Allegiance Literature Review

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Allegiance

Written by: Timothy Zahn

Timothy Zahn has come a long way since Heir to the Empire. A long way down. Once considered the savior of the Star Wars universe when his critically acclaimed trilogy brought Star Wars out of the doldrums and back into public view before George revved the engines on the prequels, Zahn returns with one of the worst Star Wars novels I have ever read.

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Beyond The Shadows – Fan Fiction

Beyond the Shadows

Timeframe – Between SotE and RotJ

by Paul Talon

“Idiots.”

Shaking his head, Dash Rendar couldn’t believe how simple it was to fake his death. Not even the Jedi-wannabe had noticed what had happened. Amateurs…all of them. How Solo and Calrissian could actually join the Alliance, he’d never know.

Independence.

There was nothing Dash prized more…well except for a large cold pile of credits.

And maybe one other thing…Dash sat in silence for a moment.

Was it time to get out? There were a few calls closer than close during the last battle. The Empire paid a big chunk of debt, Xizor wouldn’t be coming after him anytime soon.

He shook his head. What would he do? Dance? Lecture? No. Dash Rendar was a man of action. He needed the thrill of the chase, the blaster fights, the Hutts breathing down his neck. But he could use a break, as he spent a lot longer on this mission than he would have liked. He had to return home. He would be missed.

He set his course for Corellia. He had a few gentleman clubs to visit, a new identity to forge, a few beverages to drink, a few credits to deposit, a few women to call, and a payment to make.

Upon arriving at Corellia, he sat the Outrider down under the name of The Conquerer, Captained by Jacen Antilles. Without hesitation, he walked to his hovel he kept. In an abandoned warehouse that his family used to own, Dash had long ago set up a simple living quarters. Simple enough to miss in a sweep, extensive enough for him to live.

A bedroll that folded down from a wall, a monitor screen that was in the wall, a large refrigeration unit that still held foods frozen for the workers lunches. Flicking on the monitor, he had 13 messages. He had his messages sent through such a scrambled system that no one could ever track him down, unless they had Imperial resources.

Pictures of various contacts looking to hire came and went with a few creditors looking to be paid. All the same.

It was depressing. His latest brush with nobility and honor, made him take pause. Was going soft, would the excitement of a good freelance cargo run feel the same? The kid had got to him more than Dash would ever admit. He had admired the camaraderie between the rebels.

Leia and Luke laying it on the line like that for a space bum like Solo. There was something to be said about having friends like that.

Then there came the message from someone who wasn’t a creditor or a possible employer. It was Creana…

His ex.

Well, if you can call three nights in a sleazy Coruscant brothel masquerading as a bar twelve years ago could be considered a relationship. She liked him enough to give him a 50% discount afterall.

He could be charming.

He hadn’t heard from her in years…not since, she had told him about Torin.

His son. Born from those three nights of passion, Torin had had problems. In an age where doctors can fix almost anything, they couldn’t fix genetic, at least not this particular genetic disorder. Torin was born with the mind of a three year old. Very advanced for his age. But for some rare trick of the Force, that’s as old as his mind would ever develop. Here he was twelve years old now, with the mind of a three year old.

“Dash, it’s me. I wouldn’t be calling you if it wasn’t important. Please come see me as soon as you can…alright? Please?”

Dash sat down on his unfolded bed. She was right. It had to be important. She was polite. Last time she talked to him, a few bad things were said, a few appliances thrown and she made it clear she never wanted to see him again. This was potentially bad.

“So much for my rest.” Packing up his ammo and some gear, he walked quickly back to the Outrider.

Warming the engines, he quickly tracked the best route to Coruscant and jumped to hyperspace.

Dash sat silently at the controls. He had no idea what he was going to say to Torin when he met him. He had yet to see him, he doubted he knew who Dash was, let along how to react to him.

This was not going to be easy. It never is.

Hyperspace was boring. Especially alone. You could only play sabacc against the computer so many times before you knew how it was going to play every situation.

There were only so many holovids, even of the adult variety. Dash could never sleep in hyperspace, with all the interdictors running around. He always was ready to recalibrate at a moment’s notice.

But at this moment he was glad to be alone.

He even shut Leebo down. The droid was practically family, but he didn’t want hear any sarcastic remarks on this mission. It was different.

