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Chapter 10 — Carl

"Portman, I got someone. A friend he plays basketball with, Matthew Westin. Family owns a beat-up white pickup."

"Did you get an address?"

"Mom didn't know it. Maybe the school?"

"They wouldn't just give out that information. Did you check the vehicle database?”

“System’s down.”

“Of course it is... All right. I'll get it from the school. I have a friend in the administration."

"What if the Stokelson kid comes home?"

"I can't be everywhere. You'll have to come cover it."

"Damnit, I hate stakeouts."

"Just don't be obvious."



Site: Realms of the Dragons - Fantasy Discussion
Board: Off-Topic Chat
Subject: Fantasy in Real Life
Post #27742: fantasyanon9 (Newbie) [09/12/04]

Friends, I come to you a changed man. I have been to the other side, I have seen the world we all long for. It's real. Elves and wizards, dragons and castles. I stumbled upon a well, high in the mountains, and upon lowering myself into its depths I discovered a world adjacent to ours, full of wonder and mystery. Come, sit by the fire and ask me anything of this strange new world. I have only just returned, and am eager to converse with my fellow compatriots of the Internet.

 

Subject: Re: Fantasy in Real Life
Post #27746: Eldrazor (Loremaster of the Heavens) [09/12/04]

@fantasyanon9: Hi, welcome to the board. So, you're saying you actually went to a fantasy world? Prove it ;P

 

Subject: Fantasy in Real Life
Post #27747: fantasyanon9 (Newbie) [09/12/04]

You dare mock my perelous quest to bring you these tales of adventure?

 

Subject: Re: Fantasy in Real Life
Post #27749: Eldrazor (Loremaster of the Heavens) [09/12/04]

@fantasyanon9: What can I say, I'm a skeptic Wink

 

Subject: Re: Fantasy in Real Life
Post #27751: cantstopdabeat (Member) [09/12/04]

@Eldrazor dont feed the troll

 

Subject: Re: Fantasy in Real Life
Post #27850: Eldrazor (Loremaster of the Heavens) [09/15/04]

Guess I scared him away.

 

Subject: Re: Fantasy in Real Life
Post #125614: Reynir_Cellman (Newbie) [10/02/10]

@fantasyanon9: I believe you. PM me.

 

 

 

  I went back to the house.

  I didn’t think of it as my home anymore. Of course I didn’t. It was a place to sleep and keep my things, but it couldn’t be my home. That was a trap. Nothing in this world could ever be home for me.

  I’d walked away from Jen. I couldn’t bear to consider her new mental image of me. I’d been party, albeit reluctantly, to the torture and execution of an elf. A friend of hers, too, judging by her terrifying reaction. Jen would never see me in the same way again, and that crushed me more deeply than any nuisance this world had to offer. I loved her, and she couldn’t bear the sight of me in that instant. She was too good, too noble.

  Not like me. I was the Traitor. I was worthless. When the time came, and Reynir begged me for aid, I’d marched my men out of the city. We didn’t fight. We didn’t do anything. We just walked away, and let Reynir face the wrath of a revolutionary crusade.

  The two people I’d have considered my closest friends, and I felt like I’d betrayed them both. First Reynir, and now Blake. I wanted to do something, anything to avenge him. I couldn’t. There was nothing to be done.

  Nothing, nothing at all. I was a man adrift in time, lost in space. I didn’t belong in this world.

  I walked inside. No one seemed to be home. Good, that was good. I couldn’t deal with my parents right now. If they saw me, they’d pierce through the shell I’d built. I was vulnerable. I was empty inside. A gust of wind could have scattered me to the corners of the Earth.

  I was so… cold.

  

 

 

  Site: gg-no-rm
  Board: Off-topic
  Subject: Seeking writers to help develop idea
  CyclicalDestruction [09/02/08]

I had an idea for a fantasy story. Alternate world style, with normal high-school kids getting pulled into a fantasy world and having to figure out where to go and what to do. I don't want to play up the fish-out-of-water comedy too much though. This is going to be legit stuff.

Rough ideas: The kids go off into a forest one night, end up getting sucked into a new world. Kids get split up immediately. No supporting each other. They're going to have to end up fighting each other down the line, due to the warring factions and all that. Two of them are even related and still end up on the opposite sides of the war. It's gonna get dramatic.

