Before Jaq In His Box (One-shot Drama/Torture/Introspection - KotOR concurrent - PG-13)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Goodwood, Jul 26, 2011.

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  1. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    Title: Jaq In His Box
    Author: Goodwood
    Timeframe: KotOR concurrent
    Characters: Atton Rand, OC.
    Genre: Drama/Torture/Introspection
    Summary: In the last weeks of the conflict with Darth Malak, a young Jedi is brought to a secure Sith facility whose purpose is to convert its subjects to the dark side...by any means necessary.




    There could be no doubt about it, Jaq definitely loved his job.

    He was good at it, too, and he'd been told by his superiors that it was his love for the vocation that made him so highly successful. It wasn't even a job to him, more like an...experience, like a patriotic duty, a fulfillment of his desires. He imagined himself as a sculptor, in a sense, though his choice of working material was very different than your average artist. He did not spin clay, he did not chip stone, nor did he redirect light into awe-inducing patterns.

    He molded minds.

    Whistling a jaunty tune that was decidedly inappropriate given his surroundings, Jaq strode through the dimly-lit temple corridor with a spring in his step. Much like the rest of the complex, the metallic gray walls were lined with color-tinted glowrods, but on this level they were green rather than red. The walls themselves were mostly bare, though a few nice touches had been carved into the dense and highly-durable rock, most notable of which were high reliefs depicting grim-faced, armored humanoid warriors that stared down upon those who crossed before them with baleful eyes. Some of the new folks swore that these eyes would follow them as they passed; though Jaq knew better, this did not prevent him from encouraging this feeling of always being watched. Elegant moulding had also been carved at the joins between floor and wall and wall and ceiling, which was about three meters high. Every intersection was hung with lamps, whose jade-colored shades were patterned after lethal-looking battlefield implements.

    Jaq was heading for his work chamber, which he affectionately called his "box," to receive and digest a report on one of his latest efforts. Upon passing beneath one such lamp the brown haired, pale-skinned Human was met by a Twi'lek, whose flesh was a rust-red hue and who wore the same dour-looking gray tunic and trousers with a black hooded cloak as he did. The two exchanged comradely nods, the latter with the ghost of a grin tickling at the corner of his mouth.

    "Lord Malak sends his compliments, Jaq," he said in Huttese. "His emissary has also provided another sample; recently captured, and stuffed neatly into your box."

    "Well, it's about damn time," Jaq replied in Basic, speaking with just the slightest hint of a lisp as a chortle escaped his lips. "Just when I was about to get bored and see about taking a vacation."

    “She was a feisty one, too,” the Twi'lek remarked with a chuckle of his own. “You will have to earn your pay with her.”

    “I always earn my pay,” Jaq declared with mock scorn, then grinned. “Besides, the more they struggle, the more fun I have.”

    The Twi'lek laughed heartily, then faded into the background as Jaq continued to stride confidently toward his sanctum. He didn't have far to go, as the corridor which led there ended barely fifty meters onward. Arriving at the nondescript-looking black door, he slid a hand along its frame and pushed back a panel to reveal a hidden biometric code-lock. Inserting his left index finger, he tapped a code in with his right, then withdrew his hands as the thick door ground slowly into the wall.

    Beyond the portal was his box. Twenty meters on a side, the square room was decorated similarly to the hallways and corridors beyond, though lacking any such artwork. It was lined on all sides with shelves, broken up only by the placement of two consoles on opposite sides of the room on an axis perpendicular to the doorway. The left console was a standard computer interface terminal which linked to the facility's mainframe, while the right one was a full-spectrum comm unit which included HoloNet access for use in emergencies. Of course, if it ever came down to having to use this particular station to send a call for help, the situation would have been well beyond saving. All along the three tiers of shelving a broad assortment of devices, knickknacks and supplies had been spread, all arranged for maximum visibility from the room's center, and each bit and bauble calculated to inspire fear, despair, even anger. These were his instruments, and he loved them as much as he loved using them.

    Jaq had to admit to himself that this whole process had become much more civilized once others had started bringing his material to him instead of him having to go out into the galaxy and capture it himself. The hunts had been grand, sure, and he had reveled in them as much as he had in his task of molding minds. Gradually, however, the novelty of chasing them down from planet to planet, city to city, had begun to wear off. He had been a capable hunter, and still possessed his full set of skills, but the real challenge lay in what happened after the prey was caught.

