Jim was dreaming of a vast jungle. It was hot and steamy, full of strange creatures and sounds. Daknar. He was on Daknar. Suddenly a large black jungle feline, the Daknar shadow cat, jumped out in front of him. They stared at each other for several minutes before the huge wildcat turned to go back into the thicket. Jim felt compelled to follow. The two of them walked until they came to a small village. One of the village natives came towards him, a tall elderly alien with long limbs. He stretched out a bony finger towards Jim. “You have found your true territory, Sentinel. Now you must wait for the other who will guide you.”
“I don’t understand. Who are you?”
“Your pain has made you hide your memories from your own heart. In time you will remember the Shavale and the lives you saved here, Sentinel, though you will always carry the burden of the dead with you. For now, be at peace and be ready.”
Jim awoke with a start, but felt surprisingly rested. For a second he thought he’d heard the sound of a dog or a wolf howling. What had he dreamt about?
Three Days Later
Blair Sandburg strode on the promenade with his one bag of possessions. He was so glad to get off that run-down freighter he’d come in on. He’d made a deal with the captain--passage in exchange for work. He just hadn’t expected the work to be that hard or the condition that unlivable. Oh, well. Live and learn. He was on DS9 and he was in one piece. Nothing could ruin his day now. He was bouncing with excitement as he looked down at the assortment of aliens interacting below. The energy on the promenade was contagious. Blair knew he was going to love it here, even though he would be going down to Bajor soon.
His grumbling stomach reminded him that he hadn’t eaten all day. Blair knew he could go to the public assistance office and register for aide, anyone could on a station that was part of, or affiliated with, the Federation. There was no way he would do that, though. Although he didn’t always follow all the tenants of the Uni-Spiritists like his mom Naomi did, he would never leach off the Federation—not after protesting some of their militant policies and Starfleet’s callous Prime Directive. He reached into his pack to see how much latinum he had left. Hmm. Maybe enough to get a room for the night and a meal. Once he met up with his friend, Theryl, he’d be able to get a ride with him down to Bajor. A person could live off the land down there.
Blair wandered around for a while until he found a Bajoran shrine. “Excuse me. I’m looking for Vedic Theryl Beren.”
“He doesn’t serve at this shrine. Since we have so many Bajorans on the station, we’ve set up several shrines to accommodate everyone. He can be found at the Serais Shrine.” She walked him to the entrance. “Go to the end of this corridor here, go down to the lower level, then immediately turn left. You can’t miss it. You may have to wait for him a while, though. He was meeting with the station Captain today about a project he’s working on.”
“Thank you. Prophets bless your family.” Blair sauntered down the hall, looking at the people as he went by. He’d been living on Terew IV for almost a year and missed the interplay of differing species and cultures found on a station. He couldn’t believe he’d lived in one place for so long! But the people there had a lot of information on Sentinels. Their mythology contained many stories of heroes with heightened senses and the guides who helped them develop and focus their abilities. Blair had lost count of the worlds he’d visited because he’d heard they knew of Sentinels, only to find nothing to help him with his research. Ever since he’d come across that ancient book by Burton back on Earth he’d been obsessed. Blair hadn’t had any luck finding a Sentinel on Earth. And the Chopec Indians Burton had studied weren’t around anymore. So Blair turned his attention towards humanoid cultures in outer space. He and his mom had been intergalactic gypsies of a sort anyway, so travel didn’t bother him. He knew Sentinels were out there somewhere. He just had to keep looking.
Blair entered the Serais Shrine. He loved Bajoran shrines—so peaceful and powerful at the same time. He approached a young Vedic lighting the candles. “Excuse me. Can you tell me where to find Vedic Theryl Beren?”
“You’re in luck. He just returned. I’ll get him for you.”
Blair paced the room, examining the various religious artifacts.
“Blair Sandburg? Is that you? You’ve grown so much I almost didn’t recognize you!”
“Vedic Theryl! Man, it’s good to see you. You haven’t changed a bit.” He gave the older man a warm hug.
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I’m a lot more grey these days. How are you doing?”
And your mother?”
“Good. The same as always. The one constant in the universe is that Naomi will never change.”
Theryl laughed at that. He remembered the spirited whirlwind with her hyperactive young son smuggling food and medical supplies to Bajor in the middle of its war with Cardassia. Theryl could imagine her out there somewhere right now defying the Prime Directive to help other alien races in need.
“I heard you were meeting with Captain Sisko. Moving in different circles these days, huh?”
“Captain Sisko is not your average officer. He is very Starfleet in some aspects, but he’s come a long way in his time here. He’s the Emissary of our prophecies—as much a part of Bajor as he is of the Federation. The Captain has often defied the rules of his rank to fulfill the duties given him by the Prophets.”
