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Old 05-19-2006, 01:50 AM   #142
machievelli
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Danika

We stood before the Elders again. Their leader motioned for us to approach. “Revan, the Council had decided that your actions merit another chance. For many centuries we have tried to discover a way into the Temple, and by so doing, a means to destroy what you called the Star Forge. But only those that command the Force, such as you are capable of passing through the screen. As you no doubt know, our people no longer have that ability. That is why we were willing to help you the last time.

“But you cannot enter the temple without our assistance. The ancient ritual for entering must be spoken by one of our people, and only with it can your own capabilities allow you to pass the screen. We need you as much as you need us in this, Revan.”

“So it appears we must trust one another to do their part.”

“For our sake, and the sake of the Galaxy, we hope you really mean to atone for your past evils. When you are ready, you may go to the temple, and our Keeper of knowledge will begin the ritual.

“However, it is our belief that allowing both you and Malak to pass through was a grave error on our part. It was a violation of our traditions, and we will return to them. If you enter the temple, you must go alone.”

“You believe that it was letting two in instead of one that caused all of the suffering that followed?”

“We believe that you truly wish to end our suffering this time. But we will not take a chance by defiling the temple and our ancient rite yet again. If you enter, you must go alone.”

“I will return to the ship, leaving my friends, and return to the temple at dawn.” I replied. I led Canderous and Jolee to the ship in silence. I was terrified of what I might discover in there. Somewhere between the moment that I had entered the temple and when I stepped off the deck of the Star Forge to return to Korriban and enlist the Sith, I had fallen to the darkness. Could I hold myself from doing so again?

Our dinner was tomblike. No one wished to break my mood, and I found I could not break it either. The only interruption was when our sensors reported that a fighter had flown down to land inside the temple. I wondered about that. If the screen was impenetrable, how had that ship flown into it? Then I remembered that someone already inside could deactivate it.

My dreams were chaotic. I found myself moving through the temple. I could see the hallway, which led to where Bastila had been tortured, yet, the altar stone she had been bound to was empty now. I feared that she had died, but knew through the bond, that she had not. She still refused me admittance.

I was glad that the sun finally rose. I would finish this as quickly as I could, the better to end the matter once and for all. I tousled Sasha’s hair, hugged Mission, and started up the path toward the temple. I was free at last. Free to live or die by my own strengths.

Keeper Orsaa stood at the bottom of the ramp, as close as you could get without impinging on the screen.

“The time has come to atone for your past, Revan.” Orsaa intoned. “But the task will be greater than you had before. The temple is now home to a number of what you call dark Jedi and their metal servants.”

“Dark Jedi?” I stared at the building. “How did they get in there?”

“The last time you and Malak entered, you must have found a control that causes the screen to be raised and lowered. Those within can lower and raise it at will to allow other force users entry. Did you not feel it last night?”

“The fighter.”

“Even so. But that ability will not stop us from opening the screen for you to pass. It will take several hours. The chant is very complex.”

“Wait.” One of the Rakata with him pointed down the concourse toward where the path to the ship was. “Someone is coming!”

I saw two figures, and as they approached, they resolved themselves into Jolee and Juhani. I looked at Orsaa beseechingly, then walked toward them.

“You can’t enter the temple alone!” Jolee shouted.

“Friends, I must!” I motioned for them to move closer to Orsaa so he could follow the conversation.

“We have had a premonition.” Juhani said. “There is great danger, and here is where you will fall this time if you fail. We cannot let you go on alone!”

“You might be facing a trap.” Jolee cut in. “Maybe Malak is waiting for you to come in himself! Even if he is not, we sense a number of Dark Jedi within. Enough that they can bury you in numbers if you are not careful.”

“No one may enter with her.” Orsaa growled. “She was told this, and you dark one were there when she was told!”

Jolee walked over to face the Rakata. “The fate of the Galaxy, of everyone on this planet depends on her succeeding. Would you be happy if tradition made us stay outside and she returned as the dark lord again? Will future generations applaud your blind adherence if it meant their own lives were as brutal as your own?”

“I will not leave this place!” Juhani said. “If you go in alone, all the good you have done will be swept away in a burst of emotion. The vision you had of Mission dying will occur, and we will have already died by your hand.”

