Indian Hill S Secrets

[07:52] <Sept> [The air rippled over much of the landscape, making the desert the furthest thing from a static entity. It was far from the first time Sera had seen a mirage on this scale, but it was still difficult to disassociate them from AT effects just from the sheer frequency of witnessing the latter. The heat outside of the ventilated complex was a reasonable tradeoff for the change in scenery. It
[07:52] <Sept> had taken a bit of negotiating with security to get out here, but that was only to be expected.]
[07:54] * Sept sat in the shade of one of the houses built aboveground, whose purpose he hadn't quite discerned, and stared at the desert, at the scorpion going about its business in the distance.
[08:11] <Minaplo> [There was the dull, felt-as-well-as-heard thump of footsteps on creaky timber floorboards nearby. The front door to the house swung open.-
[08:11] <Minaplo> [Alexandre was wearing a red short-sleeved polo shirt over a pair of jeans and black boots, a wide-brimmed white hat on his head and mirrored shades on his face. "Oy, Sera."]
[08:17] * Sept looked up at him for a moment, letting his eyes adjust. "Oh. This your lawn?"
[08:17] <Minaplo> ["Funny. You're a funny guy, Sera." Said Alexandre in a tone as dry as the wasteland around them.-
[08:20] <Minaplo> ["The Mojave, huh…? Dry, lethal, isolated. Great to hide a base, not so great for landscaping. You doing anything?"]
[08:21] <Sept> "'Relax'ing. Sup?"
[08:21] <Minaplo> ["I'm doing a run into one of the local towns to buy some things. You wanna come, or are you becoming one with the universe?"]
[08:24] <Sept> "Oh, that's an option? Shit, yes!" Sera stood up – too quickly, stumbling for a moment in the heat.
[08:33] <Minaplo> [Alex grabbed his shoulder, stabilising him for a second. He had a duffel bag slung over his right arm, Sera would've noted. "Great. Let's go."-
[08:34] <Minaplo> [And before long Alex would lead him over to a rock hill, which had been minding its own business until Alex revealed that one of the rocks was actually a door. Within was a motor pool, and Alex would beeline for a beige jeep, throwing the bag into the back seat. "You take shotgun."]
[08:39] * Sept took hold of the door, but stopped to give him a standoffish look. "I'll take the ride back, then."
[08:41] <Minaplo> ["Do you… Know how to drive?"]
[08:43] <Sept> "I should," he said, getting in.
[08:47] <Minaplo> ["Mm."-
[08:53] <Minaplo> [And so they pulled out of the motor pool and the Potemkin village, eventually reaching a highway and merging into it. Alex sped wildly, grinning a little as the car's speedometer approached the 200km mark. The wind blew violently at their hair and clothes.-
[08:53] <Minaplo> ["How's that feel?"]
[09:01] * Sept said something, getting drowned out by the noise of the wind and the car. "Great!" He repeated. "And there's literally nothing to crash into!"
[09:05] <Minaplo> [Alex stared at him, and then began to laugh.-
[09:06] <Minaplo> ["It's wonderful, isn't it? It's not like France. It's too cramped in France- here, though…"]
[09:11] <Sept> "Bit like Skald?" Sera yelled back. "No limits?"
[09:14] <Minaplo> [Alex was gradually slowing down, if only so he wouldn't have to yell. He shook his head. "Not exactly." He said. "Feels more homely than Skald."]
[09:17] <Sept> "Oh, I see! Growing up -there-, the climate would feel like that, wouldn't it?"
[09:17] * Raphael has quit IRC (Ping timeout)
[09:17] <Minaplo> [He chuckled. "That's one way of putting it! Although the lack of child murder helps…"]
[09:18] * Raphael has joined #nervfrance2
[09:22] * Raphael has quit IRC (Quit: )
[09:24] <Sept> "Sure."-
[09:24] <Sept> "So what are we looking for?"
[09:33] <Minaplo> ["Local town has a shop. We take care of our food in all sorts of ways, and this is one of them, although we have to be clever about it. Today I'm doing it for fun as well as duty, as I want to pick up some clothes. I should've brought Gabriel-Wei, now that I think about it."]
[09:37] * Sept either laughed, scoffed or choked on a bug. "I appreciate the opportunity, though."
