Sorabh

The Mission, Controlled: The Administrontium

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Hello, everyone! This is a mission report, but with a slight twist. This is a spinoff of the popular mission report The Duna Enterprise.

The timelines diverge at the last chapter , which lead to events resulting in the fading of Kerbals' spirit of exploration. The KSC now only launches communication and Kerbin observation satellites. The once famous Kerbal Space Program, which had been a household name back in the day, is now mediocre at the best. Will the KSC fade into the darkness or will it rise up once again? Find out, in this mission report!

The Mission, Controlled!!!

Table of contents:

Chapter 1: Initiation

Chapter 2: Trial by....fire?

Chapter 3: The Administrontium

Chapter 4: The Herd Mentality

Chapter 1: Initiation

Year 233, International Geology and Chemistry Conference
"And hence I believe, that such a mineral could exist. If not in our planet,then somewhere else in the solar system." Dr. Rover D Ude Kerman finished his presentation. The younger scientists took down notes as fast as possible, while the elder, more experienced ones murmured in disagreement.

"I think I speak for the majority of us, but Mr. Rover, such an hypothesis is just a good piece of fantasy in my opinion. A mineral with such volatile properties could not stay stable for too long, and its chemical structure would eventually break down. I think it's time for you to get off the stage and allow cooler minds take over." One of the senior scientists spoke up, condescension dripping like venom in his voice.

"That's what you said about Karbonite, when you could not find any appreciable quantities in Kerbin. But a simple software tweak in the resource scanner orbiting the Mun and voila! We found Karbonite aplenty. The point, is that you need to widen your view, if you wish kermanity to flourish. Now, anymore questions or opinions?"

The scientist sat down disgruntled. Another younger scientist raised his hand.

"Sir, I am Linus Kerman the Third, geologist, Kerbin Research Institute. If this mineral that you speak of, this Karborundum, really exists somewhere in the solar system, how do you plan to prove it's existence? With the aid of our 'capable' and 'innovating' space program?" Linus' statement got a few chuckles, as the Kerbal Space Program was, gently speaking, quite mulchy at the moment.

Dr. Rover ignored the youngster's immature jibe."The truth will come out, sooner or later. I have complete faith that Karborundum will be found, if not by this generation, then the next." Even though those were the words of a kid who was yet to see the world, they sure brought back some bad memories, from thirty years ago.

Year  233, Kerbal Institute of Social Studies

It was the summer of Year 203, thirty years ago, the attempt to land a crewed vehicle on Duna by a private company failed catastrophically because of a damaged retro rocket. The new found spirit of exploration was dampened heavily. That was also the day when the Tech Tree was completed. It was concluded that the primary purpose of KSC has been achieved and now it was time to implement all the knowledge to Kerbals' daily life. Budgets and careers were cut, subsequently and KSC became a jobs program, On this wretched day, heavy sighs from all over the planet caused the CO2 levels to jump about 2% higher than normal. "The Agony of Duna", that's what they called it.

That was the day I, Nanba Kerman was born.

And right now, I am being yelled at the headmaster of the school I am currently teaching at.

"You are fired." The Headmaster's voice echoed in his office. No, it was more like a million headmasters speaking together, in perfect sync.
"Come again?"
"You are fired! Launching soda bottle rockets with students when you are supposed to be teaching is unbecoming of someone in your profession!"
"I was trying to make the class more lively!!"
"Of course. And the fact that it hit the janitor square on the face was just a coincident, right?"
"Well he asked for it..I mean,Exactly! It was an accident! You believe me, right? So, about the job?" I was blabbering whatever came into my mind at that point.
"You are still fired. You have 20 minutes to clear your locker." He handed over a check. "There's your severance pay. Now, please be thankful that I did not call the police and get out of here!!!" He finally erupted like a volcano of rage. I always like it when he does that, but not when I am on the receiving end.

20 minutes later, I was standing at the school gates. The entire student body was by the gate, wishing me good bye. They said all sort of sweet stuff, like how  I was the teacher they had the most fun with and how I did not seem to know much about history. I could only look at them, tears in my eyes, and warned them not to follow my example of slamming the janitor in the face with a soda bottle rocket.

