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Sarah tapped her fingers on the scratched leather couch arm. After spending a couple hours idle in Mrs. Clyde’s airplane, she’d been looking forward to being on the ground and having something to do. Now, she sat in the air park’s dingy waiting area, growing more restless every second.

There was no air conditioning in the building, just a single pedestal fan that let out an ear-splitting whine every few minutes as it rotated back and forth, rustling the pages of the aviation magazines on the coffee table in front of her.

Two boxy televisions stood in different corners of the room, playing two different channels. She’d been excited about them at first, but their charm had faded after a few minutes. It would have been better if she’d been able to change the channels, but the buttons on the TVs were taped over and there wasn’t a remote control in sight, which left her the choice between a black and white movie about cowboys and a weather report. Neither option was particularly interesting.

Her eyes fell on a trio of air pots sitting on a small folding table with a paper sign reading ‘Coffee is FREE! – Help yourself’ taped to the edge. She’d never been allowed to try coffee before.

She stood up, made her way halfway to the coffee pots, then stopped. She didn’t know for sure what coffee would do to her physiology, and it would be best not to risk it with her big task ahead of her. She headed back to her seat on the couch.

She glanced at the TVs again; one had switched to a commercial for a caulking kit, the other was showing a news report about wolf attacks in Northern Italy. Still nothing interesting there.

She focused on the TV showing the news report, reaching out with her mind, feeling for the buttons. She concentrated, pressing the first one she found, and the volume on the TV went up. She smiled and began to feel for more buttons.

A sharp twinge shot through her head, and she felt the buttons fade from her focus. She sighed and leaned back in her seat. Her abilities were almost useless when it came to delicate tasks like pushing a small button.

She rubbed her head. The sharp pain had faded, but a dull ache still lingered just behind her eyes.

Giving up on the TVs, she opened the backpack she’d brought with her and pulled out a notebook. She’d looked at it countless times on the plane, but it couldn’t hurt to look over it one more time.

She thumbed through the papers wedged in the notebook–pictures she’d printed from Naomi Wada’s MySpace page with notes written in the margins. It had been too easy to figure out where Naomi’s apartment was. One picture of Naomi next to her front door contained the apartment number in one corner. To figure out Naomi’s exact address, all Sarah had needed to do was compare the photographs Naomi had taken inside her apartment to photographs from apartment complex websites until she found a match.

She opened her notebook to a page she’d labeled with a pink sticky note. It contained notes on Naomi’s work schedule, deduced from her online posts. If Sarah’s research was accurate, Naomi would leave for work at four in the afternoon and return home at nine, leaving the resource unattended for five hours.

With her abilities, subduing the resource would be easy. Transporting it would be the hard part.



Lachlan was only a half hour into his shift watching Falcon via webcam, and he was already bored. So far, Falcon had made for an incredibly dull viewing experience; he had eaten a bag of chips while staring mesmerized at the TV as though he’d never seen one in his life, then fallen asleep on the couch.

Lachlan sighed and picked up his guitar.

If I’m stuck in my room watching a man take a nap for the next half hour, I may as well pass the time constructively, he thought.

He began practicing The Goldfish Technique’s newest song. It was one they didn’t plan on releasing but had played at their latest show. It hadn’t been easy figuring out the song from the low-quality video he’d taken, but he’d taken the time to get it just right. He wanted to make sure his rendition of the song was perfect so he could rub it in Angelina, Naomi, and Chelsea’s faces that he’d gotten to hear the song and they hadn’t.

He’d send Naomi the video eventually. Maybe Chelsea too, if she promised not to let Angelina see it. But right now, he wanted to savor the feeling of the song being just his.

He was halfway through the song when the sound of a door opening came from his computer speakers.

Was Falcon awake? No, Falcon still lay in the same position, snoring on the couch.

“Naomi? Thank fuck,” said Lachlan. “You’re home early.”

There was no response from the girl on the screen. Her back was turned to the camera as she approached the sleeping Falcon.

“Naomi?” he said. “Hello? Can I go now?”

She walked closer to Falcon and away from the camera, giving Lachlan a better view of her. The girl wasn’t Naomi, he realized. She was thin like Naomi with similar long dark hair, but this girl’s hair was dark brown instead of black.

