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GM

 

The Painted Desert, Arizona

October 4th, 2020

10:00 AM

 

"Sorry kids, grandpa wasn't kidding about this desert being hell during storms."

 

Blue Squad had been told that they would be going on a field trip to Arizona, to the painted desert, to meet up with a Doctor Macedon for a survival class. Leon might have heard about his friends' trip the year before, and how the aging Doctor Macedon had decided to swear off any and all future field trips after yet another trip to the past through the Magic Mesa, but maybe this time would be different? 

 

The whole thing had started out pretty well. Doctor Alexandra Macedon had picked Blue Squad up at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with an off-road van with enough space for the entire crew, their luggage and Danica's ride. It turned out she was the previous doctor Macedon's granddaughter, and she had been more than happy to take up the task of leading another squad on a survival class.

 

They had reached their dropoff point and then proceeded out into the desert. A few hours later, a sandstorm had started kicking up, slowly growing in strength and intensity.

 

"We gotta find shelter! Anybody see anything?"

 

Doctor Macedon's long brown hair was kicking around her in the wind already, while she fought to keep her stetson secure on her head.

 

Up ahead, the group could see a mountain that just so happened to have a cave.

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Effigy

 

Wilona did not want to be here. It was hot. It was dry. It was gasp educational. Oh god, did she not understand the point of this. She could literally fly. Pretty damn fast, too. Wilderness wasn’t so big she couldn’t get out of it in an hour or two. Faster than that friggin’ van,anyway. She was a city girl, okay? A Freedom City girl. She had, quite literally, never left it before. It’s not like she was scared, or anything. Got it? And she had survivalist skills. Raised herself on the streets, dammit. She should be teaching this class. No, she was not disoriented in a non-urban setting. And, of course, there was a sandstorm brewing. Blowing her hair around and…was that sand in a place sand should not be? All right, that’s it. “Aerus Servinius!” The wave of her hand was a bit sharp, due to her annoyance and irritation, but the wind spell sprung up nonetheless. There was no way she could hold enough an entire sandstorm, but weaken to nullify the current winds and keep the sand out of her Effigy Robes? Yes. “Listen up you stupid magic desert! Sand! Stays! Out! Of! My! Clothes! Got it?!” Her irritated nasal exhalation would’ve been adorable on someone less inclined to throwing around blazing hot fire when in such a mood. Was she paying attention to anything but her own thoughts and emotions? Hahaha, no.

 

Invisigirl


Naomi was having a perfectly lovely time. The desert was beautiful, Doctor Macedon was really nice and also beautiful, and her invisible force field meant that the wind and sand just glided off her. She knew it was going to be hot because desert, so she’d skipped wearing clothes under her costume. Just breathable cotton undies. The ones she’d dyed a special design into for this trip. She was actually paying attention, even if as usual it looked like she was terminally spaced out. Her vision was really good, so she saw the cave quite easily. She pointed at it and said quietly “Cave.” Her words were more or less lost in the wind, and before she could speak up, Wilona started yelling. Oh, boy. Well, at least she was countering the wind Naomi guessed.

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Paper

 

Leon had been happy to get off campus. The flight would have been better if he could have got an upgrade to first class. But then came the drive out to the middle of nowhere.

Their chaperone was a little old, she had to be in her 30’s he guessed, but at she was pretty. He’d have to make sure he showed his mettle. How hard could it be.

 

The sandstorm whipped around them as Dr Macedon raised her voice to be heard.

 

On 10/4/2021 at 4:20 AM, RocketLord said:

"We gotta find shelter! Anybody see anything?"

 

There was anything he could think of at the moment to help keep the sand out of their eyes, at least not without completely blocking their sight. It wasn’t the fist time he’d dealt with stuff he didn’t want to breath in.

It only took a couple moments and Leon had a multi-layered paper mask over his nose and mouth to filter out the sand. Stepping up to Dr Macedon he reached out, a few pieces of paper in hand, and created another mask over her nose and mouth. 

