Sometimes, something must die, to keep the rest living.
Today, we have to go on a mission. We have to be very careful. The worst possible thing that could happen to these mountains are Sanders. My plan is made. My sister Abida will be left on the railway station, while me and Alia - Atan will go over the mountains, to the Hexagon Valley, where, if Stromboli is right, the Sanders are planning something. I have all very good planned. Unfortunately, men (even as a transgender) are far from good at making plans. And still... he is more a coward then a warrior. So, again, I am to be in charge. I know very good how things must go. We will pretend that we got lost on the mountains, then pretend we are a couple from the Land Of The Plains that went to the mountains to drink. Since Nomads are Muslims and are not allowed to drink, they often come here. Then reach to a good friend of me, Inah. Almost nobody knows that she is a sfenist too. I calculated everything, every step and placed all on a well-established schedule. Just as the morning train departs and Abida comes, we start moving.
We have a great advantage that Alia - Atan can pass both as a man or as a woman. I don't know why, when a man dresses as a woman, he looks older always. So, he can pass as over 30's. But there is a major problem: he looks a bit childish. Just like me. Usually, sfenists look a bit childish. Why is that? The answer comes from a joke that people use to say in these mountains. The joke says that at some point, a television came to find the oldest man on Earth. They searched and found one. So, they asked him:
"How did you get to this age, grandpa?"
"In morning I eat milk, at lunch milk, in the evening milk", the old man says.
"And how old are you?"
Then, they find another man. They ask him again how he got to this age.
"In the morning I eat vegetables, at lunch vegetables, in the evening vegetables", he says.
"And how old are you?"
Then, they search again, until they find one man that looks incredible old. They ask him how he managed to survive to that age. He answers:
"In morning, I have women, at noon, women, then at evening women again".
"And how old are you?"
"30", he answers.
Well, this is a joke, but it is somehow true. An active sexual life makes you appear more mature, older, more evolved. For a sfenist, this can never happen. As a result, we look a bit younger then we should. And not only that, but we look more innocent. For a woman, that gives an innocent, sexy look, that drives guys crazy. I am a bit over 20, but people give me an age of 17. For men, it is a bit different. A sfenist man looks more polite and innocent, but anything away from a self-confidence Batman or Mortal Combat warrior that women will go mad after. Alia - Atan might be 25, but as a man, people give him 20 or 19. As a woman, he could fit to 30. Well, there is a catch. I could pass as a boy (even if I have a strong hate against men). With my short size, I can fit to 15 or 14 years old. This might work for my woman voice. So, I could fit as his child and he as my mother? It could work, but he doesn't speak well our language. Well, this could work in some situations. We prepared for all scenarios.
There is another problem. Here, in the Heptagon Valley, people speak a dialect. In the Hexagon Valley, there is a different dialect. We understand that dialect, since it is the same language, but Alia - Atan is new to this world. He still doesn't speak our dialect perfectly. There, he will have problems finding his way.
Well, if all goes according to plan, all will work well. If not and there really are Sanders, we should be ready to hide in the mountains. That doesn't scare me, anyway.
We start going, leaving Abida behind, at the station. Now, we are dressed like two girls going for a sunbath. Nobody can suspect we are going to the mountains. I have my favorite green dress, with a white leaf on its top. I have smooth shiny pantyhose, with sport shoes. Alia has a yellow dress, with a large red umbrella on its top. He also has smooth shiny pantyhose and sport shoes. We had to paint our hair last night, in a sort of dark brown with a little red, something that can pass both for a man or a woman. We both have a small sack on our back. We both have a summer hat on our heads.
From the railway station, starts an industrial line, 9 km long. It follows a little river and moves through pastures. At 6 km, there is a little village. People from there, go by foot along the railway to reach our station. At the end, the railway reaches a surface coal mine, which is used mostly in autumn. The main reason why this mine is used only when coal demand exceeds production, is the steep grade towards it. Trains hardly manage to climb here. There have been cases when a train could not climb all the way up.
We walk along the railway. And we really look like two girls looking for a place to relax. Soon, we reach the village, where a few dogs start barking. People keep their cows in the pasture. Well, we pass the village without incidents and reach the mine. It is all quiet here, nobody is in this place. We make a small break and smoke, before starting to climb.
"Have you ever climbed on mountains?" I ask.
