The Contingent

Another Email from Zak Zimmerman to His Agent
Resolving a Breaking Point

To: Fred Fulson (ffulson@glamour.kingdom)
From: Zak Zimmerman (truezak@zak.awesome)

Subject: Apology Please Forward

Agentman! Find the email for Johnny Purify (you know who I mean) and send him what I’ve written. (Don’t edit or “correct” anything, I mean what I say), make sure to include my email address!

Hey Johnny,

I’m sorry. I should have said that years ago, back when I lost you that part, but I was stupid back than. I can’t hit undo on what I did to you, but I want to make things right. To start, choose a charity, I’ll donate all my money from my next Deadly Dead to it from you. I don’t know what you are up to now, so I don’t know anything better to do, yet.
Let me know if there is something else that helps. If you don’t want to speak to me, you can talk to Fred instead.

Hope things are awesome in your life, and continue to be so!

Zak Zimmerman

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What's in the Box-Part 3: Knowledge is Power, Right?

I sat at the bar at the Butcher and Brü, swinging my legs, and taking small sips of the beer I ordered. I picked the cheapest one, and it was still EIGHT dollars!!! What gives New York?

Finally Sam poked his head out of the kitchen and motioned for me to follow him. I took a deep breath, and downed the rest of my beer. Amanda recently told me that I talk a lot, and that it was my biggest social asset, since it confuses people, and is occasionally endearing. I really hoped she was right, because I really wanted Sam to like me. He was just so cool and knew stuff. Weird stuff. Him, having blood magic was definitely an added bonus.

He was a big dude. Like huge. Barrel chested and easily pushing two and quarter meters. His beard was large but well trimmed. Dark black like the rest of his styled hair. Each of his arms had to be as big around as my torso. What are you doing following this guy into a dark lot behind a bar, Eileen?

Out back behind the building was his “Witch’s Garden” as he called it. It had these weird pepper plants that had these super dark red peppers on them. They almost looked like little mini dolls of people. Like a mandragora or something! I swear they swayed closer to me as I walked by too. Sam sprinkled them with something from a bucket that they seemed to like and they swayed away from me. I leaned against the fence, in what I hoped was a casual position.

“So, I wanted to follow up with you about what we found in Eagle Bay. This isn’t a follow up in an official Contingent capacity. Do they even do follow ups? I could ask Derrick, or, on second thought maybe I shouldn’t. ANYWAY! We got to the woods, and everything was just dead. We were attacked by ghoul wolves? I guess that’s what you’d call them. As it turns out, we found the spirit of The Wood, who had fallen in love with the Quaker leader, and she was not able to let go of him when he died. We’re not sure when it happened, but he became a vampire. She had him staked with her roots, and through those roots his corruption spread to the rest of the forest. I can’t believe that your coven couldn’t tell the source of the corruption! I mean, you can open a portal to another reality, so you must be really powerful! But don’t worry, we killed the Vampire with fire, and the forest is returning to normal.”

I barely noticed it, but I saw his eyes widen at the mention of what we did to the Vampire.Then I briefly felt something that was really similar to what I felt in the woods, after I was bitten by the wolf. Except the rage I felt then wasn’t inside me, it was in front of me. And that’s when my brain put two and two together. Fuck. Well there that is. There was only one thing to do at this point: be totally honest.

“Look Sam, I genuinely don’t care what you are.”

I tried not to let my voice waver.

“You told me that you were able to open that portal from before with blood magic. I really want to know how it works. That’s what matters. s that something you can help me with?”

Sam seemed to calm down a bit at that.

“Listen, Eileen. I’ll make you a deal. You come by the bar every couple of weeks and hang out. Chat with me. Tell me about your research and missions. And in return I’ll tell you about blood magic. Maybe if this whole thing works out, and if it’s something you want, we can make it so you can learn it yourself. But that’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves. We’ll start with knowledge. Cool?”

“I mean heck yeah, cool!”

We spend the next hour or so talking. He showed me some more blood magic and I told him about the mission from two months ago. When we were done he got real serious all of a sudden.

“You know you can’t tell anyone about this stuff right? If the wrong people find out you know, it won’t end well for you.”

