My Sun, Your Moon

The Art of War

Pairings: Shigehiro/Tamaki. One sided Aomine/Tamaki

Warnings: AU Universe. OOC. Gender swap. Nice Akashi. Humble sibling Rakuzan. Some character bashing.

Disclaimer: I do not own Kuroko no Basuke and any of the characters, but the OC characters belongs to me

Chapter Eight: The Art of War

"There is nothing more dangerous than a skilled team who knew us inside out." - Kuroko Tamaki

XXXXXX

Akashi said quite a lot when the entire Rakuzan team had met up for dinner at the attached restaurant in the hotel that they are staying in throughout the duration for the Inter High and the Winter Cup.

It had of course raised Akashi's suspicions when it had been Shigehiro who had sent a message to Coach Shirogane hours earlier that an emergency had cropped up, and that they (Tamaki and Shigehiro) wouldn't be meeting the team at their usual training facility, but at the hotel's restaurant for dinner.

While every single regular of the Rakuzan team had their coach's number saved in their phones' contacts for emergency purposes, typically, only Tamaki contacts their coach regularly via email or phone whether it is for match or team updates, or even to keep the coach updated on the scheduling of practice matches.

The entire team's eyes had gone wide (along with their coach), when both Tamaki and Shigehiro have entered the hotel's restaurant, and were both ushered to their usual table by the waiter, seeing a thick white bandage bound around Tamaki's forehead, and with bandages around Shigehiro's lower arms.

Their first thought had been that the two teens got into some scuffle or a fight—this isn't too uncommon, especially during the tournament season. Regulars of prominent teams like Rakuzan, Kaijo and even Yosen often found themselves ambushed by the members of rival teams if they happen to be alone.

At least until Shigehiro had explained the entire thing to his team as Tamaki was albeit too reluctant to tell her team about some of the details, knowing perfectly well that her cousin would overreact.

Akashi blew when the Rakuzan team were on their way to the AV room in the hotel after their dinner to hold their strategy meeting for their match against Touou in two days.

The hotel that they stayed in is a popular place for athletes from far away regions to stay in whenever it is time for the tournament season. When the Olympics or even the Youth Games were held in Japan, this particular hotel was even swamped with reservations. Especially since they don't just have hotel rooms for their guests, but also training facilities, a spa, and even AV rooms and meeting rooms.

"That's it." Akashi's eyes were flashing murder as Shigehiro recounted what had happened, and why there is even a fight in the first place. "Touou is toast in two days. I don't care what we have to do—I'm going to flatten them!" He declared.

Coach Shirogane doesn't look too pleased either upon hearing that two of his players were set upon by Touou's own ace that basically resulted in his manager and vice-captain possibly suffering from a head concussion. Fortunately, Shigehiro had insisted that his injuries were merely superficial at best, and the only reason that he got the bandages around his arms were so that the medication that were applied to his injuries doesn't get washed off accidentally or even get his wounds infected by bacteria.

The coach however was pleased with how Tamaki had handled the situation, and had also agreed that it might be the best for both teams. Touou's coach had also been an old acquaintance of his during his days as a member of Japan's National team, and he didn't want to make trouble for his old friend.

"I swear… His temper and attitude seems to be even worse than when we were in Teiko, and I didn't even think that it's possible." Tamaki sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose to ease her headache, and trying to resist the urge to massage her temples. "My head hurts…"

As one, the entire team stared at her with concern even as Tamaki swiped the card reader next to the door of the AV room with the card key that had been given to them when they've gotten rooms at the hotel as guests.

"Tamaki, we don't have to do the strategy meeting tonight if you're not feeling up to it. We can do it tomorrow if you like." Coach Shirogane suggested, though he already knew what Tamaki would say even before she opened her mouth. Much like her cousin and nearly all his regulars, she lived and breathed for basketball.

"No, I'll be fine. And we need the regulars that would be playing in the match against Touou to know exactly what they would be up against and what to expect." Tamaki answered even as she opened the door of the AV room and entered, with the rest of the team following her in. Shigehiro who is right behind Tamaki turned on the lights as he did so.

Silently, the team sat in the chairs around the round table in the center of the room—even Coach Shirogane as they waited patiently for Tamaki's verdict.