”Looks like there’s a cave up ahead.”

Leon leaned in to be heard as he pointed towards the mountains.

He held up more paper and nodded towards the others to indicate his intentions.

 

Moving over to Heroditus, or just Hero as Leon usually called him, he tapped his own mask and pointed to the Atlantean’s face. Leon had a feeling he’d be having it worse here.

 

After offering Hero a mask he moved over to Danica and offer her on too.

 

He checked on Wilona and Naomi last. He had Noticed Naomi was able to block the sand with her force field, and Wilona could… well a little sand wouldn’t hurt her.

Catching Naomi’s attention he offered to make her a mask before offering her one to give to Wilona, since he was sure the fire mage wouldn’t except it from him.

 

The masks are strapless but cling to the wear to make a seal, but can be removed if desired.

Edited by Spacefurry
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Artificer

 

Heroditus had been interested in seeing more and different parts of the Surface world.  And he could certainly appreciate the need for survival training.  One never knew what sort of environment they might find themselves in, and some things could not be read about, they had to be experienced.

 

But not like this.  Not like this.

 

He had barely said a word once they'd gotten off the plane.  In minutes his exposed skin was lobster-red, though the alchemical sunscreen he'd made before the trip did seem to help.  He'd tried to endure the withering heat with stoic dignity, as any Atlantean facing such hardships should, but it was clear he was suffering greatly. 

 

Why would anyone choose to come here?

 

He had kept his goggles on tight once they'd gotten in the jeep, in an effort to prevent his eyeballs from completely desiccating, so he had a bit of protection from the sudden sandstorm.  He took Paper's offered mask and slapped it on, and marched as steadily as he could towards the cave.

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Danica's first impulse had been to simply enlarge her shell and offer to let everybody inside to ride out the storm and maybe watch a movie or something, the way she had on a few Nicholson field trips when they'd gotten rained out. But this was a minimal-powers survival exercise, according to the instructions, and that meant only using powers if they were inherent or if somebody might actually get hurt badly or die. Leon's masks were a good idea, but she suspected that "magical tortoise shell house" was a bridge too far. It was okay though, because desert sand and heat had never bothered her, and her new scooter was soooo much better than the old one about operating in bad conditions! Even now it was trundling along like a champ, chewing up the uneven ground under its thick treads and keeping sand out of its intake with a series of solid-light baffles. 

 

"The cave looks good!" she agreed, shouting over the storm. "Stick close together, if we get spread out, somebody could get lost!" She kept to the back of the group herself, ready to pick up anybody who started floundering. Heroditus looked pretty rugged already, but he was still walking so she let him be. 

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Invisigirl

 

Naomi was actually the very first on in the cave. Wearing Leon’s nice paper mask. She really, really wanted to help the others by screening out the wind and sand with a force field, but it wasn’t allowed. She patted Leon on the shoulder in thanks as he came in, and handed Herodi…something as he came in. Her supply bag was uh, big. The rules against powers didn’t say you couldn’t use them to help carry supplies for the whole team, pack mule style. And if she didn’t have her sketchbook and art supplies she might literally die. Well. Probably not, but why take the risk? Anyway, that was everyone now inside. Which was good! So she sat down on apparently nothing. The rules against powers didn’t say you couldn’t make yourself a comfy chair with them either, dang it. As long as it was just you.

 

Effigy

 

Minimal powers. Tch. No flying, no shielding, and especially not firebombing the desert in irritation. She hated it. She hated it so much. But she turned off her sepell anyway. Fortunately Chelone was there to gently guide her towards the cave, otherwise she may well have stayed outside hollering obscenities at the approaching sandstorm. Instead, she stomped into the cave second to last, her right arm literally smoking, and muttered said obscenities under her breath. Until Naomi handed her a paper mask. She blinked confusedly for a second, visibly changing mental gears. Then, with a long suffering sigh, swallowed her temper for now. “Hey paperboy!” With Leon’s attention grabbed, she held up the mask and did not incinerate it. “Thanks.”

