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Friday, April 12, 2013

Chapter 27 - Seminal Errors


Henri Gutzmann was a sleepless man. He was furious that the pretender chit of a girl was in Zurich, to claim the spoils of her ancestors. He chewed the end of his cigar almost wishing to gnash the scores of others who had participate in the events leading to his father’s death.  When Dr. Gupta had sent another SOS to him, he knew it was time to act on the information. With the girl in Zurich, things became simpler to handle. He debated a while before he chose to call the guy he resented the most, the man who was at the helm of Jewish Mafia.

But it had to be done. The destination was so close; the revenge could be complete in a matter of days. There was only one problem - the mafia wanted to lay its dirty hands on the operations but Henri had other plans. He wanted to expose the secret to the world, his one last grand act before he died to absolve his father who was accused of heinous war crimes. He was afraid he could not reveal his true intentions too soon to anyone, as it put his children and their families in danger. The mafia boss had already threatened him once.

“Hello, to what do I owe this pleasure?” the mafia boss intoned sarcastically.
“The bird and her lover are here.”
“I know.” The voice responded curtly.
“You knew and you didn’t think it was necessary to tell me?” Henri’s anger was palpable.
“Do you take me for a fool? Do you think my organization is a bunch of school boys trying to bully someone for silly marbles? I had them followed, I know where they are staying and I know what they’ve been up to.”
“What’s your plan?” Henri was almost too afraid to ask.
“Well, thankfully, our birds have solved the mystery for us so we don’t need to work our fucking brains for it.”

Henri stood up in surprise. He couldn’t believe the mystery of the Sabres was actually solved. The quest for the code to the vaults had led them on a wild goose chase across the continents, years and several murders. It was finally solved, just like that and none other than the last remaining, living heir of the dirty pack of wolves who had pillaged and profited from a war.

He knew the Sabres carried the code to the Swiss vaults. It took him 73 years of dogged persuasion to piece the puzzle, together, one Sabre at a time. Every royal that was killed was another Sabre and the serial number on the Sabre in his possession. And the mafia did the dirty killings for him, he kept his hands clean, promising assistance only when needed. Now, the only living royal descendant among all the royals, who had colluded in the ghastly conspiracy that killed his father, remained between him and his final mission. The bastard child of a royal solved the code to the vaults for him. How ironic and how convenient, he mused.

“Then what are we waiting for?”Henri could barely conceal his excitement.
“We pay them a short visit…soon”

*****
The two bodies had to hit the bed before they fell fast asleep. The wintry morning let in a few hesitant rays of sunshine into the room. ASR woke up as the life outside their hotel bedroom window stirred. He turned to gaze at Khushi.

It never failed to surprise him how beautiful she was. For a second, he felt proud to have her by his side, his lover, his need, his heart’s true desire. He watched her silently, careful not to awaken her, as her even breaths rose and fell and her nostrils flared slightly with each breath. Her smooth skin hid under the blankets and he felt the familiar stirring of need in him. Today could prove seminal in more ways than one for both of them and bring a closure to everything that had all started just three weeks ago, when he had first visited Khushi in her hospital room after she was attacked. Unknown to him then, he had fallen for her then and there.

Khushi was going to access the bank vaults. It could end in many ways, none of which appealed to him. If the combination lock worked, then Khushi would be the sole inheritor of whatever lay inside those vaults. It could mean many things for her - a lethal burden, a grave responsibility, a true revelation, a festering wound or a closure. She’d have to accept her royal lineage, take ownership of what is passed to her, however unwillingly, and decide on a future path. This also put her in grave danger. Any way he looked at it, he did not fit in the picture.

He scooped down and kissed her with full force. Her eyes shot open with surprise at first and then softened with realization of what Arnav was doing. She pulled him closer, locking her fingers behind his head and circled his waist with her winsome legs.

“We don’t have time.” He stopped, despite himself.
“Hmm” she half pleaded and half agreed.

