• Published 13th Mar 2014
  • 18,408 Views, 319 Comments

Fortitude Amicitia - Arad

The Dusk Guard's first joint operation alongside XCOM turns out to be far more complex than anyone anticipates. (Stardust/Dusk Guard crossover)

  • ...

The Dusk Guard

“Nova, are you where I think you are?” Hunter asked with barely contained amusement as the Dusk Guard and the surviving members of Strike Two made their way to Nova’s IFF marker.

“I don’t know where you think I am, but I’m at a party. Wicked beats, great atmosphere. You should join me, there’s plenty of room,” Nova answered with a palpable amount of snark in his tone.

“Comm discipline!” Steel snapped and the banter immediately stopped. “Nova, we’re near your location and I see your IFF, but I don’t see you. Where are you?” True enough, the unicorn’s IFF appeared to hover in the center of the street but he was nowhere to be found.

“I tried hitting the Sectopod from several different angles and got nowhere. It’s too well protected for a conventional attack from any of the conventional angles, so…”

“…you’re in the sewer, aren’t you? And you’re going to attack it from below?” Hunter interrupted.

Nova’s groan preceded his answer, “Way to steal my thunder. Seriously. There’s an access hatch directly above my position. What I’ll need you to do is lure the thing directly over me and I’ll hit it from below. Can you manage it?”

“I have eyes on the Sectopod two blocks east and one block north of our current position,” Hunter reported, and a volley of rockets launched as if on cue to mark its position. “I think I can act as a rabbit and draw him to our position. The small fries around the thing might cause problems though, especially for you if this doesn’t work, Nova.”

“If this doesn’t work then a lot of people will die, including any reinforcements XCOM might send our way,” Roland finally chipped in. The human had been mostly silent during their trip from the shelter, and even though his expression was hidden behind his helmet it wasn’t hard to imagine the determination that was no doubt there. “I say we go for it.”

“I agree. Sergeant Eversman, command authority was given to Captain Uther and with his death that responsibility has passed to you,” Steel nodded to the crew chief. “If you have no objections, I will assume command until the area is suitably secure.”

“No objections here,” Eversman shrugged, and a relieved look crossed his features.

“Right then. Eversman, Roland, I want you two on the rooftops nearby so when we engage you will have clear lines of fire on the enemies behind the front rank. Bolt and Dawn will join you. Sabra and I will engage the aliens the moment Nova disables the Sectopod.” Steel turned to the golem and addressed it by name for the first time. “Beowulf, I want to keep you in reserve. If Nova isn’t able to disable or destroy the Sectopod, we’ll be relying on you to handle it.”

Steel gave each of the assembled soldiers a look before turning back to the street. “Get its attention, Hunter. Everyone else get to your positions.”

Like clockwork, the team split up. The two humans kicked in the door of one of the nearby buildings with Bolt and Dawn close behind. Beowulf chose a larger building and shot to the upper level on a pillar of fire and smoke from its feet before hunkering down and out of sight. Sabra slipped into the shadows of a nearby doorway, which left Steel with ample places to set up his own place to ambush from. A collection of twisted cars occupied the center of the road which seemed to be just the right match for him.

Hunter’s form was barely visible in the night’s sky but the bolts of plasma he shot down at the Sectopod gave Steel some indication of where he was, and the impressive volume of fire that answered him was more than a little disconcerting. “I’ve got their attention now, leading them over to you,” The former ranger added somewhat needlessly. Judging by the angle of fire, Hunter descended to street level before sprinting around the corner and making his way further down the street.

True to his word, the aliens began to creep around the corner. A hooffull of Sectoids were first but were quickly followed by several Mutons moving between cover. Last but not least were the Sectopod and two Mechtoid vanguards. Every one of them split its time between firing at Hunter’s retreating form as well as keeping as close to cover as they could. Over a dozen red markers appeared over the aliens to mark their positions and Steel could hear Nova draw a breath through his teeth as the Sectopod approached his position.

The Sectopod continued forward, oblivious to the ambush. The turret mounted on its dorsal surface continued to fire on Hunter as it stomped down the street. The armored plates along the alien machine’s body split and folded into its sides to reveal the massive cannon that had erased Captain Uther from existence, and crimson energy began to gather as it prepared to fire a blast down the street. It set its legs in a sturdy firing position… directly above an access portal to the sewers.

