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He'd finally managed to wash the dark, sticky, tar-like blood off his hands. There'd been no hope for his clothes. He'd had to burn them.
A man couldn't be too careful. For the likes of Colt Jackson, a Hunter born and bred, danger lurked everywhere, even in a place as innocuous as a worn-out bar that reeked of old tobacco smoke laced with the eye-watering fumes of rotgut whiskey. But neither of those blotted out the telltale stink of sulfur. Something supernatural lurked close by. He'd bet his gun hand on it.
Everything in the little mining town turned ice hub in Arizona Territory seemed coated with a ghostly layer of grit, even the chipped crystal chandeliers overhead. He felt the grit in his lungs and in his nostrils. It stank of putrid eggs and worse, probably from the smokestacks billowing white outside against an endless cerulean sky. He picked up his smeared, nearly empty glass of ice water, leaving behind a dark ring in the pale dust on the scarred, liquor-sticky table.
Hell, the only reason he'd stopped in Wickenburg in the first place was for the ice. Ever since the mines deep in the desert had flooded out and ingenious businessmen replaced the old rock crushers with steam-powered freeze machines, ice had become one of the most profitable commodities next to copper, gold, and silver in this special little sizzling corner of Hell on earth. He glared at his glass. The ice water had cost him almost as much as a good whiskey.
The lithe blond saloon girl he'd been eyeing since he walked in strolled toward him across the warped wooden floorboards worn smooth from the sand of so many boots. Her hips swayed to the sound of the out-of-tune piano plunking away near the stairs that led up to the rented rooms on the second floor. The cheap glass beading on her dark blue off-the-shoulder dance-hall dress flashed in the illumination of the gaslights overhead, creating sparkles to dance along the curves of her pale cleavage.
"Would you like some company, sugar?" Her smile didn't reach her heavily kohled eyes. She was anywhere between sixteen and thirty. How many men had she had? Worse, did he really care? He wanted the comfort of someone who smelled sweet and womanly. Someone in whose arms he could forget, if only for a few hours, who and what he was.
Colt smiled wide. Enough women had told him his smile was dead gorgeous that he'd learned when to use it to his advantage. He'd dressed with more care than usual tonight, in clean black trousers, a starched white shirt, and a black brocade vest threaded with a pattern of silver and blue he'd been told matched the blue in his eyes. Seemed the effort had been worth it. "Yes, ma'am."
She cuddled up beside him, throwing a long, smooth leg, bare to the thigh, over his. "So what brings you to Wickenburg, cowboy?"
He slid a hand over her smooth thigh. "Hunting." She let out a husky laugh, full red lips tilting up in a come-hither pout. "Most men here are lookin' to strike it rich in ice. But I knew you was different the moment I saw you. In fact, I've seen your face before. What's your name?"
Colt tensed. He worked fairly hard at keeping a low profile, but every now and then a completely unwarranted wanted poster tended to circulate with his likeness. "Colt Jackson."
"Relax, handsome," she said, rubbing her hand over his chest, delving beneath the edge of his vest. He felt the heat of her hand through his shirt as her soft fingers stroked right over his heart. "We get outlaws in here all the time."
Yeah, but Colt seriously doubted they were anything like him. Her constant kneading touch began to drain the tension out of his shoulders, but only a little. His gun hand had started itching the moment he'd stepped into the bar, and his instincts had never steered him wrong before. Something in this little town wasn't right.
"So, are you famous? Are you dangerous?" she asked, her fingers threading through his shock of nearly black hair as she wriggled on his lap. Her perfume was way too strong, and verging on unpleasant. Her skin under all that makeup looked dirty. Her blond hair felt stiff and brittle beneath his fingers and he dropped his hand to her waist, feeling whalebone and crisp satin, not silky skin.
"Not exactly," Colt muttered, finding her less appealing by the moment. "Really more like a modern Robin Hood."
