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Craig is an international bestselling author with over thirty titles to his credit, including the Free Trader Series (scifi), the Cygnus Space Opera series, the End Times Alaska series, and the Rick Banik Thrillers.

Craig is also co-writing the Terry Henry Walton Chronicles with Michael Anderle.

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Nomad's Galaxy - Quotes & Snips #2

Posted on August 13, 2017 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Nomad's Galaxy

Terry Henry Walton Chronicles Book 10

Craig Martelle & MIchael Anderle

Coming August 18th

More snips & quotes...


It's All In The Mission

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

IT'S ALL IN THE MISSION – from Terry Henry Walton’s private journal.


     "Why in the hell are you here, Lieutenant?" I asked, irked by his presence. My team had trained together for over six months. We worked as one. We knew what each other thought, their strengths, their weaknesses. I was in charge, but only by virtue of rank. We all had our specialty. Mine just happened to be the equipment. I could tear it down and put it back together again. I made this junk work and I knew how to organize the data we collected and send it back to someone who cared. It was more than a job for us. And I was good at killing people.

     I used the equipment for something to do in between the direct action missions. I liked the scent of a man’s fear.

     The lieutenant looked hurt.

     "Well, Sergeant, I came along to observe and supervise if necessary. I can authorize the movement of this unit to alternate locations without the hassle of requesting it over the radio." The lieutenant seemed satisfied with his answer. He raised his head slightly so he could look down at me, a weak attempt to assert his authority.

     One corporal manned the radio direction finding (RDF) equipment and a lance corporal rolled through frequencies slowly on a radio designed to pick up anything in the VHF spectrum. Both had noticed the friction between myself and the "observer" and watched us closely. A second corporal lay curled up in a ball towards the edge of a rock wall some feet away, sleeping peacefully.

     I leaned nearer the lieutenant and in a soft voice so the others couldn't hear, said, "You stay out of our way. Do you understand? You shouldn't be here and already you've changed our orders three times. I've had it with you. The next time you open your mouth, we're going to pack our trash and we're humping out of here!"

     The lieutenant prepared a retort or a threat or something else that didn't matter. I guess my angry glare kept his words from dribbling out like a baby spitting up its breakfast. I'd probably pay later, but for now, the mission would come back on line and maybe we could get some intelligence that was worthwhile, then move back behind our lines. A hot meal and a rack in the air conditioned comfort of our ship waited for us. But for now, we were stuck in a very small two story building that was heaped with the rubble of a previous explosion.

     We had selected this building because it was one of the few whole buildings standing in this part of Beirut. It had access to the roof where our antennas now stood. One antenna was low profile. Another looked like a typical T.V. antenna, but the third was an obvious Marine green. I had tried to set it up level with the T.V-looking antenna, but I couldn't get in touch with the ship. After raising it another six feet, I could hear higher headquarters, and more importantly, they could hear me.

     My team was set up on the bottom floor. Only one room was habitable and that just happened to be the kitchen. The only thing that suggested it had once been a kitchen were the sink and the counter. There was no water so we simply set up all our equipment on the counter and in the sink. We had been operating all day now after having been inserted late last night. So far we hadn't found any exploitable targets and all was mundane and quiet. That probably accounted for some of the friction between the lieutenant and me.

     "Hey, TH, it's almost three. You wanna wake up sleeping beauty?" The lance corporal took off his headphones and rubbed at the red creases around his ears. He yawned and stretched.

     TH. That was me. They sometimes called me Goldy, too. I had dyed my hair golden blond right before we got on ship. I don't know why I did it, maybe because I thought blonds had more fun. It didn't matter. I guess it was just something to do. Well, anyway, it wouldn't last forever, unlike a tattoo.

     "Come on Stinky, time to rise and shine."

     A pair of bright red eyes peered out at me from under the protective covering of an arm. "Oh gawdy, I feel like I just fell asleep," answered a dry voice. He contorted his body into a sitting position and rubbed feeling back into his leg, wincing from the pain of the returning circulation.

     I looked at him and laughed silently. Why had I nicknamed him Stinky? Every unit had a Stinky and he just happened to fit the billet. He was renowned aboard ship for his bodily gases. There was nothing he enjoyed more than sharing his gas with others, usually at the most inopportune time. Stinky reached for a Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE) and began to open it.

     "Come on, Stinky, you can eat that on watch. Give Plants a break; he's been spinnin' and grinnin' all day." Plants had a degree in Botany and went on to learn Arabic. He enlisted because he didn't want the responsibilities of being an officer, nor did he need the pay. He was happy at the bottom of the ladder. "Plants can go suck himself. I gotta wake up."

     "Stinky, Stinky. Why do you always have to talk like that?"

     "Leave me alone Goldy. At least my hair's the color God meant it to be."

     They never forget, do they? I thought to myself. I smiled and turned away. The corporal on the RDF was laughing as he kicked back on a box turned into a chair. His nickname was simply Jonesy. He never got excited. He was a man who could be counted on, no matter what.

     Stinky and Plants changed places. Plants sat for a second, then stood up and began to stretch. Stinky looked at him oddly. "Hey, if you're gonna waste it, I'll take the rack and go back to sleep."

     "Nope! It's my turn and I'll spend it however I like." He ended by sticking his tongue out and making international rude gestures in Stinky's direction. Needless to say, Stinky broke into a tirade of cursing. I slapped him on the back and frowned my disapproval, which only served to bring his cursing in my direction. At least he was awake...

     It was two in the morning before I finished my report. I had to tally all we had done during the day and send it back to the ship. There wasn't much, but I had to make it sound like we were a four-man army. Only Plants and I were up. I sent the others off to lullaby-land by midnight. No sense in wearing them down when there wasn't anything going on.

     I sat up for another hour before I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. I had been up for twenty-four hours and that was my limit. I had to get some sleep if I wanted to function when the new day came. I woke Jonesy, then quickly curled myself into the warm spot he vacated.

     "TH, Terry wake up! Hey man, the Lieutenant's gone and Plants says he's got something. Come on, get up!" I was dragged to my feet and shook roughly. I thought I’d been asleep for a grand total of thirty seconds.

     "What? Who's where?" It was now 0530 and my senses eluded me. I was being shaken and I was standing, but that's all I understood. All of a sudden, the shaking stopped. Far off in my mind I thought I heard swearing, then a canteen cup of water rained into my face.

