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Token Competent Minion

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"Welcome, Laserbeak! Unlike some of my other warriors, you never fail me."

Finding good help is hard, especially hard if you're a villain. No matter how fearsome a villain appears, it seems they are often stuck with a gaggle of bunglers for help. All except one guy - the Token Competent Minion.

The Token Competent Minion is the one evil lackey who consistently gets results. They rarely, if ever fail and are likely to be the villain's favorite because of this. They are most likely to be The Dragon. If the boss is incompetent too, the Token Competent Minion might also be a Hyper-Competent Sidekick. Some examples may end up becoming The Starscream or a Dragon Ascendant.

If this minion is killed off or defects, the villain faction's threat level will drop significantly unless the TCM is replaced or the other minions seriously step up their game.

See also Only Sane Man and Elite Mook. Contrast Minion with an F in Evil.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Adventure 02:
    • Unlike most of The Digimon Kaiser's enslaved Digimon, SkullGreymon wasn't beaten in his first battle against the Chosen Children and the only reason the Digimon Kaiser had to retreat from the fight was due to SkullGreymon becoming unstable.
    • Chimeramon proved to be the most powerful Digimon under the Digimon Kaiser's command, taking just about everything the heroes threw at him and responding in kind. It takes the power of Magnamon and Wormon making a Heroic Sacrifice to defeat him.
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Ginyu Force as a whole are this for all of Freeza's men during the Freeza Arc. Not only do they give the heroes serious trouble even after Goku arrives,note  they also retrieve all seven Dragon Balls after they were stolen by Vegeta (if not for him being ignorant of how the Balls worked, Freeza would have achieved his victory). This is a far superior track record to Freeza's other henchmen during the Freeza Arc; Sui and Bana were easily beaten by Gohan and Krillin; Cui and Appule were both easily disposed off by Vegeta; Dodoria's attempt to kill Dende was foiled by Gohan and Krillin, and then he was also killed by Vegeta; Zarbon did slightly by better by defeating Vegeta in their first battle but also failed to confirm his death because he didn't want to get his hair wet and then was killed by Vegeta in their rematch.
  • Doraemon films:
    • Doraemon: The Records of Nobita, Spaceblazer have the Gartite Corporation's Bumbling Henchmen Duo, Uno and Doubt, who exists to get their asses kicked by Doraemon and Nobita (after discovering Planet Koya Koya's weak gravity gives them Super Strength and durability) and their plans repeatedly thwarted. And then the Gartite sends their best enforcer, Guillermin, who's actually a threat and give the heroes pause - it takes Nobita's friends Gian, Suneo and Shizuka performing a Changed My Mind, Kid and coming to their rescue before they get an upper hand on Guillermin.
    • Doraemon: Nobita and The Space Heroes: Of the Terrible Trio serving Lord Ikaros, Meba the shapeshifter is easily the most competent of the bunch, with her powers easily restraining Doraemon and gang besides giving the heroes a far tougher fight, to the point where she actually managed to have Nobita and the gang's new friend, Aron, captured alive. But then again she's deadly if her Achilles' Heel remains hidden; the moment her weakness towards hot water is exposed, the good guys quickly turns the fight around.
  • Durarara!!: A good chunk of Izaya's minions are either ineffective, batshit insane or waiting for an opportunity to backstab him. Out of all of them only a few are good at their jobs, with Namie performing amazingly well as a secretary despite her distaste for her employer, and Mikage being a brilliant martial artist capable of taking out numerous opponents at once. However, only Kine, arguably the sanest of Izaya's minions, actually remains loyal to him while the rest either betray him or defect.
  • One Piece:
    • The members of Buggy's crew aren't always incompetent, but have plenty of silly moments and don't accomplish much. The exception is Cabaji, who is dead serious every time he's onscreen during the Orange Town arc and is able to take on Zoro (albeit while Zoro's still suffering from previous injuries).
    • The Baratie Arc has Gin, who does most of the heavy lifting for Don Krieg while the rest of the crew fails to get much done. He fights Sanji one-on-one and wins, but a stroke of conscience resulting from Sanji saving his life earlier causes him to lose this status.
    • In Skypiea, Enel has four priests who serve as commanders for his army. Of the four, only Ohm poses a significant challenge to the heroes. Satori is beaten in the trial he oversees before the war even starts, Shura is beaten shortly into the war's beginning, and Gedatsu, incapable of getting out of his own way, is beaten by Chopper, one of the weaker Straw Hats. In contrast, Ohm sets up his own mini-death game during Enel's larger game and greatly challenges numerous fighters, including dueling Zoro one-on-one.
    • In Thriller Bark, the members of Gecko Moria's "Mysterious Four" are somewhat competent, but do not pose a significant challenge. Moria's new zombie Oars, however, blows them out of the water, as the monster requires the combined efforts of the entire Straw Hat crew to defeat him; by the end of the arc, his threat level could be considered to have eclipsed that of Moria's.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • While Wobbuffet is as much a Plucky Comic Relief like the rest of the Team Rocket trio, he generally offers a much tougher fight during the sporadic occasions Jessie calls him out to battle when compared to Team Rocket's other Pokemon who usually serve as jobbers outside of the occasional Not So Harmless battle. In the early points of the XY series, Jessie used Wobbuffet far more regularly, leading to multiple far more persistent face-offs against Ash and co instead of their usual defeats in Curbstomp Battles. In XY in particular, Wobbuffet has to be taken down by unconventional means, specifically using something that isn't a Pokémon move.
    • Her Lickitung and Yanmega likewise gave Ash and Co a tougher fight than other Team Rocket mons, before she got rid of them.
    • In the Sun and Moon series, Jessie caught a Mimikyu, who was a far more swift and vicious Pokemon than the other Pokémon she had and it could consistently keep up with Pikachu. Unfortunately for Jessie, Mimikyu wasn't really interested in doing much else besides fighting Pikachu, and would often sulk or half-ass battles against other opponents or even ruin schemes because of its bloodlust for Pikachu.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Rishid is the only one of Marik Ishtar's Rare Hunters who gains enough Puzzle Cards to enter the Battle City finals. In fact, Rishid would have won his duel with Jonouchi if Marik hadn't forced him to play the Winged Dragon of Ra card, which turned on Rishid and sent him into a coma.
    • Rafael is the only one of Dartz's minions who defeats his one of the three chosen duelists (Atem, Kaiba and Jonouchi) through pure skill. Amelda, Haga, Ryuzaki, Valon and Gurimo were all beaten in one duel each (two in Amelda's case) and Mai only defeated Jonouchi because the latter was exhausted after his duel with Valon.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Camula, Tania and Amnael of the Seven Stars Assassins were the only members to defeat any members of the Key Guardians, with Camula and Amnael even defeating two each. The four other members were all beaten by the first opponent they dueled, with Don Zaloog and especially Abidos III coming off as very incompetent.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • The Couriers: Special is a subversion. She is the only one of Johnny Funwrecker's Bodyguard Babes who is any good at her job. However, she gets so fed up with him and random third parties assuming that she's just a schoolgirl-fetish sex object like the rest that she turns on him, utterly destroying his organization.