Glossy ruby lips pouted. "It's so much more fun when you're dangerous." He realized that it didn't matter how much he wanted or needed a woman right now, a tumble wasn't going to give him what he truly wanted and could never have—a home, a place where he belonged. No matter how delectable she looked, she wouldn't satisfy the deeper craving.
These days nothing could. There wasn't a way to feed the hunger that gnawed deep down, belly-deep. It bit into his bones and wouldn't let go. Hunting was a like a drug. Once a man knew supernaturals existed, he saw the Darkin everywhere. Once a Hunter knew that those creatures were the cause behind deaths no one else could explain, duty lay heavy on his shoulders.
Once a Hunter started hunting, he couldn't just stop.
Evil didn't take a holiday. Hunting wasn't a profession, it was a way of life.
For an instant he wished he could be like his older brothers, Winchester and Remington, upstanding citizens who didn't run from place to place even if they too were named after his pa's favorite guns. While the Jackson brothers looked a lot alike on the outside, with their pa's jet hair and wide shoulders and their ma's blue eyes and winning smile, they were different as could be on the inside.
Winn was a solid, steady, ordinary man. Remy straddled the line, looking respectable but hunting on the side. But being like Winn and Remy wasn't Colt's destiny. No, Colt had every intention of living up to the family legend his pa Cyrus "Black Jack" Jackson had started as one of the most notorious outlaws of the western territories, rather than living it down like his brothers. That was the life of a Hunter. Tracking down supernatural monsters one at a time and killing them to make the world a safer place.
Winn and Remy might have shirked their responsibilities to the Legion of Hunters, but he never would. Because once Pa had trained him, he'd revealed something to Colt he hadn't to Winn or Remy.
There would come a time when the far-flung pieces of the Book of Legend would have to be brought together or humanity would perish. This grimy ice hub was just one more stop in his three-year search to uncover the hiding place of his pa's portion of the Book to prepare for the showdown with the Darkin, if and when it happened.
"So tell me somthin', mister. If you're a gunslinger, where's your gun?" She snaked a hand down to wrap around the inside of his thigh, rubbing suggestively at his groin and wriggling her bottom into his lap. That got his attention. It'd been a long time since he'd rested long enough to find a woman. If he'd been a less focused man, all the blood would have drained out of his brain right then and there regardless of how she'd looked.
With practiced ease she slipped one leg over the far side so she straddled him. The damp heat of her seeped right through his britches. He let out a ragged breath and she pressed forward, her soft breasts pushing against his chest as she skimmed the tip of her soft, slick tongue along his neck.
Then he heard it. Right next to his ear. The distinct sudden flick of a vampire's fangs being extended. He caught a sudden whiff of sulfur so strong it burned.
Colt reared up from the chair, but the vampire clung to him, her smooth legs firmly gripping his middle with the strength of a metal handcuff. Knowing he had only seconds to act, he shoved an arm between them, pushing her away from the blood pumping hard and fast in his neck.
Her face was warped beyond recognition, the brows protruded and bent, the eyes red, feral and hungry, her fangs twin white daggers bracketed by stretched ruby red lips. "Now, Hunter, you will die."
He looked her straight in those red eyes and didn't flinch. "Ladies first."
With his free hand he pulled the sting shooter from the holster at his hip. A high-pitched keening sound split the air an instant before he shot her point-blank in the stomach.
The arc of bright blue electricity catapulted her to the floor with a thick thud. She writhed and bucked on the floor like a beached fish, smoke curling in a black wisp from between her red lips.
The piano abruptly stopped. Half a dozen screams echoed in the bar as people came up from their crouch on the floor and stared at the barmaid, then at Colt with accusing eyes. Her face had already returned to its human shape. Her fangs retracted as she lay on the floor in a spreading, glistening black pool that leaked from two charred and smoking holes seared straight through her.
Shit. He hadn't intended for it to kill her, merely stun her senseless. That would teach him to use one of Marley Turlock's inventions before it was fully cooked. Marley was a brilliant inventor, but sometimes his ambitions outpaced his execution.