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GM

 

"Remember, no big powers!" Alexandra tried to shout above the howling wind, holding her hands up to the sides of her mouth to try to make herself heard. 

 

"Nice job fighting the wind, Wilona! Good idea with the masks, Leon! Somebody help out Hero, keep everyone together Chelone! Good spot, Naomi!" she shouted words of encouragement to all of them, making sure not to leave anyone out. She could see how Hero in particular was struggling, but at least the others were backing them up. She had accepted Leon's mask, holding it up over her face to protect herself from the storm.

 

Professor Macedon waited by the cave's mouth, waiting for all of them to enter. The mesa itself stretched far above them, into the sky above them, a shelter in the storm. Once everyone was inside, the professor followed, directing the students to move further inside. "Alright, nice work everyone! That storm sure came out of nowhere, huh? We want to move a bit further in so we stay away from the entrance and don't get caught up in any sand that blows in if the wind changes, alright? It's gonna get darker in here, so if anybody got any flashlights or anything, now's the time!"

 

Illuminating the cave would reveal a barren place. There was plenty of space to move around, with about double the height of the tallest member of their little group to the ceiling. Nothing in particular stood out about the cave, though it seemed to stretch onwards, further into the mesa.

 

Anyone able to see or sense magic could see it only grew more intense the further into the cave they looked.

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Leon squinted against the sand as the group made it's way to the cave. He was glad Danica's scooter seemed to be working fine in the sand. He would have called it cheating but, damn it, the older girl was just to nice for him to be mad at her. So he trudged his way to the cave one step at a time.

Inside the cave he nodded to Naomi and moved aside to ruffled his hair,

trying to get some of the sand out.

 

On 10/9/2021 at 12:43 PM, EternalPhoenix said:

 “Hey paperboy!” With Leon’s attention grabbed, she held up the mask and did not incinerate it. “Thanks.”

 

Leon had looked up to see her, fully expecting her to turn the paper to ashes to spite him. But Wilona was full of surprises, and he gave her part of a smile and a friendly nod in acknowledgement.

 

On 10/13/2021 at 3:15 AM, RocketLord said:

Professor Macedon waited by the cave's mouth, waiting for all of them to enter. The mesa itself stretched far above them, into the sky above them, a shelter in the storm. Once everyone was inside, the professor followed, directing the students to move further inside. "Alright, nice work everyone! That storm sure came out of nowhere, huh? We want to move a bit further in so we stay away from the entrance and don't get caught up in any sand that blows in if the wind changes, alright? It's gonna get darker in here, so if anybody got any flashlights or anything, now's the time!"

 

Leon's own pack wasn’t quite as stuffed as Naomi's, but he remember the important things. Snacks, water, a few books... oh and a few other think some people might think were important. Reaching into one of the side pockets he pulled out a small flashlight and a couple glow sticks. Sweeping the flashlight around he gave a low whistle.

"Wow. There is jack and squat in here."

Unable to sense magic or such Leon was unimpressed by the apparent normal cave. But at the their instructor's insistence he moved deeper into the cave with the others.

Edited by Spacefurry
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  • 2 weeks later...

Artificer

 

"I would n-," Heroditus panted, "would not say... that."  His breathing had eased a bit after they'd entered the cave, though he was still clearly struggling. 

 

At least I am out of that blistering sun.

 

He took a long drink from his canteen, paused to catch his breath, then took another long drink.  "I have noticed -- can see -- that the amount of ambient magical energy in this area is higher than normal.  Certainly higher than most places in Freedom."  Another swallow, "that sandstorm was sparking with it, and this cave holds even more."  He pointed further into their shelter, "and it seems to grow stronger deeper in the cave." 