“Oh, not Naomi. You look a bit like her from behind, though. Are you a friend of hers? Are you here to relieve me of the mind-numbingly boring duty that is Falcon-sitting?”

The girl didn’t respond.

“Uh, hello? Random girl? Yoo-hoo. I’m over here, in the computer.”

Falcon stirred, blinking his eyes open.

The girl raised her hand, pointing it toward Falcon, and the couch shot backward, slamming into the wall and sending two picture frames crashing to the floor.

“Holy motherfuck,” said Lachlan.

Falcon stood up and pointed his hand toward the girl, and an invisible force knocked her off her feet, propelling her somewhere outside the webcam’s range.

“What? You’ve gotta be kidding me!” The girl groaned from off camera. You have the abilities? How is that even possible?”

Naomi’s coffee table tilted upward and hurtled toward Falcon. He jumped out of its path, and its glass top shattered against the wall.

“Aw, man,” said the girl. “That wasn’t supposed to shatter like that. Good thing you jumped out of the way or I’d have to deal with you bleeding out everywhere.”

Lachlan reached for his phone, then stopped. His first instinct was to call emergency services, but Triple Zero wouldn’t be able to help with an overseas emergency. He could make a long-distance call to the police in Charlotte, but what would he tell them?

Hello, officer, he thought. Come quickly, there’s a crazy bitch in my friend’s living room throwing tables with her brain!

The girl walked into the camera’s view, giving Lachlan a better look at her face. She was little older than he’d originally thought–in her twenties at least. If he’d seen her in another context, one where she wasn’t trashing his friend’s apartment by flinging objects around with her mind, he might have found her attractive.

The woman raised her hand again, but Falcon lifted his hand and flung an end table in her direction. She dodged it and it splintered onto the ground.

She raised her hand again, hurling the largest piece of the end table–a mostly intact drawer–at Falcon. Lachlan flinched as the drawer crashed into Falcon’s face with a sickening thud.

Falcon fell backward and slumped against the wall. The woman smirked, walked up to him, and crouched beside him.

“That was way too easy,” she said. “To think, I was actually nervous about this.

Lachlan heard a door open. The girl’s smirk vanished, and she stood up suddenly, whipping her head around.

“Naomi? Are you home yet?” said a girl’s voice from somewhere off camera.

“No,” Lachlan whispered. “No, don’t come in.”

“I thought you didn’t get off work ’til nine. Did they let you go early?”

Lachlan’s heart sped up as the second girl walked into view. Her back was facing the camera, but Chelsea’s vivid red hair was easy to recognize.

Chelsea spotted the other woman and came to an abrupt stop.

“What–what happened here?” Chelsea stared down at the shattered table. “Who are you?”

“You know, it’s not too late for you to walk away from this. I’d suggest going right back out the door you came in while you still have the chance.” The dark-haired girl gestured to Falcon. “It’d be a win-win. You don’t wanna end up like this poor guy here, and I don’t wanna have to drag two bodies out to the car without being noticed.”

Chelsea’s head turned in Falcon’s direction. Lachlan heard her let out a soft gasp.

“Oh, my god. What did you do to him?”

“Honey, if I were you, I’d be less concerned about what I already did to him and more concerned about what I’m gonna do to you if you don’t leave now.”

Chelsea reached for a phone mounted on Naomi’s wall and dialed.

“Hello, a woman broke into my friend’s home and attacked someone,” she said into the receiver. “Yes, she’s still here … No, I’m not hurt, but someone else is hurt pretty badly … No, I think he’s unconsciousOkay, thank you. The address is 1600–“

The dark-haired woman extended a hand toward Chelsea and made a fist. The phone tore out of the wall and fell to the floor, taking a sizable chunk of drywall with it.

“That was stupid, red.” She shook her head. “That was real stupid.”

Chelsea stared at the hole in the wall where the phone had been, her eyes wide.

The dark-haired woman stepped forward and thrust her hand toward Chelsea. She slammed into the wall and remained suspended there, her legs hanging a couple feet off the floor.

“How–?” Chelsea gasped for breath, clawing at her neck as though an invisible hand was choking her. “Please… can’t… breathe…”

“That’s kinda the idea,” said the dark-haired woman. “You really shouldn’t’ve gotten in my way.”

