May 172011
 

Not too long ago, I finished Bleeder by L.K. Rigel and loved it (see review here). It’s her first full length novel in the Ex Post Apocalypto series. Today, Ms. Rigel was gracious enough to offer an excerpt from that very same book. :) A word of caution for the young (under 18) and virginal eyes, Mal gets her sexy on. If you’re not old enough or mature enough to view sexual content, cover your eyes. That’s what my daughters did when they were younger and a sex scene came on television. It worked for them… I think. I’m sure it’ll work for you here also. :)

The King of Garrick wants to kill her.
The King of Allel wants to love her.
And shapeshifters stole her baby’s soul!

It’s been a hundred years since sea-level rise and global nuclear war wiped out most of humanity. Mallory is a chalice, one of the world’s rare fertile females who contract with the kings of the Concord Cities to provide natural-born heirs.

It was supposed to be a pampered and uneventful life, but Mal becomes caught between King Garrick’s scheme for world domination and the goddess Asherah’s desperate plays for another god’s attention.

In her struggle to survive, Mal must confront the most terrifying threat of all — the truth of her past and the inevitability of her destiny.

Excerpt from Bleeder (Apocalypto 3)
Copyright 2011 L.K. Rigel

The consecration ceremony of the Rites of May

= = = = = = = = = =

“The Triune Contract is sacred.”

Mal glanced sideways at Nin then looked at the floor to keep from laughing. They were unable to see the witnesses, but Nin had noticed it too – the low rumble of male voices among them. It sounded good.

The next step, the sister behind her took the crown from her head and dropped it onto the sash on the floor. The sisters and the witnesses, chanted:

“Daughter of heaven, bearer of the world
You are the fig tree the gods did not curse
Conduit and chalice, how glad are your lovers
You open the gate forged by mankind’s error”

The third step, the sister took away her lovely pearl choker and draped it over the crown. Mal chanted:

“Where is my beloved? I wait in the meadow
I am waiting in the meadow, untouched by human error
Where is my beloved? He is beautiful in my eyes
He is like the rainfall, like the great bull of heaven”

The fourth step, the sister took the staff of ash and tossed it to the floor near the crown and pearls. Mal chanted:

“I lie among the roses, in a bed of lovely petals
I lie in heat for love, my furrow ready for love’s seed”

The fifth step, the sister took her gold bracelet. Mal knew she’d get it back later; but she’d worn it for so long that it felt wrong to let it go.

“I am the rose of heaven, and I am the rose of desire
I am the red rose, and the white rose
I am desire, I am satisfaction”

The sixth step, she kicked out of her slippers, which the sister took away.

“I will bear the fruit of the world
I am the tree of life uncursed
I am the furrow that will be sown
By my lover’s worthy plow”

The seventh step, she dropped her robe, her sole remaining garment, to expose her naked body and the circle of red roses on her arm. The witnesses burst into applause. The sisters spoke in unison.

“My sister, I have taken your ego so that you may serve unhindered.”

The five dropped to their knees.

“Thank you, my sister, for your service to me this day.”

They crawled across the stage to the princes who would help complete the ritual. Mal laid her hands on a prince’s bare feet while the witnesses chanted:

“The Triune Contract is sacred”

She rose to her knees and put her hands on his thighs. He was as naked as she was, and quite ready for her.

“Your curse is your blessing”

He knelt down and she placed her hands on his chest. This was no effeminate, sterile proof. It was a real man from the real world, well-fed and well-trained, with smooth skin over powerful muscles.

It was Edmund.

“Your service is your deliverance”

He put his hands on her breasts.

“The Triune Contract is sacred”

She put her hands on his shoulders, and they kissed. He embraced her and eased her to the floor. He kissed her ears, her throat, and her breasts. His warm mouth covered a nipple. As he sucked, electric delight surged through her body. She opened herself to him, and he took her hands in his and spread her arms wide as he entered her.

She should be praying for world fertility but, great Asherah, it was all she could do to keep her body temperature stable. A man in reality was better than a man in theory! She focused on the honey bee tattoo over his left clavicle. She found his rhythm and let her body go with it. Asherah, yes!