    Having exhausted his personal quota of introspection, Jaq looked upon the center of his sanctum, and his half-hidden face was dimpled as he gave the object of his attention a cruel, satisfied smile. Installed there was a large, sturdy gurney capable of restraining a wide variety of species ranging from Chadra-Fans to Togorians. At its head was placed a large, ring-shaped extra-strength glowrod, perfect for blinding those who had been strapped to it. At its sides were placed, along with the assortment of thick durasteel-threaded bantha hide straps, a pair of metal trays for placing tools within arm's reach for easy access. Finally, a mounting bracket had been attached to the foot, upon which a blaster could be fixed to point directly at the head of whoever happened to be restrained. Though he was good at his job, sometimes the mind he was shaping got a little too combative and had to be put down the old fashioned way—by a bolt to the cranium.

    Of course, if he could get away with it, he would only use the weapon's stun setting.
    And into that sophisticated arrangement had been strapped his latest prize. Stripped to her underthings, she had been cinched down quite thoroughly at ankles, thighs, waist, chest, shoulders, and just above her elbows. She was a Togruta, barely at the age of majority by Human standards, probably not even a full Knight. But she was Force-sensitive, she had been trained in the Jedi arts, and that meant her mind was ripe for the plucking, to do with as he pleased. And that was what Jaq loved most about his job.

    He got to hurt Jedi. A lot.

    And, he had decided, the best way to hurt them was to make them fall. To encourage them, using a wide variety of methods and practices, to become what they fought against with every fiber of their hypocritical selves. And he was extremely proud of his work of converting weak, vulnerable Jedi minds into strong, loyal followers of the Sith teachings.

    Giving the girl a passing glance, Jaq noticed that she was still asleep, likely from the sedatives that had been administered to keep her mind quiet and her body pliable. What was coursing through her veins would easily have killed a non-sensitive, untrained member of her species, but it was enough to keep her nearly comatose until Jaq chose to wake her, to inform her of her fate before the true work began. He took the time to read her file, which had been supplied via a datacard placed on his terminal. According to the document, she had been captured during the recent assault on Dantooine and the sacking of the Jedi Enclave there; apparently it had taken an entire platoon of troopers to subdue the little bitch, too.

    Yes, she would make a wonderful acolyte, once she was made to see the error of her ways.
    The document gave no name, but that was okay. Jaq would pull it from her eventually, assuming she survived, but if she didn't, it was no big loss. “Well, no use continuing on this vector,” the onetime pilot commented idly to himself. “Waste of fuel as it is. Let's jump to the point, shall we?”

    Standing up, Jaq walked over to a shelf and selected an appropriate syringe, drawing it from a collection of them that had been stored in a translucent box marked with a biohazard symbol. This was appropriate considering what the vial was filled with: enough wakeup juice to reanimate the dead. Whistling once again, he began examining the Togruta, putting a finger across her bare wrist, then against her neck, then peeling back a pink lid to look at the green eye beneath. Satisfied that he knew how much to give, he selected a vein and slid the needle in, pushing the plunger so that only a few milliliters of stimulant was injected. Still whistling, he withdrew the needle and placed it back in storage; according to the Sith, hygiene was for the weak. If she didn't have sufficient strength in the Force to fight off a simple infection, she didn't deserve to live anyhow.

    Turning back around, he leaned against the shelf and crossed his arms over his chest, waiting for the Jedi to awaken.

    He didn't have long to wait.

    The signs were subtle at first, starting with a twitching of the nose, then of a lek, followed by small beads of sweat breaking out across her exposed flesh. When her eyes began to flutter, Jaq dropped his arms and strode toward the table, flicking on the glowrod and bathing the girl's face in excruciatingly-bright light.

    “Aaah!” the girl gasped in pain as the glare hit her. Jaq, hidden by his dark clothing, stood outside the cone of light and smiled, saying nothing.