Well, how the heck was I supposed to know about history anyways? I am a mechanical engineer, Kod Damn it!!!

I got home on a lonely bus ride. My mother was very happy to see me back. Father was his usual, grumpy self. I picked up the newspaper and started looking for jobs almost immediately.

Three weeks later

I am still jobless. Its not like I am not qualified for jobs, its that I am overqualified for the most of them! The mood back home is tense. Even mother, who was happy to see me back after all these years is a little bit tense at dinner tonight. It even showed in my share of dessert! I was only served three mini-boongas, compared to mother's seven, and father's eight..

"Umm..I will start looking for more jobs tomorrow..so about the mini-boongas.." I was about to shamelessly grovel for a couple more of those sweet fruits when an advertisement flashed on television.

"We need young, fresh, vibrant Kerbs to be the new face of the KSC! Preferably Mechanical engineers, with some Organizational knowhow. Call this number to book a seat in the interview process!!" A toll free number flashed on the screen that I memorized automatically.

My Kod, this was it! A real job, tailor made especially for me!! I looked down, and found two more mini-boongas in my dish. My mother was smiling, and my father appeared less grumpy.

I made that call, and then I made a face. I am not sure what sort of a face it was, whether I was happy or crying, but it was a face with maximum wrinkledness.
 

Edited by Sorabh
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On 7/25/2018 at 4:45 AM, TanDeeJay said:

Great story. Can’t wait to read more 

Thanks! I will try to update it weekly! :)

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Posted (edited)

The Mission, Controlled!!!

Chapter 2: Trial by.... fire?

The day of the interview:
It was the fated day! Today I would make or break my future. To say that I am nervous is like saying that Sir Jeb Kerman was only mildly happy when he landed on the Mun.
I had passed the written examination.It was time for the group discussion. They had us sit in a windowless room and then a voice told us what topic we were to discuss on. There were five groups, and each were given a particular topic to discuss on. I had expected a moderator, but there was no one to be found.

"Good morning aspirants!I am your invigilator for this group discussion. Each of the five groups that you have been divided into will be given a specific topic to discuss about. All of you are being electroniaclly monitored, so make sure you give your best!"

The mysterious voice then handed out our topics. My group, Group E got the topic "What do you prefer: KSC of now, or the KSC thirty years ago?"

"Good morning everyone, I am Justin Kerman, and I will take the pleasure of starting off this discussion." A snooby looking kid snapped up the chance to speak first. Dang it!

"If we see the bigger picture, it is painfully obvious that the KSC of today is mediocre at best, when compared to its state thirty years ago. Which is not a bad thing, if I may add. As it has been stated that all that could be invented, all that could be researched has already been done! We don't need anymore dangerous missions just to satisfy the "curiousity" of a few kerbals."

"Indeed, I partially agree with my friend here." Another kerb, Luchas, I think, jumped into the conversation. "The Agony of Duna was the most publicized and documented kerbal disaster. And it tells us what would happens when an arrogant kerb thinks he can take on the solar system for himself. We are living on this gigantic, living spaceship called Kerbin! And how much have we understood about the planet? Not much, that's for sure. Further research into outer space is unnecessary!"

"Of course. This is a huge solar system. Foolish are those Kerbs who think that kerbalkind was fated to explore it all! We should surrender ourselves to Kerbol, and be where it's light shines."

I was about to agree as well. But something seemed off, something basic, something instinctual. "I would like to respectfully disagree." I began."While the evidence suggests that mediocrity is the way to go, a species who once took pride in achieving new heights receeding into the dark? I, for one, can not accept this."

Justin visibly rolled his eyes."Another one of the space junkies. I thought that your species went extinct thirty years ago!" Everyone had a nice little chuckle at my expense. "What more do your kind want as a proof that your days are over? Were the deaths of twelve kerbals on a privately funded spacecraft on Duna not enough?"