“No yeah one hundred percent. Lips sealed.”

“Cool. Now look me in the eye real quick…”

Next thing I remembered was walking out of the bar and heading home while tossing grandpa’s cube back and forth between my bandaged hands. Huh. Wonder how that happened?

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Property to your attention:

Attn: Ms. Debbie Herbig:

As part of our most recent mission, we explored an isolated pre-revolutionary village that was very atypical. Unusual for the time period, it was constructed of stone and the layout itself was very different than other Quaker settlements of the time period. We later learned that they had settled in an area under the protection of some kind of Fae that they referred to as “the Wood”. This is what influenced them to build their village from stone, so as not to chop down any trees.

Under the village, we found the last of “the Wood”, their queen. She and the Quaker leader had developed a relationship and when he died, she could not let him go; she had been sitting at his grave with her roots running through him. It’s unclear whether he was a vampire before or if it happened through his death and her attempted intervention. Through her having him staked and still being linked to the land, this caused the befoulment that had spread through the area. Additionally, it seemed that his influence was spreading both into native wolves and through bites, into humans, turning them into ghouls. We negotiated with the queen to let us burn the corpse so that nature could be renewed. She allowed this and then passed on herself in her grief.

As I mentioned before, the layout of this village did not follow the typical Quaker settlement but it goes beyond the use of stone. While a hemisphere and centuries away, the layout is similar to the site I investigated that lead to my encounter with the other. The meeting house in the center with other buildings of import arranged in the same pattern. This may be some sort of typical design for settlements that are constructed under supernatural influence and I believe should be studied more. This whole situation was brought to our attention by a coven of witches that had been looking for a site to perform their rituals. Given that the witches, the Quakers, and the Fae were all drawn to this location, it is likely a locus of power. Following up on that I researched and found that there is an intersection of ley lines at this site.

Given the significance of the site, I believe the Contingent should acquire it. This would allow the further study of a site built under supernatural influence as well as a retreat/research center for testing at a locus of power in relative privacy. Due to the corrupted fae influence, the area has not been very desirable or explored. It’s not on any historic site registries so we could do with the site what we like without oversight. Now that it is cleansed and the fae misdirection is dissipating, I was able to find who owns the land. They didn’t even realize their family held deeds on it. Based on our help saving the locals and the good will that generated and the undesirable site history, I was able to negotiate a great deal on it. I’ve included the details and submit them to you to decide whether the Contingent wants to move forward with the purchase.

Jack Mills

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What's in the Box-Part 2: Results

Hello Ms. Fisher,

We’ve been studying the Cube that you left with us for a month and we found some strange occurrences. First, we’ll go through what R&D has discovered:

  1. We can scan through outer layers but cannot determine what’s on the inside.
    1. Neutrons, which should be inert, obtain vastly distorted or utterly disappear unless we skim the edge. Some scientists believe there might be a black hole inside of it.
    2. The outer layers seem to be made of iron and carbon nanotubes.
      1. Just below the outer layers we can tell there is a great deal of machinery. From what we can tell, it seems this machinery is a combination of clockwork mechanisms, and, basic industrials.
      2. We can tell that previous layers have been sheared off by some sort of internal process due to scoring and searing marks. There are also indentations on the box for ritual marks, but, we’re having a hard time discerning what language or ethos those marks belong to.
      3. We’ve noticed blood stains on a few of the marks that match your dna.
      4. It seems like you’re expected to somehow open those areas and expose the machinery underneath.
  2. Its mass seems to be impossible to determine. It weighs six pounds at all time, even as we approach weightlessness.
  3. Its dimensions seem to shift depending on how you’re observing it.

With only a month of investigation, Logistics haven’t discovered a great deal, however, we do know it belonged to your recently deceased grandfather. We don’t know where he received the Cube from. That being said, we have found that his birth records are a forgery. He seems to have been born in the late 1800’s to upstate New York. After the Cube came into his possession, he reinvented himself as an immigrant to the country. His aging then tremendously slowed down, and he acquired quite a bit of money from war profiteering.


