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Claremont Academy, Kord Dormitory. Sunday, October 6th, 2019. 11:00 am

 

Contrary to popular belief, Adam and Lulu were not joined at the hip; sure, they had a very close relationship, but they didn't actually do everything together. For instance, this particular Sunday Adam was planning to work with some of his classmates on a science project, which was very cool, but not quite his girlfriend's cup of tea. She decided instead to catch the bus to the Bayview Mall to maybe do some shopping, or at very least check out the cool Halloween costumes and scary props for sale. She and Davyd had both expressed an interest in doing something fun for the holiday, so maybe she could-

 

And then the idea hit her, and she loved it. Dressing up in a red jacket, green sweater and burgundy slacks, along with some black riding boots, she headed down to the second floor and knocked on Room 213's door.

 

"Hey, Davyd. Do you have a sec?"

Edited by Heritage

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Davyd was still asleep when Lulu came a-calling, having stayed up all night playing video games with Ben.  So at the moment, Davyd didn't look like Davyd, or even remotely human.  He was in a vaguely humanoid shape, blank and featureless.  As her knock and voice drew out his consciousness, two eyespots and a thin line of a mouth appeared.

 

"I've had this dream before..." he mumbled.

 

He shifted to a seated position, and 'put on his face.'  When he'd first gotten his powers, he'd remained in his original Davyd Palahniuk form when sleeping.  But not long after Miss Grue helped him realize the full extent of what had happened to him -- that he was now, in effect, part Grue -- his body sometimes shifted into a nearly featureless mass of red protoplasm with a thick fleshy skin whenever he fell unconscious.  Daphne had said something about it reflecting his true identity, but he wasn't sure about that; he did know he needed to get a better control over it.  What if he'd reverted to that form while hanging out with friends?  Or out in public?

 

"Just a moment!" he called out.  Did that sound too panicked?  No, no, of course not.  Not here.

 

None of that was on his mind at the moment.  What was on his mind was a dream of Lulu Beaumont, appearing at his door, alone, and with Ben conveniently gone.  (He'd woken earlier and gone out for brunch.)  As he got out of bed and walked towards the door, his form resolved itself into that of Davyd Palahniuk, Ukrainian-American boy, in green pajamas, blue slippers, and a Hefner-ian blue smoking jacket.  He checked his appearance at the mirror they'd set on the back of the door, then opened it.

 

"Why, hello there, Lulu."  His voice was husky, and he leaned nonchalantly on the door frame.  "To what do I owe the... pleasure of this visit?"

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Lulu beamed when Davyd came to the door. "Hey there, good mornin'! Ah just-" Then she paused and looked him up and down. "You just woke up and used your powers to clean up, didn't you?" She said it without any judgement beyond a sigh, and then stepped into the room and looked around. "You and Ben up all night gamin'? Ah get that. Spent a few late nights playin' Mario Kart with mah brother Bobby, back in the day."

 

Using her telekinesis, she floated a few things off of Ben's bed and had a seat at the foot of it. "Anywho, ah was wonderin' if you'd like to hang out at the mall today? Halloween's a-comin' soon, and ah'm lookin' to maybe spruce up the room with a skeleton or two, maybe look at some costumes, see if anything's new at the game store...stuff like that. How's that grab ya?"

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Davyd hesitated a moment, and looked quickly around the room.  Okay, everything's like it normally is.  No muted lights, no smooth jazz in the background.  My desk has my textbooks on it...  One arm stretched out, making a sound like a stretching balloon, and retrieved one of the books, which he opened to a random page.  "Ah," he said flatly, "I can read this.  Which means I'm not dreaming..."

 

Embarrassed, his face flushed for a moment -- almost as red as his Grue-y flesh -- and he turned from her.  Okay okay it's cool cool cool cool she's really here okay cool cool

 

He turned back, his outfit morphing from pajamas to a pair of yellow sneakers, blue jeans, and a yellow tee.  "Hang out at the mall?  Sure!  With you & Adam?  Yeah!  I've been meaning to go there anyway, get some ideas.  I think the food court got a few new places, too."

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Posted (edited)

Lulu pursed her lips and shook her head nonchalantly. "Uh, no, no Adam today; it'll just be you and me. Adam's got a science thing goin' on." Then she slapped her thighs and hopped to her feet. "So let's head on out! Unless you need to shower, brush your teeth or anythin'. Ah'll wait out in the hall." Lulu stepped out into the hall, stuck her hands in the pockets of her jacket, and casually leaned against the wall with her legs crossed.

 

And just like that, they were spending the day alone together.

