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"Call it a big game," Thea went on, "Call it the end of history, call it your New World Order, whatever name you hang on it, it's got a very elegant logic. Build all these tanks and planes and guns for a war with the Russians but the Russians go broke, oops, you just have to find somebody else to drop the old bombs on so you can go out and buy some new bombs. This isn't a war, it's a fucking clearance sale."

Veronica shook her head. "Except that I don't recall them needing body bags down at Sears."

Thea stopped a second, hearing her own echoes, realizing that she was off on another lecture. But it was too late, the spirit was upon her, and after all, what was Veronica to expect -- you ran certain risks when you hung out with academics.

"That's right, kiddo. It's a serious game this time. A very big game."

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