The flashing lights of the emergency response vehicles of the police and fire departments, as well as the soul numbing sight of an entire fleet of ambulances and dozens of frantic paramedics, was the sight that greeted the newly restored blue truck as it arrived on site.
Its two occupants quickly exited the vehicle and started jogging over to the on-site command post, waving at those of their colleagues that gave them a quick nod of greeting as they passed by.
Both men had on windbreakers with POLICE emblazoned on the back and their baseball caps said CASCADE PD. The taller of the two headed straight towards a familiar face, his smaller partner at his side, as always.
The man looked up at them as they approached - a phone stuck to his ear, and an unlit cigar clenched between his teeth; he nodded a greeting at them but kept his attention fixated on the call.
"I don't care what you have to do!" exclaimed Simon Banks, in anger. "Clear the damn road by hand if necessary. That street is the quickest route to Cascade General and we've got people injured and dying here. Move the damn stuff to the side of the road and get us an access corridor!"
Banks slammed the phone down on the tables set up in the 'temporary command area' and looked at his two best detectives with fatigue, anger and worry in his eyes. "Sorry about that. A moving truck overturned spilling god alone knows how much stuff over half a block on Cedar road. It's the nearest access road to the hospital and we've still not managed to clear it off."
Ellison and Sandburg looked at their friend in concern. Simon Banks had been their commanding officer for the four years that Sandburg was Ellison's unofficial partner and the three years that that partnership had been official. He had been Jim's friend for years, and that friendship had expanded to include Sandburg into its mix too.
He was due to take up his new role as chief of police in less than a month. This disaster was not the way that he would want to finish his tenure as captain of the Major Crimes department of the Cascade PD.
"Where do you want us, Simon?" asked Sandburg. Simon Banks didn't even have the energy to sigh in exasperation. It took an act of God, or at the very least a visit from the Mayor, before Blair Sandburg even unconsciously thought to address him by his rank.
He'd given up trying to get Blair to follow proper protocol; maybe Don Wilson would have better luck. Oh, Don. You have no idea what you've got yourself in to with these two, thought Banks in fond exasperation.
"I want you to join up with Joel and..."
Banks stopped talking - what was the point? Neither of them were listening to him anyway. He looked on as Sandburg focussed his full attention on his partner... his Sentinel. Jim stood staring along the bridge with an intensity that clearly indicated that his senses had picked up on something. Simon Banks sighed, feeling his heart sink down into his boots. This couldn't be good.
Ignoring Simon for now, Blair instinctively focussed his full attention on Jim. His eyes were staring off into the distance and the slight flare of his nostrils indicated that he smelt something too.
"Focus, Jim. Come back to me. What are you seeing? Tell me."
Nothing happened and Blair winced inwardly. Jim was zoned and that was so not good. He had gained so much control over his senses in the past few years that he only zoned when something was really, really bad.
Reaching out, Blair grasped at Jim's hand and placed it over the pulse point on his own wrist. "Come on back, Jim. This is not the time. Feel my pulse. Listen to my voice. You need to come back. Right now."
Blair eased out a sigh of relief as he felt Jim's fingers tighten around his wrist. The Sentinel was back with them. He raised relieved eyes to look up into the vivid blue of his partner's and gasped aloud at the horror he saw in their depths.
The gasp had Simon Banks at the other side of Jim before they could even blink. He too saw the horror in his detective's gaze. Simon shut his eyes for a moment before taking a deep breath and said, "What?"
"We have to get the bridge cleared. Now!"
"We are, Jim. We've got to check the rest of the vehicles first, though. The tanker spill has been contained - thankfully it was only a milk tanker - nothing dangerous. The resultant crashes and near misses are the worry. We've got to check that we've got all the injured off the bridge first."
"It wasn't an accident!"
"What do you mean? How can you be so sure?"
Ellison's eyes bored into those of his commanding officer as he tried to make him understand the urgency of the situation.
"I can smell the brake fluid from here. The tanker's brakes were tampered with! That's not the problem, though. This was obviously part of bigger plan. I can smell C4, Simon. From what I can see there are about nine or ten separate devices attached to the upper pylons of the bridge."
