POSTED: Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:10 am

Oh. My god. This is crap. BUT HERE IT IS. Thinking around sundown. Left it open to be wherever you think he'd be.


As she walked, peaceful crimson eyes studied the gift she hoped he'd accept. For days, she'd tried to capture the mountainous home of her vagabond lover in a way that she could be proud of, and the brushstrokes finally showed the talent she harbored. The Halcyon range sat beneath a beautiful sunset, and an eagle soared in the open air. She knew some of the colors were wrong, but she only had so many and it had been so hard to make due. Still, she was proud. The sunset twin had always been an artist. Unlike the handsome, golden man her brother had become, Talitha would always favor her impractical skills above what he was capable of.

Even if she couldn't be a useful coyote, she knew he would love her. He had promised, and even Gabriel believed his elder twins would never fall away from each other. She used to worry, oh so much, but lately it didn't present a problem. Lately, she realized there was nothing wrong with her. She loved her home, and she tried her hardest to be like her father, but she had come to understand that being like Gabriel was not all it seemed to be. He was still just a man, who bled like the rest. So far, only Ezekiel had proved no disappointment.

It was time to fix things. As the world pieced itself back together in the most unusual way, she knew it was time to apologize to the most important figure in her life. The rift between the de le Poer twins had spread too far for the comfort of the dark princess. She missed him, in many ways, though they inhabited the same home. Ezekiel was a constant that she could not forget, and how she had treated him all those weeks ago had been abominable. Truly abominable. With her hands wrapped about the delicately painted plank, Talitha made her way in search of the brother she relied upon.

POSTED: Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:30 am


For the past hour, Ezekiel had been running.

He was much like his father in this way. Ezekiel ran from the things that he did not wish to face; he had been running from his duties and from the fear that had crept into his blood. Now he ran because he did not wish to face what Enkiel had warned him of days ago. Now, after miles of earth and miles of silence, he was left to face the thing he never believed would come to pass. Panting, tongue lolling, the coyote shut his eyes and felt his legs tremble from the exertion of the run. Yet even after all this, he couldn’t outrun the truth.

Pain shot up his legs, but there was nothing he could do but walk it off. He was not the sort to ask for medicine unless it was needed. Windswept hair tumbled about his face as he began to make the trek back towards the caves. If he had been hurting more, he might have called for Viggo. Instead the coyote walked the last mile home, his mind racing. The impossible task he had been presented with seemed like too much. Why him? Why not Halo, why not someone else?

Because I need someone who will not fall apart, Gabriel had answered him. Like it or not, Ezekiel knew this was true. He liked Halo, but she was a wild animal. Talitha could not do it—she would not. So that left Gabriel’s eldest son with the task he had never wished for. He was so caught up in his thoughts that it wasn’t until he was only a few feet away that he spotted his sister. The blonde froze, cautious even now of what his unpredictable (and more recently violent) sister might do.

POSTED: Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:45 am


Finding him was harder than finding Gabriel, but it didn't stop her from the search. Years without him had passed so easily, yet in the months they had been reunited, she found that a life without her brother was empty. Perhaps some other person could have left him to his own devices, since it was clear the two held opposite sides on a very important topic, but she could not. And so searching for him was a personal duty she just couldn't ignore — she needed to tell him that it would be okay. She would never feel bonded to the outsiders fathered by their strong Aquila, while Ezekiel found himself fond of them, but it would be okay. That's what she kept telling herself.

When her eyes finally spotted the golden man, he seemed to be thinking; it wasn't until he came several feet into her vicinity that he took notice of her, and how she saddened as she saw his body seize with caution. Did he really think she would do something to harm him? Her face turned away, fingers tightening against the smooth surface of her present as she tried to hide the displayed sorrow her eyes betrayed her with behind a curtain of dark curls. "Things are different now, aren't they. I ruined it. Again." And once more, she found herself wallowing in a depression that had since ceased, only this time she couldn't run. They had grown up, and they had grown apart, but she still worried that Ezekiel would chase if she tried to flee the life of expectation and strong family ties.

