– III –
Before Sierra could accept my greeting, I heard a song begin to play from nearby.
I recognized it after a dozen or so bars as a catchy pop tune sung by a trendsetting young chick by the name of Ami Amuro.
Before you ask, yes, I was introduced to her by the girls in my class last year.
Remember, they never really saw me as a boy, so I was included in many girl discussions.
And no, I do not own Ami’s posters or music. Her songs were catchy, but they weren’t my cup-of-tea.
In any event, Sierra looked startled for a heartbeat before pulling her phone out of a skirt pocket. After reading whatever was displayed on it, she gave me a quick smile, muttered, “Gimme a sec”, then walked away a handful of steps to answer the call.
Deciding to give her the privacy she needed, I took a look at my surroundings, then slowly wandered deeper into the building.
I’d lived in the apartment complex for three and a bit years, yet I’d never set foot in any of its neighbors. Thus, it was my first time inside the megascraper to the south of the dorm pyramid. The building was hexagonal – no surprises there – and open in the middle with an atrium that extended from the ground floor to the highest level. Balconies overlooked the open space of the atrium at each floor, and after peering up and down the center of the building, I guessed the complex had some fifty floors to its credit. Not the tallest megascraper in the city, but taller than a few.
Leaning on the balcony guardrail that circumnavigated the hexagonal atrium, I looked around at the commercial shops located on the current floor, and regarded those visible to me on the two floors above and below me. I could see restaurants, cafés, a handful of fast food outlets, a few mini-marts, and an assortment of clothing boutiques and photronic goods retailers. The rest of the floors appeared to be home to businesses, and I presumed the top levels held luxurious residential suites. It seemed that only the commercial premises were located on these three floors because of the bridgeways on this level that connected the building to its neighbors.
Wondering what floor I was on, I looked around to see Level 20 indicated above the entrance to the bridgeway that Sierra and I had used to enter this building.
That surprised me, as I didn’t realize I’d descended so many floors while in a daze.
But it was more shocking to know that Sierra hadn’t broken a sweat on the mad dash down the stairs.
I cocked my head slightly as my mind was tickled by a memory.
Come to think of it, isn’t she—
“Princess, might I have a moment of your time?”
Ghost had reverted to interacting with me in voice-only mode. I had no idea why. Perhaps he felt it would be less distracting for me. Whenever his image was superimposed into my vision, I had a natural tendency to look at him when he spoke to me. Not good when I was in the presence of other people who probably suspected there was something wrong with me as my eyes kept looking away from them. However, while there were other people coming and going from the cafés and shops on this level, there was no one else in my immediate vicinity.
“What?” I whispered, keeping my attention on the vista across the open expanse in the middle of the building.
“Might I show you something?”
“Yes. You may find this a little distracting. Please bear with it, Princess.”
“What are you—ah?”
I gasped when multiple holovid windows popped up in my vision. For all intents and purposes, it was as though they were floating before me, but instead they were being projected into my eyes or rather into Mirai’s brain where it processed images.
“I believe the term is…cool.”
I blinked a few times, giving myself a moment to grow accustomed to the sight of holovid windows that moved in conjunction with my line of sight.
I swallowed quickly and asked, “So what am I seeing”—then the penny dropped—”…oh….”
“Yes, indeed. Oh is a most appropriate verbal reaction….”
I pressed my lips together, feeling my stomach sink as I looked at each window and read what they were displaying.
An unexpected Mercy Haddaway sighting was making a splash on social media.
Rather, as her approximate Doppelganger, I was making a splash on social media.
Each of the holovids was showing me comment after comment that spread from those who saw me in the stairwell to their online friends who then shared the news. The more degrees of separation from the source, the further from the truth the retelling deviated. For example, someone wrote they’d heard I was traipsing up and down the building wearing only a bikini and high heels.
“What the Hell?”
Right now there was a hunt being organized to find Mercy Haddaway and collect her academy uniform as a memento.
“What the frekking Hell?”
“I agree, Princess. You have made quite an impression on the impressionable students of Telos Academy.”
I grimaced. “That’s because they’re a bunch of retards.”
Ghost was silent for a moment. “Princess, allow me to ask you this. How would you react had you sighted Mercy Haddaway no more than ten feet away, clad in a school uniform?”
My grimace froze on my face. “Well…I guess…I’d…take lots of photos?”
