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Thread: An Offer You Don't Refuse - 9.075

  1. #1
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    Complete An Offer You Don't Refuse - 9.075

    Space travel was, is, and will always be for nunas.

    It was necessary, but a necessary evil. Even in the best of circumstances it was a chore to endure, and these were far from the best of circumstances. The quarters were usually too small, the air too cold, too dry, too recycled, too not-quite-right. In space you had no natural day and night cycles. You didn't know what was early and what was late. When you arrived, you had to reset your biological clock to some other planet with a completely different rotational schedule. That usually involved stimulants, alcohol, and/or too much / too little sleep. These were just the major frettings. Forget trying to wrap your mind around dressing for a place with a cold climate or worrying about a breathable atmosphere. Holo-meetings could be done from the comfort of your office, barefoot, in luxurious plush carpet.

    Still, Taataani had travelled enough to plan around these unpleasantries like a professional, and she had a series of rules in place:
    • Charter your own travel: Mass transit, even first class or whatever they offered for preferential treatment, was for proles and rubes. Too many other people. Not that she wasn't a people person but that environment prevented mingling in a way she was comfortable with. Also you will never get a decent bit of sleep on one of those, no matter how hard you try. Also, private transit tends to be liberal on the eccentricities of the traveler, including and most especially the need to smoke while on board. This shouldn't even be an issue since they've invented air scrubbers, but if you have to suffer the hoi polloi, someone will always complain if you light up.
    • Dress in layers: Being able to offset a drop in ten degrees on a new planet with a convenient shawl or a knit jacket kept the shock in transitioning down to a minimum. Also with a bit of coordination, dressing in a somewhat modular fashion could allow you to mix and match, and keep things fresh if you needed to extend your stay. Taurrifar was expert at choosing outfits, and the rule was no fewer than two a day, with another four outfits per week in case of special circumstances on a longer trip. Her favored mate always made sure to go over the arrangements with her briefly before they travelled, as he would have also taken the trouble of making appropriate alterations to outfits in advance, where needed.
    • Alcohol: Almost any flight will serve it to you, sure. But they'll serve it wrong. Caridan crimets with Naboo varka and a vermouth that tastes like you could smear it on a pancake. No, crimets demands jirin, and jirin comes from Kashyyyk. No, Imperial embargoes do not change this fact. Even at a 400% markup, you order Kashyyyk or you don't order at all, because then you're ordering a drink that isn't a crimets but is in fact something you cry into as a consolation for drinking over-sweet grog with the subtlety of the fat person squeezed into the seat next to you. A crimets needs to have a dry, pithy bitter bite to pair with the right kind of subdued, barely-tasting-of-flowers vermouth, and that is from jirin, and it's not optional. There's at least thirty other drinks that are probably very important to have on a flight to avoid fraying your nerves to the breaking point, but use the crimets as the brief example. Suffice to say, you need the right alcohol, and the right person at the ready to put it all together for you.
    • Privacy: Whether it's sleep, sex, or worst of all, business. You need it. You don't get it crammed in common use areas with every other plebian in the galaxy.
    • A full sized refresher: Not up for debate and you should be killed if you disagree. This includes a sonic shower. Some lesser modes of travel try to mask the fact that you're going a day without a full cleanse with little towelettes. Even humanoids without a sensitive nose can tell, and they will avoid you. It's not even a big fuss about aromatic oils and salts because those can be brought along if absolutely necessary.
    • Food: Even with the best-laid plans this one goes wrong. Of course, the Cizeri option for almost every in-flight meal consists of nervous laughter from your steward, and if you're persistant, a watery Bloody Amidala with non-fresh oysters chucked in the bottom as an afterthought, which neither food nor drink does it make. So if you choose to suffer, you stuff yourself before you travel, and endure a protracted starvation for however long it takes to reach your destination, or you make sure that amenities are stocked. Nothing grandiose, there's no need to butcher fresh venison, but a live well is lovely and a few small food pens don't hurt for variety. Oysters are fine, but only an idiot knows if they're not day-boat caught. If in doubt, snails keep better, and sajoi best of all.
    • Don't fly alone: It's sometimes unavoidable when on business, but if you can afford to charter and have abided by the rules above, you should also have company with you. Unless you need absolute quiet to do busy work on your travels, you're not going to want to read a novel or watch some derivative dopey holo that is playing. The company of others (others that you choose to bring with you, that is) is infinitely more stimulating. Sometimes literally. Even if you have to resort to just chatting up the pilot, make sure you are capable of doing so.
    With all of this said, none of it is guaranteed to keep you from being miserable, especially if you travel after getting bad news, like a summons to Coruscant because the Imperial Navy is eager to have your business bid on a contract to supply their cruisers with sublight thrusters. It's not sexy or headline-grabbing, but it both has the potential to be lucrative beyond your wildest dreams, as well as being destructive to your conscience when you supply people you morally oppose. But one thing is for sure. You don't say no. At least not in so few words.

