Im going to try and describe the planet that the Syliads call home but I know that Im not going to do it justice. So, take my description add your own imagination and multiply by a factor of ten and then youll have some idea as to the beauty of the place.
The first thing that I noticed when the color storm passed was the volcano. To say that it was tall is like saying Mt Everest is somewhat large. This thing was HUGE. It dominated the skyline and even though a plume of smoke drifted lazily into the air it was in no way menacing. It was just too big and too majestic to be looked on with anything other than awe and wonder. Yet, as beautiful as the volcano was what I was next took my breath away.
It was a tower that extended at least a mile into the air. It was perfectly round and the sides tapered slightly starting from the base which was twice the size of the Pentagon. At its peak there was a large onion shaped dome. Yet, what made this building so impressive was not its height which was impressive but the material it was made from. The tower was made entirely of a pale blue crystal which was polished to a glassy brilliance. It caught the sunlight and reflected it in a dazzling glow.
After I spent a good minute drinking in the towers beauty I was finally able to look around. I stood in the center of a large city but like nothing Id ever seen before. Buildings of usual geometric shapes dotted the skyline. All were made from highly polished crystal or stone. Scattered amongst the buildings was the native plant life. Trees the likes of which I had never thought could exist with leaves that ranged in color from violet to crimson towered into the sky and then I realized that the plant life was not arranged it was growing wild and free and that the city had been built around it. I didnt know much about the Syliads but I did know that I liked their sense of style and taste.
When I was done taking in the sights I finally noticed that I had attracted quite a crowd of onlookers. This was my first meeting with the Syliads and I was determined not to blow it by acting like a hick or shuddering because they didnt look the way I wanted them to. Actually, their appearance wasnt that unattractive. It was unusual but then they were silicone based life forms. In other words they were living rocks and thats they way the appeared. The Syliads around me ranged in size from about two to seven feet tall. They were bipedal with two appendages that looked like arms but which were capable of moving in all directions. They didnt have a neck but did have a head which grew from their shoulders in a gentle slope. They had eyes which looked as if they were made from all sorts of precious gems from emeralds to blue diamonds. Their skin color also varied from jet black to golden brown but all of them had different colored veins running through their bodies like marble. I had been prepared for a more unusual appearance and was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered.
My appearance had an electric effect on them. They werent upset or afraid but looked at me with what I thought was something like awe. Then again its not every day that a 6'10" glowing man with a jackals head appears. Oh, I forgot about the glow. Well, the fact was that I looked a little like the storybook descriptions of a ghost. Only in my case I wasnt transparent more like translucent and I was surrounded by a glowing blue nimbus. I didnt notice it myself until I happened to look at my hands and saw the glow. I didnt feel any different.
I stood there not knowing how to approach these people but as things turned out I didnt have to. They approached me. A small delegation of three Syliads came through the group that had flocked around me and slowly walked toward me. They stopped about three in front of me and slowly bowed.
"Greetings O Wanderer," said the lead Syliad. "Your presence graces this humble place."
"Thank you," I said a little surprised that we could talk but I didnt have time to figure it out. "I wouldnt call this city humble. Its one of the most beautiful places Ive ever seen."
I must have said the right thing because a pleasant murmur ran through the crowd around us. The three Syliads bowed even lower which I didnt think was possible. All in all, the whole thing was getting really embarrassing.
"Please stand up," I said. "You dont have to bow like that."
"We realize that O Mighty One. Yet, we do it to honor your presence here. We shall stand if it is what you wish?"
"It is. Its hard to have a conversation between equals like this."
"But you are a Wanderer and I am but a Syliad. How are we equals?"
"Were equals in that were both sentient beings and as such should treat each other with respect and dignity."
The lead Syliad straightened instantly. There was a wide grin on his rocky face as he said, "Truly you are a Wanderer sir."
"Ross, my name is Ross. And was all this a test."
"In a way Ross," said the Syliad motioning for me to follow him. "It has been many generations since we were last visited by your kind. Much has been recorded as legend and lacks the validity of history. One aspect which is universally agreed upon is the Wanderers respect for every living being."
"Oh I see. Whats your name by the way?"
"Please forgive my rudeness. I am Krzyckstydrhysh, Chief Archivist of the Tower of Planetary History."
"Then your the man . . . ah, Syliad that Ive come to see."
