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  • Introspection

    There was never any doubt in Elliot’s mind that she would one day leave Ord Mantell. Her father had often hinted that she should leave, that she could do so at any time. Elliot was not at all needed, not when she was so small and, in her father’s eyes, weak. Besides, it was always dangerous. People didn’t like things that they couldn’t control, and Elliot had never been very good with controlling the mysterious, unyielding power that she had always been able to feel deep underneath her skin. It was forever waiting for a chance to mess with her life, striking out and hurting people and scattering objects and sometimes even ruining her father’s work equipment. She was a burden, always had been. It wasn’t as if Elliot had any future prospects. Her worth was close to nothing in the eyes of those in Ord Mantell. She was tiny and pale and quiet and those were not often good traits on a planet where The Work of the people was seen as the most important thing. Strength over wisdom and knowledge was a way of life that many children on the planet grew up understanding. If you didn’t fit the mold, then you were not needed. If you were not needed, then you were as good as dead to those around you.

    It had soon become very clear that her tiny family, consisting only of her father and elder brother, had no intentions of protecting or standing up for her any longer. For eleven years they had made excuses for her lack of participation in the day to day goings on of the people, but apparently their patience and good grace was wearing thin. It wasn’t a surprising development. Elliot had had her bag packed for a long while with all the essentials and her traveling clothes laid out. Being largely left alone with nothing to do for most of her life, she had had the opportunity to read and research and listen to the stories people often told in the crowded streets. There was often talk of Jedi and Sith, though the latter was always whispered in hushed tones, never spoken of in decent company. The Jedi Order, however, was infamous and largely popular in conversation. Jedi starred in the adventure fantasies of the younger children and were both scorned and praised by the elderly. When things went wrong with the mysterious ‘power’, Elliot often wondered if the stories about the Force were true or not. Her father dismissed it all as fiction, but Elli was not so easily convinced that none of the stories were true.

    If she was able to join then maybe Elliot would be able to die one day helping someone, instead of getting crushed by a machine or beat to death by those larger and stronger than herself. Ord Mantell was like an ongoing nightmare. Nothing could get worse than the situation she was already in, so there was no harm in trying for something better. The Jedi were sworn to peace, right? If nothing else, they wouldn’t be cruel. So Elliot hoarded her meager savings and stole what she didn’t have. And then she left, with not a word to anyone. No one would care to remember her, anyway.

    The journey there was harder than she expected. Getting on and off at the right stops and bribing a transport pilot to allow her on as a passenger was no easy feat, but she managed it. The bitter cold of Yavin 8 was probably the most difficult part about it all (Elliot soon learned that snow stuck to everything and getting it out of her clothes before it melted was rather impossible). Still, she was able to trek her way into the Great Hall before nightfall, much to her relief.

    “E-Excuse me, could I have a word with someone?” she called out hesitantly. Hopefully nothing she said would come off as rude. Elliot wasn’t sure how to talk to people who were actually kind. “I don’t mean to disturb anyone.”

  • #2
    It was the strangest thing, but he had yet to be able to keep a student. Quite simply, they kept vanishing, though not in the usual sense one would mean when something vanished. Rather, they left. Life pulled them away, ties that would have been forbidden by his Jedi forefathers were an accepted part of life for the Jedi of today. It was a curiosity to him, the thought of having what some called a soulmate, and... children. He had been a child once, but every day of his life was steeped in the ways of the Jedi, his mother and father both committed to the continuance of the traditions - unconventional, when compared to the average family, that one could still live among it and yet set it aside for a greater calling - thousands of light-years away, beyond the fringes of this galaxy.

    That he might never return was a matter that was accepted. It was simply the way of things, and his life had been here now for a small number of years. Many of those around him had gone through the natural stages of life, mated to another, bearing children, and fewer still (such as he) had remained Jedi, and only that. There were no regrets. Faith and works were enough... and yet, the children. The younglings were always such a joy, but it was not often even one still so close to childhood yet on the way out of it entered the strangely hallowed halls of the Yavin VIII complex, as one girl seemed to have done, this very morning.

