four corners pd

By: Cin and Heidi


day one: Thursday  (cont)

Part Three

As Wilmington left the complex, he took JD to the other apartment complexes near the East/South borders, wanting to give the rookie a tour of the seedier side of town.  He drove through Yucca twice, letting Dunne see the lower rent complex and experience first hand the occasional hostile glares the less respectable citizens gave
them.   All the buildings were decorated with one form of graffiti or another and trash lined the curbs.  Music blasted from vehicles and apartments with equal intensity.  The balconies were draped with laundry and people as they shouted to their neighbors and friends, or expressed their opinion of the passing cruiser. 

The sight bothered JD; he wondered how people lived like this every day.  He was from a larger town yet never experienced the seedier side, he didn't think it would exist here.  "Why's this place so run down?  Paint would do wonders."

"It would, but then somebody would just mess it up.  Don't get me wrong; there's some good people here who can't afford something nicer, but there's plenty of bad people here, too.  Our job's helping all of them."

"This place is depressing," JD muttered.  Aware it was one reason he avoided such places before.

"I know, Kid, I know, but we do what we can for who we can.   Quiz time: who's 11-03?"

"Uh…" JD reached for his sheet.

"No peeking," Buck yanked the sheet out of reach.  "Guess."

"OFC Sanchez?"

"Why do you think that?"

"Because he's been here the longest.  Weren't he and OFC Jackson among the first officers hired?"

"You're right, good instincts."

"Why hasn't he been promoted?  I mean, Cop of the Year so many times and he's still only an OFC."

"Nosy little thing, aren't you?"

"Just curious, that's all.  Never mind."  The young man returned to watching the passing scenery.

Buck took pity on him; he knew the kid had lots of questions about everything.  "I'll answer that another day.  Who's 11-04?"

"OFC Jackson."

"Explain the identifier."


One hand whapped the steering wheel.  "Didn't they teach you anything at the Academy?"

"Yes, sir."

"But not identifiers.  Okay, patrol is one, the first number.  Other units or sections like CID use different first numbers.  The second number means Squad One.  The next two are your specific number in that Squad.  Got it?"


"Good. Who's our Chief?"

"Chief of Police Orin Travis.  He was a judge for twenty five years before taking this position."

JD remembered meeting Chief Travis in the academy.  A tall, distinguished man nearing sixty, he was still fit, with a barrel chest and dark hair framed by gray around his temples.  His only concession to his age was the reading glasses he occasionally wore when reviewing the prolific amount of paperwork generated by the department.  Compared to the number of trees killed in the legal profession, these were a snap.  The man aged with the gracefulness of a fine wine, getting better and more celebrated as time passed.  In his commanding presence, JD could easily see why the man had such an illustrious career as a judge; he certainly made an imposing impression on the police cadets. 

It was the tragic loss of his son that made Judge Travis decide to give up his judicial career and take the Chief's position to start the Four Corners Police Department.  In the few short years of the department's existence, there was a marked improvement in the standard of living and feeling of safety for the citizens.  JD sadly thought that it was a shame that it often took a tragedy for people to see the need for change.   

Another thought crossed his mind.  "Question for you."


Why are you 11-02 and Cpl. Caswell 11-08?  Shouldn't her number be lower than me?"

"Yes, but with her upcoming transfer, she's requested to be kept at the bottom of the list so that when she's gone it won't change anyone else."  Buck did not mention the transfer's seven-month delay.

"Oh."  He remembered hearing something about her going to CID, Criminal Investigation Division, during roll call.

"Who's 11-05?"

JD shook himself out of his musings and thought for a minute.  "I don't know."

"You shouldn't; that's Vin.  OFC Tanner."

JD told himself that was one of those trick questions.  "He's the one that's undercover narcotics, right?"

Buck's face lined with worry.  "Yeah, kid."  The radio crackled, saving Buck from saying anything more about the missing man.  It also distracted him from those pesky thought that tried nagging him earlier.

"FC, 11-03, 11-04, copy business alarm."


"Northern Corners Convenience Mart, 1983 Cactus Highway, 1-9-8-3 Cactus Highway, cross streets of Tumbleweed and Spur.  Front glass break."

"10-4." Nathan's voice remained calm.

"10-4."  Josiah answered with the sound of the car's acceleration in the background. 

