• Published 11th Oct 2021
  • 390 Views, 14 Comments

The Many Lives of Strawberry Sunrise - Silent Whisper



Most new ponies feel alone when they first come to Ponyville, but Strawberry Sunrise is far less alone than she thought.

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Knock, knock!

Detention: Scout of the Golden Coast

Ughhh. You two just have to go and know each other, don’t you? Why did I get stuck with the boxes gig? My wings hurt!

Ash (can I call you Ash? Where’d that name even come from, if it isn’t yours?), I can breathe underwater, and see underwater, and swim better than a seal ever could! We’ve got gills. We’re ambidextrous!

I got to meet the new librarian today! She’s got a pet dragon! He’s so small and cute, and smells like smoked meat! Not fish though. He isn’t that cool. Also, I checked out library books. Hope you guys have fun with them, because I just picked random ones off the shelves. Got a few really boring ones for you, Ash, and Nimbus… well, you can read the other ones. At least Strawberry Sunrise is a pegasus, right? You live in a storm, you gotta like flying!

Do you eat birds like Ash does? They fly up pretty high, don’t they? I don’t think bugs fly up that high. Also, do you understand gardening? The strawberry plants in the front yard were doing really well, but they aren’t so happy now and I don’t know why. Also, there’s no strawberries on them, and that’s just a crime. If Ash planted a boring shrubbery just to get me to wait for the berries… that’s just rude!


Designation: Ashen Grey of Hive Noctillus

Good to hear you survived, Nimbus. I hadn’t intended to leave your affairs in such a state in Las Pegasus, and am grateful for your assistance. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “pay up,” however. Shall Strawberry Sunrise pay herself? Your eloquence is as stunning as ever.

Speaking of, Strawberry Sunrise absolutely loved “Ancient Medicinal Uses for Non-Equine Cadavers.” I doubt this is the route you’d like to go for her check-out history, however. She promptly returned the books with corpses as their primary topic, along with the ones you selected from the Adult Pony section. I have selected a few mild romance novels and a mystery to read. They are due in two weeks.

Your signature on the library card is atrocious. I can only hope that it becomes easier to replicate over time. The librarian would’ve been suspicious if she didn’t have her own nose in a book while I was there.

I like the idea of Strawberry Sunrise running a booth in the Market. It would give ponies a reason to rationalize her income. None of her neighbors have asked many questions, but I would much rather have an answer if one happens to ask what it is we do for a living.

The word you are looking for is “amphibious,” Scout, and, while I’m at it, “designation.” Regarding my moniker, my first training mission as a grub was to take the cover of a previously existing pony. I was barely a nymph, and the foal I chose was named Ashen Grey. My second mission was to dispose of him, if you are curious, and my third was to keep the parents from noticing. A child receives a great deal of love, and Ashen Grey was no exception. It was almost a pity that I’d drained them within a few months. It was the first time I’d never been hungry, and I haven’t felt the same since.


Designation: Nimbus of Hive Hurricane

Birds don’t fly that high, no. Higher than trees? Yes. Higher than clouds in the Frozen North? No, too cold, and winds too fast. Hive Hurricane mostly eats plants, cultivated from cloud seeds, like the pegasi in Cloudsdale, so yes, gardening is easy.

Strawberry plants are dying because the rainy season is done, and they require watering. Simple fix. Changeling corpse is providing adequate fertilizer; the vines are turning rather bush-like. Unusual for the species. Strawberry Sunrise appears to be living up to her name, growing delicious berries. Look closely. There are buds forming! Soon there will be flowers, and from there, fruit!

Would like a favor, Scout. Please schedule acupuncture at salon for Ash’s visit. Ensure area near shoulders is focused upon: wing joints are sensitive to those of his Hive, even when shapeshifted. To Ash - you know what I like. Keep up the resistance, and I shall have Scout sign you up for their all-day steam package next. Good for Strawberry’s fur, yes? Pity it feels like a hot summer’s day.

Strawberry Sunrise gardened, for the most part. Pinkie Pie visited, as did Rarity. One brought cupcakes (a variety of various strawberry and cinnamon combination cupcakes. Some were better than others) and the other brought a lovely dress to thank Strawberry (Scout) for helping with the heavy lifting. Did try on to make certain fit was correct, but left it in the closet afterwards for Scout to try on. Figured it was only fair.

