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TEEN: Penny Saves Paldea, an S/V fic where glitches are canon

Chapter 1: Penny's Treasure Hunt


Helping Penny Save Paldea
Dec 31, 2017
Reaction score
  1. She/Her
I've posted this on other platforms, but it's still one of my favorite fics I've written, so I figured if I'm going to dip my toes in sharing fanfics, I might as well start with this one. Hope you guys enjoy it!

Scarlet & Violet's glitches are all canon. The "anomalies" affect some people more than others, but no one's sure why. Our main quartet, along with the Team Star bosses, is off to discover what's wrong with their home. Well, when they aren't butting heads or bickering with each other, that is. Sometimes you don't want the answers even when you find them.

T for some creepy images in later chapters

An audio version of this chapter is available for anyone who wants/needs it. (Quick note: the audio version is in present tense and may look like it's starting at the halfway point--it's not, I'm just skipping the intro/glitch explanations, which are not included in the story text.)

Chapter 1 is spoiler free. Chapters 2 and up will contain spoilers for both Starfall Street and Path of Legends. There are no spoilers for The Way Home until much later in the story.


~~Chapter 1: Penny's Treasure Hunt~~

Penny leaned back in her desk chair, the dorm-issued one that felt like it had been designed for kindergartners--inefficient and clunky, its remaining shelf life painfully uncertain.

It was the perfect metaphor for everything in Paldea right now. Everything she could see.

Penny pushed her glasses higher up the bridge of her nose and scrolled through the photos on her computer screen. The anomalies had started as little things. A child swinging his legs under his desk, his movements slowing to a crawl while his voice remained as quick as chipper as ever. A wild Pokémon seeming to blink out of existence, only for the witness to be told by fellow students that she probably just saw a Kecleon or something.

Who's ever seen a Kecleon in Paldea anyway? Penny thought, rolling her eyes as she scrolled faster. Of course, with the way things were going, maybe she shouldn't shrug off the possibility so quickly. That was one nice thing about computers. They reported things exactly as they were, whether those observations made sense or not. Penny had documented as much of the strange phenomenon on her own as she could, but her sources had sent her even more, which made her grateful. If nothing else, it would good to have at least a couple people who didn't think she was straight-up losing her mind.

Beneath the desk, Sprigatito mewed and nuzzled her ankle with its grassy, blanket-soft fur. Penny gave a rare smile and patted the little Pokémon on the head. She didn't realize how dark it had gotten in the room. That was what happened when she got absorbed in work. Did she even eat dinner yet?

Penny leaned over and switched the desk lamp on, to which Sprigatito gave a satisfied nod before it curled itself back into a ball at her feet. The little Pokémon wasn't hers. She didn't actually know who it belonged to. The poor thing had phased through a wall and found itself next to Penny in the library, lost and disoriented. Penny had asked a few students nearby if this was their Pokémon, but they had all waved her off and said not to bother them. The treasure hunt was about to begin, and they had to prepare.

Penny had her own ideas for the treasure hunt. Much bigger and more important than any other student's. I'm going to find out what's causing all these strange occurrences in Paldea, she promised herself. If any humans are at fault, I'll make them sorry. And if any Pokémon are at fault...

She swallowed hard. Pokémon were such amazing creatures--capable of flooding entire regions, creating new land out of nowhere, treating even the fabric of time like their personal plaything. If one of them decided on a whim to distort and erase Paldea piece by piece, what hope did she have of stopping them? At best, she might be able to help people evacuate the region and find somewhere safe. If there was anywhere safe.

Penny shook her head and stood up from the desk. Her stomach growled, a sure sign that she had, in fact, skipped dinner. She walked over to the mini fridge and pulled out a leftover sandwich. Chorizo, cucumber, and wasabi. The only correct way to make a sandwich. Then she retook the spot in her clunky preschooler-sized chair, breaking off bits of the spicy sausage and passing them to Sprigatito under the desk. Stay nourished, stay healthy, stay focused, she reminded herself.