"Not quite like that", he answers. "I did, but in organized groups and on touristic marked paths. And I had special equipment".
"No equipment here", I answer. "It is nothing here. Just us and the mountains".
"But I bet you cannot keep your step with me, Nicotiana. Your excessive smoking have ruined your lungs".
"Oh yea? Smoking does nothing bad to the human body. Just watch. I bet at the end you will be crying like a puppy".
And we start climbing. Well, I heard that people going to the mountains should have sport boots, but where do you find such a thing here? What brand? Be serious! Who has the money for that? We have the cheapest tennis shoes, for going on the mountains. The path starts from behind the mine and climbs. first, it follows a little stream, then leaves it behind. We are deep in the forest, finding our way through roots and fallen branches. The path is still clearly visible. We reach a group of white boulders. I know, there is a small spring beneath them. And we stop for a cool natural drink, then we take a smoke.
"How is it?" I ask.
"Wow, I lost my training", he answers.
"Marked touristic paths, you say?" I answer, laughing. "So that the sanders will know which way to go".
We take water in a plastic bottle and continue our journey. The road takes us close to some large cliffs, all white. There is a small cave here, we just pass close to its entrance.
"Limestone", he says, looking at the rocks. "These mountains are so complex. We have limestone, coal, granite, crystalline schist, all together combined in a pattern I cannot understand".
Then, we enter a tight canyon, in fact a deep crack in a large white cliff. It looks somehow like a valley, but with no water. The path stretches through the canyon. It is just enough space to go through by horse, not horse carriage. Upper from here, the path is cut in the stone. And here, one can see unusual signs sculpted in the stone.
"Anywhere you go and you find stones, you see these signs", I say. "They are not letters, they are symbols. Remnants of our ten thousand years of history. We've been here, in these mountains, ever since".
We continue our way up. The canyon ends and a few stairs are dug in the rock. We reach above, on a flat terrain, covered with forest. There is a vertical cave here. I show him where it is.
"In old times, when we had to sell our children for weapons, to defend these mountains, some virgin girls jumped in here. They made suicide to save their souls. Nobody is allowed to come closer".
Then, the path follows a straight line. It passes through the forest. We then go down a bit, to meet a valley. It is full of waterfalls. Downstream, it is very deep and scary, but upstream, it is very small. That is the way. We follow it upstream. The path follows it through the dense forest. We pass the valley and keep on climbing. I almost jump over the roots and fallen tree branches, but for him, it is hard. We reach the top. From here, we can see our valley, the Heptagon, in the back. In front of us, it is the Hexagon Valley. And we see to our right, the high mountains, covered with snow, rising above everything. To left, we can see how the mountains are lower and lower, continued with hills. Then, far away, it is the Land Of The Plains, where nomads live. Here, on top of the mountain, we see a black tower of stone. It is natural, not made by humans, but has some sculptures on it.
"This is the shrine of Adge, the god of craftsmen. He gives them the power to work", I say. "Adge is the sword of Aziv, the god of war".
"And where is Aziv's shrine?" he asks.
"About two days of walking from here. But only people going to war are allowed to go there".
We move a bit away, to a place that looks good for a picnic. After all, my plan is to tell people a lie, that we went for a picnic and got lost in the forest. It is better to lie when there is something true. If not, they will find out the truth by looking in our eyes. I made a few sandwiches, with cheese and vegetables layered between two slices of bread. We eat our food and drink some water. As it is polite, we say nothing while eating. Then, we light a cigarette.
"Have you ever been to the Land Of Sands?" asks Alia.
"Yes, but not deep inside. I've been to its capital, by train. It is hotter then here. Less rain, more drought. They also have mountains".
"And the people?"
"All Muslims. But they are more practical then the Nomads. I mean, women there don't have the right to walk alone and must always cover their heads". I take a deep inhale, thinking that he will ask me about Islam, but I continue: "They are different somehow. Some are extremely rich, while others are starving. Well, they are of different Islamic sects, so conflicts are common. But that is not the problem. Their main problem is their neighbor, Land Of Fire".
"Have you been to that land too?"
"Alia, if I wanted to be killed, raped a trillion times and sold to a harem, I would. But I don't. And you know it is war there. You know the truth, now. It is an artificial war, because some rich idiots want to be war, for their contraband to work". I take another inhale, keep the smoke inside me, then let it out. "It is all artificial, nothing else! Do you really think people want war? And a lot of refugees moved from the Land Of Fire, to the Land Of Sands. That is the problem, they bring sanders with them".