Yeah, no, it's not well-developed yet, but I'm working on it. I just want someone to bounce ideas off. Anyone interested?

  

  Private Message
  Subject: Fantasy world you posted about
  From: Cyraveil
  To: CyclicalDestruction

If you don't mind my asking (I know you abandoned it a long time ago), where did you get the ideas for that story?

 

  Private Message
  Subject: Re: Fantasy world you posted about
  From: CyclicalDestruction
  To: Cyraveil

Holy shit, blast from the past. Haven't thought about that piece in forever. I dunno, I just came up with it one day. Why do you ask?

 

  Private Message
  Subject: Re: Fantasy world you posted about
  From: Cyraveil
  To: CyclicalDestruction

Really? All your imagination?

 

  Private Message
  Subject: Re: Fantasy world you posted about
  From: CyclicalDestruction
  To: Cyraveil

Uhh, yes?

  
  

 

  I felt adrift. Even my anchor, the mighty web of the internet and its endless capacity to enthrall and entertain, just frustrated me more. No one could answer me. The few people I found claiming some experience similar to mine had either vanished long ago into the archives of the bulletin boards, or just admitted straight up they were lying.

  It was all lies. All but mine.

  Why should the internet believe me, though? The internet didn’t trust anyone openly. All stories are lies, all people are fake, all women and children are desperate men and undercover FBI. How was someone as unimportant as me supposed to get through to the uncaring internet at large?

  As the sheer futility crashed down on me, I felt myself sinking further away. The world and I were disconnected. I turned around in my chair, and saw an object come into focus. A cord, in thick black coils, sitting in the corner, beckoning. The rest of the room became a blur. My vision narrowed on that cord, bringing it into sharp detail. Every single inch of detail: the way the light played off of the texture, the white stripe running the length, faded and cracked from use. The shining prongs at the end.

  Exhaustion defined me. The world wasn’t worth the effort anymore.

  My eyes followed the circles of the coil around and around. Then, from the end of the cord to the wall, where I found another line I could trace. The frame around the closet door. White wood, elegantly shaped, perfect as usual. Clean. Look, there it goes, without a single scratch on it. Up, up, higher and higher. There, as it crosses to meet the other end.

  There, behind the frame. A solid metal pole, embedded into the walls. It held clothes. Nice clothes. Clothes for special occasions, for my father to dress me in and parade me about as his son, his protégé. Someone he wanted to be proud of.

  I wondered what he’d think of me if I just stopped? How would my perfect father react if I were to suddenly disappear—for real this time? How would my mother? How many people would attend?

  I didn’t care about the clothes back then, and I didn’t care about the clothes now. My eyes were fixed on that pole.

  I stood, and felt like the entire world lifted up on my shoulders. It was so heavy, and I was so tired. I reached out, my arm struggling through the thick air. I wasn’t tall enough. I searched around, and found an empty computer case to stand on.

  I tugged on the pole. It was sturdy. I tugged harder, and it didn’t yield one bit.

  It would do.

  I looked back at the cord, coiled up in the corner. Would it be strong enough?

  


  

  Site: Writers Anonymous
  Board: Reading → Fantasy → General
  Subject: Anyone ever have an out of body experience?
  WikiWarrior (Power User) [04/02/07]

I'm kind of freaking out over here. I can't tell if I was dreaming or not.

Okay, let me explain. I don't remember going to sleep, but I felt like I was in a whole new world. It was like some crazy fantasy world. I met up with a bunch of elves, speaking a language I couldn't understand. They were fighting off this invading army, surrounding their forest and attacking. I wanted to help, but I'm just a normal guy, even in my dreams I guess. Pathetic, amirite?

ANyway, after they fought off the humans(?), they took me to...

Then I was returned to the real world, and I woke up in my bed with a massive headache. I know, probably just a dream, but seriously, it felt so crazy real I had to post something. Anyone else ever have something similar?

  

  …

  

  Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone ever have an out of body experience?
  Bottlemurder (Elite) [04/07/07]

@OP Way too detailed for a dream. Sure you're not just on drugs or something?

