Excerpt for The Kid (Cult of the Butterfly 22) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Kid (Cult of the Butterfly 22)

By Paul Smith.



The Kid (Cult of the Butterfly 22)

Paul Smith

Copyright 2017 Paul Smith

Smashwords Edition.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to people, places or events is purely coincidental, and bears no malicious intent.

ISBN: 9781370817894

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Evening fell. As Seb stood on his balcony, mug of coffee and one of the Admiral’s cigarettes in hand, he felt his eyes unexpectedly welling up.

Come on Seb, you knew it would come to this.

One can plan for the end, but the reality rarely matches the abstract.

He had no regrets. That, at least, was something he was proud of. There were things he wished he might have done differently, things he was sorry he’d never get the chance to do. Who didn’t? It was an intrinsic aspect of human nature, to second guess, to dream. But he was happy with what had gone before, with the paths he’d chosen.

Now all that remained was to walk this final road with dignity. To see it through to its conclusion.

What lay beyond even the butterfly wouldn’t see.

Too many variables, converging from too many angles. All they could do was make their choices, and hope things came out for the best.

Glancing over his shoulder, he regarded the freshly ironed red vest hanging from the bedroom door.

Time to get my glad rags on.

He paired the vest with some loose harem pants and his usual profusion of bangles and a couple of choice fetishes slung from leather thongs round his neck. His knife went into the holster that clipped onto his belt, hidden from behind beneath the vest’s low slung back.

His Carousels didn’t precisely fit with the rest of the ensemble (black, grey and blood red to their vibrant blue and white) but to be quite honest he didn’t care. If it came to a race for life he didn’t plan on loosing because of bad footwear.

I’m committed, but not suicidal.

The realisation brought him up short.

The last time he’d been in a situation like this had been his first meeting with the Admiral, beneath a brooding sky that kept teasing summer rain. And back then his intentions had very much been towards self harm, of some description. He wasn’t necessarily out to kill himself, but the possibility was definitely on the table, if not entirely acknowledged.

I’ll just leave this here…

He had, he supposed, been lucky that it had been the Admiral who had answered his call, rather than some other fiend of the Pit.

Sighing, he gave his apartment one final glance, refusing to get melancholy. He wasn’t looking for a way out, but that did not change the fact that there was a very real possibility he wouldn’t walk away from this. For all her bluster and frippery Alex was an extremely accomplished witch in her own right. And that was before you started bringing her allies into the equation.

Whoever this Kid is…

Pulling the door closed, he locked up and headed for the stairs then paused.

In for a penny…

Glancing about, he satisfied himself there was no one else around then stretched his wings. It was an odd sensation, like jazz hands in the wind. He grinned at the idea, felt the butterfly’s proboscis swell with excitement. It was a decidedly erotic gesture, his body and the archetype’s shimmering manifestation working to find correlations that would parse their vastly different physiologies.

The feedback was having a decided effect on him in turn. Groaning, he stuck a hand in his pocket, forced himself to concentration on the matter in hand and leapt…

...Vortex rush of light, sensation of pages turning…? Reaching…

...To appear in an alley, electric blue light of his wings limning the stone work and bins about him as they swept together with a sound like thunder. The butterfly ceded centre stage once more, fading from view as he stepped out onto the street beyond. Glancing about, he set off in the direction of Summer Green, the urban park that bordered the residential district of Summer Heights along its southern edge. They were meeting in one of the boutique office units currently under construction on the park’s far side. They were dimly visible as he reached the end of the street, a row of dark shadows hunched behind the line of street lamps that marked the road running the length of the park’s far side.

Some surreptitious digging had revealed the unit in question was owned by Sol Trading, one of the shell companies Fistral maintained to help obfuscate the coven’s finances.

So, home territory in case anything goes wrong. Which does beg the question, how much trouble are they expecting from a cleaner…?

Or was it that they just wanted to make it easier to clean up the mess after they murdered them?

Feeling the first dance of nerves in his stomach, Seb set off up the tree lined avenue towards that row of waiting lights.

He arrived to find Ilian and Flo loitering by the entrance to the compound, smoking. Ilian offered him a knowing smile that was so filthy Seb could feel his cock swelling, though that might be the aftermath of the heady transition. He nodded acknowledgement as the door doll led him wordlessly back towards the building’s entrance.