The dark-haired woman squeezed her thumb and pointer finger together, silencing Chelsea’s gasps.

Lachlan stared helplessly at the screen as Chelsea stopped struggling and hung limp against the wall.

“Oi!” he shouted as loudly as he could. “Oi, you, with the telekinesis!”

“Damn it! Are you serious?” The woman turned to face the computer, keeping her hand extended toward Chelsea. “Another witness I have to deal with?”

“I think you’ll want to listen to me,” he said.

“Oh, really? Why?” She quirked an eyebrow. “You’re not stalling me to save your friend, are you? Don’t bother. It’s too late for either of you.”

Lachlan felt a chill run through him at the words ‘either of you’. Was she going to come after him too?

“Uh, no, I’m not stalling you,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I have an extremely compelling and legitimate reason for not choking her to death.”

“Somehow, I’m not convinced you do.”

“No, no, really, I do,” he said. “She’s, uh, more valuable to you alive.”

“Oh?” she said. “Then please, by all means, tell me why that is.”

“Well, it’s because…” he began.

“Talk fast; it only takes about three minutes without oxygen before the brain starts to die.”

“It’s because Falcon has an accomplice,” he said. “Falcon has an accomplice, and Chelsea is the only person who knows his whereabouts. If you kill her, you’ll never be able to find him.”

The woman approached the computer, still holding up the hand that was pinning Chelsea to the wall. She leaned down and looked into the webcam.

“Nice try.”

The webcam shut off.

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Naomi leaned forward in her office chair. “Are you sure she was talking about the same Dominic?”

Yeah. Can we be sure it’s our Dominic?” Angelina yawned. “Sorry. It’s time for bed here.

Naomi wasn’t sure, but she thought it was past midnight in Italy. Angelina sounded much less peppy than usual and her sleepiness seemed to be making her accent more pronounced. Her webcam image was dark and grainy, and the light from her screen cast an odd glow over her face.

“No, I’m not sure.” Chelsea crossed her legs and rested an elbow on the arm of the chair she’d pulled up to the computer. “But it is weird. She said he was in Australia.”

Lachlan turned around from where he stood shirtless, brushing his teeth a few feet away from his webcam.

“Issa big countryesscuse me, he said with his mouth full of toothpaste. He leaned into a doorway, presumably one leading to a bathroom, and spit. “It’s not like there’s only one guy called Dominic here.”

“If it was just the name Dominic I’d chalk it up to coincidence but there was more,” said Chelsea. “She said his last name was Davis, which seems like it could be a mishearing of Davies.”

“Still, they’re both common names,” said Lachlan.

Angelina yawned again. “I think we need more informations.

“Information,” said Lachlan. “Not ‘informations’.”

“Sorry,” said Angelina. “I knew that. English is harder when I’m sleepy. I do more mistakes.”

Lachlan leaned forward, using his webcam image as a mirror as he ran a comb through his dirty blonde hair, which was sticking up in all directions. “So run along to bed and leave the grown-ups to talk.

Angelina made a face with her tongue stuck out. “I’m older than you.”

Lachlan rolled his eyes. “And clearly, you have the maturity to prove it.

“Be nice, Lachlan,” said Chelsea.

“Nah.” Lachlan turned away from the camera to rifle through one of his dresser drawers. “So assuming this guy was actually talking about the Dominic Davies, bassist extraordinaire and general legend, do you think this could have anything to do with our falconine friend?”

“Falconine?” Angelina rubbed her eyes. “I don’t know that word.”

“I’m not telling you what it means.” Lachlan selected a black band t-shirt and pulled it over his head.

“It just means falcon-like,” said Chelsea. “He’s talking about Falcon.”

“Thanks, C,” said Angelina. “Where is he, anyway?”

Naomi turned the webcam over to the couch where Falcon was fast asleep, tortilla chip bag still in his lap.

“He’s all jet-lagged out, it looks like,” she said.

“It might have something to do with Falcon, actually,” said Chelsea. “Mr. Clyde said someone in Brisbane, possibly Dominic, stole something from the company and brought it to the airport.”

“And Dominic’s friend just flew in from here to Naomi’s sleepy little neck of the woods,” Lachlan said. “I think I see where you’re going with this.”