Applejack - pony who runs the apple stall - brought over strawberry samples from a family’s farm. Different types, in case we wish to run that stall. All tasted too syrup-sweet to me, but the texture was pleasantly fleshy, like mistleaf salad (Scout - it tastes of high skies, like ozone and dew. Texture is like cross between strawberries and lettuce. Would recommend you try some; will leave some in fridge! Ash, try some too. Good for you.)

Saved some strawberries in fridge for Scout to sample as well. Has the best taste for sweet things out of all of us. Additionally, have yet to hear your opinion on the strawberry Market stall idea, Scout.


Discombobulation: Scout of the Golden Coast

Mum seemed worried the last time I talked to her. She barely paid attention during my report. Did we do something wrong? We’re keeping up the cover, right? Nothing weird has happened with these ponies so far. I mean, aside from that one night, but Mum didn’t even look worried about weird new Princesses when I told her about that one dark one. What are we supposed to be watching for, anyway?

I heard there’s a Gala coming up. I don’t want to buy tickets. Which one of us would even wear the dress? I don’t know how to dance!

I’m okay with the Market stall idea. I’ll be real, though, I don’t know anything about pricing stuff, so one of you might want to make me a cheat sheet. Or, hey, put up a price sign so I can just read off of it! Strawberry Sunrise is already weird enough, right? What’s a little forgetting-your-own-sales-pitch now and again?

Put some new stickers on the front of the journal! Most of the old ones had worn off, but they were kinda fun. Feel free to add some of your own!

Appointment scheduled. The spa pony looked at me kinda funny. At least I’m not the one getting my acu’s punctured.

The strawberries are all delicious, and I don’t know which one was my favorite! I like how you describe flavors, Nimbus, though I’ve got no clue why you don’t like Strawberries. I mean, it’s in our name!

I left some dried seaweed and some crispy sand crabs in the fridge. (Before you say “Ponies don’t eat sand crabs” in more complicated sentences, Ash, I put ‘em towards the back, in case you’d like to try them!) The mistleaf tasted like nothing at all, but an okay nothing.

Do I look like a ‘ling that reads for fun, Ash? Actually, I have to suffer through the vocabulary lesson that is your entries. Don’t answer that. Feel free to keep suggesting homework, though. I’m sure Nimbus will be happy to do it for me! Only one of us needs to turn it in, right? She’s a group project, after all!

Also, ugh, you’re such a spoilsport, using big words correctly. Maybe I like getting mixed up! Maybe I like not having a dictionary shoved so far up my butt I’m not spitting out definitions everywhere! It’s never too late to try to be a fun best-Strawberry like me, you know! Here, I’ll help you. Knock, knock!


Designation: Ashen Grey of Hive Noctillus

Firstly, you’ve made your point, Nimbus. It will take most of the flight home to get the kinks out of my true wings, thanks to you. At least my cover’s wings felt well enough to make a rather achy day trip to the Weather Factory, despite the… abnormal weather on the way (did either of you feel as though the clouds were particularly sticky and… pink?) Enclosed in the envelope underneath the mattress, you’ll find the data I collected on Cloudsdale lightning rods and current funneling.

Returning back to Ponyville seemed to be the trickiest part, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. Strangely chaotic anomalies aside, most of the inhabitants of Ponyville are none the worse for wear. I’m uncertain if it’s even necessary to report an occurrence at that scale, but it may be worth noting that the epicenter certainly felt like Ponyville. Perhaps it’s a coincidence? Trouble seems to follow that new librarian around, though she’s got her head in a book enough to avoid half of it due to lack of observation.

I understand your Queen is upset, Scout, and I’m sorry for any distress it may cause. A Queen’s pain is her Hive’s pain, as they say. Know that Hive Noctillus is doing all that it can to aid your Hive during this time, and if there’s anything Nimbus or I can do to assist you, personally, please do not hesitate to ask. We’ll make the signs for the Market stall pleasantly easy to read, alright?

I apologize if my use of language is difficult to parse. We of the night forest spend much of our free time presenting riddles in the dark to each other. They are whispered back and forth, clever wordplay and phrases that delight the senses. It is not every Hive’s way, but it is ours, and we are fond of it. I’m not nearly as young as you seem, Scout, and I’ve bested many in verbal puzzles.

