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Stop or Die
The Equinox's big secret is out, and the aliens are killing their crew for revenge. Its first officer won't give up on their trip home and resorts to desperate measures to speed up the journey, even if it means leaving its ally ship behind and crippled.
26th & 28th February 2004
"You're an idiot Rudy, we can capture a few more in the next game," Max grumbled from his chair.
Ransom rolled his eyes, "the Enterprise crew knows about it, they'll be watching us and we are in agreement not to kill anymore creatures."
"You mean you are in agreement," Max muttered. "We still have one left to use, what's the point in not killing the one we have?"
Ransom turned to him, "there's still one left? How come they didn't find it?"
"Maybe we didn't keep it in the Science Lab," Max replied with his eyebrow raised. He grinned cheekily, the look on Ransom's face made his own face turn serious again.
"I think they'll notice if we re-activate the enhanced drive and leave them standing," Ransom said.
"Screw the Enterprise. The crew follows a twenty year old girl who isn't Starfleet trained, but just as stuck up as any other 'love the rules' Captain. Her mother is probably one of them," Max said.
"Max!" Ransom snapped. "She's right about this."
Max shook his head, "she's a Games Slayer, in other words Softmicron Slayer, the guys who control the damn things. She's obviously messed up if she's taking their side in this. Obviously she's messed you up too."
"Yes they're evil and she's supposed to protect planets from them, I get that. She doesn't kill them though, and we shouldn't either. It just makes us as bad as them, can't you see that?" Ransom said.
"No, I'll tell you what I can see," Max said, he stood up to face him. "I see our Captain who has kept us alive for ten years has gone soft, he's been brainwashed by a pretty face."
"Max I'm the Captain, and I know I'm right about this. We go through the game normally, is that understood?" Ransom muttered. He didn't wait for an answer, he made his way into his Ready Room.
"Fine," Max said, glaring at the Ready Room door. "Normally it is."
Enterprise, Ready Room:
"Trust me, there's one coming," Daniel said.
Lena groaned, "fine whatever."
Daniel raised one eyebrow, "are you ok?"
"I'm alive, thanks," Lena muttered.
Daniel grew uncomfortable, "um ok. I'm around if you need me, but in the mean time." He handed her a PADD, "I got Yasmin and that Barbie doll to get the exact co-ordinates this time."
"Uh huh," Lena said, nodding her head.
"Are you sure you don't want to talk?" Daniel asked as he sat down opposite her.
Lena finally looked up from the desk and made eye contact with him, "what? Oh right, I dunno." The door chimed, "come in."
Craig and Zare walked into the room, Craig looked rather uneasy. "Hey Lena, do you have any ideas..." Zare said but Craig interrupted her by gently elbowing her. She glared in his direction.
"What do you want?" Lena asked.
"Well we're kind of stuck with something. We've been asking around, we only came to ask Daniel you see," Craig replied.
"Oh, Lena's the ex, of course, I shouldn't ask her," Zare said.
Daniel glanced behind him, "ask me what?"
Craig knelt down nearby Daniel's chair, "got any suggestions for a first date, we're both a bit rusty."
Lena rolled her eyes, Daniel glanced at her briefly. "I dunno," he turned back to Craig. "I'm a watcher so I'm supposed to say something like 'no date for the little Slayer here'. Go and shove off Anderson."
Zare groaned, "god fine, let's go." She turned to leave the room. Craig quickly stood back up and followed her.
"Did you see that, they had some nerve. I should have slapped them for that one," Daniel said.
Lena managed a weak smile, "thanks."
Daniel frowned, "what for?"
"I wanted to say something, but it would have seemed petty," Lena replied.
"Well it wouldn't have been, they shouldn't have asked in your own office," Daniel said.
Lena stood up, "yeah well, like I said before, thanks." She walked through the door, and stepped onto the bridge. "Bryan, take us here," she said as she handed Bryan the PADD.
"Yes ma'am," Bryan said as he looked at the PADD.
"What did you just call me?" Lena snapped. Everyone looked at her looking nervous.
Bryan looked up at her with wide eyes, "uh I said ma'am, would you rather have Captain or sir then?"
Lena sighed, "sorry, I didn't mean..." She walked over to sit in her chair.
Daniel appeared in the Ready Room doorway, "I take it we're going now then."