If anyone had asked Penny a few months ago what it would look like, practically speaking, for Paldea's existence to deteriorate before her, she would have been clueless. She'd never been the creative type and didn't care to speculate on theoretical disasters. But all the strange events she had seen--Pokémon walking through objects, appearing and disappearing, humans and Pokémon moving like they were in some messed-up, stop-motioned animated film--if that didn't add up to a crumbling reality, she wasn't sure what did. Why, the other day, she'd even spotted the academy's newest student, tucked up in a seated position as if riding a large bike and gliding through midair on absolutely nothing. No one responded. No one noticed. Everyone acted like this was a completely normal and acceptable event. Even among the few students who admitted they'd seen "a few strange things lately," most of them passed it off. Pokémon were Pokémon. A few odd occurrences here and there didn't equal cause for alarm. And wasn't life at the academy all so wonderful? Who wanted to get bogged down with worry when badges and treasures and adventure all waited at their metaphorical doorsteps?

I'll put a stop to this, Penny thought, taking an extra large bite of the sandwich and chewing with uncharacteristic gusto. I'll put a stop to all of it. No matter what.
Chapter 2: Fall of the Schedar Squad
~~Chapter 2: Fall of the Schedar Squad~~

A/N: As before, an audio version is available here. Hope you enjoy!


The next morning, Penny was awoken earlier than she would have preferred. Much earlier, in fact. An alert on her phone. It was generally set not to disturb her at night, but she had programmed exceptions for certain circumstances. Some more disastrous than others.

She yawned and fumbled for her glasses, squinting at the screen's eerie glow, the only source of light in the room.

Defeat Alert: Mela

Her heart sank a bit at seeing the notice. Reading how her close friend had lost her status as a Team Star boss ...well, it was preferable to getting alerts that reality was deteriorating much quicker than she initially thought. But even so, it wasn't easy news to take. She checked the time on the alert: 4:21am.

Seriously? That weird student she'd recruited for Operation Starfall, Juliana, apparently had nothing better to do right before dawn than go running around attacking Team Star's bases. But Penny had made a promise, after all, so she dutifully sent the promised funds to Juliana's account. She took a moment to gather herself before calling Juliana directly, however.

With Mela's leadership overturned, the Schedar Squad would disband. The students would return to class. And more time in class meant less time they were sending Penny the data she needed. If they still sent it at all.

All perfectly natural consequences of the code Penny herself encouraged Giacomo to write. Her grip on the phone tightened. If only she could go back in time to before she had this stupid idea for Operation Starfall at all. Keeping her friends from getting expelled was the only thing on her mind back then, because...well, because of course it was. How was she supposed to know reality would start deteriorating a few weeks later and the school might need Team Star after all?

Her first hope had been that Juliana would flake out and never touch the Team Star bases. But now that possibility had been well and truly torched to ash. She needed a backup plan and quick.

"How do I get into these messes?" she muttered to the Poké Balls lined up on her dresser, then shook her head. Sometimes it improved her plans when she spoke them aloud to her Pokémon, but there was no need to wake any of them now. She created this disaster, and now she had to deal with it.

Penny took a deep breath, turned on her phone's voice filter, and tapped Juliana's name in her address book. Signal strength came and went in the dorms, a problem that existed long before the students and Pokémon had followed suit. As Penny waited for a good connection (and for Juliana to actually pick up), she mulled over her potential approach to this little chat.

I'd first like to know why Juliana went after Mela before Giacomo. Just a bit of asking around would have revealed that he's the least experienced trainer. Of course, Penny had some hand in his inexperience. Once Team Star secured its place in the school's hierarchy, letting anyone know that messing with members would no longer be tolerated, Giacomo had wanted to "start all over" with new Pokémon he'd never trained before. He'd avoided Dark-types in the past--they had a reputation, after all. Every criminal organization loved them, even the ones who specialized in completely different typings. Team Magma was infamous for its hordes of Houndour and Houndoom, as was Team Aqua for its Carvanha and Sharpedo. The list went on. But Giacomo had changed since Team Star, no longer adjusting his team to what he thought would impress others. It was wonderful progress for him.

Then Penny had contacted him, asking for his base's take on the strange happenings around Paldea...


"So you're tellin' me, you've seen Pokémon and people, moving all funny then vanishing?"

Giacomo had kept his tone flat and serious during that first call, leaving Penny clueless on how to respond. "You...haven't noticed anything like that?"

Giacomo gave way too long a pause before he let loose with a loud cheer. "Of course we have! Are you kidding me? But no one believed us! We all thought we were losing our minds over here! Man, am I happy we have you, Big Boss!"