I take another inhale, slowly blowing the smoke through my nostrils.
"I never understood why Islam makes people do such things. People in the Civilized World think it is Islam that droves Sanders do what they do".
"Completely fake!" I answer, while I was ready to take another inhale. I take it, then speak, as the smoke gets out of me, with my words. "Have you ever read the Quran? Answer me!"
"No, Just a few quotes, Nicotiana".
"Well, you should read and talk later", I say. "If you will read it, you will understand that Islam is a religion of peace and not of war. Only that the Holly Book is written in Ancient Arabic. It contains the words of the Prophet, just as he said, not a single word is changed. Only that the language changed. You see, Alia, Ancient Arabic is like Latin or Slavonic or Ancient Greek. It is different from the Arabic spoken today. And while some Arabs can understand it, many people will not. Everyone knows to read and recite the Quran, but almost nobody knows what actually is written inside. Children learn to read and recite from a young age. I don't contest that there are miracles and Allah is helping people understand, but not everybody".
I take another inhale from my cigarette, let the smoke out, then continue.
"The same was in the Christian World. The Bible was written in Slavonic in the Orthodox Church or in Latin in the Catholic Church. Also, praying was done in those languages. So, people had no idea what the truth is. How do you explain such insane actions, as holy wars and crusades? Then came Martin Luther, who translated the Bible into Germanic. From that point, every German citizen that knew how to read, was able to read the Bible and search the truth by itself. For me, it was a revelation when I could read the Quran in English, on the internet. Yes, it is a difficult book and you can puzzle your mind for a long time, trying to understand. It is far better to ask for help, to understand certain chapters. I might say, it is sometimes as difficult to understand as the bible, which, despite those endless genealogies that got me bored, contains many wise examples for life and is sometimes impossible for me to understand. Well, for both books you must look at the time they were wrote".
He is so surprised to hear this.
"You mean you read the bible?"
"Yes, I did. And I did read many stories from all religions I could find. Well, if we talk about Islam, here is what I strongly respect: No alcohol, no drugs and no gambling. These 3 huge sins are strongly forbidden in my life".
"Nicotiana, since you know so much, what the Quran says about women? Why Muslims are beating and treating women like this?"
"Well, the Quran says loud and clear that a man can beat his wife only on the back and only in a way that will not harm her. Also, a woman must be beaten when there is NO OTHER WAY, no other solution. For example, when you, as a man, see your wife tries to suicide or do something very bad. I understand that and accept that, but there is no place, in the whole book, where it is said that women should be treated in a bad way".
"I never imagined this", he says.
"You also must put things into their age. You see, in that time, polygamy was frequent, both at Jews and Arabs. So, Mohamed accepted Muslims to have up to four wives. But we live in a different society now. And there is no way the Prophet would have accepted a harem".
"But most Sultans had that!"
"Also, there are many things. The Prophet fought both against alcohol and drugs, naming them 'intoxication'. And in the same way, against gambling. About these things, he said: 'There is little profit and great sin, but the sin is far greater then the profit'. You see? It is said that, about alcohol, he said once that 'it takes so much of intoxication to kill the body, but so little to kill the soul' and after he said that, people in Mecca were throwing their barrels of wine on the streets. And wine started to flow on the streets like rivers. Well, it only takes a visit to Mecca and you are a completely different person. At least it worked for me".
"You've been there?"
"Yes. After all, I am an official Muslim. What amazed me there, more then everything, is that people, rich or poor, black or white, get dressed in white suits and are equal. No difference. But I think we talked enough. We should go, to keep the schedule".
We continue our trip. The path now goes down, towards the Hexagon Valley. There are 12 valleys in the Land Of The Mountains, each one hosting different villages and people speaking a different language or dialect. Here, the rocks are some sort of black and dark blue. They are large, massive chunks of rock, fragmented. A close look reveals stratification. Alia - Atan shows me that these rocks were formed by sedimentation, then they went deep inside the Earth's crust, where they were exposed to high pressures, to become solid. We walk between some large boulders. Then, we reach a large plateau, some sort of terrace, covered with forest. The path continues along a river, down to a spectacular waterfall. Then, we enter deep into the forest. Rocks become a bit reddish here.