“…is that all…?”
“Well, I wouldn’t have glomped her!”
“Hey—don’t mix me in with this mob!” I pointed at the holovids though they weren’t floating around me, but the net effect was more or less the same from my point of view. “Organizing a hunting party? What the Hell is up with that? What am I? A rare exotic beast?”
“Princess, do you not mean a rare exotic beauty?”
“Ah, yeah. That as well….”
“There is something else I must show you.”
“What? There’s more good news?”
One holovid window pushed the others aside, moving front and center, then quickly enlarged to fill half my vision.
I saw that it was a gossip column, the kind that reported on society’s high life in Ar Telica and around the world. The article on display had a photo of a girl that looked remarkably like Mercy, and remarkably like me, alighting from a VTOL and wearing a dark safety jacket with fluorescent strips.
I read the caption above the photo.
SANREAL HEIRESS ARRIVES IN AR TELICA.
I read the caption below the photo.
ISABEL VAL SANREAL, YOUNGEST HEIRESS TO THE SANREAL FORTUNE, ARRIVES IN AR TELICA TO BEGIN A NEW LIFE.
“…great…,” I whispered.
“There is more, Princess.”
Another holovid pushed aside the window and took center stage in my vision.
Another photo of me on the landing platform but from a different angle.
The caption above the image read, FROM RAGS TO RICHES – ISABEL VAL SANREAL LANDS ON TELORIA.
“Is this a setup?” I asked softly, my voice lost in the low din of my surroundings.
Yet Ghost heard me and replied, “No, Princess. Your identity has been established. With this, your existence as a member of the Sanreal Family is being promoted. In addition, it will serve to distinguish you from Mercy Haddaway while drawing comparisons to her.”
I wet my lips slowly and murmured, “They should never have made Mirai in Mercy’s image.”
Whatever Ghost was thinking, he kept to himself.
I wet my lips again as I read the article. Then I noticed something odd.
“All these photos were supplied by the Sanreals, right? I mean, they don’t show me wearing torn clothing.”
Back aboard the VTOL, the Cat Princess and I had scuffled, leading to my top being ripped. A member of the ground crew had handed me his jacket, which was now in the sports bag I’d left behind on the stairs of the dorm building. The photos accompanying the articles had been captured after I’d slipped into the jacket.
“I would assume as much,” Ghost stated. “Your state of undress would have made for bad publicity.”
Remember how I’d been hiding my chest with my arms, I blushed hotly.
“Thanks for reminding me,” I grumbled.
I was a male consciousness mapped into a female body, but that didn’t mean I didn’t possess a sense of shame or embarrassment.
At a subsequent thought, I asked Ghost, “Won’t the ground crew remember that I wasn’t saintly in appearance?”
“Even if they do, none of them were busy taking snaps of you as you disembarked from the VTOL. Furthermore, I believe they would know better than to risk releasing images of you in a compromising appearance. The Sanreals do have an army of lawyers to threaten people into silence.”
“Oh….” I cocked my head at the images in the articles. “So then these photos were taken by?”
“Undoubtedly by photographers hired by the Sanreals.”
I shook my head as I rubbed a temple. “Okay. So what now?”
“A very good question, Princess—ah, you have company.”
“Who are you talking to?” a girl’s voice asked from behind me.
I stiffened in surprise, and then spun around to see Sierra standing a couple of feet away. At the same time, the holovid windows in my vision vanished, no longer obstructing my view of the world, and I saw Sierra looking at me with a perplexed expression.
I waved a hand quickly. “Nobody. Nobody at all.”
Sierra’s confused expression grew visibly suspicious of me. “Ah huh.”
Behind her, I saw a group of girls hurrying toward us, triggering within me the urge to flee. But then I noticed the brunette with the stylish bob, and recognized her as one of the girls on the stairwell. They arrived in short order, and stopped in disarray behind and around Sierra.
The brunette with short hair warned Sierra, “You shouldn’t run off like that.”
“Hey, who are you? My mother?” Sierra retorted, looking slightly miffed.
“You know what your doctor said,” the brunette replied.
Sierra stiffened visibly, then waved a hand lightly at the brunette. “I’m fine, Maria. I’m fine.”
“Not fine enough to return to the—”
“I said I’m fine,” the willowy blonde stressed then turned away from the shorter girl. “I’m not pushing myself at all….”