[09:38] <Minaplo> ["If there's stuff you want, I can pay. Books or a chocolate bar or something…"]
[09:43] <Sept> "Don't suppose you'd want a drink or something?"
[09:44] <Minaplo> ["Drink'd be great. Especially after this drive."]
[09:45] <Sept> "Awesome."
[09:51] <Minaplo> ["You spoken much to Yanmei?"]
[09:56] <Sept> "A little. She's got her shit under control. And everyone's shit, I hope."
[09:57] <Minaplo> ["You got your shit under control?"]
[10:04] * Sept laughed loudly. "Of course! The people who disagree seem to have more supporters every day, though!"
[10:05] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[10:14] <Sept> "Guy at the gate was so worried I was going out to communicate everything about the base to the UN! -He called me a spy, Alex!-" Sera threw his hands up in the air. "This isn't the fucking Siege of Vienna anymore!"
[10:15] <Minaplo> ["Ah, well. You have to admit it -is- a little suspicious. Not that I'm blaming you, but it's his job to be vigilant…"]
[10:23] <Sept> "No, that guy's fine, he's getting paid and whatever, but a lot of people don't have that excuse. I -am- impatient to get past this "us and them" bullshit, too! Of course I've helped her plans along, but that's got nothing to do with my shit being under control or not. I still -know- what's on the line, and that's why I'm still just as qualified!"
[10:24] * Sept paused, leaning back in his seat, with his hands behind his head. "…okay?"
[10:34] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Alex, nodding sagely. "When you say us-and-them, do you mean…?"]
[10:37] <Sept> "People pledging allegiances to Elisha and Mary without realising it. NERV and UN and everyone perpetuating this narrative of an uprising or war." Another pause. "-That's- irresponsible," he said, crossing his arms.
[10:38] <Minaplo> [Alex was only driving with one hand, his other drummed restlessly on the top of the drivers' side door. "… I'll hear you out. Go on."]
[10:50] <Sept> "First of all, we're all in the dark to some extent. The two of them know what they want to do. Vercingetorix… might. But there's no reason for any of them to trust anyone else with that, right? So the organizations aren't representative of the Caines supposedly behind them. Agreed?"
[10:51] <Minaplo> ["Alright…"]
[10:59] <Sept> "Now, the best case scenario here would be one where we could get people to treat this more like another Angel attack, evacuate the battlefields. You and me, we're knee-deep. But the closer we get, the more we might be able to discern about safe zones away from the key battles for those who'd have nothing but horror to face."-
[11:02] <Sept> "What keeps -me- up at night is how that kind of thing sets this up as something the home troops could win. They're not going to have a single clue about the things that are coming, let alone a vote. Would it… be cruel to tell them that beforehand? Let -them- decide how they want to go out?"
[11:04] <Minaplo> ["By home troops, you mean people aren't as deep in as us."]
[11:05] <Sept> "Yeah."
[11:10] <Minaplo> ["Hm. Cruel? Maybe. But it's hardly unprecedented."]
[11:11] <Sept> "What do you mean?"
[11:15] <Minaplo> ["What, you think these are the first people being led into a conflict they don't really understand?"]
[11:27] <Sept> "Well, yes, and I don't think this is really comparable. We aren't going to be wiped out by each other. Their worry is not about how history written by the victors will remember them. It's about how they'll remember themselves."-
[11:31] <Sept> "Humanity's not going to spontaneously rise up and do something remarkable or even worthwhile. Not if we don't tell them this is their last chance. There's going to be a new world either way. If they deserve life, let them stand for themselves first."
[11:36] <Minaplo> ["… What can humanity even do, exactly?" Muttered Alex.]
[11:44] <Sept> "No, that's what I'm saying. There's little to nothing they can do. Wasn't the best part in all those war flicks the one where they knew their world was going to end? Finding out what they really valued, and it wasn't always the thrill of battle, even for the ones who grew up on the battlefield? It could be worthwhile. Giving that opportunity to everyone."
[12:01] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[12:01] <Minaplo> ["Who are we fighting, Sera?"]
[12:05] <Sept> "Who's 'we'?" Sera looked away from him, shaking his head.
[12:05] <Minaplo> ["You and me, right now, in this car."]