Simon didn't even question Ellison's statement, or point out the logistical nightmare of how someone had managed to plant the devices without anyone seeing anything. As he'd explained to people before, 'If Ellison says he sees something, he sees something.'
Instead, he gazed in horror at the bridge that was currently swarming with rescue personnel. Most of the uninjured commuters had been moved to safety, but there were some trapped at the centre of the bridge by wreckage containing injured fellow travellers that had to be moved first before they could be escorted off the bridge.
"How are we supposed to clear the bridge in time?"
Ellison and Sandburg shared a long, wordless glance. Almost imperceptibly they nodded at each other.
"We'll do it," said Sandburg in a matter of fact tone.
"What? How?" asked a stunned Simon Banks.
Ellison looked at him and gave him an order. It was so unexpected that Simon gazed at him in astonishment. His best detective had never been one to go against his authority, he questioned some things - more so since teaming up with Sandburg - but he had never actually spoken to him in a tone similar to the one that he now employed.
"Order all personnel to evacuate the bridge. Now. I want a team of paramedic and rescue personnel at the bridge in the next five minutes.
"Sandburg and I will take point. They follow our instructions to the letter. I'll direct them to the injured and they can get them - and the rest of the civilians - the hell out of there. When they're done, you can send in the bomb squad and we'll direct them to the explosives."
Simon looked at his detectives for a long moment, saying nothing. Raising the radio in his hand to his lips, he relayed the instructions Ellison had given him. Only when that was done did he address the pair again, saying, "How are you going to explain you know what you are doing. What you're telling them?"
His eyes slowly widened as he stared at the pair as realisation finally donned. Ellison and Sandburg stood side by side as they calmly met his gaze. It wasn't his detectives that he was looking at, though. It wasn't even his friends. It was the Sentinel and Shaman of the great city of Cascade, ready and willing to do anything to protect the tribe, no matter the adverse effects for them.
He opened his mouth to say something but they just gave him a pair of gentle smiles before turning and sprinting off to the group of personnel assembling at the edge of the bridge.
Simon looked on, his heart in his mouth. Sometimes the courage the pair displayed was just humbling.
The next half hour would live in the minds of the rescue personnel of Cascade for the rest of their lives. Initially sceptical about what the two detectives proposed to do, they followed the orders of the senior officer on scene that had ordered them to take their lead from the pair.
They had watched and wondered as the mismatched pair threaded their way through the carnage of the wrecked cars with expressions of calm determination and intent focus. Ellison would occasionally stop and cock his head to the side or gaze intently at one of the many mangled cars.
Wherever he indicated, they did indeed find survivors. In two instances injured children that had been overlooked in the initial sweep were found unconscious on the floors of cars.
They worked as fast as they could, they had been made aware of the imminent threat posed by the explosive devices positioned around the bridge. They were efficiently and carefully clearing the bridge of its civilian presence under the calm and steady influence of the two detectives.
One of the paramedics, Mike McReady, paused in mid-step as he heard Ellison murmur something to his partner. Ellison and Sandburg were frequent passengers in his ambulance, they seemed to attract injuries like honey attracted bees. They were definitely the best and the brightest of the 'good guys' and devoted to each other.
He liked them. His eyes widened as he realised what he was hearing. "Chief, I don't know how much more of this I can take. The smell of the blood..."
"I know, big guy. I know. Dial it down. Filter out the smell of the blood. You can do it."
"But Chief, if I dial down smell, how am I going to be able to help deal with the bombs?"
"Just do it, Jim. You've already got a rough guess about the quantity of C4 that you've been able to smell. We'll use your sight and hearing to guide the bomb squad.
"I don't want you overloading on the smell of the blood, man. Dial it down."
"'Kay, Chief. You're the boss."
Mike looked on with a slowly dawning understanding as Sandburg snorted his opinion of his partner's last statement. "It wasn't a fake," he breathed.
"What are you talking about, Mikey?" asked his partner, Heather Swann.
She too, was intimately familiar with the most injury prone pair of officers in the history of Cascade PD.