With just how long that Tamaki had been in their team, they knew that she wouldn't come out with a match strategy until at least the night before the match. Today's meeting would just be to brief them all on Touou's strengths and weaknesses and what to look out for. And seeing as how they had a member of the Generation of Miracles too, it isn't too surprising either.

"All right, Tamaki-chan." Hayama grinned as the team made themselves comfortable, with Shirogane sitting in a corner of the room as usual. He generally allows the captain and vice-captain to take overall command and control of the team, but would step in if needed. "Spill. What do you have for us?"

"Overall, Touou's regulars are still the same from last year save for two new additions—their Shooting Guard, Sakurai Ryou; and Power Forward, Aomine Daiki of the Generation of Miracles." Tamaki begun, flipping through her notebook for the notes that she'd made on Touou though she really doesn't need it. "And like what we'd seen from some of Touou's past match videos, their power level had shot up tremendously as compared to last year with just the addition of Aomine Daiki."

"He's a monster as a PF." Shigehiro grunted, not wanting to remember just how badly that Aomine had trounced him during the last championship league match. As a fellow PF and also their ace, Shigehiro had been the one to face Aomine for Meiko. "And most likely, he had grown stronger from the last time when I'd faced him in middle school."

"Yeah, like every single member of the Generation of Miracles." Akashi murmured, arms crossed over his chest. Hell, he had captained the Teiko team for three years with Tamaki as his vice-captain. He knew better than anyone else what they're capable of and what they could do. They aren't christened as the Generation of Miracles for nothing.

Mibuchi frowned. Rakuzan had faced Touou last year during the qualifying rounds for the Winter Cup. It was just Touou's bad luck that they end up facing Rakuzan who had been the reigning champion for the three major basketball tournaments for the past decade. Thus, the Crownless Generals on the team knew what the older Touou players could do and what they're capable of.

Wakamatsu Kousuke had been in their year, and thus, is also a high school freshman last year, but he had also been a regular on the Touou basketball team. And one thing that Mibuchi could agree on with his fellow Crownless Generals last year had been that Wakamatsu's talent as a Center is overwhelming. He is still no match for Nebuya last year, but give him time, and Mibuchi wouldn't be surprised if the hot headed blonde could match Nebuya in their upcoming match or even next year. Hell, he could probably even match Kiyoshi's skill as a Center.

"We know of the prowess of the current second and third years in the team." Nebuya grunted. "We've faced them in a match last year. I think that the current Touou captain is Imayoshi, that damned tanuki." He grumbled, recalling the constant smiling guy that made him wish that violence isn't prohibited on the court.

Hayama and Mibuchi barely stifled their chuckles, and even Akashi, Tamaki, Shigehiro, Mayuzumi and Shirogane barely hid their amusement. Clearly, Nebuya isn't fond of the current Touou captain, and Tamaki could guess why. The Touou captain's personality is full of tricks and lies. Probably why he could keep a rowdy team like Touou under control, particularly with the addition of Aomine.

"Ability wise, I think that you can deal with the current second and third years on the Touou team with no problem." Tamaki said, barely hiding a smile. "But we have more to worry about than just the players in Touou." She announced, much to the entire team's astonishment—even Shirogane. Akashi however knew what Tamaki meant, and he frowned.

"What do you mean?" Mayuzumi asked, speaking up for the first time that day.

Hell, the senior is normally so quiet that you wouldn't see him talking to anyone but just Shigehiro and Tamaki, and occasionally Akashi. Hayama however seemed to make it his life mission to make 'Chi-chan' socialise more, much to the senior's annoyance and Tamaki's amusement. Nebuya couldn't be any happier as the more that Hayama spend time pestering Mayuzumi, the less that he would rile Nebuya up just for the sake of it.

"Their manager." Shigehiro was the one to answer, having recognised the pink haired girl sitting on Touou's bench as Teiko's first string manager during his middle school days. "She had been your manager during your Teiko days, right, Tamaki, Seijuro?"

Akashi nodded solemnly. "Without a doubt, Touou owe their overwhelming success in matches thus far due to her skills, and not just due to putting Daiki on the court when he is late to matches half the time."

"How dangerous is she?" Mibuchi frowned, knowing better than to doubt both Akashi and Tamaki's words, especially if Touou's manager had been their manager when they were in Teiko.

