MV Lady Jean Peterson
“Admiral may I comment please?” Donald Forrester was trying to get some sense into this man and had to be very careful, Admiral Harding could very well stop his promotion and his first command.
“Donald I KNOW what you are going to say and the answer is NO. We will carry out the exercise as planned and Captain Peterson will find out what it’s like defending against professionals instead of a bunch of cut throats. Fine, he has just got lucky again and over powered two boats and eight amateurs, now he can have the experience of facing up to four boats and 24 highly trained US Marines!”
“Sir, with respect, Captain Peterson will only EVER defend against a small number of amateurs, he will never be in a position to defend against better trained men I should think. All he is doing is defending against pirates and our pilots told us he did an excellent job, him and his crew, oh and a little help from their radio controlled helicopters, they are brilliant.”
“Bloody toys Don, bloody toys! Look I agree in some way, but it will do him no harm having seasoned Marines take his ship and he will learn a great deal and become even better defending his silly ship. I just think it’s a waste of our time him being here, he could not even save that ship from being taken so what’s the point and in any case if his cargo fleet was better protected there would certainly be no need for him to be fucking about all over this God forsaken Ocean.”
“Sir we were not in a position to save the ship either and indeed Captain Peterson told me he is only doing what he is because his fleet cannot carry weapons. In his opinion if ships were armed the piracy would stop and I tend to agree with him.”
“Next you will be telling me he can walk on water. No, my mind is made up and we may even help him convince his government to carry weapons after we take his ship. We could very well be doing him a service.”
“Will the Marines take live rounds Sir and what are their orders if they get on board?”
“They will have live rounds and WHEN they take the ship, Peterson and his crew will be assembled in his quarters under guard and I want the ship searched and videoed. The captain will be advised to leave the area and return to the UK.” Donald could not believe what this man was saying and had to think quickly. Continue to protest or think of his career? To hell with it.
“Very well sir, but I wish to go on record saying that I am totally against this action and will make my opinion known. This action is wrong and most definitely unlawful and if you insist on carry this out, it could very well cause diplomatic problems between us and the United Kingdom. Sir, exercises similar to this are pre planned well ahead with the cooperation of all those involved and this is not.”
“Thank you Commander Forrester, your comments are recorded. When you command there are risks and only men with guts make good commanders, you may leave.” Donald got up and left without saluting and went to his quarters and wrote his report and sent it to a friend in Washington.
Scott was the last to arrive on the bridge having sat with Andrew holding his hand for half an hour. He felt much better knowing Andrew was going to be fine. He kissed him and left.
“Well done everyone, we did a great job and nobody hurt. I just wish we had other means to defend ourselves. We have been attacked twice now by two boats and I’m just wondering how we would coup if there was more, we could be a bit stretched. Any ideas anyone?”
“I may have one Skip. Remember that star burst fire work that went off prematurely when we were in Dalvik? There was huge explosion and everyone near it when it went off must have been hard of hearing and blinded for a while. I think that if we had some, I could rig something up that would enable us to fire and explode just above the water line.”
“Sounds a bit illegal to me Neil, still carry on thinking! Perhaps you and Andrew could work on it together when he’s up and see where it goes. Give him something to do anyway.”
“I will get together with him and see what we can come up with.”
Scott kept looking at Theo, he was very uncomfortable and he knew he wanted to speak to all the crew.
“Theo, you told me you needed to say something, I think you had better do it now.”
“Thanks Skip. You are not going to like this, but please hear me out.” They all waited for Theo to speak, Royston had never seen him like this before, unsure, sick with worry and, he thought, near to tears.
“The Admiral, who I think you already know happens to be my father, commands the international naval force in this area has, I’m sure, ordered an attack on the Jean tonight at around 1am. He did not tell me that exactly, but ordered me to unlock the mid ships hatch on the starboard side at 1am tonight and that’s why I think there will be an attempt to board us. I happen to know he dislikes the Royal Navy because, for whatever reason, when he was on an exchange when he was a Lieutenant about 20 years ago he was kicked out and sent back to the States. I don’t know details, I just know they got rid of him. I also think that because the Jean is Brit he wants to make some sort of point and try to board us and, I assume embarrass you Skip because he sees you similar to a Royal Naval officer. I can’t be absolutely sure that’s his agenda, but I am convinced he will have men attack you tonight otherwise why tell me to unlock that hatch?