I stared at her. That vision had haunted me since Dantooine. To know that I would definitely kill a girl I loved shocked me. That two of my friends would already be dead when that happened worried me even more. “Orsaa!’

“No! We cannot break tradition a second time!”

Jolee stepped forward. “There is a fleet coming that will be attacking the Star Forge in the next day or so. If we are standing here arguing when it arrives that disruptor field will destroy them. Will you murder the only hope of the galaxy for tradition?”

“My friends would not lie to you of this.” I told Orsaa. “They say that I will fail if I go alone. I trust their judgment in this. If I must have help to succeed, they must come with me.”

Orsaa looked at them for a long moment, then he signalled the other Guardians to join him and the chant began again.

“It looks like this might take a while.”

“That is what they told me.”

They hadn’t been joking. The sun had passed zenith by at least an hour before Orsaa motioned. I trotted forward, and felt as if I pushed through a beaded curtain. On the other side the air was heavy with the force, the evil flowing from the building darkening every step.

We ran up the ramp, and I touched the main door. It opened smoothly. The instant I saw it, the interior was sharply familiar. Beyond it was a hallway running both directions. To our front and a few meters to our right was the door I knew led to the upper level where the control for the screen and disruptor lay. But it resisted my hand. I cursed, wanting to cut the door, but knew that it was thick enough that no lightsaber would even reach the inner face of it.

“Something is wrong.” I explained that the door should have opened at my approach. They looked at the door.

“Perhaps the changes between Revan and Danika are more profound than you imagine.” Juhani said. “It no longer recognizes you.”

“Then I have to go to the lower level.” I said. “The main computer is there.”

We ran down the hall. I stopped the others, and looked around the corner. Three heavy combat droids crouched there. I motioned back to a door we had passed, and touched the key plate. The door opened, and the Jedi standing within spun. “Who dares intrude...” He saw my face, and sneered. “The fallen one, Revan.”

“I am Revan no longer.”

“So my Lord Malak has told all of us within the Force. He spoke of you. How the Jedi council stripped you of your identity and your skills, leaving you a shell of what you once where. You are not worthy of calling yourself a Dark Lord, or even a Jedi! You should thank me for killing you.”

He started forward. His light saber lit, and I threw my own. It shot past him as he ducked then circled back, decapitating him from behind.

I went to a flower-shaped computer console. I touched the controls, then shut down all alarms, droids, and unlocked all the doors. A signal chimed on the console, but I ignored it, leading us rapidly to another door.

It opened, and a Dark Jedi stormed through. He saw me, and his lightsaber lit. “Revan as I live and breathe!” He flourished his weapon. “About time I had a real challenge. Come along, let’s dance, Revan, and don’t bore me!”

I signalled the others to stand back, and lighted the double lightsaber I carried. His first rush brought us breast to breast, and he flinched as I slit his cheek with a Fybylka cut. He flinched, touching the burn. Then he came in more carefully. He cut at my feet, and I leaped, blocking the strike he made over his head, and landing behind him. My foot shot out, and I felt his knee snap. He went down, rolling, but I clipped the lightsaber at the base, and his blade fizzled and died.

He screamed reaching out, catching a statue, and I felt it shifting. As it began to fall I reached out, catching it, and holding the tons of rock over him.

“I don’t want to kill you.”

He laughed, and I saw the assassin’s pistol in his hand. I blocked the bolt, but I lost control of the statue. He caught it, but it was too much too fast. There wasn’t even a scream.

I sighed, and led the others to the path downward. We ran into the lower level, coming to a series of metallic squares set in the floor. I remembered the pattern, running along them one way then another. The door opened, and I ran up to the computer console.

When I touched it, a voice spoke. “Greetings, Revan. It has been some time since you have accessed this terminal. I had considered the possibility that you had died, especially considering our last conversation.”

“I am not Revan anymore. I am called Danika now.”

“An odd statement because your physical form has not changed. It might explain the neurological abnormalities I detected. The changes have been substantial, the sign of recent damage to your brain .”

“Yes.”

“These changes have been recorded, and have been added to my memory bank.”

“Your memory bank.”

