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[?] A Certain Masked Man

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[?] A Certain Masked Man

Post  Aleister Crowley on Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:00 am

[SS] A Certain Masked Man


Inoue Hiyori sat quietly on the monorail, eyes piercing the night that glittered with a million sparkling points of light. The city seemed so far away, a labyrinth of light that was ever shifting for the movement of the carriage. Bright trails of illuminated roads spanned a web between the city blocks only to dart away at strange and peculiar angles, vanishing behind the silhouetted towers of skyscrapers only to reappear from another perspective.

A glimpse of a girl's face stared back at Hiyori from the window, ghostlike and ephemeral. She jolted at the sudden sight of her own reflection cast over the shimmering backdrop of Academy City. The girl sighed, turning her face down to the phone in her hand.

11:59 PM.

It was rare that she found herself out so late. Rarer still that she was alone. Looking around the empty monorail carriage she couldn't help but feel a shiver run down her spine. A kind of gnawing paranoia clutched at her stomach, twisting it in knots as she imagined the kind of things that could happen to a girl alone in the dead of night.  

And she was alone.

The carriage was totally empty, the fluorescent lights flickered a little with a hum and a click. TikTik Brrrr. She looked down at her phone.

00:00AM.

Hiyori looked up and jumped in her seat with a tiny hitching yelp. She hadn't been alone after all.

There as a single other passenger. Sat at the far end of the carriage, hidden in the gloom of the failing lights. A man by the looks of it. Sitting perfectly still, rigidly upright. She turned her eyes away, not wanting to attract his attention.

Out of the corner of her eye, Hiyori saw him stand. He was tall. Unnaturally tall. She tried her best to avoid looking, fought with all her will but something drew her eyes to the figure. Some instinct urging her to look. To see what it was that bothered her so much about this man.

His face was pale. Was there something wrong with him? That might explain why she couldn't tear her eyes away as he turned. Was that a scar? A long, thin red gash across his face.

No. It was a mask.

Fear snapped her eyes away again. A bead of sweat crawled its way down her temple and her cheek.

Please don't notice me. Please don't notice me...


A tense, awful minute crept by.

00:01AM.

Hiyori's gaze crept towards the man even as she screamed at herself to look away.

He was still standing there. Staring.

Something's not right...

Hiyori wanted to look away but she couldn't. That mask... Something about it inspired dread in the core of her being. Primal fear welled up inside her, locking her muscles in a frozen mien. Seconds passed and she managed to force herself to stand. Slowly she edged towards the door of the carriage. Ice water in her vein made every step a struggle. She couldn't tear her eyes away from that mask.

That dreadful, dreadful mask... Featureless, save for the dark pits of eyes and that red gash of a mouth, turned upwards in a horrifying rictus...

Something inside her barked at Hiyori to run and she bolted for the door. Why did she have to sit in the middle of the carriage? Why did this have to happen to her?

She reached the door to the carriage and snatched the handle, yanking it and twisting it with a strength borne from fear.

But it didn't budge.

No. No. No. No no nonononononononono...


She glanced behind her, eyes wide with uncomprehending horror as the figure took a step towards her. Something glinted in his hand.

A knife. Long and vicious like an oversized scalpel. Even from a distance she could tell the blade was razor sharp. It seemed to ring as it moved through the air. Slowly. Precisely.

Hiyori started to tear at the door, hammer on the glass. Scratching and scrambling for an exit with animal desperation.

Tik TikTik brrrrrrrrrr.

The lights flickered off and on again. That instant of darkness seemed like an eternity to the poor girl. She looked back and still the stranger moved towards her at a leisurely pace. Stalking with predatory intent. And she could see now that his mask wasn't a mask at all.

He simply had no face.

Tik Tik TikTikTik The lights went out and Hiyori's breath caught in her throat. She dared not move, so certain was she that it would bring her death.

Brrrrrrrrr.

Featureless, smooth and utterly inhuman. That blank visage stared at her from barely an inch away. The faceless man whispered to Hiyori in a cracked and hoarse voice that slithered over her like a hundred coiling serpents.

