Noah and the Storm (5/5)
They didn�t stop the wagons until they reached the station. Everyone
hurried inside, and a few of the riders positioned themselves by the window
to fire at any followers. Rachel had linens and hot water ready, but was
still shocked to see the gashes of blood on Hank, and Hank�s own appearance
obviously added to that shock.
�You poor thing!� she said, and Hank smiled a little, sitting down on the
bench by the table.
�I assure you it looks a lot worse than it is,� he said in his usual
refined style. �No arteries seem to have been hit, and the wounds are all
superficial. I doubt any of them need suturing, if such a thing is even
available in this environment. No offence, madam.�
�Well, they have to be cleaned anyway,� Rachel said. A bit cautiously, she
dipped a linen rag in water and started cleaning the bleeding areas. When he
made no attempt to act as the beast he looked like, she continued more
�No broken bones?� Ororo asked.
�Judging from the pain in my side, a rib must have cracked,� Hank admitted,
�but since it hasn�t damaged the lung it�s nothing to worry about. I�m a bit
sore, of course, I suspect there has been some muscle damage, but nothing
that will not heal quite easily.�
�Guess they took advantage of the fact that you don�t bruise,� Logan stated
without much passion. �Glad to have you back.�
The X-Men were all sitting close to Hank, and Bobby hugged him so tightly
that Hank had to push him away a little bit, grimacing of pain.
�Sorry,� the boy said, laughing and crying at the same time, and the MD
hugged him back, somewhat more carefully.
�No need to apologize, Robert,� he said softly. He then looked up at the
others. �I can�t begin to say how grateful I am you came for me.�
�Of course we would,� Jean said. �Gives me fewer hours in the med lab.� Her
team mates joined in with a hearty rudeness that more than anything showed
just how much they had missed him.
�Otherwise what would I do next time a lens cracked?�
�You shouldn�t be the only one to try out Forge�s inventions. He�s *my* ex
�Like I�d let away the only guy I can tickle properly.�
�I�ve missed your lectures on what smokes and drinks should be doing to my
Hank laughed. �Alright, I do believe your message has come through. And as
for you gentlemen... and ladies,� he said, adressing the riders, �I thank
you too. Very much.�
�It was the least we could do!� Cody said, squirming in his chair. �If I
had helped you in the forest, none of this would have happened.�
Hank looked surprised, only now recognizing the rider. �That was you?
There�s no reason to apologize. Your reaction was highly natural.�
�Still unforgivable, though. I�m so sorry.�
�It�s quite alright. You can hardly blame yourself for what these men did
-- not to mention our old friend Magneto.�
�What did he want with you, really?� Ororo asked, the one question they
hadn�t managed to find out.
�He wanted me to create aggression reductors. I don�t think going here was
the plan to begin with, but once we was here, he claimed a war was the
perfect situation to try such an invention.�
�So there will be a war,� Teaspoon commented. The X-Men payed no attention
to it, though, they were too busy with the revelation. So very simple,
seemingly humane, and absolutely idiotic.
�That�s just like Magneto, isn�t it?� Scott said, jaw tightened. �He can
always claim he only did it for humanity. Never stops to think that maybe
aggression is there for a reason, or what will happen if some have it and
�But surely it would be...�
Lou�s protest was never finished before Jimmy waved at them. �Get down!�
Seconds later, a gunshot broke the window. Everyone crouched, and Jean and
Ororo moved up to the window while Scott hurried to get his visor from the
bags and put down his glasses. They positioned themselves next to the riders
by the windows.
�Is it really that smart to use your powers?� Jimmy turned around to ask
Jean. �We won�t be able to hold Hank here forever.� Jean simply shrugged,
not ready to give up without a fight.
�We won�t have to.� It was Logan who answered. He had been playing with the
Tesselty and now held it up. �If I understand this gizmo correctly, there�s
an opening in five hours, three miles from here. Hank can get the button and
go home, while the rest of us have three weeks until the next hole to
�Three *weeks*?� Jean asked, suddenly shook out of her calm. �Who will take
care of the kids if we�re stuck here for the next three weeks?�
Logan smirked. �Chuck, I suppose. He could brainwash them into obeying his
�Charles would never do such a thing and you know it.�
�Then he�s in trouble, I guess.� Logan was still smirking, but they were
both serious underneath.
