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THE SON OF NEPTUNE

PERCY

Percy woke up by himself in the middle of ruins. They had obviously once been part of a great house, but it wasn't now. He couldn't see much otherwise; the night was moonless. Where was he? Better yet, who was he? All he could remember was his first name, Percy. The rest was like reaching into a deep abyss. You knew what you were looking for, but it was still too far out of reach. Percy scrunched his face, trying to remember, but nothing came. What had happened to him? A noise like leaves crunching made Percy jump to his feet. Unknowingly, Percy reached into his pocket, pulled out a ballpoint pen and uncapped it. The thing in Percys handonce a penhad transformed into a three-foot-long bronze sword. The sword emanated a dim glow that seemed to give Percy sudden warmth. For some reason, this didnt disturb Percy. He felt like he had a hidden connection to this sword. Why have you brought him here? someone said. Percy spun to the direction of the voice. In front of him, two yellow eyes observed him cautiously. Nearby a female responded, It is the only way, followed by a growl that Percy figured was too loud to be her stomach. Unless if she had an excruciating appetite. Plus, considering the fact that Percy may be on the menu. Then the creature stepped out from amongst the shadows. The creature was a gray wolf, except that it was twice the normal size. Around seven-feet-tall in height, the creature towered over Percy. The creature illuminated such power that she gave off her own light. Even with peripheral vision, Percy could no longer see the wreckage and debris that

once surrounded him. Percy was now in his own world. Just him against a seven-foot-tall menacing wolf. Percy could see that he was wearing a tattered orange T-shirt that may have been used as a wolfs scratching post, blue jeans, and a fivebeaded necklace. Percy positioned his bronze sword pointed at the wolfs heart. (Or at least he thought.) The wolf hissed, baring its razor sharp teeth, each one as long as Percys finger. Percy looked up to find himself surrounded by a dozen strong, gray creatures. "W-who are you?" he asked, his voice more confident than he felt. Percy remembered somewhere that canines could sense fear. So it was technically hopeless for Percy to keep sounding upbeat. "I am Lupa," said the wolf. She was easier to distinguish with her larger size and foul breath. "I train young Roman demigods." The word demigods stirred back some distant memories, but like a fish, it flitted away. "But all of my demigods must first pass 3 tests, Lupa continued. Ones you must pass as well. Come with me." Percy looked around. The yellow eyes of a dozen wolves seemed to bore into him. Percy couldnt tell what they would do if he moved. But Lupa did give him permission to follow her. Even if they did pounce, Percy had an excuse to give the wolves a not-so-pretty haircut. It is necessary Percy, said that other voice again. Necessary for all of our survivals. Percy just couldnt trace back that voice, but it seemed too familiar. "Hera?" Percy guessed. "Yes," the wolf, Lupa, responded. "Hera is the one who brought you here. We call her Juno." The wolf went silent. She signaled him to come

follow her. Percys legs buckled. He knew he couldnt trust her. But it would be smarter to just follow her trail. Percy wouldnt have been surprised if there were any traps that lay ahead. But he had made up his mind. For some reason his body longed for adventure. And Percy had a strange feeling that that was what Lupa was leading him to. He followed.

Finally, after what seemed like a hike over Mount Everest, they stopped. Percy hadnt paid much attention that his face ended up in Lupas rear. She turned and growled. Percy noted that growling may have been one of Lupas hobbies. Because apparently, she was a natural at it. The forest they had been in earlier had become a rocky terrain. There were no trees or plants of any kind from as far as Percy could see. A few feet away from them was a chasm that was at least a hundred feet wide and went on forever. Boiling lava flowed through the chasm, melting everything that it came in contact with into goo. Percy wasnt a bit surprised how easily it took for this Magma Nile River to form. Lupa barked and all twelve of the wolves emerged from a billowing curtain of steam. Percy hadnt even noticed that they had been following him this whole time. Percy couldnt believe how dumb he was. If the wolves had been given any more opportunities, Percy wouldve been dog chow. Lupa jumped across the chasm with ease. The other wolves followed with the same agile motion. Percys knees buckled again. Did they really expect him to jump over the chasm with that much skill? The she-wolf turned. "No cub of mine will hesitate in the face of danger. Jump or we'll eat you."

