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HomeScience Fiction Stories Who Weeps for Cadmus? (Part 1)

Who Weeps for Cadmus? (Part 1)

Sapiens to the left, Rationals to the right, and robots straight ahead...

“Oh, and one more thing,” she called to his back. He stopped and turned around to face her. “Pay attention to the signs. Don’t go anywhere by yourselves that says ‘Rationals only’. You might never find your way back. Make sure you have a Rational to guide you.”

Chapter 1: Voyage
Cadmus preferred flying this old fashioned solar sail ship, to one of the more modern hyper-drive ships, from his native moon’s orbit to Draco.763.3a, the only habitable moon orbiting Draco.763.3. He was well aware he could have made the trip in a couple of hours instead of the two hundred and seventy days, give or take, that this trip would take him, but he didn’t like flying faster than the speed of light, thank you. It made his stomach queasy. He liked seeing the stars as points instead of lines. Besides that, Cadmus didn’t think punching a hole in the space-time fabric was good for the environment.

Cadmus’ co-pilot was his trusty dagu, “Lonesome”. Lonesome couldn’t really pilot the ship. He wasn’t able to do much of anything besides pant with his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth and look generally friendly. Lonesome’s fur covered his entire body except for his belly. He had a long scruffy tail, pointy ears, a medium-size proboscis, and foul breath.

Cadmus operated the ship’s artificial gravity for Lonesome’s sake since he didn’t do so well with zero gravity. He’d throw up big globules of gruesome looking stuff. So Cadmus set the outer shell of the ship to spinning to create a 1-g ring around the ship so that Lonesome could feel normal; well, also so that Cadmus could exercise and take a shower.

Cadmus liked staring out the big picture window and pointing his telescope at the interesting objects he passed by. He had another hundred days or so to go before he reached 3a. He calculated he should be able to see 3, the huge uninhabitable planet around which 3a revolved, in eighty-five or six days. He gazed at the familiar Old Woman constellation, tracing the line of her crooked back until he got to her finger pointing to the Southern Star by which the ship navigated.

Cadmus was not in any hurry. He had no one waiting for him on either side of the trip.


Chapter 2: Ay Kaly
Cadmus had fifteen more days to go before arriving at 3a. When you came down to it, he wasn’t even sure why he wanted to go to this particular moon; maybe just because it was there, he guessed, and because he could.

Cadmus pulled up his rocker next to the folding table beside the big picture window. He plumped the pillows the way he liked and gazed at the paucity of the solar system. There didn’t seem to be much happening. The constellations and unassociated stars hardly moved. It was like they were holding their breaths. Suddenly he had a memory of when he was a child playing hide-and-seek with the other children and he had held his breath when they passed near him.

There was a calendar fixed to the wall by the window. The days of his trip were crossed off one by one. Cadmus would draw a circle around the date when he woke up and then an X through the date before going to sleep. Dozing off in the middle didn’t count.

Cadmus kept himself fairly busy. He made a checklist of things he should do while awake:

Wake up
Feed Lonesome
Exercise, eliminate, shower, and dress
Feed Lonesome
Walk Lonesome
Draw a circle around today’s date
Eat something
Brush teeth
Check what’s going on outside
Check the instruments
Feed Lonesome
Sit by the window and think
Write something, anything, in the diary
Feed Lonesome
Eat something else
Walk Lonesome again
Brush teeth
Draw an X through today’s date
Go to sleep

Lonesome didn’t need a checklist. He was content to follow around whatever Cadmus was doing. Maybe he was following Cadmus’ checklist.

There was a small picture frame on the ledge of the window. In it was a photograph of a young woman next to a younger version of Cadmus. She had thick long black hair, dark brown eyes, pronounced cheekbones, and inviting lips puckered up in a kiss. Every time he looked at her he sighed, “Ay Kaly”.

“Ay Kaly, would that you were with me. You’d love it. You could scarcely contain your happiness as soon as you’d enter a shuttle terminal, any terminal. It never mattered where or where we were going. Just to be going,” he said to himself.

Kalyra was his wife.


Cadmus opened up his diary, pulled a pencil out of one of his pockets, and wrote the following:

Day 255:

The Warrior’s Other Side

Gentle sweet

Gone already into the night

Halfway across the void.