A few minutes later, Buck reached the East/South border, finding Ezra parked at an elementary school letting Ace run a bit.  They stopped and Buck called out to the canine officer as they climbed from the vehicle, "Hey, Ezra.  Can we play for a while?"

"Corporal Wilmington, I would be delighted in showing young Officer Dunne a canine demonstration."

"Now, Ez, we don't need to go that far," Wilmington paled, waving his hands back and forth in a classic `no' gesture.

JD found himself curious about his training officer's change of heart but was still fascinated with the dog's abilities, "I'd like to see it."

"In that case, young sir, give me a moment."  Ezra reached into the back of the truck and pulled out a bite sleeve for the wavering, disgruntled corporal and tossed it to him.  Ace perked his ears and barked once at the sight of the sleeve.  A low, long growl came from the bottom of his throat before he started panting and his tongue stuck out of the side of his mouth.

"You're all heart, Ezra," grumbled Buck, pulling the sleeve over his uniform.  If he didn't know better, it looked liked Ace was grinning at him with anticipation.  Hmm…the dog probably was, knowing the tone of their relationship.

"K9-16, FC.  Show me out at Marigold Elementary with a canine demonstration for 11-07."

"10-4, K9-16."

Once the dark haired man signaled he was ready, Ezra's grin turned devilish.  He walked Ace expertly through their routine, one they often performed at elementary and middle schools as part of the Public Education program.  Suddenly, he shouted, "Threch!"  The docile black lab changed into a demon beast latching onto Buck's arm and not letting go until Buck loudly and profanely surrendered.  The corporal ended up face-first prone on the ground, Ace nipping him every time he so much as twitched.  With a wicked grin, Ezra called him off after a prolonged few seconds.  JD was surprised at the viciousness of the attack from the friendly dog he met earlier. 

"Hell, Ezra, why am I always the dang fool sucker?"  Buck yanked the now ripped sleeve off and tossed it at the southerner's face.  He knew Ezra let Ace chew on him a couple of extra seconds and started thinking of paybacks.

The reply came immediately from the quick-witted southerner.  "Your commitment and dedication as a training officer?"  Fast reflexes let the canine handler duck the throw and grab the sleeve before it struck the ground.

Buck made a face at Ezra's smirking one.  "Ha ha."  Absently he massaged his arm where it throbbed.  Hell, that was the whole arm because Ace actually ripped the sleeve this time.

"What language is that, sir?"  JD's curiosity over the strange dialect got the better of him.

"Czech," the handler replied simply as he rewarded Ace's behavior with a little one-on-one attention.  Pleased with himself, Ace rolled on his back for tummy scratching and received it.  The lab liked the Buck chew toy because that human never stayed still when surrendering giving him a few extra bites.

JD was impressed, "Isn't that hard to learn?"  It also amazed him how well the lab calmed – Ace went from raging teeth to overgrown puppy wanting love and attention.  He shook off his musing as Buck answered his question.

"No way, Kid," Buck crowed, "Ole Ez here is a linguist . . .how many languages do you speak, pard. . .four, five?"

Standish eyed the rogue warily as he continued to care for his partner, pouring him some water into his travel dish from a cold jug kept in the back of the truck.  "Unlike my esteemed colleagues, Mr. Dunne, I was the beneficiary of a gentleman's education and can speak five languages quite proficiently."

"See," Buck gleefully slapped the suitably impressed rookie on the back, "He's a certifiable language genius.  Well, certifiable, anyway."

"Yes," Ezra continued to drawl, "I have been privileged while some have a difficult time accomplishing the rudimentary elements of one language." He finished with a grin aimed at the mustached man.

"What is this," Wilmington sputtered. "Pick on Buck day?"  His arm ached miserably and he knew today was his turn to get abused.  Everyone got a turn; today was his.  He just wished he was there the day they decided so that he could have called out sick.

JD caught the wink Standish threw at him and smiled, "Thanks, sir, for the demonstration."

Ezra blinked, still not believing the polite young man before him.  "As much as I find your politeness refreshing, you may call me Ezra."

The rookie grinned at the small gesture of acceptance from the man, "Thanks, Ezra."

"No charge for this demonstration, young Mr. Dunne, but next time, I will expect your assistance with the next exercise," he warned the young rookie as he replaced his equipment in his truck reaching for his lapel mike when he finished.  "K9-16's 10-8."

