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Posted (edited)

GM

 

The Riverfront, Emerald City, Oregon

Saturday, April 25, 2020

 

00:04:00 AM

 

It was the end of the line as far as you could tell.

 

Months before the case had entered your radar, the demand for cadavers in the market has risen unlike anything in recent memory. For sure, whoever had began buying had been smart about it. The demand had been incremental, months in the making, and there had been multiple buyers who bought at different times and from different suppliers across the city for different reasons. Funeral homes, prisons, hospitals, cemeteries, even some cadavers from mainland China. The buyers sold some of the cadavers up the chain. Then some of those cadavers would get resold further higher and higher until all of it led to this unremarkable warehouse owned by a shell company in the middle of the Riverfront. 

 

Unregulated by federal or state laws, the sale of cadavers is not illegal per-se but the interconnected buying and selling had caught your attention. And for obvious reasons, anyone that would go to those lengths to hide something was up to no good. Illegal and immoral in the eyes of the law.

 

That's where you come in, perched on the rooftop of a nearby warehouse as below you an eighteen-wheeler truck and the shipping container on its cargo bed pulls the warehouse space. It backs up into a closed shutter gate and a burly man in a flannel shirt gets out of the truck's passenger seat. He says something to the driver and, dragging on his cigarette, fishes out a key from his jeans pocket. Then he strolls towards the back of the truck.

 

Besides the nighttime activity below you, the warehouse and the surrounding area is devoid of life. Nothing stirs. You've seen rats and stray cats on your way but none around the warehouse. Your stakeout of the warehouse itself has not produced any sign of activity from inside the warehouse. It is dark there and only the streetlamps from outside serve as illumination for the warehouse interior.

 

Finally, the man unlocks the shutter gate and it slides up with a clatter all too loud in the night's dead silence. Then the man disappears inside the warehouse, the beam of a flashlight to guide him.

 

Outside, the driver waits idly, scrolling on his phone. The screen illuminates his face in a blue light.

 

What do you do?

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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REBELLION

 

Curious. Notebook in hand, Rebellion scribbled his almost unreadable notes in the book, before closing it and moving it into his coat. This whole business was strange. What use did someone have of cadavers? Rebellion's view of the city and its secrets had grown. Aliens, super humans. It wouldn't really surprise him if someone were using the bodies to try to create their own Frankenstein's monster. At the very least, it required investigating.

 

Let the other heroes act in the light. He would handle the darkness.

 

His entire body seemed to fade as he started walking down the building. Slowly, carefully, he approached, walking down the side of the building, moving into a crouch and then, stopping at the top of the gate, above the driver with the phone. Maybe there was something worthwhile? If not, he would continue crawling into the building, crawling in at the top of the gate.

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Posted (edited)

GM

 

It was trivially easy to sneak a peek over the driver's shoulder.

 

Instagram. He's looking at kittens.

 

Even unsavoury types needed a way to pass the time on their job.

 

That done you follow the driver's partner into the warehouse building. Though the rest of the warehouse is pitch black, save for some areas lit by light filtering from the windows, the area around the gate is better lit. As for the flannel shirt man, you see the beam of his flashlight bounce around for a bit before you hear an engine start, halogen lights flash on, and a forklift trudges forward. The flannel shirt man is operating it and stops beside the truck.

 

"Hey, Mikhail!" The flannel shirt man calls with a whiff of an accent from behind the forklift's controls. "Quit staring at your phone and lend me a hand."

 

"Yeah! Sorry, give me a second."

 

The driver named Harv gets out of the driver's seat and jogs to the back of the truck. He bends down and with an audible click open the lock. The truck's doors swing open a moment later and the forklifts rumbles inside then out, carrying large containers thrice stacked over one another. Each is the right size for storing a human-sized cadaver or several squeezed together, like an oversized coffin.

 

"How much was in the envelope?" The driver asks as his partner backs up.

 

"Same as last week's shipment. A thousand for each of us."