So far from you

The Warrior wears his scabbard

On the other hip.


Cadmus closed the diary on the ribbon. The Warrior was the name of the constellation he was gazing at.


Chapter 3: From Out of Nowhere
According to the calendar, Cadmus should reach 3a in another two days. Draco.763.3 was starting to loom large on his screen. It was a lovely planet with swirling yellows, browns, reds, and greens created by hurricane-force storms of noxious elements that appeared suddenly and then disappeared just as suddenly. Nobody had ever set foot on 3. They say the gravity would crush a shuttle and everyone inside it like a flimsy tin can.

Lonesome was lying at his feet while Cadmus sat in his command chair at the instrument console. Lonesome was too busy gnawing his right front paw to look up at the screen.

Cadmus noticed a small black dot creeping ever so slowly across 3’s face. He figured that was 3b. When he was a child he had been taught that 3b had been inhabited by humans who had destroyed their moon, turning it into a cinder in the sad eye of 3. That was a long time ago, Cadmus reflected, and there are no records or artifacts to provide any evidence of their existence.

Cadmus fed Lonesome and then pulled up the rocking chair next to the window. He picked up his diary and sat down to gaze out. There were more and more white lines zipping silently across his field of vision as hyper-drive ships dropped out of hyperspace into what they deprecatingly called sub-space. The ships were all sorts of shapes and sizes. He liked looking at them as long as he didn’t have to ride in one.

Suddenly a loud and urgent sounding male voice interrupted the reveries of Cadmus:


Cadmus saw a huge white splotch open up in the space-time fabric near his window and a thick white beam of light plunged through it, solidifying into a gigantic space ship hundreds of times the size of his small solar sail ship rushing toward his picture window. He dropped his diary and lunged for the steering controls, knowing he could not possibly change course in time.

“EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!! IMMINENT LIFE-THREATENING DANGER!” the loudspeaker blared repeatedly while the instruments flashed in synch.

A moment before impact, the bow of the huge ship started to rise, exposing its vast hull which filled the picture window.

The loudspeaker went silent and the instruments stopped flashing, returning to their normal displays.

Cadmus broke out in a cold sweat. Lonesome was whimpering. He looked around him and listened for hissing or other tell-tale signs that something was wrong. He heard nothing. He slowly scanned each instrument to see whether all systems were nominal. They seemed to be. He checked his course plot. This was definitely the course he had been given by the flight authorities. He’d copy the logs and send them to the flight authority to find out what or who went wrong.

Lonesome nudged his leg. Cadmus looked down and saw a small yellow puddle near his foot. Cadmus took a paper towel and soaked up the mess. He tossed the wet towel into the disposal and took Lonesome for a walk to calm him down.

After Lonesome returned to his normal care-free self, Cadmus sat back down in his rocker and picked up his diary, opening it to the pages squeezing the ribbon. He wrote:

Day 268: Today Lonesome and I had a pretty close call.


Chapter 4: Draco.763.3 Terminal
The Draco.763.3 Terminal slid smoothly into view on the screen in front of Cadmus. Soon he could see all the docked and docking ships. Some of the logos and colors he could identify but there were many that he couldn’t. He wondered where they’d dock his ship.

Cadmus saw the command feed start to display on his running log and the delayed auto-responses of his ship displayed, not that he understood anything because it was all encoded in Base-64.

The ship altered course and maneuvered widely around the orbiting terminal until an extended spoke came into view. The ship slowly approached an empty portal lock next to a very large hyper-drive passenger ship with many long rows of windows, each the size of his picture window. Cadmus could see people filing out of the large ship into the mostly transparent extension spoke toward the terminal hub. That couldn’t be the bully ship that almost ran him over a couple of days ago, he said out loud to Lonesome who was gazing out the picture window. They’d probably docked and disembarked already a couple of days ago. It still made him mad to think about it. Cadmus decided he’d have that pilot’s license on a platter.

Cadmus could feel a slight shiver as his massive solar sails folded themselves into the side pockets of the ship. The ship glided ever so slowly, turning clockwise to synch with the portal lock, and he felt a small jolt as the ship’s forward motion came to a complete stop. There was a slight relaxation of mechanical joints.