�Okay,� Teaspoon said after a moment of thinking. �We�ll sneak out, two by
two. There are extra guns for those of you who need it. What can you do,
son?� he asked Hank.
�I have enhanced agility, strength, speed...� Hank grimaced. �That is, I do
under normal circumstances.�
Teaspoon handed him a gun and raised an eyebrow towards Scott. �I hope you
are all right with this?� he asked, acknowledging the young man as the
leader. He got a short nod as a reply -- Scott was busy firing blasts
through the broken window. As soon as there was a moment�s advantage,
Teaspoon motioned for the first two to get out, and Hank and Bobby slipped
by the intense shooting, Bobby holding on to the Tesselty.
�Here�s to nothing,� Logan mumbled and grabbed Rogue�s hand, following only
minutes later. After Noah and Ororo left as the third couple, the shots
�They�ve figured out what we are doing,� Teaspoon said. �Well, we knew this
wouldn�t be easy. It�s gonna be harder from now on. Any volunteers?�
Ike, who was closest to the door, looked up to see who would come with him,
and Scott quickly moved up to his side. �We�ll go. They�re still a bit
jittery around my blasts.�
�Okay. Ride safe, boys, and for God�s sake try not to get shot.�
Teaspoon and Cody were the last ones to flee, and by then their pursuers
were spread across the landscape. Unlike them, the riders and X-Men did not
have horses, which made their escape slower, but also allowed more places to
take cover. A mile from their planned destination, Ike dodged behind a rock
and looked out for enemies. There was one riding behind that was shooting at
them quite violently, but he also glimpsed something far ahead. Looking more
carefully he found that it was Noah and Ororo, though, and he couldn�t help
grinning as the distance between their faces was reduced to nothing. Mortal
danger set off pheromones.
He had no time for more elaborate voyeurism, though. While he still watched
the pair disappear in the distance, a blast so forceful it made him jump
was fired dangerously close to him. He turned around in shock, and saw Scott
pressing a hand towards his face.
�Ike? Are you okay?�
Ike nodded, but Scott repeated his name, with a voice close to panic. His
eyes were closed for protection, and Ike moved closer, squeezing the other
man�s hand as a sign of reassurance. Scott relaxed and took off his visor.
It had cut into his skin due to the gunshot, and his temple was bleeding.
With remarkably steady fingers he checked the lense. A sigh escaped his
�Shattered.� He thought for a second and then shrugged. �We�re more than
halfway there, there�s no going back. Are you up for the challenge?�
For a second, Ike felt a pang of panic. How could he possibly be expected
to lead Scott to the opening when he couldn�t even make himself understood?
But there really was no other choice, so finally, he squeezed Scott�s hand
again, and Scott grinned. �Okay. Let�s go, then.�
Ike held him down and touched his bleeding face.
�It�s just a scratch.�
That was true, but Ike still took off his bandanna and wrapped it around
the wound to stop the bleeding. He got the slightest of smiles as a thanks,
and they both proceeded forward.
One of their pursuers was riding dangerously close, and they ducked. Ike
quickly discovered that although Scott was remarkably accurate in judging
the number and location of enemies, taking cover was another matter
altogether. He dragged the mutant leader closer to himself and fired at the
enemy. The man got off his horse and walked up to their hiding place, still
firing at them. Ike took a run to the left, but Scott let his hand slip away
and rolled down on the ground. Before the attacker had a chance to change
his target, he found his legs caught in a tight grip that caused him to fall
over. A few punches later, and Scott had the man�s gun in his hand, quickly
knocking him out with it. Ike just stared. He had never seen anyone move
like that. It wasn�t quite right to say that Scott acted as if his eyes were
still open; a more accurate description was that he acted as if every piece
of his body was an eye. The logic part of Ike�s mind told him that it was
just well-trained hearing and touch, but it didn�t feel that way. In any
case, it made him relax considerably. Still, it took them longer to get
where they were going, and not too far from their destination, Kid and Lou
met up with them. Ike had been in close combat with another enemy, and was
most grateful when, at a slow moment, a gunshot made sure the man didn�t get
close again. He looked over to where Scott was fighting, but that was a mess
too tangled up to try and solve with fire arms.
