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is merely the palest reflection of the truth which awaits you here. . . .

"God, it's so beautiful...." he whispered.

And you detect a slight recoiling, ever so slight, more from annoyance than true pain. Recoiling from the word you've just spoken, that reflexive acknowledgment of another entity whose light is painful. You apologize, you beg forgiveness, you swear that you will not let such a slip happen again. You stand in silence, in very contrite silence, and you continue to admire its perfect beauty as you gaze upward, up toward the sacred window where He waits. You wait for His eye to turn to you, to look upon you. It may take Him time to get to you, perhaps an eternity, but you don't mind waiting. You have all the time in the world, you see, and in the meantime you can just stand patiently and bask in the perfection. . . .

Susan Ivanova lay in her bed, sleeping peacefully.

She had not had restful slumber for some time, particularly during the heart of the Shadow War. Every night she had lain there, watching the darkness of her room, wondering what lurked in the hidden corners. In some ways, the war had struck to the very core of childhood concerns. How often, after all, did one lie awake in one's childhood bedroom, seeing a pile of clothes being transformed into something strange and frightening by the imagination. But lo and behold, a simple flicking of a light switch always banished the strange dark forms back to the inner recesses of imagination, and the room was safe once more.

Except in her case, of course, in recent days, it took a hell of a lot more than a light switch to destroy that which lurked in the shadows.

But the Shadows were gone now, gone and done with. Oh, sure, there were still all manner of problems to be solved. Earth was out to
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