I am very very sorry and please, I am not part of this even though because I have been the same as him in the past you might think I am. I don’t expect you to believe me or trust my word, but it’s true and I needed to warn you. I have finished now Skip, but just want to say one more thing, as soon as I get back to the States I am leaving the Navy and will have nothing more to do with my father, there has been no life with him anyway and only since I came to the Jean have I realised that. I am so very sorry.”
There was complete silence as they all thought about what they had been told and all came to the same conclusion, Theo was telling the truth and as he was talking about his father, he must be going through a dreadful time having to come out with all this. Scott’s brain was doing over time as he tried to plan his next step and work out what was the best action would be. Everyone waited for Scott to work it out. “We have a number of options.”
One, we could let them attack and afterwards let it be known that the unlocked hatch was discovered and relocked. I have no problem with them trying to take us because even if they get on board I’m very confident they won’t get inside and we can still blast them with the cannons, but there could very well be injuries. We can throw the Jean all over the place to try to stop them like we have practised so many times, but I’m worried that Andrew could suffer.
Two, when they are at one mile we just turn the search lights on and keep them on which would tell them we know they are there and they would be seen all the way towards us once they got into the beams. Send the boys out to identify them and then I speak to the Rockall and demand they call it off, but if they still try we defend ourselves as normal.
Three, as soon as they come on the radar we about turn and sail full speed at them with search lights on so they will know we know they are coming and after we identify them call the Rockall and tell them to call it off, but still carry on towards the Rockall.
Four, we just let them board and when the last man’s on blast them with the cannons as there is no place to hide, but again there could be a lot of injuries. I will of course call the Rockall, in fact as soon as they are identified I will in all options.
Five, sail with all the hatches open at normal speed and just let them come in and we will have coffee and some snacks ready to welcome them. If we do that, they could never claim they over powered us.
Six, and this one is entirely in your court Theo, I call them now and inform them that we know what the Admiral is planning and tell them I am informing my father, our legal team and the media about this and the possibility of injuries because of the Admiral’s planned attack even though he will say it’s just an exercise.”
“Ok that’s all I can come up with, but you may have other ideas. I will just say I would prefer the option that is not likely to cause injury, but that does not include number five, forget that one!” There was a long silence.
“Number Six Skip.” Theo stood there, his world was in tatters. “I know I can’t insist Skip, but please use number six, I don’t want the risk of injuries either particularly as I know the other options could lead to them. Please Skip, number six.” Every one of them felt for Theo and knew he must be going through hell, not many sons would have experienced this. Scott looked at Royston who was looking at Theo. “If you don’t mind everyone I think it’s time for Theo to get out of here and go to our cabin, would you come Paul and you Royston. Neil you have the ship.” It was now 11pm and Scott would have to make his mind up soon.
On the flight deck of the Rockall 24 Marines were checking their gear and Marine Captain Martin Standing waited for the Admiral to leave after he had given his orders.
“Of course this is just an exercise and will be excellent training for you all, but you need to forget who you are attacking and make it as real as you need to. Treat that crew as if they are the enemy and don’t give them a thought about who they are. Your weapons are to be loaded and ready to use. When you take control treat them as prisoners and don’t take any shit. There are two officers on that ship from the Rockall, treat them the same as the rest of that crew. The Captain is to be bought back here for interrogation, just to make the whole exercise even more real and relevant. Over to you Captain, you are going in an half an hour.” The Captain looked as Harding walked away and knew this was wrong, he was in trouble and knew it. Someone could get hurt and all hell will break loose, this had not either been planned or agreed by the ship they were attacking and he knew he did not want to be a part of it, but would follow orders, that’s what was expected of any officer. “How the fuck can I get out of this shit?” He told his men to come close, he was about to disobey orders.
“These are MY orders, you will NOT load your weapons. You will go to the hanger and leave your magazines there, you will empty one and load it back on to your weapon empty understood?” They all sprang to attention and saluted! “YES SIR! CAPTAIN SIR!” and they went to the hanger.
“Think about it Theo, you know that this will lead to all sorts of trouble with your father, but I will do as you ask, I promise.”
