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Erik's temper soured and he appeared much like a pouting child. His argument was flattened by her words and he just looked like a dick. [b "Alright, well. Children are out of the equation. I guess you're right to dismiss those ones,"] he grumbled.
He never did like being proven wrong. He'd gotten into many fights as a young man, simply for being a sore loser. He would have to remind himself to calm his temper before it got the best of him. [b "My apologies. I should have listened,"] he added begrudgingly.
[i Anxious], she called him. It was quite an understatement. Erik Lehnsherr was comprised of nothing but high-strung nerves and a severe lacking of patience. [b "I'm not anxious,"] he told her. [b "I am...motivated."]
It was a barely feasible excuse for his poor behaviour. [b "We will do things your way. We'll start from the outside and work our way in, from the selection you've made,"] he reached for the files to glance over them.
Not terrible picks, either. A girl who can fly, and a boy who can shoot lasers with his body, just to name a few. Perhaps they'd be handy after all.
[b "We can stay in hotels as we work our way back. No sense coming back all this way just to leave again four times. We can interview them along the way. Make sure they're decent prospects off the page as well,"] he looked to Charlotte for any disagreement.
[b "We'd best pack a bag,"] he handed the files back to her and dismissed himself from the room.
The sooner they left, the better. Erik wasn't one to sit idle for very long. He'd feel better if they were at least being productive with the time they were spending on base. [b "You can't come,"] he informed the younger Xavier sister as she bolted into the room while he packed.
[i "Technically Charlotte is the one who gets to tell me what I can't do,"] Raven was quick to sass back.
[i And... there it is.] This thought timed with his little blow up, Charlotte would set down her pen and notebook, fold her hands, and waited until Erik had finished his rant before attempting to answer any of his apparent questions.
[b "Well, Erik, the reason I said no to this one,"] She picked up the notebook, pointing out the last canidate she had vetoed, [b "Is because it is someone with a latent, non-activated mutation. That, and it is someone who is definitely less than a year old. An infant. I think it's a valid reason to say no."] She arched an eyebrow at him, turning in the chair and crossing her own arms as she stared up at his form looming over her. With her seated and he standing, their height contrast of apparent lion and lamb was even more drastic. [b "A majority of the mutants I sensed are twelve or younger, Erik. I'm signaling out the ones that are adults. ...Or, in the least, no younger than what Raven is."] She scrubbed her hand through her hair a little warily, [b "I'd have done it by myself and gotten through this faster, but you would have thought I was keeping secrets—and don't try to deny that."] The curly black-haired woman smile slightly up at him, and then sighed before picking her notebook back up.
[b "I know you're anxious, Erik, and that's without needing to even intentionally read your mind. You're just... like... basically screaming it."] Charlotte tugged the list of papers towards her, picked up her pencil, and quickly scanned her eyes down it before managing to jot down another twenty names. They now totalling fourty canidates, she held the notebook out to him. [b "All of these canidates are within 12 hours from her, as we wanted. I've sensed their brains once, and I shoulb be able to find them. Now, will you stop looking like you want to strangle me?"] She gave him a smile, still lounging in the chair as he loomed over her. [b "We'll go give that to Mister Flemyng now, and then we should be able to he'd out tomorrow. Would you like to do the ones close enough for taking a car to be the first we head to, or rather work our way inwards from the farthest out...?"] Her smile grew, she back to that genuine serenity she always gave off.
Erik was more than happy to send off the teenagers on their own assignment, which was really just an excuse to get them away so he and Charlotte could think clearly without eager young minds questioning their every move. The office offered them a perfect retreat from prying eyes, to pour over potential mutants that they could contact to aid them in their fight. The work was incredibly tedious and Erik was having a hard time focusing. It seemed like the more they sat there working, the further Shaw was getting from them. And every time Charlotte declined a potential recruit, he wanted to slam his head in to the desk.
After she uttered the latest 'no', he waved a hand to fling a paper clip at her. [b "I can't tell if you're being difficult because you're still tired, or because you're just too picky,"] he grumbled before taking another gulp of coffee. [b "I'm trying to be patient, but we Germans aren't known for it. If we spend all evening and night in here, I may actually kill someone."]
