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Disclaimer: Marvel Comics owns the rights to the Marvel characters. Azumanga Daioh characters are owned by Azuma Kiyohiko, GENCO, Media Works, and TV Tokyo.

Forward: Unlike with the previous A!MG side story, "Wrex N' Effex", this one is part of the actual Avenging continuity, and shows what happens to the Azumanga Daioh cast and some Marvel characters. This one also is more comedic than the usual Avenging story. It's a stand alone one shot, and you don't even have to have read Avenging to understand it. A passing knowledge of Marvel would help, though.

Any and all C+C is appreciated. You can contact me at sommer@3rdm.net

Last revision date: 6/4/04


Side Story 2: Let the Games Begin!


The door to the classroom slid open and Yukari stormed in, slamming it loudly behind her. She stomped over to her desk, scowling as her eyes pored over the seated students before her.

The students cringed in their seats, recognizing the signs that something bad was about to happen. They knew their teacher well; far too well for their liking.

Yukari stood in front of the class, motionless for several seconds. Just when it seemed as though the class might make in the clear, she blurted out, "Today's lesson is: all super heroes are jerks!" She stopped talking and scowled silently.

Most of the class would have been content to leave things at that.

Tomo was not like most of the class.

"What makes you say that, Yukari-sensei?"

Given the opening she had been looking for, Yukari took it and entered full rant mode. "I was driving down the street, minding my own business, when this idiot made of rocks jumps out on the middle of the road, and it was the road and not the sidewalk, regardless of what he said. I couldn't avoid him and rammed right into him. It totaled my car. Just look at it!" She walked over to the windows and pointed out to where her car was parked.

The students did as she asked. They made their way to the window and stared in wonderment at the condition of the car. All save for Sakaki, Chiyo, Kagura, Tomo, Yomi, and Osaka, who looked at it in confusion.

"Where's the damage?" Chiyo asked.

"It's right there, plain as day." Yukari pointed at the car again.

Osaka said, "Oh, I see it. The fender is missing."

"No, that fell off a couple of months ago. A parked van ran into me."

Kagura pointed at a different spot. "It's where all the paint was scraped off next to the headlight?"

"No, that was there before, too. Look closer."

"I can't see it," Tomo admitted.

"Are you blind? It's the fourth dent from the right. The one next to the grill."

Yomi peered more closely, but shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I can't spot it. It blends in perfectly with all the other dents."

"That's what that Thing guy said when I demanded he buy me a new car," Yukari snarled. "Fantastic Four, my ass. How fantastic can they be if they can't even replace a car they ruined?"

The class sighed in exasperation at their teacher and headed back to their seats.

It was at that very moment a form materialized among them, literally appearing out of nowhere. Impossibly, he stood nine feet tall. His skin was a light blue in tone, and he was slender almost to the point of being emaciated. White hair ringed the top of his head, and he looked elderly, despite his alien appearance. He wore a one-piece yellow tunic, with yellow boots and gloves. He radiated a presence that hinted at both age and incredible power.

The man spoke in a commanding voice. "I am the Grandmaster, one of the Elders of the Universe. I am the last of my race, which was one of the first to exist in the universe. I am an immortal of immeasurable power that you cannot hope to comprehend."

Tomo raised her hand.

"Yes?" the Grandmaster asked.

"Can you make a star explode just by thinking about it?" Tomo asked.

The Grandmaster seemed taken aback by the question. "Ah, no."

"Well, I can comprehend that, so your power must not be immeasurable after all."

The Grandmaster stared at her with eyes that would have made any sensible being tremble.

Tomo simply stared back.

The Grandmaster cleared his throat. "Be that as it may, my powers are impressive and by far dwarf anything you have encountered."

Tomo conceded the point with a nod.

Satisfied, the Grandmaster continued his introduction. "I am a being who was ancient before your star was a collection of errant gases. In order to keep myself from becoming bored and seeking to end my existence, I have taken up playing games in order to amuse myself. There is no game that I have not played and mastered. It is the entire purpose of my existence."

"Have you played Scrabble?" Osaka asked.

"I have played variants of this game, yes."

Osaka nodded in satisfaction. "Is xykploxys a word? I tried using that once, only Chiyo wouldn't let me."