Nothing. Nothing in her training had prepared her for this. Her mind said keep control. Her body said let go. Let go. Don’t stop. Never stop. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and flowed with his movement. She wanted to moan, it felt so good – but Durga would hear of it, and Mal wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.

The thought of Durga helped her to maintain control.

Control over her voice, anyway. Edmund held her tighter and plunged deeper inside her. Heat and pleasure and delightful desperate urges coursed through her. The world disappeared, and the only thing that existed was the one being they made together. The edges of her soul were blending into his. She had to stop this.

“Ah!” Roh did it. Roh cried out in flagrante delicto and saved Mal from disaster.

Back from the brink. The world was real again. Mal and Edmund were in their own bodies. They separated, as did the other ritual lovers, accompanied by tremendous applause in the auditorium. She avoided looking at him.

Two sisters put gold slippers on her feet and dressed her in a gold sari embroidered with poppy-red primroses. Someone handed her a flute of champagne.

And that was it. She was a chalice. She could make a contract tomorrow or start a proof of service pregnancy tonight. The house lights came on. The other fifteen new chalices joined Prime Hub on the stage, all dressed in gold and red saris, and the women of Red City descended upon them all with congratulations.

And advice.

Bleeder is available at:

Barnes & Nobles

Smashwords

Amazon

 

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About the L.K. Rigel

LK Rigel lives in California with her cat, Coleridge. She was once a singing waitress, scored the independent science fantasy karate movie Lucid Dreams, and was a reporter for the Sacramento Rock ‘N Roll News. Her BA is in humanities and religious studies. Her work has appeared in Literary Mama and Tattoo Highway. Her short story “Slurp” will appear in Anne Frasier’s 2011 Halloween anthology Deadly Treats published by Nodin Press.

Find L.K. Rigel online at her Website!

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May 102011
 

Today we have the talented Lindsay Buroker. Not too long ago, I read her middle grade work, The Goblin Brothers Adventure (see review here). Excellent collection of short stories. Her most recent work, Flash Gold, is steampunk set in the Yukon. Now I haven’t read this one, but after devouring this excerpt, you better believe my next stop was to purchase my copy. Keep your eyes open, because you’ll likely be seeing my review of Flash Gold in the next month or two. Until then, enjoy the excerpt Ms. Buroker has offered us. :)

Eighteen-year-old Kali McAlister enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, intending to win the thousand-dollar prize and escape remote Moose Hollow forever. The problem? Fortune seekers and airship pirates are after her for the secret to flash gold, her late father’s alchemical masterpiece.

With her modified rifle and a pocketful of home-made smoke bombs, Kali wouldn’t normally hide from a confrontation, but taking on a whole airship single-handedly is a daunting task. Unfortunately, the other racers won’t assist her–they’re too busy scheming ways to sabotage her unorthodox sled.

When a sword-slinging stranger shows up, wanting to hire on as her protector, she’s sure he has ulterior motives, but he’s the only one interested in helping her. The question is…why?

An 18,000-word (80 page) novella

Flash Gold: Part I

Kali McAlister tapped a wrench against her thigh as she contemplated her invention. She had stripped every extra piece of metal she could from the “dogless sled” and had even debated removing the brush bow, but that seemed unwise. Besides, it’d been cold enough the last week men were complaining of pee freezing before it hit the ground. The ice on Forty Mile Creek ought to be thick enough for the heavy steam sled. If it wasn’t…winning the race would be the last of her worries.

Hinges creaked, and a gust of frigid air hurled snow into the workshop. Kali spun toward the door, her long braid whipping around her shoulder.

A fur-clad figure loomed, head an inch shy of the top of the frame. With those broad shoulders and that height, she assumed it was a man, though a cap buried his eyebrows and a scarf swaddled most of his face. He gripped a rifle in one gloved hand, and the hilt of something—a sword?—poked over his shoulder. Who in tarnation brought a sword to the Klondike?

Kali’s grip tightened on the wrench. Another thug who wanted to interrogate her about her father’s alchemical masterpiece, probably.

“If you’re going to hold the door open that long, you could at least bring in some wood.” That sounded cocky, especially since the wrench was the closest thing to a weapon she had handy, but bravado went a long way in Moose Hollow.

