Reflections W-3 part 2 of 3

Wlkn swallowed slowly before he fell to his knees and dropped his head. Odin ignored the man and bent over toward Wlvn. Somehow, he laid his hands on Wlvn’s head and before Wlvn could object, something went from the king of the gods into Wlvn’s stomach, or at least it felt that way.

“So you can return fire yourself if they should send another airboat in your direction,” Odin said and sat up straight. “So, where are you headed, any ideas?”

Wlvn frowned. First Poseidon filled his spirit with horses and now Odin filled him with a power strong enough to take a Gott-Druk shuttle out of the air in flight. “Southwest,” Wlvn said, but he could only guess.

Odin did not look pleased with that, but his words were merely curious. “I would think your troubles are behind you, back the way you came.”

“Zeus has something I need,” Wlvn said. “I have to have something to kill the Titan. That is not an easy thing to do, you know.”

“Yes, I know,” Odin responded from experience, but then he had another question. “So, your intention is to kill the Titan?”

“Yes. It is my intention.” Wlvn spoke flatly, but it scared him to death to think about facing that great creature, so he thought instead about getting a swing at Loki if he could.

“Good, good.” Odin appeared to be satisfied with Wlvn’s answer. “Then I won’t stand in your way or keep you.” He shook his reigns, and without another word, his horse began to carry him up into the sky. Wlvn saw the rainbow bridge drop down for him, but he said nothing because he felt sure a dumbfounded Wlkn could not see anything but the Alfader flying. After only moments, Odin was too high to be seen, and then Wlkn looked once at Wlvn, but stayed on his knees.

Wlvn frowned. He did not understand what was going on. If Odin wanted the Titan dead, why didn’t he just do it himself? If he did not want to do it himself, Wlvn knew Tyr or Thor, or any number of other Gods would be glad to kill one more giant. Why did Odin want Wlvn to do it?

Wlvn had to whistle again for Number Two. “Get up old man,” he spoke sharply to Wlkn. “We have a long way to go.” Wlkn got up but said nothing at all until they started out along the stream at a slow and gentle pace. Then he seemed to burst with questions.

“That was the king of the gods?”

“Yes.”

“And to be clear, who was that woman who met us earlier, the one that gave me this wonderful sleeping pad?”

“Vrya. Goddess of love and war.”

“I figured it had to be something like that,” Wlkn said. “Did you know she spoke to me, even though I was unconscious at the time?” He seemed a little confused by that idea.

“What did she say?”

“She said I am supposed to stay with you and use my wise, old head to help you in any way I can. You do know I am too old for this? All this riding will probably kill me, I shouldn’t wonder, and then I will be no good to you at all.” He brushed back his gray hair, what he still had of it.

“And I am too young,” Wlvn admitted. “Your point?”

Wlkn shrugged. “I am traveling with the god of the horses, why should the rest of this surprise me?”

“Not me,” Wlvn said. “I’m just as normal, mortal, and human as you are.” Or at least he was before Odin laid hands on his head. It made him wonder what Mother Vrya did. She touched him, twice.

“Hmm.” Wlkn had to think about that. “So now, I suppose you know where we are going?”

“Right out of this world altogether,” Wlvn responded. “The king of the gods in the next world over has something I need to kill the Titan.”

“What?” Wlkn tried to grasp the concept of passing out of the world, altogether, but Wlvn thought he asked what he needed to kill the Titan.

“I need blood, from a beast called the Golden Hind; that is, if Zeus has not yet destroyed them all.”

“And you did not mention this to the Alfader?”

Wlvn shook his head. “I would guess he probably already knows; but in any case, it would not have been polite to talk about something that can kill a god.”

“The gods can die?” Wlkn started having real mental problems with all of this. Wlvn decided to hold his tongue. After a moment of silence, Wlkn stopped so Wlvn felt obliged to stop as well, and he turned Thred to face the man and waited patiently until the man spoke.

“I need to know,” he said. “Gods know the knowledge will probably kill me, but the gods also know that I will be no good to you if I don’t know. I can’t imagine the surprises we may have to face out here on this journey, but I hate surprises. A big enough surprise might make my old heart stop altogether, so I figure you have some explaining to do.”

Wlvn understood, but he hardly knew what to say. “I don’t know where to start.”

“Try the beginning,” Wlvn folded his arms.

