A Contemporary Re-Examination of Sentinels and Guides Pair Bonding in North America
Dr. C. Cascade, M.Sc., Ph.D.
Graduate Department of Genetic Epidemiology
MIT Center for Genome Research, in Conjunction with Harvard University
Sentinels and Guides have always been cloaked in systemic secrecy with most knowledge concerning them stemming from folklore and superstitions. It is only with the advancement of modern science that our knowledge of this community has begun to be understood. This project will examine the implications for this community since the development of genetic testing in the 1980s, with special focus on pair bonding.
Research has documented that the ratio of infants born carrying the Guide and Sentinel genes is approximately equal. However, studies tracking infant Sentinels have shown that fifty percent die within the first year following birth. These deaths, previously attributed to Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), account for roughly one death per two-thousand live births in the United States. The high morality rates of the extremely vulnerable and fragile Sentinel infants adversely affect the ratio of living Sentinels to Guides. With genetic screening in place at birth since 1991, it is hoped the Sentinel infant mortality rate can be drastically decreased. For those infants who live into early childhood without falling into an acute comatose state from sensory overload, survival is improved when the majority form a juvenile pair bond by the age of ten.
Modern governmental social policies have struggled to adapt with the societal and familial implications of juvenile bonds. Parents and guardians of young Sentinels and Guides in a newly formed juvenile pair bond must cope with the reality that the children cannot be separated. The majority of Western countries have instituted a system of shared custody between sets of parents if both parties are found to be fit. Only in the most extreme of cases is the state forced to intercede on behalf of young Sentinels and Guides. After puberty, and as the pair enters adolescence, the pair bond will begin to mature with the Sentinel and Guide. As adults, the Sentinel and Guide will eventually share an intimate relationship. It is believed that the juvenile pair bonding creates a unique form of imprinting that defies all data collected about the Westermarck effect, which states that individuals raised in close domestic proximity will not develop sexual attraction for one another in adulthood.
Although pair bondings have historically been thought to be unbreakable, cases have been documented that attest to the fact that bonds can be broken under extreme circumstance. This document will review the case of Major General J. O’Neill (Sentinel). Using declassified documents as reference material, discussion will centre around the breaking of the subject’s pair bonding with his former Guide and spouse, Ms. S. O’Neill. Following the accidental death of their son, the pair bonding reached critical mass and deteriorated. In an unprecedented occurrence, Sentinel O’Neill re-bonded as an adult with anthropologist, Dr. D. Jackson, during a classified mission. Adding to the already unusual case, is the fact that Guide Jackson was himself previously bonded, but military records do not go into further detail beyond stating that his wife and Sentinel was listed as “missing in action” (MIA). Both Sentinel O’Neill and Guide Jackson have been tested at the highest rating of the tests currently available, leading to the hypothesis that abnormal pair bondings are more likely with more powerful individuals.
In support of this hypothesis, a second case study will be conducted of the unusual case of Lieutenant Colonel J. Sheppard (Sentinel) and Dr. M.R. McKay (Guide). As previously stated, scientific and lay knowledge of Sentinels and Guides have shown that pair bondings are formed before the age of ten. Those Sentinels who do not form juvenile pair bonds before puberty are almost certain to expire after suffering acute sensory overload. Those Guides who do not form such bonds live, but are susceptible to listlessness and/or developing mental disorders. The Shepard-McKay pair bonding is unique in that the bond was formed in late adolescence and involved several complications that included perceived incompatibility, international negotiations, and family conflict. Using the Lewis Goldberg personality models, ninety-seven percent of Guides fall within the range of Openness to Extraversion, being adventurous and artistic individuals. They exude positive emotions and have the tendency to seek company of others for social and mental stimulation. Guide McKay did not exhibit typical Guide traits and after testing, he was classified within the Neuroticism range, which was previously thought to be incompatible with Sentinels. Both subjects tested off-the-scale on talent examinations and are suspected to be the most powerful pair bonding in recorded history, despite, or perhaps because of their demonstrated anomalies.
United States Embassy
Vancouver, British Columbia – 1984
Rodney was fidgeting in a high backed chair with his fingertip strumming an off beat rhythm on the arm rest when he felt a leg brush against his.
With an exasperated sigh, he huffed, “You touched me!”
“I did not,” the boy sitting right next to him automatically denied.
The teenage boy in question was smirking at Rodney in a way that made Rodney want to punch him. His name was John Sheppard and he was slouched in the chair next to Rodney in a way that if Rodney would have done it, he would have looked insolent, but the other boy just managed to make it come off as aloof. John was lean and his hair was messy in a way that nearly denied the laws of physics. He was wearing faded tight jeans, leather aviator jacket with sunglasses tucked in the pocket, and red high top sneakers.
