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FIC: Havemercy fic (R)

So I began writing this a while back and the future of it is completely undecided.

I have a few ideas myself, but I'd like to know if there is anything you guys would like to see. I won't be writing any detailed Thom and Rook's ExcellentAdventure stuff, but I have at least written one bit of POV for Rook so they will be about. Will it be Balfour centric? Will it be survivors centric? Will there be slash between any of them? Should I just leave it as a one-shot, maybe write another chapter to finish it off?
Adamo/Balfour friendship and/or more? Some survivor butt-secks for Luvander/Ghislain? Any other pairings you would prefer? Let me know. :)

Title: Untitled (for the moment)
Author: Sam I Am
Pairing: You decide! Possibly implied future Balfour/Adamo.
Rating: Will range to at least R (Language, violence and sexual references - These are Airmen after all!)
Warnings: Possible slash; for the moment, only slash if you squint a bit...

Any and all feedback would be useful and welcomed with loving arms, so please do it.

 

i.

~~~~~~~~

 

BALFOUR

 

I was screaming. Screaming because it was all I could do. There was a tang of iron filling my mouth, the same tang that permeated the air as the crumpled mess that had been my beautiful girl sparked and shuddered, intelligible screeches leaving her in her distress, drowning out my own.

I tried to use my elbows to lift myself from the ground, grit and ash gluing itself to the gory ruin where my hands – bastion, my hands – had been. The pain from the movement was too bright and burning and my gurgling lungs shivered around another shrill moan.

Voices approached speaking in quick, foreign syllables, fearful and angry, and I knew that I was dead one way or another, could not even draw out my small, army-issued blade. Helpless, grieving laughter burbled out through the blood pooling in the back of my throat at the thought of holding the blade between my toes and fighting off the Ke-Han Empire alone. Bitterly, I considered that if Rook was here amongst the rubble of Lapis, sliced up by his own girl, he would remove his boots without a second thought. Probably could take out a few with sheer force of rage alone before the shock hit him...

“Too late,” I breathed, delirious and feeling drunk on blood loss. I stared up at the choked dawn shrouded by billowing smoke, leaving the world a burnt orange hue and tried to stand once more. The muscles in my abdomen strained as I lifted my torso shakily, trying so hard to rise, but the rubble beneath my feet was slippery and I had no balance, reeling and vomiting when I finally got to my knees. I slumped against Anastasia’s cold slim body and finally saw the Ke-Han warriors, or at least blue blurs that must’ve been Ke-Han warriors come to investigate my crash site, long blades glinting wickedly in the light of fires blazing in all directions.

One of my stumps reached towards Ana’s smooth back as if, still huffing and whining like one of those large strange creatures from the ocean that occasionally beached themselves on land, I could give her some last comfort, my girl who’d looked after my brother for years, had tried her damndest to get him home that last time.

I wondered how I could’ve once hated Anastasia for what my brother became and for his death; how I could’ve once been naive enough to overlook the poison of arrogance and reputation that Avery had swallowed willingly.

A large roaring shadow passed over me, a curtain of barely settled dust and ash being drawn up about me again in the warm current of air in its wake. The warriors that had been approaching dove for cover, all shouting to one another like chattering sparrows when an eagle is circling.

Some spine of adrenaline pierced my heart as I realised that this bird of prey was circling also, another gust rustling my charred hair as she dropped low above me a second time. I could not understand how, as low as she was, her heavy tail (a Crusher, she was a Crusher) did not crash into the devastated remains of walls surrounding me, smashing another tonne of bricks upon Ana and I. Perhaps Margrave Royston’s apprentice had been right; perhaps, the magic was being restored to our girls, our girls that had survived anyway...

She landed, a burning beast of fiery copper, growling out a warning to the Ke-Han to ‘stay the fuck away or she’d bite their heads off’ and although they probably didn’t understand her words, the menacing clank of her legs as she rolled her shoulders shattered any misinterpretation they might have had.

I was in shock I knew, unable to do more than gawp at her, at Proudmouth, for I could see it was her now, could see the long, curved horns on her brow. Strong hands dug under my armpits dragging me from the skeleton of my dragon, finally silent, her heat fading away. I could hear his gruff monologue of fluent cursing tight against my ear, a strangely soothing scrape of his stubble against the back of my neck as his forearm circled tightly across my wheezing chest, my head dropping forwards.