"Yes, you see I need your help."
"Yes," I said trying to compose the short version. "The fact is that I wasnt always a Wanderer and dont have all their knowledge."
"Ah, we were told by the Wanderers that it was conceivable for another being to become one with them. But we never understood why they told us this."
"Id say that they were paving the way for me to come and see you to get your help. When I asked one of my brothers where I could go for information on other races he directed me to you. They do things like that."
"Well then, if you were sent by the Wanderers for information then I shall endeavor to see that you receive it. Please follow me."
Krzyckstydrhysh led me to that Beautiful, immense tower I saw when I first arrived. He told me that this was the principle structure in the Archive of Planetary History. Here all the facts and data collected and gathered by all the archivists, historians and scientists were collated and stored. I found it strange that scientists would be involved with what I considered a job for historians but was told that not only did the Syliads study a planets history but its science as well. In fact he told me that there was an entire complex devoted entirely to the understanding of the different systems of mathematics that they discovered. It was when the true scope of what the Syliads were doing hit home to me.
I was taken to a large office on the top floor which was furnished much like a human one, except that everything in it was made from either crystal or stone. There were windows along the wall even though I couldnt see them from the outside. Needless to say the view they offered was spectacular. Krzyckstydrhysh led me to a large white crystal table in the center of his office before addressing me.
"From here," he said, "I can access all the information at the Archive. You simply have to tell me the names of the races that you are interested in."
"Id like to know about two races called the Oulaeans and the Czebhinn."
"Oh, you wish to know about their war of annihilation."
"Youve heard of them then."
"Yes, at present they are one of our major fields of study. One of our greatest researchers Mrazkynhits was working in that very area."
"Yes. Unfortunately, his ship was recently found. It was nearly destroyed and all inside had perished. A horrid accident."
"I dont think it was an accident. A group of Arions are really interested in the Oulaeans and the Czebhinn and I think that they got their information from the late Mrazkynhits."
"It is a possibility, I suppose. Our rescue ship was able to recover his personal data recorder but as yet, we havent examined it. I can make you a copy of the data."
"That would be nice. Thank you."
Krzyckstydrhysh waved his hand over the crystal table and a holographic image of another Syliad appeared. The chief archivist asked the image to make a copy of the Mrazkynhits data. Before he shut off the image he turned to me and asked, "Is there any other information that you need?"
"Now that you mention it I could use information on the Arions, and Kintzi, and you might as well throw in the Velorians, if you have it."
"That will be no problem. We have extensive files on them all. See to it."
"Yes director," said the holo image just as he disappeared from view.
"Interesting species, the Arions and Velorians," he said in that voice that all academics seem to possess. "You know of course that theyre related genetically and that their common ancestry originates in the Sol system to the planet Terra. Culturally, very different yet they do share some common traits due to the increased nature of their senses. Quite a tactile species or so our information suggests."
"Well," I said with a wolfish expression. Hey, I do have a jackals head you know. "I cant speak for all Velorians, just one. But from my experience youre right about them being tactile."
"Ah, it is always nice to have anecdotal confirmation of ones theories."
"Can I ask you something?"
"Of course. Knowledge is useless if it is not shared freely."
"Is there anything in your researches to suggest that Arions are genetically predisposed to violence and cruelty?"
"Ah, there you have hit the crux of a major topic of discussion and debate for quite some time," said the chief archivist calling up an image of an Arion Prime male. "Conclusions are rather mixed at this point and as yet, we have no definitive either way. Arion culture itself indoctrinates the young into their highly aggressive and xenophobic society. Where they are taught that all other races are inferior and beneath contempt. The major debate among my people is whether this is the cause or the effect."
"How do you feel about it?"
"Personally, I believe it is the society itself which creates their attitudes and violent nature. There have been cases reported of Arions with pacificist attitudes, not many but enough so as not to be an aberration. Later facts may prove me wrong. You must remember that our scientists have never had the opportunity to study the genetic makeup of an Arion and compare it to their Terran ancestors or their Velorian cousins. And so it is possible that they are genetically inclined toward violence but I doubt it."
"Thats what I thought," I said glumly.
"May I ask why you wish to know this?"
"Oh, I just have a decision to make concerning a certain Arion. And unfortunately, youve just made that decision harder."
"I am truly sorry for that."
