Han glanced at the illuminated sign placed conspicuously above the door, waiting for the inevitable comment.
"'The Rusty Freighter,'" Leia read aloud. "Appropriate."
He opened the plastiglass door, ushering her politely in. "Better watch it, Your Worship." The form of address was quite deliberate--she stillhated it. "The Falcon'snow your ship, too, you know."
"Oops." They stepped into the anti-grav tube, letting it float them to the second-story rooftop. She fought in vain against the smile creeping onto her face. "It's a beautiful ship. Gorgeous. Nothing like it."
"Damn right." They found a small table near the deliberately rustic wooden railing. Han lowered himself gingerly to the chair. It was wooden, too. So was the table. Han looked at the deck. Hot damn. They're really taking their antique theme all the way. Han guessed that they were lucky not to have had to climb stairs.
Leia leaned over the low railing, gazing at the boats bobbing noiselessly at their moorings. "Wind-powered boats." She shook her head. "Do you know how rare those are?"
He nodded. "Nice place, this. Combination of old and new. I can see why Kayka likes it." He directed a shrewd glance at his wife. "Doesn't seem like a place for religious problems, at all. Just what do you know about all this, Leia?"
Leia leaned back, her eyes on the softly-glowing lights of the modernistic structure opposite them which bore the label 'World Aquarium.' "It's cosmopolitan for a RimWorld," she agreed. "Still, it's isolated. Its mineral wealth and heavy industry help, but nothing can erase the fact that it's quite a distance from the Core. That's why it took me so long to get a whiff of these rumors. I should have guessed right then it involved Hareboun, but..."
Her dissertation was drowned out by Anne, whose volume of chittering had steadily mounted since they left the ship. She was attracting much attention from around the rooftop, most of it distinctly unappreciative.
"Will you shut her up?" Han shouted. "What's her problem?"
Leia wrapped one hand around Anne's muzzle, lowering the noise level slightly. "Oh, our unwholesomeness back on the cab. You know she hates for us to be blatantly romantic. She's just like a child--always pouting. It's what she does best."
A battered chunk of metal lay on the railing, possibly intended to be an illustration of the establishment's name. It might not have been a freighter, but it was certainly rusty. Han grabbed it, ostentatiously tossing it up, then catching it. "Maybe she'd like a piece of durasteel down her throat?" he suggested.
"Love it," Leia said frankly. "Steel's what she teethes on. She probably only chews on Corellians as a change of pace; naked durasteel is her real love."
Her attention appeared distracted by a movement at the door. "It's Lisben Rowa!" She released Anne's muzzle and waved her hand to attract the man's attention. The chittering level promptly ascended again. As far as Han was concerned, there would be no problem in attracting anyone'sattention. The entire rooftop full of beings was evidently fascinated by the proceedings.
Leia re-muzzled Anne. "Lisben Rowa could be a real help to us. He was a member of the Freyussian People's Grand Freedom Imperative under Kayka, and joined the Alliance when we merged. He's brilliant and a natural leader." She paused, as though wondering whether to continue. "Maybe there issomething you should know, though. He likes to crush people's skulls."
Han gazed speechlessly at his wife.
"I just want you to know, so it doesn't throw you off if he does it around us."
"It might come as a surprise," Han said carefully. He watched as Rowa took leave of his friends and strode across the wooden decking toward them. He seemed quite hefty. Not hulking, by any means--he was not quite two meters tall--but strongly built. The former Rebel looked quite capable of crushing any number of skulls that he wanted. Han caught sight of a pair of glacial blue eyes surrounded by a set of forceful features. Looks like he might notmind crushing skulls much, either.
"He's really nice, though. It's just a little weakness."
"Why haven't I seen him before?"
"He wasn't on the main base most of the time. While we were on Hoth, he was on that base with the water rats," Leia said vaguely.
"Sounds like a good place for him."
"You remember," she prompted helpfully. "The Imps destroyed that base."
The decreasing distance didn't make the Freyussian look any better to Han. "Smart guys."
"Lisben was one of the few survivors," Leia continued.
"I'm not at all surprised." Han wondered if there were still time to leave. No, he's almost here. Shit. First Hareboun and now a head-crusher. Kayka's right. Itis a tough galaxy.
