THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 83

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 83

“Don’t get too close Sam!” a strange mist emanates out 3-dimensionally, swirling and pulsating as if dancing to music…

The “thingy” inadvertently drops to the deck of the engine room from waist level.

Bboinnngggg…… tool and floor combine to fashion a perfect key of A. “Oops.” The pitch did not startle the pair, as they turn to nose around elsewhere… though the humming noise that followed, after taking a half-dozen steps, does.

HHHhhhuuuMMMMmmmmmmmmm…..

Newfoundlander Engine Room

They freeze in their tracks, turning slowly, very slowly to take a peek. A panel, on one side of the upper cone opens, which by itself is fortuitous, paling in comparison to what it reveals.

“Don’t get too close Sam!” at a comfortable distance, from back at the entrance, a strange mist emanates out 3-dimensionally, swirling and pulsating as if dancing to music. The cloud sinks to waist height; neck high for the Newfoundlians as if a whirlpool in slow motion. All they can do is stand perfectly still and hope it is noSmoke GIF | Gfycat more lethal than the air, the water or the food…. it isn’t, it doesn’t, it won’t.

Hand-in-hand they begin walking through the haze to its source, like bugs to a light. This is the very essence of why man on Earth decided to venture out into space. Detractors call it expansionism, minimalists call it greed but above all, a spade must be called a spade; the desire to see what is on the other side, whether it be a mountain or a faraway star.

Two sets of eyes wide open, stare into the mouth of a yawning abyss, the 5′ x 8′ unknown – looking more like the edge of eternity. If they had not been here to see it in person, it may well have been an artist’ rendering or cinematographers’ CGI masterpiece.


THE RETURN TRIP

conqueringthesunsempire20

Conquering the Sun’s Empire by Harry Lange

Episode 83


page 78

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 82

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 82

“Maybe it’s not a good idea to poke that thing around, not knowing what the result will be?”…

Careful now!

— Energized and ever curious, the two-remaining visitors on Mars press on to the depths of the alien ship. As they near the geometrical center, there is the palpable lets-go-exploring-calvin-and-hobbessensation of power about, much like being yards away from a pulsating 30,000 volt transmission line. The black hair on Sampson’s forearms stand on end and Celeste’s blond-locks react statically.

Sampson surmises that they are nearing the “engine room”, “Judging by its staying power it has to be nuclear or whatever style of atomic fuels they use. Old Karl at GLF would be drooling about now.”

The technology needed for intergalactic travel is beyond Earthly understanding, though they are currently on the right track. The NEWFOUNDLANDER most certainly did not plod along to get to Mars, like Chronicle did, or like the 21st Century New Mayflower is about to.

Brightly coded signs, reading gobbledigook threatening in form, leading them to believe they have found the engineering section with supercharged propulsion onyx-black-001unit/s. Upon gaining entry to the forbidden area, thank you Celeste and your mystically useful black rock, they can only wonder why it is so closely secured.Related image

There are more lifeless Newfoundlian bodies here than the
rest of the ship combined. Gathered in a tight circle, like Uni-Scouts at a Saturday night bonfire, are 10 of the NEWFOUNDLANDER’s crewmen. There is an object/i.e. device in the midst of the fallen bodies, five feet in diameter and eight feet tall. Two corpses are closer than the rest with what looks like tools in their hands, as if repairing something fragile.fork-001

While bending over to relieve one of them of his tool, “Where do you think this goes,” he beckons Celeste to come join him.

Sampson manipulates the tuning fork shaped instrument, twist it at various angle and degrees. He even goes as far as trying to shove it into the middle, where the two cones intersect, in the middle, but the smooth surfaces are not receptive.

“Maybe it’s not a good idea to poke that thing around, not knowing what the resultarrow-down will be?”press_button_receive_bacon

“You have a point; this has more and different juice than the magical-meal machine.”

The “thingy” Sam is handling inadvertently drops to the deck of the engine room from waist level.…..


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 82


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 81

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 81

..the flavor of the food is analogous to “the chef” telling you that calamari tastes just like chicken or the wisdom of  Popeye the Sailor coming up with scientific evidence that spinach gives you superhuman strength.

singing-chef-vickie-wade

Singing Chef by Vickie Wade

“Not bad, but lay off speaking in gobbledigook {Newfoundlian}. Because I can’t read your lips,” Celeste insists.

With his initial inhibitions decreased, two different colors are selected, Alpha Centauri-amber and dark matter-mauve. A longer rendition of what sounds like an alien remix precedes the arrival of his selection, again whooshing open, exposing a 2-dish assortment of steaming nourishment. It is unrecognizable, but it isn’t moving and is marginally aromatically tempting.