My eyes widened as I remembered who this girl was, but I pressed my lips together and held my silence, waiting until the moment the tension between the two girls had eased and I could intercede.
“I’m sorry, but I need to go,” I announced firmly.
“Go? Go where?” the brunette inquired.
“None of your business,” I answered her with an abrupt edge to my voice.
“Nice attitude,” the brunette snarked.
I felt anger well up in me, and after clamping a lid on it, I strode up to the shorter girl and glared down at her. It actually felt nice to be looking down at girl rather than upwards. There was also the fact that Mirai had a much, much bigger chest than the brunette with a bob.
“Are you giving me lip?” I asked harshly. “After the shit you people pulled and announced to the world that I was Mercy Haddaway—who I am not—I’m now the number one morning topic on the CyWeb. And now you’re going to give me more shit?”
“Hey, take it down—”
“Shut up,” I growled at her. “I don’t owe you an explanation. I don’t owe you anything. And you”—I pointed at her meagre chest—“don’t talk back to me.”
Sierra held her up hands placatingly and tried to step between the shorter Maria and I. “Okay, okay. Look that was my fault. I mistook you for Mercy Haddaway. No need to fight. Maria, stop interrogating people. That’s a really annoying habit you have.”
“I’m not interrogating. I was simply asking a question.” The brunette continued meeting my glare, and I had no intention of letting up on it.
In the corner of my eye, Sierra sighed. “Yeah, well. You can be pretty cutting when you want to be.”
“Why are you taking her side?” Maria snapped at Sierra, and in my peripheral vision I noticed the other girls nod in agreement.
“I’m not taking her side,” Sierra protested calmly. It made me wonder if she was accustomed to being accused as such or she was innately with a calm persona. Maybe she knew it was better to deal with the fiesta Maria this way, and not meet anger with anger.
However, seeing how Sierra was handling the situation made me consider that I wasn’t approaching the encounter in the best possible way. I also didn’t feel that a confrontation with the fiery brunette was worth my time or effort. In other words, it wasn’t in my best interests to be drawn into a protracted argument with her.
I quietly turned and began walking away.
I had better things to do with my time, though if you asked me ‘what?’ I wouldn’t be able to give you a good answer, although—
Breakfast does sound like a good idea.
“Hey, Isabel, wait,” Sierra called out to my back.
I slowed to a stop and looked over a shoulder at an anxious Sierra a few feet behind me. “What now? You want me to pose for photos? Want to plaster them on your MyBook page?”
“No, not at all. Though my brother wouldn’t mind a photo or two.”
“You do realize I could get arrested for impersonating Mercy even though I’m not trying to impersonate her.”
Maria snorted. “I guess it sucks to be you.”
I frowned at her. “You have no idea how right you are.”
She gave me a crooked smile. “I was being sarcastic.”
“I wasn’t. It really does suck to be me.” I turned and began walking away—again.
“Jeez, what an attitude,” Maria quipped.
Attitude? You want attitude? I’ll give you attitude!
I may have thought that, but it didn’t stop me from leaving her behind.
“Isabel,” Sierra called out. “Wait—at least let me apologize.”
Once again, I slowed to a stop. After expelling a sigh – mostly at myself since I really had no reason to halt and listen to the girl other than it felt rude not to do so – I half turned and stared at her over my left shoulder. “Apologize? How?”
Sierra glanced away before hastily replying, “How about breakfast?”
At the thought of food, I felt my stomach twinge. “…maybe….”
“Okay,” she eagerly clapped at my non-committal answer as though she’d been thrown a lifeline. “Then let’s go for breakfast.” She turned to the girls around her. “How does that sound?”
A slender girl with ash blonde hair and long toned limbs meekly raised a hand. “Ah, Sierra. We have to check in at the club before homeroom.”
“Yeah, we don’t have practice in the morning, but the seniors want us all there today,” added a slim redhead with pale skin and shoulder length hair. “Something about promoting the club and picking up new recruits to fill up the ranks. Ah—” The girl suddenly blanched before hastily averting her attention.
I noticed Sierra gape a little then break into an awkward smile. “Oh, yeah. That’s right. I heard the recruitment campaign is next week.” Her smile grew sheepish as she ran a hand through her long blonde hair. “Sorry. Forgot. My bad.”
I realized I was frowning and cleared it away from my forehead, but I was noticed by Maria who had been watching me with a veiled glare.