"Things go wrong all the time. That does not mean we can all sit back and twiddle our thumbs and do nothing!" I retorted.

"And what guarantee is that the next krewed mission will be without flaws? That the next mission won't fail?"

"There is no guarantee. Not at all. It is even possible to do nothing wrong and still fail our objectives. That's not the sign to stop. its a sign to buckle up, learn from the experience and keep moving forward." I was slowly losing my patience with this guy.

"Ohhh!! So you would dare walk into realms not blessed by the Glorious Kerbol?" The religious nut interfered.

"Oi, the Glorious Kerbol has not blessed me for half my lifetime, during the nights. I am still alive. I think I will take my chances." I could not help but snicker at my wisecrack. And then almost panicked as I realized that such verbal attacks are taken negatively by the invigilators.

"Delusional thoughts are not productive at all. Like I mentioned earlier, we need to understand Kerbin better, not the space." Luchas backed up the others.

"And limited thoughts are even less productive. Why should we be satisfied with only one 'spaceship', when dozens of other 'spaceships' are out there." I pointed upwards."Just waiting to be claimed!"

The discussion went for a long time, with me getting a nice clobbering from the rest of the kerbs in my group. However I did not relent and I was proud of that. Soon enough, time was up and we were all told to wait in the canteen and await the result.

I had a familiar feeling in my guts. That I messed up. I should have just gone with the flow. An hour passed and the results came in.

I passed. I passed?

Huh, I guess luck is an important factor in these kind of situations...

********

Exactly 4 hours later, I entered into the interview room. The atmosphere in there was intimidating, to say the least. There were three scientist-y type kerbs, one of whom I recognized as Werhner Kerman II and... was that Mortimer Kerman?? The Accountant, El Contador??
For those who don't know who Mortimer Kerman is, let me shed a little bit of light. He  is one of the 'Old Guard, the First Accountant and was the second-in-command when KSC was at the peak of its popularity. He stayed at KSC even though the other members of the 'Old Guard' including his (then) boss, Gene Kerman took voluntarily retirement, following the 'Agony of Duna'. In several books and movies, he has been portrayed as a mean, cold and calculating personality, a perfect foil for the kind and gentle Gene Kerman .  In the movies, if he were smiling, then that meant he was going to do something BIG!

He was smiling right now. Oh I am such a goner!

Regardless I smiled back. Or atleast tried to, I am sure it looked like a wince. The rest of the interviewers were trying to burn a hole in my head with their intimidating staring. Mortimer asked me to sit down.

As soon as I sat down on the chair, something seemed out of place. The chair creaked a bit. It was slight, probably because of a loose screw.

"Mr Nanba Kerman, I hope you had your lunch?" Wernher Kerman II took the initiative.

"Yes sir, yes I did. Thank you." I replied. And this chair was getting creakier by the second. My hand reached the spot where the screw securing the seat was supposed to be. It was loose! I knew it! I could not help it but try to tighten the loose screw, while keeping a straight face.

"I will be asking a couple of serious questions ,Mr Kerman. This is a position of responsibility, so you better answer correctly." Mr. Mortimer said, looking straight into my eyes. "A dog, a monkey, and a squirrel are having breakfast.  What time is it?"

'Are you serious!!!!!' I almost screamed it out loud. "I believe it's early morning, since they are having breakfast. I wake up early as well, since it makes me healthy,wealthy and wise." Take that!

"cough*and unemployed*cough."  the younger scientist was not even trying to be subtle.

"Relax Mr. Nanba, I threw that one in there just to break the ice." Mortimer laughed my answer off. "Now let's say,you a re sitting in your front yard and see a kob and kril across the street playing with their dog. The dog climbs into a wagon, and the kob pushes it down the hill.  The dog will be ok, the hill is not steep.  The kril starts yelling at the kob, the kob is yelling at the dog, and the dog is just waiting for the wagon to stop rolling. Which problem do you address first?"