 

  Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone ever have an out of body experience?
  WikiWarrior (Power User) [04/07/07]

@Bottlemurder Like I said up in the thread earlier, never used drugs. I'm thinking this may have been legit.

 

  Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone ever have an out of body experience?
  Rispetto (Newbie) [04/08/07]

fukin liar. probably just stole all this from another site.

  [USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST: Repeated flaming ~mod]

 

  Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone ever have an out of body experience?
  RollingInTheMuffins (Newbie) [04/08/07]

I know he already got banned, but I still want to refute Rispetto's claim. @WikiWarrior is legit. I went through the same thing. Even went to the same place. Can you PM me? I want to talk about this more.

  

  …

  

  Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone ever have an out of body experience?
  SylfSympathizer (Newbie) [10/02/10]

Sorry for the necro, but I might have been through the same thing. @WikiWarrior @RollingintheMuffins, can you add me to the PM?

 

  Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone ever have an out of body experience?
  Bottlemurder (Elite) [10/02/10]

@SylfSympathizer This thread died out years ago, and neither of them hang out here anymore. Pretty sure one of them admitted to it being faked on IRC. It was only archived since it was pretty fun to watch it play out until they "disappeared."

 

  Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone ever have an out of body experience?
  SylfSympathizer (Newbie) [10/02/10]

@Bottlemurder, you wouldn't happen to have either of their email addresses though? Or any way to contact them?

 

  Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone ever have an out of body experience?
  Bottlemurder (Elite) [10/02/10]

@SylfSympathizer Sorry man, can't help. Forum rules: no personal information. And I don't have it anyway. Try a PM?

  


  

  No.

  The singular word thundered through my skull.

  No.

  I froze in place, the cord halfway to my head.

  No.

  I wasn’t going to give up. Not yet. There had to be a way.

  I let go of the bar. I didn’t exactly feel better; I could still feel the weight pressing down on me. I sat down and booted my computer back up. I needed to be doing something. Anything to distract me from what had just happened.

  I had come so close…

  Oh god.

  I tried to shake the thought away, but it persisted in the back of my mind. My desktop finished booting up, and I went straight back online. I’d saved every thread that I’d posted to in a neat folder, and the tabs scattered across my screen with a single click. To my dismay, not a single new reply. Nothing at all.

  No.

  It was time to get back to work. I was going to get back to Cyraveil, no matter what. I realized what I’d done wrong. In every attempt to gain information so far, I’d gone with the polite approach. I’d nodded and smiled along, I’d followed the rules. I was thinking like a normal citizen of the internet, following etiquette and knowing my place.

  I glanced at that coil again, and felt a shiver roll through my body.

  My eyes narrowed. I didn’t belong in this world. Why should I follow its rules? My world, my laws and my life were back in Cyraveil. That was my mission. I’d go back, and I’d wreak bloody vengeance on the entire remaining Cellman family. Not a single one of them would survive. Once that entire corrupt bloodline was cleaned from the kingdom, I could finally rest easy.

  Fuck Earth. I had a real life to get back to.

  
  

 

  Site: Warez Hut
  Board: Listings → Entertainment → Fantasy
  Subject: looking for a series
  #5542561 cyric_veil (Fresh) [01/06/09]

looking for a book series about escaping to a fantasy world. one of those where they had elves but insisted on calling them something else just to be different and special. teenagers, kind of a YA series but not really. syra-something. i dunno it just seemed super awesome. wish it could happen to me.

 

  Subject: Re: looking for a series
  #5542580 Iceman (Super Moderator) [01/06/09]

Wrong section. This is for posting downloads, not requests. This is your third offense, you have been banned.

~THREAD LOCKED~

  

  wget -r -l 0 warezhut.com
  pageanalyze.py warezhut.com/*
  ---
  VULNERABILITY FOUND
  SQLi on warezhut.com/memberlist.php?q=
  Dump? Y/N: Y
  Dumping database…
  **
  Done.

  SELECT email FROM members WHERE username == "cyric_veil"

  
  

FROM: [email protected]
TO: [email protected]
RE: Fantasy Worlds. Saw you on warezhut

What if they were real? Tell me, do you know anything about Sylves? Or Cellmans?