"Iron ore", says Alia - Atan. "So many minerals are here and so little is extracted".
We continue and reach a pasture, then again we are in the forest. We keep going, until we reach a dry valley. Then, we reach a small river, that flows through a deep gorge, from a waterfall to another. Soon, its valley gets larger. Here, we see a lake, partially silted. There is a dam downstream, about 30 meters high, made of concrete. We stop here and I take Alia - Atan to an abandoned building nearby, which has no door left.
"We need to change here", I say. And we change clothes. He now gets dressed as a man, with grey trousers and a white shirt. I change my green dress with a white blouse and black pants that reach to my knee. Also, we change our summer hats with something more common here. I take a hijab to cover my head, while he takes a fancy hat that covers all the hair and sun glasses. With an earring in one of his ears, he will look like an adventurer and I will look like his Muslim wife. Well, not many people know me here. Nobody knows him, anyway. But I know the place. "Remember, I am Aisha, your wife. And you are Abdullah, my husband. We are from the Land Of Nomads. It is not polite for me to speak. You know what you have to do. We get to the main pub of the village and ask for a big bottle of cola and two glasses. Then, you ask for something to drink, like Vodka. We pretend to be drinking, so I can listen what people say. Then, we go to my friend, Inah".
What I forgot, is to bring him socks. So, if anyone looks very close, can see that he has pantyhose. Well, someone must be very careful to see this.
After the dam, we find an old road, partially destroyed by water flowing. And in an hour, we reach the village. It looks a bit similar to our village, only that the valley is more narrow. I know my way around here. Not soon and we are in the center. We enter the largest pub. I take a seat at a table in the middle, while Atan orders a big cola and two glasses. Very good. We drink fast two glasses of cola, then fill two others. Then, Atan orders a glass of something heavy, with much alcohol.
I know what I have to do. I listen to everyone, to see if they say something about a new opportunity of work, about a new kind of crops, anything. And we smoke. But, because we don't want people to see our handmade cigarettes, we buy a pack.
"There is nothing original in here", says Atan. "This is not real cola. It tastes horrible".
"What do you expect in here?" I answer.
When there is nobody in the bar, he pours the alcohol into the bottle of cola. Then, orders a new glass. And we do this a few times. He only touches the drink with his lips, not drinking anything but cola. Well, we stay about two hours like this. Then, he pays for all and we go out.
I listen to everyone. But, once, I notice some guys that come here and look like Muslims from the Land Of Nomads, but speak a dialect that is used in the Land Of Sands. Too bad I don't understand much of what they are saying.
We now head to the house where my friend Inah lives. It is a house similar to mine. We enter directly. Inah is older then me, about 35. She has natural hair and is dressed in working clothes. She is working in her garden. When we come, I take my hijab away. When she sees me, she comes and hug us both. I tell her who he is. Immediately, she takes us to the kitchen and gives us something to eat. Like anyone in these villages, she cooks things based on milk and cheese, vegetables, bread and eggs. After we finish eating, we all light cigarettes and start talking.
"What a pleasant surprise, Ana! It's been so long since you last came here".
"I am happy to see you too", I say. "How is Altha?" (Altha is her husband).
"Not good at all. He is very sick. Liver problems".
"I am sorry to hear that", I say.
"Because of drinking", she says, almost crying.
"Can we help him?" I ask.
"I've been to Jupiter and talked to a few doctors, but I don't know. They say some medicine could help, but it is too expensive. And none of us has a job".
"How much?" asks Atan.
"About 80 $", she says.
"We can help you", I say. "I think we can. Don't we have that money, Atan?"
"We do have", he answers. "Give them, if you wish".
I give her the equivalent of 100 $. She is so happy that starts crying.
"Is there anything I can do for you?" she asks.
"Actually, there is, Inah", I answer. "But please, what we say, must remain here. Nobody must know, not even your shadow".
"I will not tell".
We tell her why we are here, that we suspect Sanders are here and that Sicily has plans to extend his emporium away from the Land Of Sands here. I told her that Stromboli sent us here to investigate. And she tells us about something, about a house nearby, where she has seen something unusual. That person gets lots of money without an explanation and uploads and downloads a lot of staff on trains. A lot of packages. Also, she says that the electricity bill is extremely high for that house, which is so unusual. People here have lights in each rooms and a TV set, nothing more. So, why would someone use so much energy?