"Sandburg's dissertation, Heather. It wasn't a fake..."
His voice trailed off as she gazed around the bridge in sudden understanding. They looked in disbelief at the detectives, only to see the pair give them gentle smiles and for Ellison to wink at them.
Sandburg said, "Go guys. Get clear. There are no more civilians on the bridge. Send in the bomb squad."
The bomb squad were a little more believing. They'd had a briefing from their former captain. Joel Taggert had jogged up to them as they made ready to head out on to the bridge and told them - in no uncertain terms - that they should take whatever Ellison and Sandburg told them as gospel.
With eight bombs down and one to go, they were so firmly convinced that, if Ellison said that the Sun was green and that the sky was purple, they would believe him.
Several of their members of the squad had put it together too, the disbelief among the rank and file of the department that Sandburg would ever lie about his research had never gone away. That, coupled with the fact that he had gone to the academy, graduated at the top of his class, and had been slotted straight in to Major Crimes had always kept them wondering. Now they had their answer...
Their musings were suddenly interrupted as Ellison stopped in mid-step. Sandburg was at his side in an instant. He muttered something and Sandburg immediately turned and yelled, "Take cover! Now!" He launched himself at the junior member of the bomb squad - at twenty-six, Harris was a rookie - and pushed him to the ground.
Ellison had launched himself at the two bomb squad officers standing to his left. The others, needing no urging other than the desperate haste of the two detectives, quickly hit the deck. The explosion that erupted around them seconds later was bone-jarring and terrifying. Ellison stumbled to his feet muttering something about time-delayed fuses as he scanned around with desperate eyes looking for his partner.
An expression of terror graced his features as he yelled out a frantic, "Chief!" He rushed to his fallen partner and fell to his knees beside the smaller man. He wasn't sure which scared him more, the sight of the ragged piece of metal sticking out of his partner's thigh or the blood oozing from his right ear.
Clutching tightly to his partner's hand, Ellison screamed, "Medic!"
Twelve hours later...
"Detective Ellison, I wish I could give you better news. The fact of the matter is that your partner suffered very severe injuries.
"If I were to discount the massive blood loss that resulted in the injury to his leg or the four broken ribs he suffered when his body bounced off of the bridge during the explosion; that still leaves us with the most serious of his injuries.
"His skull was fractured and there was swelling in the brain. We've managed to relieve the pressure but right now, I'd have to say that the odds are fifty/fifty at best."
Dr. Elaine Cassidy sighed sorrowfully as she gazed round the crowded waiting room. All the familiar faces were there. Sandburg and Ellison inspired great loyalty and caring amongst their friends and co-workers. She had seen it work minor miracles in the past. She had sneaking suspicion that this time it wasn't going to be enough. She hoped to god that she was wrong, but...
"Can I see him, Doc?" asked a soul weary, Jim Ellison.
"Give us ten minutes and then you can sit with him, Jim. Visiting policy has been suspended in this case. I want you near him. He's going to need you."
Behind Ellison's back, Elaine saw Simon Banks eyes widen at that announcement. Ellison and Sandburg usually got around hospital visiting hours but it had only ever been voluntarily suspended on three previous occasions. In each case, it had been because neither Ellison nor Sandburg had been expected to survive the injuries they had suffered in those instances.
"'Kay, Doc... and Doc, thanks."
It took another fourteen hours before Blair Sandburg's eyes fluttered open. Knowing instinctively what he would find, his gaze moved to the side of the hospital bed and the strained and worried face of his Sentinel. He tried to speak but his mouth was so dry that nothing except a faint croak emerged.
With an understanding born of far too many similar situations, Ellison reached out for the ice chips resting in a container on the unit next to the bed. With infinitely gentle fingers, he eased a couple of chips into his partner' dry mouth.
"Thanks, Jim," breathed Sandburg. "Is everyone else...?"
Jim sighed. Sandburg, as always, was thinking of everyone else before himself. "Everyone else escaped with cuts and bruises. You caught the brunt of the blast, Chief."
