SL Writing

#SL: My but how time flies…

Wow… tomorrow marks exactly a year since my story marathon Steal Head ended. A whole year. Now that has really gone by quickly. To think how much has changed since then – how much of a high I was on. A few more months writing Gang Wars and that would be it for my time in Steelhead and SL, pissed off by a couple of tossers so much that I decided to give another game a try, a little thing called LOTRO… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I actually have a lot to thank Sheriff Numbnuts and the One-Armed Wanker for 😀

Do you know what… it’ll be my 5th anniversary in SL on the 19th too. Blimey.

 

Steal Head’s Mystery Reader

Looking at my blog stats it seems someone is methodically reading all the posts listed in the Steal Head Story In Full post – whoever you are thank you &  I hope you’re enjoying it and Ya Yiwama says hi… 😀
Ya Yiwama Gravatar (512p)
 

Mutations: Chapter 11 – The Endless White

The smoke curled around his head as if it were caressing him with a lover’s touch, but he didn’t notice. The cot held him as tightly as a mother hugging her child, but he didn’t notice. The beautiful pipe-girl gazed at him with a curiously caring look in her eyes, but he didn’t notice. Dr Beck had breathed deep and long from the pipe currently dangling precariously from his listless fingers and his glazed eyes now saw a world far removed from the dark, hidden depths of the opium den his body remained in.

**{}**

The endless whiteness was all consuming. It burned into him, flooding into his eyes and filling his mind until he thought he could take no more and that it would burst out of him. And it was all his fault.

In their flight from the navy, they had been driven further north and west than their small trawler was ever meant to journey until, in desperation they had pushed on with only one hope, find the northwest passage and circle over hostile Canada to the free lands of America. It was his plan. He had convinced them to try it, to push on into the endless whiteness, to search for freedom. And god help him they listened.

He thought the snow and ice terrible, mile after mile of white wastelands burning into him, searing into his eyes until he feared he’d go blind with it. He thought it worse even than the cold and the hunger, but he was wrong.

The endless whiteness. Perfect in every way save for two small, black stains on its surface. As the ship cracked its way through the ice, journeying ever forward into the unknown, the coal-black smears grew smaller and smaller until the the Arctic wastes swallowed them and his world once more was the searing endless whiteness forever frozen in his tears.

**{}**

Outside the den, as the scent of burning catnip rose from a burning warehouse, an ancient evil stalked the streets in search of a terrible harvest…

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To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Mutations” posts can be read on my blog here.
2) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
3) A “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.
4) More details on the burning catnip warehouse can be found in Alana Steamweaver’s Ning post here.

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Steal Head: Chapter 7 – The Collecting Begins…

The night fog rolled in from the sea, its thick tendrils wrapping around the city until everything was hidden under a grey blanket. Most folks retreated indoors, huddled around warm fires and gathered together in rooms lit bright to ward off the darkness but some hardy souls remained, against all common sense, outside.

In Shamian, Bill Symonds was heading through the narrow guinnels and back-alleys towards the docks looking for work. The fog curled around the cannery, the men and machines inside working noisily through the night; no jobs there, not for him, not for any white fellas now the tong ran it. He walked on by, heading out to where the fishing boats landed. Whatever else he could do, he could always mend nets and ropes for the skippers. In the darkness he heard something hit the ground wetly, “‘Allo?” he called out into the mist, his voice sounding flat and far away. No one replied, just be a cat after scraps he thought and carried on to the wharf. Then another wet slap, and another, and another. Suddenly slap after slap came from behind him, or were they in front of him? He couldn’t tell, they echoed off walls, the alleys playing tricks. “Ey now, stop playing silly bugg…”
Yi Yawamas Victims_004

**{}**

Archibald Tome smiled weakly as he climbed the steps of Miss Milneaux’s Poppy Emporium to feed his addiction. If mother ever found out, he thought to himself for the umpteenth time that day, she’d cut my allowance off toot sweet! So even though Belle was known for her discretion and it the Dragon Lands was quite the place for one to remain anonymous, he found himself thanking his lucky stars for the filthy weather. Breathless he reached the top of the final set of stairs and stepped out on to the Emporium’s balcony when there was a wet thud behind him. “Mi… Miss Milneaux?” he stammered, turning around, “Is that yo…”
Ya Yiwamas Victims_006

**{}**

As James McLaughlin popped out of the library to fill his pipe he was surprised to find that a real pea souper had descended across the city. “Well, what a foul evening Miss Homewood,” he said the librarian as he headed out to the gardens. He made himself comfortable on the bench and tapped his pipe on the metal arm rest. A sudden sound, as if someone had dropped a large book into a puddle, caused him to turn “Hello? Miss Homewo…”
Ya Yiwamas Victims_001

