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[cross posted were_ghost and bqv_andre]

Takes place after Harpsichord Follow Up

(Backdated to June 2012)

Tapping out the phone number from the card, Andre pressed his cell to his ear, listening to the sounds as it rang. He had some updates to give the were, but also knew there had been a ‘talk’ interrupted because the other man needed to gather his thoughts.


Ghost was just pushing his bike into the lift to head to The Den for some dinner and to be near his mate when his phone jiggled. He had become a pretty permanent fixture at the eatery. “Hello?”

“Good evening, this is Andre Marek of Time Passages, am I speaking to Ghost?”

“Yes, it’s good to hear from you again, and so soon. I hope that means you have good news?” Ghost paused and leaned back on his bike to balance it while he spoke to the vampire.

“A mixture, but mostly on the positive side.” Switching the phone to his other ear, Andre pulled the file toward him. “I’ve heard from my contact, and we can get the exact item you are looking for. But.... it may take a few weeks longer than anticipated, since it is coming from Germany.”

“As long as we can get it before the end of August.” Ghost was pleased that the instrument had been found. “Will that be possible?”

“it’s scheduled to arrive late June to mid-July, so I don’t see why it would be an issue.” Making a few notes, the vampire circled the date and added another note. “I’ll have him start the paperwork for it.”

“Excellent. Do you have someone who can tune the instrument after it is delivered and set up?” Ghost wanted the gift to sound right if Renée wanted to play it right away. He was pretty sure his mate would want to play it immediately.

“All has been arranged, the piece will arrive in perfect condition.” Checking that off on the sticky-note on the inside flap, Andre smiled; it was a bit easier - coming together - thant he’d thought. Now onto the next reason for his call. “I also called for another topic...”

“That is wonderful. I will leave the delivery arrangements in your hands. My construction contractor will help you with anything you need. As I might have mentioned, my mate and I will be away on a vacation for the final phase of the construction.” Ghost was very pleased that this final surprise would be ready on time. “And the other topic?” The were thought he knew what the vampire was referring to, but he’d let Andre confirm it.

“I’m presuming here, and if incorrectly so, I apologize;, however, I felt that you had many unanswered questions when last you were here.” He wasn’t one to prevaricate and yet, Andre still managed to keep his directness from coming across as blunt. “I would like to meet with you and possible... hopefully, answer some of those questions.”

“Yes, I do. Just wanted to make sure you still wanted to meet with me. It might seem strange for us to be seen together. I get the impression that we shouldn’t like each other. Forgive me if I still seem cautious. It is only because I have a mate to think about. So... where and when would you like to meet?” Ghost didn’t have a problem with daylight, so the vampire would need to establish their meeting time.

“I know there are several nightclubs that cater to our kind indiscriminately, but I do not think that would be a good venue for our meeting. Perhaps a place that leans more toward human clientele?” Pausing, Andre thought a moment, then continued, “I rather enjoy the dining at the Hotel Monteleone’s restaurant - my treat - does this suit?”

To Ghost, nightclubs were nice if they were mostly human, because supernaturals like themselves could talk without being overheard, but the Hotel Monteleone’s had a unique atmosphere. “I think that would do nicely. Thank you for suggesting it. When would you prefer to meet?”

“Is 8 this evening acceptable to your schedule?” He’d open from his usual hour and close a bit early. ItT wasn’t unexpected, and his customers were scattered visitors.

“Yes, that is very doable.” He would have to make a quick call to René to let him know he wouldn’t be there for dinner, leaving him free to meet with Andre. “8 o’clock it is.” The were considered walking since it was such a nice night and the hotel was not that far from his own dwelling. “I’ll see you then.”

“Excellent, and thank you for your time.” Hanging up, Andre pushed the file aside and leaned back in his chair. Tonight was going to prove interesting.


Smiling his thanks as the Maitre’ d left after escorting him to his table -with a promise to bring his guest over once they he arrived, Andre gave a quick scan of the room, memorizing where each table and exit were and noting in the process that there appeared to be no other supernatural in the vicinity.

Ghost arrived and presented himself to the Maitre d’. He had taken a few minutes to change into something more “civilized”. The dark dress pants and button down shirt fit the bill much better than his leathers or jeans and t-shirt. He was lead to the table where Andre was seated.

