Project Paranormal
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Tooth And Claw


Project Paranormal

Author: Mike

Season 3

Part 3





Summary: Giles leads an expedition to Loch Ness in Scotland, only to make an unexpected discovery...


Disclaimer: Joss Whedon's property is exactly that. In fact, in case of any legal dispute, throw it all at Dark Star, because it was only in response to her pleas and threats that I agreed to write anything anyway... he he he!




Tooth And Claw



The insipid morning light filtered into the kitchen as Giles filled the kettle. He hadn't intended to rise this early, but he hadn't slept well during the night, his dreams had been distressing once again, and he'd then been too wakeful to resume his rest. A pattern seemed to be emerging that the dreams would come when he'd almost forgotten about it, about Ella, and still sometimes about Jenny; he'd have been busy, doing jobs, researching things, going out, watching the whirlwind of emotions that was the relationship between Buffy and Angel, and he'd think he was on top of it all. Then he'd close his eyes and there she'd be and he would be back to square one, he'd wake up feeling like it had happened yesterday.


He made the tea, toasted some bread, rinsed a knife under the tap so he could apply butter with it, and thought about whether or not he'd say to Buffy about washing things up from time to time and decided that he probably wouldn't. He sat at the table in the empty room with just his breakfast for company. Already the effect of the dream was fading in the thin daylight of the morning, and the tea was reviving. He knew he had to keep busy, to keep the ball rolling; he found himself wishing that it wasn't so early, that Buffy or Angel would get up and give him a little company, but, he reflected as he drank the last of the tea, which seemed to have lasted no time at all, it wasn't going to happen. He mentally shelved the thought, stood up, washed his used crockery in the sink, and then went to the study to resume his reading.


After a while he had become quite absorbed in a book about traditional Chinese spirits that he'd picked up in a secondhand bookshop more because it had looked interesting than for any practical reason. He was studying an elaborate illustration of a Chinese vampire when, suddenly and, in the silence of the study, startlingly, the phone rang. A little disorientated for being awoken so abruptly from his reverie, Giles allowed the phone to ring a few times while he collected himself. Who on earth would be calling at this time of the morning? After the fifth or six ring, he scooped up the receiver. "Hello?"


"Can I speak to Mr. Giles, please?" said a Scottish voice.


Who else, sighed Giles internally, but a Tele-sales company. "Speaking," he said warily.


"Mr. Giles of the Project Paranormal?" the voice continued, hesitantly.


This snagged his interest a little. "Yes?"


"I'm sorry to bother you, Mr. Giles, my name's Craig Blackhall, I'm calling from Loch Ness. Er... I know it's early, but... well... I just saw something really weird, and I don't quite know who else to call."


Gears began to whirr in Giles' brain as it dawned on him that this wasn't a sales call, it was a real call for the agency, and real work. "Loch Ness? Are we talking about the Loch Ness monster?"


"I dunno about that," said Blackhall, "but it was definitely a creature, and I dunno what it was. I wouldn't call it a Nessie, but then I dunno what I'd call it, either. And that's not the end of it, neither."




"Last week, a guy was found injured on the shores, a fisherman guy. The local paper said it looked like some kinda animal attack, but they wouldn't say what. Normally I suppose it wouldn't make front page stuff, but you know, this being Loch Ness and all... kind of a fuss gets made about it, but you have to wonder."


Giles did have to wonder; he was wondering whether there was anything behind all this stuff about Loch Ness, and the last thing he wanted to do was to go on a foolish wild goose chase trying to locate a rogue Nessie. But on the other hand, he could barely deny that he could do with a change of scenery. He told the caller that he would see what he could do and that he would call back later, then disconnected the call and returned to the kitchen to make another cup of tea. He needed to think, so he needed tea; more of a tradition than a requirement.


* * * *


"We're not looking for the Loch Ness monster," said Angel from the back seat of the car. Outside the windows, the Scottish countryside rolled by silhouetted in the darkness, all hills and fields.


"Right," agreed Giles, not taking his eyes off the road as he drove, "we're not. Back in the sixties, my father helped set up The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau to investigate the existence of the creature on one of the banks, and after he was there for about two years the Watchers' Council eventually pulled him out of it and found him something more useful to do."


"They didn't find anything?" guessed Buffy.