Rodney crossed his arms over his chest, covering the front of his shirt that read, ‘Did you eat a bowl of stupid for breakfast?’ No one had the right to make him feel like he was some loser in high school when he had finished that stupid teenage phase two and half years ago at fourteen. Rodney considered himself an adult, but this jerk gave him sweaty palms and sometimes made him stutter in a completely unflattering way.
Rodney scowled at John. “You so touched me. I told you to stop!”
“Hey, my hands are in my pocket,” John drawled.
John had been touching Rodney since they met and the bond formed instantaneously between them. Rodney had been minding his own business when John just so happened to be standing in Rodney’s way, making it look like Rodney bumped into John. Rodney knew it had all been on purpose and an excuse for the good for nothing Sentinel to touch him. When Rodney had fallen onto the ground, it was too convenient that John had fallen on top him. Then John’s hands had been all over Rodney, setting off all of Rodney’s inconvenient Guide instincts. It was just weird that John had been drawn out of a zone out by Rodney’s ranting at him. Rodney had no inclination or desire to be anyone’s Guide. He was already on his way to a carefully planned and brilliant academic career and world-wide fame. Sure, he understood why John would want to trick a genius into being his Guide, but Rodney wanted nothing to do with him.
“Your freakish long legs…” Rodney waved at John’s long legs. “Bumped me. On purpose.”
John’s eyebrow quirked. “Whoops?”
“Whoops? Whoops!” Rodney repeated back. No one he had ever met had exasperated Rodney like John did and that was saying a lot considering everyone with a lower IQ than Rodney aggravated him. “You are clearly both mentally and morally deficient…”
“Meredith!” Rodney’s mother, Margaret, snapped. “You’re the one who’s socially deficient if you can’t even figure out that it’s not appropriate behaviour in front of the Minister of Foreign Affairs!”
Rodney glared at John when he heard him snicker under his breath at the mention of his real first name. When his mother set what he liked to call ‘Death Glare No. 342' on him, Rodney mumbled, “Sorry, mother, but I still don’t see how this…” Rodney waved his hand between himself and John. “…thing, between us is an international incident.”
“Meredith…” The Minister started but saw Rodney wince. The Minister had flown in from Ottawa just for this meeting after John’s father called the American Consulate General. The Minister had so far been doing all the talking and the Consulate General was just watching quietly for her desk. The Minister coughed and continued on, “Young Mr. McKay, this ‘thing’ as you call it, is the first case of an international pair bonding between a Canadian and American since 1963. Trust me, there are implications you don’t understand.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “Hello, genius here. They did tell you I was a genius, eh?”
The Minister gave him a condensing smile. “Yes, I was informed you were gifted in the sciences.”
“Not just gifted,” Rodney snapped. “I’m seventeen years old…”
“Sixteen,” Margaret corrected.
“Sixteen and three quarters,” Rodney sighed and continued, “I already have an undergraduate degree with a triple major in electrical, computer, and mechanical engineering. Summa cum laude, thank you very much. I’m almost done a second degree in astrophysics. The only reason I’m not at MIT is because she…” Rodney pointed at his exasperated mother. “Wouldn’t let me go until I’m seventeen. I’ve been forced to amuse myself and rot at an inferior institution. I’m going to win the Nobel Prize. One day you’ll be scrambling for the honour to give me the Order of Canada.”
The Minister snorted under his breath and turned to Margaret. “I take it he’s a handful?”
“You have no idea,” Margaret sighed. “I’m told it’s a side effect of his Guide abilities, though any Guide I’ve met is more hippy than asshole. When I picked his sperm donor, I was going for the high IQ and the Guide gene just came with the package. I was hoping for exceptional, not a vulgar pleb. His sister isn’t like this.”
Rodney sunk lower into his chair at the mention of a sperm donor. “Mom! I can’t believe you mentioned…”
“Shush, Meredith.” Margaret snapped. She was dressed in an impeccably tailored navy blue skirt suit and spiked heels. Her glasses and severe bob might have made her look harsh if it wasn’t for the softening effect of her blonde hair. “I’ve had enough with you. Oh, I’ve humoured your idiosyncrasies until now and given you too much leeway, but now you’ve gone and done it. You’ve bonded with an American.”
There was coughing from a man in the corner of the room who had been silent until now. He was dressed in black suit with red tie and looked extremely pissed. Patrick Sheppard commented with distain, “You say American like it’s a curse. That’s pretty funny coming from a citizen of a country whose greatest cultural contribution is maple syrup.”
