The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Default Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    He'd never been much of a repairman, which was unfortunate since their present assignment involved taking apart gambling tables, hauling them downstairs and putting them back together. The disassembly was easy enough. The reassembly was going to be the tricky part.

    From his position underneath a roulette table, Sniper caught a glimpse of Love moving about the room. He paused in his efforts to unfasten the table legs.

    "How are you holding up with Blank?" He asked her.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    Between counting cards, packing game pieces, and taking stuff apart, Love is having fun. She can't say has ever dissembled and reassembled a casino until now. She moves closer to him to see if she can help when he speaks up. A big bag of game chips is in hoof, and she carries a saddlebag full of tools.

    "I'm holding up as well as can be expected. It's tough handling the abuse. I've suffered through worse." Love tries to end on a slightly happier note. "He makes me happy too. He calls me family even if we don't exactly agree on what that means. I'm glad to see him making progress toward being healthier. I, erm, he wasn't doing too well there, but today has given me a lot of hope. It's exceptional that I have a brother!" She chuckles in half disbelief."
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2018-09-08 at 04:13 PM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    "I'd offer to talk to him about that abuse, but I have a feeling I'd end up shooting him and that's an irony none of us can afford." Sniper sighs. "But you seem to be handling it better than most would. I have a feeling you'll pull him out of his funk in due time. Congrats on the discovery of a new relation, by the way."

    He rests his head on the floor for a long moment. Then he resumes taking the second leg off of the table.

    "If I can help you there, let me know. Outside of talking to him about his behavior, of course."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    Love starts organizing the pieces, again, so unpacking will be as easy as it gets down there. She chuckles. "Thanks for giving 'talking to him' some thought." There is a pause. "Rose is a step ahead and already threatened to shoot Blank. I mean that she for real pulled out her gun and everything." Love sighs. "What other choice do I have than to handle it? I hope your right. I have to be optimistic." She airs a weak smile at the congratulations. "Congratulations, indeed. Growing up, I never really cared about having or not having a sibling, but now, that I have one. I... want us to turn out on good terms. It's important to me."

    Love gives him a friendly nod. "I'll let you know. Angel has helped him non-stop. Whenever I went back to camp to eat my meals, I always tried to eat them with Blank if he was in the mood, and Angel was always around. She has worked hard. I can only imagine her fatigue." Love thinks. "I should make sure to get her something nice."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    It took the firing of far too many synapses to process that information. Rose threatened Blank?

    "That, well, makes my comment much less humorous that I wanted to it be. Banished if I know what goes on in Rose's head any more. It's like her and I've switched places. Even in terms of basic competency."

    One leg down. Two to go. Sniper shifted and began working anew.

    "Hornet squad has put up with a lot while we've been running around getting into trouble. I think we owe all of them a night on the town when we get back." He closed his eyes against an unwanted impulse. "Anyway... I figure you and Blank will eventually work things out. I don't think you'll be able to change his mind about Polaris by hitting him head on about his devotion. You may have to work parallel to-- huh." An old memory struck. "Y'know, fictional as the idea is... it might work."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    Love smirks. "Don't worry about not knowing. The joke didn't go to waste. I'd like to know that one day." She is at a loss for words about the last part, but she did hear him.

    The mass of chips is starting to separate into discernible colored packages.

    "Yeah, this first mission for them is a real doozy. My head could have appreciated them here today though." She smiles at a night on the town. "I'd like that. I know a couple good places nowadays."

    "You really think so? That's... good to hear." Love seems comforted by his figuring. "I'm so close to the situation I can't see anything straight. I've been avoiding the subject of Polaris and the CPI all together. I didn't want to introduce anymore friction." She says with some pain, "I don't mind if he hates me as long as he is healthy." Love gets excited at his idea. "Oh, yeah!? What might work?"

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    biggrin Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    "I read a book once, a thriller." Sniper explains as he adjusted his position and keep working. "The core conflict involved an enemy super villain who has a body guard. He'd trained her from her youth up with some brainwashing to make her loyal. The only way the hero could break that conditioning was to find a way to put himself and the bodyguard on the same side.

    "Something similar might work here. If you can get to know Blank, then eventually you might find an area of agreement and you can start chipping away at his devotion. In this case, though, it's not something you can force."