"Not a thing," said Giles, "and they still haven't. Probably with good reason, I might add. Personally, I shall be very surprised if there is a monster of any kind in the water, and I should certainly like to ask it how it's managed to avoid submarines, sonar scans, telephoto cameras, echo sounders and hordes of tourists for fifty years, none of whom can find anything more monstrous than old boots and tin cans."


Buffy nodded. "Do I detect a hint of cynicism there, Giles?"


"So what are we doing up here?" asked Angel, quizzically. Scotland seemed like a long way to drive for a non-existent monster.


"Well, just because it's not a Nessie doesn't mean there isn't something going on that we ought to investigate," said Giles. "Could be a demon problem, or a loose werewolf. Apparently attacks have been taking place, and it seems to have worried our new friend Mr. Blackhall sufficiently for him to call us."


"...and that's who we're staying with?" said Buffy, trying to get the details straight in her head. She was feeling a little dazed at being whisked off to Scotland at such short notice.


"That's who we're staying with."


"Well, the Scottish air will do us good," she said, diplomatically.


* * * *


It was four in the morning when the Loch itself came into view. Following Blackhall's directions, Giles piloted the car through the sleepy, faintly lonely village roads until he found the house they were after.


It was a few minutes before the doorbell was answered. Eventually, the door crept open to reveal a tired-looking Craig Blackhall. He seemed to be in his late twenties or early thirties and was reasonably plain and normal-looking. "Mr. Giles?"


"Yes, good morning, Mr Blackhall," beamed Giles. "These are my colleagues, Buffy and Angel—" he indicated them in turn with a wave of his hand, "—and they're going to help our investigation. May we enter?"


Inside the house, Blackhall bustled into the kitchen to make hot drinks, while the visitors made themselves comfortable in the living room. "You must be tired after such a drive," he commented loudly from the other room.


"Not too bad, thanks," said Giles, waving the matter aside. "I'm sorry we have to visit at such an odd hour of the morning, but, er, our schedules are hectic." He glanced at Angel.


"Ah, that's alright," came Blackhall's voice, although he was clearly still bemused as to why the middle of the night had been necessary. "I know how it is. It's good of you to come at short notice."


A few minutes later he had returned with the teas and coffees and seated himself in the room with them. "So what happened, Mr Blackhall? What was the call about?" asked Buffy after a little while.


"Well," he began, "I was out walking the dog near the banks of the Loch. Everything was fine until we got close to the water, and then Cocoa - the dog - started acting weird, you know, whimpering and hiding?" Giles nodded his understanding. "So I started looking around for what could be upsetting him, and I couldn't see a thing. We were stopped by some trees and bushes, and suddenly I saw something move, something green. I'd thought it was a plant ‘cause it had blended in, you know? But I saw this thing, this creature, I swear to God, I didn't know what it was."


"What did it look like?" said Angel, leaning forward.


"It was kinda like a man," said Blackhall with care, as though expecting to be told that he was a fool. "But green, scaly, and bony. I didn't get a good look at it. But it was at least as tall as I am."


"What happened?"


"I dropped Cocoa's lead and he ran off. The green thing, it disappeared into the bushes and I didn't see where it went. I haven't seen the dog since. People keep telling me he'll find his way home, but he won't, he's a young dog. I probably won't see him again." He took a sip of his coffee. "I called you because I didn't know who else to tell," he added.


"Yes, I can understand that," said Giles thoughtfully. "Well, that is very interesting. Hmm. Buffy, you and I should try to get down there at first light and have a look about."




* * * *


It was seven in the morning. The Loch shimmered crisply under the morning sun; another stretch of water might have seemed inviting under the same conditions, but to Buffy it seemed to give off an air of mystery and menace. She found herself wondering why she was allowing herself, after everything with which she'd seen and dealt as a Slayer, to be impressed by a lake that almost certainly contained about as many monsters as it did pandas; it was probably just the reputation of the place that was niggling her, but she couldn't quite put it out of her mind.


"Buffy!" came the shout from Giles. "Have a look at this."


She went over. There in the mud on the bank, next to the kneeling, frowning Watcher, were one or two footprints, clearly defined. They were three-toed and odd-looking. "Do you think that's from Blackhall's demon?"