"It is a word used on ten different planets in this galaxy alone, though its definition varies," the Grandmaster confirmed.

"I told you so," Osaka informed Chiyo.

"It had to be in English, since we were playing it to improve your English vocabulary," Chiyo insisted.

The two began arguing back and forth, forcing the Grandmaster to clear his throat to regain everyone's attention. "Now, as I was saying, I play games in order to stave off the boredom of existence. It is my preference to play games against others, as only in doing battle against worthy competition do the games take on true meaning.

"In order to make things more interesting, some form of wagering is usually involved in my challenges. Currently I am in the midst of a game with another being whose power rivals my own. In this matter, I have wagered a token of power called the Cavourite Crystal against her Cosmic Harmonica. It's more powerful than it sounds. Trust me on this."

"What game are you playing?" Yomi asked.

"War. Specifically, one involving superpowered beings against superpowered beings. She has chosen the group known as the Avengers to represent her pieces."

"Good choice," Tomo said.

"And I have selected you to represent mine," he told her.

"None of us actually have super powers," Chiyo pointed out.

"Not yet," the Grandmaster said. "However, my superior intellect, whose depths you cannot comprehend—" Tomo raised her hand, but the Grandmaster ignored her this time. "—has determined that of all the beings on this planet, you are the mostly likely to defeat the Avengers. To this end, I intend to empower you with my own cosmic energies and thus make you my pawns in this game."

Before the others could respond, the Grandmaster brought his hand up. Globes of crimson and golden energy suddenly encased Sakaki, Chiyo, Kagura, Tomo, Yomi, and Osaka.

Sakaki was the first to be affected by the alien energies. She became even larger, her height and muscles increasing in size by about fifteen percent.

The Grandmaster said, "To your already powerful form, I bestow upon you super strength and stamina. Henceforth you shall be known as… Amazonia."

Tomo said, "That's not very original. She's already an Amazon."

Sakaki stared at herself mournfully. Despite the transformation, she still wasn't cute.

Chiyo was next. Her skin suddenly took on a dark greenish tint and her hair disappeared, replaced instead by a set of what appeared to be wires that connected to the top of her head.

"I have increased the power of your already superior intellect a hundred-fold. Henceforth you shall be known as… Brainy-Chiyo."

"But we already call her that," Tomo protested.

Chiyo remained motionless, her mouth hanging open in shock.

Kagura was the next. Rather than her physical appearance changing, her clothing began to transform. One moment she was wearing a tennis outfit, complete with racket and balls. Then it was gone, disappearing even more quickly that it had come. Then she wore football equipment, including pads and a football, then it was polo garb, to the point she was on the back of a powerful black stallion. Others blurred until it seemed they were one. Then it stopped, and she was once again in her normal school uniform.

The Grandmaster stated, "Due to your extensive sports background, I have given you the ability to summon any set of superpowered sports equipment you could want. Henceforth you shall be known as… the Sportsmaster."

"Since she's a girl, shouldn't it be Sportsmistress?" Tomo asked.

The Grandmaster turned to her. "If I give you your superpower now, will you shut up?"

"Depends on the power," Tomo replied.

Suddenly Tomo's motions seemed speeded up, so much so that despite the fact she was standing still, she wasn't.

"Due to your inherent hyperactive nature, I have made you even more energetic. Henceforth you shall be known as… Hyperactive Lass."

"Hot damn!" Tomo began scrambling around the room at a manic pace.

The students ran for cover.

The next in line was Yomi. Suddenly she became ten times larger. However, unlike with Sakaki's transformation, rather than everything remaining proportional, she ballooned in size, becoming morbidly obese.

The Grandmaster stated proudly, "To you, I give the ability to increase your mass as you desire, though you will still possess your normal agility, regardless of your tremendous size. Henceforth you shall be known as… Big Yomi."

"That's the last superpower in the world I wanted, you miserable !#%^!" Yomi shouted though her now four chins.

The glow around Osaka simply disappeared. She stared at herself. "Funny, I don't feel any different. Can I fly? Maybe I should jump out a window and see." She headed for the nearest window and opened it up.

The Grandmaster laid a restraining hand upon her shoulder and guided her away from the window. "Ah, no, that's not it. Due to your ability to dream up anything, I have bestowed upon you that when you're asleep, your dreams will come to life as if they were real. Henceforth you shall be known as… The Sleepwalker."