"Han he's nice,"Leia hissed. She turned to the Freyussian, putting on what Han recognized as her 'diplomat's face.' "Lisben, it's great to see you again. I don't think you've met my husband, Captain Han Solo."
What was unmistakably intended to be a pleasant smile crossed Rowa's strong face. "Princess! I didn't know you were married." He turned to Han, gripping his hands in the traditional Freyussian greeting. "Good to meet you, Captain Solo."
The guy doesn't do fingers much good, either.
Leia and Rowa continued to chat, but Han was distracted by Anne, who eyed the newcomer with manifest curiosity. Go to it, Anne,he thought. It'd be the first time you bit anyone who deserved it.Gradually, the zeeeka's chittering died, and she hopped back up on Leia's shoulder, the small blue eyes examining Rowa minutely. Something that sounded suspiciously like purring issued from the zeeeka's throat.
Figures. If that animal's going to likeanyone it's going to be a guy who crushes skulls. They're kindred spirits.Han returned his attention to the conversation. Actually, the guy sounded pretty intelligent. Maybe it's like Leia says--just a little weakness.
"...Freyuss isn't stable yet. The people had gotten used to the Empire telling them what to do, settling quarrels between different factions--by force, naturally, but they weresettled." He ruffled his close-cropped blond hair with one strong hand. "Now the government is nothing but a bunch of splinter groups quarreling. Nothing gets accomplished. The mine owners fight with the industrialists, the remnants of the Imperial regime fight with the ex-Alliance people, the city dwellers and those in the hinterlands can't get along. It might look great here--" he jerked his head toward the panorama of the Inner Harbor, "--but the inside is rotten. Pretty soon, even the facade will crumble."
"Where does the religious problem come in?" Han decided to forget about worrying about the guy's hobbies; this was getting interesting.
Rowa perched on the edge of the table, accepting the glass of novida Han handed to him. "Well, it's like a lot of societies; when things start going to hell, people turn to religion. After all, if this life doesn't look too good, there's not much left but the next. People could migrate, I suppose, but it's not easy leaving your home behind forever."
Leia whitened and Rowa leapt up in obvious distress. "Princess, I'm sorry, I..."
She held up one hand, halting the apology. "It's all right, Lisben. Old wounds sometimes ache, that's all. Go on."
He sat down again. "Anyhow, a lot of people turned to the old religion," Rowa shook his head. "Dead as a Dark Lord all these years and suddenly it revives again." He raised his eyebrows at Leia. "And you know what thatmeans."
"Well, Idon't," Han said impatiently. "Why don't you just tell me?"
Leia started blankly at Rowa for one long moment. "I can hardly believe this." She turned to her husband. "Han, the ancient religion on Freyuss combined the spiritual godhead and the temporal leader in the same persona. They worshiped their hereditary ruler as a god, because that was literally how they saw him." She took a long drink of novida. "Nowdo you understand what we're talking about?"
Han took his glass back from Rowa. The native novida carried quite a kick; at this point, he could use it. "They think Hareboun is a god?"
Rowa nodded, reclaiming the glass. "To his worshipers, the One Supreme God." He smiled at the look on Han's face. "Boggles the mind, doesn't it?"
"You can say that again." Han motioned to the serving droid for another round.
The faint echo of music crossing the water caught Han's ear. Twisting in his seat, he spotted a cluster of barges just entering the mouth of the harbor. Must have a thousand glows on each one.Blazing illumination issued from the heart of each of the boats, making them appear as star-sent apparitions amidst the darkness of the night. As the barges grew nearer, the indistinct notes solidified into a song, issuing from a hundred throats. With difficulty, Han translated a few of the phrases from low Freyussian; it was a song of praise.
A strong hand snagged at his wrist before he could rise to examine the convoy. "Don't," the Freyussian said softly.
Han sank back into the chair. Wrists, too, huh?Inconspicuously, he massaged the bruised member. He devoutly wished that Freyussian culture possessed touch taboos. Nice guy, but I'll be lucky to get through this night in one piece.
Around them, one by one, the other beings on the rooftop rose from their seats, and one by one took up the song sung from the barges, until the whole night rang with the sweet refrain. Across the harbor, others--scattered on the balconies and walkways of a shopping complex--rose or ceased their errands, turning as one toward the lighted boats, raising their thousands of voices in song.