“I wouldn’t call it sleepy,” said Chelsea. “Smaller than Brisbane or Toronto, maybe but it’s a big enough city.”

“Naomi’s lively and bustling neck of the woods, then,” said Lachlan. “I was under the impression that the point of this conversation was whether Naomi’s harboring a criminal, not the size of Naomi’s city of residence.”

Naomi glanced at Falcon again. He shifted in his sleep, sending a few chips falling onto the floor. Seeing him lying there snoring softly, it was hard to imagine him stealing from a multi-billion dollar business.

“You think Falcon’s a thief?” Naomi said. “And you think Dominic could be complicit?”

“I don’t know,” said Chelsea. “For all I know, this is all just one big coincidence. But this whole situation is just weird.”

“Falcon can’t be a thief,” said Angelina. “He’s super nice.”

“One can be nice and still be a thief.” Lachlan picked up a piece of toast that was lying on his desk and took a bite. “But I agree he doesn’t seem like the thieving kind. Nor does Dominic for that matter.”

“Yeah, Dominic’s too cute to be a thief,” said Angelina.

Naomi tried to suppress her eye-roll, and Lachlan didn’t bother suppressing his.

“Even putting Angelina’s impeccable logic aside, I’ve hung out with Dominic many times. He’s a great guy. I can’t see him being involved in embezzlement, or whatever this is.”

“Not embezzlement,” Naomi said. “They don’t work for the company and it doesn’t sound like it was money they stole.”

“Whatever,” Lachlan rolled his eyes again. “Close enough.”

“It’s worth mentioning the barista had some pretty damning stuff to say about the Clydes,” said Chelsea.

Lachlan took another bite of toast. “Damning stuff such as…?”

“They mistreat their employees,” said Chelsea, “and she even said she suspected they were involved in a murder. They may not be the victims here.”

“Falcon did say he was scared for his life,” Naomi said.

“Dominic and Falcon could be trying to stop these people from doing something corrupt or illegal,” said Lachlan.

“Exactly,” said Chelsea.

“It still doesn’t make sense, though,” Naomi said. “Why would Dominic and Falcon be involved at all?”

“I have a lot of questions too,” said Chelsea. “I can’t imagine we’ll get any answers unless we talk to Dominic or Falcon.”

“It’s only about 8 in the morning here, so Dominic is probably not awake yet but you could go ahead and send him a message now if you felt like it,” said Lachlan. “Speaking of which, this has been fascinating but I have to make like a falcon and fly away. It’s almost time for work in Lachlan-land.”

Lachlan disconnected from the video call.

“I should probably leave too,” said Angelina. “I’m so sleepy. Let me know what you find out?”

“Of course,” said Chelsea. “Good night, Angelina.”

“Good night, C. Good night, Naomi.” Angelina disconnected from the call.

Chelsea and Naomi looked over at Falcon sleeping on the couch, then looked at each other.

“Want to get started on that message to Dominic?” Chelsea said.



Dominic wasn’t sure how long he’d been awake. He had tried pacing around the room a few times throughout the night in an effort to calm his nerves but it had only made him feel worse. Now, he sat on the stained couch with his laptop on the coffee table in front of him, watching and waiting for a message.

He tapped the touch pad to make sure the monitor didn’t go to sleep, then got up and made his way to the kitchen. He opened the fridge and reached for a beer, then stopped as he noticed the light streaming in from behind the curtains. He glanced at the clock on the oven–7:55 AM. He shut the fridge and began brewing a pot of coffee.

“Mate, you look like utter shit.”

Dominic jumped, splashing a bit of water onto the floor. He turned to see Melanie standing in the kitchen doorway. Her blonde hair stuck up from her head at different angles and she had dark smudges beneath her eyes from yesterday’s mascara.

“Yeah.” Dominic poured the water into the coffee maker and pressed the button. It made a loud whining sound, then began to burble noisily as coffee dripped into the pot.

“You’re up early.” Melanie pulled a chair back from the kitchen table and took a seat, resting her feet on the table.

“I’m up late.” Dominic sat down beside her and rested his head in his hands. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Yeah, I didn’t sleep much either.” Melanie leaned her head back and closed her eyes. “Then I heard you crashing around in the kitchen and figured I might as well get up.”

“Crashing? I was just making coffee.”