"Dont be. I shouldnt have expected things to be black and white. Theres no reason to be disappointed when that turns out to be correct."
Krzyckstydrhysh did not get a chance to respond. The tabletop was bathed in a concentrated pool of brilliant white light and when it disappeared seconds later there were objects left on the table. They were four crystal cube about three quarters of an inch in size. Each of the cubes had a different color. They were green, red, yellow, and blue.
"These contain the information that you seek. Will you be able to carry them?"
"I dont really know," I replied. "Theres only one way to find out, I suppose."
I dont know how but he nodded his head. I think the sound of grinding rocks was the weirdest part of the whole thing. He picked up the lime green cube and held it over my outstretched hand. When he looked up at me I nodded and smiled.
"This," said the chief archivist, "is the information on the Oulaean Czebhinn War."
When he dropped the crystal it hit my hand and sank into it. It was like my skin had been replaced by molasses. I thought, at first, that they were going to slip right through but after it settled about half an inch the cube just stayed there. When Krzyckstydrhysh saw this he proceeded to drop the rest in my open palm. The ruby red one was about the Arions. The lemon yellow cube concerned the Kintzi and the royal blue one was about the Velorians. When they were all safely placed in the palm of my hand I closed my fingers over the cubes and made a tight fist.
"I want to thank you for all your help Krzyckstydrhysh."
"It has been both a pleasure and an honor to assist a Wanderer, Ross. Remember us to your brothers and sisters."
"Oh I will. Believe me, I will the next time I see Horus."
"If you should ever have need of us again Ross do not hesitate to come."
"I will Krzyckstydrhysh. And thank you."
Keeping much of my attention on the cubes in my hand I closed my eyes. Instantly, I felt a tug. It pulled at me and I let it. Like a snapping elastic I was pulled back into the swirling multicolored tunnel and back home.
LahrRinda awoke with a blinding headache. The moment that she regained consciousness she began going over in her mind the events which had led up to this, especially how she was saved from the two Kintzi. She couldnt understand it and as much as she wanted to put the whole incident out of her head she couldnt. She was still contemplating her rescue as she regained all her faculties.
When LahrRindas eyes snapped open the light they let in stabbed directly into her brain. Gritting her teeth she closed them once more. Bile rose in her throat and her dry throat spasmed as she choked it down again. She knew that she was reclining and as she did not feel anything touching her skin she assumed that she was in a med-bay hover bed. She forced herself to relax and breathe deeply. When the door to the med-bay opened LahrRinda kept her eyes closed. She did not feel like answering a lot of questions right now.
"What is his condition?" asked Captain Forgan.
"Critical," replied Sub-Captain ZauSha. "The med-techs have done all they can but the wound is too severe. Two major arteries were damaged and he has lost the use of one lung. They report that he will not survive the next 6 hours."
"That is not acceptable ZauSha. His assistance is still required. Do what must be done."
"Captain, I have never presumed to question an order of yours before this. Yet, this I must question. He is a Terran, an inferior. What you propose . . ."
"What I propose is what is necessary. We still need his assistance if we are to successfully complete our assigned mission. Yes, he is an inferior but it must be done."
"I will see to it captain."
"Good. Now, tell me about those damned cats!"
"Scanners are at their highest resolution but they have yet to locate the Kintzi warship."
"It must be found. I will have my revenge on those fucking beasts or I will have it on the Betas responsible. Mark me on this ZauSha. I will have revenge on someone for this outrage."
"I have relayed this to the techs concerned. They understand what must be done and are even now working to increase sensor resolution."
"See that it is done ZauSha. And when you have finished here assemble a fully armed attack squad in the hanger bay. I will address them personally."
"Of course captain."
When the med bay door slid open and then closed LahrRinda risked opening her eyes. She kept her eyes to just slits and then slowly turned her head toward the direction that Sub-Captain ZuaShas voice came from.
The sub-captain stood three beds over and next to her was a Beta that LahrRinda did not recognize but knew of. She was the gift that the captain had given to the Terran Martine for betraying his people and planet. She was still dressed in the same white garments that LahrRinda had seen her wearing around the corridors, along with that studded collar that for some reason the young lieutenant found extremely upsetting.
