Gemma's father died of a sudden cardiac arrest a few months back and following his death, his beloved daughter took over. Robert Reynolds was lucky that he had an easy escape, because knowing that he was the one behind everything that went wrong in the Front, well, he'd have been deluded if he thought he was going to get an easy way out.
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Gemma, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. Because now, she was going to have to answer for the wrongdoings of her company.
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Director had repeated the story half a million times almost like a reminder or something that I'd find a hard time believing, although I was there when it happened.
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A rivalry between wrestlers had nothing on the rivalry between companies; especially if it was a war between pharmaceutical companies. Reynolds Corporation, then owned by Robert Reynolds had been at an endless catfight with the Front since before I was born. I heard stories of how fierce the battles used to be; all economic boom, this and marketing drop, that. I never cared enough to understand the core business part of it, – although one quick flip to an economics textbook was all that would have been needed for the information to automatically embed itself into my longterm memory – but, the plotting part of the rivalry was something of interest.
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Unfortunately for the Front, Mr. Reynolds had a particular gift for plotting. His talent was put into full view when I was six and saw the floor quake from the eight floor of the Front's headquarters. My first impression was that it was an earthquake – either that or Judgement Day came early. And then the floor plummeted down. I saw something shiny and bright – probably fire – and (understandably) passed out. Three MK 82 bombs. Planted in the building's commercial basement, they ripped apart the building as if pealing a book open. It was an inside job. There were approximately eight hundred people in the building that day. The following week, five-hundred and twenty-two were six feet under the ground. As well as my parents, the owners of the Front were among them.
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Director, his actual name, Michael Lauder, reconstructed the building and brought the company up again. A year after the attack, he sat on the CEO's seat. Amanda had just begun working there for the Front when the Reynolds attack took place. She started off as Chadwick and Holland's secretary but following their death, she became Director's secretary. It still surprised me today as to how she didn't go off running in the other direction.
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Reynolds attacked because the Front held in its hands what Reynolds Corporation had been working on for at least four generations. 202.
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I still failed to understand why the Front kept all evidence of the Reynolds attack hidden from the world's eyes. There was more than enough evidence just sitting in a locker collecting dust, to end the Reynolds several times over. But Director refused to publish it. Idiot.
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All in all, as Director said, the only bright side for the Front was that Reynolds Corporation didn't manage to destroy what they actually wanted to. If they had, this launch evening wouldn't have taken place. That was unless we planned on launching a load of air.
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Even a two-year-old with more logic than Robert Reynolds would have questioned why the Reynolds didn't just steal the cure, especially if they managed to pull off an explosion inside the very building which the cure was kept. Dumbass.
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But Robert Reynolds didn't work that way. I was convinced he was a genetic thing. The whole family was a nutcase. And it just so happened, one of them was standing right in front of me.
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"Miss Reynolds!" Director appeared out of the blue.
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She turned around. "Please, call me Gemma!"
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How about 'Serpent'?
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"How are things at Reynolds Corporation?"
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"Adequate, considering the loss we suffered when my father passed," the serpent said.
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Quite the performance, judging by how much they hated each other. Please, someone, give them an Oscar each!
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Just how did they manage it? Especially when it was her precious dad who destroyed the Front's life work and mercilessly killed almost everyone in the goddamn building. I failed to understand how Director could be plotting a fool-proof revenge plan on her one minute and then ask questions like how are things at Reynolds Corporation? so casually the next. Then again, his wrath was child's play compared to mine, because it wasn't his parents were killed...
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Although I'm certainly not a murderer, Gemma's smug face always made me rethink this quality. However, I had more chance surviving in space than going anywhere close to her because the Serpent's father was so rich, the security that surrounded her 24 hours a day was so... well, secure, it was as if they were guarding an actual gem! And not the cheap kind either. Bottom line was that an enemy couldn't go near her within a ten-mile radius.
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Yet the helpless girl is standing a little less than ten inches from her death.
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In that moment, I was well and ready to give her a piece of my mind - quite literally, by shattering her cranium into a million fibers: also literally - shattering things with my mind was one of my masterly abilities. However, a bucketload of disappointment hit me in the face when Director shook his head at me. He was probably reading my thoughts as if it were an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation manual.
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I scowled, ignoring him.
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One must wonder, how can a – technically – superhuman be stopped by something as feeble as security? That's because it wasn't any old security. Robert Reynolds knew the Front's little secret. They discovered the ins and the outs of what the Front had been up to, and how the creation of Emerald Reese went way beyond the cure. Why do you think they burnt our building in the first place? During this maniacal act, they discovered my life story - at least my life story as a child. They knew all my strengths, weaknesses, and pretty much everything the Front knew. Reynolds knew that the Front was likely to use their creation against them – as if I wanted to. Director also opposed this idea. Something about a metaphorical nuclear war breaking out between the Front and Reynolds Corporation, if we did. So, being the cynical man he was, Robert set up a specific "anti-202" agency to protect Gemma. If the FBI, MI6, and a little bit of Star Wars army rolled all into one, that would be the anti-202 squad. I couldn't go within reaching distance of her.