Cadmus took Lonesome for one more walk before disembarking. He went to his hammock to retrieve his backpack, set the controls to power off after he left the ship, and walked out into the passageway with Lonesome at his side and the pack on his back.

In a little while, a tug would come by and release the ship from the portal lock. Then the tug would guide the powered-off ship to an orbiting long-term parking area. A tug would bring it back to a portal lock when it was time for Cadmus to leave 3.

Lonesome didn’t seem to know where to sniff first. There was so much new for him to discover. He tensed up when he saw other animals his size or bigger. People were pretty much friendly to him and he reciprocated in his own way, while others were afraid of him or disgusted. Some of the people were probably robots. Cadmus couldn’t tell the difference, not that it mattered, as long as they behaved themselves, but Lonesome could certainly tell the difference.

The passage tread moved at a decent clip toward the central hub. Cadmus could read and hear the signs with avatars speaking via directed sound waves to each passenger in his own language as he or she passed. This one told him the entry control was straight ahead, Sapiens to the left, Rationals to the right, and robots straight ahead. He saw tall blue humanoids veering to the right, normal looking people and abnormal looking objects moving straight ahead. Cadmus veered left. He hoped the terminal officials wouldn’t give him any trouble over Lonesome.

Cadmus arrived at an available screen. A pleasant looking female Rational avatar greeted him from a screen. “Welcome to the 3 system,” the avatar said.

“Thanks for letting me visit,” Cadmus answered.

“Do you have any baggage,” the avatar asked.

“Just my backpack,” Cadmus said pulling it off his back.

“Please hold it up for object and spectral analysis,” the avatar requested politely. There was a flash. “You may return the pack to your back,” which he did.

“I assume you will be shuttling down to 3a,” the avatar asked.

“Yes,” Cadmus confirmed, “my dagu and I will need shuttle space going down to 3a.” He thought it funny that the Rational avatars and screens speaking a Sapien dialect were programmed by robots.

“You may want to get a change of clothes and boots and a new backpack,” the avatar suggested.

“Why?” he asked wondering what was wrong with the clothes he had on. “I have a change of clothes in my backpack.”

The avatar explained to him that Sapien-made objects would not be accessible to him in the higher order spaces.

He had no clue what she was talking about. “Can you explain that to me in words that a Sapien might understand?” he asked.

“If you would prefer not to walk around in the hotel lobby naked and without your backpack you’d better purchase some higher order dimensional clothes and backpack,” the avatar suggested. “There are a few stores near the shuttle gates.”

“Please prepare yourself for the DNA spectral analysis flash,” the avatar warned gently. After the flash, the avatar asked Cadmus to make sure his dagu remained calm while it was flashed. Cadmus kneeled down and held Lonesome’s head near his heart to calm him with his heartbeat. There was a brief flash. A second or two later Lonesome barked indignantly.

“Your dagu’s protest has been duly noted,” the avatar said joking pleasantly. The avatar’s image was replaced by a message on the screen saying that Lonesome and Cadmus could now proceed to the shuttle area.

Cadmus entered the first clothing store he encountered. He picked out a couple of pairs of pants, shirts, socks, and boots that appeared to be his size. He went into a dressing room to change clothes while Lonesome’s proboscis pushed through the curtain. He found a backpack big enough to put his old backpack inside it. At the register, he asked the salesman whether all his purchases were high order dimension accessible. The salesman looked down at Cadmus and at the clothes, shoes, and backpack he was wearing and answered disdainfully, or so it seemed to him, “Certainly.”

When he left the store he read the Destinations screen carefully, looking for Draco.763.3a Sector 225.60, and saw that it would depart in another 20 minutes from portal 72X. They walked into the open area and looked around for Gate 72X.

Cadmus and Lonesome walked through the portal and found two empty seats. Cadmus strapped himself in and then strapped Lonesome in.

Lonesome looked around the shuttle cabin and sniffed the passenger’s face next to him. The passenger unstrapped himself, got up, and found another seat. Cadmus felt embarrassed.

A few moments later a voice over the loudspeaker told the passengers and crew to prepare for departure. The shuttle shoved away from the portal lock gently and the planet below slid out of the window frame as the shuttle maneuvered into position for the short trip to the terraformed moon 3a.