Meanwhile, she sidled closer to the workbench and the panel of levers on the far end of it. The man’s blue eyes were the only thing visible between the cap and scarf, and they narrowed, watching her.

“The stove’ll have to work double time to heat the place again,” Kali said, hoping to distract him from her movement. “Not that this drafty hole could aspire to warm anyhow.”

The man stepped inside. Kali tensed, ready to spring for a bronze lever with a billiards-ball knob.

He did not move past the threshold though. Without taking his eyes from her, he pushed the door closed. He removed the cap, revealing thick tousled black hair, then tugged the scarf down to his throat. Kali might have called him handsome, but a scar gouged one cheek, as if someone had tried to remove one of his eyes. The beard stubble darkening his jaw would do little to warm his chin in the cold. He must be new to the north.

His cool gaze skimmed the shop, resting briefly on the unorthodox metal sled before settling on her.

“You Kali McAlister?” he asked, voice smoother and more pleasant than his rough exterior hinted at.

“Ma’am.” She propped her hands on her hips by way of disguising another step toward the lever. “It’s polite to call a lady ‘ma’am.’ Even if she’s a half-breed wearing man trousers with tools sticking out of all her pockets.” Not to mention she was only eighteen and covered in grease. She would collapse in surprise if anyone called her ma’am without the ulterior motive of needing a favor.

He stared at her for a long moment. “You Kali McAlister? Ma’am.”

“I reckon that depends on who you are.” She pretended to scratch her knee and took another step.

“Your identity changes depending on your caller?”

“Sometimes it does.” Another step.

“Cedar.”

“What?”

“My name.”

“That’s not a name,” she said. “That’s a tree.” Though at his height, children might mistake him for the latter.

“Both.”

“And what are you here for, Cedar?” Three more steps and she would reach the lever. He might plow through her “security measures,” but they would distract him and give her time to run.

He strode toward her. She lifted the wrench threateningly.

“The job.” His free hand delved into a pocket. Paper rustled. He pulled out a sheet with writing on it.

It was Kali’s turn to stare. “What job?”

Wordlessly, he held out the flyer.

ASSISTANT MUSHER FOR BARTON’S RACE

Experienced pugilist preferred. Inquire at Kali McAlister’s Tinkery.

Kali scratched her head. “Where did you get this? I didn’t post it.”

“Nelly’s Good-Time Girls.”

“Nelly. Oh.” Kali puffed out an annoyed breath. While it had been nice having someone step in as a big sister after her father died, sometimes Nelly presumed too much. At least this meant the man was probably not there to rob or interrogate her. “That’s a mistake.” She waved at the flyer. “I can’t afford to hire help. I’m going alone. Sorry to have wasted your time.”

Cedar lowered the paper, but did not leave. “If you win, there will be prize money.”

“Yes…. One thousand dollars hard money goes to the first-place finisher, thanks to Francis Barton’s lucky claim. The old sourdough’s spending like a drunk.”

“Then you’ll be able to pay me.”

Kali’s suspicions toward her visitor returned. Only gold miners worked for the possibility of payment, and most of them were addled in the head. More, nobody in town thought her steam sled would do anything except crash through the ice and disappear forever. Francis wouldn’t have let her enter the race if anyone believed otherwise.

“If I win, I’m using that money to build…something I’ve wanted to build for a long time,” Kali said. “And I’m getting out of Moose Hollow to go somewhere warm.” And where nobody knew about her crazy family or called her a witch.

“One hundred,” Cedar said.

“Are you truly trying to negotiate with me over money that odds are against me winning?”

“You believe you’ll win.” A hint of impatience hardened his jaw.

“Everyone believes they’ll win or they wouldn’t risk their lives in this Godforsaken endless winter to run their dogs up a river. Look, Mister—”

“Cedar.”

“Look, Mister Cedar. I appreciate you coming—”

Something shattered upstairs. Kali froze. That sounded like the ceramic-pot booby trap she had set up in front of her bedroom window.

She scowled at her visitor, suspicions deepening. He did not appear surprised. His head was lifted, eyes toward the open stairway at the back of the workshop.