Ignoring her, I regarded Sierra carefully.
So it is her—the Sprint Queen.
Feeling another frown on the cusp of breaking out, I bit my lower lip instead and wondered if the girl had forgotten her companions had club activities or if there was another motive at play.
Doesn’t matter. Not my problem.
I may have thought as much, yet I noticed the girl was wearing a short white tie like I was, indicating she was a first-year high schooler. Yet her companions – including the somewhat hostile Maria – wore yellow ties, signifying they were second year students.
I guess she repeated a year. I didn’t think her injuries were that bad.
My gaze was drawn down to her legs.
Maybe I was wrong.
While the other girls’ legs were bare, Sierra was wearing sheer dark stockings.
Not my problem, I muttered inwardly.
And yet, though I had the opportunity to leave, I remained standing where I was and watched Sierra who in turn watched her friends – sans Maria – excuse themselves and bid her adieu.
I looked at Maria and asked, “Don’t you have a club to go to?”
She folded her arms across her meagre chest and smiled thinly. “I’m a proud member of the Going Home Club.”
“Admirable.” I felt an unpleasant kinship with this girl.
Maria narrowed her eyes slightly. “Are you mocking me?”
“Not at all. I was member of the same club too. Three years running. Never missed a day. Cross my heart and hope to die.”
Not entirely true. While I never attended a day of club, I didn’t always go home directly from school. But the point was that I never attended a day of club activities.
Wait—does cross-playing as Silver Blue count as a club activity?
I wasn’t a member of the Cosplay Club, so perhaps I was in the clear.
“Now you’re really mocking me,” Maria narrowed her eyes further.
“If I’m mocking you, then I’m mocking myself as well.”
Sierra cautiously asked, “Does this mean you’re getting along?”
Both Maria and I glanced at the girl before resuming to stare at each other.
After a while I stepped up to the brunette with the bob cut.
“I’m Isabel.” I offered her my hand. “Isabel val Sanreal.”
Maria’s eyes widened slightly but I couldn’t tell if she was reacting to my greeting or to my name.
However, after a few seconds of silent contemplation, she reached out and shook my hand.
“Maria Palermo del Castillo.”
I realized I was starting to grin.
“What?” she snapped. “Have a problem with my name?”
“No. Not at all. I think it sounds kinda cool.”
“Heh?” Maria’s handshake grew limp for a moment, before she hastily withdrew her hand and arm. “Well…if you think so….”
“Bravo, Lady Isabel. Bravo. How magnanimous of you.”
My innards clenched at the sound of that lackluster voice.
“You…,” I grumbled as I watched Tabitha approach us from the direction of the bridgeway.
The mechanical girl wore an exhausted look as she glanced at Maria before asking me, “Did you make new friends?”
This earned her a darkly suspicious glower from Maria. The girl looked ready to retort but held herself back when she glanced at me, perhaps noticing the acutely unhappy look I was giving Tabitha who trudged toward me.
“You left this behind, Lady Isabel,” Tabitha said, tossing me the sports bag containing my pilfered belongings.
I caught it by the straps, my hand and arm blurring in the process, something that visibly shocked Sierra and Maria. However, I chose to ignore their reactions and instead focus on the troublesome mechanical girl. “I’m not going to thank you.”
“I wasn’t expecting you to.”
“So now you’re calling me Isabel? You’re not going to call me Mercy again?” I asked.
“That was then. This is now.”
“Thanks to you, I’m a social media hit.”
“Oh, that’ll blow over.” Tabitha shrugged. “Eventually.”
I clenched my jaw, and the urge to turn her into scrap metal made me tremble for a moment or two.
Tabitha held up her phone for me to see. “Besides, Isabel val Sanreal makes for more interesting news.”
“I doubt that,” I muttered as my attention was drawn to the news article displayed on her phone. “I’ve already seen it.”
“You have?” Tabitha looked mildly surprised. But given her understated nature, I heard warning bells ring in my head when I noticed she was showing any surprise at all.
Knowing that I’d slipped up, I decided not to make excuses for it. “So the world knows about me now. Big deal.”
“Well, some people may find this of interest.” Tabitha shrugged again and then turned to show the silent Sierra, and the irritated Maria, the article on her phone. “Ladies. Take a bow. You are in the honored presence of Lady Isabel val Sanreal—”
Eyes wide, I reached out for Tabitha’s phone. “Hey!”
