An “Interquel” for Cold Welcome

What, you ask, is an interquel?   I made it up, for a segment that isn’t exactly a story but fits between earlier and later books.    I was trying to use this as the end of a short story, where it did not fit.  The location in “Story-timeline” is right, but it’s not a good ending for a short story.  So the bit below comes after the Vatta’s War group, and not too long before Cold Welcome–sequel to one, and prequel to the other.  Thus, interquel.   (I might’ve called it a side-story but it’s not a complete story.)

Why now?  Because I finished the main run-through of  the page proofs earlier today.

Location: Space Defense Headquarters in Greentoo, a station orbiting the Moscoe Confederacy’s second habitable planet (for some definitions of habitable).

Characters: Ky Vatta, whom you know already.  Ky, as you know already, is short, dark, very athletic, and intense, originally from Slotter Key, about 29 years old at the time of this fragment.    She comes from a trading family with interstellar connections.  Jen Bentik, to whom you are about to be introduced, is taller,  light-skinned, in her forties,   native of Cascadia Station, daughter of one of the Commissioners of Cascadia, spent 97% of her life on Cascadia Station, with only short visits down to the planet.  She was in the Cascadian military.  Now…


Ky walked down the hall to her office, dreading the piles of paperwork that would be waiting for her. Messages pinged her skullphone: invitations, questions, demands. Surely they knew she’d just arrived. She hadn’t even had time to get to her desk. She turned into her office suite, nodded to Pat at the reception desk (how ridiculous to need a reception desk!) while holding one finger to her ear, universal signal for an ongoing skullphone call. Pat made a hand motions that meant something, but she didn’t stop to find out what. On into her waiting room, and then into her own office.

To find an older woman in a crisp new Space Defense Force uniform sitting in her chair, working on her files. Ky stopped short. The woman looked up, but did not rise. Reddish brown hair, perfectly coifed. Pale skin expertly made up, but the woman was older than Stella–forty-something, Ky guessed. Gray eyes. Before Ky could say anything, the woman spoke.

“Ah, Admiral Vatta, you’re back at last. I’m Commander Jenaaris Bentik, Commissioner Bentik’s daughter, re-assigned from Cascadia’s militia to Space Defence Force as your aide. I have your workflow all organized now.” Enough emphasis on “now” to be a discreet insult. “These are ready for your signature.” A graceful hand indicated which stack. “These need an immediate decision.” Another stack.

“I didn’t ask for an aide,” Ky said, as mildly as possible.  “Who appointed you?”

“But it was clear you needed one,” Bentik said, still sitting in Ky’s chair. “And I was available when the request came through.  I have the paperwork and the filing system under control now.” She rose from the chair, finally. She was taller than Ky, like most Cascadians. “We should be able to clear much of this by the end of the day.” She waved an offer for Ky to take the chair.

Ky blinked: the sheer effrontery of the woman. Maybe this Bentik woman was older, and her father might be whoever he was, but that didn’t give her a right to treat Ky like a naughty child who hadn’t done her homework. Ky was, after all, the boss here…the admiral. “I have other duties at the moment,” she said. “Calls it would be rude to leave unanswered.”

Bentik’s brows rose, her mouth opened, then closed again.

“I will work on these papers when I’ve finished with the calls,” Ky said. “If I have time to complete some of these before the end of the shift, I’ll let you know, so you can put these in the mail sack.”

Bentik didn’t take the hint; she stood there looking annoyed.

“Excuse me,” Ky said, with an edge to her voice.  “The first is to Cascadia’s head of security and he has indicated it must be a secured line. I will let you know when I need you.”

At last Bentik moved to the door, slowly, as if being dismissed was something that happened to other people. When the door closed behind her, Ky let out a long huff of air and sat down; the seat still warm from Bentik’s occupation. This, she thought, is not a good start to a smooth working relationship.