“Making coffee real loudly.” Melanie stretched her arms over her head and yawned.

“Sorry.” Dominic tried to stifle his own yawn. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”

“Any word from him?” said Melanie.

“Not yet,” said Dominic. “I’ve been watching the computer all night. He should be there by now.”

“I don’t know what you thought was gonna happen, Dom. You send him off to the other side of the fucking world, give him the name of some rando, and expect him to contact you right away?”

“You’re still mad at me.”

“Of course I’m still mad at you.” She opened her eyes and frowned at him. “What in fuck’s name were you thinking?”

“I didn’t have a choice, Mel. You know that.”

“No, I don’t know that. You didn’t bother discussing it with us. You just went ahead and made your rash decision without even talking to me or Jessica.”

“I didn’t have time to talk it out. They would’ve killed him, Mel. I had to protect him.”

Dominic felt someone flick the back of his head hard. “Ow! Fuck.”

He hadn’t even noticed Jessica coming in behind them. She had dark circles under her eyes and her shaggy, chin-length black hair was even shaggier than usual. She poured herself coffee, then sat across from them at the table. Melanie took her legs off the table and moved over a seat so they could all see each other.

“You’re still mad too, then,” Dominic signed.

“Yes. Obviously,” signed Jessica.

“Like I was telling Mel,” he signed, “I didn’t have a choice. I had to do something fast. I couldn’t let anything happen to him.”

“You didn’t have a fucking choice? Why was it your choice to make?” signed Melanie. “What about us? We should have all talked about this together and decided what to do.”

“What about him?” signed Jessica. “You–both of you–keep talking about him like he can’t make his own decisions. He’s not a child.

“You’re right,” signed Melanie. “I’m sorry. But my point still stands. Dom, you had no right to make that choice for him.”

“I didn’t make the choice for him. He wanted to go.”

“Did he? Did you actually ask him if he wanted to go?” signed Jessica.“Or did you just shove him in a car, take him to the airport, and tell him which plane to get on?”

“I was protecting him,” signed Dominic. “He never said he didn’t want to go.”

“It wasn’t your job to protect him,” signed Jessica. “Of course he didn’t say he didn’t want to go. He was scared and confused, he adores you, and he’s used to obeying orders without question. Did you even consider that?”

From the other room, the computer dinged. Dominic and Melanie jumped out of their chairs.

“What?” signed Jessica.

“Dominic just got a message,” signed Melanie.

Jessica jumped up and followed them into the living room. They sat on the sofa with Jessica in the middle, and Dominic and Melanie leaning in to see the screen.

Mail Center
Unread Messages (2)

From: Naomi Wada (Block User | Add to Friends)
To: Dominic Davies
Date: Tue 30/6/2009
Subject: Your friend

Hi Dominic,

I hope you are doing well. This is Naomi Wada. I assume you can guess why I’m writing you. I am really sorry to bother you so early in the morning but I didn’t know what else to do and I was hoping you could clear up a few things.

Falcon told me you said I could help him but I’m not entirely sure what he needs help with or why he’s here. We have a bit of a communication barrier, but based on what he’s told me I’m a bit concerned he may be in danger. I’d like to help your friend if I can, but I’m kind of at a loss here, so I’d appreciate it if you could provide some clarity.

Thank you,



From: fBXcbS4lp9@temp.io
To: Dominic Davies
CC: Melanie Graham; Jessica Thompson
Date: Tue 30/6/2009
Subject: I’m okay

It’s me. Just letting you know I’ve landed safely. Thanks for everything. Write back soon.



It was early enough in the night that there was still a faint purple glow on the horizon but the town of Palmer was already dark. Other than the airstrip, the only light came from a few scattered windows and porch lamps.

The darkness did nothing to ease the oppressive June heat. The air weighed down on Billy and Lily Clyde as they left the hangar and made their way home. A fish-scented sea breeze ruffled their clothes but provided little relief from the temperature.

“It’s good to be home.” Billy sighed and threw his shoulders back.

“It smells like shit and dead shrimp,” said Lily.

They walked the rest of the way to the mansion in silence. Lily climbed the steps to the porch and stopped to wait for Billy near the front door.

“Are you coming in?”

“I’m going to stop by the office and check on Sarah.”