They had been at work for hours already and had not selected a single candidate. Erik pushed his chair back and stood up to stretch. [b "Can we just regroup here? We're going to get nowhere if you don't start making decisions. Explain to me what exactly is wrong with the last candidate."]
He came to lean on the desk beside her with his arms crossed over his chest. [b "And if any of your criticisms include 'they aren't prepared', allow me to remind you that we will have to train anyone we bring in here. Not to mention, I doubt anyone would be prepared for this to begin with. We don't even have a set strategy. So why don't we start selecting recruits?"]
[b "It's not being taken advantage of if you know and accept it's happening, and if it's genuine help so I don't faceplant again. You've seen me do that enough already and it hasn't even been three days."] Charlotte murmured back, letting her eyes fall closed a moment as the march back to the main building began.
It was oddly calming, just being carried somewhere. She can't remember the last time she'd been carried.
...Any serenity that came with those moments, however, were ruined by the three's mouths. [b "I [i will] make you all believe you're toddlers. Don't think I won't."] She grouched, lips pouting as she turned her head out of Erik's chest mere moments before her had set her down. Her mouth hadn't been able to stop from twitching into a smile, however.
[center [b [i ~ ~]]]
The two teenagers had been ushered off by talks of interesting topics between one another, and because they had been slightly ushered off by the adults: subtly done on Charlotte's behalf, and likley not-so-subtly-done on Erik's part.
The two mutant adults had been able to secure a small office to use for all the readouts, so for the past couple hours since the lethargy had left her, that's what they've been doing. Skimming through a few thousand 'pings!' of mutants within twelve hours of their location.
[b "...No, not eligable."] Charlotte said in response to another set of coordinates that Erik listed off, so their list of currently only twenty eligable candinates to even attempt asking would remain at, well, only twenty in count. She had been able to feel the man's growing irritation with every "No" of hers over the past hour, and she could tell from the frustration he was projecting that it wouldn't be much longer before he'd finally explode.
Erik bit his tongue and refrained from any sarcastic comments. He could play nice if he has to. At least, as long as the others didn't push his buttons and bring his pessimistic side to the front. [b "Fine. I'll stop bringing up Shaw recruiting more minions. If this machine will let us maintain the upper hand, I guess I can't complain too much."]
She's light in his arms as he holds her up. With her request to be carried back to the headquarters, he sighs and lifts her up. [b "Sometimes I think you're just taking advantage of me, Xavier,"] he mutters.
Hank and Raven follow behind them as they march the path to the building. [b "Don't expect that I'll let you boss me around constantly. And don't even think a piggyback will be granted at any point. This is the only time I will carry you,"] he tries to keep a stoic face but a grin tugs at the corner of his lips.
[i "You should start to feel normal within an hour or two. Cerebro really takes the energy out of you,"] Hank chimes in behind them. [i "The first time I tried it, I was alone so I just kind of laid on the floor for a few hours until the numbness went away."]
[i "Aw man, we should have left Charlotte back there,"] Raven teases her sister.
[b "I can always turn around and drop her back off. Then we could enjoy coffee without her. Maybe take an early lunch,"] Erik agrees.
They enter the headquarters and Erik deposits her on a chair in the dining hall. [b "I'll start the coffee,"] he turns towards the pot to start the boiling water.
[i "Please, sit. You're a guest. Least I can do is make you feel more at home,"] Hank gestures for Erik to take a seat, wanting to appear charming in front of the younger girl.
There was so many. There was so, so, [i so. Many.] There was more than she had ever even theorized, and she had never been more happy to have one theory proven wrong for the sake of another!
It seemed like forever, yet not that long at all, when the machine would power down, she'd shakily remove the helmet, and she'd end up stumbling in almost a faint off of the small platform. She, for lack of better terming, just lounged there in Erik's arms as the other three fired off rapid questions and then babbled around her as if she wasn't there.
[b "All three of you are being.... such a mood-killer, but I'm not going to let you succeed."] Charlotte finally said, giving a small smile despite her exasperation from having her pure joy filtered back into serious levels so soon. So, she decided to begin with the toughest and end on a high note. [b "First of all, Hank, never say 'Never' in regards to helping as many as possible. Also I've told Erik once and will tell you now as this becomes his second time,"] She waggled a finger between the two me, [b "Shaw isn't looking for more soldiers actively. He has no reason to. As of now, he thinks there's only me and Erik and he likely believes his telepath more powerful than me since she could block me out. ...Which, I'm pretty sure, wasn't even due to her telepathy being stronger. It was something else."]