"Wow! I get to sleep and be a superhero at the same time." Osaka put some books under her head and dozed off.

The Grandmaster looked at his handiwork, and was impressed. "Now that you have been empowered, and that there is no equivalent group in this particular universe, you shall be known as… The Fearsome Five."

"There's six of us," Tomo pointed out.

The Grandmaster flinched slightly. "I meant to say, the Legion of Superheroes."

"There aren't really enough of us to constitute a legion," she protested. "I think we should be 'Tomo's Kick-Ass Gang'."

"Sinister Six," the Grandmaster said.

"No group with Chiyo-chan in it can really be considered sinister."

A voice suddenly interrupted their discussion.

"Change her back."

The command was said softly, so softly the others almost didn't hear it, yet there was enough force behind the voice that it grabbed everyone's attention.

Everyone's attention turned to the speaker: Sakaki, whose eyes were cast toward the floor, trembled slightly.

"What was that?" the Grandmaster asked.

"Change her back," Sakaki repeated.

"Change who back?" he asked.

Sakaki looked up, her eyes tearing as she trembled in rage. "Chiyo-chan's not cute anymore. Change her back."

The Grandmaster scoffed at that. "I didn't empower you all to simply change you back to your former, mundane selves. I have given you a priceless gift. Now you can achieve greatness—"

"Change her back now!" Sakaki shouted, running forward and punching the Grandmaster in the stomach.

The Elder of the Universe was shot backward, as though out of a cannon. He flew through the air, knocking chairs and desks aside until he bounced off a wall, destroying much of it in the process. Despite the punishment, which by all rights should have broken the frail-looking, elderly man, he returned to his feet, unhurt.

"How dare you—"

The rest of his epithet was cut off as a circle of greenish energy surrounded the top of his head. A similar one appeared around Chiyo.

She shouted, "You made me so brilliant, my intellect is capable of dominating yours! You change all of us back to normal!"

"N… Never," the Grandmaster said, shaking his head furiously as he tried to expel her presence from his mind.

Kagura went into action as a hockey uniform appeared around her. She skated forward, ice forming right in front of her skates which each step. She circled around the room, building up speed. Once she built up sufficient momentum, she skated past the Grandmaster, hitting him in the back with her stick. The resulting impact produced a large explosion from the seemingly harmless wood.

A cry of agony escaped the elder's lips.

"Go team, go team, go!" Tomo shouted so loudly she could have been an entire cheerleader squad.

Suddenly, a bizarre nine-foot-tall cat-like thing, with an oblong body, spindly arms, and a uniform identical to the Grandmaster's, appeared right next to him. "You are nothing more than a giant tomato!" The cat then turned red, and proceeded to choke the Elder.

The Grandmaster broke the grip, reeling away from his foe. Before he could summon his power to blast the weird apparition, he became aware of a shadow suddenly blotting out the lights directly overhead. He looked up…

…And was immediately flattened by two tons of angry high school girl.

Perched firmly upon his back, the rotund Yomi said in threatening tones, "Are you going to take our powers away, or do I have to triple my mass?"

Impossibly, the Grandmaster stood, throwing Yomi aside. All of the superpowered girls suddenly found themselves bound in place by a black and azure cocoon of energy. No matter how hard they tried, they could not move or use their powers, including Chiyo and her mental ones. Even the cat disappeared.

The Grandmaster, completely unharmed by their attacks, glared angrily at them. "How dare you! While I certainly have had pawns turn against me before, never have I had it happen so quickly."

"We don't want to fight for you!" Chiyo protested.

"Your desires mean nothing to me," the Grandmaster said. "You are less than an eyeblink to one who has lived for hundreds of billions of years. Moreover, you should be grateful for this unique opportunity to go beyond the bounds of your pitiful human restraints. I am doing you a favor by making you more than you can ever hope to be."

The Grandmaster composed himself. "Now, I shall prepare for the contest. I shall teleport you to a neutral ground whereupon the Avengers will appear, and your two teams will combat one another. You will be separated at first, with all the matches taking place in single one-on-one combat, with the winners of each match meeting in a final that will determine—"

A piece of chalk plinked off the Grandmaster's forehead.