Aside from the partially-unplanned trip to Cloudsdale, not much happened outside of the ordinary. It was business as usual: returned library books, watched the librarian have her regularly-scheduled nervous breakdown, checked out new books. I’ve found watering the plants brings me a little bit of calm, inside. I do not have to fake my contentment nearly as much when I’m tending to them.

The mistleaf tasted like if air could be a disappointment. Thank you for the sand crabs, Scout. They were predominantly crunchy, with the bare bones of flavor as an afterthought. I have left you each some roasted sparrow, tucked behind the ice cubes in the freezer.

Very well, Scout, I shall take the bait. Who’s there?


Designation: Nimbus of Hive Hurricane

A pleasure, Ash, as always.

Strange sweetness wound and twisted through the very clouds of our Hive, and sugared brown milk rained from the walls and tunnels within our storm fortress. Slightly ashamed of the eagerness I felt to arrive in Ponyville and simply wash it all away, out of the frills my antenna (as you are built for the sea, Scout, I am built for the sky), off of the down surrounding my joints (an adaptation to protect against the cold), and unclogging the holes in my legs and wings. The rest of my Hive is still at work, sticky as a bee caught in its own honey. Such a terrible mess, all around.

We are here for you, Scout, and our Hives are prepared to fly at a moment’s notice. Allies first, and unlikely friends close behind that. If we can be of assistance or comfort, you need but say the word.

The flowers have opened, and bees are humming away. Not going to eat them, but the thought crossed my mind. Specifically, a memory that isn’t mine, but journaled. Wonder what it would be like if Strawberry Sunrise were one single pony. Trying to imagine it. “Watched a bee roll in my strawberry flower. Did not taste of strawberry, only insect, and pain. Strawberry flower does not make the strawberry bee. Must wait for fruit, and bees are not it!”

Might not be accurate. Might sound more like Scout, or more like Ash. Likely, Strawberry sounds like none of us. We are Strawberry, but Strawberry is not us. She is both more and less than the sum of us.

Spoke to the Mayor of Ponyville about an additional Market stall. Potential spot available. Had a few informal meetings with the Apple family to secure strawberry shipment. Won’t make a massive profit, but would be enough to live a modest life. Strawberry is peculiar at times, but not extravagant. Strawberry in glass orb on the mantelpiece is the most gaudy thing she owns. Fits in with most of Ponyville in more than one respect. Plan is sound.

Also, discovered pancakes. Goes better with strawberries than apples, but don’t tell the farmer ponies that. Would probably not approve!

Strawberries are soft and juicy, yet they carry too much flavor in their juice. Closest thing Hive Hurricane has are cloudberries, much lighter, much crisper. Most things taste of air, but air tastes different when you live in it. The seaweed tasted delicate and smooth, of the air coming from the sea. Barely touched the sparrow for fear of digestion problems, but it was flaky and earthy. It too, tastes of the sky, or of a creature who filled its soul with it.

Would like to know, Scout: do you have fins where I have fern-like antenna? Can you fly, or are there flippers instead? Suspect you lack fur entirely, as most changelings do. Ash, you live in the woods, at night. Do you camouflage into trees? Do your eyes glow strange colors?


Demolition: Scout of the Golden Coast

Mum seemed like she was in a better mood this time. The weird weather didn’t do much underwater, though some parts were frozen off, and the surface tasted of soap. Much of our Hive is burrowed underneath the islands, with air pockets and their own separate lakes, so we weathered the chaos. Most of my siblings are out of the water, trying to clear the remaining soap.

Mum said the swamplings suffered way more during the storm. Probably as much as your Hive did, Nimbus. Sorry to hear about that! At least you all tasted delicious. Those swamp bugs must’ve taken the brunt of the strange weather. I heard a lot of the biting bugs grew larger and stampeded! That sounds really weird, but hey, if clouds turned sticky and water turned soapy, maybe the swamp swallowed the Hive that’s threatened my Mum and my family. It was a day of strange happenings, for sure!

Strawberry Sunrise sure doesn’t sound like me! She can’t be as fun as I am, because she’s a pegasus! Sure, she can fly, but she can’t turn into a fly, right?

