At 07:00 Central European Time, The steward woke the ‘doctor’, as per his request. The ‘doctor’ woke his ‘nurse’. Together, they checked the vital signs of their ‘patient’. Satisfied that he was doing well, they told the steward that they were ready for breakfast and coffee.

 

“Sir,” the steward asked of the ‘doctor’, “will your patient require anything?”

 

“No, thank you. He is still in a drug-induced coma and he’s being fed intravenously.” He tapped the IV bag to make his point.

 

“Very good, sir.” And the steward went about his duties.

 

In the meantime, Jill had connected her laptop to the plane’s WiFi connection and was checking for word from the Paris contact. “Pete, we have a Mercedes with right-hand drive waiting for us, and they booked us on the Eurostar service. It takes us from Paris to England and he has us exiting the train at Ebbsfleet, south of London. We’ll pick up the car there.”

 

“Awww… I wanted to drive through the Chunnel.”

 

“Marc, doesn’t recommend that. Something about the high-speed trains running us over on the rails. Hehe.”

 

“Haha! Rats! I thought it was possible to drive. Oh well, the train it is. How long does the crossing take?”

 

“Not long; the train from Paris to Ebbsfleet is about two hours and five minutes. The drive from Paris to Calais would have been three hours and then we’d have to wait for the Eurotunnel train. It takes an additional thirty-five minutes to cross the channel, and then we’d still have to drive to Ebbsfleet. So it sounds like the train is the best bet.”

 

“Crossing the English Channel in thirty-five minutes? I took a holiday by bus before the Chunnel opened and the ferry took an hour and ten minutes from Dover to Calais. And that was dependent on the weather and the rowdiness of the channel water. Yeah, the train sounds a lot better. Do they have a location for us to pick up our next patient for the return trip?”

 

“Marc says he not stabile yet and he wants to talk with us about it when we get there.”

 

“Hmmm… there could be a lot worse things than a delay in Paris, I suppose. Hehe. Moulin Rouge, here I come!”

 

“Not so fast there, horn dog. Marc says the patient’s status is Uniform Alpha critical, so we have to get to England as soon as we can.”

 

“Crap! That is serious. OK – the Moulin Rouge will wait for me, I guess. On to England it is.

 

Just then, the pilot came on and said, “Doc, make sure your patient is tied down. We’ll be landing in fifteen minutes.” Pete and Jill checked the safety restraints and the steward collected the breakfast trays. True to his word, the pilot landed fifteen minutes later.

 

= = =

 

French Customs was every bit as thorough as the U.S. Customs had been for Rolf and Frieda, but with Jill’s fluency in French, she was able to get them out of there quickly.

 

Marc and a driver had the ambulance waiting and Marc stayed in the back with the ‘doctor’, ‘nurse’ and ‘patient’. Once they were on their way, Marc spoke first.

 

“First, here are your papers.” He handed one envelope to Pete and another to Jill. “Next, some money. You each have one hundred Euros and one thousand British pounds in small bills. If you have any emergencies, you each have an untraceable credit card. The limit is open, and your pictures are on them, so additional identification should not be required. You should be familiar with the names. Sign them when you get to a stable location. If you do not need them, destroy them when you are safely home.

 

“Finally, here are your travel orders and tickets. The target seems to have flown the coup, but we expect to have his location soon. We will drop you off at the Gare du Nord, the north station. The next train leaves at 09:15. You should arrive in Ebbsfleet two hours and five minutes later, so that would be 10:20 GMT. You gain an hour when you get into England. At Ebbsfleet you will be met by Roger. He will have the latest information about the target. And Jill, he’ll also have some tools of the trade for you.”

 

Jill handed Marc a small case with a syringe and the drug that would revive Mr. Spencer. “Twenty CC should have him awake in half an hour. Will you be able to get him back to his room OK?” she asked.

 

“It will be no problem. Once we get rid of the ambulance and our uniforms, François and I will help our ‘drunk’ friend back to his room. I’m sure some eyebrows will be raised, but the hotel Le Meurice is known for its discretion.”

 

The ambulance slowed and pulled over to the curb at the train station. “And now, my friends, I must bid you adieu. You have your tickets and the train leaves in forty-five minutes. I believe it will be on track 17, but check the departure screens in case of any changes. It will be listed as London, but you will exit at Ebbsfleet – Stop B.”

