Doctor Martel trudged through the dusty corridor, past a small pile of rubble, to the thick and pitted steel door. After punching in his access code, he waited for the rusty contraption to groan and grind its way open. Wrapping his threadbare and dingy lab coat about him, he made his way to the chilly side room where he worked and began to toil away.

Martel's current assignment was the development of a more efficient light source. With the current tight supply of energy and the inhospitable surface conditions, producing desperately needed light without wasting fuel was vital. He lifted a small metallic sphere from its protective sleeve and began to tweak it with slender black tools.

Later that night, Martel put his work away with some disappointment. At its current rate of fuel consumption, his device was little better than their current lamps. Foreseeing a long night of extra work at home, he slipped a small case of tools and the device into his pockets.

The next day, as he returned to work, Martel nearly stumbled over a small girl playing atop the stony rubble near his lab. On a whim, he paused to rummage through his pockets. Suddenly, he noticed the marks. Bluish gray and spidery, they covered her neck and most of her face. The little girl was yet another victim of the plague, in its last stages. She was not contagious, but her life was doomed. No one in her state ever lived past a week, perhaps ten days.After a slight, shocked pause, he lifted the device from his pocket and moved towards her. She looked up as he approached, a mischievous grin on her face. He couldn't help but smile in return as he dropped the device into her palm.

It lit up with the brightest, most beautiful light she had ever seen. The girl-queen sat regally upon her throne, clasping the brilliant icon of her power in one hand and brushing her dress smooth with the other. Slowly, her smiling knight turned and walked a few steps, pausing before the castle gates. Slowly they swung open, roaring defiance as her emissary strode forth to do battle with the darkness.

Both the girl and the device lasted longer than I ever expected, but both grew dim with time, as all things must. But even when the light is gone, the memory of it will support us, and even when the memory is gone, hope will support us. And in this, there is magic.