    Film — Animation 
  • Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge: Goro is easily this for Shang Tsung. While Kitana, Baraka, Kano and Reptile are dispatched by the heroes with relative ease in one fight, Goro shows why he was the undefeated champion of Mortal Kombat for the past nine tournaments. Not only does he brutally maim Jax, taking the major out of commission for most of the film, but he nearly kills Liu Kang and would have succeeded if not for Scorpion's untimely intervention.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): Tempest Shadow is this for the Storm King. She is the one who leads the invasion of Canterlot, pursues the Mane Six to Mt. Eris and even succeeds in capturing Twilight and bringing her back. In comparison, Grubber is a buffoon who only got the position as the Storm King's right hand due to lack of ambition and not being The Starscream like Strife, the Storm King's previous right hand. The Storm Guards are typical Mooks who get beaten by the heroes in the end after Tempest is no longer on the Storm King's side. Indeed, Storm King actually seals his doom by reneging on his deal with Tempest.
  • Rio: Even though he's a bird, Marcel acknowledges that Nigel is way more competent and intelligent than his two human henchmen, Armando and Tipa. This is proven when Nigel captures Blu and Jewel.
  • Robin Hood (1973): Downplayed with Captain Crocodile. Compared to Sir Hiss, the Sheriff, Trigger and Nutsy or the Rhino Guards, Crocodile comes across as the most competent of Prince John's henchmen, to the point that apart from giving the titular hero a decent fight and coming close to killing him, which can also be said of the Sheriff at least, he also appears at a key moment (when everyone else is bungling up the chase) and makes a strategic choice that nearly dooms Robin.
  • Sleeping Beauty: Diablo is able to locate where the Three Good Fairies are hiding Aurora after searching for just a few days. By contrast, Maleficent's soldiers couldn't find a single clue as to Aurora's whereabouts in 16 years (mostly because they didn't even realize that she would have aged from a baby in that time).