A relieved sigh escaped from Sandburg's lips, and for a brief second Jim Ellison had to fight the urge to shake some instincts for self-preservation into his young Guide. What would have been the point? The inborn instinct to put others' safety before his own was one of the things that made Blair a Guide. Just like those self-same instincts made him a Sentinel.
Ignoring the dread that had been creeping into his bones as he had sat for these past fourteen hours listening to the battle being waged within his Guide's battered body, Jim pasted a smile on his face and said, "Well, Chief. You should be up and out of here in no time.
"The nurses have already started a pool on how long it takes you to talk yourself out of here - don't tell them that I told you, though. If you could hold off for a few days I could make a bet and we could clean up..."
Sandburg's voice was quiet but firm as he said, "Jim..."
"No, Chief. You're wrong. You're going to be fine. You'll see."
Sandburg closed his eyes briefly at the terror and denial he heard in his best friend's voice. God, this was even harder than he'd thought it would be.
"Not this time, Jim. I can feel it, deep down in my soul. The roller-coaster ride is almost over, my friend. I have never regretted a moment of it, Jim. Not ever. No matter what shit we've gone through, no matter the hurts.
"You've made my life complete, man. I love you for that, and I always will.
"You're going to have to say goodbye to me this time, Jim."
Sandburg's teary eyes met those of his Sentinel. With a tired hand, he reached up to gently wipe away the tears streaming down Ellison's face.
"It's okay, Jim."
"No,it's not, Sandburg. It will be, though," said Jim in a hoarse, tear-filled voice. "How long?"
"How long, what?" asked a confused Sandburg.
"How long can you give me? How long can you hold on?"
Understanding dawned in Sandburg's blue eyes. "No! No, Jim! You can't do this."
Sandburg felt his eyes fill with tears as his Sentinel cupped his cheek with a gentle hand and said, "We've talked about this, Blair. I was serious then, and I'm serious now. The arrangements have been taken care of. Everything is more or less ready. How long can you wait for me?"
Eyes closed, Blair turned his face and pressed a kiss into Jim's palm. He whispered, "Three days, Jim."
Ellison took a deep breath. "I'll make the arrangements, and place the calls. Promise you'll wait for me, Chief."
Blair nodded and as Jim turned to leave, he whispered, "Be careful."
Ellison confounded those that knew him by hardly visiting his partner at all in the two days that followed Sandburg regaining consciousness. Considering the fact that he wasn't getting better, none of his colleagues could understand it.
He had been as focussed as anyone had ever seen him, within forty-eight hours the militia that had made and planted the bombs was in custody with enough evidence against them to lock them up and through away the key. Unusually, Jim had sworn out an affidavit detailing all of his investigation into the militia.
He'd then gone into Simon Banks' office and they'd been behind closed doors for over an hour. Nobody knew what had been said in that office, but Jim had left the office and logged off duty. Twenty minutes later, a stricken and silent Simon Banks had left his office and headed off to a meeting with the Commissioner.
The evening of the second day, Steven Ellison had pulled up to 852 Prospect having just picked up Naomi Sandburg at the airport. She'd arrived by a private jet organised by one of Jim's old covert ops buddies. The ethereal woman had greeted him with a hug and a sad smile and they'd travelled in silence to the loft shared by her son and his brother.
As always, Jimmy opened the door before anyone had the chance to knock. He greeted them each with a sad smile and a hug.
Naomi and Steven each took a seat on the couch, Jim stood opposite them, standing erect as only a former soldier does. He looked at them and sighed. How did he say this? Naomi - the wonderful woman that she was - did it for him. She said, "It's time, isn't it?"
Steven Ellison closed his eyes at the serenity in his brother's voice. They'd told him, explained it to him. Hell, he'd been one of the ones to make arrangements for what would follow... He just hadn't expected it to be so soon. He'd thought it would be years down the line.
"Oh God, Jimmy," said Steven in a heartsick voice.
The next thing he knew his big brother had enveloped him in a strong hug with one arm and pulled a crying Naomi Sandburg into the embrace with the other. They stood that way for a good few minutes.
Jimmy whispered, "I'm so sorry... we're so sorry.