“—one of the richest girls on the planet.”
I snatched the device from her hand. Actually, I should have punched her instead. Either way, the damage was done.
Then again, they would have learned about me eventually.
After staring at me for a short while with a blend of confusion and surprise on their faces, Sierra and Maria cautiously retrieved their phones and began thumbing through their respective screens.
Tabitha smiled like it was a chore. “That’s Isabel spelled I-S-A-B-E-L.”
I sighed and pondered just how far Tabitha would fly if I punched her now.
Would I break a hand?
“Princess. A moment please.”
Startled, I feared my reaction had been noticed but both girls were intently working their phones, and Tabitha was stifling a yawn.
“What…?” I whispered out the side of my mouth.
“Please hold onto that phone for a while longer.”
I didn’t bother asking why. I would do that later. But then I wondered if Ghost was covertly hacking into Tabitha’s phone.
What could he possibly find in there?
In the meantime, Sierra looked up from her phone and stared at me intently with disbelief before asking, “You…are you really—?”
“Of course she is,” Tabitha answered in my stead before I could decide whether to punch her or not. “It’s only natural that a beauty like her would be the daughter heir of one of the richest families in the colonized systems.”
Maria’s head bobbed slowly as she alternated between looking up at me and down at her phone. “No way. This is a joke, right?”
Tabitha smiled drearily at me. “Don’t you find her reaction priceless?”
“I find you annoying,” I growled at her. “Did you have to go this far?”
“Call it a test of character,” Tabitha replied, then she raised a finger weakly. “Think of it as sign of things to come.”
I felt my innards tighten as I realized what she was implying.
How will the student body react to me come Monday morning?
But there was another side to the coin.
How will I react to them…come Monday morning?
As the worrying thoughts crossed my mind, I noticed Sierra was looking at me with a complicated expression. When our eyes met, the girl swallowed then hesitantly stepped closer to me.
“Is this really you?” she asked, and held her phone out for me to see its screen.
I briefly considered lying to her, until I noticed the faintly troubled look on Sierra’s face. It was subtle – something in the way her eyes met mine – but it made me reconsider lying. I also realized that lying to her was akin to lying to myself. I’d be running away from my decision to accept my role as Isabel val Sanreal.
Swallowing quietly, I gave Sierra a faint nod. “Yeah, that’s me.”
The girl blinked slowly a number of times. “Are you…rich?”
Her question made me wince. It was fleeting, but I was certain Sierra noticed it because she was looking at me intently with that veiled discomfit I’d noticed moments ago. Honestly, the light in her eyes troubled me and because of it I was unsure of how to respond. I had the impression she was reluctant for an answer yet wanted one all the same.
Does my identity as Isabel bother her? Or is it something else?
Eventually, I nodded again and replied, “Yeah, I’m rich.”
At least for now, I added inwardly.
With my situation being a fluid one, who could tell what tomorrow would bring.
Sierra remained silent for a long while, her gaze sweeping all over my face before muttering half to herself, “You really do look like Mercy Haddaway.” However, after giving her phone’s display another look, she sounded remorseful. “But I guess you were telling the truth….”
Surprisingly, I found myself scowling at her faintly. “I’ve been telling you the truth the whole time.”
Maria was both glaring and staring at her phone in disbelief, but it didn’t stop her from snarking, “So you’ve gone from rags to riches.”
If Sierra had said it, I was certain I would have winced again. But Maria made it sound like a taunt, so I chose to answer her with a flat stare. “You don’t know the half of it.”
The ghost of a smirk played over her lips as she then asked, “So why is a rich girl like you going to our school?”
I folded my arms under my voluptuous chest. “Because the Sanreals decided to enroll me there,” I answered her bluntly.
“The Sanreals?” Maria asked, and her eyebrows rose slightly.
I swallowed and felt a twinge in my gut. Maria made me feel as though I’d slipped up somehow. Was it because I didn’t refer to the Sanreals as ‘my family’?
Swallowing again, I eased up on my brusque tone when I admitted, “I don’t know why they decided to enroll me at Telos Academy. I didn’t ask either.”
Maria did have a reason for asking.