"I would think so," mused Giles. "It seems that it was heading up the bank, away from the Loch..." He turned to look along the imaginary line on which the demon might have been walking, but it didn't seem to lead anywhere in particular; towards some hills, with occasional clumps of trees - if the creature had turned a little more to the west it might have headed for the nearby ruins of Urquhart Castle, but there was little else for it to do on this side of the Loch. In short, the find was interesting, but not really much of a lead. He stood, pausing momentarily to photograph the prints with his digital camera. "We shall just have to keep looking."


Buffy nodded her agreement, and they started to walk in the direction vaguely indicated by the mudprints. "Wait!" she suddenly exclaimed, holding out a hand to motion Giles to stop. He started to say something, but she shushed him and cocked her head. Had she been dreaming? Then she heard it again, on the very edge of hearing range - a high-pitched scream, not a human scream, but an animal scream. "Did you hear that?"


"Hear what?"


She didn't answer. Obviously her Slayer senses had caught something Giles hadn't picked up on. Where had the sound come from? She knew instinctively that it must have been the cry of the demon, although she'd never encountered such a thing, a demon sound so high in pitch that normal human ears couldn't hear it. Even she could only just pick it out. Dog whistles, she thought, and remembered about Blackhall's pet.


"What is it? Can you hear something?"


"Yeah," she replied thoughtfully, "I can just hear it. The demon. It's around here somewhere." She was listening hard, but she couldn't hear it now, she couldn't hear the skin-prickling near-silent shriek that had sounded a moment ago.


The morning passed without further incident; their search turned up nothing, and they returned to Blackhall's house empty-handed. The afternoon, too, passed amiably, as Buffy took herself shopping in Drumnadrochit and bought some souvenirs, including a cheerfully cheap and pointless Nessie lighter for Giles and a black T-shirt for Angel which had printed on it in Glo-in-the-Dark letters the slogan I'M THE SCARIEST THING AT LOCH NESS, both of which were items she had picked specifically because they would almost certainly be of no use to their recipients whatsoever, and Giles stayed in to catch a little sleep while he could, just as Angel was waking up. The next sweep was to be late at night, on the possibility that it was a nocturnal creature they sought, although it was Buffy's turn to stay in and rest, as she had been on her feet all day.


Loch Ness by night, when it came around, was a great deal more foreboding than before. If the Loch by the morning sun had been faintly ominous, by moonlight it was decidedly creepy. Faint tendrils of autumn fog curled from the surface of the water, which rippled darkly and heavily and seemed as though it could contain anything.


Angel seemed to be in his element and perfectly at ease moving from shadow to shadow, perhaps sure that there was nothing more deadly than himself afoot, but Giles felt less at home with the atmosphere, despite being an experienced Watcher. Something about this place gave him the heebies; he felt like he was being watched all the time. He had to keep reminding himself that they were looking for what was probably just an ordinary demon. It then occurred to him that he hadn't asked Buffy what it had sounded like, but she would of course be asleep by now. What time was it anyway? He looked at his watch - it was just after two in the morning. That thought immediately made him feel that he ought to be wrapped up in bed if he had any sense.


He was so caught up in his thoughts that he almost didn't see what happened next. Angel suddenly gave a shout as something leapt from its unseen hideaway and caught him by surprise, knocking him to the floor. Instinct kicked in, and as he hit the ground, the vampire flicked his legs forward, throwing the demon away. He scrambled, vamp-faced and fuming, to his feet, ready to kick its lights out; but it didn't return. The night was still.


The whole scene had happened in about five seconds, and Giles was sure that if he'd blinked he would have missed it entirely. "Damn! Did you see what it was?"


"Yeah," growled Angel, who felt almost like the demon had scored a point over him, "it was ugly."


"Where did it go?"


"I don't know."


Giles looked about in the darkness, feeling a little apprehensive. He would have to be ready to defend himself because another attack was surely on the cards for tonight, but, truth be told, he was still probably a bit rusty on the self-defence front. Right now, he was probably a target and he didn't even have a weapon.


The second attack came with blinding speed, but not before another thought had crossed Giles' mind: I'm still a Watcher. Instinctively, he ducked and turned as the leaping demon sailed past, its long and spindly tail lashing the air in its wake; then Angel was jumping, too, cannoning into the creature in mid-air. They hit the ground hard, the demon struggling to free itself from the vampire's tackle, but clearly lacking the strength.