The ring tone ended, and Penny heard a click as Juliana picked up and greeted her. Then came some scuffling as it sounded like someone took the phone away. The call ended. Penny grit her teeth. Bad signal again? But if Juliana just defeated Mela, she should still be outside the Schedar Squad's base. It shouldn't have been an issue. Penny dialed again, breathing deeply and falling back to her memories of her last chat with Giacomo...


"So what exactly have you seen?"

"Well, for starters, it was training time the other day, and somebody's Murkrow walked right through my Pawniard! Then part of its body vanished, and we just saw a floating Murkrow face for a second, then it went back to normal. Everyone was so freaked out, no one wanted to train the rest of the week. Especially the poor Murkrow!"

"I...I see..."

"Most members thought the base was haunted or something," Giacomo went on, "And we almost abandoned it. You know what's up, then, B.B.?"

Penny had cringed inside. If she would have told Giacomo the place really was haunted, maybe the Segin Squad would have disbanded on its own. No Operation Starfall needed to save them from expulsion. But somehow after all the hiding and deception she'd brought to the friendship so far, she couldn't bring herself to pile on another lie. Not about something as big as this.

She told him everything. Well, everything she had information on, which turned out to not be much. But Giacomo promised he and his crew would dedicate all their time to documenting the strange events and send her what they found. Which had left the crew very little time for Pokémon training. If she let Operation Starfall continue, she'd pretty much made him and the Segin Squad a bunch of sitting Duckletts.


I need to call off Operation Starfall, she thought, as Juliana picked up again. Any excuse will do. Tell her Team Star is too strong. Or maybe say they're not as bad as everyone thinks? Ugh, like she would believe that when the school is set to expel all the members.

"Hello?" she said. "Juliana?"

"Is this Cassiopeia?" said a voice that definitely did not belong to a school-aged girl. The voice came from an older male, mid-forties at her youngest possible guess. And it sounded a tad familiar, too.

"Who's asking?" she demanded.

"My name is Clive," the man replied. "I would like to help with Operation Starfall. I'm a student at the academy, you see."

And I'm Mega Diancie, Penny thought with a roll of her eyes. She hadn't attended many classes at the academy, but she did pay attention to all the announcements the school made. And Director Clavell was almost always the one who made them. With the video feed to Juliana's phone turned off, just listening to this "Clive's" voice...yes, there was no doubt as to who he was. Perhaps the man should have tried to disguise his tone a bit better.

"I will need some time to consider this," Penny said, trying to keep her answer as vague as possible. "In the meantime, I'm assuming the person I actually recruited for this operation would like her phone back."

"Y-yes. Of course she would. I mean, uh, yeah. Whatever and such."

More scuffling, and finally Juliana came through. "Sorry. I have no idea who that guy is, but he seems to be following me around. Should I get rid of this phone and maybe get a new one?"

"No need," Penny said. "I'm pretty sure he's harmless. He might even be useful, though that remains to be seen. About the next stage of the operation, though--"

Juliana cut Penny off with a monumental yawn. The poor girl sounded like a Snorlax after battle. "I need to get some rest in the dorms first, but I'll be out again as soon as I can to take down the next base. I promise."

"There's really no rush--" Penny began, only to be cut off again.

"Well, there's benefits to me, too," said Juliana, tacking on an awkwardly long giggle. Penny tapped her foot. Most new students were like her--not much for talking, mostly letting the more aggressive seniors like Arven and Nemona tell them where to go and what to do. Why did she have to recruit the one new student who actually liked chatting?

"I guess what I really mean is, thanks so much for the LP," Juliana said.

Penny's stomach twisted. "Oh, um...of course. I mean, you earned it." Another bonus to ending this whole charade. No more stealing. "Listen, Juliana, there's something I need to--"

"I mean, I don't know what I would have done out in the wild without those extra potions and revives," Juliana went on. "I didn't think I could afford them before, but since I knew you'd be paying me, I was able to spend more. My Pokémon are growing so much better and faster, and it's all thanks to you!"

"Oh, um...my pleasure," Penny said. "Your training helps too, I'm sure. Keep up the good work." It was poor phrasing, which she realized the second the words left her mouth. She'd meant Juliana should keep up the good work of training her partners. Not the work she was doing with Operation Starfall. There Paldea depended on Juliana doing atrocious work.

