Soul of the Progenitors – Act 9

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Soul of the Progenitors

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted October 4, 2004 – 7:20AM

Act 9

Ardishapur Command Base, Arnar System, Tarim Sector

The Command Carrier Ashkan approached the base, flanked with escorting Heavy Missile and Assault Frigates. Behind it was the logistic backbone of the Vaygr Crusade fleet, the Transport Frigate, followed by fleets of strike craft. It had been a good day, he thought as he stood upon the bridge, to start with the crushing defeat of a Raider pirate force. His only regret was that one less heathen would also mean one less luckless soul to convert to the Faith.

Mogaden, Il-Khar of the Crescent Crusade, gazed forth from the bridge of the Ashkan. Here in this base, a momentous meeting in the history of the Vaygr would occur. Here, he would meet the Vaygr-Khar himself.

He pondered why the Vaygr-Khar would come to the reaches of the Crescent Crusade. This was the territory of the Warriors of the Crescent. All in this sector, and the sectors adjacent, all belong to the Crescent. For generations they spilled blood across thousands of stars, across the millennia of light years, against tribes and empires. Only they, the Warriors of the Crescent, deserve the richness and the bounty of this region. No others should have the right.

He should have been the Vaygr-Khar, successor to Makaan. The Crescent has earned the right; the scourge of the Taiidan, the Turan and the Hiigaran across four thousand and five hundred star systems. They have raped, plundered and massacred the Infidels who refused to convert to the Faith. The Crescent was the most feared Crusade and its name was spoken with bated breath.

There were twelve great Crusades of the Vaygr: the Golden Crusade under the Il-Khar Batar; the Silver Crusade under the Il-Khar Sadan; the Holy Crusade under Il-Khar Galman; the Sword Crusade under Il-Khar Tirghuz; the White Crusade under Il-Khar Sonak; the Faith Crusade under Il-Khar Tomar; the Purification Crusade under Il-Khar Kazak; the Hammer Crusade under Il-Khar Bactria; the Shining Crusade under Il-Khar Sodom; the Black Crusade under Il-Khar Garahk, and the Red or Blood Crusade under Il-Khar Taklan now Vaygr-Khar.

And then, there was the Crescent Crusade, under Il-Khar Mogaden, the twenty first generation of the line of Kamisar the Third, the Inquisitor of Hamal, himself a confirmed descendant of Karghaz the Great, leader of the Fourth Exodus from the Planet Vey. That was his heritage, his lineage to the Vaygr Homeworld, a lineage of kings.

Each Crusade was led by a Mothership or Command Carrier. The Mothership was the more advanced ship and a relatively new design based on absorbed technologies from all whom the Vaygr has conquered and converted to the Faith. But he had chosen to fly a Command Carrier of the Amarzan class, in honor of his fathers and his fathers before them, for they all flew a Command Carrier just like this, fought in endless wars over centuries in a ship like this.

Behind each Mothership or Command Carrier was a caravan of Transport or Support Frigates, the logistical backbone of each Crusade. Then came the Shipyards, and then the fighting fleet itself, the Battlecruisers, the Destroyers, the Frigates and the myriads of Strike Craft. Often they are were supported with captured and commandeered ships.

The Ardishapur Command Base was one of the outposts of the Crescent Crusade in the Tarim Sector. But today it will be neutral grounds for now, for they await a meeting with the Vaygr-Khar. To show respect only a ceremonial force must be used, and the Vaygr-Khar’s own personal Crusade fleet should do so likewise.

Jingai, his advisor walked silently next to him, as he, Mogaden, studied the expense of the star system, a small bluish white dwarf surrounded by the halo of beige nebula, the expense that was his domain. In orbit around the star, was a massive asteroid belt whose richness would give centuries of unhindered resourcing. Above this belt lay the orbit of the Ardishapur Command Base. Further beyond this orbit lay three gas giants, each with rings, moons and asteroid belts, more mineral riches to exploit. The Arnar system was truly the jewel of the Tarim sector.

“Will you tell him?” Jingai whispered to his ear.

“Tell him what?” Mogaden asked, his eyes still scanning the expense of his domain.

“Tell him that you know that what all the Crusades have been searching, what the Vaygr-Khar has been searching, that you know where it is…”

“The Graveyard of Taal-Shiia? That is for me to decide, Jingai.”