Since I was supposed to be a rich heiress – though Clarisol was actually first in line to the family fortune – the Sanreals should have enrolled me at the truly prestigious all girls’ school, Saint Something Or Other, located in a district of Ring One. That’s where all the affluent Princesses of society studied. Telos Academy was no small fry when it came to reputation, but anyone who was anyone enrolled their daughters at Saint Something Or Other. The same went for the boys. They had their own private academy in Ring One near the girls’ academy.
Tabitha clapped softly and said, “Well then, I do recall breakfast being mentioned.”
Sierra glanced at her as though she’d forgotten about Tabitha, but then frowned ever so faintly when she faced me. “Oh yeah. Breakfast. Sounds good.”
I was convinced that I wasn’t imagining things.
Sierra was indeed uncomfortable around me, and although I didn’t know why, I was certain it would make for an awkward breakfast.
Waving a hand about, I chose to decline the offer. “It’s fine. It’s fine. I won’t hold you to it. Forget all about it.”
Sierra stiffened before laughing lightly. “No. No. I made the offer for breakfast. I’m not—I’m not taking it back now.”
“So what’s the problem?” I asked bluntly, surprising myself as well as the girl.
Sierra’s smile froze but it was only for a heartbeat, then she was calm once again.
In fact, I sensed that some of her uneasiness – dare I say wariness – had been dispelled as she almost casually asked, “Then what kind of breakfast do rich girls eat?”
I gaped at her. “Huh?”
Tabitha started to chuckle but coming from her while looking utterly disinterested made it downright creepy, something that wasn’t lost on either Sierra or Maria who quickly shared disturbed looks before edging away from her. In contrast, Tabitha’s laughter rubbed me the wrong way, and I quickly dragged her away by an arm.
“Excuse me for a minute,” I threw over a shoulder at Sierra and Maria.
Once we were some ten feet away from the two girls, I released Tabitha’s arm but then used my free hand to grab her by the blouse that was part of her dress. Yanking her close to me until our noses bumped, I asked her with a snarl, “What are you plotting?”
“I thought you wanted to talk to me about a proposition from Cardinal?”
“Oh, I still do. But don’t you want to make good on your new friends?”
“Then stop creeping them out,” I hissed at her.
Tabitha smiled at me from under her lidded eyes. “I can’t help it. You’re so amusing.”
“And they’re not my friends,” I corrected her.
“Friendship redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in half.”
I blinked in confusion. “Meaning what?”
“Think of it this way, Isabel. You can do with more friends in this world. Especially since you’re going to be attending school as a girl now. Guys can get away with being loners. Girls not so much.”
I stiffened and hissed, “I can deal with it.”
Tabitha’s eyes grew even more lidded. “To quote someone famous from your universe, ‘the worst solitude is having no real friends’.”
I thought of Felicia and Angela, and my chest tightened unpleasantly.
Friends. Did I need them? Or rather, could I trust anyone as a friend ever again?
Mat’s face crossed my mind, distracting me such that I barely noticed Tabitha reach up and pat my shoulders.
“Shall we be going, Lady Isabel?”
The unpleasant pressure in my chest, one born of uncertainty, suspicion and distrust of Tabitha and almost everyone else I’d come to know in life, flared briefly before gradually ebbing away.
However, although the pressure had faded it didn’t mean that I chose to trust the girl.
The problem was that I didn’t know what it meant.
Was I being worn down by Tabitha? Dragged along at her pace, manipulated and coerced – had she outmaneuvered me without my realizing it? Had she found a chink in my armor that I wasn’t aware of?
I released my grip on her blouse. Realizing I still had her phone in my other hand, I pressed it against her chest as I pushed her back a step.
After taking a deep breath, I warned the mechanical girl, “One of these days, Tabitha, karma is going to bite off your ass.”
Tabitha took back her phone, dropped it into a skirt pocket, then lethargically straightened her dress and white tie.
“Oh dear. That does sound painful.”
Sorry for the delay. I had some issues crop up and I originally wrote a much, much messier and convoluted segment to the chapter.
So it was back to the drawing board when my editor told me, "REJECTED".
Good thing because it really was a mess. The story went off the deep end. The characters went completely off character.
As always, if you'd like to read or purchase Books 1 and 2, the links are provided below:
Thank you for sticking with it so long.
With certain design requirements now out of the way, I'll be able to focus more on the book and get the chapters out sooner.
When released this book is certain to be much longer than the previous two.
Cheers and best wishes.
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