Genre: Action, Adventure, Humour, AU
Pairings: 3x4, 2x5, eventual 1x2x5
Rated:NC17 - for language, lots of violence, yaoi, sexual content
Feedback: Please! Particularly what you like/don't like about the fic.
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to its owners (Bandai, Sunset, and a whole
host of others, none of which are me) and I'm not making any money off
of them. Not a single peanut
Source Of All Things + Chapter 27
Someone with normal vision
would have been surprised at the lack of, well, pyrotechnics
in the centre of the cirque, where the power for the huge, world-shaking
spell was being gathered. There was just Heero, kneeling, dazed and slightly
slumped, in a crude circle scratched into the dirt.
Trowa did not have normal vision. His one green eye alone could see the
slight warping of the air around his friend that spoke of gathering power,
and also noted the very unusual look on Heero's face that indicated something
major was going down. The other eye, sacrificed to a different kind of
vision long ago, took in the same scene but, instead of shapes, contours,
colours and other illusions, it showed him the props and scaffolding behind
reality. He could see the power, like a nuclear explosion in reverse,
thundering into the circle and coalescing in Heero's mind at a frightening
Blue eyes slowly focused on him, well, almost. Heero was staring at his
right ear in childlike wonder, as if it was the most fascinating thing
in the universe. Trowa found himself smiling fondly.
"Don't worry, Heero. I won't let them get near you," he whispered.
Heero, of course, didn't answer, but Trowa didn't need him to. The shaman
glanced at a patch of blonde hair like sunshine a hundred meters off of
the cirque. One last look. They might not both survive the coming storm.
The wheel turned. Trowa leaned his big crossbow against his leg, loosened
his headband and slipped it over his eyes. When he straightened, he was
plunged into a world of patterns and lines, concentrating on the vectors
of the approaching figures to the exclusion of all else.
The song of battle was rippling through Wufei's body - the pounding of
his pulse, the hum and swish of Shenlong cutting through air, the tattoo
of boots on earth as he weaved, dodged and attacked. Questions, doubts
and Jusan had disappeared with the rest of the distractions as soon as
the man - Fen, according to the old bag's previous words - had armoured
up and deployed a wicked flail from his glove.
Wufei balanced on one foot, dodged the whip whistling over his head, straightened
one hand in an empty punch a meter away from his adversary - a small but
deadly ball of energy shot from his armoured hand, a ripple like a heatwave
the only visible indication, whistling towards the man's head, intent
on decapitating him.
Fen dodged easily, as if he'd seen it coming, as if he'd known Wufei would
do that as soon as the Dragon had started to move his arm.
Wonderful, the warrior within purred. Heero was, apparently, a lost cause;
even if Wufei could drag him from that circle, it wouldn't lead to much
of a confrontation. But this man looked to be a proper opponent.
The whip flailed once more - his enemy had power, and an armour that seemed
to be Dragon-inspired but had an unusual configuration and unknown abilities.
Fen spun, the whip giving him space while Wufei dodged back. A light flickered
as Fen finished twisting and plunged towards the Dragon. The whip - a
distraction. An energy sword sprang to life in his other hand.
Wufei almost laughed as he dodged first the whip, then slithered beneath
the swing of the sword, and straightened out in a punch. It didn't strike
Fen in the face - good, the fight would have been over way too soon if
it had. The blonde managed to twist and catch the blow on his armoured
shoulder and staggered away.
"You'll have to do a bit better than that." Wufei purred. He took a step
back, to let his adversary regroup and shake away the pain in his upper
arm. Wufei spared a quick glance at the other two figures nearby. The
blonde didn't look like a fighter. Magic user, perhaps? If he made any
hostile move, Wufei would annihilate him quickly. He didn't like magic.
The other was wrapped in a moth-eaten black long-coat and leaning against
a rock. He seemed to have no intentions of fighting, as he'd declared
from the start. Smart of him, Wufei thought, flexing his fists and turning
back towards Fen.
The armoured blonde straightened. Wufei could feel him glare behind the
mask that now covered his face. Fen attacked again, the next stanza of
the song. There was a well-known voice in the back of Wufei's mind, trying
to get his attention, ordering him to finish this quickly and move on.
The Dragon ignored it.
This was his dance.