 

Harv nods approvingly then gets back to scrolling on his phone. Soon, the forklift deposits the coffin-like containers near the entrance and goes back for another round of crates. It looks like they're work would take a while from how large the truck is. They say a few things to each other, but nothing else of importance. The night is late after all.

 

Meanwhile, your eyes adjust to the darkness inside the warehouse and see dozens and dozens of containers just in your immediate vicinity. And beyond, the containers continue in neat columns, stacked six or nine containers high. A little bit more than three-fourths of the warehouse floor is packed with the rest empty, waiting for more shipment to arrive.

 

And on one side of the warehouse you see a set of staircases leading to the offices, overlooking the warehouse floor. Opposite the offices is a metal doorway, large enough to fit a stack of crates.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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REBELLION

 

Part of Rebellion wanted to look into the crates, but he didn't have a lot of time. Not without having to disable the locks to get out, and then they would know that he had been there. Well, they would know that someone had been there. He spared another glance at the two men and their phones. Interrogating them would wait. Later, or another day. Could use them to check up on anything he found out in there.

 

Large metal doorway or office? Papers or dirt?

 

He wanted to see things for himself. He didn't need evidence, as nice as it would be to have. Anyone connected to the conspiracy would be too smart to leave a paper trail. Doorway it was.

 

Moving along the walls, Rebellion crept closer to the doorway, before slipping inside. 

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GM

 

As you move crawl closer to the doorway, you begin to feel the slightest tremor on your fingertips and toes.

 

It comes and goes like a wave on shore but there is no doubt the tremor is carried through the concrete. When your fingers touch the metal frames of the doorway, you feel the tremors more. Whatever is causing the tremors no doubt lies behind these doors. Fortunately for you the doors have been left unlocked and you pry them open. They are heavy and cumbersome for any one person to pull open but you manage with your enhanced physique.

 

You see not the source of the tremors but an open lift, shrouded in shadows, much like one would imagine old mines to have, and fitting enough, a shaft that leads down. The warehouse's blueprints did not mention anything about a basement.

 

The bottom of the shaft would have been pitch black, with no light reaching it from the outside, where it not for the incandescent light flickering at the bottom, several stories down. 

 

Then you realize, when the first unintelligible notes reach your ears, that the tremors are not mere vibrations. It is singing, a chorus whose words make your ears ache as you listen and your belly rebel against the melody. Chanting, voices that are scratchy whispers and booming thunder, throat-some and screeching all. A cacophony.

 

You released the sound and from the warehouse shutter gate, the beam of a flashlight swivels towards the metal frame and a voice call out.

 

"What was that?"

 

The two silhouettes scuffle for a moment.

 

"C'mon, let's check it out."

 

The two men stalk closer, flashlights held high and wary, though they are still a good minute away with their current speed. But soon they will be at the metal doorway, listening to what you are listening now. You doubt they will fare as well as you.

 

The metal doorway left open and unlocked, with the song streaming into the open, might bring these men to an early grave.

 

What do you do?

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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REBELLION

 

Idiots. Coming to investiage, they heard the strange chants, and then they decided to move closer? 

 

Not that he was one to talk, of course, but Rebellion had been doing this for a while now. These men were just... accomplishes. Drivers. Idiots for hire. Rebellion felt the pull, something, the chanting, the voices, it was trying to do something. He could feel it, but Rebellion was made of sterner stuff.

 

The idiots probably weren't.

 

From his position, he let loose the part of him that was the Terror. The primal fear unleashed, directed directly at the two men. One wet his pants. The other started mumbling. Then they turned and ran. Raw, primal fear. The great equalizer.

 

Rebellion dropped down to the floor from his position, still appearing as one with his surroundings.

 

If they were idiots for coming to investigate, then what did that say about himself?

 

Of course he walked into the darkness, towards the song. He could do no less. 

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GM

 

You move perpendicular to the ground and down to the bottom of the shaft. As you do, the song's effects upon your person abates, leaving only a feeling that sticks to your skin like a layer of dirt. Still, the song continues and does nothing but aggravate your ears.