Both were standing over a reclining figure that LahrRinda barely recognized as the Terran Martine. He was deathly pale and his chest barely moved. She saw the plas-bandage that covered his chest and understood that this was the person that the captain and the sub-captain had discussed. She also realized the nature of their discussion. This was confirmed when ZauSha slipped from her combat uniform.
"Dont stare at me," the sub-captain spat at the Beta. "Do your duty. Remember ThenEtte that you are here to serve the greater glory of Aria."
"Yes sub-captain," came the muted response.
ZuaSha got onto the hover bed and squatted over Martines face. The sub-captains small powerful fingers grasped both her nipples and squeezed with such violence that LahrRinda winced. She pinched her rapidly expanding nipples and pulled them from her chest. While ZauSha was assaulting her nipples ThenEtte pried Martines mouth open. When his jaws were wide enough she placed a small funnel in it and pressed the jaw close and strapped it shut. As soon as that job was done the despondent Betas tongue snaked out and tentatively liked ZuaShas sprouting clit.
"Again," hissed ZauSha. "Harder! Put some feeling into it."
ThenEtte pressed her mouth even further into the sub-captains groin. Her cheeks puffed out and her breathing came in ragged gasps as she did her best to bring the Prime woman to orgasm. ZauSha obviously did not like what the Beta was doing, however, because she soon grabbed ThenEttes head and pressed it into herself with almost all her considerable strength. ThenEtte grunted and redoubled her efforts. They soon began showing dividends and ZauShas hips began to sway rhythmically.
LahrRinda watched in stunned disbelief as ZuaSha got closer and closer to her orgasm. She knew that both Arion and Velorian females could create enhanced beings using the mutagen in their vaginal secretions produced during an orgasm. Yet, she had never, would never, have thought of bestowing such a gift on a Terran like Martine. He was positively vile and even being this close to him made LahrRindas skin crawl. The young lieutenant had always served the empire as faithfully as she could believing that in honor she could nothing else. Now, she wasnt so sure. Never before had she ever thought about or questioned any order that was given to her in the past. LahrRinda began to do that as she watched ZauSha finally reach a thunderous climax.
ThenEtte pulled her face from ZauShas groin the instant that she felt the sub-captain began to twitch. Her fingers replaced her tongue and they were joined by ZauShas left hand. Togther the two Arions fingered and teased the sub-captain to a powerful climax. As soon as it had begun ThenEtte watched the funnel. It filled just as the last tremor shook ZauShas body. The second it was done ThenEttes hand covered the end of the funnel and Martine was forced to swallow.
ZauSha wiped the sweat from her body and flung it from herself in disgust before she got off the table. She looked down at Martine as if she wanted to spit on him but reached for her uniform instead. When she was dressed once more she turned toward ThenEtte.
"All that can be done has been done," she said to no one in particular. "The captain cannot question that. Watch him," she ordered the Beta pointing a threatening finger at ThenEttes chest. "You will inform me or Captain Forgan should there be any change in the Terrans condition. Is that understood?"
"Yes sub-captain," ThenEtte replied meekly.
Without a further look at either Martine or ThenEtte. LahrRinda closed her eyes so that the sub-captain would not notice that she was conscious. She let a small sigh escape when ZauSha left the med bay. LahrRinda did not want anyone to notice that she was awake. She had too many things to think on. What she had seen in the last few minutes and what she had happened to her before she lost consciousness. Slowly she drifted back to sleep with one phrase lingering her mind, "It was because you have a nice smile."
The first thing that I saw when I opened my after reaching the end of the tunnel were the two bluest eyes Ive ever seen. They looked at me closely, concern dampening their natural beauty. The first thing that crossed my mind was that Fairchild actually cared. The second was that it was cruel to keep such beautiful eyes sad if I could help it.
"Eyes like yours, Fair," I said smiling, "are meant to be happy."
"Youre all right," she cried lifting me out of the chair like I was a doll and giving me a tingling bear hug. "I was worried when you didnt move or even breathe, even though the computer assured me that you were fine. I just couldnt help. Youre sure youre all right."
"Course Im all right Fair. But I may not stay that way if you dont loosen up a little."
"Oh Ross," she said backing off a little but still holding on. "Im sorry. Sometimes my strength gets away from me. Did I hurt you?"
"Nope, not even a scratch," I said with a doggy grin my tongue flopping out of the side of my mouth. "Guess this proves just how tough I am, huh?"
