What's This?

by Harmony Charmer

Chapter 1: There's Pink... Well, Not Everywhere, But You Get The Idea

"Nightmare Night, what a fright!" Pinkie chanted for what seemed like the millionth time. "Give me something sweet to bite!"

Twilight looked up from her book long enough to roll her eyes. "Pinkie, Nightmare Night is still several weeks away. Can you cut it out with the chant?"

Pinkie shrugged. "Still! I'm super excited for this year!"

"You're excited every year," Spike commented as he shelved another book.

"And nervous!" Pinkie added, "I mean, is my costume gonna look right? Is it scary enough?" She gasped. "What if it's too scary?"

"Pinkie, you dressed up as a chicken for Nightmare Night," Twilight said with a deadpan expression.

"So?!" Pinkie exclaimed, "Chickens are scary, too!"

"Better not tell Scootaloo that..." Spike said under his breath.

Twilight spared him a sharp glance, but decided not to comment. She turned back to Pinkie. "Listen, Pinkie, it's late. Besides, we got the rest of the shelving handled, so you can go home now."

Pinkie frowned. "Ya sure? I don't want you two up all night shelving books again. You're grumpy in the morning afterwards."

"No, we'll be-- Hey, I don't get grumpy!" Twilight protested suddenly.

Pinkie didn't seem to hear her. "Are ya sure that you'll be fine?"

"Don't worry, Pinkie!" Spike called from the shelf ladder, "We'll be fine!"

Pinkie grinned. "Okie dokie lokie! I'll see you guys tomorrow!"

And with that, Pinkie hopped out of the library, excitedly humming another Nightmare Night chant as she turned through the halls.

"Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate!" Pinkie called out cheerfully as she exited the castle, "The first one said, 'Oh my, it's getting late!'"

She bounced mindlessly, not taking notice of her passing Sugarcube Corner.

"The second said, 'There are witches in the air!'" Pinkie continued, "'The third one said, 'But we don't care!'"

Ponies merely shook their heads in the manner they usually did when Pinkie passed, each one muttering a quiet, "She's just being Pinkie Pie." None of them seemed to notice that Pinkie wasn't paying attention to where she was going.

"The fourth one said, 'Let's run, let's run!' The fifth one said, 'Isn't autumn fun?'"

As Pinkie continued to bounce, she barely seemed to notice the lack of light that came with her new surroundings. Despite it being autumn, there were still leaves on the forest trees, making it really difficult to see in the dark. However, Pinkie wouldn't know, seeing as how her eyes were closed in blitheness.

"Then the wind went, 'Whoooooooooooooo!'" Pinkie cheered, doing a small twirl as she whooped, "And out went the light!"

Finally, she finished her little chant with a cheerful, "Then five little pumpkins rolled out of--" She paused her chant, her eyes widening as she took in her surroundings. "--sight?"

Dark, brown tendrils hung from the forest's branches, crisp and sharp from the autumn air. The already strange leaves seemed even more peculiar as they rotted and fell from the trees, the sway of their fall odd and strange. Pinkie never knew the Everfree Forest to be more strange or frightening than usual.

But, Pinkie being Pinkie meant that being scared wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it was fun to be scared!

She giggled and snorted. "Silly me! I really oughtta start looking where I'm going!"

Then, as if nothing had happened at all, she continued on with her chanting and bouncing, unknowing of the pair of eyes watching her.

* * *

Jack wasn't used to being unconscious. He never needed to sleep as much as others did as he wasn't alive, but on the occasions he did, he had nightmares. Sleep was not revered and was not welcome to the dead like himself.

Finally, he opened his eyes sockets and looked up at a purple starry night that framed by tree branches. He blinked in surprise as he saw the trees hold foliage and life, things that weren't very common in Halloweentown.

"What's this...?" Jack murmured to himself, his eyes finally focusing after a few moments of delirium. With a spider-like movement, he stood up from his spot on the ground, his long, thin limbs awkwardly moving within the small space. The trees that used to be so tall seemed to have shrunk and... grown leaves? How queer.

"Trees aren't supposed to have leaves...?" Jack said to himself. "Unless I'm in Christmastown again?"

He shook his head. That was ridiculous to think! There'd be snow if he was in Christmastown!