 

He took another drink, forcing himself to take a much smaller drink so as to conserve the previous liquid.  "Doctor Macedon," he said, barely moving from his spot on the ground, "what can you tell us of the... the history of this place?"

 

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Danica shook sand out of her hair as she entered the cave, then ran the little fan-cycle that would blow any stray particles out of her scooter's inside parts. "Blah, now I know what a sandblasting cabinet feels like." She looked around, her all-black eyes wide and shining a little in the low light. It was bright enough for her to see quite a way, but she pulled out a headlamp anyway, just in case, and another little light to mount to her handlebars. "Here, Heroditus, stay close to me," she offered, "and you won't be so hot or thirsty. It's just a little power, and I can't even turn it off," she added a little stubbornly for the benefit of anyone who might quibble. "If we're going to make this our camp for a little bit, we probably need to get the lay of the land. Do you think the magic is dangerous, or can we go back and take a look?" 

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Effigy and Invisigirl

 

Naomi pulled out a big ol’ LED lantern out of her bag. “You still have that? I thought it was half broken.” Wilona asked, somewhat befuddled.

 

“Yes. It is a good light. Headmistress knew a shop. It is fixed.” Naomi spoke matter of factly. At least, in her quiet way. She turned it on and handed it to Wilona. It was a little bright. “No more burning fingers.”

 

Wilona rolled her eyes. “They’re my fingers to burn. But I will accept your generous loan.” Then she was listening both Herodi-whatever and Danica. She was, technically, the other magically proficient person on the team. So she stepped up. “Magic’s always dangerous.” A flame danced on her extended index finger. “A lot like fire, really. Just more complex. Burns and smoke inhalation aren’t the only things to worry about. It’s tough to be ready for literally anything. Old places like this kind of do whatever they want.” She blew her finger out. “Magic Mesa has a good rep, but that’s not the same as safe.” She grinned. “Dunno about you guys, but it sounds exciting. Or more exciting than marching around the godsforsaken desert some more.” She rolled her eyes. Naomi stepped up just behind her, large and full bag of supplies floating in front of her instead of behind as a backpack. “Invisigirl’s geared up, and if all else fails she can turn everyone invisible as we run away.” She grinned again, more fiercely. “Good to go.”

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Leon

 

On 10/21/2021 at 9:31 PM, Dr Archeville said:

Artificer

 

"I would n-," Heroditus panted, "would not say... that." 


"I have noticed -- can see -- that the amount of ambient magical energy in this area is higher than normal.  Certainly higher than most places in Freedom."  Another swallow, "that sandstorm was sparking with it, and this cave holds even more."  He pointed further into their shelter, "and it seems to grow stronger deeper in the cave." 


Leon regarded Hero with a raised eyebrow. Squinting for a moment when Naomi turned on her lantern, then looked over at Danica and Wilona.

 

On 10/24/2021 at 2:26 AM, Electra said:

Danica

 

"If we're going to make this our camp for a little bit, we probably need to get the lay of the land. Do you think the magic is dangerous, or can we go back and take a look?" 

 

23 hours ago, EternalPhoenix said:

Effigy and Invisigirl

 

“Magic’s always dangerous.” A flame danced on her extended index finger. “A lot like fire, really. Just more complex. Burns and smoke inhalation aren’t the only things to worry about. It’s tough to be ready for literally anything. Old places like this kind of do whatever they want.”


“I may be good at making things disappear, but I don’t know anything about magic other then you shouldn’t poke it unless you have no other choice.”

He shrugged.

“But, scoping the place out sounds a lot more fun then sitting here waiting for a sandworm to show up.”

He stood up and stretched before dusting off some more sand.

“Besides.”

He gave a mischievous smile.

“Someone’s gotta keep an eye on the little ones.”

He said jokingly as he thumbed over at Wilona and Naomi, knowing full well he was only an inch taller then the red-head and a only year older then either them.

He paused for a moment then looked over at Dr. Macedon, then pulled a regular LED flashlight from his pack and shoulder it. The beam was bright but focused as he swept it through the shadows. 