"Got you," said Angel with satisfaction, and thumped it, hard, in the face. The creature's whiplike tail snapped around and caught the vampire a stinging blow on the arm, but it was trapped.


Giles flicked on his torch so he could have a look at their assailant. As far as he could see from the bits that were visible under Angel's large frame, it was indeed green, tough-skinned if not scaly, and unusually bony, all ridges and lines - a mean-looking demon and no mistake. It had a temper, too, hissing and kicking. Then, as Giles watched, it opened its mouth wide and suddenly Angel's hands flew to his ears. The demon wriggled free before the vampire could stop it and vanished into the darkness again.


"What on earth happened?" exclaimed Giles.


"It screamed in my face," muttered Angel, picking himself up off the ground. "Like nails on a chalkboard. Set my teeth on edge."


"I didn't hear a thing," said Giles, thinking, interesting, the Slayer and the vampire can hear it but I can't. Angel didn't answer.


They walked for another twenty minutes with no further ambushes; perhaps the demon was keeping its distance, and possibly with good reason, because it had clearly got on Angel's nerves. Before too long, they came within sight of the ruined Urquhart Castle, a looming and alien set of structures in the darkness.


"Are we going to check out that old castle?" asked Angel.


"Yes, that's probably a good idea," agreed the Watcher, thinking that the castle ruins would offer a good base so that he could stop for a rest for a few minutes. After all, he had been on his feet all day and had had very little sleep. 


* * * *


The laptop lit up and came to life as Buffy pressed the power button. It made her feel tired, just by looking more bright and alert than she did.


After Angel had left in the early hours of the morning, her sleep had been restless, and after she had woken for the fourth or fifth time, she'd given up. She sat in front of the portable computer and wondered how he was getting on, whether he was in danger, whether he was bored and cold, whether he was lonely.


"You alright?" came Blackhall's voice from another room.


"Did I wake you up?" called Buffy. She hadn't thought anything of stomping about and switching on the lights.






Blackhall entered the room. "A bit of late-night computing, right?"


"That's me," said Buffy, "nerd girl extraordinaire. No, I couldn't sleep, so I figured I'd have a look at some of the files and notes we've put on here about the demon so far."


"It's a demon?"


She hadn't been allowing for the fact that not everybody in the world knew about the existence of demons as well as she did. "Maybe. We'll find out, but it's no big deal." Her fingers moved on the touchpad as she found the photograph that Giles had snapped earlier of the footprints in the mud.


"That's the footprint you found?" frowned Blackhall.


"Yeah, although we didn't find much else."


"Looks like something out of Jurassic Park."


She looked at it. Funnily enough, it kind of did. Now that he mentioned it, it did look like a dinosaur print. "But what you saw wasn't a dinosaur, right?"


"Oh, come on," he said, bemused. "It wasn't no Tyrannosaurus."


"It wasn't a dinosaur," she repeated.


"It wasn't like any dinosaur I ever heard of," he shrugged. "Like I said, it looked kinda like a man, a scaly man."


Of course he hadn't seen a dinosaur. Of course there wasn't a Triceratops thundering around Loch Ness. The idea made no sense. But something about it was nagging her, something she had seen or thought earlier...


"What are you thinking?" he asked.


She pushed the idea around in her head, trying to catch the other part of it, like trying to scoop up a slippery peach half with a spoon. She looked at the photograph again and frowned. It was clearly a dinosaur-like print, but then, the creature at large was very obviously not a dinosaur. What would a dinosaur be doing at Loch Ness, anyway?


The idea suddenly hit her and fizzled in her brain. She had it! She dived to grab the telephone and dialled.


After a few rings, Giles answered. "Buffy?"


"Giles, I've got an idea," she said, grateful that the Watcher had allowed himself to be talked into carrying a cell phone. "The Loch Ness monster - wasn't there a theory that it was a dinosaur?"


"Well, sort of," said Giles. "It has been noticed by some that the monster as it appears in the dubious photographs seems remarkably similar to the prehistoric animal, the plesiosaur. But the plesiosaur isn't a dinosaur as such."


"Right," pressed Buffy, "but the point is that the Loch has been associated with prehistoric animals, yeah?"


