by Marc Araujo
"Do not go gentle into that good night,
"Welcome to the JLA, Grayson."
Dick was happy and sad at the same time. Ever since he left Batman, he wanted a chance to be considered one of the pros, one of the gods of his day. Now, his dream had finally come true.
Still, this moment was somehow spoiled by the memory of his mentor. The Batman. Bruce. Father and teacher in one being. He taught Dick everything about survival and investigation. He was the best among the best, the world's greatest protector.
He was dead.
Dead, you ask? How? He was unbeatable, not even Superman could defeat him. What happened?
Grayson knew the answer. After decades fighting crime, his reflexes weren't as quick as before, and his enemies got even bloodier. Harvey Dent destroyed the other half of his face, becoming one fully evil man. The Joker was dead, all right, but Zsasz II made his predecessor look like a saint after his own atrocities. Mr. Freeze killed the only person who knew Batman more than himself: Jim Gordon.
Dick would like to think it was a combination of all those events together, but deep in his heart, he knew the truth.
Months ago, shortly after Al Ghul revealed Bruce's real identity, Wayne Manor had a "visit" from Two-Face and Bane. Alfred had no idea what had hit him, as Dent shot him in the head. Tim poor, young Tim his car exploded, and his bride, Ariana, died with him. Bruce was in the city, on a night patrol, and when he returned, the murderers waited for him. Bane, who once again was a venom addict, showed him Alfred's dead body, while Dent held Tim's mask. Bruce jumped at them like a savage animal, and forgot who he was dealing with. Bane wanted him to do that. It was a lot easier to crush his enemy. He grabbed Batman and broke his spine. He wanted to kill Bruce slowly, making him suffer as much as he could. He would have finished the job, had Dick not arrived on time. He and Kory were taking Miriam, their daughter, to meet her grandfather. They saved his life, but might as well have never done that.
As days went on, Bruce became more and more frustrated for having failed to save everyone he held dear in his life, and being helpless in a wheelchair didn't help. More than once, Dick tried to talk him out of his self-pity, but his words reached deaf ears.
One day, Dick went to the mansion. When he got there, Bruce couldn't be found anywhere. Then, near the cliff inside the cave, Dick found his chair and a note, saying: "THIS IS MY LAST FLY."
Dick cried a lot in that day. Gotham the world had lost one of its bravest people. Lost to his inability to cope with his own limitations.
Now, here Dick was, trying to succeed where his teacher failed. As long as he lives, he'll never let his memory down. Never.
"Hey, Dick. What's up, old friend?"
Wally West, the fastest man alive. Of all his friends, this is the only one who can comprehend the full extent of his pain. He had lost his uncle on a tragic day, without a chance to say goodbye. Two orphans, they are.
"Nothing, Wally. Nothing at all. This place is a lot bigger than I imagined."
"Hey, we are the JLA, right? But be careful where you walk Plastic Man may come out from anywhere!"
Dick grinned. "Hey, isn't that Roy over there?"
Roy Harper. He calls himself Red Arrow these days, but he isn't one of the leaguers. That place belongs to Connor, Oliver's son. This is so unfair Roy is the one who knew Oliver more than anyone else. He fought by his side for years. He was his son, if not by blood, by spirit. Life is so unfair
"Congratulations, Dick. You deserve it. A pity Donna couldn't make it."
"Yeah, she had to take Robert to the ball game. How is Lian doing?"
"Hah! That kid thinks she can save the world. So naive so much like us in our youth." Scratching his recently grown goatee, Roy says, "You know, if it weren't for you, I'd never put my feet in here."
"Why is that, Roy?"
"Come on, Dick, you know what I'm talking about! This JLA claims to be a group of heroes, but they make the terrible mistake of segregating themselves from humanity. All it does is bring even more negative publicity to us. I mean, who actually wants super people around? They are afraid, Dick, and just waiting for an excuse to push the button and burn us all to ashes. They try to hide it, but "
"You'd better agree, Dick, or Roy will be giving one of his speeches until next year."
Garth, the new Aquaman. Arthur gave up on his name and duty to deal with his people. He had become a king, and wasn't attracted as much to the surface world anymore. Good for Garth, who hasn't lost him and is the hero he had always wanted to be.