“Then decide well, young one. What all of Vaygr is searching is in our domain, and in our lap. Why should you give what is rightfully ours to another?”

“What you suggest is treason, Jingai.”

“But Mogaden, this is for the interest of the Il-Khar, this is for the Crescent, and this is for all Vaygr. Think, think, young one. If you have the one the seek—control of the Ark itself—you can be Vaygr-Khar instead of Taklan. With all the Crusades behind you as one Khar, you can crush the Hiigarans and their allies, carve out a new Empire and crown yourself as Emperor. Think about it, young one. Think about your name: Emperor Mogaden the First, Mogaden the Great of the Vaygr Empire.”

Mogaden smiled. The thought was tempting. “But Taklan was chosen by the Ancient Nameless One. What can we do?”

“You know as well as I do that the Ancient Ones are nothing but ghosts of the Progenitors, images projected by machines, the artificial intelligence deep within the cores of the Planet Destroyers. But we make them as gods so that the people will fear them, so that we have a Faith to guide them. Faith makes it easy to control them.”

“But nonetheless, Il-Khar, even gods are tools that we can use when useful, discard when their purpose no longer serves us.”

Mogaden smiled.

One of his officers approached and bowed. “Il-Khar, the task force of the Vaygr-Khar has arrived in the system. The Mothership Batu is on its way to the Command Base.”

“Remember young one, remember who has better rights.” Jingai said.

“Continue course to the Ardishapur base,” Mogaden ordered. “Prepare the shuttle.”

***

Mogaden stared out from the entrance way of the Ardishapur base. He could see the Mothership Batu from a distance, marveled at the majesty of the Mothership class. A tiny shuttle left the ship, and his eyes followed it as the shuttle docked. He walked to the entrance to await them.

The servants came out first, followed by the Vaygr-Khar himself. In unison they all shouted. “All hail Taklan, Son of Khigan the Invincible, Bloodline of Turak the Conqueror. All hail Taklan, Khar of Vaygr, Il-Khar of the Blood Crusade.”

“All hail Taklan, Khar, Vaygr,” Mogaden uttered and genuflected. His officers including Jingai all genuflected at the same time.

With a wave of his hand, Taklan proclaimed. “All rise,” and everyone rose to their feet. “Mogaden, Son of Targhiz the Wise, Bloodline of Kamisar the Third, the Inquisitor, and of Karghaz the Great. Il-Khar of the Crescent Crusade. This is an honor to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Mogaden replied.

“We must cut the formalities, and proceed with the business,” Taklan said, tightening his gloves. Mogaden walked beside him as they head to the observation room. “You know why I am here, Mogaden.”

“Yes, Vaygr-Khar, on the matters of the alleged Taal-Shiia derelicts.”

“Alleged? Mogaden? This is not alleged. This is something that is truly out there and one that we must find for the glory of the Vaygr and our gods.”

“Yes, Vaygr-Khar, forgive me for my doubts. We have not been fortunate in finding this graveyard. We have deployed over five hundred scouts over the same number of systems. The Tarim Sector alone comprises of over one thousand known star systems, over sixty three constellations. I assure you that we are trying our best and putting our most competent scouts in this effort.” Mogaden looked over his shoulder to Jinkai, his advisor.

“Hmm.” Taklan stared at the vast expense from the main observation room of the base, where he just arrived. He could see his Mothership, the Batu, in a parking mode, surrounded by ships, left, right, top and down in a straight line formation. Not far was the Command Carrier, Ashkan, with a similar escorting formation. The Crescent Crusade still harbors many of the older ships, like the flat sided Missile and Assault Frigates, not unlike the Red Crusade which exclusively utilized all the current state of the art Vaygr ship models. All the ships sat in a dusty, sand colored background of a nebula that surrounded the base and hid it among sensors of any invader in the system.

“We are trying our best, Vaygr-Khar,” Mogaden said again.

“The best is not good enough. It is imperative we find the Ark, and with it, we maybe able to regain the preeminence Makaan lost,” Taklan said, flushing his robes. “I propose that my fleet will send scouts to lend you help in searching for the Taal-Shiia system.