No matter where he roamed, no matter how long he was destined to live, Han knew he would never forget this night. I'd told Luke that I'd seen a lot of strange things, but...Nothing he had seen, in all his wanderings, compared with this terrible beauty. The song of the legendary star sirens must have echoed like this across the vacuum of space, cutting at the heart. The darkness itself tasted of music, cloyingly sweet like the fabled death cup of the Corellian gods.
The three were the only ones within sight still seated.
All things must end, even the universe itself. So this faded, an eternity though it seemed, compressed into a space of minutes. Slowly, with inhuman grace, the glistening barges turned to leave, their departure scattering the remnants of song like shattered crystal on the wind.
Around them, the spell broken, people seated themselves again, music replaced by the scrape of chairs, clink of glasses, and quiet hum of conversation. The tiny group at Han's table sat mute for a long moment. Finally, Leia broke the silence.
"Oh, my god." Her voice was barely audible.
Rowa picked up his glass again. "Yes. That's the idea."
"That was for Hareboun?"Leia's dark eyes glazed with shock.
The Freyussian sipped at his drink. "Hard to believe, isn't it? The expression is so much greater than the inspiration. I'm told it is often so." He stared into the clear liquor. "I'm afraid I've probably compromised you with that little scene. Anyone who doesn't participate..." His voice trailed off. "You're outworlders, though, so maybe it won't matter."
Lisben rose, crossing to the railing in a few angry strides to stare out onto the now quiet harbor. "It's just that I can't bear to stand and worship that...that..." His hands tightened on the wooden rail, threatening to split it in two.
Han joined him at the rail, gripping one of Lisben's arms. Feels like damned durasteel."Hey, Lisben, I couldn't agree more. That's one congregation I have no ambition to join." He pulled the Freyussian back to the table, thrusting a fresh glass of novida into his hand. "How did this thing get started, anyhow?" He watched the Freyussian take a long drink. Hope his head's as strong as the rest of him.
"It started out small, more of a cult than anything. The media ran some holos on it." Rowa stared at the harbor lights as he spoke. "You know, the 'look at those nuts' kind of thing. Suddenly, though, a few months back, it picked up speed, started becoming serious."
"When Hareboun showed up," interjected Han.
"I suspect so. Of course, he couldn't show himself much at first, since he's supposed to be in exile, but that's mostly a technicality now. Between him and those ex-bounty hunters he's imported..." Rowa shrugged. "Even people who don't worship him aren't too willing to go against him."
"Terrorism?" Leia asked quietly.
"Um," the Freyussian agreed. "A few nicely-timed explosions, a little bit of bullying little old ladies in the street. Not all that much, but it's starting to push people into line. It wouldn't last a minute during ordinary times, of course, but now..." He sipped meditatively at his drink. "A lot of people don't care. Others want something to hold on to. They say, 'What if he is our God? Maybe he'll solve our problems.' I suspect he'll come into the open before long. A little bribery and the thing's done."
Lisben's eyes shifted to Leia. "You know, Princess, this may qualify as the first time one of Hareboun's stupid schemes actually comes off. Damn."
"And no one's opposing him?" Leia asked curiously.
"A few of us." He smiled in response to her lifted eyebrow. "Yeah, we've gotten together a resistance. Just like the old days, 'cept Kayka isn't with us." A bitter laugh issued from his lips. "Nor is Hareboun even our symbolic leader, naturally. We don't miss him. Even as a figurehead he had his drawbacks."
Han didn't have to exercise his memory too hard to agree with that. "Good thing we ran into you."
For the first time, a genuine grin spread over Rowa's face. "No accident about it, Solo. Anyone coming in from the Core was sure to be nabbed by one of us. We've been hoping that the government at Malebolge..." he shrugged impatiently, "I mean, New Alderaan, would finally send someone." He inclined his head to Leia. "I'm pleased they sent you, Princess, but..."
Leia cut in. "You mean, you have contacted the New Republic government?"
"Well, I tried, but I'd almost given up any hope of help. One has to go through channels and..." He broke off awkwardly. "Do you know who the liaison is with this sector?"
Leia's brow wrinkled. "I did know. Let's see. It seems to me it was someone Rieekan objected to, but..."
Damn it to hell! No wonder...Han finished for her. "But Rieekan was overruled on the grounds of the man's 'long service to the Alliance' and 'record of sterling virtue.'"
