He had thought that the terrific explosion would be the end, but it wasn't, not at all. He felt just as alive as he ever had, if anything even more so, as he raced toward the dazzling white light at the end of the tunnel.

He found himself standing in a field of the greenest grass he had ever seen. Winged beings in white robes, their faces shining, hovered around him. And most incredible of all was a being of light, a very tall entity in a robe of such dazzling white that it almost blinded him. Pure white light seemed to emanate from this being and completely infuse all of his surroundings for as far as he could see.

Where was he? Was this heaven?

It couldn't be, surely not. After all, if heaven really did exist, it would certainly be for biological beings alone, not for androids like himself, artificial life forms as they were.

Yet here he was. As he looked around himself in awe and wonder, he realized that he had undergone a transformation, a rebirth, perhaps even a healing of some type. For what he felt at this moment was pure emotion, devoid of all logic. Logic told him that he should be exploding outward into millions of pieces all through the universe, not standing here complete and whole in the presence of this incredible being.

His face was wet, and to his astonishment, he realized that tears were flowing down his cheeks. They were tears not of sadness but of indescribable joy. For the very first time he finally knew what it felt like to be completely...human. It was as if by sacrificing his own life to save that of another, those of many, many others, he had been granted the thing he had wanted more than anything else in the world, and with tears still dripping from his chin, he regarded the being of light with humble gratitude.

From the being of light he felt only unconditional love and acceptance, felt it wash over him until he was completely bathed in its splendor. He had never known any sensation such as this; there were no words to describe it. As he gazed at the wonders surrounding him, he realized that he was connected to the winged beings surrounding him in a way that he had never been connected to another being before, not even another android. They were all in turn one with the being of light, as they and it were all one with every living thing in the universe.

He felt himself being irresistibly drawn toward that being of light, wanting desperately to melt back into it forever.

"Please, may I say?"

The being of light gazed directly at him, and he was absolutely overwhelmed with almost more tenderness and compassion than his mind could comprehend. The being's voice was kind, but firm.

"It is not yet your time, my son..."

He was sitting in a chair in a room across from another man. His companion was around seventy, of medium height and slight build, and completely bald. His face was somber but his hazel eyes looked kind.

The being of light had called him 'my son', and that was more precious to him than anything else could ever be.

Now he was standing on a type of gazebo in a valley with snow-peaked mountains in the background. His current companion was there as well, standing beside an attractive middle-aged redhead. Both of them held glasses of champagne.

At a nearby table sat a tall man with dark hair, blue eyes, and a beard. A beautiful woman with long dark hair and ebony eyes sat beside him. She was wearing a pale pink formal gown. They were obviously the guests of honor, but there were others at the table as well, a Klingon and an African human, both male. The Klingon was holding his head as if he had a terrible headache, and there was something different about the African's eyes. For some reason he felt a special affinity for the African, but he knew that he knew all of these people very well, had known them for years, that they had been his dearest friends before...before...

Why was that word so hauntingly familiar to him?

He realized that he was singing. The tall man with the beard had risen to accompany him on a musical instrument, a trombone. If only he could remember the words...

"Never saw the sun..."

The man sitting across from him smiled and picked up the tune. "Shining so bright...never saw things...going so right..."