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Zoology

The man was like a child. His hair was completely unorthodox, with none of the elaborate designs made possible by the increasingly complex chemicals to mold hair in one of the many patterns that the drones know. His mind had yet to be touched by one of the Specializers, a device that optimized your brain for the job you possessed. Even his body type was ridiculous, without the nano machines that so subtly agitated the muscles. This would match the dimensions for what had been scientifically calculated to be the perfect physique.
It wasn’t that the man was lazy or poor. The machines and chemicals did all the work, and this man was the son of Joshua Pagan, a Crafter! It was he who designed and built the various machines that were essential to the culture of Exodizers, the ones who had escaped their homeworld on self sustaining ships centuries ago.
He started out well enough, he was intelligent and well mannered. He learned what the Educators told him easily enough.
It wasn’t until adolescence that the boy turned strange. He refused to learn from an Educator of any kind (even the ones that looked human). The boy would not let any Groomer style his hair (despite having the Mark 16 Model, truly a masterpiece of engineering). When a Specializer was going to be used to adapt his mind to become a superior Crafter, (like father like son) he resisted, smacking the small device until someone stopped the whole procedure.
A talk with the on ship psychologist and therapist did little to help him and soon there was an influx of rumors circulating throughout the ship.
“I hear that he screamed at someone once.”
“That’s incredible.”
“Remember that day he came in without his clothing put on quite properly? He had tried to dress himself!”
“Oh my, I thought his Dresser had had a malfunction.”
“Rumor has it he tried to cook his own dinner once. He asked for the ingredients instead of just the food.”
“The boy is mad!”
These rumors served to isolate him. It was never obvious as shunning was immoral and wrong, but it was there. They wouldn’t actively prevent him from sitting at a table, for example, yet they would never invite him to sit with them. And when he did sit with them, they did their best to ignore his presence, responding to his questions with as few words as possible.
A few thought that as the son of a Crafter that being friends with him could benefit themselves. And so at one point a small group of them befriended him. It was nice for awhile, but they were not true friends. They did not care for his opinions or ideals, in fact they hardly even recognized him as a person, more like a status raiser.
It shocked everyone when he finally decided what his job would be. The most popular opinion was that he would return to the role of Crafter, just as he should have been doing all along. Others thought that the pressure of being Crafter was too much for him, and thought he would take up an easier job, such as becoming a Miner (for really all they had to do was follow a bunch of regulations and procedures). You could hear a pin drop when he announced that he would become a Zoologist.
The role of Zoologist had started out as a great honor. Zoologists were to take a small shuttle and scrounge throughout the galaxy searching for any planet that could sustain human life. There was no honor in this task anymore. It was deemed unnecessary when the Battle Cruiser, housing the military force and leaders of the Exodizers, announced that the ships were completely self-sustaining.
This brief message stripped Zoologists of all their prestige and notoriety. In a matter of days Zoologists went from heroes to old fossils holding onto the glory days.
“Have you heard of Brian the Zoologist?”
“Yes, what of him?”
“He refuses to retire yet. He still insists on going out in that little shuttle of his into who knows where.”
“That’s so horrible. Why doesn’t he just stay here and live off that pension the Council worked out for him?”
“He’s a glutton for fame. He hopes that if he manages to get permission to keep going out on trips he will be celebrated as a hero.”
“But he doesn’t even have a purpose now. We can last forever, the Deciders said so. Besides do you even know what a planet is like?”
“I haven’t a clue.”
“It’s a filthy thing. And you have to walk on this horrid brown and black stuff called dirt. Then water randomly falls from the sky. Only experts know how or why, but it does.”
“How wretched.”
“There’s more. Do you know the difference between being hot and being cold?”
“Yes, I’m familiar with the concept of hot and cold. My husband is a climate-modulator.”
“Well on a planet it gets hotter and colder all the time. Randomly.”
“I don’t see how anything could survive that.”
“It’s a good thing they stopped those damned Zoologists.”
And so he was the first Zoologist in centuries.
Technically, nanomachines should have been within the shuttle bays, performing maintenance on all the ships, and keeping any dust off of them. Though the project had long since been abandoned. The sleek and swift shuttles of the Zoologists were now derelict crafts. Layers of dust covered the ship and pieces groaned whenever they were inspected.