He turned to the offender. "You'd better have a good reason for doing that, or your continued existence will be measured in seconds," he warned Yukari.

"You can't take my students. I won't let you," she explained.

"Don't do it, Yukari-sensei, or he might kill you," Chiyo cried out.

Yukari gave her a soft look. "I have to do it. I can't let him take you or the others away. You're too important to me."

All of the students looked upon Yukari in a new light. That she would risk herself like this for them was incomprehensible.

Yukari walked to where the girls were being held. She stared at them softly, stopping before Chiyo. "For instance, Chiyo here is so brilliant, she single-handedly brings the entire class' grade point average up. Having a high class GPA makes my evaluations real good at the end of the year."

The joy of the students faded in an instant. They instead looked upon their teacher in shock.

More eagerly now, Yukari said, "And Sakaki and Kagura here, I won't win a damn thing at the athletic festival if they aren't here to represent my class. There's no way I'd let Nyamo beat me at anything!"

She turned to the next person in line. "And Yomi here is one of the few people that can keep this collection of crazies in line."

"Nice to know I have some value to you," Yomi said dryly.

Yukari turned to the next to last girl. "And Osaka, well, she makes me laugh."

Osaka, still asleep, snored.

Yukari laughed. "See?"

"My turn! My turn!" Tomo shouted.

"And Tomo," Yukari said, regarding her. "Tomo, Tomo, Tomo." She turned to the Grandmaster. "You can keep her. She's nothing but trouble."

"Hey!"

The Grandmaster shook his head. "While I appreciate your desire to keep them for their use in competitions, I'm afraid my needs supersede yours."

"The heck they do! You got all sorts of powers and can choose anyone in the whole world to be your pawns! Without these girls as my pawns, I might lose my job!"

"No," the Grandmaster said simply as he prepared to teleport himself and the others to the playing field.

"I'll play you a game," Yukari said in a teasing voice.

The Grandmaster came to a stop. He knew he shouldn't do it. He was preparing to start a very interesting game right now. But as obsessed as he was with games, he couldn't resist. "In order to make the game worthwhile, there need to be stakes involved. What do you propose to wager that would be of value of me?"

Yukari placed her hands on her hips in defiance. "There's no way I'm putting my nubile body on the line!"

"I said of value," the Grandmaster clarified.

An eraser hit him hard enough in the face to make him flinch.

"I'll become a superhero too," Yukari explained.

"I need no other superheroes."

"And I'll become leader of your Sinister Six."

"'Tomo's Kick-Ass Gang'," Tomo corrected.

Yukari ignored her, continuing on. "Also, the girls would have to obey me, since I'm their teacher."

The Grandmaster considered that. Compliance from his pawns increased his chances of success tremendously. He looked the teacher over. "Hmm. I sense you already possess a superhuman ability to hit anything with a vehicle. I could give you a cosmically powered car that would enable you to run into things over and over again, causing them considerable damage while you suffered none to yourself. I would call you… The Taxinator." He nodded his head in satisfaction. "Very well, I accept your offer. Since you lack even the most rudimentary of powers, or intelligence, I shall allow you to choose the game."

"Deal!" Yukari said. "Rock-paper-scissors."

"What?! The Grandmaster bellowed. "That game is too simple!

More eager now, Yukari taunted, "Aw, does the big bad cosmic entity fear a mere high school teacher?"

"Very well," the Grandmaster said, a slight smile creasing his aged face.

Restrained in their cocoons of energy, the girls (save the still-sleeping

Osaka) watched events unfold in disbelief as their fate would be decided by the most unlikely person of all.

Yomi said, "I can't believe Yukari-sensei's going to rescue us."

"Neither can I, and I mean that literally," Chiyo said. "With my newly increased intelligence, I calculate a less than .0008 percent chance that she can defeat the Grandmaster."

"How can the odds be that low?" Kagura protested. "It's only a simple game that even a child could win."

Chiyo shook her head sadly. "Yes, if it were a complicated game, like checkers, her odds would be really bad."

Yomi grimaced. "So what you're saying is…"

"I'll begin formulating a strategy to take on the Avengers," Chiyo finished.

It was at that moment Nyamo burst into the room. Sensing trouble, she headed for the typical cause of it. "What's going on? It sounded like someone was bulldozing the room," she asked Yukari.