“Mr. Sheppard, I don’t think you want to get me started on politics. Meredith has a disillusion that your country has certain advantages because of its academic institutions. Lack of social graces aside, my son may be nothing to look at, but it was my hope he could make up for those deficiencies with his intelligence and lure some unsuspecting fellow scientist. I accepted that he might bond because of his genes… but, to a nice Canadian girl. He’s too old for this to happen. If your son hadn’t…”
“Are you blaming my son, Mrs. McKay?”
“Dr. McKay, actually,” Margaret corrected with a sour expression. “What part of sperm donor didn’t you understand? I don’t need a man for anything.”
“Dr. McKay… Mr. Sheppard, please,” the Minister sighed. “This is getting us no where. Surely we can agree that the boys’ bonding was unexpected to say the least.”
“Yes,” Patrick agreed. His stance was still standoffish when he glanced at his son. “John wanted to experience a Canadian Football game. I thought a field trip would be in order since I was coming up here on a business trip anyway. You can certainly trust me, Dr. McKay, when I say that we had no expectations John would bond with anyone, especially…” Patrick gave Rodney a distasteful once over. “Him. John attended the best private schools for Sentinels that money can buy and has been exposed to the best Guides of his age.”
“So, he’s an incompetent Sentinel,” Rodney snickered. “Figures.” John quickly smacked Rodney on the backside of his head. Rodney scowled and rubbed the back of his skull. “Ow!”
“He’s the most powerful Sentinel of his generation,” Patrick added with a slight hint of pride. “His strengths are the only reason he’s survived to this age without bonding. He’s wilful, but with the correct guidance, he has shown potential.”
“The truth is…” The Minister went on after glancing at his watch. “That these boys are probably the most powerful, not only of their generation, but of all living Sentinels and Guides. There is no point in arguing how it happened. It’s happened and on Canadian soil. We now have to discuss custodial issues.”
“Custody?” Rodney squawked. “I’m not a child.”
“You’re a minor in both countries,” the Minister told Rodney.
Rodney looked sullen. “A minor she was going to let go to MIT in the fall.”
“Under the guardianship of your academic advisor,” Margaret reminded him. “If you had agreed to go to the University of Toronto like I wanted, this would have been so much easier. You could have lived with your great aunt….”
“I could go to MIT,” John suddenly cut off Margaret.
Rodney turned his chair to gape at John, his arms flailing a little. “Oh, great, not only am I bonded to an incompetent Sentinel, but you’re delusional, too. Not just anyone gets into MIT, moron.”
John shrugged his shoulders and his expression was deadpan. “I could get into MENSA if I wanted. I like math.”
“Meredith’s not the only one who’s gifted,” Patrick said with a smirk. “John’s passed all his college prep courses with straight A’s all without studying. He likes to conceal his true aptitude. He has this ridiculous notion of entering the Air Force which I’m hoping he’s going to grow out of. Like or not, we can’t separate them now and they both have to go to college. I can’t see my son going to Igloo Building 101 courses if he stayed here.”
Margaret crossed her arms over her ample chest and gave Patrick the patented McKay scowl that had been passed down for generations since the Clan McKay came down from the northern Scottish Highlands. “Meredith’s not going anywhere unless I give my consent.”
John’s arm slunk behind the back of Rodney’s chair and when his hand settled on Rodney’s shoulder, this time Rodney said nothing. Despite not liking the bond that had taken a hold over Rodney, it was calling to him at a feral level.
“You can’t take him from me,” John told them all quietly.
Margaret turned to glower at John. “My son is not a piece of property.”
John cocked his head to the side and narrowed his eyes. John’s father groaned and grabbed Margaret by the elbow, guiding her away from the boys. “Do I need to buy you the ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sentinels and Guides’? You never challenge a Sentinel over their Guide.”
“You’ll always loose,” John added with a deadly smirk. His hand had moved to settle on Rodney’s neck, massaging it slowly and possessively.
“You don’t want me,” Rodney stammered, looking at John. “I’m an obnoxious jerk.”
“Mmm... yeah, I kinda knew that,” John agreed. “At least it won’t be boring.”
“Do you like oranges?” Rodney blurted out. The feel of John’s warm palm on his skin was distracting in ways that was way too embarrassing in room full of adults.
John’s fingers scratched just under Rodney’s hair line. “Love them.”