He was beginning to reconcile with his part in her life. He had to be her guard, her silent watchman, one who was entrusted to bring her to her destiny but that was all he was meant to be. He could not be part of that glory or share her limelight or future. His role would need to end soon because he felt he was just too small for the grandeur that she was to be thrust into in a short few hours. She did not seem to realize it yet, but he did, with all its glaring realities. He would forever hover at the edges of her life, always present, always caring for her and always protecting her from the unseen and unknown. But he could never be part of her for good. Never. She was poised for something too big, too enormous to fit his station in life. He summarized his calling in her life in two simple words – silent guard. His heart sank at the thought.

“Penny for your thoughts?” she quipped watching his dull expression.
“I’d ask for more than a penny from you after tonite.” He smiled, trying to hide his foreboding, and pecked her one more time before he forced himself out of bed. He could not let his gloom pall over her big day. He had to force himself to smile. More importantly, he had to be alert.

Khushi watched him head to the bathroom. Her thoughts drifted to the onerous task ahead that she did not want. She was ashamed to be part of the gruesome history laid by her royal lineage. She was a bastard, and yet she was supposed to willingly take on the mantle and execute the will of the past in to a future. Part of her wanted to give it away to the mafia, which was hell bent on killing her to get access to the Sabres, the code and finally the wealth in the vaults. Another part of her wanted to run away, not acknowledging any of it.

She had persevered this far for one and only one reason – Arnav, the one man who had stood by her through thick and thin. She had to put a closure to this for his sake. He needed to chip away at the mafia any way he could to free himself of his guilt over Lana’s death and if she could be part of that healing, she was willing to die for it. She knew she would love him always but she also knew she could not drag him into the mess once the secret vault and its contents were revealed. The burden of the past was hers to bear and Arnav should be freed from her worries. She knew this would be the best course of action for him and for her. A lump formed in her throat as she forced herself to give up the one person she had come to value the most.

*****

The bank manager was ecstatic. He welcomed Arnav and Khushi and led them down to the basement of the bank where the vaults were located.
“These vaults were made before the war. They’ve stood the test of time. Some of them have not been opened in years. We are proud of our heritage.” The manager chattered away, partly to hide his embarrassment of the controversies the bank had been in regarding the WWII spoils.

The manager stood before a large door that presumably led to the vault. He turned the wheel of the master combination lock and stepped aside. Khushi smiled waiting for the vault to open.
“Madame, your combination please?” the manager gestured her to use her combination on the secondary wheel lock.
“Oh, yes, of course.” She stepped forward.
Her fingers trembled as she turned the lock.
289
She paused for a second and turned the wheel counter clockwise
1
She reversed the direction again.
4
Her breaths were muggy and ASR stepped forward to hold her by her shoulder. She looked at him and smiled. She turned the combination again
5
She couldn’t breathe as she made the final turn
20
Pause. Nothing.
Suddenly, the vault clicked opened and the door released with a tired, creaky groan. The manager pushed the door open and stepped back as the heavy door screamed in protest for oil on its hinges.

“Madame, please” he gestured her to walk into the large roomy vault, “I will be upstairs if you need me. Once you are done, please ring this bell and I will be down to lock the vaults. Enjoy.” He smiled and walked in a straight jacket upstairs.

Khushi stood riveted to the floor. She wanted to turn back and run away. There was no gumption left in her to deal with the ugliness that lay on the other side.

“A few more steps Khushi, then it’s all over.” ASR urged her and held her hand. She gripped his hand tight and took the first step into the vault.

The place looked bare with a couple of large fluorescent lights brightening the space in a sterile blue tone. The walls were covered with rows of lockers like cabinets, and each one had a label on it, denoting the name of the royal family to which it belonged. Khushi’s hands trembled as she desperately searched for names of her great grandfathers. She located Madhav Singh at the far corner of the room. She closed in and turned the dial to open the locker. The door squeaked open.