 

Then you drop down and identify the source of the singing. At first you mistake the mass of figures as prisoners. They are packed into cells, so tightly that limbs stick out between the bars and the light that served as a beacon at the bottom of the basement only helps conceals the features of the singers.

 

Yet a closer inspection quickly puts to rest your initial assumption.

 

Most of them are dressed in their sunday's best, wearing tuxedos or long, flowing gowns. Mixed among their number are those wearing rags or hospital gowns. You see a few without any clothes here and there. And though the mortician's chemicals work to preserve their flesh, many do not hide the fact that decay has set in their features. Fine clothes riddled with dirt and worms, bones and patches of gray skin showing in the worst of the decayed.

 

As one, the cadavers raise their heads to sing to the heavens in a mocking imitation of choral harmony, a warehouse full of voices reverberating down to your bones. The low-ceiling of the basement, the mass of corpses packed into cells, and narrow paths in between only serve to make cadavers surrounding you from all sides seem more all-encompassing than they are.

 

And then you hear a voice ring out as the singing dies down again.

 

"The hour is barely begun, Lady Mingzhu! And you would have me cut short the night's ritual after all my preparations?" It is a man's voice, ill-tempered and his voice raised. It makes it easy to follow, deeper into the horde of corpses. The paths are narrow and winding between cells shaped in odd angles and curves. As you follow the voice, the cadavers stare ahead with dead eyes, unaware of your passing.

 

"Very well," the man snarls, nearer now. "But do not place the blame on my shoulders if this upsets your so-precious schedule." 

 

And then you see a long shadow move, arms gesticulating wildly, as it disappears around a bend full of corpses. "Then the dead shall await you with open arms as you enter their domain, my Lady."

 

"So says the greatest among them all, the ABRACADAVER!"

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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REBELLION

 

Zombies. Of course Emerald City had zombies, too.

 

Still remaining silent, Rebellion crawled across the wall, towards the ceiling. Still silent, it was like he was not there, as he moved. A shadow, a flicker at best, moving along as he listened, and watched. Lady Mingzhu? He had never heard of her. But he would find out.

 

So, what was this? A big gathering of zombies? For what? Lady Mingzhu? It looked almost like an army, some in their Sunday best. And Abracadaver

 

He waited above. Abracadver. He had heard about him back at Elysian. What were his options? Attack? Take him out? Or wait for this Lady Mingzhu to show up?

 

The city had heroes now, didn't it? They were probably better for dealing with all of this, weren't they?

 

Yes. He needed to find information first. Learn what was going on. So, he remained motionless on the ceiling. Waiting and watching.

Edited by RocketLord

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GM

 

00:22:00 AM

 

Abracadaver shoves the mobile phone in his pocket and stomps out of sight. The corpses cease their singing as soon as he leaves and a ringing silence falls over you.

 

Now alone, you take in your surroundings.

 

The space is dimly-lit and intimate, a small clearing in the middle of Abracadaver's zombies. It is a mad scientist's cave, a place for experiments best done in the shadows.

 

Four small columns of marble reach from floor to ceiling and are set at the edges of clearing. They look similar to architecture you'd find in Jadetown, except clearly upside-down. The dragon that reaches for the heavens now spirals downwards, its claws grasping at a round, headless creature with six legs and four wings. The other three columns are carved the same way. They do not feel right, like the song you had felt when you had opened the metal doors leading to this basement. However, the feeling is not as unpleasant or powerful.

 

Something feels familiar about them, like knowing the feel of your own fingers, but you cannot put your tongue on it.

 

A corpse lays on the operating table to the side, between two columns. It is bereft of clothes but chunks of its flesh have been carved off. The bloody tools set on the medical shelf beside the corpse speak of what was done to the corpse, though some of the flesh is nowhere to be seen.