    Figuring those words out was going to take Taataani the whole damn distance from Carshoulis Prime to Coruscant, and she needed a distraction. First, a perfectly-prepared Caridan crimets. That helped. After a sip, she looked to her side, and to the pilot currently ferrying her on her way.

    "What'ss jyourr name?"
    Last edited by Taataani Meorrrei; Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:51:10 PM.

  2. #2
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    "Ah, Ben Merasska, ma'am," the pilot responded, blinking and sparing the felinoid female a half-surprised glance. Normally the big-wigs he shuttled around didn't even give him the time of day. The really bad trips were the ones where they did. He still couldn't quite remember the time he shuttled a senator's son and his friends from Coruscant to Corulag, and he still couldn't work for Core Worlds Shuttle Service, despite the incident having happened years ago.

    He in fact always came prepared for the eventuality that someone would try to seem like a common man's man:
    • Dress for the Occasion: He normally wore the loudest and most exotic shirts he could find (and afford). Contrary to popular belief, the odder he seemed, the less likely the 'guests' would talk to him and more about him amongst themselves. Even if they were alone, he would go the opposite route and go for the blandest clothing he could find. The more boring the look, the less likely someone in a smaller group of passengers would speak to him.
    • Always look busy: This one is known throughout the galaxy as the employee's method of skirting actual work. Even if it's simply reading schematics, looking busy or pretending to do work will deter most if not all of the nosier passengers. If you're desperate, actually do work. Some passengers can tell the difference.
    • Prepare fake alarms: This one was controversial and a bit dangerous. Ben almost never resorted to this path, because of the problems that could be had if there was an actual situation which precipitated an actual need for an alarm. That said, it was useful for cutting off the most determined of chatter-uppers from engaging him in conversation.
    • Don't Fly Alone: There are a couple reasons for having a co-pilot on a largely automated shuttle or transport, but one of the more important lesser reasons was to run interference and deflect the questions and the attention away from the pilot, who usually had a job to do. Good, diplomatic co-pilots were a commodity fiercely fought over in transport piloting profession, for precisely this reason. Some noted that the system largely fed on itself: by the time the co-pilots became pilots, they had lost all interest in chatting with their passengers (seeing it as a symbol of lower status) and would perpetuate the system by fighting over good, diplomatic co-pilots.
    Always was a term that didn't lend itself to relativity much, and so Ben had to amend the term: Ben usually prepared all of the above (and more) to stave off the mostly inane and distracting conversation of his passengers. But that kriffing cheater Davak had to go had land that cushy mission transporting the models of the Leia's Secret Catalogue (not named after the late princess and senator of Alderaan, but after the woman who founded the lingerie line that could be modified for most humanoid species), and his choices were either:


    1. Go by himself, or
    2. Take a protocol droid


    Taking a protocol droid would have led him to commit suicide, and probably more problems and distractions than it would solve. Thus here he was, by himself, taking a rich Cizerack and one of her mates to Coruscant (as it was still called in the Mid and Outer Rim).


    "Anything in particular I can, ah, help you with?"

  3. #3
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    This was an opportune time to skewer him for any possible foibles and offenses committed thusfar. She was relatively comfortable, the climate control wasn't set to some obnoxious level. Taurrifar had already seen to her refreshment and provided her with a pillow and blanket to have at the ready. She wasn't hungry, but that eventuality had been seen-to and the JS-77B Interstellar shuttle they travelled in had enough room to handle that necessity. The refresher was small, but it suited all of the most basic needs.

    That left company. Taurrifar, of course, was a dear to talk to about all manner of things, but she needed a cleaner distraction. Plus, he still had a few bits of her luggage to sort. Ben Merasska was it, then.

    "jI'm fjine, thank jyou."

    She paused for a sip, and her left ear twitched a little as she tried to place his voice. It was very familiar, but she hadn't a clue from where.

    "jYou ssound famjiljiarr. Have jI hjirred jyou beforre?"

  4. #4
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    Oh I'm fine. I'm fine. Then why did you ask my name to begin with?!

    "Not that I can recall, ma'am," he said, checking the readouts on the sublight engines and the hyperdrive core. It was hard to be 'personable' while also trying to remain 'aloof'. Short, but polite answers were usually good. Not in this instance, however.

