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U.A High School, 1:45 PM
April 5th, 2149.

“Holy shit,” Eijiro said, shocked, “How strong is he? That was just a pressure wave, and It broke through how many layers of concrete? If that had hit Bakugo… hell, it almost hit Ochako and Ida on the top floor.”

“The same could be said with the explosion that Bakugo set off moments before—look on that screen, the wall on the front of the building—the entire bottom two floors is just… gone,” Fumikage said seriously. “That could have easily destabilized the entire building—this was completely out of hand. I didn’t think things would be this intense.”

There were some mumbled agreements as they watched the screens.

“All Might was worried as well,” I said quietly, “I don’t think he expected just how much they appear to dislike one another. Bakugo should not have removed his earpiece either.”

“I was just thinking that,” Jiro said hesitantly, “All Might asked them to tone it back a bit—think he’ll get in trouble for taking it out?”

“Unlikely,” Momo sighed, “He most likely took it out because it was a distraction during the fighting. That’s a valid enough reason, and there was no instruction given to keep it in. I would hazard a guess that there will be a warning in the future to avoid something like this happening again.”

I nodded in agreement.

“Oh my, there is recovery girl!” Yuga said cheerfully.

I watched on the monitor as the Hero in question placed a big smooch on each of the participants and then hopped back on her cart. All Might returned with the four of them soon after, and there was an obvious tension between the four.

Katsuki looked furious, hands clenched at his sides, as he stalked over to the wall and leaned against it. Midoriya looked upset, and he took a seat on one of the benches, avoiding looking at any of the others.

Ochako just looked embarrassed, cheeks red as she rejoined them, and noticed all of the monitors. I watched her expression as she spotted the room with the warhead and the dark puddle that was on the ground beside it.

“Ugh.” Ochako noised mortified, “You all saw that? Oh, god.”

“It’s fine,” Toru giggled, “It’s not like we haven’t thrown up before.”

Ochako just covered her face with her hands. Tenya was staring at this clenched fist seriously.

“I will do better!” Tenya announced passionately, “Next time, I will destroy the heroes!”

“Uh,” Denki said strangely, “You are getting way too into this dude.”

Ida’s approach was a valid one; Method acting was a useful tool to get in the right headspace for performing tasks. I did something very similar when I was attempting to play the role of a sheepish boy, hoping to get a picture from Momo to curb his Aunt’s nostalgia. I think Ida was a far bit more enthusiastic about it, however.

“Ah…” All Might said awkwardly, “Right! Team I, Mashirao Ojiro, and Toru Hagakure, please you’re your way outside and follow the green arrows to the next building; you will be playing the villains in this exercise.”

“Were up, Hagakure,” Ojiro said, smiling, “Ready?”

“Yeah!” Toru said quickly.

“Team B, Todoroki, and Shoji, you will be the heroes,” All Might cheered, “Please wait outside for five minutes, and then follow the arrows.”

The two teams left quickly, and soon I spotted both Ojiro and Toru’s clothes as they made their way into the new building depicted on the monitors. This was an unfortunate team setup—and not because of the participants, but because of the roles.

Toru would likely have been the best Hero in this exercise—completely invisible and able to sneak up and touch the warhead without being seen. It was likely why she’d been placed on the Villain squad, to force her to use her quirk for defense instead. Ojiro was probably more balanced in terms of offense and defense and would do well on either team.

Shoji was going to manhandle them both through his sheer size and strength—he’d already generated ears and eyes on his limbs to help him locate Toru. Shoto likewise had much higher mobility than the other three with his ice sliding and would likely slip past them both at some point.

“How do you think this is going to go?” Mina asked curiously. “Mezo is really big; I think they’re going to have trouble with him.”

“Mezo is super strong,” Rikido said cheerfully, “but Mashirao is pretty strong too—that tail of his hits hard. We had a friendly match yesterday; he’s skilled as well.”

Shoto and Shoji arrived on-site and stood out the front of the building before they entered and stopped in the first hallway to speak for a moment.

Toru had made the tactical decision to remove her clothing, rendering her completely invisible to the cameras. Ojiro was scratching his cheek and looking away from where she was last standing, looking uncomfortable.