For the first time in awhile…HE was different.

How could he even care for Torin, when he never met him? Why hadn’t he met him? Part of it was timing, part of it was being scared that he’d be caught up in something his mind couldn’t handle.

That made him think too…what the hell kind of trouble did the ex get into anyways? With his son right there! Broads…

The computer beeped informing Dash of their impending return to real space.

Coruscant.

What a vile place….

Dash loved it. Setting down on his usual landing pad, Dash made his way to the port officer,

“Ahhh, Master Lasin. Excellent to see you sir.”

Dash flipped him a few credits, “Yeah yeah. Take care of her Jenson.”

“Of course, sir.” Jenson said pocketing the credits and running to service the ship. Dash shook his head and slowly sauntered towards the Red light district. He hated that she lived in this particular district with his son, but what could he do? She worked there. And he couldn’t take his son with him on his business.

Passing the usual dives, with a few of the ladies recognizing him and throwing him kisses, Dash waved them away mentally marking down a few places he wanted to come back to visit after his business was done.

Coming to the apartment rise, he knew Creana resided, he checked around for any marks before going up the stairs. Passing by a few derelicts and one couple deciding the hallway was as good as a bedroom, he got to Creana’s door. He knocked.

He knocked again.

And again.

Dash was mad. He gets called on an emergency and she didn’t have the decency to be here? Throwing his elbow into her security pad, he broke through to the wires connected to the door. With his gloved hand he tore them out, spliced them together and soon enough the door slid open.

He’d replace the lock for her. Later.

He walked into the pad. Same as it ever was, just darker if that was possible.

“Lights,” he stated, doubting that even twelve years later she ever found out that he keyed the amenitites to his voice as well.

Sure enough the lights came up. Locks you change and upgrade while you live here, lights and other luxuries, you didn’t.

Then he saw why she didn’t answer the door.

She lay face down in a pool of blood next to the couch. Slowly walking over, he toed the body to flip it over. It went over easy and he saw her face.

It was Creana alright. A quick survey of the apartment turned up no sign of Torin, and no sign of burglary. They had been hit for a reason. He could only guess why. Shaking his head, he sat in the recliner next to her body, and lit a death stick.

Leaning back he let the smoke rise as he contemplated his next move.

Just when I fake my death for some down time, they draw me right back in…

Letting the Death Stick burn to the filter, Dash finally stood up. Throwing a blanket over his ex so she isn’t watching him, he makes his way back into the room his son dwelled in.

The bed was a crumpled mess, things were overturned, but what caught his eye most was a stuffed toy rancor that was near his pillow. One of the few things Dash sent the boy over the years, it was obviously something he slept with. Then he looked closer on the desk and saw a picture of him sleeping.

“What the hell? Where did this come from?” he asked aloud. Creana must have caught him napping on one of those days and took a snapshot. Huh.

Poor kid. Poor girl. Taking the rancor and putting it in his pack, he walked out to the living room again looking for any clue as to where to go from here. Checking the walls, there was nothing, but as his eyes traveled to the venting, he knew he had something. He knew this set up! Grabbing a chair, he stood up so he could look in the vent. Sure enough. A X-tech Security Cam. Which meant there was a feed somewhere.

He jumped down and knowing Creana, went straight to her room. A small disheveled mess with stained sheets on a bedroll, there was a desk on the far side. Dash saw the datapad, still intact on it and switched it on. After a quick hot-wire, he was able to tap into the X-tech feed. Answers would come soon enough.

The picture was grainy but enough to get an idea as to what was going on. Creana and Torin were sitting in the living room eating dinner, when the door slid open. In walked a giant of a being, both arms raised. There was no audio on the feed so Dash couldn’t hear the screams but he could see it clearly enough.

Sollis. God, he hated the bounty hunter. Dash had gotten into a few scraps with him when they were younger, but Sollis never would have had the hydrospanners to pull something like this unless he was desperate. The boy was alive. That much was clear when Sollis left.

“He better still be when I find him Sollis, you pathetic, rotten, stinking, slag heap.”

Kicking the datapad free, he knew where Sollis would be. Same place he always could be found. Mos Espa.

Dash hated Tatooine. One more reason to open up on Sollis. Making him go to that hot desert planet.