[12:08] <Sept> That forced him to take the question seriously. He thought for a moment. "Shitty parents..?" Sera clearly wasn't satisfied with that answer, but he'd tried.
[12:10] <Minaplo> ["…" Alex drove, silently for a minute, but eventually he replied.-
[12:11] <Minaplo> ["It sounds to me like you're not too sure yourself."]
[12:18] <Sept> "There -is- a fight for who gets to decide over the future. And I…"
[12:27] <Minaplo> ["Maybe," Murmured Alex, "It's not a case of who you're fighting, but what you're fighting for. That seems like it might be a truer goal if you're not sure."]
[12:37] <Sept> "Mm," Sera just said.
[12:43] <Minaplo> [Another hour and a half of driving passed before they reached their destination- a quietly prosperous yet small town, with clean roads and clear signs. Alex stopped outside of a petrol station. "Here we are. Welcome to Indian Hill."]
[12:47] <Sept> "How."-
[12:47] <Sept> "…should I be wearing a disguise?"
[12:51] <Minaplo> ["They aren't expecting you to be blonde, but if you want to take my shades…"]
[12:54] * Sept got out of the car, catching his reflection in the sideview mirror on the way. "Godfuckingdamnit," he muttered. "I'll be fine."
[13:09] <Minaplo> ["See you in… An hour?"]
[13:14] * Sept checked his watch. "Sure. See you around. Come check if there's smoke?"
[13:15] <Minaplo> ["Hell no."]
[13:16] <Sept> "Fuck you, too," he said cheerily, and walked off. Undoubtedly to encounter suspicious gas station attendants.
[21:25] <Minaplo> [Indian Hill was a small community, dusty and remote; but ultimately the people took care of their town. It was one of those towns that begged the question of why anyone would live there in the first place, nevertheless.-
[21:27] <Minaplo> [The street Sera was in ran the entire length of the town. This main street was mostly shops and public places- a general shop, mechanic, a post office, a type of park with children's swings and jungle gym; there was the town hall, which was only the second largest building on the street, the largest being some sort of bar/restaurant hybrid- the appropriate term would be a saloon, one supposed. It was two storeys high and was named Beth and Susan's Big Saloon.]
[21:37] <Sept> Another potentially final chance to go out like this. But this was no last supper. There was barely any life in the town, the architecture was boring.-
[21:38] <Sept> ["No casinos," Joshua noted.-]
[21:38] <Sept> There was way too much space to enjoy running.-
[21:39] <Sept> ["No gangs to pick fights with."]
[21:41] <Minaplo> [It was no Paris-2. Or, to use a thriving city as an example, no Tokyo-2.-
[21:42] <Minaplo> [A horse stared at Sera dolefully from the saloon.]
[21:44] <Sept> …but the town would -somehow- have to do. Sera marked the saloon as his rendezvous point with Alexandre and took a bit of a walk around the vicinity first, looking for signs of sentient life, taking in the sights and trying to not look like a tourist.
[21:47] <Minaplo> [He looked like a tourist.-
[21:48] <Minaplo> [It wasn't all his fault, of course. He was in a town of maybe five hundred if that. Any NERV base was bigger. Everyone practically knew each other. He stood out like a blonde clone of a genius in the middle of a sleepy Western town.-
[21:50] <Minaplo> [That said, there were signs of sentient life, of course. There was a blacksmith here, curiously, a big burly man banging away on an anvil whilst chatting amicably with an apprentice. There was a tailor, where an unsurprisingly well-dressed man presented dresses to a bearded fellow and his three daughters. There was a bakery, most of its goods having already been bought, but some still on display. A pair of old men sat outside the bakery playing checkers.-
[21:50] <Minaplo> [The sound of jaunty music floated faintly from the saloon.]
[22:05] * Sept approached the blacksmith, first. It was a profession he'd seen practised at fairs in Paris, but had never found out much about. "Hey there. Mind if I watch?" There was still something of a faint edge to his accent, whether European or something else.
[22:07] <Minaplo> [The blacksmith looked up, as did the apprentice. The blacksmith's skin was darkened from long years in the sun; the apprentice's was darkened but less so, unable to hide his pimply face.-
[22:07] <Minaplo> ["You from outta town, boy?" Asked the blacksmith with a smile.]
[22:12] <Sept> "Rhetorical?" Sera laughed. "Yeah, on a bit of a trip. You from town?"