Nova’s frost beam leapt out of the access portal like an icy geyser and began to engulf the Sectopod from the bottom up. The alien machine attempted to adjust its position but by then it was already too late. Solid ice had jammed every gap in it, inside and out, leaving it helpless on the street and it’s weapons useless.

“Dusk Guard, engage!” Steel shouted into the radio, and planted his strongest buck into the car he was hiding behind while again engaging his shockwave mod. The car flew several meters before tumbling into the alien formation like a bowling ball. Steel followed quickly behind it before charging directly at the closest of the Mutons without even bothering to finish off the Sectoids he trampled to get there. The Muton saw the Captain’s charge, but rather than use the weapon in its hands it slammed a fist against its chest armor before charging as well.

Rather than allow the melee to resort in a grappling match, Steel struck out with one hoof against the Muton’s leading knee which locked the limb before bending it backwards. The charge became an uncontrolled fall as the limb failed to carry the alien’s weight, and Steel helped the fall as he planted his next hoof strike in its face before leaping over the stunned monster and charging the next.

The second in line didn’t make its predecessor’s mistakes as it stood its ground and raised its rifle to fire only to catch a plasma bolt in the face from a high angle. The next in line suffered the same fate, and the third had fast enough reflexes to look up to see Hunter fire a precise shot into its face as well. “I’ve got your back, boss!” He shouted before breaking off his attack to avoid volleys of plasma from the two Mechtoids.

A loud crunch to the side announced Beowulf’s entrance into the fray. It took two steps before setting one foot underneath one of the cars at the curb and kicking upwards. The car lofted into the air before the golem landed a solid punch on it with its left fist which sent it flying. It collided with the first Mechtoid with enough force to wrap around the alien golem and carry it off its feet. The second golem turned its cannons unleashed a dozen blasts against Beowulf to try and stop its charge.

The green flames struck the human golem’s arms, legs and chest but its charge continued unhindered. As they pair closed, the alien golem raised one of its plasma cannons to try and crush it’s opponent but the strike met Beowulf’s blocking arm. The block prevented the attack from landing on its head or body but it twisted and shattered the human golem’s right arm in the process. Beowulf let out a roar that was part battlecry and part pain as its glowing left fist shot forward and connected squarely with the Mectoid’s chest. Its chest crumpled like a tin can before it flew off the street and into the storefront nearby.

Steel finished off the first Muton he had encountered with a quick buck before turning to survey the battlefield. With their armor and leaders dead, the Sectoids had broken and fled in all directions but were picked off by Hunter or the soldiers on the rooftops. As Steel watched his subordinate initiate the pursuit, he caught sight of something that filled him with dread.

“Fall back and get to cover! Enemy airship is approaching!” Steel shouted as he charged for the nearest alleyway. A massive wave of heat chased him into cover, and a glance behind him showed the street was now awash in green fire. A second shot from the ship struck the rooftop the others were using, and Steel caught sight of Dawn’s shield mod activating moments before the attack struck. Steel opened his mouth to again order them to fall back when new voices half masked by static could be heard.

“All QRF, Sky Eye; local units report engagement with enemy armor and personnel at the indicated coordinates. Saucer confirmed approaching their position. Fire mission danger close air support, how copy?” “Papa Gator, solid copy and oscar mike.” “Mobius, solid copy. I have eyes on the saucer, it’s firing!” “Pixy, solid copy and I have eyes on. Tally ho!”

Before Steel could try to decipher any of it, a cacophony of noise came from the saucer and a fourth of it seemed to evaporate from some unseen attack. It tried to rise or move away from the area but whatever had initially attacked struck again and it exploded spectacularly. A sound not unlike a growl filled the air, and a pair of human airships shaped almost like dragons cut through the sky before banking out of sight.

“Sky Eye, Pixy; confirmed one saucer down. I can confirm bodies and wreckage at the coordinates but no sign of friendly forces. Must have went to cover.” “Copy, Pixy. Sending you new target coordinates…”

“Dusk Guard, report in. Anyone hurt?” Steel asked as he tuned out the rest of the radio chatter.

“This is Hunter, I’m fine but the others might not be. The building they were in collapsed under fire from the saucer. Sabra and the golem are helping me clear the rubble.”