"And cute too. I just wish that I could kiss you."
"Yes, I see where that might be a problem," I said getting a wicked idea. "I guess youll just have to settle for the next best thing."
"And whats that?" asked a suspicious Fairchild.
"This," I replied running my really long tongue from the base of her neck to her left ear.
Fairchild gave a little gasp of surprise and then began to giggle. Both of her hands reached the top of my head and began to firmly scratch me behind my ears. Now, I understood why dogs wagged there tails. If I had had one it would have been wagging up a storm. The feelings that Fairchilds nails sent through me were indescribable.
"Ross," she said after about a minute of this. "Havent you forgot about the Arions?"
"Damn," I said pausing my tongue. "I had forgotten about them. Of course with you around I have trouble remembering my own name."
"Flattery will get you everywhere."
"Really! Ill brush up on my poetry then."
"Did you get the answers?" she asked a little impatiently.
"I think so. I didnt have time to check it out there. Anyway I thought you might want to see it first hand."
"I do. Lets see it."
Up until then Id forgotten all about the four crystal cubes in my hand. But Fairchild brought my mind back to business. For a split second I thought that they hadnt made the trip with me but then I felt their warmth and shape in my hand. I opened it and took out the green crystal.
"This is it," I said holding out the cube.
"What are the others?"
"I took the opportunity to get some information on the Arions and the Kintzi," I said pointing at the read and yellow cubes.
"And the blue one? No, let me guess. Its about Velorians. Right?"
"Right," I said sheepishly. "Its just that it looks like were going to be spending a lot of time together and well . . . I thought that itd be nice to know all I could about your home and its customs."
"Theres nothing to be upset about Ross. I think its sweet."
"You have that effect on me," I said giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Now, lets see what this computer can make of this cube."
"You have to place the storage device on the reader," the computer responded automatically.
A hole on the console appeared and it was illuminated. This had to been the reader. When I placed the cube in it half a dozen beams of light struck it. They circled the cube faster and faster.
"The data is retrievable," the computer announced. "I shall translate into English if that is suitable."
"Very," I said.
"You know English?" Fairchild asked.
"Yes, in the past six decades Ive studied all human speech patterns that I was able to acquire. The data is ready."
"Good," I said. "Display any material related to weapons."
"There are 3245 entries concerning weapons. Could you specify?"
"What," said Fairchild, "about size? It would have to be something big. Whats the largest weapon mentioned?"
"The entry concerning the largest weapon in the Oulaean Czebhinn War concerns a Czebhinn warship. Its class translates as dreadnaught. Apparently it was a prototype and never fired a shot as the Oulaeans destroyed the Czebhinn before they could deploy it."
"Sounds promising," I said.
"It does but why is everyone looking here?" asked Fairchild.
"What happened to this dreadnaught?" I asked.
"Checking . . . There is a recording made by an Oulaean pilot in his log. It notes the flight path of a very large spacecraft as it departed the Czebhinn system."
"Can you plot what the nearest star system would have been along the dreadnaughts flight path?" asked Fairchild. "That is assuming they didnt alter it."
"Plotting now," said the computer ignoring Fairchild last statement.
A large holographic image appear in front of the console. It displayed a large 3D star map. A fraction of a second after the map appeared a dot appeared as well. The dot soon became a gently curving line which traveled outward. It was the flight path that the dreadnaught probably took. When it stopped I didnt have to ask the name of the star system. The sinking feeling in my gut told me.
"Earth," whispered Fairchild.
"More correctly," said the computer, "the Sol star system of which Earth is the third planet."
"Thanks," Fairchild said sarcastically. "That still doesnt explain why the Arions are so keen to get their hands on Archeologists."
"What would the SOP in a situation like that," I said groping toward what I hoped would be the answer. "I mean theres a skeleton crew on this dreadnaught. It was a skeleton crew?"
"Correct," replied the computer.
"All right," I continued. "Youve got just enough men, or whatever, to move this thing but not enough to do anything else. You reach a destination. Im assuming that one places is as good as another here. So, youve arrived then what?"
"I dont know," said Fairchild. "You sound like you have an idea though."
"Im not sure," I confessed. "I think theres something there but Im stumbling around in the dark trying to find it."
"Keep going Ross," she encouraged. "I think youre nearly there."