"She is an analyzer." Tamaki answered. "In my case, I gather information and read the opponents' habits, mannerisms and their characteristics to come up with a strategy depending on how they would think and behave—including their coach. I can also calculate their future growth and how they would react when faced with a particular situation. But Satsuki can't read human body language like I do. What she does is to collect data on her opponents and calculate how they would react and even calculate future growth." Tamaki told her team, much to their shock. "She is a formidable person to have as an enemy." She warned. "That's why the first thing that we have to do here is to disable Touou's information gathering channels. Or more specifically, Satsuki's."

"Can you do it, Tamaki?" Shirogane spoke up for the first time, having listened with interest as to what the Touou manager could be capable of, and how her information gathering skills differs from Tamaki's.

"Yes." Tamaki nodded firmly. "In the first place, she gained some of her current information networks through me. We both learned how to research opponents and draw up training menus and such at Teiko. It is just that we are both vastly different in terms of the approaches that we use as our respective teams' strategists. I take a more hands-on route whilst Satsuki's is more calculated." She reasoned. "For her other information networks, I can still disable it. But she is still sneaky enough to protect some of it. However, her information won't be complete. Besides, Touou had that match with Kaijo earlier, so chances are that she wouldn't start collecting info on Rakuzan until tonight."

There was silence for a long time before Nebuya snickered. "I would love to see her face when she realised that you've blocked off most of her information channels."

"Most probably, Satsuki had guessed that is what Tama would do." Akashi interrupted, a thoughtful look on his face. "Both Satsuki and Tama were the ones that we depended on to get information on our opponents back in Teiko. The strategies that we use in matches are generally thought up by Tama. During Teiko, our play generally revolves around our strategies and my and Tama's combination play. At least until our third year." Akashi looked ashamed at that.

He had mostly sat out of matches during their third year due to the numerous problems that the club had been having. Tamaki was also run ragged during that year, with her status as the vice-captain of the basketball club and their strategist. Both cousins were under tremendous stress during their third year that nearly every single member of the club was wary of setting them off and causing them to snap.

The championship league match against Meiko Middle was the final straw however, and Akashi had lost his temper for the first time in his life. It had also been the reason why the once close friendship that the Generation of Miracles had once shared is never quite the same after that.

"Can she do anything against your information channels?" Mibuchi asked with concern, looking at Tamaki.

"No. Because I don't have one." Tamaki said simply, relishing in the bewildered looks on the faces of her teammates. "I get my information via the scouts and spies that our team has and on match videos that I analysed and studied. But regardless, Touou is probably going to be the toughest team that we will ever get to face in the Inter High." She added, flipping through the pages of her notebook. "There is nothing more dangerous than a skilled team who knew us inside out. Back in Teiko when we were still finding our feet, Satsuki had saved us countless times with her role as our manager. I can probably predict how Touou would react and what they would do as I know how Satsuki thinks. It is Aomine that is of concern here."

"His style is that of street ball, from what I remember." Shigehiro mused. Hell, he had played enough street ball in his youth with Akashi and Tamaki. Their current basketball styles are derived from the style of street ball. "It is extremely unpredictable. Even you can only go so far trying to predict his movements."

"Yes, but we can predict his thinking." Akashi said thoughtfully, tapping his lower chin with his index finger. "Daiki has a one-track mind—he simply goes after the strongest player in the team like a shark after blood." He told his team bluntly. "And in our upcoming match, he wouldn't even go near me. So most likely, the person that he would go after…" His eyes trailed towards his side where Shigehiro is sitting. As one, the rest of his team followed suit.

"Ogiwara." Nebuya murmured in surprise.

He thought for sure that this Aomine guy would go after Akashi, as he's the captain of Rakuzan, and not to mention also Aomine's former captain when they were in Teiko. And then again, no one is suicidal enough to go after Japan's best Point Guard. Furthermore, from what Akashi and Tamaki have described so far, Akashi's style doesn't seem to be a good match up against Aomine who seems to take delight in testing himself against formidable opponents.

"If I had been playing, he most likely would have gone after me instead." Tamaki added. "But unfortunately, I still can't play in matches." The teal haired girl tried to ignore Coach Shirogane's amused look. "That's why…" Tamaki looked at her boyfriend. "Shige-kun, can you handle him?"