  
  

FROM: [email protected]
TO: [email protected]
RE: Delivery Status Notification (Failure)

  Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

  [email protected]

  SMTP: 553 5.1.8: Domain of sender address (coldmail.com) does not exist. Maybe no longer registered?

  
  

  Having a solid goal kept me focused, kept my mind off of my misery. I didn’t have a solid path forward, but that wasn’t really a problem for me. I could do abstract, so long as my end goal was clear. In this case, it couldn’t be a more straightforward measurement for success. Either I’d return to Cyraveil, or I’d die trying. The rest of the universe was nothing. There was no Earth.

  Earth definitely wasn’t going to make it easy for me though. Even as I started delving deeper—breaking more rules, scanning websites for holes in their security, and finding ways to contact users more directly—results seemed always just beyond my grasp.

  I couldn’t stop. I’d never stop.

  I wished I still had my informants. In Candir, and well beyond it too, I had a network. Lowlifes, criminals, everyone who’d helped me rise to the top. Even after I’d become friends with Reynir and been granted title and lands, I still kept that connection alive. The pickpockets and thieves who’d trained me and made me one of their own, they became part of my personal army. They might not stand up in a straight fight like trained soldiers, but they could brawl with the best of them—and more importantly, every last one of them knew how to operate the streets.

  They knew what to listen for, who to follow, how to keep up with the shifting politics of the city. I knew every power play before it was made, and I capitalized on that advantage whenever I could. I was often working both ends of every agreement made, every alliance formed, every pact broken. Whenever a noble felt like improving his position in the city, their first call was a back-alley meeting with me.

  I laughed at them all behind their backs. They trusted me, even above their fellows, because I was a foreigner. I was an outsider, with no apparent ties or motivations, seemingly eager to help out my fellow man. I played on their insecurities, their racism, their scorn for the poor, even as I used those selfsame poor to undermine their maneuvering. They underestimated the true worth of a beggar’s loyalty on a street corner, often to their downfall.

  In that same way, I hoped to use the internet now. Somewhere, in this virtual city of cities, I’d find that lone street corner, where someone else with knowledge of real magic, of Cyraveil waited. They’d put me on the next step toward going back. In those posts that most would ignore or dismiss, someone would eventually prove to be the real deal, playing it just as close to the chest as I was.

  It was just a matter of time and persistence.

  
  

Site: The Dark Alley
Board: Conspiracies and Mysteries
Topic: Parallel Dimensions and Modern Application

ERROR: You do not have permissions to view this board.
(Message from the moderators: Sorry, this board requires membership to view threads.)

  

  pageanalyze.py thedarkalley.org/*
  ---
  No vulnerabilities found.

  
  

Site: prt7g2fngznphqiq.onion
Index: leakdumps

  thedarkalley.org_members.db_MySQL.torrent

  ...

  Download complete.

  
  

Site: qz2zg6f2lphmblzj.onion
Board: Hash Cracking
Topic: need this cracked

  See attached DB. Offering reward in BTC for password to any mod account.

  

Reply#4:

 Username: Lighthouse
  Password MD5: 3a0dcc626e016df18014e4fd3251fb0d:g0r489fjglz2

  BTC address: 13jiAuLHSzhBNWgfSfnn2mQCrzdNE8QWGa

  

Reply#5:

  @4: Worked, BTC sent.

  
  

Site: The Dark Alley
Username: Lighthouse
Password: g0r489fjglz2
Topic: Parallel Dimensions and Modern Application

  This was published recently. I'm posting it under this board since it's a paid journal, don't want to get slapped with a takedown.

  If you read from the abstract alone, it seems to suggest they may have discovered a parallel dimension when doing teleportation experiments. However, since this is quantum teleportation and only involves the transfer of information, not physical mass of any kind, the parallel dimension theory flies out the window. As such, this thread is purely conjecture into the ideas posed by parallel dimension possibilities and what we might need to prepare for in the event such travel ever becomes reality, as our government would doubtless exploit it thoroughly.

  War between worlds would doubtless...