[22:13] <Minaplo> ["Lived here my whole life. Yer free to watch if you want, there's a stool over there if you wanna sit down."]
[22:26] <Sept> "Mhm." Still, he preferred to stand. "They call me Joshua. Is smithing something that runs in the family for you?"
[22:28] <Minaplo> ["Yup. My pa did it, his pa did it…"]
[22:31] <Sept> "Your son gonna do it?" Sera turned to look at the apprentice.
[22:38] <Minaplo> [The apprentice flushed.-
[22:38] <Minaplo> ["Oh, this here ain't my son, no." Said the blacksmith. "My boy went off to the city to be a soldier."]
[22:50] * Sept looked at the apprentice for a moment longer, gauging his reaction. "Mm. Admirable." He had an unsure, sad look about him.
[22:54] <Minaplo> ["I always had a feelin' he didn't want to be a smith, anyway. Now pay attention, boy."-
[22:54] <Minaplo> [The smith turned something over on the anvil- a horseshoe- and began hammering it.]
[23:02] * Sept paid attention, as well.-
[23:04] <Sept> ["Did he fight the LN and lose, or does he intend to fight on Linden's side… and lose?"-]
[23:06] <Sept> "If it's not too personal," Sera continued once the noise stopped. He stood a bit straighter, looking at the man's eyes intently. "I've always wondered. As a father, did it ever matter to you which side he fought for? Did you worry about his reasons?"
[23:09] <Minaplo> ["Of course. If your own flesh and blood's gonna be risking life and limb, you wanna know if it's worth it."]
[23:18] <Sept> "Of course," he echoed. "Maybe we'll find out, someday soon. But one more thing."-
[23:19] <Sept> "If you were the only one who knew the world was ending tomorrow, what would you do?"
[23:20] <Minaplo> [The apprentice's gaze flitted nervously between the two.-
[23:20] <Sept> There was a hint of a smile on Sera's face, at that question.
[23:21] <Minaplo> [The blacksmith let out a chuckle. "That's an awful strange question, son."]
[23:25] <Sept> "Someone's already asked all the sensible ones," he replied, crossing his hands behind his back and lifting his eyebrows expectantly.
[23:25] <Minaplo> ["… You ain't one of them Mormons now, are you?"]
[23:26] <Sept> "Those the ones that shun technology? Hahaha, no. To be honest, I thought you might have been."
[23:27] <Minaplo> [The apprentice's eyebrows rose somewhat higher.-
[23:28] <Minaplo> ["Naw, you mean the Amish." Said the blacksmith.]
[23:31] <Sept> "Oh, my apologies. No, I believe in people. Even if it's difficult, at times."
[23:36] <Minaplo> ["Mmm."-
[23:37] <Minaplo> ["Well, in any case, I suppose I'd go home and spend time with the wife." Said the blacksmith slowly.]
[23:46] <Sept> "I see, good choice! Well, I should keep going. Have a great rest of the week, sir. Thank you for humoring me." He nodded to the man and the boy in turn, stretched, and turned to go.
[23:51] <Minaplo> ["Have a good day, son."]
[00:09] * Sept continued to wander about for a while, just letting the time pass. The sky didn't seem in any danger of getting overcast anytime soon, and it was soon getting quite uncomfortable for Sera. He decided to pop by that bakery from earlier before heading back to wait for Alexandre.
[00:15] <Minaplo> [The croissants were fresh, at least, and delicious.-
[00:15] <Minaplo> [And it was clear that the saloon here was where most of the idle population had gathered. Just by approaching the place Sera would see that it was practically crowded.]
[00:23] * Sept had made note of this earlier, as well. Even if he'd overcome been helped (helped himself?) to overcome some of those problems by now, he was still acutely aware of the little signs and noises large quantities of people caused. He entered the saloon, making note of the horse just in case he needed a quick getaway.
[00:27] <Minaplo> [There were still some tables free. The air smelled hot- a different kind of hot to the baking heat outside. There was the smell of… Cooking oil, and frying bacon, and peanuts, and the tangy edge of sweat.-
[00:27] <Minaplo> [Many people glanced over at him, turned away- then glanced back on realising he wasn't a known person.]
