My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Chapter Two: Magician Girl


We landed in front of a bunch of shocked Anoki, in the middle of the village. One Air Anoki would be the surprise of their life, but never in their wildest dreams did they expect two. Especially since, by chance, they already had one in the village.

Akana and I studied under Kaye, the village Air Anoki. After about a week, Akana quit out of frustration. I could do every one of the spells with ease. Kaye also knew some Water magic, and she taught me that as well. I started to discover spells on my own, though rarely and sometimes by accident. We were trying to cleanse and purify water when I ended up making a potion that helped with bronchitis. We would try to make a little whirlwind and mine would show up in the nearby water glass as a vortex instead. And most of all, I could fly faster than even Kaye. She got exhausted when she tried it. I tried to explain how it felt, almost like weightlessness. I loved it, and I felt bad that she couldn’t. So one day I left my bow at home (you can tell it was a special occasion) and I strapped Kaye onto my back, between my wings. Kaye was skeptical, but I wasn’t.

I proved to be right. Nothing went wrong. But nothing really went right either. Kaye was panic-stricken at going that fast, like riding a roller coaster, and though she was in no danger, she still didn’t get to feel it. She wasn’t for long, because the magic wave knocked her out. I had only heard of that happening with magical messages before, when the super-advanced magic can knock weaker creatures into unconsciousness, usually in the form of sleep. I couldn’t get Kaye to wake up until I did healing magic on her. I don’t know what I did, but it seems to be pretty powerful stuff.

I think Kaye exaggerated over how powerful, though. She was freaking out. Kept saying that I didn’t know the intensity of what I was doing. Hel-lo, I said, that’s why I’m here. Then her eyes got really big and said that I really didn’t know what I was doing. And that I should try some of the other elements as well. I quizzed her on why, but she refused to leak any info. So even though I flunked the teachings of my friends, I would be trying Time magic tomorrow.

*          *          *

I mastered one of the basic spells. Just one. I didn’t know how, but I was better at Time magic here than I was at home. Akana said that the Light teacher was amazing and pretty and really nice. Her teacher was about twenty-one years old. Kaye was much closer to my age, about fifteen years old, but was the only person in the village who knew Air magic.

Akana wanted to try her new spell on me, the real version of what she’d done to let me fly. I said it was fine. She did the spell, but unlike in the forest, I didn’t feel any different. Akana was disappointed. I mentioned that sometimes a simple spell can do things that bigger spells can’t. She looked a little happier, but still really down. I wasn’t used to seeing her like this, and I tried to use healing magic on her. I always try that, because it can’t hurt anybody and it has a shot at working on random things. It didn’t this time, though.

I made Akana sit down and said that maybe it would have an unusual effect later. Maybe I would get better at Time magic, or maybe I could do Fire spells that I otherwise couldn’t. She looked even sadder when I tried to cheer her up and just shook her head. She said that I was supposed to feel something. I suggested that perhaps since she’d already done the spell on me, it would have a different effect than what they’re used to, but it she just got worried. I told her to chill–it’s a Light spell. The worst thing that could happen is sunburn. She considered this, and went to bed looking a little better. So I did also.

*                      *          *

Then, in the middle of the night, the magic hit me like a tsunami. I was groggily half-awake and not really controlling myself. However, I stepped out of my bed with grace as if I were sleepwalking, though I knew that I was doing it.

Something impelled me out into the fields. I did not resist. I was no longer tired, but the most energetic being in the universe. I took off into the night, pouring on my magical speed. It felt so natural, blending with every tree, my bow safely in the tent, and out in the night. Alone. Without any other Anoki, no fairies or dragons or Chikik or upset nine-year-olds. I spun as I shot through the sky, shot through the clouds, rolled completely over. And kept going.

I knew that, from then on, walking would never feel the same, and neither would flying. I would not feel satisfied while walking. In the air, I would feel the need to cut across the heavens like some super-aerodynamic comet or meteor or something. I did not want to go back to bed. I whizzed across the sky with no idea how much ground I was covering. I felt a major pang of magic, but not the dangerous, pyrotechnical Fire magic, or the cold twist of Storm magic. It was something not really warm, but incredibly comforting. I blended with the trees and the ground and the air and… and the sky…

The sky seemed to be the center of it all. I felt as if my home was here. I would never really belong anywhere else. By “sky” I don’t mean the air. The air was nothing to me right now, nothing important. Even the trees faded into the background as the sky took over my vision, my thoughts, and the dream that I was still halfway in, while still being alertly awake. I floated in the air, resting on my back without beating my wings. And I stayed there.