After finishing the email, I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to make sense of the millions of questions flying around my head. Black hole seriously? Are the ritual marks the ones I keep seeing?It is meant to be opened, but what happens when it does? I can’t lose anyone else. But I need to know. I can’t ignore it anymore.

I re-read the summary of what logistics found. Grandfather? I didn’t know I had one. Whoever he is, he seems shady. I wish we knew more. Wait, I can do something about this! Without hesitating, I shot off a quick text to Maddy

“Hey, can you do a deep web search for me?”

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Finding Peace in the Horrors

Darren inhaled purposefully as he closed his eyes. There was a brief pause before he exhaled in the exact same manner, trying to match the length of time taken for both. He lay in the salt-water tank, floating just at the surface and let his mind wander. Thinking back to his childhood, to the memory of his mother holding him in her arms as his father went into the darkness to find the wolf that had been howling out near the horse barn. It was the safest he had ever felt.

As he took himself back to that moment, he felt the sharp pain in his abdomen. The last time he had let himself go to this moment, it wasn’t quite good enough for the pukwudgie inside of him. Darren winced in pain for a moment before steeling his mind again, letting the pain fade, and relaxing back into the water.

“Maybe that’s not the go-to memory anymore. Maybe I need a new place to send my mind to harden it against reality. Maybe it isn’t about being comfortable but being real. Maybe…” Darren’s thoughts shifted and shifted hard. His whole body ached again, he opened his eyes and saw them, broken, battered, bloodied. Sir Nigel was crumpled, upside down between the front seats of the car. Junior’s torso slumped towards the driver’s side window. Daisy Mai folded into the space between the passenger seat and the dashboard. Darren looked to his right and made panicked eye contact with Eugenia.

Darren stayed in this moment in his mind for what seemed like hours. He examined the way Sir Nigel’s legs hung at an odd angle over his torso, his head leaking blood slowly. He watched Junior slowly breathe shallow breaths as he slumped forward, almost looking like a crash test dummy. He looked at Daisy Mai, her hair sticking to her strikingly beautiful face like some kind of macabre porcelain doll.

This was horror come to life. Horror come to his life. Now, this was his life. Friends’ and colleagues’ bodies broken and smashed, his own ribs screaming at him in pain, his body bruised, and yet still there was a mission to be completed. This was the reality he lived in now. Eventually, they would all probably die thanks to The Contingent’s mission.

Darren thought to himself “Reality isn’t about being happy or comfortable. Reality is just reality, and there are a lot of fucked up things in the world outside of my comfortable (until a year ago) little bubble. These are realities that people have been living for centuries. They have been watching their friends die long before I knew about the supernatural and I knew about the supernatural long before I would admit it to myself.“
It was at that moment that everything became a little clearer.

His movements in his mind slowed. He observed the scene again and again, familiarizing himself with it. Learning from it, and finding peace in the idea that his mission, not as a Contingent agent, but as Darren Knox, was not to find his own happiness, but to ensure that humanity might find their happiness by Darren quelling the supernatural creatures that would take it away from them.

As he arose from the tank and dried himself of the salt water he looked in the mirror across the room.

“What sweet hell does reality have for me today?” Darren said before loosing a brief sigh of relief and a smile when his reflection didn’t answer.

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The Real Story?

To: aFriend
From: Meredith Cohn
Re: The penalty from saving Washington DC from zombies

Dear Friend,

Thanks again for the info. Hope you’re getting plenty of rest and eating right after our latest adventure. I’ve attached a draft I’d like you to read. Any input you have is welcome, and with your approval I’ll send it out for publication. Hopefully this can clear up some public misconceptions.

Sincerely,
Meredith

P.S. Do we have some kind of secure email server?? I really feel like that ought to come with the job.
P.P.S. It’s a working title.

[Attachment: TheRealStory.pdf]

The Tomb Where It Happened:

The real story of the battle for DC

The world has had a lot of revelations in the past year.

For most of us, myself included, learning that the supernatural is really out there came as a shock, to say the least. It has been a struggle to adjust to a world where demons, fairies, and monsters are more than just scary stories. Plenty of people still find it hard to believe that any of it really exists, and I can’t blame them. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I wouldn’t be convinced, either.