Lily looked at the row of houses beyond the airstrip. Most of them were dark but a small yellow house had one illuminated window. “Looks like the light in her office is still on. Do you think she found anything?”

“I certainly hope so,” Billy turned toward the yellow house. “You go on in. I’ll let you know what I find.”


When Billy opened the door to Sarah’s office, she was so focused on her computer she didn’t notice him coming in. He knocked on the inside of the open door and she looked up.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t even see you, sir.”

“That’s quite alright, dear.” Billy took a seat across from her at her desk. “I’ve told you you don’t have to work this late. Not anymore.”

“Yes, sir.” She turned away from her computer screens to look at him. “And I appreciate the thought. I really do. I’ve tried to relax, like you said I was allowed to do but it feels wrong. I wasn’t made for that.”

“I know, kiddo.” Billy nodded. “It’s part of what makes you so valuable to us.”

“About my being valuable–” Sarah began.

Billy sighed. He knew where this conversation was going.

“Sarah, I know what you’re going to say and I’m afraid it’s just not possible.”

Her face fell. “Sir, with all due respect, I can probably do the work of ten of your normal employees. I’m not asking for much, not even minimum wage. But don’t I deserve some compensation for everything I do?”

“It’s not about what you deserve. It’s more complicated than that.” Billy sighed again. “Listen, kiddo, running a business is complicated. There’s a lot of red tape involved. Lily and I are still working on figuring a way to compensate you for all your work, but it’s still out of the picture for the time being.”

“Someday, though?”

Billy nodded. “Someday.”


They were silent for a moment and Billy took pause as an opportunity to switch to a less difficult subject.

“So have you found anything?”

“Maybe,” said Sarah, turning one of her monitors in his direction. “I’ve looked at the flights leaving Brisbane Airport that correspond with the time Mr. Gibson saw the resource.”


“There were two flights to Melbourne, which I think we can safely rule out, given the resource originally came from there. There were also two to Sydney, one to Hobart, one to Perth, and one to Hervey Bay.”

“What about international flights?” said Billy.

“You think he could have left Australia?”

“I wouldn’t rule it out. This Dominic fellow could have given the resource his passport or something. It could be anywhere.”

“Let’s see.” Sarah scrolled down on one of her monitors. “There was one to Denpasar, one to Port Moresby, one to Vancouver, one to Charlotte, and two to LA.”

Billy frowned. “So it could be any of nine different places.”

“Yes, but I was able to narrow it down.”

“Really? How so? And more importantly, what was it narrowed down to?”

“I created a temporary email and messaged Dominic Davies impersonating the resource.” She smirked. “He wrote back almost right away. Too easy.”

“Well, don’t keep an old man in suspense. What did he say?”

“For one thing, the resource is calling himself Falcon now for some reason,” she said, “but more importantly, Dominic mentioned the resource was with someone named ‘Naomi Wada’.”

“Who?” said Billy.

“I’m getting to that,” said Sarah. “An online search for just the name ‘Naomi Wada’ turned up way too many people to be useful, but an online search for ‘Naomi Wada’ and ‘The Goldfish Technique’ only turned up one.”

“The Goldfish Technique, huh? I assume this is the rock band and not the sales technique.”

“You assume correctly,” said Sarah. “I found a Naomi Wada who talks about the band on her MySpace page. And guess where she lives?”

“Where?” said Billy.

“Charlotte, North Carolina.”

Billy nodded. “One of our nine possibilities. Good work, kiddo.”

“Thank you, sir.” Sarah smiled.

“So,” said Billy, “how would you feel about a little business trip?”

“I’d love that.”

“I’ll have Lily fly you to Charlotte tomorrow,” said Billy. “It’s a shame we didn’t figure this out sooner; I just flew in from there, you know.”

“I’m sorry, sir.” Sarah’s smile faltered a little.

“Oh, don’t be sorry, dear. You’ve done great work on this,” said Billy. “Hey, tell you what. You take care of this unpleasant little situation for us, and I’ll see about paying you a real wage.”

Sarah’s smile grew wider. “You really mean that?”

“Of course I do. It wouldn’t be much, of course–“

“That’s fine. I don’t need much. Oh, thank you, sir!”

Billy chuckled. “Don’t thank me yet, now. You still need to destroy the resource first.”

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