Edited by Heritage

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"Oh.  Oh?  Oh!"  Davyd's reactions went from surprised confusion to elation, "yeah, just... yeah, just wait there in the hall, I'll be ready in, like, 30 seconds."  He closed the door behind her.

 

Fifteen of those seconds were spent silently freaking out over what had just happened & would be happening, bouncing about the room, and almost knocking over a few things as his limbs flailed about.  Six seconds were spent calming himself down, advising himself to be cool.  It took three seconds to freshen himself up, and the final six seconds were spent double checking his appearance in the mirror.

 

When the door opened again, Davyd was in the same yellow sneaked, blue shorts, and yellow short-sleeved tee, but now his skin had a healthier, just-exfoliated glow, and his hair smelled like a freshly-washed puppy.  "Okay, all ready!  So, how are we getting there?  Bus?"

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"Nope!" She reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a set of keys, which she spun around her finger in sheer delight. "Ah have been given the keys to the Kingdom! C'mon, let's hit the road!"

 

Lulu led Davyd outside to the student parking lot, and to a waiting blue BMW SUV that chirped and flashed it lights in greeting when she pressed the key. "Mah foster mom is amazin', and somehow trusts me enough to drive. Ah mean, it's a just a loaner, but still!" She stopped for a second and ran her hand along a fender. "Sometimes it's like mah old life is just a bad dream..."

 

Rousing herself from her reverie, the telepath got behind the wheel, checked her mirrors, and pulled a pair of sunglasses out of the glove compartment before handing her phone over to Davyd. "Okay, you're our DJ; you are what you play." She'd opened her iTunes account, and her phone was synced to the stereo.

Edited by Heritage

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Davyd's eyes widened a bit when Lulu spun the keys in front of him, then he morphed into a full woad-covered William Wallace.  "Freeeeeedooommmm!"

 

He morphed back to himself on the way to the student parking lot, and whistled appreciatively.  "Cool!  I can't imagine when my folks will let me drive."  He slid into the front passenger's seat, "not that I'd really need to, what with the powers."  He scrolled through the device, "hrm, maybe something spooky.  Some horror soundtracks?  The music in those movies can really make or break a scene.  Wait, no," he shook his head, "they'll probably be playing that in the Halloween store, so I don't want to play something we'll probably hear again soon.  Okay, something different- oh!  I know!"  After a few moments, some rousing pop vocals filled the vehicle, though in a language Lulu did not know.  "This is Ruslana -- I think you'll like her!"

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"Hey, this is good," nodded Lulu as she started up the SUV. "Kind of like a Ukrainian Shakira." She jacked up the music and rolled down the windows as they hit the road in earnest. The young Alabaman proved to be a surprisingly good driver; a little bit of a lead foot, but she always checked her mirrors and signaled properly. They took turns picking music to play through the stereo to keep things lively. Lulu favored the Southern rock of her ancestors (Lynryd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker Band, the Allman Brothers, Mason Proffit), as well as classic country acts like Johnny Cash, Willi Nelson, Hank Williams and k.d. laing. But she also had a pop-y, eclectic side. selecting tracks by Kelly Clarkson, Prince and Beck. In general, if it was up tempo and guitar-driven, she was there for it.

 

In terms of conversation, she apparently didn't want to talk about her own family very much, but was curious to hear all about Davyd's, especially anything related to food or family gatherings. The one thing she was very eager to talk about was Adam's Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and the adventures the Claremont party had been on to date. This led to some wonderful stories, occasionally accompanied by miniature versions of the battles being played out across the dashboard.

 

"So by now, Leroy is down, again, because that boy don't know the meanin' of the word 'fear', and Judy is haulin' ass over to him to lay on hands. Now, ah can see the plant monster thing sneakin' up on Pan from mah position, but he's still deafened, which ah forgot, so he can't hear me shoutin' at him to watch out. So ah'm like 'f### it, Sacred Flame right in its ass', and it goes down, because it's vulnerable to fire! And ah was like, 'take that, you sumbitch!' Lord, it was fun! Judy healed Leroy, and then we mopped up the rest of the swamp men pretty fast after that." She took a deep breath and sighed, her face flushed from the vicarious excitement. "You should totally play, Davyd; we could really use an arcane caster."

Edited by Heritage

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Davyd's picks were a mix of pop and rock, with a bit of folk, mostly in either Ukrainian or Russian, which he gladly translated for her.  His tastes ran the gamut, from cheery pop to orchestral folk to hip hop to heavy metal.  He stuck mostly with lighter fare for this trip, though, out of deference to the driver.  Besides, there'd be plenty of spookier tunes at the mall.

