[personal profile] starwatcher_fic

Title: Xena Studies
Summary: Blair finds sentinel clues in unusual places.
Style: Gen
Size: 1,220 words, about 3 pages in MS Word.
Warnings: None
Notes: July, 2003. Challenge story.
Feedback: Not necessary, but every comment is treasured.
Email: If you prefer not to post a note that everybody can see, you can reach me at starwatcher -at- dreamwidth.org

Xena Studies

by StarWatcher

The ululating cry filled the living room and wafted out to the balcony where the Sentinel stood, enjoying the early evening air while observing his city. He frowned in minor irritation, and walked through the glass doors to confront the culprit.

"Sandburg, don't you find that program just a little improbable? And yet you're taking notes! What're you doing, counting up the number of inaccuracies and improbabilities per minute?"

"What?" Blair looked up from the notes he was making on a yellow legal pad as he sat in front of the TV, watching 'Xena, Warrior Princess'. "Did you say something, Jim?"

"Yeah, Warrior Prince, I asked why you're so fixated on that crap. I can understand if you want to look at a lot of female skin, but it's hardly worthy of taking notes."

"Chill, big guy; just doing a little research on the possibility of Sentinels in non-indigenous cultures. It occurs to me that nuggets of sentinelism may be hidden in historically recent and current literature. Think about Sherlock Holmes for example -- finding clues where others don't see them, always in the company of Doctor Watson when he's on a case... even his reported opium use could have been to decrease the incidence of spiking senses."

"Are you serious?" Jim looked at the earnest gaze fixed so confidently on his. "You are serious." He shook his head in minor bafflement. "So what do you expect to gain by 'researching' the highly fictionalized accounts of what may or may not have been a Sentinel in nineteenth-Century England?"

Blair's tone was patience personified. "Jim, man, that's why it's called 'research'. I don't know what I might find, or what good it will be. As you suspect, it's quite possible that I'll find nothing." His grin showed that he wasn't the least bit bothered by the possibility. "But you never know... one phrase, or one story twist, could give me an idea that will simmer underground, then percolate to the surface of my brain when you need a better, more innovative way to make your senses give you the information you're trying to find. And if it doesn't give me anything..." he shrugged acceptance, "...there are worse ways to spend an afternoon than immersing myself in a good Sherlock Holmes mystery."

"Problem here, Chief." He crossed his arms and quirked an eyebrow at his friend. Maybe he could intimidate the kid into changing to a less offensive program. "You're not immersed in a good Sherlock Holmes mystery; you're fixated on a silly soap opera with strong Kung Fu overtones. You don't really see any sentinelism in Xena, do you?"

Blair was supremely unintimidated; he snickered at the disbelieving glare tossed his way. "Yeah, Jim, I really do. All the jumping and acrobatics she does suggest a hyper-aware kinesthetic sense to give her superior muscular control of her movements. I'll have to figure out a way to determine if yours is more highly-developed than mine, or another cop's." He ignored the long-suffering grimace that Jim directed his way. "In addition, she hears things nobody else can hear, and her vision must be phenomenal for her to aim and ricochet that chakram to hit her target -- and catch it without hurting herself, though that probably goes back to the kinesthetic awareness."

"Chief, I draw the line at tossing silver metal rings around; you stick to baseballs and I'll stick to my weapon. Want a beer?" He ambled into the kitchen and opened the fridge.

"Yeah, Jim, thanks." He accepted the cold bottle from his friend and took a long swallow while Jim sat on the other couch. "Well, I admit that the chakram-tossing thing is a little improbable, but I'm thinking of the possible factual nugget behind the hyped-up legend. So many times, if a person has unusual abilities, it's not enough for the storytellers to report those abilities -- they embellish and exaggerate to make the story 'better'. Then those stories are further exaggerated by the next storyteller, and the next and the next." He shrugged; the concept was one with which he was thoroughly familiar. "So, delving through the layers of enhancement, one can posit an individual with exceptional eyesight and exceptional kinesthetic sense, and at least above-average hearing; it's kinda hard to demonstrate 'exceptional' hearing through a visual medium."

Jim was caught; Sandburg might actually have something. "So you think that whoever thought up this Xena series was... what? Playing into old ideas of sentinel abilities?"

"Yeah, man, exactly! I think the idea -- or maybe the desire -- for a tribal protector resonates at a subconscious, maybe almost a genetic level. So we have Sherlock Holmes, and Hercules and Xena, and --"

"Wait a minute, Chief, Hercules was a half-god. You can't count that for sentinelism."

"Nuggets, Jim, nuggets. The half-god thing would be their explanation for the enhanced Sentinel abilities that they observed. They thought it couldn't be 'normal', so they ascribed it to something 'better' than normal, and assumed that the 'something' must have come from the gods.

"And now, when society as a whole doesn't accept the idea of actual, physical gifts given by the gods, science has become the method of explaining sentinel traits. We make our own, like the 'Six Million Dollar Man', or count it as an obscure inborn attribute -- which it is -- like 'Mutant X'."

Jim took a fortifying swallow of his own beer. "I guess I see your point, Chief, and it is somewhat entertaining, but I still don't see the use of it. I don't have implanted bionic senses, and you tell me I'm not a Mutant, so what good is this so-called 'research'?"

"I don't know, okay Jim? I already told you that. But it doesn't matter, man; knowledge is never wasted. We're still flying by the seat of our pants with making your senses work as efficiently as possible without any unpleasant side-effects for you. You've seen how my brain works --"

"Scary, Sandburg, very scary."

"-- and these ideas can become a hidden resource, waiting in my mental basement --"

Jim snickered. "Mental basement? That's deep, Chief."

Blair forged valiantly onward. "-- until a situation comes up where it might be useful, and I can maybe tie it in to other ideas and -- presto! -- another step in the control of your senses. Don't knock it, Jim; you know it works." With that, he turned his attention back to the TV, subject and conversation effectively closed.

Jim watched his friend for a few moments. It was amazing how much time and effort the man spent toward making this sentinel thing easier for him to handle. Jim knew that he wouldn't be half so comfortable with the situation -- might, in fact, be gibbering in a funny farm somewhere -- without the help and input of his guide always standing by his side. One of these days, he'd have to remember to thank him. With a small internal grin, the sentinel swallowed the last of his beer, then passed through the kitchen to toss the empty bottle into the recycling bin, and headed back out to the balcony. He would watch over his city, and his guide would watch over him; with backup like that, he had nothing to worry about.

The End

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