    There. All the hardware was removed. Sniper began gathering it.
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2018-09-09 at 10:18 PM.

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    Love process the story out loud. "We need to be on the same side. We need to work work together to overcome something. We can unite together against a greater threat. That's a good idea! I have been trying to make sure he doesn't see me as an opposing force. That's difficult considering his 'training', but I don't think I should motivate him with negativity." Love pouts. "I should have taken some child-rearing studies. This sort of snuck up on me. I am not prepared."

    Love skips back to a brushed upon topic. "There is seemingly a party for every occasion. They can present difficulties. I got you something." Love walks over to him and puts a sobriety (30) pill-box next to him since his hoofs are probably busy. No bells or whistles, the box looks like something a pony would buy over the counter. "I'm not sure if it's something that interests you, but you can do whatever you want with them." She shrugs. He can throw them in the trash if he wants.
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2018-09-10 at 02:07 AM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    "Is any pony ever ready to have children?" Sniper asks. Stars knew how horrible of a parent he would make.

    He picks up the box, studies it for a moment, and then snorts in amusement. "Heh. Sobriety pills. I guess it can't hurt to be prepared." He pockets the pills. "Thanks. I mean that."

    The hardware gets placed in a cardboard box atop the table. Once Brazen finished carting the whole mess downstairs, he'd go through the routine of putting it all back together again.

    "So... I mentioned earlier that I had some news. I found out earlier that my mother's expecting again. I've got a brother on the way. How's that for surrealism?" A grin manifests.

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    "I wanted to be better prepared. VR training programs. Development classes. An assistant. I've mostly lived alone since I've moved to Equestria."

    Love continues on her nearly finished project. The craps pieces are almost packed in a way that'd do Red Tape proud (at the attempt).

    She smiles as the pills are well received. "Glad to help! I got the idea when drinking was forbidden at our Good Hope party. It's only become more relevant as I have to keep turning down Mune's brews. I would have liked to have tried her creations, and now I can at least taste them even if they won't affect me as they're intended to do."

    "Yep." A nod goes along with the re-announcement. Love brights up at the news. Her face rents a billboard for her smile. "Your mother is expecting! In good time!," she 'quietly' cheers! She giggles and tries to control herself so she doesn't spill the news to the whole base. "That is pretty surreal! Two brothers in a week!" Love keeps attempting a stifled smilingly and giggling.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    "If I had any parenting advice, I'd give it to you. But as it stands I've got nothing." Sniper replies. Not likely to ever have any, either.

    On to the next project. He crouches next to a card table and prepared to repeat the process of prepping the table for transport.

    "I know. At the rate we're going, before this mission is over, Rose will find a long lost cousin and Seafire will finally pop a few foals. Then you could taste Munes' work at a celebration and get parenting advice from Brazen all in one go."
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2018-09-10 at 07:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    "I understand. Try not to read into this too much. You can feel free to laugh if you want. I think you might be good with kids. From what I've seen, you have a proper handle on the idea."

    Love finishes with the craps pieces. She seals up the containers and moves to a table so she can start tying down the roulette wheel.

    She laughs. "A bunch of Ace's children will show up. Is that the price I need to pay to taste Munes' work!?" She chuckles. Her mood slightly deflates. A pain hides behind her words. "I might have more siblings! A whole clone army!" Hyper Thought has her biology, and he is using her to make his 'tools'.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    He slipped underneath the table and set to work. He couldn't see how to respond to Love's child-rearing comments without it turning into a therapy session. Not commenting seemed the most prudent course of action.

    "We're going to shut him down, Love. Hard. I don't know how we'll get around his vampirism but we'll find a way and stop him from hurting any pony else. I promise you I'll do everything I can, there. And if there are more clones running around, we'll handle that as well. For what it's worth, I'd be surprised if he did."

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    The comment doesn't seem to have been well received. She wouldn't lie to him about this though. How he handled Diamond Hope's ideas seemed very parently to her. The topic won't be dragged out further though if Scope doesn't want to talk about it. It wasn't meant to be a conversation starter anyway.