 

“Thank you, Marc; you’ve been an excellent asset again.” Looking to the driver, Pete said, “François, if you ever tire of living with Marc, I will welcome you to Chicago.”

 

“Oh, Pete! You keep promising and never come through for me. Hehe. Be safe, my friend.”

 

Jill also said goodbye, and as the ambulance was pulling away she said to Pete, “Your French is much improved.”

 

“Thank you Miss Hart. Do I get a gold star?”

 

“French is the language of lovers. We’ll have to test you later.”

 

“I might need a lot of practice. Hehe.”

 

= = =

 

After verifying the correct track for their train, Jill and Pete stopped for coffee in one of the cafés in the station.

 

“Jill, will there be any fallout over you missing your classes?”

 

“I doubt it. There’s been a lot of flu going around and if push comes to shove, I’ll get a note from Doctor Frieda Berghoff. Hehe.”

 

“Haha! If only we had these assets when we were in high school.”

 

“Just what we would have needed… more time off! If we missed any more days, I don’t think we would have graduated. Hehe.”

 

They finished their coffee and purchased English language magazines before they boarded the train. Once on board the train, they stowed their luggage in the luggage rack at the end of the car before taking their seats. As expected, the train left on time.

 

= = =

 

Wednesday morning the alarm went off at seven o’clock, as usual, and I kissed Tim on the forehead as I reached across him and silenced the buzzer. “Good morning, Tim!”

 

Tim reached up and wrapped his arms around me and gave me a bear hug. “Good morning, Mike! Are you ready to start a new day?”

 

“I sure am! Let’s create something to write about in our English Composition class this morning.”

 

“I don’t think we should do it for school, but it might be right for Imagine Magazine or Nifty. Hehe.”

 

“Haha! No, silly! I was thinking about writing what we did at the GSA meeting yesterday.”

 

“Umm… do you think it would be a good subject? What if Miss Varner asks us to read it out loud in class? Don’t you think that would out us? Or worse, what if she has one of our classmates read it and…” Tim let his voice trail off.

 

“OK, I get your point. What do you think we should write about? Better yet, what should we write about for the midterm assignment that’s coming up? Remember, that one is going to be fifty percent of our grade for the semester, so it has to be something special.”

 

“How about writing about the day that we found out Raccoon City was destroyed? We’ve talked about it often enough. My take on it is different than yours, so we both should be able to write something. What do you think?”

 

“Wow! Tim, you’re a genius! We have two weeks to go still, so we can collaborate and get our facts in order, but our stories will be unique because we each felt something different.”

 

“Very true. I wish we could find out about the last three members of the German Club before the test. I’d really like to be able to say they’re all accounted for.”

 

“*sigh* No kidding. But let’s get going before we’re late for school. Is Uncle Pete still home?”

 

“I think he must be out of town, Mike. I don’t smell coffee in the kitchen this morning.”

 

We rolled out of bed and put on our boxer briefs before heading to the bathroom to take a leak and get ready for the day. Tim was right; I couldn’t smell coffee either. We checked the refrigerator door for a note and found none. “Yeah, Tim, I think you were right; Uncle Pete is out of town. I know this is his business, but I wish he didn’t have to travel so much.”

 

“Mike, when we were in Raccoon City, Uncle Pete was traveling just as much as he is now, I bet, but you didn’t worry about him because you were with your mom. But think about it, dude, your mom was gone a lot more than Uncle Pete has been. Cut him some slack. Without him, we’d both be in an orphanage or a foster home… probably different foster homes. The way it is now, we have a roof over our heads and Uncle Pete cares for us and he loves us. It sucks that we lost everything, but in reality, we didn’t lose everything… we still have Uncle Pete. If his job takes him out of town, we’ll just have to get used to it.” There was really nothing to say in return; Tim was right.

 

By now we were dressed and in the kitchen eating breakfast. I finished first and got out the stuff to make our lunches. “PB&J today, Tim?”

 

“Sure! Any day is good for PB&J. We’re out of bananas, so I guess it’s oranges to go with the sandwiches. I’ll grab a couple bags of chips after I rinse and load our dishes in the dishwasher.” Within minutes the lunches were made and packed away in our backpacks. We looked around to make sure we weren’t forgetting anything, and finally we were on our way.