I must’ve made some groan of protest as he took another stilted step backwards, perhaps I even said the words clamouring in my head ‘leavemeleavemeleaveme’. Even if I didn’t say it, he read it from the weight of my body’s surrender, growling, “We’ve created enough fucking martyrs for one night, so shut the hell up. I have you.”

I did not make another sound, (Unspoken Rule No. 1 – always do as the Chief Sergeant says) even when one of my bloody, truncated forearms thudded against my own hip as Adamo traversed a huge shelf of collapsed wall.

He shoved me onto Proudmouth’s wing, hurriedly jamming his booted foot into the stirrup and flinging his other over her back with a growl of pain. There was another growl, rock against rock, and I saw the nearby wall wobble; the Ke-Han were trying to bring it down on us.

Adamo’s dark eyes were on my face behind his goggles, free hand fisting into my slashed uniform as he yanked me onto Proudmouth in front of him, his other hand pulling her rein as the dragon, with newly regained strength and balance, burst out from the remains of the tower.

No catapults fired at us on our way out, no magic caused any turbulence. I wondered how much fuel she had, if we could get over the Cobalts at the very least before we plummeted to our deaths.

But now I felt far more comfortable with dying, now when it seemed that I might not have to suffer it. My head had fallen back against Adamo’s shoulder, his scratchy chin pressed to my temple as he struggled to cling onto my frame that threatened more than once to slide from his girl’s graceful back and also tourniquet strips of his uniform around my arms one-handed, his own fingers bloodied and bruised, stiffening with cold.

I was thirsty, dazed and probably moments away from coma and yet, I’d never felt more calm in my life.

The cool mountain air was a sudden shock after the smothering heat and ash and as we glided towards the blazing white peaks, mirrors for the weak early sunlight, I turned my head towards my Sergeant; the furrowed sweat-damp skin below my nose caught on his jaw as I croaked, “How many?”

He seemed surprised I was still conscious whilst he was yanking and twisting his makeshift first-aid as tight as he could, and answered with typical stoicism, although I knew every single face of a younger man left behind weighed on him, “Ten airmen haven’t left the city.”

Ten.

Even in my disorientated state, I knew the man well enough to know that he was almost certain none of them were still alive. If the fire and wild magic and fearsomely sharp metal of their own dragons hadn’t killed them, chances are they would have injuries like mine, so severe that without expert medical attention (and maybe even with it) there would be no return to Thremedon.

An irrepressible shiver and moan ran through me. As if the constant pain needed to remind me of its presence, the pulsing, burning throb sent shudders through my core as my blood finally seemed to stop slowly seeping out of me and into the blue of my uniform, the black of Adamo’s trousers.

His body shifted around me with some innate need to protect me that I’d never expected to find in a man who had allowed the others to ceaselessly exclude and shun me. But then I’d also never expected to suddenly find that I needed the security of his arms, a vessel of numbing warmth which drove away the bite of the air from my own ravaged limbs and the subtle surety of a heart beating against my shoulder blade. There was some emotion in the Chief’s eyes I struggled through swimming vision to analyse; if Thom had been there, I’m sure he could’ve diagnosed the deeper than usual furrows in his brow, the slightly panicked and uncertain shifting of his eyes...

“Who-” Proudmouth shuddered slightly as I spoke again and for a moment, both Adamo and I froze, frightened to breathe as we passed over a ravine, the deafening roar of dragon machinery echoing back up at us from the shadowed depths. When Adamo released the sigh he’d been holding, I felt it through the ash clogging my hair and I continued hoarsely, “Who else g-got out?”

“Luvander.” His voice shuttered off around the sound, probably in an attempt to stop it quivering like I suddenly noticed his chest was. He was thrumming with anger and remnants of adrenaline as he hissed, “Fucking stupid bastard. And Ghislain almost got that heavy girl of his brought down retrieving him. It was every man for himself out there, what in hell were both those selfless bastards thinking in the first place...”

“Hypocrite.”

Adamo looked at me sharply; drained of blood as I was, I clearly hadn’t thought who I was speaking to, so I gabbled weakly, “Sorry, Chief.”