Colt knew better than to wait until the townspeople could get their hands on him and string him up on the nearest tree. So he did what any sensible Hunter would do. He ran like hell.
Five days later he still hadn't stopped running, but he knew he'd have to stop soon. His eyes were gritty from too much time awake in the saddle, and his clockwork horse, Tempus, was making funny grinding sounds. He wondered if perhaps he'd gotten a small stone or some other object accidentally lodged in the intricate workings of gears and springs that filled the copper belly of the beast, or just pushed his machine too hard across the dusty terrain without stopping to properly oil it. Marley would know.
Tempus clicked and whirred beneath him, the brass hooves kicking up small puffs of dust with every step through the main street. People glanced curiously at him and moved on their way along the wooden walkways.
To the untrained eye, Tempus looked like a black-and-white paint. The cowhide covering not only protected Colt from the copper getting too hot to touch if he rode in the sun too long, but also protecting the clockwork inside from rain and dirt. Only the horse's brass hooves, solid shining silver eyes, and mechanical noises gave it away. Being as Marley lived in town, the locals were probably used to seeing his contraptions of one kind or another.
Colt pulled the reins, steering the horse up the narrow, winding, dusty road that led up a steep hill to Marley's house. From a distance the house perched on the bluff overlooking the valley resembled a praying mantis more than a proper house. Various cranes and gadgets stuck out like multiple legs and antennae from the main building, and they often moved at odd intervals.
Tempus came to a rocking stop in Marley's front yard as Colt flipped off the GGD switch by twisting the horse's ear into a backward-facing position. Marley had dubbed it that when he'd shouted "Giddyup, God Dammit" at his seventh version of the horse, and it had actually moved. Colt wrapped the reins around the hitching post. Just for show. Tempus wouldn't go anywhere until pressure was applied to the plate in his back beneath the saddle, compressing the springs that allowed the GGD switch to be engaged. It was what Marley called a double safe precaution against horse thieves.
Not that a thief could get close to Marley's place. He had artificial eyes stuck here and there that were wired to an enormous lens in his laboratory. He could see who was coming or going at all hours of the day or night. Colt decided he'd hate to see which of Marley's deterrents an unsuspecting thief might run into. He'd had a close encounter once with one of Marley's spine-shooting mechanical cacti, and it had been enough for him.
Colt raised his fist to pound on the door, but it opened before he could knock. A man half a foot shorter than Colt peered at him from behind a pair of intricate multi-lensed brass goggles that extended six inches from his face and magnified his brown eyes to enormous proportions.
It was hard to tell exactly how old Marley was. The smooth youth of his face and dark brows competed with a cap of wild snow-white hair on his head. Marley attributed the premature color change to a lightning bolt that had struck him during an experiment. Colt wasn't sure, but he'd bet it was the side effect of yet another harebrained experiment gone awry. Marley's inventions, while undeniably brilliant, tended to hit big or miss horribly.
"I say, it's about time you made it back," Marley said, his words as clipped and undeniably British as his manner. He wiped his hands on his stained leather apron, then pushed past Colt and headed directly for Tempus, clucking and fussing over the machine like an old mother hen.
Colt grunted, glancing over his shoulder. "Good to see you too."
Marley was too busy checking Tempus over to reply. He was already bent over double, flipping up hatches and inspecting gears and springs, poking and prodding the beast's inner mechanics as he muttered to himself.
"I'll just make myself at home," Colt said under his breath.
Marley glanced up, his eyes magnified to the size of small saucers behind his goggle thingies, making gold flecks and the ring of darker brown around his irises stand out. "Don't touch anything."
Colt nodded. He wouldn't have dared. Last time he'd tried to move something, he'd gotten a nasty electrical shock from it. Nearly every surface of Marley's place was covered with a jumble of odd bits of brass and wire, heaps of gears and springs, and stacks of sketches. He'd find a chair and sit, maybe forage for something to drink while he waited for his friend to finish his inspection of Tempus. The only chair available turned out to be the one Marley sat in at his workbench.
