1. It was like merging into a painting. The sun touched its
reflection on the water and the colors of sunset made her heart skip a
beat. This was a stark contrast to her orders. "Life
through Light and Death
-- Beauty and Savagery," seemed to apply. There was energy
and sadness both.
2. "This is a contradiction," she said to herself: "I could
forever... but I'm supposed to
assassinate a sculpture." Daniel ordered Onimex to instruct Xanax
not to warn Dayton. The sculpture was standing not 4 yards in
front of her and made no attempt to move.
3. "Ich wusste, dass die Partei
am Ende mussten über kurz oder lang," he said, and translated, "I
knew the party
had to end sooner or later. Is this the simulator?" He knew
4. Xanax and Onimex copied simulator procedure and
clothed Dayton and Ireana appropriately. He was in an unbuttoned
Hawaiian shirt and plaid
shorts with no shoes. Her outfit was business casual -- not
exactly right, but tasteful. Before she could
ask, Onimex answered, "Xanax."
She unholstered her weapon and leveled it at
his back, prepared to carry out his termination. He recognized
the sound and instinctively raised his hands while turing
around slowly. The 'follow through' would have been carried
out in his previous reality, and he knew it undoubtedly.
She asked Onimex psionically, "Does
your analysis of this period reveal any
7. "This period is unaffected," Onimex replied, "It
with unaltered history; whatever he did to cause the mess we saw
in 1986 was unable to metastasize." There was a linear
"1962 should be after-the-fact?"
reasoned, "How does terminating him now,
prevent anything that
happened in 1938?." "Once we were clear of the alternate
timeline," Onimex explained, "Xanax removed Dayton before he could
tell Hitler anything of
value, so Hitler finished his original agenda,
unaffected." "Xanax said that?" she wanted reassurance and
dropped her bead from the target,
8. "Man merkt, dass ihre Waffe nicht schaden mir?" Dayton
assured her. His German thoughts had psionic equivalents, "You
realize that your weapon can't harm me?" he had said. He knew
Xanax could cancel the effect of an
archaic firestick. How else could he have captured the
attention of Hitler so easily? She wanted to visit 1938 and
assess Hitler's hypnotic appeal for herself. "When, in Corlos
history, has an agent ever turned?" she asked herself. Dayton had
hypnotized her the moment she first laid eyes on
"Onimex?" Ireana said, to elicit his confirmation.
"Xanax will not assist him," Onimex answered.
11. "What do you mean, 'Xanax won't assist?'"
Dayton rebuked indignantly, "I built him -- his loyalty is to
"Onimex and your little unit are friends now," she
"I have an unobstructed link with Corlos..." she also heard,
"because there's no interference here at all."
14. "... I
have advised them that you have Dayton targeted and are prepared
to carry out his termination."
She corrected her bead, understanding that she would be terminating
the most gorgeous shellan she had ever seen.
16. In spite of his imperiled condition, his
face reflected the most romantic grin that he could muster; utterly
unfazed. Ireana cocked her
head quizzically, "Is my 'war face' really that transparent?" she directed the
sentiment to Onimex in private.
wishes to speak to you both, directly,"
Onimex replied out loud.
This was unprecedented; God doesn't typically grace mundane
affairs. Dayton spread his hands to indicate, "By all
means..." He certainly had nothing to lose, but perhaps a few
minutes to gain.
19. Ireana modified her posture to stand down
somewhat, still ready, "This ought to be
good," she thought.
She started postulating what this interruption might be about: If
Corlos extracted Dayton before
he could influence the future -- maybe he's no longer guilty of
anything. In that case, his sentence is commuted. She
remembered a conversation with B'jhon: "It is the condition of
timelessness on Corlos that makes consequences eternal," he said.
It didn't make sense then, but it does now. She knew according to
Vejhonian history, that the Psionic
Guard would hold Dayton responsible for his actions, even if the
21. Dayton breathed a sigh of relief as if he had
breath the entire time. “Maybe
they’re not going to kill me,” he thought.
wouldn’t bank on that just yet,” she suggested. He raised
an eyebrow and frowned. "How did
you do that?" She couldn't believe he would even ask. "He
built a Segment 8 computer... and doesn't know
“It’s called psionics,”
she answered disingenuously, “How long have you been with
was perplexed, not angry.
"You're on," Onimex
said. It pulled her out of her trance, "Yes, Daniel."
25. "Ireana, there's a 'plan B' to Dayton's
termination," Daniel said, "but it requires your consent."
26. Ireana drew her bottom lip into a sulky frown
that conveyed intense curiousity, "Ooooh Kaaay," she said. Daniel
had a knack for unpredictability.
Daniel proceeded, "The Theites
have a contract on you in every system we operate
You're not safe no matter where you go or what you
do. The layers of dimensions, time and space involved are
dynamically irreversible -- we simply can't insert a fix. Not
like we did with Dayton."
Ireana did not so much as grimace – nothing Daniel said surprised
her, ever. "What about the 1986 Earth I saw?" she asked.
29. "Xanax moved Dayton before he could affect the
future, and I-40 created a fix here. Dayton could not be backed
1938 until you were free of the Cardship's amplifier net, and I'm
guessing you figured that out already. Xanax and
I-40 cancelled what Dayton did. That also gives me additional
discretion that I'm very tempted to ignore. There's a reason why
unpardonable sins are called 'unpardonable sins.' 'Messing
with the simulator without authorization' was covered during
orientation, was it not?" "It was," Ireana confirmed.
Dayton knew it too.
