Part 6: The Walls Have Ears



Blair surreptitiously studied the man next to him as they walked.  “So, uh, do you have a name or something I can call you?”


“Lieutenant James Ellison.”


“Nice to meet you, Jim.  Sorry we got off the wrong foot earlier.  I really do want to help you.”


Jim scowled at him.  “What can you do that all the other doctors I’ve seen couldn’t.”


“Well for starters, I don’t think you’re crazy.  I bet that’s come up, hasn’t it?  You just have enhanced…”


“Don’t even say ‘enhanced’!  I have not had any genetic enhancements or alterations!  Do you want me to get kicked out of Starfleet?  Wait.  Don’t even answer that.  You Uni-Spiritists would probably think you were doing me a favor.”


Blair wasn’t sure if Jim was insulting him or teasing him.  His face never seemed to reveal much.  The guy was probably scared, but Blair was sure these tough Starfleet types didn’t like showing weakness.  “Don’t worry.  I’ve studied the Sentinel myths of Earth and similar humanoid cultures for years.  I might be the only expert on the subject in the whole universe.  So we both got lucky meeting here on the station.”


“It was lucky that you and your friend got shot at?”


“Well, maybe that part wasn’t so good.  But everything turned out, didn’t it?”


“Not quite.  That would-be assassin is out there somewhere—most probably still on the station.  He’s going to make another attempt on your friend.”


“Why do you assume he’s after Vedic Theryl and not me?”


“Because Security checked you out thoroughly right after the attempt.  You’re a relatively harmless annoyance.  Not one people would kill to get rid of.”


“Gee, thanks.”


“Vedic Theryl on the other hand has made a lot of enemies lately.” 


“What do you mean?  Who would want to hurt a peaceful man like Theryl?”


“I guess he didn’t tell you about his latest project.”


“We kind of talked about other things.”


“There’s a planetoid, Jenel, that the Bajorans and Cardassians have been fighting over since before they officially went to war.  Both sides want it because it has great mineral resources and agrarian potential.  The Cardassians took it over and started settling it during the Occupation.  Now the Bajorans have it back and want the settlers off.  They refuse to leave. 


Theryl is a highly respected and very vocal Vedic.  He’s been pushing for a joint venture where the two races would share ownership of Jenel.”


“What’s wrong with that?”


“His plan is to have them doing more than just sharing the planetoid—he’s proposing joint terra-forming projects, mining expeditions, planned communities, and so on.  The Cardassians and Bajorans would be working together and living together.  No one paid him much attention at first, but lately some of the other Vedics in the Assembly have really been listening to his ideas.  A few higher-ups in the Cardassian government have even been considering some of his proposals.  He’s also been working his charm on Captain Sisko.  Unfortunately, he’s made a lot of Cardassians and Bajorans furious.  Many on both sides think working and living together would be a betrayal of all their friends and relatives who died in the war.  There are also a lot of angry feelings over the way the Cardassians have treated Bajorans living in the Demilitarized Zone.”


“But he’s trying to foster peace.  Can’t they see that?”


“I don’t think there’ll ever be real peace between the Cardassians and the Bajorans.  Too much blood lost there.”


“Man, you’ve got to have a little faith.  Look at the Federation and the Klingons.  They used to…”  Jim put a hand up to silence Blair.  He stopped abruptly and looked behind him.


Blair started whispering.  “What’s wrong?”


“I’m not sure.  I smell something.  I noticed it the first time I met Constable Odo and I smelled it every time I was in his office.  It’s so strong.  Don’t you smell it?”


“Not a thing.  Are you sure?”


“Yeah.  It’s very earthy, like the ground after a big rain.  A lot of moisture in it.”


Blair couldn’t pick up anything.  Then it hit him.  Heightened sense of smell, too?  That makes three!  THREE!  “I can’t believe it!  You have three overdeveloped senses.  This is incredible.  Are you sure you’re completely human?  I mean, alien heritage sometimes…”


Jim hissed.  “Keep it down.”


The two of them continued their conversation in hushed whispers.  Blair decided to try something.  “Jim.  I want you to imagine a dial in your head for each of your senses.”


“A dial?  Isn’t that a bit archaic?”


“Yes it is, but a dial requires more effort and mental imagery than picturing yourself just touching a computer display or giving vocal commands to a computer.  Your control will be better the more effort your brain puts into this.  Now imagine settings one to nine on the dials.  Your sense of smell setting is probably pretty high right now.  I want you to reach out and turn it down to about five.  That should still be strong enough.  Got it?” 


Jim shook his head and tried it.  For some reason, Blair’s technique was working—the smell was more tolerable now.  Maybe the kid knew what he was doing after all.  “Now what?”


“Now turn your hearing to five, too.  Ok, focus your hearing towards the source of the odor.  Kind of piggy-back it onto your sense of smell.  What do you hear?”


“It’s like the sound of waves—very gentle, undulating waves.”


“Now add your sight to the mix the same way.  Slowly.  What do you see?”


“That part of the wall at the end of the corridor.  It’s alive!  The texture isn’t quite in sync with the surrounding wall.  I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.”


“Because your senses were either turned down too low so you wouldn’t have noticed it, or too high so you would’ve been distracted by other things.  I don’t see anything out of the ordinary, but then my eyesight is human normal.”


“That aroma is still there.”  Jim got an angry look on his face.  “I think I know what it is now.”  He marched down the corridor.


“Jim!  What are you doing?  Whatever it is could be hostile!”


“Don’t worry, Sandburg.  He won’t hurt me.”  He stopped right in front of the wall, staring at it.  “First you take me off the Theryl case and start giving me busy-work duties instead of regular patrols.  Now you’re following me.  I’m on my own time now.  If I’m a suspect, then take me in.  Otherwise, Constable Odo, back off!”  Jim turned and walked back to where a concerned Blair anxiously waited.  He grabbed Blair’s arm and got him moving in the other direction. 


After they’d gone, a shimmery mass oozed off the wall.  Odo folded his arms and contemplated this new development.  How had the lieutenant known he was there?




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