“Well,” Wlvn swallowed. It already sounded impossibly strange to his ears, and he had not yet said anything out loud. “I’ve lived before, in the past, and I will live bunches of times in the future as well. You see, when I die, I won’t really die. I’ll just be reborn somewhere else and grow up into a new person. I won’t just be a copy of me, Wlvn.”

Wlkn scrunched his arms tighter around his chest. “And how do you know this?”

Wlvn knew that like Flern he had no choice but to show the man. “Back there,” he said. “When Loki yelled at his helpers to stop that man, me. I traded places with the Princess and got away.” And he did that very thing again. Of course, when Wlvn vanished to be replaced by a beautiful young woman with long, golden-brown hair and deep blue eyes, Wlkn’s jaw dropped. The Princess smiled and raised her arms like she was showing off. “Do you like my disguise?”

With that, Wlkn slid right off his horse, and had no mattress on the ground to catch him this time. The Princess jumped off Thred’s back. “Are you alright?” she asked, worried, and lifted his head gently from the ground.

Wlkn shook his head opened his eyes and screeched. Immediately the Princess went away and Wlvn came back. “Sorry,” he said. “I suppose it can be a bit of a shock.”

Wlkn nodded. “So, when the goddess said she was your mother, she was not kidding.”

“One day she will be,” Wlvn confirmed.

Wlkn scratched his chin. “That explains a lot already.” He paused before he offered his assessment. “And it helps. Yes, it actually helps me understand and be more comfortable.” Wlvn felt glad for that and helped the old man back up on his horse. Wlkn had another thought as Wlvn got back up on Thred.

“So how many lives do you have in there?”

Wlvn paused again. How could he explain this? They were not inside of him, but in their own time and place. The Princess came into the past from almost four thousand years in the future. He decided it was best not to get into why he was the Traveler in time and did a quick count, instead. “Ten right now that I can remember.” He got the man riding again as he talked. “There is the Princess. She is the huntress, an expert beyond any our village ever saw. I’ll be depending on her to help find the Golden Hind when we get there. Then there is Diogenes, chief of spies for Alexander the Great —but then you don’t know Alexander the Great. Diogenes is the consummate warrior, but I hope we don’t have to call on him. Mishka is the doctor, the healer, and I hope we don’t need her either. Then there is the Storyteller.” Wlvn paused.

“What does he do?”

“Keeps a record of all these different lives. Keeps my mind straight, you might say.”

“That’s four,” Wlkn pointed out, and Wlvn nodded.

“Then there are the two who belong to the gods. There is Vrya’s son and Amphitrite. She was wife of the god that first brought me the horses. A goddess of the sea, actually.”

“Like I said, that explains a lot. You spoke to the king of the gods as neighborly as I might have spoken to your father in the old days. I suppose we might expect all sorts of gods and goddesses popping in and out on this journey.”

“God, I hope not.” Wlvn turned up his nose at that idea, but Wlkn could not see him. “There are two more. They are the last two lives I lived before I was born. First there is Faya. I think though I only remember her because she is connected to Nameless in some way that I have not yet figured out. She died some eighty years ago or so.”

“I thought you said you did not die.”

“Oh, I feel all the pain, not the least the pain of letting go of all the people I love.”

There was silence again for a moment before Wlkn spoke. “I’m sorry for that.”

What could Wlvn say? He took a deep breath and continued. “My last life was Kartesh.” Wlvn smiled at his stray thought. “She discovered dragons.”

“What are dragons?”

“You don’t want to know.”

They rode a bit before Wlkn brought it up again. “There are still two missing.”

Wlvn nodded. “Me you know. And the one I am closest to is Flern. She doesn’t live that far away, only about six hundred years in the future. We are like partners, I think. I am experiencing her life while I am experiencing mine, and she is experiencing mine as well as her own.”

“I would be pleased to meet her,” Wlkn said honestly enough.

Wlvn shook his head. “Maybe later. Besides, apparently, she looks like me. We are genetic reflections, like identical twins of the opposite gender, if you know what I mean.”

“No idea what that means, but I have to say you are a very masculine young man. I can’t imagine a girl that looks like you.”

“She is very pretty. She is a beautiful young woman, and just thanked me, by the way, for calling her a woman instead of a girl.”

“You can talk to these other lives?”