"This is going to be harder on you than it is on us. We're leaving you the circus to deal with. I need to know now if you want to step aside. This is your last chance. We will understand."
Steven Ellison took in a deep shuddering breath and glanced at Naomi. Her teary eyes echoed his determination. He answered for them both. "No, Jimmy. We're here for you both. We're honoured to do what you've both asked."
Steven almost started crying again as he felt his big brother place a gentle kiss on his head, saying, "Thank you, Stevie."
The next day at the hospital, anticipation seemed to hang in the air. The ICU nurses had watched with sad understanding as a procession of people made its way into the detective's room. They knew he was fading fast; obviously, so did his colleagues.
Elaine Cassidy wandered in to her patient's room ready to chase the occupants back in to the waiting area. The policy had been suspended for Ellison, not the entire Cascade PD. The sight that greeted her caused her voice to die in her throat.
On either side of the bed stood Naomi Sandburg and Steven Ellison. Captain Simon Banks stood at the foot of the bed and ranged against the far side of the room, she recognised Rafe, Brown, Joel Taggert and Megan Connor; all close colleagues of Ellison and Sandburg.
As for Ellison and Sandburg, the sight that greeted her almost broke her heart. The wan face of Blair Sandburg was nestled against the broad chest of his partner. Jim had his arms firmly wrapped round his partner, with a serene expression on his face.
He looked down at the clearly audible hitch in his partner's breathing. The entire room seemed to hold it's breath as his gentle gaze met his partner's and he said, "Is it time, Chief?"
Almost imperceptibly, Blair nodded. The pair looked for a moment at their colleagues and then at their family. Finally, the looked at each other in a moment that seemed to cause eternity to pause, just for a second, before the march of time continued onwards.
In sync, as always, they said, "We love you. Goodbye."
The machines monitoring Sandburg went into a flatline and Elaine's medical training kicked in and she called out, "Move, Jim!"
His brother gently restrained her and though tears were streaming down his face. Steven Ellison smiled and said, "They're at peace."
The other detectives started in horror, though Ms. Sandburg and Captain Banks seemed unsurprised by his announcement. Confused, she said, "What do you mean 'they'?"
In a quiet voice, Steven Ellison said, "Jimmy's gone too. Blair waited till everything was taken care of, and Jimmy could go with him. They're together."
Shaking her in disbelief she rushed to check Ellison's pulse. There was none.
Captain Banks gently escorted his stunned and grieving detectives from the room. Ignoring the tears that were streaming down her face at the loss of two of her favourite patients and two people she had been honoured to call friends, Elaine Cassidy looked at the quietly joyful pair of Naomi Sandburg and Steven Ellison.
In a voice full of confusion, of tears and loss, she said, "How am I supposed to give a cause of death for Jim?"
Smiling through her own tears, Naomi Sandburg let Steven Ellison thread her arm through his, ready to lead her from the room. She looked at the doctor and said, "The cause of death was love. Pure and simple."
Two days later, Detective James Ellison and Detective Blair Sandburg were buried with full police honours. Amongst the mourners were former army colleagues of Ellison, former students of Sandburg's and a multitude of people that the pair had helped in the course of their careers.
That list included CEOs, scientists, and humble citizens of Cascade, the homeless; even the hookers. Ellison and Sandburg had never turned their backs on anyone that needed assistance.
The wreaths indicated the true scope of the loss felt. Sandburg seemingly had had friends on every continent, Ellison's father had sent a wreath but had been too ill to come; the pair had truly been loved. One wreath drew particular attention, the one from the First Family on behalf of a grateful nation.
Naomi Sandburg and Steven Ellison - each clutching the flag they had been handed - were escorted to the first of the waiting limousines. The rest of the mourners followed in the rest of the cavalcade.
Nobody really knew what to expect in the memorial service that they were going to. Only that Naomi Sandburg and Steven Ellison had organised it, and that, as per the wishes of Blair and Jim, it was being held after the funeral.