“You were surprised when you first discovered that the Rakata use self-aware computers, if brain damage is the cause of your neurological changes, explanations are in order. I am a the primary data bank of the planet. Once, long ago, I was the main computer of the entire Infinite Empire. To carry out that mission, it was required that I be self aware, so that any damage to my systems could be repaired readily. I was ordered to record all noteworthy occurrences within Rakata space. I have recorded everything from the birth of this unit and death of that empire.

“My systems are fully self-replicating, so there has been no degradation of my memory core. All data stored within this system is still accessible.”
I considered the quest of the Rakata. “Do you have genetic information on the Rakata?”

“I have data on every genetic change the Rakata have undergone in the millennia they were the dominant species, and some of what occurred before the collapse. What were you wishing to know directly?”

“Can you duplicate these files in the auxiliary archives of what is called the Elder’s encampment?”

“Not directly. There are no longer links to that system.” It hummed. “However, I can control one of the droids in the temple, and deliver it all to the computer you have specified.” It hummed again. “The droid has been dispatched. State the nature of any further requests.”

“Tell me of the Star Forge.”

“The Star Forge was built in the last century of the Empire, when it was believed that the Rakata would be destroyed by a civil war. The leader of the Empire wished the ability to literally build anything desired without the long convoluted manufactory processes used by the lesser beings. The structure is the largest ever envisioned by any species. It is a combination fully automated factory and battle dreadnought.

“The Star Forge can build anything the mind can envision, drawing the matter necessary from the star itself, and forming it using both technology and the force. From a sword blade to a warship, all can be literally put together atom by atom. Much of the same technology was used to build my own system.

“You must understand that like myself, the Star Forge is in a lot of ways a living breathing entity, and it will try to survive as long as that is possible. It was necessary for the system to be able to detect, and feed on the Force in it‘s operations. That ability is the key to the operation of the Star Forge, but it also led to the Empire‘s collapse.”

“How so?”

“The Rakata built the Star Forge not only to save an Empire from a civil war, but to maintain the status quo of that Empire. An Empire founded on conquest and greed. Since the reasons for its creation were fueled by those dark purposes, it feeds better from them. You might say that it doesn’t like the taste of what you called the Light side of the Force. It has corrupted all that lived here for too long a time because it makes it‘s own operations more efficient.

“The builders believed that they could control this side affect of their creation, as you did when you first came. But those tendencies in the system caused those in charge to become darker, and crueler. Their cruelty fueled the civil wars, and led to the collapse of the Empire. Before you left the system for the last time, you had decided it was the same with what you had thought to build."

“Can it be disabled?”

“You asked me that before as well. If the Force could be removed from the equation, the Star Forge, in fact all things built by it as well would fall apart in a brief time. Whereas your race makes metals by the time consuming process of alloying, the circuitry of my systems is held together by the Force. If the Force were to disappear from the system for a long enough time, the circuits would degrade and fall apart.

“The degradation would be more rapid in the more complex systems created by the Star Forge. Electronic circuitry would collapse almost immediately, weapons within hours, even hull metal would fall apart after only a few months, unless hit by weapons fire. My circuitry would be irreparably damaged by such an act.”

“Is it possible?”

The computer paused. “You asked me to work on a weapon that would neutralize the Force when you were last here several months ago. There is an answer. It can be done.”

“Download all data to my data pad.”

“Danika, you understand that as a self-aware computer, I can contemplate death and fear it as a living being can. While the question might be merely your original stated wish to be able to neutralize the Jedi rather than to kill them, it could be used against my system or the Star Forge. I cannot give such information to you.”

“Fine. Extrapolate. Assume that Malak continues using the Star Forge. What happens?”

“The Sith succeed in defeating your Republic in the next year. The death toll will be in the trillions.

“15 years from now the enemy you had been preparing to face attacks-“

“Wait! Enemy I was preparing to face?”

“Yes. You spoke of them, but gave me no specific details. Something in your conflict with the Mando gave you a clue that a threat to all life was coming, and you intended to conquer the Galaxy and arm to prepare for it.

“To continue, they attack, the races of the Galaxy are decimated. The death toll is in the hundreds of trillions.

“Six thousand years from now, the enemy discovers the Star Forge. They use it, and grow more powerful. They slaughter over 90% of the people of the Galaxy before their society collapses as those before it 11,000 years from now.