    "It is no disturbance to greet those who come seeking in the Great Hall of the Jedi," he said without rebuke, but with a natural and deep pleasantness, having come in just behind her from a short jaunt through the snow to work the muscles of his legs - morning exercise. He stamped his feet to shake the snow off his boots, and showed the girl a kind, warm smile when he stopped, and brought five feet and eleven inches of himself to stand before her, "Now, how might I help you, Miss...?"
    Last edited by Ilias Nytrau; 01-08-2015, 03:00 AM.

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    • #3
      Because the world she had been living in for so long required subtlety and a very specific set of emotions for every situation (especially dangerous or surprising ones), Elliot did not jump or startle away from the arrival of the man behind her. Her shoulders tensed minutely, jaw clenching and eyes widening fractionally for only a moment before she forced herself to relax again. Elliot was not naïve enough to believe that there would be no danger here just because it was the Jedi Temple, but she supposed letting her guard down for a while wouldn’t be too much of a sacrifice. Slowly, the girl turned, her gaze traveling upwards until she was staring directly at the man’s face. He was not as tall as the men she had known on Ord Mantell, though five foot eleven was certainly giant in comparison to her own short height. Elliot was instantly and uncomfortably aware of the difference in size and she stepped back on instinct, ducking her head in a show of respect.

      “I'm Elliot Hester, sir,” she replied, her voice even and quiet. She avoided eye contact, staring down at his boots and the melting snow that had been carried in from outside. The fact that he had replied in such a nice manner, even asking how he could help, was somewhat of a shock. No one had ever been overly concerned with Elliot, even when she had asked directly for help in times past. Children were to be seen and not heard. Especially weak, tiny little ones such as herself. She had learned quickly not to expect anything from the adults around her. The highest sign of affection she could ever hope for from her father was the clothes on her back and the roof over her head. Elliot had always looked at it like a sort of gift. Though her father was not a good man by any stretch of the imagination, he had at least kept her fed and alive.

      This man, however, was different. His response confused her. Elliot wasn’t sure how to reply, what to say other than her name. The purpose of her visit was obvious to her – that she wanted to find answers to the mysteries in her life, that she was looking for greener pastures. But how to word such a thing? She swallowed thickly, resolved to answer concisely and politely so he would have no reason to be displeased.

      “I’ve come because I want to – that is, I would like to…” she paused, unsure, before continuing, “I’ve heard stories. That is, I’ve heard of this Temple and that you offer sanctuary to those with the mysterious power. I think – I think I might have it. And if I do, I would like to offer myself to work here. I can be useful, I promise.”

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      • #4
        It was perhaps a not-so-well-known fact that he was always studying the people before him; those that knew so were prone to say that he studied with one eye and paid attention with the other. To wit, he was watching her scrutinously, taking note of her manner - the tensing, the way she seemed to shrink back upon confrontation with his stature, and the deference she showed told him a number of things... the first of which was that he should try to he dropped to sit his weight on the balls of his feet, crouching in front of her as she gave her name. Elbows, forearms rested on knees, and fingers laced together in the gap and he waited patiently for her to give the full breadth of her answer.

        She seemed to feel as if she felt out of place, which was normal for every hopeful who walked through that door. It was a very different culture, amongst the Jedi, and some understood it by way of the warmth and kindness that greeted them here and readily embraced it, but others? Others could be confused due to the circumstances of their lives prior to arrival, which is what he gathered from her, from the way the small current of nervousness that was buried underneath the careful construct of her comportment thrummed into his awareness as she pieced together the words that might best tell him what he wanted to know; what she told him made his eyebrows pull up towards his hairline.

        "Miss Hester," he began, calm and even, eyes on what he could see of her face, "I am Ilias Nytrau, a Jedi Knight of this Order. I want you to know that you can expect to be reasonably safe on this world."

        There was that smile again.

        "I can feel the strength of the all-encompassing Force - that 'mysterious power' - in you, but it is unrefined and wild. Now, I am sorry to disappoint you, but you are not ready to work here, yet, and the fact is that the work we do (for the most part) does not happen here..." and he paused, just a moment, just enough, "...but, but!..."