�Hey,� Kid said, and then, noticing Scott�s bleeding face and closed eyes,
�are you really letting him fight like that?�
Ike shrugged. There was no �letting� about it, Scott had made it perfectly
clear that Ike�s presence in a hand combat would only confuse him, and he
respected that decision. Kid, however, had gotten no word of warning and
rushed up to help Scott, just as the X-Man knocked out his enemy. As a
thanks, he got thrown flat on his back nine feet from where he had been
standing. Lou tried to hide a smile, and Scott got up, frowning.
�Who was that?�
�The Kid,� Lou replied.
�Oh Christ! Ike, when I told you I was trained for this you could have
passed it on! Or was it unclear somehow?� He walked up to where Kid was
lying and waited for the rider to rise. �You okay?�
�Yeah. And don�t blame Ike, he didn�t have a chance to tell me.�
Scott smiled. �Okay, I won�t. Well, if you�re not hurt, let�s get going.
There are only five hundred yards left.�
�How do you know?� Kid asked, getting back on his feet with some effort.
�I just do.�
At the meeting place, Hank and Bobby, Logan and Rogue were already gathered
when the next two couples arrived. They had shaken off all pursuit and was
now simply waiting for the last people to arrive. When Jimmy showed up, he
�Where�s Jean?� Rogue asked, immediately worried, walking up to him.
�She�s coming soon,� Jimmy said reassuringly. �Don�t you worry.�
�But why were you...� Rogue caught Logan�s eye and noticed that he was
making a motion as to take something off his hand. She put her own hand up
to her glove and looked at him to see if that was right. When he nodded, she
slid it off and put her other arm across Jimmy�s chest. �Make one move and
I�ll drain you. Care to say what this is all about?� she asked Logan.
�That ain�t Jimmy, sweetheart,� he replied. �And if Mystique�s here, that
means Magneto�s around too, and that I�m damn lucky to not be flying in the
�Can you smell him?� Rogue asked. At that same moment, Mystique, still in
Jimmy�s form, gave her a violent kick to get loose. The only result of this
was that Rogue�s hand happened to brush her cheek. Mystique reverted to her
true form and fell uncoscious to the ground while Rogue took a horrified
step backwards. Logan had already started sniffing the air, and his
concerned eyes met hers.
�He�s here alright,� he said.
�Half a mile further south,� she added, with the knowledge of Mystique�s
�I�ll go there,� Ororo said, looking towards Noah who simply nodded. He
would be more than willing to use his whip in assistance. Another look made
Bobby stand up and prepare to go with them. It would have been best if they
could bring Jean as well, but she and Jimmy had not arrived to the meeting
point, and they had no time to wait. They didn�t even have to go as far as
half a mile before a familiar silhouette could be seen some distance away.
He didn�t bother to try and hide. On the contrary, he was waiting. Ororo
pulled the others to a stop and turned to him.
�We have Mystique, you know.�
�No, I didn�t know.� His voice was calm, almost friendly, but far from
harmless. Noah�s hand went to the whip, only to have Ororo stop him.
�Why don�t you just come home with us?�
�You�re asking me to voluntarily go back to prison?�
Actually, she was. There wasn�t much time to force him, and it was either
that or going back in time once more just to capture him. �The way I see it,
your plans have been hopelessly interfered with, your proteg�e is caught,
and when we leave, you will be stuck in a time where they hang people for
stealing a horse. I�m not sure what the punishment is for genocide -- maybe
you could join the people currently committing it.�
Magneto raised an eyebrow, but didn�t comment on the insult. Instead, he
simply sat down on the ground. �I don�t wish to kill you.�
�Same here.� She stood silent for a while. �I know there are things you
care about, Erik, and I know that woman is one of them. As is Charles, I
�True enough.� He rose to his feet. �Send him my regards.�
Apparently, that was his last word in the matter, because he turned to
leave, taking a glistening roll of thin wire from his pocket and throwing it
in the air. It swirled around like a dancing snake and dived down to tie his
opponents. Ororo sighed, and gave an affirmative nod to Bobby, who froze the
thing in midair. Rolling back her eyes, Ororo called on a wind and sent what
was now an ice sculpture back towards Magneto. He worked the metal out of
the ice, but before it was fully through a large icicle hit him in the head
and he fell down. Ororo hurried up to him to check his pulse.
�How bad is he?� Bobby asked.