The visible world had disappeared. No more distractions. There were only
the lines and patterns of fate and intent left, and Trowa observed them
with detachment. Twelve men. Technos, with energy shields, light high-tech
armour, and laser rifles. Trowa could read their intent, spreading around
each like a miasma of death and violence. He could read their fate too,
as it intersected his own; he had already moved to place himself at the
focal point, the place where he could have the most effect with the least
effort. Most of these men were going to die, but they were strong, and
determined. There were too many possibilities for him to predict his moves
too far ahead. The first four of these men were, for all intent and purposes,
already dead. He was likely to neutralize most of the others as well.
But after the dust settled, the survivors might kill him in turn. Trowa
rifled the lines, in his own, organic way, far removed from Zero's superior,
complex and rigid calculations. Yes, the future was going to be interesting.
But whatever happened, Trowa could and would protect Heero. He moved again,
three steps to the left - more exposed but insuring he was completely
between the attackers and their objective. His fingers fanned through
the quarrels in his quiver, dancing over the bands that identified them;
he picked out two explosive bolts and slipped them into his belt. Whatever
happened to him, those last men would not get near Heero. That much at
least he could guarantee.
The men were ringing him in a half circle, sufficiently apart where they
couldn't be taken out with one strike from a high tech weapon, or hinder
each other. Professionals. But technologist ones. Trowa almost smiled,
waiting. After a few seconds, one of them predictably swung up his laser
rifle with a shrug, dismissing the strange figure that stood, blindfolded,
between them and their objective, and deciding to get rid of him the most
efficient way possible.
"Oy." The biggest one of them said, slowly. "...Wait...Jusan said-"
The man pressed the trigger and the laser rifle exploded. One down, Trowa
"-not to use our techno weapons on Centre. Unless they're built special
for this place, they can misfire," the slow one concluded. He was apparently
the leader of the pack. If he was in any way concerned for his comrade,
screaming at his burned and torn hands, Trowa couldn't see it even with
There were curses as the men unslung their rifles and tossed them aside.
They drew halotech knives and machetes from their belts, but Trowa could
see the thought cross their minds - a line like an aurora borealis, faint
but crackling with anxiety, hovering over the men's formation...opposing
a crossbow when armed with blades was not going to rate very high on the
"Don't worry. It's a crossbow. Low tech weapon." The leader said, still
slow and uncaring. "Jusan said our shields still work here. Those little
pieces of wood won't get near us."
Trowa levelled his crossbow at the first man - lines warping around him,
showing him the weak link in his enemies' formation, the linchpin that
could scatter them - and let loose his 'little piece of wood'. The one
he'd crafted himself, with a charm that would send it hammering through
most shields, techno or otherwise.
Concentrate, Quatre cautioned himself, tearing his mind away from the
battle into which he'd sent his lover to fight, alone and heavily outnumbered.
Fen was making no headway against Chang. He was barely holding his own.
To Quatre, the scene was overlaid and loaded with information like a heads-up
display in a cockpit. The armours of the two fighters were not comparable;
Epyon was a powerful piece, armed with Zero, but it was an older and of
different construction than Shenlong. It outmatched the lighter armour
in pure power and weaponry, but it was heavy and unwieldy. The younger
version of Fen was vigorous and strong, and a much better warrior than
his previous persona. But...Quatre bit his lip. He wasn't fully into the
And Chang Wufei was. Quatre felt fairly staggered by the focus and concentration
radiating from that strong, slender figure. His first impression of the
Dragon was that he was a tight little ball of undirected fury, and he
assumed this would hamper him in a fight. But as soon as Chang had attacked,
he'd become as focused and sharp as Fen's whip. And his movements-...Quatre,
with Zero's cold detachment, marvelled at the way the Dragon moved. Not
a motion wasted; not a move that was not deliberate, a dodge setting up
the form for the next attack, an attack already moving into a parry, as
if he and Fen were dancing. Fen had Zero...but Wufei was still leading.
Sheer skill, of an almost deadly elegance, like the blade of a sharpened
knife, was driving Fen back again and again.
"Fen isn't going to last long," Quatre muttered to the wildcard sitting
besides him quietly.
"Heero's doing good though," Duo answered thoughtfully. His eyes were
on the fight in front of them, but his attention was apparently on the
cirque at their rear, where the power gathered like an invisible storm
"Yes, but the Dragon will defeat Fen before Heero can complete the spell."
