MAU: Can't Take the Sky From Me! Chapter -6- & -7-

The Air Force Captain took a lung full of smoke. “I saw it, but I don't know if I believe it. However, what the hell. No one else has believed either, but the question is do you believe in superheroes, because I swear to Gawd we intercepted Iron-Man and War-Machine out over Tampa Bay last night.”

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. None of the characters, places, or anything else is meant to be represented by anything in reality. Duh! Fiction, get it? I the author reserve the rights, so please don't go posting this anyplace else without my permission. A very special thanks goes out to Cathy who spent the time to make this story readable. Another round of thanks goes out to all the others out there in BCTS land who have encouraged and inspired me to write and keep writing. Any remaining mistakes are all mine.

MAU: Can't Take The Sky From Me! Chapters 6 & 7
by
Grover
Chapter 6

McDill Air Force Base

Agent G blew out a long stream of smoke. In the warm, muggy air the tobacco smoke hung like one of the overcast clouds above them. He'd started smoking during his military days, and never quite managed to quit. If he was tired, the Florida Air Guard pilot had him beat hands down.

After all the BS surrounding the intercept the pilot and his wing-man had run last night, the man deserved a break. That was why they were both outside sharing a smoke despite the chance for rain from that tropical disturbance off shore.

“Look,” G said, frankly. “I know you saw the impossible. Your aircraft recorded the images, but even with that, none of the brass wants to accept what's in front of their eyes. You've been grilled and have been up all night. I'll level with you.” The MIB said, “I believe there are things that defy our explanations. Just tell me what happened.”

The Air Force Captain took a lung full of smoke. “I saw it, but I don't know if I believe it. However, what the hell. No one else has believed either, but the question is do you believe in superheroes, because I swear to Gawd we intercepted Iron-Man and War-Machine out over Tampa Bay last night.”

<><><><><>

Danny
Upton Heights Acres

Wide-eyed, he watched a blur slip over the fence. His heart thudded in his chest like one of those big Caribbean steel oil drums turned into musical instruments. By force of will, he made himself calm down. It would not do for him to kill himself when he was so close to finally being able to live.

But Damn it, Griff had done it!

The proof was in that hard to see blur that had left Steven 'The Perv's' backyard. Not only had Griff used some kind of really rad camouflage that was near invisible, but he had vaulted a seven feet tall fence like it was nothing.

Sure Danny had seen police and military guys clear higher walls though the internet, but this was his friend Griff. Before, there was no way he could've done it, but even with that hard-to-see thing going, Griff had done the deed with ease.

A knocking at the door interrupted his introspection.

“Come in.” Danny invited, knowing it was his Mom.

He'd inherited her brown hair and eyes, but his Dad's darker complexion. She, while not fair skinned, still tanned, and of late she'd been working harder at getting some sun and staying healthier.

Danny had seen the difference after she'd meet Griff's mother who, although being a few years older, actually looked at least ten years younger. That'd motivated his Mom into making changes. She'd lost a good ten pounds and wasn't showing any signs of slowing down. He'd even seen the gray in her hair disappear courtesy of Miss Clairol.

Honestly, he was glad to see her pay attention to herself. After she'd spent his whole life caring and worrying about him, the experience had exacted a price. Before Griff had potentially changed everything, the thing Danny had wanted most in the world was for his family to be happy. He'd known sorrow was coming, and was determined that the good memories outlasted the grieving.

However, now, just maybe, there was a happy ending for his family after all.

“How are you this morning?” She asked, her sharp eyes looking for signs he was in distress.

“I'm fine, Mom.” Danny answered. “Perhaps I overdid it just a little yesterday, but I had a good time just hanging with Griff.”

“Do I dare ask what you two were up to in the backyard?” She smiled as she walked into the room straightening and picking up things he had trouble reaching due to being confined to his 'wheels.'

“Not really Mom.” He answered, not wanting to lie. “We were preparing for a secret mission.”

“Ah,” She misunderstood. “Something to do with you two's online gaming.”

“Shhh,” He replied, happily content she'd jumped to the wrong conclusion. “It's a secret.”

“I promise I won't tell a soul.” She made a buttoning her lips gesture.

As much as he tried to be as independent as possible, the truth was he still needed help to take care of things most other people took for granted. Your normal teenager would be blushing in embarrassment, but for Danny it was simply a continuing part of staying alive.