"Well, then where am I?" Jack asked no one in particular. "I could have sworn I was in the woods back in Halloweentown!" He put a bony finger to his stitched lips. "Oh, dear, Sally's going to break a stitch with her worrying... I really ought to get home..."

Jack figured that if he remained out of town for too long, things might go a bit batty. The spirits bound to the graves knew that the town got a bit batty around Halloween, and that if he were absent for too long, it could mean trouble for himself and the town. Besides, the last encounter he had outside of Halloweentown hadn't exactly ended well, so it was probably best that he refrained from interacting with the world and being his usual childish self.

"Oh, Jack, you're not childish, you're just curious," Sally had said, after he had asked her about his behavior. Jack sighed. He was really lucky to have found someone so understanding of him.

He tried to stand, but found that the short trees seemed to have binding branches. He grunted as he untangled himself from the thorny tendrils, careful not to rip his suit. Sally hated it when he ruined his clothes.

He crouched down and moved sideways, creeping much like a spider as he held himself upright with his hands. To anyone who didn't know Jack, they would have thought that he was a monster, even though he was more certainly not. Not that he would have minded scaring people; it was what made him so important in Halloweentown, after all.

But, as he continued to creep through the odd-looking foliage around him, he soon caught onto the sound of someone talking... Or rather, chanting, as it would seem.

'Five little pumpkins...' Jack thought. It was a popular chant for the children of Halloweentown, especially around their namesake's holiday. Could it be possible there was someone he knew? But, his hopes were diminished as he finally saw who was chanting. He sighed. 'It's just a pink pony...'

Jack almost immediately did a double take. 'A pink pony? How unexpected...'

"Then the wind went, 'Whoooooooooooooo!'" she cheered, doing a small twirl as she whooped, "And out went the light!" Finally, she finished her little chant with a cheerful, "Then five little pumpkins rolled out of--" She paused her chant, her eyes widening as she took in her surroundings. "--sight?"

Jack cocked his head to the side. 'Is she lost?' It would seem that directions were going to be difficult to get.

Then, surprisingly, she started giggling. "Silly me! I really oughtta start looking where I'm going!" And she went back to chanting, as if nothing scared her.

'How is she not frightened?' Jack thought, his eyes following the peculiar pink pony.

"Double toil and double trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble!" she called out, giggling as she did.

Jack's eyes widened. Was she really singing a witch chant? Or perhaps he was being delirious?

'Do witches exist here, as well?' Jack mused, curious about this strange place he ended up in. Well, perhaps a little snooping wouldn't be too much harm, now would it?

"Fillet of a penny snake, in the cauldron boil and bake!" she cheered as she did a playful twirl, somehow managing not to trip over the gnarled tree roots.

'She can't be a witch,' Jack knew, though he couldn't be sure, 'Witches are green, covered in warts--'

"Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and claw of dog!" The pink pony stood on the tips of her hooves and skittered across the dying leaves, much like a ballerina on a stage.

'--have scratchy cackles, big noses--'

"Adder's fork and bling-worms sting, lizard's leg and howlet's wing!" The pink leaped into the air and let out a small, "Whee!" as she soared through the air and landed soundly.

'--and they absolutely detest the color pink,' Jack concluded, his hairless brow arching up in interest as the strange, pink pony continued to hop and chant.

Suddenly, she paused. Her toothy smile was replaced by a frown, which didn't fit her cheery persona or exterior at all. Her brow was arched upwards, much like Jack's was, before it and it's sister furrowed together irritably.

"What the heck is wrong with pink?!" she huffed, her eyes scanning the area.

Jack froze. Had he spoken aloud? He resisted the urge to sigh; he did have a tendency to say what he was thinking. Or sing it.

"I heard you out there!" the pony said, her voice reaching a borderline screechy level. She paused for a moment. "Wait, did you say something about witches?"

Jack frowned. So he had spoken, loud enough to be heard, at that. He wasn't used to be detected so easily.

The pony let out a small hum of thought. "I don't think I've ever met a witch before... I thought that Zecora was an enchantress, but it turned out she's just weird! Well, not weird, but different, and she knew all these potions and spells and knows a lot about magic even though she's a zebra--"

Jack arched a brow.