So with a failing, spluttering warp drive; he went through spacetime to who know’s where.
His jump led him to a planet surrounded in mechanical objects. Satellites, research stations, and other things all covered the planet beneath a ring of metal hulls.
“Are there any other planets like this one in this solar system?” He asked the on ship AI unit.
“One planet has a ring as well.” The AI unit responded in a static filled, erratic voice. “However, where this planet’s ring is artificial the other one is natural.”
“Who made this artificial ring?”
“Unknown.”
The man brought the ship and navigated it through the maze of debris. After breaking through an almost nonexistent atmosphere; he could see the surface of the planet.
It was a desolate war torn thing. The only animals in sight were small scavengers that only the scanners could pick up.
“What is the dominant life form on this planet?”
“A species of insects.” The computer gave out a blurry holographic image of it. The creature was brown with a flat wide body and a disportionately small head. From this head two long antennae sprung out. The creature was repulsive.
“Why are they the dominant species?”
“Unknown ecological disaster. Excessively high radiation levels have been detected.”
“Is it safe to walk on?”
“With proper equipment.”
He walked to where the suit was. At one point it had been state of the art and was sealed with 4 overlaying layers of protection, all in perfect order. Now, it was an old fossil, with only one layer of protection actually working and even then he wasn’t sure how well.
Walking on the surface Dale was able to notice much more about the planet. It was covered with all sorts of dead things. Corpses of animals, and the blackened remains of dead plants littered the area. He couldn’t even see any scavengers, they should have been here in the millions, making there way through the dead bodies.
In the distance he could see a figure. It was vaguely human, with two legs and arms, but it was covered in some kind of armor plating. Perhaps some sort of humanoid insectoid?
It came towards him curious as to what this stranger was doing on its planet. As it got closer it was revealed that the entire body from head to toe was covered in the armor plating. Where his mouth, nose, and eyes probably were as a different hazier kind of armor. Maybe one that let air and other things through?
At about 10 yards away the creature drew a weapon of some kind. By the way the creature held it; he knew it was a projectile weapon. He raised his hands in what he hoped was a universal sign of surrender.
Dale was very grateful for the translator that was automatically installed into his suit, “Hello.” He said careful to pronounce every letter correctly and doing his best to omit any accent he might have.
After a good two minutes, the translator was working and was able to give the creature’s reply. “How do you know our language?”
“Translator.”
“Is that your ship.”
“Yes.”
“Why are you here?”
“Exploring, looking for a habitable planet. What happened here?”
“It was a hundred years ago so there’s not too much on it. One thing is for sure though. It was incredibly stupid and pointless. Are you familiar with the concept of nuclear war?”
“Yeah of course I- Wait are you human?”
“What else would I be? What did you think I was?”
“You have an exoskeleton, I thought you were some kind of humanoid insect-” Dale was interupted by a large laugh from the other man.
“I can’t believe - I can’t believe you actually thought I was some kind of insect.” He said in between laughs. Eventually, the laugh died down and now with a much calmer voice he said, “Are there any more of you. Coming I mean.”
“No just me. No one cares about finding a habitable planet anymore.”
“Why not, I mean I would sure want to live somewhere else.”
“The Council announced that our ships are perfectly sustainable. That we can recover every resource we use through all our recycling machines.”
“You know that’s not true, right?”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s impossible to have perfect sustainability. Sure you can get real close. Up to 98% I last recall. You’re still losing 2% of everything though. Your ship is probably a little better, yet the most it can possibly be at is 99.2%. Maybe your ship has brought a ton of supplies. Maybe there’s enough to last you a few more centuries, maybe even a thousand years, one day though that’s all going to run out. Don’t believe me? I’m an engineer later I can prove it. Give me a design of your ship and something to reference everything with.”
A few hours laters, he had proved it. He accounted for everything the dimensions of the ship, the efficiency and cost of the recycling drones, human consumption; factored it all into the Lavecchia formula (a formula that could predict the effectiveness on recycling projects based on several factors) and had the ship board AI telling him the answer.
Exact percentage of Recycling Efficiency: 99.1493%
“Are the ships completely self-sustaining?”
“Yes.”
“Are these the correct statistics for the ship?”
“Yes.”