Duo leaned back on the rock, propping himself against his hands, lazily.
Besides him, Svale was sitting on the same outcropping, looking at him
out of the corner of her eye. For once she was as silent and ancient as
the rocks around her.
"Fen could get killed," Quatre shot at Duo, a bit more forcibly. Though
he didn't know why he bothered.
A faint feeling flickered over Duo's mind, but it was gone too quickly
for even Zero to catch and analyze. Maybe regret. Maybe resolve. Maybe
a shrug of total indifference.
"Very well." Quatre muttered, concentrating once more on the fight. Zero
was agreeing with Duo, laying out the coldly calculated parameters of
their survival, how to stretch out their resistance to their enemy long
enough to complete the objective, whatever the cost. Quatre flinched as
he heard a small explosion behind him, from the cirque where Trowa was
protecting Heero with his life.
If he didn't have to protect a stationary and completely oblivious target
- Heero - Trowa would be doing a bit better...
The leader, for all he had the brains of an ox, seemed to know what he
was doing when it came to leading an attack. He'd immediately understood
the import of the first man going down, a bolt cleaving cleanly through
the techno shield to thunk into his left eye. Under the big man's orders,
the remaining attackers had taken shelter behind the stones of the cirque,
almost surrounding Trowa and Heero. They were well organized, approaching
in pairs, darting from cover to cover, dodging his shots. At first, they
probably thought it was going to be easy - the bow must have looked slow
to them, used to their techno weapons as they were. But the moves of their
approach had been written clearly across their formation. Trowa had easily
taken down his next two targets as they darted forward. His bolts had
found them half way to cover, knowing when they were going to move and
where they were going to be when the deadly shots intersected their path.
The dying cries of one of his victims had turned into gurgles, ignored
by both sides. The men were crouching behind the plentiful shelter in
the cirque - too bad those Jishin created spells in stone, leaving plenty
of small ridges, outcroppings and pillars to hide behind.
"It's just magic." The leader barked from behind a small stone wall. "Stay
under cover and get closer."
There was some advantage to being stupid, Trowa reflected, readying his
next shot. His men were terrified of Trowa's bow and ability to predict
their movements, but the leader didn't seem to care. They were creeping
towards him now, keeping the stones and broken pillars of the cirque between
them and his deadly bow. They would gather in a loose ring, as close as
possible, and then rush him.
Trowa quickly calculated, drew lines and patterns in his mind. He chose
his spot, and planted seven bolts into the ground, in preparation.
Behind him, Heero made a startled noise, which ended in something like
a pleased, if bemused, purr. Centre must have revealed another one of
her secret wheels to him; their beauty, cruel and delicate as life itself,
would touch and seduce even a hardened warrior like Heero. Well, Trowa
reflected laconically, at least one of us is having a good time.
He loosed another shot, keeping one of the men, cursing, under the cover
of a broken pillar. Slowing their approach was about as much as he could
do now. He didn't spare a glance towards the other, more serious fight
nearby. His heart was over there...but to kill these remaining men, he
didn't need it.
Wufei was winning. Of course. Even Jusan's nagging voice in his head had
trickled to a halt, faced with the evidence of impending victory.
Fen dodged and swung - he was relying too heavily on his weapons. Wufei
didn't have any - thanks to Jusan's rather hasty patching of Shenlong
//Yes, sorry about that. There just wasn't the time.//
But he didn't need any. Wufei melted into the moment, into the action
and the motion; the sword and the flail were moving in a rhythm like the
steps of a dance. The Dragon dodged them in his own time, following his
own beat, getting into Fen's defences, and leaving him helpless. A quick
punch to the chest plate - the strange armour gave an ominous crack and
Fen fell back, tried to regain the distance that would allow him to use
the weapons that were, in fact, distracting him. A real warrior, faced
with someone unarmed but much faster and lither, would have discarded
the bulky and lengthy sword and flail, and defended, parried and attacked
by hand. Fen apparently didn't have the warrior instincts that went with
the armour he wore.
Which was why he was going to lose, Wufei thought, taking a step back
himself, letting Fen gather his defences again. Or else he wasn't putting
his soul into this fight. Not willing to do more than keep Wufei at bay.