Something like pain flitted around the thin line of his mouth as he spoke quietly, voice taking on the precise tone it did when he spoke with the Esar, “I’m no hero and I’m certainly not selfless.” His jaw tightened and whatever emotion had caused the grief in his expression vanished as he looked to the horizon again, the ink of night beginning to seep away from the parchment pale sky.

He was still shaking.

I wasn’t.

Then everything span nauseatingly and the grip around my ribs tightened impossibly, making breathing difficult as Proudmouth turned, trying to glide on the wind to save fuel and heading towards an encampment of our Reds. There was a shudder and a jolt and I could hear Proudmouth’s strange metallic voice, slightly more resonant than other girls due to her size, wailing out something to Adamo. I got the distinct feeling the fuel had finally dissipated.

She began to descend faster and faster, Adamo attempting to brace himself for impact, whilst keeping me from falling to my death on the crags rising towards us. She made a wobbly path between two rock faces, close enough for a thorny shrub to graze and bloody Adamo’s cheek and ear, and I spotted tents and men beneath us, Reds, scuttling backwards and forwards like the flies Rook had occasionally de-winged for his own entertainment.

I wondered what had happened to Rook. Had I seen Havemercy fall before mine and Anastasia’s own mistake? I’d certainly seen her still flying when one of the Crushers was buried under a catapult, perhaps it had been Magoughin’s girl, Chastity. So many faces I would never see again, too many for one night, too many bunkers emptied in the Airman.

There would be no piano underscoring nights of laughter (even if much had been at my expense). None of Compagnon’s wheezy inappropriate giggling or Raphael’s pompous criticism of my love of Rolando’s work and my dislike for those epic poetry sagas he was so fond of.

Falling toward the deep blue rock below us, all I could think of was how Jeannot had never seen the ocean this close.

With so much speed, I wondered if our miraculous escape had been in vain, wondered if the last of the Dragon Corps would meet their end as they met with the unforgiving rock below. I found that I could not care either way, a detachment that scared me a little. I guess I just could not imagine my life different anymore, the life without the Dragon Corps that I had so desperately wanted before; how could I imagine living when I would never be able to pick up a roman again, never slice bread or sign my name? Never even make the mistake of staining my face with a semi-permanent blue handprint?

For a moment, I think I realised the depth of grief that had been in Adamo’s face. I had lost my hands, but I was certain that this was not as debilitating as all he had lost tonight.

“Balfour-,” Adamo said, sudden and abrupt. He often seemed to speak in such a way, as if some unexpected impulse had burst through his head and exploded as gruff sound waves before he could prevent it, but whatever he had wanted to tell me, I probably would never hear it.

The Dragon’s legs struck the ground, crumpling beneath her huge bulk and Adamo and I fell forwards with the impact. Everything cut off like a snuffed-out candle and the pain finally dissipated.

 

 

ADAMO

 

I’d been the one to recruit him. Barely a fucking week after Avery had died, back when the fighting had been bad, four years before Rook decided to get us all enrolled in etiquette lessons.

Balfour’d been too old, hardly within the usual ‘trainable’ age range we stuck to at the Airman. He was skinny, bookish and hated anything and everything that happened to do with the Dragon Corps. However, Anastasia, prissy little bitch that she was, had demanded Balfour, of all people. She’d seen lines of ‘suitors’, strong capable boys, but she’d continued to sniff and turn her snout up at them, refusing any but her fallen rider’s brother.

The war was going badly and th’Esar decided we couldn’t afford to be one perfectly capable dragon down, not after losing one of our older Swifts, Ursa, and one of our more experienced airman, Faine, at the beginning of the year.

Written requests for him had been politely refused and I’d gotten just about as close to marching down there with a couple of airmen (the biggest bastards I could find) and dragging the brat kicking and screaming back to the Airman, when I received an invite to put forward my proposal in person; of course, that horseshit wasn’t from Balfour, not that I really cared as long as I could complete my orders.

So I waited in the drawing room of their Miranda Townhouse, declining all offers of refreshment and seating from the painfully helpful staff, instead standing still as a statue in the centre of the room filled with fancy porcelain and dark, expensive wood.

