Next: "Fire Alarm"

Series 8 Episode 1
"New Normal"

Tossing and turning like crazy, Yasmin was having a rough sleep. It was one of those nights where the constant chit-chat in her mind turned into yelling, and visions flooded her brain. Any hope of rest was long since gone.

That said, Yasmin hadn’t slept properly in months. Five months, specifically. Ever since the worst day of her life. The pain she felt at the hands of her father was nothing compared to the gigantic sense of loss she simply couldn’t shake.

Places and people flashed through Yasmin’s mind. It was like a series of flashbacks, except Yasmin recognised none of them. Until one particular face.


He looked different – his hair was even longer, longer than she’d ever known it to be. He looked drained, like he hadn’t slept either. It felt so real.

It couldn’t have been, though. Dylan was dead, and Yasmin knew it. Her mind was playing tricks on her. Even if she knew her mind was never in the wrong.

Yasmin opened her eyes. Any chance of sleep was gone, so she may as well have been a little productive. She glanced to her companion in bed. His name was still a mystery, but he’d given her thirty minutes of relief and distraction earlier that night, so he’d served a purpose.

Creeping downstairs, Yasmin went to find her biology textbook. Exams were not far away – she had to take advantage of every moment for revision.

In the kitchen, she saw a figure. Somebody was there. She couldn’t make out who it was, but there was only one possible candidate. It must have been her mum.

“Can’t sleep either?” Yasmin asked, flicking the light on.

Yasmin jumped back. It wasn’t her mum. Stood in front of her was Dylan, looking just as he did in her vision. He looked knackered and drained, but how was he there? Yasmin knew she had a connection with the dead, but this was sick.

“Help me,” Dylan said. Yasmin shut her eyes. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t have been. Sure enough, when she reopened her eyes, nobody was there. Yasmin’s mind was the most confusing place to live. If it wasn’t already, sleep was firmly off the agenda now.

Intrusively and incessantly, the alarm clock startled Jono awake. The first thing he did was check the time – seven o’clock. Four hours sleep; the best night’s sleep he’d had in ages. Cuddling up to Tatty was a comfort, especially when he woke up startled in the middle of the night.

Tatty was Dylan’s old teddy bear. He’d been given to Dylan as a kid, and he always considered him to be his prize possession. Naturally, he was now Jono’s responsibility. One worn-out teddy bear, that had certainly earned its name, symbolising an entire person’s life.

Jono pulled himself out of bed to open the curtains. He was still sleeping in Dylan’s room – he didn’t want to leave it and return home as if nothing had changed. Everything was different, and Dylan’s bedroom remaining exactly the same with all of his belongings untouched was a slight comfort. Besides, he didn’t want to go back home. His brief visits had resulted in cold stares from his dad, and complete avoidance from his mum. They still hadn’t accepted that he was a werewolf, and it broke Jono’s heart.

“Hey,” Freddie cautiously poked his head around the ajar door. Jono felt so much more at ease staying at the Drummond household. Caroline clearly appreciated the distraction of having someone else around the house, not that she’d ever show a weak moment in front of Jono. Ed was keeping strong for all of them, but Jono had heard him crying in private more than once. Then there was Freddie – what a time for him to have moved in. Not only did he lose Dylan, but Sammi lost Jeremy. He had to be strong for so many people.

“Hey,” Jono raised a slight smile – it was the most he could muster up.

“Don’t forget we’re picking Oscar up today,” Freddie mentioned. Together, they had subconsciously decided to swerve the question of “how are you?” – the answer was always pretty obvious.

“Oh shit,” Jono had forgotten entirely. His mind was like a sieve – nothing seemed to stick any longer.

“I’ll text him to say we’re a little late,” Freddie chuckled. Somehow, he still had a little laughter in him. Jono admired that.

Oscar had been the one good thing about those few months of darkness. He only recently moved to Crystalshaw, and naturally, Yasmin was put in charge of showing him around. He sort-of became attached to their group, but Jono didn’t mind – Oscar was so sweet and naïve. Thank goodness he wasn’t corrupted by the world of werewolves and supernaturals.

“Okay, I’ll be down in a sec. I’m not hungry so I’ll be ready in ten,” Jono informed. His appetite came and went – he tried to eat even a small something for every meal, but his stomach simply wasn’t in the mood that morning.