“I like your face... I think I'll take it...

***

August 30th, 23:00 Sakugawa Middle School Dormitories

“Kyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaah!” Uiharu Kazari leapt back with a shrill scream of terror, throwing the blanket up and away as she shrank back into the corner of the dorm room.

“Pretty scary, huh?” Saten Ruiko grinned from above the flashlight

“Did that really happen?” The short haired girl was still cowering, watery eyes wide with worry.

“Don't be ridiculous.” Shirai Kuroko sighed, folding her arms with a disdainful shake of her head. “If there was something like that in Academy City don't you think we'd know about it already?”

She turned away from the two girls, one shivering with fright, the other chuckling to herself in amusement. “A mosnter that steals girls' faces...” Her lips quivered in a tiny tremor of doubt.

***

August 30th, 00:00 District 15: Downtown

In the depths of Academy City's downtown a teenager stood sheltered beneath a bridge, the sound of cars rumbling overhead drowning out any stray noises. He glanced down at his wrist, pulling back the sleeve of his grey sports jacket to reveal his watch. The sudden sound of footsteps alerted him to the presence of an observer in the shadows and he turned with a gasp.

“It’s me.” The man seemed out of breath. There was an agitated look in his eyes as they darted to and fro. He wore a beaten trench coat drenched in rain with a wide brimmed fedora. The boy relaxed slightly, taking a deep breath to calm himself.

“What took you so long?” He asked, allowing a relieved smile to cross his face.

“They found me. But I think I shook them.” The man looked behind him as he descended the steps to the underside of the bridge.

“But you got it right?” The boy asked tentatively, looking into the other’s eyes.

“Yes.”

“Good.” The boy's expression dropped into one of neutrality. His eyes became cold and apathetic. Crimson beads of light burned like twin coal embers in his eyes. He snapped his fingers and the trench coated man toppled suddenly, his skin turning to slush, melting from his muscles a they stripped and peeled from bones. What was left of his body slumped to the ground with a thud. The teenage boy immediately moved to the corpse and began to rifle through the pockets  of its quickly withered clothes before removing something from the coat pocket.

“Entropy acceleration. ” The voice came from the shadows and the boy looked over his shoulder as he stood. “That is your ability, is it not?” In the shadows of the bridge a tall figure in a black overcoat and white mask stood. The boy took a step back and raised his hand. The figure in black lunged forward, his movements lost in a blur as he moved through the darkness with ferocious speed. The boy stumbled backwards and collapsed, the same empty expression never leaving his face even as the knife sliced through his jugular in a thick spray of blood. The ground rushed to meet him as his lifeless body toppled, sprawling across the floor as the blood pooled around him. The black coated man stooped to retrieve the item in the body’s hand. A small vial that pulsed with the soft blue glow of an inner light.

“I have it. Mission Accomplished.” The Masked Man intoned coldly.
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Re: [?] A Certain Masked Man

Post  Kaneko Mirai on Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:09 am

District 15, Downtown, Academy City, 1:35:02 AM (JST)

It was a night like so many others. The wheelchair-bound former Tokiwadai student wandered the streets on autopilot, occasionally looking into alleys and less frequented spots along the way, all part of her search for one man. The man who ruined her, a Sekigahara Jo, was hiding somewhere in these streets. Was it because of what happened? Or had those rumours of a Masked Man every so often scared him into obscurity?

Either way, her search was once again beginning to appear fruitless. If she didn't keep her mind occupied with making notes in her phone about places she'd checked, she might well have drifted off to sleep by now. Without the adrenaline rush of running or even jogging, it was quite the struggle to conjure up late night energy like she used to. With a yawn, she turned the chair around to one last place, talking herself into staying awake and aware long enough to at least check there before heading back home for the day.

Before Mirai knew it, she found herself getting closer to quite the spectacle. As she neared the bridge, it became quite clear that...something had happened around there. But what? Had there been a traffic collision? Perhaps out of morbid curiosity, she changed course to go and see what this was all about. Deep down, she wished to see a certain someone's body there.