They’re in the main space beyond the lobby,” he offered, eyes lingering on Seb’s chest before drifting downwards. “Let me know if you’re free afterwards, I’ll help you out with that.”

Seb screwed down the desire to grasp a fistful of the other guy’s vest, uncertain whether he wanted to slap him or shove his cock down his throat.

Need to nail down that sexual tension Laikee, this is no time for distractions.

Instead he nodded, stepped through the door to head out across the bare, concrete space, passing through a patch of moonlight lancing down from the generous skylight overhead.

Looks like this’d be a nice space to work in, he pondered, glancing back over his shoulder at the far door. Such a shame we’re going to trash it.

Double doors on the far side led through to what was presumably to act as the main work floor, currently a broad open space partitioned by hanging sheets of plastic. He caught a glimpse of floor to ceiling windows on the far side as he stepped into the room, skin crawling with the sense of magic washing out from a spot off to his right.

This does not bode well.

The sheets towards the far side stirred fitfully again, the smell of cigarettes drifting in on the breeze.


So maybe things weren’t to be as simple as he’d expected.

Darling, you’re here?”

Seb turned to find Alex coming towards him, fading smile above open arms. The Queen leant in for air kisses, but the wariness was unmistakeable in her eyes as she stood back to take in Seb’s attire.

I figured something a little less ostentatious was in order, given the nature of tonight’s business.”

Yes indeed...” and Seb had the uncanny impression she’d read the hidden meaning behind his words. “Do come this way, our visitor is due shortly.”

Seb nodded, following wordlessly as Alex shimmied towards the far end of the floor, and the focus of power. The butterfly began to stir as they approached one of the partitioned spaces set against the far wall. Industrial spots had been set up within, their light rendered diffuse by the intervening plastic. Strange shadows lurked within, writing shapes that seemed to dip and sway to some unheard music. As they stepped through Seb suddenly understood why. A circle covered the floor, nested lines of meaning surrounding a blank centre that vomited foreboding into the surrounding air.

Oh fuck.

He really has outdone himself.”

Seb glanced at The Queen, who gestured to the figure knelt on the circle’s far side.

Fistral, head bent over one clenched bloody fist, shoulders taunt with concentration. He was muttering something, but the sound was oddly obscured, whether by the odd acoustics of the space or the uncanny effects of the circle it was difficult to say.

He glanced up briefly at Alex, smouldering eyes (they were literally glowing like a newly woken volcano) meeting hers before he went back to his work.

Turning her back, Alex gestured they should leave him to his work.

You’re bringing... it here?” Seb asked. He’d almost said ‘The Kid’, stopping himself at the last minute from tipping his hand.


Shit. “Your benefactor?”

The Queen’s smile was somewhat supercilious. “Oh no. Not yet. This is simply an envoy, one of it’s trusted inner circle if you will. You see, tonight is not just about gaining access to the tower.”


The smile was condescending now. “For someone with your background I’d have expected you to understand what’s going on.” Alex laughed, her whole demeanour suddenly gleeful. “Tonight offers us an unprecedented opportunity! To gain access to the other side, to those who have been trying to foil us.”

You’re planning to put that thing inside the cleaner.”

Oh, bravo!” The Queen clapped her hands together. “See? I knew you’d catch on.” Her expression turned predatory. “Tonight we gain access not only to Kanto tower, but also to that dratted thorn in my side the MU.” She chuckled, laying a sisterly arm across Seb’s shoulders. “Finally, we will be able to strike a blow back at those meddlesome old women.”

The MU…?”

Why yes! They’ve been working to foil our plans for the last decade at least. Now finally we’ll have an inside line to what they’re up to.” She glanced at Seb. “You’d be amazed how difficult it is to get someone into an organisation like that. You’d think an institution like the Church would want as many bums on seats as they can lay hands on.” She sighed. “But they won’t catch us this time. Not if we’re sending someone whose already on the inside!”

How devilishly clever.”

The Queen grinned. “Quite so! Come, our guest will be arriving shortly, we must ensure all preparations are in place.”