After twenty minutes the blue and green moon came into view. You could see thin wisps of white clouds floating over parts of the moon. Cadmus had read that there was little evidence of industrialization on this moon. The inhabitants, mostly Rationals, left a very small footprint on their natural environment. When the Sapiens asked to build resort hotels and shops to encourage tourism, the native Rationals insisted in no uncertain terms that Sapiens follow Rational guidelines. Sapien businessmen felt that stubborn insistence would discourage investment and tourism, but the opposite turned out to be true. 3a was one of the most popular tourist spots in Draco.763. It was a lovely moon in spite of its popularity, inspiring poets and artists from all over the solar system.

Cadmus felt a slight bumpiness as the shuttle entered the first layers of atmosphere. When they came through the clouds they saw verdant rolling meadows, gentle hills, and valleys with sparkling streams meandering.

The shuttle came down in an open field near a stand of trees whose leaves shimmered in the gentle breeze.

The passengers disembarked. Lonesome relieved himself beside one of the metal ground supports and Cadmus looked around, turning 360 degrees very slowly.

“Where are we?” Cadmus asked one of the flight attendants who happened to be quite a bit taller than him and blue. “Where are the hotels?”

The attendant turned to him and said, “You’ll see,” smiling.


Chapter 5: Check-in
A gentle breeze blew over the meadow and rustled the leaves on the trees in the stand nearby. It was good to breathe air that hadn’t been endlessly recycled, to plant one’s feet firmly on solid ground, and to gaze out to the horizon as far as the eye could see. Cadmus thought Lonesome probably felt the same way he did about it all. The dagu was sniffing the grasses in a lazy eight pattern.

He looked at the attendant. She was rather attractive in an exotic sort of way. She was tall, a good head taller than him, and thin but not too thin. She looked like she could handle herself in a fray if she had to. And then there was the fact that she was blue, cobalt blue, from head to toe, he supposed. She wore a one-piece flight suit, also blue, that didn’t leave much to the imagination.

He glanced at the others. There were a hundred Sapiens and five Rationals milling around the shuttle.

The attendant spoke without moving her lips. She said, “Please follow me to that stand of trees over there,” where she was pointing. They walked over and entered the small woods where they stood in a clearing of dappled shade. They saw a row of ten chairs locked together. Each chair had a body harness.

The attendant asked the Sapiens how many had visited them before. Twenty-five raised their hands.

Then she asked how many knew how to go perpendicular without the chairs. Five raised their hands. “OK,” she said, “you can go on ahead of the rest of us. The first step is that flat white rock by that tree over there.” She pointed at an inconspicuous flat white rock next to an inconspicuous tree.

The attendant turned to the rest of the passengers and said, “OK, we can take ten at a time.”

Cadmus was watching the first of the five-steps onto the rock, flip over, and disappear. The second did the same and disappeared! He stopped the attendant and asked her, “What’s happening?”

She said, “Please be patient. Everything is OK and I’ll explain it all to you.”

It was disconcerting to him that she spoke without moving her lips.

The attendant asked one of the remaining twenty passengers who had visited before to show Mister. “What is your name?” she asked him.

“My name is Cadmus,” he answered.

“To show Cadmus,” she continued again, “how it’s done, but please come back to us as soon as you arrive to prove that no harm came to you; otherwise, he won’t trust us or our chairs.”

After the fifth of the first group of passengers stepped on the rock, flipped over, and disappeared, one of the second group sat down on one of the chairs and strapped himself in while the last group of first-timers watched with heightened interest.

The attendant addressed the third group of passengers, “We usually host an orientation session after everyone checks in, finds their rooms, and has an opportunity to look around, but Cadmus would like to understand what he’s getting into before he takes the plunge.”

All the Sapiens laughed politely.

“Simply put,” she began, “it’s like the hyperdrive ships in which you came.”

“I didn’t come here in a hyperdrive ship,” Cadmus said feeling a bit contrarian. “I came in a solar sail ship.”

Everyone turned to look at him. Even Lonesome looked up at his strange companion.

“I understand,” she said softly. “These are hyper-chairs. You strap yourself in and they reorient you so that you are perpendicular to the three-dimensional volume to which you are accustomed into another three-dimensional volume to which you are unaccustomed.”

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“We live in this world on which you are standing,” she explained, “but in more dimensions than you can fathom. Our buildings and environment exist in higher dimensions.”