“Sometimes. In my head,” and he got lost in an internal conversation that Wlkn stayed polite enough not to interrupt.

Avalon 4.2: part 6 of 6, A Sad World

“Avi, sweetheart,” Devya said as she kissed him.  “Please gather Archamenis’ things and horses and bring them back to sanctuary.  I must fly.  It is the only way to end the bloodshed.”  She pointed in the direction of the city of Sanctuary, and up to where the Nuwa dragon was already speeding off.

“Can’t one of the gods help, like Junior, Danna, or Nameless?” Katie asked.

Devya shook her head.  “I’m surprised you didn’t mention Mikos’ female reflection, Amphitrite, but no.  With the amulet, even the gods are limited in what damage they can do.  So is the djin, which I am sure is why he wanted it out of the city.  He had to have told Archamenis about it and got him to steal it.  Now, I have to return it, and hopefully before Nuwa and Fuxi dragons turn the city to rubble and ash fighting off the djin.”

Devya rose up into the air and headed for Sanctuary.  The ones left below stared, dumbfounded, until Lockhart turned to Avi.  “I did not know she could do that.”Zisudra 1

“She can do many things,” Avi said.  “She explained to me in the night.  She told me you met Zisudra, her reflection, when he was at the end of his journey, bringing the last of the people into the Indus, my ancestors.  What you did not know is the people had been slowly moving down to the river valley for fifty years or more.  Devi said the Scythian-like people tried to overrun the land, but since Zisudra was a baby, the little ones stopped them on their own.  Then the Elamites thought to make them slaves, so they finished the migration, as you saw.”

“And how did the little ones stop the wild Scythians?” Lincoln asked.  He was listening, but also helping to pack things, so he did not have the database out to read all about it.

“Ah!  There is the rub, as Devi says.  They stopped the Scythians in their beds.  You know this is forbidden to the little ones.  But by the time Zisudra found out, there were thirty-year-old half breeds with bunches of quarter breed children running all over the place.  He got angry.  Apparently he cursed them, that they should never have a home or settle and be satisfied on this earth as long as there was little one blood in them.”

Avalon Traveler horses“Gypsies?” Katie could not help the outburst.  “Romani?”

“Gypsies.  But I think not Romani, though maybe related.”  Avi really did not know.  “Anyway.  The gods were not about to let him get away with having these breeds wandering all through their territories, so they made Zisudra a lesser god for the gypsies and saddled him with watching over them forever.  Poor Devi has cried in the night for how stupid she, or rather, he was.  The curse has been overcome at times and in places, but it remains.”  Avi shook his head.  “Anyway,” he said again.  “Since Devi is what she calls Zisudra’s gin-tetic reflection.”

“Genetic,” Decker interrupted.

“Exactly, so she reflects in a small way what was given to him.  She cannot move in an instant from here to there like a god or lesser god, but she can do many things that no ordinary person can do.”

“Like fly,” Lockhart said, and looked, so they all paused to look in the direction of the storm over Sanctuary.

###

dev temple 1Alexis gripped her wand as Boston tried out her Beretta.  Boston got off three shots, and may have hit someone before the gun just went click, click.  She got out her wand, and they waited for the Afridi to attack down both roads leading to the palace on that side of town.

Mingus gripped the shoulders of his daughters to give them his magic.  Alexis sent a hurricane force wind out which drove back the Afridi and picked several right off the ground.  Boston released something more like a flamethrower from the end of her wand, and with Mingus’ help, his strength being in fire magic, it was strong enough to shoot through the rain.  The Afridi retreated, and some had to be put out.

Boston’s fire ended too soon.  She had in mind to spark a few behinds of the fleeing men, but her flame gave out, like she was suddenly out of power.  Alexis’ wind quit at almost the same time, and she looked up at the cloud and frowned.  The djin laughed againdev temple 4

“Bows,” Mingus said and turned to the old man.  Boston had hers out already, and had that quiver of never ending arrows to draw on, if she ever hit anything.  Alexis got hers, but protested, and vowed not to hit anything unless she could not help it.  Mingus held his ready and talked to the men.  “Give the bows to the best archers.  The rest of you get ready with spears, and spread yourselves evenly down the line.”  The old man made sure that happened, not about to argue after that display of magic and power.  Boston and Mingus still looked human enough, but more than one servant and guardsman wondered.

