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Old 11-06-2018, 08:45 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Auberry, CA
Posts: 871
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Next mission:



Over Central Texas: 1040 Hours Central War Time:


Rambler Flight was headed south, having just cleared I-20 and the FLOT. They had made their tanker rendezvous, and topped up from the usual KC-135s or KC-10s. There were also Marine KC-130s and, much to the pleasure of the two RAF crews, their own Tristar was also part of the tanker group. A quick chat found that though the Tristar crew hadn't passed any gas to their own F-4s, they had done so to Marine F-4s, A-4s, and Hornets, and at the moment, there were a couple of F-14s in line. Rambler's crews noticed the Tomcats, with a load of two Phoenix, two Sidewinders, and two Sparrows, and it looked to them like the Tomcats were out hunting for Foxbats. The MiG-25R and RB model Foxbats were a pain in the ass to just about everyone, and kills of those beasts were, so far, rare, though F-15s had gotten a few on occasion. Now, though, with the F-14s around, something could be done about those.

Now, going in low, it was all business. The pilots had their heads on a swivel, mainaining their visual scanning, checking their instruments, then having another look out of the cockpit. “What you don't see is what often kills you,” had been drummed into their heads in fighter training, either at Homestead, Kingsley Field, or in the U.K., and no one forgot that. The GIBs were busy with the navigation, either via the INS and the old-fashioned way, with stopwatch, compass, and map.

Lake Comfort had just passed beneath the strike flight, and Guru called. “That's Lake Comfort.”

“Roger that,” Goalie replied. “One minute fifteen to Proctor Lake.”

Just then, the EW displays lit up, with a strobe to the south, and the SEARCH light appeared below the screen. “Search radar, and that'll be Mr. Mainstay.”

“Hope those F-14s we saw do something about that.” Goalie said.

“Then the squids around here earn their pay,” Guru replied. Then he called the AWACS. “Yukon, Rambler Lead. Say threats?”

“Rambler, Yukon,” the AWACS controller replied. “Threats bearing One-eight-zero for fifty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-six-five for sixty-five Medium, closing. Third threat bearing Two-four-zero for seventy. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon,” Guru said. “Say bogey dope?”

“Rambler, Yukon. First and third threats are Fulcrums. Second threats are Floggers.”

More MiG-29s? Lovely. “Roger, Yukon.”

“Fulcrums again?” Goalie asked.

“Yep,” Guru said as the State Route 6 bridge over the Leon River appeared. This bridge had no air defense, but some very bored Soviet motor-rifle troops were guarding it, though by the time they grabbed their own Strela-3 (SA-14) shoulder-fired missiles, the Phantoms were already gone.

“Twenty seconds to Proctor Lake,” Goalie called.

“Copy.”

The twenty seconds went by fast, and the six-ship overflew the lake. Just as at other lakes in Central Texas, there were locals who were trying to catch some fish to supplement the rations allowed them by the occupiers, as well as Soviet soldiers, who were trying to get some fish of their own, to add to their own fare. Both parties pretty much left the other alone-even though some of the civlians fishing were from the local resistance, and fish wasn't the only item on their agenda. Some discrete intelligence-gathering for their SF advisors was also part of the routine. But when the strike flight overflew the lake, the locals smiled or shook hands with each other, while the Russians were not happy. Their Zampolits kept telling them that the Soviet Air Force controlled the skies in Texas, but clearly, seeing six F-4s come over put a few questions into some of their heads. If the Yankees were flying over, seemingly at will, along with the front being in Texas, there was clearly something wrong with the Party line.


“How long to Route 36?” Guru asked Goalie as they passed over U.S. 67/377. That state highway was their next turn point.

“Twenty seconds.”

“Roger that,” replied Guru. “Give me the count.”

“Coming up in five, four, three, two, one....MARK!” Goalie called.

Guru put the aircraft onto the heading of Two-four-zero, and the rest of the flight followed suit. “Route 16 next?”

“Coming up,” Goalie said, then State Highway 16 appeared. And there looked like a convoy on the road, heading north. “Convoy down there.”

“Not their turn to die this morning,” Guru said as they went by the convoy.