She watched the content with no emotions. The locker was filled with exactly the kinds of things she had expected. Jewelry, studded stones, family heirloom paintings and government bond notes from the 40s, which could be worth billions in today’s currency. Her hands trembled as she picked a piece of diamond necklace. An innocent label hung from the end of the chain. She turned the label up and it announced, “Maharani Akansha Devi Singh”. Khushi recognized her great grandmother. She picked a book and opened it to find photographs of the family. Her eyes brimmed with tears at the sepia toned pictures of her family. She took a deep breath in as she noted the picture of Mahinder and its uncanny similarity to her facial features. ASR stood silently like a rock, prodding her to continue her exploration.

She located a few lockers marked SS, the signature swastika of the Nazis. She hated that moment more than she had ever dared to hate anything in her life. But something gnawed on her and she flung open the door to all the lockers assigned to Nazis. She stood back, taking stock of the 5 large lockers that lay open in front of her, debating which locker to look in at first. She decided on the middle one.

The items broke her heart. Row after row stocked artifacts and private possessions of people, all stolen, pillaged and tainted with blood of the many Jews who had died. A child’s Dreidel, a woman’s jewelry set, a man’s wallet still holding currency of the time. She located the locker dedicated to Schwabs. An emerald necklace caught her attention; it belonged to Jakub’s wife, her great grandmother. Jakub’s paintings were stacked vertically one after the other, each one reflecting the same characteristic Cubist strokes and technique. By the time ASR and Khushi were done assessing the contents, a good three hours had passed.

“I need air. I can’t stand here another minute.” Khushi gasped, unable to take any more of the dank basement air. The place quickly began closing in on her. She clutched her throat and grabbed ASR’s shirt sleeve for balance.
“Khushi!” he balanced her on his arm and reached for the alarm bell.

****

The ride back to the hotel was quiet. The tears had long dried and streaked Khushi’s cheeks, inviting strange looks from other passengers in the tram. It did not take a rocket scientist to know that the value of the contents in the vault was in the neighborhood of several billions of dollars. For the first time, ASR felt helpless and unable to guide Khushi to handle the mammoth inheritance and accept the responsibility that had befallen her. He felt a huge chasm separate them confirming his worst fears that his life with Khushi had changed forever. His only consolation would be to ensure her safety.

The hotel room door was open. Khushi and ASR exchanged curious looks and pushed the door in. Inside, dim lights formed silhouettes of two people sitting on opposite armchairs. They stopped and ASR grabbed her hand.

“Welcome back, cousin Khushi” Daniel’s deep voice was unmistakable.

“Oh! Daniel! Its you!” Khushi sighed with relief and stepped forward to give her cousin a hug. Two gunmen jumped out of the shadows and ASR heard the familiar click of a gun locking.

“Khushi, stop!” he warned her before another man appeared behind him and softly trained a gun to his temple. Reflexively, ASR raised his hands.

“Wh..Whats all this, Daniel? What’s going on?” she watched the commotion, utterly tired to make any sense of it.

“Just a precaution, cousin Khushi. You have nothing to fear.” Daniel’s icy cold voice sent a shiver down her spine. As her mind raced to piece the puzzle together, the other man on the recliner emerged from the shadows to the center of the room.

“Hello, Ms. Gupta, I am Henri Gutzmann.  My father served your great grandfather during World War II, helping him to hide the money in Bank Herzog.” The shriveled, deeply creased old face of the man was especially pasty and colorless in the unforgiving light of the room. She recoiled at the sight, ignoring the hand he had extended, a gesture that looked ridiculous given the circumstance.

“Do not worry, cousin Khushi. We just want to know what you found in the secret vault during your nice afternoon jaunt to Bank Herzog.”

“So that is what it’s all about.” She snapped, grinding her teeth in anger.