“See, now, that’s a problem. This can’t work. Besides the fact that I’m Canadian and you’re American, and that I’m a genius and you clearly are not... this can’t be happening. I’m allergic to oranges, all citrus. You won’t be able to keep up with me and get jealous, because everyone gets jealous of me eventually. I’ll die from citrus poisoning because you’ll either be careless or try to kill me on purpose. This is doomed. I'll be a horrible Guide. And then there’s the whole, I’m not gay thing. I like girls.”
John leered at Rodney, slowly continuing in his administrations and documenting Rodney’s reactions with each of his senses. He liked how Rodney smelled and wondered how much coffee and chocolate the other teenager had if he could pick up the bitter sweet scents now. The steady thump of Rodney’s heart was comforting and John finally understood why Sentinels bonded. His senses had never been this clear before and the pain that had been a constant in his life was gone now.
“I can live without oranges. Apples are fine,” John leaned in and whispered in Rodney’s ear. “Don’t worry, I like girls, too. But, I like you better.”
Rodney’s mouth gapped open and his palms felt suddenly sweaty. “Oh.”
“Meredith Rodney McKay,” Margaret threatened him with the ‘mother’s voice of doom’. “I know exactly what you’re thinking. Keep it in your pants, mister.”
John had the gall to look anything but embarrassed. He was still leaning in close and he whispered into Rodney’s ear again, “Rodney’s not much better than Meredith.”
Knowing that he was dealing with a Sentinel and not wanting their parents to overhear, it came naturally for him to whisper below normal hearing level. “Don’t call me Meredith. Call me Rodney and please stop touching me like you’re Captain Kirk and I’m some alien space babe.”
“I like touching you,” John confessed in another whisper. “I’m not going to stop so suck it up, McKay.”
Rodney choked when John said that, his mind going places it shouldn’t but every teenaged boy’s mind resided… right in the gutter.
“I hate you,” Rodney gasped.
John looked self-satisfied and with his hand still on Rodney’s neck, he asked his father, “Hey, dad, look what followed me home. Can I keep him?”
“That’s not appropriate humour for the situation, young man,” Patrick sighed and fixed his tie. “This is not an easy situation to deal with.”
“Oh, I’m thinking it’s pretty easy,” John responded. He turned to Rodney who was now blushing. “Hey, Rodney. Wanna go to MIT?”
Rodney gave him a sideways glance. “Duh?”
“Can I come?” John was grinning foolishly.
Rodney did not want to give into the grin and John’s ploys, even if it was kind of charming, but this was MIT they were talking about.
Rodney jutted his chin out. “If you turn out to be smart enough to get in, then I can’t stop you.”
Rodney hated that he could sense that John was satisfied. He hated it that John being happy made him feel happy.
John licked his lips and said, “Cool.”
The smile that lit up on John’s face almost made Rodney like the other boy. The only thing that soured it was the stark reality that he was pretty much tied to John for the rest of his life unless he found a way to get out of it. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if John was a pretty blonde girl whose turn-ons included astrophysics and Darleks. He suddenly had nightmares about sharing a dorm room with this strange jock that had weird hair.
“Do you at least have a driver’s license?” Rodney asked.
“I have a motorcycle,” John answered. “Stop freaking out that we don’t know each other. I get that you’re a brainiac, deathly allergic citrus, and always seem to be hungry. I hate clowns, but I do enjoy ferris wheels, real football, not the CFL stuff, and anything that goes faster than two hundred miles an hour.”
“Kilometres,” Rodney automatically corrected. “I’ll ignore the football comment for now.”
John didn’t look annoyed like other people who were forced to spend time with Rodney. He looked pleased when he huffed, “Shut up, Rodney.”
Rodney immediately bristled and his panic ebbed. “Don’t tell me...”
“Gentlemen, I think you can get to know one another after we resolve this situation,” the Consulate General cut off Rodney’s rant before it started. “Mr. Sheppard and Dr. McKay, there’s no reason to get lawyers involved in this case. By the time it gets tied up in the court systems, the boys will be over eighteen and old enough to make their own decisions. I’ve contacted my colleagues in the states and think I have a solution that will work for everyone. We can get Meredith a student visa. If John can get into MIT, I’m sure he can stay in the dorms with Meredith, who the Minister has agreed, will both will be supervised by a representative from the on-campus Sentinel and Guide Association until they reach the age of majority.”
Rodney slapped his forehead with his palm, muttering under his breath, “I knew there would be a dorm room.”
“And what about after they complete college?” Margaret asked.
“That’s not our problem, Dr. McKay,” the Minister commented. He gave Rodney and John an amused look. “But, I have an idea whatever they do... if they don’t kill one another first, will be remarkable.”