Below, a Soviet rear-services Captain was having a fit. His convoy, laden with fuel, ammunition, and stores for Third Shock Army, was held up not because of a checkpoint, of which there was none, but due to an abandoned vehicle ahead, and the motor-rifle troops who were escorting the convoy were concerned about there being a radio-detonated bomb inside the old delivery van. The company that was escorting the convoy had BTR-70s and a tank platoon attached, but the tanks were lagging behind for some reason. He was waiting on a tank to blow the abandoned vehicle off the road so they could move on, when soldiers began shouting. He stood in the hatch of his own BTR, and watched with dread as six American aircraft, F-4s by the likes of them, flew over his convoy. Fortunately, the aircraft either didn't see his convoy, or they weren't interested and were after bigger game. After the aircraft flew off to the southwest, he got on the radio not just to report the aircraft, but then to give the motor-rifle company commander-a Senior Lieutenant-a tongue-lashing, demanding to know where the tanks were.


Now on the new heading, Guru scanned the sky, then checked his EW display. That damned search radar was still there. Now, going in at 450 Feet AGL, did the Mainstay have them? “Yukon, Rambler Lead. Say threats?'

“Rambler Lead, Yukon. Threat bearing Two-four-five for fifty. Medium, going away. Second threat bearing One-seven-zero for fifty-five. Medium, closing. Third threat bearing One-three-five for seventy. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon,” Guru replied. Then he called Goalie on the IC. “Time to turn point?”

“Two minutes thirty,” she replied. “Still got that Mainstay.”

“Too bad,” Guru muttered. But a quick glance at the EW display showed no other threats. He maintained the two-four-zero heading.

Goalie was checking her map “Zephyr and Route 84-183 coming up.”

“Roger that,” Guru said as they flew over the small town. Unlike the state highway, there was no traffic, but the town was just a blur as they went by. “How far to the turn?”

“One minute thirty.”

“Copy.”


The flight kept heading southwest, and it wasn't long until Winchell came up. This time, it was more a collection of ruins than a town, and but the Colorado River bridge for U.S. 377 was defended. “Flak ahead,” Guru called as the flak gunners opened up. “Turning right....NOW!” He put 512 onto a heading of due west, Two-seven-zero. “How far to 283?” U.S. 283 was the next turn point.

“Forty-five seconds,” Goalie said.

“Roger that,” Guru replied. He shot a glance at his EW display, and two more strobes appeared, dead ahead. Then the A/A light came on, and that meant air-to-air radars. “Might have Fulcrums at twelve. Flight, Lead. Music on.” He switched on his ALQ-119 ECM pod.

“Roger, Lead,” Kara replied, and the others followed suit.

“Route 283 coming up,” Goalie said. “Stand by to turn.”

“Call it.”

“Turn right in five, four, three, two, one....MARK!”

Guru put 512 into a hard right turn, and as the rest of the flight did the same, flak gunners at the 283 bridge over the Colorado River opened up with their 23-mm and 37-mm guns. But the F-4s were too low and too fast to optically track, and the Phantoms easily outdistanced the flak. “Steady on new heading, Zero-zero-one.”

“Copy that,” said Goalie. “One minute to Santa Anna.” The town was a road junction, for U.S. 67, U.S. 84, and U.S. 283 all met there.

“Got it,” Guru said as they sped north. “Santa Anna coming up,” he said as the town appeared. Then his EW display came up again. “SHIT!”

“What?”

“GUN!” He called, jinking left as he did so.


Unknown to the strike flight, the 97th Independent Tank Regiment from 3rd Shock Army had its headquarters in the town as the Regiment was resting and refitting. Though the regiment had suffered heavily at Wichita and in the rearguard actions that had followed during the retreat south, now, they were busy absorbing replacements of both equipment and personnel, and though the Regiment had gotten T-72s instead of T-64s that they previously had, none of the veteran officers were complaining. But the personnel replacements......Though the tank crews were good, having been sent through a Training Division before being shipped over, the motor-rifle replacements were less so. Many were barely out of training, and few were actually veteran reservists. Some were even ex-Strategic Rocket Forces soldiers who had done their service guarding missile sites, much to the regimental commander's ire.

