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Kjolmar hesitated but walked towards the swamp while Kain left. The swamp was quiet, almost too quiet. "Hello?" Kjolmar tried but nothing replied. "I came here for help." he continued. His voice echoed through the cave-like area. "I was experimented on and my regeneration cells are damaged, causing me to feel like merely a fraction of my usual self. I was told voodoo might help me become whole again." The swamp became restless and a creature surfaced, looking like it consisted mostly of bones and rotten flesh. Kjolmar gasped. What had he gotten himself into?

"I can help you." the creature said with a voice that sounded like it came directly from the grave. It gave Kjolmar goosebumps. "For a price, ofcourse." the creature added.

Kjolmar nodded. "I had expected that. Name your price, voodoo master."

It chuckled. "Straight to the point, I see. You are nothing like the previous clients that visited me. Very well... Payment involves three drops of blood. The first drop is from yourself, elven but poisoned with the werewolf venom. The second and third drop of blood have to come from a naga and a newborn vampire."

It was like the creature knew that he had met these kind of people recently. But would he be able to get their blood somehow? "I know where to find those." he admitted. "But if I give you the first one now, you will have to perform your ritual on me. The other two will be payed afterwards."

The creature chuckled again. "Ah, elves and their urge to negotiate, even when they're not in a position to demand anything. Still, I will accept that offer. Step into the lake."

Kjolmar slowly entered the swamp lake and felt a sting in his finger. He noticed a drop of blood flowing through the waters from himself towards the creature. As he dived underwater, he felt himself losing conscience. It was a very similar feeling to being knocked out by the humans earlier. Perhaps all of this was planned somehow? Was someone or something using him as a pawn? "Stop!" he shouted but it was too late. He felt dizzy and passed out.

Not much later he woke up on the ground. The swamp was quiet again, the creature nowhere to be seen. However, he felt completely healed again. The voodoo had worked. Now he had to continue the payment... With a heavy heart, he made his way back to the underworld gathering place and walked up to Kain once more. Kain stared at him. "I'm glad to see you made it out alive. Did you get what you needed?" Kjolmar just nodded without saying anything. Kain frowned and tried to smile. "Good. Now never go there again." Kjolmar didn't even nod this time. Ofcourse he had to go there again, he had to deliver the naga and vampire blood somehow.
"Those two seem to get along perfectly. I guess it would be cruel of us to seperate them." He smiled in the most innocent way. What was unspoken could easily be read by the mindful eye. It wasn't just Umbreon and Vaporeon that disliked the idea of getting seperated.

Connor's phone buzzed. "I checked for you but there isn't anything useful about Articuno in our files. Then again, if there was, I wouldn't be authorised to read those anyway. Sorry for not being more helpful." He scanned the text reply from Damian but didn't answer it and returned his phone to his pocket.

As they left the gym, the sun was started to go down for the day. Connor looked at his watch. "I didn't realize how long we have been in there. Do you want to join me for lunch? I know this great place where they have the best snacks for pokémon too."
When Felix mentioned that he's not one for battles, it made Connor reflect on his own choices. Was he just battling beccause everyone else did it? Because that's what they did in the tv series and games? He wondered if he really enjoyed those battles or if he was just going through the motions. "Well..." he started and paused for a second. "I have been training with Gyarados ever since he was a Magikarp. But frankly, the main reason for that was because they made fun of him. He was a typical Magikarp, doing little more than splashing at first. I sympathised for him and started to show him how to battle. When our bond was strong enough, he evolved into the massive powerhouse you saw at the river."

He rubbed Umbreon on the head, who closed his eyes in pleasure. "Now Umbreon here is a different story. He doesn't seem to be motivated to battle like Gyarados does. Then again, it never seemed necessary." Connor smiled at Umbreon. It didn't matter at all that there was no battle spirit.

Upon Felix' subtle change in behavior, Connor frowned a little. Had he said anything wrong? Something seemed up. "Anyway, may I be so direct to ask for your reasons to not participate in battles? Just curious."
Connor retreated his Gyarados from the lake in order to follow Felix. "What about you?" he asked Umbreon. Umbreon gave a quick look at Vaporeon and shook his head at Connor, indicating he would like to stay out for a bit longer. Connor nodded in agreement and started to follow Felix with Umbreon at his side.