"10-4, K9-16."

The canine officer's use of Mister and last names intrigued the newest squad member.  Maybe Ezra was one of those people who would only address you by your first name when given permission to do so.  So he thought he would offer first before things got uncomfortable.  "You can call me JD you know, Ezra."

Ezra paused before answering the young man, not wanting to go into the reasons behind his use of formal address,  "Yes, well, Mr. Dunne, some habits are harder to break."

Knowing part of Ezra's story, the corporal changed the subject to stop the inevitable questions.  Buck chuckled and smacked JD in the chest, grabbing one arm.  "Hey Ace, this arm looks might tasty."  The lab considered carefully before jumping into his truck and sticking his head (and tongue) out the open window at them.  The truck sported a similar paint and striping design to the patrol vehicles with the exception of larger reflective strips all over the truck screaming "K9 UNIT – KEEP CLEAR".  On the second set of doors, black pads coated the outside so Ace could leap out or hang out the windows if needed without slipping or scratching the paint.  Tint covered all the glass with the exception of the windshield, protecting the canine inside.  The small side window on the driver's side, second door, sported a white playing card decal bearing the Ace of Spades with the word "ACE" in matching blue cursive script over it.

"11-01, K9-16."


"Crowd's growing in Post 11."  Translation:  get your lazy carcass down here before things get ugly.

"10-4.  FC, show me responding for Post 11."  Post 11 was the bars and restaurants of South closest to the East Border.  Post 12 was the other side of South that bordered West.

"11-07, FC."


"Show us 10-8."

"10-4, 11-07."

"11-03, FC."

"11-03.  Building's secure, mark it Code Adam Frank.  Code Edward with 11-04."


"Code Edward?" asked JD.  He did not remember that from the codes the Academy drilled in his head.  He knew Adam Frank on an alarm meant Alarm Faulty.

"Eating," Buck supplied.  "Josiah and Nathan are eating their dinner, probably at the hospital so Nathan can see Rain."

"Who's Rain?"

Ezra supplied the answer to this one.  "Officer Jackson's charming paramour and overworked resident at Four Corners Hospital."

"Isn't it early in the shift for dinner?"

Buck heaved a huge sigh, resigning himself to weeks of answering the kid's curious questions. "Rain gets one break a night if she's lucky.  She'll call Nathan and tell him when and he'll meet her there."

Ezra placed a hand over his heart and sighed.  "The things we do for amour."

JD could not tell if Ezra was serious or kidding from the expressionless visage he presented.  Shrugging, he followed the corporal back to their unit and returned to regular patrol.  This time Wilmington set out to give JD a tour of the Industrial Park talked about in roll call. Buck stopped to chat with several drivers who were leaving their rigs for the night.  And in discussing the use of names and ranks reminded JD to call him Buck only in private or in front of other officers. 

Part Four

Josiah and Nathan backed their patrol units into side-by-side parking spaces in the lot of the Four Corners Hospital closest to the side entrance.  Locking their doors, they entered the hospital to meet with Nathan's significant other Rain for dinner.  She joined them in the darkened hallway near the cafeteria, stealing a too brief kiss with Nathan away from prying eyes.  Josiah smiled as he played lookout because he liked Rain.  Her refreshing view of the world kept him on his toes and he thought her cute and a great match for his friend. 

Her curly black shoulder length hair hung in a loose bun at the nape of her neck just above the light peach T-shirt she wore beneath her darker peach scrubs.  Her stethoscope stuck out from the pocket of her white jacket and when Nathan released her, her face reflected her happiness at seeing them.

"Hello Nathan, Josiah."  Her smile brightened the darkened corridor and dreary, institutional surroundings.

"Miss Rain, you are looking as lovely as ever," Josiah winked as he took her hand and kissed it, a broad smile on his features.

She slapped his arm playfully and allowed them to escort her through the food line, one officer on either side, as Nathan handed her a tray.  She loaded it down with fruits, vegetables, and a salad, causing him to chuckle as he did the same.  Both enjoyed healthy foods and ate them whenever possible.  Josiah went for the fifth major food group, grease, selecting a couple of slices of pizza, a bag of potato chips, and a large orange juice.