“Partly, yes.” Daniel shifted his position on the armchair and continued, “We’ve been following you cousin, for a long time. I really hated the idea of killing you because, well, you are partly our blood but…what your ancestors did, it is unforgivable. So yes, I had you followed, and now we know you have the secret code to the vaults and you know what’s inside them.” He stood up and inched closer.

“All we want now is the secret code. That’s all you need to do.” He leaned forward revealing a menacing grin. Khushi winced.

“And if I give you the code?”

“Then we can all forget this ever happened. Besides, you wouldn’t know what to do with all that money, would you?”

“As opposed to you, who would know how to misuse that money? Please!” she shot back before better sense prevailed and she decided to negotiate, “Before I do that, I want to ask you something.” Khushi snuck a look in ASR’s direction who was standing absolutely still, his face revealed no clue for her to follow.

“If its reasonable, yes.” Daniel circled her.

“Are you part of the Jewish Mafia?” She blurted.

Daniel stopped pacing and looked at her with steely eyes. Then he burst out laughing. Wiping tears from his eyes, he continued, “Not that it should concern you cousin,  but yes, I am part of it.”

“Who is your leader?”

“Tsk, tsk, you ask too many questions, cousin. It’s not your concern. The secret code, please.” One of the men punched ASR’s face as a punishment to Khushi for stalling. His upper lip bled as he buckled to hold the side of his face before the man straightened him. Khushi wanted to scream but was too petrified to react.

Henri hated blood. He wanted things to go down as easily and quickly as possible. He stepped forward to diffuse the tension in the room.

“Ms. Gupta, you were protected by my men for the longest time until your family moved to the States. I am now demanding that the wealth be returned to its people. Daniel here will help with that.” Henri tried to assuage the escalating situation.

“Why should I give it to you, Daniel? You will use it to make more weapons, drugs and run brothels. No.”

“No, what?” Daniel asked in disbelief.

“No, I will not give you the secret code. Either I keep the wealth or I die protecting it. But as long as I am alive, I will not give the wealth to murderers and criminals.”

A flash of pain coursed through Khushi’s neck as Daniel hit her with the stump of his gun. Her knees buckled as she crumpled to the floor falling unconscious.

“Khushi!” ASR jumped forward and several rounds of gun shots rang through the air. The hotel room door burst open surprising everyone inside the room. A melee of gun shots followed as Daniel’s men aimed at the intruders and ducked the returned fire.

The air in the hotel room hung heavy with smoke and smell of death. Then everything was quiet.




30 comments:

  1. Welcome back have missed this.

    Trust the relative to be involved. My guess is NK or ASR side have arrived but hopefully not too late.

    Glad u back and look forward to next update. :-)
    K

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  2. Whoa! Finally you updated.
    Will read and comment back.

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  3. Hi SJ,
    You're back , so so so happy to hear from you.
    Missed you my dear.
    Great chapter hope Kushi's ok.
    Kavita1970

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  4. On snap! Shit just got real! So this is where it all comes together. I just hope that Arnav and Khushi make it out okay!!! Thank you for the update!!

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  5. You came back with a bang, quite literally!

    The mess just got so real - and at so many levels. What it means for their future, what it means for their "relationship", what it means for the many things Khushi will have to take reign over.. and all of a sudden, BAM!

    Wonder what happened at the end of the crossfire, hope A & K are okay. Glad you are back, hope all is well with you :)

    IF - vgedin

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  6. so daniel is part of the mafia=/
    and hope arhi are okay
    wonder what will happen with the wealth

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  7. Omg.. Is Asr shot? We're they cops who enetered?

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  8. You updated and it was so worth it. I can imagine with a story like this n, you would want to do research and check your facts. This I am sure takes a lot of time especially with life's demands. So thank you for not abandoning this story and for not making us guess an ending with another unfinished ffs. This was an emotional and action packed update.