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Masters of the Universe: Skeletor's legion of four direct underlings consists of midget leader-wannabe Karg who spends all his screen time shouting at mooks while being useless in fights, reptilian goon Saurod who gets banished into another dimension by his boss as a demonstration of the consequences for failure, the feral Beast Man is just a mute Dumb Muscle. And then there's Blade, a Master Swordsman who can fight He-Man one-on-one, posing an actual, serious challenge for the heroes.
  • Kick-Ass 2: The Motherfucker's underlings among the Toxic Mega Cunts consists of Black Death, a Scary Black Man who ends up getting killed by Hit-Girl in mere seconds; the pint-sized "Big Tony"; ex-triad member Genghis Carnage who gets executed via Boom, Headshot! before the final battle; and then there's "Mother Russia", an Ax-Crazy murderer hired out of a Russian Gulag. Her first scene has her killing ten cops in under a minute. She also kills Colonel Stars-and-Stripes, and puts up a serious fight in the finale, nearly killing Hit-Girl in a Curb-Stomp Battle before the latter gets a second wind (and a shot of adrenaline). Mother Russia is basically the only reason why the villains are a legitimate threat in the film.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: The Dark World: Algrim is the only Dark Elf other than Malekith portrayed as dangerous to the heroes. He manages to infiltrate Asgard, kill countless soldiers, kill Frigga, almost kill Loki and even overpowers Thor himself with ease.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier:
      • The titular Winter Soldier is the only HYDRA member capable of fighting on par with Captain America himself. He also comes very close to killing Steve's allies, and is stated to have shot Black Widow in an encounter prior to the events of the movie.
      • Brock Rumlow is this to a lesser extent. While not strong enough to defeat Steve, he lasts much longer against him than any other HYDRA member who isn't the Winter Soldier, and is a considerable challenge to the Falcon as well. Unlike the Winter Soldier, Rumlow isn't mind controlled, arguably making him a better contender for this trope than the Winter Soldier.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope: Daine Jir is one of the few Imperial officers under Darth Vader's command that the Sith Lord respects, serving as an Honest Advisor to Vader and being allowed to speak his mind about Vader's actions without fear of any backlash. Jir is also the only one to point out to Vader that holding Leia Organa could end up generating sympathy for the Rebellion and his prediction that Leia would not betray the Rebellion under torture proves true. The Empire might have won the war if they had more people like Jir on their side.
    • The Force Awakens: The Stormtrooper known as "Nines" might be the only Stormtrooper in the entire franchise to successfully overpower one of the main heroes in a one-on-one fight and almost kill him. By contrast, every other film depicts Stormtroopers as easily dispatched Mooks with lousy aim when dealing with the heroes.