Last edited by Kaneko Mirai on Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:04 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Timestamp!)
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Re: [?] A Certain Masked Man

Post  Hujisaka Natsumi on Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:26 am

A while earlier, August 30th, 12:45 A.M.

Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Trembling on the table as the strong vibrations indicated an incoming call, the small yet modern-day smartphone rang out a tune that its owner most certainly knew well, but despised just as much.

The drowsy woman that served as its owner reached out her slender fingers to the nagging device, allowing the call by a simple hand motion that didn't even require touching the screen itself while she sluggishly brought it to her ears, not bothering to check the display as to who could it be.

She knew all too well.

“Yes?” As expected, it was the sound of work. Even in the dead middle of the night, for it was also the beckoning of an owner towards their dog. “Rumours about people with peculiar competences and reputations? I guess I know a few, why? ...There's an intruder in Academy City?” She hadn't even needed to confirm her name or the caller's identity, as no one but her could ever be allowed to touch this phone for their own safety.

“Uhuh... so the toy you want was stolen by that mysterious figure, and you're seriously thinking it's got something to do with tha-... Okay, okay, fine. It'll be taken care of.”

The caller who had rudely interfered with the young woman's growing sass remained as rude as they one-sidedly and forcibly ended the conversation, hanging up without any farewells, simple orders barked. She had wanted to complain about their lack of manners, but knew better than to think such thoughts should be made public.

As such, phone still in her hand, she flung her legs off to the side of the bed as she flicked through her contacts list. It wasn't especially long, but it certainly had a considerable network within it; something common for a woman her age though not exactly for reasons agreed upon.

It didn't take long before she'd found and call the appropriate number, but she found herself quickly cancelling it.

It occurred to her that for once, she should be doing her job herself.

Because, in a way, she had a terrible feeling of what would happen if she relegated the task to the elsewhere she was used to, knowing what had happened a mere month prior. It wasn't exactly fear, but rather a strongly cautious attitude that prayed for as minimal difficulties as possible.

And so, the woman named Hisakawa Miyako put the silenced device on her bed as she took off her clothes and changed into her more “professional”, though really dishevelled, uniform that she took quite a fair amount of pride in.

***

???, 12:52 A.M.

Another phone rang a similar sickeningly familiar tune though muffled under a pillow. Its owner wasn't a very heavy-sleeper and had grown accustomed to answering that specific ringtone as soon as it was heard.

However, answering the call had served no purpose as the familiar caller had gone back on their decision before either of them could even say anything.

It was, to say the least, so much more troubling than what could've been heard had the conversation occurred.

***

District 15, Downtown, 1:34 A.M.

“...Wow. And I thought I'd rationalised unnecessary violence already.” Miyako spoke in almost twisted amazement. It seems she had gotten dibs first on this investigation despite the likely involvement of other agents as well later on, luckily for her and her potential profits from it. But that was just about it in terms of luck and things to rejoice about.

The sight in front of her was certainly to behold for all the wrong reasons: not a massacre per se, due to the lack of numerous corpses, but the ones she had in front of her had certainly been dealt a number to. It almost felt like whatever bastard had done this had been running on a terribly sour mood for a while and had lashed out for the hell of it.

At first glance, at least, seeing how there were particularly odd things about this crime scene today.

Fitting gloves on her hands to avoid accidentally involving herself in this case once Anti-Skill would inevitably come, Miyako approached the victims of tonight's incident. It was time to put her ill-acquired skills to action and conduct a thorough investigation.

The first noticeable aspect of the incident had simply been the jarring contrast between the murders.

(This one... ew. It's like everything but its bones melted or something. And this one... had his neck slashed? That's a pretty neat cut, looks pretty effortless. The knife must've been amazingly sharp.)

Despite how close the corpses were to each other, there could be no bigger differences between the causes of death for the two. However, she couldn't actually find a knife around, or even a sharp object that would fit such a fatal wound, near the bodies and she highly doubted that it had suffered the fate of the first man's poor flesh. Surely some of it would at least remain otherwise.