Despite the finery, this wasn’t the family’s main residence. Only Balfour had been staying there, for reasons I didn’t know at the time. When the rumour’d circulated that the rest of General’s family had ‘relocated to their far smaller and more modest residence from their vast country estate in order to attend Avery’s funeral and spend a month in mourning’, I personally thought it was just a load of bollocks covering up the father moving to a better location to bully Balfour into taking his brother’s position.

As usual, I was right. Avery’s father, a retired General, striking as hell with scars scraped at least a centimetre deep into his face, could be heard discussing my proposition (voice hardly attempting discretion) with his youngest son, a shame to the family for his lack of interest in following a military career, or so the gossiping noblesse (and, therefore, Jeannot) claimed.

My intended recruit. A boy only just inside his teens, who disdained the Dragon Corps.

I hadn’t fucking signed up for diplomacy when th’Esar offered me Chief Sergeant.

I sighed softly and awaited my inclusion in this family feud. It wouldn’t be long as it seemed the ‘weedy’ brother Avery’d described to us all was losing the battle.

Sure enough, the boy was soon coerced into the room with a discrete hand clamped around his elbow, dark eyes intrigued with the patterns of floorboards beneath my booted feet as if I was standing on some novelty doormat with Lady Greylace on it.

(Ask Compagnon. Esar’s Day gift for his collection. You wouldn’t believe the shit Niall can dig up at the Hapenny market for a chevronet or two.)

“Chief Sergeant Adamo,” the General nodded his head stiffly and propelled his son forwards a few paces. Balfour’s eyes didn’t rise as his father left like any General I’d met – quicker than you could say ‘yellow Cindy’ - and firmly shut the door.

He said nothing while I told him the same thing I’d written in all those letters.

“You understand the importance of getting her up flying again?”

Balfour just raised his jaw, the only strong feature his face had recommending it, and said with a soft precise tone of someone no doubt more well-read than me, “I have been ordered to understand and so I do.”

I just grunted. At least, the brat was wise enough to know not to disobey th’Esar’s orders.

I mostly ignored him for a year or two. Sounds like cruelty, but with a war and 12 other airmen, all who seemed to cause damage on a far wider scale than just within the Airman, I had other concerns.

Balfour never learnt to integrate with them fully, except in the air. At least, Anastasia had been right in her choice, even if the airmen (mainly Rook) persisted that she was just a snob like her rider.

Of course the only reason Rook said so was because he missed Avery, the only one that could probably have matched my most troublesome dragon rider in overconfidence, vulgarity and misconduct. It hadn’t helped that Balfour’d been a gifted flyer from the moment he got up in the air, a fact that’d always riled Rook, whose first attempt had ended in bruised pride and a dented dragon.

He was efficient and clean, left his boots on the rack instead of on the fucking mat like Merritt, never snuck out more food than was his share and never complained when it was his share that was short (as was often the case). The only similarity between he and Avery, other than looks, was the aristocratic posture that meant he could easily manoeuvre his way around the common room when packed with airmen without spilling his drink (non-alcoholic, of course) or jostling anyone else’s and fly a dragon between guard towers that were only yards apart.

Even Ivory, mostly silent without piano keys under his fingers, had at least some aura surrounding him that subtly changed the atmosphere in a room by his presence alone; Balfour blended in with the pale, neutral paint on the walls.

Then a harsh winter struck and with it sickness. Despite being built like a dragon himself, Magoughin fell ill first. Even managed to keep working for a day or two before he collapsed. If th’Esar and his magicians ever found a way of harnessing the power of my men’s bravado and stubborn pride, I’m pretty certain they could flatten the Cobalts in fucking minutes and we’d all be out of a job.

Raphael, Ghislain, Merritt and Niall all caught it within the space of two days; we were being decimated from within and I had a bastion of a headache.

I knew I was sick. Just as I knew Rook was putting up a show (his hair, the third dearest thing to him other than Have and his pretty knives, looked neglected and not quite as peacock blue as usual) and of course, he and Ace were bluffing and goading each other until they had their feet slipping into the stirrups and I had to forcibly order them to stand the fuck down or I’d lock them in their bunkers. Privately, I think they were both relieved that neither of them would have to crash their girl just to prove they were the stronger.

It was stupid to order my airmen to stand down and not discharge myself from duty when I’d been only a day or two behind them as far as the infection went and knew it. But we were three crushers down and me and Compagnon were already pulling double-shifts just to cope with the crazy fucking mess that was the Dragon Corps - Volstov’s best spluttering, fainting, fever-ridden line of defence.