Mogaden smiled, trying his best to hide his displeasure. If the Vaygr-Khar sends scouts to help us, I would see to it they will be sent to the forgotten corners of this sector, wasting their time endlessly searching among the little bits of rock and asteroid. “Yes, Vaygr-Khar, your help would be most appreciated in our search.”

Taklan studied the expense. “In the meantime, my fleet will be stationed here until we can find the coordinates of this system. I hope, Mogaden, that you will not fail me and the Vaygr people.” There was not a smile in his cold face.

Sensing displeasure from the Vaygr-Khar, Mogaden replied, “Yes, my lord. I will not fail you. I assure you that the Ark of Geddon will be found and will be used for the benefit of the Vaygr Crusades.” With a twist of course, I will be at its helm, not you, Taklan.

***

Aboard the Sajuuk,

Karan dreamt again of Sajuuk. As the journey progressed, the dreams have become more vivid, as if Sajuuk wanted to speak to her, to lay more of his legacy and history to her, than just his ship. She knew the visions were real, and she knew there were messages from the past, clues to events that would come to her near future.

His body and mind tied to the great ship with cables and tubes; his thoughts were orders that flashed throughout the ship’s systems with the speed of light.

Ahead of them was the Enemy, the Darkness, the Planet Destroyers with their eight massive arms and the central eye in their bodies that gleamed bolts of destruction from their pupils.

When he was born long ago, he had a different name. But that name, no one would remember now, as he was forced to renounce his birth name when he was chosen to be leader, beatified to sainthood and was given the holy name Sajuuk. Sajuuk brought his ship to bear, the ship named the Sajuuk-Cor, or Wrath of Who whose Hand Shaped What is. Beside his Super Dreadnaught, lay two other Dreadnaughts, a host of Heavy and Battle Cruisers, with supporting Destroyers and Frigates. They have formed a line, with the Dreadnaughts and the Sword of Light Super Dreadnaught making the center line, Destroyers on the upper line, and all the Cruisers in the lower line. The Frigates have fanned to the flanks.

“Fire,” Sajuuk ordered. White beams lashed out from the ships inline, and tore at the approaching enemy. The first volley ripped the enemy’s advancing line, and ships crumbled at the shining onslaught. “Fire again,” Sajuuk ordered, and the next volley tore at the survivors. Beams burned through slabs of armor, then punched through the skeletal frames of the Planet Destroyers, tearing their arms, and overwhelming the power sources in the center of their bodies. Explosions punctuated space, debris scattering in all directions.

But the Enemy was relentless, and Sajuuk knew they were outnumbered. Time was not at their side.

The second line of Planet Destroyers have spread their arms, gathering subatomic energy from the Cosmos, and concentrating them in the Siege Cannons at the center of the bodies. A row of white balls surged out of their bodies, and headed towards Sajuuk’s line of ships.

The Dreadnaught energy levels were too low to hyperspace out of the Siege Cannon fire. But he hoped the Destroyers and Cruisers might still have the energy. “All Destroyers and Cruisers hyperjump from the main formation. Brace for impact,” Sajuuk ordered, and the command was relayed in all the ships. Blue light enveloped the Cruisers and Destroyers, and they disappeared. At least they would be safe, thought Sajuuk.

The Siege Cannon shells exploded around them; the first sent a shock wave that shuddered even the Sword of Light and took all the Dreadnaughts out of formation. Then another shell exploded and another. The Siege Cannons were inaccurate weapons but had a terrific area effect. By ordering the Destroyers and Cruisers to separate from the Dreadnaught formation, he hoped to minimize the damage to them. But his own ship was taking the brunt of the damage as well as the Dreadnaughts.

“Severe damage to the outer layer” said the diagnostics computer.

“Seal all outer decks and begin internal repairs,” Sajuuk ordered. Turning to the Fleet Channel, he gave the next set of orders, “Prepare to hyperspace on my command to coordinates 14-2-3. Data being uplinked.”

A message came from the Unbound flying the second Dreadnaught, the Keeper of Faith. Sajuuk remembered her beatification name well, Karaak—She of Unswerving Faith. Like he, she was bound to her ship, her nervous and life support systems tied in wires and cables.

“Sir, that would take us behind the enemy formation,” Karaak said.

“Exactly, we need to hit their rear,” Sajuuk replied. “Our Cruisers and Destroyers will synchronize their jumps into our position as soon as we make the jump.”