Looking down at Creana’s covered shape one last time, Dash lit another death stick and sucked it in.

“Sorry sweetheart, I coulda told you twelve years ago I wasn’t the kind of guy to be seen with…If it’s any consolation…I’ll rip into him a little extra for ya.”

With that he turned and walked out the door.

“Lights,” he boomed as the lights turned off behind him.

At least he didn’t have to buy her a new lock.

Mos Espa.

He didn’t have to look very long. He found his prey in the first place he checked…as he thought he would.

The Cantina.

With the music blaring out, it seemed the Modal Nodes had jumped ship from Mos Eisley over here.

It was dark, dank, disgusting, seedy, trashy, smelly, and full of wanted men from all over the known galaxy, and the women who hoped to sell their wares to them.

In short, it was Dash’s kind of place.

Dash quickly found an open table nowhere near the bar, where Sollis would be stationed, and sank in the seat, his face hidden in shadows. The waitress, a Twi’lek with an extremely low cut top bent over the table,

“What’ll I get you stud? A pint, or something….harder,” she said suggestively. “Perhaps, a body shot?” She arched her back pointedly and Dash smiled.

“I’ll take a pint for now…and a rain check on that body shot,” he said leeringly, smacking her backside.

“Ooh. Yes sir…” she said wandering off to get his drink.

“Twi’lek waitresses…” he said under his breath. “Always scamming for that extra tip.”

Scanning the bar, he didn’t see his prey immediately. Disappointed, he waited a moment before the restroom door opened. Sollis came half stumbling out back towards the bar. The patrons cleared a way for the man, and from what Dash could tell he was alone. No sign of Torin at all.

Dash didn’t like that. His waitress came back with his pint and Dash paid his tab. Pulling a few sips back, he watched Sollis carefully to guage everything from what he was packing to the state of inebriation. He was definitely overdoing it slightly. He definitely wasn’t as drunk as he let on, but he wasn’t completely sober either.

One more swig and it was go time.

Sauntering up to the bar, he wedged his way between a few Sullustians and a Toydarian, right next to Sollis.

Very quietly he got very close to the bounty hunter, “Hello Sollis.”

“SITHSPIT!” Sollis screamed, falling backwards and onto the floor. Scrambling to his feet, eyes wide he began stammering,

“Dash! Uh…What…I mean..I thought…”

“You thought I was dead…I am…and soon you will be!” Dash stalked over to where Sollis was cringing.

“I saw the video. Creana, Torrin. Why?”

“I thought you were dead! He wanted to punish you anyways for what you did to Black Sun…it really screwed up his plans! He put a bounty on anyone you cared about. I needed the money, Dash, I didn’t know you were alive! I swear!”

“Who.”

“What?”

“No…WHO? Who wants to punish me?”

Sollis looked around carefully. “The Hutt.”

“Which one. Sollis?”

“Jabba” he whispered.

“Jabba…so what happened and my son better be alive or else your death will be twice as painful.”

“Yes! He lives! Jabba put him in a cell and forgot about him! When he saw the kid was cripple, like he was, he knew he wouldn’t give the Rancor enough sport so he just threw him in a cell!”

“You better not be lying to me Sollis,” he said as close as he could get to the thug.

“I’m not! Are you gonna let me go.”

“I would, but I have a promise to keep…to an ex girlfriend.”

With that, he threw Sollis back against the wall, gave him a roundhouse kick to the chest, doubling him over in pain. Dash grabbed a chair and broke it over his back sending Sollis to the ground. Pulling a pill out of one of the compartments off his belt, he forced it down Sollis’ throat and then released him to his chair. Gasping for breath, Sollis managed to look up into Dash’s eyes.

“What was that?”

“That, Sollis, was an anti-medicine of sorts. An old friend, Dr. Evazan…remember him? He gave it to me telling me to save it for the perfect moment. This will do.” Dash said smiling.

“What does it do?” Sollis asked afraid, and beginning to rub his hands together.

“It attacks your nervous system. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to feel anything…except pain. Everything you do, move, or see will cause you indescribable pain. The longest surviving recipient of the mediciation is twenty three hours, since people can’t live with the pain. Let me know how you do.” Dash said, giving him back his drink and walking out the door.

That felt good. One down.

