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Foreward to 'Sentinels - Our Tribal Protectors' by Blair Sandburg, published posthumously in 2045.
In the long history of the human race, there have always been sentinels. Not many; never many at one time, never more than one in any community at any one time. What they have been called over the years has also varied; watchman, guardian, even, sometimes, hunter, because there have been times when their ability to see or hear wary food animals has been all that stood between their tribe and starvation.
But then what was called civilization evolved, and with it the urge to forget the 'primitive' skills that had once meant survival. Religious fervor had taken the place of superstition as people tried to understand the often capricious forces of nature, the often inexplicable ailments that affected some people while leaving others unaffected. And, above all, fear, the fear of those who were different or seemed to be different, gripped the world.
What people could not understand, they turned to their priests to interpret; priests anxious to display a knowledge they did not have - for how could they, in a still-primitive civilization, really know more than the secular population - and equally anxious to increase their power base, spoke of evil spirits, demons, and gods who needed to be propitiated if they were not to wreak catastrophe on the human race. Belief grew that 'different' meant 'evil', and the monotheistic religions adhered to that belief; many people, over the years, were accused of being witches. Some had simply made enemies among their neighbors, who saw in an accusation of witchcraft a good way of ridding themselves of someone with whom they had a quarrel. Some were nothing more than old and suffering from dementia. Some were simply left-handed. And some - the unwary who failed to keep secret the fact that they could hear more acutely than most, see further than most - were sentinels or part sentinels.
It was a wonder that the genes for heightened senses survived - but they did, probably as recessive, emerging only when two carriers of that recessive gene married and had children.
In The Sentinels of Paraguay by Sir Richard Burton, I found details of individuals with heightened senses. The tribes of Paraguay - indeed, all the tribes in areas not touched by the outside world until at least the eighteenth century - had remained unaffected by the fear that heightened senses were a sign that people with them - or their parents - had made a pact with the devil.
In the 1990s I searched America for people who showed any sign of heightened senses, finding quite a few with a heightened sense of taste and/or smell. I found one or two with better than 20/20 vision. I found a few with excellent hearing - perfect pitch, for example. But until I met James Ellison, I found nobody with all five senses heightened.
According to Burton, time spent alone triggered the senses in people who had the genes for them, as well as honing those senses. Living in cities, always surrounded by other people, would not encourage the senses to manifest, and most of those who carried the double recessive gene probably never showed any sign that they had the potential to become sentinels.
James Ellison was everything I had ever understood a sentinel to be. He had been an army ranger; on leaving the army he joined the Cascade PD. It was my good fortune to meet him just after his senses had been triggered by several days spent on a solitary stakeout. I was able to explain to him what had happened, and we began to work together. We became close friends - a friendship that was slightly strained some three years later when a woman with five heightened senses came to Cascade.
She was not, however, a sentinel.
Did I say a sentinel has five heightened senses? I was wrong. A sentinel has six. He has to have the instinct to protect heightened as well. The woman we knew as Alex Barnes (we never knew her real name) had five heightened senses but no instinct to protect, and she had a total breakdown a short time after her senses manifested, dying a few months later.
Not long after that, the work I had done to record what my sentinel could do was sent to a publisher without my knowledge or consent, and in order to protect him I claimed that the evidence in it - which is printed in full in this book - was fraudulent. If the criminals of Cascade had known what he could do, James Ellison would have become a target - more of one than the police often were; his life expectancy would have become very short. His life was more important than my reputation.
For anyone who still suspects that this book is fictional, as I claimed back then, it includes affidavits from the handful of people who knew about his senses - foremost among them Captain Simon Banks of the Cascade PD, who helped us keep the secret from almost the start.
James Ellison has worked with me on the final editing of this book, and we are entrusting the manuscript to Daryl Banks, son of Simon Banks, for publication after we are both dead.
I dedicate this work to my sentinel, James Ellison, and to the men and women of the Cascade PD with whom we worked for many years, in particular Simon Banks, Megan Connor, Joel Taggert, Henri Brown and Brian Rafe.