With a smile and hand extended, he Andre welcomed the other to the table, “Thank you for meeting me on short notice., I apologize if I’ve interrupted your evening plans.”

Ghost smiled at that. He did enjoy watching his mate work. Being near him always made his wolf happy, and of course putting a few foolish weres, who still insisted on flirting with his mate, in their place was always fun. He, of course, could head over to The Den afterwards for a dessert pastry before escorting his mate home for some sweet lovemaking. “Thank you for inviting me. No interruption. I just moved my plans to later in the evening.” He grasped the offered hand firmly in greeting before taking his seat.

Ghost glanced at the menu briefly. “Is this something you can enjoy?” Hhe said, indicating the menu. He didn’t think that the vampire could process food except the liquid kind.

Nodding, Andre took a menu as well., “In small quantities - and I love their seafood selection.” Taking a sip of the water, he looked at his companion. “I hope it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience?”

“Not at all. I have a healthy appetite. I can eat now and then again later with my mate. That was where I was going when you called.” Ghost looked over the selection. He was more of a red meat kind of guy. “Not to worry though, he is working. I just like to keep an eye on him, or those who watch him. He is way too beautiful to be left on his own.” He didn’t mind letting people know that his lovely mate was well cared for.

Watching the other man’s eyes scan the menu, Andre made a suggestion.; “I’ve heard they serve a quite fine tartare aller-retour here.” Having decided on the sushi dishes, he put aside his. “Would you care to share a bottle of wine, or are you more a beer type of person? Me... I can go for either.” Pausing, cautious in how to respond to the comment about the other’s mate, the vampire gave an understanding smile. “Is it true that your kind mate for life?”

The mention of meat sounded good. There was a part of him that would always crave fresh meat. “Yes, thatis is an excellent suggestion, as is the wine. I am normally a single malt kind of guy, but wine is an acceptable alternative. Can we share a bottle with one of us ordering fish and the other red meat?” He cocked his head. “I’m not a complete beast, but you are right. Most of us mate for life, though there have been some extreme cases where a were mates with a human and the human breaks the bond or the mate is killed. It can be tragic for the surviving mate, and some do not retain their sanity but a few, a rare few have found love again.”

Ghost closed his menu, having decided on Andre’s choice for his meal. “Funny, I thought I was the one with the questions. Do you not have any weres in your acquaintance?”

“Very few, and I find them on the prickly side. There was an incident where my... where my youngest was attacked and severely injured.” Tamping down the protective nature that was second skin to him, Andre smiled. “It was also a were who helped my childe home to me... I find it easier sometimes to just accept things at face value.” Nodding as the waiter moved closer, he murmured, “I’ll explain in a moment.” Placing his order, he added a bottle of light rosé.

Ghost gave his order and waited for the waitress to leave the area. “I am sorry for your pain. Some of us let their animals rule them. They think just because they can, that they should. For my part, I am a live and let live being. I’ve had little interaction with your people and feel a lack of education. That is why I ask questions when and where I can, even more now that I live in a city with a decent population of both.”

Chewing over the words from the other man, he Andre debated on his next - trying to determine what he should reveal of his past. Deciding it might be better to get the questions out of the way - after all, they would show where his interests lay - he gently shook his head in the affirmative. “I’ll be happy to answer any questions I can - as long as I have the answer.”

“All right, would it be out of line (as a were) to ask about your political structure? The pack here has a prince. Do you have one as well?” Ghost knew he must sound like a simpleton, but if he was going to keep those whom he cared about safe, thaen he needed to understand how things worked.

“We do - he is the law as it is of our past. He watches us... and over us. His primary concern is the safety of the community - of us vampires.” (Depending on when this is, I may have to tweak a bit since Andre and one of his children are at the momen being ‘interviewed’ by Prince Marton.) Pushing the butter knife around, he pursed his lips for a moment., “I do not believe our prince is over fond of weres.”

“I suppose the were prince is the same, whether one is pack or not. Anything we do can possibly affect the rest. Your prince would seem more... involved.” Ghost had not meet Liam yet, but if Hoot was anything to go by, the were prince was a fair man. “Not fond ofn weres? Why do I get the feeling that might be a good thing?”