Said preparations involved, apparently, some mood lighting, so a brace of further spots angled to illuminate a rough path from the gap in the plastic sheeting through to the centre of the room. The light refracted oddly off a broad strip of what looked like industrial strength cling film which ran it’s length, a suspiciously placed piece of rough tarpaulin covering the floor at its end. Candles arrayed to either side and on tables round the perimeter provided further patches of flickering light.

She’s here.”

They both glanced up to see Devan’s disembodied head had appeared in the gap between the hanging sheets. The Queen nodded, indicating she was ready, moving to take her place before the tarpaulin. The older witch offered Seb an impenetrable look before disappearing again. Shrugging inwardly, Seb moved to take his own place the The Queen’s left. They both heard voices, Devan’s raised slightly in quiet warning that received cautious ascent. There was something about the tone of that response that made Seb’s ears perk up.

So it was he lifted his gaze just in time to see Madam J cross the threshold, head held high in defiance.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…

So forth, for what felt like far too long. He gave himself a mental slap. Get a grip Laikee!

Yes, but what the fuck is she doing here?

An excellent question. Though to be fair he’d already held all the pieces to put this together. Grandma Johnson, Captain of one of the leading cleaning commune’s best crews.

Who else was it going to be walking through that door?

Their eyes met as she approached and Seb found himself praying, something he very rarely did.

Please don’t let on you know me, please don’t let on you know me…

Peace be with you young Wicca,” she offered, her expression softening briefly.

The Queen arched an elegant eyebrow. “So our intelligence is accurate then.” A nasty little smile twisted the corners of her lips. “A trial by fire it is.”

Say something you dolt!

...You’re wasting your time here…

...I can get you her ID card…

...You don’t have to hurt her, she has nothing to do with this…!

Except the knowing look in her eye suggested she quite patently did.

The butterfly rose, whispering sweet necessities in his ear.

You won’t break her. But you might break her through her daughter...”

The look Alex shot him was calculating, disbelief mingling with cold appreciation at such mercenary tactics. It made Seb shiver involuntarily, but not as much as the tiny nod of approval Madam J gave out the corner of his eye.

Devan, bind her.” The Queen raised her voice. “Ilian! Bring the chair…!” gesturing to a spot ten feet or so away from the tarpaulin. She scowled. “We’ll need someone to go and round her up, discreetly.”

Leave it to me,” Seb found himself saying.

Alex turned to regard him questioningly. “Oh? She lives in the suburbs, doesn’t she?”

Are we sure this is the right time…? Seb worried.

The butterfly’s confidence was a boundless ocean.

Very well. Seb licked his lips. “Not a problem.”

Indeed… and we can trust you to take the woman who is your closest confidant, by all accounts, and bring her here…?” The Queen glanced meaningfully towards the whirling vortex of caged madness that gyrated behind the far wall of plastic.

I’m one of you, remember?” Seb’s grin was all gallows chill. “Besides, whatever happens you still have her mother.” And he gestured to the side where Devan and Ilian were now binding the old woman into one of the sturdy metal framed seats from the club.

The Queen appeared to consider, but Seb could already feel the shape of her decision in the air. “Very well, prove your worth.”

Taking a step back, Seb allowed the butterfly’s wings to unfurl, the chaos spirit’s terrible mien manifesting in lines of shimmering blue light superimposed on his own form like a cage.

The Queen gave a sharp intake of breath, eyes shining.

Devan and Ilian both froze in their work. Fright and, in Devan’s case, a weird mix of longing made black pits of their eyes.

Only Madam J appeared unaffected, though Seb suspected that was a side affect of having thrown up what mental walls she could against what was to come. For the tiniest instant he fancied he saw a flicker of that approval once more, felt his heart and wings swell in brief response.

Then he spread those wings wide, bringing them together with a clap like thunder, disappearing in a whirling vortex of shining fractals… emerge on the other side of the fold.

The Johnson household was dark around her, quiet in the way of a building filled with those who sleep.

All except Raina, sat at the bottom of the stairs. She stood to meet Seb’s astonished gaze, smiling faintly as he took in the simple red summer dress she wore. Her feet were bare, her hair was unbound, waves of it running down her back.

All of it felt like an inevitability, like the truth.

The kids…?” he managed, voice catching.

Louisa’s upstairs with them. All sound asleep.”

Before he knew what he was doing he’d taken a step towards the stairs, was stopped by her hand on his chest.