Still, the Army Commander, General Starukhin, had told the regimental commander, a Colonel, to get on with it. Not only was he absorbing his replacements, but was going through an aggressive training program outside the town. Though the local garrison, a battalion from the 229th Rear-Area Protection Division from Leningrad, was content to stay in the town, the Colonel was concerned. Though there was hardly any Resistance activity, all it would take to reveal his regiment's presence was one word in the wrong ear, and that information would head north. His thoughts were interrupted by one of his ZSU-23-4s opening fire, as six American F-4s flew past the town to the west. None of the fire appeared to hit the aircraft, and the Colonel simply shrugged his shoulders. More air-defense training, he thought, shouting for his Chief of Staff.

“That was close,” Guru said as the tracers fell away. He got back on course.

“Too close,” Goalie agreed. “Fifteen seconds to pop-up.”

“Roger that, Set 'em up.” He meant the armament controls.

Goalie worked the controls. “You're set. All in one pass.”

“Flight, Lead. Switches on, and stand by to pull.”

“Pull in five, four, three, two, one....PULL!” After Goalie called, Guru pulled back on the stick, and as he climed, Coleman Municipal appeared at his Eleven O'clock.

“Flight, Lead. Target in sight,” then he added. “Rambler One-five, One-six, assume TARCAP.”

“Roger, Lead,” Karen McKay called. She led her two F-4Js into their orbit.

“All set?” Guru asked Goalie.

“Ready.”

“Then let's go.” Guru rolled in on his bomb run.



At the airport, General Sisov was overseeing the preparations for Marshal Kribov's arrival. Though it really wasn't necessary, with the Theater Commander-in-Chief coming, he felt that everything had to be just so. Though the Sovier Air Force Colonel who was in command of the field felt differently, given that there were ongoing operations, with Su-25s using the field as a forward operating location, transports coming in and out, and helicopters also making their rounds. Though the Marshal wasn't due to arrive for another two hours, any reason to get out of his headquarters was a good reason to do so, he felt.

At least that Zampolit is out of my hair, General Sisov thought. He had sent his Army-level Political Officer to visit a front-line unit, the 197th MRD, and hopefully, the General said to himself, the Americans will do me a favor, and an air strike or an artillery bombardment takes care of him. The deputy Poltical Officer was much more....agreeable, from the General's viewpoint, and would represent the Army's Political Department at the upcoming meeting.

The General had another look around. Just the usual activity for an airfield of this size, and the SAF Colonel whose men ran the airport told him that things were going normally, or, as normal as one could expect. Then, suddenly, Sisov noticed the anti-aircraft guns turning, and pointing south. His aide came up to him. “Comrade General, air raid alarm!”

General Sisov saw that the closest shelter was a trench. “Let's get to that trench, Dimitri,” he said, and both the General and his aide ran to the trench and jumped in.


“Lead's in hot!” Guru called as he brought 512 down on the bomb run. He saw the AAA coming up, both 23-mm and 37-mm, and the flak, though not well aimed, was intense. This time, they're putting a lot of lead in the air, he thought. Guru ignored the flak as he lined up on his aim point, just to the right of a hangar, but where two Su-25s were parked, and just south of them, an An-24 and an L-410. Not today, Ivan....Guru said as he got ready. “Steady...steady....HACK!” He hit his pickle button, and his six Mark-82 Snakeyes and six M-117Rs came off the racks. Guru then pulled wings level and applied power as he headed north, jinking as he did so to avoid any flak or missiles. “Lead's off target.”


“What the...” Sisov muttered as he saw Guru's F-4 come in and release its bombs. The aircraft was low enough that he could see them, and the General ducked just as the first bombs exploded. He heard a dozen explosions, then several more. Sisov peeked out of the trench, and saw that two hangars had been hit, along with two Su-25s and a pair of An-24 transports-all of which had been blown apart. For good measure, an L-410 transport had its tail blown off by a near-miss, and the plane looked like a sieve after all the bomb fragments had sliced through it. Then he ducked back down, for he knew American aircraft didn't come over alone.

“SHACK!” Goalie called as Guru pulled away. “We got secondaries!”

“How many and how good?” Guru asked as a missile, maybe an SA-9 or -13, flew by from left to right above the aircraft. He kept up his jinking as a result.

“Got the hangars and maybe a couple of transports, and the Frogfoots!”