     That was all I needed, because I balled a fist and prepared to punch at the swearing face in front of me.

     "Hey! It's just me. Chill out!" Stinky looked concerned, which was a different expression for him.

     "O.K. I'm up. Sorry, Stinky. What's up?" Stinky told me that Plants had been listening in on a conversation for over an hour and that they repeatedly mentioned "hostages." Stinky had gotten up only a few minutes ago and noticed that the Lieutenant was gone. He looked around quickly outside the building, but the Lieutenant was nowhere near.

     "Well, Dick Head can fend for himself. Plants, give me a run down and Jonesy, what kind of line of bearing (LOB) do you have?"

     "Just something about the scumbags moving hostages; three, I think, but that's all I'm getting. Those morons can't coordinate what they're doing so they're just swearing at each other."

     "Yeah, TH, they stay up on the handset for a long time. Real easy to get a good LOB on 'em. They're shooting a 115 true." I immediately contacted the ship with a short, but clear report. They lost their collective minds and started asking endless, senseless, and unanswerable questions. I cut them off telling them that I would contact them when I had further information. Over and out. I guess they understood that. About ten minutes later, the terrorists came back on the radio, but this time they gave a firm location where they were headed.

     I guess the ship had also been listening in because the radio immediately crackled to life. "Yankee Six Sierra, this is Bravo Niner X-ray, over."

     "This is Six Sierra, over," I answered.

     "This is Niner X-ray. We LOB your target at 168, over."

     "I copy 168. Wait one, over." I drew a straight line from the ship at 168 degrees. Our line of 115 degrees was already drawn from our building. They crossed neatly in the middle of a block held by the Shiite. RDF was not an exact indicator of locations, but it did give a general idea. I brought the map close to Plants and showed him the possible location. He studied it through his John Lennon glasses, then traced a line along a street from my crossed lines to a point only four blocks from where we now sat. "That's where they're going, TH! I know it. Right there!" He made a gouge in the map with his fingernail. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his hand shook slightly. It was hot outside, even this early, but not that hot.

     I keyed the handset, "Niner X-ray, this is Six Sierra, over."

     "This is Niner X-ray. Go ahead, over," The gunnery sergeant's voice came back. The ship knew how important this information was and undoubtedly, everyone who was anyone was jammed into the intelligence spaces, listening in.

     "This is Six Sierra. Transfer of hostages currently underway to grid location 4287 3561. How copy, over?"

     "This is Niner X-ray. Transmission garbled. Say again your last, over." Before I could answer, mortar rounds crashed into the building across the street, sending stone chips flying in through the window. The entire block was being shelled.

     "Niner X-ray, this is Six Sierra, over." My answer was static. "Stinky, get upstairs and check the antenna."

     He hesitated for only a second, then ran for the stairs. At that same instant, a cammie clad figure burst through the doorway and slid face first across the floor. The lieutenant had returned.

     He rolled over, shock and terror gripped his features. Jonesy shook his head and Plants nervously clenched his fist. I grabbed the lieutenant's collar and pulled him up. I wanted to hit him, but he was senseless already. Not only had he compromised himself, he had compromised our position, and now our whole mission was in jeopardy. I let go of him.

     "Hey Goldy, the Two Niner Two is down. The mast is broken in half and the elements are all bent to hell. The other two antennas are O.K., I think. I didn't get too close."

     I thought for a minute. The shelling was letting up. Well, at least it was going away from us.

     It seemed like we were in the eye of a hurricane, and that's how I felt; we were surrounded by a storm. "Pack it up. We're leaving." My team seemed only too eager to comply.

     Despite our haste, it still took over half an hour to load the radios and the two remaining antennas into our packs.

     We were set. The lieutenant had regained most of his awareness and was standing, loaded down, just like the rest of us. I had the PRC-77 set up and on, the tape antenna protruding from my pack and the handset clipped to my H-harness. "O.K. stud muffins, here's the deal. Jonesy, you got the lead, then Stinky. I'll baby-sit the LT and Plants, you bring up the rear."

     I laid the map on the counter and showed our route to Jonesy and to Stinky.

     "We go fast, understand?" All heads nodded in agreement. "We have to get those eight numbers back to the ship, then it's their ball game." 4287 3561. Those numbers were burned in my mind. I had to get them to someone who could do something with them. The ship had both Snakes (AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters) and Frogs (CH-46 Sea Knight medium lift helicopters). They could get in, grab the hostages, save the day, and get out in a matter of minutes. That was their job.

     We had done ours. All that remained was to give them the grid coordinates.

     "Rock and Roll, Jonesy." He turned and stepped out the door. Stinky watched him go, waited about ten seconds, then followed. I did the same, the lieutenant beside me. We walked quickly down the side of the street, staying close to the buildings. A couple of houses ahead, Stinky walked at the ready, a thirty round magazine locked into his M-16. Jonesy was a ways up ahead, looking everywhere, yet moving forward at a fast pace. I turned around. Plants was a couple buildings behind the lieutenant and me. Plants smiled at me, then checked to his rear and gave me the thumbs up.

     We had only covered two blocks when automatic weapons opened up in front of us. Jonesy dove into a bomb crater in the street. Stinky broke into a run and dove into the same crater. I stepped through a doorway near me, the lieutenant right behind me. I heard the steady tread of a Marine running and an instant later, Plants barreled headlong through the doorway.

     I stuck my head out and gave Stinky the "wait" sign. He waved back "O.K." I keyed the handset, knowing my chances of getting through were about zero. Transmitting from inside a building was rarely successful. "Bravo Niner X-ray, this is Yankee Six Sierra, over." I called twice more, then clipped the handset back to my harness. I looked out the doorway once more and waved to Stinky and Jonesy to come over to the building. Jonesy aimed his M16 over the edge of the crater in the direction of the weapons fire. I added a few rounds of my own to cover the repositioning of my point man.

     Stinky jumped up and ran straight to the doorway. When he was in, Jonesy popped up and sprinted for us. As he neared the doorway, a machinegun sprayed the face of our building. He dove through the opening and rolled behind the wall.