I wasn’t really sure about it at first, but I think the strawberry Market stall is going to be a great hit! The Apple family helped me build the stall today! It was a lot of hard work. I said I’d put up the sign later, because I still had to paint it and figure out my prices, so one of you can get that put up!

The strawberry plants have grown so huge! Some of the flower petals have started falling off, but that means the fruit’s about to grow, isn’t it? I can’t wait to taste the strawberries I helped grow… by, uh, killing Strawberry the First for plant food!

Speaking of food, I can’t wait to try pancakes! The sparrow was pretty alright, Ash. It’s got nothing on fish, though!

I do too have wings, Nimbus! I can fly just fine! But yeah, my tail’s really strong so I can swim faster, and the frill on my neck helps me steer and swim straight! I bet Ash is just… a tree changeling. Treeling. Or a bat! Something spooky that lives in the forest at night.

Oh yeah, and Ash: “Sea Kelp!”


Designation: Ashen Grey of Hive Noctillus

The sign has been completed. The prices are set, at three strawberries per bit! I am told they are the finest strawberries the Apple family had to offer, and will let Scout determine the truth of their claim. I then began selling strawberries, to ensure our small business launched without issue.

I was expecting a few ponies, maybe a trickle, as other fruit sellers had, up until now, been selling their own strawberries at a comparable rate. To say that I was unprepared for the flocks of ponies stopping at our little stall would be quite an understatement! I hadn’t realized that, between the three of us and the power of word-of-mouth from our combined friends, we’d gathered quite the group of eager supporters! I was very nearly flustered from the sheer amount of “hello’s” and “what LOVELY berries!” and “gorgeous day to be out at the Market, eh?” casually called my way. Even the other stalls took their breaks to stop by and introduce themselves and support our little business!

Needless to say, we completely sold out of strawberries in about three hours! It may be slightly preemptive on my part, but I declare our strawberry Market stall a resounding success! I can only hope our future luck shall continue.

Our own strawberries are slowly ripening. It’s no small wonder to see them take shape, even if I don’t care for the taste as much as Scout might. Why, in theory we could sell our own, and add Ponyville-grown strawberries to the stall! It wouldn’t bring in much, as we’re far from a specialized orchard, but I think it would be worth it.

Now, to answer both of your presumptuous inquiries… No, I’m not a treeling, no, I do not camouflage into trees, no, my eyes do not glow strange colors in the dark, and no, I am not a bat. Your guess was the closest, Nimbus, in how my Hive adapts ourselves. We emulate owls the closest, I believe; while other changelings buzz as they fly, their hum tuned for stealthy communication that’s different for each Hive, Hive Noctillus flies completely silently. We blend, not into the bark of the trees, but of the canopy and clouded night skies above. Our chitin is mottled and dull, but it does not reflect light like the shine of so many others’ do.

My Hive, thankfully enough, was more than prepared to take on the dangers of the strange discordant energy surge. We were not swarmed by biting insects, and for that I am grateful, but we were fairly well-stampeded by rabbits of all things. Our own prey, out to get revenge, or so we thought! Fortunately, we quickly learned that long-legged rabbits taste just as delicious as normal rabbits, and are only the slightest bit faster.

I admit, I am intrigued as well about these “pancakes.” I did, however, purchase an apple for consumption, and I find them delightfully crisp. If we decided to change our name to Apple Sunrise, and pretended our cutie marks were merely oddly deformed apples, I don’t think I could complain. Still, there’s a special place in my heart for the strawberries. Perhaps it is because I’ve helped grow them.

Cannot wait for you to see the sign. You’ll love it! I’ve even painted small images on the back for reference purposes! Enjoy your “homework,” Scout!

I dread the punchline, but I suppose it is inevitable at this point. “Sea kelp, who?”


Designation: Nimbus of Hive Hurricane

Ponies are still purchasing strawberries. Was concerned that the novelty would wear off, but no, strawberries are still in demand! Am considering learning to make jam, to sell when the harvest ends. Would love both of your inputs on the matter.

Local shops stopped selling strawberries. Change was to be expected, certainly, and they seem to bear no ill will towards Strawberry Sunrise. Indeed, they no longer compete with each other over strawberries, and a few confided in me that they’d been looking to specialize regardless, and we were the push they needed! It is a small victory, but I can taste their friendliness.

Looking forward to the strawberries ripening fully. Some of the largest ones are starting to blush! Won’t be long now!