They gazed at each other ruefully. "Jan Dodonna."
Lisben Rowa nodded. "I tried to tell him about this, but..."
"He wouldn't listen." Han finished for him. "I know. He never listened to me, either." Damn. Rieekan must really be going crazy over that one. A more stiff-necked, bureaucratic, incompetent... Never mind. At least that solves the mystery of why no one's been sent here. If Leia hadn't heard those rumors and asked me to make a contact...He met his wife's worried eyes. "Better send a dispatch to Rieekan immediately, Leia."
She nodded thoughtfully. "I wish I could talk with him directly, but I'm afraid this is too far from the Core, even considering the Falcon'sequipment." She pondered for a moment. "Han, why don't you go to New Alderaan and talk with Rieekan. If you take long jumps, it shouldn't be but three or four standard days till you get back." Leia grinned at Rowa. "She's the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy."
"Forget it." Han folded his arms stubbornly. "I'm not leaving my young wife on a planet full of religious fanatics with a--" he grinned "--skull-crusher."
Rowa gazed reproachfully at Leia. "Princess, you didn't have to tell him that.I don't do it much at all, anymore."
Leia looked sheepish. "Well..."
Han loftily ignored the bit of byplay. "Chewie can go. He can pilot the Falconas well as I can. Threepio can go with him to translate. About time that damned droid was good for something." The fact that they were stuck with Threepio still rankled. Just when they thought the droid was safely pushed off onto Luke, the young Jedi gave it right back, as a 'wedding gift,' muttering something to the effect that he couldn't bear to deprive them of a droid they had gone through so much with. That's one I owe you, kid. And I fully intend to pay the debt.
"That'll do." Leia's gaze shifted to Lisben. "Do you have somewhere we can stay until we get a message back from the Core? We ran into Hareboun earlier. He knows we're here. Worse, his ganks know we're here, too. I don't want to compromise you, but..."
Rowa rose. "Princess, we're as compromised as we can get. You can stay at our headquarters."
Leia stood as well, settling Anne on her right shoulder. "Rowa, I won't deceive you. There's only so much we can do. We can't settle your internal problems--that's against the New Republic charter--but we can get rid of Hareboun for you. His order of exile was registered at New Alderaan, which means it comes under Republic military jurisdiction."
"And Leia is a commander in its Special Services division," Han added.
Lisben's eyes widened. "You are?" The expression he turned to Leia was decidedly incredulous. Maybe it was as incredible to him as people who crushed skulls as a hobby were to Han.
Leia looked embarrassed. "Well, I had to do something when the war ended. I hate to knit." Her expression darkened. "I hate to shuffle paper even more." The cloud lifted from her face, a mischievous glint dawning in the brown eyes. "Besides, he's"--she jerked her head toward Han--"attached to the Service, too."
Han raised both hands in protest. "Unofficially. Purely in an unofficial capacity."
Leia folded her arms, casting him a sidelong glance. "He likes to pretend he's still a petty smuggler, doing the Kessel Run in--" her voice turned sweetly acid "--less than twelve parsecs."
Han let the parsecs jibe pass. He'd heard it before. "What can I say?" he asked rhetorically, answering the first accusation. "I like smuggling." A mocking light stole into the hazel eyes. "Everyone should have a hobby."
Leia tugged Han to his feet. "That's enough out of you, flyboy. Let's go." She slapped a credit token onto the table. "Where's your headquarters, Rowa?"
Lisben pointed over the railing at a scruffy schooner, bobbing uncertainly at its mooring. "There. We can move about better that way." He glanced around the rooftop. The other beings studiously ignored them. "Which we might need to do pretty quickly."
Leia stared incredulously at the small craft. "You came in thatthing?" The words came out curiously strangled.
Han grasped Rowa's shoulder confidentially. "You're braver than she thought."
The last princess of Alderaan had been raised not to have faults--or, at least, if by some evil chance or weakness of character they did exist, to pretend that they in fact did not. If one ignored weaknesses, Bail Organa had always reasoned, perhaps they would go away.
Trouble was, some things were a bit harder to ignore than others.
Leia curled herself still more tightly into a ball on the narrow bunk, trying to ignore the slow rocking motion of the vessel. I'm going to die. Why am I not dead yet?She moaned and, beside her, Anne whimpered in ready sympathy. I want to die. Please, sweet Deheri, let me die.