“As I said Skip there has been nothing between me and my father all my life, I know that now, and even if we were not in this situation there would be nothing between us. He offered me my half ring, but only if I unlocked the hatch! Christ how to get promotion, not because I’m worth it, but because I helped my father do some shit to boost his own ego. No, I will be out of the Navy and find another life, I’m a good engineer and will find something without too much trouble.”
“Would you want to stay in the Navy Theo?”
“No Paul, I’m gay and being gay and military don’t mix that well and I’m definitely not going to give up being gay!” At least there was something to half laugh at.
“My father, if he doesn’t know about me yet, will do sometime and he will disown me and fuck up my career anyway, so I might as well get out and start a new life. Please Skip, try and stop him they will be setting off soon.” They all stood up to leave, but Scott stopped at the door and turned and looked at Royston.
“I have a job for Royston.”
“Wherever Theo is, I want you to be with him.” Royston actually smiled and said the one good thing Theo had heard that day.
“Of course Skip, no problem.”
All the nosy sods were on the bridge when Scott made the call to the Rockall, only Paulina and Andrew were missing.
“You ready to record Jerry?”
“Ok everyone no smart ass remarks!” He laughed and picked the mick up.
“Lady Jean Peterson to USS Rockall. This is Captain Peterson. Good evening.” Donald Forrester was about to leave the bridge but stopped.
“Good evening Captain Peterson, this is USS Rockall.” The watch officer replied.
“I wish to talk to the Admiral please. It is very urgent.” There was a long pause and Scott assumed they were calling him in his quarters.
“Lady Jean Peterson, I am afraid the Admiral is not available at this this time Captain Sir.”
“Please inform the Admiral that this is VERY urgent, I would not be calling you if it wasn’t.” Another long pause.
“Lady Jean Peterson, I repeat Captain, the Admiral is not available.” The voice seemed a bit tense.
“Why, has he gone out for a swim? Very well, then please relay to him that the attack he has planned on my ship with Marines should not go ahead as it is illegal and could cause casualties. This conversation is being recorded and sent direct to my father and to our offices in London. The Admiral should know an exercise like this should have been pre planned and all safety precautions agreed. Also inform the Admiral the hatch that he ask to be unlocked will remain secure. I will wait exactly five minutes to be told the so called exercise has been called off. If I do not hear by that time I will contact all relevant authorities and various media outlets.”
“Lady Jean Peterson, please stand by.”
“What relevant authorities Skip?” Colin asked.
“Fuck knows, but it sounded good. Theo do you really want to be here? Stay of course but if you want to leave we understand.”
“I’m ok Skip. I think he is having his ears bent and the Captain and Commander Forrester are trying to make him see sense. One thing I have just thought of, he will say we have to go back and he will be asking for us to meet up tomorrow.”
“Good point, do you want to go?” Theo and Royston looked at one another and both shook their heads. “No Skip.”
“How far is the Rockall?”
“15 miles and 10 knots Skip.”
“Anything on Hawk?”
“No Skip.” Scott thought again. He had done a lot of that over the past few hours and it was beginning to hurt. He thought about Andrew and was getting impatient to get to him.
“Full speed ahead please. Let’s get some distance, it will give us more time.”
“Admiral, please consider mine and Commander Forrester’s recommendations sir. If you don’t call the boats back there could be serious consequences both with the Navy and a potential political mess. We have NEVER been involved in this sort of activity before and when we have been engaged in war games they are meticulously planned beforehand. Sir, we don’t just pick a civilian ship and board her with armed Marines unless of course we have good reason to do so like a suspect pirate boat and Captain Peterson’s ship is far from being one, he is on OUR side. Sir, Captain Peterson has given us five minutes to respond before he contacts his authorities and the press and there is only one minute left.” Admiral Harding was in deep thought. He snorted and then laughed.
“A fucking boy Captain calling the shots!? Christ almighty what is happening to this fucked up world? Ok, call Standing back. Get me hooked up to Peterson, I want to talk to him and you two can get out.”
“Lady Jean Peterson, can you stand by a little longer, we are connecting you to the Admiral, one minute please sir.”
“Acknowledged.” Scott thought that was very professional until Jan told him he had been watching too many films.
“Captain Peterson. This is Admiral Harding. I have ordered my boats back which will save you the embarrassment of being taken.” Silence.
“Is that it?”
“Yes, what else did you expect me to say?”