     "Stinky, look for a back door!" I peeked out a nearby window. A number of ragged militia ran from behind a building across the street. Plants and I fired at the running targets, causing them to scatter. Two jumped into the crater Jonesy had just vacated and the other five ducked into the open building directly across from us.

     "No-go, TH. This is the only way in or out."

     "Don't they make back doors in these places? I'm beginning to severely dislike these people."

     "O.K. What can they do? They can call in mortar fire on us. They can blockade us. They can call up some reinforcements. What can we do?" I thought out loud. There didn't seem to be much that was in our favor.

     The longer we waited, the worse it would get.

     As they say, no time like the present. "Dump your packs. They're staying." We organized our packs into a neat little pile. I took out our one Thermite grenade, pulled the pin, then set it on the packs. We watched as the radios and antennas melted under the extreme heat of the burning thermite.

     "TH, something's going on." Plants had been keeping an eye on the building across the street and it seemed that indecision was also gripping our adversary.

     "Stinky, you have the best arm. Put one grenade in the crater. Jonesy and I will send a couple more across the street and by the time the smoke clears, we better be around the corner and setting a new team sprint record." The three of us pulled the pins together.

     Stinky launched his first, then jumped to the side as Jonesy and I sent our grenades skittering across the street. The explosions came quickly and we dashed out the doorway. As Stinky and the lieutenant were turning the corner towards freedom, the sound of a rifle crack echoed down the empty street behind. Then more shots followed. We had been seen.

     We stopped behind the corner. I grabbed the lieutenant’s harness. "You get these men back to the ship. Do you understand?"

     "What are you going to do, Sergeant?" the lieutenant of old demanded.

     "I'm gonna distract them. I'll catch up with you, but for now, get those coordinates back to the ship." I leaned around the corner and fired a couple rounds. There was a brief shuffle behind me. I fired another round. Not wanting to look back, I listened as my team moved out.

Then, I was alone. I had the scumbags right where I wanted them. There was no one to slow me down...

Nomad's Galaxy - Quotes & Snips #1

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Nomad's Galaxy

Terry Henry Walton Chronicles, Book 10

Craig Martelle & Michael Anderle


The snippets were all spoilers on Nomad's Galaxy, so we decided to go with one-liner quotes from the characters, Terry-isms, and things like that. You'll get one a day over on the Facebook page. Here are the first few...


Gene and Fu's Epic Journey to the Crimea

Posted on August 2, 2017 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Unedited (as in, I wrote it and pasted the story in here without re-reading. I apologize for any miscues - we'll have it edited before we roll these shorts into their own book to supplement the Terry Henry Walton Chronicles.

WWDE+63

Gene and Fu’s Epic Journey to the Crimea

     Gene and Fu left Petersburg with a huge bag of food and household items that Gene carried nonchalantly over one shoulder. It weighed twice as much as Fu, but he didn’t care. They were going someplace warm, because Fu was cold in Petersburg.

     The Werebear didn’t even question the journey. Once Fu said she couldn’t get warm, the decision made itself.

     Gene wasn’t sure how to get there.

     “Where is Crimea?” Fu asked innocently as they walked. Even though Gene shortened his stride, Fu still skipped and hopped every third step to keep pace.

     “Head south. Hit Black Sea. Turn left, find Crimea,” Gene replied.

     She looked at him out the corner of her eye.

     “I don’t know,” the big man admitted. Fu smiled and giggled.

     “I think it will be okay,” she suggested.

     “Of course!” the big man bellowed in his heavy Russian accent. “We are together, Evgeniy and Fu, Fu and Evgeniy, as it shall always be.”

     Fu smiled and tried to adjust her hand. She could only see her wrist. Gene’s fingers could wrap around her hand twice, but at least it was warm. Gene was always warm.

     Her personal bear rug. She’d been a servant, but no more. Gene saved her from that life. Sometimes she wondered how she deserved the adoration of such a man, but stopped when she realized those thoughts wasted time. She accepted it, without taking it for granted.

     Gene needed so very little from her. He only wanted to love her. The big man, older than she would ever know, had never been in love. The sparkle in Fu’s almond-shaped, big brown eyes drew him to her, made him feel different, self-conscious.

     He worried that he was too big, too gruff for such a delicate flower.

     She worried that she was too fragile for a man with strength like his. He picked her up and carried her like a child, but she never felt childish. And he was gentle.

     “Why you love me, Gene?” she asked in her lilting accent.

     “Because you are my Fu,” he answered simply, unsure of the question.

     “Gene,” Fu said, prodding him in the chest with her tiny finger as she relaxed in his arm with her head on his shoulder.

     “You make me feel,” Gene started slowly, looking down at the ground as he plodded forward, step after step. “I feel everything better, colors are brighter, air is cleaner, birds sing louder, world is better place with Fu in it.”

     “I like being in your world, too. You make me feel safe. I never felt safe before I met you.” Fu looked away and pointed to the ground.

     He put her down, adjusted the bag over his shoulder, and they kept walking.

     South. Always south.

     The heat came whenever they walked away from the river, bearing down on them. Gene gave Fu all the water, but his need was greater than hers. And then they ran out, somewhere northwest of Moscow as they were trying to skirt the city, looking for a series of lakes, Ruzos, Gene thought they were called.

     Fu collapsed. Gene’s head swirled. He yelled at the sky and screamed at the hard, dead earth. He changed into Werebear form and struggled against the greatest enemy he’d ever faced. His love was dying and there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

     He moved her about with his massive snout until he could drape her over his neck. He grabbed their bag, light because there was no food or water within.

     Gene started to lope, on three legs as he held his unconscious wife in place with one paw, taking care not to dig his claws in. Being in Werebear form cleared his head enough to use his heightened senses. Water. He could smell it.

     He turned in that direction and ran as fast as he dared, Fu bouncing on his neck and shoulders. He knew that she would be bruised and sore, but water was life!

     Gene saw the green of vegetation, hiding within a dip, a valley through which a stream flowed where a small lake had formed. Gene slowed to negotiate a bank, jump across a ravine, and plowed into the clear water without hesitation. Fu fell from his neck and sank below the surface.

     A human Gene swam below her and brought her up for air. He faced her head down and slapped her back, driving the water from her lungs.

     She sputtered as he nestled her into the relative cool of the small lake. Gene dipped his face in and drank. Fu’s eyes fluttered as she came back to the present.