"Hmm..I think that the dog should be saved first. You see, even if the hill is not steep, the wagon will gradually speed up. And all it needs is a pebble in its path to overturn it, and injure the dog in the process. As for the Kob and the krill, they are just yelling. I will probably scold the kob for pushing the wagon, if anything."

Dr. Wernher Kerman II then took over the interview and after a round of technical questions related to rocketry and a few questions on organizational behavior, Mortimer stepped in again.

"Describe, if you will, a previous management situation that you handled poorly, and then how you assessed it afterwards."

"In my last job, I launched a soda bottle rocket at the janitor. It was a harmless prank, as the janitor was not hurt in the slightest. I was only getting back at him for stealing all my Snacks everyday. I ended up losing my job because of that incident, despite the janitor being the first aggressor. I learnt an important lesson that day: If you are going to deal with someone, better do it without witnesses around. And do it quietly!"

Mr. Mortimer had this weird glint in his eyes, the kind of glint my Grandpa Jorfen has whenever he reminiscences about the glorious days of Air Force space program.

"Hmm, I see. And why do you care about space?"

"I..when I was a kid, I had this question: Why do we exist, and how? I still don't know the answer to the 'why' but this curiosity is what drives me. I also want to know, what's beyond the next hill, beyond the next forest, beyond the next celestial body... My fellow kerbs have called it childish but I can never let go of these thoughts."

"Thank you, that will be all." Wernher concluded the interview, and I got out of there as quick as I could, while being polite.

And 2 hours later, I was selected as the Director of KSC Operations. Wait up! Director?This was an interview for choosing the Director? I was informed that it would be a PR related job when I applied for it!

*******

And thus our protagonist becomes the new Director of KSC Operations. What does it imply for the future? Will Nanba Kerman survive KSC and its shenanigans? Or will he buckle under the mediocrity of the space center? Stay tuned to find out more!

Edited by Sorabh
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Posted (edited)

The Mission, Controlled!!!

Chapter 3: The Administrontium

I was standing in front of the administrative building of KSC, heaving my bags along. Apparently, I needed to "stay" at KSC, since an emergency could pop up any moment and had to address the press and the media if the emergency was catastrophic. In other words, I am being paid for being a willing scapegoat for any failures that might occur.

The keyword being 'might'. Operations in KSC have become so routine and reliable that  "Employees sometimes wish for an explosion to spice up things."

Not on my watch.

Although this brings me to the tall claims I made in the group discussion. To return Kerbal Space Center to its former glory, that was what I said. Now, I am not under any obligation to follow through my words at the group discussion, but deep within, it would feel wrong if I didn't.

Ask me to bring a vintage car to its former glory, I would do it before you even finish requesting. But to reorganize such a large organization, and removing the rot from each nook and cranny? I think I might just have bitten more than what I can chew.

Today the IRIS-G Kerbin Observation Satellite will be launched. This will be the first of several IRIS-G satellites which would replace the ageing IRIS-F fleet. Also some students wanted to launch a KubeSat. 'To test new technologies for space travel' that's what they said. The fact that they could brag about it in international conferences remained unsaid.

Spoiler

The workhorse rocket of KSC, the Administrontium, launched from the launchpad with its payload, IRIS G-1 Kerbin Observation Satelite.

VDjOfv9.jpg

After reaching burnout the sepratron motors ignited, and after a delay of a couple of seconds, the second stage engine started up.

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The second stage lifted the rocket to the required apoapsis of 100 km. After clearing 50kms, the fairings deployed, and the near exhausted second stage detached from the satellite. The solar panels, comms antenna, and the scanners deployed.

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After coasting to the apoapsis, the RCS motors aboard the satellite circularised the orbit.

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Once the payload reached orbit, it released the small university KubeSat. The KubeSat deployed its solar panels and comms, and started doing stuff.

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After a successful launch, the ground control retired for lunch, while I went back to my office. There were going to be reruns of "The Dunatian" on WebFlix, and there's now way I am going to miss that classic.