    "I know we'll capture him. He can't be allowed to continue his work." She thinks about what he is saying and tries to see the positive side of things. "If he did, my rather small family reunions would become large in a hurry." She tries to crack a smile. "I never gave serious thought about a brother, and now I might get the chance to have thirty! Fifty! One is alright with me. In some ways, I hope you're right, but I wouldn't put anything past him." Hyper Thought made mimics. He might be able to do anything with biology given time. He could be doing so much good for ponies if he wasn't busy making weapons!
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2018-09-13 at 12:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    "Forgive how this sounds, but I don't see them cloning you for every computer operation. It would have to be something massive that would require the efficiency of a living computer."

    Sniper kept at the task of taking apart the table.

    "Let's just hope he doesn't start making clones of the rest of us."

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    Love manages to find humor in the statement and chuckles. "I'm not exactly prime clone army material. I have to work out for these glorious muscles." She steps back and flexes her noodle arms. "He'd probably find a better mercenary for that." The chuckles subside. "I hope he wouldn't do that." She gets back to work.

    Spoiler: Another topic?
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    "How is Rem doing? She seems careful."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    Spoiler: Another Topic
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    Works for me.


    "I hope not as well. But I don't think Hyper Thought cares what we hope." Sniper says.

    "Honestly, 'careful' isn't a word I'd use to describe Rem. She seems na´ve and stunted-- which makes sense given everything that's transpired in her life. It's a good thing we found her first. A lot of factions could misuse her abilities and I don't know that she comprehends that not every pony has her best interests at heart." He sighs. "Right now, she wants to find Wrath and try to help her. I'm not convinced that's a good idea."

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    She doesn't imagine Thought would care about such a thing. His motives do interest her though.

    Wait. What? Love's cheeks redden. "That was a malaprop. I meant to say cheerful."

    "Energetic is a much better word to describe her than careful!" Love goes quietly into thought when Scope says naive and stunted. "I wish we found her so so many years ago, freed her from her cage, but I'm very glad she can spend time with us now. She is a very special, talented fun loving individual. I want that cheerful nature to be able to stay and good things to happen to her." Love is surprised by Rem's latest interest.

    "Wrath!? I know Rem wants to help everyone, but that's a very dangerous proposition. I don't need to tell you that Wrath is under the affects of a lot of emotion magic. I'd worry about about introducing Rem to a negative influence. She needs to be surrounded by friends and family."
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2018-09-16 at 07:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    "I know. I might not have been forceful enough trying to dissuade her from that idea." Sniper sighs. "I've been too hesitant about a lot of things lately.

    "But I don't want to control and stifle Rem. I don't want her to bite off more than she can chew either. She's not a child even though she's childish. I've got to respect her decisions while trying to keep her on the right path. It's a hard balance to find."

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    Love gives a thoughtful, "hm," to not being forceful enough. "What you and Rem did is downright astounding. Both of you saved Merry and Emerald. The moment is worth celebrating and remembering as something positive. A celebratory moment may not have been the time to tempter that hopeful passion. I'm sure she wouldn't mind talking to you if you wanted to address the topic."

    The roulette wheel isn't locking into place all that easily. Love is tempted to simply take the thing apart and pack up the pieces. Instead of going ham, she elects to tape the thing down with some fancy electricity triggered tape.

    "Isn't she like one hundred years old? I understand not wanting act controlling or stifling. I can be too overbearing myself, and I've been thinking about the consequences of that. I think you're in a good spot and way of thing about everything though. Rem needs a thoughtful guide around pitfalls, but she also needs room to grow and develop herself like you said." Love pauses for a moment at that idea. "Finding that balance sounds super hard!" Love smirks. "This sounds like something too complex to go perfectly, but I'm here to try to help nudge things in the right direction. Rem is a good person. She will get some good music to listen to from me at the very least." Love chuckles.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    Something in Love's speech strikes a note of sorrow, but he doesn't feel like doing the necessary analysis to understand why.

    "For what it's worth, I think you've come a long way on working with, for lack of a better word, your overbearingness." Sniper says. "And you're right. All we can do is try to provide guidance for Rem and hope for the best. Maybe this is a microcosm of what the Princesses feel most of the time."

    Or maybe this was what being a parent was like. Hard to tell.