        He disengaged his hands from one another and raised one finger to the point, smile shifting to a faint grin as he craned his head around to try and get a better look at her face. Any spectator might have found the scene a tad amusing.

        "...there is still something you can do here, Miss Elliot Hester, and before we get to that I would like to know how it is you knew that you needed to come here. What happened? How did the Force make itself known to you, and what drove such a young girl as yourself to make the journey here, alone?"

        He peered at her, curiously.

        "How old are you, if I may ask?"

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        • #5
          Safety was a foreign concept to Elliot. Her eyes flicked up and she stared at him skeptically for just a moment before looking down again, unsure if he was joking or not. How could anywhere at all be safe? Surely there were bad sorts, even in the Jedi Order itself? Elliot had seen more than her fair share of ‘bad sorts’ on her planet, and even on the way here. The galaxy was full of people who had no qualms about hurting others, even children. Surely this man couldn’t be serious? An adult showing sincerity for her was almost completely out of her realm of understanding. Elliot had to admit that she was now out of her depth. The man, Ilias, hadn’t raised his voice or demanded anything from her, nor had he deigned to send her away yet. He didn’t even seem to be unhappy with her response or the fact that she had just rambled on like a – like a – well, like a child. Inwardly, Elliot cringed at the thought. She was eleven and three whole quarters, it wasn’t as if she were a baby.

          “…I am sorry to disappoint you, but you are not ready to work here, yet…”

          Immediately she froze again, panic clawing up her windpipe and momentarily shutting off her ability to even breathe. Elliot opened her mouth to choke out some sort of reply, anything to convince him that she could be useful, but he continued before she could even begin to think of what to say. His next words flooded her with relief. Apparently he wasn’t going to kick her out just yet. If she could just manage to please him with her answer, then he might continue to be generous. Maybe he was talking about menial labor? Elliot could certainly do that kind of work.

          “I’ve heard about this place all my life,” she said slowly, trying not to allow any sort of inflection in her voice. It was true she had ‘heard’ of it, though it was mostly through sneaking around and snatching parts of conversation. “People like to talk of it. My father told me I should come here to learn control.” That last part was a definite lie, and Elliot tried not to feel guilty for it. In truth, she had always wanted to learn how to control herself and the power inside. Her father, however, could care less as long as she was gone. “My father has his work, you see. I – I couldn’t be near the machines or anywhere breakable, because I would always mess things up,” Elliot bit her tongue, cursing inwardly. She shouldn’t have mentioned breaking things, “I promise I never touched anything! It would just happen. Things would move or – or just stop working when I was close. But I never ever touched anything and I wouldn’t do it on purpose, I swear it!”

          Elliot bounced from one foot to another nervously, looking up through her eyelashes at the man. “I had to come here. There’s nowhere else I can go. Besides, I heard you help people learn how to use – it. The power. My people sometimes called it the ‘Force’, I think?” The question of why she had come here alone was not easily answered. If she told him her father really cared nothing for him, then he might start to ask why. And if he asked ‘why’ then he might find out that she was totally and utterly weak and useless in reality. So she opted for the short reply of, “My father couldn’t afford to leave his work to come with me. He helped pay for the transport, though. And I’m fine on my own.” Of course, she had stolen the rest of the money she needed from him, but it still counted as him ‘helping’.

          “I’m eleven,” Elliot said, puffing out her chest and trying to look taller, “And three whole quarters! I’ll be twelve years old soon.”

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          • #6
            "Ah, a telekinetic manifestation, and you are... eleven," he mused, as if to chew on the word, looking pointedly at her after a moment, "and three-quarters."

            That age was around the time that his first master had put him through a test, a sort-of trial, by leaving him on a cold, cold planet with little more than the clothes on his back, a knapsack of some initial supplies, a knife - not a lightsaber but a knife - and the Force at his beck and call. It was one thing to live in the less-civilized mountains and plains of his birth-home, and quite another to survive hostile climes. It was experiences such as this that made the world on which he now stood so much simpler to withstand.