The woman now turned her attention to her little sister, [b "A lot of them are safe and aware, some yet unaware, and others who aren't in the safest of locations. But, we will all do our damndest to help them all as soon as it's safe too."] The reason why it was currently unsafe to reach out to any that wouldn't be able to help in the fight against Shaw was left unsaid because, well... Shaw.
Charlotte then once more turned her eyes on Erik, [b "And as for what I saw...?"] She let out a breathless laugh, tucking her cheek into the metal-using mutant's chest as she let her eyes close. [b "We are far from [i ever] being alone in this world."]
Her words had a power despite their softness, a strong and booming hope desite how quietly spoken she was. And that hung in the air for them to soak in, to bask in. To know even more thoroughly that they were not alone, for though they had gotten that sensation in each other it was a completely other thing to know that there were more people like you about the world than just the ones you physically knew.
[b "Now,"] Charlotte broke the silence, the telepath still a bit lethargic in Erik's arms, [b "I feel like I just ran a dozen miles, so I would appreciate it if someone would carry me inside to get coffee. After that, we can go over all of those locations and I can lable all of those I see as the best canidates for Erik and I to go and meet."] A small smile tweaked her lips and, despite its size, it still managed to make her visible cheek to dimple.
Erik doesn't want to admit it, but he holds his breath when the machine is switched on. Ready to pounce to her rescue at any second, he doesn't exhale until she starts smiling and laughing. No danger yet. [b "What do you see?"] he asks her.
[i "There's so many!"] she responds.
More of them. How many? Hundreds, maybe thousands? Could she see their lives, where they are? He opens his mouth to ask, but Hank cuts him off. [i "Let her focus. She can't get distracted or the machine won't work properly."]
Erik grits his teeth and watches, seeing the euphoria on Charlotte's face. When Hank gives him the signal, he steps up beside her with his arms ready to catch her if she stumbles after the scientist throws the switch to turn off Cerebro.
[b "What could you see?"] he asks.
[i "Are they safe? Are they aware of their powers?"] Raven chimes in, just as curious.
[i "I'm sure some are, but there are most likely others that have not been made aware yet. Part of my hope with this technology is that they'll come to understand that they aren't alone, and that there are answers out there for them,"] Hank answers, rubbing his hands nervously as he tries to appear confident.
[b "This will give us an advantage over Shaw. I doubt he is able to track mutants around the world. If we get to them first, he'll be unable to brainwash them to join his side,"] Erik states.
[i "Theoretically yes, but we're talking about a significant number of people. We can't reach them all in our lifetimes, considering new mutants are born every day. We just have to hold out hope that Shaw is unable to locate more soldiers for himself,"] Hank tries to reign in the strategy.
[i I am surrounded by children.] Charlotte thought, resisting the urge to shoot the bird because one was a child she barely knew, the other was her sister, and the other was a man whom she already knew would make a dirty joke about it.
[b "A beacon of support, you three are. One trying to shave me, and the other two mentioning the things that can go wrong! What more can a woman ask for?"] She finally said, releasing a soft breath of a laugh before raising a hand briefly beside her in a "Go ahead" gesture for Hank to get the machine started.
There was the wiring and the buzzing. Anticipation flooded in her veins alongside anxiety as everything hummed to life.
Then there was a flash of white in her mind's eye, her hands snapped out to hold onto the railing for support, and her brain began to see so much farther than the room of Cerebro.
The machine started ticking away in seconds as the brainwaves of Charlotte Francine Xaver's abilities began to dance around the worlds thanks to satellites and genius and mutant powers. A seemingly endless amount of bright lights in her mind that she registered as strangers like the four of them. Just, just....
[b "There's so [i many!]"] Charlotte gasped out, a bright smile on her face and a breathless laugh escaping her lips as the machine continued to record the location of every mutant her powers touched. Her eyes briefly refocused on the room as her brain continued to see everything else, and she laughed some more in utter glee after meeting eyes with Hank, Raven, and then finally Erik in that order.