As for the second one, any kind of object with a sharp edge could be used to kill, but there was a drastic difference between a stab and a slash; you could slash with just about anything, but smooth and precise slashes were much more difficult to achieve without the appropriate items. Yet no objects in the surroundings seemed to even remotely fit the injury, indicating that the conflict had more sides than she originally thought: between the higher-ups and the intruder.

(So this was either a three-sided “disagreement”, or... two-sided with inner conflict in one of those sides...?) She observed the surroundings and the corpses closely, settling on the idea that the direction in which a bridge could be viewed was likely the way the third man had arrived from the way and direction in which the teenage boy had fell when dying.

At least if nothing about the crime scene had been tempered with... It was an option she had to keep in mind, no matter how it made the lingering issue of figuring out the peculiarities regarding the only man who seemed to have escaped this conflict alive all the more difficult. It was already obvious he wasn't the source of the initial murder that made obvious use of an ability, an amazingly twisted one when used wrongly, but a knife was a very peculiar weapon to use in a modern-day place like Academy City.

(A Level 0? No, those tend to just be simple delinquents; their style of fighting doesn't often involve precise attacks like this, and there isn't a single sign of fighting or struggling from the corpses... Then, someone trying to conceal their ability? Possibly a mere teleporter? Then again, teleporters aren't that common and from the way that person talked, it seems our mystery man isn't Academy City material anyway. I guess that's out of the question... The cut looks like the knife didn't give too much resistance going through, so I assume a fairly well-maintained knife was used here. Potentially dealing with a bit of a slashing-maniac? Goddammit. There's literally nothing to go by here.)

The speculations came and went, but she could eventually only reach the conclusion that there was too little evidence to even make coherent theories out of. As far as she knew, this had been the first instance of such a disturbing case, and she found herself almost legitimately amazed by how little leads had been left here. If anything, she could tell it wasn't a petty delinquent but a professional of some sorts she was dealing with from the nothingness of this crime scene...

As she looked up at the light-polluted sky, she wondered why. The idea that she was making no progress in the phase where she was supposed to gather much more clues than any other, made her feel like this investigation would be lots of fun...


Last edited by Hujisaka Natsumi on Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:26 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Months are very difficult to understand.)
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Re: [?] A Certain Masked Man

Post  Mugino Shizuri on Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:48 am

«Whoever the third guy must have been, he probably took the second guy out after that one took the first one out. What a drag…»

A voice spoke up from the shadows. The way they spoke was hardly anything befitting of the situation. In fact it sounded so casually annoyed it fit quite well in your average afternoon tea conversation between higher class women at the right age, not into that gruesome scene. But for people from their world that probably still made sense.

«Stealing both of my kills, that’s not nice at all, isn’t it? I mean that little shit over there stole my first kill, probably enjoying his ass off, only to be so useless as to allow for the revenge kill to be stolen by someone else. What a drag, really now…»

Steps revealed the owner of that annoyed voice.

White high heeled pumps with decorative flowers up front greeted the asphalt. Long legs, covered in black leggings reaching to only cover her legs down to an area slightly above her ankles and a yellowish mini-skirt right on top. Wearing an elegant light coloured half sleeved top laced slightly above the chest area that was perfectly fluttery to go along with the skirt rather well, the impression was clearly that of someone who held high tastes in fashion. However to make things even more dazzling her body seemed to be rather well shaped as well, harbouring both an ample chest and perfect figure that’d only be surpassed by the long, wavy tea coloured hair.

Her face was just as beautiful, even while displaying the typical sign’s of womanly annoyance.

«I guess there’s no helping it is there? At least I’ll strike that fucker down and have him pay me back twenty fold.»

Still talking to herself the mysterious high class lady didn’t mind the presence of the other, simply approaching the crime scene as though it was the most natural thing there ever had been.

That overly casual girl feeling at home in this gloomy blood stained world of the night was Mugino Shizuri, holder of Academy City’s #4 Esper power, Meltdowner.

Originally she had been the first to claim this incident for herself, had it been her mission to pursue the first victim for the sake of retrieving whatever item he may have been carrying. However to her dismay the target had somehow managed to slip away from her attention the moment she’d been distracted and when she’d found him there hadn’t been much left of him or his attacker. From there on she had simply been waiting.