"Well, yes." A pause. "Why... what are you thinking?"


"I think the demon could actually be a dinosaur."


Another pause. Giles' reply, when it came, didn't sound impressed. " er... well, the truth is, we've seen rather a lot of the creature so far, and it certainly doesn't look anything like a dinosaur." He seemed to think about it. "I suppose the footprint looked a little dinosaurian, but we really mustn't—"


"No, no, no," said Buffy. "Let me explain. I knew there was something strange about the lake when we arrived, and—" She was interrupted by a sudden shout of surprise from Giles, and a scuffle of noise. "What was that? What happened? Where are you?"


"Urquhart Castle," said Giles. He didn't sound happy. "Buffy, I'd better go."


"Where's Angel?"


"He went to scout the immediate area for our quarry while I sat down here, but it looks like it's found me. I have to go. Tell me later." He hung up.


* * * *


Giles disconnected the call and switched off the mobile. He didn't want it to ring again and draw further attention to his position - in fact it was probably the first ring that had brought the creature in his direction in the first place. Angel had been gone for five or ten minutes, and probably wouldn't be back for some time. The Watcher was on his own for the time being, and there was definitely something out there.


Whatever the creature was, the first thing he had to do was to try to deter it from approaching. He remembered the awful Nessie lighter that Buffy had given him and fished it out of his jacket pocket. Fire would be ideal. Using the electric torch to guide him, he located a nearby bush and broke off some of its branches. Then he climbed the hill again, returning to the castle ruins with his armful of wood. At the derelict castle wall, at the top of the slope, he set down a pile of the sticks and let the tacky souvenir do its work. Within minutes the wood was hugely aflame.


Good. Most creatures, although possibly not demons, were afraid of fire. His enemy in particular seemed to prefer hiding in the shadows and pouncing as its mode of attack, so maybe a well-lit area would keep it at bay. If nothing else, he would see it coming.


After a few minutes, the incessant crackling sound of the fire started to make him feel a little self-conscious, as it was the only sound in a silent landscape. What if the fire were to simply draw the creature to him? He told himself that it was against all logic, but the little worms of doubt were burrowing. He was too old for this, he was too obvious, he was out of practice...


A breeze blew across the hills, whipping at the fire. Giles shivered and found that he was glad that he had a fire at which he could sit. He just wished that he'd brought a weapon; he would have felt so much happier with a good, solid crossbow at his disposal. Fists against claws and teeth didn't seem such a great idea. And then, as the fire danced in the wind, the light that played on the nearby environment changed and, momentarily, he caught sight of the creature.


Up until now it had been hard to get a good look at it - either it had been pouncing in a blur of motion, or it had been a struggling, bony shape on the floor. This was the first time he had seen it just standing upright, and he had to admit, the way that it held itself was a little dinosaurian; its back was bent into a slight crouch, its arms were tucked into its body, its legs seemed to have a vague birdlike quality to them. Now that he'd seen the similarities, he couldn't shake the notion that he was being hunted by a prehistoric animal, despite the fact that as far as he knew it was nothing like any dinosaur known to palaeontology. The creature didn't seem to immediately realise that the light had changed and that the Watcher could see it; then after a few minutes, it took a step back and vanished into the shadows.


The breeze dropped. Giles stood. He knew where the ‘dinosaur' was, and he was ready for it.


"You're being watched," came Angel's voice. The darkness obviously held less surprises for the vampire's eyes.


"I know," said Giles, a little relieved to have company.


"Pick up the flashlight." The Watcher fumbled on the ground and found the torch. "Now point it at him."


Giles shone the torch beam directly at the dinosaur, who reacted instantly. It had obviously been caught off guard, and it seemed to freeze on the spot, unsure what to do; and in that moment, Angel was standing behind it, his hands reaching for the creature's head, twisting it. Crack. Giles winced, and the animal was dead. Angel lowered its limp body to the ground and laid it out carefully.


They stared at it in silence for some time. Eventually Giles said, "Buffy said she thought it was something to do with a dinosaur."


"Well," shrugged Angel, "it didn't smell like a demon."


* * * *


The creature's corpse was laid out on Craig Blackhall's coffee table as its audience of four mused over it. "Wow, he's an ugly brute," commented Blackhall.