�He�ll be awake again in a minute or two. *Damn*!� Someone called on them
from behind and when she turned around, she saw Jean running up to them.
Just in time.
�Sorry I�m late,� Jean said. �Quite a few guys to fight off and all that.�
�Actually, you�re not,� Ororo replied. �Think you can keep Magneto
unconscious long enough to bring him through the opening?�
Jean made a grimace. �It will be tough, but I suppose so, if I keep my
hands on him.�
�Okay.� Ororo got ready to go, but then she hesitated, throwing a glance at
Noah before looking from Jean to Bobby, estimating their strength. �Think
you and Bobby can handle it on your own?�
Jean frowned. �Sure. But what are you... oh.�
Ororo smiled at Noah. �We still have an hour left. That�s plenty of time
for a third date.�
�You still didn�t tell me what�s so special about the third date.�
�Well, you�re about to find out.�
The thunderstorm started some time later, while the others were still
waiting. Jean�s mouth twisted a little, and Scott�s expression became even
harder to read than usual. Cody noticed their faces and connected it with
the sudden change in weather. �I guess they figured out a few things, after
all,� he said with a grin that didn�t disappear even when Lou kicked him in
the shins. However, when the two finally returned, there was a total lack of
suggestive remarks from him as well as the others.
�Are you ready to go?� Teaspoon asked. He had been the last one to arrive,
and had made sure they were now undisturbed.
Ororo�s blue eyes met Noah�s brown, and they both knew they were far from
ready. Maybe it would have been better if they had never had that �third
date�, but done was done, and neither of them regretted it. Still, there
were no declarations of love, no tears in their faces. She reached out her
hand in a formal goodbye. �Take care of yourself. With the war and all.�
�You too,� he replied. �With the persecution and all.�
Jean was holding the Tesselty, and she handed it to Ororo to see. �The hole
is already open.� To Noah, she added, �You had better step back, we don�t
want you to be drawn in.�
Didn�t they, though, Noah thought, looking at the mutants gathering
together to go home. Their world wasn�t his and that was all there was to
it, no matter how nice these past few weeks had been. He retreated a few
steps and stood there watching as the X-Men walked through nothing and
disappeared. It was remarkably undramatic.
�Well,� Teaspoon said, breking the silence. �We�d better go home. It�s
going to take some effort to explain to people what just happened.�
Ororo browsed through Kitty�s history essay. The American Civil War -- as
if she really needed to be reminded of that. They had all gotten back to
normal after the time traveling experience, but that didn�t mean there
weren�t times when they still thought about it. She dismissed all personal
feelings and tried to look soberly at the essay. The writing itself was
fine, but the appendixes were a mess, and Ororo had a strong feeling Kitty
didn�t always check her sources properly. She looked at a photocopy of an
old article from a local magazine, mentioning the first casualties in some
town called Rock Creek. Wonder were the girl got those pieces of trivia?
Suddenly something caught her eye, and she sat up straight, staring at the
article. Her fingers slowly traced a name, as if she had to feel it to
believe it. Returning to her senses, she left her chair and grabbed her
coat, heading out into the corridor. Her thoughts screamed for Jean to come,
and her friend hurried out from her room to join her. *What�s wrong?* Jean
silently asked, walking through the corridors to catch up with Ororo. Ororo
replied with her discovery, her fears, and her intentions. Jean hurried to
take her jacket, and the two women drove together to Forge�s place.
This time, Forge was home when they arrived, slightly puzzled to see them.
�Hey. What�s the problem? Not Magneto, I hope.�
�No, he�s still where we left him,� Ororo saved. �We need to use the
He raised an eyebrow. �Come on in. You know, the Tesselty isn�t a toy,� he
added, when they were taking off their shoes.
�We�re trying to save a life,� Ororo replied. She showed Forge the
photocopy. �One of the friends we made in the nineteenth century was killed
early in the war. Noah Dixon. We need to stop it.�
Forge took the photocopy and sat down on his couch, reading it. �Ro, this
happened a hundred and fifty years ago. They�re all dead by now, anyway.�
�I know that,� she snapped. It wa hard to think about, and it made her feel
a bit guilty, but she knew she couldn�t stop this. �But some of them got to
*live* first! I�m not asking to go there for Cody, who�s going to live to
see seventy. I don�t want Noah to die young. Not if there�s anything I can
do about it.�
He stared at her, and she met his eyes, not yielding. Finally, he sighed.