"We're going," Lena replied.
Tom frowned, "where?"
"The next game site, it should be easier to land there," Daniel replied.
"It better be, we don't want a repeat performance," Tom muttered.
Bryan turned his chair around, "um can I just ask one question?"
"Sure why not," Lena replied.
"Would it kill us if we hovered underneath the cube instead of landing?" Bryan asked.
"Yes, you have to be touching the ground or standing on something that touches the ground," Lena replied.
Bryan turned his chair back around, "crap."
"Why, what's up?" Tom questioned.
"Well the landing site is another big city," Bryan replied.
Everyone turned to glare at Daniel. "No I know what I did wrong last time, we can land somewhere in that city, promise."
"Actually bleach boy is right," Triah said.
"Oh look, Mary Poppins just floated passed the viewscreen," Jessie said.
Bryan looked up, "cool, oh did I miss it?"
"Why do I always get insulted by you lot?" Daniel grumbled.
"You're right, we're sorry," Tom said.
"From now on we'll stick to insulting Tom," Jessie said.
"Yeah, hey!" Tom snapped.
"Excuse me!" Triah yelled to get everyone's attention. "We can land here, there's enough room for both ships."
"See, I know what I'm doing," Daniel smugly said.
"We just have to destroy a few buildings," Triah finished off.
"What, that's not right," Daniel muttered.
Triah shrugged, "it's ok, the city's abandoned anyway."
"It is? That's weird," Bryan said.
"Ah I've got it, this time for sure," Triah said. Lena groaned, she made her way over to stand behind her. "Look I'll put the new landing spot on the viewscreen."
The viewscreen changed from space view to city view. Some of the buildings looked like they were ready to fall down, some already had. Nearby most of the damage was a large square shaped clear area.
"Zoom in on the landing spot," Lena ordered.
The city view quickly changed to show a massive hole in the ground, buildings and structures that were obviously around the edge of it were basically just wreckage.
"Triah, our landing spot is an old Game's landing spot," Lena said.
"So?" Triah said.
"So check the co-ordinates, there's no way in hell a Game Cube would land in the exact place twice," Lena said.
"I never said it would land in that hole, it'll land near the hole. We'll probably have to give some of the remaining buildings a nudge to make room for the Equinox," Triah said.
"How do you suggest we do that?" Tom questioned.
"Phasers are ready, just a suggestion," Jessie replied.
Tom rolled his eyes, "are we sure there's no one around, on the planet for that matter."
"It's the only city on this planet, it's like a new colony. Well was, it looks like it's been left for years," Triah said.
"Ok Jess, fire phasers," Lena ordered.
"Finally, I have phaser firing withdrawal symptoms," Jessie commented.
Tom looked nervous, "thank god, the withdrawal symptoms are usually hitting me over the head with a tricorder."
Transporter Room Two:
James walked through the door. Jessie, Faye, Daniel and Tom were waiting around.
"What's this all about anyway?" Faye asked.
"I'm curious about this colony. One cube lands and everyone takes off, it's weird isn't it," Tom replied.
Jessie folded her arms, "oh please only an idiot would think that. You move to a new colony on a brand spanking new planet, you see one weird thing take a chunk out of the colony, do you stick around?"
Tom shifted his eyes nervously, "well yes." Everyone stared at him with raised eyebrows. "If I was a Slayer and or knew what the hell it was."
"Please tell me you've changed your mind then," James said.
"Oh no. The Equinox has been nicking most of our food supplies, and I for one am sick of eating fried Leola root left overs and other junk," Tom muttered.
"Damn," Daniel grumbled. He and Faye handed over some rations to James.
Jessie glanced at the rations in James' hands, "uh, you made a bet?"
James glanced at her, "what, I've killed people and you're bothered about me gambling? I'm going to hell anyway."
"No I'm just wondering what you bet on exactly," Jessie said.
"We betted on the mission, you know to pass the time," Faye said.
Tom frowned, "what, am I that predictable?"
Daniel shrugged, "maybe, I think it should have been mine though."
Faye rolled her eyes, "oh please, Tom wouldn't want to lead a mission to the planet to battle with leftover Softmicron."
"Hey, I would," Tom moaned.
The rest of the group laughed. "She has a point Dan," Jessie said.