The Titans from the past talk about old memories, when the world was brighter. It was so easy for a team with four boys and a girl to put their lives at risk. It was just a game, and no one had to die.
Suddenly, they all silenced. The reason could be found above their heads. The symbol of perfection and nobility. His uniform was blue, and a red cape wavered on his back. On his chest, there was an stylized "S", that could pretty well sum up what he was.
"Sorry for not being there for the ceremony, Dick. There were some problems in Japan and I had to be there."
"That's okay, I "
"ALERT-ALERT-ALERT", said an electronic voice.
Before Dick could turn his head, the Flash ran to the monitor and activated the comm link. A holographic projection of the team's computer specialist appeared in the center of the room.
"What's the problem, Oracle?," said Wally.
"IT'S THE MONARCH. HE IS ATTACKING NEW YORK. GL IS ALREADY THERE."
Superman turned to his comrades.
"You heard it, people. Move it."
And they do. They have always been prepared, since the first day they put their costumes on. They are not allowed to hesitate, for hundreds may die if they make a mistake. The Titans from yesterday say goodbye to their friend and get the boom tube to New York. Left behind, Roy says, "Hunf. The big blue Boy Scout sneezes, and they obey like a bunch of pets. No one has time to chat with the loser here."
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Four days later, in Gotham:
It's good to be back. Nightwing missed his family while he was saving the world. Koriand'r he wanted to hold her in his arms again, feel her warm breath. Miriam , his young, sweet daughter. She sent him a letter, saying she missed her "daddy". Dick loved being called that.
"Honey, I'm home."
He enters through their window, trying to remain silent. Miriam may be sleeping, and he doesn't want to disturb her. Quietly, he sees the photo album on the table and opens it. So many memories One of them shows him and Tim playing football. Good times that will never return. What ?
He hears footsteps and avoids the energy wave by mere centimeters. Looking over his shoulders, he can see his wife, terrified.
"Am I THAT late?," he jokes.
"Dick? You scared me."
"Why is that?"
"Well, many thieves took advantage of the fact that you were out of town."
Blockbuster. The only criminal who knows Nightwing's alter ego. An intelligent man, who managed to figure out the truth years ago. Using that information, he almost ruined his marriage. Thank God, Bruce and his friends were there for him. What did he do now?
"He tried to kidnap Miri, but didn't expect me to show up. She is safe now. Gar is taking care of her."
Great. If there's anyone who can be with children, this one is Garfield Logan. One of the richest men in the world, he uses his money to take kids away from the streets.
"Good, sweetheart. Now, I gotta go."
He turns around, but she holds his arm.
"Aren't you forgetting something?"
They kiss each other as intensely as they did when they first met. Ten years of marriage, and they still love each other like two adolescents. Dick reaches the window and gets a cable from his belt. He attaches it to the nearest building and leaves. Kory flies right after him, to meet their daughter. A few seconds later, the phone rings and someone speaks on the answering machine:
"Dick? This is Roy. I'm in trouble, man. The truth, the hidden truth they know it. Lian is in Japan. I-I have to tell you this before BLAM oh, no BLAM they are here! BANG BANG."
The message is over.
"This is the way the world ends
Nightwing smiles. He loves to swing around the city. He feels so alive, like there are no worries at all. In times like this, he feels like the little boy who used to live in a circus. He leaps from building to building, watching the night and the city's unique beauty. HIS city. The place where he grew up, a place that still needs saving. His daughter won't go through what he did, he is here to guarantee that.
One of the reasons he hates leaving the city is that the crime rate gets incredibly high. The thugs feel free to act when he's not patrolling. Now he understands the way Batman must have felt. He was always so busy but it was necessary to keep the city under control.
He is now on the top of Blockbuster's hideout, waiting for him to make his move. He watches cars getting in and out of the building, and there is no sign of his enemy yet. This is getting too boring.
Then, he looks at the sky and sees something that had vanished for some time now. The bat-signal. It had been shut down after Gordon's demise. The new commissioner doesn't quite trust vigilantes. This must be the way Desmond has to attract him. Okay, then, migraine boy. You got what you're asking for.
He gets there as fast as he can. The police department is on the other side of the city. He stops in a secret place, where one of the bat-trains is kept. He opens the hatch and takes his seat. He digits the codes, so familiar to him. Then, he takes a shortcut to his destination. The computer has the complete itinerary of Gotham's trains, and he avoids them all.