"Thanks!" Juliana said. "And good night!" The call dropped again. Penny took a few calming breaths (or maybe more than a few--she sort of lost track) and tried to call back. Only Juliana's voicemail responded. Penny hung up without leaving a message, which seemed like the Cassiopeia thing to do. No doubt Juliana would have turned the phone off so she could get back to the dorms and get some sleep. Penny's hacking could do a lot of things, but it couldn't remotely power on a phone.

So now in addition to figuring out what on Earth was going wrong with Paldea, she had to keep Juliana from completing Operation Starfall. Without revealing herself or getting Team Star in more trouble if possible. But if push came to shove...

The fate of Paldea has to take precedence, she reminded herself. That's what Team Star would do. She smiled just the tiniest bit at the thought of her friends banding together once again against an overwhelming thread. Her first plan had been to go back to sleep if she could. But adrenaline had taken over. She needed to call Mela. Even if the Schedar Squad had to publicly disband, the crew might still be able to set some sparks in the shadows.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. Penny really did need to watch her wording from now on.
Chapter 3: How Arven Really Reached the Sky Titan New
~~Chapter 3: How Arven Really Reached the Sky Titan~~

A/N: The audio version is available here. Hope you enjoy!

Arven had been watching Juliana from a distance for the better part of hour.

And no, he reassured himself, he was not being creepy. She'd said this morning she was taking this road through the Area One West Province, and so of course, he assumed she was doing that to help him take down the Open Sky Titan. What else would she do out here? Fight random trainer battles? Chat it up with the Team Star knuckleheads down the road? No way.

If she was going to be nice enough to help him collect the Herba Mystica, the least he could do was wait here until she arrived. He leaned against the mountainside, his large pack resting on the ground beside him, and perked up when her silhouette appeared in the distance. The girl wasn't hard to miss. A fluffy yellow hat sat atop her layered black hair. She also sported pink glasses, matching blue gloves and hiking boots, along with neon green leggings. All of which contrasted horribly with the school's standard orange uniform. It was like the uniform was the only article of clothing she would ever be allowed to wear, and she was determined to make it look as wacky as possible on principle.

The path was long and curved, but easy to follow, and Juliana should have reached him within ten minutes, tops. Instead, she had spent the last--Arven glanced at his watch--forty minutes trying to get Koraidon to jump the river. Koraidon failed over and over again, leaving Juliana to pull herself out of the water and ride the brute to where the water looked narrower. It did not help, and Arven was getting cold and shivery just by watching her.

She knows there's a bridge here, right? he thought as he stroked Mabosstiff's Poké Ball. Doubt crept into his mind about his choice of ally. Then again, there was that whole thing about beggars and choosers. No one else at school would give him the time of day. An attitude he was sadly used to, but that didn't mean he liked it. If Juliana's antics seemed like they would put Mabosstiff in more danger than help him...

Arven glanced down at his hand, opening and closing it experimentally, etching the sensation in his mind. Juliana's a kind person. I've seen that so far. And I need a back-up plan. Like it or not, she might be Mabosstiff's only chance. With that thought, he took a deep, slow breath of the crisp morning air and returned Mabosstiff's ball to his belt.

About five minutes later, Juliana finally decided to cross the bridge, and Arven waved wildly to get her attention. His eyes widened when she got close enough to return the greeting--her clothes and even her long dark hair were completely dry.

Another weird event? he thought. Or is this just a thing she does? Then he realized he still had his hand up in the air and dropped it quickly.

Juliana giggled. "You look like you're trying to answer one of Professor Tyme's class questions."

"I-I...I was just glad to see you," Arven said, his face growing hot. He pulled the heavy pack up high on his shoulders. "You ready for this next titan? It's been tossing rocks down the hillside here, so you need to be care--"

"Actually..." Juliana was already looking down the flat path, the one that definitely did not lead to the sky titan. "...I kind of had, um, other plans? See, I promised this Cassiopeia person I would help her take down Team Star..."

"But--this is important!" Arven said. More like shouted.

Which Juliana clearly didn't appreciate. A scowl replaced her usual friendly smile, and her uncertain tone grew pointed. "I think I get to choose what's important to me. The world is my Cloyster, remember?"