About unusual plants, she knows nothing. About unusual people, she also knows nothing. But then she remembers that she has seen an unusual number of strangers, coming to the central pub to drink, then going by train back.
Then, we go to see Altha, her husband. He is sick in the house, on bed, accusing some pain. She is feeding him, washing him, taking care of him in any way she knows.
But we cannot stay much longer. We plan to take a closer look.
"If you need anything from us, just tell", I say to her. "And if you find out anything new, tell us".
"I will", she says.
We travel to the house she showed us and take a look, just by passing on the road in front of it. Yes, there is something strange. Firstly, the house is surrounded by a fence that does not allow you to see anything inside. Secondly, we can hear sounds that are not familiar. Those sounds repeat continuously, like some sort of equipment is working. Well, my plan here, changes a bit. Behind the house, there is the river. So, why don't we just pretend that Atan is sick from too much alcohol and needs to throw-up? So, we follow a path that borders two properties, to the river. He leans down to the water and tries to wash his face, while I help him. But my eyes are in fact watching the house and the things around it. What is this about? I see some big metal objects, something making smoke (so, there is a fire) and a few metal pipes, including a few that reach the river. I also notice some steam.
I have no idea what this thing is doing here. But I notice one person or two. They didn't see us.
Well, we don't want trouble. So, we move away from here. This time, we get out to the forest, where we will change again. Now, it is time for Atan to become Alia again. If this works fine, we will get home safe, by train. Only that this time Alia will be much older and I will be her son. I have to dress like a child.
And here we go! Now Alia is wearing a green hijab, a dark red blouse and a dark brown skirt, with dark pantyhose. He has platform shoes. In order to look older, I apply him a strident red lipstick and a lot of make-up around his eyes. His nails are made dark red. The apply of dark colors make him looking older. I am dressed like a boy, with a white shirt and jeans. But again, I forgot to take socks, so if someone looks close to my feet, will notice I have pantyhose.
I go back to the local railway station. They use a similar system of communication, with radio beeps. We get in the train and leave. I take a sit close to the window, as a boy would do, while he takes a sit close to me. He pays my ticket, as a mother would do. Unnoticed by anyone, we go to Jupiter, our capital city.
The railway here, is as damaged as the railway where I work. Only that this line does not transport coal. Trains here carry wood from the upstream forests. With a massive lack of roads, trains here carry all the cargo and passengers.
In Jupiter, we go to our train. Our first stop is in the toilette, before the train departs, as it is still empty. We change clothes and make-up back to what we had before. I have my favorite green dress, with a white leaf on its top. I have smooth shiny pantyhose, with sport shoes. Alia has a yellow dress, with a large red umbrella on its top. He also has smooth shiny pantyhose and sport shoes. We look like two girls returning from a sunbath. As the train prepares to depart, I start to make plans, about all we've seen. But, suddenly, something happens. We hear screaming on the platform.
"I'll kill you!" shouts somebody.
There are two men in a fight.
"You die for what you've done!" shouts the other one.
"You own me money!"
"I owe you nothing!"
They are fighting down there, while people try to avoid them. Nobody interferes with them.
"Oh mine! Shouldn't they go to a forest or a field, if they have something to share?" says someone in the train, not too far away from us.
Fights are common here, like anywhere in these mountains. At some point, the two move away one from the other. Good that we managed to get out without a problem. I know I will have to write a detailed report to Stromboli and send it to him by train somehow.
Our train departs and soon we are back home. Abida waits us, nervous to return to her house. We get back to our home, eat and go to the house.
"I don't understand anything", says Alia. "What was that building?"
"I also don't know. All I know is that it is unusual. Well, it's doing something it should not do. But this is not our part. Stromboli will work further from here".
"What will he do?"
"Sometimes, you have to let something die, if you want the rest to survive".
Time has passed. We find out, thanks to Inah, that the mysterious building is in fact making cola and nothing else. Maybe Stromboli had a wrong information. But it is true that a group of refugees from the Land Of Sand has moved there. They are only refugees, nothing else.