 

As we walked the four blocks to school, we talked about what we could do to find the people who were still missing from the German Club. It really sucked that they were still missing and, naturally, we were both thinking the worst had happened to them. I guess the biggest problem was that we only knew their contacts in Raccoon City. With the city gone, we had no idea where to look. It’s not as if they’d gone to family somewhere else, because their email and Skype and stuff would have let them know that we were looking for them. We figured we’d just have to wait ‘til they checked in.

 

When we got to school, we headed to our lockers and, since we were running a little late, we went directly to English Comp class. At Lombard High, the first class of the day is also the homeroom, so first period is five minutes longer than the rest. We got there with a few minutes to spare, so we took or seats near Jerry LeBlanc and Ed Kirby. Ed was cooled off a bit since yesterday and seemed to be in a better mood.

 

“Hey Jerry, I saw you, Tim and Mike going into Mr. Harper’s classroom yesterday afternoon. Ummm… are you guys gay?”

 

“Since you asked, Ed, I’m straight, but I don’t know why that matters,” he answered.

 

Jerry and Ed looked over to us. I looked to Tim and when he nodded, I said, “I’m gay, but Tim is bi.”

 

Tim nodded and asked, “Does anyone have a problem with that?” Jerry and I giggled and Ed got a shocked look on his face.

 

“No! I don’t have a problem with that, but I would never have guessed that any of you three guys weren’t straight. You’re kidding me, right? You’re not really faggots, are you?”

 

Tim spoke first, “Ed, calling us ‘faggots’ is like calling a black person the ‘N-word’. The proper term is ‘gay’, although in my case, it’s ‘bi’. Why are you so afraid of something that you obviously know so little about?”

 

Before Ed could answer, Miss Varner called the class to order and took attendance for the day. The look on Ed’s face was more confused than angry. We had to pay attention to Miss Varner, so the topic was dropped, but I expected it to pick up when the class was over. Ed and Jerry were in our next class – History – too.

 

Class went well. Miss Varner collected our homework from Tuesday and showed us our homework for tonight. As usual, it was written on the right side of the board. Then she gave us a writing assignment that had to be completed by the end of the class. That saved us having to think of a topic. The assignment was to write a persuasive essay for either President Obama or for former Governor Mitt Romney. She told us we had to promote either candidate and we were not allowed to talk about the other candidate. After the groaning died down, she said, “Begin.”

 

Forty minutes later she collected our work. I was worried that I’d be marked off for not finishing, but Miss Varner said this was not to test our speed, but to see how well we followed the instructions. Naturally, sentence structure, grammar and spelling would count. I’m in trouble. Hehe. No, I think I did OK. Then the bell rang and we got up to go to History. Just before we got to the door, Ed tapped my shoulder and asked if I could wait a few seconds.

 

When the others had left, he asked, “Mike, are you really gay?”

 

I was a little nervous, but I answered, “Yes I am, Ed. Why does it matter?”

 

“Well, I just needed to talk with you about it. How did you know you were gay?”

 

“Ed, a couple years ago when the rest of the guys were ogling at girls and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, I realized that I wasn’t interested in the pictures in the magazine. I pretended I was so I wouldn’t be found out. I was confused and scared. It wasn’t until I moved in with my uncle that someone besides me found out. My uncle caught Tim and me together. We were scared shitless when he told us that he knew, but then he told us it was OK. Being gay is just as natural as being straight, so is being bi.”

 

“I wish I had an uncle like that…” and his voice faded away.

 

“Ed, are you trying to tell me that you’re gay, too?”

 

Ed looked like he was fighting with himself over the answer. “Mike, you can’t tell anyone about this. You really can’t.”

 

“Ed, I never keep anything from my uncle or Tim. Trust me; we know what you’re going through. We’ve been there.”

 

“Shit! I have to tell someone or I’ll explode. Yes… I think I’m gay.” I looked into Ed’s eyes and saw the fear he was facing. We were still in Miss Varner’s classroom and we were alone. I pulled Ed away from the door and gave him a hug. I felt him shake as he silently wept.

 

“Ed, we still have a few minutes. Let’s go to the boys’ room and get you cleaned up. You just took the greatest step in your life. It should get easier now; you are not alone.”