“Is there something bothering you Cadmus?” the attendant asked sympathetically.

“It’s just that I saved up for this trip,” he said sadly, “and it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to see or do anything since you all live in this higher dimension.”

“That’s not exactly what I said,” she smiled. “We live in every dimension that exists, at least the ones about which we are aware. Of course, there may be others. We can transport you into higher dimensions but you will only be aware of three at a time, what may be called your local volume.

“You will see one of your fellow passengers sit down in the chair, strap himself to it, and when he is ready the chair will twist forward with the passenger.

“You will perceive him to disappear but he will only disappear from your local volume. The procedure is perfectly safe. In a moment you will see him come back to your volume.”

The Sapien strapped himself into the chair and looked up at the attendant.

“Is everyone ready for the demonstration?” she asked.

“I am,” the strapped-in Sapien said. Cadmus and everyone else had their eyes on him.

“You can go,” she said, “but please come right back.”

He pressed a button on the arm of the chair, his chair flipped forward, and he and the chair were nowhere to be seen.

“When is he supposed to…” Cadmus asked.

Suddenly the chair reappeared with the grinning passenger strapped in.

“…come back?” Cadmus stuttered and then said “oh.”

“Do you feel a little more comfortable now?” the attendant smiled at him.

“What about my dagu, Lonesome,” he asked.

“Not a problem,” she said brightly. “He can sit next to you or on your lap. You should cover his eyes before going perpendicular. You should probably close your own eyes too.”

“I’ll let everyone go before us,” Cadmus said generously. “I wouldn’t want to slow anyone down or spoil anything.”

The second group sat down and flipped out ten at a time. Then the third group sat down ten at a time. The only ones left were Cadmus, Lonesome, and the Rationals. They all sat down. Lonesome jumped onto his companion’s lap facing him. He held the dagu’s head to his chest and put his hand over his open eye. The attendant checked their straps and smiled at him. Cadmus closed his eyes.

When he opened his eyes he saw a beautiful hotel lobby made of glass and light.

The attendant unstrapped them and pointed at a glass counter a few meters away from the chairs. “Do you see the female behind the counter over there?” she asked Cadmus.

He nodded.

“She will help you both check in to your rooms.”


Chapter 6: People Who Live in Glass Hotels
Cadmus watched the attendant walk away from him until she blended in with the crowd of noisy Sapiens and quiet Rationals and robots. Some of the robots looked like Sapiens and a few others looked like Rationals, but they acted differently than either of them. He couldn’t put his finger on it. Some of the robots didn’t look like anything he’d ever seen before.

He looked around at the huge glass walls of the hotel lobby. He saw several glass elevator shafts on each wall with glass cabins containing people moving up or down or other directions altogether. Some of the glass walls were transparent, creating the illusion that people on the other side were walking or sitting on air. Some of the glass walls were mirrored, reflecting the opposite mirrored walls to infinity. Some of the walls were enormous glass screens covered with all sorts of information, graphic art, and images.

One wall displayed an image of the female behind the counter whom the attendant had pointed out to him. The female image spoke to him incoherent audio waves saying, “Hello Cadmus. Are you feeling well? Whenever you are ready, you may come to the counter in front of you and I will help you check into your rooms.”

He smiled with embarrassment at the woman behind the counter who was staring at him. “OK, Lonesome, it’s time we got ourselves checked in,” he said to the dagu still sitting on his lap. Lonesome turned around and jumped off. They walked over to the glass counter.

“Hello Cadmus,” the hotel clerk said. “I trust you have had a pleasant trip so far.”

“It was OK,” he answered, “but a little long. We took the scenic route.”

“Do you have any special informational, social, sanitary, dietary, wake-up or sleeping requirements?” she asked pleasantly.

“I suppose your hotel is connected to the infosphere like everyone else?” he asked.

“Yes of course,” she said. “Everywhere you go in the city you will be connected automatically.”

“My dagu likes synthetic meat and will need to relieve himself at night,” Cadmus looked down at Lonesome and scratched the scruff of his neck just behind his ears the way he liked it. The dagu leaned into his hand and his right hind leg began to thump the glass floor.