�Alright, then. I�ll check for holes.�
As he had done before this whole ordeal started, he sat down by his
computer, connecting the Tesselty to it. There was only so much information
that could be held in the device itself, and after their return he had
emptied it to prepare for new journeys. He didn�t look up when he finally
stated, �There�s a few good options. I can�t send you back to where you have
already been, it would involve more risks than I�m willing to take. But at
eight o�clock tonight, there�s an opening in New York City, leading directly
into Rock Creek a few days before the printing of the paper. Of course, we
don�t know for sure that it will be enough -- there were no daily newspapers
back then. If you come too late, I can�t send you there again. Maybe one of
the others, but...�
�Do it,� Ororo said.
�Okay.� Forge got up from his seat and went into the hall. �We�d better
hurry if we�re going to get there in time.� He noticed the looks the others
gave him. �What? Magneto was one thing, but I�m not sending two attractive
young women to that time alone. One of them black, none the less.�
Ah, of course. It had nothing to do with the fact that his ex-girlfriend
was saving an old beau. Shame on anyone for thinking otherwise, Ororo
So maybe they should have checked the Tesselty for details. Showing up on a
staircase in the Rock Creek hotel may not have been the most appropriate of
entrances. Then again, nothing would have been, considering they were not
even appropriately dressed this time. Jean glanced quickly at Ororo and
raised an eyebrow at her cleavage, which was no more modest than usual.
�Ghosts!� a man yelled, rising from his chair, and his friend pulled him
�Did you ever see ghosts dressed like that? They�re witches!�
The rest of the crowd seemed too shocked to move, as the three mutants
headed down the stairs and outside. Someone grabbed Ororo�s arm, and she
spun around, ready for a fight. It was Cody.
�What in Heaven�s name are you doing here?� he asked them. �I thought I
would get a heart attack when you showed up like that!�
�Where�s Noah, is he okay?� Ororo asked, ignoring Cody�s questions.
At the same time, Jean admitted, �We didn�t have time to plan for an
imperceptible entrance, I�m afraid.�
Cody didn�t seem to know, which one to reply to, and was even more confused
by the unfamiliar Indian man accompanying them. �Noah? Yeah, he�s fine. Why
shouldn�t he be?� It finally dawned on him what they were doing here. �He�s
in some kind of trouble, isn�t he?�
Seeing the answer in their faces, he led them outside and looked around for
someone to ask. �Hey, Randall!� he yelled to a young man. �Have you seen
�Yes, he went with the soldiers to the raiders� camp,� Randall replied, and
�I think he tried to look out for that Mrs. Birch or whatever her name is.�
Cody muttered a phrase Ororo hadn�t even thought was invented in the 19th
century, and although the mutants didn�t realize quite what was going on,
they did understand that what they had come to prevent was about to happen.
�Can we go there?� Ororo asked.
�Yeah, sure. We�ll just get some horses.�
Cody�s impatience in finding the horses didn�t exactly calm the others
down, and although Ororo tried to push herself into leadership mode and not
panic, she was quite relieved when they finally headed off towards the camp.
And there was Noah, still riding with the others, and more than a little
surprised to hear Cody yell out for him. Turning around he saw the others,
and immediately rode back to greet them.
�Ro? What on earth are you doing here? Is there any trouble?�
�Yeah, well, it seems *you* might be in some trouble,� Ororo said
Noah was distracted by what was going on around him. The soldiers were
retreating, but a young woman seemed to have an argument with some of the
officers, and suddenly she headed off in the opposite direction. Noah�s chin
fell down, and he muttered something about crazy women before turning his
horse around and riding after her. Gunshots were being fired, and Ororo felt
strangely cold as she realized that what they were here to stop was about to
happen. She hurried after Noah, hoping and praying that the time she had
delayed him would be time enough -- and then there was another gunshot, and
Noah slumped in the saddle. He soon straightened up again, but she knew what
she had seen, and she rode up to him, taking the reins in her hand to stop
his horse. There was a bloody stain on the back of his shirt, and when she
had managed to halt the horse, she saw there was one at the front as well.
The bullet had gone right through him.