*                      *          *

I woke up still in the sky, my only proof that it had not been a dream. I went home. I was energetic in that way where you want to rip off into the night in bare feet at mach speed, which you feel like you could do if other people were around or if it were actually night. But with the wet, dewy grasses and the sky’s yellow tint, I knew dawn was leaking slowly above the horizon. Giving into temptation, I shot straight up into the air and did so until about a mile off the ground, then dived into the village. I felt better, but was still not entirely satisfied. I went home.

I sat around in a cozy armchair in my new apartment. After five minutes of trying to calm down, I felt like I was gonna barf. I called in sick and stayed home reading. I wasn’t able to concentrate on the story, because all I could think about was last night, feeling the amazing rush of adrenaline, shooting into the night sky, never stopping, never feeling tired. I loved it, and I wanted to do it again. Now I felt like a fish out of water on the ground. Literally.

I don’t know what kind of magic that was. It definitely wasn’t Air magic, and Earth seemed more fitting but not quite right, because I was too far in the air. It wasn’t Water magic, of course, and definitely not Fire. It wasn’t Time or Storm. It might have been Dream magic, but I’d felt too awake then. And I could already do Air magic, which was one rare talent; I wasn’t likely to get a second one. It felt… right. Almost too right. I don’t know how that works.

I couldn’t get to sleep that night. I rolled, tossed, turned, thrashed. You’d have thought I was having a seizure. It crossed my mind that I might get some sleep if I slept outside again, but I didn’t want to do it two days in a row and since I was sick, I really shouldn’t be out running around.

I ended up without a minute of sleep. By the time I was ready to give in to the urge to fly away, dawn was licking its way across the sky.

Why did I just say “licking?” I’ve just been poetically weird lately, I guess. Insomnia does that to me. Why didn’t I just heal myself? You ask. I wasn’t hurt. I’m a healer, not a psychiatrist. I knew one trick in acupressure that helps me fall asleep–rubbing the back of my neck above my hairline–but it wasn’t working tonight.

I was too exhausted to go anywhere, so I just called in sick again and stayed home. I claimed I had a cold, and nobody seemed to notice that I could have just healed myself. Except Akana.

“You don’t have a cold,” she said, pushing my door wide open and letting it shut hard behind her. “What’s up? Why are you home?”

“Just tired. I didn’t get any sleep last night.” It was the truth, but not all of it.

Akana didn’t look like she believed me, but she sent a few spells toward me as she left.

*                      *          *

I stayed in my room again the next night as well, but forced myself to magic practice even with the minimal sleep I got. The Time magic teacher was busy with something else, so Kaye was teaching me more Water magic. Halfway through the lesson, Kaye noticed that a) I was falling asleep and b) I was doing the most advanced Water magic anyway. She pulled over a Fire Anoki called Li and asked her to try and teach me a fire spell. I picked it up on the first try. Li taught me another, and I did that one with ease as well. Then she tried a really advanced spell, and I did that one too.

Kaye shut her gaping mouth and ended the lesson. Unaware of what I just did in my groggy state, I nodded and went home to go be comatose.

*                      *          *

I tried for only five minutes to get some sleep. Then I went out into the night and leapt into the air, gliding across the sky like I’d never been able to do until that day with Akana. Like I’d wanted all my life. Like I could do, now that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get any sleep anyway and that I was feeling slightly better with nightfall.

I sailed into the sky like a well-shot arrow, feeling the exuberant rush of energy. I rolled over, stretching out my shoulder blades after they were so cramped in bed for so long. My wings seemed larger and more supportive than ever when I rushed into the night. It wasn’t less powerful the second time, this night magic. I wondered if the magic was with me, or just stayed in this place. Or if it was waiting, waiting for someone to find it. What kind of person? Did I fit the criteria, since I found it? Was it calling me back every night? Was that why I couldn’t sleep?

As I shot higher into the sky, the answers to the questions came to me.