For me, there is another lesson from this trip. I might have more the personality of a man then that of a woman, but for the first time in my life I was dressed as a man. It looks like this is the best I can get as a man: a child. Being shorter, there is no way I could become a real man. I didn't like to be a boy. If I could be a real man, to take matters into my own hands, it would have been much better. If somehow we were to change genders, Alia can behave as my mother, of 35, but I will be just a teen-ager, at 15. All my life I thought that for a woman, to become a man, it is very simple, while in fact, it isn't. We women are shorter (and I am particularly short). My breasts are small so I can hide them, but there is no way I can make the biceps of a man. How much gym should a woman practice in order to become a transgender? How many transformations? Much more then men. A woman with large breasts will have no way other then surgery, to remove her breasts before going further. And still I don't know what to do with the voice. Well, my underage smoking did something for me, changing my voice into more bass, but still I have the voice of a woman. No matter how much I smoke, I will not have the voice of a guy. And for the last and final transformation, I yet don't know how and if it is possible to create a penis for a woman. I know that by using hormones the clitoris becomes a small penis, but not a real one. And all your life, you have to take doses of testosterone.
A woman that becomes a man must work so hard, that it is far too much for me. If I become a man, I am someone at the bottom of any hierarchy. Many men are not smart, especially when they think with their balls. They use their excessive force to prove their superiority, not their brains. At this point, I think it is far better for me to be a woman, to prove my superiority to them.
I always thought that for a woman to become a man, all what is needed is to wear some clothes, a fake beard and a fake mustache. And I thought that achieving that is very easy. Now, I clearly see the opposite. After this trip, something of me died. I am now a woman in all aspects. Instead of being a nobody in men word, it is better to shine above them as a woman.
But what is Alia - Atan? A man? A woman? Something between. I have to work on him, to make him something better. As I've seen on the internet (and partially at him), a transgender tries to wear more strident make-up, more sexy clothes, without paying attention to details. It is not enough to wear a skirt and pantyhose to become a woman. He needs to learn how to match the colors, how to match the tiny aspects to be pretty.
When a man dresses as a woman, he becomes more aged, more powerful (compared to the force of a woman), more sexy, but never as pretty as a woman. He is the only exception I know. Well, this is because I select his clothes and I help him with make-up and his hair. But he is starting to understand. He is becoming more woman, without forgetting that he is a man and will remain this way. He is, in fact, trying to become a copy of me.
Now, I need to say a few words about Inah. She is about 10 years older then me. She felt in love with her husband, Altha. At that time, she was a simple worker in a furniture factory, while he was second in command. Altha's parents advised him to marry a richer woman and he did as they told him. They stayed together for a few years, but they were like two carpets in a room. they were not made one for each other, not talking, not doing anything. At some point, they divorced. Then, Altha turned his attention towards Inah. They started to be friends.
At that point, Altha had no idea that Inah is a sfenist. She became a sfenist in the same way I did, as a result of sexual abuse, but as she was a teen-age. Inah showed him a strong love, with very much affection. She always tried all she could to make him happy. Unfortunately, everything almost crashed when they went to bed. There was almost no way Inah could make love with him. But, because she was showing such a powerful spiritual love to him. Altha accepted her the way she was. One could argue that despite being a strong spiritual love between them, they suffered a lot because it was almost impossible to have sex. But it is not true. They formed a very strong family and even managed to have one child.
Yes, Altha suffered, but he released his tensions by starting to drink. Not much, but day after day, his liver started to suffer. When he was sick, Inah did everything she could do, to help him. Quite everything. He suffered many years, but she was always there, near him, helping him with such a devotion that I've never seen to any wife in our villages. She never betrayed him, she never took money from their home, she was never angry to him, she accepted all his problems and fought as hard as she could to help him, until his last say. Altha died at some point, I don't remember when. What I remember is that she then directed all her love and affection to their child, helping him to establish a family.
What is also to be noted, is that Altha never cheated Inah. He also understood what is to be a sfenist. He appreciated her spiritual love and devotion that went beyond anything.
Today, Altha is dead. Even after 5 years, there is no day when Inah is not going to his tomb. She is now a grandmother and takes good care of her 3 grandchildren.
Her example shows that it is possible for a sfenist to form a family with a non-sfenist, if their relation is based on real, spiritual love and not on sensual love. And she is not the only example I know. But again, in order for such a relation to succeed, something in us must first die, so that the rest will survive.
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