On to more serious topics. News is spreading of a threat in Canterlot. Worse, a familiar one. My Queen has grown concerned. Thoughts have begun to spread, lightning-fast through the Hive: should we go into hiding? Hive Hurricane does not have many love-gatherers; we would surely starve, but what else can we do? Should ponykind become aware of our existence… you and I know, Ash, the dangers it can bring.

Even the smallest information breach can have a terrible effect. I need not remind you of Las Pegasus again, no? Do not blame yourself. It was not your fault, but we must do what little we can to avoid it.

Hoping your Hive clears the soap soon, Scout. We have finally gotten the last of the sweet-spun sugar from the clouds, and the quickly-spoiling milk has been shaken free from the storm. Cannot imagine what it must be like, to breath in a lung-ful (gill-ful, perhaps) of soap.

Librarian is gone. Was told by my Queen to make a note of this. Strange things happen, and the new librarian is gone. Could be coincidence - I never seem to be in Ponyville when odd things happen either.

Sign was helpful, Ash. Bits-to-assorted-snacks-from-other-merchants conversion chart interesting, but possibly unbalanced. Was “one strawberry for two buckets of grapes” intentional? Few ponies outside of us would claim that as an even trade!


Designation: Nimbus of Hive Hurricane

Strange. Did not receive signal from Scout, nor any messages forwarded from her Hive to mine for when we should complete the exchange.

Went into the woods at estimated average time, but no Scout to be found.

Will continue to wait. Perhaps a Hive… emergency?

Selling strawberries and being Strawberry in the meantime.

… On second thought, sending message to Hive Hurricane. Priority. Requested scout team (amusing!) to check on Scout status, and Golden Coast Hive in general.


Nimbus, Hive Hurricane. Don’t feel much like protocol. Two weeks past Scout’s regular exchange date.

Things have gotten worse in Canterlot. Felt a pulse, at one point. Tasted iron, copper, metal in my soul. Everything’s changed. Everything’s waiting, though what has happened is likely long over.

No word from Golden Coast, scouting party returned with nothing. Hive Hurricane changelings cannot swim.

Strawberries… beginning to rot on our plants. Hoped to show her. Will need to trim off the spoiled fruit, to avoid attracting unpleasant insects.

Had a terrible thought the other day. Checked the yard thoroughly. Thankfully, no new suspicious strawberry plants.

… No word from Golden Coast at all.

Hive have mercy. Upcoming conversation will not be pleasant. Fortifying the house, set sign on Market stall saying we will be closed.

Deep breath in, out. Rereading the diary. First message she’d written. “Don’t get sentimental.” Wish she’d never said it. Don’t regret becoming her friend, though. Wished I met her.

...

No sense delaying it any longer, Nimbus.

Sending high priority message to Hive Noctillus.

Ash, my old friend, where do we go from here?


Designation: Ash of Hive Noctillus

I…

I can’t. She was just a… barely more than a nymph, surely…

I’m barely keeping it together as it is. When Nimbus called me to meet them, with a last-minute disguise and all (Ashen Grey has grown up, hasn’t he? Few ponies would recognize him. I figured it’d be safe enough), I already knew what had happened. I still fought against Nimbus with all my strength, the earth tearing at the sky itself, for them to be lying, for both of us to be wrong, but after my rage cooled, we pieced together what had happened.

The Golden Coast had taken over too many cover stories, too many infiltrators and love-gatherers and positions of power from Mire Hive. Normally, that wouldn’t be more than a nuisance, a minor challenge at best, and it’d be a risk worth taking to keep a weaker Hive alive. A seasoned queen wouldn’t have cared much at all, but Queen Miasma had only recently ascended to the throne. Young Queens run the risk of acting with their heart over their Hives, and in the end it had cost her both.

No changeling nor pony bore witness to the battle. All we know is that no changeling corpses have washed ashore, and no survivors rescued, from either Hive. The islands are covered with wind-scattered ashes, the submerged stone cracked.

I couldn’t bring myself to mourn for the loss of two Hives. Not when I’d yet to cry over the stubborn, sassy nymph who’d dreamt of strawberries and sunshine and sand crabs and pancakes.