It helped that, for all that he was sixteen, he was just starting a hesitant puberty. Occasionally, a few stray hairs would decide to grow, but sometimes they would change their minds. The most he could claim was he did feel attraction at times, particularly like yesterday watching 'Daisy Duke,' even if he didn't have a physical reaction. A very two sided advantage, his burden kept any unfortunate involuntary reactions from occurring during awkward times like now.

They were both used to the routine, and it didn't take long. Then came time to head down to the kitchen for breakfast and his meds. Sometimes he felt it should be the other way around since it seemed he took more pills than he did food.

It was only then that he began to worry about how he would ever explain his cure, the recovery. Danny was sure that tests would be run, but didn't know if they would pick up whatever option that would, he hoped, work the remedy to his burden.

However, living close to the reality of just what his burden meant, death, had made him very practical. First make sure he would live till tomorrow, and then he could worry about what came afterward.

“Here you go.” His Dad placed breakfast in front of him.

“Thanks Dad.” Danny dug into his food.

If his Mom was his lifeline, then his Dad was the rock that anchored them all. No matter the stress or the drama, Dad was there, end of line, no questions. However, he too showed the signs of the years of stress of looking after his ill son. Just the fact they lived in Upton Heights stated their family were doing well financially, but his Father often put long hours at the law firm where he worked. The gray hair and slight paunch were visual clues that caring for a seriously ill son had taken it's toll.

“Hey Danny,” His Dad remarked casually, “Pam called while you and your Mom were upstairs. She's coming home for the summer. She's taking her finals next week and the week after that we're all going to Gainesville to help her move.”

“Cool.” He replied. His sister was a few years older than him and was in her freshman year. Before she'd left for the University, she'd spent a lot of time with him. It was between the time she'd started, and Griff had moved into the neighborhood, that had been the hardest on him. Online friends were great, but they didn't make up for having a real live person there with you.

Speaking of which ...

“What's up?” The big red head grinned from the door. “Do I smell breakfast?”

Danny returned his friend's grin. Things just got better.

<><><><><>

Steven
Upton Heights Acres

The door slammed shut.

That was a clear statement that Brian was still angry.

Something crashed on the other side of the door, the sound of it shattering echoing in the hallway.

Correct that. His little florist was mad as hell.

Steven quirked an eyebrow. This was all extremely unusual, but nothing about this weekend had been at all normal. The booth that all research he could find labeled as an MAU had assured that.

His smile was confident. Brian would calm down in time. Make-up sex was always more than worth it. Who could've guessed that War-Machine having a little fun with those Air Force jets would've set off his little florist's temper so spectacularly?

It baffled him that a staunch liberal like Brian cared so much about those military jet jocks. Steven, however, knowing he was virtually immune to their attacks, enjoyed showing the power he had in the comic-book inspired armor. He had made certain that, unlike the ones in the movies, these suits were very difficult to detect on radar or infrared, which was the military's favorite means of targeting their enemies. To their sensors he and Brian had been invisible.

Something else crashed behind the doors and made him glad he'd insured any and everything that was remotely valuable. Even taking his boyfriend out to breakfast at his favorite restaurant this morning failed to have the desired effect.

Well he did err when he suggested they don the suits again this morning after they returned. That was a mistake. However, the feeling of freedom and power were addicting. He could see why the fictional character, Tony Stark, didn't want to leave his armor 'security' blanket.

It did seem that Brian wouldn't be up for playtime, nor willing to experiment with the MAU any time soon. Perhaps if he knew about the time-limitation, but Steven was keeping that information to himself. He had some permanent changes in mind for his lover. Honestly, he was still vacillating over some of the details.

Steven was well aware of his 'peculiarities' and he'd managed to work out his interests in ways that didn't cause too much trouble. His boyfriend's youthfulness was a prime example of that management. He considered his solution a win-win. Brian only looked like jail-bait, but was far older than that on paper.

However, the MAU had sharpened his sexual appetite for those just beginning their bloom. He'd very much enjoyed the role-playing he and his lover had enacted. However, as great as that play had been it'd also revealed that there were limits to what his lover was willing to do. That was unfortunate, because Steven wanted more.