"--but that's her business, not mine," the pony continued, "hey, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah, witches! Anyway, I don't know a lot about witches, but I think they ride on brooms or something?" She gasped. "What if a witch was a Pegasus and could fly on their own? Would they have to use the broom or could they just fly?"

Jack wasn't sure what to be more surprised about; this pony's nonchalant behavior or the fact that she was carrying a one-sided conversation like it was nothing. How quirky...

"Hey, why am I talking to myself? Is anypony even there?" She froze, her eyes widening. "Is anything out there?"

Jack leaned forward, slowly and hesitantly, as he was unsure about revealing himself.

The pink pony turned in his direction. "Eep! Something is there!"

'No use in hiding now,' Jack realized. With an uneasy step, Jack crept through the trees and vines, his twig-like arms used to keep him balanced on the uneven terrain. Slowly, but surely, Jack stepped out of the shadows and into the clearing, where beams of luminescent moonlight leaked through. Finally, Jack allowed his face to appear.

The expression on the pony's face was nothing new to him. He had seen many scream in terror at the mere sight of him, even by residents of Halloweentown and close friends. His ability to scare was revered and the sheer mention of his name held something that many held in high regards.

The shock on the pony's face seemed to escalate further when he revealed his spider-like body, as his legs and arms were bent unnaturally, there being no ligaments and muscles to keep them restricted. Jack knew he looked terrifying, and he didn't mind it one bit.

But, instead of shrieking in terror or even the comical effect of hair standing on end quite literally, the pony cocked her head to the side in a keen, interested manner. "Are you a skeleton?"

Jack blinked. "What?"

Pinkie gasped. "You can talk!" Then, she giggled, her hoof smacking her forehead with a light clunk. "Duh! That's why I heard you talking!"

Jack didn't say a word, as he was too busy trying not to visibly show his surprise. How did his presence not send her screaming for the hills? He had managed to frighten Sandy Claws when he was in Halloweentown just by showing his face(even though Sandy hadn't been in the town on his own free will).

"Wow, you're super tall! Were you like that when you were alive?" She gasped. "Are you still alive? Were you skinned? Do skeletons come back to life? How does that even work? Are you really a skeleton? Oooo, are there other skeletons?"

Jack could barely keep up with her questions, she was talking so fast. Not even the most enthusiastic of trick-or-treaters asked as many questions as this pony did, and that was really speaking volumes, considering that there were three little monstrosities that Jack loved to death who spent more time tricking than treating.

"Do you have a name? Ooooo, I bet I can guess!" The pony stood on her hind legs. "Is it Skully? Or maybe Skelly?"

Jack frowned. Sally sometimes called him that when she was chiding him.

"Oh, oh, I know! Skeleton-man!" The pony pouted as she rubbed her chin with a hoof. "Nope, too obvious! Maybe something fun or silly, kind of like your face!" She poked him where his nostrils were. "You look a little like a jack-o-lantern!" She gasped. "Is your name Jack?"

Jack blinked in surprise. "How did you know that?"

The pony shrugged. "Just a hunch! My name is Pinkie Pie, by the way, but my friends call me Pinkie, and since we're friends, you can call me that!"

Jack cocked his head to the side. "But, we only just met... Aren't you scared?"

Pinkie shook her head. "Nope! You don't look scary to me!"

Jack bristled immediately. "Why not?" Not being scary to outsiders was deemed shameful, especially in Halloweentown. Oogie Boogie would tear a seam from laughing if he weren't already dead.

Pinkie shrugged. "Dunno, you just don't. Hey, is that cat on your bow tie? Ooooo, it's got little bat wings! So cute!"

Jack frowned, his stitched lips turning sinister. "I am a King. Not cute." Though, he'd never tell anyone that Sally had called him that on several occasions. That was between them and Zero, who seemed to not understand the meaning of knocking.

Pinkie gasped. "Really?! You're a King? Wow, you're the second King I ever met! Well, I never actually met King Sombra before he was destroyed, but you know, he was evil and all."

"King? Destroyed? Evil?" Jack repeated, the words unsettling him, quite a feat to make. What a strange and possibly unfortunate place to be.

Pinkie nodded erratically. "Uh-huh! King Sombra enslaved the Crystal Ponies and was super obsessed with crystals and stuff! I think he had a speech impediment because he kept drawing out his S's, like this!" She stuck her tongue in a ridiculous manner. "CRYSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTALSSSSSSSSSS, SSSSSSSSSSSSLAVESSSSSSSSSSS, ENUNCCCCCCCCCCCIATION!"

