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#16701 Posted by Feral Nova (57584 posts) - - Show Bio

There was also the chance...of Zeon finding out where she was. Which was the worst scenario--she didn't want to see her sister.

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#16702 Edited by Arceus_Aurelius-Rex (468 posts) - - Show Bio

Somewhere in Gothic...

The ice clinks in the glass. An indication of another downed malt whisky. It helps to blur out the things I need to forget, to bring the life I used to lead back where it belongs. In the haze of the past, if my past can even be said to "belong" to me.

My childhood? Non-existent. Training, lecture, indoctrination, initiation, repeat. That's all it ever was. A series of tests and proofs that I was fit to be an Aurelius, and not just any Aurelius, but inheritor of my father's will. To ensure freedom and slay those that would steal it away, anywhere they might be found, by any means, in any form. To extinguish even the chance of tyranny, to never balk from the most heinous of acts, to slay those inheritors of evil's will down to the last man, the last woman, the last child, should it come to it.

That is my inheritance. And I tried to live up to the standard for as long as he tried to instill it in me. But I was weak. Incomplete. Unwhole.

I was never the man he wanted me to be, but I was a boy, what could I do? He abandoned me with my paternal family after my mother... after she passed.

He abandoned me with my Uncle Dante, a man who became more a father to me than my own could ever be. Until the waters took his sanity, until he betrayed everything the Aurelius ever believed in. I'll drink another to him, another for every dead cousin, every dead uncle and aunt. But I get ahead of myself...

I stayed with them for a few years, learned their ways, their values, but part of me didn't believe. Didn't want to believe. I had grown with a man who saw violence not as an answer to tyranny, but as the answer, the answer to almost any injustice in the world. He taught me to use it freely, with wild abandon. I wanted to try a different route. To uplift the people until they themselves could determine what was justice on their own, to build things rather than tear them down, to give rather than to take. In acts of creation I saw freedom from a different tyranny, the oppression of need. I could provide clean water for the thirsty, food for the hungry, vaccinations for the vulnerable.

Through my father's manipulations I saw the errors of my ways, the ease with which what I had built was claimed or corrupted. The woman who had shown me such things just another agent of manipulation, another pawn in a long game I didn't realize I was playing. When he did reveal the truth, it all just became so pointless. My life was fabricated from the very beginning so that I might end up just another warrior, another proud standard bearer for the great Clan Aurelius. That's why I drink. That's why I try to forget. Because I am not my own man, I am a tool. I am whatever they want me to be. Whatever hewants me to be.

Not anymore. No one wants me to sit here and while away my life, drink myself into a stupor night after night, kill myself by drowning my liver. But I'll do it. Do it just to prove I can. That I'm my own man. Yeah. This will show them.

I slam back another three shots of whatever the bartender's been feeding me. Could be Windex for all I know or care.

.

.

.

Bar's closed. Guy guides me out by an arm. I stumble along the wall, vaguely aware that my surroundings have changed. 'Tender walks back inside. Over in the alley's a girl, gotta be teens or early twenties, is getting mugged. The old Gothic standard greeting. She's wrestling for her purse, guy's gonna slice her arm off in a 'sec. You can tell by the way he's starting to shift the knife so it's more secure in the grip.

I stumble over. Alcohol's hitting me uncharacteristically hard tonight, but I was hitting the bottle just as hard, so it makes more sense the more I think about it. No time for that, though. Thinking.

I call out some slurring drunken nonsense. Syllables run together as all the words I want to say seem to rush my mouth at once. He turns to look at me, pointing the knife, threat clear in his eyes. I decide not to try and elaborate. Throw a nice, whippy round kick to the head.

I swear his head explodes. Drunk. Can't really control the force that my muscles or my mind put out at the moment. I stumble off to the side, lean against a wall and look down. His skull's intact. Mostly. My shin just smashed into his nose. Broke it bad. Blood's gushing out of there like Ol' Faithful on the best of days.

I figure he'll probably be fine. That he deserves it if he won't. Girl's long gone by the time I look up. Better that way. I'm in no condition to hash out a police report anyhow. Then I turn, and I can feel them. Eyes on me. Figure it's his buddies here for a little vengeance. I'm half right. Vengeance look-alike. Girl.

One I just saved? Probably not. Either way, her eyes look like they have questions. I wait. Common courtesy and all that.

Slip a pack out of my jacket pocket.

Filthy habit. Another bit of unwillful inheritance from my father.

@paragonxxx (Apex)

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#16703 Edited by Blue_Ghost (119 posts) - - Show Bio

@xundar: @nordok

Blue smiles when the lock down happens, "About time." Time for a distraction.

A large military truck comes barreling it's way towards one of the exits of this facility with no apparent driver in the seat. The guards start shooting at it, of course, but Blue shoots a barrel in the back of the truck and causing it to explode. Then she runs in the opposite direction and she sets another truck loose for the same exit. A timed explosive device eventually activates and causes the truck to explode, sending the guards into a frenzy and most of them in other parts of the facility go and check out the explosions that are happening.

Blue, having transformed herself into a Hawk, flies away.