64 thoughts on “An “Interquel” for Cold Welcome

    1. Ky was 22-23 when she didn’t graduate from the Academy, and there were several years of war (I think she was 26, maybe 27, at the end of it, but all that faster-than-light travel is hard to add up) and then she’s had 3-4 years as a Grand Admiral (a title that embarrasses her, but the Cascadians like it) afterward, with a diminishing number of interesting adventures. So she’s 29-30 at the start of Cold Welcome and about a year or a little less younger than that at the incident of the interquel. The mindset natural to those ages is different, but not discernibly so for one year, in my experience. That’s chronological age, but she’s packed a lot of experience into the earlier part of her post-Academy life, so she’s more mature *in some ways* than someone who’s gone from college to a desk job in a relatively safe city (for instance.) OTOH, disasters like having her family all blown up often cause some regression in areas not needed for survival, so what you have is slowed maturation in other areas.

  1. Very good short-short story! This could have been a prequel or prologue for the “Cold Welcome” story which I just finished. It does help the transition from the last of the other Vatta stories to the new book, which is a darn good read. Thanks for writing it.

  2. First let me say that I love Vatta, both the first series of books and so far this second series seems to be falling right in step. I wonder, has anyone in Hollywood approached you about doing a movie or mini series? I Hope they do! I volunteer to do the music or even make the CG models for it !

    (I have experience doing both with an eye to making movies for Hollywood one day. -Good luck at age 52. But I can still dream!)

    I am also a fan of the Serrano series as well! The character, Heris Serrano- I have always imagined was based on you. Am I right?

    Unfortunately I have not been able to get into your fantasy novels at all, I guess I am not really a major fan of the genre. Keep writing though! You are a wonderful talent in a world of mediocrity.

    (You and a few other authors have also helped inspire me to do some writing as well!)

    Yours Truly
    Rick King

    1. Nobody’s gone for Vatta yet, though of course I hope they would. Lots of writers have fans who prefer one series to another…and as a reader I’m the same way. For people who do both fantasy and SF, some of their readership will strongly prefer either the SF or the F side of the force. For people who do both mystery type A and mystery type B…the same is true. The writer sees the continuity from one to the other, and some readers do, but others don’t.

      Characters. No, Heris Serrano is not much like me (she never did get horse crazy; I was born that way.) She’s pretty much a mix of people I’ve met (I often take the physical “build” of one, the coloring of another, a few personality traits taken from four or five other people, and then stick the character in the first chapter petri dish and see if she/he lives and grows in interesting ways.) The cover looked like I looked at one point, which startled me (surely I’d never shown the editor *that* picture!) but Heris had grown up in a numerous and powerful military family who had specific expectations for her; I didn’t. Heris in earlier life was more conformist due to her family’s general culture and the sheer number and power of them. Both Esmay Suiza and, later, Ky Vatta, went against family expectations fairly early even though their socialization was shaped by the family. Heris doesn’t have the kind of widespread intense intellectual curiosity that I have; she’s very focused on the mission, one mission after another. More practical than I am, more organized than I am, too. I don’t imagine Heris, even on a planet, becoming fascinated with its botany (for instance), let alone ecology. If we were working in the same kitchen, we’d bump into each other a lot. Nonetheless, a good character to write. Esmay had more bits of myself (that flyaway hair thing…oh, yeah. Bane of my youth, when everyone was supposed to be sleek and permed.) Confidence problems, etc. Ky, if we’re going with this, has the tendency to barge in and “fix” things without thinking through all the consequences…also bane of my youth. Once having “fixed” a bully problem, first grade me wanted to go on fixing bully problems whether the victims wanted help or not. Rescue fantasies–wearing the red cape and flying in to the rescue.

      On the horse side, I would’ve been a Cecelia if there’d been money for a horse when I was younger. I rein in my horse madness as much as possible in the books; the fantasies let me at least *mention* horses more often and occasionally (as with Arvid’s black he was so proud of) let a horse do something plotworthy. In my youth, when I could get a ride on someone’s horse, speed across open ground was always the best thing ever. In fact, I remember most of the horses I’ve ridden, from the boring pony at a pony ride in Houston (too slow!), the ones rented in San Antonio (special treat), the friends’ horses, lesson horses, and of course the ones I’ve had the honor to own or take care of for awhile. Ky, Blue Moon, Jezz, Macho, Kuincey, Cricket, Bananaface (nickname), Mac. And soon (I hope) there’ll be new one to fill the hole left by the last to depart.

  3. I started a long time ago with Paksenarrion, but work and family wandered in until recently in my local shop spotted Elizabeth Moon Cold Welcome.

    That was it!! – Ky Vatta!! I was instantly hooked; now have the entire series.