Shigehiro had a dark look in his eyes that spoke of murder. Probably, he not only wants to get revenge against Aomine for the humiliation that his middle school team had suffered; but also revenge against Aomine for hurting Tamaki.

"Yeah, I can handle him." Shigehiro murmured. "Touou will be toast in this upcoming match." He promised, his eyes being one of murder.

Silently, every single member of Rakuzan thanked whatever gods that were watching over them that they are players of Rakuzan and not Touou. None of them would want to be a Touou player right about now.

XXXXXX

Coach Shirogane had dedicated an entire day to training the next day; Mayuzumi included, but had agreed to let his regulars have a day off the day before the Inter High finals match.

From their experience during past tournaments, Akashi and Tamaki have both learned that their regulars perform better if their bodies and minds were well rested the day before a major match, and not worn down from practice.

During their first two years at Teiko, Tamaki often had to get Satsuki to stick to Aomine like glue to make sure that the basketball idiot don't practice on his own when Akashi had forbidden every single regular from even touching a basketball just for one day.

Akashi however would be watching over Rakuzan's training with Coach Shirogane as Tamaki had specifically told them that she wanted to have an entire day to complete her file on Touou, and to come up with a few match strategies in case one failed. As strategies had been Tamaki's job from day one, Coach Shirogane had agreed, but had reminded her to take a break if she needs to.

The hotel staff have even promised Coach Shirogane to send up food and drinks for Tamaki so that she wouldn't forget to eat and drink. Hayama thankfully had bought a rubber bone for Aoi some days back, and the little dog toy is enough for Aoi to amuse himself with. And thus, Tamaki could work on her part in peace.

The regulars of Rakuzan however are still wondering how the hell Tamaki could manage to get match videos of literally every single match that Touou had played that year—including practice matches.

Thus, when the entire Rakuzan team had arrived back at their hotel at 6PM, tired, smelly but feeling pretty good about themselves, and couldn't find Tamaki in her room, Shigehiro knew immediately where she is. As Akashi had a small meeting with Shirogane, and the three Crownless Generals just want to sleep the entire night away, Shigehiro had headed straight for the AV room with Mayuzumi next to him—with the silver haired senior being the one that Akashi had asked to deliver some notes of their training that day to Tamaki.

Both boys knew that Tamaki is inside the AV room that had been assigned to them when they have arrived in Tokyo for the Inter High, as dim lights could be seen filtering out from the gap in between the door and the floor. But as they couldn't enter the AV room without the card key, Shigehiro knocked on the door, and both waited patiently for a few moments before the door swung opened.

A tired looking Tamaki stood at the doorway. And just behind her, the large plasma television mounted on the wall was paused on the video image of a basketball game. The image on the screen is currently on that of Aomine Daiki who had a devious smirk on his face.

"Hey. You're back." Tamaki nodded to the two as she allowed them to enter, with the door automatically swinging shut behind them. Aoi is snoozing in a corner with his head resting on his front paws, and Shigehiro smiled at the adorable sight. "How is it?"

"I think we've done all that we could." Shigehiro answered even as Mayuzumi handed Tamaki a stack of notes silently, even as the two boys dropped themselves into chairs on Tamaki's either side.

Tamaki nodded absently even as she flipped through the notes that Akashi had made of the training that day. She was inwardly relieved with the notes on Mayuzumi's training, as it seemed to be going well. Hopefully, they can put him on the court once time comes for the Winter Cup.

"How are things going on your side?" Mayuzumi asked curiously, raising a brow when he saw the notebook on the low table next to Tamaki, along with a box filled with tapes. The notebook is opened, and he saw extremely detailed notes made on the Touou team, and even drawn graphs.

"I'm done with my analysing on the other members of the Touou team. They're not all that difficult to figure out honestly. I've just started on Aomine not long ago. He will be a tough opponent, but not impossible to figure out." Tamaki replied as she pressed the play button on the remote control.

Shigehiro and Mayuzumi were both silent for several moments as they watch Tamaki stare at the screen with intensity in her gaze, a pen in her left hand as it hovered above the page of the notebook that she had opened on her lap. Both boys were one of the few that had seen Tamaki play before—Shigehiro when they were kids and then later in middle school, and Mayuzumi because he had seen some of Teiko's matches in the past.