“Approximately nineteen thousand years from now, the Second Republic will discover the Star Forge yet again, and the cycle will continue.”

“Now extrapolate, the Star Forge is destroyed.”

“The Sith will continue fighting for approximately six more years. During that time the ships built by the Star Forge will degrade into uselessness. They do not have the building slips necessary to recover their numbers in comparison to the Republic.”

“Death toll?”

“Much less than the first extrapolation. Merely several billion more. Also knowing that their ships will degrade rapidly will hamper their operations.”

“And the enemy?”

“They will arrive 15 years from now. They will be met by a the Republic fleet which has formed at that time. The death toll will be in the billions, but without the Star Forge to fall back upon, the Galaxy will continue to survive.”

“I submit that if the Star Forge is allowed to survive, that this cycle will continue for the rest of time. However without the Star Forge, this will stop in a day or so from now.

“I submit further that we can have you repaired yet still destroy the Star Forge.” I told it. “By using droids made in the same manner as we lesser races use. They will be unaffected by the destruction of the Force in this system, and will be able to repair your circuitry using not the force driven methods of the Rakata, but the material ones we use. If I remember correctly, there are several droids built by our races still on this planet.”

“Probability 70% that you are correct. Number one hundred seventy four.” It replied. “Data being transferred.”

“All right. How can the disruptor field be destroyed?”

“It cannot be destroyed except by the removal of the Force. It is self-repairing as this unit is. However it can be shut down and will remain so until reactivated. It was built as the main defense of the Star Forge and the planet. It can only be deactivated from the primary control system at the pinnacle of the temple.”

“But I cannot get through the door!”

“That is because my systems determined who was worthy of admittance. The injuries you sustained altered your pattern sufficiently that the door did not recognize you. It has been reset.”

“Thank you. Delete all mention, research and links to this weapons project. If anyone ever asks, you are to create a facade of information that will lead them away from the possibility of creating such a weapon again.”

“Completed. You do understand that you yourself will never be able to repeat it.”

“You will do the same with any specifications, plans, or designs of the Star Forge itself.”

“Complete.”

“Now, Program the droids, then shut down. Hopefully, any damage will be slight if you are not in operation.”

“Yes, that is possible. Shutting down.” The system slowly shut down. I touched the console. I had in my hand the way to defeat the Sith and Malak in one stroke.

But it would probably kill me to.


Betrayal

Danika

We retraced our steps, and this time the mammoth door opened with a smooth hiss. I ran up the ramp, and as I did, I felt a chill. Something awaited me at the top of the temple, and it resonated in my heart.

The upper door opened, and I felt the worry increase. There was an opening leading onto the landing of the pinnacle, and I felt the dread build until I could not stand it. The others felt it too. Juhani was, to pardon the expression, as jumpy as a cat.

I stepped out into the sun, and there ahead of me, I could see the fighter that had come down the night before. A woman stood beside it, and I didn’t need to see her to know who it was.

Bastila. She wore the robes of a Dark Jedi, and as she saw us coming she lit her lightsaber. The fiery red of the blade just verified that she had gone over to the dark side.

“Bastila!” Juhani cried.

“Don’t move Juhani.” I said softly.

Bastila approached. She had never looked more beautiful, and I dreaded that beauty. She smiled one of the first smiles I had seen that wasn’t shadowed by her own worries.

“Revan. I knew you’d come for me. Malak was sure you would be afraid to enter the temple, but I know you so much better than he does since you have changed.”

“Bastila, hurry, we must escape before Malak arrives.” Juhani said. She hadn’t noticed the change.

Bastila looked at her with pity. “Escape? You don’t understand. I have sworn allegiance to Malak and the Sith. I am no longer a pawn of the Jedi Council.” She smiled again. “But you knew that Revan.”

“Don’t go over to the dark side.” I whispered.

She laughed. “You speak as if the Dark side was some ravenous beast! The Jedi council must really approve of my work. You are a properly programmed drone willing to spout what they say. They fear the dark side not for what evil it might do but for the power they could attain if they only grasped it! Instead they run from it like frightened children, and use their own skills to yoke those with the most power to their own outmoded ideals.