He settled into the seat, thankful that it was softer than his saddle. He glanced in the direction of the kitchen and thought better of trying to navigate the trails of teetering junk piled up along the way. Instead he tipped his hat down over his eyes and relaxed for the first time in days. Marley sauntered in about ten minutes later looking far too pleased with himself. "That horse is a marvel of mechanical engineering, if I do say so myself. I've been working on a new version that would remove the leather covering and allow the copper to act like a chemically powered boiler for steam. Make the beast move faster and more smoothly ..." He trailed off, as he frequently did when he was distracted. Which was always.
Colt pushed his Stetson back. "Are you sure that's a good idea? I don't know how stable sitting on a steam boiler is going to be, especially if I'm getting shot at," he pointed out, his voice dry.
Marley's dark eyebrows bent down in a deep V, disappearing behind the edge of his goggles. He worried his lip with his finger. "True.You do tend to draw a lot of fire. Perhaps that method of locomotion would better serve the horseless carriage I'm working on."
A horseless carriage? Last time, Marley had been working on an improved steam flyer. "In the meantime, you might want to see what you can do about this." Colt pulled the sting shooter out of its holster and tossed it to Marley.
Marley caught it, then pushed the button. A high keening sound split the air a second before a vivid blue wiggling arc of electricity shot out, launching a marble bust of President Lincoln off a nearby table and scattering a stack of papers. They instantly burst into flame. "Nothing's the matter with it. The Tesla coil is active. Seems to be working properly to me," he said as he stomped out the flames.
Colt tipped up the edge of his Stetson a little farther with his finger. "It blew two holes clean through the last person I used it on and nearly got me lynched."
Marley peered at the sting shooter more closely. "I see. Perhaps it requires an adjustment. It's still in prototype stage for the Tesla Rangers." He set it amid the flotsam and jetsam on his desk. "In the meantime, I've got something else for you."
Excerpted from The Hunter by Theresa Meyers Copyright © 2011 by Theresa Meyers. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted March 27, 2012
DNF. Not well written. This should have been a good story and in a better storyteller's hands it would have been. As is is though, it was full of awkward metaphors, misused homonyms, and undeveloped characters. The characters behave the way the do because the author says so, not because of any motivation the reader is shown. In fact it was full of Tell, instead of Show. I gave up. On the plus side, most of the words were spelled correctly. On the minus side, they weren't always the right words.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2012
I thought this book was a pretty good story and I would consider reading the sequels. There are some long winded areas that I just skimmed and not all the motivations were believable, but I did not consider this a bad book.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 27, 2013
In the middle of life or death and all Colt can think is how entralled he is with his tag along demon. Very tiring and annoying. Interesting story, if the author had stayed there. Cannot take the follow up stories with the brothers, guessing more of the same lovey mush in inappropriate places.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 9, 2013
It took me a while to get through this book only because it seemed to read slow. It was fun enough of a read that I stuck it out. The romance was interesting and tricky. Take the chance and read it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 25, 2013
As Meyers continues to write, she will probably stop doing all of the things that are annoying in this book, but the most annoying thing for now is how often she returns to the main characters' thoughts when they have nothing new to offer. The repetition isn't just dull, it erodes the suspense she is building. And, there are also a couple of ideas that she introduces only to drop. For example, it's made clear that the succubus kills by orgasm. For the next 100 pages or so, I kept waiting for her to worry about that in her endless thought sequences, but she never did -- and never explained that she could control it, either.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 1, 2012
Pretty good book. Think Indiana Jones, steampunk, and supernatural elements all rolled into one. I will buy the rest of the series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 19, 2012
Posted December 27, 2011
Posted December 8, 2011
Review by Jen: When we agreed to host Theresa Meyers on her blog tour, I jumped at the chance to read The Hunter. I've been curious about steampunk but still hadn't read any books with the genre. But it's one that's been growing in popularity recently, so I decided to check it out. The Hunter was a fun introduction.