Shoto placed his hand on the wall, and Shoji turned around and left the building. Ice expanded out to cover the walls, the floor, the ceiling; it washed upwards, coating the entire building in a thick layer of ice and freezing both Toru and Ojiro to the floor next to the warhead.

There was a cry of alarm from the rest of the participants.

“What?” Momo said, shocked, “T-that’s, the entire building in an instant?”

“The Half-and-Half bastard is pretty strong,” Katsuki said darkly, still pissed off at his defeat.

He wasn’t wrong; that was on the same scale as both Katsuki and Midoriya’s own destruction of the previous building. I’d seen him use a more jagged variant of that in the obstacle course—nowhere near that kind of scale—he most likely could have done something similar here and ripped the building apart.

“He doesn’t even look tired!” Hanta said, amazed. “Looks like he’s got some ice on his face, though?”

“His entire side is covered in ice—” Denki said, smirking.

“No, idiot,” Hanta said, amused, “His other side, look at his cheek?”

Hanta was perceptive, and he was right; ice had crept up to cover his skin in a light coating of frost—depending on whether Shoto had immunity to the cold or just resistance that might make prolonged fights difficult for him.

“Winner, Team B—heroes!” All Might said cheerfully, “Uh—Todoroki, you’ll have to free your classmates now.”

Shoto ducked his head a bit before moving to climb the stairs. Shoji was still outside, staring up at the building in some mixture of shock and disappointment.

“Well, that’s one way to win,” Jiro said honestly. “Seems a little overboard, though.”

“A little?” Momo said weakly, shaking her head.

Shoto had clearly been holding back during the recommendation exam if he was capable of things like this. There hadn’t been an obstacle that would have required something like this, though, so maybe he just hadn’t been forced to bring this level of power to bear?

It took almost fifteen minutes before the two teams had returned, and once again, the building had been left mostly unusable—something which All Might finally address.

“New rule, students!” All Might said cheerfully, “Stop destroying the buildings! They are going to make me pay for the damages if you keep this up!”

Shoto just leaned against the wall, eyes closed, but Katsuki scoffed—most of the damage had been Midoriya’s fault anyway. He looked pretty embarrassed by the rebuke—at least one of them did.

“Alright! Team J—Eijiro Kirishima and Hanta Sero! You are the villains; you know what to do!” All Might grinned, “Team H—Fumikage Tokoyami, and Tsuyu Asui, you are the heroes!”

The two teams left quickly, and the discussion started up once more.

“How quickly do you think they are going to destroy the building?” Denki laughed. “We should take bets.”

“No gambling!” All Might cried from across the room.

“Tokoyami had that little shadow bird thing, right?” Mina said curiously. “Kirishima can harden his body and punch pretty hard—What do the other two do?”

“Sero can generate and launch a strong adhesive tape from his arms,” Rikido said cheerfully, “He has some degree of control over them at range as well. We were in the same test group—he’s pretty good. No idea what Asui does.”

It was an interesting quirk, and like others that he had noted in the past—like Ida’s leg-engines, for instance—clearly had an intelligent design behind it. Adhesive tape, a man-made object—certainly wasn’t a naturally occurring thing—and the boy’s quirk had fixated on it for some reason.

While there were quirks like Momo’s who could, with the benefit of learning the design in advance, force her quirk to create those objects—but people like Sero had quirk’s that apparently selected that object in advance and created an automated process that required no thought to the design.

People had tried to scientifically explain how these quirks actually developed, but nothing truly fit.

“Tsuyu has the attributes of a frog,” I said quietly, “Leg strength is enhanced, along with a strong prehensile tongue, the ability to stick to walls.”

Midoriya looked interested and started writing down the information in his book.

“Higawara?” Midoriya said quietly, “Do you know if she can do anything else?”

“I’m unsure about any other abilities she may possess, Izuku; you should ask her when she returns,” I said pleasantly, “She has shown to be open to that line of questioning.”

“Open to that line of questioning?” Denki said strangely.

“It’s an interesting topic,” I said blandly. “I asked her for details when I first spoke to her—they are about to start.”