“This is Dawn. I have Sky Bolt with me and we’re mostly unharmed other than a few bruises and scrapes. Roland has dislocated his shoulder and Eversman’s leg was broken in the fall. As for the structure, we fell into a lower floor when the building collapsed and we should be able to limp out without having to dig through the rubble.”

“Nova here, and I’m perfectly fine. In the sewer. I’m assuming we won?”

“I think ‘winning’ in this situation depends upon our return to base safely, and that has yet to happen.”

“Strike Two, Command. Report status.”

Bradford’s voice coming through the radio was an unexpected but not unwelcome surprise. “Command, this is Captain Song. I have assumed control of Strike Two. Captain Uther…” Steel started, and was a bit surprised when Bradford interrupted.

“I know, Captain. Skyranger Harbinger is en route to your location with Strike Five, and National Guard reinforcements will be close behind them. When the Skyranger lands, you and your squad will return to base while Strike Five secures the city,” Bradford said, and Steel couldn’t help but note the relief that was present in his voice. “You did an excellent job, Captain, but it would be best if you weren’t there when the National Guard arrives.”

“Understood, sir,” Steel agreed before addressing the Dusk Guard. “You heard Bradford. Regroup at the shelter as quick as you can.”


The Skyranger landed in the church’s parking lot, and pair of MECs stomped down the ramp followed by ten black-armored figures who quickly linked up with the civilians inside the shelter. While almost all eyes were upon the new arrivals, the Dusk Guard and Strike Two’s survivors shuffled into the aircraft helmets came off and the six ponies shared a round of tired and relieved smiles before the crew cabin disappeared as the ramp closed behind them.

A nondescript businessman in a tattered suit and tie tapped his smart phone to stop the video recorder before tapping several more buttons and bringing it to his ear.

“Yes, Vide, they showed up,” he said, “They also brought friends with them…”

Comments ( 191 )
Arad #1 · Mar 13th, 2014 · · ·

Evening folks! I hope everyone is well. So after two months of procrastination hard work, I’ve finished a short story in the Stardust storyline, featuring Viking ZX’s Dusk Guard!

Now, some things to discuss:

The Dusk Guard are the absolute best that Equestria has to offer and with the best equipment bits can buy. This type of bling and skill will –not- be commonplace in Mente Materia.

The Dusk Guard featured here are the same Dusk Guard from Viking ZX’s stories (I coordinated with him to a large degree to ensure they remained true to his vision) BUT they might be considered a ‘divergeant timeline’. As such, you probably won’t be expecting to have the Dusk Guard reminisce about the fights against the Ethereals in any of Viking ZX’s stories. Conversely, the events in this story will be referenced in passing in Mente Materia, though the Dusk Guard won’t be mentioned by name.

MECs will have some changes to how they work, which I’ve hinted at in this story. As to what those changes are, you’ll just have to wait. :D

PSI and Titan armor also have some changes. I’ve always disliked the curved, organic look of Titan armor. In Mente Materia they’ll be more like the alternate appearance option that had the deflective plates and black armor additions. PSI armor will also be modified Titan armor. Because it makes no sense to send in your valued PSI soldiers in a glorified skinsuit.

Foreshadowing. Lots of it.

And I think that just about covers it. Leave a comment when you’re done then go read Dusk Guard: Rise!

Yes, it leads somewhere. Maybe we will find some entities out there.

Первая тема!

So much joy... Argh! Sleep can wait!

I didn't believe it when I first saw it. But its here and more beautifull than I could have imagined! :fluttercry:


you forgot to cross out procrastinate :P

I kind of figured those guys had more bling than the average soldier, but I hope ponies like Shining Armor and the Alicorns get some pretty badass gear, too.

Also, since you mentioned them, a badass airship with magic cannons and shields and cannons is now mandatory. No matter how stupid and vulnerable they are, sky fortresses are the pinnacle of awesome.

Ground floor! Oh god can't wait to read this.

MOAR STARDUST???:pinkiegasp:

*Starts shaking, foams at the mouth, then passes out.*

God yes! a complete short story continuing Stardust and getting me hype for whats next.

4075016 All of the cool magitek is a product of Viking ZX's wonderful worldbuilding in Dusk Guard, if you're going into this only having read Stardust, the other is also well worth reading.