     “Drink, my lover, drink. Good water,” Gene said roughly, his hair matted to his head from the road dirt.

     Fu sipped at first, then drank more. They relaxed in the water. Gene held his hairy arm over her head to block the sun. Her delicate and porcelain features brightening from their trek under a harsh sun.

     They waded ashore where a naked Gene built a small lean-to using the bag, its contents dumped on the ground. He returned to the lake with the flasks, filling them all, while drinking fully in quantities that only a Werebear could hold.

     “I don’t mind, but where are your clothes?” Fu finally asked. Once Gene’s head was clear, he knew that he would have to backtrack a few miles to find where he’d changed form. The three legged tracks through the Fallen Lands would be easy to follow.

     “That way,” Gene said, pointing. “I get them and come back soon.” He leaned down to kiss her, and she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled herself to him.

     “Don’t leave me,” she whispered. He nodded and lay down next to her, handing her a flask so she could keep drinking. Caressing her hair with a meaty hand, he didn’t remember falling asleep.

     When they awoke, it was early morning. Dawn’s approach lightened the eastern sky. Gene and Fu drank and then bathed in the lake. They moved upstream to drink some more. Gene picked up Fu and carried her in his arms as he ran through the darkness on his way to recover his clothes, his Were-enhanced vision helping him see the way.

     It took less than thirty minutes to run the five miles to where his clothes had been abandoned.

     He dressed and bowed for Fu as if they were on parade. She clapped before he picked her up and ran back to their camp. Gene didn’t see an elevation from which they could learn where they were, but it didn’t matter. The sun rose in the east, which meant that the small river leading from the lake was heading south.

     They packed their stuff and headed out. There had been no fish, but there were tracks in the muddy shore. Gene thought they were from a deer, but they could have been a wild boar. He trusted their scent more than their tracks, but they were old.

     The first day of their new lives was spent hungry, but at least they had an unlimited supply of water.

     Gene didn’t risk crossing the open Wastelands again. He stayed near the river, following its meandering track.

     South. Always south.

     The third day and Fu’s ribs were growing more pronounced against her skin. Gene knew they had to find food. He was starving, but he knew that Fu would eat first.

     Terry Henry always ate last and finally Gene understood why. Everyone needed somebody to take care of them. Terry’s love was for all mankind, for the humanity he fought to save. He had taken on the responsibility of bringing back civilization. That meant sacrifice. That meant eating last.

     Gene was a Werebear, a solitary creature who fought to live, not to take care of someone else. That was, until he met Fu.

     Sacrifice for others, even something so simple as eating last. It made sense. If one provided enough, then everyone ate well. If there wasn’t enough, then the leader failed.

     There wasn’t enough. Gene was failing Fu, but she hadn’t complained. She trudged along, smiling when Gene looked at her. When they found the tracks. Gene set up a camp and moved downwind so that his prey wouldn’t smell him.

     He wanted to change into Werebear form, but there was always a risk that the animal would take over. Once that happened, the human Gene would be gone forever. He couldn’t leave Fu out there, so he stayed in human form, picked up two rocks to brain an unsuspecting animal.

     Gene counted on his unnatural strength to give him the edge. He tracked the animals, looking for where they found shelter. Roe deer. Not much bigger than a dog. A small family.

     Survival of the fittest. Gene didn’t hesitate. With one throw, he took out two of them and the second rock nearly took the head off the third animal. He hurried into the glade, snapping their necks, frowning with the act. There wasn’t enough for both of them, but Fu could eat well for a week.

     And so she would. Gene ate the minimum he could to maintain enough strength until he found a better source of food.

     Fu sensed the Werebear’s unhappiness as he cleaned and cooked the small animals. She ate in silence, knowing that she had to, knowing that he had done what he had to for her.

     “We will survive, my Gene,” she finally said. “I want you to know that I’m not cold anymore.”

     Gene looked at her and with tears in his eyes, he started to laugh. He stood and started to dance, Russian style, but without music, his arms crossed as he dipped and kicked his legs out, yelling ‘Ha’ with each movement.

     After two more weeks of traveling down the river before they stood on the shore of the black sea. Gene had speared fish and a great wild boar that sustained them. Fu found root vegetables and edible greens.

     It took both of them to sustain each other. Gene understood the harmony of their partnership. What he would do for her, she would do for him and together, they were far stronger than they could ever be alone.

     Gene picked Fu up and swung her around in a circle. “I already like it here,” he told her in his heavy Russian accent.

     “Khorosho, i ya tozhe,” she replied in Russian. Good, and me, too.

Nomad's Force - SNIPPET 10

Posted on July 24, 2017 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

UNEDITED

Nomad's Force - SNIPPET 10

Terry Henry Walton Chronicles Book 9

Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle

Cancun

     After cleaning fish for two days, Terry and Char had enough credits to find a sailboat to crew.

     Char wore her bikini and Terry wore the swim trunks that she had picked up for him in San Francisco. They strolled casually to the harbor where they picked the biggest boat and then worked their way down the line.

     Everyone stopped to stare as Char was probably the most remarkable woman who had ever stepped on the docks. Her bikini left little to the imagination, which made the men gawk.

     “You’re going to start a riot,” Terry whispered.

     “Seems like it,” Char replied with a smile, nodding to deck hands as she walked past one of the smaller boats.

     The largest boat had a full crew and an old captain. He waved Char and Terry away as they approached. “Hell no!” he yelled gruffly.

     “We just want to work and yours is the finest ship here,” Char called to him.

     “Hell no! A woman looks like you? My crew will be distracted and make mistakes. And you hold no attraction to me. My baby is right here under my feet. Now scram!”

     “He’s got a point,” Terry whispered out the side of his mouth as he and Char turned toward the next largest sailboat.

     The look on the next captain’s face told them that they had found what they were looking for. He leered as he looked at her, while keeping an eye on his small crew to see if they were watching.

     “Ahoy!” Char called. “We know how to sail, and we’re looking for work. We’d like to join your crew.”

     The man pointed to the gangplank. “Not him. Only room for one,” the captain said, crossing his arms and stretching himself upright.

     “We’re kind of a package deal,” Char told him.

     “Nope,” the captain insisted.