    “Wh-where am I?” the girl pleaded after a few moments of fruitless struggling as she fought against her bonds. Her eyes were shut tight against the light, but the tears streaming from them were proof that the source was simply too strong. Though her forearms were mobile, they were not nearly long enough to reach her restraints' attachment points or the glowrod. “P-please...”

    “'Please' always helps,” Jaq said sardonically.

    “Where...?” she began to ask once again, then fell silent as she realized that no answer was forthcoming despite her unseen tormentor's jibe. “Wh-who are you?”

    Jaq reached out and put a hand over her mouth to silence her, the motion too quick for the disoriented Jedi to prepare for or defend against, and leaned in to within centimeters of her face. “Hush, pretty thing,” he whispered contemptuously, forcing her eyes open with his free hand. “You will get no answers until I decide to give them to you.”

    Then he released her, delivered an open-handed slap across her face, then flicked off the glowrod in one graceful, fluid motion. Retreating to the door he belted out an intimidating—and quite genuine and sincere—peal of laughter. In its wake a deep, dark silence descended, for the room had been soundproofed as well. After several minutes Jaq tapped the interior door actuator, though he did not leave. Instead, he tamped down on his emotions and thought patterns as he had been taught to do and let the door close, making the Togruta girl think that he had in fact left. It was an effective technique, this game, for it made the victim feel as though she was utterly alone when she was in fact under the most intense scrutiny possible.

    It also made for a way to inflict pain from a source that the target would be unable to identify, and thus find no recourse in an emotive response. Yes, he had led his Jedi in this dance many times before, and he knew the steps like he knew his own hand.

    Pacing quietly around the darkened room, for Jaq had also cut off the ubiquitous green glowpanels, he waited for the girl to try her best to muster the Force and bid it come to her aid. That was always their second avenue of resistance, once information-gathering had failed, but once again precautions had been taken. Aside from the straps being incredibly strong, the gurney was also equipped with a force field which absorbed and dissipated any energy-based powers that might be flung at it. The gurney's many mechanisms were also highly-complex, so that none but the most masterful of telekinetic lock-pickers would even have a hope of freeing themselves. Finally there was Jaq himself, who was quite capable of intercepting any escape attempts using a variety of methods, including use of the drugs that were in plentiful supply. But then, many a Force-based defense had been disrupted by a simple application of concentration-shattering pain.

    He had been trained in what to look for as well. A sudden or subtle calming of the facial muscles, or a general relaxing of bodily tension was the most typical of giveaways. Other symptoms included subtle vocal cues, a clenching of fists or toes, or an increase in muscle contractions at any point along the body. Since most prisoners sent down for conversion were already quite tense, this was the most difficult tell to spot. Whenever such key indicators were found, though Jaq would swoop in on his prey, ready to deliver whatever he deemed appropriate to remedy the situation. Sometimes all it took was a renewed use of the glowrod, a few slaps to the face, or a broken finger to end the struggle, but sometimes he had to knock the victim out completely and start again.

    Sometimes he had to kill them outright.

    As he continued to wait for the girl to try some kind of mental attack or maneuver, however, time began to drag on. Half an hour passed, then an hour, then two. At the four hour mark, Jaq knew that something wasn't going as planned, that something was different about this particular specimen. Though among other beings he cultivated an air of impulsiveness, recklessness and general unreliability, in reality he was a patient, calculating and intelligent individual who knew the value of a good, solid effort. Wanting to make sure that all the niceties were observed, he decided to give the girl another hour to come up with her reserve of power and attempt to utilize it.

    But, for whatever reason, she did not.

    Growling to himself Jaq opened the door again, then purposefully stomped loudly back toward the gurney and flicked the glowrod back on. Once, twice, three times he backhanded the girl, then scrabbled for her throat and began to squeeze. Bearing his teeth, he leaned in close once again and hissed angrily. “Just who the kriff do you think you are, you little schutta!

    “I...am a...Jedi...” she wheezed through the stranglehold Jaq had on her neck.

    “I know what you are!” he snarled, withdrawing his grip and slapping her again. “I want to know what you think you are! Now!

    “I am a Jedi,” she said again, her voice raspy but determined.

    Jaq replied with another slap, then he grabbed a lekku and squeezed it, causing the Togruta to gasp in agony. “I said what do you think you are!” he yelled. “You are alone, beyond help, cut off from your pathetic Order!”