    "Yeah. She's supposedly a few hundred years old and had some kind of falling out with Princess Luna. I haven't asked for details or specifics about her history because of the crystal spell that Sombra put on her. We've already seen that it overrides her free will and ability to share accurate information. Anything she says about their past wouldn't be reliable."
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2018-09-21 at 02:31 PM.

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    Love hesitates to accept Scope's conclusion. "I'm not sure my change is for the better."

    She jokes/teases, "The whole friends thing is probably really helpful too if not enjoyable at least. We can do that guidance thing too though."

    The topic of the princesses draws her silence. She privately short-range comms him, "I've spent more time with Luna and Torch. Torch is Twilight's nickname. The Princesses are feeling a lot of things nowadays. I'd bet you're right though."

    She keeps to the private comms, "I'd like to know what happened in the past as well. I do want to help and I'm curious too. You'll be happy to hear that I got some magic items that should help us decipher pedestal. We're closer to helping her than the other day. We're getting closer."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    Sniper keeps to the private comm., although he lets the comment about the processes go with a simple: "I guess I shouldn't be surprised."

    "Hopefully, between some friendship and your new magical tricks, we can undo whatever it is that they did to Rem. It'd be nice to have that problem behind us.

    "You don't seem to sure about your personality changes. Is something bothering you about them?" Sniper asks.

    Three legs down, one to go.

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    Love keeps to short-range comms. "Have you spent more time with Princess Celestial? I thought maybe you would."

    "We'll get the pedestal sorted out." Love wanted to move past Rem's imprisonment too.

    She inspects for a silent moment. "I suppose there has been a change in my methods. I want to change things, and I mean change in a serious way. I will need a lot of strength, but at what point does raw strength turn into a fault? I still feel as strongly as I did before this mission, but I'm only a single pony. The world is complex and needs countless different answers from countless different people. That's fine. That's good. I want to work with countless people. What if I compromise too much though and do less than I could have because of my restraint? I'm not saying that I won't expect mistakes - I make plenty of mistakes -, but a fault in my general approach. Everything requires its own answers, and I think my overbearing habits might end up doing more harm than good. I need to find a balance."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    "I'd planned on taking to Princess Celestia, but between the short turn around time between missions and the Rose drama, I didn't get a chance. And after screwing up so badly I no longer know that would be a good idea." Sniper let his head drop back against the the floor. Rose was a frustrating topic. "I never should have said anything about my attraction to Rose. You were right about that back at the castle. It... I should have been stronger... And we all paid the price for it.

    "When it comes to being overbearing, well..." An analogy strikes. "... You know about combustion engines, right? So you wouldn't mind being behind the wheel of a car with a combustion engine, would you?" He waits a moment for Love's response. "How about being at ground zero of a high yield explosion-- without your power armor?"

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    "There really wasn't that long of a pause between missions. The mission was the longest we had ever had, out of two. The pass time felt so short with everything that was happening." Love pauses to absorb the topic change. "I don't think you screwed up badly. Princess Celestia would be really happy to see you given the chance, especially if the meeting is not work related." Love shakes her head. "I don't want there to be any confusion about what I said back at the castle. I didn't want you to share my now dashed feelings with Rose, but I was happy that you shared yourself with another pony. I thought the two of you were going to be so happy together. I never would have foreseen how things ended up. There are other ponies though." Her ears slightly droop, but she is keeping a strong front aside from that. "If I was a better friend, a good friend, maybe, things would have turned out different." She pauses. "Rose has changed."

    -

    Love plays along with the analogy. "Yeah! Star and I are starting a little hobby work on an old combustion engine car." She smiles real big. "We're going to go looking around in the old junk yards once we get back to Equestria."

    She easy answers him, happy to follow the trail he is laying, "I wouldn't mind driving a combustion engine car." A chuckle escapes. "I wouldn't want to stand at ground zero of a high yield explosion with my power armor! The thing is only rated against personal firearms." She answers him more directly, "I would not want to sit naked at a high yield explosion." She thinks sees where this is going and curiously waits for his input.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    "Maybe. Maybe we'll find out." Sniper says in relation to visiting the Royals.

    In regards to the break up: "It wasn't anything that you did or didn't do, Love. Our separation wasn't your fault. It was mine. I wasn't ready to have a relationship, I knew that, and... I chose to believe the lie that I could love her instead of embracing the truth that I didn't empathize with any one. Eventually, I had to accept that reality for what it was." He sighs. "It was mine."