     “Sorry,” Char replied and walked away with an extra bounce in her step, an extra swing of her hips.

     “Wait,” the captain said firmly. “Come on. Let’s see what you can do.”

     The man couldn’t take his eyes from Char as she easily crossed the gangplank and stood on the gently rocking deck. She balanced as if she were born to the sea. No one noticed Terry as he stood in her shadow.

     “You, top of the mast for watch,” the captain ordered, pointing to Terry. TH acknowledged with a half-assed salute and jumped to the knotted rope, climbing quickly to the top. “Prepare to cast off lines!”

     The crew tried not to look at their captain’s latest prize as they went about their duties.

     Char watched what they were doing to see if she and Terry could sail the ship by themselves.

     Guess we should have thought about that before picking this one, she thought.

     Terry was crouched in the crow’s nest looking over the harbor and to the horizon. He saw her watching him and waggled his fingers at her. She shook her head before returning her attention to the captain. She joined him aft, by the tiller.

     “Where do you want me?” she asked shyly.

     “I think you know,” the captain said thrusting his chest out. He was lean as were most people in the world after the fall. His face was weathered even though he was still a young man.

     “I really don’t know. I can drive the boat, or work the sails, or clean the deck. But I need something to do. I can’t in good conscience just stand here and do nothing,” Char replied honestly.

     “You’ll be doing something soon enough,” the captain replied, not taking his eyes from the harbor as the boat started to pick up speed. The foresail had been deployed and billowed with the breeze.

     “This is a ketch, isn’t it?” Char asked, knowingly exactly what the sailboat was. “The mainmast is forward and larger than the after mast.”

     “Maybe you do know about sailing. How come I haven’t seen you before? You know that you’re hard to miss,” he said more conversationally.

     Maybe I won’t have to kill you, Char thought, as Terry enjoyed his perch, swinging back and forth as he looked ahead, seeing only Isla Mujeres to the northeast amid the dark blue of the deeper gulf.

__________________________________

And that will be the last snippet. Nomad's Force will be out on July 28th, Friday in the U.S.I am 5k words into Nomad's Galaxy:).  That one is next and will hopefully roll quickly. After this snippet, Nomad 10 is my focus for the rest of this week. I'd like to be more than half way done by August 1st.We already have the cover, so I expect we'll start Nomad 10 snippets the first week in August. I hope you don't mind if we get that book to you a little sooner than the time lag between Nomad 8 and Nomad 9 (but that was two books' worth of material, so for the extra week it took, you get a lot more book).


SMOKE! We had high winds and storms last night that blew in smoke from wildfires to the west of Fairbanks. And rain. Interesting to have so much smoke trapped close to the ground while it's raining, but that's how it works. The air is downright chunky. Phyllis the Arctic Dog remained unperturbed throughout.


The rain helped my road repairs, if that's any consolation (and it is!). I bought gravel with fines so that it would hold together better. Getting watered has packed the mix into the potholes better. It's looking good. I might go out and shovel another half ton into holes by the entrance, but too many people spin their tires through that area which keeps it in a perpetual state of being torn up. I'll probably throw some gravel in the deeper holes to keep a certain amount of speed bump action going.


Our one plant in the garden is happy - the zucchini is cranking and has two baby zucchinis. Here's to them in the hope that they'll grow up to be big and strong.



Mystically Engineered

Posted on July 21, 2017 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Mystically Engineered - this is the intro to a short story that I'm working on. A little magic in space:).


     The Toros mothership remained stationary beyond the heliosphere. The runabouts’ crews were being briefed on their missions, a raucous affair reminiscent of an old Earth squadron ready room. There was yelling and grab-ass, few people were paying attention. The briefing officer was a pogue that somebody slightly more important sent in his place.

     The young man suffered the indignity of reading the line items that were already uploaded to the runabouts, the scout vessels that would collect data for future analysis. Somebody who was somebody would look at the data and decide if the system’s planets or moons were right for terraforming, mining, or ignoring.

     The mystics were getting a separate briefing, because they didn’t like the noise. A chief briefed the first-class, second-class, and third-class mystics. Not a word was spoken during the briefing. It was done in absolute silence. The astral plane was better explored through the commune, the way that the mystics funneled energy through their bodies.

     The mystics reached into the red dwarf system, caressing the waves that emanated from it, peeling back the layers of mist to reveal what was beneath. Even on the astral plane, distance mattered. Many of the planets’ secrets remained hidden.

     That’s why mystics deployed on the runabouts.

     It was regulation to put a Mystic First Class, an M1C, on each boat. An additional mystic was added to support the first. The purveyors had found that the missions could be too hard on a lone mystic. Even the crews could be too hard on their mysterious comrades, since they rarely entered each other’s domain, the crews embracing technology to do their jobs, while the mystics worked outside the normal understanding of the physical world. Science couldn’t explain what they could do.

     And those without the gift considered the mystics to be freaks, even though they had their own space academy with academic rigors comparable to the fleet’s training center.

     Comparable, but not.

***

     Lieutenant “Billy” Billford captained the Toros-9, as it was given the mission of the moons, arbitrarily numbered four through seven, orbiting the third planet from the star. Toros-4 was given the mission to survey moons one through three, While Toros-1 and Toros-7 had the worst duty which was to conduct the planetary survey.

     "You suck!” Billy yelled at his fellow boat skipper, the captain of Toros-1. “An old boat driving parallel lines around a dead planet. How cool is that?”

     “Amaze-balls, I tell you! Your jealousy reeks of last night’s dinner. You can’t have my gig, no matter how much you beg, Billy!” the slight man shouted down the passageway as the crews made their way to the ships’ access tubes. The skipper of Toros-1 flipped Billy the double bird, making them both laugh.

     M1C Coraolis watched in amazement. M3C Fleeston stood at his side, unsure of what she was seeing. “I swear. I shall never understand the ways of the norms,” she said softly.

     “We don’t use that term here. We are one crew,” the M1C replied.

     “Hey, Mike!” the boat’s chief engineer called.

     “His name is Coraolis,” Fleeston offered. The chief waved her off.

     “Do you have any new tricks for us this time, or is it going to be the same old tired illusions?” the chief asked.

     “Probably the same stuff, Chief. Go with what you know, I always say,” Coraolis replied, smiling warmly.