While Felix talked about Kyogre, Connor listened with a great interest. What made legendary pokemon reveal themselves to normal people? Did they decide they were worthy or was it pure coinsidence? Whatever the case, Ho-oh did a lot more than show itself.

Upon arrival at the gym, they noticed how cold it was in there. A blonde woman dressed in white revealed herself as Phoebe, the new gym leader. She held a speech about how her gym would be nothing like the other gym in the city. She also explained that a second gym was legal as long as it wasn't in the same district, which it wasn't. Neal's steel type gym was in the west district while Phoebe's ice gym was in the east district of the city.

Next thing they knew, Julien walked up to Phoebe and challenged her. His Gyarados immediatly mega-evolved but was no match for Phoebe's Articuno. Connor gasped in disbelief. "Unbelievable! I've seen Lucien beat Neal with my own eyes but he didn't last a minute in there."

Connor quickly texted Damian. What intel does T.R. have on Articuno?
While he waited for the answer, he peered at Felix. "We are going to need to train before we even think of challenging Phoebe."

When he woke up again, his vision was blurred. He couldn't hear any signs of a battle nor conversations for that matter. He felt restricted, tied up even. In his blurry gaze he saw a figure moving in front of him but he couldn't make out who it was. Whoever it was, he or she wasn't talking. Kjolmar felt different somehow. His body was aching as if he had been wounded, yet his muscles seemed to feel stronger than before. A voice that sounded rather electronic suddenly spoke: "Scanning. System reboot nearly complete. Vision offline. Regeneration malfunctioning. All other functions optimal." The voice made him panic a little. What had happened to him while he was unconscious?

Some other voices sounded from nearby, whispering to each other. "His vision will return shortly. Not sure why we can't get the regeneration cells working. The lab results show that he has underworld venom in his blood, perhaps that could have something to do with it?" The other figure replied: "Well, well, an elf with a venom addiction. That's quite the unexpected twist. Should we pump it out of his system before we continue?" The first voice sighed. "Or we should find someone who possesses knowledge of voodoo and make the fullest of the venom."

An uneasy feeling overwhelmed Kjolmar. He wasn't some sort of rab lat! He pulled loose both of his arms and legs with a relative ease and while the mysterious figures panicked, Kjolmar was determined to escape whatever his hostage place was. "Stop him!" he heard while he started to run. "Warning: hostile projectile incoming." a voice said. Instinctively, he ducked and a huge explosion knocked him backwards.

His sight returned and he noticed the room utterly destroyed. He no longer saw his chasers and had no idea if they were dead or if they had run away. He looked at his body and wondered what they had done to him. What did those mysterious people say earlier? They wanted to find someone who knows voodoo in order to fix his regeneration cells? Kjolmar tried to think quickly. If anyone would know voodoo, it were the downworlders. Trying to keep it together, he made his way to the tunnels.

Kjolmar had made his way to the Triad, some sort of council of the downworld consisting of the leaders of each downworld race. He had asked them for help, wether it'd be voodoo or otherwise. The naga leader wasn't very interested in helping Kjolmar with his 'malfuctioning' and claimed to know very little about voodoo. The vampire leader knew exactly how to help but simply refused, having pleasure in Kjolmar's troubles. Kjolmar wasn't one to beg and knew it would be pointless considering the vampires could be quite cruel. The only thing in his favor was that Shadow, his werewolf venom supplier, was also on the Triad. Shadow tried to convince the vampire leader to share any knowledge about voodoo with Kjolmar but they didn't get very far.

A defeated Kjolmar was ready to leave again when Shadow approached him once more. "Kjolmar, I can't pressure the vampire leader to spill the beans but I do know someone else who might have this knowledge. You remember the werewolf you met during your last fix, Kain? He tends to know all about such unspoken magic."

Kjolmar sighed deeply. "Great. The only guy who can help is just as selfish as those vampires. I might aswell give up now. At least the naga admits he just doesn't care."

Shadow frowned and looked deep into Kjolmar's eyes. "Kain might come across a bit harsh but he's not a bad guy. If he sees it's really important to you, he will help you where he can."