Cupbearer to the King

Again, with the aid of the air-water-food scrutinizer, “Enzyme modified something, xanthan concentrate, autolyzed extract, and hydrogenated disodium phosphorate. gobbledigook {you first}

“Where are the knives and forks?” Celeste asks pretentiously.

“Use your fingers until and when I can find the right colors to push. You know we cannot be sure how these guys consumed their food; for all we know they may stuff it into their stomachs through a navel valve.”

“Assuming they have navels.”

“Do you want to do an autopsy on one of them?”

“Not before we eat Sam… you don’t want me to lose my dinner, seeing I am eating for two.”

“Or more.”

“Stop yourself and eat!”

Describing the flavor of the food is analogous to “the chef” telling you that calamari tastes just like chicken or the wisdom of  Popeye the Sailor coming up with scientific evidence that spinach gives you superhuman strength; to each his own.

“Eat, eat, there is plenty more!”

When cast in that subjective light, the food they sample aboard the NEWFOUNDLANDER is an acquired palate, as opposed to Grandma Sally’s home cooking. Overall the adage cliché “never look a gift-horse in the mouth” applies on this distant planet and you are going to run out of your own food.

Sampson makes mental notes of all his happy-finger combinations while using Doctor Yum’s magical-meal-maker-machine, as he calls it. They can only hope to get better at working it… perhaps some Italian? —

— Energized and ever curious, the two-remaining visitors on Mars press on to the depths of the alien ship…


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 80

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Please note that I wrote this book  in the mid-1980’s (before updating it). 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 80

…Sam proclaims, “H20___ out-of-the-faucet ___ shower-taking ___ sprinkle-on-your-garden ___ garden-variety ___ drink-it-down ___ WATER!!!!

water-digital-artwork

Water Nuclear Bomb by Dimitar Krstevski

The Space Family McKinney continues to explore the “NEWFOUNDLANDER”.

In one such alleged crewman quarters, Sampson, going on the assumption that no harm could come out of testing switches or push-buttons in the privacy of one’s own room, decides to do just that. There is a lighted checkerboard panel on a wall, right next where one would sit and well — not work, so this would be the time to experiment.

He chooses two such buttons to push, one colored black-hole-blue, and the other galaxy-green. Seconds later, there happens a fanciful flickering light in combination with a whimsical whoosh; a small opening opens to reveal a sippy cup type container filled with some sort of liquid.

Celeste watches her husband’s foray into technical tryouts, shrugging as he removes the vessel from the alien cube, “It’s your hand dear.” The opening closes as soon as the sippy and its clear fluid is removed.

Evidently the liquid is meant to be consumed, yet this is no time to be reckless even though thirst and hunger are high on the list in the unenviable sport of survival. So instead of two gulps and hope for the best, Sam uses the same versatile sampling device he used to analyze the air, in order to break down the elemental composition of the benign smelling liquid.

When the handheld monitor turns green he proclaims, “H20___ out-of-the-faucet ___ shower-taking ___ sprinkle-on-your-garden ___ garden-variety ___ drink-it-down ___ WATER!!!!”

“What do they add to it to make it smell so inviting; there must be more to it,” armed with the crave-driven sagacity of a pregnant lady.

“Purified water, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride and a negligible amount of sodium minerals,” he specifies. “The nutrition label reads: CRISP, FRESH TASTE, FILTERED THROUGH a STATE-OF-THE-ART PURIFICATION SYSTEM AND ENHANCED WITH MINERALS FOR a PURE, FRESH TASTE THAT CAN’T BE BEAT.”

“You made that up, you can’t read gobbledigook{Newfoundlian}.”

gobbledigook{bottoms up you chicken},,” translates to bottoms up. He lifts the liquescence to his tentative lips? bravely?, partaking in the alien brew. It is on the warm side, though the container remains at the ambient room temperature of 820 F, as long as it doesn’t burn on the way down.

gobbledigook{Try some} {try some},” he submits it to Celeste for her assessment.

“Not bad, but lay off speaking in gobbledigook {Newfoundlian} . I can’t read your lips.”


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 79

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 79

“This baby is definitely not a luxury cruise ship; few windows, no padding or frills, and come to think of it NO females.”…

future-cruiseship

Future Cruise Ship by Robert J. Tiess

“So let’s check out this galaxy trotter!” Sam exclaims.—

—Now two things are easier said than done: Knowing where to start and resisting the urge to press buttons of unknown function.