“You know anything about that?” she asked. He was probably the distraction while his cronies—

The front door slammed open. Three men charged inside, six-shooters leading.

Cedar whirled to face them. Metal rasped, and his sword appeared in his hand.

Hoping the men were focused on him, Kali darted for the bank of levers. She yanked the one with the billiards-ball knob.

A door along the wall slid upward, revealing two bulky figures in a shadowy cubby. Gears whirred, and a pair of four-legged mechanical constructs clanked out. Though comprised of a patchwork of spare parts and metal scraps, they had cohesive, canine forms. And they were big.

Her guard “dogs” angled toward the intruders, issuing growls that sounded like knives rasping against sharpening stones. Two of the men noticed the metal hounds and stumbled backward, eyes wide. The dogs’ steel maws gaped open, and iron teeth snapped.

A shadow fell over Kali. The intruder from upstairs. He vaulted over the railing and landed in a crouch beside her. A leer split his beard and displayed a row of tobacco-stained teeth. He raised a Colt Peacemaker toward her chest.

Kali hurled her wrench at his jaw and spun, intending to run for cover behind the steam sled. A second man dropped into her path from above, and she crashed into his chest.

Before she could jump back, massive arms wrapped around her in a bear hug.

“Got her!” her assailant yelled.

She squirmed, finding room to angle a knee into his crotch. His grip slackened, and a startled grunt flew from his lips. She yanked free, but the first man had recovered and grabbed her from behind.

As quickly as he snatched her, he released her. A howl of pain assaulted her ears. One of her dogs had clamped onto the man’s leg with those iron fangs.

“Good boy,” she caroled while jumping to the side to avoid the man still behind her. He caught her braid though and whipped her back so roughly pain erupted in her neck. He spun her to face him. Sharp, cold steel pressed against her throat.

“Mongrel bitch,” the man snarled. “I’ll send you to the bone orchard for that.”

A rifle fired.

Shock widened her attacker’s eyes. He stumbled back, dropping the knife. She shoved him, and he collapsed.

Her mechanical dog still harried her other assailant. The three men who had charged in the front door lay unmoving, blood spattering the floor around them.

Cedar crouched on top of the boiler on her steam sled, rifle balanced across his knees, while the other dog clanked about below. He glared at the last man standing, but that fellow had noticed his comrades were all down. He raced out the front, slamming the door before the dog could chase after him.

Kali gave the bronze lever a shove. She wanted the metal guardians back in their cabinet before Cedar had a good look at them. She told people all her constructs were simply steam-powered machines, but anyone familiar with the technology would guess more than punchcards directed their actions.

Cedar watched through narrowed eyes as the hounds clanked toward their
kennel. “Interesting.”

“A girl who lives alone up here has to have security measures,” she said, not sure what to make of the speculation on his face.

His blue eyes shifted to study her. They were clear, like the purest ice, and a striking contrast to his dark hair. They could have made her uneasy, but the speculation was not unfriendly. The scar and beard fuzz notwithstanding, she wagered he would be popular with Nelly’s girls. Not that she cared. A handsome man would not swindle her again.

“They say you’re a witch.” Cedar hopped to the floor, landing lightly. He pulled his sword from the belly of one of the downed men without the faintest change in expression that might suggest the killing bothered him.

Kali looked away. “How lovely. The local rumormongers have decided to share their theories with the cheechakos passing through.”

Cedar cleaned the long, thin blade on the dead man’s jacket. “It seems your friend is correct. You need the protection of a pugilist.”

Whatever this fellow was, she suspected he was far more than a simple pugilist. After cleaning the sword, he walked from downed man to downed man, considering each face. He rolled one fellow from belly to back and stared for a long moment before shaking his head slightly.

“Have I proven my capabilities sufficiently so you’ll hire me?” he asked.

“For all I know, you’re one of these bandits, eager to rob me for… whatever they think I have.”

“Would I have shot them if that were the case?”

Kali shrugged. “I haven’t noticed that criminals care overmuch for other criminals.”

He walked toward her. She tensed, but he stopped a few paces away and stared her in the eye.

“I’m no criminal.”

“Then what are you?” she asked. “Why do you want to go with me?”