"You know what I think?" said Buffy, thoughtfully. "I think I figured it out. I think the reason people think they've seen a prehistoric creature in the Loch, but nobody ever finds anything, is because the Loch is a weak point in the dimensions. It must be."


"Well, the walls have certainly been thin lately anyway," agreed Giles. "But this—" he indicated the dead animal on the table "—doesn't appear to be any sort of recognisable dinosaur."


"Yeah, I've been thinking about that, too," she said. "I wondered about it, because dimension rifts and portals are just links between different planes, and they don't have anything to do with time-travel. You know what I think? What if there's another dimension where the dinosaurs didn't die? What if there's a universe where they continued to evolve for millions of years?"


"One pops over into our world, and someone makes it extinct," commented Angel. The observation seemed to amuse him.


"Well, hang on," interjected Blackhall. "Are you saying that another one of these could pop in from another dimension sometime?"


"Actually, the chances against it happening once must have been astronomical, let alone twice," explained Giles, reassuringly. "There must be an almost infinite number of parallel dimensions, and the chances of the conditions being right to drop another one of these—" he indicated the corpse "through the gap are almost certainly nothing to worry about. I should be very surprised to find that this event was anything more than a freak of probability." He checked his watch. "I'd better soon go and start packing our things."


"Hey, Giles," said Angel, before the Watcher left the room. "You know what this means, right? You do realise you've discovered a new species of dinosaur?"


"Mr. Blackhall discovered it," Giles pointed out.


"But you took the footprint pics. You got the first evidence," Angel persisted.


"Yeah," said Buffy. "That means you get a species of dinosaur named after you, right Angel?"


"Yeah. I thought maybe Hamenosaurus Gilesi," suggested the vampire. "‘Giles' lost lizard.'" It seemed an apt name for a creature so far from home.


"Nice try, and I appreciate the thought," smiled Giles, translating the Greek in his head, "but I think you'll find you've actually christened it ‘Loser lizard.'" He bustled off to attend to the luggage.


Buffy and Angel exchanged glances.


"I'm having trouble getting my head around the fact that there's a dead dinosaur on my coffee table," said Blackhall to break the silence, and poked the corpse's mouth with his foot.


"Yeah," sighed Buffy. "We'd better do something with that ..."


* * * *


Giles climbed into the driver's seat of his car and waited, thoughtfully, for Buffy and Angel to finish loading their stuff into the boot. It was odd to think that his father had been here for two years and hadn't known about any of this, the dimensional insecurities of the area, the possibility that the various monster sightings and stories may after all have contained some truths. He yawned and thought that he had rather enjoyed his outing to Scotland. He felt like he had done something that wasn't reading, something useful, and he was glad that he'd stretched his legs. Not to mention being secretly tickled about having a dinosaur named after him, even badly so.


And as the car pulled away and began its long journey away through the Scottish countryside, the Loch rippled heavily; and maybe, just maybe, the dimension walls rippled in unison.









My description of the layout of the Loch and its surrounding towns and landmarks is foggy at best. I based my depiction loosely on the excellent virtual tour and satellite images located at


The idea for the Hamenosaurus came to me based on something I saw years ago at the Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester. There, they had a sculpture they called the Dinosaurid, and it was meant to be an expert's guess as to what a dinosaur might look like today if it had continued to evolve for the whole sixty-five million years. It was basically a green humanoid, and it looked sort of X-Files; I took that idea and pretty much combined it with Aliens, which is a great critter film, to create the basic concept for my animal. There's a photo of the Dinosaurid model on the Dinosaur Museum website (scroll down for the pic). I should point out, though, that my understanding of Greek is extraordinarily basic, so I apologise to any readers who, as a result of being fluent in said language, are appalled at my sad and more than likely incorrect attempt at linguistic humour.


I spent hours poring over this website when trying to come up with a name for the dinosaur, although I didn't actually use very much from it in the end. But it was a great help nonetheless.


The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau was a real organisation, and I didn't make them up. Of course, they weren't anything to do with Giles' father. Since the 1980s, responsibility for Loch-watching has been passed onto the Loch Ness Project, which still operates today.


Thanks to Dark Star and the ever-vigilant Jo for answering my (seemingly endless) stupid questions and for beta-ing (is that a word?) my drafts.


No thanks to my big mouth, for getting me into this mess.


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