**{}**

Across the bay, Henry Wilson-Smythe was hurrying through the fog towards home having been kept late at the office. His footsteps echoed eerily across the water, coming back at him with a short delay to sound as if he were being followed. He felt a cold chill down his spine as a sudden splash behind him stopped him in his tracks. All was quiet, only his own breathing breaking the silence until a wet slap followed by another and another started coming towards him through the mist. “I say, anyone ther…”
Ya Yiwamas Victims_008

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“Ey now, stop playing silly bugg…” A flash of teeth and Bill’s body fell to the ground, a jet of blood erupting from the stump of neck where, until mere seconds before, his head had been…
Yi Yawamas Victims_005

**{}**

“Mi… Miss Milneaux? Is that yo…” Claws slashed through the fog and a fountain of gore shot across the balcony as Archibald’s headless corpse fell backwards…
Ya Yiwamas Victims_007

**{}**

“Hello? Miss Homewo…” Arms like knotted steel twisted and pulled until, with a wet crack, James McLauglin’s head was torn from his shoulders…
Yi Yawamas Victims_002

**{}**

“I say, anyone ther…” A huge, wet paw enveloped Henry’s face, his eyes barely had time to widen in fear before his head was torn from his shoulders and his ruined body crumpled to the floor…
Ya Yiwamas Victims_009

The collecting had begun.

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To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
2) A “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.

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Mutations: Chapter 10 – The Creeping Darkness…

Beck drew the sheet over what remained of Xan Fe, the explosion that had torn through stone and timber in the sampan lagoon had done far worse to the flesh and bone of Li Fe’s father. Rising Beck felt as if the weight of the fallen rail car was on him; one by one, person by person Li Fe’s family was being torn apart and he was powerless to stop it. He grunted vague agreements to the nun asking for a report for the sheriff, but in reality all he could think about was the poor woman he now had to go and see. How the hell could he tell someone who’d lost everything that the cruel, godless universe had seen fit to take away still more?

Not for the first time today that morning, he found himself replaying the terrible events of his journey through the northern ice-flows that brought him here. The bleak white forever and the two small black stains fading into the distance. As he climbed wearily on to his bicycle and headed off along the wharf towards Shamian, he felt the dark eyes of the hotel above boring into him, seeking out his weaknesses, staring into the emptiness rotting away in his gut and smiling. He hated himself, he wanted to be stronger, to tell himself he wouldn’t give in but he knew he’d be back later, once the dark night had crept over the city and could hide his shame.

**{}**

Hours later, in the dead of night and as Beck sank deep into the smoke of the Dragon Lady’s lair, an ancient evil crawled out of the waves and on to the streets of Steelhead city. His heart was blacker than pitch brimming over with the desire to kill…

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To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Mutations” posts can be read on my blog here.
2) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
3) A “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.

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Steal Head: Chapter 6 – Headland

The man once known as Polish Bob was dying. His skin was pale, clammy and smelt of rot. His tar-stained, filthy clothes hung off a shockingly emaciated frame. For weeks he had not slept or eaten, drinking only from grimy puddles and sleeping under damp wharves. His breathing was ragged and coughing fits often brought up wads of blood. He noticed none of it though. He had been called to a task, and that task consumed him. He was to prepare the way and day and night all he thought about was bringing His Master home. Now everything was ready. Everything was in place. A Church had been found. The flock called to prayer. All that remained was for His Master to gather them in and lay them low.

And His master was close now. The Herald was guiding Him home, guiding Him to His new flock, leading Him out of the ocean and on to His Headland.

Behind him, in a dirty burlap sack, a small, frightened girl cried and whimpered, terrified beyond reason.

**{}**

The song led Him, the wailing chaos of the Herald had guided Him through the oceans of many worlds towards His new disciples and into His new kingdom. The world had changed since last they had worshipped Him. It seemed these clever monkeys had grown and learnt many things, but still they were naught but monkeys to Him. He had roared past their steel vessels swimming beneath the waves and circled their boats as the scooped up entire shoals of fish. Oh yes, they had changed these monkeys but they would still bow before Him. They would bow and they would proffer their heads for his glory and He, Ya Yiwama, Taker of Lives, Collector of Skulls, Stealer of Heads, He would reach down to His faithful and He would pluck from them their offerings and their offerings would be as bountiful and endless as the oceans and He would bathe in a millennium of adulation and terror and bloodshed!