She soon let her vision fade back out to focusing on all her brain saw, she still being able to feel her eyes sting a bit with tears, but she felt no care. The young professor was overwhelmed and had every right to cry, considering the situation. She was right. She was really, truly, and undoubtedly right in her hidden theories on a level even larger than she had imagined possible.
Erik smirks, unable to help it. [b "What an adorable lab rat you make, Charlotte."]
Raven tosses him a smirk as she walks around the machine. [i "Really brings out your beauty,"] she teases.
Cerebero was one of the most impressive things that Erik had ever seen. Every possible detail went in to making it, to ensure the safety of civilians. He stares at the different panels, wondering what exactly each button did. Hank must have noticed because he makes a mild squeak and hurries over. [i "Just be very very careful. It's sensitive and easily broken."]
The elder man gives him a blank look and then turns away. Being on a team with a child would be difficult enough. He didn't quite like being told what to do by one. So, he chooses to wander back to Charlotte. [b "Not worried? He's quite young. Could have made mistakes. One little misplaced wire and zap! Extra crispy Charlotte Xavier."]
The scientist in question comes over to make sure everything is secured properly. [i "We may get better reception if you'd be willing to shave your head,"] he looks at her hopefully, only to be immediately shot down.
[b "Be a sport about it, Charlotte. I hear baldness is becoming quite the fashion statement,"] he muses.
Raven snorts in to her hand. [i "Can we keep him?"] she asks her sister.
Erik notices Hank wince a little at the comment, before clearing his throat. [i "Alright, we're all set here. Give the go-ahead whenever you're ready, and I'll flip the switch."]
With baited breath they all watch her carefully, waiting for any sign of distress. If she was in need of rescuing, they would all be quickly on hand. [b "I'll let you know if your hair catches fire,"] Erik promises her.
[b "He won't be looking for anyone, Erik. From the glimpse I saw he had those three with him for years—he has no need to go looking for more mutants. Believe me."] Her tone, rather than one of reassurance was, instead... concrete certainty. If the male mutant looked at her, he'd see the fiery, non-doubtful look on her face.
[b "I blocked your mind from his own telepath's the moment I noticed you in the water. He and his telepath will either think you're dead, or will believe there's only the two of us."] The woman nudged the door open with her back, opening the door for them both and only now turning to walk properly face-forward now that they were outside. [b "There's no way I was letting that woman into my head and find out about Raven—"] There's be a brief flicker of something lethal in her eyes, [b "—and neither of us knew of Hank's existence. They'll think they have us outnumbered. On the look-out for us, sure, but not actively rallying against us."] Charlotte cast Erik a grin, the seriousness of her demeanor lightening up to her usual cheeriness as soon enough they were standing right in front of the two teenagers outside of the large, ball shaped ground satellite.
Hank opened a hatch at the bottom of the dome, folding stairs slowly pattering out for them all to walk up. [#0086eb "This is it!"] The young scientist exclaimed, gesturing around the dull-tan insides of the dome filled with machines, wiring, and... a platform in the center, with a half-circle support bar and a rather large helmet connected with even [i more] wires dangling from the ceiling. [#0086eb "The electrodes connect Charlotte to the transmitter on the roof. When she picks up a mutant, her brain should send a signal through a relay, and then the coordinates of their location are printed out here...."] While Hank babbled on in his explanation and gestured towards the mentioned parts of Cerebro, of course Charlotte had gone about examining the helmet before hopping up on the platform and pulling the helmet down onto her head.
The short mutant stood there, arms folded behind her back, and her eyes flickered over towards the German-male in the room. [b "Don't you dare say it, Erik. You'll spoil this for me."] The woman threatened playfully, eyebrow arched as she caught the beginnings of his joke tickling his brain.
Erik had risen before the women and gone for his morning jog. The air was brisk against his lungs, and he relished in the fresh air of the compound. Years traveling had not always been pleasant, sleeping in alleys and breathing in truck fumes. He would bask in the freedom for a while longer.
When he returns to the room, Charlotte and Raven aren't there. He showers quickly and pulls on some slacks and a button down to try and look a little authoritative around all of the suited agents.
He's wandering the halls to find of the girls when he hears the voices. Charlotte and Agent O. Erik could announce his presence and join them, but he wasn't about to pass up the chance to overhear something important, now that he doesn't have the Xavier woman glued to his side.