One woman let out a soft wail as they waited.  Another put a hand to her own mouth to still her chattering teeth.  More than one man had his eyes closed in prayer.  They expected to hear the dragon 2shouts and screams of the enemy any moment, but it never came.  Fuxi dragon landed in the courtyard, and his flame was much larger and more devastating than Boston could imagine.  They heard screams, but it was not men attacking.

Then they heard screams from the side of the building.  Apparently some men had circled around to the stables and intended to get at the defenders from an unexpected direction, but the Nuwa dragon landed there and only a half dozen managed to get inside in time.  They had bows and swords, and Nuwa and Fuxi got busy above.dragon 4

The sky erupted in lighting and fire.  There were roars and high pitched squeals, the latter from the djin.  The big room shook, and a small section of the ceiling collapsed.  Fortunately, no one was injured, but the people all got down and covered their heads.  The Afridi also dared not move out of the doorway.

magic 1It was not long before the djin had enough.  He raced off to the east toward the next time gate, and he took the rain with him.  Everyone breathed, until they remembered the Afridi in the room.  Those men did not look happy, and they looked determined to take some blood.

The Afridi drew their bows and swords.  Only Boston drew hers faster, but her aim was not so good.  It turned out not to be necessary.  Two men, looking for all the world like Bluebloods, appeared in front of her.  With three arrows each, shot faster than the eye could follow, they killed all six Afridi with six perfect shots.

“Enough brother.  That is all,” One of the blue men turned toward the other as Devya came in a side door.  She stepped up to the center post that held up the ceiling and clicked her tongue at the portion of the ceiling that had collapsed.  She flew, to Boston’s gasp, and paused near the very top where she hung the amulet taken from around her neck.  As she came to the ground, the first blue man continued a thought for Alexis.

“You see, Alexis, sometimes preserving and defending go along with destroying in this sad world.”

“It is a sad world,” Alexis agreed with that much and offered a bow.

“I do not like that amulet of yours,” the other blue man turned on Devya.

“I understand,” Devya offered her own bow to the man.  “But Lord Shiva, have I not taught the Afridi to kill as the world kills?  Have I not sent them to the Khyber able to work your work?”

Lord Shiva growled, but then nodded.  “This you have done,” he said and vanished.god ind b s v 1

“And my Lord Rama Vishnu, how may we serve you?” Devya offered a bow to the other blue man.

“You know I love the name Devya.”

“Not in this lifetime,” she responded with a soft, loving voice.

Visnu shook his finger at her.  “I cannot read your heart and mind.  Such future things as you know are forbidden even to the gods, but I cannot help but live in hope.  I will take a wife and I will call her Devi.”

“Indeed you may,” Devya said.  “Who can deny the will of the gods?”

“Ha!” Vishnu and Brahma said the word at the same time as Vishnu vanished and Brahma appeared.

“Quite an adventure,” Brahma said to everyone present.

“Adventures with dead bodies are not my desire,” Devya said and Alexis nodded.

“Perhaps I could take these Afridi and teach them something other than fighting,” Brahma suggested.

god ind brahmaDevya nodded.  “I wish Katie was here to hear this.”

Brahma needed no further invitation.  He raised one hand and the entire group with their horses and ponies and all of Archamenis’ things appeared in the outside court.  Katie, Lockhart and Elder Stow appeared in the big room.

“You would tell her?” Brahma said.

Devya looked at the god and paused before she turned to Katie.  “Brahma has agreed to teach the Afridi different things, root things.”

“The Brahmins?” Katie blurted out.

“My own people?” Brahama sounded surprised.

Devya frowned.  “And you better take care of them,” she said.

Brahma nodded.  “It was wise to make your knowledge of the future inaccessible to the gods.  And it was wise to put a hedge around your friends from the future to keep that same knowledge hidden.  There are no doubt things that would be better not to be known by the gods.”  He vanished, and Devya wondered what it would take to get her people up off the floor.

“Oh dear,” Katie said with a quick look at Lockhart.  “How can we dare talk without revealing things best left unsaid.”

“Actually,” Devya said, as Lincoln, Decker and Avi came in.  “When we talk and when you talk among yourselves, future and worldly things are bleeped out, by design of the gods themselves.  As long as you don’t talk in front of the gods, they cannot hear you.”