Sero had already begun stringing up adhesive tape all over the corridors, blocking off pathways, and making doors impassible. He filled the outer edges of one room with tape but left the door open. A line ran from the mess to his arm as he stood out of sight. Kirishima had taken the warhead and moved it down one floor into one of the taped off rooms, hiding it out of sight of the doorway.

Tsuyu and Fumikage entered through the bottom floor and almost immediately ran into tape, forcing them to stop and plan. There were several pathways that were unblocked, and they took the one on the right, moving carefully, and checking each room from the doorway. The staircase was blocked off, but Tsuyu climbed up and over the mess through a gap on the roof. Fumikage left his quirk tear through the tape before dissipating and moved to follow.

“That shadow thing is bigger,” Mina said, surprised, “Much bigger.”

Some kind of condition that affected how large it was? He would have been stressed in the first test if he didn’t discover the ruse; perhaps it was influenced by his mindset? He seemed rather calm right now, was it larger as a result of that confidence?

“That trap is pretty clever,” Momo said, impressed.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s clever or not,” Katsuki scoffed. “It won’t work,”

“Why not?” Momo said, frowning.

“Birdbrain can just break out of it for one,” Katsuki said, annoyed, “But it’s not going to, because there’s no way they are going to fall for it—a single door left unblocked? Flatface is an idiot.”

“You’re saying he was too efficient,” I said evenly, “Hanta should have left multiple doorways unblocked on each floor, to get them used to the idea of empty rooms that are untrapped, now they are going to reach the room, and it will seem very suspicious because it’s the first time they encountered it?”

“Obviously,” Katsuki scoffed.

“I see,” Momo said, surprised, “I didn’t even think about it like that.”

I studied the blonde boy for a minute; despite his unfortunate countenance, he was startlingly brilliant—not that surprising given that he was accepted into U.A, to begin with, but still. A sharp mind and a very adept combatant—it was a dangerous combination.

“What are you looking at, you damn extra?” Katsuki snapped angrily.

Midoriya flinched violently, perhaps thinking he was being spoken to for a moment, but Katsuki was staring at me.

“I was just thinking about how dangerous an opponent you would be to fight,” I said honestly, studying his reaction.

“You’re damn right,” Katsuki said viciously, turning away. “Don’t forget it.”

“Of course,” I nodded.

Midoriya let out a sigh of relief as the confrontation petered out, and we returned to watching the monitors. They were on the same floor as the trap now, where Hanta was waiting patiently, and he perked up when he heard their footsteps, leaning further back and out of sight. Fumikage paused at the open doorway and looked down the still open hallway.

“Idiots.” Katsuki snapped as the two split up.

Ironic coming from the boy who had done the exact same thing in his own turn, but perhaps he’d learned from his mistake—Fumikage continued along the hallway. Tsuyu entered the room slowly, turning to investigate the walls and the tape that was seemingly covering every surface. The opposite door was open and led to another hallway.

Tsuyu crouched down for a moment, and then suddenly leaped, crossing the room in an instant—but it wasn’t enough. The tape was suddenly pulled inwards, snapping around her in a cage and holding her aloft in the middle of the room.

“His reflexes are good,” Shoto noted evenly, “That girl is fast—If he’d been a tenth of a second slower, she would have made it through.”

“It was stupid,” Katsuki said, annoyed, “Shoulda sent in birdbrain since he can break the tape—Toadgirl has better maneuverability in the hallway anyway.”

“But they didn’t know it was a trap until afterward,” Rikido said, frowning.

“Huh?!” Katsuki said loudly, “Are you stupid? It was a room full of tape—how could it not be a trap?”

“It was pretty suspicious,” Momo admitted.

“See!” Katsuki snapped, “Even Ponytail agrees with me, idiot.”

Rikido just shrugged, looking bemused.

“Ponytail?” Momo huffed, “I have a name, you know?”

“Do I look like I give a damn?” Katsuki scoffed.

Fumikage finally reached the floor where Eijiro was hiding but continued following the empty hallway all the way past the room and up to the top floor to find an empty room. Hanta regrouped with Eijiro soon after, and the two of them remained hidden, as Fumikage began to systematically break through every tape barricade on the top floor, looking for the warhead.

The timer ran out.