 

He spoke some about his family -- his eclectic and multitalented musician father, his no-nonsense auto mechanic mother, mischievous uncle Sasha, and beloved babusya, the maternal grandmother that held everything together.  He started to describe how his parents met & fell in love on their trip over to America in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, but quickly grew embarrassed and changed the subject, to various Ukrainian and Ukrainian-American holidays, and the foods that often went with it.  "And since babusya is a devout Jew, uncle Sasha is Eastern Orthodox Catholic, and dad's folks are slavic pagans, my family has a lot of celebrations!"

 

Davyd knew of roleplaying games -- what theatre kid didn't? -- but he'd never played before.  "I was much more shy back before I got my powers, so I never asked anyone if I could join, and no one ever offered a spot to me.  But a part of me always wanted to..."  His tone dropped a bit, then shot back up, "so, yeah, I'm totally up for that!  Maybe a Bard or Sorcerer..."

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As Davyd described his childhood, it did indeed sound like he had the benefit of a loving family. It explained how he could walk in the world do full of trust. But there were other things she started to pick up on, things that he missed out on. Like siblings, or pretty much any other kids his age; he'd grown up surrounded by adults in a tight-knit immigrant family. No wonder he was so shy!

 

"So, you didn't really grow up around a lot of girls, did ya? No sisters or cute cousins comin' over to visit on Thanksgivin' or Christmas?"

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"Yeah, you're not wrong on that," he nodded, trying to keep... something out of his voice.  "When I was born, mom was 40, dad was almost 50 -- I was an unexpected little miracle!"  He smiled, though his voice had a bittersweet tone, "they'd tried for years, and mama even had two miscarriages.  They were sure they wouldn't be able to have children.  Maybe because of Chernobyl," he said nonchalantly, "maybe something else.  And it was rough on them, at first -- a lot of folks thought they were my grandparents, not my parents.  But they loved me with all they had, and many in the community offered to help, but..." he tilted his head a bit, "well, mama can be stubborn at times.  Good for an auto mechanic, not so good for making friends.  Couple that with her pride, and she was certain she & papa & babusya, and even Uncle Sasha, could handle everything."

 

He paused a moment, "to be fair, she wasn't wrong, exactly.  I mean, I think I turned out okay, never gave them much reason to worry.  And, oh, did they worry.  I mean, considering all they went through to have a child, and all their concerns for my health, wanting to make sure I stayed as healthy as possible," he nodded, "it's natural they'd become overprotective, and shelter me a bit.  Which is what got me so into reading, and watching movies.  So, uh," he glanced away, then back to Lulu, "yeah, I never really got to hang out with kids my age, of any gender."  His voice perked up again, "I do have one good friend, though, known him since elementary school.  Jimmy Gray.  Big sci fi geek.  Hopes to go to HIT after high school."

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"He sounds like fun," the teen psychic said with a kid. They were getting closer to the mall when an idea hit her; a very weird idea, but that wasn't uncommon for her. She chewed her lower lip thoughtfully at a stop sign for several seconds before finally broaching the subject.

 

"So, when we first met, you made yourself look just let me, and it was amazin', you could have fooled mah own momma. But if you had to act like a girl, you'd what, copy stuff you've seen in movies? Like, in terms of behavior, body language and such."

Edited by Heritage

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"Jimmy's a good guy.  Didn't get to hang out with him as much over the summer as I'd hoped."  He glanced down, "I haven't even told him about... what happened to me.  I mean," he looked back up to Lulu, "he wouldn't freak out or anything, he'd think it's amazing, he'll flip, yeah.  Just... haven't found time to.  But, hey," he cracked a grin, "that's one of the things we're supposed to learn at Claremont, right?  Time management, how to balance 'superhero' and 'civilian' life?"

 

He nodded at her question, "movies, yeah, mostly, or tv shows.  And some plays.  I've seen some great boo- er, recordings of Broadway stuff."  Uncle Sasha always got him the best stuff.  "I've got the mannerisms down for a lot of the classic Final Girls and Scream Queens.  Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, Nancy Thompson, Buffy Summers.  Linnea Quigley, Daria Nicolodi, Dee Wallace, Fay Wray.  Oh, and, of course, Elvira!"  As he named each, he morphed into their doubles.  "I know it's a bit limited, and that I can do so much more.  Start with what you know, though, right?  And then, uh," 'she' glanced down, "build up your talents from there..."

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Lulu couldn't help but laugh at Davyd's final form. "Alright, put those away before someone gets hurt!" Then she got thoughtful again. "Have you ever made up a person out of whole cloth? Like that first day, you combined parts of everyone together by mistake, but have you ever tried to do it on purpose? You know, mixin' an' matchin' until you come up with someone unique? Here, let me show you."