Placing Tatty gently back on the bed, Jono pulled a t-shirt out of his suitcase. He refused to unpack – it was Dylan’s room after all – so he had been living out of the same suitcase for months. Jono didn’t care, though.

Anything was better than going back home.

Facing another day of mediocrity ahead, Dylan wasn’t feeling enthusiastic. It had been five months of an identical daily routine – up at eight, breakfast served to his lab room, a morning of testing, lunch. More tests, dinner, and then bed. There was never any variety, and he wasn’t given much downtime.

Despite this, the Lunar Sanctum staff – including the mysterious Mr. Leadsom who he hadn’t seen since the very first day – insisted he wasn’t a prisoner. It was an odd definition of the word, because in Dylan’s eyes, being locked up all day with no voluntary exit was exactly how a prisoner lived.

What hurt Dylan the most though was that all of his friends and family thought he was dead. Jono, Josh, Yasmin, Ed, and his mum – they’d have been grieving for someone who wasn’t dead. The Lunar Sanctum insisted they weren’t the enemy, but they didn’t allow him even one phone call to let them know he was okay. Their mission was more important, and Dylan thought that was nothing short of hideous.

“Breakfast,” one of the staff – the same young lady wearing a lab coat – carried Dylan’s usual plate of toast in. One positive was that he was allowed to order his food, and it always tasted amazing.

“Thanks,” Dylan forced a smile. It was the only time he ever bothered to raise a smile – nothing else deserved one.

“Another day of fun,” he heard his new favourite voice call over. Dylan saw Jeremy, about to tuck in to a large fried breakfast.

“I can hardly contain my excitement,” Dylan replied. Their sarcasm levels had reached new peaks inside the Sanctum.

“One day closer to the day we get out, just you wait,” Jeremy was optimistic. That was usually Dylan’s job, but he’d lost his optimism within a week of arriving there. All he could think about was his friends. Whether Freddie moved in. How Brett and Johnny were doing. Where Josh was at. Jono. Anything at all about Jono. Any time Dylan thought about Jono, he wanted to cry. They should be together. The fact that they’d spent five months apart broke Dylan’s heart, and there was no end in sight.

Constantly, Dylan asked the staff at the Lunar Sanctum for updates. How long they’d be needed for. When they could return home. The answers were always extremely vague, and Dylan had resigned himself to remaining there for the foreseeable. That was, unless, he found a way.

Both he and Jeremy had been vigilant. They were sensible, and knew that if they tried to rush an escape plan, the Sanctum would catch them, and they wouldn’t be so hospitable – by their definition, anyway. Instead, they had kept an eye out for details. Five months of building up their knowledge of the Lunar Sanctum. Mentally noting the staff rota. Nothing was an unimportant detail.

Dylan looked at the pretty ring on his finger. He wore it like a wedding ring, though of course it wasn’t one. It was the only possession he had left. The eternity ring from Jono. A constant reminder of what he was fighting for. The ultimate symbol of everything he had with Jono. He knew he’d be back with him, but Dylan wasn’t sure how much longer he could cope on his own.

Waking up and seeing Alex instantly was Lily’s favourite thing. He was an immediate calming influence on her day, and with him right next to her, she knew she’d always be safe. Of course, their two beds had been pushed together – that was the downside of single beds in college dorms.

Thankfully, nobody appeared to have noticed that Alex had spent five months sleeping in a girls’ dormitory. His own allocated bedroom was empty otherwise, but Lily needed all of the friendly faces she could get around her. Even miles away from home, nothing felt the same, especially when a tearful Jono called her every night. Uni felt so unimportant in comparison.

On the bright side, nobody had heard from or seen Nicolas since the café. No body was found, so there was a strong chance he found the cure, but he hadn’t returned. Lily didn’t care where he was as long as he was nowhere near her or her friends. She had won, and Nicolas should have been running scared.

“Good morning,” a voice sounded from outside, accompanied by three urgent knocks. Lily didn’t know who it was, but she couldn’t take any risks.

“Under the bed,” she directed Alex, keeping her voice low. Unfortunately, their cute morning greetings had to be skipped that day.

“Seriously?” Sindy responded from across the room, moving cautiously to the door. Lily pulled the beds back apart as quickly as she could. It wasn’t worth the hassle of the college finding out they had broken the rules.