Sea kelp who, Scout? Sea kelp-

Oh. That’s where you were going with it, isn’t it? You most likely intended some form of friendly ribbing, something about my sense of humor, or perhaps my language usage. Witty until the end.

I wish I could share the news with you, if only to be able to reassure you that we will survive, and, in doing so, reassure myself. The world’s changed. It’s grown more dangerous overnight, and with each passing day, the risk of discovery grows greater. The rumor is that some fool of a Queen’s revealed our existence to ponykind. Whether or not that is true, of course, remains to be seen.

The strawberries have come and gone, Scout. Your final joke is nothing more than a somber echo in my head. I cannot stop thinking about it. Though I doubt you intended it, it’s almost as though you are giving me advice, urging me to take action, to do something about the mess our kind has made for ourselves.

Sea kelp.

Seek help.

Very well, Scout. It’s worth a shot. Seek help I shall, though perhaps not in the jesting manner of your original punchline.

I will reach out to other Hives, and will ask Nimbus to do the same. Strawberry Sunrise must stay alive to avoid suspicion, and the strange librarian of Ponyville must be watched. More infiltrator positions need to be doubled-upon, hopefully even moreso, in case something should happen to the original. We need answers, and we cannot get them alone.

We also cannot continue to fight between ourselves if we wish to survive as a species, but I recognize some infighting is inevitable. Still… if Hives of the sky, the earth, and the sea can find some common ground over strawberries, I’m certain any differences can be overcome with enough effort on all sides.

It has the chance to work. I am hopeful that my Queen will agree, but I’m not certain, at this point, what other options we have. If we pull back, we starve, but we cannot risk either an attack or a plea for truce without frightening ponies. Not any time soon, at least.

Journals such as this one… they are a risk, yes, even with the correct spells put into place to hide it from the common pony’s curious gaze, but I believe they could work for other infiltrators working together. It keeps the story consistent, updates other… other scouts, I suppose, on anything significant between Hives and ponies alike. The records of the past are also quite useful.

It’s one way you’ll live on, as a part of Strawberry Sunrise. The best part, as you’d say.

You weren’t wrong.


Designation: Ash of Hive Noctillus

If you’re reading this (and if it is not just you, Nimbus, old friend), you’ve been sent by your Hive to become the next Strawberry Sunrise. I’m certain you’ve been briefed by those with authority regarding how to proceed, but I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a message for me, or Nimbus, or whichever lucky ‘ling is next in line. Updates are vital to consistency, after all.

Today, Strawberry Sunrise sat on the edge of the fountain in the center of Ponyville, watching the smoke from Canterlot slowly clear. She thought about strawberries, the allies she’s made, and the friends she has yet to meet. Smiling, she walked to the market to open her stall. For her, it’s just another day.

For us, it’s the next step in an alliance between different Hives, another day of small happenings and listening harder than ever to what ponies say, and what they do not… another entry in the diary, if nothing else.

We look forward to reading what Strawberry does next.

Comments ( 10 )

In total, this one of the most expansive and interesting AU's, since the end of the show.

The idea that Chrysalis's hive was a minority among the Changelings, was exceptionally well done.

That being said, I do feel bad for the original Strawberry Sunrise, as well as the others the Changelings hurt. :fluttershysad:

This story is wonderful and Silent is terribly cruel (you know what you've done) but we still love them. The world building is magnificent and gets me to thinking.

Don't really want to say more and give it away.

Sea kelp.

Seek help.

Annnnnd this is where I cried. As fantastic and heart breaking as the first time I read it, a beautiful story written in a very unique way.

Okay ngl, I wasn't expecting Changelings when I clicked on this (even though it's one of the tags) and I'm not gonna lie, I was expecting a more somber story throughout. I was most certainly not expecting to come to love our little bugasus (bugasuses?), but I even more wasn't expecting it to actually get sad again.

F@#k you. Well done.

Whoever made this masterpiece called fanfiction... Is a monster. I want more! nooo! Stahp making meeeh ccyryyy!:fluttershbad:

Fantastic worldbuilding and a very unique premise! Also unexpectedly dark and tear-jerking in several parts.

10/10, would clamour for moar. :heart:

Oh, I do like this. I'm always fond of stories that weave themselves around and through another one.

This is really good.

11012430

Not much of a spoiler… first chapter basically comes out and says it.

Wait a moment, this is complete? Huh!

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