Waiting for someone to exploit.

«Anyway, I’m short on leads and the frustration’s still growing. You look like an expert, so go on. Tell me what you’ve found. Maybe that’ll stop me from using you to vent off.»

There was no hint of politeness. No hint of mercy. The message, however, was clear as day: Tell me what I want to know or you’ll see even worse than the other two.

From the beginning on she’d sat down waiting for somebody else to come, did she not expect the requested reinforcements to arrive timely. Instead she would rely on whoever would be the first to appear useful enough. The chances were high after all, knowing this city and its current state. It was late and with the curfew going on, hardly anyone would hit the streets either way. Thus a murder scene like this one wouldn’t be found or even reported to Anti-Skill just yet.

So, logically spoken the most likely candidates to show up were those involved with the chase.
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Re: [?] A Certain Masked Man

Post  Oda Taichi on Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:02 pm

1:35:45 AM (JST)

Oda Taichi normally would be studying at this point, he was basically a night owl compared to others and probably the reason why he is terrible with mornings. But instead of studying hoping to improve his grades, despite having no real improvement in the long run. A real mystery if you ask the lad, he tries to study every day and wonders if he's missing a trick.

Maybe one day he would figure it out, but this night he will have to neglect his studies and even return to the streets he once walked. You see there was this nagging feeling in his mind, that something was going to happen with a recent new student at his school. Sakugawa Middle School had recently introduced a girl who at first seemed like any other, sure she was in a wheelchair but to Oda that never detracted any value of equality and standing with others. She was a fellow student of that school and would be treated as such.

However, there was this nagging feeling that he was just looking in the mirror. He couldn't put his mind on it and probably don't want to tackle it head on. But this nagging feeling is what made him watch Kaneko Mirai, to keep an eye on the girl just in case. Sure you could call this stalking, but like a dog who was curious, they will follow until driven away. And she wasn't exactly hard to find tonight either, she stood out which is a shameful point to make but it was that reason to what made Oda worried.

As someone who originally ran around these streets at night getting into trouble, this was nothing but bad news with someone who seems to be desperately searching for something. She was a target, but a slight moment of reassurance for his worries came as it seemed the girl was getting tired and he was sure she was going to head back.

But that reassurance didn't last long as something caught their attention near the bridge. And while it was something to see Oda's mind quickly switched from instincts and left his distant position keeping watch on Kaneko Mirai. They were still some distance away from the bridge, so his concern for Mirai far outweighed whatever happened.

And so as quick as a charging bull, Oda not only caught up but ran past her which shouldn't be a feat of pride, but this boy as dense as he has seemed glad he managed to get ahead.

Now standing ahead he turned to face the girl.

"To find my underclassmen out in the cold at night, what a coincidence but please tell me what you're doing? Haven't you first years got a test tomorrow?" Oda said who seemed concerned but his eyes turned serious as he continued "It's not safe on your own at night."


Last edited by Oda Taichi on Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: [?] A Certain Masked Man

Post  Kaneko Mirai on Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:24 am

"To find my underclassmen out in the cold at night, what a coincidence but please tell me what you're doing? Haven't you first years got a test tomorrow? It's not safe on your own at night."

Mirai switched over to manual control and came to a halt in front of the boy with a deadpan expression. She was still a fair distance away from the bridge, and he decided to get in her way. Why was it that people cared about what she did now, when she no longer mattered to anyone? Perhaps he mistook her for a promising student with a future. He was clearly a goody-two-shoes type who made a habit of getting involved in the business of others to satisfy something or other inside himself.

"Good evening. And what might I ask is wrong with enjoying some time to one's self when their homework and studying is already finished, and there's nothing else to do? I'd prefer seeing something other than the blank wall or ceiling for a change."

She continued to just look at him, watching for any tells she could use against him.

"Safe? There's not much more that anyone can do to me at this point. Are they going to cripple me a second time?"

This was followed by a giggle before shaking her head and returning to normal.