  


  

  I delved into more restrictive boards, smokey members-only taverns that hadn’t noticed I’d slipped in through the back door. Inside, though, I found nothing but delusional ravings of paranoid conspiracy nuts. I was starting to spend real money on some of these investigations, and getting nothing back in return. What else could I do? There was still so much of the net to scroll through, and it wasn’t like I had anything else to spend it on. This was an investment, and I was willing to make it.

  I was so focused, I didn’t hear the garage door open, or the heavy footfalls on the stairs.

  “Carl?”

  I looked up. How was it already morning? The sun wasn’t up yet. I checked the time. It was early—but I’d stayed way too late.

  “...Hi dad.”

  My father was a pretty intimidating man, all things considered. He was tall, fit, and strong. He spent his mornings working out before he headed out to his job. In my current condition, there was no way I could conceivably take him on.

  He didn’t seem to be there to confront me though. He closed the door quietly, then sat down on my bed. It felt like the beginning of a lecture. I spun around in my chair, back to my screens, fully prepared to ignore him and face the consequences. They wouldn’t mean much in the long run.

  The monitors went blank. I whirled back to my father, fury heating up my skin like the beginnings of a wildfire. He’d flipped the switch on the power strip for my desk. The computer itself was plugged in on another set, so it wasn’t affected, but I couldn’t see anything anymore.

  Guess he was going to force this talk. So be it.

  “What do you want?” I asked, my voice hard. I was in no mood to be diplomatic.

  “Carl, I’m not here to fight,” he started calmly. I was stunned into silence. My dad was normally the picture of overreaction. Sometimes, I wasn’t sure if he knew how to speak in a volume below shouting. I’d been prepared to take it and get back to work as soon as he’d gotten his fill, but this was rendering me speechless.

  “I know you skipped school. Is everything okay?”

  I took a few seconds to compose myself again. I wasn’t sure how this conversation was supposed to play out anymore. If he was going to be this calm, maybe I could try being cooperative. There was some piece of the puzzle I didn’t have yet, so I needed to play it safe.

  “Everything’s fine, Dad. Why?”

  “Your grades are good. I understand if you think school’s too slow or boring for you. But you still need to attend.” He was speaking in a very even tone, with just a hint of anxiety. Was he genuinely worried about me?

  “I’ve had… other things on my mind,” I offered, with just enough of a pause to really emphasize it.

  “Do you need to talk to someone?”

  “Like what, a counselor?” I really felt hostile to the idea. I’d never liked the thought of lying on a couch and confessing my feelings to a total stranger. They didn’t deserve to hear what was going through my head.

  “Not necessarily. Your mother and I would listen, if you want. Or a professional who won’t tell us anything, if you prefer that. Whatever you need.”

  “Thanks, but I’m good. Can you turn that back on?” I nodded at the power strip near his foot.

  He frowned. “Carl, the police came by today.”

  If he had pulled out a gun and started shooting, I don’t think I would have been as shocked. It was like being plunged into an ice bath. Everything froze. My nerves lit up in fear. I was ready to bolt at a moment’s notice. I think my father saw it, too.

  His eyes narrowed. “What did you do?”

  “Nothing. I didn’t do anything.” In the case the police were probably investigating, that was technically true. I really had zero involvement in what happened to Blake.

  “Carl, they wanted to talk. I told them I’d call if you came back, but I want to hear your side first. Your friend is missing.”

  There, he’d confirmed it. The cops had caught onto Blake’s vanishing act. We were on a timer now. They’d be asking questions we couldn’t possibly answer. We’d either fess up to what we’d done, or become pariahs of unproven accusations—blamed for the disappearance, but never quite convicted. The only real way out was to disappear from the world once again.

  The fuse had been lit. I could run from the bomb, or I could leap atop it, and try to protect my friends from the explosion.

  Or… the third option. I could cut the fuse, leave the bomb ready to explode down the line, after I’d gotten us far, far away. I’d leave it right where it was, untouched. It’d be way easier to convince Matt of the threat and the solution if it were right there in front of us.

  “I haven’t heard from him,” I replied casually, hoping I hadn’t hesitated too long. “I’ve been trying to get in touch actually.”

  The suspicious look didn’t disappear. Even though I’d long since abandoned the idea that he had any authority over me, I still felt like cowering under his gaze. He had a withering glare—one I’d inherited, and put to good use many times over the years, with servants and capitives alike.