Unable to hide the bit of a snort and laugh, Andre shook his head., “I’ve heard him refer to them as ‘flea bags’ and ‘pets-unleashed’.” Clearing his throat, he gave a one- shouldered shrug., “His views aren’t necessarily those of all.”

“I’ve heard worse from both sides. It would seem the hostility is not reserved for just the royalty. What would he think of weres and vamps clashing? Would he take sides?” Ghost was fishing with this one, but he had dealt with leaders who regarded all others as beneath them. He just wanted to know how proactive the local prince was, though it did seem that it wouldn’t be to his or René’s advantage to come to the notice of this prince.

“Marton will always side with his people, but because he wishes peace, he’d try and find a happy medium for the situation.” Opening his mouth to continue, Andre paused as the sommelier brought over the bottle. Accepting the glass, Andre took a sip,. swished and nodded. “Lovely... thank you, that will do nicely.” A new glass for Andre and one for Ghost, a soft nod, and the man drifted away. “ I do not know how old our prince is, but from what I understand he is of the old world - the years between when were’s were guardians of our day-rest and the current situation.”

That settled one issue. This prince was one to steer clear of for the time being. Now as for the other. “Would he know what set our two peoples at odds?. For that matter, do you?”

“I’ve been told it iwas because of betrayal, because one people thought themselves above the other. Of course the other side is always the betrayoral..” Shaking his head, Andre admitted, “I’ve heard both sides betrayed the trust in the other. Were’s were betrayed when vampire masters tried to keep them enslaved, using them as shields and warriors when it suited their needs and keeping them chained at others. There is a story of a high ranking vampire who was betrayed by his guardians... they allowed villagers to enter and slay the slumbering lord.”

Ghost nodded. “And I imagine the offenses, both real and imaginary, have mounted ever since. How I managed to avoid this conflict all these years is beyond me. Perhaps it was the harsh environment I lived in. Maybe it didn’t suit vampires. You know, I didn’t meet one until I moved here. I wasn’t even sure what he was at first. I think that amused him. He was quite ancient, and I found him contemplating life in the middle of the bayou.”

“Hmm... he didn’t seem - was there animosity toward you? Only reason I’m asking is an Elder might be less than polite, but a true Ancient... they’d have been around before the confilicts arose.” Andre was intrigued; he’d heard there was were one or two ancients in town, and had even met one of them.

“No, no animosity. He seemed like a...a grandfather. You know?” He studied the vampire to see if he was following Ghost’s reasoning. “He looked old, really old. Was very calm. Not the least bit concerned about the possibilityies that I might attack.” The were recalled the short conversation with the ancient.

“He looked old? Hell, I think you met a First Born... they wouldn’t be interested in the petty squabbles between our races unless it got out of hand, I’d think.” Sipping his wine, Andre hummed his pleasure for a moment at the flavor. “They were around when our kind were more than just friends - probably when our kind were companions, allies even.”

“First Born? You mean an original?” Ghost hadn’t considered that. He may have been afforded a unique opportunity, and he didn’t recognize it. “I guess I should have asked more.” He mentally smacked himself. He hadn’t realized the find he had in Sean at the time. “He knew of a time when you and I would have been real friends, imagine that.” The were’s voice drifted off as he considered the possibility.

Nodding, Andre explained a bit further., “A First Born is the childe of the Original ofr our kind. The Original SIre - if I remember correctly - had only four children; it is from them that we are descended, I believe..” Moving his hands so the waiter could place the hors d’œuvre in front of him, he asked,. “Would you care to share?” It was a beautiful display of tidbits - gently sizzled beef and chicken coated in a light cheese and other items. “I don’t think I’ll be able to eat all this as well as the main course.” Once the waiter moved away, Andre continued. “Most of the First Borns, I’ve been told, are younger in appearance and that there is only one - a favored - who looks... well, grandfatherly.”

Ghost looked over the selection of little bits of food. Why do people waste their time on these things? Ghost didn’t say that out loud. “Thank you. I would.” Despite their small size, they smelled delicious. Ghost licked his lips. He selected one and chewed on it. “That sounds like Sean, or that’s what he is going by now. I don’t know of his other alias. I’ve had a few myself. It’s what comes from an “extended” life.” He took a second piece - chicken this time. “Mmmmm, that’s very tasty.”