“Why do you think they forbid you and Malak from joining in the Mandalorian wars? They knew that you would have the veil ripped from your eyes. You would see the world as it really is! You would recognize your true potential and form your own union of other Jedi that have done so. Malak has shown me that the Council was using me the same way they had wanted to use you. They have been holding me back because they know I will surpass them all one day!”

“Don’t do this, Bastila.” I reached out. “You can return to the light.”

“Don’t make me laugh! Return to that narrow cage they kept me in?” She shook her head. “I resisted at first, as I should according to the Jedi. I endured torment with all of the serenity they teach. I finally cut the link between us because you were hindering me. That’s right, hindering! Your own darkness called to me, and it was helping Malak!

“But I learned. After a week of agonies, I became angry, and he had already showed me what anger can do. I broke the chains they bound me with and he applauded my efforts! He forced me to acknowledge my pain, my anger. He showed me how those things the Jedi fear most would liberate my mind and soul. Then he showed me how the Jedi Council was denying me what is mine by right!

“Oh they were happy to use my battle meditation to win their battles, but for what purpose? Merely to return those idiots they call senators to their seats, to allow chaos and bloody-mindedness to wreak havoc. They were jealous of me, of my power that none of them had. If they could have, they would have ripped it from me for their own use. Instead they treated me like a child too stupid to move her hand from a burning fire. I was to bow and scrape to them, obey every word as writ. Yet all they wanted from me was that battle meditation!”

“You know that’s not true. Those are lies.”

“Ha! You’re the one living a lie, Revan! The Jedi council was happy when I had put your mind together. Think how they must have felt when I delivered a woman with all of the Force capability you possessed! A willing drone that would fight and die like a toy soldier. A slave!

“You used to be the Lord of all the Sith! Now all you are is an expendable pawn they can send on a suicide mission. I was like you until Malak freed me. A pity your power has waned so much since then. You could be as strong as I am this very moment, perhaps even stronger! But that will never happen now. With the Star Forge at his command, Malak will sweep away the anarchy of the Republic, and install an order of the strong and obedient. He will conquer the Galaxy! I shall be at his right hand, and together we shall create a new order spanning the Millennia! But first I must rid myself of one thing.

“Break the bond.”

“I will not.” I shook my head. “If there is any way to return you to the light, I will need that.”

“Fool! If I kill you, it will be broken, if you kill me it will be broken!” She struck at my head. I blocked her blow, and she leaped back.

“Jolee, Juhani, stay back.” I warned. “I promise, Bastila, that if kill you I must, it will be quick.”

She laughed. “Feel the power!” She screamed. Force lightning leaped out, and both Juhani and Jolee were blown back off their feet into the wall. I staggered backward, but blocked the blows she aimed at me. Then I reached out, picking her up like a toy and slamming her into the opposite wall. The lightning died, and my companions collapsed to the stone. I wanted to run to her side, make sure she was all right, but if I had, I would have failed. I knew that now. The last battle for my soul this time was being fought here, and she was the only thing that could drag me down. Malak had sensed it somehow.

Bastila shook her head, then sneered, standing again. “You are stronger than I would have thought possible after what the Jedi Council and I had done to you.” She smiled again. “Malak was wrong; the dark side is still strong in you, Revan.”

“I am not Revan any more.” I said softly. “You made sure of that Bastila when you redeemed me. I am Danika Wordweaver Jedi and Consular now and forever.”

“You can lie to yourself, but not to me. I have seen the shadows of anger and hate you close up in that little box in your mind. I know the truth. Remember that I am the one that put your mind together after the battle. I used the Force to remake your life! I did! Not the Council! All they did was poke and prod at what I had done afterward!”

“And you linked to my mind when you did.” I said.

“Yes! And that link will survive as long as we let it.”

“It is through our bond that I know you will come back to the light, Bastila.”

“Those aren’t your true feelings, Revan.” I saw the bathing pool, Bastila cuddled in my lap, all of the desire, the contentment, yes, the love in that embrace. She was sending it down the link to me, making me see it from her view as well. “You wanted me for myself! The Jedi council would never have sent us on this mission if I had told them of that! The Jedi used me, and I used you to make an instrument for them to strike at Malak. I was as wrong as they were!