Geez, this Dusk Guard unit got a trial by fire. Sectopods are a right bitch, aren't they?

But how much of a bitch is it, I hear you ask. Well, hypothetical person who's never played XCOM: Enemy Unknown or Enemy Within, consider this.

The best armor in the game adds 10 hitpoints to your soldier's total pool, often effectively doubling it, depending on the rank of the soldier equipping it. A single blast from a Sectopod, if it hits, will remove those 10 hitpoints right off the bat. Oh, and it can fire twice in a single turn. So you've either got one soldier dead, or two who need to withdraw, now.

On top of that, the range on its guns are greater than you can see it from, allowing it to sometimes fire on you before you even realize it's there. Oh, and it occasionally lets off a barrage of missiles at your position as a form of "I don't got a good shot? Fuck you anyway."

It's EW version is heavily armored. The best sniper rifle in the game does up to 10 damage per shot, assuming no crits. The EW Sectopod has 50% damage reduction and immunity to crits. That 10 damage? 5. And it'll often be lower than that. While on paper it has 30 hit points, that damage reduction bumps it up to an effective 60.

And this is with the best equipment in the game.

Obviously, most veteran XCOM: EU and EW players react to stumbling across one of these bastards when they're not ready with a mix of "Oh crap" and vigorous swearing.

Sweet mother of French-Canadian Jesus, am I just not allowed to sleep tonight?
All the authors of my old favorite stories be updating, posting new chapters and stories.

*Dives in*

Binging night ahoy!

Just to be sure I am understanding how this crossover of a crossover is working. This story can be considered canon in the Stardust universe, but not the Dusk Guard one.

4075248 that's what the guy on the right said.

And here you told me that I'd have to wait 'till after the current season.:unsuresweetie: Arad, you troll you.:trollestia:

Unfortunately, making it canonical to both would very broadly derail the DG saga, so their adventure here is non-canonical. We did our best to link them up though!

Don't care about the other fic, holy crap was that amazing though. You do tension well :rainbowlaugh:.

“Yes, Vide, they showed up,” he said, “They also brought friends with them…”

Wait... Vide?

That name sounds familiar....

(Chapter 32 of Stardust)

“Now then, Doctor Vahlen, I think I would like to see the Stardust specialist if you have a free moment,” Vide said with his affable smile that was completely at odds with the two bodies that he dragged into the lab and dropped onto the floor. One security guard’s head was twisted at an impossible angle while the other clutched at his throat and struggled for a breath that would never come. The affable smile remained on Vide’s face even as he brought his heel down violently on the back of the dying man’s neck before pulling the guard’s sidearm and pointing it at Vahlen.

I could've sworn that XCOM captured him! How's he getting communication with mystery man?

I swore this would be longer then this but still wicked. :heart:

SPOILERS FOR STARDUST (Thanks for telling me about the spoiler tags, LunarRai)

4075326 He broke out remember. Near the end.

Names of the support aircraft:
Sky Eye
I see what you did there.
Also, yet another well-written entry.
Looking forward to Mente Materia once you've written it.

So will we be seeing these guys in the sequel or is this a one time thing?

4075445 [.spoiler]words[./spoiler] without the dots.
Ah, and thanks for the reminder.

A good story to read while waiting for the sequel. Good job, and I for one am eager for the next installment in Stardust.

4074623 I noticed a grammar mistake in the description

Captain Steel Song of the Dusk Guard are immediately mobilized to help

to fix just replace one with 'and' or 'is'

Ah, that was fun to read through again. :pinkiehappy: Nothing like a finished product!

And I look forward to seeing more of Yuri. I hope he continues to show up!

4075550 lol, spoiler tag doesn't care about your pathetic dots (apparently)

As for general comments, this was a fun read. I've read Stardust, of course, but not the other one. I've put it in my Read Later list to get to ... eventually. Along with the other 17 million words in there. Looking forward to the main Stardust sequel.

There will be no comments or reading until Dusk Guard is read through.
And I would really like to read this...

4075280 this is a side story not the true sequel

After reading this fiction, I realize that I was mistaken about this being a sequel. You're still a troll:trollestia: for teasing us like this, Arad.

A full side story all at once?! Nice. :pinkiehappy:

It'll have to wait till later though, got work. :raritycry: Still, least I have something to look forward to during my shift.