**{}**

Deep in the foggy darkness of the night, away from all eyes and ears, away from all things living and dead, the waters broke and belched the abomination known as Ya Yiwama onto the land. He stood, water dripping from his vile form, whilst at his feet the man once known as Polish Bob bowed low and with joyous tears in his eyes opened the sack to welcome his new Lord and Master with a gift. As the kidnapped girl inside looked up into the glowing eyes and dripping maw of Steal Head, she barely had time to scream before she fainted dead away and teeth the size of steak knives descended upon her helpless neck…

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To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
2) A “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.

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Mutations: Chapter 9 – Trapped…

Xao Fe was trapped. For weeks, ever since the death of their son, his wife had been too ill to work and his wages from the cannery simply couldn’t cover the medicines she needed whilst the white doctor had been out of town. On top of that he had to find the money to bury what was left of his son; Xan had converted and out of love Xao had followed her, but despite her devotion to the faith, the local church still saw them as outsiders, untrustworthy and beneath them, and insisted upon payment in advance. He briefly considered asking his sister, but the shame of asking  her coupled with the shame of admitting how she earnt her money in the employ of the Dragon Lady ensured that it was but a brief consideration.

So Xao did what he’d never done before; he took a gamble. His wife’s brother was out at sea fishing with Captain Williams and when he returned Xao was sure he would help out, meaning that Xao only had to find enough money to cover the funeral and Xan’s medicines for a week, maybe two. With this to steady his nerves, he had approached the Tong for a loan. Sure the interest was high, but Chi would be back in a week and he could pay it off and Xan could have the medicines she needed.

Only Chi never made it home. He had been killed and any wages on him had been stolen, taking with them any hope Xao had of paying the Tong. The Tong did not take such matters lightly, in fact  it was known that several of the more violent thugs in the Tong’s employ relished the non-payers as it gave them something to do with their knives and clubs. Xao was, he believed, a condemned man when the money lender sidled up to him at the cutting table. But instead of threatening to cut off his fingers one by one, the shark offered him a simple, one-off job to repay the debt. All he had to do was make a delivery, just that, nothing more, just simply row over to the sampan lagoon below the Dragon Lands hotel and hand a package over to a contact and his debt would be cleared. Xao didn’t believe that last part for one second, but what could he do? He was trapped.

**{}**

The journey across Shanghai bay in the early hours of the morning was uneventful, yet Xao couldn’t shake the feeling he would be caught at any minute. He glanced down over and over again at bulging tarpaulin in the middle of the boat, beneath it lay the wooden crate he was to hand over. He pulled into the lagoon and moored up. There was no one about and only the soft lapping of the waters against the boats moored around him broke the dead silence. Again and again he found his gaze wandering down to the box. What was in it? What if it were drugs? Or worse, guns? He could turn a blind eye to smuggling, he could ignore many things the Tong did, but the thought that he might be involved in gun running horrified him. He had to look, he had to know.
Shanghai Explosion_010

With a final check  that no one, most of all his Tong contact, was around Xao pulled back the tarp and opened the box. His eye grew wide with horror! In the box lay three sticks of dynamite connected to a ticking clock: a bomb!
Shanghai Explosion_011

As his mind raced with the realisation of what he had uncovered, he heard footsteps on the path leading to the hotel above him. Looking up he could see the retinue of the Dragon Lady leaving the building and making their way down to the lagoon where he and the bomb lay in wait. This, he realised, was no smuggling operation but a cold-blooded assassination and he was the expendable fool the Tong were using to kill their greatest rival! He looked back at the bomb and then again to the small group coming down the path. The Dragon Lady was there, hidden from view beneath an exquisite parasol of red embroidered silk tumbling to the ground all around her to ensure no human eye ever saw her. Around her a small knot of serving girls held the shade in place, with two burly armed guards, one in front and one behind, providing security. But Xao’s eyes ignored them all save one of the girls holding the silk. It was Meili, his sister. In an instant he knew he couldn’t allow her to be hurt. He shouted a warning at the retinue which stopped in its tracks. The lead guard barked orders and his comrade began to pull and push the girls and his mistress back up the steps to the hotel. Xao shouted at them all to keep back, that there was a bomb on the boat and when he saw Meili being ushered back to safety he bent to grab the device so he could throw it into the lagoon.

