The Twisted Skein

2038 -- Consequences

"Well, this brings back memories." Steve Dimond leant back in his chair, holding his wife's hand tightly. "The four of us at your place, talking about Ontic."

Elanor Wentway smiled slightly. "It is a bit like during the Invasion, isn't it?" she murmured. "You know we're all legends now, don't you?"

"The Laison-Dimonds pulling their beloved sister from the clutches of the evil oppressors who of course would never have been allowed to become a problem with proper rules and regs?" Steve snorted. "Yes, Aaron tells us all about it. I think it gets him free drinks in the cafeteria."

"We're probably in Nursery videos like Jay and Acacia were when Ellie worked there," Mortic observed, smiling at his wife fondly.

"I wouldn't be surprised," Elanor agreed. "But... okay. Steve, there's no easy way to break this. Ontic's dying."

Steve bit his lip hard, gripping Tango's hand. "I'd hoped... Mort, weren't you going to try your Order stuff?" The vastly older man nodded.

"I did try," he said softly, "but since I decided to grow old, it hasn't come as easily." He sighed, running a hand through his now-greying, but still short, hair. "I was never all that good at applying Order skills to other people, and now it's entirely beyond me." He shrugged. "I'm sorry. If I could contact any of the others... but we don't work like that."

"I'm not sure it would be right, anyhow," Elanor said quietly. "She's in a lot of pain, Steve, I can feel it. I think it would be kinder to just... let her go."

"I think she's always been in pain," Tango spoke up suddenly. "At least since the Reorganisation. There was a woman... Imbolc. After Blue and I were arrested..." The redhead swallowed, continued. "Ontic befriended Immy. After I fled... she's talked to me about this." She looked at Elanor, then Steve. "She never told you, I don't think, but she was ordered to kill Immy once she found out certain compromising information." Tango took a deep breath. "Elanor... Ontic was hallucinating pretty badly when she did it. You know her memories are fairly fuzzy now, but... she's certain she called Immy by your name a few times, right before she killed her."

"And it broke her even further," Mortic surmised. "On my first mission with here there were a couple of female characters. One of them looked like Ontic, but the one that broke her..." He glanced at his wife. "If she didn't look like a younger you, Ellie, I'd be very surprised."

The blonde sighed softly. "I've always wondered," she told them. "Sometimes she gives me these looks... but she has the same empathic abilities I do. She never let me feel a hint of anything. Now, though... it hurts to be Ontic," she finished simply.

Steve nodded. "We think of it as her dying before her time, because she's only sixty," he said, "but think about her life. Those twelve years she was lost to us... they aged her far more than that. It's... really, it's incredible she's held on this long."

Tango shook her head. "It seems like all our generation is leaving now," she said. "Dafydd and Constance have disappeared for parts unknown - Lucy's still very upset about that - Dassie's in a wheelchair, Narto's wife knocked herself into a coma, and now Ontic..."

"I think Louise recovered a couple of weeks back," Elanor corrected her, "but yes. And then there's the Flowers... I don't think any except Hornbeam and the Sub Rosa are left from our days with the PPC."

"We're all growing old," Mortic agreed. "Ontic... she's just the first to get there."

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