"Josiah, you are going to give yourself indigestion, now," Nathan complained as he paid for his and Rain's dinner.  He appointed himself watchdog for his friends' well being and Josiah often received the majority of the paramedic's well-meaning advice and disapproving looks. 

"But I'll enjoy it," the larger man countered with a smile.  Long used to it, the words bounced off.  He noted the concern and appreciated the sentiment behind it but wanted his own choices tonight. 

"Leave him be; I'm just glad to see him," said Rain, knowing Nathan usually monitored everything Josiah ate while they were together and every once in awhile Josiah got annoyed.  She wanted a peaceful dinner tonight. 

"Why thank you, Miss Rain."  He waited for Nathan to hold the chair out for her before seating himself at the end of the table.  "It's always a pleasure to see you.  Hard day today?"

Rain shrugged as she looked up from Nathan's left side, seated between the two officers.  "The life of an resident; constant work, few breaks."   She started on her salad, her healthy appetite showing as she devoured it.  She ignored the curious to rude stares at her from the other occupants of the cafeteria because she sat with two police officers.  The trio ate in the corner with views of both doors and their backs to the wall.  Rain accepted this as part and parcel of them being police officers; constant awareness of one's surroundings and preparedness for anything could keep them alive.

"But it will all be worth it when we call you Doctor Rain," Nathan told her with an affectionate smile.  He wished he could hug her or hold her hand but refrained.  Ever careful of public appearance, the paramedic turned police officer did nothing that anyone watching could consider improper behavior.  His long road to becoming a public
servant started years before in the Deep South, finding himself unwanted due to barely concealed prejudice or told "the quota of blacks was filled; apply elsewhere". 

Disgusted, he found work in another city as a paid paramedic, using his ambition, drive and skills to help people in productive, constructive ways.  He saw a job posting for police officers (no experience necessary) for this new department and applied, happily finding his application wanted and a job offer almost immediately forthcoming.   It meant relocating out west but a fresh start.  He took it without hesitation.  

"Dr. Rain Jackson has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"  She enjoyed watching Nathan nearly spit out his food as he covered his mouth with his napkin and coughed.  His eyes widened in surprised shock; they rarely discussed marriage, especially not in such a public setting. 

Josiah's deep chuckle rolled across the table.  "It surely does.  Now, when will this significant event happen?"  He arched an eyebrow at his partner's continued discomfort and ignored Nathan's `I'll get you later' glare.

"In a year for the full fledged doctor.  As for the Jackson, hopefully not too long after that," she said, nudging Nathan gently in the ribs.  He grunted as Josiah laughed again.  Her playful grin faded as she continued, "I only wish my father could have seen this."

"Your father was a heck of a man," Nathan agreed, remembering the older man with fondness.  He met her father Eban on their first date when Nathan picked her up at their house.  The couple originally met during the first call he handled at Four Corners Hospital.  The case involved a child abuse victim and Rain was working.  She helped the police officer keep the child calm and emotionally together until Social Services could place him with a loving, caring relative. 

Nathan found himself drawn to the very self-confidant young woman from the start.  He hesitantly, while tripping over his words and shuffling from foot to foot, asked her to dinner and she immediately accepted.  Dating steadily since then, their friends considered them an old married couple but they had yet to formalize their
commitment.  Everyone was sure that it would only be a matter of time.  Her father gave his blessing but passed away the year before from a sudden heart attack.

"Yes, he was," Rain agreed.  The attention focused on her caused her to scowl, the attention came not from the two men she considered friends but from other sources.  Her eyes swept the room with a commanding look, making the other diners turn away from her and quit glancing their way.  "I do not understand why they persist in
staring.  The police department has been active here for three years and still people gawk."

The older man and his friend exchanged fleeting looks.  The deep rumbling voice lowered for just their hearing, "We know, but people dislike change, even when it is in their best interest."

"The Sheriff took kickbacks.  He let the criminals run this town and looked the other way while we had everything of value stripped from us!"  Her eyes flashed at the injustice.  "The few that stood up to him, especially his own deputies, suffered personally and professionally for it.  It is said some people even lost their lives
because of him!" 

"Rain, lower your voice," Nathan warned, one hand waving.  "Nothing was ever proven about any of that."

"I do not care, Nathan.  The Four Corners Police Department has done more for the citizens here than anyone else ever did.  We are protected now, even those who would not admit we had problems to save their own lives."  Her eyes glowed with determination to prove her point.