            "Interesting..." he pursed his lips, deep in thought for but a moment before he settled his gaze on her again, "...did you know that had this been some forty or fifty years earlier, you would have been considered too old?"

            A brief twinkle of mischief crossed his face, but he went on, leaving alone the fact that she felt it necessary to lie. He could see right through it, hear right through it, but more often than not there was a reason and so rarely was there malicious intent behind it... but it would be addressed, in his way, at some point.

            "And now, most hopefuls that come our way are older than even yourself; all in all, age matters not and intentions matter plenty. So tell me, Miss Hester, what is it that you know about Jedi, what do you believe makes a good Jedi..."

            He clasped his hands back together in the space between his knees.

            "...and aside from learning to control that which the Force has blessed you with, why do you want to be one?"

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            • #7
              “Tele-telekin-…” What’s that mean? Elliot shrugged, “Right.” I guess. He was the adult here, so he must understand what she had been trying to say. Did telekinesis have something to do with her mind? If it did, then she supposed it was accurate. After all, if she hadn’t touched anything, then maybe it was her mind that was doing it? Elliot had never really liked machinery and she was always nervous when around her father, so maybe the ‘something’ inside her had been lashing out in response to that?

              “I’m almost twelve, sir!” Elliot corrected seriously, finally deciding to look him in the eye. If he hadn’t hurt her by now, then it was unlikely he would, at least for a while. The fact that she would have been considered too old if she had been born in another time was almost enough to make her utterly frustrated and aghast. No matter what time period she had traveled here, there was absolutely not escaping the restraints of age. First she’s too old, then she’s too young! It was absolutely infuriating. Elliot huffed, barely keeping herself from scowling. What a thing to find out! “What a bother,” she muttered.

              Really? Age didn’t matter? Elliot had never been told that. Her brother and their neighbors were always too willing to tell her that she couldn’t do something because of how young she was. ‘Don’t touch that, Elliot, you’re too little!’ or ‘you can’t help us, you’re too small.’ It was always something to remind her of how tiny she was, how weak and young she was. No matter how much she grew, no matter how much she understood or tried to help, it had never been enough. And now it never would be, at least not to her family. But if she were here, maybe what he said was true? Maybe she could be helpful, even despite the fact that she was only eleven (and three whole quarters).

              “I know that the Jedi do good things,” Elliot said slowly, thinking it over, “I know that they’re more powerful than most people. They have the – the ‘Force’, and it helps them fight. But I also heard that they’re peaceful, that they don’t hurt people without a reason. Maybe that’s what makes them ‘good’? But – but I don’t know if it’s possible for someone to be completely good. Everyone does bad things sometimes, even Jedi, maybe?” At this, guilt pricked her again when she thought about lying to him about her father. “I guess what makes a good Jedi would just be the sorts of things that make a normal person good too.”

              Thinking of the Force as a blessing was definitely an unfamiliar concept. To her knowledge, it had never done anything to further her in anyone’s good graces. All it had ever seemed to do was take her down a peg in everyone’s opinions of her. Still, she did want to be a Jedi if it meant staying here, if it meant helping people, if it meant being thought of as good.

              “I want to be a Jedi because I think it’s the right thing to do. I want to do it so that even if I die one day, even if I don’t make it through just because I’m little or weak, I’ll still be able to help people before that.”

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              • #8
                He hummed in consideration of her definitions, of her reasons. Such questions were a test of sorts, a probing to see if the right foundations were there, foundations of the heart, soul, and mind. It was abstract, conceptual, and relied very little on how much they knew of the Jedi and instead showed what they were made of, what their outlook was.

                "Your heart is in the right place, young lady," he said, rising to his full height, looking down to her again. One could crouch for only so long, "and that is always a good position to be in. Good, good."

                He smoothed out his robes, for they had folded a bit and become wonky from crouching. That done, he looked to Elliot again.

                "Do you have any questions for me? You may ask me anything you like, and I will do my best to answer."

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                • #9
                  Elliot considered this. The truth was, she didn't know much at all about the Jedi. She had never considered that someone would want to know if she had questions or not, never thought that anyone would care what she knew or didn't know. Elliot had mostly followed orders her entire life, done what was expected of her, done what could make others less likely to hurt her or be irritated by her.