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four: The Thought Police is described as the only efficient administration of Oceania. Every other administration is weak and crumbling. This is by design as the Inner Party fears that if society was fully functioning, it would lead to the ruling oligarchy being overthrown or otherwise losing their power. As stated in "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism'':
    As we have seen, researches that could be called scientific are still carried out for the purposes of war, but they are essentially a kind of daydreaming, and their failure to show results is not important. Efficiency, even military efficiency, is no longer needed. Nothing is efficient in Oceania except the Thought Police.
  • The Dresden Files: A guy named "Listen" seems to be the only agent of the Fomor who poses any major threat (as an individual) to Harry and his friends, mainly because he is ruthless, intelligent, and too useful even for the Fomor to get rid of him.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Tyrion is the only one of Tywin Lannister's children who truly understands the realities of the kingdom and is cognizant of the fact that his nephew Joffrey is a terrible ruler. Tyrion's siblings, Cersei and Jaime, are arrogant to a fault and far more easily susceptible to their flaws: Cersei's arrogance blinds her to how out of her depth she often is, while Jaime has little skill outside of sword fighting. Tyrion is his father's equal in political savvy, but he gets the least amount of respect due to his dwarfism and - in his father's eyes - causing the death of Tywin's wife.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight: It would not be an exaggeration to claim that Kamen Rider Strike is Xaviax's most reliable and efficient henchman, having vented two heroic Riders before he was taken out by Ren. By contrast, Xaviax's other minions are either untrustworthy (Torque), reluctant (Thrust), stupid (Axe and Spear) or just plain useless (Camo and Incisor).
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:
      • During his brief time as a mind-controlled slave of Rita Repulsa, the Green Ranger proved to be the evil witch's most dangerous servant by far. He defeated the Rangers in battle twice, thrashed their Zords, snuck into the Command Center and cut off their connection to Zordon, and nearly killed Jason. By contrast, Goldar repeatedly failed to defeat the Rangers in battle, even getting his ass kicked by Jason when the latter didn't have access to his morpher, Finnster's monsters were all destroyed, and Baboo and Squatt were nothing but comic relief.
      • In season 3, Rita once again uses a Brainwashed teen against the Rangers, this time an Australian student named Kat. Kat infiltrates the Ranger team, posing as their friend and nearly kills Kimberly by stealing her Power Coin which was tied to her life force. If not for Kat snapping out of it, Rita would have dealt a powerful blow to the heroes.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force: Jindrax and Toxica are the Co-Dragons to Master Org and later on Mandilok. However, they aren't particularly threatening or competent on their own, especially when compared to two other Duke Orgs who serve the role of TC Ms at different points in the series.
      • Nayzor is The Heavy during the Zen-Aku arc. He is the one who unleashes Zen-Aku, and while the Wolf Org is a wild card, his repeated thrashing of the Rangers and taking their animal crystals is indisputably an issue for the heroes and a boon for the villains. Nayzor also manages to stall Animus's attempts to restore Zen-Aku's true memories and uses the animal crystals Zen-Aku took to create Quadra Org, an Org so powerful it took the new Sixth Ranger to defeat him.
      • After the fake Master Org is exposed and killed, Jindrax and Toxica find themselves serving a new master in the form of Mandilok who takes over as the new Big Bad. Just as Mandilok starts growing tired of the duo's constant failures, in comes the Ninja Org Onikage who proves to be a far more serious threat in only a handful of episodes. Not only do his illusions and shadow clone powers give the Rangers a tough time, but he also gives Toxica a way to survive the Sacred Water by cutting off her horn, allowing her to kidnap Princess Shayla. As it turns out Onikage is actually serving the revived Master Org, who has commanded him to kill the other three Orgs for betraying him.
    • Power Rangers Turbo: Goldgoyle was by far the most powerful and dangerous Monster of the Week in the season, and easily the most competent of Divatox's minions. He put up such a tough fight that the Rangers had to sacrifice both their Megazords to take him out. This was in stark contrast to the dimwitted Elgar and the slow, lumbering Rygog. Goldgoyle also kicked off the Rangers' Darkest Hour as the villains were able to locate the heroes' command center when they went back to it to regroup.
    • Power Rangers RPM: Venjix outright calls Tenaya 7 his most intelligent and reliable servant. She snarkily replied that this wasn't saying much considering her competition was Shifter and Crunch.
  • Beetleborgs: Shadowborg was the only minion that Vexus actually liked due to him being an actual threat to the Beetleborgs and his capability of executing Vexus's evil plans successfully.