He had no way of knowing about the wire-bound trigger at its base. As he lifted it out of the boat a pin was pulled out and a short-fused detonator was armed. Xao manged to roll it overboard, but before it had time to even hit the water the dynamite exploded and the lagoon was filled with sound and fury…
Shanghai Explosion_005

**{}**

High above them all, she watched the explosion with a wry smile on her face. As the caboose keeled over and smashed through the wooden bridge and fell into the lagoon, she was already planning her retaliation…

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To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Mutations” posts can be read on my blog here
2) In Shanghai, a lone Yakuza eyes this development with interest. Read more here
3) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here

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Steal Head: Chapter 4 – Sharper Than Steel, Deeper Than Forever…

I’d told Beck some of my dreams but I couldn’t tell him all of them. Mostly they were memories and not all mine. Memories of other worlds. Some were of Shade, others were of the world that was here before. Others were of ‘his’ world and I liked those the least. They were of a life not mine. Things and people and places and events, none of them I had experienced yet I remembered them all as if I had. Tennyson should had tried having someone else’s happy memories swimming about his head for a week, especially after a fire reduced him to a walking freak show, and then see how he felt about loving and losing. No, Beck wouldn’t understand those dreams so I kept them to myself. But this dream, well this dream was different. Maybe I should tell Beck about this one.

It was night, the full moon sending silver light tumbling trough my cabin window. Something had woken me, some noise outside I think. I rose, the room swaying and bending as if made of jelly as I found I was unsteady on my feet. I looked down and gasped as I saw my legs: they were naked and covered in fur! In place of my burnt flesh and twisted limbs I was once more a strange mix of gazelle and human. Elated, I flung open the front door and leapt outside to the rocky overhang that jutted out into the river. On my knees, almost too nervous to see what the moonlit reflection would reveal, I stretched my head out over the still water. The breath caught in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes. My face was once more whole and unburnt, my ears and nose back from the stumps the fire had left me with, even my horns had returned, glinting darkly in the moonlight.

And then I saw it. As I gazed into the dark water like a dreaming Narcissus, the reflection of a quicksilver movement on the roof above and behind me caught my eye. I had a brief second in which the image of a monstrous toad came to mind before the air itself screamed as something sharper than steel sliced through it towards me. And then I was tumbling, rolling over and over into the water and down. And as I dropped to the depths of the river I saw my body, now headless on the rock above me, collapse onto its side before the darkness of the water closed the world above from my horrified eyes. With a gentle bump, my still concious head came to rest on the silty riverbed and silence began to envelop me.

There I lay. Alone, scared, undying, ever-concious until I felt I would go mad with the horror of it. And then I felt the movement. The water and silt shifting around me. I couldn’t move, only my eyes could flick back and forth, desperately searching for what I knew was coming until, with a cruel slow deliberateness, a huge clawed hand curled over my face and my head, silently screaming in terror, was dragged off into the dark.

Thankfully it was at this point I awoke, panting heavily and swearing like a navvy.

God alone knows what Beck would make of this one. Hopefully he won’t think I’ve gone totally loopy as, to be honest, I don’t fancy another stay at Caledon’s Sanitorium, not after the last time.

Headless HBA_001

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To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
2) A “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.
3) All my “Mutations” posts can be read on my blog here
4) Details of how HBA came to be burnt are in the “Lost and Found” posts on my blog here
5) Details of how HBA came to be in the dubious care of Caledon’s Sanatorium are in the “Far From Home” posts on my blog here
6) Details of how HBA came to be a half-gazelle are in the “Backpacking Burro” posts on my blog here

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Steal Head: Chapter 3 – A Second Letter to the Town Council

Dear Esteemed Members of the Town Council,

As you are no doubt aware the incidents of shared dreams, or rather nightmares, have risen over the last week but I have to say that I am so far at a loss to explain what is causing them. Frau Lowey’s staff have been conducting many experiments to see if there are poisons present in the water supply, soil or air but so far all tests are proving negative in their findings. I have been studying the pattern and locations of the ‘incidents’ but once again no answers are forthcoming. Of course we will keep looking, especially after the panic caused by the madman scrawling the messages all over town, but I am at a loss as to what to try next. It is possible that some change or mutation in whatever is causing these dreams will present itself and that will allow us to at last get a purchase on the problem, or it may be that the event ends as mysteriously as it began, I simply can not say.

One interesting development from Frau Lowey is she has noticed that people of a strong faith (irregardless of what that faith is) seem to be troubled far less, and sometimes not at all, by these night terrors. Why this should be I can not say but I rather believe that the speculation of some form of mental energy attacking the city currently popular in certain quarters is very unhelpful. Not only is it obviously unscientific, but the sight of fully-grown Jeagers wearing little pointy tin-foil hats is comedic in the extreme and I fear it is only a matter of time before one’s natural inclination to giggle at such a spectacle leads to several cases of severe mauling landing at my door! If they must wear them, maybe they could be hidden under some of their especially floppy hats?