  I wasn’t going to back down though. Not this time. “Can I get back to it, then? We’re wasting time here.”

  There, his eyes widened. I’d gotten him to react for real, back to the dad I knew. “You will speak to me with respect, young man.”

  “If you say so,” I said mildly. I reached forward with my foot and flicked the power strip back on. The monitors clicked to life, one by one, each lighting up the room a little more as they warmed up.

  “This is serious, Carl. Your friend is missing. If you know anything, you need to tell me. I’m trying to help you.”

  “I don’t. Sorry.” I didn’t give him a second glance. I was trying to set up automation for the scanner I’d been using all morning to check sites for security holes, anything to give me more information to work with.

  He sighed. “If you’re trying to protect someone, I understand that. But your loyalty’s in the wrong place here. It will be much worse if you don’t come forward now.”

  Loyalty? That gave me some pause. He was going to bring up loyalty? Loyalty was what I lived for now. I had an obligation to avenge my friend. My loyalty was to my comrades, my guild, the people of my city. I knew what loyalty really meant.

  A lack of loyalty was what started this whole mess. Betrayal.

  That was the word. Betrayal. Matt’s betrayal.

  I was having a confrontation with the wrong man. My father wasn’t important. Matt was the key to everything. Matt knowingly sent Blake to his death. He’d lied to us, to the people closest to him in the entire world.

  Matt and I had to come to a reckoning. Today.

  I accessed my remote server and set it up to run the automation script I’d just finished writing. It was in the cloud, away from my house so the police or my father couldn’t get to it. Once the cloud machine was rolling, I loaded a script on my desktop I’d written a long time ago, just in case. I’d never actually expected to use it.

  In minutes, my hard drives would be zeroed out. My machine was getting completely nuked.

  No turning back now.

  I grabbed my laptop and stuffed it into my bag.

  “What are you doing?”

  In all honesty, I’d half-forgotten my father was still in the room.

  “I’ve gotta head out.” I slung the bag over my shoulder. It was already packed with a change of clothes, and other basic necessities. I’d packed it right after we’d got back, in the thought I might be able to take it across. Nothing made it across the first time around, but who knew what we might find now?

  “Carl, sit back down. We’re not done here.” Dad stood up, but I was already moving out the door, speeding up as I went. I wasn’t sure if he might try to physically restrain me, so I wasn’t going to give him the chance. I made a break for it.

  He followed me down the stairs, thumping on each step. I was about to open the front door when it occurred to me.

  The police had already been here. What if they were watching the house?

  I needed another exit. I turned and ran for the back door out into the garden.

  “Carl, if you leave, I can’t protect you anymore! Please!” He sounded desperate, but I was already bursting through the door. It slammed behind me as I sprinted across the lawn. Could I still climb a fence?

  I was about to find out.

  I leapt. My hand grasped the top of the solid wood, and I slammed hard into the wall. Was I still able to move? Yes, I could still move. The bag didn’t seem as heavy as it did two days ago. Maybe I was stronger now—or maybe it was just adrenaline. Either way, I managed to clamber into the neighbor’s yard.

  I hoisted myself over the top and rolled into a bush on the opposite side. I crashed onto the lawn, breathing heavily.

  The back door to my house opened. I heard shouting, but it brushed over me like the wind. For one glorious, beautiful moment, I felt free again. Another lawn, another fence, and I was back on the streets I’d spent all day wandering yesterday.

  Except this time, I had a mission.

  
  

 

  Site: SFFHaven.net - Your Sci-Fi / Fantasy Home
  Board: Fantasy General → Tip of My Tongue
  Topic: Anyone else remember Cyraveil?
  ReynirCellman (Newbie) [10/03/10]

Does anyone else remember Cyraveil? Send me a PM, we need to talk.

  

  Private Message
  From: fantasythrowaway626
  To: ReynirCellman
  Re: Cyraveil [10/04/10]

How do I know I can trust you?

 

 

 

 

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Etzoli

  • Oregon
  • Professional Technological Thaumaturge
  • https://etzo.li

Bio: Sysadmin, wordsmith, TV obsessive, pretzel addict.
Many keyboards have perished in my pursuit of wordcounts.

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