    Sniper emerges from under the table.

    "A combustion engine is propelled by a series of small sparks. Explosions if you will. But those explosions are restrained and directed to propel you where you want to go. When you brake and accelerate properly, it's a safe way to travel. In contrast, an uncontrolled explosion wipes out everything in its path and is destructive. Passion is the same way if you think about it."

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    Love has a lot of confidence in the Princesses and shares that. "Princess Celestia is kind. I admire the warmth and love she showed for Powder Keg. Her empathy is inspiring." The praise is matter of factually said instead of excitedly,

    She takes a deep breath, puffs up, and sighs everything away. "I don't know if I could have made a difference. I could have done better though." She pauses and rubs her mane. She needs to reserve herself for Scope instead of spilling her heart out. "It takes more than one pony to have a relationship. I thought I saw genuine affection. That spark of romance. The way you care for her." Love puts some stress in her mouth. She really saw it in him! "I feel like you've been horribly mistreated."

    ---

    Love taps her chin. "Yeah, I can see how they are the same way." She chuckles. "I certainly don't want to wipe out everything in my way. I didn't have something so destructive in mind." She smiles. "I'll hold to my passion, but I'll try to be more purposeful with my sparks. That'll fit right in there with me trying to be more conscious of the consequences of my actions. I'll stay true while working toward my dreams."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    It must be nice to have empathy. Sniper turned Love's declaration over in his mind and then shrugs helplessly. He repeats: "I guess we'll find out." It was time to move past that topic of conversation.

    "What's done is done, Love." He pauses to lean against the table. Sadness overtook him and, for once, he didn't bother to hide it. "And there's no going back. I guess history repeated itself. I spoke to Rose a while ago and... the whole thing was sham. There wasn't any love on Rose's side, she just wanted sex. I was forcing myself to feel affection and investment that really weren't there because I was so desperate for acceptance. For some pony to relate to me as-is without trying to change anything about me.

    "When we were in the lab and trying to confront her about it, I almost gave in and slept with her because she was so desperate and pained. I'm glad that I didn't because, er... it was close. When the truth came out I wanted to walk away from the relationship but I felt a duty and obligation to stick by her. That's why I stayed in the relationship. Maybe we would have grown to love each other over time. Maybe not, but after Chrysalis there wasn't any way to salvage the relationship. Chrysalis did us a favor by--"

    He stops short and closes his eyes. No, banish it. Lock the emotion away and don't feel. "It hurts, yes. But--"

    He swallows.

    "But, it has to be better than the lie."

    -----

    "It's all about application. Knowing when to accelerate, break and turn will get you farther than just wildly pushing everything forward." Sniper says. "So you've got the right idea."

    Spoiler: OoC
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    I'm fudging the timeline of the conversations, but it works better this way.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Life in the Pits

    Love has all her projects off to the 'side' as she focuses on the conversation. She watches her friend and her heart aches. This whole situation is too cruel to him. "I didn't know how sour the relationship turned. You tried so hard for Rose and the relationship. You handled yourself with mettle that few ponies would have demonstrated. From what I saw of her actions I'm appalled by what she did to you. I want to hope that she entered the relationship seeking love with good intentions. That she wanted more than sex. You sought love from her." Love moves closer to take a seat nearby so she isn't so far away.

    "I'm so sorry you got hurt. That Chrysalis and Rose hurt you. I'm ashamed of what I did in the lab and elsewhere. How I acted. I messed up. I'm sorry." She is upset, but she is refusing to show more emotion than Scope is showing. "You deserve so much better. You may not have found happiness there, but you'll find your happiness some other place someday. There are ponies out there that will accept you for you."

    -----

    Love smirks. "I maxed out my stats in acceleration and speed. Turning and breaking are my bad stats. I'm most adapted to moving in a straight lines really fast." She taps a hoof on the ground. "I need to work on my application. Life isn't a straight path forward. I need to practice more control for the sake of everyone around me." She hopes she isn't over doing it for Scope. A worried glance goes his way.
    Last edited by Elbeyon; 2018-10-10 at 12:39 PM.

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