Edited by Spacefurry
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GM

 

"Oh." Professor Macedon mouthed, when the students started mentioning the ambient magic in both the storm and further in the cave. She looked worried, just a little, but was obviously trying to hide it. 

 

She looked out at the raging storm, which somehow seemed to stay out of the cave and frowned briefly, before returning to Heroditus' question.

 

"It's, well..." Again, Alexandra seemed to hesitate a little bit. "Well, the Painted Desert's had some magic associations for a long time. Broken Crow supposedly had his his sanctum here, ages ago, and well, he was supposed to have been a shaman." 

 

She frowned again, before looking into the cave that the students seemed like they wanted to explore. "Sorry, I don't really know that much about it. My specialties are more around the Mediterranean area."

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On 10/26/2021 at 2:00 AM, RocketLord said:

GM

 

"Sorry, I don't really know that much about it. My specialties are more around the Mediterranean area."


Leon smirked and joked dryly.

”Really? You mean we could have been in the sun by the sea instead of here? Aw man.”

He chuckled.

“Don’t worry, if anything jumps out at us me and the firecracker can handle it.”

Leon thumbed over at Wilona confidently then giving a sweeping gesture to the other members of violet team.

“And the others got our backs.”

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Artificer

 

Ah, so our mentor is only slightly more prepared for this environment than I am, Heroditus thought to himself.  But he was careful to keep such bitter musings to himself.

 

He took some faltering steps to stand nearer to Danica, and felt a strange sensation.  She spoke true, he did not feel as hot or thirsty while in close proximity to her, though he was still far from comfortable.  But he also saw the ghostly image of a great tortoise, formed around her like a suit of armor.  And while Danica was all kindness and smiles, as she so often was, the Tortoise gave him the same disapproving glare it always did.  Heroditus wasn't sure if it was contempt or pity that Tortoise felt for the young Atlantean, who came from and required such a diametrically opposed environment -- he just knew it made him feel decidedly uneasy.

 

He tried to distract himself by focusing on the others, and their environment.  "I must point out," he said, feeling a bit of his strength return, "that if there is something nasty down in that dark cavern, Naomi's invisibility may not be of much help, if it is used to hunting in the dark and so does not rely on sight.  But," he quickly added, looking directly at her and hoping he sounded somewhat encouraging, "I know you can do far more than that, so I am confident you can provide ample cover for us."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Effigy and Invisigirl

 

Wilona was irritated again. “You mean we could have gone somewhere where my Latin would actually be useful?” And she could ogle cuties in swimsuits? Argh. “Argh!” Naomi, for her part…looked zoned out, as usual. The thoughts she was having do not translate into any known language. She was thinking in colors and shapes, complicated ones. Artificier’s comments didn’t bother her at all. She knew she was more than just turning herself and other stuff invisible. Honestly, she was about to whip out her sketchbook when Wilona exclaimed again. “Okay, the hell with this. I’m not dumb, mesa. You want us to go deeper in the cave? I’m going deeper in the cave!” She turned the LED lamp on. “You coming, Naomi?” It took the invisible girl a few seconds to process language again, but she nodded. The two started walking, because dammit, minimal power use rules.

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GM

 

The professor smiled at Leon and Wilona and shook her head. "Sorry, but there's no way the school was gonna send you halfway across the world. Besides, survival class, y'know."

 

She looked a bit worried, turning to Heroditus' warning, then turning to watch the girls leaving and finally, she shrugged. "I'm sure it'll be fine, Heroditus. Don't worry, if anything, we're all together, and I'm sure you kids can handle whatever might be hiding inside a cave in the desert. Just don't step on any scorpions, alright?"

 

Processor Macedon reached for her own flashlight and turned it on, then motioned for the rest to follow Wilona and Naomi into the cave, before going in last, to make sure she had everyone in sight.

 

"Stick together, everyone! Make sure you keep your footing and don't step in anything slippery!"