He is there at last. From the shadows, he studies the situation. Four gunmen on the main entrance, hundreds of others inside. Blockbuster wants to play tough. Facing so many people alone is madness, but it's been four days since Dick fought an ordinary man
The smoke bomb works perfectly. Thanks to his infrared lenses, Dick can knock out four guys before they even have a chance to react. With his escrima sticks, he gets two of them. The others fall after a kick followed by another. This is great!
"What the hell is going on??"
The batarang is used by pure reflex. Dick hits the incoming man's head and he falls. Gunshots. His comrades want Nightwing's blood. Miraculously, the hero dodges the first bullets. Using his jump line, he climbs the building, escaping from certain death. He knew the right time to ignore a fight. Besides, he wanted a chance at Blockbuster.
He reaches the rooftop, where his archenemy waits for him. Using his strong arms, the villain destroys the bat-signal. He has a hostage, and Nightwing's heart is split apart.
It starts raining, and the scenario gets even darker. Desmond holds his wife by her neck, hanging her like a toy.
Blockbuster says: "Is she important to you?"
"She is, and you know it, Desmond. This is between you and me. Let her go."
The criminal laughs. His victory is closer now. Without saying a word, he breaks Kory's neck and spits over her dead body.
"No!" yells Dick.
Filled with rage, Dick runs to his opponent, willing to end his life once and for all. He connects his sticks and creates a bo staff, to hit Blockbuster from a distance. The villain breaks the weapon and punches Dick's face. Bleeding, Nightwing grabs his final resource: a plasma gun, set to kill. He hardly uses it, and has never killed anyone. He targets the demon, who says:
"You don't have the guts, bird boy. I'm gonna crush your bones and take your little daughter next. Say goodbye to the land of the "
He pulls the trigger. A gunshot and it is over. Blockbuster's headless body falls on the street, without leaving much to be studied. Dick kneels down before Kory, and holds her tight.
In this weather, his tears are obscured by the pouring rain
"Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
The funeral was on the next day. All his friends and family were there, to comfort him and his daughter. Most of them, actually. Roy didn't show up, and gave no explanation. He must be busy with some crime.
He told his league comrades that he was no longer in any condition to be part of the group. He had yet to recover from the shock. They understand, and tell him he'll always be welcome in their headquarters.
Miri couldn't stop crying. She was only eight, and couldn't accept the fact her mother had been taken away from her. Dick tried to conceal his sadness, be strong for both of them. He tried, but with no avail. In the same year, he lost his wife and his father, helpless to save them. He felt so useless so impotent. Is that the way Bruce had felt?
"Daddy, where is she?"
He touches her face gently, and thinks about how his answer should sound. It was so hard for him to deal with losses Then, he remembered what the nuns in the orphanage told him when he was first taken there.
"She is in a beautiful place, Miri. Grandpa Bruce is there, taking care of her for us. She is watching you right now, and she'll never let anyone hurt you."
She hugs him, and he carries her in his arms until the end of the ceremony. Then, he tells her she'll stay with uncle Gar a little longer, so that he can deal with his pain in his own way.
"A robin red breast in a cage
Two nights later:
Nightwing lusted for battle. The tragedy he faced has changed him in more ways than he could have expected. He needed something to forget, ease his suffering. He hasd't slept for two days now. He can't afford to relax, or else something horrible may occur. He finally understands Bruce's hurt and doesn't condemn him for doing what he did.
He jumps through a window to face the drug dealers. They shoot at him, like they always do. He zig-zags in midair, opening his way through the rain of bullets. He spins and ends his fall with his arms raised and his right foot smashing some jerk's face. He stays in position, grabbing some grenades from his improved utility belt. He hits most of the gang members with devastating explosions, and the few of them who survived the blasts are quickly taken down by sharp batarangs, slicing their throats, and escrima sticks with razors on their ends.
The police arrives. The new commissioner, looking at the carnage that has just taken place, draws his gun and says:
With a dark grin, Grayson raises his hands, letting go small capsules of thick gas. Then, he uses his jumpline to run away. Commissioner Montoya coughs, feeling sorry for the tortured vigilante.
Why had the cops attacked him?! They don't see that they are all on the same side, fighting for justice?! They should be allies, but don't respect Dick. Not the way they respect Bruce. No, he is seen as a mere shadow of his mentor, even today.