That girl turns the basic common sense and conception of basketball upside down. You won't want her as your enemy. Even her strategies used in matches were often covered with layers upon layers of manipulation, careful calculation and traps. Their opponents often didn't even realise that they were already ensnared in her trap until it's too late, even if they knew what she could do.

Kuroko Tamaki didn't become the second-in-command for three years running during her Teiko years for nothing.

"Their style is pretty similar to ours." Mayuzumi noted after half-an-hour when Tamaki kept rewinding and playing the tape and writing something in her notebook that neither boy could see. "We're an offensive team too, and so are they."

"Yes, but our styles are completely different." Tamaki said, pausing the video and writing something in her notebook for several long minutes. Finally, she snapped her notebook shut and turned around to face the two boys, also turning on the room lights with an automatic remote that she had on the table. "You're right in saying that Touou is an offensive team just like Rakuzan. But our play styles are entirely different."

Shigehiro frowned, furrowing his brows as he remembered what he'd seen of Touou's match against Tsubakikawa and then the match videos that Tamaki had been watching in preparation for their match against Touou. "Are you referring to the fact that theirs is independent play?" he enquired.

Tamaki nodded. "Each and every single player play for themselves on the court in Touou," she remarked. "They score themselves and get the ball themselves. There is no team play in Touou." She shifted her glance from face to face. "And up until a few months ago, Rakuzan is the same way too. Also, in Touou, their play mainly revolves around Aomine." She pointed with her pen at the screen behind her—having figured out Touou's style nearly two minutes into their match against Tsubakikawa the day before.

"But in Rakuzan, it's different." Mayuzumi realised. Tamaki not only taught him basketball and how to create his own style. She had drilled him in basketball strategies too. To the point where he could be the second Point Guard of the team after Akashi. "Our play styles can typically revolve around any player in the team, depending on what we need. But most of our styles revolves around either Akashi or Ogiwara, depending on the type of strategy that we would be using."

The Rakuzan team had trained to the point of exhaustion in order to achieve that, but the results were extremely satisfying for all of them, Coach Shirogane and even their school principal who liked seeing the various championship trophies being displayed in his office.

Tamaki nodded. "Without a doubt, even without her usual network channels, Satsuki is bound to come up with something. Furthermore, she went to school with Sei and me for three years. She had been our manager furthermore when we were in Teiko," she said. "She knows what I can do. So we have to confuse Touou by switching in between strategies and formations every few minutes into the game." Tamaki explained. "Touou will be wary of us, and would use Aomine, their top scorer to score as much as they could. And undoubtedly, Aomine would focus on you." She looked at Shigehiro.

"That guy's short tempered and doesn't really think much. He typically relies on his instincts." Shigehiro said slowly, recalling his own match against Aomine, and what he'd seen of Touou's match against Tsubakikawa.

"In contrast to him, you actually think before you make a move." Mayuzumi said with a smirk. Hell, you don't become the best friend of Japan's top junior shogi player and not learn a few strategy tricks. Hell, even hotheaded Nebuya had learned to think up of strategies before making his moves by now.

"And Touou and Aomine himself wouldn't be expecting that definitely." Shigehiro said with a grin. He already had a few ideas in mind on how to deal with Touou and Aomine, but Tamaki's idea is more interesting—to switch between strategies and formations every few minutes.

"I'll fill the rest of the team in tomorrow on the regulars of Touou and what to expect from them, but overall, I don't think that we'll have much trouble if we stick to the plan." Tamaki concluded, gathering up her things. "I took on the role as Rakuzan's vice captain and manager. And in doing so, I made a promise to bring this team to the peak and to be the best that they could be. Touou wouldn't show any mercy to us. So we shouldn't either. Besides, I'm going to be pretty pissed if we lose to them."

XXXXXX

It was the first time for Mayuzumi, but all of Rakuzan knew that when Akashi and Tamaki were unsmiling and talking in low tones to each other—that had been their game faces. The two Rakuzan leaders kept it up all the way until it came time for them to deliver their pre game strategy session despite Tamaki making sure the previous night that all of them remembered what she had told them.

Coach Shirogane usually leave it up to the captain and vice-captain to deliver the pep talk as Akashi could even control the team—from the first to third string even better than he could, though it is usually Tamaki that they turn to whenever they need help and advice.