"I only said it cos I wanted him to get stupidly hurt or killed," Daniel muttered.
"Hey!" Tom moaned. Everyone looked at him. "We're going to this planet and we're going to do something more rewarding than fight egg like creatures."
"We're not going to pick up really old food, oh darn," Jessie sarcastically said.
"No we're doing that, it is an advanced colony so it will be edible," Tom said. He stepped onto the transporter pad, "so come on then."
James counted the rations he had, "ok there isn't enough to get the whole family out of broth, so anyone want to bet on what's going to happen?"
"Oh please," Daniel laughed. "We're not that stupid."
"I'm in," Faye blurted out. Daniel glared at her, "what, I hate broth."
The awayteam rematerialised in the middle of a wide road. Nearby them were overturned vehicles, some were still on fire. A few bodies were scattered around the area.
"I see why Lena's not leading this mission," Jessie said as she glanced around.
Faye turned around, she tripped over something on the ground. "Eew, eew."
Everyone glanced over at her. Tom pulled out a tricorder, "hmm interesting."
"No, it's gross," Faye grumbled.
Tom knelt down next to what she had tripped over, which was in fact a young woman. "She hasn't been dead long, I'd say about a few days."
"And a Game is going to land again after a few days, something's not right here," James said.
Daniel walked over to one of the burning cars. He used the fire to light a tab, "maybe some people didn't leave the planet right after the game. Some might have stuck around."
"So, how did they die then? They weren't near the game and everyone knows a game vaporises your body or takes you into the Games Matrix," Jessie said.
"Beats the hell out of me," Tom said, standing up.
"Ok I'll do it," James said.
Tom stared at him, "I said it beats the hell out of me, as in I don't know."
James rolled his eyes, "I knew what you meant."
"Maybe somebody went crazy and killed everyone," Faye said.
James shook his head, "you're only saying that because you betted on us getting attacked by a psycho."
"Uh guys!" Daniel raised his voice to get everyone's attention. The others looked towards him. "We have company."
"No we don't," Tom muttered.
Daniel stared at him, "don't play games with me, don't you see her?"
"See who Daniel?" Faye asked.
Daniel groaned, he pointed down the street. "There, don't you see her!"
"Yeah, they're dead bodies, we saw those before," James said.
"She's perfectly fine, she's standing right there!" Daniel snapped.
"It begins," Faye whispered.
"Hey come back," Daniel muttered. He ran down the street.
"He's going to get weapons and kill us, pay up," Faye said.
"No," James muttered.
Tom shook his head, "we'd better follow him."
"God, I won, you lost, I want my money back!" Faye snapped.
"Well we haven't got attacked by a psycho yet, so no," James said.
Tom groaned, he and Jessie started to go down the street.
"Oh I get it, I'll get attacked by you instead. Pay up," Faye said.
"No," James said. He began to follow the others.
Faye pouted, "but, no fair."
Daniel pushed open a door, it came off one of it's hinges so it got all crooked. He walked slowly into the room, "um, little girl? Crap where did she go?"
The others came through the door. "Gee, this is a big dump," Tom commented.
"Ok Daniel, have you finished being crazy?" Faye asked.
Daniel snorted, "you guys are the crazy ones, you didn't see her."
"Exactly, that means you're the crazy one," Faye said.
Tom sighed, "this could go on all day. Look let's find a shop or something, they'll have some food hopefully."
"What do you expect to find in a part of town like this, a sweet shop?" James questioned.
"Nah, he's looking for a shop that sells women's clothes," Jessie said.
Tom pulled a face at her, "you've probably never stepped in a woman's clothes shop in your life."
Jessie glared icily at him, James had to hold her back. "Hey wait, why am I holding you back?" he asked himself, then he let go. Jessie jumped onto Tom and started beating him up.
A slamming sound made everyone stop what they were doing. Faye glanced towards the doorway, "uh, who closed the door?"
"I didn't," James replied.
Jessie shrugged, "I was busy." She continued what she was doing.
Tom only answered with a few "ow" and "hey" every now and then.
"I was over here," Daniel replied.
James rolled his eyes, "what's the big deal, it was probably only the wind." He walked over to the door, he tried to open it up but it wouldn't budge.
"Uh nobody betted on us getting trapped in a building, so who gets the rations?" Faye asked nervously.