That was... insubstantial. Probably to be expected. About 3 Stardust chapters worth of words, mostly fight scene, a dash of foreshadowing here and there. (Well, "mostly". There's a significant amount of walking and talking.) It reads a lot like an action movie. It's a minor surprise that these guys and their gear won't be showing up in the sequel, considering the Dusk Guard is Equestria's closest equivalent to Strike One. They even have Equestria's closest equivalent to a Skyranger. There wasn't much to connect this to the main plot - the terror attack is a generic event of no plot significance, and the major characters are mostly people we've never seen and won't see again. I was expecting some kind of plot-significant discovery or MacGuffin retrieval, like "Oh no, the invaders are doing [thing] now" or "What's this glowy crap we found in the wreckage?" Something easily summarized in the sequel for people who haven't read this, but still interesting enough to motivate people to read the interlude.

So because the Dusk Guard keep calling Beowulf a golem i assume they don't know he's a human cyborg in a robotic suit if so i so want there to be a scene where he takes off his helmet and there shocked to see there's a human under all that armor and even more shocked and horrified when they learn how he became like that

Wow, featured on the day it was published. Thats saying something.

ah i love it, i see this one will follow the perspective of the dawn guard i assume?

Also great so far loving the story, cant wait for me.

I logged in to find a pleasant surprise: Feature box! It's something I always wanted but could never quite pull off with Stardust.

Now, to the comments. I'm going to -try- to keep up with everyone's comments but since I'm at work at the moment that might become difficult.


I don't think I know the reference. >_>

4074990 4074993



Whoops. This is why I need a pre-reader for my comments in addition to my stories. >_>

And regarding future wargear for the Equestrians, you'll have to wait and see!




I'm reminded of that episode of Futurama where Fry learns he's rich.


An excellent summary. Sectopods, in my mind's eye, are multi-purpose tanks capable of fulfilling multiple roles. Putting aside game mechanics for a second, even if Titan armor could withstand a blast from it's main gun, I can almost guarantee the fabrics/flexible armor of the joints could not.

Either way I'm glad my interpretation of Sectopods came off well.


You'll have to wait and see!


I noticed that too. Sunflower side stories updated, which I'll be reading just as soon as I finish this.




Others beat me to it, but in the Council discussion in Stardust this was mentioned :)


Don't forget Papa Gator!


The PSI variant of Titan armor -does- have a similar appearance to the gear that is used in the Bureau. Interestingly enough the PSI-Titan armor was something I already had planned so the Bureau's PSI gear was just a happy coincidence.


For the Dusk Guard it's a one time appearance. The surviving humans and Beowulf will make a return though.

And you're right, that's how canon MECs are. Emphasis on canon. >_>


I've never been a fan of the robocop monotone voice. While the voice will sound artificial, going forward MECs will at least have variances in tone and inflection


My first encounter with a Sectopod was also rather horrific. Downed a scout UFO. Decided to take rookies along. Sectopod spawns atop the hill right beside the UFO out of my line of sight. No cover between me and the hill and the stupid thing spends the entire game raining down missiles on my men.


I thought the same. You would think in terror missions at least they would have police running around.


Thanks for your comment, sir! And I always think it's a bit of a letdown when a crossover is just One setting/characters/plot + another character from another setting and doesn't explore how the plot diverges from there.

One excellent example of how a plot should diverge when new elements are introduced is a Mass Effect/WH40k crossover where an Imperial Guardsman and an Eldar Farseer end up in the ME-verse, and led to one of the best badass boasts I've come across.

Maeteris: "I am an Eldar Farseer. I do not threaten, I divine the future."

Going to split this comment in two!

Glad to see some more Stardust related stories. I have yet to read Dusk Guard but I will be giving it a look soon.

Glad to see the return of Yuri, even more so to see now what his magicka ability is: "The Thumper" as I will now affectionately call it (anyone who has played the video game Bulletstorm will understand my reference).

Liked the new magika M.E.C. with it's lavender five-finger death punch. Though I don't know yet if it is still operated by a MELD augmented individual like power armor, or if a MELD augmented person is remotely controlling it from the base via a form of machine empathy. You have a way with changing up how things operate with this story's version of XCOM.