She was good at negotiating, he'll give her that. She doesn't even have a waver to her voice when dealing with the FBI. [i Trying to get him flustered, Charlotte?] Erik thinks, knowing that the woman would be in tuned to him as soon as he put his guard down. [i Poor man doesn't stand a chance.]
Just as he predicted, the agent caves. Erik smirks. [i Pity. I was rooting for him.]
He tries to look innocent when Charlotte emerges and catches him. [b "I don't know what you're talking about, Ms Xavier. I was simply waiting respectfully. I didn't want to interrupt."]
His eyes flash with the grin on his face. [b "Perhaps I should handle the matter next time. Agent O looks rather dazed. I believe he may be smitten with you. Wouldn't want you to take advantage of him."]
With a nudge of his elbow, he matches her step towards the teenage scientist's project. [b "If this machine does as it's supposed to, we'll have to get moving right away. We don't want Shaw to get to these people first. Who knows what he can talk them in to if they're desperate and scared."]
The rest of the night passed, and soon the sun was shining brightly upon Richmond, Virginia and upon the military base housed within it under the guise as a standard scientific research facility.
And if there was some poor janitor who had needed to stay up late to fix the dessert case, well, Charlotte didn't feel too guilty about it. She did feel bad for causing the extra work, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and that was what that cheesecake was at the time; a desperate measure.
All antics and stresses of the past night, however, were far out of her mind as she focused on the current moment. The signing of documents, the information on Cerebro that the teenaged Doctor McCoy had indeed finished throughout the night, and unfortunately need to argue with the Man in Black, Oliver Flemygn on the topic of exactly how they'd track down mutants if the machine did work.
[b "No, I'm sorry but I just do not agree with you. We can not send government personnel out to speak and/or retrieve other mutants."] Charlotte's voice was firm as she spoke this, she and Agent O on opposite sides of the debate. [#229e00 "It's a government sanctioned actions, Miss Xavier. How else do you expect them to get here? The agents of this office will be doing it."]
The woman bit the inside of her cheek, [b "Mr. Flemyng, all of these individuals are hiding or live in fear of the government coming for them—sending people in suits to 'talk with them' and try to recruit them is just asking for disaster,"] She hesitated briefly and then, with shoulders back and spine ramrod straight she declared with an air of authority, [b "If Cerebro does indeed work, then Erik and I will be the ones traveling to speak and potentially retrieve our mutant allies."]
Oliver seemed floored by this offer, [#229e00 "You want me to allow you, a civilian, and Mister Lehnsherr, another civilian, to have full control of government resources and work?"]
The two stared at one another a long moment, but soon the man sighed. [#229e00 "I'll allow it. I'm going to have to jump through some hoops, but you and Erik will have full jurisdiction over the mutants. Agent McTaggert, however, will be required to be place on the documents as your supervisor. Just send Mister Lehnsherr here whenever you find him so he can sign his documents as well?"]
Nods of agreements and compromises met, Charlotte would leave the man's office several long minutes later.
As she got to the corner of the hallway she slowed down, came to a stop, and then casually just popped her head around the corner to stare up at the man, [b "You know, Erik, you could have just come into the office like you were supposed to instead of easedropping out here. You projected your thought process very loudly, by the way,"] She looked at him, eyes squinting slightly in a mixture of playfulness and seriousness. [b "...If I didn't know better, I'd think you did your best to project your thoughts so loudly and that you were [i testing] me."] Giving him a grin, she folded her arms behind her back and began in a quick walk down the halls.
[b "Come along! We need to go meet with Hank and Raven at Cerebro."] It was amazing how fast that woman could move when she wanted, for she was out of sight and around another corner quite quickly.
Erik smirks. [b "When you try German chocolate cake, you'll never want another dessert in your life. Then again, it's so full of sugar that you would never need another dessert in your life. You can even add blueberries, if you wish. Though strawberries might go better with it."]
He rises from his place and moves to follow her. [b "And here I thought you were a goodie-goodie,"] he teases, glancing back at the picked lock and their dirty dishes. [b "Wouldn't want anyone to know that great Charlotte Xavier is capable of such crimes. Your reputation would be ruined."]
They walk in amiable silence back to their room, being careful not to wake Raven as they opened the door. Satisfied that her soft snores were real, Erik steps in to the room first, putting a finger to his lips to signal for quiet. [b "Sleeps like a rock, doesn't she?"] he murmurs by her ear.