“Just enough to keep the stomach from gnawing on itself when you smell the foods at other tables... least, that’s how I look at it.” Licking the cheese from his finger, Andre understood, “I’ve been lucky actually... haven’t had to change my name from this time to the past or forward.”

Ghost picked up another piece. He could see how this worked. One intended to eat just one and couldn’t stop. “From this time to the past? That sounds a little backwards.”

He couldn’t help it as a small laugh escaped him. “My apologies; I’m not laughing at you. And, yes, it does sound backwards because it is.” Wiping his mouth and determining that there wasn’t any one close enough to overhear, Andre began his explanation. Telling Ghost of the year he was born, 1969, how he’d become a PhD in archaeology, had been on a dig in France for Castlegard and through some completely incomprehensible technological miracle, he and a group of co-workers/friends were transported back to 1357. During that time, he met and fell in love with his Lady-wife, Clare. At her tomb, he met his maker. “And that, in short, is how I come to be a 600 plus year old vampire born in 1969 and completely at ease with today’s world.”

“fFascinating. What did you do once you reached the time of your birth? Did you ever peek in on yourself?” Ghost wondered what would happen if he could go back and maybe observe some of the other Ghosts in his family.

“No, I’d been warned by my sire that it could have dire effects... I’ve had to avoid those places I’d been from ‘69 to ‘03 - now, I’m a bit more free to move around, just have to be careful I don’t run into family or anyone I knew.” Plate empty, he pushed it to the side and wasn’t surprised when a busboy quickly approached to whisk it away.

“A most interesting life. What became of the rest of your team?” Ghost was drawn to Andre’s tale. The were’s father had often told him stories of other “Ghosts” and how their line came to be.

:One was killed while we were in the past - I named a child - born, not made – after him. THhe professor, his son, and one other made it back. THhey’re out there somewhere, I think - just not anywhere I want to be.” Bittersweet was his smile as he thought of friends he couldn’t contact and lives long gone.

“I am sorry for your loss. I had my father for over a hundred and fifty years. It struck deep when he was killed. I have no children, yet. At times that is a blessing, but now I have a mate.” Ghost would die if he lost the beautiful boy in his life. “You have children, a partner?”

“There are many that are flesh of my flesh now, 6oo years creates a large family, but none that I... associate with. I have children made, one of my doing and two, well, either surrogate or adopted - choice of term is up to you.” SMmiling, he sat back, thinking about how to describe his relationship with the the regional were-prince; it would be best to keep that on the quiet side. “I have someone I am extremely fond of, but to use the term partner might not fit us.”

“I’ve had many “relationships” but none last for long. My mate is the only one that I have cared for with great depths.” That was partly true. He had recently discovered his connection to Karl. He was family too. He toyed with the idea of starting his own pack, but then Karl already had one. “The regional prince, besides not being fond of us and being loyal to his people -. Wwhat is he like?” Ghost wished to get an idea of who he would be dealing with if he and René ever came to his notice. This prince might feel that he had a claim to the young man if it was learned that he was had been a thrall, since it seemed that a thrall was always a thrall unless the master died. Ghost could take care of that, if he ever found this Doviculus.

“He can be a prickly bastard, I think., He puts community needs first, but,” Hhere Andre thought on his words, “I feel he also, despite his, uh... dimmed view on were’s, can be fair if the situation calls for it.”

Ghost accepted the response but noted the slight hesitation. He had a feeling his dinner companion was being diplomatic. “I have known those that I would describe as such. You are a very diplomatic person. A helpful trait of a successful businessman.”

“Not sure if it’s diplomatic or tempered with the long- earned knowledge that what I perceive isn’t necessarily what is intended.” Giving a quick nod, he indicated the approaching server with their main course. “You have more pressing questions though, don’t you?”:

Ghost waited until the server had placed their selections in front of them and retired again. “I guess you could say that I’m fishing? Trying to decide if this is the best place for me and my mate to remain. I have known you only as a businessman, but you have trusted me with details of your past. I have a curiosity about your people, for my mate was once thralled. That makes me wonder why a human would accept becoming vampire. I was born were and had no choice, but you?”