“Nothing I suppose, just glad you called it off, it could have led to something rather unpleasant, you needed to have a hatch unlocked to get in anyway and let me tell you now, your men would not have made it.”
“Captain, just be happy I called my men back and we will leave it there.”
“No Admiral, let’s not leave it there. I have a suggestion and one that will not embarrass either of us, but could help both.”
“Let’s plan an exercise for your Marines to try to board us and we try to stop them. No loaded weapons and we won’t use CS gas. I think it will be advantageous to both of us, you practising boarding and us stopping you. What do you think?”
“Sounds a bit stupid to me, my men could board any ship Captain, but I will talk to my officers about your suggestion. There is one other thing, you have two of my officers with you and I am in no hurry to have them back. Goodnight.” There was a click and he had gone. Scott looked at Theo and Royston and had never seen such wide smiles.
Scott went for a shower and then hurried down to the sick bay. He smiled when he saw the bed next to Andrew had been pulled together and secured. Paulina was there.
“Thought you would like to stay the night Skip.” It had been a long tense day and Scott was bushed. He thanked Paulina and cuddled her tight.
“Thanks so much Paulina.” She kissed his cheek and left. Scott kissed Andrew’s cheek stripped off and got into bed and held his hand and as soon as he interlocked their fingers, he was gone.
Reggie, Paulina and Royston had made a rota to be with Andrew through the night and sat in the medical room with the curtains closed. They would go into the ward to check Andrew and all three marveled at Scott’s beautiful body as the sheet was down to his waist, that was one time of a very few Paulina wondered what it would be like to be heterosexual!
Royston was on duty when Reggie came in to take over. They went to Andrew and were happy he was comfortable even though the sea had picked up and it was quite rough sailing. Paul had turned the Jean into the wind which made things a little more comfortable not that it made any difference to either Andrew or Scott, they were fast asleep and still with their fingers interlocked.
“They look great, Reggie. Two lovely men and so much in love, wonderful.”
“What about you Royston? Any chance you and Theo will get back together, we all know you were at one time?”
“Who knows, Reggie? Theo was so different when we first met and then he changed and we finished because of it, now because of the Jean and all you guys and what has happened today it’s made him think and I know he will be a better person from now on. Whether that means we will get back? Never say never I guess, but if we do, it’s all down to being here with you guys, no doubt about it.”
“And your continued love for Theo Royston? I know you are.”
“Thanks Reggie, thanks so much and you are right.”
Royston went to his cabin and showered then wrapped his towel around his middle and went to Theo’s door and stopped just as his hand was about to get hold of the handle. He stood there in two minds and spoke to himself.
“It’s too early, Theo will have to prove he has changed, we need to talk and see if there is any future. Well fucking done Royston, here’s me giving myself good advice and I’m as horny as ten Casanova’s. Fucking idiot.” He turned round and went back to his cabin dived into his bunk and must have had the quickest wank on record.
Two days later they were off the coast of Cape Town waiting for the O5 to join them. Andrew was now back on his feet and spent some of his time on the bridge sitting in the Captain’s chair and took on double watch officer duties which gave others free time. Apart from his broken arm he was back to normal. Neil had spoken to him about his idea of setting up a system that could fire, fireworks and Andrew also spent a lot of time at his computer. Theo and Royston, who were now on watch together thanks to Paul, stood next to Andrew chatting.
“It’s funny, this is the first time I have been with American’s since I left home. I have been with Scott so long and living with Brits I think my accent is changing.”
“Excuse me?” They were still laughing when Scott came up.
“Are you three planning a takeover?”
“Not unless you give permission Skip.” Theo said.
“The Jean is not mine really so you will have to ask my dad and then Andrew who owns all the toilets and shit tanks. Everyone else apparently owns something else and all I’m left with is our bunk which is fine so long as Andrew is in it.”
“That is so lovely Scott, so beautiful.” Royston lent into Theo and Theo risked putting an arm around him and Andrew held Scott’s hand. It was all so very romantic. Romance and the Jean were as one.
“Nobody uses MY shit houses unless I give permission from now on.” Spoke too soon.
The Jean met up with the O5 and settled behind her at 400 yards and started to zig zag either side of her to give maximum cover with the Hawk.