“Okay, go,” Lily said, satisfied there was no evidence of Alex being there. Sindy opened the bedroom door to see Maria, the housekeeper, on the other side.

“Morning ladies, sorry to drop by so early, but we’ve got a new arrival and she’ll be sharing with you both,” Maria announced.

Shit, Lily thought. That complicated things.

A timid girl stepped inside. She had such a gorgeous face, without any obvious make-up coating it. Her hair was tied into perfect braids that continued halfway down her back. Lily already had a new girl crush.

“Hi, I’m Misha,” she introduced nervously.

“I trust you girls will make her feel welcome,” Maria directed, backing out of the room and closing the door behind her.

“I’m Lily,” Lily took the lead. She was putting on a front, trying to keep her cool while being very aware of Alex’s continued presence under the bed. She had no idea how she was supposed to wriggle out of that one.

“And I’m Sindy,” Sindy smiled, playing the role of the perfect hostess.

“And I’m Alex,” he interjected, popping out from underneath the bed, still only half-dressed from bedtime. Darn. Lily was hoping she’d get Misha outside and away from the room so he could make a quick getaway. Now she actually had to explain.

“Oh, and I interrupting? I’m sorry,” Misha sheepishly averted her eyes from Alex’s bare chest.

“No, no, Alex is my boyfriend, he stayed the night. I’m sorry,” Lily went into damage control mode, “He’s just going.”

“Which room are you in?” Misha queried.

“Room 122, I think,” Alex answered. He didn’t even try to sell that – nobody was supposed to know he hadn’t been there in months.

“My brother Jamal has moved in there,” she replied, “You’ll get on, I’m sure.”

Alex nodded, having flung a t-shirt over his head and pulled some comfortable jeans over his boxer shorts. Lily couldn’t help feeling disappointed – it wasn’t going to be easy to spend the night together now.

“Come on, better get back,” Lily pushed Alex out of the room, ensuring the door clicked shut behind her.

“Oops,” Alex chuckled, safely out of Misha’s earshot.

“I’ll never live that down,” Lily couldn’t help giggling too. It felt like a long time since she last properly laughed.

“I’ll be fine,” Alex smiled, “I’ll see you at our lecture.” Lily reluctantly released her grip on his hand. She had no doubts about Misha being sweet, but it felt so good having Alex by her side each night. She wasn’t ready for change.

Taking a deep breath, Brett wasn’t sure whether this was such a good idea. He and Johnny had planned it so meticulously for a while now, dropping hints into conversations and mentally preparing themselves. After all, it was what they both wanted, but Brett knew this could be an uphill battle and things were unlikely to be the same again.

“Are you sure you want this?” Johnny double checked as they stood at the front gate of the school.

“Absolutely,” Brett replied. All he could think about was Dylan. If he was brave enough to do what he did at the warehouse, Brett could absolutely do this.

He linked hands with Johnny and shot him his cutest smile. Together, they walked forward into school, holding hands, for the first time. Brett was only out to the pack, so this was his statement to everyone else. He wanted to be out and proud, because now he had Johnny, he had no reason to feel ashamed of who he was.

Naturally, they got a load of stares. People he didn’t know were gawping at them. It shouldn’t have been that way. Why did nobody care when straight couples did the same thing?

“Dudes,” Freddie smiled as they reached the end of their march, “That was awesome.” Brett and Johnny perched next to each other at a bench that felt like a very different place to what it used to be. Jono, Yasmin and Sammi were there as always, but with some faces missing, it just wasn’t the same.

Brett glanced at the plaque that had been added to the bench. ‘In memory of Dylan Drummond and Jeremy Chadwick.’ It was a small gesture from the school, but Brett had seen Jono’s face when Mrs. Harding first presented it. He loved it.

“Too right,” Jono raised him a smile, “I’m proud of you, buddy. Dylan would be too.”

That warmed Brett’s heart. He had so much respect for Dylan, and it was still Dylan’s pack, after all. Nobody else was the alpha, and nobody seemed bothered about changing that, either. Dylan was irreplaceable.

“Boss move,” Oscar smiled. Of course, Oscar was the new face at the bench. Quite why he had slotted in amongst a group of grieving teenagers, Brett wasn’t sure, but his innocence was appreciated. He was chirpy, funny and sweet, and clearly had the hots for Jono too. It was a shame Jono barely noticed; five months on from Dylan, and moving on didn’t seem to have crossed his mind.