No Seb, not now. Don’t let this be their last memory of you.”

He nodded, his heart breaking over it even as he saw the sense in her words. Silently he nodded, held out his hand.

She took it.

Falling through blue light…

Previous transitions had always been accompanied by a sense of falling, of rushing motion at the crest of a roiling azure wave.

This time he felt himself held, comforted, carried soaring aloft on powerful white wings that were not his own.

They arrived at the centre of the room atop the tarpaulin, wrists held loosely in each other’s hands.

Rough grip on his shoulder as Seb was dragged back from the trap, which sprang shut on Raina, leaving her stood in a stray shaft of impossible moonlight. It washed her skin out in unearthly tones, cast indigo shadows in the creases and folds of her dress.

So, the harbinger speaks true.” The Queen inclined her head at Seb, who nodded back uncertainly. Viscerally this all felt wrong, yet on some indefinable mental plane he knew it was exactly as it should be.

He’d come to trust that phantom certainty over the years, it had saved his life more than once.

What did you expect?” The butterfly, speaking for him. “Desertion in the ranks?”

As ever a truth, twisted just so to resemble the truth.

Yes, well...” The Queen’s smile had become almost feral as she turned to regard Raina in her moonlit prison. “So my dear, you are the key to unlocking our ambitions.”

Raina walked towards the edge of her prison, one hand raised to rest, finger’s splayed on the shimmering barrier that formed it’s perimeter. “This will not end as you imagined.”

The Queen raised an eyebrow. “Oh? I rather feel like we hold all the cards.” And she nodded to Madam J. It was only then Seb realised she had been beaten, one eye now swollen shut. His heart lurched into his throat. He had to force himself not to move, hands twitching at his side.

It was not time yet. First, the trap must be sprung.

So, old woman...” The Queen sauntered round the edge of the cage to stand behind Madam J’s chair, one gloved hand coming down to caress her cheek lovingly before taking hold of a fist full of hair. “What do you say? Will you tell us what we need to know? Do you even know it for that matter?”

She knows.” Ilian, stood to one side beyond the circle of light cast by the lunar prison. “We’ve checked her service records. She can get us in. Could even get us fresh passes so we didn’t need to drag her along every time.”

The Queen nodded thoughtfully. “And for this you’re willing to sacrifice what? Your daughter’s body…?” she jerked the woman’s head round to meet her gaze, lips curling with malicious anticipation “...your daughter’s soul…? I would so enjoy breaking the spirit of which ever weapon we choose to imbue with it. I’ve something special in mind for her: a sword, that craves the blood of innocents to slake it’s thirst.” Her grin widened into a leer. “I shall quite enjoy watching her go mad.”

But Madam J’s lips were set in defiance. “You’ll get nothing from me, bitch...” the shock of that word from her mouth almost made Seb laugh. He stifled the urge, inchoate talons twitching.

Such language! And from a senior in the MU. It’s a wonder our esteemed friend Ms Emerson allows such potty mouthed individuals into her little knitting circle.”

The elderly MU member’s expression was severe. “Do not profane our name upon your lips.” She shook her head sadly. “I would not expect the likes of you to understand the strength of bonds formed in pursuit of the greater good.”

The Queen cast her eyes heavenward (an ironic gesture, some irreverent part of Seb’s mind pointed out). Striking the old woman with a sound like meat being tenderised, she flicked the end of her feather boa casually over one shoulder.

Oh have it your way. It’s no skin off my nose, after all...” and she winked at Seb “...I have always preferred the hard way…” Turning she raised cupped hands to either side of her lips. “Fistral darling! Unlock the connecting gate!”

Seb’s stomach dropped through the floor as he realised what was happening. A moment later his blood froze as the infernal that had been imprisoned in the far trap thrust it’s way through the interconnecting tube Fistral must have been maintaining to come oozing down the walls of the lunar prison.

Unable to contain himself any longer Seb wrestled free of the butterfly’s restraining hand, head whipping back and forth between mother and daughter in wild panic.

Raina was backing against one wall of her, expression grim but without fear. She saw Seb looking her way, shook her head in warning.

For the love of God, now Seb Laikee! The time to act is now!”