"OK," I said buoyed by her confidence in me. "You arrive in this star system and then youre stuck. Your planet and people are gone and eventually youre going to be gone as well. You might just think that the Oulaeans are going to come looking for you and the dreadnaught. Thats the last thing youd want to have happen. You could always scuttle the ship but I dont think so. One, its probably too big too be done properly and two, your pride is caught up in this ship. You couldnt destroy it without destroying part of yourself. So you . . . You sabotage it by removing key components that render it inoperable and you hide them."
"By George I think hes got it," said Fairchild doing the most horrid impression of Rex Harrison that Ive ever heard. Still, it got me laughing.
"Well," I said biting back my laughter, "that answers the question. Now, weve got a new one what do we do to stop it?"
"Ive been thinking about that. You said that the Wanderers came here about 12,000 years ago. Right?"
"Give or take a century, yes."
"So, presumably this ship has been here most if not all of that time."
"That is correct," the computer responded.
"Good, then I think I know how to find the ship."
"How?" I asked.
"Actually, its really pretty simple," said a smug and oh so gorgeous Fairchild. "The Czebhinn warship arrived in the solar system some 6,000 years ago and promptly vanished."
"They probably tried to hide it."
"Thats what I think but it still got to be out there. Now, all the computer has to do is compare the system map of 12,000 years ago with today."
"It might work," I said. "But that would still leave a lot of stuff out there to be accounted for."
"We could narrow the search a little. The dreadnaught is supposed to be big. So, eliminate anything under a mile long. That about the general size of a good sized star ship and I have the feeling that this could be larger. Once the computers eliminated anything that cant be the dreadnaught it can begin scanning the most likely candidates."
"Can you do that?" I asked the computer.
"Certainly. However, even given the narrower scope of the search it will still take some time to complete."
"Any idea how long?" asked Fairchild.
"Impossible to estimate at this time without a preliminary scan, which would take 25 minutes to complete."
"Never mind," I said. "Just get on with the job. How can you reach us when youre done."
"This facility is able to communicate telepathically with the Companion."
"The Wanderers sure do think ahead," said Fairchild.
"That they do," I agreed. "But it might be more than that. When I first met Horus he said that time and space were irrelevant. Whatever that means."
"You mean that they can see into the future?" she asked awed.
"I think so but it may be that they can see future possibilities. Otherwise, it brings up all these arguments about predestination which I hated in philosophy class and still cant stand."
"Youre right. I hate those discussions too. Besides we have more important things to do," said Fairchild with that total concentration of hers that I had come to admire. "The problem of where the dreadnaught is, has been taken care of. Now, we should concentrate on getting those key components you were talking about before the Arions or the Kintzi. Fortunately, weve got you and your knowledge of ancient history."
"Thats true," I said trying to remember something important only to have it slip away. "I know about some things that might qualify but alien artifacts arent really my speciality. Theyre not really the concern of any archeologist . . . Of course! Sorry about using the voice Fair. I just remembered someone, Tessa Muldoon."
"Who is Tessa Muldoon?"
"Tessa is a con artist. Before you arrived on Earth she made a living giving lectures on how we were visited by aliens. You know. How the pyramids were actually an alien landing field and the statues on Easter Island as the petrified remains of an alien race. When you showed up, a real live being from another world, well it put a crimp in her business. So, she switched over to psychic advice and channeling the spirits of dead relatives. Anyway, Tessa dealt for years in supposed alien artifacts for years. She knows every alien landing story thats ever been talked about. If anyone would know about any real alien artifacts lying around its Tessa."
"Sounds perfect Ross," Fairchild exclaimed. "Where does she live?"
"Well, Tessa moves around a lot but the last time I heard she had a place in the Florida Keys. Have you ever been there?"
"Me neither. Ive been to Miami a couple of times. I guess thatll have to do. Ill contact Mel. She can look up the address in and send it to us."
"Great. What are we waiting for?"
Once again I took the beautiful and voluptuous Fairchild in my arms. Im sure that no matter may times I get to do this Ill never tire of it. Her warm soft skin felt too good for that to happen. So, its only natural that I lingered just a moment before calling an image of Miami into my head and making the jump. I would have liked to delay a little longer but there was a huge alien warship out there and the Arions and Kintzi were hot in its trail. Fairchild and I had to get to it first or Earth would suffer.
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