The next day Scott was in safety gear and climbed into the basket, Colin winched him up 50 feet and ran the jib out until the basket was over the O5’s deck and began to lower the basket until it was no more the 5 foot above it. He waited for the right moment when the O5 was at its highest point and lowered the basket and gently placed the basket on the deck, he quickly ran the cable out and gave himself a “high five.” Scott got out and shook Philip Boardman’s hand.
“Welcome aboard Scott, great landing that!”
“That’s the first time I’ve done it, scary as hell! Nice to see you again Philip.” They went to his cabin to talk about the escort and Scott asking Philip’s permission to practise boarding his ship, mainly at night times.
“I don’t want to warn you when we attempt a boarding, just let you know that we have when we are on board.”
“Good idea, it will make us more alert and try to spot you, if we do we will radio the Jean so you will know you have failed!” They talked about Scott’s actions should they come under attack and Philip agreed he would go to full speed and carry out violent maneuvers port and starboard to make things more difficult should the pirates manage to get along side.
“Is that why you want to practise boarding Scott, just in case we get taken?”
“One of them Phil.” Scott stayed for lunch and then took the return trip back to his ship.
The whole crew were on the bridge and Scott filling them in about his time on the O5.
“The Captain has given us permission to practise boarding his ship at unspecified times. As he says it will give him experience practising his anti-boarding training and us trying to board her if pirates manage to get on her. A while back I talked about us attempting to board a ship that had already been taken and try to get her back, this is what I was really thinking about if one of OUR ships was taken. Any thoughts? Andrew?”
“I was just about to say the same thing Skip. I was just waiting for you to catch up, again.”
“Liar!” Andrew gave that heart melting smile and Scott continued.
“Actually I was lying as well, I only just thought of it when I was on the O5.” Andrew shook his head and kept smiling.
The next day they began to practise “attacking” the O5 by sailing at her while the O5’s crew had a great time plying their hoses on them. They could not attempt to try to board her because the boarding ladders had not been made yet. As Andrew was still unable to function properly Theo went down to the workshop to work with Neil and by the following day they had put two aluminium light, but strong ladders together. They took them to the boat deck and loaded both into the RIB and Paul and Jerry got in and with Jan driving they went out and tried them out. This would not be a practise attack and Philip Boardman promised not to kill them. They boarded the stern several times and then hooked up and boarded either side of the hull at mid ships. As they managed to get on the ship every time and neither of them fell off and drowned, it was declared a success. Next would come an attempted boarding without the O5 knowing it was coming.
All day time attempts failed rather understandably, but they tried and gave the O5 the practise at the same time. Afterwards they came back on board the Jean very wet and quite tired after all the bailing out. It was taken very seriously, except for Jan that is. “Fuck it next time we do that I’m taking Paulina’s and my laundry with me!”
Scott told them there would be a day’s break and they would try a night boarding the following night at 1am with him and Paul attempting to board and Jan driving. “Apart from all the safety gear we will take the shot guns and tazers.”
“Got a moment to talk?” Theo asked Royston, they were just going off watch.
“In one of or cabins? You will be quite safe.” Royston led the way to his.
“So, what do you want to talk about?” Royston asked as if he didn’t know.
“There aint an us anymore.”
“I know, but what if I said I would like to try and for you to give me a chance?”
“I knew you as a really nice guy as far as you and I were concerned and ignored everything that was not nice, the arrogance, your superior attitude and one of the most unpopular men in the Navy. Then of course you started fucking about and that was the end of it. So, tell me why I should even think about “us” again?”
“Because I’ve changed from the guy you quite rightly dumped but I know I’m a better person now. I really fucked up in just about everything I did, but the worst was fucking us up, I realised that long before we came to the Jean but since we came here I know for sure I am still in love with you and Royston, I’m going to fight like hell to get you back. I know I have a lot to prove to you and I don’t expect you to make it easy for me, I don’t deserve it.” There was a long silence.
Theo stood up and went to the port and stared out for a long time. He turned back and looked at Royston and, smiled!
“I have said and done a lot of bad things in my time and I was SO incredibly wrong. Guys became a challenge to me, but after the sex, I was on my own again and empty. Then you came along and it was different, we never had sex, WE made love and I have never made love to any other person in my entire life, but I also fucked us up by being a total shit. I’m going now but I need to say something before I do. I won’t mention this again and I will leave it to you to find a way to trust me if that’s what you want to do anyway but will accept it if you want nothing more to do with me. I love you so much and just hope to give me the chance to prove to you how much I have changed.” Theo took Royston’s hands to his lips and kissed both of them and went out.