"I'm sorry," Arven sputtered, lowering his head in a deep bow. He didn't have great footing, and with the heavy, kitchenware-stuffed bag, he almost toppled forward. Probably not the best way to apologize. He straightened to regain his balance, letting a loose rock under his feet tumble down to the path.

Juliana, in spite of herself, covered a smirk with her hand.

Arven took a deep breath and made a polite, less dramatic bow this time. "Please. This isn't just about cooking research. I'm really worried about..." His hand went instinctively to his side. Can I trust her yet? And if so, with how much?

"About...?" Juliana pressed.

Arven lowered his hand and shook his head. "Help me get through this next titan, and I promise, I'll tell you everything."

She didn't agree, but she didn't turn away, either. Arven watched with building tension as she glanced between him and the road leading to Team Star's next base. With a sigh, she relented and took a step up the hill. A pushover for a half-told story. Arven grinned and began to lay out his plan. The ground beneath their feet rumbled slightly as the massive Bombardier rolled boulder after boulder from its perch above. For now, the rocks fell harmlessly to the side. Once they got moving up the rocky slope, it would be a different story. Still, Arven was optimistic they'd get through to the next herb without much difficulty. He glanced down at his hand one more time as Juliana began to run up the path ahead of him.


Arven waited until Juliana was almost at the peak of the hill before he started to run up himself. Looking back, it wasn't his best idea. While she and Koraidon were bumped and jostled and knocked down by one huge rolling rock after another, Arven scaled the whole thing in a fraction of the time. He didn't think Juliana would pay much attention. After all, she had a Titan Pokémon to deal with. Arven crested the peak of the hill just as Juliana's Tinkatuff took a wild swing at the titan with its hammer. Shards of ice crystalized on Bombardier's wingtips, and it struggled to keep itself aloft.

Yep, Juliana's Tinkatuff knew Ice Hammer. Because of course it did. Arven shivered, thinking of the terror this pink puffball's evolution would cause, when Juliana snapped him back to reality. Hard.

"Okay, how did you get up here?" she demanded.

"I, uh, ran," he said, hoping it would satisfy her. It didn't.

"Tinkatuff, use Ice Hammer again," she commanded, barely watching the battle. Her eyes were locked on him, and she wasn't stepping down without an answer. Meanwhile, her pink wrecking machine of a Pokémon squealed with delight and took another swing. The direct hit sent a cool chill across the wind, and Bombardier was forced to flee. It landed not far away, near a cave opening Arven hadn't seen a moment ago, and began munching on something. A plant that glowed and glimmered with powerful healing light.

Adrenaline pumped though Arven's veins. Herba Mystica!

He took a step forward, only for Juliana to block his path. "There's no way you could run up here that quick. You had a giant bag on your shoulders, and up until a minute ago, that stupid bird was throwing boulders left and right," she said. "What did you do? Run through them?"

If I say 'yes,' will you believe me? "I...can't explain it right now," he said.

Juliana stomped her foot. It might have looked childish if anyone else had done it, but with Tinkatuff at her side, it was downright intimidating. "You literally just said at the bottom of this mountain you'd tell me everything."

If Arven had an attack stat, it would have dropped six levels on the spot. "I-I meant everything about the Herba Mystica, not--"

A screech echoed across the rocky ground, and Bombardier flapped its now ice-free wings. Its beady black eyes fixated on the two humans who had been foolish enough to enter its territory. Juliana crossed her arms. "Well?"

"Fine!" Arven groaned. "I'll tell you. Everything everything. But only after we get in that cave and harvest the Herba Mystica. Agreed?"

She smiled in an oddly similar way to Tinkatuff. Her bright pink glasses only added to the spine-chilling effect. "Agreed."


Not even ancient magic-imbued herbs could give Bombardier an edge over Juliana. Arven wasn't quite sure why he brought his Nacli out, but he had to feel like he was contributing something. Once inside the cave, he approached the Herba Mystica with an entranced awe. Then Juliana elbowed him, and he quickly flipped through his notes. This was the bitter-flavored one. Not the best set-up for a tasty meal, but he could make do. He knew the way to prepare it so Mabosstiff would like it. He just had to remember to make extra this time. No doubt that brute of Juliana's would want more than its fair share again.