“Roger,” came the acknowledgment.

“I am ready,” came a third voice, this time from the third Dreadnaught, the Bearer of Light. Faruun was the Unbound pilot of the ship, like Sajuuk, once a Deacon serving the Order, and he too forsaken his birth name for a saint’s name—He Who Stands with the Light.

“Jump,” Sajuuk ordered. Quickly, blue shimmering windows of light enveloped the three massive dreadnaughts, with Sajuuk’s Wrath longer than the other two, it’s sword like proboscis earning its name.

The three Dreadnaughts appeared behind the main enemy formation, which quickly reeled back. Sajuuk’s supporting Destroyers, Cruisers and Frigates quickly materialized right next to their ships like faithful servants.

“They are too close to use their accursed cannons,” Sajuuk said. “In a close range battle, we can win.” Sajuuk took a deep breath before shouting his next command.

“Fire at will!”

White beams lanced from the Dreadnaughts into a hapless Planet Destroyer. The beams burned through the armor and ripped through the main skeleton in the ship, detonating its reactors. A massive explosion followed, sending its tentacles into space.

The enemy has responded, firing their large cruise missiles towards them. Swarms of strike craft followed, then the enemy auxiliary fleet of capital ships similar to his own. His Destroyers, Cruisers and Frigates continued to show the Dreadnaughts faithfully, fighting off the attackers, but not without cost. Frigates popped under the relentless attack. Sajuuk watched helplessly as a Destroyer exploded in sacrifice, followed by an entire Battle Cruiser and then a Heavy Cruiser. But their sacrifice was not in vain, as fire from his capital ship fleet detonated the same number from the enemy.

A message came Karaak. “My sensors indicate a second wave of enemy ships have just jumped!”

Sajuuk sighed. “Coordinates?”

“Negative 20-10-4.”

“I have sensors confirmation of the enemy’s second line!” said Faruun. “They are headed this way.”

“The numbers of the Unbelievers grow by the hour!” Sajuuk cursed. “We must make sure they do not detect the convoy and the Mothership.”

“We understand our Holy Mission, Sajuuk, Chosen of the Believers,” Karaak proclaimed. “We will defend our people with our lives. Glory be to the Mission. Glory be to the Inshaala.”

Within the system lay a convoy led by the Mothership, the Kalinar, whose name meant Vessel of Holies, along with assorted transports. In these ships lay over one hundred thousand souls evacuated from a system under attack by the enemy, the Ones who no longer follow the Mission, the sacrilegious Infidels who dared defied the Way Things Should Be, the thing the Believers hold most holy of all—the Inshaala. So foul was the infidels that they are not worthy of any name—their birth names and their beatified names were stripped, and hence was only called the Nameless Ones, and their leader, also merely called the Nameless One himself.

The Kalinar was one of many Motherships the Believers kept, and whose age dated from antiquity, perhaps to the arrival of Primordial Ones to this Galaxy. She was over five thousand cubits long, a long monolithic oblong shaped ship with propulsion units on the lower back end of the ship. Despite her immense size, her defenses cannot withstand a frontal assault from the nameless infidels. And with her were several dozen vessels all unarmed transports and ferry ships, defended only by frigates and strike craft served from the Kalinar.

The Nameless Ones will not find the Kalinar, Sajuuk swore. Even at the cost of their lives, as the two fleets converged to his position.

The second fleet of infidels have four Planet Destroyers in their formation, along with capital ships. Their arms began to spread wide, absorbing the energy around them, only to fire beams of light against the two Dreadnaughts. Sajuuk watched in horror as Faruun’s ship, the Bearer of Light, already damaged from the engagement, staggered at the beams, which burned through its armors and torched the skeletal structure beneath. But Faruun was relentless in his attack, his ion beams concentrating on the lead Planet Destroyer, and in so doing, broke three of its arms.

The enemy fired its beams again, and Sajuuk watched in horror as the Bearer of Light disintegrated in the volley. Sajuuk swore he heard Faruun’s last words, “Glory be to the Mission, Glory be to the Ishaala.. Farewell my friend.”