    More please.

  4. I had recently re-read the original five books of the Vatta series when I discovered you had written “Cold Welcome.” Over the years I kept looking for a sequel to the last book in the “Vatta’s War” series. I just knew you couldn’t leave Ky’s story at that point. Thank you for continuing her story. I just finished “Into the Fire”. What an exciting read. I couldn’t hardly put it down until I finished. Hopefully more to come.

    I have been a fan for years. The Serrano series as well as the Sassinak books on which you collaborated.

  5. Thanks for the “interquel” between the series. I was happy to see the latest installment out. I noted as I scanned the notes that you’d said that one was harder to write. Will you be writing another in the Vatta’s peace series? I would appreciate another in the saga after the events of Into the Fire. Thanks again for your work, do appreciate it!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I’m taking a year off to try to get some health issues sorted. I don’t know quite what I’ll be writing or how it will come out (the health issues involve things that affect speed and difficulty of writing and the concussion in February didn’t help) but I, too, would like to see more about the Vattas.

    2. Thanks for the update!
      Concussions/TBI’s are a very difficult; I’m still in recovery from one last March (it’s a LONG road) and know how that can be… I’ll send some positive thoughts your way!

      1. I know someone who had multiples within a short period and it took years to achieve 80-90% recovery. I’m very lucky that I’m not in as bad shape as many, having had three (but separated by years, not a month.)

  6. From Old Sifi Dawg (77):
    I am the one that writes dull reviews. I read both Sci-fi and Fantasy with “I Robot” my first. I became an instant fan after reading Sheepfarmers Daughter and have read most everything you have wrote. You are almost unique, in that you are able to write about the mondaine and turn it into a page turner.

    I since I have all the early Sci-fi authors, would like to know which authors inspired you the most.

    I hope you fully recover from your injury and greedy look for more tales from you.

    1. Hi, and welcome to this space. What started me writing SF were the first stories I read in it (I was already writing, so anything I read and liked I tried to write. This meant horse stories, dog stories, sports stories, and war stories at first, then SF.) The first three writers I read were books by Heinlein, Norton, and Asimov, closely followed by Sturgeon, Van Vogt, and others. I was a fast reader, and soon had read all the SF in our junior high library and began working down the narrow (but several shelves) SF section in the public library. I think the first Heinlein was The Door Into Summer, but I’m not sure. It was recommended to me by the friend who introduced me to SF, along with the other two. From there…I gulped them in as fast as possible, so it’s hard to remember what came first.

  7. Have enjoyed all your books I could find. I hope you’ll continue both the Paks and Vatta series. Serious joy to read

  8. Best wishes on health. You bring a lot of joy to other people. I certainly get Van Vogt but I hope your school library had Jack Vance and Andre Norton too. They all enriched my childhood. Is there another Vatta novel planned? I know you are on hiatus from writing but they are great books and I’ve read all twice. I’m now listening to the books on tape and I recommend that once one has read the text version. Really brings the characters to life. Sincerely, Frank Clemente, Professor Emeritus, Penn State.

    1. Junior high library had Heinlein, Asimov, Andre Norton, and a few others. The public library had lots more, and I read them all, I think.

      There was another Vatta novel planned, but the February 2018 concussion is affecting me longer than I’d hoped it would. We won’t mention “age,” right? Blame it all on the buckskin mare. Thanks so much for your encouragement.

  9. Just finished Into The Fire after starting over at the beginning of Ky’s introduction to all of us. I could write a lot of praise, but “WOW!!!” pretty much sums up this. I’ve become, over the years, a “if Elizabeth Moon writes it I buy it” person. Thanks so very much, and I sincerely hope for your return to full health.

  10. I am a long time fan of the Vatta verse and have enjoyed all the stories written in it I sincerely hope you are recovering from your injury
    I am a long haul driver and your books make lonely nights bearable.
    I have all the Graphic Audio releases of them and listen to them all the time

  11. I’m another reader who’s just finishing up another re-read of all the Vatta books. Dipped into Engaging the Enemy and then found myself moving backwards and forwards through all the Vatta’s War books re-visiting favorite parts. And then of course onto Cold Welcome and Into the Fire. I hope that all this reader energy will somehow transmute to healing for you and more books in the future.