    “I-I know!” she gasped through the pain that gripped her body like a vise. “Y-your kind s-saw to th-that on D-Dantooine, as they k-killed my f-friends and my f-family!”

    “Don't give me that fierfek,” Jaq shot back, letting go of the appendage. Grabbing both montrails, he lifted her head from the gurney and bashed it against the hard plastoid headrest, causing her eyes to roll in dizziness. “Jedi don't have families, they're not like normal people! You're all power-hungry maniacs, each and every one of you!”

    “The Order is our family,” the girl replied, and there was a strength in her words that Jaq found disquieting. “It is the Sith who have no family, who only seek to dominate or destr—”

    The last word was cut off as Jaq, frustration pounding through his own veins, slammed a fist into her exposed belly. The girl retched, but there was nothing left to heave. Breathing heavily Jaq backed away from her, realizing that in that one moment he had lost control. This had always been his cutoff point; if ever he lost control of himself during an interrogation and conversion, that was when he had to end it. Permanently. It wasn't a matter of whether or not the target could still be coerced if control could be reestablished, but a matter of basic principle. If a Jedi realized that they could cause their captor to forfeit their mastery of the situation, they could do it again and again, however many times it took to achieve an opening for making their escape. If even one Jedi managed it, if a single one even left this room alive and with their flawed values intact, then this entire operation could be compromised and he, along with everyone in this facility, would be killed and replaced. All in the name of preserving the secrecy of this enterprise.

    Jaq knew this in his head. He knew it, and his inner voice was screaming at him to use that blaster to end this girl's life. And he wanted oh so very much to do it, to put a bolt into her skull and boil her brain away, then do whatever he wished to the lifeless shell that remained. Under different circumstances she could be considered beautiful, after all, and the Sith took pleasure in whatever fashion they could get away with...

    But he couldn't do it.

    Something was holding him back.

    And the girl...she knew. Somehow, she knew that he couldn't do it. Not yet.

    “Jaq...”

    The syllable was audible as barely more than a whisper, but it seemed to echo off the walls and caused him to stand ramrod straight, his skin puckering as if the facility's master had poured corrupted lightning into him. It took every ounce of effort he possessed to force himself to relax and face this girl who had somehow, in that moment of vulnerability, reached into his mind and pulled out his nickname—along with who knew what other bits of information. Eventually he succeeded in mastering himself once more, punctuating the release of tension by unloading a series of slaps onto the girl's face and arms. Then he grabbed her left foot and twisted, hard, until the telltale crackling of fracturing bone was heard over her pained screaming.

    “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” he roared, spittle spraying from his mouth as he wrenched the foot in the opposite direction before releasing his grip. “THERE IS NOTHING FOR YOU IN THERE! NOTHING!

    The silence that fell was occluded by the pounding of Jaq's heart within his ears. He had mastered himself, then very nearly lost control a second time, all in the span of a few moments.

    At some point this procedure had gone incredibly wrong.

    “That...is not...your name,” the girl whimpered after several long minutes had passed, the pain of her newly-broken ankle evident in every word. “That...is not...your true self...”

    Jaq couldn't decide if the girl was right by accident or by design. As her words died away once again, his rational mind kicked in and he began to analyze the situation—and his victim—from a different angle. She was a Jedi, yes, and a young one at that, but she seemed to know why she was here, what purpose she was intended to serve. At the same time, his gut was telling him that there was a reason why she was not resisting him, that she in fact had wanted him to lose control. But not so that she could escape.

    But if that was true, then why was she not resisting?

    His brain and his instincts warred with each other for several long, torturous minutes. Try as he might to reconcile the two, however, he could not arrive at an answer that satisfied both. Eventually, however, the debate was ended for him.

    “Jaq, I know what you are,” the girl said, her voice throaty but steady. She swallowed hard, then continued. “I know what they will do to you.”

    Never, not once in all his history of practicing this art, had any of Jaq's victims ever piqued his curiosity in the slightest. His targets were all Jedi, and would either embrace the dark side and become Sith, or they would die in agony—that was all he had ever cared about, the only thing he had wanted to know. Some of them had claimed to know why they were being tortured, some even thought that they believed it. But this girl...this girl knew.