"You're preaching to the choir, Sister Rain," Josiah told her.  "We're glad to be here but change frightens people."  His look invited her to calm down and Nathan's nervousness forced her to settle a small bit. 

She knew Nathan hated public scenes and for that reason alone she took a deep breath.  "You are right, Josiah.  Again, I accept your wisdom.  It just frustrates me that things have improved – they are not perfect, I know, and never will be – but they are much better than before yet people complain.  Even the Clarion News reports a
decrease in the crime rate.  Mary constantly trumpets the good you people do for us in her editorials.  Your squad is the most responsible for the improvement.  The rest of the citizens should show their appreciation."  She referred to Mary Travis, the daughter-in-law of Chief Orin Travis and editor of the Clarion News.  The blond haired spitfire tackled the problems within Four Corners and her personal life head on without letting up, even including her newly budding romance with Chris Larabee.  It amused the resident to watch the fireworks between them at the weekly group gatherings.

One man seated near them made the mistake of catching her eye at the end of her diatribe.  "Do you not agree that things have improved?"  The man looked away and would not answer. 

"Rain, settle down now," soothed Nathan.  "We appreciate your support but everyone's going to have to accept us on their own.  We can't be shoved down people's throats.  The Sheriff's Office ran things for over one hundred years; a change like this takes time to accept."

Josiah cleared his throat. "It's too bad the new law didn't follow the way of their brothers when this town first started."

Nathan shook his and chuckled.  "I don't think anyone could live up to those heroes of yours, Josiah."  He turned concerned back to Rain.  "You do need to calm down sweetheart, we are working on it, it'll get better."

Once again, she sighed in resignation.  "Again, you are right.  I'm too forward thinking and I know I'm too impatient."

"I like the way you think, Miss Rain.  Gives us a fresh perspective," Josiah told her, finishing off his potato chips. 

She finally smiled.  "Let me give you something else for eating all that junk-food - advice.  You have to exercise and change your eating habits.  I don't want you as a patient."

"As lovely as you are, I don't want to be a patient," Josiah told her.  "I'm sure I'll work it off later; we're expecting some frat parties and Nina's South tonight with Ezra and Chris."  Usually Chris and Ezra roamed all over but the upcoming Greek Week Olympics called for heavier concentration in the bar sector.

"Oh, Lord!" she rolled her eyes.  "I better get prepared for mass trauma," she continued muttering, daintily chewing a section of orange.

Nathan and Josiah chuckled.  "They're not that bad, Rain."

"No?"  She looked at them in astonishment, "All they need is Buck for the catalyst to make things worse."  The way Buck and Nina provoked and played off each other usually fueled the fires leading to some type of explosion catching everyone in the action.  Add Chris, who resembled a stick of dynamite with a short fuse, and Ezra, who played the part of the match, and mayhem ensued.

The two police officers chuckled softly then dropped the last bomb on the woman.  "Buck's training tonight," the dark man told her.

Rain looked at the heavens.  "God protect the innocent and fools.  Both ride in that car tonight."  Her intelligent mind quickly created a list for what to check in the ER when dinner finished; she instinctively knew that the hospital would receive patients later that night. 

"Amen, sister."  Josiah laughed in agreement and secretly hoped he would not be a patient tonight, or any of his friends.

Part Five

Chris drove by Olympus with a grimace, noticing the ever-increasing number of people in the roaming crowds and the surrounding bars filling quickly with college students and twenty-somethings alike.  He spotted a familiar souped up 1966 black Mustang Convertible muscle car among the throng cruising the streets.  It was hard to miss as the sides were decorated with red and orange flames outlined and shadowed for depth in bright yellow flowing from the front to midpoint down the side of the car.  The black tinted windows hid the occupants inside while the music blared from the modified stereo.  He almost started for it before turning away, bitterly reminding himself at the last moment not to make contact yet.   Ezra's truck crested the hill and Chris grabbed his radio, switching it to talk-around where Communications would not hear it.  "About time."

Ezra flicked an annoyed glance at his Sergeant as he pulled alongside.  "Ace required exercise."  He also spotted the Mustang and realized the reason for his sergeant's current ire.

"A demo too?"  The tone conveyed the normal complaining Chris usually did with a tinge of worry. 