  12. It appears to me E. M.’s writing has suffered during an illness/accident recovery period…

    Please correct me if I’ wrong or partially wrong…

    I.e. the writing in the last two books lacked the finish of EM’s former products in my opinion.

    E.g. is all artificial Anti/added gravity tech not salt water friendly?

    Will mobs(criminal organizations ) exist for long under Uber data gathering tech?

    The “maguffin” of a hidden continent for hundreds of years from a planet with a active space force and satellites beggars my imagination, And a massively corrupted data bases and a crippled education system that intentional under taught its victims at huge losses to the growth rate of world/nation.

    Nit picks, love the work anyway.

  13. Louise S-W – 15 August 2019 1.46pm
    Elizabeth Moon, I cannot thank you enough for putting pen to paper and letting us share your imagination and creativity. I am a retired Presbyterian Minister, in my 71st year, and your writing has given me a life line and another world to visit when things get stuck or undone!! I have Rheumatoid Arthritis – have had for 20 years now and know how frustrating and how sore one can be when old injuries gum up your flow! I majored in Systematic Theology, and follow the thought from a theologian at St. Johns Anglican theological College in Auckland, New Zealand, that …’science fiction can help us more fully understand the way the Bible is written and the letters and wisdom literature it contains…’. I love your characters – thank you for so much for their strength and characters – they and you are a great inspiration and we need more like you who can help women to shine in a world that doesn’t always acknowledge our efforts to use who and what we are and how we express ourselves! I wish you well and pray you will do and be a continuing inspiration. Blessings be upon you ma’am for the hope that shines through your books!!!

    1. Louise: Welcome to the Universes space. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the books, and delighted to find another reader who sees below the surface. Yeah, “stuck and undone” describes some parts of life really well.

  14. I think I have read every single one of your books multiple times, and with enormous appreciation. The characters, the plots, the humour… what is possibly not to like?? Reading one of your books for the first time is a ‘only disturb me for near – earth asteroids’ experience, and re- reading them brings out new nuances and subtleties each time. You have given me enormous pleasure over the years – and something to hang onto in some dark moments. Very best of luck health wise.

  15. I started with “Once a Hero”, was captured and have read everything I could find that you have written (more than once!!!)
    LLike many others, I am looking forward to another entry in Vatta, or any other new adventure in a world of your choosing. You have given me many hours of enjoyment and continue to do so in my re-reading of your books. Please keep it up. Very sorry to hear about your concussion problems and hope that you can successfully get over them.

  16. Hi Elizabeth,
    I love your books and how you portrait females with great problem-solving skills, reasoning and perception. I look up to your characters and try to learn leadership skills from them. I truly hope your incredible works will be made for the movies or as a series in the near future!

    Sending well-wishes!

  17. I have just reread the Vata stories and have long been a fan of the Paks world stories. You and Mercedes Lackey were my first introduction to female writers and strong female protagonists. Thank you so much for your contributions to literature and for fueling my life long love of books! I wish you the best of health and hope for your continued recovery.

    1. Reana: Thanks for enjoying my books. It does help me keep going when things aren’t working well to know someone’s enjoyed the others and may want this one. Recovery continues, though I had to drop off NZ WorldCon’s programming (very sadly) because since my sister-in-law died of COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago, my brain went wonky and I could not concentrate long enough to trust I’d be OK on Zoom panels. I was looking forward to this as the first online WorldCon but grief does weird things. Bless the programming committee for letting me back out, after a week of struggling to prepare got me deeper in the hole instead of better.

  18. I’ve read many of your books including all the Vatta books — most of them twice.

    So I’m quite confident that —
    “Cold Welcome” is definitely the best of all the Ky Vatta books.

    What say you to that, ma’am?

    1. What I’d say is that Cold Welcome is the best Ky Vatta book…for you. Someone else might prefer a different one, and then that one would be the best for that person. The reading experience is individual, and the best book for any individual is the one that pushes that person’s unique collection of mental/emotional buttons to give the greatest jolt of reading pleasure. I’m glad Cold Welcome gave you that jolt. But long experience with feedback from readers across all the books assures me that for every “best” one person has, another person hates that book, and for every “worst I ever read” there’s someone for whom the same book was the best.