The senior staff, excluding Ransom, were having a mini meeting at one side of the room. Ransom was busy at the other side of the room.
"Oh I dunno, I like my new job," Noah muttered.
"What, serving stupid cocktails and frying anything in sight is more interesting than..." Max grumbled, he glanced over at Ransom briefly. "I need you in this Noah."
"I think you're making a big deal out of nothing, Max. We're going in Game Cubes so it's not like we're going the long way home," Marla said.
"You don't just go in one and tell the Games Matrix where you want to go next," Max muttered.
"With a watcher on our fleet we don't need to," Marla said.
"Yes and while we wait for a cube to take us home or just closer we get slaughtered by shapeshifters. I'd rather kill them before they kill us," Max said.
"Don't you know anything Max? We have Slayers to do the protecting," Noah said.
"Oh yes, great, I feel lots better now. One is a confused little girl who's not at all bright. Her 'partner' is some gay looking guy who doesn't seem like he could kill a fly let alone a whole army of Softmicron. The last one is some creepy looking girl who dates that idiot with the blonde hair," Max rambled.
"In all fairness the girl has just lost her daughter recently, and the guy's kinda cute," Marla said.
Max stared blankly at her, "my god woman."
"Isn't there a rule that says that Slayers can't even have kids?" Noah questioned.
"Yes, finally. See what we've got protecting us everytime we get on a cube, it's not as safe as catching a bus home," Max grumbled.
"What does having kids got to do with their strengths and stuff, they're still Slayers," Marla said.
"Well they're both obviously soft as muck, I have to admit though the pale girl is ok," Max said.
"Ok you want to seperate from the Enterprise, how do you plan to do that? They already don't trust us," Noah asked.
"What, you think I'd tell you guys without actually having a plan. Just follow my lead," Max smiled deviously.
"This is just great, can't you just break the door down or smash a window?" Jessie questioned.
Tom pulled himself up off the ground, complete with a black eye and a broken nose. "Wow one second you're back to normal, the next you're getting your guy to do everything for you."
James glanced behind him, "Tom, do you want another black eye?"
"See, that's what I mean exactly," Tom said. Jessie kicked him in the back of the leg, he fell back over.
James turned back to the others, "ok I hope you left some for me Jess."
"Oh come on, a normal person can break a window," Faye moaned.
"Don't you think I tried? Some shield is blocking the window and something has sealed the door shut," James said.
"What has beating up Tom got to do with this anyway, Daniel was the one who lead us in here," Faye said.
Daniel rolled his eyes, "you didn't have to follow me."
"Yes but it was Tom's idea to come down here," James said.
Jessie rolled her eyes, "that's just great. The game will come and take the ships away, leaving us here for the rest of our lives. Good going Tom."
Tom pulled himself back up, "hey stop blaming me for it all, it's Daniel's fault too!"
"There must be a way to get out," Daniel said.
"There should be. That window's blocked by a shield so there must be a way to cut off the power for it," James said.
"Can't you just kick or punch the door really hard?" Tom asked. James stared blankly at him. "Oh you've tried. But you can bend metal and stuff."
"I can't bend a closed metal door you idiot," James muttered.
"Ok, a weapon to cut into the metal?" Tom asked.
"This is not a game of twenty questions Tom, let's just look around ok," James said.
"Oh that's a thought, would any games have a question type game? I mean Slayers aren't usually smart so how would they win, beat up the host?" Tom said, laughing slightly.
"Can we split up?" Daniel asked.
"Love to, but someone will get stuck with him," Faye replied.
"I call one of the team leaders," James quickly said.
"Me too," Faye said with a grin.
"Damn," Daniel grumbled.
Tom looked annoyed, "Faye can't be a team leader, I have to be a team leader."
"You didn't call it," Faye said, she stuck her tongue out at him.
"Ok I pick first since I called it first," James said. "Jessie."
"Cool I was picked first for once," Jessie said.
"Only cos you're sleeping with the leader," Tom grumbled.
Jessie tried not to laugh, "ooh, sounded a bit jealous there."
Tom and James' eyes widened in horror. "Oh god no, even if I was gay I wouldn't," Tom muttered.
"Of course you wouldn't, I wouldn't even look at you if I was," James muttered.
Tom put his hands on his hips, "oh yeah, am I not good enough for you or something?"