To his left, Brett noticed Sammi staring aimlessly ahead. She had barely said a word to anyone since Jeremy’s death. Her family had been ripped apart, and Brett couldn’t begin to understand that. He placed a hand on her arm – a simple signal that he was thinking of her. She met eyes with him for the first time in a while and nodded. The bubbly, cutesy girl had gone, but he wasn’t leaving her side.

“I’ve said if anyone tries anything in the changing rooms, I’ll show them who they’re messing with,” Johnny chuckled.

“Welcome to Crystalshaw, where the scariest beasts you’ll find are the gays,” Freddie joked. He had his hand on Sammi’s other arm, like he did every day. He was always there for her.

“Absolutely,” Johnny laughed.

“No,” Sammi called out, “Why are you laughing? Jeremy’s dead. Dylan’s dead. Josh is missing. Nothing’s funny.”

“Nobody’s forgotten that,” Freddie soothingly consoled her, “We all cope differently, right?”

“I’ll say,” Yasmin muttered, catching the eye of a fit sophomore guy passing by.

“He’s a douche,” Brett warned, knowing him well from the basketball team.

“Who cares? I never said he had to be husband material,” Yasmin smirked. Though she spoke light-heartedly, Brett was a little worried about Yasmin. She’d shut her problems off from everyone and seemed keen to distract herself in any way she could.

Brett noticed Oscar glancing at Jono. The crush couldn’t be more obvious. If only he’d seen Dylan and Jono together, because it almost felt like a non-starter to be going there. Perhaps Brett needed to play cupid.

Morning testing done. Dylan was coping surprisingly well, all things considered. He had a variety of needles prodding out of him, pumping stuff in and out of his system. Much like anything at the Lunar Sanctum, he’d asked what they were doing and he didn’t ever get an answer. If Dylan wasn’t meant to worry, surely they’d have nothing to lose by cluing him in?

That said, Dylan had endured a lot over the past five months. He was constantly monitored, including regular health checks and measurements. He was still alive, so he was clearly of value. He just wished he knew the full story.

“Okay Dylan, we’re done for now,” the nice nurse announced. Hooray – lunchtime. Dylan sat up on his bed, examining the state of his arms. Of course, they had already healed. No evidence of any injections or incisions.

“Any chance of a day off tomorrow? It’s my birthday,” Dylan tried his luck. His eighteenth birthday. He so desperately wanted to spend it by Jono’s side. It was going to be pretty tough away from him.

“Not my call, sorry,” the nurse smiled, “You can celebrate when you get out. One day, I promise.”

The nurse was the sweetest person at the Sanctum, and the only person who bothered to engage in conversation with him. She made the procedures that little bit more tolerable.

“I just wish I could see Jono, for thirty seconds, you know? So he could tell my mom I’m alive,” Dylan sighed.

“I know, sweetie, but you can’t. Nobody can know where we are until we’ve finished our research, remember?” the nurse explained. Dylan nodded. As long as he kept co-operating, she could continue doing her job, and before he knew it, he’d be free.

Catching Dylan’s eye, a couple of guards pushed another lad into the lab room next to Dylan’s. A long window stretched across the wall separating the rooms, so Dylan had a clear view. After all, it was how he and Jeremy kept each other sane from across the corridor for five months.

Whoever the boy was, he was fighting back, but it wasn’t enough. He was thrown into the room with force and locked in before he could fight back. Nevertheless, he continued fighting, trying desperately to smash the windows and door. It was no good – Dylan knew that from experience.

“Who’s he?” Jeremy called over.

“No idea,” Dylan replied. He needed to find out. He approached the window, taking a look at the young lad. He must have been in his early twenties, and had shaggy dark hair.

“Hey,” Dylan tried to get his attention. Slowly, the boy glanced around, his bright yellow eyes subsiding.

“Sorry,” the lad replied, looking deflated.

“What’s your name?” Dylan questioned. In the Sanctum, an extra ally meant everything.

“Liam. Liam Dunbar,” he answered, “You?”

“Dylan Drummond. Nice to meet you, Liam,” Dylan smiled casually.

“Dylan?” Liam looked stunned, “I’ve heard of you. Scott’s told me all about you. I’m his beta.”