“So Brahmins?”Devya

Devya nodded.  “And Avestan Magi in Archamenis’ direction.  But it is still way early.  Nothing will be settled for a couple of hundred years, and then it will be a long, slow, grinding process to make what history knows.  Meanwhile, who wants to help me fix the roof?”

Katie looked at Lockhart.  She did not want to be scolded again.  Alexis looked at her father Mingus and turned her back on him by walking into Lincoln’s arms.  Mingus folded his arms across his chest and frowned.  Elder Stow appeared to step away from the lot of them and took a seat.  He seemed to be scowling, and did not change his scowl when Decker went to sit with him.  Boston, empathic elf that she was, wanted to cry for all the tension in the room.  She had to say something.

“Well, at least it stopped raining.”

Avalon 2.8: The Journey

            Serious war, maybe nuclear looks to be on the horizon, hovering disaster over the poor human race, still living with sticks and stones.  The Kairos has to do something, and meanwhile he has to depend on the travelers to get his people to safety, if any place is really safe.  For the travelers, though, their main job is to get safely back to the twenty-first century, and they understand that sometimes it means they have to move on to the next time gate as quickly as possible.  Sometimes sticking around won’t help, it will just get them all killed.

###

            There were ninety three people on the journey that originally started somewhere along the coast of Colombia, South America.  Several died along the way, but there were still a number of older people who were not in the best of shape to be making such a journey.  There was not much the travelers could do when the jungle was thick and passage became a matter of cutting a way through, but when they crossed the meadows and open spaces, which was about half of the first day, they let the older ones ride, and then of course all of the children wanted a ride.  Boston and Lincoln did not mind leading the horses so Lockhart and Katie, Roland and Decker could keep their weapons ready.

            They camped that night at the edge of the trees and in the morning they awoke to a thick mist and a slight rain.  It rained on and off the second day and that made everyone cranky and short tempered.  They stopped early and with the help of Roland and Boston, and Maya of course, they got some good fires burning.  But no one really dried off much and that night they all went to bed early and miserable.

            The sun came out on the third morning and Maya said they were getting close to their destination.  She suggested they might arrive by evening if all went well.  Naturally, within an hour they found their way blocked by some thirty men carrying spears and sporting sharp stone knives.

              The men in the traveling group, which numbered about the same as the opposition, grabbed whatever weapons they had and presented a wall against the locals.  It was obvious Otapec’s people had faced this sort of confrontation before in their long journey.  Thus the two groups of warriors stared at each other, spear to spear and eye to eye.  The people were like statues trying to stare each other down when Decker, Lockhart, Katie and Roland stepped between them.  Lincoln and Boston were a bit delayed because of the horses, but Maya was not slow to arrive.

            “No!”  She shouted at everyone, and the men who blocked the path took a few steps back as she revealed a smidgen of her divinity, before one stepped forward and pleaded.

            “But this is our land.”  The man whined. 

            “Enough people have died,” Maya said softly.

            One idiot who might have been inspired by fear, threw a spear at the travelers.  Maya had her screen up so the spear bounced off that invisible wall and fell harmlessly to the ground.  It did not matter.  No one else was watching.  Instead, they had their eyes on Maya and the man who appeared out of nowhere beside her.  Then the man changed into another man and gave the goddess a kiss.

            “Opi,” Maya smiled.

            “Lockhart, you have a visitor.” Otapec said with a sly look over his shoulder.  It was only a moment before a great snout stuck out from the trees.  The dragon spoke, in the Agdaline tongue of course so no one but Otapec, Maya and the travelers understood what the creature said.

            “Mama.  Hurting.”  The other people all took a big step back because it sounded something like a roar to them.

            “Puff,” Katie said.

            “No fire.  No harm.”  Lockhart spoke quickly as Puff crawled up slowly.  The whole lower half of the worm had first and second degree burns, an oddity on a dragon.

            “What is that smell?”  Boston asked.

            “Leakage,” Otapec said as he left that place and Kartesh once again stepped into his world.   “I’m no healer.  Maya.”  Kartesh stepped to the invisible wall and spoke in Agdaline.  “Friend.  Friend.”

            Puff glanced at her through the tear in its eye.  Lockhart reached out to touch Puff’s nose.            “But I have to keep an eye on these hunters,” Maya said.