Jack was unamused. "Does nothing faze you?"

"Nopey-dopey!" Pinkie chirped, "Sometimes ya gotta giggle at the ghosties!"

Jack scowled. "I'll have you know, I am friends with many ghosts, ghouls, and spirits, and I can say with 100% clear-conscience that they would not appreciate being laughed at."

Pinkie arched a brow. "But, since everypony screams at them all the time, wouldn't it be nice to make somepony laugh for once?"

"They don't exist for laughs," Jack answered, "they exist for the sole purpose of scaring. It's their jobs as ghouls, and it's what most residents have to look forward to."

"Oh, really?" Pinkie bonked herself on the head. "Duh! That makes sense! Besides, sometimes it's fun to be scared!"

Jack arched a brow. "Oh, really? You truly believe that?"

"Yeah!" Pinkie replied.

Jack smirked. "Fine, then." He put his bony fingers in the corners of his mouth, stretched out the sides to a frightening length and stuck out his snake-like tongue. Then, with a jarring scream, he contorted his face and shook it for extra horrific effect.

But, Pinkie giggled. "Cool! I can make silly faces, too!" She mimicked Jack and put her hooves at the corners of her mouth, then stretched out her cheeks, more so than Jack and made a silly, gurgling noise while she waggled her tongue. She crossed her eyes and made them stick out into different directions as she blinked her eyes like a shutter camera, her cheeks stretching out even more as she tugged on them.

Jack was surprised, but did well to recover. "So, you want a scare? I'll give you a scare!"

He bared his yellowing, uneven teeth and held up his hands like claws, then arched his back like a frightened alley cat. He narrowed his eyes and let out a series of horrendous hisses putting a king cobra to shame.

Pinkie mimicked him, but hers was more playful and she even let out a couple mews. Then, bewilderingly, she pulled out a pair of cat ears from behind her and put them on in front of her pink ears. A pair of cats paws appeared on her hooves and a slender black cat tail slithered from behind her.

Jack blinked. That was unexpected. But, even so, he had seen many a strange thing in his afterlife, so recovery was once again not a problem. He did a series of acrobats as he struck menacing, terrific poses, his bones clacking and smacking against each other like chains.

Pinkie's mouth made a small 'o' in surprise and intrigue. But, then she went into acrobats of her own, along with a few flips and cartwheels for added flamboyance. She struck a finished pose on her hind legs and she held up her forelegs as a silly circus ringleader hat appeared on her head. "Ta-daaaa!"

Jack grinned at her. "You are a challenge, Miss Pie."

Pinkie giggled. "Thanks!" She paused. "Hey, wait, were we competing?"

Jack shrugged. "Perhaps at the beginning... Though, that contest seemed rather short, don't you think?"

"Yeah, it was!" Pinkie concurred, "Though, I'm not big on scaring ponies as I am about surprising them!"

"Is there a difference?" Jack questioned, a bony brow arched in intrigue.

Pinkie put on a serious face, much like the one Jack had used on her, though possibly more menacing. "Yes, there's a difference! Surprises are meant to be pleasant and fun, while scaring is just mean!"

"Didn't you say that it's sometimes fun to be scared?" Jack mused aloud.

Pinkie blinked. "I did? Huh, I guess I did..." She shrugged. "I think it depends on the situation, to be honest. If somepony jumped out of nowhere and scared me, I'd probably laugh about it, because nopony got hurt. But, my friend Fluttershy, she's reeeeeeeeeally shy and gets startled really easy! So, if somepony jumped out of nowhere and scared her, it would be mean, especially if it were somepony she knew!"

Jack hummed a thought. "I suppose so. However, back where I'm from, we scare one another all the time. Things would be boring otherwise!"

Pinkie let out a groan as she sat down on a root. "I know! Boring is the worst!" She pulled a cupcake out from behind her. "I think that if something is normal, it's the worst thing to be, ya know? I mean, who would ever want to be the same as everypony else?"

Jack crouched down, causing his long legs to jut out to the sides of him. "I never understood the definition of 'normal', to be quite honest. Everyone and everything back in Halloweentown are all different and have different ways of being scary, so no one is ever made fun of for what they look like or what they do."