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  9. I am not sure what happened to the comments I entered earlier b4 login. I love the update and that you took the time to make it meaningful. I know a story like this needs time for research and validating facts. This is not easy to do with all of life's other demands. Thank you for coming back to it and not leaving us the readers guessing as to how this ends. This was such and emotions and actions packed update that it leaves me wanting for more. Felt so bad for them as they think about what will happen to them as a couple after they go to the vaults. Together they were able to solve the mystery but they cannot continue together afterwards. Disgusting when your family member turns out to be evil. Must applaud Kushi for not wanting the treasure to go back into dirty hands. I hope help did not come too late and that the Kushi is able to do good with the stuff that was illegally obtained and get these back to where they belong. Will it be too much to hope for a good ending for these 2? Just re- read the Filigreed Sun as I was missing the update to this one. Loved it even more the second time.

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  10. It is nice to see you back with such a wonderful update, SJ!!!

    I loved the dichotomy that you penned between Arnav's and Khushi's thoughts ....each wants to sacrifice for the other..that is true love...
    Khushi's sense of trepidation and then feeling stifled was plausible...Daniel ..a part of the Jewish mafia came as a shocker..and, gunfire in the room ,and, smell of death, before eerie calm settled down...was unnerving..
    Await the next with consternation..

    Aanchal15-IF

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  11. OMG! I can't believe how I missed ur update.
    Arnav is true lover, he is always besides her.
    So, her Daniel is part of it..money can make people such as him do anything
    arshiyana(IF)

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  12. OMG! I can't believe how I missed ur update.
    Arnav is true lover, he is always besides her.
    So, her Daniel is part of it..money can make people such as him do anything
    arhiyana(IF)

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  13. AOk ! I sense the need of commenting. Three days ago. Yeah, it was three days ago I got the link of ‘CARELESS WHISPERS’ through my fb friend, read the prologue and completed the whole FF in 2 days. Today, was checking your blog to save some of the parts (I usually read by downloading them), I found ‘Sabre Chronicles’ . My weakness lies in amazing stories- I read all the 27 parts in one go.

    It was a splendid journey through Careless Whispers- dark, intriguing and heart wrenching. I loved the humor impeccably balanced with the graveness: loved each and every characters, and here comes a vague feeling- I miss them. Love is absolute, not relative- you proved it. I am heavily influenced by you, in every terms, I beckon you a bow- thank you for aiding us with such wonderful delicacies---it’s stored in every frame of my memories- in many years to come, I will remember your fictions—ah, I had read some wonderful stuffs in my teenage. Thank You !!!

    Bending my talkies to ‘Sabre Chronicles’, the backdrop of World War 2 left me nonplussed and confused- but as the story furthered, it developed as such a wonderful mystery that left me thrilled to the toe everytime I read it. I escaped 2/3 chapters as I found them quite ‘inappropriate’ for my age( I had not read some chapters of ‘Careless Whispers’ too for the obvious reasons)- but I admire you, I adore you, you have got that talent, you must publish your works---I will stalk the bookshop owner then !!!

    I have been a ‘stuck’ fan of IPKKND, it certainly makes me feel proud sometimes, after reading your FF,I grin with a satisfaction- Ah, How wonderfully had IPKKND and its characters merged so well in ur minds and imaginations !!! You are awesome. Every detailing in this FF reflects your research. I have never witnessed such splendid writing anywhere. Your style of writing is heavenly-just a question—how do such wonderful concepts pop up in your mind?!! I am flabbergasted. If you were in front of me right now—I would hugged you endlessly. Koi baat nahi, Virtually ek Hug lelo !!! <3

    I don’t know if I’ll be able to catch up with the coming updates or not (My school is resuming in few days). Though, I can assure you—I’ll read them whenever I’m free and post comments too. Love you!!! Keep writing !!!
    love from Swastika (Nepal)

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    Replies
    1. awww thank you for the lovely note. btw, Careless Whispers is written by an infinitely talented, extremely sweet story writer called Meera S. (that is not me.) She has been a role model and a fine writer to follow. The fact that you even say the name of TSC in the same breath as Careless Whispers leaves me speechless and humbled. no exaggeration, i mean it.

      again thanks for the virtual hugs. ironic that your name is swastika when everything about this story is loaded with the not so humane use of swastika.