 

Using her illusion powers, Lulu changed her hair to match Judy's long, dark locks, then shifted her skin tone to match Ashley's, and finally her eyes to match Astrid's. She spared a quick peek in the mirror at the results, which were somewhat...disconcerting. "Whoa, that looks weird!" She did a little fine tuning to the various shades and textures to blend all the features together harmoniously, until she looked like a completely different person from any of the four girls.

 

"See," she said eagerly in the voice of a stranger. "It's a whole new me!"

Edited by Heritage

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"I've not intentionally tried that with people, no," he replied, reverting back to his Davyd form, "just with animals.  Chimeras, griffins, pegasuses -- things from mythology that are said to be made of two or more animals.  And some from more modern stories... like the dreaded Sharktopus!"  Davyd suddenly remembered Lulu in her various beach outfits while they'd been at the Virgin Islands, and shook the thought away before it distracted him further.  "I've talked with Miss Grue some about it, she said something about Grue shapeshifting being partially psychic, so it's easier to mimic creatures that the local populace already knows about, has some firm image of in their minds," he tapped his forehead, "in their collective unconscious, like creatures from their mythologies and stories.  That, and most Grue -- even the ones that break from their hive mind -- aren't that creative, not very imaginative.  They're imitative, not innovative."

 

He looked down at his hands, then back up to Lulu, "but I am not a Grue.  Not completely.  I am human, too.  With a human mind, and human imagination.  I can be much more, experience so much more.  So... let's see what I can do."

 

He leaned back a bit, as much as he could, and closed his eyes.  First, his skin and general bone & muscle structure shifted to match Leroy's, then he erased the scars and tattoos.  Then his hair darkened & curled in upon itself, forming a copy of Benicio's afro.  When he opened his eyes, they'd gone from gray to green, the same shade as Pan's.  "How's that?," asked a voice that was still settling between that of the four.  "Oh, still need to work on... hold on...  oh, I think I've got it!"

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"That's awesome! Nice work, Dayvd!" Lulu then returned to her normal appearance. "Y'know, it's interesting," she said thoughtfully. "The Grue sort of have the same limits as the Fae; more like copycats than truly creative. Ah wonder is they've ever met." An involuntary shudder danced down her spine at the thought of such an inauspicious meeting.

 

"Anyway, ah got a little sidetracked from my original proposition," she continued as she smoothly entered into the vast mall parking lot. "So ah have a challenge for you." She pulled into a spot, turned off the car, and turned to face the young shapeshifter. "Would you, Davyd Palahniuk, in the interest of research, be willing to spend the afternoon with me at this here mall, as a girl?  Nothin' weird, just clothes shoppin' and hangin' out, maybe gettin' some lattes. Think of it as a socio-psychological experiment." 

 

 

 

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"Thanks!"  He shifted back to Davyd, "ooh, that is interesting!  Maybe some of the old stories about Fae were really encounters with Grue?"  He shifted again, now looking like Jareth the Goblin King, "taking wayward children off to some far-away realm, never to be seen again.  Hunh - come to think of it, stories about faerie abductions and alien abductions do have a lot in common."  He pondered a moment, rolling a large glass orb in his hand, which on closer inspection Lulu saw was tethered to him via a thin ribbon of flesh.

 

He was a bit shocked at the mention of a challenge, but also very intrigued.  "Oh, that sounds like fun!  Any girl in particular?"  He shifted again, now looking exactly like her!  "Your twin sister, maybe?  No, no, I- hold on."  He leaned back & closed his eyes again, and his form slowly went through a dozen different changes.  Finally it settled on a white woman in her early- to mid-twenties, slightly tanned, with shoulder-length strawberry blonde hair, dark green eyes, wearing blue jeans and a grey tank top, and blue sneakers.  Lulu recognized elements from some of the actresses he'd shifted to earlier, with Jemie Lee Curtis being the most prominent.  A smile was flashed at Lulu, "so... Cousin Olivia?"

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Lulu nodded and gave Davyd a golf clap. "Cousin Olivia, so nice to meet you! What part of the country are you from, cuz? Don't pick an accent you're goin' to have a hard time maintainin', now."

 

Lulu got out and locked the SUV with a beep, her purse over one shoulder. "Now here's the thing: girlfriends, as in girls who are friends, are kind of touchy. And ah don't mean quick to go off the handle, ah mean comfortable with each other's touch." And here she stepped over to 'Olivia' and linked arms with her in a casual, friendly way. "You alright with that, cuz?"