“I’m a simple traveler seeking adventure.” He nodded toward the sled. “I believe you are someone whom adventure finds.”

Kali snorted. In the aftermath of Sebastian’s betrayal, those words were proving too apt for her tastes. Yet it might be useful to have such a capable fighter along, if he did not mean to betray her himself. At the least, she could put him to work loading and unloading supplies.

“Fine,” she said, hoping she was not making a mistake. “We leave at eight A.M. Bring food for yourself for several days and kerosene for the lamps. Since it’s dark most of the day, we’ll travel through it when the trail allows.”

She headed to a coat tree and bundled up. She would have to visit the new Mountie headquarters to report the incident. Things had been easier before the law showed up, representing the “Dominion of Canada.” Criminals’ bodies had merely been tossed out for the wolves.

“Where do I sleep?” Cedar asked.

Kali stopped at the door and gaped at him. “Uh, the Blue Moon Saloon has a couple rooms.”

“You’re not paying me enough to cover lodgings.”

She wasn’t paying him at all. No holes or frayed sleeves marked his clothing, and he bore quality weapons. Surely, he was no penniless pauper without coin for a room. “You’re not sleeping here.”

She did not want him roaming around her property while she slept. The flash gold was hidden and booby-trapped, but what of her other valuables? Her tools?

“Are you always this warm and demonstrative to men who just saved your life?” Cedar asked.

“I don’t know. You’re the first who’s bothered.”

“Then perhaps you should consider displaying gratitude, thus to encourage others who may consider similar acts.”

Kali scowled at him. Why did she have a feeling he was going to be trouble?

Get your copy of Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker at:

Smashwords

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles

 

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About the Lindsay Buroker

I’ve been writing fantasy novels and short stories since I was seven. I’ve been finishing them since… well, that’s a more recent development.

I’m a professional blogger for my day job, and I live in the Seattle area (“area” is code for “I couldn’t afford a house within twenty miles of the city limits and my neighbors have alpacas”). I have two vizslas who are as spoiled as most people’s kids. Occasionally they let me leave the house to play tennis, go to the coffee shop, or take a yoga class.

Connect with Lindsay Buroker on her website!

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May 032011
 

My talented writing buddy, Joleene Naylor, has returned for another visit, and she comes bearing gifts! An excerpt from Legacy of Ghosts, her second book in the Amaranthine vampire series.

After the events of Shades of Gray, Katelina seeks a moment’s peace with Jorick, but such peace is hard to come by in a world shrouded in secrets and threatened by a brewing storm. Though Kateesha, a former ally, builds a war coven to fight the same battle as Jorick’s fledgling, a common enemy isn’t enough to overcome past betrayals, and the tempest explodes into a violent frenzy. Drawn into a deathly conflict, Katelina will have to make the ultimate decision between the world of sunlight and the world of darkness. Will she and Jorick band together and lay the memory of past mistakes to rest, or will they be haunted by their ghosts forever?

It was a nightmare.

Blood; there was blood everywhere. Her clothes were soaked with it and it stained her pale skin in smears of red. She sat on the floor, a body cradled in her arms. Hot tears fell from her eyes and her vision was so blurry she could barely see them.

“No,” she heard an aching voice whisper; torn and raw. “Not again. God, not again!”

She’d tried to stop the bleeding, but nothing worked. She pulled them closer and screamed to the ceiling, a wordless howl of pain. She could hear their heart slowing and she knew they were dying. They were dying and it hurt so much! Her chest felt hollow and empty, stabbed through with something sharp, and she buried her face against their bloody neck. She could stop this, she knew how to do it. There was a way, but if she did it they’d hate her forever…

She stared down at the figure in her arms and counted their decreasing heart beats. How many more would there be until they stopped completely? Fresh, hot pain coursed through her and she knew that she had to do it no matter the consequence. She couldn’t just watch them die.

She lifted her own arm to her mouth and bit into it. It hurt, but the pain was nothing compared to what she was already feeling. Dark blood ran down her arm and she pressed her bleeding flesh against their slack lips and forced her blood inside their mouth. A tiny trail leaked from the corner and ran down their chin; a miniature river. The sight choked her.