Yes. It was waiting here. I fit perfectly. It called me back. I couldn’t sleep.

And then every worry dissolved as I twirled straight up and rested on my own wings, three thousand feet in the air.

*                      *          *

I felt amazing the next morning. I was back to my, well, not exactly bouncy, but at least not lethargic, self. The Time magic teacher was still busy in another village, so it was all Fire spells today. I didn’t know the teacher. I did every one of them, despite my previous attempts at learning the spells in my own village. I did not get burnt like I had the last time I tried the spells. I wasn’t even focusing on most of them; my mind was on last night.

I’d always thought that magic was a force that had a mind of its own. Everyone thought I was nuts. But I’d always known that it had motives for doing stuff–it wasn’t like a person or an animal, just a force with sort of an instinct and kind of… raw emotions. I knew that I would be going back again tonight, because that magic was sustaining me. I now depended on it. I think it’s mine now.

Akana looked surprised when she saw me again.

“What?” I asked.

“Have you looked in a mirror recently?”

I thought. “Not really.”

“Well, you should.”

I thought Akana was making fun of my unbrushed, windblown hair, but when I looked in the mirror, I saw what she was talking about.

My wings were a misty green, like my ring. They had dark blue flecks around the edges. I realized that my clothes didn’t go with them at all anymore and went out to buy new ones. I found some turquoise shirts and blue jeans that worked, and I went home to put them on.

I ran into Kaye, who gave me a questioning look and then walked a little faster. I went home and changed.

Akana was waiting at my house. She said she liked the new clothes. She also gave me an update on her classes: She could do Light magic, some of the simplest Earth spells, some simple Fire magic, and a good deal of Water magic. She couldn’t do anything outside the natural elements except for the Light magic. And she couldn’t do Air magic at all, something that I was still puzzled over. She could fly, but didn’t have Air talent. Maybe other Anoki can fly. I asked Li over to have Akana do her spell.

Akana did the newer version of the spell that she learned in magic lessons first. Li tried to fly, but it didn’t work. Akana looked down. I asked her to try the spell she’d used in the forest. She did so halfheartedly, but Li was airborne before long.

“It’s not the same spell,” I said. “It’s a flying spell.”

Akana was happily surprised. She’d figured it out herself without another Anoki. I don’t think she realized the full extent, though; she could make anyone fly even if they didn’t have Air magic, whereas nobody except a lucky few could without her. I immediately realized both the potential and the danger here.

“Akana…” I said, “…we’re not going to tell anyone about this… right?”

Akana thought about this, realized what I was talking about, and agreed. Li did also. I was relieved. I decided to go to the library and get a new book; I’d finished mine. I ran into Kaye in the nonfiction section, near the encyclopedias.

“What are you looking up?” I asked.


I frowned. “I wouldn’t be in an encyclopedia. I didn’t do anything spectacular in the past or anything.”

“No,” Kaye said. “You’re still doing it.”


“I didn’t think you knew. Some Anoki have blends of magic talent, but all of them have one thing that they’re the best at, and everything else is kind of minor. But you–you’re good at everything. And, um… the other Anoki don’t change appearance. I mean, your wings are bigger and a different color. And it looks like you sandblasted them with glitter when you do magic.”

I was kind of shocked. The weirdness of going out every night and sleeping in midair without beating my wings at all had vanished, replaced by a deep contentment with being in the sky whenever I could, especially at night.

“So now,” Kaye said, “I’m trying to figure out who you are. You might be just Earth, but I really don’t think so, not after what I’ve seen.”

I’d known Kaye for months now, months of magic lessons. I knew what magic she could do, of course, and that her favorite color was blue and she liked to read romance novels, especially Jane Austen ones. And more importantly, I knew that she was trustworthy. So I didn’t hesitate as much to tell her what I did at night, especially since it would most likely help her search. But still, part of me wanted to retreat out of her mess.

Kaye looked sort of like a deer in the headlights. I wondered if I had been right to tell her, or if my reluctant side should have won out.

“That’ll help,” she said faintly, and I left, wondering what I’d just done.

*                      *          *

I returned to the library later, realizing that I had yet to find another book. On a whim, I went back to the encyclopedias to see if Kaye was still there. Her page was still open, and she’d left a bookmark, but Kaye had gone home. I saw one word and something made me check out the book I’d selected and run for my life.