Clearly not very convinced, Kjolmar rolled his eyes. "Fine, I'll go find him at the usual spot. It sure beats the upworld right now, the orcs would burn me alive for trying to find a voodoo master and those humans aren't much better to be honest."
Voodoo was considered unethical with modern orc tribes and human species. It was also frowned upon by the naga from what he had heard.

Upon arrival, he searched for Kain and explained his situation. Kain was clearly hesitant but hearing that Shadow had sent him, convinced him. With a soft growl, he mumbled "Not here. Follow me." They went even deeper in the tunnels and the little light that iluminated the tunnels started to fade. Kjolmar got a bad feeling about his decision but he kept walking. When they came to what seemed to be a dead end, Kain howled in a very specific way. The wall in front of them shook a little. "It's Kain." he said, and immediatly the wall started to crumble. Kain and Kjolmar continued and got to some sort of underground swamp. "This is as far as I can bring you. If you truly wish to seek the voodoo master, you must face the creature in the swamp. But be warned, young elf... Or well, whatever you have become... The creature is nothing like you've ever encountered."

Kjolmar's jaw dropped as Dagny asked her question. "Are you kidding me?" He paused for a second. "Those men are attacking civilians with weapons. In. Plain. Sight. Do you really think the law is going to stop them? Miss, make no mistake, those men will not be stopped by words. In fact-"

Before he could continue, a blunt object hit him on the head from behind. Kjolmar passed out instantly.
At Spark, John Adams was pacing around in the presidental chambers. "I just can't believe how Phil Smith is ridiculing me all over Odox. He called me an orc-lover for not finishing my Dark Orc Law fast enough. He doesn't understand that I don't hate the orcs as a species but that I want to keep my people safe from any Dark Orc worshippers. There's a big difference between a common orc and a dark orc."

Feandra Riverwing stood a little further in the room, watching him getting all worked up. "Sir, while Smith may call you a weakling, many other species see you as dangerous because of your controversial views. If I may so blunt, some people even compare the two of you. Unfair, I know, Smith is far more radical than you are. But perhaps it would be wise to make a peace offering to the orcs?"

John Adams chuckled. "Oh Feandra, this is exactly why the people wanted me to replace you. No one is waiting for a peace offering. The people want the orcs to prove themselves as pacifists. From there, trust can be earned. Years ago creatures like the naga and the werewolves proved their worth and despite living underground, they are generally accepted by all. Even the vampires are tolerated. Not exactly my favorite race but at least they are trying to co-exist with us."

After frowning heavily, Feandra sighed. "You know, John, sometimes I think you will only be satisfied when the orcs decided to go live in the downworld too." John chuckled softly. "Don't be ridiculous. You know they would shred the vampires to pieces. And that would leave us with one less ally."

All of a sudden an alarm went off and two heavily armed men came into the room. "President Adams, Minister Riverwing, we have a situation. Please let us escort you to safety." Seeing the confusion on their faces, one of the guardsmen elaborated. "Orcs, sir. And not the kind that is willing to talk." John's eyes widened in fear. "Zuxzut." he whispered. The guardsman nodded to confirm. "And sir, there is more. Phil Smith has been alerted and he gathered a group of men that wants to fight the orcs." Both John and Feandra sighed deeply. "I know he only wants to protect the people but that fool is going to make everything even worse. I bet he is live broadcasting this as we speak."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile at Blind Hill

Kjolmar walked up the ladders to follow Ithnesi, while keeping an eye on Dagny in case she should try to run.
"I recognize this neighbourhood. As a lawyer, I often have orcs as clients. One of them lived right here in Blind Hill. Unfortunately, she has passed away of old age recently."

Unknown to the group, they were being watched from a distance. A soft growl was followed by some saliva dripping on grey'ish fur. Kain had disobeyed Shadow's commands and followed the group in order to get his teeth into Kjolmar's neck. There wouldn't even be a struggle, considering that the elf had become addicted to the werewolf venom. Just when he wanted to step out of the shadows and approach the group, he was pulled back by Shadow. "What are you doing up here in your wolf form? You should know better! Listen, there's a live broadcast about an orc attack on Spark. We cannot be above the ground right now. Let's head back!"
Kain morphed into his human form and followed Shadow back towards the underground, frustrated that he couldn't get a little elf bite.