Pinkie cocked her head to the side. "'Halloweentown'?" She looked down at her cupcake frosting, which, oddly enough, looked like Jack's face. "Where is that? I never heard of it!"

Jack gaped at her. "You don't have Halloween here?!" He put his hands to his face in horror. "Great Pumpkin, you're joking, aren't you? Surely you jest?"

Pinkie shook her head. "Nope. Never heard of Halloween, either."

Jack tried to scramble his skull for something to say that would be deemed reasonable to ask. Finally, he found it and he faced Pinkie apprehensively. "Wait a minute! You spoke about jack-o-lanterns earlier!"

Pinkie arched a brow in interest. "That's 'cause you look like one! We have them as decorations for Nightmare Night!" She let out an excited squeal. "I can't wait! It's only a couple weeks away!"

"Er, Pinkie, when is this holiday of yours?" Jack asked, feeling a bit uneasy.

"The 31st of next month!" she proclaimed. She giggled. "I can't wait for the free candy, the scary costumes, the free candy!"

Jack frowned at her. "You mean to say that you copied Halloween from me?"

Pinkie dropped her cupcake. Then, as she got over her shock, she stood up on her hind legs. "Excuse me?! Equestria has celebrated Nightmare Night for centuries! It's meant to commemorate the banishment of Nightmare Moon and the return of Princess Luna, the ruler of the moon and Princess Celestia's younger sister!" Pinkie pulled out another cupcake. "Best check yourself before you wreck yourself, Mr.Skellington!"

Jack blinked in surprise. "How do you know my last name?"

"I know lots of things," Pinkie said menacingly, then took a slow and deliberate bite of her cupcake, only for her to pause. She smiled. "Mmm, chocolate!"

Jack frowned at her. "Don't you think it's a bit odd that our holidays are so similar? Do you think it's something that none of us understand? Or something that's deeper than the bonds that keep our worlds apart?"

"I have no idea!" Pinkie replied.

Jack shrugged. "Didn't hurt to ask, I suppose."

"Ooooo, maybe you can visit Ponyville someday!" Pinkie offered, "We've seen some pretty weird stuff, so it wouldn't be too much trouble for us! We do have a chaos god, after all!"

Jack nodded in understanding. "Back in Halloweentown, we used to have the Boogie Man hiding out. That is, until he burst a couple seams in a... unfortunate incident with a giant whisk. He usually didn't cause trouble, but he had crossed a rather big line, and I had to reprimand him for his disrespectful actions."

"When Discord came back-- that's his name, by the way-- we ended up encasing him in stone for a year or so," Pinkie said before nibbling on her cupcake, "Now, he hangs out with Fluttershy all the time and they have tea parties with the woodland critters." She perked her head up. "I think it's a bit weird that Discord was imprisoned while King Sombra was destroyed..."

Jack shrugged. "I suppose the circumstances differed." He twiddled his bony fingers. "Pinkie, do you know how I ended up here? I can't seem to place my finger on it..."

"Duh, that's 'cause it's over here!" Pinkie said as she held up Jack's hand, which seemed to have disappeared from his wrist. When Jack didn't laugh, Pinkie frowned. "Too cheesy?"

Jack sighed, then took back his hand. "Better my hand than my head, I suppose... I always seem to lose it."

"Figuratively or literally?" Pinkie asked, "Because one time it happened literally to me! Oooo, it was so weird! But, oddly transcendent..."

"But, in all seriousness, I have to find a way back." Jack looked down at his hands, one of which being placed back on his wrist. "Things didn't end up too well last time I ended up in a strange place..."

Pinkie cocked her head to the side. "Did you kidnap a popular, somewhat considered mythical being, copy the holiday he was in charge of to your own tastes, dress up like said mythical being, go into a new realm and try to steal his holiday because you felt that your holiday was boring and the same as every year, even though you were just feeling uninspired and unhappy, thus leading up to you having an mid-undead crisis?"

Jack was silent for a moment. Finally, he said, "Did you just say 'mid-undead crisis'?"

Pinkie nodded. "Yeppy deppy! I wanted to say mid-life crisis, but you're not alive, right?"