      I re-read a lot, legacy of a childhood with never enough books to fill the time I wanted to read, probably, though my mother said I ignored other books to have her read “The Pokey Little Puppy” over and over and over–two copies worn out and a third one worn before I quit asking for it. My favorites get re-read many times; they’re the “old jeans and T-shirts” books that I pull on for predictable relaxation. No surprises in them, anymore, but familiar phrases that can ease me through an illness, or put me to sleep, or get my temper down off the ceiling.

  19. That should be interesting! The a**kicker in Ky is why I enjoy the character and series so much, so I’ll have to see how an older Ky handles it. I’m hoping the edgy character I love is a still there. I just learned of the additional Vatta novel, after re-reading the first 5 this weekend! Thanks for the books and imagination, and I can’t wait to get into this next book!

  20. I am primarily writing to wish you a happy and fruitful New Year, in which your recovery from the concussion and the aging process do not interfere with your writing or other pursuits. I have read both Cold Welcome, and Into the Fire more than once now. Thank you! As we begin 2021, the basic plotline of Vatta’s Peace – in which very old political divisions resurface in new and not yet fully disclosed issues and alliances is proving surprisingly relevant. I hope that you will be led to write a third books in the series!

    1. Thank you–I appreciate your comments. The third book is in revision and if we can get through the transfer of Administrations, and I finish the wildlife management annual report that’s due January 31, I can get back to it and finish it.

  21. Wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery. Looking forward to more in the Vatta Peace series, since (as mentioned above) there are itches I can’t scratch at the end of Into the Fire! In the Serrano line, I have always been a partisan of Cecilia (since that’s definitely where I’ve been since pony days) and hope to see more of her someday too.

  22. I started with you as an author long back with the McCaffrey crossover, Sassinak, although it wasn’t a favorite as I was far more into dragons at that time. But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Paks World and your space novels with Heris/Esmay and Ky. I too reread for peace in times of stress or just to go back and relax and calm. Having recently reread all of Paks once again, I’m grateful for the companionship your books provide, but even more for the reality and inspiration from your heroes. I wish you health and well being and recovery. Thank you for being part of my life!

    1. Hi, Sarah. Thanks for your good wishes. I’m still recovering, which is good (as one of our son’s therapists said when he was about four, “You can’t know how far he can go until he quits advancing” and I take that to be true of recovery from concussion as well.) There’s no recovery from age, but it’s OK. I wish you the best, too.

  23. Have just reread all of Vatta series and was looking for the next. Sorry to hear you have been unwell and hope you are getting better all the time, it can be very slow I know. And frustrating too.
    Best wishes for your continued improvement. Leigh

  24. Dropping a comment today that as a long-time Fantasy and Sci-Fi reader your books are something I return to year after year. I love the imagining of other worlds, the characters, the human-ness of the interactions, asking “what-if?” and creating new societies and philosophies to explore the possible answers…
    I only just made the connection to Sassinak (another old favourite)! I wish you all the best with health and life in these complicated times.

  25. Not long found out about the vetta book series from war to peace. Absolutely loved each one! All the characters and there personalities. When I put the last book down I felt like I was putting the phone down after a good chat with a close friend, someone alive and real, iv never had that experience with a set of books before. I’d love to know if there is any news on a new book in the series 🙂

    I hope your health is improving still. I see your son has autism, I also have autism.

    I look forward to reading your other works 🙂

  26. I have read your Serrano series about half a dozen times and really enjoy them, thank you.
    The Ky Vatta series I’ve only read about three times, the same when Into the fire and Cold welcome came out.
    I felt really uncomfortable reading the beginnings of those two last books and have only just worked out why.
    It’s because they deal with treachery and treason and that made me struggle to get past the first few chapters and ‘that’ made me realise that the present political scene mirrors the books. Which for me is uncannily prescient of you.
    Thank you for your books I’ll keep looking for any new ones.
    By the way, I read the covers off the first set of the Serrano series and had to buy a second.

  27. I’ve enjoyed all of your books. I have all of Haris, and Ky and Paks. I also have The Speed of Dark and Remnant Population. Enjoyed them all and have ready them MANY times. I hope you are feeling better. Since you a just a few years older to me, I’ve noticed how much slower we “bounce back” now. (more like stagger back!) Looking forward to the 3rd Vatta’s Peace book. Do you have a title yet? And do you have any idea WHEN it will be out? Thanks for all the enjoyable stories.