“Liam,” Dylan pondered. He remembered now – Scott gave some pretty great advice on how to deal with your first true beta, just after he had bitten Jono. He said Liam was his own. Of course, any friend of Scott’s was a friend of Dylan’s, “What are you doing here?”

“They caught me. I was with Nolan. They separated us. I tried to fight, I…,” Liam drifted off. He was still visibly annoyed.

“I know, I get it,” Dylan comforted.

“We have to get out. I’ve not got any of my medication,” Liam explained.

“Medication? I thought you were a werewolf,” Jeremy was confused. Dylan was too – why would he need medication?

“I have IED. Being a werewolf doesn’t cure everything. In fact, when I’m angry, it makes my IED worse,” Liam confessed, “The medication takes the edge off. I can’t stay.”

Dylan understood. Suddenly, his need for escape had accelerated. Maybe the time had come?

It felt weird to admit, but biology had become one of Jono’s favourite times of the week. A rare moment of light among the darkness that now seemed to follow him everywhere. It was all down to one person, as well. Ever since Oscar joined the school, Jono had found himself smiling just a little more often. In fact, they spent much of biology laughing together. It helped make the rest of the day a little more tolerable.

Jono was drawn to Oscar’s innocence and naivety. He didn’t know the truth about werewolves, and Jono wanted it to stay that way. It was for his own good. After all, the rest of the pack had been burnt by the supernatural world more than once. It was a collective decision not to involve Oscar.

Jono would exclude himself, too, if he could. The pack had a ridiculous amount of pressure on their shoulders, especially as it was approaching the end of senior year. They had college to think about, but it wasn’t easy to just side-line werewolf drama when it had defined their high school experience. He was a werewolf himself, and that wasn’t changing, but a little normality surely wasn’t too much to ask for.

“This is so tedious,” Oscar commented, glancing at the textbook in front of them. Mrs. Johnson never did a very good job of trying to jazz up the syllabus. She preferred one textbook activity after another. Jono was only really taking biology as a place-filler subject anyway, he knew what he wanted to do long-term, even if he couldn’t fulfil the dream with Dylan by his side.

“What’s new?” Jono chuckled. At least Oscar was singing from the same hymn sheet as he was. Not to mention his adorable, contagious smile. He was just the uplift Jono needed.

“Pst,” a voice summoned from behind. Brett, of course. Jono spun around while Mrs. Johnson peered at her computer, hoping she wouldn’t notice his distraction.

“What?” Jono whispered.

“You two look cosy,” Brett commended.

“Shut up,” Jono blushed. He was not looking for anybody. It would have felt like an insult to Dylan to move on so soon. The eternity ring on his finger caught his eye. Dylan was still with him, even if he wasn’t there physically.

“He obviously likes you, but he’s too scared to make a move knowing what’s happened,” Brett persuaded, “Dylan would want you to be happy, remember?”

Before Jono could muster up a defiant reply, the classroom door swung open violently. A distressed lad in his early twenties was there, complete with a cute face and a light brown mop of hair. Jono had never seen him before; he was surely too old to be a student? That said, he didn’t look old enough to be a member of staff either.

“I’m looking for Dylan Drummond,” he announced, “I need him.” Jono’s heart sunk. Whoever this was, he clearly didn’t receive the memo.

“Jono,” Mrs. Johnson called over, directing him to deal with the lad. Clearly, this was werewolf related.

“Be right back,” Jono uttered to Oscar, ensuring he stayed behind. Brett followed him for back-up. This had to be important, whatever it was.

“Where’s Dylan?” he asked again outside the classroom. He looked extremely agitated and unsettled. His eyes were red, like he’d been crying.

“I’m Jono, and this is Brett. Dylan’s…” Jono pondered, “…not here right now, but whatever it is, we can help. What’s your name?”

“Nolan Holloway,” he answered, “They took him. Liam. They’ve got him, and I remember Scott mentioned Dylan’s name. Please, help me find him.”

Jono glanced to Brett. Whether they’d help was never in doubt, but the normality he craved would have to wait a little longer.

Making herself comfortable in what had become her regular seat in the lecture theatre, Lily felt unusual arriving by herself. The walk from the dorm room, while short, felt very lonely without Alex to talk to. They’d basically been inseparable for months, which put Lily at ease – Alex distracted her from spiralling, thinking about Dylan, worrying about Jono and Sammi. He was her rock.