//Can't you just...move in and kill him?// Jusan was almost fidgeting
at the back of his mind. And probably aware that his voice was completely
drowned out by the song of battle blazing through Wufei's body.
The whip flickered and danced. Wufei smiled, fierce and elated, and plunged
into the movement once more.
//Oh, have your fun, I guess. Heero won't be much of a challenge. The
others will get him out of that circle soon enough.// Jusan sounded resigned.
Wufei didn't notice.
Quatre watched the lines, but he also kept an eye on reality. Fen had
held off the Dragon as well as he could - as much as his temporary allies
could expect. But the differences in ability and attitude were beginning
The healer would once have winced and ached in sympathy, as Chang landed
another blow on Fen's chest plate, already cracked previously. This time,
the plate didn't ring, it simply crunched, and Fen staggered back, his
body folded over the injury. The strategist that Quatre had become ignored
Fen's pain, and only concentrated on the handicap a few broken ribs represented.
The Dragon didn't step back this time. Black eyes watched the figure stumble.
Judged the resistance to be at an end.
The lines tightened and narrowed as Quatre watched the young man take
a step towards Fen, fist rising, intent on finishing off his enemy this
time. A strange act of mercy, the healer noted distantly, at least in
the Dragon's mind.
The patterns swirled and coalesced.
"Now." Quatre said.
Duo was already gone. On the rock, there was only Svale, looking grim,
and absently holding a tattered black long coat.
Wufei took the last step, fist raised. Focusing on the target of his opponent's
neck. A quick blow to the spine. It would take him out of the fight...probably
As his fist swung down -
- the barest warning; a feel of movement behind him -
- Wufei swung around just as pain exploded in his back.
He spun, shocked - but his arms were up in the defensive stance he'd been
practicing since he could walk, one over his stomach, ready to parry a
blow to the chest or abdomen, another at shoulder level, ready to parry
or punch -
The latter saved his life. The knife scythed through Shenlong's energy
field as if it weren't there, scored the half-plate covering his forearm,
and skidded off his wrist to bite into his shoulder, instead of his throat
where it had been aimed.
A reflexive pulse of energy from Shenlong hurled Wufei a dozen feet away
from his attacker; he staggered as his feet touched ground, pain stitching
up his entire left side. His arm curled around his body, feeling for the
wound instinctively, as Shenlong started to shine its damage report in
his left eye. Nothing fatal - by half an inch. Muscles damaged. Mobility
reduced. What the fuck-
It was the other one, the one dressed in black. Wufei's eyes narrowed
appraisingly. The long overcoat had been discarded. The figure before
him was slender and lithe, dressed in a sleek outfit that hugged him from
his neck to his booted feet, with high gloves cut off of the fingertips
and palms - magic user, Wufei concluded quickly; he'd seen that kind of
outfit before. Not a grand mage who'd rely on pure power, but someone
agile, good at hand to hand, who could also send a mage-bolt stabbing
into your back if you were dumb enough to turn it towards him. He was
holding a black blade, smaller than a shortsword, wider than a dagger,
ending in a slanted edge rather than a point. It was so black that Wufei
couldn't see his blood on it, except where it gathered into thick, fat
drops at the edge before falling off to splatter on the ground.
"I thought you said you weren't going to fight..." Wufei heard himself
saying, an automatic distraction while he tried to get as much information
as he could from the other's stance and appearance.
"Yeah. I lied. I do that." The grin was cheerful with a feral edge, like
a predator smiling at its lunch.
Little prick, Wufei started to think, annoyed...when he was suddenly bowled
over by a fury quite beyond what he normally allowed himself in battle.
The feeling of betrayal - you lied, you
lied to me! - made him choke.
The anger was gone as quickly as it came, leaving a coppery aftertaste
in his mouth and a wash of confusion in his mind. What had come over him
there? The man had stabbed him in the back and he deserved to die, but
Wufei, for all he fought honourably, was not stupid enough to expect his
adversaries to do the same. He had no reason to be this furious. It was
his fault for not keeping an eye on the creep in the first place...which
raised another question...
//How on earth did he get behind you so quickly? Be careful of that one,
Thanks, Jusan, whatever would I do without you...