I was out of it when I mounted Proudmouth and we soared out of the Airman along with Ivory and Luvander. The old girl knew it as well as I did, although she said nothing. We were both on edge because of it though, our natural connection frayed, and it was little surprise that while swerving a boulder from one of the Ke-Han catapults, she moved one way and I moved the other.

If my glove hadn’t got caught in her harness, I would’ve given the Ke-Han battlements below me a brand spanking new red paint job.

As it was, I dislocated my shoulder, shattered my wrist as well as slicing a deep painful-as-fuck gash along one thigh on her side. A duck and weave later and I had the wind knocked out of me as I landed on the saddle, no doubt cracking my ribs. I managed to swivel on the seat until I was sat upright, Proudmouth roaring at me and using words you’d be surprised a lady like her, one of the older (and slightly more ‘polished’) girls, would know.

Ivory, silent as a ghost, drew up alongside and stayed there on our way back to Thremedon, frowning and rolling his eyes like a governess in charge of a clumsy child, ensuring – with theatrical reluctance - I didn’t take another fall. I spent the journey cursing him under my breath and thinking up excuses for giving the rat bastard dog rations.

We got back to the hangar and Luvander was a shade greener than he’d been when he left once he’d wiped off some of the soot from his face and neck, wheezing gutturally before picking his time perfectly to take a few steps forward and crumple like a snowperson on the wrong end of a booted kick. I was close to it I knew and Ivory, as usual, spoke only with a long-suffering – irritating-as-fuck - sigh, looked between the two of us, and then began dragging Luvander towards the bunkers.

Halfway along the corridor to the medical room, excruciating minutes later, I was met by Balfour. If it was possible, he was paler than he usually was (although still not as pale as Ivory); circles around his eyes made him look exhausted, but they were bright and alert beneath heavy lids like someone who hasn’t slept for so long that he’s forgotten he’s tired.

Unlike all the others, Balfour had come to me the moment he began to feel unwell and requested leave until he was fit to fly again, as was the correct and widely ignored procedure. But just like all the others, he was stubbornly pushing himself to the limit, spending his nights and days running errands and helping the healers.

“Ivory said you were in a bad way,” he explained in a pitiful attempt at placating me as he reached for my good arm to pull across his narrow shoulders and began aiding my slow hobble towards a place I could rest.

By this point, I was already seven shades of pissed off, flight-filthy and feeling half-dead. I knew that spitting out protests that I could manage myself would do no good. It was quite clear that that pasty whoreson Ivory’d decided (however rightly) to take over my command and that I was expected to comply.

Grunting and wobbling, we managed to get into the medical room and I sat on the edge of the bed there; out of mind as I was, it took me a few seconds to realise Balfour was scrubbing his hands.

“What the bastion are you doing?”

He turned to me and I was irritated to find that I hadn’t managed to intimidate him. To be honest, I doubted he had enough energy to feel any fear and instead he just reached for the healer’s kitbag sat beside the sink, “Merritt’s taken a really bad turn. I’ve never seen him so still before. He’s too sick to transfer to the sanatorium and so the healers have their hands full.”

Balfour approached slowly as if I were a wild snapping dog, more dangerous injured than healthy, just waiting for him to stray too close to my jaws. As one pale hand reached forward to gently rest against my good shoulder, I was tempted to bite him anyway.

“Injuries?” He said, eyes already clinically trailing up and down my frame, taking particular note of the hang of my arm and the gash on my thigh.

“Shoulder’s dislocated,” I grunted as he got out alcohol wash, ripped my trouser leg further apart and with an apologetic flick of his eyes up to mine, poured a fair amount of that nasty burning shit over my leg. The grunt turned into more of a gulped-down scream and he cleaned away the grime that’d managed to encrust my leg through the slash in my uniform. I took in deep breaths through my nose and growled, “And my wrist’s broken. Possibly some ribs, but I think they’re just brui – ugh – it’s fucking clean now, alright!”