He turned to regard the old woman in the chair, blood streaming from her broken lip. Felt the certainty rise within him like the onset of arousal. The Queen had turned in stunned surprise, a look of tired resignation creeping across her face as she caught a fistful of the old woman’s hair again, knife flashing in her hand.

Seb grinned his gallows smile again as he shook blue light out about him like a cloak. “Get away from her, you bitch!”

The Queen just had time to roll her eyes before the shaft of moonlight exploded in white light, blinding all.

All eyes snapped towards the light. The scrap of tarpaulin had been scuffed to one side, partially revealing the ebbing lines of the arcane circle it had hidden, it’s concentric rings of sigils fading to a dull, molten red as the magic that had imbued them died. Raina lay on the floor prone on the floor, the glowing corpse of the daemon Fistral had been holding a smoking pile of neon effluence behind her.

The Blue Admiral stood with one boot atop the fiend’s ruined flank, make up immaculate against it’s deathly skin. Satisfied it had everyone’s attention, the daemon smiled, blowing smoke from the barrel of one of it’s pistols.

Did somebody order the cavalry?”

For fuck sake...” Alex turned towards the partitioned alcove “...Fistral!”

The demon summoner strode from his ivory palace, taking in the scene and clenching fists that were already starting to steam with constrained power.

The Admiral turned to meet Seb’s gaze. “Do stop gawping and get on with it?!”

Seb nodded, turning back to Alex as The Queen pressed her knife closer to the old woman’s throat.

Ignoring the advancing witch (with some effort, Fistral had a mean reputation below) the Admiral bent to offer its hand to the woman sprawled on the floor. Raina stirred, lifting her head to meet the daemon’s regard. She was amazingly unscathed, immaculate almost, only her dress showing signs of her brief tangle with the daemon.

My lady?”

Their finger’s touched and suddenly the Admiral understood why.

In a daze (a most discomfiting state for a daemon) the infernal helped Raina to her feet. It made to speak, but she placed a finger to its lips, a sad smile playing about her lips.

They both glanced at the bull faced witch.

You’ll take this one?”

The daemon lifted its chin rakishly. “It would be my pleasure.”

A shot rang out, making everyone in the room flinch, pinging off concrete and checking the witch’s progress. A second followed moments later.

Fistral’s head exploded in a fountain of gore.

The Admiral’s brow furrowed as it lifted its pistols in confusion.

Devan looked round in panicked confusion, trying to work out who was firing while avoiding the centre of the room. The thing living inside his ex-lover (strange, how much that knife twisted) was doing something odd to reality there, or perhaps it was just a function of the amount of magic drawn into such a small space. He could feel Alex pulling at threads, weaving something even as she threatened the life blood of the old woman in the chair in an attempt to keep Seb and the monstrosity distracted.

There. Movement in the doorway.


The Priest’s unruly mop appeared once again round the door frame, then he crept forward into the room.

Devan spotted Ilian and Flo as they emerged from the shadows, knives in hand.


The cry was unthinking, instant, as was his dash forwards.

Ilian’s eyes flicked up, surprise and betrayal stark on his face as the bolt of crimson lightning Devan had cast impaled him through the chest.

Tom spun, the gun now trained shakily on the other gang member, who wisely turned tail and fled.

They all felt the bottom drop out of the room as Alex’s spell came to fruition, that swooping sensation as reality was struck like a bell, and something wicked stepped through the ringing hole from the otherside.

Alex neatly severed the zip ties they’d used to secure the cleaner to the chair, dragging her up and pulling her backward even as the room seemed to pitch and shake about them. The trap at the centre of the floor flared bright once more, the sigils reshaped into that of an opening rather than a container.

Fistral had been a good teacher, for all her talents lay in other areas.

Shadows like a thousand dark feathers on the wind burst forth from the portal, the infernal shouldering its way through with grunts of irritation. It was huge, towering over all as it entered the space. It shot The Queen a look of supreme irritation, burning eyes billowing smoke.

Do something right...” it ground out.

Alex shot it a hateful look in response. “My lover is dead!

The daemon gave a negligent flick of taloned fingers in the Priest’s direction. Devan dove into the gesture’s path, desperately throwing a shield up. The shock wave knocked him from the air, sent him sprawling into the shadows at the far side of the room. Tom raised his gun but the metal flared white hot, causing him to squeal, dropping it and clutching his fingers.