Daniel continued, "You can terminate him and work here on Sunova
for the rest of your life. Or...if you want, you may
remain on Earth with him in your current time. I
suspend his termination if he agrees to this condition without
The choice is yours." There was another matter on Ireana's
mind, but it didn't involve Daniel, it could wait. "So the B-80's
on my back now?" she thought. Something G-49 said once.
"Dayton!” Daniel pronounced louder and much more severely.
"Ja, Sir!" Dayton answered.
“You can not begin to imagine just how off-the-scale
you are on my shit list! There is no excuse
for what you did!” Daniel adjusted his tone from that of a military
commander to a disappointed parent. "If I-40
had not of been able to intercept your meddling -- you would not be
breathing right now. Do you understand that?"
“Yes, Sir!” Dayton acknowledged, still being held
at gunpoint by Ireana, if it could be called that.
Daniel took a deep breath and returned his attention toward Ireana in a
more composed tone, “He might make you
good company, Ireana, if you can keep him
out of trouble,” Ireana gave Dayton a forced mean look, which was
utterly lost in his dashing complexion. "You better not
be playing me," she thought, wagging her pistol for
"One more stipulation," Daniel added. He had already consulted
B'jhon for insight on how Ireana might react.
Ireana perked up to listen, "We
will retrieve Xanax and / or Onimex without protest at
any time we deem
necessary - no questions asked. The droids are on loan 'to you,' not to us -- they
belong to Corlos... allowing Dayton to
live is your implied consent." "Like Corlos needs
anyone's consent," Ireana thought privately.
37. Onimex relayed her sentiment.
"Well, actually, we do need
it," Daniel remarked with a devious
She drew a bead on Onimex and gave him the evil eye. Onimex sort
of ducked although he was not really imperiled. "And it
gives the droids a place to be where nobody
will ever think to look," Daniel reasoned. "If the chief
biological of the Universe says so, then it must be so," she accepted,
"and if you transmit that... " she aimed her pistol a little more
40. She re-holstered her weapon and that was her
answer. "She agrees," Onimex said for her. He was happy to
conclude the dialogue, and happy that she didn't shoot
him. "Biologicals always shooting at me!" he mumbled.
Dayton lowered his arms since Ireana had re-holstered her weapon.
"Anyone will say they love you at gun point," she thought
"If epidemiology is any indication, his galvanic response is genuine,"
Onimex assured her psionically.
"You mean his love is authentic?" she asked. "Yes,"
Onimex replied. "I'm not going to ask how that's possible," she
said. "I can read his alpha resonance as well," he
clarified. In that case, she knew his assessment was
suspected that she had given him a reprieve with discernible
motives, "That is a quandary, isn't it?" he said sincerely.
His thoughts were transparent to Ireana, but could he read hers?
"No, he's not psionic," Onimex answered.
you know what I was thinking?" she asked Dayton.
"You were wondering how to know if someone's love is real; if that
is held at gun point."
Ireana gracefully nodded her head and chose not to dissect his answer
any further, "Would it matter if he was also psionic?" She
knew he wasn't.
eyed Ireana more intently, as if he had won a prize, "I wouldn't
call it a punishment," he said warmly. He was charming the
pants off of her and he knew it. She liked it. She had
forfeited so many opportunities on M'tro-1 and refused to forfeit
any more. This time she was going to let herself fall victim to
object of her passion.
Ireana smiled. She no longer cared if he was playing her or
-- as long as he was the musician. He seemed to suspect as much.
led to the condition of their banishment: They could live
anywhere they liked, separate or together, so long as they remained on
"I am planning to spend the
rest of my life... with him," This time, she posed the thought as
a test. "Yes, you are," he agreed. He was
guessing, but his intuition was accurate like Dal
El's. "I bet he would win at games of chance," she told
herself. "I won this one," he whispered. She looked at him
incredulously and just decided not to ask anymore. "It doesn't
fit any known conventions," she started, "Just let it go..." she
sighed. "Q-cept," Onimex suggested. There was a volume of
dialogue that went undiscussed, but was esoterically understood.
Dayton was the only biological who knew Q-cept: He may have
unknowingly developed a unique brand of intuitive psionics.
54. The sun had slowly sank into the
crested waves of twilight. The air was
cool, salty and floral scented. The last shades of
orange and azure blue were fading into deep purples and moonlit
55. Again, Dayton turned to face
the sea, as he was when she found him.
56. "I'll only ask one more time,"
directed to Onimex privately, "Am I in love or in lust?" "Both," Onimex assured her. He had anticipated
57. Onimex would have voiced his
objection if he had one. “What
makes you so willing to share?” she asked.
58. “You were made for each
other,” he answered confidently. He could have said more, but
didn't want to overwhelm her with co-locational rhetoric. He knew
that she was vulnerable and that he needed to advise her wisely at a
time like this; cancel the pedestrian platitudes.
"I love you," she said to Onimex.
59. Ireana stood beside Dayton. For all intents and purposes, Daniel had
them, and his blessing was second only to God’s.
60. Two shooting stars crossed
paths overhead. Ireana was about to question the Earth's
rotation, and chose not to. "Some
things need no
words," he said. It was a perfect comment,
accepted it by not voicing her own. Together, they watched their
last sunset as Corlos operatives. Tomorrow,
they would awake as ordinary shellans. Dayton had a mischievous
grin. "You ARE psionic?" she wondered very loudly. He just
shrugged. They were thinking the same thing, actually.
61. “Were you really going to
shoot me?” he asked. “Yes,” she answered without so much
as batting an eye. He offered her his hand, but
she embraced and passionately kissed him instead. Romance novels
didn't exist on M'tro-1 -- she now had everything she needed to
write her own.