 

I walked with Ed to the boys’ room. While Ed splashed water on his face, I drained my bladder. When I finished, I washed my hands and noticed that Ed was looking a hell of a lot better. “Are you ready to learn about British history, Ed?”

 

“Not as ready as you seem to be, but yeah. Let’s give ‘em hell. Hehe.”

 

I patted Ed on the back as we exited the boys’ room. We had to hustle to get to class before the bell rang. We just made it. We were taking our seats when it sounded. Tim looked over and gave me a questioning look. I gave him a thumbs-up. He smiled in return. Finally the class started.

 

History is one of my favorite subjects. I guess the whole ‘who, what, where, when, why and how’ thing that Mom used to test me on in Raccoon City was paying off. Once I knew she would grill me on the facts, I became more aware of them during class and when doing my homework later. Tim was picking it up from me since we were doing our homework together.

 

Since we knew the six questions that had to be answered, all we had to do was give the other one thing, like Magna Carta. Then the other guy would answer the remaining five questions. Magna Carta was ‘what’, so ‘who’ was King John and his feudal barons. ‘Where’ was a meadow in Runnymede. ‘When’ was June 15, 1215. ‘Why’ was to stop any monarch from arbitrarily punishing freemen (non-serfs) and granting them guaranteed liberties. ‘How’ was the threat of revolt. The feudal barons didn’t want to overthrow the king, but King John knew that they would if he didn’t acquiesce to their demands. That’s how Mom did it with me in a nutshell, but Mom reserved the right to have me explain my answers in detail when she thought I was guessing. Tim and I do that too. Hehe.

 

Have you noticed that when you like a subject that it doesn’t seem like a chore? That’s how History is for me. Before I knew it, the class was ending. As Tim and I were getting ready to go to German class, we said goodbye to Jerry and Ed and told them that we’d see them at lunch. Ed smiled when we included him and said, “See you at lunch, guys,” and he looked almost happy as he went to his next class.

 

On our way to German class, Tim asked me what was up with Ed. “He came out to me, man! That took almost all the courage that he had, too.”

 

“Oh! That’s great, Mike! Does he know you’re telling me?”

 

“Yep. I told him that I have no secrets from you and Uncle Pete. I think it was really eating at him, so he agreed. Dude, he started crying and I gave him a hug. It was like having a baby in my arms; he was so relieved that he finally had someone to talk with about his sexuality that he cried. I got him to the boys’ room and he cleaned himself up before we got to Mr. Rudd’s class.

 

“Way to go, Mike. Ummm… should I start looking for a girlfriend now? Hehe.”

 

“Maybe. Hehe.”

 

“What a horny bastard you are! Hahaha! Good luck!”

 

What? Tim and I aren’t married! OK, so Tim and I are BFFs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t date. Let’s change the subject.

 

I think we do so well in German because Frau Berghoff would skin us alive if she heard otherwise. Hehe. Hmmm… that gives me an idea. Frau Berghoff might know where the last three kids are. She and Herr Berghoff were the chaperones, so they must know where they went and who they’re with! Why didn’t Tim and I think of this before? I’ll have to check with her after school. Yes!

 

Well anyway, German flew by too and now it was time for lunch. Since we were closer to the cafeteria, Tim and I got there first again. After we got our milk, we grabbed a table in the usual area. While we were waiting I let Tim know the good news.

 

“Tim! I bet the Berghoffs know where the missing kids are!”

 

“Wow! Of course! Why didn’t we think of that sooner? Do you have the Berghoffs’ number?”

 

“I think it’s in the stuff that Uncle Pete sent us when we got back from his ‘office’.”

 

“Sweet, Mike! Yeah – I think I remember seeing it there, too! I feel so stupid now! We have to call them after school!”

 

“No kidding! Keep your fingers crossed! Hahaha!”

 

“What are you guys so happy about?” Jerry asked. He and Ed had arrived while we were talking.

 

“Oh hi, guys! Jerry, you know how we’ve been trying to locate all twenty of the guys in the German Club that we were with when Raccoon City was destroyed? We think we know how to find them. Our chaperones for the trip responded when we sent out the original emails. I bet they know where the last three are!”

 

“Gee, Mike, that’s great! Have you called them yet?”