     “You got that right! See you on the mess deck, Mike.” The chief turned into the tube and hurried away, talking to the ship as he approached the hatch.

     “But your name isn’t Mike, and we don’t do tricks,” Fleeston muttered, confused at the exchange.

     “He calls me Mike, because of the M1C. Just wait, he’ll call you, Mack.”

     “But I’m a woman,” Fleeston countered, still confused.

     “Not to him. You’re just another illusionist. Yes, he’s one of those, but he’s a good man, a great engineer, and not a shabby chess player, either.” Coraolis guided the M3C into the tube as they joined the crew in boarding the Toros-9.

_______________________________________

That's the start. I think it's going to be a good story. I hope Chris Fox likes it for inclusion in his anthology:).

Nomad's Force - SNIPPET 9

Posted on July 20, 2017 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

UNEDITED

Nomad's Force - SNIPPET 9

Terry Henry Walton Chronicles Book 9

Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle

I read this snippet as well (most of it anyway) - see it on FB. https://www.facebook.com/TerryHenryWalton/" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/TerryHenryWalton/

     Kaeden, Marcie, and Ramses had prepared a squad on squad contest, pitting the three squads against each other to determine what was in a remote homestead in the north. The three squads had to reach the place undetected, conduct the reconnaissance, and then leave. If they encountered one of the other squads, they were to neutralize them through non-lethal hand-to-hand combat.

     Gunny Lacy and her two squads were acting as the judges by staging themselves along the route and acting as the targets at the homestead, which was an active vegetable farm.

     The few members who would be working at the farm were looking forward to the inevitable good eating that came from helping the farmers with the manual labor.

     The three team leaders collaborated to choose their routes north as they didn’t want initial conflict the second they started. They’d learn more when their people were tired, which would best replicate combat conditions. The colonel always told them the most impactful training happens at the end.

     The three squads chose night time to travel. They all assumed it would take one night to get into place.

     After the first mile of pushing, Kaeden slowed his group. They were making too much noise and highlighting themselves by moving through open areas to maintain speed.

     Kae called a halt and huddled the team in a small depression. “We go slow. Bing on point. Slow, stay to the shadows. We’ll get into place tomorrow night. We can’t risk being discovered before we get there. The mission objectives are clear – stealth takes priority. We can run back if we need to, but we can’t be found out before we get there,” he whispered.

     The old stealth versus speed argument. He’d fallen into the trap by setting a schedule that was too aggressive. When the team moved out a second time, Kaeden was pleased with their efforts to blend into the shadows. He relaxed as they moved and listened intently, observing with his enhanced vision, reveling in his new abilities.

***

     Marcie chose a route close to the lake which doubled the distance she had to travel. Her squad took off running and maintained a withering pace for over half the night as they ran along roads. Her idea of stealth was to stay away from the areas where she could be observed. When she finally stopped the team to reorient them for an approach to the objective from the east, they dropped their packs and fell to the ground, exhausted.

     She wanted to take a fifteen-minute break, but gave them an hour and a half to sleep while she stood watch.

     When they awoke, Marcie was still fresh, and they looked dogged. But she wanted to get into place by dawn.

     “On your feet. Stealth mode people for the last couple miles. We have time, so go slow to go fast. But we need to go now,” she told them, trying to be encouraging.

     The team stumbled from their temporary bivouac and headed back into the rugged terrain. They disappeared from view, but Marcie could hear them as easily as if they were driving a jeep.

     She shook her head and signaled for her team to slow down. Each warrior passed the order up the line. When they slowed further, the noise died down where an unenhanced human wouldn’t catch it.

     Marcie was satisfied with the stealth, but concerned about the time as the false dawn started to light the sky.

***

     Ramses took the straight approach to the objective. He figured that the shorter distance they had to travel, the better off they would be. He had his team traveling deliberately from the start. He took frequent breaks and kept them fresh. He knew by midnight that they would make it that night.

     He settled his team in, one hour watches and let them rest, deciding that they would move during the day, extra slowly, but when they were fresh and then low crawl into position when everyone else could still see where they were going.

     Ramses expected that being able to see would outweigh the risks as his people would be well-rested and alert.

_____________________________________

What craziness is ours? Water & utilities! I have to go to the spring to get drinking water - that would be Fox Water, some of the best on the planet and available at no cost (donations are appreciated - I threw some money their way since it is now privately maintained).


And then I have to load up my water tank into the back of my truck and go to town to get 700 gallons of town water to fill our underground tank. I like keeping that topped off. Well water isn't good here - arsenic, lead, everything that's bad for you, so instead of trying to purify that stuff, we have a water tank.It's not exactly the prepper way, but we like some modern conveniences. We also have a pellet stove instead of a wood burner. If the world ends, I'm going to have issues. I like coffee far too much.


I'm in the trough of creativity following the high of finishing Nomad's Force, my longest book ever. That was a great deal of work and it set me behind, although it put me ahead in my word count on the year. I budgeted 100k words per month and wrote about 125k total words over the past 33 days. Next up is Nomad's Galaxy. I have my outline. I have the ending (which will be written personally by Michael Anderle).


I just talked with Paul Middleton as well so we can insert a little interaction between Gene and Olaf into Book 10:). We hope you like it.


I'm still at 185 pounds and eating well. The turkey is almost gone. Phyllis is eating that with green beans and a small bit of kibble for her meals. We're all doing our part (mostly). And here's a picture of Phyllis, relaxing in the coolest spot on our property. Is the picture sideways? What the hell webs.com - it is upright everywhere else.


Nomad's Force - SNIPPET 8

Posted on July 20, 2017 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

UNEDITED

Nomad's Force - SNIPPET 8

Terry Henry Walton Chronicles Book 9

Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle

I did a live reading on the THW FB page of this snippet, if you'd like to go that route. https://www.facebook.com/TerryHenryWalton/" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/TerryHenryWalton/

North Chicago

     Kimber stood on her porch. Auburn was next to her with his arm wrapped around her waist. “I love having you home,” he told her.

     “I love being home, Auburn,” she replied, cupping his face in her hands. She caught a movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned and dialed in her vision, counting on her nanocytes to give her an extra boost, to see a little more clearly at long distance.

     She saw nothing out of place. The cattle wandered and grazed through the area where she thought she saw a movement. She was convinced someone was there.