“Wow. That must be incredible to actually meet someone that important to your own belief system. Destiny is something you just can’t plan for, huh?” Blair smiled, but Theryl looked serious.
“I’ve been thinking about destiny a lot since receiving your transmission a few weeks ago, Blair. I’ve had a vision concerning you. Let’s take a walk.” He escorted Blair out of the shrine in silence, taking him back to the Promenade. They stopped in the middle of the area. “I know you wanted to go down to Bajor so you could follow up on those rumors about Sentinels you told me about. I was going to take you with me when I went down later this week. But I’m not going to do that now.”
Theryl held up a hand. “Let me explain. While I was in meditation last week, I had a vision—a vision of you. You were lost, looking for something, someone. You were on Bajor in the fogs and mists and couldn’t find your way. Then you looked up at the sky and the clouds dissipated to reveal DS9, shining in the night sky. A cry pierced the silence, like a wild animal in pain. I can’t tell you what everything in the vision meant, but I do know for certain your place is here.” He spread his arm wide to encompass the station around them. “What you seek is here.”
Blair didn’t bat an eye at Theryl’s mention of visions. Bajoran’s were very spiritual people and it wasn’t very unusual for their Vedic’s to have transcendental experiences. He’d seen things like that before. But…could it be? Would he really find a sentinel here on the station?
Jim Ellison was on his way to his quarters after his shift. He wasn’t making a lot of friends on the station, but at least he’d earned Odo’s respect. Jim had managed to uncover a smuggling ring making a transaction at Quark’s. Unfortunately, Quark slipped through his grasp once again. Jim had been scheduled to have a different beat next week, but Odo decided to keep him on in Quark’s area. Without a word, he’d shown Jim that he valued his work. Everything had been going great until this afternoon when the headaches started again. The sounds, sights, and smells of the Promenade were starting to crowd in on him.
He bristled as one sound in particular suddenly stood out among the others. What was it? Where had he heard that before? Daknar! That sound…it was the hum of a Cardassian disruptor! But there weren’t very many Cardassians on the station and disruptors were illegal almost everywhere. He frantically scanned the area until his eyes rested on the person the sound came from. A hooded figure stood on the upper level, his hand reaching into the folds of his cloak. Jim followed his gaze to the target, or targets. A Bajoran Vedic was conversing with a young man in the middle of the Promenade. The assassin took aim.
“Everyone down! NOW!” Jim drew his phaser and fired with precision. His blast hit the disruptor just as it was about to fire. The disruptor flared in the assassin’s hand. The brightness of the flash sent Jim to his knees in pain.
Blair ran over to the officer. “Hey man! That was incredible! You saved our lives.” Blair noticed the man wasn’t moving. He just lay on the floor, staring at nothing. “Are you ok? Theryl! Something’s wrong with him. It’s like he doesn’t even know we’re here. Hey, come on man. Can you hear my voice? Listen to me. Wherever you’ve gone, you need to come back now. You’re a hero and we haven’t even had a chance to thank you. Come on. Can you hear me?”
Jim was floating in nothingness, stuck and alone, unable to escape. He’d been here before and had always snapped out of it somehow. But it seemed deeper this time, more encompassing. What was that sound? A voice? Someone was speaking to him. The sound was so soothing and magnetic at the same time. He could feel it pulling at him, drawing him back to the real world, dulling the pain. He opened his eyes to see a scruffy young man looking down on him with concern.
“Wow! You really scared me! I’m glad you came back.”
Jim jumped up, pushing the young man aside. “Where did he go? Where’s the assassin?”
“He got away in all the confusion.”
Theryl approached Jim. “We are both in your debt. It seems the Prophets were kind enough to entwine your path with ours today.”
“Yeah.” Jim barely registered his presence. He was still scanning the area for the hooded figure. Several security officers ran up to him, Odo right behind them. The young man started gushing on about how the lieutenant had heroically saved both their lives.
Odo turned to Ellison. “How did you spot the assassin from so far away, let alone shoot his weapon?”
Jim was still distracted and said the first thing that came to his mind. “I heard the disruptor humming.” No! He hadn’t meant to say that!
“What!! I think we need to have a briefing in private. Jefferson, Taggert. Secure that area up there. I’ll be back to check out the scene myself before I let the civilians back in the area. Ellison, you’re with me.”
If they had turned around, they would have seen a stupefied Blair Sandburg staring after them. He’d heard the disruptor humming? From way over here!? “What are the chances?”
Vedic Theryl took Blair’s arm with a mysterious smile and led the stunned young man back to the shrine. “There’s no such thing as chance, my boy.”