I went home and tried to read. I could only think of the one word I’d seen, though I had forgotten what word it was. I both wanted to go back and read more of the encyclopedia and to stay home, huddle up, and forget I had even walked into that area of the library. I decided to go visit Kaye. Maybe she’d found something.

I was reluctant to visit Kaye, almost as much as I would be to go back to the library. But curiosity won out, and I went ahead and dropped by to ask her what she’d found.

Apprehensively, Kaye started an explanation. “I don’t want to disappoint you with your result unless I’m sure that my theory is true. I want you to take several different types of magic lessons tomorrow. If you can do them, I will tell you your answer.

I didn’t know what she meant. I was confused as anything and a little concerned by Kaye’s almost fearful tone. So I went home and read my book. I felt anxious and excited about tomorrow. Maybe I was something special after all.

*                      *          *

That night I went higher than I normally did, maybe five thousand feet in the air. Way above the trees, I felt oddly separated from anything below. I slept soundly and came down at dawn.

I read for a while. Kaye’s teachers hadn’t come to the practice grounds yet. I finished a couple chapters and went out again to check if they were there. Nobody was around yet. I checked my clock. Still 6:30. So I flew up again, trying to see how high I could go. I bolted much farther past where I had slept and up into ten thousand feet. The air was thinner, but I didn’t mind and I didn’t have breathing problems. It was a little easier to fly in, even. I went faster. I looked down at my new village and realized that this was my true home, not just some village I’m visiting for magic lessons. I fit here. I was respected here. And they didn’t require the commitment spell, which was important. The dictating elders always did.

The village looked tiny from here. I wondered what it would be like to sleep here. I dove straight down, and gave my wings a huge beat. I was blind and watery-eyed from wind, but I was flying and I didn’t care. All of a sudden, I was in the village, braking fast, wings catching me like a parachute. Several weirded out faces watched as I almost bent double upon attempting to stand and, gasp, walk. I realized that the first teacher was just arriving. I hurried to the grounds and tried to smooth down my super-windblown hair.

The first teacher was one who had mastered the four natural elements. I was to learn the most complicated spell for each. I did the Earth one on the first try. I had the teacher explain the Water one a couple of times, but I still only needed one try to do it. For Air, I felt a little bit of stress doing the spell. I had to do the Fire spell twice, but I got it.

The next teacher was a Dream Anoki. I did every spell that she showed me. I could put her to sleep, wake her up, make her hallucinate, and read her mind. I wondered how I could do all that to her but couldn’t cure my own insomnia last week.

The Time teacher was easy. I even sent her off looking ten years younger.

I did all the storm magic. I could create hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning storms, straight-line winds, and probably a bunch more. But the teacher gave up trying to find something I couldn’t do as well. I considered helping her appearance as well to make up for it, but decided against it.

 The Darkness spells were saved for last. I had major trouble with these. I had to do the simplest ones three to four times to get them right, and the strongest one took me ten times to finish. It was still half the time of the more advanced students, but doing the Darkness spells made me not only uncomfortable like anyone else who could do Light magic, but also kind of queasy. I didn’t like this much, and I was glad when the lesson ended. Kaye, who was sitting around watching all this, shook her head in the dust that my last spell had created.

“I advise,” she said, “that we go somewhere less public before I tell you any more.”

“I think so too,” I said.

*                      *          *

Half an hour later, I was bewildered, shocked, weirded out, and inanely happy.

“You are a Star Anoki. You have the rarest talent known to any of us. You can do all the kinds of magic, except a weakness in Dark magic. But I expected that.” Kaye gathered the notes she’d taken. “The only other small weakness is in Fire magic. But then, that kid trying to roast marshmallows might have been a small distraction.”

“There was a kid trying to roast marshmallows?”

Kaye sighed. “The point is that you’re not really an Earth Anoki. You’re a Star Anoki whose strongest power is in Earth magic. I think your wings changed color that night you went out and claimed the magic as yours. Or it claimed you. Magic works that way. I’ve never been able to explain it. It’s just, Amanda…”

I gave Kaye a “go on” look.