"Damn I wish I had a video camera," Daniel grinned. James and Tom glared at him.
Faye shook it off, "anyway, I choose Daniel."
"Ok babe," Daniel said. He stood next to Faye and put his arm around her shoulders.
She pushed it off, "eew no."
"Great, is this a mixed shippers scene or what?" Jessie said, giggling slightly.
James ignored her, "ok um, Faye you take Tom."
"No way, you wanted to choose first so it's your turn again," Faye said.
"Son of a bitch," James grumbled.
"Oh no, I'm not going with those two, especially after that," Tom said.
"It's ok, cos I choose me," James smugly said.
Faye smiled in the same way, "I choose me as well."
James glared at her, "look just take him, please!"
"No, I can't stand him," Faye moaned.
"Neither can I," James said.
"Well I can't punch him or anything, I am not really a puncher," Faye said.
Daniel groaned, "ok let's settle this as mature adults. Rock, paper, scissors?"
little while later:
Tom, James and Jessie were now going down a dark and damp corridor. Tom was of course limping behind them.
"Ow, ow," he moaned.
"Shut up will you," Jessie groaned.
"Well you kicked me, what do you expect?" Tom snapped.
"I expect you to shut up and stop being a baby," Jessie replied.
"Woah, deja vu," James muttered.
Jessie and Tom both stopped. "What?" Jessie questioned.
James stopped too, he turned around to look at them, "no, you said 'shut up and stop being a baby', that was familiar."
"Oh great, now I'm starting to sound like his dad," Jessie grumbled. She elbowed Tom in the ribs, "thanks a lot moron."
"Oh I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get beaten up by you," Tom muttered.
Faye and Daniel stepped into a large room filled with desks and chairs. They both split up to search the room.
"Well now I know why this place is so creepy, it's a school," Faye said.
Daniel knelt down to go through the front desk's drawers, "let's hope the teacher was a psycho, we could do with a good sharp object."
"We're going to need a kitchen for that," Faye said. She turned around to look out the window, she placed her hand near it but a shield blocked her. "Great, all the windows are like this."
"We're upstairs anyway. Unless you've gotten over your fear of getting just a little scratch, I wouldn't recommend it," Daniel muttered.
Faye stared out of the window, "ok this is weird."
"What?" Daniel said, looking up from the desk.
Faye didn't answer him. In the street below them one young girl was skipping with a rope, chanting something as she did.
Tom limped into one room, it appeared to be a small bedroom. The room had children's toys scattered around the floor, there was also a few school books lying on a bed.
"Ok, I doubt there's anything in here that's useful," James said as he joined him in the room.
Tom headed for the bed, he picked up a small book. "Maybe but I am curious."
"My god, you don't change do you? You're even nosey about people you don't even know and are dead," Jessie commented from the doorway.
Tom opened up the book, "I'll go to the last entry, it may tell us what's going on here."
"In a kid's diary? Right," James said.
Jessie frowned, "what's that?"
"Hmm this is interesting," Tom muttered, ignoring Jessie and not noticing a book floating in the air nearby.
James glanced back at Jessie, "ok this place is weird." She nodded her head.
"Guys stop babbling, I'm trying to concentrate," Tom snapped. The book then hit him in the head, he fell onto the ground unconscious. The book then flew towards the door, Jessie ducked in time so it crashed into the wall behind her.
"Obviously the owner of the diary is sticking around and hates people reading it," Jessie said.
James sighed, "my headache's already starting to go away, should we leave him?"
Tom groaned into the carpet, he pulled himself up. "Ow, that hurts."
"God, doesn't he ever stay unconscious for very long?" Jessie muttered.
Tom stood up looking confused, he eyed James and Jessie, as he did his eyes widened. "Who are you people, what are you doing here?"
"Ok, let's hope that's amnesia," James said quietly. Jessie nodded her head again.
Tom ran over to the table, he picked up one of the big teddy bears and hugged it close to his chest. "Go away, this is my room."
"Crap," Jessie grumbled.
James just smiled, "what's so bad about it, this is good."
Tom pouted, he stamped his foot several times, "who are you people?"
"All right, who are you first?" James asked.
Tom ran over, he jumped onto the bed, "I'm Lydia."
"You're right this is good, he seems girlier than usual," Jessie said.