He stops for a while, scanning the area for other criminals. Then, the wind gets stronger for an instant, being followed by the vision of his oldest friend, bearing a look of disappointment.
"Dick, this must end."
"Sorry, Wally. I won't quit doing what is right."
"Dick, I read the papers about your change of attitude. Listen, I know this is hard, but you can't erase the past by overcompensation. This ISN'T right. You have a daughter who needs you and "
Dick notices the sudden change of tone in Wally's voice. It was almost threatening.
"I would hate to arrest you."
Grayson delivers a clear punch on the scarlet speedster, dizzying him. Then, a kick follows, and the Flash hits the roof. He wasn't prepared for this reaction from Dick, a man he knows since his childhood.
Anchoring his cable somewhere else, and with his back turned to Wally, Nightwing says:
"Go back to the JLA, West. There are more toys in there for you to play with."
"The Road goes ever on and on
Dick is in his apartment now, replacing some of the equipment he had used on the streets. Then, he realizes something: he hasn't checked on his answering machine for messages since that night. He pressed the "play" button, and heard nothing? Wait. There is no tape in here. So who ?
The Flash. But how ? Dumb question Grayson.
" I need your help on a case, Titan type. I came here yesterday and heard Roy's message. He is in trouble, Dick, and counting on you to save him. Here, take it."
Dick listens to the tape. Roy seemed pretty scared. What is wrong? It's none of your business, Grayson. Go back to work. Your city needs you.
"Good luck, then. I have better things to do." said Dick.
"I can't believe in what I've just heard! Are you out of your mind?!"
"No, Wally. I must do this. That's the way Bruce would want it to be."
"But you two never agreed, remember? You always wanted to be different. For God's sake, Dick, you are not Bruce! You are much more than his carbon copy. You have friends and a family who loves you. Bruce had always been afraid of dealing with his emotions. He was cold, and never really trusted anyone. That's not you, man."
"You don't know me anymore. Call the Justice League, they will be more helpful. Goodbye, Flash."
Suddenly, someone who had been hiding in the shadows says: "I would listen to speedy here, Grayson."
Nightwing and Flash both turn at the same time, saying:
"I thought you'd be dead now," said Wally, sounding less happy than he actually was.
"They tried, that's for sure. Listen, Dick. I understand what you've been through, really. But you can't let it destroy your life. People depend on you, man. God knows how much I wanted to be loved like you are."
Grayson hesitates. Roy's words hit him like a bomb. He is right, dammit. So busy he has been, that he neglected Miri for two days. His child a part of Koriand'r. Maybe he is not alone after all.
"H-How can I help?"
"Ships that pass in the night, and speak each
other in passing,
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ,"Tales of a Wayside Inn"
After a series of meticulous investigations, Dick could locate their target. Based on what Roy said, it had to be hidden in an inhospitable area. That was the only way to keep a Gene Bomb away from its victims.
A Gene Bomb? Yes, that's right. This horrendous artifact that once struck our planet and showed the gods among humans how mortal they could really be, has been developed by the UN as a means to control the metahuman population, that threatened to, one day, force their will upon them, or so they believed.
Roy found out their plans and was going to alert the league, but the UN sent an elite squadron to capture him, dead or alive. Fortunately, Red Arrow had been waiting for something like that. When they invaded his home, he had planted a bomb in there. If they beat him, it would be easily detonated by his voice. The code, "blood" was recognized and the bomb exploded, killing the UN squadron. Roy was saved by a force field generator given to him by Scott Free and went to Gotham to find Dick.
Nightwing can't help but feel a part of him agreeing with the UN. As an ordinary human, he has seen the rise of a new race, beings almost magic in nature. Some of them came from other solar systems, others were the result of tragic experiments, but they all seemed to say the same thing: humanity was slowly moving towards extinction.
The sad thing is that long before the coming of the metahumans, men had always followed a dark path of wars and hate. However, accusing those who were unlike them made them feel comfortable with themselves and their limitations.
"How far are we, Dick?"
He looks at the map displayed in a tiny monitor connected to his glove and says, "We are close, Roy. Wally will come back as soon as he has any confirmation of the base."