//Sarcasm does not become you, Wufei, for all that you use it a lot. How
badly are you wounded?//
"Not nearly badly enough to stop me tearing that little bastard limb from
limb." Wufei murmured, walking forward menacingly. He was aware of movement
off to one side - the last man, the short-haired blond, was helping Fen
out of the way. No matter. Wufei ignored Jusan suddenly hectoring him
to finish up the first opponent with a quick blast before moving on to
the second. The Dragon knew he could beat Fen any time, and the man had
at least fought him honourably. Let him live, if he could and chose to.
Wufei had someone else to kill first.
The black-clad young man's smile widened. The ebony blade dipped and rose
again in a mocking salute. "Shall we?"
Wufei didn't bother answering; this piece of backstabbing trash did not
deserve words, only a quick disposal. But Wufei wasn't careless. He was
too good a warrior for that. Besides, he was aware of how difficult it
should have been for someone to get on his six and try to stick a knife
through his liver without him noticing. This was a piece of trash with
some skill. He stopped three arms' lengths from the man, who was waiting
for him, knees slightly bent, body loose and relaxed. Wufei raised a hand,
almost lazily, and sent an energy bolt ploughing through the air at his
target, just to see what the latter would do.
The pest smirked and dodged, bending gracefully backward and then snapping
forward again, and darting aside to avoid Wufei's grab as the Dragon closed
the distance between them. Wufei struck - punch, backhand - hitting only
air. Fast. Very fast. The blade was a blur of black, but it didn't dart
towards him again; Wufei didn't let it distract him. He was sinking into
the rhythm of this new dance, its best much quicker and more complex than
the previous one. But the steps were nonetheless familiar. When the other
gloved hand flashed behind the man's back, to reappear an instant later,
gripping something that looked like a mass of black energy, Wufei was
quite ready for it. He sneered as he dodged the mana bolt; his left arm
was already up and smashing aside the blade that had cut up and across,
to slice him while he was supposedly distracted by the magical attack.
Once more, that eerie blade went through Shenlong's energy shield as if
through thin air, but the actual Gundanium stopped it with a clang. It
scored the metal but no more, and Wufei's violent parry threw the young
man's arm back. Wufei's other fist was punching towards his enemy's chest
as he parried; the man writhed and twisted like a snake, but still Wufei's
armoured fist connected. The blow was off center though, glancing across
the ribs instead of punching them into the creature's chest cavity. The
pest leapt back gracefully, but a slight wince went through his frame,
proof that Wufei's knuckles had scored some damage at least. The braid
had whipped out like a banner as he leapt back; Wufei could see it slither
back along his opponent's spine, like a serpent rather than a rope of
hair. A strange feeling flared through him - like an echo of a memory
now forgotten - but he automatically dismissed it. He didn't wait for
his opponent to regroup his defences, as he had for Fen. This rat deserved
no such courtesy. He pressed the attack again, mercilessly.
Warmth spread from Quatre's hands to Fen's chest, healing torn muscle
and cracked bone. The Phoenix didn't seem to notice though. He was staring
at the fight a dozen meters away.
"I don't understand..." Fen muttered.
"Why Duo doesn't use the magic he's capable of, you mean?" Quatre spared
a glance at the fight - while Zero did its usual number on his brain,
force-feeding him information on every strike and counter strike.
"Yes. I know he's capable of teleportation. And much, much more, if he's
able to do that...Why doesn't he-"
"What, use high level magic against the Dragon?" Quatre's eyes kept darting
towards the cirque behind them, and he spoke absently. "Presumably because
if he did that, Chang might be totally outclassed and helpless."
"...and when was this not the point of this whole deal?" Fen asked acidly.
"If Duo corners Chang, then he might summon Jusan. Game over."
"...oh." Fen sighed and rubbed his face, wincing as the movement rekindled
the dull ache in his mostly healed injuries. "You mean, Maxwell is just
slowing him down. Playing him."
Quatre glanced again at the battle. The Dragon had managed to catch Duo
across the jaw with a backhand, though not directly enough to knock the
braided man out. Duo was moving as fast as when he'd attacked Heero, and
he was sweating. The smile looked forced to Quatre, who knew him fairly
well by now. Though there was a feral glint in the violet-blue eyes...
"Yes, he's playing, though I don't think he's having quite as much fun
as he expected, it that's any consolation. I just hope he can hold out
until Heero can cast the shield. Then no more summoning of planet-destroying
entities possible. At that point...well, hopefully Duo can take the Dragon
"You know, it may not be that easy; Dragons have been fighting magic users
for centuries now." Fen muttered. "They were part of the taskforce that
defeated the remaining Jishin outposts, when most had returned to Imanohone.