It didn't fade as she approached him, steps slow and careful as if he were a small animal who gazed in fear at what they believed to be a hunter. She didn't want him to run off, or yell, or grow angry. "I painted something for you." Her voice was a whisper on the air as she fumbled in showing him the piece, nearly dropping it before it was turned about to display the brilliant colors to the man's golden eyes. "I didn't know how else to apologize." Say sorry was not her forte. She had never been in a position that required it. Before that moment, she had never felt the guilt that was eating away at her.

POSTED: Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:58 am

Their eyes met and Ezekiel felt his heart rip in two as sorrow bled into her sanguine. He did not wish for his body to betray him in such a way—did not wish to show such fear from the twin sister he had chased across the deepest, darkest forests. Amber eyes softened, as they did only for her, and his mouth opened to stop her from putting the blame on herself. Then suddenly, she approached and thrust at him the mountain range they had crossed as children, painted in vibrant colors and hues that contrasted against the darker parts of her work. He had seen her mural on the Mansion, but this was something made just for him.

He held it gingerly, as he had held the baby ravens, and could not hide the true gratitude on his face. “Oh Tali,” he said quietly, hair tumbling into his face. When he looked up, he was smiling broadly despite having sad eyes. One hand held the painting while he moved to embrace his twin, having no room in his heart to ever hate her, even after all those terrible things she had said. “It’s beautiful,” Ezekiel added, releasing her slightly in order to better observe the painting in his hand.

POSTED: Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:18 am


She watched as his golden gaze took in the sight of the replicated mountains that were so different from other pieces she had produced. It would be easy to say Talitha de le Poer took to the macabre with skill — the sight of the Mansion proved that much, with its new mural — but this piece she held to him bore a similar peace as the skull she had recently placed upon their borders. Proof that something in the woman had changed, possibly for the best. She was surprised to see gratitude laced upon his features, speaking her name with a quiet voice and smiling regardless of his sad yellow eyes. Her own face remained lacking, though in what she could not say. Truth be told, Talitha never needed expression. The cursed eyes her mother shared with her told all of the stories of her heart, and as her brother embraced her smaller body, they filled with relief.

Her arms found their way around his torso and she relaxed against him in comfort as he looked upon the painting again. For once, she agreed. Her work was beautiful. "I can still smell the smoke from the fires when I visit them, but it makes me think of home. Or what would have been home." She couldn't truly call it her home anymore, now that it had been turned to ash; all memories of it had faded into the past, lost amongst more recent knowledge she wished she didn't have. A heavy sigh released from her chest. "Father showed me Saint Catherine the other night. He says that lots of the saints suffered when they were alive, isn't that strange? That someone so important to God and living people had to go through so much." She was dancing around the true topic she had yet to come to terms with, worried it would start another argument. Talking about Gabriel, about their faith, was the best way to ignore it. Saint Catherine had touched her in some unknown way as she started to draw similarities with herself and those who now counted themselves amongst the holy. She had no fantastic ideas that she herself would ever be included, but it was comforting to know.

Carefully, she allowed herself to step away from him, placing distance between their bodies as she sought to set things straight with him as she had with Gabriel. "I won't accept them. As family, any of them. And I know them." The collie dog and her children would never be part of the Optio's life, but they were already tied in with her brother. It caused panic that spread through her, yet she had come to accept that Ezekiel was simply different. He had not lived as she had. She couldn't change that. "I know that you like them, but I love you anyways. I know you'd never leave me for them." She sounded so sure, yet her eyes betrayed her, as the crimson surface rippled with insecurity. Gabriel seemed to believe he wouldn't. Talitha's lack of self-confidence caused it to be impossible to believe; why would he stay with his Jenga-tower of a mind twin when he could find a stable family in the healer and her children? One hand rose to rub at her arm as she tried to ignore it. "I've missed you, Zekie."

POSTED: Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:55 pm

wc: 540

The place that had once been their home—the place where they were born—was nothing to them now. Ezekiel did not think of it, nor did he fantasize smelling smoke from that terrible fire. He had been too young to remember, carried through the flames, what had been left in the wake of his father’s hands. Even now, ignorance clouded his memory as he considered what she said. No part of him remembered their first home, or that shore. No part of him remembered much at all, save for lessons and trials and what these had meant. Ezekiel would never admit it, but he had all but forgotten the faces of both his mother and Fatin.