Karaak took a measure of revenge by destroying the Planet Destroyer that fired the final beam to the Bearer of Light. Then her ship, the Keeper of Faith, was enveloped with rays of shining light, all emanating from the maws of the surviving Planet Destroyers. Sajuuk watched as Karaak’s ship broke into pieces, then erupted in a massive fireball whose shockwaves moved out from her position in giant concentric circles. He heard her say “Sajuuk—-“ before her words were cut out by a scream.

“Karaak, Faruun, may your souls be at rest. May your souls find their place in the Divine Circle,” Sajuuk uttered. Around him, his capital ship fought valiantly but vainly against the relentless assault of the infidel ships, and one by one, each Destroyer, Cruiser and Frigate gave up their ghost. As death approached, he could hear the choir of the crew members singing psalms to prepare their entrance to the Afterlife and ease the pain of transition for those who were dying. “Glory…glory…glory…praise to the way of the light, Glory be to our Mission…”

From the comlinks came the raspy voice of one who shall be Nameless for all time, the leader of this dreaded formation. His ship was a Planet Destroyer larger than most, a ship called the Tartarus. Like all the rest, it had eight giant arms which to spread an array, and in the center eye lay ion beams and a Siege Cannon. The Tartarus spread out its arms, the eye in its body menacingly staring at the Sajuuk-Cor, like a predator awaiting its prey. “Sajuuk,” he said. “Your cause is hopeless. Give us your Cores and that we may spare your life and that of your crew. If you join us, give us what we want, you will stand before me in the right hand of my throne. We can rule this galaxy and build the greatest civilization ever known in the entire universe and in our long history.”

The Believers have kept the secrets of making the largest and most powerful Cores away from the Nameless Ones, those Fallen from the Path. They did so to prevent the Heresy from scattering fast and wide. Without these Cores, the Nameless and the Fallen can never, never take the place and power of the Believers.

“Never,” came Sajuuk’s answer.

“Then we will pry out of your ship,” came the response of the Nameless.

Sajuuk studied his instruments. Good, the Nameless Ones have not seen the Kalinar and the convoy. Encrypted signals from the Kalinar informed him that the convoy has reached the Eye of Arran. Sajuuk smiled as the Kalinar and the convoy hyperspaced out of the giant gate for safety. He had one more thing to do. Then from the Sajuuk-Cor’s computers, he accessed the computers in the Eye of Arran and locked it.

“What is this?” said the Nameless One. “Hyperspace signatures?” There was long pause, more than enough time for Sajuuk to do his work.

“You are very wise, Sajuuk. You have fooled us indeed with your diversionary measure,” said the Nameless One. “Your ruse has saved an entire convoy of your people. But you will only delay the inevitable.”

Sajuuk smiled, and then laughed. “That is not the only thing I did. I locked the gates so you could not use them any longer. You now have to travel tiny steps across the stars. Finding the rest of our people will no longer be easy for you, and for that I have bought them much time. Check your instruments so that you will know I speak the truth.”

There was long silent pause from the Nameless, and Sajuuk knew that the Fallen One was very angry.

“Now you will have to follow me in an endless chase across thousands of stars,” Sajuuk challenged him. Already, Sajuuk’s mind was planning a scheme. The codes for activating the Eye of Arran would be separated into three, and each will be encrypted into the computers of each of the Hyperspace Cores of his ship, and he will abandon each Core at different places in the galaxy to make them hard to find. Until someday, someone will find them, and unite all three together…

Sajuuk laughed at the stunned silence of the Nameless Ones, as he gathered the survivors of his fleet into the docks of his Super-Dreadnaught. He could not save all the survivors, as some continued to fight a delaying action till the very end. Their sacrifice allowed the Sajuuk-Cor to hyperspace out of the system.

But that would be his sacrifice as well, for he could never return to his people, and when the last of the three Cores were lost into space, time will also be limited for him and the crew of the Sajuuk-Cor. But time was all he had he could give to his people, the dying race of Believers.

***

When Karan woke each time from such visions, she knew she was one step closer to the mystery of the Progenitors. But she could openly tell her revelations and visions of Sajuuk to her people, not just yet. They were not ready, and today, this was a time of crisis. For now, inside Sajuuk’s ship, in the very same spot he lived and commanded as an Unbound, she felt close to the ancient one all Hiigarans revered as a god, but whom she looked to as a hero.