 

Opposite the corpse, is another table but this one is laden with scrolls, diagrams, books, and Abracadaver's handwritten scrawl. A quick browse prove the contents to be an indecipherable mess, with many a reference to what you'd imagine to be occult jargon and Chinese terminology. Things like metaphorically courting 'Four' and 'Death' through repetition stand out to you. You see the yin-yang symbol in a scroll, along with more notes scribbled in the side.

 

Hanging from a chair beside table is a cape, black on one side and red on the other. A top hat is set on the corner of the table, away from the cluttered mess of paper. A laptop, its screen locked, sits beside the tophat. Perhaps more information can be gleaned in its databanks.

 

Finally, in the middle of the clearing is a wooden lectern. On the slanted desk a book sits, bound in black leather. Its ancient paper is brittle and yellow with age. The symbols and glyphs written on its pages are utterly alien to you, unlike any language you know, and they slip and slide away from your vision as if you were reading while heavily drunk. More notes are written on the side, but there are two sets of handwritings. One looks to be the same as those in the other table but a more faded but more meticulous is written alongside Abracadaver's.

 

The pages it was left open on reveals something that is set like a poem, with the strange glyphs set into a tight middle column. The handwritten notes give credence to the idea as they often make mention of a 'Song' or 'Poem' and 'transferring being'. There is also mention of petitioning of "outer beings", though of just who these outer beings are it fails to mention.

 

You feel there is much here to take that could tell you of Abracadaver's ritual, if only you can decipher them. Perhaps in time, but definitely not here.

 

Abracadaver will not be gone forever.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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REBELLION

 

So many options. Which one should he choose?

 

Moving among the zombies, Rebellion kept his distance to reach the clues. Top hat, cape. A laptop. Books with weird text he couldn't read. Notes on the wooden lectern. The note he could decipher, at least. Lectern first, then. He reached for the notes, pulling them off and putting them inside his pocket. 

 

If he was undisturbed, he continued to the the laptop. Locked. Of course. From what he had heard about Abracadaver, Rebellion wouldn't expect him to use computers, but even zombie wizards had to adapt to the times, didn't they? It wasn't his first time sneaking into a locked computer for information, anyway. Kneeling before it, he got to work to find a way into it and to find anything that might help him figure out what was going on here.

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GM

 

You take the tome from the lectern then move on towards the laptop. It was locked, kept on sleep mode, and needed a password to login. For most, obtaining a password would require careful setup, a keen mind for computers or the use of social engineering. Absent the owner, an ad hoc hack was your only option.

 

So you do so, bypassing the user-friendly interface to go deeper into the laptop's code. A few unsuccessful tries here, a few more attempts made there. It was like breaking any other code or puzzle, except you were doing so in a basement full of animated corpses and needing to keep cognizant of Abracadaver returning. The laptop open would be a too big tip-off something was going on.

 

The minutes ticked by yet Abracadaver had not returned and you steadily continue with your work on his laptop.

 

00:40:00 AM

 

Until you push on the 'Enter' button and find yourself in his desktop.

 

It is messy, a morass of files and desktop applications.

 

Then you hear footsteps from where you had come from. You have less than a minute to hide your traces though that is plenty enough time.

 

Abracadaver has returned, but he is not alone. You hear a whole group approaching. With the corpses around you deathly silent, each footstep cracks in the confines of the basement.

 

"Apologies on the intrusion once again, Abracadaver," a woman's voice rings out. "But Koschei likes to be well-informed about his projects, even if it interferes with their efficiency. Rest assured, you will be compensated on this delay. Would treatises on the Voodoo loa would be to your liking?"

 

"Of course! Why even ask?" Abracadaver's voice is unmistakable and even from your position you can hear his scoff in contempt. "I am the great dead magician. I only deal with arcane secrets which promise danger and knowledge at every turn. Make sure your men find the proper sources for I don't truck with the primers of amateurs and laypersons."

 

At last, the speakers enter into the room.