Balfour just calmly placed the cloth, now a grim rust colour, on the bed next to me and, handed me an oilskin bag filled with ice which I immediately held to my shoulder as he said quietly, “I only have ice to numb with. You’ll need it to reduce the swelling, but as far as pain relief goes I don’t have anything stronger for when I reduce your shoulder. So you’ll just have to hold that there, while I sew up this cut.” He moved to the spirit lamp sat on the side, bringing back a red hot needle that had been heating on it and thin thread. I watched his hands and was surprised at the ease in which he threaded the needle and began, painfully, to close the edges of my wound together.

Rook would probably have made some sort of comment about Cindy tailors.

I tried not to flinch too much as flinching jolted nerves throughout the battered left side of my body and instead muttered, “Where’d you learn that?”

Balfour froze for a moment surprised, although he kept his eyes on his task, “I wanted to be a healer. I’d been volunteering at the city sanatorium since I was 16. I’d just started training when you brought me here.”

The needle slipped sleek and sharp through my skin again, the stitches close together and neat. It didn’t take him half as long as I would’ve thought, every sweep and pull of his hand - through, up, back – showing the dedicated hours of practice.

I guess a man who’d found his passion in life and knew it wasn’t flying and burning the hell out of the Ke-Han had never stood a chance of fitting in.

He finished and tied a secure knot at the end, eyes finally meeting mine again.

At first, I put the small satisfied and reassuring quirk of his mouth down to bedside manner. I didn’t have much time to think on it at the time, what with popping my arm back into place without anything to dull the pain.

Later, I think I realised it was the first time I’d seen him smile. And not long after that, I realised that by noticing Balfour was easily overlooked, I’d actually studied him closer than the boys who were boisterous and loud and broke the fucking windows or furniture when one of their games or fights - both indistinguishable from each other - got out of hand. Close enough to know I hadn’t seen him smile, that the only foodstuff he was pissed about when it was stolen was marmalade, and that he spent most of the time at functions stood at the edge of the room, pulling his gloves on and off and wringing them in his hands, studiously ignoring and being ignored by his Father.

During the three delirious, fever-burning days that followed, the door to my bunker always seemed to be clicking shut when I opened my eyes, the cushion on the chair beside me squashed; the moments of fever-dream in between mainly consisted of his hand and a needle – through, up, back - over and over.

 

The image of pale slender fingers was burnt into my eyelids, haunting my dreams even once the fever had passed; the moment I saw Balfour slumped against his dragon, buried in ash and dust and rubble, arms a gory mess in his lap, I knew I couldn’t even keep him out of my nightmares any longer.

 

 

 

.

A/N: The floor is yours...

Sam
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Comments

Very nice. ^^ I wasn't sure whether first-person was going to work for characters we only saw in third, but you did a nice job of expanding on the 'verse, here. ♥ I do hope you plan on more. :3
Writing for characters we don't really know so well is hard, but easy in some ways too. I really want to try and get a different tone for everyone I try (because Jaida and Dani did it so well), but we shall see if I succeed.

I am planning on doing more. Currently I'm in the middle of End of Year exams for University (YIKES!) but then I have a LONG summer ahead of me, so it'll be on its way eventually!

Thank you for your review.
That was awesome, but you should definitely do more. And hey, throwing in some Ghislain/Luvander or just slash in general wouldn't hurt, I'm sure. :P
I'm really glad you liked it and there WILL be more in a couple of weeks or so.

Right you are. Something about Ghislain/Luvander begs for slash. I think I was always going to write them as a pairing even if other characters were just friends. But we shall see where the boys take me on this one.
Beautiful. Balfour likes marmalade! Well of course he does. How could he not? It still baffles me how well you get inside the minds and characters and lives of everyone you write. Poor, poor boy with no hands T_T

Some buttsecks would be a great addition I think ^_^
I love you, my little button mushroom.

Any review you give brightens my day considerably.

Can't wait to see you on the 5th or 6th of June. :)
wow, it was like reading the teaser for book two, dang, your really know your stuff!
More please :)
That is probably the greatest compliment a girl can get when writing fanfiction so thank you so much. It means a lot when people enjoy what you've written and feel it emulates the original. :D

For Balfour's POV (and what shall probably end up being a snippet of Luvander's first) especially, I tried to make sure I understood a lot of what happened at Lapis. I don't like to make mistakes and have people call me up on them! ha ha

More in a (fortnight-length) jiffy!

May 2009

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