That's the kind of power the Dragons had fifty years ago, and it's only
increased since. Even Jusan considered them a threat after all. Duo may
be good, but his forte seem to be tricks, surprise attacks and speed,
"Well, we'll just have to hope." Even Zero couldn't offer much more than
that at this point.
"What?" Quatre blinked and looked down at Fen, who was slumped against
the stone pillar they'd been near before. He looked...dazed. Lost. He
was even managing to ignore Svale, who'd popped up and was groping his
thigh therapeutically. Quatre shooed her off, and kneeled next to Fen.
"I couldn't hold him off for long. He's...an exceptional fighter. And...every
move I made, every defence I set up...I'd have sixty previous versions
of me second-guessing them as soon as I started. It was...I couldn't-
even Zero couldn't help with both my fractured mind and the fight-"
"Fen...considering you were blackmailed into this, I think you did more
than enough." Quatre said firmly. "Now, we have to rely on Duo."
There was a moment's silence.
"And that's not a sentence you ever wanted to say, I bet." Svale cackled,
her eyes bright as she watched the Dragon send a savage kick into Duo's
legs. Quatre's answer disappeared into a horrified gasp as Duo stumbled,
fell - and the Dragon pounced, fist raised to deal a blow that had the
word ‘terminal' written all over it.
Wufei smiled in satisfaction even as he threw himself at the fallen figure
- then ducked and leapt back as something flew at his face from the side.
His hand was up to parry, but it didn't strike him. What-
What the fuck was that?!
Wufei stared at the tiny figure hovering in mid-air. It was as big as
his fist, not counting the bat-like wings, outstretched as if it were
soaring. It was a little humanoid figure, and it was - Wufei's eyes narrowed
like laser sights - it appeared to be blowing a raspberry at him. When
it was sure it had his attention, it started making faces, pulling a tongue
like a sharp thorn at him and crossing minute, beady eyes. But it didn't
seem to be able to do much more than annoy him. And distract him - the
trash he'd almost felled had taken advantage of the lull in the attack,
and dodged well out of harm's way again. No matter, Wufei thought, one
blow and this creature would-
- A blow sending a small lump of living
stone catapulting into a rock face - the clean smell of cold water and
rocks and - and -
//Wufei? Have you seen this creature before?//
He had...but he was damned if he could remember where. No matter; he'd
travelled extensively and seen strange things in his short years. Must
have been on some planet or other...Some weird, alien lifeform.
//It's a golem, actually. Stone brought to life by a spell. There aren't
many left these days.//
There'll be one less in a minute, Wufei thought savagely. As if guessing
his thoughts, the tiny creature dropped half a foot in the air and shot
off at a right angle, straight towards -
"Master Duo! Are you alright?"
Figured. Something so crude, annoying and disrespectful just had to belong
to that piece of trash. Duo, hm? That's right, that was the name the others
had mentioned before, when they'd been holding him at the point of their
weapons and ignoring Wufei. Apparently this Duo had made no friends there
either. Good, they would hopefully not interfere when he finished the
annoying creature and its even more annoying master.
"Imp, I toldya to stay on the sidelines," the man, Duo, drawled at the
tiny thing flying near his head.
"Sorry, Master." The piece of stone mumbled.
//So it belongs to him? How strange...Well, no matter. Wufei, that Heero
is still gathering energy! I don't know what those fools I sent over there
are doing, but they've not stopped him yet! Ignore this creature, and
go and kill the conduit, or destroy the sanctuary, or-//
If I ignore this Duo, he'll just stab me in the back again.
//...You must summon me. I could destroy them all, and the whole planet,
No. This pest is fast, and fairly good, but he is no match for me. I will
finish him in five minutes.
//But the spell-//
If worst comes to worst, I can destroy the sanctuary even after the spell
is cast. That will bring down the shield, right?
//The resonance will die after awhile.// Jusan agreed, in what Wufei could
only describe as a sullen tone. //But I'd rather not have to wait and
take the risk-//
That's what war is about. Risk. Now...
Wufei focused again, to the exclusion of all else, including the annoyed
voice in his mind.
[chap. 26] [chap. 28] [back
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