    Video Games 
  • Crash Bandicoot: In Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, at least, N Tropy, while still a pompous Smug Snake, was considered a more serviceable ally by Uka Uka, with many bios implying an actual Villainous Friendship between them, compared to Uka Uka's utter distain for Neo Cortex and his "stooges". This tends to only go so far of course; in the original timeline, Tropy inevitably suffered the same failure rate as everyone else and was deemed another buffoonish underling by Uka, while the It's About Time timeline ran full throttle with this trope and turned Tropy into a far more sinister and ruthless threat than Cortex, ultimately deciding that Cortex and even Uka Uka were dispensable and betraying them to ally with another universe counterpart of himself, who was even more menacing, having successfully killed that universe's Crash and Coco. Cortex didn't like this double cross however, and helped Crash sabotage his plan in response (before hijacking the Final Boss battle for himself, demonstrating he wasn't quite as inferior to Tropy as assumed).
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Mortal Kombat 9:
      • Subverted with Quan Chi who stands out among Shao Kahn's minions for doing something other than getting defeated or killed in story mode. Not only does he secure Scorpion's allegiance to the villain side, but he also comes up with the idea to breach the borders between Outworld and Earth by resurrecting Sindel under mind control and claims the souls of the dead heroes after they are killed by Sindel. Where the subversion comes in is that Quan Chi is actually working for Shinnok and is only pretending to serve Shao Kahn.
      • Sindel would also qualify for killing most of the heroes. It takes a Heroic Sacrifice by Nightwolf to put her down and by then she has dealt a heavy blow to the forces of good.
    • Mortal Kombat X: D'Vorah is this for Kotal Kahn's court. She is one of the only two villains to be a playable chapter in story mode (the other one being Kotal himself) and in that chapter proves her worth by defeating Rain and Tanya, and killing Mileena. The rest of Kotal's underlings do nothing during story mode but get their asses kicked by the heroes.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Regardless of continuity, it's been demonstrated time and time again that Metal Sonic is Doctor Eggman's magnum opus and the only one of his creations capable of fighting Sonic toe to toe.

    Web Original 
  • The Star War Gatherings: In Hopeless Situation Return, the Death Star commander immediately objects to D's order to fire at random by saying "bull" and firing directly at a Rebel cruiser. No other minion displays such competence.