Still he listened to her stories, thankful she had spoken with Gabriel and made some sort of peace. He had suspected as much from her rise to the Optio rank, but never asked his father about such a thing. Talitha’s remark about the Saint made his ears swivel high, curious as to how much she had learned. Ezekiel had read the bible, and knew the names of a thousand demons, but the greater works of those mortals who had served were beyond him. The name was unfamiliar, but pleasant. The Triarii made a mental note to ask his father about this woman.

Then Talitha pulled away and a wave of tension slipped back into her place. Ezekiel did better at hiding this. As expected, she spoke of the children living in the south, and of their mother. His eyes narrowed only slightly, the corner of his mouth pulled up into a half-frown. It seemed so impossible to him that she would find reason to hate children, but Talitha was not Ezekiel and Talitha could think whatever she wished. The warrior sighed and gently placed the painting on the ground. In two steps, he had crossed to her. Both of his hands grasped her arms, forcing her to remain. “I’ve missed you too, Tali,” he said first, nothing but honesty in his voice.

“But you know we can’t change blood,” the scarred coyote went on, his tone oddly detached—oddly like their father’s. “They will be bound to us through him, just as we are bound to…well, to the less admirable parts of our family.” A smile, a chuckle, and he released her. Even now, he found dark humor in this situation. “But I’m not gonna leave, Tali. Not for them, not for anyone.”

The mirth faded from his face, replaced by the weight that had been following him for miles. His ears fell back against tousled hair. “I can’t now,” he added lowly. Both hands rose and pushed through his corn-silk streaked hair, muscles rippling under a frame built out of years of survival. He bore no scars, though, and this only served to mark him as a healer’s apprentice. He might never be as great as Alaine, or even Enkiel, but oh he knew enough to keep himself alive.

Perhaps this too, was why Gabriel had come to him. Both hands lingered at the back of his neck as Ezekiel looked at his sister with his father’s eyes. “His shoulder isn’t going to get better. He’s going to step down as Aquila.”

POSTED: Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:27 pm

Fakest = not a word.


Speaking of the detached part of their strange family wound her emotions tight as she hoped he would simply accept it and move on. At first he did, crossing to her and holding her arms tightly enough to make her stop and face him. It was nice to hear that he had missed her. It was nice to know someone would. But it faded as he addressed her words, and she then realized why he held her in that place. If he hadn't, she might have tried to leave; as it was, she was forced to listen. Before, she would have been furious to hear the what he had to say, speaking in their father's voice to try and make her understand. After all that had happened since, she simply stared. Emotions faded into the depths of her as her eyes gained the glossy sheen of a corpse who no longer saw the world. Her features turned in the faintest, fakest smile, similar to the prince's own plastic grins. "Yes. Of course." She didn't believe she was bound to any of them, for their actions spoke so much louder than the blood of true traitors to their family. These children had done no wrong apart from being born, but it did not stop her disgust, just as it had not stopped her rage as she met the orange man born to the wolf pack Pixie resided in. It hadn't been anyone's fault other than Gabriel's, but she had yet to truly blame him.

It was best for her to simply forget.

More relief, as he confirmed her hope that he wouldn't go. He wouldn't leave. He wouldn't leave for anyone, and it caused her to truly smile, though she felt sad all the same. "Good. If I ever go again, I don't want you to follow." If she had believed he would have stayed behind, perhaps she would have left sooner. Now she didn't want to. She didn't want to risk involvement with those bastard children of other places, and Inferni was the only place that could protect her from them. But if she ever did get the urge to run, to leave as she had in the past, she was glad he wouldn't chase her. Her confusion was evident as his cheer faded into nothing, ears hiding amongst sun-bleached locks of gold. Something was wrong, but she couldn't fathom what, and it wasn't until he explained that she realized the problem. Her confusion disappeared, replaced by fear as panic settled into her chest.

"He can't. He can't." She stepped away, turning her back to Ezekiel as she tried to fathom a life without her father's lead. Halo was the Centurion, and it was her understanding that the Centurion was the one to step up as Aquila when the old one left. Halo Lykoi, her outside-born cousin fathered by a traitor. They didn't get along. Her fingers twisted curled hair in tight spirals. "He can't leave me here with her, she'll never let me stay." It wouldn't be long until she found herself forced from the home she loved so much, labelled a traitor. Or better yet, dead like traitors should be. Frustration ruled her actions as she dropped to a crouch, staring at the dirt while she attempted to organize her life; if Halo came torule, she would need a new home. "Maybe he would let me stay in the mountains with him. Oh, that's silly. Of course he would; he has no one else." Her whispered words were spoken to the dirt.