[00:36] * Sept proceeded over to the bar, ordering a pair of cold non-alcoholics to tide him over. "Any news, barkeep?"
[00:38] <Minaplo> [The barkeep- a short, stocky, rather chubby fellow with a moustache and neatly-trimmed beard, eyed Sera curiously from beneath bushy eyebrows as he passed the non-alcoholics over. "You from outta town, son?"]
[00:41] * Sept opened his mouth without answering for a moment. "…yes," he conceded.
[00:42] <Minaplo> ["Where ya from? Minnesota?"]
[00:45] <Sept> "A bit further east."
[00:46] <Minaplo> ["Oh?"]
[00:49] <Sept> "The big city. Your town is… a change of pace."
[00:50] <Minaplo> ["I bet it is." Said the barkeep suspiciously.]
[00:51] <Sept> "But I hear that's the point of a road trip. To get out of your comfort zone?"
[00:53] <Minaplo> ["I suppose. I wouldn't know."]
[00:57] * Sept handed the money over, grabbing one of the drinks ahead of time. "Anything interesting going down recently?"
[00:58] <Minaplo> ["Well, the ranchers just came home."]
[01:00] <Sept> "So business is up?"
[01:06] <Minaplo> ["You could say that, yes."]
[01:14] <Sept> "You have a good day, then." Sera went off to find a table and cool off with his drinks. The place looked comfortable enough to have a chat in. But right now, his goal was to just get out of the sun for a moment.
[01:16] <Minaplo> [It wouldn't be long before someone else approached Sera- a woman, looking about thirty, with long curly reddish-brown hair and green eyes. "Can I get you anything to eat, hon?"]
[01:20] * Sept met her eyes. "Maybe later, thanks."
[01:20] <Minaplo> ["That's fine. You just call me over if you need anything." She drifted off.-
[01:21] <Minaplo> [After that, people gradually began to pay less attention to Sera. A group of men in the corner went back to playing dice and cards; a group of rough-looking men and women in the centre of the saloon went back to quietly but furiously arguing…]
[01:29] <Sept> Nothing to fear. They're all "just people". Maybe it helped to know how it felt to be near more potent AT fields – maybe human fields just weren't as intimidating after that. Sera took a few more moments just taking that in, finishing the first glass quickly out of thirst.
[01:35] <Minaplo> [There was the muted sound of a car engine outside, and the door swung open to show Alex enter- he looked around quickly, grabbed a drink from the bar and sat down across the table from Sera. "You look like you're having fun."]
[01:38] <Sept> "That's good. Maybe I am."-
[01:38] <Sept> "I was just thinking how far we've come. Or think we've come."
[01:43] <Minaplo> ["Go on."]
[02:01] <Sept> "Say the conflict ends with one final battle, humanity goes back to business as usual. Do we come out on top? It's not like we're PTSD'd or anything, we could still make a living, a life, afterwards. For example. You've seen both sides of it. You've been in the program and had a, let's face it, pretty good life outside of it. It feels like we haven't been missing out." This wasn't a drunken
[02:01] <Sept> or self-pitying rant. His tone carried some confusion, though, like he couldn't quite grasp why.
[02:01] <Minaplo> ["…" Alex took a mouthful from his mug.-
[02:02] <Minaplo> ["No, you're not exactly right there."]
[02:04] <Sept> "Hm?"
[02:05] <Minaplo> ["'Outside'. We don't know what life is like 'outside', not really. We've seen glimpses of it, examples, we've watched it through a window, but we don't -really- know what it's like to have a life where… -this-, the program, whatever, isn't playing some part, isn't defining or dominating your life."]
[02:11] <Sept> "Isn't it just our profession? A lot of people define themselves that way."
[02:14] <Minaplo> ["People choose their professions." Said Alex. "We're… Cerealboxes."]
[02:14] <Sept> "What?"
[02:15] <Minaplo> ["Cerealboxes… It's something Meir told me once back at Eden. It's… Have you ever been out to buy cereal?"]
[02:18] <Sept> "I… think so?"
[02:19] <Minaplo> [Alex gave Sera a dubious look, but pressed on.-
[02:19] <Minaplo> ["Have you ever seen how sometimes, cerealboxes advertise goodies? Like a toy or something along with the cereal…"]
[02:25] <Sept> "Yeah. I'm not really following."