Being separated from Jono was hard. It was cruel that life still had to go on while he was struggling so much. Yasmin had told her he was keeping it together at school, but their nightly phone calls often ended in tears. All Lily could do was listen, because he had done the same for her so many times over the years. When she said she had his back, she truly meant it.

“Hey,” Alex smiled, bounding up the final step in the theatre, “Sorry I’m late.”

“I’ve missed you,” Lily smiled back as Alex planted a gentle peck on her lips.

“We’ve only been apart for an hour,” Alex chuckled, pulling his laptop out of his bag. Thankfully, he still remembered his earphones – one ear each with YouTube on the laptop was how Lily coped with a nine o’clock lecture.

“And?” Lily laughed. Their banter kept her going. He was far too good for her.

“Hey, Alex,” another lad stopped at the edge of their row. Someone Lily hadn’t seen before. He had short, cropped hair with shaved sides, and his muscular abs were clearly displayed through his tight t-shirt.

“Hey, Lily, this is Jamal. Jamal, this is Lily, Misha’s roommate and my girlfriend,” Alex introduced. Those words were so cute to hear.

“Mind if I join you both? First lecture and all that,” Jamal requested. He seemed nice, though Lily was enjoying her quality time with Alex. It was a little more limited now, after all.

“Not at all,” Alex smiled, but Lily caught eyes with him. They spoke volumes – Alex wasn’t so happy either.

As Jamal slid past Lily, one of his sheets sliced the skin on her finger. Being part-werewolf didn’t make her immune to papercuts, after all.

“Ow,” Lily reacted, immediately sucking it to conceal both the blood and the super-fast healing.

“I’m sorry, are you okay?” Jamal looked mortified.

“Yeah, it’s just a papercut,” Lily replied, checking on the small wound. As expected, it had already vanished without a trace.

“I can’t see anything,” Jamal nosily observed. Lily’s alarm bells began to ring. Why did he care so much? Alex was remaining awkwardly quiet – there was no need to blow this out of proportion.

“I guess it didn’t break the skin,” Lily smiled. After all, she was the queen of white lies. She grabbed an earphone and selected the first song on Alex’s laptop – “Say So” by Doja Cat. Good vibes only, but she made a mental note about Jamal.

She already knew there was no such thing as a coincidence.

The first to arrive back at the bench for lunchtime, Sammi was finding school especially tough that day. Some days were better than others, and Sammi hated that she couldn’t predict which days would be good and which would be bad. Everyone else seemed to be getting back to normal, or adjusting to their new normal in one way or another. Even Jono had come on so much.

Sammi couldn’t help thinking about how much her life had changed in just a year, though. Exactly twelve months ago, she had no idea werewolves existed. She and her dad lived reasonably happily; ignorance was bliss. Now her dad was dead. Her secret twin was dead. Her extended family had been ripped apart. Nothing was the same.

“Hey you,” Freddie smiled kindly, sitting down next to her. Freddie was the one constant she had. He was always the same, chirpy dork she adored so much. Without him, she didn’t know what she’d do, “How’s your day been?”

“Shit,” Sammi responded bluntly. They were long past the point of pretending.

“Cuddles and Netflix all evening then,” Freddie decided. That was always their go-to on a bad day. The Good Place on Netflix for some laughs, lots of snacks, and plenty of cuddle time.

“Oh my god,” Yasmin joined the bench, “That Anthony guy in junior year is gorgeous.”

Sammi looked at Freddie to see his expression. As expected, it was disapproving. They were both worried that Yasmin would come to regret her chosen method of distracting herself from her problems.

“We’re meeting after school. No strings,” Yasmin continued. Sammi didn’t know what to say. Perhaps she wasn’t the only one still struggling.

In the background, just outside the school gates, Sammi spotted someone. A face, watching them. Spying on them. A face she hadn’t seen in a long time.

“Josh,” she called out.

“What?” Freddie looked baffled. He hadn’t noticed.

“Over there,” Sammi directed. Josh had gone. Sammi knew how much both Freddie and Yasmin needed him around, and this was their first sighting of him in months.

“Come on,” Freddie led the way. The chase was on.

Next: "Fire Alarm"

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