    She did remind him of something though. Someone, more like. But the only Cizerack he knew - the only Cizerack he'd ever met - was the mechanic Cirrsseeto Rraurrssatta (he always butchered the guy's surname). It wasn't likely that he'd managed to pick up some relative of his out of all the Cizeracks on the planet he could have accepted a job from.

    Her voice, however, was what kept that niggling little feeling from disappearing. He ignored it with all the grace and aplomb a lifetime of ignoring things could impart to a man. He also ignored the bad feeling he got from deciding to continue the conversation.

    "I've never actually transported Cizerack passengers before," he said, making sure not to make eye contact, but also trying not to seem rude. "This is a first for me."

  5. #5
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    She smiled knowingly at that. Male, human, and booking work in the cluster? Even through an agency she didn't imagine that it was frequent. Of course, Taataani knew agencies priced that out. She'd done her homework, and then turned around and insisted on a discounted price from the agency that she knew she'd get. Was it wrong to cash in on a system built by bigots? Maybe.

    "Well jI'll prromjisse to be gentle forr jyourr fjirrsst tjime. Keep uss jin a sstrrajight ljine and make good tjime and jI'm prractjicalljy docjile."

    Setting her cocktail into a holder designed for such contingencies, she worked on preparing a thin cigarra.

    "Wherre'ss jyourr home porrt, jiss that how thejy ssajy jit?"

  6. #6
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    Her crack about being gentle made him smile. Her question about his home port wiped that smile off his face more quickly than a Star Destroyer reverting from hyperspace right in front of him.

    "I don't have one," he said simply after a moment. Remembering Alderaan still hurt, but he shifted his mind to the hum of the engines, the smell of his uniform, and the sight of the stars, unblemished by an atmosphere, though he was sure there was a gas cluster somewhere in the direction the cluster was facing. The stars' twinkling had the effect of being behind a pane of flawed glass.

    He settled the shuttle into the right vector and pushed the hyperspace lever forward. The stars disappeared into the tunnel of hyperspace.

    "Probably should find one, though," he continued as nonchalantly as he could. "But I enjoy it too much out here."

    With the ship now on course, Ben decided that conversation was now unavoidable and turned to look at the Cizerack. Oh yeah. Definitely rich, and definitely not trying to be personable. She was just bored enough to engage him in conversation.

    "I guess you don't, then?"

  7. #7
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    He stiffened a bit when she asked about home, and then opted out. Probably some sort of rolling stone romantic like more than a few spacers she knew. Still, something in his body language told her to steer clear of that.

    "Don't get me wrrong, jI love trravel. Jusst ussualljy the end rressultss. Ssomethjing about the ajirr...the ljight..."

    She lit her cigarra, a plume of purple smoke rising above her wig.

    "Of courrsse therre'ss alsso the 'what jif we all explode' parrt, but jI don't conssjiderr that a phobjia, jusst bejing awarre."

    Finishing her sentence with an exhaled breath of smoke, she glanced over again.

    "Sso wjith the trravel and no ssettljing down, ssoundss ljike jyou'rre rratherr marrjied to the job, then? No Mrs. Merrassska?"

  8. #8
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    "Ha! This isn't a life well suited for a married man," he said, leaning back and enjoying the safety and sheer invincibility that he felt at the moment. He was just some normal guy. War? What war?

    He didn't want to laugh, but the thought of him married was just ridiculous. He managed to keep the outburst to a minimum. He then decided to address her first point.

    "Everybody always focusses on the whole exploding thing," he sighed. "Don't worry about the hulking Star Destroyers who'll fire as soon as hail ya, or that a star could explode and gamma radiation could strip an atmosphere bare. Asteroids, comets, malfunctioning atmospheric gear leading to asphyxiation if you're lucky on some worlds... and that's just the stuff from the black. Once you actually get on a planet and can breathe, there's still the stuff on the planet itself that could kill you."

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    "Frrom everrjy sspacerr jI've met, jyou'd be rrjight on the monejy about that, jI ssupposse."

    She thought about Sanis. Yep, that fit the bill. Of course she hoped her son would be the iconoclast. Even if it was Lyanie Qaez that would make an honest man out of him. The thought of him continuing to be a rambler gave her few comforts.

    As for the mortality discussion? She gave a little shrug.

    "Ljike jI ssajid, jit'ss not a phobjia. jYou'rre rrjight. Morrosse, perrhapss, but rrjight. Bessjidess, at leasst gojing that wajy would be qujick."

    Another drink, and a sigh. She wasn't afraid of death. At least not in any way she'd given serious thought to. There were things beyond that which terrified her, and things which led to her talking to Ben, to get her mind off of them.