            “What hunters?”  Decker asked.  The men that had confronted them were presently running all out across the meadow and away from the travelers and their pet dragon.

            Maya caught up in a second and with Kartesh they healed the wound in the dragon’s side while Kartesh explained something about dragon anatomy.  “Their peculiar digestive system produces a mix of gases, mostly hydrogen, that collects in a bladder that runs the whole length of the worm body.  The hydrogen helps them go aloft, like a balloon, but like the old Zeppelins Doctor Mishka is so familiar with, the gas is highly flammable.  They have to expel some now and then to keep from getting bloated.  They have two things, like bones in the throat, that ignites the gas like a cigarette lighter when expelled.”

            “Why don’t they blow up?”  Lincoln asked.

            “A simple flap,” Kartesh answered.  “Not unlike the one you have that lets you breathe into your lungs but swallow into your stomach.  It prevents the flame from riding back into the bladder.”

            “So if they breathe too much fire they might have a hard time getting off the ground.  Boston was thinking.

            “Yes, but for most the sensation of being bloated is worse.  They hibernate when well fed, sometimes for years.  You can imagine how bloated they get and how much they need to expel when they first awake.  That is why it is not wise to wake a sleeping dragon.”

            “There,” Maya said, smiled and stepped back to examine her handiwork.

            “She will still need healing time.  Some of the burns were very severe, but it won’t be so painful.”

            Puff suddenly opened his mouth with all those teeth.  Lockhart snatched his hand back and wondered what on earth he was thinking to get as close as he was, but only a tongue came out and gave Lockhart a warm and wet lick.  Luckily, the kiss was smeared on Maya’s invisible wall which was still up.

            Opi came back and gave Maya a big kiss before he kissed his children and spoke to the travelers.  “Lockhart, I’m sorry.  I imprinted Maya on the dragon’s mind so she will be her Mama now, and my children will be like dragon babies to Puff.  Dragons naturally avoid flaming each other.  Meanwhile, things are just too complicated now.  Maya will bring the people the rest of the way, and by nightfall.  Your way is North, the way those tribesmen went, so keep your eyes open.”

            “Can’t we help?”  Katie asked.  Otapec shook his head.

            “I will be moving instantly south to try and keep the Sevarese and Pendratti from destroying each other in some cataclysmic way.”

            “My people?”  Elder Stow asked as he lifted from the ground to hover in flying position, ready to go. 

            Otapec asked a question in return.  “Are you learning anything?”

            Elder Stow paused to think.  “That human life on this earth is as you say, complicated, and not so easy.  And maybe some respect for my family group, but I would hesitate to say that.”

            Otapec nodded.  “Your people are best kept out of it for as long as possible.  When war erupts and the Pendratti face the Sevarese and Blueblood alliance it gets bad out there for a long time.”

            “But my people recover.”  Elder Stow made a statement, but it sounded like a question.

            Otapec nodded again.  “As do the Elenar and many of the other, lesser people that get involved, but there is silence in space for hundreds of years except for the homeless Agdaline ships moving slower than light with their dragon guardians.”  Otapec drew in his breath slowly like one who hated killing, death and destruction 

            “Mount up,” Lockhart commanded, and everyone complied. 

            “I will be transporting about twenty miles south so you will find the gate much nearer than you might think.  Blessings,” he said as he became someone else and vanished from that place.

            Boston pulled out the amulet and checked.  They would also be at their destination by dark.

            “Good-bye.”  Kuican shouted from his mother’s arms, and everyone said the same and waved.

            “Chac.  Take care of your sister, Ixchel.”  Katie shouted back.

            “I have two sisters now,” Chac shouted, and they understood that Puff would slither along beside them

            “Good-bye Puff,” Lockhart yelled before they moved out of earshot.

            Puff made an unintelligible sound and let out a bit of fire which barely warmed the grass.  It was a pitiful thing, but the dragon would heal.

###     

            Bronze was the first true wonder material of the ancient world.  Unfortunately for Flern, she had to travel a long way to get some weapons and now needs to travel a long way home.  This gives the Jaccar warriors who have her village enslaved time to find her and stop her.  The travelers just escaped out of one potential conflict only to get embroiled in another.  It is has Lincoln has said.  The Kairos tends to live in the midst of the hurricane. 

Avalon 2.9:  Army of Invention … Monday …  

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