POSTED: Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:56 am

After their last tête à tête, Ezekiel had learned to be careful of his tone and his language around his sister. By imitating their father’s mannerisms, his approach to things, the boy hoped she might find him to be an equally strong source. He had, after all, chased her into the very depths of the wild. This was why he had emerged, this thing of sinew and blood and bone, this thing that resembled a man but was something else; less or more, he did not know.

And this thing that was her brother saw the panic and understood why it was his father had chosen him. Amber eyes, bird-like in their intensity, locked onto her face. His hands forced this to meet his own. He had never been forceful with her before, but he needed her now to understand—if she would not listen, he would make her body listen. This was the only thing he knew how to do in such a situation. he said lowly, strongly. “You are not leaving this clan, not because of Halo, and not for any male.” He knew she was seeing someone. The musk clung to her skin like war-paint.

Without releasing her, he closed the distance between their faces so that their foreheads were touching. I won’t let anyone run you out, and I won’t let you leave.”

POSTED: Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:50 am


Her mind tossed around the possibility that she would have to leave, and her heart sank into the bottom of her stomach. She had lived outside before, but it was different when she chose to go; if Halo forced her out, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to leave. Death seemed a better option. Yes, Caillen would accept her — if he didn't hate her for the altercation that had occurred with his mother — but it simply wasn't the same. But as she wallowed in the idea, Ezekiel turned her gaze back to his. For a brief moment, surprise flickered over her features. He had never forced action from her in the past, and if he were any other man, she would have been outraged. But this was her brother. As he spoke, she realized a different tone to his voice. Lower, stronger, the voice of a leader. So much like their father. One dark hand rose to grasp his wrist as she listened.

She wasn't leaving, for any reason, and as he closed the distance between them to rest his golden forehead against her sunset fur, she realized something she hadn't yet assumed. She wasn't leaving because he wouldn't let her. He wouldn't let anyone chase her away. He couldn't leave, not now. And for a moment, she had simply assumed it was due to his love for her as a brother, but now it was clear. Her red eyes widened. "You're going to be the Aquila." Gabriel hadn't chosen Halo, for some reason or another, but Ezekiel was his son, and the choice seemed natural now that she recognized it. Her panic faded, replaced with admiration while her arms found their way around her brother's shoulders. She had never thought he might take over for Gabriel, but she had never believed Gabriel would step down.

Relief washed over her as she realized her place in Inferni wouldn't be threatened. "Oh, thank you. Thank you, thank you." Though she spoke aloud, she spoke to their shared God instead of her brother.

POSTED: Sat Apr 30, 2011 8:44 pm


He felt weight on his wrist, but he only saw the realization in her eyes. Unlike the blonde boy, his russet sister was ecstatic with the decision. Yet Ezekiel, his eyes betraying this as she clung to him and hid her face, could not share her enthusiasm. It was not a choice he had been given. Gabriel had forced it upon him, as he had forced his will on so many others. In a small way, Ezekiel hated his father for this. He was did not aim to find power, did not want to rise to that responsibility. For an instance, he regretted coming home.

Yet as his sister cried her elation to the sky, a grim realization fell upon the scarred coyote. If he did not rise to meet this challenge, it would not simply be Inferni that would suffer. Ignorant to his sister’s relationship with their red-eyed cousin, Ezekiel did not imagine such a thing might come to pass. Now, though, as her body spoke to his own, he knew this was true. He would need to be a leader not simply for the vagabond savages that his father had let into their home, but for his sister, and for family whom he had all but forgotten. A sigh escaped him.

“This isn’t going to be easy for us,” he said broadly, thinking of the clan as a whole. “I’m probably going to have to deal with Halo on top of everything else.” Gently, he pulled away from his sister to better look at her. His plastic smile had returned. “I might ask someone else to join you in Optio. I want your eyes and ears inside the borders.” In part because he wanted to keep her safe, but Ezekiel trusted his sister would judge those within harshly and honestly. She had never shown him she was capable of anything less.