Image result for the quick and the deadGood old-fashioned observation is the safest way to go, you know, like finding out why the owners of this intergalactic flying machine have seemed to meet their fate with an uncomfortable immediacy; that is the quick and the dead, everywhere bodies strewn exactly where they wanted to be at that fateful moment.

The commander of the ship, or the person who probably called the shots on the NEWFOUNDLANDER, is seated in a swivel chair, facing what appears to be a viewing screen, poised as if he was expecting his ship to move. Others of the crew are braced at their posts, also indicating anticipated movement.

If that was the case at the time, then why were they leaving compatriots behind, left to die on the unforgiving Martian terrain.Related image

Amid the frozen moment in time, while moving about the narrow passages, Celeste takes note, “This baby is definitely not a cruise ship; no windows, no padding or frills, and come to think of it  NO females.”

“Then it must have been a dream vacation for these guys.”

“See what happens when you leave all the wisdom at home?”

“Or they were on the way to Earth and Mars’ orbit happened to be on their course heading.”

“Curiosity killed the cat,” she comments, “or when on Mars don’t drink the water.”

“That may not be so farfetched Cel. Judging by the landscape, that depression down range may have been a huge lake/inland sea, at the time they arrived… ain’t here now though.”

“Whatever the case, these guys were traveling light, like the economy class on a Boeing SST 807.”

“Hey, these GUYS didn’t come from just down the block, I’m sure they have budgets where they come from,” his practical nature surfaces, “and I am guessing that this ship covers at lot of space in a big-time hurry, which would explain the frugality.

“Why don’t you try to use that thing?” Sampson eggs her on.

At his bidding, Celeste fondles that black oval-shaped rock thing which she has seemed to gain mastery of; left click in, sort of, center-scroll the lighting. It is the key boat-001to getting around here.

“Absolutely Spartan.” Comments Sampson upon seeing a typical personal-space for the crew of the newly christened, NEWFOUNDLANDER.

“Nothing like the suites on the Colony, hey. We she realizes what she just said, she reaches over to put a hand on Sampson.

“I know, it’s still hard to believe she is gone.” The sullen Commander speaks of the trillion dollar wonder that they had boarded, for the first time a scant 45 hours ago.  So much has transpired since then, the entirety being both a space-traveler’s dream and nightmare simultaneously.


 THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 79


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 78

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 78

…Suddenly, stranded & pregnant in space is trumped by, “Are we taking off?”

stranded-in-space-001

“This is your last clue: One thing leads to another and we gave “it” a name,” Celeste Prompts.

“Itsaboutdamntime!”

“What did NASA tell us about the efficacy of birth control in a semi-weightless environment?”

“Dontellmeyouare?!?!?”

“Bingo, give that man a cigar!” Celeste can only make light of delicate condition. “I are-you-sure-001believe that I have become the guinea pig for an unscheduled NASA experiment.”

After a flood of possible emotional responses runs its course, he concludes, “I wonder if Engineer Karl had the foresight to build a nursery into (NASA’s rescue ship) New Mayflower’s medical bay?”

“WE don’t need to worry; women have been giving birth in unusual places for four millennia.”

“In space, damn Cel, are you sure you’re pregnant? We don’t need to be distracted by a false alarm.”

The mother-to-be runs her hands through her blonde hair front to back, “It has been about 15 years, but yes I am 100 percent sure and this time feels different, maybe the daughter you’ve been wanting?”

schawonkschawonkabelumphhh !!!!!!

Related image

schawonkschawonkabelumphhh !!!!!!

The tender family moment is stunned back into present realities by a vigorous combination of a good healthy belch and a Winnie the Pooh sound effect.

Suddenly, stranded & pregnant is trumped…

“Are we taking off?”

Sampson pauses to identify the cause of the quaking. “No, no we’re not, but I think it is time we more thoroughly assess our newfound sanctuary.”

“Along those lines, I think we should give this thing a name, since we can’t read extraterrestrial and just because we can.” Celeste thinks on it, while Sam starts scanning the bridge of this bucket of unknown metal. “Newfound sanctuary, Newfoundland Province Canada… how does the
NEWFOUNDLANDER
 sound?”

newfoundlander-001“That’s a good one, the NEWFOUNDLANDER! So it shall be from this day forward,” Commander McKinney proclaims,
entering it into his continuing log of the newest incarnation of the Space Colony and temporary Mars City. “So let’s check out this galaxy trotter.”