“The council wanted to use that bond. They hoped that I could draw out the information they needed about the Star Forge. We were both slaves to their will as all Jedi are! But in that bond, I felt the taint of what drew you to the dark side. Not power for it’s own sake, but your own compassion for the downtrodden. The desire of a premier warrior to end war forever! Such a farce denying your skills and the arena to use them in the same thought. Even I can see how stupid that is.

“It wasn’t Malak that brought me to the dark side, Revan, it was you. Your darkness came from all that love you could never have, all that repugnance at things you can’t change as a Jedi, but could as a Sith Lord. I resisted all of that, but I resist no more!” She bowed mockingly. “I thank you for striking the scales from my eyes and making me see the truth.”

“If you saw the truth in my mind you must also have seen my mistakes.” I pressed. “Learn from them!”

“Mistakes?” She laughed. “No, my dear Revan. The only mistake you made in your life is the one you’re making now. You are denying yourself the power that was yours by right. And it still is your power, not Malak’s. Only now, facing you in combat do I see the truth.

“Your deserve to be the true Lord of the Sith. Malak will destroy the galaxy if he cannot win it. Like a child who cannot figure out how to make a toy work. All you ever wanted was to save it. All he wants is to rule it. Join me! Together we can save the Republic from itself. We can be together forever.” She reached out her hand, and I suddenly saw how close she had come during that speech. I could almost feel her touch on my face. I wavered. I could join her, I could be with her, I-

Mission screaming as she died.

-I backed a step.

“Take my hand, accept your fate! We can destroy your old apprentice. Join with me now and regain your identity, your life, and your position!”

“I am not Revan any more!” I stepped back again. “I have no memory of what I once was!”

“Your mind was shattered by the damage, Revan. You may not remember who you were yet, but I know you remember some of what you were. The essence of the woman that led the Sith is still there!

“Once long ago you defied the Jedi Council. You freed yourself from their control, and see what you have wrought! The largest fleet in history is in orbit of the Star Forge, awaiting your command to attack! Together we can retake that power, and fling it in the Jedi Council’s face.”

“No.” I shook my head. “I will not slaughter trillions to undo your work, Bastila. You saved me, please let me save you.”

“Bastila, it is not too late to be saved.” Juhani cried. “Remember the teachings of the order. You can find your way back to the light. Let Danika help you as she did me!”

Bastila looked scornfully at Juhani. “You are beneath my contempt, Juhani. When you felt the stirring of the dark side, you could have gloried in it, you could have slaughtered the masters of the Dantooine council itself. Instead you ran away and hid like the pathetic animal your entire race represents. You know nothing of the Dark side, or it‘s potential.”

Juhani retreated stricken.

“She is my friend, Bastila. Leave her alone.”

“Oh yes the famous ‘Revan’ speaks again. You always considered those around you as your possessions, didn’t you?” Bastila asked sweetly. “Well this little slave has broken free of your chains! You can join me as a partner, or you can die. I will not be a slave to your will any more.”

“Ask Juhani if she is a slave, or Zaalbar. Both know the meaning of the term. I defend my friends because that is what a friend does.” I sighed. “Revan is no more, Bastila.”

“You pathetic fool!” Bastila raged. “We could have ruled the galaxy together! Instead Malak will crush the Republic, slaughter the Jedi like the cattle they are, and I will be at his side when it happens!

“I find it ironic that you could have saved yourself all the pain that is to follow, but think on this, my dear Revan. To keep the bond now is madness for you! I was dragged into the dark by your own darkness, and if I live I will drag you back to the darkness as you did to me! Think of that when we launch our attack!” She reached out, and all three of us were picked up and slammed into the walls. She spun on her toes and raced to the fighter. We had barely reached our feet when it lifted off. Bastila waved mockingly, then we were slammed down as she went supersonic.

I watched the fighter disappear in the distance, and my heart was torn in two. When next we met, I would be forced to kill her. Not because I wanted to, but because she didn’t want what we already had. I went to the computer console, and activated it. I felt the temple screen die, and the disruptor field went down. I stepped back, and my lightsaber blade shattered the console. The self-repair could rebuild it, but it would take time. Time when any attempt to restore it would be in vain. We ran from the temple parapet, and down through the structure. There wasn’t much time.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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