[02:26] <Minaplo> ["Let me get to it. See, what happens is that you get kids who don't really care about cereal- they'll ignore it, but then they see that toy and decide they have to have the cereal. So they get it- their parents or whatever buy it- and then when they get home, they take the cerealbox, rip out the toy, and leave the rest to rot."]
[02:27] <Sept> "Yeah, alright. Is most of our lives the crappy cereal?"
[02:29] <Minaplo> ["Kind of. The toy, or… Whatever it is, is some -thing- that marks us out. If it weren't for that, we would've been passed over, and it doesn't need to be anything unique, just something that the person wants. The only way they can get that is if they completely own us. The cereal- it's everything else, our thoughts, dreams, our wants, everything that isn't that just one little thing they actually want."]
[02:33] <Sept> "I'm saying… I think a lot of people live that way. That our lives," he cringed at what he was about to say, "could be worse."
[02:35] <Minaplo> ["They could be." Said Alex, nodding slowly. "… But you don't know how people live, Sera."]
[02:38] <Sept> "Not these mythical, pure people around us, no. But I've been around a few blocks."
[02:40] <Minaplo> ["… No, you haven't." Said Alex patiently. "If the blocks are Potemkin villages, then it doesn't mean anything."]
[02:47] <Sept> "And I get what you mean, but we can't be sure of that, either."
[02:48] <Minaplo> ["Can't be sure of what?"]
[02:50] <Sept> "That it isn't how society works elsewhere."
[02:51] <Minaplo> [Alex took another quaff of his drink, before he took off his glasses and polished the lenses on his shirt hem before putting the glasses back on.-
[02:52] <Minaplo> ["What brought this on, anyway?"]
[02:57] <Sept> "You know when you're about to lose something, it suddenly seems so much better than you ever remembered?"
[03:00] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I do."]
[03:03] <Sept> "Yeah, that. I can't -not- doubt each and every plan we have for the future."
[03:05] <Minaplo> ["Fair enough. It's not like that's an unreasonable reaction. I'm sure a lot of people we know are doing the same… And some might not be, for that matter."]
[03:18] <Sept> "A little while ago, I got to see a bit of what you had. What life in the program was really like. For a long time, I've had half-memories and visions of things that were and could be, and I've worked hard to reach some of the latter. Yet it looks like a lot of what's about to come would involve throwing that out of the window. That is a problem." Sera steepled his hands.
[03:19] <Minaplo> ["Throw it out a window? Why?"]
[03:25] <Sept> "The plans our family has are… comprehensive."
[03:25] <Minaplo> ["You can say that again." Said Alex. "But do go on."]
[18:08] <Sept> "Just by fighting Angels we're redefining parts of our humanity. Maybe things will have changed too much by the end, maybe I might end up being a sacrifice. And maybe it wasn't healthy to let myself cling to little more than dreams to begin with, but here we are. I don't know how much more I can say, Alexandre. You're still on your parents' side, aren't you?"
[18:20] <Minaplo> [He was silent for a few moments as he mulled that over, then shrugged and nodded. "Yeah, you could say that I am."]
[18:32] <Sept> "It might be best if I don't accidentally interfere with those plans. I don't know if I've seen anything you haven't, but I'm sure you know all they want you to know. If there's something specific that's bothering you, you can always ask. Think you're prepared for all this?"
[18:35] <Minaplo> ["I'm prepared enough to realise there's some things I'll never be prepared for. Does that count as an answer?"]
[18:38] * Sept smirked. "I've heard worse. It's good enough."
[18:42] <Minaplo> ["You have anything else you need or want to talk about?"]
[18:44] <Sept> "No, I'm good. Thanks for the opportunity. I really enjoyed this."
[18:45] <Minaplo> ["I'm glad." Said Alex, finishing off his drink. "Look, it's not much, it's just a little rancher's town. But it's something. It's an idea. One day, maybe you can do something like this- but longer, a month-long thing, somewhere else- like Europe or something."]
[18:55] <Sept> "I know, I know. There's little I'd want more, and I'm going to do my best to be there. You just take care of Oscar in the meantime. Wanna head out?"
[19:00] <Minaplo> ["I think Asuka can take care of herself, but sure, let's go."]
[19:05] * Sept started walking, then. "So how'd you like these little towns?"

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