“Ivan's had a bad morning,” said Guru as he jinked to the right, then settled on a northeasterly course.


“Two's in hot!” Kara called as 520 went down on the bomb run. She saw the CO make his, and saw the two Frogfoots, two transports, and at least one hangar go up in fireballs. Kara, too, was the object of flak as she came in on the target, but she ignored it-and a SA-7 type missile that came up, but didn't track, flying harmlessly along the right side of her Phantom. She picked out the newly-build southern ramp area and hangars, with what looked like at least one Hip helicopter and two Mi-2 Hoplites as well. Your turn to die, Kara thought as she lined up a Hip in her pipper. “Steady.....Steady....NOW!” She called when she hit the pickle button, sending her Mark-82s and M-117Rs onto the target below. Kara then pulled wings level, applied power, and, like the CO, headed north, jinking all the way. “Two's off safe.”

“Of all the...” Sisov muttered as Kara's F-4 came in. He watched as the bombs came off the aircraft, then ducked back into the trench. Another dozen explosions rumbled, then three more followed. Sisov took a look out of the trench, and saw an Mi-8 that had been blown apart, two Mi-2s that had been tossed aside like toys, and a hangar ripped open and burning furiously. The General shook his head, then got back into the trench, as the anti-aircraft gunners kept firing.


“GOOD HITS!” Brainiac shouted in 520's back seat.

“What'd we get?” Kara asked as some tracers flew past well to the left, and a missile came from the Nine O'clock, but flew well behind the F-4.

“Hangar, and maybe a Hip.”

“Their bad day,” She grinned beneath her oxygen mask as 520 headed to the northeast, and Kara was able to pick up the CO.


“Three's in hot!” Sweaty called as she came in on her run. She saw Kara pulling up, and the explosions covering the southern ramp area-along with a secondary in a hangar and another, fuel fed. Fuel truck? Oh, well....Sweaty ignored the 23-mm and 37-mm flak coming up, and a pair of SA-7 types that flew past on both sides of the aircraft. She lined up on Runway 15/33, but didn't fly down the runway as that was asking to get shot down. Instead, she came in at an angle, aiming to cover both the runway and the taxiway with her bombs. “And...Steady....And.....HACK!” Sweaty hit the pickle button, releasing her bombs onto the field below. Then she pulled up and away, applying power and jinking. Sweaty then made her call, “Three's off target.”


General Sisov heard Sweaty's run, and the explosions that followed. He heard the F-4 fly past, and a dozen explosions sound in its wake. He looked up from the trench, and saw clouds of smoke on the runway, and that was bad news, he knew. Before he could say anything else, his aide pulled him into the trench. When there were three raiders, it was likely there was a fourth.....


“SHACK!” Preacher called to Sweaty. “Good hits!”

“How good?” Sweaty asked. She was still jinking to avoid flak, and an SA-7 type missile flew by just after she jinked to the left. Sweaty did one to the right, avoiding an SA-9 or -13 that came from the left and flew behind the aircraft.

Her GIB replied. “Got the runway.”

“Good enough,” Sweaty replied as she turned to the northeast, hoping to pick up the CO's element.


“Four's in!” Hoser called as he came down on his run. He picked out the small pond to the east of the runway, and just to the left of F.M. 159, which ran along the east side of the airport. Hoser ignored the flak coming up, and picked out the fuel dump just south of the pond, with the truck tracks and the camo netting that betrayed it. Not today, Ivan....Hoser lined up the fuel dump in his pipper. “Steady...And...And....NOW!” He hit his pickle button, releasing his bombs onto the fuel dump. Then he pulled up and away, and, like the others, was jinking as he did to avoid flak. “Four off target,” Hoser called.


“Of all the...” Sisov muttered as he heard Hoser make his run. This time, the explosions were to the east, and after the F-4 had cleared the area, General Sisov stood up in the trench and looked in that direction. The field's fuel depot had been hit, and several fuel-fed fires were burning, with fuel drums still going off and adding their fuel to the inferno. He turned to his aide. “Find a telephone and get the 78th Tank Division on the line. Order them on my authority to get their SAM regiment here as soon as possible. This may be the beginning, and I don't want to take chances when Marshal Kribov arrives.”

