So I abandoned my story, and went with an idea that I had which was vaguely related but much more defined; it was short, but I knew the beginning, middle and end. I rattled it off in three days, at about 3000 words a day, and found that somehow this made going back to my original story much easier. I was able to keep up that higher word count until the end - unfortunately still missing NaNoWriMo's 50,000 words in a month by about 7,000 words. I calculated that if I'd done this three days earlier I would have won my first NaNo. Ah, well.
Anyway, here is that middle section, as written, un-edited. It actually seems to hold together reasonably well, although the ending is rather abrupt, but I can't think of anything better right now. So I shall present it as is!
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