POSTED: Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:34 pm


It was hard for her to see the lack of desire that her brother felt; she didn't know that he had no want in the matter. She didn't know that it had been Gabriel's choice, not Ezekiel's. All she could feel was elation and relief, for herself and her family. Selfishly, she believed Ezekiel loved her above all others, and knew he would take care of her regardless of what she did. She was his sister, and he had never turned against her. He had simply deviated from a common path. Keeping her opinion silent, she made a personal choice to steer him back upon his rise to power. Gabriel had, perhaps due to his age, become lacking in her own traditional ideals; she wouldn't allow it to happen to her brother.

She remained silent as he spoke. The transference of leadership from Gabriel to Ezekiel would indeed be difficult, perhaps in more ways than the single change of Aquila. Gabriel was known to be strong, known to be determined and known by his clan as a leader. While Ezekiel was his son, he was not seasoned in the role. She had faith in him, but she was biased. She mirrored his sigh and crossed her arms as he pulled himself away. "Halo is nothing. 'Dealing' with her is...easy. Or it will be. She either accepts or she leaves." The latter was much preferred to the dark woman who found their young cousin to be a blemish on the kingdom in her head. Auburn curls shook with her head as she turned her eyes away, prepared to think of a reason why she should be replaced with someone else in her rank of Optio, but as he spoke of wanting her eyes an ears inside of the borders, a thought occurred. "You just don't want me running away again." Though her tone was light and humored, she wore no smile. "Place whoever you want in the rank; I have no plans on leaving Inferni again. There is no reason to, and there are only...awful things to see outside." Of course, she spoke of their half-siblings. A barrier to the princess that made the world look dark.

Her legs carried her a few steps in the direction of the caves, crimson eyes watching the darkness as it set in. If Gabriel was going to step down, she felt it was best to address her perceived problems with her brother. "You know, I tolerated father's leniency with outsiders. He's our father, after all. If it comes to it, I won't let you further that leniency." Her gaze turned over her shoulder as she spoke. Ezekiel had lived differently than she, and while she adhered to her traditions, she did not expect that he agreed. After all, he spent time outside of the clan and he had enjoyed the company of the brats and their mother. Gabriel was her father-King, but Ezekiel would always be her prince, and therefore equal to her opinions. "We have enough fools here, let in by father and Grandmother Kaena. I'd like to see that change." She didn't believe it would, but there was hope in her voice as she spoke.

POSTED: Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:14 pm

The change that overcame his normally passive and quiet sister was one that Ezekiel had begun suspecting was a part of her truer nature. She was not the demure little thing he imagined so many suspected her of being. As she spoke, she gained a cruelty and a power he had not noticed in her before. Maybe his father had been right in putting her in a position of power. Maybe this was a part of their heredity as well. The right to rule came with blood, not through ascension.

Still the counterfeit smile remained, even as she recognized his plan to keep her under lock and key. What surprised him was her ferocity in regards to the outsiders—only momentarily, though, as he thought of Alaine. She had no room in her heart for those who would betray their own kin. Amber eyes sharpened slightly, turned hawkish, and he showed his teeth in a way that was almost aggressive. “You’ll keep your rank. I’d want someone to be honest with me about this clan. I don’t know these people as well as you do.” This was not a lie; Ezekiel had met only a few members since his return.

“We’ll deal with outsiders as we have,” he said carefully, remaining where he stood. Quickly wishing to avoid the topic further, he continued speaking quickly. “I think Sage might be a good Optio. She’s been around to a lot of the other packs, and she has a horse. She could travel quickly.”

POSTED: Sun May 01, 2011 2:28 am


She had managed to hide a dominant aspect of herself from many prying eyes under the watch of Gabriel, but felt no reason to continue her docile route. After all, she was comfortable with Ezekiel, and she felt she had a power over him that she would never have gained upon their father; where she had feared the possibility of being forced from Inferni in the past, with Ezekiel holding the reigns, it might never happen. He had chased all across Canada to find her, now he offered a restriction to her world in putting forth a second Optio who could interact with the packs and outsiders.