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Well, she was within reaching distance now.
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Director must seen through my head because the next thing you know I was dragged to the side, away from a very fake conversation between the she-devil and Annie.
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"202, don't even think about it!" Director scolded.
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"What?! She's right there!" I exclaimed, wildly gesturing in her direction, "If I could just—"
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"Absolutely not. I will not allow you to—"
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This is ridiculous!
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"This is ridiculous!" I exclaimed.
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He leaned his head close to me.
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"202, tonight you are forbidden to go near Gemma Reynolds," He spoke in a deadly, low voice, one that dared me to argue back.
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I chose not to. This time.
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And so, for the rest of the evening, I trudged around in my intolerable dress, reserving my vengeance for another day. But what happened right at the end of that night was what was most interesting. It started with a very heated conversation with the lovely Gemma Reynolds.
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"Yes? Okay... alright. So the car's here?" I heard - or rather eavesdropped on - the Serpent speak from where I was standing next to Will, Anne, and Director.
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Then the Serpent came towards us.
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"What a grand evening! Such a shame it had to come to an end. Once again, congratulations! Your sincere efforts deserve this success, I wish you the best of luck!"
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Seven billion people, fourteen billion faces.
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"Thank you, Gemma. I wish you the best of luck running Reynolds Corporation, especially at such a young age," Director replied.
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Oh the act!
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And on a side note, whose idiotic idea was it to hand a multi-billion dollar company to a nineteen-year-old? I was also nineteen, but did I get to run a multi-billion dollar company? No.
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You got superpowers instead.
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"202, you are very special," she suddenly spoke, startling me. She brushed her blonde curls back, the way only models advertising Tony and Guy would do. "It really is a shame your parents aren't here to see it."
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I tensed. She had five sec–
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"Thank you very much for your visit Miss Rey—" Amanda cut in, sensing the change in atmosphere.
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"But then again, my father isn't here either. He would have been so proud of The Front," The Serpent continued, cutting Amanda off.
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"How..." dare a deceiving, manipulative, two-faced sadist like you stand in front of The Front - no pun intended - and speak such lies as if I were a brain dead moron, incapable of seeing anything behind that not-so-pretty face of yours! And on a side note, the Front threw a celebrated with wine, the night your father's heart stopped. "... unfortunate," I replied, instead.
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"But nonetheless, I can't even begin to imagine, for a moment, the pain and suffering you went through after your parents..." She let the end of the sentence hang mid-air.
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Okay, she had two seconds.
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"You seem to have quite the fixation on my parents," I replied with a bitter edge.
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"Why, they were a pair of phenomenons!"
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My, my, I did not know that!
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She continued, "I look up to them as my role models. More. My idols!" The lies that came out of her mouth were of mythical proportions.
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Just as I was about to hit her back with another snarky remark, something captured my eyes.
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Needless to say, I ditched the conversation there and then, and made my way to the drizzling gloss of brown beauty.
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"And now for the most awaited moment of the night..." I spoke to myself, drowning a strawberry under the chocolate fall. My eyes twinkled with gluttonous desire, like the River Jordan under the moonlight. I finished the strawberry in three bites and ate another. And, then another. Then a pineapple followed by grape, and just as I was about to help myself to a marshmallow, a hand wrapped around my wrist. A hand that belonged to Will, a young intern who temporarily worked at the Front.
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"What's your deal?" I eyed him.
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"Don't eat the marshmallows," He whispered.
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"Don't worry, I'm far off from diabetes," I answered, shifting my hand closer to my mouth. "Why are you whispering anyway?"
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He halted my hand again. "Unless you want to involuntarily fall into unconsciousness, I advise you to put it down. Now."
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I shot daggers at him.
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"Please," he added wisely.
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I put the marshmallow down, not because he told me to obviously, but because dozens of questions were begging to be answered after what he just said. "So what's wrong with the—"
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Just then, a man about two feet away from us, whom I assume by his attire, and was a journalist, collapsed, answering at least half a dozen of my questions in the space of three seconds.
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Well. That's not pretty.
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"Somebody get help!" A strangers voice emerged, and within seconds there was a small crowd forming around the man.
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"Don't worry, he's still breathing!" Another stranger's voice said.
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"Well that doesn't mean he's going to still be breathing in the five minutes," I pointed out realistically.
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I was met with a bunch of scowls.
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I mentally face palmed myself. "Oh for God's sake! Call an ambulance!"
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Suddenly I was yanked to the side.
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"There will be no need for that, 202," Director appeared out of nowhere. I'm beginning to believe he can teleport. "We'll take care of him."
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"Oh really? And how are you going to do that?"
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"We have hundreds of doctors working for the Front."