Upon reaching the top of the stairs, Kjolmar paused for a second. His gaze turned to the bushes where Kain used to be a few seconds before. Kjolmar didn't see anyone but he felt as if there had been something or someone he should have noticed, like a gut feeling drawing his attention to that spot. The feeling was similar to when he entered the tunnels. He quickly shook it off and focused back on his fellowship.

A lot of commotion started outside. Kjolmar peeked outside to see what it was about and noticed how some humans and orcs were gathering around some sort of screen. It was nice to see them all get along but he was also curious what was on the screen that got them so worked up. Having great hearing, he focused on the broadcast.

"...Spark... under siege ... massive battle ... unclear how many wounded or deaths ..."

Those where the words he picked up. Kjolmar quickly glared at Ithnesi and Dagny. "Something is going on." He rushed back out of the treehouse and towards the screen, motioning for his company to follow him.

"What is going on?" he asked the crowd. They all had very troubled facial expressions. A human woman explained: "A gigantic assault on Spark by radical orcs. They say the president is murdered!"

An orcish woman shook her head and sighed: "I wasn't a big fan of him but no one here wished him dead. This is going to be bad for our kind too, those who already distrusted us will blame us for the work of these radicals. And Blind Hill is a symbolic place of coexistence. I'm afraid we'll not be safe here anymore."
Another orc replied to her: "This is the safest place we can be! Alphastream is dominated by radicals, they will hang us for living side by side with humans. No, we must stay here!"

While they debated on the outcome of the presidential assassination, some human troops -clearly armed- approached Blind Hill. It was just like the woman said, they would come for revenge. But no one expected it to be so soon. "Avoid human casualties if you can! They might be traitors but our prime target are those savages!" their leader yelled while the troops attacked.

Kjolmar was unsure what to do next. Do they run? Do they fight? Who was the real enemy? Next thing he knew, things were escalating: houses on fire, lots of wounded, chaos everywhere...
Both Connor and Umbreon didn't react very much to the waterdrops that Vaporeon had splashed them with. The lack of emotion possibly hinted a dark past between the two of them. A sharp contrast with the friendly conversation. Connor quickly tried to distract the conversation away from their overly serious reaction to the splashes. "Nice to meet you Felix. I'm Connor."

"You already met Umbreon and Gyarados. My third partner is Noivern." With that being said, Connor let Noivern out of its pokeball. It was well rested by now. "Both Umbreon and Noivern prefer nighttime but when I come here to take Gyarados for a swim, they like to get some fresh air too."

Meanwhile Umbreon was staring at Vaporeon with a particular curiosity. Could it be that the fact they were both eeveelutions, made them connect more easily? While Umbreon was usually quite reserved, his staring could not have gone unnoticed.

Connor's cellphone rang and he grabbed it out of his pocket. "Excuse me, this will only take a second." He pressed the green button on the touchscreen. "Connor speaking. Oh hi Damian, what's up? Yeah, I heard something about it on the news earlier but I turned it off. Rough day." He peered at Felix from the corner of his eye. "Well, a lot better now." he said with a secretive smile. "I am taking the rest of the day off. Maybe you should do that too? Your line of work is stressful to say the least. Alright, talk later."

While putting his cellphone away, he wondered how he ever became such good friends with Damian. It felt a little unnatural at first to be friends with someone who was associated with Team Rocket but Connor just knew that Damian was not the bad guy everyone tried to make him seem. There were a lot of worse people out there like that idiot Julien with his Mega Gyarados.

Connor tried to shake off those thoughts. Today was about relaxing the mind. Yet everytime he tried to, his thoughts went back to Ho-oh. It had been a life-changing event when he encountered it. With a soft tone, he asked: "Hey Felix, have you ever seen a legendary pokemon? I heard someone saw a Mew in Venezuela."
He didn't want to bring up Ho-oh yet as it was hard to explain how he thought he was revived by it. So he brought up Mew instead. A rumor he had heard from Damian earlier. Team Rocket inside information that shouldn't have gotten to his ears.