Forcing herself to stay calm, she dismounted and helped him off his horse.
�I�m okay,� he whispered, but it was a reassurance that didn�t convince
either of them, especially since he fainted a second later.
Both Jean and Forge came up to her, and Jean only took a quick look at the
wound before turning to Forge. �Is the portal still open?�
�For another hour. Should we really move him?�
�I don�t think we have a choice. Okay, Ro, bind him up and we�ll get him
back. Don�t worry.�
Cody had seen what was going on and was practically hysterical. �Noah? Can
you hear me?�
Jean touched his shoulder lighly. �Listen to me, Cody. I�m not going to lie
to you, this is bad. I�ve seen people survive worse, but never in a crude
environment like this. If we let Noah stay here, he�ll be dead by the end of
the day. Do you understand?�
Cody nodded. �You want to bring him back with you.�
�I�m a doctor. I have to give him that chance.�
With the experience of hundreds of fights, Ororo and Forge were caring to
Noah�s wound, and Forge put him up in front of himself at his horse. It was
nowhere near as useful as an ambulance, but it was all they had, and Forge
rode off as quickly as he dared, to get the wounded rider to the portal.
Jean and Ororo mounted as well, and Cody looked up at them. He knew full
well that he might never see his friend again. �Just keep him alive, will
The soldiers were returning, and Cody muttered a curse under his breath.
There was no way he could explain this. �Oh, my friend Noah was just
abducted by a bunch of mutants from the future who wanted to save his life�?
No. From now on, Noah Dixon was dead to the world. No matter what happened
in that obscure future, there would be a tombstone with his name on it in
the Rock Creek cemetary.
The X-Men landed in Forge�s livingroom, and when Noah�s unconscious body
had been placed on the floor, Jean hurried up to check his pulse. He had
none. �Call an ambulance,� she said, pressing her hands down on his chest.
�Shouldn�t we take him to the mansion?� Ororo asked, knowing how hard it
would be to explain something like this to official authorities.
�Not enough resources. Call one.� Jean kept her sentences short, still
attempting to get Noah�s heart to beat. She was relieved to find the pulse
come back and Noah draw a shaky breath. The irregularity of the latter made
her frown. �I think it must have damaged a lung.� And quite a lot of other
things as well, although she made sure not to say this out loud. Ororo
looked nervous enough already, and anything that could make the Storm Queen
nervous was *bad*.
The ambulance arrived less than five minutes later, and the only reason the
X-Men got away without explaining exactly why there was a bleeding cowboy
lying on the floor was that Noah�s condition allowed no casual conversation.
Ororo was the only one to follow in the ambulance, and remained right
outside the OR as the doctors tried to fix the mess the stray bullet had
�He�s going to live, you know.� Jean and Forge had caught up with them, and
Ororo knew that Jean�s comment was true, even though the rushed activity
inside told her Noah was in no way out of danger.
�They let me look at the X-Rays. I can�t deny that it�s an awful mess, and
he�s lost a lot of blood as well... but he�ll live.�
When Ororo still didn�t answer, Jean simply squeezed her shoulder and left.
Forge, however, remained where he stood, silently watching the surgery.
�It makes you wonder, doesn�t it?� he said after a while. �Maybe Magneto
was right, and it would have been better if Hank had created those
�And what if the South had gotten hold of them?� Ororo asked, not taking
her eyes off Noah. �How can we claim to be good guys if we don�t act it? But
I guess you have never understood that.�
Forge let the insult pass. Like many inventors, he tended not to think
about what sort of trouble his inventions could cause. �I hope your
boyfriend will be okay.�
�He�s not my boyfriend,� Ororo said. �We just had a few dates.�
�A few dates? You brought him one hundred and fifty years into the future
to save his life. That�s one hell of a responsibility. If he�s not your
boyfriend, you�d better start thinking of what you want with him.�
Ororo watched the doctors work to stop the bleeding, mend the bones and
whatever else they were doing in there. Behind them all, Noah�s heart
monitor was showing the beats of his pulse, steadier now than before. Up,
down, up, down, up, down...
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committed Ikeotic and card-carrying Buckette
Cute guys go spikey when they sneeze (denying the death of the Dublin
Supporting PETS (People for the Ethical Treatment of Scott)
Devoted to Spike and Lynda - because they both want the last word
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