 

You see Abracadaver. It is the first time you get a good look at him. Sans his cape and top hat, there is less hiding his skin to observers. His flesh is dead and rotting, a jigsaw puzzle of differing skin tones and degrees of freshness. There is mold on one patch of his cheek. On his scalp, you see tuffs of white hair and fresh blood. Only his eyes and his voice seem to be his own, everything else is stolen. A frankenstein.

 

Beside him is a middle-aged woman of East Asian descent. She has the bearing of a matron, a successful business owner. Hair cut short, expensive jewelry, a pearl ring. Her clothes are tailored to fit and provide a splash of color in this dim basement. Lady Mingzhu you imagine.

 

Behind them are two men and two women, who look the spitting-image of a bodyguard detail. Black-and-white suits, sunglasses even here, and an earpiece each.

 

Lady Minghzu suddenly stops at the edge of the room, her head raised in the air, as if sniffing for something, and her bodyguards stop behind her.

 

Then Abracadaver rushes to the lectern, his eyes wide. Wordlessly, he gropes around as if searching for something.

 

"My-- my-- where is it?" He bends down, his eyes roaming around the floor as he continues to mutter. "Where is it?"

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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REBELLION

 

Koschei? 

 

A name. Something that could be used, at least. 

 

At any rate, Abracadaver was back early, and not alone. Four people. Probably not an easy fight, if he had heard about Abracadaver alone was right. The two three? No one he had ever heard about, but they were probably at least as tough as they looked. No need to fight them, not right now.

 

But of course, he wanted the book. The one that Rebellion had taken. Slowly, he stood up straight from the computer. He hadn't had as much time with the computer as he would have liked, but the time was counting down. 

 

He should stop this, should't he? Alone against an army of zombies, a rotting magician and more?

 

Split it up, then. Throw his voice, down the hall where they came from. The voice of a woman calling out. The Meta-Naut, a perfect mimicry of her voice shouting out "I got the book, I'm getting out of here!" That should hopefully be enough of a distraction.

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GM

 

The Meta-Naut's voice rings out and almost immediately Abracadaver bolts upright, screeches in return.

 

"I'll killllll youuuu!"

 

He sprints as fast as his legs could carry him towards the sound of Meta-Naut's voice. In his wake, dozens zombies tear open the doors of their cells, stream out and follow their master's headlong flight. It is not long before he disappears into one of the narrow passages, a few stragglers zombies limping away from where you hide. Finally, even his screams are a distant sound, easily swallowed up by the basement.

 

A small smile graces Lady Mingzhu's lips as she watches Abracadaver leave but her guards remain impassive.

 

"I never knew it could turn invisible."

 

She turns to look straight at you, her guards following her gaze as one. Then she strolls forward, her small smile visible, until she is an arm's length away from you.

 

"Fascinating. I must admit, I was barely able to smell you. The scent is too obscured here, too mixed in with the air, though considering the ritual being conducted I'm not at all surprised." She leans in and crosses her arms as if considering a work of art. Her eyes are unfocused. "Coffin should see you when he returns. It'd do him well to know what he is creating after all, so don't go running off now."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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REBELLION

 

One down. The one with the magic, at least. Magic had always felt off, weird. The people with magic at Elysian had always been creepy and weird, and Abracadaver was no different. Difficult to quantify, powers almost impossible to predict, at least until you learned their rules. Always too late to figure things out.

 

But only Abracadaver. Mingzhu was still here with her guards. Less than ideal. And... she was moving closer to him. She could smell him. And well enough to find him, it seemed. Moving closer, talking to him... talking about Coffin creating something. Coffin was Abracadaver? But what was it they were creating? What did she think that he was?

 

Mingzhu knew more than he did. And he would have to find out. Stay invisible, stay covered. Don't let her see him, and instead... Release the fear.

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GM

 

Your powers affect Lady Mingzhu's bodyguards almost immediately. Two of them flee as fast as their feet could carry them down the corridor they had arrived from. The other two stand firmer than their colleagues, though you see their hands shake as they reach for their pistols. They back away, further into the corridor, but keep their charge in their sight.