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 77

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 77

…Consciousness comes suddenly for Mars’ most beautiful woman. “How long was I out?” …

Related image

Conscious – Unconscious by Marie-Christine Serres

“Celeste!” He rushes to his wife, who drops like a Mars rock onto the unyielding glossy deck, without outward signs or warning.

The image of all those previous occupants, scattered around like they were stunned by a concussion bomb, is not very reassuring. Only now does he pick up on the well-
aged odor of death, “No, not US Cel! Come on baby!”

He is not a doctor but he is the only being, human or otherwise, standing on the Red Planet. It is he who will be checking for a pulse, even with the NASA and United States logos rising and falling across her heaving chest. For one grateful moment, she had not been done in by the same “bug” that had wiped out the previous homeowners.

Her static body slowly begins to writhe, as if awakening from an anesthetic sleep. Sampson leans back, relieved that he did not entice her fate because of his own cavalier lack of caution. She must have fainted, perhaps from the hyper-oxygenated air, yet this is not the first time she has been waylaid by ill winds, the award-001first time coming in Tycho’s airlock.

Consciousness comes suddenly for Mars’ most beautiful woman. “How long was I out?” Has she pinned down the source of her dodgy episodes?

“About 3 Martian Minutes,” he jokes. “You haven’t been your usually steady self lately. Do you have any clues about what is going on, this is starting to scare me?”

Celeste knows enough about her body, an ability that every woman has need of, enough to know that these compounding events are not body-blows or fouled air. Sam’s concern is the outward manifestation of married love, a comfortable yet flattering feeling.

Samuel McKinney M.D.

“Are you Sam the Detective or Samuel McKinney M.D.?”

Sam the Detective

“As a doctor I am a quack, as a detective I am a hack.”

“Well Mister Quack-Hack, I’m going to give both of you a clue: What memorable thing happened on the night of 15 November 2029?”

“In and out of hyper-sleep I guess, about 40 million miles out. Come to think of it, isn’t that when Al the Computer woke us up to tell us that we were passing by some unidentified space probe?”

“Very good,” is her condescending comment to his incomplete recollection, “but what else went on while we were awake?’

“OOOOooooohhh….THAT else! One thing kinda led to another didn’t it?”rated-r

“This is your last clue: One thing leads to another and we gave “it” a name.”

“Itsaboutdamntime!”


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 76

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 76

female-astronaut-001

meanwhile-caption-001Sampson McKinney becomes the first Earthling, to board a spacecraft from another solar system. There have been other claims, by upstanding citizens everywhere from deputy sheriffs to bank presidents, who claim to have been abducted by aliens, but no one takes those people seriously, much like the folks that have been to heaven and back.

There have also been faint rumors, on the Q.T. of course, that NASA and particularly the Air Force intentionally discounting any account of alien contact or UFO sightings. Sampson has heard these intriguing stories, from Area 51 to the possessed African tribesmen, and finds it terribly ironic that he and Celeste are now in the position of having to prove, what can only be described as the greatest discovery of mankind since Galileo deemed the Sun as the center of the solar system, or at least the microprocessor.

So here in this “alleged” alien spacecraft {are they sure it isn’t Russian?} there is no denyingInside Newfoundler what he is seeing and bravely breathing. It is a calculated risk to ignore the distinct possibility that there is something about the native Martian air is fatally contaminated. But what do they have to lose, after all, had not most every cancer been conquered? Likewise, on the brink of this new world, can they afford to be timid?

“It sure is warm in here.” He planned on waiting several minutes before allowing his bride to remove her helmet, just in case, but she wasn’t about to get stuck here all alone so hers is already unlatched.

“This is incredible Sam, do you know what this means?”

Might she be referring to the seemingly endless supply of breathable air, as opposed to Tycho’s finite resources?

“If you thinking what I think you are, we still need to eat and drink.”

“I know that, you Celtic lout! Hell, we should be exploring this joint instead of holding our hats in our hands……..” she fails to complete the rant.

“Celeste!” He rushes to his wife, who dropped like a Mars rock onto the unyielding glossy deck, without outward signs or warning.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 76


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 75

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 75

CHAPTER FIVE

Change-up

“Queen Francine” – the egotistical, self-serving, superficial diva, has been bent on clawing to the top of the competitive field of broadcast journalism…

queen-of-hearts-carved-artwork

The Queen of Hearts Red Artwork carved from Mangowood

 Personality (noun)  per’son’al’i’ty

  1. somebody’s set of characteristics
  2. characteristics making someone appealing
  3. somebody regarded as epitomizing traits
  4. famous person
  5. unusual person
  6. quality of being person
  7. personal comment
  8. distinguishing characteristics 

ediitors-noteDefinition provided by Dictionary.com,

 

It would seem that the Francine Bouchette, before Roy Crippen met her, has these
traits…

  1. best friend is a mirror
  2. has a phantom fiancee
  3. co-anchors avoid if they can
  4. treats interns like indentured servants
  5. gives scriptwriters fits

… is not one and the same. Roy Crippen has yet to meet that woman, though he wonders about her obsession with “exclusives”.