     “What are you looking at?” Auburn asked.

     “I thought I saw something, but I guess not. What’s for dinner? I’m starved!” she told him.

     They went inside together where Auburn had steak and potatoes ready to cook over an outdoor fire. “Your appetite has tripled since you came back,” Auburn noted.

     “It’s the nanocytes. They require a lot of energy. More food. More energy. I’ve been asking for as much as they’ll give. As long as I eat, they’ll give me that and a little more. It’s weird, because I feel the same, but like me on my best days, but every day is like that,” she tried to explain.

     He smiled and shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. I’m just making small talk. There’s so much I want to tell you during the day, but when you’re here, none of that really matters. I want to experience life with you, and we don’t need to say anything to do that.” Auburn turned away as he was getting emotional. He had always tried to be the strong one in the relationship, even though Kim came to him as the complete package.

     She hadn’t needed his manliness before, but he couldn’t change who he was, just like she couldn’t change who she was.

     “I’m going to run out back for a bit. I want to check on something,” Kim told him. She left their cabin and started to run, increasing to enhanced speed. She jumped in stride, easily clearing a four-foot tall fence. She hit the ground with a thud and continued pounding her way into the pasture.

     She dodged cow pies as if running through a minefield, then slowed as she approached the area where she’d seen the movement. Once up close, the hide site was obvious.

     “Get the fuck out of there,” she ordered. The two warriors reluctantly got up and brushed themselves off. They had bushes tied to them to break up their outlines, but they hadn’t refreshed the foliage. Theirs was the only greenery in the area that had started to die.

     Kimber ripped a chunk off and showed it to them.

     “This was a great spot until that!” she declared, pointing at the brown and holding it against the green of the surround small bushes. “Close but no cigar, gentlemen. Damn! You stink.”

     “This channel acts as a sluice. I can’t say I’m sorry to get out of it,” the younger of the two said.

     “A sluice, huh? Let me guess. You grew up on a farm and you,” she pointed to the older of the two, “and you did not.”

     The young man nodded.

     “And this is where none of us are as smart as all of us. Work together. Get yourselves cleaned up and then get back here and find a different hide site.” She leaned close to them and looked around before whispering. “I won’t tell anyone I found you, if you don’t.”

      The two nodded and ran for the fence, climbed over it, and disappeared into the woods. She couldn’t fault their motivation. Training was about identifying deficiencies, correcting them, and getting better with each new session.

     They had two more days to prove themselves.

     Kimber was most impressed by their base level of training. The four new team leaders assumed it would take months. After the first couple days, she revised her timeline to no more than a month. She expected the others had come to the same conclusion. Since Kae, Marcie, and Ramses already knew their squads, they could focus their training on new procedures, and the team leaders needed to learn how to integrate their enhanced capabilities.

     The training was as much for them as it was for the new teams. Learning to work as a team was a constant challenge, as Kimber had just seen. It was too easy for the older or more experienced person to take over, discounting the opinion of someone junior.

     Kimber strolled through the pasture. A couple cows came up to her, looking for a handout. “I have nothing for you,” she told them as she scratched their foreheads. She wondered if her ranch days were forever behind her.

     She could lie to herself and say that someday she’d be back, but with her enhancements, she would live hundreds of years. She’d fought her calling for as long as she could, but her home was with the FDG, just like the rest of her family.

     She slowly climbed over the fence and headed for the cabin, unsure of what to tell Auburn.

__________________________

I forgot to post the text of this one, so here you go, post facto:). Snippet 9 is going up in just a couple minutes.




The World According to Clovis

Posted on July 19, 2017 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The World According to Clovis

     So many people! I love people! the dog thought. Hear me roar in joy!

     The coonhound puppy barked and barked until he was picked up.

     Wow! I sing the song of my people and someone picks me up! Look at that food! I love being picked up!

     “Shh, little puppy. Look at those big eyes. Who’s a good boy?” said a woman with blue eyes and a silver streak in her otherwise black hair.

     Who? I have to know! Who’s a good boy? Clovis asked, whimpering, engrossed in anticipation. Ooh. Have to pee. Ah, all better now. Where were we?

     “Clovis!” the pretty young woman said, holding the puppy at arm’s length as she looked at the wet spot on her pants leg.

     Wow! Look at that sammich. That little boy has a sammich. Put me down! Clovis thought. Almost in response. He was set gently on the ground. He bolted like greased lightning.

     At least that’s what he thought as he stumbled and tripped his way to the proffered sandwich. With one superdog leap, he cleared the final blades of grass. His dog mouth wrapped around the sandwich and his terrifying assault ripped it from the young boy’s grip. The child started to cry.

     Clovis gulped the sandwich down. Sammich and play! I love people. An older woman started to chase him and he ran, dodging under a table, among chairs, and between legs until she gave up.

     “Shoo, you mangy cur!”

     Another dog! Where’d you come from? Clovis growled and snapped, prancing back and forth in challenge to his fellow canine. The wolf bitch raised a paw and smacked the puppy on the head.

     Ow! Clovis cried and started to whimper. What did you do that for?

     Go away, she told him.

     I want to be big like you! Clovis said, happy once again, the surprise and pain of being on the wrong end of a wolf’s paw long forgotten.

     “Clovis!” the pretty young woman called. The dog looked around, but couldn’t see her. When he turned back he had to dodge out of the way as the wolf tried to pee on him.

     Hey! Clovis squatted and peed in the same spot, to add his mark to the wolf’s stench

     “What did you get into?” Clovis looked back to see two hands wrap around his sides and pick him up. Her round human face came close and sniffed. His tongue lashed out and caught her nose. She tickled his nose back. He liked her. Clovis licked her fingers. He tasted jerky. Which reminded him. He was hungry.

***

      Clovis thought the ledge had been lower. He’d always jumped onto it without issue, but it just seemed higher today. “Come on, boy,” the tall and dark-skinned man called. He was heading to the barn where he kept some of the cows. It used to be fun chasing the cows, but then the human… all the yelling …it was still worth it. After getting kicked, Clovis decided that maybe his humans were right.

     He panted as he loped after the man. It was just them while the others were gone. Did they leave yesterday? Maybe months ago? Clovis couldn’t remember. The females had their work and the males had their manly work. Clovis chose the manly work, in the pasture, with the cows.