  10. #10
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    Ben shivered and grimaced, deciding that he'd enough of this particular conversation. It wasn't so bad, but all he needed to was to trip up about one particular thing and this rich Cizerack would likely try to claw him. After they landed, of course, as to claw him mid-flight would be reckless.

    "Maybe it's the ration bars, the cramped quarters, and the attendant lack of privacy," he grinned. "Always having to fix or rig something so the ship can fly better, and after a while most stars look the same. If you've seen one red giant, you've seen 'em all. Familiar isn't so romantic. And that's if the lady's crazy enough to live with a spacer. When she doesn't, she or he breaks and ends up sleeping around because of the long deployments. Spacers don't tend to be married for long."

    He paused, and hesitated at the sight of her expression. Had he said something wrong?

    "Seems like you're plenty married though," he continued. "Don't you Cizeracks, uh, take multiple wives or husbands or however that goes?"

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    "Mosst do, barrjing the occassjional Cizeri sspacerr, of courrsse."

    Taking another sip, she swirled her glass a little, watching the scant amount of natural fruit oils in the drink cling to the glass in a way the rest of the drink didn't.

    "jI have fourrteen, all told, jincludjing Taurrifar."

    She gestured to the rear of the ship, where her ever-faithful sorr-fai sat at the common table.

    "He keepss thjingss rrunnjing ssmoothljy. Keepss me ssane, whjich jiss no eassjy tassk."

    Exhaling another purple breath, she ashed into a recession in the console to her right that afforded the luxury.

    "Esspecjialljy lateljy."

    She interrupted her somber segue with a detatched laugh.

    "Wjish jI could trrade placess wjith jyou forr a month orr two, Ben. Makjing jit frrom pojint A to pojint B ssoundss njice."

  12. #12
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    Oh, great. What was he supposed to do with this? He could try and go all sympathetic, but in cases like this, where his simple, quaint lifestyle was envied by the complex and exhausted rich person, he wouldn't be able to pass it off as being sincere. Because it wasn't.

    Now she was looking at him. He'd waited too long. She'd probably noticed his incredulity; and things had been going so well, too!

    "Simple ain't always easy, ma'am," he replied finally. "Actually, it's the opposite. I'm at point X at the moment."

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    For a moment, she tried to parse how this pilot's simple life might in any way present a complication for her. Logistics? Hardly. She managed a corporation that spanned the galaxy. Hours? Maybe longer, but how hard could you work sitting all day in a chair?

    "Hopefulljy onljy metaphorrjicalljy, dearr."

    She reclined in the plush passenger seat, watching the stars go by. She sipped her drink, smoked, and pretended he was somebody she could have these conversations with. Of course that fantasy in itself skirted on danger. After all, she was now at the point of keeping secrets away from family.

    "How long untjil Corrusscant?"

    She refused to call it Imperial Center, no matter the fashion. It was Coruscant when she was young, it was Coruscant thousands of years before that. It would be Coruscant forever.

  14. #14
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    "Hopefulljy onljy metaphorrjicalljy, dearr."

    Ben knew that condescending tone of voice. But she stayed quiet afterwards, so he wasn't about to try and muck up the precious few moments of quiet he had. He didn't think about much during those moments; a few stray thoughts about Lyanie and the Cap'n and Chaz meandered by, followed by ruminations on how odd the feeling would be if a Verpine were to rub its antennae against his hand. He was trying to figure out the most alike sensation to the one in question when the Cizerack asked him another question.

    "How long untjil Corrusscant?"

    "About another four hours or so, depending on how long we need to recalculate the hyperspace coordinates for the next jump," he replied, checking the inertial dampeners' display.

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    "Doessn't a computerr do all that forr jyou?"

    The matriarch tipped her glass up again, hoping that the four hours remaining would pass with ease.

    "No auto-pjilot to keep awajy the doldrrumss?

    A thought crossed her mind, and she smirked.

    "Tell jyou what. Sshave half an hourr off that tjime and jI'll gjive jyou a thoussand extrra crredjitss."

    This would at least make things interesting.

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    "Lots of calculations go into hyperspace jumps. Not only that, but the engines have to cycle between each jump, or you'll get an overheat... a thousand credits? We talking Imperial Credits or some back-world currency?" Ben asked, looking at the Cizerack warily. He'd been played before, and wasn't keen on being burned by some dopa maskey rich passenger. She didn't seem like the type, but business people were the most slippery and dangerous of all the kinds of people Ben had ever met.

    The fact that he, as an employee of the transportation company which owned the ship, was prohibited from taking any sort of "bribe or tip, or monetary compensation of any kind" from the passengers didn't cross his mind at all.