                  "Is there rules here? What - what are the punishments if they're broken?" Hopefully it wouldn't be anything too serious. Elliot fully expected there to be 'rules', but she at least knew that following such things was something she was well learned at. "Who will teach me? And what would they want in return?"

                  It was more than obvious that Elliot had very little money left. Nothing she had brought with her was worth much and not likely to be bought if she tried to sell her belongings. If her future teacher expected any sort of payment, the only thing she could really offer was menial labor. Maybe cooking? She could cook well enough.

                  "I don't want to be a burden here. I can do a lot of things in return for - for any food or lodging."

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                  • #10
                    At that, he laughed - not out of malice, but due to the sheer seriousness of the girl. The ginger knight could be a rather serious one himself, but he had within him a certain joie de vivre, a lightheartedness that allowed him to not take life too, too seriously when it was not necessary.

                    "I am..." he gave the girl a thoroughly warmed smile, "...I apologize. You will not be a burden, this I promise you. Each person that comes into this place has come to learn, to accept wholly a way of life. You would find it very different from what you may have experienced before, but you would be here to be guided, dear child, to learn our ways, and how we relate to the universe in the work that we do."

                    He rubbed his chin, the smile on his face no doubt to the point of infectiousness.

                    "Rules? It is not so simple, that there is a set of rules. There are guidelines as to your conduct as a Jedi called the 'Jedi Code' and your master whoever they shall be will go over that with you. As for work within this place? Well..."

                    He briefly pursed his lips in thought.

                    "...most everyone has some way they contribute to day-to-day life, usually in line with their strengths. Some are good with children, and so help with the younglings, or with the children of some of the other Jedi. Some help with the running of the kitchen so that all of us may eat. There's maintenance of facilities, ships, droids, care of gardens. I myself am a healer by the blessing of the Force, and so I often do my share of shifts in the medical bay. This is all in addition to our training as Jedi, and how we work to serve and protect those in the galaxy around us."

                    He came down from his exuberance to look to the girl with a serious, sombre visage.

                    "You will find your place, I am sure of it. But it is not an easy road, as we all come to know. It is often not safe... often dangerous, but that is why we train, why we learn. Why we must always improve ourselves. We are the Light against the Dark. The Guardians of Peace and Justice. So, before we tackle the matter of who would teach you, I have one more question for you..."

                    A ghost of a smile crept onto his lips again.

                    "...do you believe you have what it takes to be a Jedi, Miss Elliot Hester?"

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                    • #11
                      Elliot had certainly come here to learn, even if her departure from her own planet was spurred on by desperation. She was here because she had ached to live in a different manner, to live in a way that mattered, that had a purpose. To some, joining the Jedi might come across as an almost ludicrous idea. There were certain standards expected of the people living this kind of life and most in the galaxy were not dedicated enough, nor did they possess the necessary traits, to carry it out. To be so young, to be naught but a child and yet standing here in these very halls, would be enough to shock most of the people she had known in her old life (and probably more than a few across the galaxy). But Elliot was indeed here, hoping to stay for as long as she would be allowed. Her future had been dark and dismal at best before arriving, but now she had hope for something better. And for that, she would give her life for the Jedi if they asked it – just for allowing her that one small, but bright hope that she hadn’t known of before.

                      “Safety isn’t really something I’m used to anyway,” Elliot said quietly, rolling her shoulders up in a shrug, “But if it’s as you say, then I won’t be alone even if it is dangerous. I would rather be in a dangerous situation with people who were teaching me useful things, than alone and learning nothing.”

                      ‘Easy’ was a word that Elliot had often associated with fantasy. An easy life was fitted to royalty, to people with wealth and time on their hands. It was not something she ever expected to have and so she wasn’t at all shocked to find out that things would continue on as they had been, at least in levels of difficulty.

                      For the first time, Elliot’s lips twitched up into a genuine smile. “I'm not strong and I don't know much about anything important. But I think I can be a good person. And if I can be a good person, then maybe I can be a good Jedi too.”