The memorial service was taking place in the main auditorium at Rainier; it was one of the few venues big enough to cope with the amount of attendees. Blair Sandburg's loss had struck his old university hard - no matter the terms he had left under; the university had been more than willing to agree that that memorial could be held there.
The mourners eyed the huge projection screen with some confusion. What on earth? Naomi Sandburg and Steven Ellison were seated to the side of the stage on two simple wooden chairs. Once everyone had settled, she stood and walked to the solitary microphone at the side of the screen.
"On behalf of myself, Steven, and especially on behalf of Jim and Blair, I want to thank you all for coming to this memorial service. There will be no more eulogies, their colleagues have done that already, and expressed their feeling admirably.
"This is a message from Jim and Blair. An explanation, and a goodbye."
She walked back to her seat, Steven Ellison clasped her hand in his; as they settled, the lights dimmed and the screen flared to life. There were sighs and gasps all around the room as the familiar, and well-loved, faces of Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg filled the screen.
It quickly became apparent that this 'message', whatever it was, had been filmed at the loft. Sandburg spoke first and there were muffled whispers of 'Hairboy' and 'Sandy' from the Major Crimes contingent.
"Well, if you're watching this it means that we're dead. First of all, we both want you to know that however that happened, we have no regrets.
"We love our job and we love helping others. Service before self, that's the credo we live by. Serving others makes our lives better."
Ellison took over at that point.
"One of two things happened. I died, and for some reason so did Sandburg. Or he died and so did I. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there wondering about that."
Silent expectation filled the auditorium. Ellison's next words were met with profound silence.
"It's simple. I'm a Sentinel and he's my Guide. At one stage it might have been possible for us to survive the death of the other, and simply lose the essence of what made us who we are... were.
"No more. We have moved beyond that now. We've known for a while now that we cannot survive alone. I simply could not function without my Guide. He cares for my body, mind and soul; and he owns my heart."
There wasn't a dry eye in the hall as they witnessed the emotions clearly expressed by the pair of men on the screen. Sandburg turned at that point and placed his hand on his friend's cheek and whispered, "You are the other half of my soul, Jim Ellison. Blessed Protector to a crazy anthropologist that went in search of a myth and found the one person in the world that made my life complete."
Eventually they stared back at the screen. Sandburg grinned and, ignoring the tears streaming down his cheeks, said, "Enough of the mushy stuff.
"Obviously, my press conference calling my dissertation a fake was the only fake thing going on there. It was the only way to protect Jim and give him back the anonymity that he needed to be able to do his job."
Ellison took over again at that point.
"The dissertation fiasco almost led to the release of the information that we are about to give you. Sandburg insisted that we try his way first. To my eternal amazement the media actually bought it.
"I was convinced that nobody that knew him could possibly believe that he would lie about his research.
"Anyway, very early on when I first re-discovered my Sentinel senses I was challenged in court about something I said I saw. I did see it, but nobody would have believed it... as a result a criminal almost got away with his crime.
"We talked to Captain Banks and took steps at that point to protect any future investigations that I might be involved in. We contacted Judge Philip Chang. He was a retired federal judge that Simon knew from way back.
"After reading us the riot act for not coming forward before, he had me demonstrate my senses to his satisfaction that we weren't selling him a load of bull.
"Sandburg and I then had to recount every instance where my senses were used in my past cases. Lucky for us, Sandoval keeps notes on everything.
"Judge Chang was satisfied that we did not infringe on anyone's rights and that we did not subvert the law in those past cases. For any future case he set up a simple system.
"We made two copies of Sandburg's notes and he checked all our investigations for honesty. We gave sworn affidavits for each one in the presence of his wife. She is a retired stenographer and took down our testimony as well as videoing each affidavit.
"The Changs have all this information stored away for any court cases that result in the aftermath of the memorial service."
Sandburg sighed and pushed his hands through his wild hair.
"Okay, like I said, the diss wasn't fake. If Rainier wants to reconsider accepting it then nothing would make me happier. I've left power of attorney with Steven Ellison to ensure that my dissertation on Sentinels and Guides gets published.
"All proceeds from the book are to be used towards the eventual creation of a foundation whose sole aim will be to find and encourage those people with enhanced senses to learn how to use them for the betterment of society.