But there are those for whom this is not a surprise at all. The Contingent operated in the shadows for years before the events of 2017 brought it into the light. Its operatives have done the difficult and dangerous job of keeping humanity safe, often without any form of thanks. “I didn’t work for the Contingent,” says one operative of the time before the Contingent went public, “I just showed up and saved the world.” This seems to be a running theme among Contingent operatives: show up, save the world, disappear again without asking for anything in return.

And then last year happened.

The threats we faced in 2017 were bigger than anything the Contingent had faced before. Not one but three incredibly powerful demons attacked all at once: one in DC, one in New Orleans, and one in California. As the world’s foremost authorities on the supernatural, it fell to the Contingent to fight off all three of these monsters alone.

I’ve worked tirelessly to uncover the true story of that day’s events, particularly what happened in Washington, D.C. This was where a demon named Thorn did its best to turn the laws of life and death themselves against humanity. With federal safehouses and military equipment stationed all over the District, this seemed to be a strategic place for the Contingent to make a stand. But with a demon this powerful, of course things were going to go wrong.

The event that caused the most public commotion was the tank that battled its way through a sea of zombies as it made its way down the streets of D.C. I can confirm with utmost certainty: it was members of the Contingent who fought this battle from atop and inside the tank. This is where the story gets a bit muddy, as eyewitnesses struggled to understand what they were watching.

Here is the consensus: A military tank made its way down the streets of our nation’s capitol, and eventually to Arlington Cemetery. A huge crowd of humanoid creatures followed a similar path at the same time. People heard rumblings and strange noises coming from underground, and then a large earthquake and something like a roar. Finally, things quieted down.

There are conflicting accounts once you get into any detail beyond that. To some people, it seemed that the tank was stolen, and the people inside were mowing down soldiers. “I couldn’t understand it,” says one witness who wishes to remain anonymous. “They were just mowing people down. I just ran and hid.”

This is a story that many of us who weren’t in Washington that day find acceptable, but it may not be true- or at least, not complete. Another who watched the event from an office in the Capitol building, tells a slightly different story. “The building was under attack already,” they told me. “If the Contingent hadn’t showed up, we would all have been dead.” This and several other eyewitnesses believe that it wasn’t a crowd of people, but a horde of the undead, that the Contingent fought from the tank. Certainly some of the bodies at the scene were far too old to have been killed in the battle. Police reports from the days after the battle confirm that there were bodies in varying states of decay, from a day or two old to several weeks.

From here, we move to the question of how the Contingent got a tank in the first place. This, again, is contested information. The commonly accepted wisdom is that they simply took it from the military, but that may not be the case. According to one, now rather infamous, Contingent operative, “The National Guard looked at the hoard of zombies… and made the decision to let us do their job for them.” Other operatives who were on the scene confirm that their actions that day were not only necessary to stop the encroaching evil, but in fact done with the blessing of the military forces who had been assigned to the task. “They let us take the fall,” one operative said of the military. If someone was going to be blamed for what happened, perhaps the Contingent seemed like an easy target. They were, after all, a previously unknown organization of people who knew far too much about the supernatural.

Or maybe they stole the damn tank. Once again, it’s hard to say. Representatives of the National Guard declined to be interviewed, so we have only the Contingent’s word on the subject.

The battle progressed through D.C. and eventually made its way into the catacombs beneath the District. This was where Thorn itself lay in wait. Contingent operatives tell me that the demon had built some kind of robotic suit for itself, something almost outside of human comprehension. Operatives who were in the thick of the fighting have trouble explaining now what happened down there. They were ultimately able to distract the demon and take control of the suit, which was powerful enough to kill its creator. Once again, we have only Contingent operatives’ word that this is what happened. The Contingent was alone in the bowels of D.C., fighting a horror beyond comprehension.

I have been able to confirm independently that the demon Thorn was real. It’s obvious by the fact that we’re all alive today that it wasn’t successful. Those two things in mind, it seems more likely than not that the Contingent did in fact kill the demon. Full, elaborate details of what happened may never come to light; in fact, they may be impossible for any of us to understand. But it does seem likely that we have the Contingent to thank for our continued existence.