Edited by Heritage

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"Olivia" thought about accents as she exited the vehicle, debated which ones were known well enough to pull off, and settled on a vaguely Eastern European one passingly similar to babusya's.  "Ah, yes, see, I am cousin from far away!  My mother, who is your father's sister, went to Ukraine for, ah... reasons.  And now I am here, to connect with long-lost family!"

 

And then Lulu's arm was linked around hers.  "Uh, yes," she laughed a bit nervously, suddenly extremely glad she'd gone with sneakers and not pumps, "you are knowing what is best!  So, which store do we got to first, hrm?"

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Lulu stiffened for a moment, then she sighed and shook her head. "Ah sorry, Davyd, ah didn't mean to make you uncomfortable." Then she shook her head sharply. "No, that ain't entirely true." She unlinked arms, then took both of Davyd's hands in her own, and took a step back. "Look, ah may be dumb, but ah ain't stupid. Ah know you're a little sweet on me, and ah was tryin' to do a little, ah don't know, shock therapy or somethin'? But it's manipulative and wrong, and that's not who ah want to be no more. Now, ah still think you could learn a lot spendin' the day as a girl, but ah'm not goin' to force you to so anything you don't want to, okay? So we don't have to link arms and put you through torture if you don't want to."

 

She smiled sweetly and shrugged. "It's all up to you, 'Olivia'."

Edited by Heritage

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"Olivia" looked down, "I... I appreciate the honesty.  And I... I do get what you were going for.  Yeah," 'Olivia' sighed, but kept her eyes on the parking lot, "I have... I have had feelings for you.  Pretty much from the day I first saw you."  She shrugged, "you're pretty, and kind, and funny, and you've got cool powers, and-"  She stopped abruptly, was quiet a moment, then looked up at Lulu, "and I know you're with Adam.  And I'm...," another pause, "so for most of late July and early August, you didn't hear anything from me.  No one at Claremont did, because I was busy with family stuff.  They were still adjusting to me having these powers, and wanted to make sure I didn't lose myself, that I kept a strong connection to who I am."  She cracked a smile, "dad went through the family photo albums with me, I spent a few days in the garage with mom, several days with babusya in the kitchen and with Uncle Sasha around town.  But in that time, I also thought a lot about Claremont, and what I'd do with these abilities, my purpose... and my feelings.  And I realized that what I felt for you was..."  She trailed off, but snapped back to focus, "okay, yes, I do like you, but I think the 'puppy love' part has worked out of my system.  I do think you're cool and awesome and am very happy to be your friend.  And I wish all the best for you and Adam."

 

What Davyd said was largely true, though he wasn't quite as over his infatuation with her as he believed.

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Lulu sighed with relief, because she'd learned that both Davyd and herself could be mature about things. A big warm smile spread across her face as she reached out and grabbed his hand. "Great! Awesome! Let's just have a great day, alright? Oh, and don't bother with the accent; just be yourself...ish." Leading her 'cousin' by the hand, she practically ran into the mall, which was full of shoppers young and old. Lulu and 'Olivia' looked like any other pair of female friends excited to be window shopping.

 

"So normally you just make your clothes yourself, right? You never try things on?" From the look of it, she was heading in the direction of the Gap.

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Olivia smiled back, and squeezed Lulu's hand.  "Thanks, but I think I will stick with the accent -- am needing the practice, yes?"

 

Wait - am I gonna be in a girl's dressing room?!

 

"I, ah, I can make simple clothing, yes, nothing too fancy.  Not yet, anyway.  Leather's easiest for me to do, cotton and linen and silk are almost as easy."  Olivia entered alongside Lulu, but then instinctively went to the discount aisles, which currently featured a variety of summer items.  "Oh!" she exclaimed, then lowered her voice so only Lulu would hear, "I can actually make silk, or at least something like it.  Haven't figured out the 'turning it into fabric' part yet, though.  But, uh, I do try things on, yes -- I do still prefer to wear actual clothes, and just shift things over those."  Olivia was looking over some short sleeved tees, "and that way, in case something ever happens to my abilities, I won't be, y'know... naked."

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Lulu laughed when she saw Olivia's cheeks go a bit red; she didn't have to be a telepath to figure out what that was about! She sent a mental reassurance her cousin's way.

 

- You don't have to go into the changing room if you don't want to, silly! Though if you did want to, I could probably just 'blur' anything inappropriate! -

 

She continued in her normal voice as she began checking out some overstock sweaters. "You did lots of theater stuff in high school, right? Like costumes and makeup and such? Ooh, look at this one!" She held a deep green sweater under her chin. "Ah think this one makes mah hair really pop! Whatcha think?" She smoothed it out as she waited for Olivia's opinion.

Edited by Heritage

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