Now to go see a Hutt about a boy. But first, perhaps he should stock up. He turned and headed up the path towards his favorite shop on Tatooine.

“Where are ya, you slimy piece of no good filth! I know you’re still here!”

A shape float through the sky through the open door, surrounded by a few flies.

“Whaddya want Outlander…I don’t owe ya nothin’.” Said the shape as he flew towards the sales area in the middle of the shop.

“Watto, now is that anyway to greet your favorite customer!” Dash said smiling wide.

“Pfeh. My favorite customers bring me money, not smiles.” He said warily.

“Watto, don’t be upset just because you lost a few bets to me on the podraces!” Dash said grinning as he sauntered up to the counter, a hands caressing a few of the pieces on display.

“Again Pfeh. A couple of bets? The Outrider was a ship I had been souping up for years!” Watto complained, coming between Dash and a few of the more expensive items.

“Not my fault you have a gambling problem, my friend.” Dash continued.

“And I thought losing the slave boy to the Jedi was embarrassing.” Watto said downcast.

“Cheer up, Watto, I’m here to buy.”

Watto’s eyes lit up in a flash.

“Well why didn’t you say so? I have a new XT-14 cooling system, which lets engines go at their maximum sublight speed for twice as long before burning up! I also got plenty of weapons and shields upgrades too,” Watto began his spiel before a hand from Dash stopped him.

“I know what I want. I know you know what I want. I know you have it,” he stated undeniably.

Watto began to shake uncontrollably. “Look Dash, I don’t want any trouble with the Hutts.”

“You won’t get it. I promise. If they get me, I know nothing. I have no reason to turn you in,”

“But…”

“Watto…NOW!” Dash intimidated the flying Toydarian.

“Alright, but it will cost you. $1,000 Imperial Credits.”

“I’ll give you $500 credits. No more,” Dash began.

“$750.” Watto countered.

“$500 and your life,” Dash returned.

“Sold.” Watto laughed nervously. Give me your pad and I’ll punch the codes and design in for you.

“OK, but if they don’t work…I know where you are.” Dash grabbed the Toydarian and looked him straight in the eye.

“Heh-heh-heh. Right. I’m not that much of gambler Rendar.” Watto stammered punching in the digits. “There. That should get you in Jabba’s back door.”

Dash handed over the credits and turned to leave.

“Thanks, Watto. Always a pleasure.”

He watched the Hutt’s palace for over five hours, getting a feel for the comings and goings of the guards. He punched up the layout of Jabba’s Palace one more time. He knew where his son should be. He knew where Jabba should be. He knew where the guards should be. But there was a catch. The backdoor into the Palace led right by the guards quarters. It was going to be hard to sneak in there.

He kept hoping a guard would come far enough outside that he could jump him and take his uniform, but no such luck.

At this rate, he’d never see his son again. Girding himself, up he’d have to try the semi-direct route and hope he could take out the guards in the quarters before they could raise the alarm. A little distraction could work well. Seeing a bunch of old droids out in the heat, he walked up to them and noted that most were beyond any kind of repair…but one of the old Gonk droids, had some juice left. All Dash had to do was get it running so it could walk in ahead of him.

He looked around and saw no one close by, so he quickly went to work repairing the robot. Gonk lit up and looked around.

“Gonk.”

“Good,” Dash said. Now all he had to do was open the door with the codes and send this little guy in to do his work.

Then it hit him. Literally. Something hit him in the back and immediately began shocking him to the point where he collapsed and could not move. He’d never been hit by anything like this before. Was he dying?

Then a helmeted face looked came into view as he lay on his back twitching. He began speaking to Dash with a raspy voice, Dash had come to know very well.

“Good to see you Rendar. I knew you were alive. And I knew this was a bounty only I would be able to handle. You will be unconscious soon. When you wake up you will be with Jabba. I’m just saving you the trouble of breaking in.”

With that, Dash saw, rather than felt, hands on his shoulders as he was pulled away from the door.

The only thought Dash had in his mind before the blackness fell like a curtain was…

Damn you Fett!

Dash woke up, alone, in a dank cell. Given that there was little moisture on Tatooine, he didn’t want to know what the puddles on the floor were. God whatever Fett hit him with hurt like a gundark bite.

Why was Fett even here? He should have delivered Solo a long time ago! Why was he sticking around. Good question.