Pausing, he Andre took a breath, thinking back on his reasons, or those he’d given to himself at the time. “My one true reason for staying had died... My children were grown and moved on with their lives, only my son and his wife and family remained at the castle, as was the way of it at the time. Rarely did I see them.... we each had our own wing, section and I could go months before seeing my son or grandchildren.” Selecting a spicy salmon roll, he chewed, enjoying the dance of flavor on his tongue. “I missed this time, my time, and maybe deluded myself into thinking I could regain what I had lost when I remained behind, but... I know differently now. Plus,” Llooking over at the other man, his smile was genuine, “the anthropologist in me craved seeing history created right before my eyes.”

Ghost delayed tasting his meal so he could watch his dinner companion while he explained his reasons. The expressions told as much as the words spoken. The loss of loved ones, the hope for the future - or present, depending on how the vampire looked at it. Ghost had only lived a small portion of the vampire’s life, but he hads seen the growth and expansion of a nation. “I have not the need to watch the world change, but it changes just the same. Sometimes I have to jog a little to keep up.” Ghost finally took a break and sliced off a piece of the meat. It was brimming with fresh juicy flavor that cooking often takes away. “Mmmmm, that is perfect.” He cleared his palate with a sip of wine and considered his next words. “So it was your scholarly passion that urged you to choose this life. Did you seek out one like yourself, or did they come to you?”

This time a California Roll was his selection., “My Sire found me as I wept at my Lady-wife’s burial site. He offered me a few more years as mortal to set things in order. We did discuss things, gave me a week to decide actually, then came for me one night.”

“But it was still your choice? He would have left you alone if you had chosen to remain mortal? There was no coercion.” Ghost cut another piece of meat from his meal and chewed on it slowly enjoying the flavorful juices.

Andre paused witht the food halfway to his mouth., “Yes, it was my choice... and he would have respected it should I have declined.” Chewing, he scrutinized his dinner companion. “Not all would have, though... some disregard a human’s choice.” Placing the utensil next to his plate, the vampire wiped his fingers as he spoke. “That is a very pointed question Ghost... and since I know it is impossible to turn a were into a vampire, I’m guessing it, or something like it, has happened to someone you know?”

This was going to be tricky. Ghost had started his conversation to learn more about the local politics, just in case he and René ran smack into it. “It has not, but it was in the future for someone I care for, and I don’t think it would have been their choice.” Ghost felt a snarl developing. Every time he thought of Monica or Doviculus taking away his mate’s freedom, his choice, it got his wolf’s hackles up. Ghost quickly tamped the anger down. “I am glad that your sire gave you only what you really wanted.”

Ghost reminded himself and his prickly wolf that this man was arranging for a wonderful surprise for their mate, and that he had opened up to them, and most important, he was not threatening to turn Renée into a vampire. “One more thing.” Though he thought this might lead to more. “Your sire, what does he do besides turn you?. I suppose he shows you how to be what you are.”

“A sire, is in all terms your father - and in some instances can be your lover as well. He taught me how to live with what I’d decided, what I became. He... they teach you everything you need to survive, the vampire history... just so much.”

“It does sound like a father, but in a more intimate way. Is there a connection between the two of you beyond that fact that he is your maker and teacher?. Can you feel what the other feels?” Ghost found his interest growing. He had originally only been interested in the current political issues between their two people, but after seeing how willing Andre was to talk, he wanted to know more. He doubted whether René would want to answer his questions on the subject.

“In the beginning it is so strong, you crave it - almost like a drug, but not...” SHhaking his head, Andre paused., “yYou crave the closeness, the physical as well as the mental - there is a feeling of your sire in you.” THhat was a better description. “It... softens after a while, is always there, behind everything, a connection... sometimes you can actually become so used to it you forget, but then you’ll feel a brush or touch in your mind and it comes back, strong, warm... loving.”

Ghost, listening to Andre describe the feelings between he and his sire, tried to imagine Renée ever having that with Monica. The idea was appalling. Monica would rule his life, just as she had the last few years. She would guide every aspect of it until Renée was no longer Renée. Now the description did sound like a mated couple. In time, the two of them could be apart for longer periods of time without feeling like they were burning up inside. “What you describe sounds like a mating. You did say that a sire could be a lover, though it seems like as the years go by the softening of the intensity can allow one or the other to seek out new partners, where were mates are always bound. Interesting.” Ghost sipped at his wine and enjoyed a portion of his meal.