On that moment, a red blur moves towards them, surrounded by electric bolts. Coming to a full stop in front of them, the Flash says: "It's there, alright, Dick. Took a quick look at the base and I guess it's abandoned."
"Great. Get us there, Wally."
Thanks to his limited control of the Speed Force, Wally "lends" his speed to them, and they all run together. Then, as they approach the walls of the fortress, Dick feels his body vibrate due to the kinetic energy in his molecules. They phase trough the wall like there were no barriers to stop their entrance.
Once in there, Nightwing leads them underground, where they find the Gene Bomb. In terror, they realized why there were no soldiers guarding the installation or scientists working. The timer had been set to two seconds.
With no fear for his own life, Wally caught the round shaped bomb and ran as fast as he could. His plan was to go beyond lightspeed and take the bomb to the end of time, where it couldn't harm anyone.
However, things didn't work out the way he expected them to. A nanosecond before the explosion, he felt the presence of the Black Flash, the manifestation of death to everyone connected to the Speed Force. It was right in front of him, laughing at him. Shielding the bomb with his own body, West let it have his soul. On that moment, the Speed Realm was terribly disrupted. The explosion had a strange effect on the Force and on the Flash. He saw familiar faces coming for his help. Barry Allen, Johnny Quick and Jay Garrick embraced him, and a bubble of lighting involved all of them. They disappeared from that reality, landing in our era, seconds after Wally had left. However, something had changed.
Roy was the first to spot their friend. He blinked for an instant, and a red figure stood up between him and Dick. He seemed to be everywhere at the same time, and it was hard for them to discern his face. It was like some kind of permanent blur, like he couldn't stop for any moment.
Hesitant, Dick said, "Wally? Is that really you?"
The figure nodded with his head and spoke. Dick couldn't understand a word from his old teammate. He was using some kind of high pitched frequency, and it couldn't be heard by either Nightwing or Red Arrow.
Wally stared at his own hands and lowered his head. Then, Dick managed to read one word from his lips.
That was the name of his daughter, born 5 years ago. Her mother, Linda, had died last year. Since then, they had been living with Iris West, his aunt. Wally closed his eyes and flew, bringing his two comrades with him. First, he left Roy in New York. Then, he took Dick back to Gotham.
Landing a hand over his shoulder (at least he thought he did), Nightwing said: "Wally, what can I do to ?"
Interrupting his sentence, the Flash said: "No one can help me, Dick. No one."
Even though he couldn't hear, the sad look on Wally's eyes told Dick everything he needed to know.
"The day is done, and the darkness
Three months later:
"This is WLEX with the latest news on Magog's trial. Five minutes ago, the jury declared him innocent of the act of murdering the Joker. Superman was clearly angry at the verdict, claiming that nothing justifies lethal force."
Dick doesn't like the way this is heading. Magog was wrong, he was pretty sure of that. The Joker could have easily been captured. He was no match to Magog's strength, but the bastard had to shoot anyway, lacking any respect for human life. It made Dick want to wait a minute.
Magog challenges the Man of Steel to a duel. The winner gets to be the definitive protector of Metropolis. The loser leaves the city. Superman pauses for an instant, looking at the people around him. They are all yelling "Magog! Magog!". He turns his back to the jerk and flies away, like he was afraid of losing? No, it's something else Their eyes, they showed him that it would be a waste of time to prove himself in battle. The citizens demand Magog, the first of a new generation of heroes, more suited to this new age. He can't fight time
"Were they right?", thought Dick. Maybe he should follow Superman and quit. Let somebody else patrol the streets. He needs to be with his daughter. Maybe he should
A woman screams from an alley in front of his apartment. Dick puts his mask on and jumps in that direction. Two men were torturing her, just for pleasure. Dick took his batarang and would have thrown the weapon on their heads, but someone, no something got there first. A strong light illuminated the alley, blinding the thugs for a while. Then, a deafening sound filled the air, like the turbines of an airplane. Covering their ears, the criminals saw themselves surrounded by two tall robots, pointing their arms at them. From each robot, a net was launched, restraining the two thugs. Nightwing got closer to the robots, wondering who they worked for.
Then, one of them turned to him and he saw it. It looked like a living bat-mobile, and had engraved on its chest the symbol of the Batman. Surprised, Dick had no reaction. He remained there, helplessly watching them leave.