Jack shook his head. "Not quite, no. It's not so bad, especially since I can take my head off--"

"And recite Shakespearean quotations?!" Pinkie concluded, absolutely amazed at the idea.

"Quite," Jack replied, though he didn't sound enthusiastic, "listen, while I'd love to have a chat about my self-decapitation and thespian tendencies, I do think it would be best for my leaving." He looked off to the side, somewhat forlorn. "Sally is probably rounding up the town and getting her stitches knotted up and tangled..."

"Why don't you just go back the way you came? That's what I was doing, before I ran into you, anyway."

Jack frowned. "What are the odds of me going in one general direction being the answer to my problem?"

"The same odds as a cat landing on it's feet!" Pinkie concluded. She put a hoof to her chin. "Or maybe even toast landing butter-side down..."

"So, the odds are in my favor, even though it makes no sense?" Jack questioned.

"Or, you could go to a crypt," Pinkie said, "there's one down where you came from!"

Jack blinked. "How did you know about the crypt? It's not common knowledge that they're used for portals for the undead."

Pinkie shrugged. "My Nana Pinkie was kinda superstitious about that stuff. She told me not to walk by graveyards or cemeteries without holding my breath because she swore that the spirits would steal my breath!"

Jack waved a hand. "That's just a myth. The Ghouligans started that rumor just to stir up trouble."

Pinkie's mouth formed a small 'o' in understanding. "Ooooh, that makes sense!" She frowned. "Wait, so my Nana was right about the crypts being portals?"

"Only to the dead and inhabitants of Halloweentown," Jack explained, "where did you say that the crypt was?"

Pinkie pouted. "But, I liked talking to you! You're weird and so am I! We can be weird together!"

Jack gave her an understanding smile. "I know how it feels to be considered... strange. A freak, even. I guess that's why I never liked staying alive, but who cares about that?" He looked down at Pinkie. "The point is, I already have a place to be. My weirdness is needed elsewhere, Pinkie. Besides, Sally is probably fraying her threads, knowing her."

Pinkie pouted for another moment, then returned his smile. "Okie dokie lokie!" She paused. "Am I ever going to see you again? Nightmare Night is just around the corner, you know!"

Jack let out a hum of thought as he tapped a bony finger to his chin. "Perhaps... I might drop in later, if that wouldn't bother you. I have duties to attend to in Halloweentown, first."

Pinkie giggled. "Of course not! Besides, I think Princess Luna would love it if she got to meet someone who appreciated a holiday like hers! Twilight told me she was visiting again this year."

"I think I'd like to meet her, as well..." Jack murmured. He blinked. "Just how far off-topic did we get?"

"I don't know, a lot?" Pinkie shrugged. "The crypt is down the way you came, past the rusty old gates! I'm the only one who ever goes down that way, so nopony will see you on the way there!"

Jack nodded in understanding. "Past the rusty old gates... Alright, that shouldn't be hard to remember. I'll see you sometime?"

"You better!" Pinkie exclaimed, "Oooo, you're gonna want to get a move on! I bet that Shock, Lock and Barrel are causing trouble as we speak!"

Jack blinked. "How did you--"

"Just a hunch!" Pinkie answered, not even allowing him to finish, "Now, hurry! Wouldn't want the Boogie Man to get you, now would you?"

Jack chuckled. "No, we wouldn't. I'll see you in a few weeks."

"Same!" Pinkie began hopping back down where she had first entered. "Tell Sally I said hi!"

"I'll be sure to!" Jack exclaimed as he made his way through the trees.

Pinkie giggled as Jack disappeared from her sight and increased her excited bouncing. "Now, where was I on my chanting?" She laughed. "Oh, right! For a charm of powerful trouble, like a soup-broth, boil and bubble!"

'I wonder what Twilight's gonna think when I tell her about Jack...' Pinkie mused. She giggled to herself. 'She's definitely not going to believe it!'

Author's Notes:

If you've never seen Nightmare Before Christmas, you won't get the title, which is a song that little Jack sings about his arrival in Christmastown and he sees bright, colorful things... Like pink!

Also, just to clarify, no, I am not taking part of Oneshotober. I'm enthusiastic, not suicidal. Bobby, it's you I'm talking to. I recommend not doing it, but I can't stop you from doing it, so it's up to you guys.

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