A question he didn’t have time for now. He needed a way out.

The door clanged open and in rushed three Gamorrean guards. Dash gave a moment’s thought to rushing them, but he didn’t have quite enough energy to take on three of the pigs.

Brought along, Dash tried to peer in the cells as he walked by, looking for any sign of Torrin.

Nothing. They entered a large room, which was obviously the main gathering point in the palace. The lights hurt Dash’s eyes for a moment until they adjusted.

He saw another Twi’lek dancing…Focus!

He saw a band he was unfamiliar with jamming in the corner, a bunch of Jawas, Gamorreans, other various species. Fett was there. On the wall, was the object of his previous mission. Solo. Still frozen in carbonite.

Dash had no particular affection for the smuggler, but he still felt for the guy.

“What a living hell,” he said to no one in particular. He was brought before the dais after the dancer had finished her routine.

There sat Jabba the Hutt. The sight was nearly unbearable, the smell worse.

Jabba leaned forward, slightly.

“Ahhh, here we have the mighty Dash Rendar. Dash my boy, I hate seeing you dragged in here like this!”

“Jabba. Where’s Torrin,” Dash responded. “You had no reason to grab my son.”

“Dash…Dash…this isn’t about your son. This is about plans. My plans. And what you’ve done to pardon the pun, dash them,” Jabba pointed.

“What are you talking about?” Dash said playing innocent.

“Dash, I had designs on Black Sun. Designs decades in the making. Very soon, I was going to take out Prince Xizor myself, and I would head Black Sun.”

“Well, it looks I saved you the trouble, go ahead it’s all yours!” Dash grinned.

“Dash, I can’t now. It happened too soon. Too quickly. We weren’t quite ready to solidify our basis. Now Black Sun has been shot to hell and nearly disbanded. It’s a weak organization now. There is no point taking it over. And for that to be on your head…well soon I will have your head,” Jabba grinned back.

“Maybe we can work something out, Jabba?” Dash started.

“No. Guards take him to the cell his son is in, and leave him to starve for a few days. We’ll see how much fight a ravenous Dash Rendar can give my pet while trying to protect his son.” Jabba laughed and his people all laughed. All except Boba Fett. But then he never laughed. He just stood there impassively watching.

Dash almost threw himself at the big slug, but knew now wasn’t his moment. His time would come. He was thrown into a different cell and immediately looked around his dark room.

“Torin?”

He found his son lying down in the corner. Asleep. Malnourished, but alive. The time had come to break out. He’d have to take Torin with him, but he had no idea how the kid would react, awake. Dash couldn’t take chances. Dash took off his glove. He never was more happy to have had made the decision to have his hand replaced with a modified, bionic replacement. Unscrewing his index finger, Dash made sure the needle was as clean as it could be before injecting his son with a sleep agent. Torrin whimpered for a moment before returning to sleep. Now Dash could be sure Torrin would be asleep for the next twelve hours.

Replacing his index finger, he next unscrewed his middle finger. Waiting for the dead of night, he wanted to make sure no one would be around. Pushing a few buttons on his wrist, he got a small flame shooting out. Walkign to the door, he heated the hinges. After a few moments, he was able to strike the hinges off the door. Hoisting his son on his shoulders, Dash looked around and saw no one in the hall.

“Too easy,” he whispered but left his dank cell behind. Having studied the layout, he knew he had to be close to the exit. Hopefully the guards would be sleeping at this point.

He heard a muffled snort come from around the corner. Placing Torin on the ground, he awaited the source of the sound. A Gammorean walked around the corner and walked right into a boot from Dash. Knocked against the wall, the guard raised his axe to strike but was hit over and over by fists and boots before finally crumpling to the ground.

He gathered Torin back up and walked against the wall as quickly as was prudent. Closer and closer he was to the exit. Up on his left was the quarters of the guards and just beyond the next corner, was back door he could sneak out of. Hopefully his speeder was still there to carry them back to the Outrider.

There were no guards in sight! This was too easy. But Dash wasn’t going to look a gift eopie in the mouth.

Rushing towards the entrance, he just got to the door, when he heard the click of a blaster’s safety.

“Don’t move, Rendar. Gotcha!”

