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Imprisoned -- Chapter 30

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 retire here 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 it wasn't. 

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."     

5.  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. 

6. She asked Onimex psionically, "Does your analysis of this period reveal any tampering?"

7.  "This period is unaffected," Onimex replied, "It conforms with unaltered history; whatever he did to cause the mess we saw in 1986 was unable to metastasize."  There was a linear discrepancy:  "1962 should be after-the-fact?" she 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, slightly.  "Yes," Onimex replied. 

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 him.        

9. "Onimex?" Ireana said, to elicit his confirmation.

10. "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 me!"  

12. "Onimex and your little unit are friends now," she answered.  

13.  Onimex interrupted, "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."

15.  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.   

17. "Daniel wishes to speak to you both, directly," Onimex replied out loud.

18.  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.    

20.  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 intention failed.    

21.  Dayton breathed a sigh of relief as if he had been holding his breath the entire time.  “Maybe they’re not going to kill me,” he thought.

22. “I 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 anything about..."

23. “It’s called psionics,” she answered disingenuously, “How long have you been with Corlos?”  She was perplexed, not angry.  

24. "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.   

27.  Daniel proceeded, "The Theites have a contract on you in every system we operate in.  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." 

28.  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 out of 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.

30.  Daniel continued, "You can terminate him and work here on Sunova permanently for the rest of your life.  Or...if you want, you may remain on Earth with him in your current time.  I will suspend his termination if he agrees to this condition without question.  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. 

31. "Dayton!” Daniel pronounced louder and much more severely.

32. "Ja, Sir!" Dayton answered.

33. “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?" 

34. “Yes, Sir!” Dayton acknowledged, still being held at gunpoint by Ireana, if it could be called that.  

34.  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 emphasis.  

35. "One more stipulation," Daniel added.  He had already consulted B'jhon for insight on how Ireana might react.   

36. 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. 

38. "Well, actually, we do need it," Daniel remarked with a devious chuckle.  

39.  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 threateningly at Onimex.    

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.   

41.  Dayton lowered his arms since Ireana had re-holstered her weapon.
42.  "Anyone will say they love you at gun point," she thought privately. 

43.  "If epidemiology is any indication, his galvanic response is genuine," Onimex assured her psionically. 
44.  "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 accurate.   
45.  Dayton suspected that she had given him a reprieve with discernible motives, "That is a quandary, isn't it?" he said sincerely.
46.  His thoughts were transparent to Ireana, but could he read hers?  "No, he's not psionic," Onimex answered.
47.  "Did you know what I was thinking?" she asked Dayton.   
48. "You were wondering how to know if someone's love is real; if that person is held at gun point." 
49.  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.
50.  Dayton 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 the object of her passion.  
51.  Ireana smiled.  She no longer cared if he was playing her or not -- as long as he was the musician.  He seemed to suspect as much.   
52.  That led to the condition of their banishment:  They could live anywhere they liked, separate or together, so long as they remained on Earth.    
53.  "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 only 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 burnt orange and azure blue were fading into deep purples and moonlit shadows.  

55.  Again, Dayton turned to face the sea, as he was when she found him. 

56.  "I'll only ask one more time," Ireana directed to Onimex privately, "Am I in love or in lust?"  "Both," Onimex assured her.  He had anticipated the question. 

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 married 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, and she 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.