 

“Not yet. We have the info at home and we just thought of it a minute ago.”

 

“You mean you just thought of it, Mike. Take the credit; you deserve it.”

 

“Haha. Thanks, Tim. Ed did you catch on to what we were talking about?”

 

“Yeah, Mike, that’s great!”

 

“By the way, Ed. Did you tell Jerry yet?” I asked.

 

“*sigh* Yeah… just a few minutes ago. Could we please change the subject? I’m not really comfortable talking about it here in the cafeteria.”

 

“Sure. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. Hey, why don’t we go to our house after school? Then we can talk about it in private, if you want to.”

 

“Thanks, Mike. I think I’d like that.”

 

“OK, that’s settled. Now for the important stuff. Which is better, creamy or chunky peanut butter?”

 

And so it went for the rest of the lunch period.

 

= = =

 

The train pulled into Ebbsfleet Station B at precisely 10:20 GMT. Jill and Pete picked up their luggage on the way off the train.

 

“Jill! Pete! It’s so good to see you again!”

 

“Roger! I’ve missed you!” And Jill gave him a hug. Roger picked up her suitcase and started leading them to the parking lot.

 

“Hey Roger! It’s so good to see you again!” Pete said as he shook his hand. “Have you found our ‘patient’ yet?”

 

“Directly to business, as always, I see. Quite. He was staying at his castle near Saint Ives, but yesterday he just fell off the globe. Yesterday we also received a call from Gil Iverson. He said Albert Wesker had booked a flight to the UK and he was giving us a heads-up. We put a man on him at the airport, but he must have detected the tail and shook him. Four hours later, Spenser disappeared. Fortunately, Wesker is using his own identity and credit cards and we know he’s currently near Southampton.”

 

“How far is it from London to Saint Ives?” Pete asked.

 

“300 to 310 miles,” Roger replied.

 

“Hmmm… he couldn’t have driven there in less than five hours, so, if Wesker is the one we seek, he must have flown. What charter flights went from London to Saint Ives yesterday?”

 

Roger smiled. “There was only one. It took off soon after our man lost Wesker. It arrived at the Parranporth Aerodrome ninety minutes later. A car was waiting for the passenger and he drove off almost immediately. One of our other people put a GPS tracker on the vehicle. That’s how we know he’s near Southampton.”

 

“So our man tracked him to Spenser’s castle?”

 

“Not quite. Wesker went to the Saint Ives Bay Hotel and stopped in the bar for a drink. We think Spenser had help with his ankle bracelet. We found that he cloned it. We suspect he had the clone and the original running simultaneously when the original was cut off of him and wrapped in an X-ray protective cover to stop the radio signals from escaping. It was like the apron that the dentist puts on you before giving you an X-ray. Since the clone was working, the monitoring station thought nothing of it… until it didn’t move for almost an hour. By the time our people got there, Spenser was gone. We didn’t see any direct contact with Wesker, so we’re assuming that Spenser was picked up by Wesker later at a pre-arranged location.”

 

“So Spenser went willingly to meet Wesker? I thought those two had some major differences,” Pete said.

 

“We’re beginning to think that was a ruse to throw us off.”

 

“It seems to have worked. Do we know for certain that Spenser and Wesker are together?”

 

“So far? No, we don’t. But a thorough search of the area came up with nothing to indicate that Spenser left involuntarily. Our forensics aren’t as conclusive as CSI’s, but having Wesker in the area at the time of Spenser’s disappearance is why we have two men following the GPS signal.”

 

They had arrived at the parking lot and Roger pressed the trunk-release button for the Mercedes and he put Jill’s bag in. Pete put his in after him.

 

“How soon can the three of us intercept Wesker?”

 

“We have a helicopter on standby and we can leave as soon as we get to it.”

 

“Tell the pilot to get ready for us. You said you’d have tools for Jill?” Roger nodded to a man in the car next to the Mercedes and he placed a call on his mobile.

 

“Yes. I’m sure they will suffice. If I remember, Jill, you prefer hand guns to long guns.” And he walked to the rear of the car next to the Mercedes. “Simon, open the boot, please,” he said to the driver and the trunk lid opened. Next he opened two cases in the trunk, revealing several hand guns, each with multiple loaded magazines.