Knowing he had to give Brian time to cool, he chuckled. He would just have to find some other way of amusing himself until then. He thought about playing with the amazing MAU some more, but he'd already decided on the changes he was going to keep for himself. Steven was well aware that these devices were highly sought after, and he had advertised that something unusual was going on here. If the device disappeared right now, it wouldn't hurt him, but it would interfere with his plan for Brian's coming makeover.

Walking briskly to his study, it was time to see what his Little Florist had been up to while Big Daddy was away. Turning on his computer, he accessed the surveillance program he'd installed. He'd thought it rather clever, since it used the same motion sensors that turned on security lights, but his system used cameras. That way he got to see the action without having to wade though hours of nothing.

Pouring himself a drink, the backyard of course was a special problem. With that firehouse mutt of Brian's, the bitch was always setting off the cameras. However with the MAU there at center stage, perhaps the constant coverage wasn't a bad idea. Besides this system was separate from the one used by the security service paid to monitor his property.

Steven was still suspicious that Brian hadn't known the dog was a bitch before it was too late and they were already on the way home. He did not care for females. Perhaps they were necessary for reproduction, but it was all so messy and unsanitary. Despite that, Brian had talked him into keeping the dog out back in the yard. It was good that the animal had learned early on to avoid him. The feeling was mutual.

Leaning back in his chair he smiled in anticipation as he watched the recording of Brian preparing to use the MAU Saturday morning. He was curious as to what his Little Florist would do without his being there to influence the decision.

He spit the expensive liquor out as the girl walked out of the booth! Coughing and his eyes watering from snorting the alcohol, Steven cursed, “That Bitch!”

Trying to mop up the mess before the liquor stripped the varnish off his pricey desk, he couldn't believe his eyes. His lover had turned himself into a bitch! Pouring himself another glass... this time he didn't bother with sipping.

It was crystal clear where the form had come from. Steven recognized the character's calling card, the 'Daisy Dukes.' Resolutely he watched the entire thing as 'She' removed all signs of the MAU from the property. Twisting his face up in a grimace he saw 'Her' step into the booth just before, he, Steven had returned from his morning golfing game.

He almost felt dirty, knowing he'd had sex with Brian right after that. It made him feel soiled and unclean. With a grim resolve, he watched all the rest, fast forwarding though watching Brian's mutt use his backyard as a toilet far too many times.

On the recording he recognized that Sunday morning had come and was going to turn it off when the dog began barking at a tree. Smirking, stupid bitch, he froze as a figure dressed all in black climbed down.

To make the bitch completely useless she just sat there and wagged her tail as the intruder fed her a bribe.

Panicked, he ran to the backyard, but breathed in relief as he saw the MAU was still where it was supposed to be. Returning to the recording he watched every second trying to get a clue who had violated his privacy.

A man with a mission, he accessed the regular security systems recordings. The MAU was his. It landed on his property and he was the one who deciphered how to use it. No one had the right to use it without his say so. This demanded a payment and it would be paid in full.

<><><><><>
Chapter 7

Griffin

Urban Hell Acres

He could see Danny was so excited that he was about to fly out of his 'wheels' like a rocket. Taking the stairs up, while his friend rode his elevator up to his room, Griffin felt like Santa Claus. This was, he grinned broadly, Christmas in May.

Danny nearly pushed him inside, closing the door behind them.

“I know you got it!” The boy stuck sitting demanded holding out his hands.

“Whoa,” Griffin smiled backing away. “Slow down! First we have to get you connected.”

“Connected?” Danny repeated. “What are you talking about?”

“This.” From his usual battered backpack, he took out a near copy of Danny's own book bag.

Blinking, his friend glanced at the door where his bag normally hung and found it still there.

“This is as perfect a copy as I could come up with on the fly. It'll do until you've a chance to refine it.” Griffin explained, but he could see confusion on Danny's face.

Then he took a match to his own visor and phone/tri-corder from the counterfeit book bag. “Here, put these on and hold this.”

Taking off his glasses, Danny put on the ones Griffin offered, as well as taking the phone.

“Okay,” The boy demanded, obviously a bit peeved. “What's next?”

“Why,” Griffin beamed. “You tell it, 'Computer On' of course!”

The redhead couldn't keep from laughing at his friend's expression.

“You!” Danny accused. “Computer On.”