The assistants helped her into a seat which would be lowered to the command bridge of the ship. There, Admiral Serim Soban would address her this time. From the expression of his face, she doubt he would have any good news to say.

“We have heard from the renegade Hiigaran fleet. They have just suffered a terrible defeat in the hands of the Vaygr, the Red Crusade personally headed by the new Vaygr-Khar. Over seventy percent of their ships have been lost, though we are fortunate the Shipyards Naabal and Soban managed to escape.”

“What of their commander?” Karan asked coldly, her eyes an expressionless stare into space.

“Sobakin Naabal did not make it, Sajuuk-Khar.”

Karan closed her eyes. She knew this Admiral well, a great hero in the last war, a faithful servant of Hiigara.

“Let no one weep for him,” Karan ordered. “In subordination will not go unpunished, even in death. I want all the commanders of the surviving ships in that fleet to be sacked, arrested and put in trial for insubordination and treason.”

“But, Sajuuk-Khar, isn’t their suffering enough? They are not our enemy; the Vaygr are. We still need their expertise and leadership.”

“Hush, Admiral Serim of the Kiithid Soban,” Karan answered coldly. “I have no use of commanders who cannot follow orders, who have no discipline, and who would put their personal agenda and hatred ahead of the good of the race. They will be stripped and new commanders will take their place. It is fortunate that we have managed to recover some ships and crews. And remember, Admiral, I am your Hiigara-Sa.”

“Yes, Sajuuk-Khar.”

“There is more, Admiral, I want you to interrogate the survivors and find out the disposition of the enemy fleet, and what tactics did they use. We must now begin to rebuild our fleet. All the surviving ship will be redeployed to the Homeworld sector in order to strengthen existing fleet elements. With the Shipyard Soban and Naabal reassigned to Hiigara, the Kun-laan 2 can now be diverted to join our fleet with Shipyard Somtaaw, Shipyard S’jet and the Pride of Hiigara. The Kun-laan’s mining and resourcing facilities are unmatched in the fleet and with it, we can rebuild a new fleet faster.”

“Yes, Sajuuk-Khar.”

“Admiral, now where is the Vaygr fleet? “

“We believe it has reached the Tarim Sector.”

“Now Admiral, we are now badly delayed because of this unauthorized excursion by your colleague. While we rebuild, we need to send a carrier as an advance screen to deploy scouts and cloaked fighters to track the Vaygr.”

“We have little available to reach the Tarim sector in time but the new Kun-laan unfortunately, Sajuuk-Khar.”

Karan paused in deep thought. She finally gave her answer. “Even though we need the Kun-laan’s mining expertise, her strategic position is more important for us to find the Vaygr fleet whereabouts. Send word to the Kun-laan of her new mission to shadow the Red Crusade fleet, and it is important that she must stay out of sight of the Vaygr, and keep us informed.”

***

The Naasha emerged out of hyperspace.

“Position!” Radal ordered, sitting tensely in the captain’s chair. “Maintain cloak mode.”

“Takumar system,” Iisha replied. “According to the star maps, this is the last system of the Odanar Sector before we enter the Tarim Sector.”

“Good. Passive Scans!” Radal ordered.

“Passive scans!” Iisha affirmed and studied the display. “We only have light Vaygr patrols in the system. From the presence of Assault Craft and Scout patrols, I believe one Carrier maybe inside the system with us.”

“Scan for proximity probes,” Radal ordered.

Iisha was busy again, punching buttons to her console. Then she displayed the results on screen. “We got seven probes within the system, all along this zone. Displaying their scan ranges and zones.”

“Standard Vaygr probe pattern,” Gursal suggested. “How imaginative.”

“Indeed,” Radal affirmed. “Already there are blind spots here and here.” Radal pointed to the areas onscreen with his finger. “Mining belts please?”

Iisha paused for a moment and quickly pressed a series of buttons on screen. “We don’t have enough resolution not without active scans, but current spectography scans indicate the possibility of resource belts along these regions.” Iisha pressed buttons on her console and green zones lit up the map display.

“Looks like we have found our resource spot. We need more fuel and isotope to make the next hyperspace jump which can be a very far one. Head out to these coordinates on screen,” Radal ordered, pointing to the area.

“Roger,” Gursal acknowledged.

Act 8 | Landing Page | Act 10

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