“What is the percentage of recycling efficiency for these statistics?”
Exact percentage of Recycling Efficiency: 99.1493%
They both had some good laughs at that.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dale and Ben shared a strange bond. They were both outsiders. Ben because of his engineering prowess. “It’s not that they don’t respect or value me.” Ben explained as he tried to outline what his life was like. “If anything they respect and value me too much. The friends I had were really just using me; so they would look more important and the others were intimidated by all the things and concepts I had mastered which they could scarcely understand. There was a time when there were engineers by the thousands, but at least in my community I’m the only one left. In times of crisis like this it tends to be the stupid that survive while the smart have their head in the clouds.”
Finally, having what Ben thought of as a true friend, he decided to stay with Dale, leaving with him on his ship. As Dale took. one last parting glance at the world he now knew to be his homeworld Ben walked in on him.
“It doesn’t make sense Ben. Why would after just one random jump through space I would end up here, at our homeworld?”
“I don’t know.” Ben replied honestly. The two men stood in silence for a while. “It’s ugly isn’t it? You can hardly see the planet because of all the junk we put in the sky.” Dale nodded solemnly.
“At least we’ll get a second chance.” Ben continued. “You said you have one ship packed full of terraforming technology. Then maybe, when it’s all done and we’re well established we can clear out the junk around here. Make it beautiful like I’m sure it once was.”
“Or maybe we’ll just mess it up again.” Dale countered.
“Our past is already condemned. Lets not condemn our future to.” Ben replied. They both agreed not to.
And then Dale went back home.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Dale couldn’t recognize where the jump had sent them. “It was supposed to bring us back home!” He cried out angrily.
The commotion brought Ben over. “Look over there its a ship. Is it yours?”
Dale looked to where Ben was pointing. “Yeah, it is but the ship is supposed to be right in front of us. Not out there.” Dale thought about it for a moment. Analyzing the problem like how a Crafter was supposed to. It wasn’t until he thought that the ship’s AI should have been automatically moving them forward, did he remember the asteroid belt. Just far enough so that you could barely see them; like how the ship looked like from here...
With sudden fierceness and determination Dale ordered the AI to activate the thrusters and move forward. But the thrusters remained off. He became frantic ordering the AI in ever increasingly hysterical tones, only to hear it answer “That is not available.” In the ever calm voice of a machine.
When Ben asked what was happening Dale exploded on him, screaming, “We’re going to be hit by an asteroid if we don’t start these damn thrusters.” This galvanized Ben into action, so that he joined the hopeless chorus.
Soon an asteroid strong, powerful, uncaring smashed the shuttle into bits. Which were of course, recycled.

Case File on Dale Pagan:

After noticing that Dale Pagan was becoming a social outcast of sorts we realized the very real possibility that he would try his luck as a Zoologist. Thanks in part, to the very specific outlining by former security personnel during the “Zoologist Crash” we placed an override on the shuttle AIs.
We programmed the shuttles to go to the homeworld, the next time a random jump was asked for, and to go into the asteroid field when a jump home was requested. We knew that after going to Earth Dale would come back to report his findings.
I can not stress how volatile a situation we were in. We had no choice but to kill him. If he returned safely than he could corrupt young minds and try to intrigue them with the “wonders of space” and the sense of righteousness the Zoologists used to have. Had we killed him in secret people would wonder constantly about how or if he had died. This would also intrigue young minds and they may want to follow in his (now famous) footsteps. If he had not been sent to Earth to bring about his speedy return (and therefore a speedy death) then the effect would have been similar to if we had killed him in secret.
You understand the danger as well as I do that Zoologists possess. This was clearly demonstrated after Bryan discovered the homeworld. If he had not sent us a message before he docked I’m not sure what would have happened. Maybe we would all be living on some planet right now (the thought disgusts me). Thank the stars for the ability to super suppress memories effectively erasing them.
As you know we will be unable to maintain the full size of our fleet for long. I have set up a plan to destroy all non essential ships within 6 centuries without causing suspicion of any kind. The destruction of the first ship (the one that the Zoologist came from) is scheduled for 3 weeks from now.
I understand that having to destroy and then harvest the resources from our own ships is a depressing thought, however it has become necessary we want to maintain our state of life.