    Jaq had long ago learned that believing and knowing were two very different things.

    Calmly, he walked to the door and flicked on the glowpanels, bringing his box back to normal illumination. The sight of the girl on the gurney was pathetic in his eyes. Her flesh was covered in sweat that soaked through her plain brown undergarments. Her crimson skin was blotched with fresh bruises, slashed by shallow lacerations, and speckled here and there with her own blood. Her foot stuck out at the wrong angle, hanging limply. But her eyes, those strikingly-deep green eyes, were steady and focused on his own hazel orbs.

    “Tell me,” he said, his voice and expression devoid of emotion as he counted cards in his head. Switch the faces of the plus-one/minus-one card, the totals are nine-ten... he still wanted to kill her, oh yes very much so... switch the faces of the plus-two/minus-two card, the totals are eight-eleven...

    “I am...I am in some sort of conversion chamber,” the girl said, the weight of resignation in her voice. “You are a converter, an agent of the Sith. You will torture me until I give in to the darkness or I am killed. Either way, I will not be leaving this room.”

    Jaq snorted contemptuously, then looked away. She had nailed it alright, she wasn't leaving this room as the same person she had been upon entering. Actually, she wouldn't be leaving at all... switch the faces of the plus-three/minus-three card, the totals are seven-twelve...

    “But that's not who you really are,” she said, her voice a plea for understanding. “You were once a good person, a soldier of the Republic, defending galactic civilization from the Mandalorian threat. But now you fight against it, you fight to destroy what you once swore to protect...”

    “Please, any idiot could figure that out,” Jaq replied with a sneer, crossing his arms again. “Why don't you just start saying that Hutts smell bad, or that Bothans love politics? Something that isn't already painfully obvious to anyone who's ever actually lived! Who actually knows the true history of the Mandalorian Wars, and how your pathetic Order sat on the sidelines with their thumbs up their asses! Don't you dare lecture me about defending civilization!”

    “Do you know what they do to Force-sensitives found among the Sith forces, Jaq?” she asked after a beat, as though his outburst had never been uttered.

    His arms fell to his sides in spite of himself as Jaq realized what she was asking. Ever since the battle at Malachor—hell, even before then—there had been rumors of disappearances floating around. But in the past eighteen months the flow of those rumors had swelled from rivulets to torrents, and he even had second-hand knowledge of some of them. Friends of friends and the like, all taken from their units as though by magic, and no one ever hearing from them again. Added to that was the influx of Dark Jedi in the ranks, of the increasing presence of these masked marauders among the regular military.

    Jaq knew that there were others out there like him, agents of the empire built by Darth Revan and taken over by his apprentice, Darth Malak. These agents, trained in similar hunting techniques and methods of mental shielding, sought out Jedi across the galaxy, either killing or capturing them, then corrupting the survivors using the same sets of procedures that he himself had learned. But even taking into consideration his fellows and their activities, there was no accounting for the sheer number of Force adepts that were being poured into the war effort. Unless these rumors were true, that is... switch the faces of the plus-four/minus-four card, the totals are six-thirteen...

    “They take them, and they torture them, just as you do to me,” the girl said, her voice turning cold and hard as durasteel. Jaq's heart skipped a beat, the shift in her tone was so sudden and unexpected that he was caught unawares. “I will die here, Jaq, but not because I refuse to fall. I will die here to protect your secret.”

    “Secret, what secret?!” Jaq barked, but it was a hollow denial, given out of reflex. Something in him seemed to squirm as he bore down on the Jedi once again. “Whatever you think you know—”

    “I don't think, Jaq, I know.”

    “Know what, exactly? You're in no position to know anything!” His words came in a rush, as though memorized and saved for recitation at a point where it would please a superior officer to hear them. “The only thing you could possibly know is that you're about to die!”

    “I know that you are like me,” the girl continued, as though discussing the nature of the local stone. “You have the Force within you, and you—”

    “You LIE!” Jaq screamed, leaping for the girl's throat once again and wrapping both hands around it. His teeth grated together as he snarled out a more vehement denial. “You're just another Jedi liar, a hypocrite like all the rest!”