 

"How dare you, you filthy animal. Show yourself!"

 

Lady Mingzhu's eyes narrow and bares her teeth in your direction. She does not shake with fear, nor are her eyes wide and frightened, but still she backs away warily as if she was facing a rival predator. When she reaches her remaining bodyguards, she snaps at them in Chinese and the three of them turn heel down the corridor, walking quickly. One of them hands Mingzhu a mobile phone and she speaks into it. Mingzhu glances one more time at your direction, a scowl on her face, before they turn the corner.

 

Then she and her bodyguards are gone.

 

The respite is short-lived however, as a zombie enters the central space, waving its arms as it weaves around the various equipment and tables. Another zombies follows soon after. It takes up the space of an entranceway. Another zombie appears opposite that entrance and guards another. From all the entrances you see the zombies trickle in. Soon enough there would be enough to fill the whole space with dead bodies.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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REBELLION

 

So, they knew fear. Good to know. It meant more options if they returned. 

 

What's more, it seemed like Mingzhu guessed what he was. Creating another like him... This was bad. Really bad. She thought he was the Terror. They wanted to create another Terror. One was bad enough. One had ruined too many lives, had killed too many. One had maimed and killed. Two? No. Why would they even need two? The only reason he could think of was to strengthen whatever grip they had on the city.

 

He could not allow that to happen.

 

Mingzhu and her guards had feared him. The zombies that now filled the room were dead. They knew no fear. But that was fine. Neither did Rebellion.

 

Jumping from his position, he moved towards the exit, only to find it blocked. No more time to stay subtle, then. He appeared, a black mass inside a blue jacket and baseball cap. The very image of the Terror. He would show Mingzhu and Abracadaver what that meant, as he began to attack, striking any zombies that got in his way.

 

 

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GM

 

At your sudden appearance, as one the multitude of zombies turn to you. Their undead miens are animalistic, primal things and they snarl and claw for you. By the time you land, you count a dozen zombies ahead, crammed into the path like so many bodies in a grave. Yet no doubt there is more around the corner and there are zombies behind, already stumbling towards you. They outnumber you by so much, a whole warehouse's worth and like you they do not feel fear.

 

The fight down the path is less of a fight and more a one-sided butchery.

 

There is little need to hold back against the things that merely ape the humans they once were, and you leave in your wake a bloody trail of broken bodies and bones. They go down by the handful every few seconds and they are so rent apart that even as puppets who care not for pain or death, they cannot match your pace down the twists and turns of the basement's path.

 

Several zombies try to catch you, rip you apart with their claws and bites, but you give them little opportunity to do so.

 

You turn the corner and the path before you opens up to an open space. A horde of zombies wait for you, slack-jawed and standing dumbly. Behind the horde, you see the lift area from where you had descended from the warehouse floor. The lift itself is not there. You would have to wall-climb your way out.

 

From a speaker to your side, Abracadaver screams in rage.

 

"I'll tear your limbs away! Wear your face and chew on your eyes! Thief! Coward! I'll killl youuuu!" 

 

Then as one, the zombies rush forward. Behind you, you catch the sound of more. Then the start of a song.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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REBELLION

 

Abracadaver was pissed off. So, a zombie, but with feelings? Weird. Something to remember, at least.

 

Moving swiftly between the zombies, Rebellion waved between them, kicking them away as they came too close, punching them to pieces with his free hand. Keep the book close. Don't lose it. It could be used later. And Abracadaver and Mingzhu clearly wanted it. What better reason to keep it out of their hands?

 

Elevator shaft was the best choice, even if the elevator wasn't there. Get away from all these zombies. They would be in the way. He didn't need that if Abracadaver showed up or if Mingzhu could do something special. At least she thought he was the Terror. He could do things the Terror couldn't.

 

Another punch, a kick. Breaking through, moving towards the lift. Once he reached it, he would leap as far as he could, then start to run up it. Get out there quick.

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