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"You are going to have a dead body at an event that is hosting the biggest discovery in history, and guess what? Everyone in the entire world is going to see it and The Front is going to go up in flames as it did during the Reynolds' attack! That's right, mister!"
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"Will you stop being so dramatic? He's not going to die! He's just seda—" he paused. "Like I said, we'll make sure he gets the care he needs."
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"We can't take responsibility for him! It's not our fault..." my voice drifted away, along with my mind as I tried to decipher why something as innocent as marshmallows was altered in the first place.
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"Director..." I called, but he was too occupied with the man.
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"Someone get the Doctor!"
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"Not now, 202."
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"No, it has to be now!" I exclaimed. "How did you know the marshmallows were drugged?"
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My question was ignored.
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"202, you are making a scene, we can do this later!" He said, turning back around.
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"Unless..." In a short moment, my mind began piecing two and two together. Well actually, it was more like eight and eight together, considering the giant leap of a concluding statement I was about to blurt out. Unless you already knew...
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Slowly, I was backing out of the crowd, when Amanda grabbed my arm. "Where are you going?"
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"Director said he had it all under control," Tentatively, I brought my arm out of her grasp. "He said, I should stay out of the way, so yeah, uh-huh..." Nodding like my life depended on it, I whisked myself away out of the hall before she could stop me - as if she could even if she tried, but lack of subtleness wouldn't have done me well considering the situation I suddenly found myself in.
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I was about to call the Front's driver, but decided against it, calling a cab instead.
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"Where to, Miss?" The driver asked, turning to the back seat.
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"The Front Headquarters. You know, the pretty looking, silver building in the middle of a forest–"
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"I know what it is, Miss. Is there a person in the country who doesn't?"
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"Oh, right... well, hurry up, then!"
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Upon entering the Headquarters, I took myself first to Amanda's room. There was something important I had left there.
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The door was unlocked. I slid in, gliding towards the desk, and picked up the small transparent box that sat on the edge of the glass table. Opening it, I picked up the metal piece between my thumb and index finger and threaded the ring through the tiny holes at my eyebrows.
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My rapid footsteps then brought me to where I actually needed to be. One very important room that no man could ever walk into without consent.
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Well, I was a woman.
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Besides, even if 202 were a man, the glass door to Director's office shouldn't have posed anything of a challenge. Unfortunately, the door was locked and tightly secured with a fingerprint scanner so I had two options:
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Drug Director whilst he's asleep... okay, I would first need to sneak into his house and then hide in his bedroom, which wouldn't please his imaginary wife, and then I'd drug him, drag him back to the Front Headquarters and touch the scanner with his thumb. Then again there'd be the easier option to just cut his thumb off, so actually there are three options, however, option number two would have probably just rose questions. As would option number one.
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So, option number three seemed the most ideal:
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I tapped the tips of my five fingers in four precise areas.
In heartbeat, what once was a slab of glass morphed into a million tiny pieces of lethality.
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I knew option three was the best.
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Question, is it betrayal if you're using your powers against the people who gave them to you in the first place?
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"Nah." I spoke to myself.
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Stepping into what felt like no man's land, I quickly scrambled through the dozens of drawers in the room, one by one, looking for a precise one with the practical Wikipedia which some obsessed strangers who worked at the Front wrote about me. Sadly I didn't find it in any of the drawers. I found an entire cabinet of lockers full of it. And it was not the bright silver piece of metal which was twisted this way and that to form the numbers '202' that gave it away.
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"Do I even know this much about myself?"
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Each drawer of the vast locker contained specific information, from my entire genome, to my diet; you name it. The lockers seemed to mirror almost a timeline - of my life. The further down you go, the older I get, until they finish at nineteen.
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Due to both curiosity and most importantly, reason I paid for a cab and broke a glass door, I opened the drawer labeled Nineteenth Year.
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Still surprised how no alarms went off.
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The door opened an inch, but seeing as someone wanted to stuff all of the world's paper into one space, it was stuck and didn't open any further. Irritatedly, I pulled much harder the second time and it gave way.
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Needless to say, I was met with a lot of paper, most of which were stored in colored files. A lot of it was boring, just graphs and reports. But one, right a the back, so small, so lethally dark that no one would have spot it, caught my eye. It was perched there, just begging to be explored. I picked it out.
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There was only one word on the front, so simple, anyone else wouldn't have given it a second glance. But, it was one word that made my mouth go dry.
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Imagine every horror story you've ever heard. If if they were compressed into one word, this would be it. At least, that was the case for me.
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I've spoken to myself a lot during my little break-in, nothing different or unusual, you know, just casually talking to myself... except this voice didn't belong to me. I knew this because, firstly, if it had come out of voice box, I would have noticed it. And secondly, it was said in a voice so cold, it could have frozen lava. This was the only, and I repeat, the only reason why I had flinched.
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"That's not a pretty word, is it?"
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Hmm, I wonder who that is...
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I hope the title didn't give away too much – even though, that was kind of the idea.ns22.214.171.124da2