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Leon

 

Leon hesitated at Hero’s insight. He hadn’t thought about that angle. He nodded to himself and looked over at Naomi as well.

When Wilona went off in a huff Leon smirked. He knew the little firecracker could sit still for long, not with a obvious challenge staring them down. She was at least that predictable.

 

With their chaperone’s approval he grinned and gave his flashlight a flip.

”We got this.”

He said confidently. His own flashlight in hand he followed closely on the girls’ heels. He swept the floor of the cave occasionally both to know where to step and in search of the afore mentioned scorpions or other pests.

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Effigy and Invisigirl

 

“My life before this school was a survival class!” Wilona hollered from her position way up front. She really was setting a stiff pace. She did not care about scorpions. She did not care about slippery spots. And she did not care if anyone but Naomi was actually following her. She just wanted to get this the hell over with. Naomi, for her part, really didn’t care either. Her mind was full of complicated colors and shapes. Indeed, she didn’t actually comprehend what Wilona had even said. Well. It wasn’t like she needed to, anyway. All she needed to do was keep up with her partner, and keep her bag’s weight off her with her powers. Easy enough.

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Danica turned on her scooter's light and followed the others into the cave, her wheels humming slightly as they crunched over sand and pebbles. "We can look for water sources deeper in the cave too," she offered. "A lot of desert caves were formed by water originally and might still have some. The Painted Desert is one of the driest places in the whole country, though, so we might not get lucky there," she admitted. "The desert wildlife here gets most of their water from plants and insects, but the ecology is really super-delicate and we don't wanna mess with that. Maybe we could just pretend?" she offered to the teacher. "Or when the storm stops, we can put together a really neato solar still? My dad taught me how to make one from a plastic grocery bag and an empty water bottle!" 

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Artificer

 

Heroditus followed Danica as close as he could, despite the spectral Tortoise glowering at him.  Better some social discomfort than that broiling death. 

 

"I would like to know more of this 'solar still,'" he replied to Danica, feeling his strength -- and curiosity -- returning.

 

Now he was beginning to feel more like his usual self, and that meant he was better able to apply his mind to their problems.  As they traveled, he adjusted his goggles, which did more than just protect his eyes.  A quick incantation and the lenses began glowing softly, as Atlantean script ran along a heads-up display, providing more details and information about what he saw.  Since his magical sense worked through his eyes, it also enhanced that sense, giving him a better idea of just what type(s) of magic were at play in the cave.  A second incantation caused the fasteners holding the straps of the goggles to elongate and curl around his ears, and now he could perceive their surroundings by the sounds bouncing off and around all surfaces.  Not as sharp as a whale's sonar, he thought, but a decent approximation.

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GM

 

The cave went on and on. They continued, further and further into the darkness, away from the opening and the makeshift camp. Despite the expected difficulties, everything seemed smooth enough that Danica could progress into the darkness without much issue.

 

The path twisted and turned, as they moved for what seemed like hours, but a look at any clock would show that so much less time passed.

 

And then, up ahead, they saw light.

 

Leaving the cave, the group found themselves in a middle of a city. Not quite modern, yet still somewhat familiar, it looked like Freedom City, and yet, it was different. For one, the city was covered in smog, the sky above them dark and foreboding. The streets were empty, the cars seemed like older models.

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Following behind Wilona and Naomi, Leon had started their little expedition into the cave with some excitement and hope. But as the group slowly made its way, his hope for excitement began to dwindle. 

No scorpions.

No snakes.

No skeletons of previous explorers.

Not even a cave painting to break up the boring.

 

Then something did happen. There came a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Glad I’m not big into symbolism.”

He smirked to himself.

 

As they approached it Leon realized it was probably an exit.

“Great. More sand.”

He thought to himself before speaking up.

“At least it sounds like the dust storm stopped.”

 

As he left the cave he paused beside Wilona and looked around.

“Again.”

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