The bunk gave slightly and Leia felt a damp cloth being applied to her forehead. "How do you feel, Leia?"
Slitting open her eyes, she glared at the handsome face above her. Three days of this--how do youthink I feel?She felt devoutly grateful that there was no one on the yacht but Lisben and Han to witness this humiliation. "I'm going to die," she said with cold dignity. She closed her eyes again.
"No you won't," Han said reassuringly. "You're a little seasick, that's all."
A little seasick, that's all.She wished the Dimtherian Plague on him. She wished the Dimtherian Plague on the entire galaxy. Doesn't he know a fatally ill woman when he sees one? He'll be sorry when I'm gone. Or maybe he won't. What good is a wife whose sole activity consists of throwing up?She pressed one hand to her mouth. I can't believe there's anything left to throw up."I'm going to die," she repeated.
"You know, you really would feel better if you came up on deck," the inexorable voice replied.
Opening her eyes again, she stared mutely up at him. She felt disinclined to speak. Going above would accomplish only one thing: she'd throw up in front of Lisben. The least a princess of Alderaan could do was die with a bit of dignity.
Han scooped her up in his arms. "Come on, then."
She felt too weak to fight and too nauseous to argue, so up they went.
Lisben Rowa stood at the tiller, the fresh salt breeze throwing his short blonde hair into disarray. "Too bad no one else in the Resistance could come with us," he commented cheerily. "This is the best wind we've had in weeks." He grinned at Leia. "Fun, isn't it?"
Leia had never before detected this masochistic streak in Lisben. Standing double watches for three days isfun? The wind that's making this tub bob around isgood? A glance at her husband's face convinced her that Han, too, thought sailing a yacht designed for double the crew through rough waters for an unspecified period of time came under the heading of a rare and enjoyable treat. Men,she thought in loathing. Gods, who invented them?
Lisben's expression became concerned. "Princess, are you still a bit under the weather?"
Leia groaned, covering her mouth again.
"Uh, excuse us, Lisben," Han hurried over to the rail, considerately holding her head over.
You know, I think Hareboun is preferable to this. I wonder if I can convince them to turn around? I'll stand up and sing with the best of them. Praise Hareboun! Coughing and sputtering, she raised her head again; Han furnished a handkerchief. Even the memory of her cell on the Death Star seemed nostalgically sweet. Anything looked good compared with sailing.
"I thought Alderaan was supposed to have been a water planet?" Han said in her ear.
"We had hydrofoils," she said between clenched teeth. "Nice, civilized vessels that skimmed abovethe water, not on it. "This"--her voice was cold--"is primitive."
"Oh, I don't know." Han turned his face to the wind, letting it blow the golden brown hair back from his forehead. "I think it's sort of stimulating."
Her retort was cut off by a shout from Lisben. "Ship to leeward, bearing down on us fast!" He pulled the tiller sharply to his left, causing the schooner to veer--rather mysteriously, in Leia's mind--to the right, the haste of the maneuver doing her stomach little good.
Leia found herself set hastily on her feet as Han ran to the mainsail, hurriedly trimming the flapping canvas.
The other vessel matched their move exactly. They were still on an intersect.
Lisben swung the tiller about again, this time to his right, managing to barely skim the side of the other vessel. They headed out to open water. Lisben glanced back over his shoulder. "He's tacking around again, but it'll take a few minutes." He hauled on a line behind him, changing the direction of the spanker.
Fastening down his line, Han turned to gaze at the other boat. It clawed its way around, every sail straining taut to the wind. "Looks like that guy's pretty good."
"The best," Rowa said grimly. "Won all the world class races before the Imperials took over Freyuss and exiled the ruling family. Of course, he was a lot younger then, but he kept it up, wherever he went. I always said it was his only real talent--besides chicanery."
"Hareboun?" Han's voice was incredulous. "Are you sure?"
Rowa laughed mirthlessly. "I'd know the yacht, even if I didn't know his style. We hauled the damn thing around the galaxy on the Galactic Liberator,shuttling it down whenever there was a puddle of water. It's him all right."
The other yacht tacked again, dangerously close to the wind. Not a sail luffed. Leia thought it seemed more of a machine than a volatile combination of man and nature.
Han glanced back at the helm. "Are we going to make it?"