He surprised her by taking on an almost aggressive mask as he spoke of her place in Inferni. She would keep her rank. She knew the people, while he did not. He wanted honesty. She scoffed and shrugged her shoulders carelessly, letting her eyes close so she could listen to the world. "Honesty. Who uses honesty in this day? I'll tell you what I see, and what I want, but I can't promise honesty." It was all subjective to a mood or a whim or a desire, as it was so often with the fickle gender of women. She never claimed to be different from the rest, and she knew all too well about using and abusing power over males. Males like her brother, who had been so devoted in the past. He had been devoted. She sighed. "I suppose, for you, I'll be as honest as I can muster." Her body turned back toward him, only halfway, as she allowed herself to settle an affectionate red gaze on his golden fur.

The affection faded somewhat as the topic of outsiders was bridged and closed, but it didn't fade. Instead of responding, she merely gave a nod; there was no reason to argue with him if he wasn't planning on changing the ways of their home. All she needed was more imbeciles to fill the ranks. They were a far cry from the clan she knew during the war, but it could be changed with some work on the part of their warriors. Pleased, somewhat, with his answer, she gave another nod and looked back toward the caves. Silence festered in her mind until she heard a familiar name, one that both sparked elation and jealousy with the single syllable. Sage. Her face turned toward Ezekiel quickly, red eyes betraying what she didn't say. He knew Sage, the pretty cousin who had comforted her before on more than one occasion, but she wondered how. How, how, and why? Without answers, the envy seeped into her gaze, as she drew conclusions that were most likely unfounded.

"Yes. Sage. I like Sage." Her only input into the matter as she found herself staring at the ground beneath her feet. She did like her young, strange cousin. Much more than the dark-hued beauty who ranked above her still. At least Sage was compassionate.

POSTED: Sun May 01, 2011 5:03 pm

omg this is crap. I am so sorry.

Whatever else his sister was, Ezekiel expected her to grant him what he asked. He had spent the majority of his life trying to chase her down, even though she had always been just out of reach. Despite her claim she would view the world with a skewed vision, he knew that she would tell him what he needed to hear. Perhaps by keeping her and Halo at each other’s throats they would leave the future-Aquila to do what he needed to do. Until things settled, he would likely not be leaving their borders for a while.

Ezekiel lifted his brows a little at her reaction to Sage’s name. Did she think he favored her over his own sister? While his easy-going cousin was certainly a nice change of pace, she did not challenge him. She was a slow river a calm current, which could certainly be a nice change from two spit-fire women and one stubborn wild-boy. “I gave her a fighting lesson not that long ago,” he explained, seeing the festering wound of jealousy in his sister and knowing it would be best to heal it now. “She’s…well, she’s not like the rest of the clan,” Ezekiel admitted, winking at his sister in an attempt to humor her. “But I think she’d do well. She reminds me a little of myself, back when I just smoked all the time.” The fun had worn off after his fight with Corvus, and been unavailable while he traveled alone. “Do you think you’d be able to help her some? Just as far as teaching her what’s expected of your rank.” Ezekiel knew very little about what his sister’s duties were now, only that she was supposed to report things to their father.

POSTED: Mon May 02, 2011 2:32 am

Not as bad as mine. @.@

He tried to brush away the jealousy his sister felt, but she was left unsure whether his attempts were meant to heal or further harm. The wink didn't really help. Of course Sage was different. Talitha had learned that first hand. But was it different for the better when it came to the eyes of Ezekiel? In truth, she knew she held no reason to feel distressed over the idea that he might enjoy someone else over her. She wasn't his keeper. They had been away from each other for so long, that it was silly to believe everything would be the same. Without smiling, she turned away entirely. Her silent way of showing unhappiness.

Ezekiel explained his reasoning for his choice and asked her to help the younger woman. The princess remained quiet for a moment longer. "I'm sure she knows better than I did what's expected. She already visits other places." But she would do as her brother asked, unwilling to turn away his desire for her to help their cousin. If it had been Gabriel, it would have been the same, though she was certain she wouldn't have felt the vindictive sting that crossed her chest. Gracefully, she took a seat on the cool ground, letting her legs stretch out before her. "Do you think you'd like me better if I were more social? Or smarter? Like them. Like Sage and...that woman." It was unfair to ask the question, but it came out anyways. Ezekiel had never said he liked anyone above her. His dark twin simply wanted an answer to calm her unhappy thoughts.

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