In the meantime, I would ask that the good people of this town still be encouraged to come forward and inform me of any dreams they have so I can collect as full a picture as possible of the outbreak. I have recorded all the current ones in the town archives (http://steelheadsl.ning.com/profiles/blogs/steal-head-story-so-far-part) for people to read and make reference to.

Yours in endeavour,
Rynhold Beck (Dr.)
13 to 14 Shamian Alley,
Shanghai, Stlhd.
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To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
2) A “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.

Mutations: Chapter 7 – The Sum of Many Things

A night of deep, dream-free sleep saw Beck wake refreshed and looking forward to his day, even if he did spend much of his breakfast touching his head to ensure it was still on his shoulders. He washed and dressed with an almost cheerful air about him, perhaps it was being away from the dark sooty skies of New Babbage that did it, or maybe it was just spending a night in his own bed, however humble, that revitalised his soul. Whatever his mood could be attributed too, it saw a distinctly happy man all but skip downstairs to his surgery to prepare for the day ahead.

As he opened the door and crossed the threshold he noticed a folded slip of paper on the floor; nothing unusual in that as many of his patients left him letters and the like in such a manner so he simply picked it up and carried it over to his desk. He was idly opening it when he noticed another letter on his desk, this time an altogether different missive than he would expect. It was a short, polite and formal note from a Miss Rhianon Jameson of Caledon expressing her regret in missing him having speculatively called by whilst he’d been away in Babbage. He knew the name yet it was a few seconds before he could recall the face… close to his… through the smoke… wanting something… someone… oh God! It was the woman in the den, the one asking about The Scientist, and he’d sent her to him! His mood wavered as he wondered what she could want with him again and, if she’d been successful in her quest, what her connection with the Scientist now was.

He put the letter down, unsure how (or even if) to reply, and turned his now distracted attention to the first note still in his hand. He read it and immediately re-read it. It was from Li Fe’s father, was dated the very day he had left and, in a shaky hand and broken English, was begging him to come and help his wife who was out of her mind with grief over the loss of their only child.
Beck felt sick as the black emptiness he tried so hard to keep at bay suddenly throbbed deep inside his gut. He grabbed his bag and all but ran out of the door and into the narrow streets and alleys of the slums.

**{}**

It was late evening when he returned. He stared at his meagre belongings in his small, rotting room and wondered, as he often did, what his wife would think of the shabby state he’d let his life tumble into. He’d lost so much getting here and had so little to show for himself that he half-feared he would vanish into the gulfs of his life.

He caught himself, chiding his pointless self-pity into remission and reminded himself where he’d been all day, what he’d seen. Li Fe’s mother, Xan, had spent the last two weeks beside herself with grief and anger, lashing out at everyone around her. Her husband had borne the brunt of it as she blamed him for allowing their child to be stolen. Her family, Christian converts Beck had learnt, had watched her every minute of the day, fearing she would do herself an injury until, but a few days ago, her mood had calmed a little. She grew less wild, less frantic and her husband began to hope the worst had passed. And then her brother had been found murdered.

A fisherman, Chi Yun had landed after a two week trip with old Captain “Pastor” Williams and was evidently walking home when someone had attacked and stabbed him, leaving him to die in the filth of a slum doorway. The family expected Xan to take this badly and braced themselves, but instead of the breakdown they feared, Xan retreated within herself and remained there ever since. She had not eaten for two days and barely slept. Beck had been unable to reach her, it was as if she had pulled a veil down and vanished from view. In the end all Beck could do was mix a sleeping draught and advise that Xan be confined to her bed until her delicate emotional state improved. Her sister, a young woman who seemed oddly familiar to Beck, was caring for her and thanked the doctor warmly for his help. Beck accepted her gratitude with grace but each of her nods and smiles was like a knife-point in his belly: he was as much use to her as he’d been to his own wife and children. He sighed, rubbing his tired eyes as he sat down heavily in his worn armchair by the small fire. Deep inside him the empty feeling grew a little bit more.

**{}**

As Beck slept, snoring away in the armchair by the still-glowing fire, someone moved outside his surgery in the night-shrouded streets below. A tall, haunted figure took a brush dripping with black tar and began to scrawl across the filthy windows, leaving a message from his Lord to His new subjects.

He was coming and they would bow to Him. Oh yes, they would bow to Him and offer their heads.

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To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) A “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.

2) All my “Mutations” posts can be read on my blog here

3) All my “Snatched from Steelhead” posts can be read on my blog here

4) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.

5) All my “Creaky Gloom” posts can be read on my blog here

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