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Climbing solo, Talishi ascended the biggest mountain in the universe without breaking a sweat. After Yefefiah's song revealed to El the deeds of Belial in this enclave, Talishi knew har labors were at an end. Sha quietly withdrew from the Fallen Angels and made har way to this summit alone.

Hybla-Dia at Alpha Centauri A was a true binary planet, forming a figure eight when seen from space. Gravity pulled both worlds into teardrop shapes that nearly kissed and the sharp ends of those teardrops were the biggest mountains ever discovered. Close to their summits where the gravity of the twin bodies nearly canceled out the burden of climbers was very light indeed. Talishi bounced har way to the top with graceful alternating touches of har feet and hands. Despite the steep slope of the wall here, in minimal gravity rock climbing was largely just a matter of intelligently choosing one's route, more a ballet than a demonstration of endurance and strength. It was a perfect distraction as sha meditated on har life.

Looking down, Talishi saw the flanks of their mountain merge into the rest of the planet Hybla far below, literally thousands of miles below. Sha saw endless undulating gray ridges and long skinny deep blue lakes, all partly obscured by clouds. Looking straight up, the identical but slightly smaller blue and green bulk of the neighboring planet Dia filled half the sky with its own mega-mountain seeming to nearly poke har in the eye.

Looking out, Talishi saw a handful of other tourists with strap-on wings circling the mountain, rising on the winds. Too bright to look at, yet giving almost no heat, the distant orange sun Agena hung out there in the purple sky. It was the home star of all the nephilim, and gave far more light than the full Moon ever did during the nighttime on Earth. Rarely was it ever truly night here at Hybla-Dia with both suns under the horizon.

But even more astonishing than this view, Talishi saw a classic piston monoplane spiraling up the narrowing flanks of the Hybla super-mountain, rising under minimal power with the wind. When the plane rose up over the lip of the compact but flat summit plateau the pilot killed its engine, an actual internal combustion engine by the sound of it, Talishi thought. In the low gravity the plane settled to the ground with three slow bounces on its fat rubber tires. The door of the plane opened and the nephilim assassins Talishi had expected to come emerged. House of Gerash, of course.

With her dual existence as both a living sun and a nephilim female, Talishi had forfeited the power of precognition, but it didn't take extraordinary powers to guess Belial would have arranged for a final vengeance in some mean way. But Talishi was ready. Har yen body was old and frail now anyway, and Belial could not threaten har continued existence as a star.

Talishi was not afraid to die, but knowing Belial, he had probably ordered the yeng to make the process of cutting Chokhmah free from the yen body as slow and painful as possible, one for the record books. Their cruelly barbed blades certainly did not bode well. Sha said to the three yeng, What you mean to do, best do it quick, for my Fallen Angel bodyguard is banking to stop you now. Do you see? Sha pointed to the sky.

One of the tourists flying with artificial wings was turning to move toward the summit. They began to fear they would fail to kill Talishi, and there would be consequences for their own families back on Palato. So they came close to har and let har life out quickly with their blades. And after the murder they saw they had been deceived when the "bodyguard" banked away from the summit of Hybla once again, a mere tourist after all.

From the day of har possession Talishi had been in perfect union with Chokhmah, and though the nephilim mode of har Chokhmah-Talishi joint being came to an end, as pure elohim Chokhmah-Talishi continued har long and joyous life as a sun. But that joy would forever be tempered by the terrible and eternal loss of Khondiel, and Chokhmah-Talishi would never forget har.

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Strangers In Paradise