"Now who are you?" Tom asked.
"Ok, I'm James, and this is Jessie," James replied. Jessie smiled and waved. "What happened here?"
"I dunno, everyone went mad and left," Tom replied. He looked out the window, "then these cute things came and killed everyone who was left."
"Do you know what's blocking us in the building?" Jessie asked.
Tom shook his head, "I don't know what you're talking about."
James headed for another door, he opened it up as Jessie stepped into the room. "So these cute things killed everyone, how did you get away?"
"I don't remember that part, it's blurry," Tom replied.
"Um I don't think she did," James said quietly as he walked back over to Jessie.
Jessie looked confused, "why do you... oh. Right."
"I remember a big pretty square thing coming down from the sky, afterwards everything went crazy. Buildings were destroyed, some were just damaged by the falling ones. I remember people screaming, after it all finished they all left. We only came here a few months before it," Tom said.
"If everyone were scared off from this thing, why did some people like you stay behind?" James asked.
"We were going to leave, there wasn't enough room on the ship. We came here on two ships but one disappeared, it probably was destroyed," Tom replied.
"Well Tom will be happy about the mystery being solved, but we still need to get out of here," Jessie said.
"Lydia, do you know where a kitchen is or maybe even a place where the adults kept stuff you weren't allowed to see?" James questioned.
"Downstairs there's a kitchen, underground there's a place we weren't allowed in and..." Tom replied. He glanced around nervously, "no, I didn't do anything."
"We didn't say you did," Jessie said.
Tom glanced back at them, "no you don't understand, they're after me."
"Who are?" James asked.
"I wasn't going to tell them anything, I swear!" Tom yelled. He screamed, then fell unconscious again.
"Ookay, that was weird," Jessie muttered.
Once again Tom regained consciousness quickly, "what the hell was that?"
"You got possessed," Jessie replied.
Tom groaned, "that's just great."
"I wonder how the girl didn't notice she was in a guy's body, Jess," James said while trying to keep a straight face.
Tom's eyes widened, "I was possessed by a girl!"
"Yeah that is a mystery," Jessie said, also trying to keep a straight face.
Tom groaned, "you two are sick and mean."
"Look I'm going to go and find the others, we know where to go now," James said. He headed for the door.
"Hey wait," Jessie said. He stopped just outside. "That's never a good idea and you know it."
"You just don't want to be left with Tom," James said.
Jessie glanced at Tom, he just pulled another face. "Can't a girl just be worried about her husband?"
"Whatever but either way I won't be long, ok," James said. He disappeared down the corridor.
The bridge was busier than usual. Noah and Bryan were working nearby the helm, Max was probably scheming away in his chair, Annika was annoying Ransom nearby Tactical, and Marla was sitting on her own at one of the science stations.
"That team should be back by now, why aren't they?" Max muttered.
"I don't know, why are you so anxious about that?" Marla said, eyeing him suspiciously.
"I'm concerned, we need our watcher and one of our so called Slayers," Max replied, glaring in her direction.
"It's not so much the colour, it's the curliness. It's just so wrong, you should either get a shaved look or maybe straighten it," Annika said.
Ransom groaned, "whatever, what's this got to do with Astrometrics anyway?"
"Well you can't go places with that haircut, so it has a lot to do with it," Annika replied.
"This shouldn't be taking so long," Max grumbled.
"Hey chill, the game's not due for another hour," Noah said.
Max stood up, he walked over to Marla. "Do we know for sure that the game is due then?"
"Yes, I thought you didn't care for going in this game," Marla replied.
"Oh we are going in it, it's our friends that are not going in it," Max said.
James reached the stairs, he was about to go down them when he noticed a small boy at the bottom of them, staring at him. "Ookay," he muttered.
"You'll never get away with it, you know. We will haunt you," the boy said.
James slowly headed down the stairs, "uh, get away with what?"
"Don't pretend you don't know," the boy replied.
"Ok I don't," James said carefully. He got to the bottom of the stairs.
The boy stepped closer to him, "you're one of them aren't you? I feel it, you'll do."
"Ok I'm not in the mood to be creeped out," James said, walking away.
The boy turned around and started following him, "you're not getting away that easily." He disappeared.
James stopped in his tracks, "told you."
****TO BE CONTINUED****
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