Percy could just imagine the other wolves slobbering at the mere thought of tearing through his flesh. So with a shrug, Percy jumped.

He had a feeling that it wasn't the dumbest thing he'd ever done. He was falling toward the lava. Without any thought, he thrust out his arms. A welcoming power surged through him. Bit by bit, chunks of rocks began to tear off of the chasm, positioning themselves like floating platforms. Percy didnt know what he had done. But one thing was for sure; he finally had a way to get across the chasm. Percy suddenly remembered his elementary childhood when he used to play hop-scotch with his friends. And that was exactly what he needed. All Percy had to do was land on each of the platforms as if they were hopscotch squares. Besides, he had already landed on one of them. But it was definitely not that easy. The sheer thought of falling into the lava was enough to make his legs start quivering. This enhances the probability of him dropping down into the lava and becoming Percy Soup. Might as well go for it. Percy called forth all of his power and leapedacross to the other platform. And the other and the other. Fear had been his biggest problem. But it had slipped away like gift wrapping. After a few more bounds, Percy had made it across. Percys sea green eyes focused on Lupa. She nodded her approval. "Not bad, not bad at all, demigod. Come with me, you still have two more tasks." And once again, Percy had no choice but to follow the pack of wolves through the woods.

As they ran down the path, Percy realized he had dropped his sword. Once again, he reached into the pocket on the side of his jeans. There was that pen, a single weight in his pocket. He decided to keep it. He didn't know how long it took for the pen/sword to reappear and when he might need it again.

The wolves stopped in front of a river, or at least Percy thought it was a river. All he knew was it wasn't made of water. The wolves crossed and turned back to face him. Lupa chanted, "No pup of mine will bow to pain, hesitate and you will be our meal." Percy carefully submerged himself into the river. He found that it was not water, but acid. It burned him and his clothes. He was on fire. A sense of Dj vu came over him as he felt himself burning to ash. Hold onto something he recalled from, well from somewhere. Hold onto something, anything, it said. But he had nothing to hold onto. Was this how it felt when you were in a near-death scenario? Taking slow, deliberate steps, he crossed. When he reached the other side, the wolves nodded at him in what he thought was an approving manner. Once more, they ran away, giving Percy no choice but to tag along. This time when they stopped, it was at a boulder. The rock was covered by a thick layer of vines. The only opening was the one they had come from. Lupa indicated that he sit on the rock. Percy sat carefully, eyes never leaving Lupa. "No pup of mine," Lupa began, this time the rest of the wolves joined in as she chanted, "shall leave what's important for his weakness. Stay idle if thats what pleases you, until the true enemy comes." Percy reached into his pocket. He had a bad feeling about this. Thats when the voices came. At first they were soft, but the sound grew to a ringing effect. The voices so familiar. Yet so distant. "Help me Percy. I'm making a giant a bridal gown." "Brother, help me." "Sweetheart I need you."

"Percy, the Hunters need you." "HEY! SEAWEED BRAIN! HELP ME! PLEASE! BY ALL THE GODS HELP ME !" That last voice sounded so familiar. That girl needed him so much and her voice did funny things with his heart. But Percy just sat there, waiting for his true enemy. As if on cue, out of the woods walked a boy in his late teens early twenties with a scar down his left cheekbone. Somehow Percy knew that this boy was a son of Hermes. The boys eyes were gold. A double-bladed scythe materialized into the teenagers palm. Lupa and the other wolves turned and walked away. Hey! Percy faced the boy. The way his voice sounded, like scraping a metal against rock, irritated Percy. The boy emanated an ancient aura. His voice sounded ancient as well. Centuries older than the gods even. But something about this boy brought back memories that even Percy didnt want to remember. Luke? Percy said. The boys expression hardened. He thrust his scythe out at Percys chest. Thy name is Kronos. Percy grimaced. When he said that it felt like time froze at the mere mention of his name. Luke is dead. His soul rests in the Underworld. And you are soon to meet him, young hero. Fear me, Perseus Jackson, son of Poseidon. The titan waved his scythe in a circle and finally brought it to his side. As he did this, the titans form changed. Once a teenage boy, the titan became a ten-foot-tall snoring woman with mud-baked skin, raggedy torn robes, and the foulest stench. If you were to not take a bath for over a yearwhich you strictly shouldnt dothen you wouldve smelled like a fraction of how bad this woman smelled.