 

“Roger, you remembered! How sweet.” And without hesitation she reached in and took the CZ-75 and, after checking the action, she inserted a magazine and chambered a round. Then she selected three additional loaded magazines.

 

“Jill, we have a few other toys you might want to consider.” He closed the two cases and opened a leather satchel.

 

“This is like Christmas! Thank you, Roger!” She took four flashbang grenades and handed them to Pete. “Hold on to these… and don’t pull the pins unless you really like bright lights and loud noises. Hehe.” Again she reached in and this time she took a tranq pistol and several darts.

 

“I see the Berghoffs have rubbed off on you,” Pete commented.

 

“Well, they’re silent, effective and they don’t make a mess,” Jill responded. Satisfied with her acquisitions, she closed the satchel and picked up another smaller satchel; fortunately, it was empty. She retrieved the flashbangs from Pete and transferred the grenades and two magazines before she zipped it shut. “Ok. I’m ready.”

 

“Fine. I’ll ride with you and Simon will lead the way.” As Pete entered the left side of the car, Jill opened the right door and took the driver’s seat. Roger handed her the keys as he entered the rear seat behind her.

 

“Jill, we’re only going about a half mile. It’s around the airport on the commercial portion.” Simon started and Jill followed. They were stopped at the security gate when they entered. After showing the identification that Marc had given then in France, the guard waved them through. Following Simon, they drove up to a hanger at the end of the area. Simon stopped and Roger said, “We’re here.”

 

As Jill and Pete exited, they both started towards the rear of the car to retrieve their luggage. “You can leave your bags there,” Roger said. The car is going with us.” No sooner had he said that then two crewmen approached the car and put a harness around it. Jill and Pete were escorted to their transportation: a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane.

 

“Normally,” Roger began, “the Skycrane requires two seats for the cargo handlers. Those have been vacated so you two can ride in the helicopter, rather than ride in the Mercedes. I hope you don’t mind riding in the jump seats.”

 

Pete just shook his head, smiled and said, “Roger, you’re amazing. What is this costing?”

 

“Not so much as tuppence. We’re training a new pilot and he has to get used to how the load reacts as he speeds up and slows down. However, you two might need the airsickness bags at some point in the trip.”

 

“How long will this trip be?” asked Jill.

 

“It’s approximately sixty miles, so we should be there in half an hour. And don’t worry about the pilot; there is a trained pilot on board as well. In fact, he’s the man helping to get your vehicle ready for transport.”

 

In a matter of minutes the Skycrane was rising and they felt the tug as the cables lifted the Mercedes. There was a lot of talking from the control tower, so Pete, Jill and Roger allowed the pilots to do their jobs and get them on their way.

 

= = =

 

Biology, Geometry and Gym were over and we made sure to shower since Ed was coming over, and possibly Jerry. Our lockers are all in the same general area, so that was the logical meeting point. Once we grabbed the books that we needed for homework, we walked towards Ed’s locker and found him and Jerry waiting for us.

 

“Oh great, Jerry,” Tim said, “You’re coming, too.”

 

“Yeah. I figured that you might feel like the third wheel since Ed really wants to talk with Mike.”

 

“That’s what I was thinking, too,” Tim replied. “I’ll let you help me get supper together tonight. Hey, do you and Ed want to stay for supper? We have plenty.”

 

“I can stay. Mom’s going out with her girlfriends for Hump Day,” Jerry said.

 

“What the heck is Hump Day?” Ed asked.

 

“Today is Wednesday,” Jerry told him, “That’s the middle of the work week, so they’re over the hump and it’s all downhill to the weekend. Hehe”

 

“Haha! That’s funny,” Ed said. “I’ll have to call and see if it’s OK. I’m sure it will be. Mom’s been encouraging me to get out of the house more. Let me call her.” And he pulled out his cell and speed-dialed him mom as he walked away a bit for privacy. When he came back he was smiling. “Mom said it was OK, but I have to be home by 8 PM so I can get my homework done.”

 

“She must have said more than that,” I commented. “You’re much too happy just for a dinner with friends.”

 

“Hehe. Yeah I am… She said we were having leftovers for supper tonight. God! I hate leftovers!”

 

That cracked us all up. Since we were ready, we shouldered our backpacks and Tim and I led the way. Having the four of us made the four-block walk fly by.

Published July 1, 2012

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