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73.

There were endless documents to sign, releases to be obtained from offices and levels within the Commission of Public Safety and dozens of judicial bureaus to notify; it would take Hari longer to leave the courts than it had ever taken him to enter. Gaal Dornick was in a separate area, and Boon had departed three hours ago to take care of various entanglements.

Hari sat alone within the cavernous Hall of Dispensation, looking up at the ancient vault and skylights overhead, with their many-colored windows of pieced glass. He had been told to sit there until the jailer returned with the warden and issued his final documents.

Hari was not sure how he felt. A little disbelieving, that was certain; he had passed through the belly of the Imperial courts as yet undigested. The moment toward which, knowingly or in ignorance, he had worked all his life, had passed.

Now there were the first few records to be made-he would notify Wanda and Stettin of their final and, he suspected, surprising assignment, that the psychologists and mentalics of the Second Foundation would be staying on Trantor-and he would make the preparations to transfer his powers to Gaal and the others who would leave for Terminus.

The long twilight of the Empire would darkle. He would not live much longer to see it, nor did he want to. Seeing the glow of the overhead domes through the vault windows, perhaps fifty meters above him, made him think of what a real skyglow through real stained glass would look like, on Helicon.

Stillness. Completion is near, yet I feel no real sense of satisfaction; where is my personal reward? What if I have saved humanity from thousands of years of chaos; what have I accomplished for myself! Unworthy thoughts for a prophet or a hero. I have a granddaughter, not really my own flesh; the continuity is broken biologically, if not philosophically. I have a few new friends around me, but the old are either gone, dead, or inaccessible.

He thought of standing on the upperside maintenance tower, just a few weeks ago, and of the gloom that had enveloped him then. I cannot leave Trantor; Chen will not let me. I am still dangerous and best kept bottled. But where would I most like to go now, where would I most like to be, in my last days?

Helicon. In the sun, outside, away from these enclosing ceiled cities, away from the metal skin of Trantor. To see a night sky that was not simulated and to be unafraid of the expanse, the thousands of stars, a small glimpse of the Empire for which he had labored and which he had tried to understand.

To stand in the open, in the rain and the weather and the cold, and not be afraid; to be with old friends and family

The obsessive thoughts that filled so many of his nights. He sighed and sat up, listening to the sounds of boots marching down the northern hallway.

Three guards and the warden entered and approached Hari.

Theres been a disturbance in the new Commission building, near the palace and not too far from here, the warden said. Weve been told to lock down until the disturbance has been explained.

What sort of disturbance? Hari asked.

I dont know, the warden said. Nothing to worry about. Were fine here. Weve been given instructions to protect you at any cost-

Hari heard a sound from the eastern entrance of the hall. He turned and saw a woman standing there and gave a gasp-in the light, at this distance, her stance, her bearing-the dream-


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