“…the Star magic tends to take over anyone who accepts it and can’t handle it. I don’t know. I think you’re good enough to handle it. Star magic is usually pretty good at Dark magic, but I could see your reluctance to do it. And you controlled yourself enough to not do it except to get on with the test. You didn’t want to. It had nothing to do with your inability. But there’s one thing that confuses me.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I’m one too.”

*                      *          *

“I thought,” I huffed as I tried to keep up with Kaye, “that you couldn’t do Fire magic. You told me once.”

“I can do any element!” Kaye hissed. “I just keep it secret. I’ll explain why later.”

We were shopping for magic stuff. I was looking for a decent cloak when Kaye popped her head around the corner and dragged me over.

“Wands,” she said. I was puzzled.

“But we’re Anoki. Why would we need wands?”

“Because people would think that we’re human magic wielders. Besides, they sometimes help amplify a spell, especially healing spells. The wood just seems to make Earth magic a lot more effective.” She leaned over and whispered, “And they look totally awesome!”

“Can’t argue with that,” I said. I bought one for myself, but Kaye skipped it after all that. I went back and picked up the thick green cloak I’d been eyeing. I might not be an Earth Anoki, but I was still an Amanda. Even though right now I was wondering who Amanda was. I was wondering who I was.

I was also wondering who Kaye thought she was. I mean, pulling me to the shops to get all this stuff. Was she planning something? The fact that I didn’t know Kaye as well as I thought I did screamed “YES” even louder.

I bought a backpack that held much more than it implied from the outside. Useful. We stocked up on seeds and lots and lots of candy and other junk food. Most of it was Kaye’s idea. I didn’t know where she was going with this until she bought a huge tent that she stuck in the backpack and said that we’d be gone a while, so we might as well make it comfortable. We bought tons of blankets, a teensy heater (which could be powered with Storm magic or batteries) and other stuff that somehow all fit in the pack without being heavy.

We went Kaye’s house. She started packing, and I started interrogating.

“Why did you hide your talent from the rest of the village?”

Kaye was silent for a minute. Then she said, “I suppose you also want to know why we’re packing. Two questions, one answer. The village elders have been planning a war with the Zepha tribe for almost a year. The two tribes have always been hostile toward each other. And if they realize that they have a Star Anoki, they will attack as soon as possible because that Anoki will win the war for them. I mean, Star Anoki can fly, and Darkness cloaks make it incredibly easy to spy. Flying makes stealing plans and stuff easier–a lot easier. And of course, the ability to do any kind of magic allows certain advantages. Plus, if they had a Star Anoki, they’d have a healer as well. The Zepha tribe’s healer disappeared a while ago.” Kaye shot a pointed glance at me. “And, of course, you’re FROM the Zepha tribe and would know everything about it.

“So anyway, Elder Fienne was watching at the edge of the training grounds while you were taking your test, and you can bet your life that she saw that you could do every single kind of magic. Now she knows that she has a Star Anoki from the Zepha tribe and that it’s incredibly likely that they don’t have another. After all, magic talent isn’t determined by genetics. You wouldn’t inherit your power; it’s all you.

“They raided your house last night. I saw them, even though they were totally silent. To tell the truth, I was out too.” Kaye blushed.

“But Kaye, the Zepha tribe is directed by these horrible tyrants. If we took over the village, it would only benefit the Zephans.”

“Not if they kill everyone there,” Kaye hissed. “And the people in the war get killed also. My mother was an amazing healer, my father a Storm Anoki. Both were killed in a war we had with the Zephans.” Kaye’s eyes became miniature fireballs, conflicting with her icy blue wings.

“Weird,” I said. “My parents were killed in the same war. But they were traitors to the Zepha tribe. I used to be angry about it, but now…”

“Maybe I knew them. What were their names?”

“Alicia Errea…”

“…and Jared Unger… right?”

I frowned. “Yeah. How’d you know?”

“Because they’re my parents.”

*                      *          * 

I stared. I frowned. “But you’re older than me.”

Kaye shrugged. “So? Our parents weren’t traitors to the Zepha tribe; they were spies for the Kliid tribe that came back with secrets about the Zephans. They weren’t traitors, not really. They were on a secret mission to get inside information about the Zephans. They pretended to be traitors while they were in the Zepha area, and tried to look like they were here to stay. They set up a house and fed the war leaders chicken feed–that’s useless information that made them look good–and ended up with a second daughter. When they had to escape with the secrets, they got out in the nick of time and had to leave you here. I guess you saw Mom doing Earth magic a lot while she was there and picked it up yourself.”

