim grabbed his bags and opened the hatch. As he walked away from the shuttle, he could hear their voices.
“Boy, I’m glad he’s gone.”
“I know what you mean. He was giving me the creeps. Did you see the way he practically jumped out of his seat every time we changed headings or speed? Weird.”
“You know my brother served with him on the Charlemaigne. Said the guy was nuts. Freaked out in his sonic shower one time and started screaming. Then there was another time he started a fight on Raisa during shore leave.”
“Raisa? What could you get into a fight about on the most relaxing pleasure planet in the universe?”
“He swore the cook at the restaurant was trying to poison him.”
“Crazy? Yeah, I know. I also heard…”
Jim picked up his pace, trying to get as far away from them as possible even though he knew he couldn’t really be hearing them as their shuttle took off from the station. His own mind was creating some weird imaginary conversation in his head. But it was so real. It couldn’t be real…could it? Jim dropped his bags and leaned against the wall. How much longer could he do this? How much longer could he hold onto any kind of sanity? An odd smell suddenly jolted him from his thoughts. It was very earthy, mud-like. Mud? Here?
“Lieutenant Ellison?” A man dressed all in grey approached him. Jim couldn’t make out what species he was. His face looked humanoid, but sort of…unfinished. “I’m Constable Odo, head of Security. I’m here to welcome you to the station. Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. It was just a long trip.” He stood up straight, his face a mask of indifference. “How is it that I rate security?” Jim knew the moment the words were out that they sounded arrogant and accusatory.
Odo ‘hmmphed’, crossed his arms, and looked at Jim, unimpressed. “The Captain makes it his business to greet all new personnel so he knows who’s on his station. But his meeting with Vedic Theryl went longer than expected so you’ll have to make do with me.” He turned to lead Jim to his quarters.
Great Ellison. Just great. Not on the station ten minutes and already rubbing people the wrong way. He’d been doing that a lot lately. He was always on edge. Anytime someone tried to talk to him he would glare at them, yell at them, or use that tone of voice that put them off.
Odo stopped abruptly in front of a door. “These are your quarters.” He handed Jim a data pad. “Here is your duty schedule for the month.” Odo gave him a strange smirk. “As you can see, you’ll be on security detail. I’ll see you in my office in seventy-two hours.”
Jim stared at the pad. This guy was going to be his boss! Could things get any worse?
“Welcome to Deep Space 9, Lieutenant Ellison.” Odo left him standing there, a barely contained look of horror on Jim’s face. As Odo turned the corner out of sight, Jim could still hear him speaking. “Why do all the troublemakers end up on this station?”
Jim slammed an angry fist into the wall.