So, the story is this: Contingent operatives took control of a military tank, with or without permission from the National Guard. They used the tank to make their way through the streets, fighting off a crowd that was made either of zombies, or of people whose bodies decayed much more rapidly than they should have in the next couple of days. They made their way underground, where they probably killed the demon responsible for all the chaos.

The Contingent has been the center of a mixed public reaction since the battles of 2017. Conflicting information abounds, and for being such huge spectacles, the battles seem now to be shrouded in mystery. Hopefully this article has cleared up at least one of those mysteries.

In the meantime, the Contingent has continued to do what it always does: show up, and save
the world.

This article was not sponsored by the Contingent and the author is receiving no monetary benefit from the Contingent for writing it. However, the author has been employed by the Contingent since April, 2018.

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The Spirit of Learning, Op. #2
Willard Buss, Recorded Notes

With my continued research in the Contingent’s R&D Laboratory, I have come up with a working theory, though, it will require additional data to confirm. I first thought of it when Junior was repairing that old car that had pinned Ms. Rebecca Lynn’s not so recently deceased spirit to a tree for 50+ years. The corsage that had anchored her to that place looked almost freshly picked. That made me think about the ghost flask which in turn led me to consider the Promethean arm. They were all remarkably well preserved; honestly, far better then they had any right to be. The arm could be somehow different, but the way it twitches so unnaturally of its own accord, I have yet to come up with another workable explanation. If what I hypothesize is true, then the small fragments of spirit imbued in, anchored to, these objects could be responsible for sustaining them.

Now if this theory of mine turns out to be true that brings me to a series of questions. Is death required for an anchor to exist? Could an anchor ever be reliably reproduced? Could this spiritual imbuement offer an explanation for why even the most compatible transplant organs get rejected? Could this lead to a solution?

The recent investigation in Eagle Bay, unfortunately, didn’t turn up any practical data. What it has done is demonstrate that materials of supernatural origin are not rejected as readily as tissue from other humans. More research is required, but potentially supernatural tissue may bypass rejection completely. More importantly, the introduction of supernatural elements to transplanted organs could have similar results.

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Fragment: Junior; Home. Op #2

The smell of grass greeted him as he popped the door to the Beetle. That was good, meant the neighbors kid mowed the lawn while he was gone. He’d have to make sure to pay in advance for the next mow as well, if the work kept coming the way it did. Gotta keep the HOA happy, afterall.

Junior gingerly clambered out of the car, shutting it behind him. He clicked the button on his keychain, the aftermarket mods he installed locking the doors and sliding the windows up. His head was hurting, so he was glad he didn’t install a beeper along with it. He gently touched the wrapping at his temples, already annoyed with it.

The doctor had looked at him weird when he said no narcotics, but had written him a Perc script anyways. Said he’d need it. Junior was starting to believe him.

Sliding the key into the lock, he shouldered the door, the swollen jamb always a little snug to get open. He winced, another spurt of effort making his head hurt just a little worse, alongside the clinking of his keys as he dropped them on the front table. His duffle got a quick toss toward the washing machine in the mud room, but unloading would be later. He was so damn tired. The grind of the shutting garage door muffled as the door shut behind him.

Half habit, half distraction, he was already turning the idea of the ‘new’ Wagoneer over in his head as he walked down the hallway. Back at headquarters, the wagon would probably need a new radiator and some frame work. The ‘Thunderdome’ treatment he had given it during the last outing had prevented too much more damage, so the bones were still good. Turns out 50 some odd years in that Nowhereville trap was pretty good to the steel.

Junior glances right, the cracked door giving him a glimpse of the colorful room as he passed, a toy or two left out sloppy on the floor. Right. Another missed weekend. Another hospital stay at fault. His hand returns to his aching head. Was it worth it?

Daisy was in poor shape. Nigel… Well, honestly, it was hard to tell how much worse it could get for the guy. ‘Geni and Darren were banged up, too, though not as bad. Junior’s fault, least that’s how he saw it. Two missions, two head-ons. How’d he think he was cut out for this? Was he helping?