His aide, a Major whose service piping said he was a tank officer, nodded. “Right away, Comrade General.” Just then, two more F-4s came over, but instead of attacking, simply followed the attackers to the north.


“GOOD HITS!” KT called in Hoser's back seat. “We got the fuel dump!”

“Secondaries?” Hoser asked as an SA-9 flew ahead of him. He kept up the jinking, then caught up with Sweaty, and hooked up with his element leader.

“Good ones and multiple ones,” replied KT.

“Their lucky morning,” Hoser said as he formed up on Sweaty.


“Four in and out,” Goalie said in 512's back seat.

“Still got two more,” Guru replied. “Rambler One-five, you and One-six get your asses down and north.”

“Roger, Lead,” Karen McKay replied. She and Black dropped down from their TARCAP orbit, accelerated, and headed north, then turned to pick up the strike aircraft. As they did, they overflew the target, and had a glimpse of what had been visited upon the field. “Have visual on Sweaty.”

“Copy,” Guru said. “You with me, Two?”

“Right with you, Boss,” Kara replied.

Guru took a look to his right, and found Kara's bird, 520, right with him in Combat Spread. “Copy, Two. Sweaty?”

“On your six, and Hoser's with me.”

“Roger that,” Guru said. “Yukon, Rambler Lead. Say threats.”

An AWACS controller replied at once. “Rambler Lead, Yukon. Threat bearing Two-four-five for forty Medium, closing. Second threat bearing One-six-five for fifty. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon. Bogey dope?”

“Rambler, Threats at two-four-five are Fulcrums. Threats at One-six-five are Floggers.”

In 512, Guru thought. MiG-29s and MiG-23s? “Roger, Yukon.” He checked his altimeter. 700 feet. Guru then dropped down to 500 feet AGL, and the rest of the flight followed. “How far to the fence?” he asked Goalie.

“Two minutes thirty,” she replied.

“Copy that,” Guru said. He glanced at his EW display. The damned Mainstay was still there, and it was joined by at least one fighter radar, for there was a strobe at Two-four-five, and the A/A light was on. Then another came up. “Fulcrums are up.”

“Want to go for 'em?”

“Maybe,” Guru said. “How long to the fence?”

Goalie checked her map and the INS. “Two minutes.”

The CO checked his EW display. The A/A light went off, and the strobe was no longer there. But there was still a strobe at One-eight-zero. “Fulcrums are off, but the Mainstay's still there.”

“Rambler Lead, Yukon,” the AWACS came back. Bandits have turned. Threat now bearing Two-one-five for fifty, Medium, going away. Second threat still closing. Threat bearing One-five-five for forty. Medium, closing.”

“Roger, Yukon,” Guru said. “Can you get some Eagles or Vipers for a reception committee?”

“Can do,” said the controller. “Cowboy One-one, Yukon. Bandits bearing One-nine-one for forty. Medium, closing. Clear to arm, clear to fire. Kill. Repeat: KILL.”

In an F-15C from the 49th TFW, the flight lead acknowledged, then brought her four Eagles in on an intercept vector. It didn't take long to get set for a BVR shot, and four F-15s locked up four MiG-23MLs. “Fox One” calls came over the radio, as the F-15s took their shots. Three of the four MiGs fell to AIM-7Ms, and the fourth turned and ran for home.

“Eagles are on the ball,” Guru observed.

“That they are,” replied Goalie. One minute.”

“Lead, we could've had the Fulcrums,” Kara called.

“If they had gotten closer,” Guru reminded her. “They turned.”

“Copy,” his wingmate replied. She wanted that tenth kill, and a MiG-29? Only the CO and Sweaty had those in the squadron's kill sheet.

“Maybe next time,” Guru said.

“Thirty seconds to the fence,” Goalie said.

“Flight, Lead. Verify IFF is on, out.”

Kara replied, “Roger, Lead,” and the rest followed.

The twin ribbons of concrete that signaled I-20 soon appeared, and just as the six-ship crossed the Interstate, the SEARCH light on the EW display went off, and the strobe disappeared. “Mainstay's off,” Guru noted.

“For now,” Goalie spat. “Somebody really needs to take those guys out.”

“All we know, somebody's proabably planning to do just that,” the CO replied as he pulled up to 15,000 feet to head for the tanker track.