“Winners! Team J, Villains!” All Might said, impressed, “Well done to both teams, come on back—uh, please free your classmate first, of course!”

Fumikage met the three on the bottom floor—he received a slap on the back by Eijiro, who was grinning widely, and the group returned soon after, Fumikage looked quite dejected at the loss, but Tsuyu looked mostly unphased.

“Well done!” All Might congratulated them again, “You didn’t destroy the building—but I hope that tape comes off?”

Hanta scratched his cheek for a moment.

“It will decay in a couple of hours,” Hanta admitted.

“Fantastic!” All Might cheered, “Next round! Team C, Momo Yaoyorozu, and Hisoka Higawara, you are the villains! Please follow the orange arrows!”

I pushed off the wall and headed for the door, and Momo moved to follow a moment later.

“Team G, Denki Kaminari, and Kyoka Jiro, you are the heroes!” All Might continued, “Please wait outside and follow your own arrows in five minutes!”

There was a flashing orange arrow on a street light pointing to the left, and I followed it.

“Momo,” I said simply, “Do you have a plan for securing the warhead?”

Momo hummed quietly.

“We could do a variant of Kirishima and Sero’s plan.” Momo said steadily, “Move the Warhead to the first floor, right near the entrance where they least expect it to be?”

“It’s a good idea,” I said, nodding. “Do you know what quirk’s the two of them possess? Neither showed any during the test.”

“I don’t know what Denki can do, but Kyoka is able to use her ear jacks to listen to things from far away,” Momo said, wincing. “Okay, so she will discover our hiding place immediately, scratch that plan.”

Which meant that she was likely listening into them right now, interesting. They might be able to use that to trick her. I lifted my finger up and tapped it on my ear, making sure Momo caught the gesture, and her eyes widened.

“Not necessarily,” I said out loud before crossing my hands in an X in front of me. “I’ll use my quirk to cover it in sand, to muffle the sound it makes—they might even think it’s a fake and leave it alone.”

I nodded at her.

“Alright,” Momo said slowly, holding her hands in an X. “How about we put a warhead on the bottom floor, hide it in a room, and then move to the top floor? That way, they will hear us upstairs, but they’ll waste time trying to fight us when it’s not up there?”

I smiled; she was exceptionally quick.

“Sounds good,” I said, and then we fell silent.

We made our way to the building and moved to the back corner of the floor. I generated some sand silently, making it form up into the warhead’s shape and solidified it. Momo had her own idea, pulling her shirt open enough to generate a clock, one which was ticking loudly, she placed it behind the warhead. I smiled; we didn’t know if the original one made noise or not, but if it did, this would only confuse the others more.

“Well, that should do it,” I said clearly, “Let’s go upstairs.”

“Think they will fall for it?” Momo asked curiously, referring to the real plan.

“Of course,” I said simply.

I left several tiny sand orbs in the corners of each room we passed, which I’d use to block the doorways once they were inside with the fake warhead. The only unknown factor that remained was Denki’s Quirk—if he could base it off the costume the guy wore, it would be something to do with signals or electricity—he did have an antenna on his head. If the real warhead had some kind of signal that he could pick up on, the ruse would fail, or if Jiro could detect his sand, that would be an issue as well—they would have to switch to pure offense at that time.

The room at the top was just as big as the other buildings, and I quickly swallowed the warhead in a thick coating of sand, leaving it on the ground to further the ruse. The timer beeped, signifying the start of the match.

“If they do fall for our trick, we will need to distract them up here,” I said calmly, “How do you intend to fight, range or melee?”

Momo held her arms in an X.

“I will use a ranged weapon,” Momo said, smiling.

Momo started to slowly generate what looked like a wooden bo-staff from her hand—good, If Denki’s quirk was electricity, metal would have been a terrible idea—she had clearly picked up on the boy’s theme as well.

“An intelligent choice,” I said, nodding.

Jiro and Denki were sticking together, and we’re heading straight for the room with the fake warhead; I watched them pass through the sand orbs, tracking their progress. They entered the room carefully, watching the replica for a moment. I started blocking off the pathway they had used to get there, filling the rooms with sand quietly.