In the distance there was a lot of commotion in front of a building. Apparantly a pokemon gym was opening in the city, based on the gyms that existed in the games and anime. Whoever would be the gym leader would certainly have a lot of experience in battles. Connor had read about the gym being dedicated to the ice type. Rumors had it that the leader had an Articuno. Definitely competition for Neal and his Steelix, the leader of the steel type gym that was already in the city. Connor wondered if a city was actually allowed to have more than one gym.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Characters so far

Connor - Umbreon, Gyarados
Felix - Vaporeon, Alolan Vulpix, Lapras, Charjabug
Trainer Julien - Mega Gyarados
Damian of Team Rocket - Koffing
Gym Leader Neal - Steelix
Gym Leader Phoebe - Articuno

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
While the naga caught up with them, Kjolmar looked at him differently than before. He had actually helped them escape rather than only saving his own ass. Perhaps there was some honor in the downworlders after all, he thought to himself.
Meanwhile the bitten human woke up and started to struggle. A normal reaction when you find yourself floating to an unknown location. "Miss, please stay calm. We are not here to hurt you."

While he tried to explain the situation, his mind was going everywhere at once. What would be a safe place for her right now? Definitely not the underworld but even in the upworld she would face threats once her transformation finishes. They had to keep her far away from the council. Ever since John Adams was elected, downworlders were heavily frowned upon when entering their domain. If only he could reach the former leader of Odox, Feandra Riverwing. She would know what to do. Kjolmar flipped out some sort of communication device out of his pocket. It looked a lot like a phone but the shape was more round. "Minister Feandra." he spoke to the device and it zoomed silently. Quickly afterwards a female voice replied with an elvish accent. "Kjolmar? I haven't heard from you in ages. How are you?" He quickled came to the point of the case. "We can chat later. I have a code grey. Do you know where I can go?" A few seconds of silence followed before Feandra replied. "Try Blind Hill. There are both humans and orcs living there in harmony to prove a point to the council. Neither of them are hostile towards other races so you should be able to stay there for a while. Tell the orc activist Xul'Tchau that I sent you."

Kjolmar looked at the naga and nodded in confirmation, knowing he must have overheard the conversation. "Blind Hill is just a little to the south from here." His gaze then turned to the human/vampire and realized how confusing all of this must be for her. "Miss, my name is Kjolmar Delacroix and I'm a lawyer. Please trust me for now. If you promise to stay calm and follow us to Blind Hill, I will terminate my levitation spell so you can walk there on your own free will and on our way there I will explain everything. What do you say?"
His head turned to the naga, wondering how to explain to a human (or at least she thought she was still human probably) that a naga was here and he wasn't a threat to her. "And this is... I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name?"

~~~~

Meanwhile at a bar near Spark (Spark is mostly the council's domain)

"It is simply ridiculous!" Phil Smith shouted while nearly knocking over his pint of beer. "John Adams claims he is on our side, the side of all humans, but the only thing he does is enjoy his power as president. What is taking his 'Dark Orc Law' so long then? Or should we face reality, that Feandra Riverwing is still calling the shots?" The other human men sitting with Phil agreed with his ranting. One of them even spitted on the floor in frustration and mumbled "You would make a much better president!" Phil let out a little sigh. "I'm afraid the other races will never see the truth like we do, they think orcs nowadays don't harm anyone. We know better than that! No, my friends, forget about presidency, we need to take matter in our own hands and force those orcs to leave - with or without that law!"

At that very same time in Alphastream (a populous city equal in size to Spark)

"Ekko Egg darg!" an Orc said with a certain growl in his tone. "If we strike the humans at their very core, they will realize what a powerful race they are dealing with here!" This orc was dressed in heavy armor, similar to that of his ancestors. He clearly did not want to 'blend in'.
One of the other orcs, wearing human clothes and looking far less threatening, seemed to hesitate in agreeing with their leader. "With all due respect, Zuxzut, will an attack not only make them fear us more and make things worse?"
Zuxzut grabbed the smaller orc by the throat and grinded his teeth. "They already fear us, fool! Let's give them a reason. Do you wish to be like that idiot Xul'Tchau and his followers who humiliate themselves? No, my comrades, Xul'Tchau may be a decendant of the last Dark Orc by blood but he has betrayed our kind and for that, he will suffer the consequences. If he wants to live side by side with the humans, he will die by their side too! We, the New Dark Clan, shall honor our ancestors of the original Dark Clan and take control over Odox!"
He let go of the smaller orc, which tried to vanish out of the room without being seen, clearly afraid. Zuxzut whispered to a third orc: "That tiny one is going to rattle us out to Xul'Tchau, I could see the fear in his eyes. Follow him and slit his throat." Merely seconds later, the order had been executed.