Finally, the only question this story raises for me (other than how many times during an alien attack has Exhalt been there to watch in the background) is the follow: (WARNING: the following bits will be hidden as they are potential spoilers. Hints for this have been dropped in previous chapters of Stardust and if you haven't figured it out it could come as a shock. Check out at your own risk.) How badly are the ponies *especially Twilight* going to flip their sh*t when they realize that Princess Celestia is really just a 'Discorded' Queen Solaria? I know that the hints to this revelation have been pretty heavy both in Stardust and this story, but it is still a major story point for the upcoming sequel.

Anyways, I enjoyed the story. While some might complain that it didn't do anything significant to add to the overall story, I say it went over their heads. This was a nice interlude to slack the readers thirst for more set in this universe (while also introducing a new group of interesting characters to the fray). Now I will just sit back and patiently wait for your next side-story Broken as I am a sucker for tales dealing with an often looked over aspect of wars: the affects of PTSD on an individual from the horrors they had seen/participated in (especially a civilian who had never been exposed to such things in her entire life till then). Till next time, keep up the good work!


That's actually a reasonable comparison to make. You should go read it, it's great!

I'll also admit Hunter and Steel's conversation was inspired by that scene in MiB.

Regarding MECs, you'll have to wait and see for the true horror to be revealed...

Regarding the naming convention that went into Beowulf, I'm a bit sad that folks haven't caught the reference yet but I suppose that's understandable.

Red, black and white paint job. Using conventional weapons (gatling gun) over higher tech. The names, Old Iron and Beowulf. Extreme skill in melee. Sadly I wasn't able to find a believable way of adding the phrase 'trump card' into the fic.




Good man! Don't forget to read the Dusk Guard side stories!


Oh I know that feeling. :P


Thank you for your feedback, sir! Regarding the pacing, I'll admit I came up with the original idea for this story after watching Black Hawk Down, and there's a few references to that movie in the story. My original plan was going to involve OCs that would migrate to Mente Materia but after reading Dusk Guard I fell in love with those characters. The events in this story will be referenced and discussed in Mente Materia, though the characters won't be mentioned by name.


There's some very good reason for the Dusk Guard referring to the MEC as a golem, but you'll have to read Rise to find out. Don't want to spoil things. :)


I KNOW! I've got a grin because of that, and I think I'll keep it despite my work doing its best to take it away.


Care to elaborate?

4076663 I know but i was asking if there's going to be a scene in the sequel where the Dusk Guard or any pony for that matter is going to be shocked and or horrified when they find out that Beowulf isn't a golem but a human who's had there arms and legs amputated and replaced with robotics and then shoved into an even bigger robotic suit


The truth will come out eventually but what that truth is will be a surprise for everyone involved.


Hey man! I loved Stardust, and have been looking forward to this for quite some time! :pinkiehappy:

I see you updated a whole bunch of chapters at once - is this going to be updated as rapidly as today, or is it going to slow down? I ask because I try and wait until a story is finished before reading it, so I don't forget what's already happened. :twilightblush:

If you don't know that's fine, but it'd be nice to have some idea of when this'll be finished!


This story is a short story and is complete. :)


...did it say incomplete before, or am I going mad?:pinkiecrazy:


It did say that actually, but I updated it a few minutes after it was submitted.

Comment posted by Sneaky Breeze deleted Mar 13th, 2014

>sole OC tag

I'm scared...


I noticed that too. Sunflower side stories updated, which I'll be reading just as soon as I finish this.

I saw your avatar in the comments section and promptly checked what story I clicked.

I loved this, even if it was a bit short, considering all the awesome it contained.

Now I need to go check off those "unread" chapters in Stardust and Sunflower, they've been "unread" since before I joined FIMFic :twilightsheepish:

WAIT :flutterrage:
CO-UP WITH VIKING ZX:rainbowderp:
Crossover with Dusk Guard ::pinkiegasp:
Excuse me for one sec :pinkiecrazy:
I need to do something :pinkiecrazy:

I don't want to be nitpicky but it's going to bother me forever if I don't mention it...

Captain Steel Song of the Dusk Guard are immediately mobilized...

Captain Steel Song and the Dusk Guard are immediately mobilized... is what I think it should be.

Subject and verb don't agree as it is currently.

4075183 No matter what line-up you bring to bear against Sectopods, the most frequent casualties will be laundry detergent as a result of hardened soldiers promptly crapping themselves.

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