Jiro must have heard something because she turned to look at the open doorway behind them, frowning. Denki reached out to touch the ‘warhead,’ and it burst open before swallowing him whole. Jiro spun around in horror before turning to the door again, but it was now blocked by sand.

Denki exploded—or that’s what it felt like, before crackling yellow energy burst through parts of the sand prison I’d built around him; he did it twice more, even as I reformed it around him before he slumped in exhaustion. The sand crawled into the room, moving slowly towards Jiro as she backed up into the corner,

I was waiting for some kind of offensive use of her quirk, but she just sank back into the corner and covered her face desperately as it swept upwards, swallowing her as well.

“Winner team C, villains!” All Might called through the connection. “Come on back!”

Momo blinked.

“I caught them with the fake warhead,” I said quietly.

“Oh—really?” Momo said, surprised, “I kind of feel bad; I didn’t really do anything.”

That wasn’t true at all. Why was she trying to minimize her own role? How strange.

“It was your plan, and you made the clock that was probably what actually tricked them—we don’t actually know if they were listening to our fake plan on the way after all.” I shrugged. “I was just playing off what you suggested in the first place—you contributed a lot. Nice work, Momo.”

Momo rubbed her neck sheepishly for a moment.

“I suppose,” Momo said flustered, “Thank you, nice job catching them.”

I nodded.

We met Jiro and Denki at the front of the building. Jiro looked nervous when she spotted him, but Denki just looked frazzled and barely-there—some kind of side effect to his quirk?

“That was…” Jiro said quietly, keeping her distance. “Terrifying, please never do that to me again.”

Oh… I’d made another mistake—I bowed at the waist.

“I apologize, Jiro. It wasn’t my intention to scare you,” I said quietly. “I didn’t know if you had some kind of offensive sound attack, so I was approaching you slowly in case there was a chance of accidentally trapping you in your own attack by accident—I didn’t consider how it might have affected you.”

Jiro made no response to my apology, and I couldn’t blame her—I stood back up.

“Come on,” Momo said pleasantly, trying to break the tension. “Let’s go back—what happened to you, anyway?”

“Ugh,” Denki groaned, “I overused my quirk trying to escape being eaten alive—ooooh…. it hurts to think.”

That was an unfortunate side effect to such a potent quirk; perhaps he would build up a tolerance to his own attack the more he practiced or figure out a more controlled usage that didn’t have such a drawback.

Their return to the room was heralded by some greetings, and he retook his position against the wall as All Might listed off the final pair.

“Team F, Rikido Sato, and Koji Koda, you two are the villains! Red arrows, off you go!” All Might cheered, “Team E, Yuga Aoyama, and Mina Ashido, you’re the heroes this time. You know what to do!”

“It’s finally our turn, Koda!” Sato said happily.

“Y-yes!” Koda said nervously, “Um, do we have to be the villains?”

“No switching!” All Might laughed, “Off you go, young heroes!”

Koda lumbered out after his taller teammate, head ducked low in embarrassment.

“Oh my!” Yuga said, practically sparkling. “Team fabulous to the rescue!”

“Hell yeah!” Mina cried, striking a pose. “Let’s kick their asses, Aoyama!”

“Yaoyorozu,” Hanta said, smiling, “Why were you both crossing your arms?”

Momo looked lost for a second before understanding lit up her face.

“Oh!” Momo laughed, “I forgot there’s no sound coming through the feed—we were talking about our plans out loud, and we thought Kyoka was listening in—so we started making fake plans.”

Kyoka nodded from her position on the other side of the group, making sure to keep almost everybody else between her and me.

“I was listening,” Kyoka admitted, “I didn’t think you’d lie, and I didn’t even hear you decide on how you were going to lie, so I didn’t even consider it a possibility.”

“It was a nonverbal agreement then,” Shoto said easily, “It must have made sense in the context of the situation.”

The other students here were so much—Sharper? Intelligent? Perceptive? I wasn’t sure exactly, but they picked up on a lot of the details that most people just glossed over. It was so interesting to see them make the connections after years of seeing people miss them entirely. It was like watching a rudimentary version of Uncle Sajin describe the thought process behind the villain in his most recent capture.

I was starting to feel strange, less like I stuck out and more like I was where I was supposed to be— it was so interesting.