    Western Animation 
  • Captain N: The Game Master: Since Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo are pretty much incapable of doing anything right, Dr. Wiley is the only henchman of Mother Brain who (usually) can do his job properly.
  • Challenge of the GoBots: While Crasher and Cop-Tur are tough opponents and usually serve as Cy-Kill's primary minions, both tend to suffer severe drawbacks. Crasher is too violent and can easily get distracted in her efforts to cause mayhem and her destructive stomp can't really be controlled beyond giving it a general direction. Her eagerness to use said power has been used to bait her into destroying technology that was necessary to Cy-Kill's plans. For his part, Cop-Tur is almost the definition of Dumb Muscle and can quickly find himself out of his depth when "hitting it" no longer works. In contrast, while Fi-Tor ultimately did fail to keep the Guardians from capturing the Renegade stronghold, he'd been placed in charge to keep the Guardians occupied while Cy-Kill assembled his Zod Armada, and after the pilot movie was usually the Renegade that could be counted on to adapt plans and mission parameters as the situation changed. Basically while the lion's share of the Renegades (including their former leader) were cannon fodder, Fi-Tor could be a strategist.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: Fat Cat himself was this for his owner Clordaine in the original Rescue Rangers Five-Episode Pilot, then he got his own in the form of Wart the Lizard, who could be better trusted to handle complicated assignments than the dimwitted Mole and Mepps.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: While the competence of the other Evil Warriors varies in the comics, Evil-Lyn was typically the only one among Skeletor's crew who could be relied on to be useful.
  • Iron Man: The Animated Series: Hypnotia is consistently the only competent one among the Mandarin's lackeys. The very first episode opens with her successfully completing her mission to turn a submarine crew into zombie servants for the Mandarin. It's telling that Hypnotia is the only one of the Mandarin's lackeys who can get away with snarking at him without receiving a murder threat in return.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Hak Foo is the only one of Valmont's Enforcers (not counting Tohru) who is portrayed as a competent fighter and an actual threat to the heroes most of the time. Though he suffers a bit of Villain Decay in later seasons, he is still much more dangerous and reliable than the other three Enforcers.
  • Mega Man (Ruby-Spears): Of Dr. Wily's many Robot Masters, Proto Man acts as Mega Man's top rival and is the only one able to consistently fight him on even footing; while Cut Man and Guts Man are good at threatening humans, they're much less effective against Mega. Other top lackeys include Dark Man, who only appeared twice but with a good track record, and one-shot baddies like Crystal Man, Top Man, and Pharaoh Man, the latter of whom became famous in the fandom for punching Mega Man after the latter copied his power.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power:
    • While often a source of Comic Relief, Imp was also Hordak's most reliable minion. His success rate against the Rebellion was much higher than his compatriots, though it should be noted he tended to be restricted to espionage more than actual combat.
    • Somewhat deconstructed with Modulok, who was also leagues more competent than most of the villains. He got fed up with not getting the praise he felt he deserved (despite actually engineering She-Ra's defeat at least once) and opted to strike out on his own. It should be noted this behavior is not new, as he originally joined Horde after getting tired of working for Skeletor.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Catra turns out to be this for Hordak, being the only member of his forces who manages to help him make headway in his plans for conquest. Shadow Weaver might have counted, but she was actually sabotaging Hordak's efforts until she could find a way to stop him permanently.
  • The Simpsons: C. Montgomery Burns controls a nuclear power plant staffed by corrupt, lazy, incompetent, and occasionally sociopathic employees. Waylon Smithers serves as his hypercompetent executive assistant, which Smithers describes as "actually about 2,800 smaller jobs," including plant manager, disciplinarian, head of security, and once kidnapping Tom Jones on Burns' orders. He is fiercely loyal to Burns (in part because he has a longtime crush on him).
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers: Most of the Decepticons (and even Megatron himself to some extent) are a bunch of bungling goofballs, chronic backstabbers or both in the case of Starscream. Soundwave, while still prone to the occasional clownish moment, stood out as a far more dedicated and no-nonsense Decepticon, with him and his Casetticons often helping a lot of schemes at least get off the ground. Likewise, one of his cassettes, Laserbeak, rarely screws up, which is even lampshaded by Megatron (see the Page Quote).
    • Beast Wars: Given that he had to scrounge his crew together from the dregs of Predacon society, it makes sense that most of Megatron's minions are incompetent or otherwise failures. This makes Tarantulus stand out for being at least clever enough to fight the Maximals and come up with strategies on his own. So naturally he turns out to be a mole for the Tri-Predicus council.
  • Wander over Yonder: While Lord Hater's Watchdogs aren't totally useless, they tend to be thwarted easily by Wander and Sylvia. Commander Peepers is leaps and bounds smarter than the Watchdogs he commands, and a lot smarter than Hater to boot.
  • X-Men: Evolution: The Brotherhood is mostly seen by the X-Men as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains at best who can be defeated with ease. Towards the end of Season 2, the Brotherhood are joined by Wanda Maximoff, who is so powerful that she manages to trounce the entire X-Men team by herself in her first appearance.


Video Example(s):


I Am Putting Him In Charge

Even though he's a bird, Marcel acknowledges that Nigel is way more competent and intelligent than his two human henchmen, Armando and Tipa after he ends up seeing that they brought him back two chickens painted blue in a poor attempt to hide the fact that Blu and Jewel escaped. This is proven when Nigel captures the eponymous character and his love interest later on in the film. Armando and Tipa meanwhile are depicted as harmless morons, and of the two Tipa is especially a huge moron while Armando is the smarter of the two though still nevertheless a moron.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / TokenCompetentMinion

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