Halfway into the movie, an Email notification blipped on the screen. It was from a rookie intern. There was a sense of urgency in that email. An urgency similar to when you install a lot of mods in the game "Human Space Program" and hope it won't crash on loading.
What was even odder was that it was not sent to my workplace mail address.

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I looked at the attachments and the first thing I did was to fix a meeting with the engineers

******

"This looks good, this looks very good!" I appreciated the 3D models of the Krewed space crafts that the young engineers were showing me. "I am glad that the spirit of innovation still exists."

The intern, Kunfaya , looked embarrassed as she rubbed her cheek."Oh, it's nothing much, we just tried to extend the existing mk1 pod to fit another kerb. It would be much more better if we could build a 2-kerb spaceship, kinda like this one." Her partner, Eddie, then showed me another design, this was a sightly larger, extended version of the mk1 cockpit. It could easily fit 2 kerbs inside, and felt like a decent upgrade from the first model.

"This is what we call the Mk-2 spacecraft. Like the previous one, we have planned an extension module, to house 4 more kerbals."

"While that's all fine and dandy, why are you showing me this? Work on krewed vehicles stopped 26 years ago." I inquired.

"Well, that might be so but... " Eddie hesitated a bit. "We heard what you had to say in the group discussion."

"What?? How?? I mean, aren't the recordings supposed to be confidential?"

"Not to us! We borrowed the recordings and I must say, we were impressed. We thought that maybe, just maybe we could get this proposal through."

"Well, sorry to disappoint you guys, but I don't have that kind of power, especially on the first day of the office." I felt sorry for the younger intern, the way her enthusiasm faded.

"But, I can appeal to some of the more experienced workers here at KSC! I am sure quite a few people will be enthusiastic about this." I tried to reassure them, but I knew it was not a very good plan.

I returned to my office soon after, and opened up my laptop to make some additions to my mission report to the Magistrate and the Ministry of Space regarding the krewed flights. Midway through my report, I decided to take advice from someone more experienced than me.

I don't know what possessed me to call Mr. Mortimer though...

******

And thus Nanba oversaw his first mission, and got an interesting email by the end of the day. The gears in his mind are running at full speed. But what could he be thinking? And why does he want to take advice from Mortimer Kerman, El Contadore? Stay tuned to find out more!

Edited by Sorabh
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The Mission, Controlled!!!

Chapter 4: The Herd Mentality

After a quick talk over the phone, Mr. Mortimer invited me to a restaurant to talk more about this subject. It was an hour past lunch time, but I could manage.I put on a hat and dark sunglasses and entered the restaurant. Mr. Mort was already there, browsing the menu.

"Oh, you are finally here! And what's with that disguise? Drop it. You look even more suspicious." Mr. Mort remarked without even looking up from the menu.

"I need to talk about more important matters than my disguise." I said, removing the hat and showed him the blueprints of the krewed vehicles.

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"So, what do you think? Can we make this work?"

"If an engineer says it makes sense, I'm sure we can find a way to afford such a craft- but why are you asking me?  What does Werhner Jr. say, and why does the government wish to send kerbs to orbit again?"

"Weeellll... I have not talked to any of them, in fact.." I replied sheepishly. "It's just me and two other engineers, and now you, who are aware of this. All the officials I could have talked to have a negative attitude towards space exploration, and it's unlikely to change anytime soon. So I was wondering if we could force..er... convince them somehow to change their opinions.."

Mortimer looked at me over the rims of his glasses, then sat back and crossed his arms. "You do not, I take it, refer to simple lobbying.  What is your plan?"

"I was thinking about a way to generate hype among kerbs regarding space travel. If kerbs on ground want more satellites and probes in space, the government will, without a doubt, comply." I spoke to Mortimer in a hushed tone. "I am planning a covert space mission.It could be a flyby of bodies that we have not visited, and bodies that we can visit at frequent intervals."

"Once we take science and imagery of an entirely new world, and 'leak' it to the public, kerbs will start taking notice, and that would be our chance! And didn't you have a share in a defunct company? What was it called? Kerbal R&D, yes! Maybe that would help?"  I looked at Mr. Mortimer, hoping for a positive answer.