    “You...know...” the girl gasped, determined to get the words out. “You...will see...and...understand...”
    Her eyes rolled up into her head as she let out a soft gurgle.

    And within Jaq's mind, everything changed.

    In that moment, his view of the dying Togruta's face was replaced by a swirl of colors and images. Though he couldn't make out the frames of reference, he knew without having to wonder that he had just seen the galaxy for what it truly was. More images continued to flood into his consciousness; the girl, younger this time, using her power to fling rocks at a pistol-wielding Marine officer. The girl again, a couple of years older and joined by her master, defending a transport evacuating civilians as silver-armored troopers blazed away at them. Then finally, a scene which could only be her own capture, seen from her eyes, played itself out. And a name, bellowed by an unseen woman...

    “Aewa, no!”

    And then Jaq felt something that he had never thought possible, a feeling that he had thought dead to the galaxy: true, honest love. He loved this girl...this woman...that he was killing. He loved her so much that he was willing to give up everything he had to save her, to save them both, from the fate they knew could be theirs. And because he loved her so, he would continue to kill her, because she knew, and would not tell the Sith Masters of his secret.

    Of his sensitivity.

    For this, at least, she deserved to die as she had lived, a Jedi to the last.

    And he felt it as she died, as she became one with the Force that they both shared. As Aewa's spirit departed her body, Jaq's heart broke, and the hate that had filled him drained away like coolant from a punctured radiator.

    And he knew that he could never again bring himself to do what he had just done.

    After an age of silence, his physical self caught up to his mind and he realized that the Jedi's body had gone completely slack, her head lolling to one side. He drew his hands before his eyes; they were caked in dried Togruta blood and shaking horribly, as was the rest of him. Looking down at the mangled corpse upon his gurney, he realized that, caught up in the visions she had given him, he had clamped down on her neck so hard that he had crushed her trachea nearly into powder. Her dying convulsions had sent blood and bile gushing from her nose and mouth, covering her once-pretty face and upper body as well as the gurney to which it had been bound.

    Casting his gaze frantically about as he paced the walls of his box, a room that wasn't his anymore, he looked for something, anything, that he could use to dispose of the body appropriately. With a sense of absolute certainty that he had assumed was the sole providence of madmen and fools, Jaq knew that he had to get the hell out of this place, to desert from the Sith ranks entirely if that's what it took, and to put as many parsecs between himself and anything to do with the two organized Force traditions as possible. For if he stayed, he would be made into a Dark Jedi, into one of them, whether he wanted it or not.

    And he had known a few during his time, worked alongside them as he had hunted. He now knew that they were just the other half of his hatred, now replaced by a howling emptiness within his mind and soul, and he realized that to become one of them was to lose what little of himself remained. The very idea chilled him to the marrow.

    Finally, after several minutes of harried searching, he found the right combination of chemical agents and materials. Spreading all but the last of them over the body of the Jedi woman he had just killed, he uncorked the bottle of catalyst solution. Retreating to the door, he hurled its contents at the gurney at the same instant he hit the actuator. Turning about and running pell-mell down the hallway, he didn't look back as his old sanctum, the place of so many meaningless victories, burst into flames.

    Fin/>
    Last edited by Goodwood, Feb 9, 2014
  2. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    I nominate Alice in Chains- Man in the Box as this story's theme.

    Anywho, Jaq was really quite the depraved individual until Aewa opened his eyes. Though, in a way, I feel a bit sorry for him. Must have taken some creative brainwashing to turn him into that type of person and unless one wasn't already unhinged and sadistic, to become such an individual would take some training. At least in the end, he was able to spring forth from his own box.

    Poor Aewa. I'll miss her, but hey, one cannot get too attached to one's characters. And sometimes to drive a point home, we gotta off the ones we have grown to love. Helps to hit the reader hard when a character they've gotten attached to is finally done in. But, honestly, I don't see any other way that story could have gone and still retain its impact and intended message.
  3. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Gripping story giving more background to Atton.
  4. Bale Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2005
    star 4
    Too bad much of this is cut off :( Still, what I could read is well-done and chilling.
    I loved:
    ...the more they struggle, the more fun I have.
  5. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    Salvaged another tattered story. Good thing they're saved elsewhere.

    @Bale
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