“I’m sorry,” the voice whispered, heavy with unshed sobs. “I’m sorry.” And then she opened her mouth and clamped it around their dying throat. She didn’t feel her teeth slice through their skin, but she tasted the blood as it filled her mouth. She swallowed almost desperately, her mind seeking something in the connection; some spark. No, it couldn’t be too late! It couldn’t!

“You can’t die, Katelina, You can’t die!”

She woke, startled. It wasn’t her dream, but Jorick’s.

 

Legacy of Ghosts by Joleene Naylor is available at the following locations:

Barnes & Nobles
Amazon US (paperback)
Amazon US (kindle)
Amazon UK (kindle)
Kobo e-book Store
Smashwords
Sony Reader Store
Borders

 

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About the Joleene Naylor

Joleene Naylor grew up in southwest Iowa surrounded by corn and very little entertainment – so she made her own. She’s been writing and drawing since she was a child, with a leaning towards fantasy, horror and paranormal. It’s this love of all that goes bump in the night that lead her to write the Amaranthine  vampire series. In her spare time she’s a freelance artist and photographer.  Joleene does freelance book cover art, maintains blogs full of odd ramblings, illustrates a webcomic and hopes to win the lottery.  However, unless she starts buying tickets she may never actually win anything.

Stalk  Joleene Naylor on her Website: http://joleenenaylor.com

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Apr 262011
 

Welcome to another addition of Tuesday Teaser. :) Humanity’s Ultimate Battle continues in Author Benjamin Jones‘ saga, H.U.B. Today, he presents a piece from Volume 1. Enjoy!

Vampires, long believed to be nothing but myth and legend, do in fact exist. For years they have lived peacefully amongst humans but all that is about to change. Not content with being considered an equal to the human race, a faction has arisen that is threatening to fracture the delicate truce and engage in a global war pitting humans against vampires.

The first volume of an epic series is here and the world will never be the same.

Santa Catalina Island, twenty-two miles south-southwest of Los Angeles. The place that some considered a paradise – visited by more than a million visitors each year – was now a paradise lost; it was if the island had fallen asleep and had never woken up from the nightmares that continued to plague it. The smell of the ocean was damned near non-existent now as it was drowned out by the aroma of death and despair that showered the island like the most acidic of rain.

What used to be a population of thirty seven hundred residents had been reduced to a little more than two hundred, the majority of which were not native to the island – they had been transported here against their will. Those that were physically able, roughly eighty of them, congregated on the beach, tattered underclothes clinging to their sunken in frames as they washed what little bit of clothes they had in the cold water of the Pacific Ocean. The darkest circles surrounded their eyes, eyes that had lost the little flicker of hope that they once contained; that flame had been extinguished a while ago with no signs of ever returning. Most had made peace with the fact that they had ceased living and now simply existed, if that’s what you would call what they were being forced to do.

Things were not supposed to be this way. How did they let them win? Buildings were eternally dark from the absence of electricity that had been shut off long ago. Decay was widespread with trash piled up everywhere and houses falling apart from neglect. Weeds and grass penetrated the cracks in the sidewalk and streets while trash barrels were kept ignited for warmth and to cook food. This was not humanity. There had to be some kind of resistance still going. Good is always supposed to defeat evil.

 

H.U.B. Volume 1 & 2 by Benjamin Jones is available at the following locations:

Smashwords

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles

 

 

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About the Benjamin Jones

Who am I? My name is Benjamin Jones and I’m what’s known as an independent (for the time being) author who is working tirelessly to make this dream of mine to be the world’s greatest writer a reality (right now I’m simply the greatest writer that 99.99998% of the world hasn’t heard of but I’m working to get that percentage a little lower).

All jokes aside, I’m a person who has a family (wife, kids, dog, cat, all that good stuff), who works a 9-5 (actually a 7-4) job by day, and writes whenever he can find the time. My goal in life is to be a writer, and it’s something that I take VERY seriously. Not having an agent at the moment I spend all my time either writing, promoting myself on Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads.com/etc…., or thinking of ways to get myself noticed by people.

Keep up to date with Benjamin Jones at his Author blog or Author Website.

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