The woman loomed over Percy. IsnoreamsnoreGaia. Percy figured that it wouldve taken Gaia at least a minute to finish at least one sentence. He hoped that she was also slow. But he shouldnt have underestimated her, because a few seconds later, the Sleeping Giant pounced. Considering the fact that she had mud-baked skin, an incredibly bad sense of style, never in her life had she come amongst soap, and surprising agility. For the most part, Percy felt hopeless. But throughout his journey, Percy had learned that fear was one of his biggest obstacles. And he couldnt just let it win over him. Percy did the most appropriate thing he could think ofhe reached into his pocket and pulled out his ballpoint pen. Wish me luck, Percy whispered to himself. He uncapped the ballpoint pen and soon enough found Riptide embraced in his hand. Yet again, the scythe appeared in Gaias outstretched palm. Percy moved to block her first blow. The scythes blade had become some sort of multicolored slate. Some parts of the blade had a hot red glow, while other parts were pink and purple, and sometimes the dull gray color of plain stone. In a quick swipe, the swords connected. Ah, so you like my blade, Gaia said. It is connected to the Earth, as am I. Gaia continued to attack, Percy waiting for an opening to return the favor. In the meantime, he started sensing for waterthe only thing that gave him power. He found it, a stream just a few yards from the clearing. Slowly, he pulled it toward him, weaving the water through the narrow splotches of lava that dotted the terrain. Percy held his concentration, but he could still feel his power draining from him. He needed a distraction. Percy knew that great deities loved to brag. "So who are you?"

"I?" Gaia saidher voice sounding more ancient and powerful than even the greatest god or titanwhile fighting onward still. "I am the first mother, the mother from which you all came. Yes, even of you, you puny son of Neptune. From me you came and," she paused in both speech and movement. Percy couldn't even fight back anymore. He rolled away as the scythe bounced harmlessly off his shoulder. But that was as far as he could go; because Gaia had cast some sort of magic that made the earth cling onto the soles of his shoes. Percy felt like he was in quicksand. Gaia grinned evilly at him and, still sleeping, finished, "to me you shall return." Once again she brought up her blade. Percy couldn't move, so he did the one thing he knew he could. He called forth the water he had been drawing from the stream. Gaia turned to face her doom. The water rose up in a giant wave and washed on top of the dirt woman. She became a soaking pile of mud. With a roar of fury came from the mass that was dirt lady. A tree branch came from the side of her, grasping a struggling blond haired girl. She looked at Percy with pleading gray eyes, her tan skin covered with patches of dirt. Even as a blob of mud, Gaias voice still echoed in his head, saying, "Without her you won't survive. And if you don't survive, the quest won't either. For a quest can't succeed without a sword, an arm, or," she paused, letting the tension build, "a heart." The tree dissolved into the ground, the girl sinking in with it. The spell had broken and Percy stood there gasping for breath. What in Hades had that been about? Who was that pretty blonde girl? Why did he feel so strong a connection to her? And why couldn't he remember her, but she still felt so familiar? Lupa came up beside him. "Come now, son of Neptune, we must see from where it is Juno sent you." Whoever he was and whoever Lupa was, Percy had concluded one thing. He was needed somewhere. By someone. And nothing would stop him from fulfilling his destinywhatever it was.

Lupa gestured Percy onto her back. Are you ready? she asked. Percy nodded. And with that, Lupa let out a long, thunderous howl, and set off to the unknown.

ANNABETH

Annabeth entered the Athena Cabin and yawned. It had been a long day of strategizing how to find Jason's camp, the Half Blood Legion Training Academy, as well as helping Leo with the plans of his flying boat. Piper was a really big help. But she still seemed too smart to be a daughter of Aphrodite. Annabeths main hobby was to think. Not to mention that she was the daughter of Athena. But without Percy, thinking was the only way that Annabeth could ever fall asleep. And it only worked like half of the time. She just couldnt help it when her mind wondered off about Percy. These things gave Annabeth even more reason to hate Aphrodite, the dumb goddess of love. Just before Annabeth was about to jump into her bunk, Mitchell, her younger sibling, appeared before her with a not-so-good look on his face. And a not-so-good smell. Annabeth sighed. What now, Mitchell? Cant you see that Im about to go to sleep? But! Mitchell whined. Let me guess, girl trouble? Ever since Madeleine came to camp a few days ago, Mitchell wasnt himself. You would catch him combing his hair and all, every time Madeleine was to walk by. Even when people were like: Dude, you so like that girl, Mitchell would deny it. And worse, Mitchell was too a coward to confront her, and since Annabeth was the camp leader, Mitchell expected Annabeth to everything about love. I was designing a perfume for M-Madeleine.