Indeed, there is no reconciling the definition with the facts, though there is plenty Francine in the first. The dedicated, concerned, sacrificial person, currently operating in the name of humanitarian justice, now working with NASA, is dichotomous when placed side-by-side with the egotistical, self-serving, superficial diva, bent on clawing to the top of the competitive field of broadcast journalism.

Francine Bouchette is truly a personality in every sense of the word. But as she prepares to continue the fresh quest to aid in the rescue of Sampson & Celeste McKinney, mercilessly stranded on Mars, the least desirable aspects of Queen Francine have been tabled; at least for now {and longer if the rest of Houston gets a vote}.

***Contrast this with the following glimpse of what is going on inside, the otherwise occupied, Roy Crippen’s analytical mind:

‘She is quite a lady. With her knack for getting to the heart of a story, I am surprised thinkershe’s not working for network news. She is ten times better than that Elle Fanning on Sixty Minutes. Boy, she tried do a piece on the Colony and by the time she was through asking dumb nonsensical questions or sticking her nose where it didn’t belong, I had had enough. The damnedest thing is that her misrepresentation of the project almost did as much damage as the accident that destroyed it… I wonder why she never married? She is as gutsy as they come, pretty as a picture and probably financially secure, what could be her downside?’

***The following is what Francine is thinking, during her time of frank introspection:

‘I’m not the person that I was yesterday, this whole experience with Roy has made me think, what kind of person is he looking to share the rest of his life with?… All the years I’ve wasted, mistreating everyone from United States Senators down to kids that may be looking up at her as role model…What has changed all of a sudden? Is it just because I am falling for some good looking science guy, probably goes to Star Trek Conventions and is what, 12 maybe 15 years older than me? What would people think? And how many people must I trample to get where I want?’

Enough of these long winded thoughts; it is time to focus on the successful launch of the new/improved deep-space New Mayflower!


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 74

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 74

…Miss Bouchette, can I count on you to help me out here? I will grant you blanket access with Level 1 Security status

security-level-1-001

“You could barely speak English this morning when we spoke this morning,” Roy insists.

“I have not had the honor to meet you until now; I would like to express the gratitude of all the Nepalese people for being part of the great Space Colony. My government sends its deep condolences for the horrible accident.”

This man was genuinely sincere and definitely not the Gherkin Dogma he had met right before the Colony disappeared from the Mars Mockup.

“Are you saying that you didn’t man this station until after Space Colony was taxi-001destroyed?” Roy is more confused than ever.

“That is correct Director Crippen. I was late in arriving because my taxi driver could not find Galveston Launch Facility; it seems he took a wrong turn as we left George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which is odd because you can see Colony Mission Control from many miles away.”

“Sounds fishy to me Director Roy,” Francine interjects her opinion. “I know that many cabbies are new to this country, but they cannot be blind.”

All the while digesting and deciphering, Roy is finally seeing the handwriting on the wall. As Phil Jansky’s replacement continued to ramble on about other trip delaying travails, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together:

 1)   Philip Jansky, Spatial Debris Specialist {20 year NASA employee} dies of a rare & sudden cerebral hemorrhage

2    That death occurs at a critical time in Space Colony 1’s mission, with the McKinneys on Mars surface

3)   In a scramble to replace personnel, a Nepalese technician is flown in by supersonic transport

4)  Space Colony 1 disappears from its orbit around Mars, cause unknown

“From Earth-to-Mars, no one’s laughing from here-or-there.”

5)  A rescue mission involving the premature launch of the New Mayflower is hastily thrown together

6)  One man, two manred man, blue man. A human shell game has been going on, with sketchy timelines and miss-identifications

“Time is winding down Francine and I do not have time to do a full-blown investigation. Can I count on you to help me out here? I will grant you blanket access with Level 1 Security status.”

“A good reporter never turns down the opportunity to do what she does best.” She is developing more than a casual interest in both this interplanetary intrigue and this intriguing man specifically. “You can count on me….as long as I get the exclusive.”

Roy is going to need the help…no matter what she is angling.


THE RETURN TRIP

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