The Hunter is the first book in a series that follow the Jackson brothers. They are "The Chosen", paranormal hunters. They're destined to put together The Book, which was torn into three pieces and spread to different corners of the globe to keep out of the hands of those that would rather use the information held inside for evil rather than good. So Colt is the first brother to start the hunt for The Book. To get to the supposed hiding place, he needs the help of a demon and so he ends up summoning Lilly. Lilly wants to be free of the demon lifestyle and agrees to help Colt if he'll help regain her mortality.
The plot is interesting enough. But to make it steampunk, we have to throw in those interesting gadgets. So what started out as a Western with paranormal elements now also includes a mechanical horse, ray guns, and early blimps (at least that's how I pictured their flying machine).
I enjoyed the journey Lilly and Colt took me on and has lots of fun trying to imagine the gadgets Ms Meyers created. I'm looking forward to the following books in the series. After an interesting twist at the end of The Hunter, I can't wait to see how Ms Meyers is going to handle Winchester and Remington's (Colt's brothers) stories.
Posted November 27, 2011
The Jackson brothers are considered the Chosen. Winchester, Remington and Colt were trained to hunt down supernatural beings. In the first book in this trilogy we are introduced to Colt Jackson, the youngest of the three brothers. Meyers starts the book with Colt¿s first experience with a demon and right away we are shown the bravery inside of him. You also see that Colt has always felt left behind because his father tried to protect him from the world that his brothers were already deep into. Unfortunately, a demon took that choice away from Cy and he was forced to train his youngest to be a hunter like his brothers.
Now Colt only knows hunting and strives to live up to his father¿s notorious reputation. He is an outlaw whereas his brothers have set up shop in respectable jobs and have turned their back on the hunting life. Colt feels it is his responsibility to find all the pieces to the Book of Legion before humanity perishes. To do this, he must pair up with a demon. The demon who shoes up is a feisty succubus, Lily, with an agenda of her own.
Lilly has been studying the legend looking for a way out of her bargain with Rathe (part vampire, part archangel and all demon lord) who made her a succubus after offering a deal to save her sister. Rathe has his own agenda, revenge, against Colt after he killed his baby girl (who was a vampire). Knowing that eventually Colt will succumb to Lilly¿s advances, he sends her to help Colt find his piece of the Book.
Neither banked on falling in love and on this Indiana Jones adventure find that they will do anything to save each other¿s life. Loved all the fun steampunk attributes of this book combined with a western theme. Marley Turlock was one of my favorite characters. He is the inventor that builds all the Jackson boys toys. The best one is Tempus, the mechanical horse, of Colts. If you love steampunk you will love The Hunter and will look forward to the next book and reading about another delicious Jackson brother!
Posted November 2, 2011
My review is for 3.5 Stars. For the last ten years, Colt Jackson has known about the supernatural world. Trained by his father to fight the Darkin, he is a man with a mission, to stop supernatural's at all cost. To seal off the gate to hell, he must now rely on a being he is sworn to destroy. He needs the help of a demon to find his father's portion of the Book of Legend. Lilly was born a human. She made a pact with a demon lord to protect her sister and has been living as a succubus for the last twenty-five years. During this time she has studied the Chosen, three brother's prophesized to open the Gates of Nyx. Now her master wants her to seduce Colt for his soul and the book, but she needs Colt for something else.her freedom. Right from the beginning the chemistry is hot and it's not just because Lilly is a succubus. Even she feels the connection and is hard pressed to fight it. Colt is leery of course. He has a job to do and in no way can he ever trust a demon. Slowly they learn to trust each other, but with all the forces of evil against them they have to work extra hard to complete their task. Hers is to become human again and his is to find his section of the book. The action is so well detailed you almost feel like you are there. The world Ms. Meyers has created is fascinating and beautifully described. She really has a knack for pulling you into an action sequence. She writes fast paced and heart pounding scenes with ease. I also enjoyed the way she built the sexual tension between Colt and Lilly. The anticipation was almost as good as the actual event. This is a smart beginning to what looks to be a thrilling and exciting trilogy. While this is my first steampunk novel that I have read, and I'm not too sure if it is a genre I'll enjoy, but I do believe that I will be reading this entire trilogy. Ms. Meyers has captured me with spunky characters, fascinating gadgets and an intriguing plot. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, The Slayer, scheduled to be released April 2012.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 30, 2011