Annabeth couldnt help but roll her eyes. Mitchell stuttered at the mere mention of Madeleines name. Sadly, Mitchell needed a lot of help. No wonder he couldnt even confront her. but one of the Ares kids, Mitchell continued, took it from me, added some muddy water to the content, which altered the whole fruity smell, and poured it on me. At least Annabeth now knew where the awful stench was coming from. Yeah, Ill help you after you take a shower. But this will take forever to get off! Mitchell screamed, waking up the other Athena campers. Good. Quickly, Annabeth shoved him into the nearest bathroom. Unfortunately, Annabeth may have gotten some of the stench on her clothes. She had nobody to impress, so it didnt really matter. Percy was gone, there is another demigod camp whos residents may have caused World War 2, and the world was about to be engulfed in chaos. What wasnt there to worry about? Annabeth closed her eyes, begging sleep to come and take away the pain. Mercifully, it did. But the dream that came later had made things worse.

In her dream, it was the first day of winter break. Annabeth was leaning on what had once been Thalia's Tree. She hadn't seen Percy since August. And now the pain and longing was unbearable. Sure they had messaged each other every chance they got, but it was hard to find accessible rainbows to use for Iris-messages, and the time zones really screwed with things. This would be the first time she'd see him in three months, twenty-three days, and forty-six minutes. A grin spread across her face as a sleek blue Mazda rolled up the drive. Annabeth immediately straightened out herself.

It was Percy. But what if he had found someone else? What if he saw her and realized he didn't return her feelings anymore? Or worse, what if she saw him and realized she didn't love him anymore? Sure they saw each other when they Iris-messaged, but what if somehow . . . "Hello, Annabeth," Percy's mother, Sally Jackson, called out. She looked awfully relaxed in her jeans and t-shirt. "How are you?" "Good, Sally," Annabeth replied as a car door opened and closed. She and Mrs. Jackson had become quite acquainted two years ago when she, Percy, and Thalia went to help Grover retrieve two powerful demigods. "How's the book coming along?" Percy had mentioned that his mother had written a novel. It had become a major hit. Luckily, Percy had promised Annabeth a free copy. "Not sure," Sally answered in a tired voice. "No replies yet." "Oh, Mom, don't be like that," Percy consoled closing the trunk door. "Its like Blowfish said, publishers get a lot of manuscripts. They probably haven't read it yet. That and some of those publishers are in Timbuktu or something like that. They haven't even seen your stuff yet. When they do they'll love it and you'll have a million different deals to choose from." He looked at Annabeth. Annabeth got the message. Moving ever so subtly closer to Percy, Annabeth added, "Yeah Sally, there's a lack of books that incorporate growing up on a farm with Greek monsters. They'll love both your writing and your originality." Sally visibly brightened, "You think so?" "Absolutely." Sally looked from Annabeth to Percy and back. She shook her head. "You two know me too well. I'll leave you guys to camp. See you after winter break." She then proceeded to lean out the window, give Percy a good-bye kiss, roll up her window, and drive away. "Finally," Percy said with a sigh of relief.

"Since when are you happy that your mothers gone?" Annabeth inquired. "Luckily, she wasn't telling any embarrassing stories about me or anything . . ." Her speech was stopped short as Percy pulled her over to him and gave her a hug. Annabeth felt warm. Partly because of the radiation of heat. Partly because Percy was back and the pain in her heart had subsided. "That is why I was happy for my mother to leave," Percy responded to a question Annabeth had forgotten she asked. They were about to turn and walk into camp when the dream changed.