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                      • #12
                        The smile on his face broadened, from ghosting to something much more solid. This young girl was full of conviction, and clearly committed in her mind to the road ahead. He had learned all he needed to know at this juncture, so there was but one thing to do.

                        "Well, then, Miss Hester..." he paused, one corner of his mouth quirking further upward, "... or should I say Padawan Hester? Allow me to be the first to welcome you to this order of the Jedi, the Students of the Light."

                        It always was a good feeling, to see another set on this path and keen to join the ranks of the Jedi. It was by far the more challenging road, but so full of purpose and fulfillment.

                        "Now, on the matter of who would primarily instruct you..." he pulled a small, light datapad from within the folds of his robes, keyed it on, and queued up one file to present to the girl, holding out the 'pad for her perusal, "...there is a list of individuals that are available to guide you on the path, myself included. "

                        He clasped his hands behind his back once the 'pad was taken for her to peruse.

                        "Otherwise, I can take you to have quarters figured out for you, so you can get settled in. If you are hungry, there is always something fixed or available to be fixed in the kitchens, and there is the Mountain Side Tavern - though that would require heading back out in the cool air and snow. Either way, I do encourage you to explore the temple compound to get an idea of where everything is."

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                        • #13
                          “You’re – serious? You mean I, I did it?” Elliot squeaked, her eyes widening in disbelief, “But I didn’t even do anything! Isn’t there some sort of – of – test?”

                          Maybe she was missing something. It was so awfully easy. Had it been something she had said or done? Elliot considered herself to be endowed with at least a modicum of ‘luck’ but definitely not this much. Then again, Ilias seemed genuine in his statement. What really threw her off was his offer of food, especially since she hadn’t even yet lifted a finger to earn it. It wasn’t as if she didn’t want to eat (it had been at least a day or so since she’d had even half a meal, let alone anything filling) but the thought that they would just give it to her came off as almost suspicious.

                          She stared down at the datapad in her own hands and then back up. Should she do something generally seen as respectful? Bow, maybe? Surely letting all of this generosity go thankless would be the epitome of rudeness? But Elliot didn’t yet know of the traditions here, didn’t know if they even had any. Back at home, she would be expected to do something in return for his offer, offering herself in any way needed in order to pay back what had been given. Of course, when she really thought about it, Elliot realized she had already broken most all rules that applied to children on her planet. Usually they were to be seen and not heard, especially in respected working families where young ones were seen as burdensome and irritating at best before they grew up.

                          Elliot couldn’t say that she trusted Ilias, but he had been kind to her and was continuing to be. He hadn’t hit, shouted, or ignored her in any way. So she must have done something to please him – and if she kept doing it, then maybe it would turn out okay, in the end? Elliot gripped the 'pad tighter and did a half bow, her brown hair flopping over her shoulder and obscuring her face for a moment as she did so.

                          “I don’t know how to repay you, sir,” she said, quickly standing straight again, “I – I would be honored if you would continue to help me. Thank you.”

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                          • #14
                            Again, a short laugh was pulled out of the fire-haired knight. The energy of youth was infectious, and though he was not so very old himself at only the age of thirty-three, he could still feel it very much for what it was.

                            "No, no test," he said with a touch of laughter still in his voice, "not yet. You have yet to learn anything on which to be tested, Padawan Hester!"

                            There was an eagerness to the girl that had come out slowly over their discourse that perhaps looked like she was striving to please - a fact of knowledge that he would keep to himself. It was on the right track, but there would be a shift in her perceptions that would need to occur. In time, in time.

                            "Then I would be honoured to continue to assist you. Let us begin by getting you settled in - a fresh set of Jedi robes, a place to sleep, and..."

                            He glanced on ahead, out of the Great Hall and deeper into the compound, then back at the girl, peering closely at her for a moment. There was much the healer could tell about an individual from a simple glance.

                            "...food, yes, food. It is nearly noon. Come along then, Padawan Hester. Life waits for no-one!"

                            And he made his way into the living and training areas of the Students of the Light, with its newest padawan in tow.

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