Griffin felt like jumping up and down like a cheerleader as the Alien Machine produced devices initialized. Although he couldn't see the images he could see his friend's eyes flickering back and forth as they read the data in the visors HUD, Heads-Up-Display. That was a weakness that needed to be addressed.

“Wowzers!” Danny exclaimed. “The glasses just adjusted to my optical prescription. I can see perfectly with these, even better than my old glasses.”

“Hold up your old phone next to it and tell it to synchronize.” Griffin directed. “It'll transfer all your SIM card information from it to your new tri-corder.”

“I have a tri-corder?” Danny questioned, as he commanded. “Synchronize the data.”

“You do now.” The redhead couldn't keep from grinning. “That phone is computer, tri-corder, part Sonic screwdriver, and the brains that connects all the rest of the stuff together. There's a JARVIS that will help you manage it all.

“This.” He took the fountain pen appearing servo from the bag. “Has the rest of the Sonic Screwdriver's functions as well as being the multi-tool from hell. It contains a sensor that lets you direct the tri-corder's analysis functions more intuitively and, like any tool, you can use it as a weapon.”

“A tri-corder and a Sonic Screwdriver?” Danny replied, dazed looking at the gadgets in his hands with wonder. “What's next?”

“Well,” Griff really did feel like Santa now. “How about a Bag of Holding?”

He took what looked to be an insulated lunch bag from the book bag. “Not this, but, this.” Griffin held up the look-alike book bag. “It's really a portable nanotech factory, a Universal Survival kit, able to produce or become just about anything you can design or scan.”

“This however,” He handed Danny the lunch bag. “Is the nanotech hospital we designed. If it works you should be getting some kind of icon up on your visor.”

“I got it now.” The ill boy announced. “I'm telling it to scan myself now.”

“Sorry for the drama.” Griffin wasn't the least bit apologetic. “But you needed to do this first before trying the other stuff. This can diagnose, as well as treat, if it functions the way we wanted.”

“It's working!” Danny excitedly reported. “It's asking for permission to search for information. I'm telling it to proceed, but to spread out its inquiries so it doesn't bring any undue attention to us.”

“So if I may ask?” The boy looked up at Griffin. “Why in the world a lunch bag?”

“Because it's so ordinary no one would give it a second glance.” The redhead replied. “Also, I know you keep some of your medications in yours. Just like the tri-corder, factory, and sonic screwdriver, it looks like ordinary things you'd expect to see in a school bag. Now that we have this stuff I don't mean for them to be taken away from us. If you chose not to use them then okay, but I did make sure that the survival kit could replace anything that is broken or stolen. A tracker lets you hunt down any of them that are lost. This stuff is yours, keyed to you and you alone.”

“Oh, the survival kit is the recharger for all the rest.” Griffin remembered to add. “You'll just have to remember to feed it water like a Mr. Fusion from 'Back to the Future' from time to time.”

“Is there anything you didn't think of?” Danny asked, his eyes still scanning the images produced by his visor.

“I'm sure there is.” Griffin answered, “But I did try to cover all the angles.”

“So what is it did you do to yourself?” His friend asked. “I saw you, despite that 'blur,' vault that wall like it was nothing.”

“Well,” He began, thinking that just some of the truth would work. “You remember when I said I had body issues?”

At Danny's nod, he continued, “The truth is I'm not comfortable in my own body. It's like a suit of clothes that just doesn't fit or feel right. However, I'm not all that certain what will work better for me, so rather than take a chance on something that might or might not work out, I chose the last option. All the above.”

His friend worked it out. “So you can stay yourself or change, so that third choice must be C, a shape-changer?”

“Yeah.” Griffin answered. “This one came from a story that had a half-way plausible, techno-babble explanation of how it would be done. I have a new organ that secretes a hormone that returns targeted cells back to their embryonic stem-cell state, where I can consciously direct them to change pretty much anyway I wish. That includes increasing my strength when I need to, which is how I got over the fence.”

“That's pretty cool,” Danny admitted. “Hey, The Nano-Doc is reporting! Get this, it seems to be the real deal. What it's saying falls into line about what is known about my burden. Now, its giving me treatment options.”

“You might want to have the Doc scan your pill and symbiont too, before deciding on treatment.” Griffin took the two final presents out of the book bag. “I specifically made certain that all of them would compliment the other if they were all viable.”

