Though John smiled, his face seemed tense and tired. Z'ha'dum had taken his youthful energy.
On Regula 4, Alwyn and G'Leel laughed as they exchanged jokes to soften their parting. They had participated in John's great victory, helped to vanquish the Shadows. G'Leel was returning to Narn to help them rebuild. Alwyn had faced the demons of his home and decided to remain. He looked happier and more relaxed than he had been since Carvin's death.
On Centauri Prime, Vir made one more trip into the Imperial Palace's gardens to visit Morden's head, which sat impaled on a pike. Galen had hoped Morden might gain both his freedom and his life, but it had not been possible. Morden had held to his promise, and the Shadows had held him to that promise, until he could serve no more. Now Morden was free.
On Zafran 8, Cadmus Wilcox and the staff of the Strauss Hotel ejected a troublesome group of guests and shared a bottle of champagne.
On Soom, Jab marched through driving rain on low, powerful legs, approaching a barn of stacked stones. Dust in the atmosphere had turned the temperature several degrees cooler and increased the frequency of storms. It would be many years before the planet healed itself. Jab pushed through the barn's unsecured door. Within, she found a bit of shelter, and a variety of animals ripe for her sting.
As he flipped through the probes with increasing speed, there were images upon images, beings, places, movement, stillness, nature, technology, stars, and the void. Life here, death there, joy and despair and triumph and failure and hate and love and atrocity and goodness and ignorance and insight and beauty and terror.
Isabelle had believed the universe offered opportunities for transcendence, and it had, at least to him. She'd told him he needed