~~~~

List of characters so far

* Played by roleplayers

Kjolmar Delacroix (YourSecretWeapon): Elvish Lawyer
Ithnesi Rarrisa (jetipster): Naga Ambassador
Dagny Finnur (PaperGroove): Going from Human to Vampire

* Humans

John Adams: President of Odox with controversial ideas
Phil Smith: Aggressive radical who believes John Adams is too soft on the Orcs

* Elves

Feandra Riverwing: Ex-President, still has a passive position on the council

* Orcs

Xul'Tchau: Pacifist and activist, openly critising John Adams
Zuxzut: Aggressive radical who wants to control Odox with his New Dark Clan

* Naga

no NPC's so far

* Werewolves

Shadow: Unofficial leader of the Werewolves with respect for other races
Kain: Egocentric individualist

* Vampires

No NPC's so far

~~~~

List of mentioned locations so far

* Upworld

Spark: the council's domain and its surrounding areas
Alphastream: the second biggest domain, usually avoided by humans
Blind Hill: a small town somewhere in between the two big domains, where humans and orcs live in harmony

* Downworld

Tunnels of Pleasure (usually refered to as simply 'Tunnels'): mostly werewolf territory but open to naga and vampires too, located underground near Alphastream
--> This is where we were in the beginning of the story
While the naga was eager to leave in a rush, the sight of a fainting human startled both of them. Not always a very big fan of the humans, Kjolmar wasn't sure what to make out of this scene. However, his inner instincts made him bend over her to see if she was okay. Even humans were Odoxians after all. He might not always agree with them but he shouldn't ignore someone who is clearly in some sort of trouble. "Miss?" he asked while gently poking her cheek with the back of his fingers. He looked at the naga as if looking for answers on what was going on. While he turned the girl's head to check her pulse, he noticed a bite mark. Two fangs. Sharp ones, not thick like a werewolf's. It could only mean one thing: bitten by a vampire.

Kjolmar knew this would change the girl's entire world. She would go from the 'upworld' to the 'downworld', filled with vampires, werewolves and naga. Races that all had one thing in common: they were generally distrusted by the humans. They didn't suffer as much as the orcs though. While the humans despised everything about the orcs, they usually tolerated the downworld races. Mostly thanks to the openness of the elves. Kjolmar always thought the humans despise the orcs the most because they live in the upworld like them and it's more confronting to them than races who are not in immediate sight.

The difference among the downworld races were complex.

In general the naga don't have too many problems with the humans as they most likely see them as 'just another race', not necessarily better or worse than any other. They don't have much contact with them anyway so there is little room for confrontation. When they do make contact, they keep it brief. They aren't very high on the human's agenda because of the lack of encounters.

The werewolves don't dislike the humans in particular either but they can blend it rather well because of their human shapeshift form. When they have to change back to their wolf form because of a full moon, for example, they wisely choose to go to the underworld.

Vampires on the other hand are very distrusted by some of the humans, probably because they can't fit in as well as the wolves and they don't avoid contact like the naga. However, the recent politics have largely changes the dynamics between these races. Vampires have been attacked by orcs in the past and this makes them more interested in the "Dark Orc Law" that John Adams is trying to push through. While a small group of vamps tries to see beyond their troubled past with the orcs, most of them are very cautious when it comes to orcs. Something the humans happily take advantage of. Despite distrusting the vampires as well, humans like John Adams have started to speech how he feels like the humans and the vampires should work together to face 'the orc problem'.


As a group of who-knows-who approached in the distance, Kjolmar levitated the fainted girl from the ground. "We need to take her out of here. She's the most vulnerable right now and about to change. In this phase she's not safe in the upworld nor the downworld. Could you please help me get her out of sight?" Kjolmar asked the naga. He needed some backup. When he noticed some sort of doubt in the stranger's eyes, he gave the naga his most sincere and begging look. "Haven't we all been in a vulnerable position once, grateful that we weren't left behind?" It were words you wouldn't expect from an elf, who generally hadn't seen darkness in their lives, but they sounded very sincere. Kjolmar was no average elf, that was obvious now.
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