The southerner thought of a suitable response that might elicit a smile from the grumpy Larabee.  With a mischievous grin, the tip Ezra's tongue appeared through his teeth as he chuckled lightly, "Mr. Dunne requested a showing of Ace's capabilities.  Mr. Wilmington volunteered."

Chris actually managed a half-smile.  "And you just happened to convince him."  He personally knew the power/pain in the bite of Ace and guessed Buck's arm would throb the rest of the night even if the skin remained intact.  Ezra made sure each of them `volunteered' at least once to know what to expect during an attack or public demonstrations.  Or it was his damn sarcastic nature to inflict this torture on his friends all in the names of training and community relations.

"All for the education of our newest boy in blue."  He smirked.

As Larabee returned his attention to the growing unrest at the bar, he put all kidding aside, "Get down to the campus then double back.  I'll stay around here until Nina clears."  Chris had that feeling that chaos brewed and would erupt soon enough; he only hoped they were as prepared as possible for it.

"As you command, Sergeant, so it will be," drawled the green-eyed handler.  Ace barked his agreement, his head leaning around his partner and his tail hitting Ezra in the back of his hair.  One hand smoothed the hair and Ace moved back into his section.  They split off, Ezra continuing on to the university outskirts and making his
presence felt.  The intoxicated college students waved to him and called him by his street name as he passed by.   Ezra waved back with a forced smile each time.  He heard Nina clear and swung back around, passing Larabee at the halfway point again.

His radio crackled.  "Standish, stay close to the bars.  I'll swing through Outer South; figure it's gonna bust loose soon."  Chris figured one last swing through that remote area would reassure the citizens that complained the South cars only stayed near the bars.  Then he would probably try to hit it again every hour until the
inevitable happened.

"We're ready," Ezra replied simply.  A few minutes later Nina rolled past and waved.  The southerner stopped in a parking lot and she pulled in beside him.  He smiled down at her from his higher height in the truck.  Ezra then lowered the back window so Ace could hang out and reach down for some attention from his favorite human female.

"Olympus looks ugly," Nina commented, returning his smile. 

The anticipation in that smile made him nervous; some days he wondered if she was one of those people who lived for the adrenaline rush or just enjoyed excitement in her life.   He formulated a response but was cut off by a familiar squawk in his ear.

"FC, K9-16.  Copy assist."

Ezra frowned at the radio. 

"Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to campus you go," Nina sang badly off key, either on purpose or just because. 

"Woof! Woof!" came from the back seat.

"K9-16," he answered with a smirk and narrowed eyes.  Whistling took over. At least she could whistle, he thought to himself.

"Report to Four Corners University for a drug scan, Starke Hall, make contact with campus police."

"Hi-ho, hi-ho, hi-ho."

Howling started.

Ezra answered simultaneously, "10-4."  He twisted away so Nina's loud and obnoxious massacre of a children's song and Ace's howling accompaniment would not come through the radio.  The southerner wanted to hide his laughter so he could act `properly annoyed' at her.

Casey heard Nina and grinned.  "11-08, Ocean King?"  Ocean King meant `OK'.  She could not resist tormenting the corporal a little.

"10-4, FC.  Show me business check…" - Nina looked around quickly - "Close Encounters."  The name for the strip bar that featured both males and females entertained her once she realized where Ezra led her to park.  Her narrowed laughing gaze only amused the southerner more.

With a two-fingered salute on his hat, Ezra pulled away chuckling as he heard Larabee's voice crackle over the talk-around.  "Looking for a date, Nina?"

"Don't tempt me," she sniped back, fully aware of how bad it sounded.   Her car left the lot and she started roving with her eyes constantly sweeping left to right, front to back.

"Look for trouble; you're good at finding that."  The wry truth in that statement annoyed her.

She made a face at the radio.  "Sure thing, co…"

"Say it and you'll work foot patrol Yucka for a month."  Yucka was the in-house nickname given to Yucca Apartments.  Click, click, click, click, and click.   Both Chris and Nina knew the clicks originated from Ezra showing his amusement because of the limited range for talk-around.  "Ezra, don't you have somewhere to be?"
growled their sergeant.

In response, Ezra's answer came over the primary channel.  "K9-16's on location, FC."

"10-4 K9-16."

Nina continued driving around the bars showing the colors, waiting for the inevitable. 

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