Royston looked at the door and he too smiled, he already knew he would give Theo another chance.
Theo got to his cabin and changed into sports gear and went to the gym and stayed there for the next two hours. It would have been much longer had the alarm not sounded.
“Three boats five miles dead ahead, 20 knots Skip.”
“Call O5 and tell them to go to full speed.”
“Full ahead Freddy and get in front of O5, 200 yards then come back to O5’s speed, when you are ahead of her zig zag so we can keep an eye out behind us. Hawk?”
“Just those Skip.” Tommy said.
“Both up Skip.”
“Ok lads, go out two miles and meet them when they are in range.” Marcel looked over to Jon and both smiled at one another and very briefly thought about what they were up to just 20 minutes ago.
“Ok lads let’s see what they’ve got.” Both Marcel and Jon had their cameras on the boats with Scott and Paul looking at the screens.
“Zoom in closer, I can’t see weapons, what about you Paul?”
“Just four men in each boat and still only doing 20 knots. I don’t think this will be an attack Skip.”
“What is it then, testing us out?”
“No, I think a mother boat has seen us and sent these boats out to find out why there are two ships together, most ships sail miles from one another so they can’t be drawn into a hostage situation. If another ship is too close it could be threatened to surrender as well.”
“Why send three boats then? One could do the job.”
“Not sure, but one thing comes to mind Skip, they could know about us and the Wanderer and out in force to see if it’s us and if they do realise it is, they may think its too risky to attack.”
“One mile, 20 knots.” That meant a closing speed of 38 knots.
“Send, we have a possible attack.” Paul went to the mike and sent out name, course, speed and position. In a few minutes Scott would know what they intended to do.
“Two boats going to our starboard and one to port, half mile and still 20 knots.”
“Go to 10 knots and starboard 10. Jon come back to the port side of the O5. Marcel follow the two other boats.”
The O5 caught up and when they were 300 yards away Scott ordered 18 knots. He was now just ahead of the O5 and protecting their starboard side and Jon protecting the port side while Marcel observed the other two.
“Still can’t see weapons Skip. I can get in closer if you want?”
“No, if they know about us when we stopped them after they took the Wanderer they will know about the helicopters and its possible they hope to be able to fire at you but I don’t think they can see you right now. I think Paul is right, they have seen us on radar and are just out looking to see if it’s us and attack if they think they are safe.” Scott was looking through the ‘power’ binoculars and could see the two boats clearly and the four men in each boat waiting to see if any weapons appeared, they didn’t and all he could do was wait, it was up to the next move from those in the boats.
“They are breaking off Skip and going away.” Marcel said.
“Yes Skip, all three boats have turned and going away at 50 knots.”
“Marcel come in and refuel and you come in when Marcel is back up Jon. I want one of you up for the next two hours.”
“Oh Skip that’s so boring!”
“Shut up Marcel or I will put Jon in a spare cabin.”
“SORRY SKIP SORRY SKIP SOR..”
“Shut the fuck up!”
“Send we are all clear please Paul.”
They all watched as Marcel landed, he threw a switch that would put the clamps in place around the helicopter skids to secure it to the deck and then he threw another switch that would close the engine down. He got up and after a kiss on the top of Jon’s head went down to refuel before taking off again.
Theo had been placed at the forward water cannon control and watched from there as the action unfolded and now it had all finished he thought again about Royston and himself and wished they were the same as these wonderful people with whom they crewed with, even though it would have to come to an end soon, he would take with him everything he had learnt whilst on board the Lady Jean Peterson and it made him even more determined to get Royston back. He glanced over to him but could only see his back and so did not see the smile on his face.
Scott told all the off watch to stand down and the first to leave was Jerry and George. “Bloody hell, there in a hurry, mind you, lucky George!” Royston turned and looked at Theo and Theo hoping he saw the joke. “Lucky Jerry Theo?” Yes, he had seen the joke.
Once in their cabin Jerry and George sat on the bunk leaning against the bulkhead “Ok, let’s look at them again.” Jerry got all 11 photos out from under one of the pillows and one by one they looked at them again.
“It’s him George, I know bloody well its him.”
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