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  14. That was so crazy. ..... loved it....

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  15. YOU ARE BACK..WOOHOO.
    Now dont stop and continue with it. its a great story and the details are just ..aww worthy. just love the way you write. so please dont stop. i dont want to wait another month for the next chapter. just amazing.

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  16. Thank God you are back. Was wondering what happened.
    So Khushi and Arnav managed to open the vaults and find the treasure inside.
    But where there is money, greed will follow.
    Daniel is with the enemy only for money.
    Waiting to read more. Who entered the hotel room? Who was killed?
    Just waiting.
    Charu

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  17. omg ....i dont know wt to say.....finally everythings out in the open....hope kushi and asr are fine....great work ...keep it up

    flowers4u

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  18. you are back and what an update...never thought daniel was the boss...its so shocking...and what happened...who died....who came as a Savior...was it NK???

    yush

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  19. wohoo! she is back, finally!

    daniel i did not suspect but then....

    waiting to find out who was shot

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  20. You are awesum. I love the way you write.

    waiting for the next update.

    RT

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  21. Ure back! :D
    Daniel omg...that was unexpected....
    Oh god...who's dead?
    Great update!
    Rabzooo

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  22. SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, SJ! YOU ARE BACK!!
    Give me a moment to catch my breath, coz trust me Im jumping (literally) so bad on the bed Im sure its almost broken!

    Phew, okay. You have no idea how ecstatic I am to see Chapter 27. I almost thought you had discontinued this one. Thank you for continuing with TSC.

    And what a chapter this was! Arnav and Khushi - life can never be easy for them, isn't it? Well, life isn't exactly easy for anyone. But these two deserve so much better. It pained me to read Arnav and Khushi's thoughts about their futures - which are filled with uncertainty and doubt. Both trying to protect each other, destroying themselves in the process. Well, love conquers all, right? Thats my consolation.

    Khushi's fear when she's opening the vault was palpable, I so want this girl to be happy. The last scene - Cliffhanger! Last line gave me a very eerie feeling. Please tell me Arnav and Khushi are alright?

    SJ, thank you again for not letting go of this story. You are one of my favorite writers and TSC is very close to my heart. PLease dont take too long in updating this time.

    *Biggggggggg HUG*

    - VO.

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  23. Good to see you back ... missed you ... hope all's well ...

    Loved the update ...
    but just dont love you for leaving us with a cliff hanger :( ...

    read the chapter a few days back on my Ipad ... but am unable to comment from it ...
    the Blog does not accept my comment from it ... finally got to a PC and viola ...

    Thanks SJ ... release us from our misery and soon please ...

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  24. What just happened?
    SJ! pls dont do this! please update the next one soon!

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  25. SJ - what happened to The Filigreed Sun blog? I can't access it anymore. I love it so much, I keep re-reading it. Can please repost.

    Hope you update Sabre Chronicles soon.... desparately waiting for the next update.

    RT

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  26. So I am finally at chapter 27 & depression at having no more chapters to read is already setting in!!!!

    But I guess it will make me get my lazy arse in gear & do some work!!

    This chapter was superb & it cleared up my earlier confusion, I really hope you will update soon, please as I see it has already been while since this was posted!!

    Hope all is well with you SJ & once again apologies I the time it has taken me to return, but I am back now & very impatient for the next update!!!

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  27. so glad u are back. must catch up. see 2 new updates... so excited!

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  28. i saw that u were busy hha like me

    so could not read damm reports to write and uni lofe is damm though


    so now we have 3 days of and thought to read it


    and the cahpert was :* i could just feel and was so scary what will ahppen to them what is coming out so just awesome update and mysteri
    just think what happend there now

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  29. damnit daniel

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