He moves to his bed and removes his sweater and jacket, placing them on the empty bed next to his. Not feeling particularly worried about decorum, he sits to take off his boots and slides out of his pants as well, leaving him in just his t-shirt and boxer shorts. The sheets are cool and welcoming as he settles back against his pillow. [b "Guten nacht,"] he utters under his breath.
The clock on the wall ticks rhythmically, but no matter how he tries he can't get to sleep. Erik is almost positive that both girls are dead to the world, but he doesn't risk rising once more. Instead, he stares at the popcorn stucco on the ceiling, once more weighing the pros and cons of his staying to help with recruitment. Only this time, the pros outweigh the cons greatly.
By the time his eyelids grow heavy and fall, it's well in to the night, but for once his dreams aren't plagued by memories.
[b "You? Picky?"] She gasped, dramatically holding a hand against her heart. [b "I had no idea! Dear me, the scandal of such information."] A snicker passed her lips the same moment they failed from curling into a smirk, and then soon enough they were delving into the cheesecake.
Charlotte couldn't resist watching his face as he took the first bite, and smiled at his reaction before taking a bite. It was smooth on the tongue in her opinion, but she understood where he was coming from on the sugar. [b "I actually agree with you on that. There's too much actual sugar with how naturally sweet the strawberries are."] And with their critiques done on it for now, they followed the next few minutes with silence as they ate. The petite light next to the hulking darkness; bare feet idly swinging with what one could call sweetness while booted feet sat firm in what one would call firmness.
They definitely were a contradiction.
The young professor finished her last bite of the dessert moments after he had, she wiping her mouth with the back of her hand before pushing her own plate away as well.
At his words, she quirked an eyebrow. [b "Heavy and sturdy? I have to admit, that doesn't sound very satisfying for a dessert. ...Unless it's heavy in, say, blueberries. That would catch my interest."] She grinned, resisting the urge to make the dirty joke that was on the tip of her tongue. [i If Raven heard I made a joke like that outside of our own little sisterhood, or outside of a bar, she'd never let me live it down.] She reminded herself, urge now fully sated away for the time being.
[b "But tell you what, Erik; I'll try a German dessert at some point [i if] you let me cook a cheesecake for you. One much better than what we just ate. An eye for an eye."] She spun on the stool, hopping down and shivered only slightly when her bare feet touched the cool concrete of the floor once more. [b "Come on, let's head back to the rooms and get some rest. We'll have a long day tomorrow."] She paused, glancing over her shoulder while bluntly adding, [b "...And lets hurry before someone else comes by and sees that I picked the lock on the dessert case to get at the cheesecake in the first place."]
He was going to live to regret this. He knew it. But, a part of him knew that she was right. Erik couldn't do this on his own, as much as it pains him to say. He's not done particularly well with taking down Shaw alone. So, he reaches out and shakes Charlotte's hand.
[b "Cheesecake?"] his face scrunches. [i "I don't think I've ever had it. Desserts were a rarity in my home. Cookies, at best. If it's as good as you say it is, I may as well give it a try."]
The walk through the corridors is silent so as to not alert anyone else that they were awake. Erik isn't particularly hungry, but agreeing to trying the cheesecake seems to be like signing a contract with her. Sealing their deal over food.
He takes a seat at one of the high bar stools after setting two plates with forks out for them. [b "My mother was an exquisite baker. This has much to compete against. I'm rather picky, if you hadn't noticed."]
Still, when she slides a portion on to his plate he doesn't hesitate to take a bite. The burst of sweetness overwhelms him and he isn't quite sure if he likes it at first. Raising an eyebrow at her, he tries another bite. [b "I feel like I'm ingesting months worth of sugar, just from this. I'll have to make my run extra long tomorrow just to work this off."]
They could almost look like friends, he's sure, as they sit side by side devouring their pieces of cheesecake. And a sight they must be. His hulking form sitting beside her petite frame, dark and light together like this. It irks him that he may even be growing fond of her ferocity. Not that he would tell her. She'd never let him hear the end of it. [b "I'll give it a seven out of ten rating,"] he pushes his now empty plate away. [b "You haven't tasted anything until you've had authentic German desserts. They're heavy and sturdy just like the German people."]
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