With a smug look on her face, Yukari bragged, "An Elder of the Universe came by to abduct the girls, but I'm going to stop him."

Nyamo stared at her. "Look, if you don't want to tell me what happened, just say so."

"No, seriously, he gave them superpowers and is going to use them in some kind of game and I challenged him."

Nyamo rolled her eyes. "Right, like I'm going to fall for some stupid story like…" She trailed off as she noticed the nine-foot-tall, blue-skinned old man intently staring at her. "You're related to Kimura, aren't you?"

Finishing his examination, the Grandmaster nodded in approval. "I sense you are an excellent swimmer. You'd do well with water-based powers. How would you like to be known as 'The Aqualung'?"

Nyamo slowly inched away from the bizarre figure. "No thanks. I'm going to talk to the girls over here. You and Yukari have fun with your game." She ran away as quickly as she could. Once she arrived at the girls' side, she whispered, "What's going on?"

"It's all true," Yomi said. "She challenged him to a game of rock-paper-scissors."

"Not rock-paper-scissors!" Nyamo gasped.

"What's wrong with that?" Tomo asked so fast she was barely understandable.

Chiyo nodded. "I've calculated that it's Yukari-sensei's best chance of success, pitiful as that is."

"You don't understand," Nyamo insisted. "She's never won a game of rock-paper-scissors in her life."

"You mean she's bad at it?" Kagura asked.

"No, I mean she's literally never won a game in her life. I should know; she's made me play it with her hundreds of times over the years."

"How can you always lose at it?" Chiyo asked.

"She always chooses rock. No matter what, it's always rock. Even after she loses the first time, she uses it over again and again endlessly, convinced her opponent won't use paper again."

The girls all winced.

Away from the captives and just out of earshot, Yukari and the Grandmaster prepared to square off.

The Grandmaster gave Yukari a confident smile. "I should warn you, despite the seemingly simple nature of this basic game, I have mastered every nuance and possibility thoroughly. I have won it a thousand times in a row."

Yukari returned his confidence with a smug look. "Oh yeah? Well I've lost it a thousand times in a row, which means my luck is about to turn."

"Silly mortal, my mind is so far more advanced than yours; I know what you're going to do before you do."

"Sounds to me like someone's afraid and trying to play mindgames with his opponent. Well, the joke's on you, you old fart. I don't have a mind to play games with," she stated proudly.

"Well, she's got that part right," Nyamo muttered.

The Grandmaster felt depressed. This would not present even a remote challenge. He had not been boasting when he said he could anticipate her moves. He had played so many games against so many opponents, he could read a person's stratagem by their personality alone. She would choose rock. Repeatedly, he'd wager, though he would never know since the game would be over after the first time.

They both held their hands out, ready for the duel. "I shall count," the Grandmaster said. "One. Two. Three." He held out his hand: flat and with all the fingers rubbing one another...

Yukari held hers out: her index and middle finger were the only ones pointing forward, separated.

"Yeeehaaawww!" Yukari shouted. She began dancing around, shouting at the top of her lungs. "Oh yeah! I'm great! I'm the best! Kiss this, you Mr. 'I'm the Best Game Player in the Universe'." She began shaking her butt in the Grandmaster's direction, smacking it repeatedly.

The Grandmaster could do little more than stare at his hand in disbelief. He had… lost. And to a complete moron, even by Earthling standards. It was inconceivable. On those rare occasions he lost, it was to brilliant entities whose minds could rival his own, not to someone who would be lucky if she could spell 6-D Quvastg, let alone play it. That he could lose to so simple a person in so simple a game called into question not just his ability to play rock-paper-scissors, but any game at all. It shook him to his core beliefs.

There was no other choice. He would have to start from scratch, beginning with the very game he lost. He would take a hundred years of playing the rock-paper-scissors straight to make certain he had truly mastered the game. If this proved to be true, he would move on to more sophisticated games, until he progressed to his current level again. It would take at least ten million years, but he was an Elder of the Universe. Time meant nothing to him.

Without another word he teleported away. The instant he left, the auras surrounding the girls disappeared and their bodies reverted back to normal.

Sakaki walked over to Chiyo and looked over her closely. She breathed a sigh of relief. "Cute." She shared one of her rare smiles with the diminutive girl, and ruffled her hair slightly.