The Dr. McCoy pill was in a small medicine bottle, while the suit was wrapped plastic. Unable to help himself, Griffin had labeled the medicine bottle as a prescription from Dr. Leonard McCoy. 'Take One pill. Don't call me in the morning.'

The packaged suit he'd had printed a label on it as well:

'Symbiont-one-each, One size fits all, Not dishwasher safe, Do not dry-clean, Do not machine wash, Made far, far away, but we won't tell if you won't.'

“Very funny.” Danny said, dryly turning the writing around to show what he was referring to.

“You have no idea of how happy it makes me to be able to do this for you.” Griffin was bouncing on his heels. “It is important, but it should be fun too.”

“You were right.” His friend's eyes got distant again as they scanned the data on his visor. “All three can work and together they're the fastest and will overall have the best effects. That includes having the most positive benefits after the cure.”

“Go for it.” Griffin grinned.

“Alright. “Danny read the directions, “Put on the suit, and take pill with the drink located in the medical compartment.”

Taking the suit package, he found a tab on the back that simply read, “Pull.”

“That'll activate the suit.” Griffin informed him.

Taking as deep a breath as his frail body could stand, he pulled the tab.

<><><><><>

Danny

Upton Heights Acres

The 'plastic' tab and wrapping melted into the air as the 'contents' flowed over his bare skin bypassing his clothes. Danny grasped at the weird sensation. It was vaguely like the sponge bath he had this morning, but he felt this all over himself. For the first time he really understood the meaning of 'sensual.'

The whole experience was also a little alarming, but his visor actually tracked the progress of what was going on. That made it somewhat easier knowing and being able to see what was happening.

Stage One was the initial symbiont deployment: That was it flowing all over him.

Stage Two was the symbiont's entry into his body though his skin pores. The feeling of a gentle heat was pleasant at first, but came to just this side of being too much to stand. Then it faded away.

Stage Three, the symbiont used his blood stream to travel thoughout his body, although it was still centered/based in his epidermis.

It seemed to Danny that he could feel his heart working harder with the increased load. However then came Stage Four. The symbiotic organism bonded with critical organs, like his heart, and took on part of the effort of keeping him alive, stabilizing his condition and preventing point failures like heart-attacks, strokes and other bad things.

A blinking reminder said now was time to take the Pill. Opening up the lunch bag, there was a small bottle of liquid. Twisting off the top, he popped the Pill in his mouth with long practice. Prepared for something vile, the liquid instead tasted rather nice, having a nice light fruity taste. Heck, even his mouth felt refreshed from it, like he'd just finished brushing his teeth or something.

Finally came Stage Five where it began repairing what was broken.

Oddly he didn't feel anything, which was actually a good thing. With his years of following his medical burden, he was actually able to follow the majority of what his 'Doc' was telling him that was happening. Most of it was strengthening parts of his body that his burden had weakened or hadn't allowed to develop as it should.

As to the burden itself, it appeared to be a few malfunctioning protein receptors in just the wrong places. He couldn't believe it when the 'Doc' reported the defective cells were 'repaired.'

“I'm cured.” The whisper escaped him.

There was still much to be done before he was healthy, but he no longer had to worry that each time he went to sleep that it would be the last.

Griff just sat by the window, grinning like a fool.

'Well, let's give him something to grin about' Danny thought. Activating the voice function, he ordered, “Exoskeleton on. I want to stand.”

The symbiont flowed out from his skin engulfing even his clothes. Another first in his life... Danny stood without assistance. Of course the suit was doing all the work, but that didn't matter. He was on his feet.

Griff stood with him and hugged him. “Congrats Danny! We did it. You made it.”

“Wouldn't have happened without you.” He told the Farm-boy.

“Nothing to it.” Griff pretended as if it wasn't a big deal. “I was going in there anyway. It was just as easy to do two as one.”

“It's a good thing you did get my help.” Danny lightly punched his friend in the arm. “You would've fallen off that roof for sure without my moral support.”

“Maybe,” Griff admitted with a shrug. “Besides, doing this together was better in a lot of ways, but I have a request.”

“Hey enough with the hugging!” Danny laughed, “What do you want?”

“Clothes,” The redhead pointed at the catsuit like symbiont that was the only thing the boy was wearing.