"I guess I don't really have to say much of anything now." Akashi said solemnly, standing in front of them in the changing room after Tamaki had done a quick debriefing on the match and the strategy that they would be using. "This is it. The Inter High finals. There is no good pretending that this is going to be an easy match, because it won't be. Rakuzan had been the reigning champion for the past decade, and there is more than one school out there that hope to knock Rakuzan off our throne. But no matter how much better we are than them—even if they're a decent seeded school or even an amateur school, we're not going to take this easy. They have the skill and talent to make it to the courts of the Inter High, and we are going to show them the respect for one." Akashi's eyes were sharp as he looked from face to face. "Now let's go out there and show everyone why you don't mess with the Emperor."

"Are you doing all right?" Tamaki whispered to Shigehiro even as the entire team moved as one towards the court, being greeted by the loud cheers from the audience. Her sharp eyes even spied a few familiar school colours—with Kaijo, Yosen and even Shutoku amongst them. She also could have sworn that she saw a few people amongst the audience wearing Teiko jerseys.

"I'm fine." Shigehiro grinned at Tamaki, squeezing her hand in assurance. Neither one of them had gotten the chance to tell Akashi about their change in relationship status yet as the match against Touou is all that they could think of for the past few days. But knowing the redhead, he probably knew, or maybe even guessed. "I'm not going to take my personal vendetta onto the court itself, so don't worry. But he has a lot to answer for, especially for what he'd done."

Tamaki smiled. "I know. I won't deny you from doing that. Just be careful, okay?" she warned, and Shigehiro grinned and nodded.

Tamaki would be on the bench along with Coach Shirogane, Mayuzumi and a few of their reserve players. Even as Coach Shirogane bowed politely to the Touou's coach for before match formalities, Tamaki followed suit, noting that Satsuki looked anxious next to her coach, and only smiled meekly at her best friend, eyes cringing as she saw the white bandages around her forehead.

All of Touou looked extremely guilty even as they warmed up, glancing towards her direction every now and then. Thankfully, Imayoshi had kept Aomine on the other side of the court across from Shigehiro and Akashi to warm up, or blood will be spilt without a doubt, as Tamaki could already see a vein in her cousin's neck, and that Shigehiro seemed to be steadfastly looking away from Aomine—like he is restraining himself from attacking the tanned teen.

"Long time no see." Imayoshi greeted the three Crownless Generals after the before match greeting between the two players of both teams, and they got ready for tip off. "It's been a year. I've been longing to pay you back for the match a year ago." His glasses glinted. "And I see that you've added some new blood into your ranks."

"If this is about our first and second-in-commands being first years, you would do well not to underestimate us or them." Nebuya warned, narrowing his eyes dangerously. As always, the Rakuzan team as a whole turned protective whenever an opposing team mocked them because their leaders have been freshmen. At least until Akashi and Shigehiro showed them what they're capable of.

"We're not going to take you lightly either." Mibuchi smiled. They're no longer the Rakuzan of old that continuously clung to the old slogan that Teiko Middle is famous for—'Always Victory'. "Besides, we're cute little kids as compared to Sei-chan and Hiro-kun. And if you add Tama-chan to the mix, you won't have any chance of winning, even with Aomine on your team. They aren't our leaders for nothing, and neither are they known as the Numbers One and Two players of the basketball circuit for nothing."

"Besides, Tamaki-chan isn't playing today, so you might just stand a chance. Maybe." Hayama shrugged carelessly. "Just a word of warning: just because she isn't playing on the court doesn't mean that she isn't any less dangerous."

Imayoshi narrowed his eyes even as Shigehiro and Susa Yoshinori got ready for tip off.

"Tip off!"

A/N: Not much romance development this chapter, sorry. But as the match against Touou is one that nearly everyone is waiting for, I decide to dedicate most of this chapter towards Rakuzan's preparation for the match against Touou. In canon, Rakuzan often comes off as rude, arrogant and thinks of the players from other schools as the bugs beneath their feet. My portrayal of Rakuzan is different as my Akashi is the nice Akashi, and not to mention that they have Tamaki, Shigehiro and even Mayuzumi in the mix. Tamaki had a hand in their training early on, as she doesn't want Rakuzan to become a second Teiko.

Next chapter: Emperor's Might! Who wants to see Shigehiro and Akashi against Aomine? Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review! Reviews give me inspiration to update!

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