Colt Jackson is a Hunter. His sole mission is to track down soulless creatures, such as vampires, shapeshifters, and demons, which ascend from hell to create havoc on earth. Colt's job has suddenly gotten more complicated, however. The demon lord Rathe wants to throw open the gates from Hell permanently, and the only way Colt can close them is to track down the fabled Book of Legend. He has to summon a demon to help him accomplish his task, but he's not expecting a sexy-as-hell succubus named Lilly Arliss to appear, offer him a deal, and complicate his life. Miss Arliss wants more than Colt's soul, however. She wants a chance at redemption. Will Colt save her? Or will he send her back to Hell forever? "The Hunter" by Theresa Meyers is a Steampunk-fueled Western Adventure story. In other words, Colt rides a mechanical horse through the Western frontier on his treacherous treasure-seeking adventures. I found the sexual tension between Colt and Lilly a bit too heavy-handed (he's aroused while rappelling down a mountain), and at times, I wondered if I was reading an erotica novel. The description of Tesla coil guns and gas-powered dirigibles-among many other unique Steampunk creations-captured my imagination, however, and the book is definitely exciting. The characters face new perils on every page.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 28, 2011
Colt Jackson is a Hunter born and bred; though his parents tried to protect him from the family legacy, when a demon attacks him as a boy his father trains him to take down any and all of the Darkin. Now the only active Hunter of the Jackon's, Colt is searching for the missing pieces of an ancient book, one he knows his Pa had. The Darkin are growing in numbers and the only way to keep them from escaping the gate is putting all three pieces together and closing the gate for good. But he needs a demon to help him and when he goes to summon one what he gets is a seductive succubus who wants to be human and who will test all the rules he has as a Hunter.
The Hunter was a good Indian Jones-isque adventure full of action and danger with a slow-building romance between Colt and Lily that felt real and believable. I loved how author Theresa Meyers mixed steam punk elements such as weapons and gadgetry into the paranormal while giving it an old western setting; all of these little facets where perfectly blended and balanced with each other.
The Jackson brothers (Winchester, Remington and Colt), along with their inventor friend Marley Turlock, were incredibly intriguing and well-rounded characters that came to life on the pages. Colt is a sexy cowboy Hunter, named after the gun, with a Stetson, boots, duster and all. His romance with Lily, the Succubus, builds unhurriedly with a good amount of sensual tension. Colt experiences some internal struggle over the fact that he is a Hunter and Lily is a demon and that just doesn't mix, along with trust issues with her but he eventually comes to see the woman beneath the succubus in between treasure hunting and fighting off rock demons, hellhounds, mechanical scorpions and a sadistic archdemon named Rathe. Lily's character on the other hand, was a bit of a contradiction. One of my issues was she would play the sultry succubus on one page and then the next she was a demure miss trying to act the proper lady. It didn't quite jive and I ended up unable to really connect with her. The world building though was superbly creative and well-detailed and I could easily place myself right on Tempus, the clockworks horse, riding through the dessert and cacti or even up the rugged mountain trails in search of a hidden mine.
However, this story moved slowly for me and took twice as long as normal for me to finish. I can't put my finger on exactly what the problem was, maybe it was just a stressful week for me, because I did enjoy the book and look forward to the rest of the series, but I hope the next books have more speed to them. All in all, The Hunter was a good read and a great little dip into the world of steampunk if you're new to this genre while it was still exciting to those who make forays into it often.
Posted February 17, 2012
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Posted January 27, 2012
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Posted June 26, 2013
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Posted November 7, 2011
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Posted June 26, 2012
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Posted January 23, 2012
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Posted July 5, 2012
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