Hey ugly! Pick on someone your own size!”

A hand closed on the Priest’s shoulder, Raina ushering him back into the shadows where Devan’s body had been cast.

Is tonight to be a procession of cliches?” the fiend asked, turning a head crowned with a mohawk of tatty, broken feathers in Seb’s direction. It’s body was a twisted mass of feathered muscle the oily black of petrol scum on tarmac.

The Kid, I presume?”

The daemon offered a beaky smile, laughter like demented starlings making the swirling shadows dance madly.

I see you share your brethren’s penchant for mood lighting.” Seb glanced about, but the Admiral was conspicuous in its absence.

And you apparently share your predecessor’s sense of martyrdom.”

The attack was swift and vicious. Without the butterfly Seb would never have survived the thrust. As it was the daemon’s claws painted trails of fire down his side, sliding through the butterfly’s fiery substance like a knife through treacle to rake his own flesh. He jumped back, feeling the chaos spirit’s ire rise on a pumping tide of arousal. They swelled, engorging on a wave of emotion as they lashed out with razor limbs of blue fire, proboscis whipping forth to scour lines of blistering lightning across the Kid’s flesh. It shrieked, scrabbling free of their tongue’s lasso hold to lash out with taloned limbs. They countered with ghostly chitinous limbs, striding back and forth in feint and counter, Seb vaguely aware he now floated at the centre of an apparition formed of dancing lightning and storm cloud shadows. The other occupants scattered before them, dodging away from their titan struggle.

Can we win? Seb asked, struggling to hold onto some sense of self.

But the butterfly’s conscious volition was gone, lost in a whirling vortex of anger and recrimination.

And Seb realised abruptly why he was here. Why they needed him.

With a herculean effort of will he grasped the butterfly, forced it’s writhing, spiteful essence back into his hands. It bucked and fought him, lashing out senselessly, but Seb gritted his teeth, holding the faces of those who’d led him here firmly in his mind.

Nath, smiling in the sunlight.

Raina, on her porch beneath the stars.

Even Devan, grinning filthily as they lay in bed together smoking.

With a cry of triumph he felt chaos’ spirit submit, lashing out just so with one flailing limb.

Snatching Alex from the shadows where she had been watching with Madam J crouched before her, knife held to the back of the cleaner’s neck.

The Kid ceased its attack, eyes trained on the transvestite now clutched in Seb’s crackling limbs.

What’s your play, child? This one is simply a willing conduit for me.”

Perhaps,” Seb replied mildly, heart hammering in his chest as the butterfly did somersaults in his stomach over what they were about to do. “But I doubt you’ll find another as influential with any great ease.”

You will never let her live.”

No, I won’t.” Seb shook his head, tears leaking down his cheek. “But I will allow you to have her, if you give your word you will leave.”

Surrender my freedom of movement here, now…?” The daemon gave a snort of derision, but both of them knew the daemon was tempted. And temptation was a dangerous thing for the damned.

How long, honestly, do you think you can last here before they draft a Shakya in to banish you?” Seb asked. “Weigh that against what her soul is worth to you, back in the Pit.”

The look the Kid shot him was calculating. “You do realise this action will damn? Trading in souls is one of the blackest marks you can tar yourself with.”

Seb lifted his chin. “I’m willing to make that sacrifice.”

The Kid’s laughter was an explosive burst as it held out one massive paw. “Like I said, so keen to surrender to Martyrdom.”

Your word?” Seb prompted.

The Kid sighed. “Very well! I give my word to depart this time and place, with nothing but the soul of Alex James Duffle as my bounty.”


Nodding, Seb extended the now protesting Queen, dropping her into the daemon’s gently steaming grasp. She screamed, twisting and writhing in its grasp as it bent to scratch at the floor, carving a doorway into the concrete.

Been a pleasure doing business with you kid.”

Seb stepped back as the gateway flared, hungry tentacles of fire leaping out to grasp at any innocent bystanders. Fortunately Madam J had had the presence of mind to put some distance between herself and the exchange. Seb himself shuffled back on suddenly tired feet, realising belatedly the butterfly had coiled back inside him.

The gate vanished with a final flare that blew out what lights hadn’t been destroyed in the fighting. They were left stood in a gloomy darkness that in no way matched the void of damnation now marring his soul.

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