"We'll give it a damned good try." Rowa's muscles rippled with effort as he pulled the tiller around, veering from the High Ruler's altered course.
Han leapt to adjust the mainsail. The fabric flapped uselessly, enveloping him in its stiff folds. Almost as if it's alive,Leia thought. He struggled out from under it, tugging the line taut, his bare feet shuffling for a firm purchase on the tilting deck. The sail seemed to hesitate for a long moment, then reluctantly filled with wind. Ponderously, the schooner changed course.
Rowa examined the other yacht, seeming to measure the distance. "The trouble is, Han... Well, I'm a good sailor, but Hareboun's better. Much--" Interrupting himself, he motioned Leia to his side. "Take this." He thrust the tiller into her hand. "Just hold her steady."
Oh shit.Leia took the tiller in both hands. Hold her steady onwhat?
Striding swiftly to the prow, Lisben pulled the loose casing off the jib, unfurling it into billowing life. The yacht leaped forward, as a riding animal given slack rein.
The Freyussian returned to the tiller, taking it again. "Han!" The wind rose, making it necessary to yell. "Get ready to tack again! I'm going a few points to starboard." He swung the tiller again, his other hand on the line to the spanker. "If we can just get the wind behind us, instead of having to tack..." He spoke as if to himself. This time the operation went more smoothly, the mainsail flapping only briefly before obediently going taut. Han ran lightly to the jib, adjusting it as well.
"We'll stay on this course for a few minutes." Rowa returned the tiller to Leia's hand, then shrugged off his close-fitting knit shirt. He took the tiller back. "Then we'll see some action."
Han pulled off his battered--and borrowed-- yellow knit shirt, leaving only a pair of brief shorts, well-soaked with the salt spray. Leia felt a trifle overdressed, still in her velvet skirt and silk blouse. She had, however, abandoned the vest and heels.
Han joined her near the tiller. He put an arm around her, still keeping a watchful eye on the set of the sails.
"What do you think, Han?" She lowered her voice, not wishing to disturb Rowa's concentration.
"I don't know." The changeable eyes turned as grey as the clouds now scuttling above them. The weather was shifting, and not for the better. "If we sail with the wind now, we'll be heading straight for Hareboun, it seems to me. If we tack away, it'll take time. Of course, tacking will cost Hareboun time, too, but... A lot depends on which of us can sail closest to the wind."
"Doesn't the yacht itself have something to do with that?" Leia asked.
"I hoped you wouldn't figure that out." Silently, they examined the other craft. Its sleek lines presented an obvious contrast to the more awkward shape of Rowa's vessel. They were both schooners, but the High Ruler's was a much more expensive model. "Our best bet is to tack just far enough away so that we won't cross Hareboun's course, then get the wind behind us and run like hell."
Rowa signaled. "Almost time, Han."
Han hurried to the mainmast and unwound one of the lines in preparation for the tacking maneuver.
Lisben's clear eyes held steady on the wind gauge. His lips moved silently. The seconds passed.
Rowa pulled the tiller over, his muscles rippling with the force of effort. The craft swung sluggishly about, the masts swaying with the changed angle of wind. Again, the sails flapped uselessly, defying Han's struggle to tame them to tautness. Lisben sprang to help him, leaving Leia to catch the tiller. Together, they managed to trim the mainsail and tie off the lines, then did the same with the jib and spanker.
The yacht sprang forward, the wind fully behind.
Damp strands of hair had fallen on Han's forehead. He pushed them back again, breathing hard. "That was pretty damn close to the wind, Lisben."
The Freyussian retook the tiller, steadying the course. "But was it close enough?" His eyes went to the other yacht. "That's the question. It'll be a few minutes till we get our answer."
Sweat poured down his powerful torso. His sculpted form reminded Leia of a sea god, defying the force of his own elements. Irrelevantly, she thought how strange it was to see Freyussians stripped of the tinted glasses they wore in every system save their own. Her own eyes had adjusted quickly to the dimmer light of their sun, but now it plucked at her consciousness again, adding another dimension of eeriness to the scene.
Her eyes followed Lisben's, gauging the distance between their courses. It's going to be close.She could see the tiny figures of Hareboun's crew, running about the deck. Hareboun would try to tack just enough to make the intersect; Lisben had tried to tack just enough to make that impossible. It's going to be very close.
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