“Certainly,” the clerk responded. “We’ll have your dagu’s food sent up to your room. There’s a flushable space in your room that will remind him of your back yard in which he can roam around and relieve himself. As soon as he leaves it, it will flush away everything including the smells.

Your room number is 142857. You may take the hyper-vator over there to the 142nd floor. When you get out, just follow the arrows.”

“Do I get a card or something to open the door?” he asked.

“No,” the clerk laughed prettily, “the door has been programmed just for your hand and your dagu’s paw.”

Cadmus turned to look for the hyper-vator she had indicated and turned back to thank her.

“Do you need any help with that backpack,” she asked.

“No thanks,” he said and then to Lonesome, “come on boy.”

“Oh, and one more thing,” she called to his back. He stopped and turned around to face her. “Pay attention to the signs. Don’t go anywhere by yourselves that says ‘Rationals only’. You might never find your way back. Make sure you have a Rational to guide you.”

He wondered about her warning. He wasn’t blind, you know. He guessed it was because he couldn’t see beyond his three-dimensional volume. In their world, he must be considered partially blind. He said, “OK, thanks” and turned back toward the hyper-vator.

Cadmus and Lonesome walked over to the hyper-vator. He entered “142” on the keyboard. In a few moments, the glass door opened and they entered the glass cabin. He saw the glass lobby and the female clerk quickly fall away and the glass floors rush past them. Although he knew the cabin was going up, the inertial vector felt like they were moving diagonally or sideways. He didn’t know whether or not he could trust the sensations of his body anymore.

The cabin slowed and stopped. The glass doors opened and they stepped outside into a glass hallway. The walls displayed flashing arrows pointing down the hall to the left. They walked to the end of the hall. The arrows turned the corner to the right. Halfway down the hallway, a door was flashing. The door was numbered 142.

Cadmus saw no handle to twist so he put the palm of his hand on the door and it slid open. They entered tentatively. Lonesome sniffed around while his companion explored the rooms.

The walls had running information and data flowing down them, information about everything he could imagine: how to adjust the lighting, translucence of the walls, heating, coolness, wallpaper, softness or hardness of the beds and chairs, the time and alarms, music, news, programs, meals and snacks, events, and guided tours, to name a few. There were avatars of a concierge and hotel clerk among others.

Cadmus explored the rooms of his suite. He threw his backpack onto one of the glass chairs. He half expected something to break but it didn’t. He pushed his hand into the glass chair cushion and it felt unexpectedly soft. He walked over to the glass bed and sat down on it and it was soft too. He’d heard of smart glass before but this was genius glass.

He looked around for Lonesome but couldn’t see him. Then he saw him coming out of a glass box and heard a soft flushing sound. The dagu seemed relieved. Cadmus bent down and looked into the glass box. There was a large garden with grasses and stepping stones, flowers and tall leafy trees, and a lovely gazebo, all this in a glass box not much bigger than the dagu.

He found his own bathing and elimination room. There was a glass shower stall with water spray and dry air nozzles, and soap and shampoo dispensers.

There was a large mirror wall in the bathing room. He looked at himself in the mirror. The image staring back at him was pretty much what he expected to see, but there was something not quite right there.

He decided not to waste time thinking about it.

Cadmus took off his clothes, entered the shower, and turned on the water. The nozzles sprayed pulsing thin streams of water at him from several directions. He shampooed his hair and soaped his body. Then he rinsed himself. He dried himself with the warm air nozzles directing dry air at his body from several directions.

He stepped out of the shower stall, walked out to the chair to retrieve his backpack, and pulled out a clean set of clothes to wear. As he was dressing he looked out the external glass wall at the tall hotels, also glass, the clouds flowing around and between them, and the ghostly pale planet taking up a quarter of the pale blue sky.

Feeling somewhat refreshed, Cadmus looked at the information wall and asked the virtual concierge for a map of the city showing the nearby sites of interest to tourists and any local events around this time of day. The concierge asked him whether he wouldn’t prefer to get something to eat first and then explore the sites. He thought that sounded good so the concierge suggested a restaurant just off the main lobby, and displayed a map with instructions on how to get to it.

He picked up his backpack and walked to the door. Lonesome was already there waiting for him. He opened the door and they walked out into the hallway following the arrows back to the hyper-vator.


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Copyright © Copyright © 2010-2019 by Michael Stone

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