"Aw, I liked having super powers." Tomo pouted.

"Making you hyperactive is like trying to make the ocean wet by throwing a bucket of water in it," Yomi informed her.

"I don't get it," Tomo said, looking at her friend in bewilderment.

As the girls breathed their sighs of relief, Nyamo walked over to Yukari. Her disbelief was as great as that of the Grandmaster.

"How did you know he'd pick paper?" Nyamo asked.

Yukari shrugged. "Actually, I didn't. I just used what I always use first: scissors."

"You always use rock first," Nyamo said.

"Huh?" Yukari scratched her head. "Oh, you're right. I do. Ha! How silly of me."

Nyamo rolled her eyes. "So basically, the only reason you were able to beat him was because he underestimated your stupidity."

Yukari appeared offended. "Hey, don't be jealous because I defeated a cosmic entity while you could only stand and watch, Miss 'I Can Bounce a Ball on my Head But Can't Manage Simple Math Problems'."

Nyamo bristled at the statement. "Oh yeah? If you're so hot, why don't we play a little game of rock-paper-scissors?" She held out her hand expectedly.

Yukari waved at her dismissively. "Sorry, you're just not in my league anymore. Now if you were the physical representation of chaos or something, sure, we could have a game or two, but right now playing you would just be a waste of my time."

"Come on. I'll even bet a dinner at the beef bowl," Nyamo insisted.

While Nyamo continued to plead and Yukari continued to refuse, Osaka finally woke up. She yawned, stretching out like a cat. She turned to the others. "I just had the weirdest dream. I dreamt we were in class, and then this Elder of the Universe showed up and gave us super powers, and then Chiyo's father began choking him, and then Yukari beat him in a game of rock-paper-scissors, and then he went away."

"Actually, that all just happened for real," Chiyo said. "Except for the part about my dad choking him."

"It did?"

"Yes," Kagura confirmed.

"Oh." Osaka scratched her head in confusion. "Say, how do I know he didn't give me superpowers before, and then I dreamed of him giving me superpowers again only to have them taken away in the dream, and I still really have superpowers and I'm just dreaming this now?"

"Um, I don't think you want to go there," Kagura warned.

It was too late. Osaka was caught up in her line of thought. "Maybe I am dreaming all of this from the beginning. Maybe if I go back to sleep, I'll wake up for real, and all of this will be gone." She yawned, laid her head on her books, and went to sleep.

And then Osaka woke up. She yawned, stretching out like a cat. She turned to the others. "I just had the weirdest dream. I dreamt that I dreamt we were in class, and then this Elder of the Universe showed up and gave us super powers, and then Chiyo's father began choking him, and then Yukari beat him in a game of rock-paper-scissors, and then he went away, and then I woke up, realized I was dreaming, and went back to sleep, only to wake up now."

Kagura sighed. "Um, Osaka, you didn't dream that. You just dozed off for a second and I shook you awake."

"Oh." Osaka scratched her head in bewilderment. "Say, how do I know I really woke up the second time, and that it's not just a dream of me having a dream and dreaming I woke up, and I'm really asleep—"

"No, we are not going there again!" Kagura said as she made Osaka stand up and began leading her out of class. They'd go to the nearest vending machine and pump enough coffee into the dreamy girl to keep her awake for the rest of the week. It had to be done, before the Moebius loop her mind was stuck on convinced Kagura she was nothing more than a dream in Osaka's mind.

 


Author's notes: Sadly, Yomi's powers were identical to those of a hero known as 'Big Bertha', who was a member of the ill-fated Great Lakes Avengers (and another reason why you never let Byrne write any more than you let Shatner direct).

And the Grandmaster did indeed empower several humans to take on the Avengers in a game against Kang (though that's not who his opponent was in this one). Originally dubbed the Squadron Supreme, (later Squadron Sinister), they were a jab at DC's Justice League of America. I was tempted to make the girls variants of the later versions of the Squadron, but resisted so I had the option of using them later, though making Chiyo a gray-haired gnome named Tom Thumb was tempting. I opted to go with more humorous titles to them.

Well, that's that. Hopefully you enjoyed.

DB Sommer

Side Story 3
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Last revision: May 21, 2007

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