The man was like a child. His hair was completely unorthodox, with none of the elaborate designs made possible by the increasingly complex chemicals to mold hair in one of the many patterns that the drones know. His mind had yet to be touched by one of the Specializers, a device that optimized your brain for the job you possessed. Even his body type was ridiculous, without the nano machines that so subtly agitated the muscles. This would match the dimensions for what had been scientifically calculated to be the perfect physique.
It wasn’t that the man was lazy or poor. The machines and chemicals did all the work, and this man was the son of Joshua Pagan, a Crafter! It was he who designed and built the various machines that were essential to the culture of Exodizers, the ones who had escaped their homeworld on self sustaining ships centuries ago.
He started out well enough, he was intelligent and well mannered. He learned what the Educators told him easily enough.
It wasn’t until adolescence that the boy turned strange. He refused to learn from an Educator of any kind (even the ones that looked human). The boy would not let any Groomer style his hair (despite having the Mark 16 Model, truly a masterpiece of engineering). When a Specializer was going to be used to adapt his mind to become a superior Crafter, (like father like son) he resisted, smacking the small device until someone stopped the whole procedure.
A talk with the on ship psychologist and therapist did little to help him and soon there was an influx of rumors circulating throughout the ship.
“I hear that he screamed at someone once.”
“That’s incredible.”
“Remember that day he came in without his clothing put on quite properly? He had tried to dress himself!”
“Oh my, I thought his Dresser had had a malfunction.”
“Rumor has it he tried to cook his own dinner once. He asked for the ingredients instead of just the food.”
“The boy is mad!”
These rumors served to isolate him. It was never obvious as shunning was immoral and wrong, but it was there. They wouldn’t actively prevent him from sitting at a table, for example, yet they would never invite him to sit with them. And when he did sit with them, they did their best to ignore his presence, responding to his questions with as few words as possible.
A few thought that as the son of a Crafter that being friends with him could benefit themselves. And so at one point a small group of them befriended him. It was nice for awhile, but they were not true friends. They did not care for his opinions or ideals, in fact they hardly even recognized him as a person, more like a status raiser.
It shocked everyone when he finally decided what his job would be. The most popular opinion was that he would return to the role of Crafter, just as he should have been doing all along. Others thought that the pressure of being Crafter was too much for him, and thought he would take up an easier job, such as becoming a Miner (for really all they had to do was follow a bunch of regulations and procedures). You could hear a pin drop when he announced that he would become a Zoologist.
The role of Zoologist had started out as a great honor. Zoologists were to take a small shuttle and scrounge throughout the galaxy searching for any planet that could sustain human life. There was no honor in this task anymore. It was deemed unnecessary when the Battle Cruiser, housing the military force and leaders of the Exodizers, announced that the ships were completely self-sustaining.
This brief message stripped Zoologists of all their prestige and notoriety. In a matter of days Zoologists went from heroes to old fossils holding onto the glory days.
“Have you heard of Brian the Zoologist?”
“Yes, what of him?”
“He refuses to retire yet. He still insists on going out in that little shuttle of his into who knows where.”
“That’s so horrible. Why doesn’t he just stay here and live off that pension the Council worked out for him?”
“He’s a glutton for fame. He hopes that if he manages to get permission to keep going out on trips he will be celebrated as a hero.”
“But he doesn’t even have a purpose now. We can last forever, the Deciders said so. Besides do you even know what a planet is like?”
“I haven’t a clue.”
“It’s a filthy thing. And you have to walk on this horrid brown and black stuff called dirt. Then water randomly falls from the sky. Only experts know how or why, but it does.”
“How wretched.”
“There’s more. Do you know the difference between being hot and being cold?”
“Yes, I’m familiar with the concept of hot and cold. My husband is a climate-modulator.”
“Well on a planet it gets hotter and colder all the time. Randomly.”
“I don’t see how anything could survive that.”
“It’s a good thing they stopped those damned Zoologists.”
And so he was the first Zoologist in centuries.
Technically, nanomachines should have been within the shuttle bays, performing maintenance on all the ships, and keeping any dust off of them. Though the project had long since been abandoned. The sleek and swift shuttles of the Zoologists were now derelict crafts. Layers of dust covered the ship and pieces groaned whenever they were inspected.