Annabeth was now in a tree. An oak like many of the naiads in camp were. Down below her was Percy. She called out to him, but it seemed he couldn't hear her. Annabeth checked her head, not that her Yankee cap would change Percy's ability to hear her. Astonishingly, nothing was on her head. She called out again, but this time Percy took off, sprinting his way out of the forest. Annabeth wanted to know what was going on, so she chased after her boyfriend. Percy ran through the woods. Annabeth always beat him in footraces. But this time, Percy was running with such speed and stamina that Hermes wouldve been jealous. As he drew farther away, Percy never turned back to see if anyone was following and didn't bring out Riptide, his sword, in case any monsters came at him. Soon, Annabeth began to slow down, her limbs growing heavier with every step. Apparently, Percy did so to, until she was close enough to touch him. Annabeth reached for his shoulder and grabbed it. Percy turned until Annabeth realized that it wasn't Percy at all . . .

Percys form changed from the gorgeous black-haired teenager to a grotesquely entranced female. The woman was exactly as Leo had described her: sleeping, black hair, and made of dirt. Annabeth gasped and tried to run. She pinched herself but she wouldn't wake up. Finally she looked at the woman's closed eyes. "Gaea," she addressed the woman with malice. "What precisely do you want from me?" "Don't give me that," the earth woman retorted. "Since I failed to break lovely Leo, I'm going to give your dashing Prince Charming a try. Even with his memory erased, your voice affected him during his test." "Test?" "Nothing you need to mind," Gaea replied. "You don't actually have me. I'm sleeping in Camp Half-Blood," Annabeth stated confidently. "Yes, well, not anymore," Mother Earth replied. Her expression changed. For a second, Annabeth could see Kronos in her. "You sleepwalked. Ran through that puny camp of yours, yelling, 'Percy, Percy! in your sleep." Her imitation of Annabeths voice was surprisinglybut, annoyinglyaccurate. Annabeth found it slightly unnerving that the sleeping woman was so aware of things. "And they're looking for you now. Gaia paused. Speaking of which," Gaia said. Gaea snapped her fingers. Annabeth awoke, still in the woman's grasp, in the middle of a road that was about three miles from Camp Half-Blood. She struggled, screaming in her captors arms. Gaea sighed, "I hate it when my children are beaten. I'll go to any lengths to protect them and according to my prophet . . ." "What did Medea say this time?" Annabeth said with a dab of thick sarcasm. Suddenly, tears, held back for weeks, had started to leak from her eyes, leaving wet trails down her face. "That the quest would have failed

without Percy? That I would break him? With his memory erased? Yeah right. He's probably fallen in love with some other girl at his new camp." Her voice cracked on the last sentence. It was hard to imagine, Percy, the guy she was so dedicated to had left her. "Oh, my dear," Gaea said, pulling Annabeth closer. "My dear, he hasn't even gotten there to fall in love with anyone. Hera really didn't want his fatal flaw to get the better of him." "Well, didn't he have others with him, like Jason?" That, I cannot confirm. But Percy will returneventually." "She didn't want Percy to have friends?" Exactly. Now, enough chit chat," she said in her sleeping state. The world around them spun and shifted. Annabeth couldn't remember reading anything about Gaea having an ability to travel like this, but she wasn't mentioned much in any mythology after the whole having her kid kill her husband story. Gods knew what powers she was hiding, but being personified as the Earth, it made sense that she would be able to travel across herself. All Annabeth knew was that whatever Gaea was planning it couldn't be good. The spinning came to a drastic halt. Without warning, Annabeth began gasping for air. Tentacles of mud were clinging to her legs, hardening within contact. Instantly, Annabeth reached for her knife. But it wasn't there. Surprisingly, Gaia was smart enough to take away all her chances of survival, and make Annabeth completely helpless. Gaea had let her go and was walking around. They were on a mountain top the San Franciscan Bridge in view. The ruin of a palace lay around them and in the distance a man was holding up something large and uncontrollably heavy. But the man was too tall to be a man. He had power that felt more ancient than the gods.

Indeed, he is my titan son, Atlas, Gaia said. Annabeth grimaced at the sight of this titan. She remembered being captured and tricked into holding up the heaviest thing imaginable. Something, that if dropped, could flatten and destroy the entire world. That something was the sky itself.