Well, yeah. A square mile of suburb just got to rejoin reality. Numbers-wise, it had been a ‘W’. There’d probably be an adjustment period for those folks, half a century to catch up on and all. Least they could be afraid of a late bill or a burnt turkey instead of getting mauled to death by Slender-bears. Like normal folk.

Jacket hits the floor, rump on the bed. He stoops to untie his boots. Son-bitch, that makes it hurt worse, too.

Two thuds of discarded shoes later, he flops back on the bed, arm across his eyes. Slowly, though, he peeks out, his eye on the jacket. Yeah, he’d probably have to. A lazy side-roll gets it in arm’s reach, his hand digging in the pocket for the orange cylinder.

Percs. Not a perk, he was musing, thinking he was sardonic.

Just for now, he thought to himself, lifting himself up and into the bathroom.

He wasn’t going to enjoy them. He knew they were just as dangerous as the bottle.

It just hurt so damn bad…

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Jeremy gets a penpal

The first day he wrote the request, he struggled to refer to the kid as anything other than “it”, struggling with the initial onset of disquiet and several flashbacks from a time he can’t recall. Blurs of inhumanly tall beings wielding terrifying weapons, flashes of sutured flesh, and the scent of rot flooded his head. Each was a painful recollection of something, but what it was, he could not remember. Everyone of them ended in a tangled embrace of thorns. He crumpled each letter in frustration, tossing them in a pile across the room. Realizing that his frustration and anger was not fully his own, he gave up on the eight draft and decided to tackle the task another day.

The ninth letter was John’s final draft to HR, making a formal request to ship a letter and small box of goods to one Jeremy Pendergrass. With a clearer mind, he wrote the letter to Jeremy after the request. Guilt began to weigh on John as he penned the letters onto the page. He was unable to reconcile his unjustified anger towards Jeremy. He was just a kid, and certainly didn’t deserve the spiteful thoughts John had harbored for him only days ago…


Jeremy,

Hey kiddo. Hopefully this gets forwarded to you. I went back to the fairgrounds to collect your things. Your father’s things as well. Not everything will be sent to you, especially a lot of your Father’s things, but hopefully you’ll have a small box of things that are yours sent along side this letter. There’s also a frame in there too. It’s a bit big for the photograph of your mother, but I figured it would be a good size for you to handle, given your situation. It should keep longer that way, hopefully it won’t fade as much.

You should send a list of some things you like. I’ll see if we can scrounge some stuff up for you. I’m not really sure where you’re living now, but hopefully you’ve got a TV? Maybe we can send you some movies? You have any favorites?

You’ve been through a lot recently, and with the Contingent taking care of you, I’m sure you are having to adjust to many changes. Given how fast everything has been happening, I didn’t get the chance to tell you but I want to let you know: I am proud of you. That probably sounds odd coming from some stranger you only knew for a day or so, but you made the right choice that night. Standing up to your father, knowing what it potentially meant for you, was very brave. Life is going to be rough for you, kiddo, and it’s going to take from you. But it will never be able to take your ability to make the right choice; the good one. You’ve got a good moral compass, and you need to hold onto that no matter what. It makes you more human than most of us.

I’ll keep in touch.

John Miller

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Letter to HR
Inquiry about medical expenses, wages and benefits.

I wanted to follow up to my prior letter, which apparently never reached you, as I have yet to receive a response. While I’m delighted to be a part of the Contingent and all the good work it’s doing I must ask for a response as the bill collectors are becoming a bit rude. (During my last expedition I had one repeatedly trying to call at the most inopportune moments).

I’ve enclosed my initial letter which outlines the information I need (where to file for Medical etc reimbursements).

I look forward to hearing from you,


To: HR
From: Tyr Anasazi

I was surprised at how quickly we were sent out to our first encounter without having completed all of the paperwork and other items necessary for most jobs. (I’ve enclosed a copy of my NY-2, and W-2 that I printed off from the In ternet to help payroll).

During that encounter I suffered some injuries to my arm that required some attention. I’ve recovered but need to provide the medical personal who saw me insurance information. Also, since this was a work-place injury I’ll need to find out whom to send the bills to.

Thanks,

PS: Do you guys offer a 401k plan? If so, up to what percent is matched?

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