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    Taataani cut loose a boistrous laugh, amused at the thought that she'd swindle for such a small amount. Recovering, she plucked an imperial chit from her handbag for the pilot to inspect as much as he pleased.

    "jI'm fljyjing to Corrusscant, jyou thjink jI'd carrjy a rruckssack of sseasshellss orr ssomethjing?"

    She let the techno-jargon slide off her back. Never her thing. Suffice to say that he was either going to be genuinely busy or crafty enough to pretend to be.

    She finished her drink, and satisfied that Ben had verified the veracity of his potential bonus paycheck, she recovered her chit as she rose.

    "Well, jI'm gojing to lassh mjysself to the grrjindsstone forr an hourr orr two and sstarre at rreporrtss. Taurrifar..."

    The Meorrrei first husband rose from his seat as his name was called, bringing a dossier with him. She slapped at it as he approached, and exchanged a brief conspiratorial glance with him. That dissolved into saccharine pleasantness, and she snatched the dossier from him, strolling past, only to stop and look back.

    "Make Captajin Merrasska some tea. jI thjink he would apprrecjiate jit."

  18. #18
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    A thousand Imperial Credits. He smirked and raised an eyebrow, tossing the cred back and nodding at the Cizerack businesswoman (feline? person? cat? Ben wasn't quite sure what sort of noun to affix to her, and it was disconcerting; perhaps he should have looked at her name on the datadisc).

    She laughed like it was beneath her to try and swindle him for a thousand; Ben had seen people conned out of five, because five creds each spread out over the galaxy equaled more creds than he suspected the Alliance/Rebellion/Those People had ever seen in their lives. As a group. Some of them were business people themselves, and may have seen numbers close to that amount.

    He brought up the display of the hyperspace route they were travelling and began to calaculate which ones would cut their time by half an hour.

    They were travelling a well patrolled and maintained route which skirted between the mid and inner rims for a bit before turning slightly - in relative galactic terms, which meant it wasn't slight at all - out into the mid-rim to avoid a black hole.

    Ben grimaced as he traced an alternate route that would allow them to reach Coruscant in just under three and a half standard hours. The alternate route would take them through a couple areas known to be targeted by pirates. This would be a piece of patogga, if there were no surly scallawags haunting the hyperlanes.

    "Making a withdrawal from the First Ben Merasskan Bank of Courage," he murmured as he input the coordinates and vectors into the navicomputer. "This better be worth that thousand creds."



    Everything was in fact going well. Ben was even in good enough of a mood to take the tea that was offered to him by... her (frak, he couldn't remember her name!)... husband. They stopped, the hyperdrive cycled down and back up, and they were off again.

    One hour into their new three and a half hour detour, the proverbial hydrospanner was thrown into the engine hatches.

    The hyperspace mine went off silently due to the black, but the impact on the ship was more than enough to offset that. Ben, in the middle of a nap, was awakened rudely by the wave of force that brought them out of hyperspace and into a planetary system.

    "Why oh why did I have to make that withdrawal?" he said to himself as he checked all the instruments. "I couldn't have resisted temptation from some devil-woman and just been Ben the straight shot pilot. No, I just had to accept the deal to make all that money."
    Last edited by Ben Merasska; Mar 6th, 2012 at 01:25:10 AM.

  19. #19
    SW-Fans.Net Poster

    A larrrge penjisss jisss alwajysss welcome!


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    Taataani Meorrrei's Avatar
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    Charley
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    "Captajin Merrrasska, what was that?!"

    The intercom from the passenger's quarters chimed in with a sharp rebuke from the Cizeri Matron. The door to the quarters remained blissfully sealed for the moment, restraining tempests real or imagined within.

    "Djid we hjit ssomethjing? We hjit ssomethjing, djidn't we?"

  20. #20
    TheHolo.Net Poster

    flying a starship is no different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put smashball cards in the spokes!


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    Ben Merasska's Avatar
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    Vince
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    Take me out to the black, Tell them I ain't comin' back, You can't take the sky from me.
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    "Djid we hjit ssomethjing? We hjit ssomethjing, djidn't we?"

    "Definitely not worth a thousand credits," he grunted, keeping the ship stable with one hand while trying to get some activity on the other systems.

    Finally, he managed to bring the ship to a halt on a tiny asteroid-moon orbiting a large gas giant. The ship shuddered and rocked as the ship slowed, and the struts made contact.

    "Problems with the inertial dampeners too," he sighed. "Just great."

    He heard activity behind him, but ignored it while he pulled out a datapad and began a checklist of disrupted systems, and what was absolutely essential as opposed to what he could sacrifice for a better chance at getting back on track and on their way to Coruscant.

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