Muriel managed one final twist of the music box’s spring before her strength deserted her.

But it was enough.

The box sprung open on the ground where she lay in a spreading pool and began to plink out its simple melody. According to those that heard it, though, the sound quickly became far warmer and richer, almost like a harp or piano. Its music also spread far beyond what normal acoustics should have allowed–in addition to the Public Safety officers near Muriel, it could be heard by government troops in the base and on the firing line, along with their Revolutionary Guard opponents on the other side. Even riot police moving against a hostage situation twenty miles away, along with the hostage taker, reported hearing something.

The effect on all of them was the same: a feeling of overwhelming peace, safety, and tingling warmth like being held in an unconditionally loving embrace. Weapons clattered to the ground. Helmets were pried off to allow the divine sound to be heard with greater clarity. Many fell to their knees or wept openly.

One of the Public Safety officers approached Muriel and held out his hand. Weakly, she grasped it, and smiled–the last thing she was ever to do.