So with a failing, spluttering warp drive; he went through spacetime to who know’s where.
His jump led him to a planet surrounded in mechanical objects. Satellites, research stations, and other things all covered the planet beneath a ring of metal hulls.
“Are there any other planets like this one in this solar system?” He asked the on ship AI unit.
“One planet has a ring as well.” The AI unit responded in a static filled, erratic voice. “However, where this planet’s ring is artificial the other one is natural.”
“Who made this artificial ring?”
“Unknown.”
The man brought the ship and navigated it through the maze of debris. After breaking through an almost nonexistent atmosphere; he could see the surface of the planet.
It was a desolate war torn thing. The only animals in sight were small scavengers that only the scanners could pick up.
“What is the dominant life form on this planet?”
“A species of insects.” The computer gave out a blurry holographic image of it. The creature was brown with a flat wide body and a disportionately small head. From this head two long antennae sprung out. The creature was repulsive.
“Why are they the dominant species?”
“Unknown ecological disaster. Excessively high radiation levels have been detected.”
“Is it safe to walk on?”
“With proper equipment.”
He walked to where the suit was. At one point it had been state of the art and was sealed with 4 overlaying layers of protection, all in perfect order. Now, it was an old fossil, with only one layer of protection actually working and even then he wasn’t sure how well.
Walking on the surface Dale was able to notice much more about the planet. It was covered with all sorts of dead things. Corpses of animals, and the blackened remains of dead plants littered the area. He couldn’t even see any scavengers, they should have been here in the millions, making there way through the dead bodies.
In the distance he could see a figure. It was vaguely human, with two legs and arms, but it was covered in some kind of armor plating. Perhaps some sort of humanoid insectoid?
It came towards him curious as to what this stranger was doing on its planet. As it got closer it was revealed that the entire body from head to toe was covered in the armor plating. Where his mouth, nose, and eyes probably were as a different hazier kind of armor. Maybe one that let air and other things through?
At about 10 yards away the creature drew a weapon of some kind. By the way the creature held it; he knew it was a projectile weapon. He raised his hands in what he hoped was a universal sign of surrender.
Dale was very grateful for the translator that was automatically installed into his suit, “Hello.” He said careful to pronounce every letter correctly and doing his best to omit any accent he might have.
After a good two minutes, the translator was working and was able to give the creature’s reply. “How do you know our language?”
“Translator.”
“Is that your ship.”
“Yes.”
“Why are you here?”
“Exploring, looking for a habitable planet. What happened here?”
“It was a hundred years ago so there’s not too much on it. One thing is for sure though. It was incredibly stupid and pointless. Are you familiar with the concept of nuclear war?”
“Yeah of course I- Wait are you human?”
“What else would I be? What did you think I was?”
“You have an exoskeleton, I thought you were some kind of humanoid insect-” Dale was interupted by a large laugh from the other man.
“I can’t believe - I can’t believe you actually thought I was some kind of insect.” He said in between laughs. Eventually, the laugh died down and now with a much calmer voice he said, “Are there any more of you. Coming I mean.”
“No just me. No one cares about finding a habitable planet anymore.”
“Why not, I mean I would sure want to live somewhere else.”
“The Council announced that our ships are perfectly sustainable. That we can recover every resource we use through all our recycling machines.”
“You know that’s not true, right?”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s impossible to have perfect sustainability. Sure you can get real close. Up to 98% I last recall. You’re still losing 2% of everything though. Your ship is probably a little better, yet the most it can possibly be at is 99.2%. Maybe your ship has brought a ton of supplies. Maybe there’s enough to last you a few more centuries, maybe even a thousand years, one day though that’s all going to run out. Don’t believe me? I’m an engineer later I can prove it. Give me a design of your ship and something to reference everything with.”
A few hours laters, he had proved it. He accounted for everything the dimensions of the ship, the efficiency and cost of the recycling drones, human consumption; factored it all into the Lavecchia formula (a formula that could predict the effectiveness on recycling projects based on several factors) and had the ship board AI telling him the answer.
Exact percentage of Recycling Efficiency: 99.1493%
“Are the ships completely self-sustaining?”
“Yes.”
“Are these the correct statistics for the ship?”
“Yes.”