“Hey computer, put me back in what I was wearing, but sized to fit over the exoskeleton.” A little unsteady, but growing more confident with every step, he went to his bathroom that was filled with all the helpful do-dads such as handles and railings to aid him in staying as independent as his condition would allow. His ex-condition, Danny grinned into the mirror.

With the symbiont exoskeleton active, he didn't look like an extra from a film featuring the Holocaust. He looked normal even if his face did appear thin. The only thing that stood out was his skin from the chin down was the shiny black of the symbiont. That should be fixable.

“Jarvis,” He requested. “Please alter the non-clothing portions of the exoskeleton to match my facial complexion.

Watching as the black changed, Danny then looked at taller Farm-boy. “So what do we do next?”

“I thought you would never ask.” Griff smiled with a glint in his green eyes.

<><><><><>

501st Legion Garrison outpost

Recon detachment briefing

“Alright listen up!” Sean stared at the half-dozen volunteers who'd been able to make it, although that term was relative. Each and every one had some kind of military experience which wasn't uncommon for the Legion. They had more than their share of veterans.

Normally he wouldn't be so picky about a detachment, but one of their potential targets had shown aggressive tendencies. If it came down to shooting, which he hoped to Gawd it didn't, he wanted that target taken down hard and fast.

These are your objectives,” Beth was playing Mon Mothma and giving the briefing.

A hologram appeared of War-Machine Mk 1 and Iron-Man MK VI.

There was a lot of muttering. As part of the fan scene they knew this stuff backwards and forwards.

“War-Machine appears to be the model out of the 2nd movie. Observe the mini-gun and box grenade launcher.” She pointed out, the holo zooming in to each weapon. Also be aware that he also still has his repulsors and the beam in the chest.”

“This is the one who was the aggressor and played chicken with a pair of F-16's out of Homestead last night.” Sean went over his concerns. “Unfortunately War-Machine lives up to its name, being very heavily armed. Even more of a problem, we have no guarantees that our ion guns are going to be effective or not.”

“Ion guns are awfully short range to be taking on a heavy hitter like that!” A trooper voiced what they were all thinking.

“And that is why you'll have a pair of Jedi running interference, as well as having more powerful weapons available just in case. Hopefully none of that will be needed and diplomacy will suffice, but if it doesn't we will be prepared.”

“Your next objective is potentially easier.” Beth put up the holo of Iron-Man armor Mark VI. This is the one from the beginning of the second movie that flies into the Expo Center. To the best of our knowledge its just an upgrade of The Mark III from the first movie, with the shoulder mounted missiles and flare launchers.”

“Easy she says.” Sean heard the low whisper, but he agreed. Iron-Man's armor no matter the Mark was never easy.

“Yes, Easy.” Sean spoke up backing up his wife. “That's because the pilot, while enjoying flying, didn't want to have anything at all to do with a pair of fast-movers. It's possible that its a husband-wife pair, given their reactions. After all Pepper Pott's Rescue armor was not depicted in the movies, so they might have used the Mark VI as a substitute.”

“It is also possible we misread the situation.” Beth picked the point. “If it was a couple, the man might have been trying to buy time for his girl to run which would explain the dangerous game he played. However, that was not our first impression.”

A bit more muttering took place. They all knew you could damn near take a Jedi's gut instincts to the bank as a sure thing.

“Again, we don't want to start anything.” Sean emphasized that strongly. “As a matter of fact the Collective is sending someone to help us, but they won't be here till tomorrow, so until then it's just us. With that in mind this is scouting mission to pin point our objectives' location.

“We won't act unless there are lives in danger tonight.” Sean again made sure he made eye contact with each of the detachment. “Additionally there are MIB's on site, and we all know how much trouble they can get into at the drop of a hat.”

He got a few laughs from that. The Agency had tried infiltrating their Legion Garrison on numerous occasions, but the Jedi had sniffed them out with ridiculous ease. It had given rise to some very humorous snipe hunts and other initiation tasks created just for them.

“No really?” Beth added in false disbelief, which got a laugh from everyone.

“Alright people,” He intoned, in a centuries old rote. “Let's move it!”

The troopers and Jedi headed to their vehicles.

Under his breath Sean whispered, “May the Force be with us.”

Just as quietly Beth added, “Amen.”

They were going to need it.

To Be Continued


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