Juliana, for her part, didn't push him for answers immediately and instead began setting up the picnic table. Arven waved her attention.

"Hang on. Toedscool and Scovillain can handle that," he said. "I need you over here." He motioned towards his makeshift countertop, which really just amounted to a rock slab with an extra tablecloth thrown over it. He usually grabbed ingredients straight from his pack, knowing by feel how much he needed. But since he was aiming for a demonstration this time--or maybe a lesson was the better word for it--he set all the ingredients out so Juliana could easily see them. The horseradish jar and the jam jar looked oddly similar, and he rotated them so the labels were clear as she approached.

"What's all this?" Juliana asked. "Thought you were the sandwich expert. Now you need help all of a sudden?"

Arven fought back his first instinct, which was to snap that his sandwich skills would put even Katy's finest baked goods to shame. Then he remembered he actually did need help. "I just...want to make sure someone else besides me knows how to make these. My Pokémon needs them." He released Mabosstiff from its Poké Ball and told Juliana the whole story. About the injury no Pokémon Center could heal. He kept it quick and avoided her gaze as much as he could. He hated feeling so weak and vulnerable like this. He'd grown up taking care of himself. It felt like he could do better than relying on a near stranger, but life loved to prove how little it cared about his feelings. At least the atmosphere was nice for his confession. The soft glow of the herbs lit the place, and their sharp aroma overrode any damp or mossy smells the cave otherwise had.

When Arven finished his story, Juliana's eyes with shimmering with held back tears.

Great, Arven thought. I just told a literal sob story.

Juliana sucked in a deep breath and rubbed her eyes. "All this talk about your Pokémon, but...what's wrong with you?"


"You said you wanna be sure someone else besides you can make these sandwiches Mabosstiff likes. What makes you think you won't be able to prep them yourself?"

Arven swallowed hard and looked down at his hand. Probably better to demonstrate this answer than explain it. There was no more stalling, no more excuses. He flexed his fingers, focused, and thrust his hand toward the rock slab. It glided harmlessly through like a ghost's.

"This," he said simply before pulling his hand back out again.

Juliana's eyes went wide, though she didn't freak out like he'd suspected. Maybe she'd witnessed something like this around school, too? Arven laid his hand on a bread roll, confirming he could touch solid objects again, and laid it sideways. "Now, the trick to slicing the bread is--"

"Don't change the subject like that!" Juliana snapped at him, her voice probably louder than she meant in the cave's close quarters. She lowered her head a bit, and her voice followed suit. "So you did get up the mountain by running through the boulders?"

"Yeah," he said. "It always happens when I get scared, so I figured I might as well use it to my advantage there. But sometimes it happens when I don't mean for it to at all. And those times have been getting more and more frequent." He sliced open the bread, not bothering to explain himself and began laying slices of cheese diagonally across the center. His voice cracked a bit as he continued, "Honestly, I'm kind of scared. I don't know why it's happening. Unlike Mabosstiff and that brute of yours, the first Herba Mystica didn't help me." He moved from the cheese to the proscuitto, folding each slice neatly before placing it. The awkward silence became intolerable, and he forced a pathetic-sounding laugh. "My worst fear is that it'll go off when I've challenged someone to a battle, only I won't notice, and I'll look like an idiot who can't even throw a Poké Ball."

"Is that why you slap your face before you send out your Pokémon?" Juliana asked. "To make sure you're not phasing through something again?"

His cheeks grew hot once more. "I thought it looked like I was getting pumped up."

"No," she giggled. "You looked kind of ridiculous."

He should have been insulted, but Juliana's blunt honesty had shattered the tension. Couldn't help but be grateful there. He talked her through the rest of the sandwich instructions, taking extra care to make sure she got the balance of horseradish correct. Mabosstiff loved spicy foods, but in its weakened state, it couldn't handle as much as it used to, so the measurement had to be perfect and the condiment spread evenly. Juliana listened and followed each step with focus and care. Her skills needed work, but there was time for her to learn. (And in the meantime, Koraidon would never refuse an extra goof-up sandwich.)

As Arven had predicted, the Herba Mystica worked its magic, and Mabosstiff's eyes lit up for the first time in months. Tears rolled down Arven's cheeks at the sight of it. As long as he existed in this world, he'd never give up hope. The trick for now was to just keep existing.
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