“What is the percentage of recycling efficiency for these statistics?”
Exact percentage of Recycling Efficiency: 99.1493%
They both had some good laughs at that.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dale and Ben shared a strange bond. They were both outsiders. Ben because of his engineering prowess. “It’s not that they don’t respect or value me.” Ben explained as he tried to outline what his life was like. “If anything they respect and value me too much. The friends I had were really just using me; so they would look more important and the others were intimidated by all the things and concepts I had mastered which they could scarcely understand. There was a time when there were engineers by the thousands, but at least in my community I’m the only one left. In times of crisis like this it tends to be the stupid that survive while the smart have their head in the clouds.”
Finally, having what Ben thought of as a true friend, he decided to stay with Dale, leaving with him on his ship. As Dale took. one last parting glance at the world he now knew to be his homeworld Ben walked in on him.
“It doesn’t make sense Ben. Why would after just one random jump through space I would end up here, at our homeworld?”
“I don’t know.” Ben replied honestly. The two men stood in silence for a while. “It’s ugly isn’t it? You can hardly see the planet because of all the junk we put in the sky.” Dale nodded solemnly.
“At least we’ll get a second chance.” Ben continued. “You said you have one ship packed full of terraforming technology. Then maybe, when it’s all done and we’re well established we can clear out the junk around here. Make it beautiful like I’m sure it once was.”
“Or maybe we’ll just mess it up again.” Dale countered.
“Our past is already condemned. Lets not condemn our future to.” Ben replied. They both agreed not to.
And then Dale went back home.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Dale couldn’t recognize where the jump had sent them. “It was supposed to bring us back home!” He cried out angrily.
The commotion brought Ben over. “Look over there its a ship. Is it yours?”
Dale looked to where Ben was pointing. “Yeah, it is but the ship is supposed to be right in front of us. Not out there.” Dale thought about it for a moment. Analyzing the problem like how a Crafter was supposed to. It wasn’t until he thought that the ship’s AI should have been automatically moving them forward, did he remember the asteroid belt. Just far enough so that you could barely see them; like how the ship looked like from here...
With sudden fierceness and determination Dale ordered the AI to activate the thrusters and move forward. But the thrusters remained off. He became frantic ordering the AI in ever increasingly hysterical tones, only to hear it answer “That is not available.” In the ever calm voice of a machine.
When Ben asked what was happening Dale exploded on him, screaming, “We’re going to be hit by an asteroid if we don’t start these damn thrusters.” This galvanized Ben into action, so that he joined the hopeless chorus.
Soon an asteroid strong, powerful, uncaring smashed the shuttle into bits. Which were of course, recycled.

Case File on Dale Pagan:

After noticing that Dale Pagan was becoming a social outcast of sorts we realized the very real possibility that he would try his luck as a Zoologist. Thanks in part, to the very specific outlining by former security personnel during the “Zoologist Crash” we placed an override on the shuttle AIs.
We programmed the shuttles to go to the homeworld, the next time a random jump was asked for, and to go into the asteroid field when a jump home was requested. We knew that after going to Earth Dale would come back to report his findings.
I can not stress how volatile a situation we were in. We had no choice but to kill him. If he returned safely than he could corrupt young minds and try to intrigue them with the “wonders of space” and the sense of righteousness the Zoologists used to have. Had we killed him in secret people would wonder constantly about how or if he had died. This would also intrigue young minds and they may want to follow in his (now famous) footsteps. If he had not been sent to Earth to bring about his speedy return (and therefore a speedy death) then the effect would have been similar to if we had killed him in secret.
You understand the danger as well as I do that Zoologists possess. This was clearly demonstrated after Bryan discovered the homeworld. If he had not sent us a message before he docked I’m not sure what would have happened. Maybe we would all be living on some planet right now (the thought disgusts me). Thank the stars for the ability to super suppress memories effectively erasing them.
As you know we will be unable to maintain the full size of our fleet for long. I have set up a plan to destroy all non essential ships within 6 centuries without causing suspicion of any kind. The destruction of the first ship (the one that the Zoologist came from) is scheduled for 3 weeks from now.
I understand that having to destroy and then harvest the resources from our own ships is a depressing thought, however it has become necessary we want to maintain our state of life.



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