Minutes later, he muttered:
Answering his own question, he went back to his home and took his car. He had two bats to hunt, and decided to head right to their cave.
"And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
Dick hasd't returned to Wayne Manor since his mentor died. It brought back too many bad memories.
Everything looked abandoned now. The house above the surface was in ruins, and the grass was too high, almost devouring the passageway to the cave. Dick knew that if his suspicions were correct, HE would be there.
Slowly descending through the secret tunnel that leads to the cave, Dick prepared himself to face what was hidden there.
There he is, sitting in front of a set of monitors, watching the performance of his new "children". Dick tries to approach unnoticed, but it's impossible. The older man turns his chair around and looks at him with his typical, closed face.
"I was wondering when you would show up," says Bruce Wayne.
Nightwing has no words to express his feelings right now. He isn't even sure of what he should think. The pain he had felt after Bruce's death couldn't be measured. He felt like a part of him had died on that day. When Kory's time came, he was almost broken by the suffering. Now, this man shows up in front of him, alive and well, like a mockery to his torment, pretending that nothing had happened. Forming a fist with his hand, Dick says:
Standing up, thanks to an exo-skeleton, Bruce says: "You, more than anyone else, should know the answer, Dick. My identity had been exposed, and my family was paying the price for my mistake. If I hadn't faked my own death, you, Miriam and Koriand'r would be in grave danger. I had to disappear, and rethink my methods. I contacted Ted Kord, and he helped me develop this alternative. The Bat Knights, designed to give salvation to a city that has never seen the light. Unlike me, they don't need to have any sleep, and constantly protect the city. Unlike me, they have no weaknesses to be exploited. I've made them to be invulnerable, and nothing less than an atomic bomb can destroy their armors. They are the perfect warriors, Dick."
Narrowing his eyes, Dick says: "You didn't answer me, Bruce. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Just like I said, I couldn't put your life at risk. Besides, the less people knew what was going on, the less problems I would have to implement my plan." He turns his attention to the monitor and says in a grave voice, "Now, everything will be different. Better."
Dick can hardly contain his rage now. "Really?"
"This is a whole new era, Dick. I realized that we have to be harder if we want to cause any effect in this world. Society as we know it is going to a garbage can, and humanity needs to be saved from their fears, their hate. From themselves. Uncontrolled, they can "
"And you know everything about 'control', don't you?"
Dick punched Wayne on the face, and the old man falls back to his chair. Blood drips from his nose, and he listens to his former student.
"All my life, it has been this way. You never trusted me with your plans, Bruce! I was only your little boy wonder! You expected me to cooperate, but you never told me why! It didn't matter, because you were so WISE that if anyone had a second opinion, it should be a LAUGHABLE mistake! Now, you want me to agree with this scheme of yours, but you never gave me any space to tell you what I think! You may say that everything has changed, but it's a LIE, just like the rest of your life!"
Dick walks to the exit. Batman is speechless for a moment, then he says:
"Dick, I'm sorry I "
Bruce hides behind his mask of the cold, dark vigilante again. It had never been easy for him to open himself with others since his parents died.
Without looking back, Dick says: "Never mind, Bruce. Never mind."
Dick moved to New York, taking his daughter with him. He wanted to leave his past behind, and erase Bruce from his memory. He burned his uniform, so that he wouldn't be tempted to go back in action again. He wanted to see Miriam grow up, raise her to be a good person, and to do that, he had to be away from Batman and his insane quest. If he had stayed, Bruce would probably have dragged her to his war.
He isn't the only one to make that decision. Most of his friends retired, unable to adapt themselves to this gray, new world. No one cares if they are dead or alive. They are old, useless icons of a time already past. This new generation deserves fresh protectors, led by the butcher who replaced the last son of Krypton.
May God save their souls.
"Son of man, keep not silent, forget not deeds of tyranny. Cry out at the disaster of a people, recount it unto your children and they unto theirs. From generation to generation the hordes swept in, ran wild and savage and there was no deliverance, valiance, and revolt. How the mighty are fallen, the great in spirit and stout of heart, walking to their death with a halo of eternity."
Yehuda L. Bialer (reference to the Holocaust)
All characters are DC Comics
This story is © 2000 by Marc Araujo.
All characters are DC Comics
This piece is © 2002 by the author listed above.
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