Reyna

Reyna knew something was wrong when the black haired, green-eyed boy entered the camp. Lupa, the she-wolf, came bounding into the camp with the boy perched on her back. This boy, whoever he was, had something to do with Jason's disappearance. At least, that's what Reyna's gut told her. It was hard being the Praefectus Castrorum, or Camp Prefect, for the Mars Cohort in the Half-Blood Legion Camp as well as the Tribunus Laticlavius, or second in command. Everyone was always looking up to Reyna to fight the hardest and best of everyone in the Training Academy. Just because she was good enough to lead her siblings, the children of the war god, Mars, into battle. Reyna knew that she didn't have as much pressure as Jason had, being the Legatus Legionis (commander in chief), but with no sign of him for two weeks and no one allowed to look for him under pain of death, everyone was looking to Reyna to take charge. The Training Academy only got that name so that the demigods parents wouldn't be suspicious and wonder about the new school their children had found. Otherwise, it was a glorified military camp, tents pitched in organized groups. The farther in you got, the bigger the tents were. In the middle of it all was the only true building in the entire camp, the castra or main fort. Campers were organized as Roman Legions had been when they were in power. The only difference lay in numbers of soldiers per group since the Academy was far from six thousand fighters large. Even though, the population last summer had increased to five hundred fighters large because of the Titan War. A contubernium was nonexistent, centuria from six to eight people instead of eighty, cohorts 30 to 40 people, and 400 in the entire Legion.

The new boy had obviously never been introduced to that kind of organization or discipline. He slumped onto the ground, plainly exhausted. Lupa came loping up to Reyna, bringing her back to focus. Reyna straightened herself and saluted Lupa as she had been trained. Lupa and the thirty wolves that stood behind her, nodded in return to the greeting. Though they were disciplined, the fighters and leaders at camp weren't strict outside of training exercises. Some of the wolves laid down as the younger ones chased their tails. It was rumored those wolves were demigods that had been favored by Lupa and were offered to be with her for eternity. Unlike her followers, Lupa never relaxed. She stood at attention in front of Reyna. "Any sign of Jason?" Reyna asked. Lupa shook her head. She had expected no other answer, but she still couldnt help but ask. Her eyes floated off to the mysterious boy that now approached them. He looked to be about sixteen or seventeen, in good shape, but not as buff as the Roman campers. His hair was black and eyes piercing green that reminded Reyna of the sea. The clothes on him were worn and dirty, of course they were after the test, but at least they had held up well. Reyna turned back to the wolf. "Who's the newbie?" "All I know is that Hera sent him," Lupa informed her. Of course, that's all Lupa ever knew. She saved questions until after the test. "Well, who's his . . ." the boy reached them and Reyna stopped short. She wanted answers. They would probably come better from the boy himself. If he didn't answer, well, lets just say that Reyna had her ways to getting what she wanted. She wouldn't kill him; just get some answers from him in the way she knew best. "Hi," the boy greeted, with a lazy wave. "Nice place you got here. What's it for exactly?" Lupa answered before Reyna could. "It is a Training Camp for young demigods."

Once again, someone beat her to explaining things. Only this time it was the boy, not Lupa, who knew the answer. "You mean, the kids of the gods?" The boy had his face scrunched as if trying to remember something. Reyna and Lupa exchanged a look that obviously meant shut up. As usual, this was the one order Reyna couldn't obey. She tried, she honestly tried, but failed as miserably as ever. "Okay then, Mr. Know-it-all," Reyna demanded, "what's your name? Where did you come from? How did you know what a demigod was? What else do you know? If you don't give me a straight answer I swear by all the gods that I'll . . ." "Reyna, enough," Lupa ordered. "I understand your upset, anyone would, but that does not give you the right to go threatening strangers. In the old days you know what I would have done to you for speaking out of turn, but I'll show you mercy in these modern times. Reyna looked down, embarrassed. She'd heard the speech often in her years in training, but she never seemed to learn her lesson. Lupa turned to the new boy. "Now, let's start with your name and age, son of Neptune, and then we shall elaborate more." Reyna's eyes widened in shock. A son of Neptune wasn't allowed, not after World War II. So now, not only had Jupiter broken the vow, but Neptune. This was no coincidence coming so soon after Jason's disappearance. When Lupa was done, Reyna was going to take this newcomer to the training grounds and give him an interrogation of her own. Once again the boy's face scrunched up in an effort to remember. Finally, he gave up and responded to Lupa's request. "My first name is Percy. I don't know my last name or my age. UhhI guess nothing seems familiar anymore."

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