“She taught me,” I said. “She tried to teach me a lot of kinds of magic, but back then, Earth was the one that stuck. That was the only one I was able to do then, and that was all the school trained me in, even though I could do Light and Water magic when my friends taught me. I can remember my mother doing every kind of magic except Darkness. She told me that she could, but said that she didn’t want to. I never did see her do it. From the time she disappeared, I decided that I didn’t want to do that kind of magic either.”

“She was a Star Anoki too? Maybe magical talent is hereditary.”

“It’s a mystery. But it deserves to be our mystery. It’s nobody else’s business. And we need to leave before the elders discover us further. If they so much as see either of us again, it’ll be easier for them to track us down. Unfortunately, anyone in the village who can fly will be the ones tracking us.”

“Then we need to bring Akana too,” Kaye said. “Nobody else in the village can fly.”

“Wait,” I said. “Li.”

“Oh, yeah,” Kaye said, sighing. “I really don’t want to take another person along with us, but we can’t afford to let anyone who can fly stay in the village.” Kaye finished packing up. “I’ll get Li. You find Akana. She’ll believe you better than she’ll believe me. We need to get out of here. Make sure you’re not seen.” She examined me critically. “Bring your old green clothes too. You stick out like a periwinkle thumb.”

I left to find Akana. Kaye disappeared down an alley. One of the elders almost spotted me, but I darted behind a building. Kaye was right; my periwinkle clothes would blend better with the sky than the trees.

Wait a sec.

I slipped into the forest and shot up far enough that nobody could see me. Nobody who could fly was looking for me, so I figured I was pretty safe up here.

And apparently Akana was thinking the same thing. Because she was up here also.

“Akana,” I said. She jumped in midair, then realized it was me and flew over.


“We’re running away for the second time before the elders can use us in the war. I’m a Star Anoki and they’re going to use Kaye and me to attack the Zepha tribe, so we’re getting our butts out of here before they can attack.” My explanation was admittedly shorter than Kaye’s, and also minus the emo weep-fest about our parents.

“Sounds good,” Akana said. “Why do you need me?”

“Because they’ll use you to track us. Kaye’s bringing Li. Oh, by the way, Kaye and I found out we’re sisters.”

“Really?”Akana asked. “She doesn’t look anything like you. Oh well. Let’s get going.”

Akana was right. Kaye looked more like Akana than she did me. “Your parents didn’t die in a war, did they?”

“No,” Akana said. “Why?”

“Never mind. Let’s get going.” Akana only kept a backpack anyway, and she conveniently had it with her. Minus Kaye’s contagious wordiness, we were out of the sky and out of the village in no time flat. But Kaye and Li weren’t.

“What do you say we go back and get them?” Akana asked. “I say if we don’t, then they’re never going to show up.”

I was about to agree when Kaye and Li crashed through the trees above us. “Li was spotted!” Kaye said.

“Somehow I’m not surprised,” I said, eyeing Li’s orange countenance. I dropped back into the village and got her normal, non-fiery clothes in dark green and sky blue, to blend in. I fireproofed them and Li put them on, but her wings still blazed bright red. She looked sort of like a trigger-happy Christmas ornament.

“If we fly high enough, none of us will be seen. Including Li’s pyrotechnic persona,” I said.

“Oooh… I hate alliteration!” Kaye giggled. “It reminds me of the guy on the candy show!”

All of us started giggling. Sure, the fairies tapped into the humans’ satellite signals, but we tapped into the fairies’.

When the giggling subsided, we had only hopes that we hadn’t been heard. I glanced from Li’s bright orange wings to Akana’s vibrant yellow to my own, which were now periwinkle and splattered with indigo at the edges. There was no way any of us would blend with the forest–

As soon as I thought this, my wings turned the very same green as the forest around us. With my green clothes and auburn hair, I blended pretty well. Kaye saw me and tried the same thing, but it didn’t work for her. I wondered why. Maybe she was just weaker at Star magic than I was, for some reason. Weird.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 23rd, 2010 at 3:49 pm and is filed under Star. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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