“Our hearts are still very much like those of humans - rare and lucky to find the one you wish to spend the rest of your life with, but like anything else, susceptible to change.” Pushing his plate away, Andre sipped his wine., “I loved my wife, with everything I had, but with her death the desire, the love faded - no, not faded... softened, leaving room for another. For a vampire to find their life-mate is... hell, I don’t think I’ve heard of a mated pair.”

“No mate?. I don’t think I could do that. I guess there are positives and negatives to any existence, but is there someone you are close to besides your sire?” Ghost thought he saw a look in Andre’s eyes at one time during their talks. “I’m sorry, that is too personal. Sometimes we hide those who are close to us because of what we are. We don’t want them used against us.”

Smiling ruefully, Andre answered anyway., “I do have someone I am close to... but for his protection, I cannot and will not say his name.” Rubbing at his chin, the vampire nodded. “We are creatures of strong emotions, passions... love, anger - revenge and worship - they all play a part in our lives... the losses... are deaths over and over again.” Mentally shaking his head, he took a breath and continued., “A sire does not necessarily need to be a lover, but it does strengthten the bond... if it is a pure bond. There are those who turn others just so they aren’t alone, so that they have... well, in some ways, slaves.”

“Understandable. I wouldn’t ask you to reveal their identity. I would not appreciate my mate being put in danger.” Ghost finished the last of his entree’. He had to remember to order this again. It suited his wolf’s taste and his own. “I guess the two species have some things in common. A were’s passions are high too, although the ones concerning survival and loving are the strongest. It is the beast within us.” Ghost sipped his wine and considered the last bit. “Slaves. I thought thralls were sometime considered slaves. Would a vampire turn someone and keep them deliberately subjugated for eternity?”

“Yes, but, and this is my opinion, only one who has no honor.” Andre had always been taught that a vampired turned another for company, to, well, create a family. Someone loyayl to them, devoted to their sire as the sire was devoted to them. “

“Now this I have heard, but there doesn’t seem to be any protection against unwanted attention since subjugation doesn’t seem to be against vampire law. I am not trying to deliberately criticize your laws, but the weaker do seem to be at a distinct disadvantage. ” Ghost was wondering if he was pushing it with this line of questioning. He was questioning someone else’s beliefs, and he was a were. To some he was considered the enemy.

“Think of when many of the vampires were turned... to enslave someone was a normal way of life - they weren’t born and raised after - say for the US - the 1860’s when slavery wasn’t allowed and became a cultural way of things. Even as humans, enslavement of other humans was simply done by right of might.” Sighing, he shifted in the seat., “Then there are those who it is a power trip for... the idea of ‘owning’ another. That is what it is like having a childe, you do basically own them, but that is also only temporary... they grow, mature and, like a human child, some day leave home to make their own way, knowing that their sire/parent will always be there.”

Ghost nodded sadly. “I understand what you are saying. It is too bad that vampires don’t come with signs that say when they were made so there was some indication whether they would believe in slavery or not. It’s as likely as telling whether a human or were were is dangerous or not. It would seem that those of us with the might need to be alert to protect those who might be in danger. You have given me much to think about, sir. I do hope I have not offended your beliefs. You would seem to be another vampire that I could call friend.”

“While my sign would read made over 600 years ago, my beliefs are very modern and no, you’ve not offended me at all - it takes a lot, actually. True friends are a rarity, I’d like to be able to call you one as well.” Signaling for the server, Andre whispered, “I’m dying to try their Raspberry-Chocolate Creme Brulee...my addiction. Will you join me?”

Ghost was pleased that he had not alienated his new friend. “You are right. True friends are rare. I was alone for a while until I met my mate. Always careful with what I told people. Hiding my nature.” Ghost smiled to himself. He was glad that he wasn’t alone anymore. “I have a tremendous sweet tooth. I’d be delighted to share a dessert with you.”

Holding up two fingers, Andre told the server what treat they wanted and asked for the beverage trolley to be sent over. Smiling at the young were next to him, Andre whispered,. “You are free to ask me anything you wish at any time... I think we are going to get along fine.”

“I like you too, friend.” Ghost refilled their wine glasses. “Here’s to the hope that we never find ourselves on opposite sides.” Ghost clinked his glass against his companion’s. That was his hope, but only time and events would tell ifs this was a friendship he could keep.




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