Mortimer winced. "Please, do not remind me where my retirement funds are sunk."  He sighed. "Yes, KeRDy could certainly do what you ask, they have plenty of untapped resources at this point.  However, I am concerned with your objective."

"Conducting flight operations outside of your existing mandate is perilous, whatever the objective.  Governments tend to prefer their assets conduct themselves within expected bounds.  Your end goal has fine merit, but wouldn't it be a better idea to try to influence the government to extend their directive first, rather than spend assets off the books in the hopes that everything will work out in the end?" Mr. Mortimer looked genuinely concerned.

"First of all, it's about visibility, Mr. Mort... Lobbying by space advocates has been going on for about 2 decades, with no real results. And there won't be any, as long as the common Kerbs are not involved in this process. If people see those images, then perhaps they will see that space is not just for educated, intelligent snobs. Herd mentality of the Kerbs will do the rest for us.Softer approaches haven't worked, maybe something more radical will? And if anyone finds out about what's going on behind the scenes, then I will be the fall guy."

"Secondly, KeRDy promised to upgrade part performance in exchange of science. But the startup failed because there were no more exploration missions, and thus no more science to be gained. Without a demonstration, no one trusted KeRDy's claims and the startup failed. Well, here's your chance to get back your retirement funds, at the least. If the government is not swayed by the emotions of kerbs, then perhaps profit can convince them." I put up a satisfied smile as I recited the speech I had rehearsed thrice.

Mort strummed slowly strummed his fingers.

"Fine.  You'll need to back-channel all your orders and conversations, I'll provide a secure line for you to someone there.  Your engineering team will need to pass me the bills, keep it to under 20% of operating costs and there will be no problems there."

"I don't think you realize what you're doing yet, but- here's to Glory Days," and Mort raised his glass.

"To the glory days!" We toasted and after a while of idle chit chat, left the restaurant.

*******

My inbox was flooded the next day. Turns out that after the successful test flight of the Tiny University KubeSat, every institute in Kerbin wanted a KubeSat of its own in Kerbin Orbit. The manufacturer of the Kubesat sold those in spades, making a huge profit. And now they wanted a launch vehicle. Herd Mentality. Now someone pick up that phone because I called it!!

The Administrontium-Lite was readied. It had the same first stage as the Standard Administrontium, but the upper stage was for lighter payloads.

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The launch went almost nominally, with the booster placing the payload in equatorial LKO.

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The only hiccup was when the software dumped the fairings way beforehand, exposing the payload to high temperatures.

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None of the KubeSats were harmed, however. That's good.

 Now it was the time for the most important part of the mission. The R&D department had hobbled up a makeshift KubeSat Dispensor.

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The dispensing program initiated and the first batch of 4 kubesats separated from the payload container.

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The second and the third batch followed suit.

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The upperstage was then deorbited, bringing the mission to an end.

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*******

I spent the next few nights in my office researching and cataloguing every asset that KSC had at it's disposal. And which of those I could steal without making anyone look for them.

While going through the archive, I stumbled upon a folder named 'DMagic equipments'.

I stumbled upon a literal goldmine. There were science experiments that would no doubt accelerate my plan much faster than it would have been if I were using the 'stock' experiments. According to the data, all of it were in storage. I took a mental note to visit the storage warehouse and continued going through the inventory.

I started searching for SSTOs, for they will be ideal vehicles for launching my rogue space vehicles. They could take off from any runway without drawing much attention and launch the payload to LKO.

But to my disappointment, I discovered that all SSTO designs were dismantled, and some were even burned by mobs!

This was bad! While the probe could be assembled without drawing attention, the same could not be said about the launch.

Now all I could do was to wait for an opportunity.

*******

Nanba gets an 'Okay' from old Mortimer, but has hit a roadblock in his preparations. Would he be successful in getting over the issues and getting ahead in his dangerous plan? Or will he chicken out when he sees no solution in sight? Stay tuned t find out more!

Edited by Sorabh
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