"That's what we both want.
"People with enhanced senses are not freaks, and they're not to be feared. They are to be cherished and protected. Jim is not the only Sentinel out there and I am not the only Guide.
"It takes a very special person to have the right 'connection' with a Sentinel to ground and guide them; to keep them safe. Our friends Simon and Megan have filled in for me on occasion, but they cannot do the job as well, as quickly or as easily as a Guide.
"It is my greatest fear that Guides might actually be rarer that Sentinels. This cannot be allowed to be the case. A Sentinel cannot function at full capacity without a Guide.
"Their greater gifts render them more vulnerable. They need that one person, the one that their soul recognises that they can trust. The one person in the world that they cares for them enough, that loves them enough to keep them safe."
Placing his arm around Sandburg's shoulders, Jim Ellison addressed the camera.
"The foundation will be under the control of Naomi Sandburg and Steven Ellison. The board of directors - if they are willing - will be made up of our colleagues from the Major Crimes department of the Cascade PD.
"Simon, Henri, Brian, Joel, Megan... it's up to you. Dr. Eli Stoddard has volunteered his services to aid the foundation. Any other genuine offers of support will be gladly accepted.
"Certain friends like Jack Kelso and a few unnamed federal agents have agreed to keep watch, to make sure that nobody exploits anybody aided by the foundation."
Ellison and Sandburg looked at each other one last time before Sandburg said, "On behalf of us both, I would like to say it has been an honour to serve the citizens of Cascade. It's a crazy place some times, but you've got to love it.
"To our friends and family. What is there to say except, we love you, and thank you."
The screen flickered to once again show nothing and that was when uproar let loose...
Fifteen years later...
Naomi Sandburg wandered down the winding path lost in thought. The autumn leaves were vibrant russets and browns, and the huge structure of the old mansion house that was the home of the SG Foundation beckoned her with its warmth and welcome.
Who would have thought that she would have ceased her wanderings and found a place were she truly belonged? This foundation was a shining beacon in an otherwise grey society.
In the fifteen years that it had been established they had only found three Sentinel/Guide pairs. All three had followed the path laid down by their predecessors. Two pairs worked with the police, and one with the coast guard doing search and rescue.
The foundation had brought hope to many. People that had feared they were going insane for smelling or tasting something that others couldn't... people that had been misdiagnosed as having mental problems, or autism, or any number of other things, other than the truth - that they had some form of enhanced senses.
The foundation offered free testing and helped those 'gifted' people that they found to use their gifts for the betterment of others. All shared a similar philosophy, service before self. The world was a better place for them.
As for her, in the fifteen years since Blair and Jim had passed away, she had become best friend to Steven Ellison - whoever would have thought that could happen?
She loved his children like they were her own grandchildren. She had been a constant presence at his side when his much-cherished wife died in that horrible, horrible car crash.
Somehow, Jim and Blair had known what they were doing. Even in death they made sure that their world was protected and that their families were looked after.
Naomi increased her pace. It was time to find out if her instincts - honed by years of teaching and caring for their gifted students - had been right. Using the lessons she had learned on her journey through life, she had been teaching meditation and yoga at the academy since its creation.
She had found that, in interacting, with current and prospective members of the academy in such a calming environment, that she'd quickly become adept at recognising who had been blessed with enhanced senses. She was very rarely proved wrong in her assessments, much to the chagrin of the people who actually carried out the academy's testing.
Naomi grinned at that thought. It proved, though, that sometimes instinct was the best judge of all. After all, it was instinct that had tied Jim and Blair together in bonds of love and friendship that not even death could sunder.
Her instincts had told her something about Blair Ellison. Blair was named after her uncle's best friend but, if she was right, and she was rarely wrong, then Blair Ellison was just like her uncle, and had all five Sentinel senses.
Steven was beside himself with excitement and pride at that thought, and it was up to her to be the voice of reason this time. The results of her testing were due this afternoon. Naomi quickened her pace and headed back inside, smiling softly.
Somewhere out there, her baby was looking down at her and laughing...