     Auburn looked at Clovis’s graying face. “We need to build you a ramp, don’t we old boy?” he asked. Clovis cocked his head one way, and then the other. He wasn’t sure what the man was saying, but he talked all the time. Clovis listened because it was his job. The female had said so.

     The barn was packed with cattle. Auburn moved them to clear the way so he could get past. Clovis stayed on his heels.

     “It’s about time, isn’t it girl?” he asked the cow struggling with labor. Crimson was there, Alabama’s boy. He had been there all along and whistled as she got close. Auburn wanted to be there at the birth, just in case. Crimson was still training. He hadn’t seen it all yet.

     Clovis stared at the process. He stood mouth slack as he watched. He’d seen it before, but it always amazed him how big cows could poop out baby cows. Clovis always looked and sniffed at his, wondering why he never produced a puppy. He figured that he wasn’t eating the right stuff.

     Auburn was relaxed and calm which made Clovis calm. The calf was born without issues, and the big man cleared the way so they could leave. They didn’t go to the house, though, but the stable where the human hitched the horse to their cart. He waved for Clovis to jump in, but it was too high.

     Clovis whimpered. I’ll just run alongside, if that’s okay, he thought.

     “You ride up here with me!” the nice man said, getting down to pick Clovis up and put him up front.

     I can see the whole world from up here! he exclaimed as he sat on the padded bench next to the human. The ride was fraught with danger and adventure as Clovis imagined crazed beasts attacking from all sides. He barked at them as the man rubbed his back and held him close.

     The cart rolled into the main community of North Chicago and Clovis’s favorite spot, the park where there were always other dogs and people. Children mostly. He loved the children.

     When the cart stopped, Clovis leaned over the edge to jump down.

     “Hang on, boy,” the man said kindly. He got down first and walked around, where he could get a good grip and lower the old coonhound to the ground. Clovis wagged his tail furiously. He loped away, looking for something to eat, until he heard a voice.

     The musical voice of the one with glowing blue eyes. He hoped she had some jerky. She did last time he saw her. Was that yesterday? It didn’t matter, even yesterday was forever long ago.

     He saw her! There with the others. My whole pack. Holy crap! He ran toward them, reveling in his speed. He leapt for her. A big man stepped in the way and caught Clovis. “Hey buddy!” Terry said, holding Clovis close.

     Terry leaned close to Cordelia so Clovis could lick her face. “When are you going to train this dog?”

Nomad's Force - SNIPPET 7

Posted on July 17, 2017 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

UNEDITED

Nomad's Force - SNIPPET 7

Terry Henry Walton Chronicles Book 9

Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle

For this snippet, we're going to do something a little different - a live reading! Check it out on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCraigMartelle/videos/1837684546548493/" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCraigMartelle/videos/1837684546548493/

But if you want to read it, here it is with a little extra material, above and beyond what I read in the video.

Cancun

     Ted didn’t even wave as Terry, Char, Merrit, and Shonna stepped off the pod’s ramp and into the jungle clearing. He secured the pod and took off, grumbling constantly as his fingers danced across the touch screen.

     “All righty, then!” Terry declared with a big smile.

   “I guess we’re on vacation,” Char said with a bit of skepticism. “We are on vacation, are we not, TH?”

     “Of course! Why would you ask that?” Terry replied, wearing a hurt expression.

     “Uh huh,” Char said, rolling her eyes. “How long have I known you? We spent two weeks with the kids where you taught them survival skills. That’s it. That’s the sum total of all the time off you’ve taken. If you try to work, TH, I’ll kick your ass.”

     Terry’s smile returned. “You make me want to work, so I can get a right stiff paddling,” Terry taunted.

     “I married a child,” Char said, shaking her head. “We better get to the beach before anyone changes their mind.”

     “Talk about changing their mind, I don’t think Ted’s coming back for us. Not next week. Not ever,” Merrit said as the group started to head east, out of the jungle and toward the main town of Cancun. “I’ve known Ted a long time and it’ll take more than an act of congress to get him back here. I think he’s fed up with our taking his pod.”

     “It’s not his pod!” Terry blurted.

     “It ain’t yours either, but that’s how you treat it,” Shonna said. “Ted keeps it running. Just like that sailboat Ted used to have.”

     “But Ted wrecked it!” Terry countered in disbelief.

     “In his mind, you befouled it and ruined it for everyone. Same thing with the pod. He thinks of himself as the appropriate owner since he unlocked it and flew it away, completing its theft from the Forsaken. You’re just an interloper, Terry Henry Walton. Accept that, stick with driving your beater jeeps, and everyone will be better off,” Merrit suggested.

     “It’s a conspiracy,” Terry replied pointing toward Merrit and Shonna. “You’ll be hung for your treasonous acts.”

     “I think we should be drinking mai tais on the beach,” Shonna suggested.

     “Capital idea, dear,” Merrit replied.

_____________________________________

I have finally seen the hover bunnies. I have no idea how they sneak into the garden without leaving bunny prints, but they do. They are cute little buggers, but they have now trimmed our cheddar cauliflower to the ground. It had been making a valiant go of it, even without its leaves. But now, alas, it is no more.


The Zucchini and tomato plants soldier on! I have high hopes that the sellers at the farmer's market are doing well this year and from what I saw on Saturday, we have nothing to worry about. I even bought two bundles of fresh beets for my wife. I deplore them, but she loves them, so what am I to do?


We need some rain to firm up the filling that I used to repair our road. A good soaking should take care of it. A little extra on top as it compacts, and then one more layer should do the trick. That will make it so much easier on my snow thrower in the winter. I like not bouncing - it keeps the big snowthrower attachment on the front of my tractor steady.


Yes - I'm thinking about winter. It is July and we'll get our first snow fall probably in September. When that happens, those who got busy and the tenderfeet (not sourdoughs like us who have been here for a while) panic buy. It's best to already have your ducks in a row. October is when we lay in our supplies for the winter - six months of dog food, extra dehydrated goods, jerky, gasoline to run the generator for a month. That kind of stuff.


Back to the stunning finish of Nomad's Force. I hope to write "The End" today. Here's a picture of the Alaska Highway when we drove my wife's Jeep up here from the lower 48 a year after we moved up.



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