“We can hope,” said Goalie.


The flight formed up and made the tankers for the post-strike refueling. The RAF Tristar was still there, along with the usual KC-135s, KC-10s, and KC-130s. This time, the Tristar was busy with some Marine A-4s, so the Tiger Phantoms hooked up with a pair of Marine KC-130s, while the 335th birds joined up on a pair of KC-10s. The refueling completed, they headed back to Sheppard.

When the flight got to Sheppard, they were second in the arrival pattern, behind a Marine F-4 flight, but had to wait for two departing strikes-one 335th, the other A-7s from VA-135. After the Marines landed, it was their turn. After landing, the crews popped their canopies as they taxied in. This time, no one held up fingers to signal kills, much to the disappointment of the ground crews. The F-4s taxied in to their respective dispersal areas, and when 512 got to its, Guru taxied into the revetment.

After shutting down, and going through the post-flight checklist, Guru took a deep breath. “Two and done.”

“Busy morning,” Goalie deadpanned. “Chowtime, then two more.”

“Ain't that the truth,” said Guru as he stood in the cockpit, took his helmet off, as the ground crew deployed the stepladder. He and Goalie climbed down, and did a quick walk-around as Sergeant Crowley came up. “Sarge.”

“How'd it go, Major?” Crowley asked. He had, as usual, a bottle of water for both pilot and GIB.

“No MiGs, but we tore up another airport,” Guru said as he took the water, then downed half of the bottle. “Got a couple of Su-25s on the ground, though.”

“That we did,” Goalie said after she drank. “Two airfields in one morning, though....” She was hoping for a nice, decent BAI run for the next go-around.

“Not the only one thinking that,” Guru nodded.

“Sir, how's my bird?” Crowley asked. Crew Chiefs felt they “owned” the aircraft, and the crew merely borrowed it on occasion.

Guru turned to his crew chief. “Five-twelve's working like a champ,” he said. “Don't change a thing, whatever you're doing. Get the post-flight finished, get yourselves some chow, then get her ready for the next one.”

“Yes, sir!” Crowley was beaming. “You heard the Major, people! Let's get the post-flight done. Then you all get some chow, then we get her ready for the next run.”

Leaving the ground crew to their work, Guru and Goalie walked to the revetment's entrance, where Kara and Brainiac were waiting. “How'd it go with you guys?”

“Tore up the southern ramp, and you got the north,” Kara replied. “And you two got two Su-25s on the ground.”

Guru nodded as he put on his bush hat. “Better to kill 'em on the ground than in the air.”

“Ain't that the truth,” Goalie added.

Sweaty, Preacher, Hoser, and KT came over next, with the RAF crews following. “That was a good one,” Sweaty said. “I think I've got runway-busting down pat.”

“Fuel dump went up,” Hoser added.

“Big time,” KT said. “This one wasn't that defended.”

“This time,” Brainiac said. “Next one could be a bear.”

“It might,” Guru reminded them as Karen McKay and her people came up. “Karen? How'd it go with you guys?”

The near-ace seemed disappointed. “Not as exciting as Dave's this morning. Nothing in the air, not even a chopper.”

Sweaty grinned. “Be glad for that. This time you didn't run into anybody out for his fifth.”

“There is that.”

“Just as Guru there warned us,” Kara said. “He told me and Sweaty the same thing.”

Sweaty nodded. “He did.”

Flight Lt. Ian Black, McKay's wingman, asked, “What's next?”

Guru replied, “Debrief, then get some food inside you, take care of any paperwork, maybe take a nap, because in an hour and a half, we're back in the saddle.”

“We flying with you?” McKay asked.

“Depends on the ATO,” Kara said.

“It does,” Guru said. “As for lunch? Stay away from the suggestion of pork-tri-tip.”

McKay nodded. “We've been warned.”

“That bad?” McKay's GIB asked.

“Consider it a gift from the Department of Cruel and Unusual Nourishment,” Goalie quipped.

“If you go ahead and try it?” Guru asked. “See Doc Waters for the antidote.”

There were some laughs at that, and McKay replied, “We'll take that up.”

“Good,” Guru said. “Okay, let's debrief, then get ready for another go.”
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