Dash didn’t turn. He could make a run for it, but not with Torin in his arms blissfully sleeping. What to do? Bargain.

“I got money. How much does Jabba pay you? I’ll double it to let us go,” he tried, frantically thinking.

There was no answer. Just a muffled CRACK followed by a louder THUMP.

Slowly Dash turned.

It was Fett. Standing over some rag tag guard.

Dash knew he couldn’t bargain with Fett as he walked towards him.

“Ballsy, Rendar. Ballsy.”

“Did you get your bounty for me Fett?”

“I always get my bounty in full. Which is why I’m here.”

“Huh?”

Fett walked over towards the door and punched in a code. The door swung open, and Fett motioned towards him.

“C’mon, Rendar…I don’t have all day here.”

For the first time in as long as he could remember, Dash was speechless.

Well, for a second anyways.

“You’re helping us escape?” Dash asked dumbfounded.

“I already got the bounty for you. I don’t owe anything to Jabba,” Fett said matter of factly. “You’ll find your speeder running about twenty yards from here, just over that dune.

“But why help us escape?” Dash said from outside the compound.

Boba Fett paused for a moment, and just for that moment, Dash caught a sense of something Boba Fett had never been accused of.

Emotion.

Glancing at Torin, Fett turned his head slowly to Dash.

“Let’s just say, I had a father once.”

Dash didn’t understand but knew better than to press him.

“Thanks, Fett. I owe you one. What are you still doing here anyways, I figured you’d drop Solo and move on to the next big thing.”

“Fact is Rendar, I’m tired. Your whole faking death thing to lay low for awhile has some appeal to me. Don’t be surprised to find me dead pretty soon. Anyways, I’m interested to see what Solo’s friends do. Calrissian’s here already, bumbling around in a guard disguise a baby could see through. Although I’m not surprised Jabba doesn’t.”

“And you’re not gonna turn him in?”

“I have the bounty for Solo. I owe Jabba nothing. Now get out of here Rendar. This conversation is over.”

With that, Fett closed the door and walked away. Dash had thousands of questions, but one answer is all he needed.

And it was across that dune.

Fett was true to his word, and Dash was able to get his son back to The Outrider before dawn. Dash quickly punched in all his warmup codes and got her up in space.

Destination: Anywhere.

Punching in coordinates, he quickly ran back to the quarters where his son slept still blissfully unaware. He wanted to be there when he woke, so the kid didn’t freak out and wreck his ship.

Sitting in his chair, he lit up a death stick watching the kids chest rise and fall.

Finally the kid started stirring and was immediately scared to be in a different place. Looking around and beginning to cry, his vision focused on Dash sitting on the chair. Taking a moment, Torin smiled and jumped onto Dash’s lap.

Dash pulled back instinctively before smiling and tousling the kid’s hair. Torin threw his arms around Dash and sighed content.

Dash looked over the kid, and a million thoughts ran through his head.

Laying low might just turn into retirement.

Carrying Torin to the cockpit, he sat him down in the co-pilot’s chair. Torin excitedly pointed towards the turned off Leebo.

“You’re asking for a world of trouble with him, kid. But…I guess we’re family now.” Reaching over he turned on the sarcastic droid.

Powering up, Leebo glanced around at the scenario.

“I get shout down for awhile and you breed? How long have I been out?”

Then Dash did something else he hadn’t done for a long time.

He laughed.

END

A Different Point Of View – Fan Fiction

A Different Point of View

Takes place during Return of the Jedi

****

BREATH. BREATH.

“The Emperor has been expecting you,” he said calmly, though he felt a tingling running down what was left of his spine.

“I know, father,” came the simple reply.

“So, you have accepted the truth,” he continued smiling behind the dark visage.

“I’ve accepted the truth that you were once Anakin Skywalker, my father,” Luke said sharper than he intended to.

Anakin Skywalker. Vader let that wash over him momentarily before snapping into the present.

“That name no longer has any meaning for me,” he snapped quickly.

“It is the name of your true self. You’ve only forgotten. I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn’t driven it from you fully. That is why you couldn’t destroy me. That’s why you won’t bring me to your Emperor now,” Luke said turning away.

Forgotton? How could he ever forget? His son couldn’t know the depths of emotion he was stirring up. Is he right? Could I turn away? No…he doesn’t understand.

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