    1. Nancy: The 3rd Vatta book is just not moving. No title. No idea when I’ll finish it to a standard that should be published. Still working on it, and on something else too because working on a book that is over 120,000 words that don’t coalesce into a story is depressing.

  28. Amazing. Just amazing. Your books are all serious page turners. I’ve read the Serrano books twice and just recently finished Vatta’s War. I can’t wait to get my hands on Vatta’s Peace. And I know that once I’m done with it that I won’t be able to wait for the 3rd book. Good luck writing/editing/finishing the third one. And thanks for such enjoyable literature.

  29. Came here to see if there was a date yet for the third Vatta’s Peace book: sorry to hear it is not co-operating with you and hope you are enjoying other writing while Vatta hopefully “brews” properly. I resisted buying the first two Vatta’s Peace for the longest time as I like to buy whole series at once, then finally couldn’t wait any longer. Really enjoying re-acquainting myself with the characters and the ‘verse (just started Into the Fire). Grace is definitely my favourite – I have always loved how you write older female protagonists/heroines: there aren’t enough of them out there, so thank you. Hope you are feeling well and not putting yourself under too much pressure 🙂

    1. Thanks. I enjoy writing older characters myself, now that I’m older. When I wrote them earlier, and especially after my mother died and I didn’t have her and one of her friends to check in with, I used to go find women the age of the character and double-check that I hadn’t made any stupid mistakes. Now that I’m in the latter ’70s…HAH. This is MY AGE and I’m back into first-hand knowledge again. (E.g. the whole B-word thing: bras, bladders, bones (brittle, thin), bad advice from *so* many sources…)

  30. I’m going through a bit of a phase of reading through universe series at the moment, all the way from Niven and Pournelle to the likes of Scalzi and Dalzelle. Vatta’s War/Peace is perhaps one of the most imaginable, its shockingly easy to place oneself in your universe.

    I’ve also started writing a series of my own, under this pseudonym. I wonder if it would not be uncouth if I named a ship in my own series the Gary Tobai, as a nod to a series I truly enjoy?

  31. I’ve just finished the two Vatta Peace novels, and LOVED them! I found this site while searching for more info about your health (hints in the acknowledgements of Into the Fire were concerning!). I, like your other fans, am hoping your health improves soon to make writing more comfortable and successful for you, in addition to hoping that the next Ky Vatta tale will coelesce soon!

    And wouldn’t it be great to see someone develop your works into a live-action series!

    So with the selfishness of a devoted reader, I wish you a long and healthy life! 🙂

    (Now, to dig out more of your earlier works!)

  32. Just wanted to tell you how much both I and my husband have enjoyed your books—hardback, paperback, or e-book, we’ve read them any way we can find them! I am also a veteran, and was relieved to find that I still understand the references. Praying for all health possible health improvements, and for those creative impulses to spark again!
    Debbie B.

    1. Thank you. The situation now has changed…at least if you aren’t up to date in the blog…writing is working again, I’m definitely better, though also older, which has another effect. (And ye gods it’s after 2 am and I have stuff going on tomorrow and Monday and need to get in BED! Sorry. This has to be short; I have to crash.

  33. Just a thank you for your brilliant writing.
    I am 72yrs old & have been reading SF since I was about 9yrs old & have read most of yours over the years. I now mainly get my fix via audio books.
    I have just binged on the Vatta’s world series ( at 14 or so hours a book) & wanted to see if there was another as I start; Into the Fire.
    I can be a skim reader but there’s none of that when listening.
    There’s so much that is keeping me hooked.
    Loving the quantity, quality & variety in your female characters as well as their male counterparts.
    Also the plots & sub plots.
    It’s particularly enjoyable that you manage to résumé previous books without taking up too much story time.
    I appreciate, that health & life may be
    impinging on your story weaving.
    However I hope you can continue.
    I had been immersing myself in historical fiction as viewing our current world from the UK felt too dystopian to contemplate SF.
    This series has pulled me back in.
    So thank you.

    1. Thank you! I do hope to keep going with writing. Who are your favorite authors for historical fiction? Have you read Cecelia Holland’s work? I really liked Until the Sun Falls and another several whose titles have escaped me tonight (been trying to reply and it kept not working.)

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