"Rather, i'd question what you're doing out here at night. A young man with a bright future ahead of him. But I'm not one to pry...it's not uncommon to have late night liaisons out of sight from your coworkers and authority figures. I only wish you the best on that front."
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Re: [?] A Certain Masked Man

Post  Hujisaka Natsumi on Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:51 am

Thankfully, in this time and age, enhanced camera capabilities made flashes rarely necessary in order to take quality pictures at night-time, a technological growth she found more than practical when trying to be discrete.

Only a slight head tilt was given in response to a new woman's rambling, as Miyako quickly turned off her phone's display and returned it to her jacket's pocket, the pictures she had taken now hopefully secured within the device's memory card.

“How kind of you. If that's the case, how about you just kill me now and we get it over with? You'd do me a favour.” Miyako spoke with a noticeable amount of frustration in her voice. “'Cause I've got as many leads as you do, miss. What we've got here is all we've got and damn us, it's a whole lot of nothing.”

She fell into deep thought, but as expected nothing much was occurring to her. Though not expecting a eureka moment, she'd wondered if it was just her complete concentration that was having the opposite effect and causing her to overlook elements instead.

Unfortunately, no.

“At the very least, we're dealing with a high-level professional here. Enough to make the higher-ups shit their pants and start pointing fingers towards rumours like children.” A small scoff followed that statement, implying her very thoughts that the higher-ups were likely just children in the first place anyway, whether physically or mentally.

“Were you hanging around hoping for some leads to appear? 'Cause, no offence, but this isn't a TV show. Our bastard likely won't risk coming back to the crime scene when he's done such an “efficient” job at it in the first place. Not to mention he would've gotten rid of the corpses before we'd caught wind of this were that his intention.”

Compared to the woman's physique and style that would have her on the front cover of any beauty magazine, Miyako was a much more simply clad woman, and someone who almost revelled in the simplicity of her clothes. Yet, both of them held an admittedly inappropriate language and disturbing discussion even for this troublesome situation.
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Re: [?] A Certain Masked Man

Post  Aleister Crowley on Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:14 pm

It was eerily quiet in the oppressive gloom of the damp, out of the way underpass. Thanks to the curfew there was little in the way of traffic or pedestrians and it was almost certain that there would be no witnesses to whatever had occurred. It was likely the spot had been chosen precisely for that reason.

The streets above were clean and brightly lit by street lamps. Pristine, almost sterile. But one need only take a slight detour to find the gloomy underbelly that existed within the city. These places were hidden all around the regular world, underneath or to one side in the places most regular people overlooked or turned a blind eye to.

Even under the watchful eye of Academy City's surveillance places like this still existed. Small pockets of isolated seclusion where darkness thrived.

Miyako had scarcely gotten to check the bodies before the second girl had arrived.

The first, barely recognizable as human, was now a gelatinous pile of fat and viscera arranged in the vague shape of a person. What had once been a mid-priced suit from a common high street retailer had been soaked through with the revolting mass of organic material. The overcoat and hat were new, freshly purchased going by the receipt in his pocket, dated just a few days before.

His belongings were nothing out of the ordinary. Car keys, a pen and modern smart phone with more than half its charge left. A keycard for an apartment complex and an ID card for the offices of a local business, Arisawa Science and Research.

The other victim's body was still intact save for the long, open gash along one side of his throat. A pool of red had spread about him where he had fallen and heavy blood spatter could be seen across the walls of the underpass. He had been wearing a red and white varsity jacket from Dangai University over a white t-shirt and jeans, cheap bootlegs of foreign manufacture. He was young, no older than twenty with sandy blonde hair and pale blue eyes and he bore no distinguishing features on his body save for a couple of light scars around his forearms. His face was blank, almost disconcertingly so. As though he had not had time to react to the violence that had ended his life.

The contents of his pockets were also nondescript, even more so than the other victim. A dormitory key, a handful of Yen in small denomination notes, a cheap prepaid phone with most of the charge remaining and a card that identified him as a student at Dangai University's engineering faculty.

Had it been an ambush? Or a clandestine meeting turned sour?
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