“What’s with all the birds?” Eijiro said curiously, “Where did they come from?”

I returned my focus to the monitors, where Koji and Rikido were both standing in the room with the warhead waiting. Rikido had actually picked up the bomb, shouldering it with ease. He was right—there were at least twenty birds spread throughout the viewpoints, two at most in each frame.

It must have been Koji’s quirk; either he created bird-shaped constructs, or he was controlling birds somehow. The way they were spread out led him to believe that it was a warning system of some sort; either he could see out of their eyes like I could with my sand, or the bird’s whistles were easily audible from range.

The intention of their plan was already obvious, they would be moving throughout the building and using the birds to alert them to the location of both Yuga and Mina’s, so they could avoid the pair.

“It’s a good plan,” I said, impressed.

Koji hadn’t spoken up much since the first day; he had a nervous demeanor despite his imposing physical size. Rikido was a friendly guy who seemingly treated everyone like an old friend. Good communication was the most important facet of teamwork, and these two had clearly used that to their advantage here.

“Huh? I have no idea what they are doing.” Eijiro said curiously, “Catch me up?”

He hadn’t realized he’d spoken out loud for a moment before he noticed the increased attention directed his way by the others.

“It’s a mobile payload situation, with a warning system,” I said evenly, “The birds are likely Koji’s quirk, possibly used to report the locations of the two attackers as they move through the building and the two use that information to keep the bomb mobile to avoid the heroes.”

“Wow!” Eijiro said, surprised.

There was a few mumbled of understanding.

“How do you know that?” Denki said, frowning. “Ashido and Aoyama haven’t even entered the building yet.”

“Look at how the birds are spread out,” Izuku said hesitantly, “They are each placed with good views of all the main hallways, stairwells, and they are on each floor—the positioning of them is the first clue.”

“Shitty nerd is right,” Katsuki said, annoyed, “How can’t you see it?”

Eijiro just laughed, scratching his cheek sheepishly.

“Oh!” Toru said in understanding. “So the birds make noise when they see something—they’re going in!”

Mina and Yuga both stuck together as they entered the building and almost immediately looked directly up at the hidden bird behind them—more evidence towards them making noise and not allowing Koji to see remotely. They left the bird alone—it wasn’t like either of them had a way to contain a bird without harming it, and I knew that nobody wanted to hurt an animal—

“Idiots,” Katsuki cackled, “Kill the damn birds!”

Most people couldn’t bring themselves to hurt an animal—there were obviously exceptions to this generalization.

“That’s mean,” Toru rebuked.

“Huh?!” Katsuki said, glaring, “You want to talk shit—get a damn body first!”

“Hey!” Toru squawked.

The two split up in an attempt to cover more ground, and Mina showcased her athleticism by jogging off at high speed, heading upwards. Rikido and Koji headed to the opposite stairwell in response, moving down a floor as she ascended.

“They won’t be able to catch them,” Momo admitted, “Even if Yuga started running as well, there are too many ways for them to slip past—without a method to track them, they are stuck.”

I nodded in agreement. Unless the villains made a mistake or were extremely unlucky, they had this match in the bag. The class watched them run down the timer, and soon enough, the match was called in favor of the two boys before the four of them returned to the rest of the class.

“Well done!” All Might said happily, addressing the entire class. “That was a fantastic showing by all of you! Do not be disheartened by a loss, for that is what this training is for! To learn from our mistakes to better ourselves and push past our limits!”

All Might thrust his hand into the air and called the school motto, and a couple of the rowdier students joined in—The class wrapped after soon after. On the way back to the classroom, I noted that Izuku had gathered the courage to approach Tsuyu, notebook in hand. My mind, however, was still stuck on the man we had left behind in the room with the monitors, now much skinnier, and slumped in the swivel chair at the desk, breathing heavily.

He was sick; that much was obvious—or under the negative effects of some kind of cursed quirk that dragged him out of his usually muscular shape and into the emaciated form he now held. Is that why this year he’d decided to become a teacher before whatever this was became too much?

Was All Might, the number one hero in Japan, dying?

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About the author

Elbowsnapper

Bio: I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.

My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.

I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.

https://www.elbowsnapper.com/

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