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#16704 Posted by Apex_Predator87 (112 posts) - - Show Bio

@arceus_aurelius-rex: (OOC: Thank you and sorry for the delay >.<).

No Caption Provided

Apex watches all this within the shadow of a building, ready for action just in case Arceus is not up for the task in his current drunken state. There's a reason she chose now of all times to test him, to see what he would do under the circumstances.

By the time the man turns around, Apex steps out of the shadows. When she speaks, her voice is disguised, distorted, to give no hint about who she is or might be. But her voice is clear enough to be understood and no hint of an accent can be heard other than she's obviously American.

Then Apex gives a hard look at the would be victim of a failed mugging and says, "Leave. Now."

And the woman grabs her purse, quickly says her thanks to Arceus and runs off. Now that the two of them are alone, Apex looks at Arceus, "Even drunk you handled that like a pro. Nice work."

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#16705 Posted by Penalty (170 posts) - - Show Bio

The brick connected with the back of the fleeing tough's head with a sound that reminded Penalty of a coconut. The man's startled grunt was cut off as he ate the pavement, sliding forward several feet from his own momentum before laying still.

Crud.

He slowly looked around vacant lot that comprised his latest battlefield, hoping to find some signs of consciousness. Most of the 27th Street Gang was out for the count, and the few that were still twitching probably didn't have enough wits to give him any useful information.

Not that most of these meatheads would, anyways.

This was becoming frustrating. He'd been shaking down every scumbag he came across for several nights, and even the ones he'd persuaded to talk didn't have much to say. The city was completed terrified of the demon-man who stole people's faces. Pen had to admit that, all things considered, this was a pretty reasonable fear, but it didn't help him, any. A new crime boss, a vigilante...someone would know something. But a serial killer with his own army of assassins? He might as well be looking for leprechauns.

Well, only thing for it was to keep making noise and hope that maybe some info would come to him, instead of the other way around. Laying his bat over his shoulders, he sauntered into the nearest alley, whistling a jaunty tune, not really caring if anyone noticed him.

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#16706 Posted by Clara Mass (8750 posts) - - Show Bio

It was dangerous, working for the same facility her doppelganger now owned, but Clarissa accepted the risk. She needed the resources from the Humanity Now Institute, especially the files of misdirected mutant youth. So, she welcomed herself into the devil's mouth with a promising if not charming smile. It made Elena blush, so much so she briefly lost track of time when she peered into those piercing violet eyes. There was something about Clarissa that felt so...familiar?

"CAN YOU CALL FOR HELP!!?" There was a commanding scream bellowing outward from the front desk, the noise threw both women off. For Elena, she snapped out of her state of curiosity. For Clarissa, however, she could hear a faint ticking sound inside her head like a clock seconds away from midnight. It took her a minute before shook her senses came back, the hand of Elena resting on her should with a comforting reassurance.

"Don't be scared, Clarissa. You'll get used to Gothic soon enough. Trust me." Together the two social workers walked to the entrance of Gothic City's only Humanity Now clinic. It was after they exited the office space that the ringing inside Clarissa's head got louder. She could feel telekinetic vibrations on her skin. There was someone important in her vicinity, someone meaningful, the kind of someone she'd been looking for, but when Clarissa looked at the person standing at the desk all she saw was some dainty millennial acting like the institute was an emergency service responder.

"Can we help you, miss..?" Clarissa took a few steps forward to @lebreau_liafador with her hands raised. Although it was an unnecessary precaution, the weakened reality warper had reasonable concern. The last time she felt this kind of energy, her prime counterpart left her hospitalized for nearly a year. So, she approached the young woman with concern but that concern was only for herself.

"My name is Clarice...I mean Clarissa Pearson. I'm going to need you to calm down. We can help you. Just tell me. What's happening?" The former politician knew her way around a screaming millennial. Often times they needed a good coddling. This one, however, spoke with a call to action. She'd seen something. A fire in the distance. She wanted to help, but she came here instead. A divine intervention, Clarissa believed. She could sense the heroic nature about the young girl. Clarissa knew she could have done without the panic secretary scrambling for her phone. She could have acted on her own, but actively chose not to. Coupled with the ticking sound inside her head, Clarissa knew when to act on an opportunity when she saw one.

"Take her there." Using her power of coercion, the mistress of mayhem attempted to telepathically suggest the girl take her to the fire. If this thought penetrated her thoughts, Lebreau would hear it as her own thought rather than a strangers. Clarissa hoped the girl would act on the heroic instinct she initially tried to push away in hopes of testing her true self's conviction.

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#16707 Edited by Arceus_Aurelius-Rex (468 posts) - - Show Bio

Out of the shadows, she creeps to me, voice like a desperate rapper, tuned by machines 'til there's nothing left but digital noise that assails the eardrums. I brush back my hair, still woozy from the dying adrenaline intermingling with heavily alcohol coursing through my system, and light the cigarette. I know it doesn't actually ease the nerves, but it clears my need for nicotine at least, and that's something. I exhale, eyes on the ground finally raking over the no doubt bulletproof fetish suit before I address her.

"'Pro,' huh? That's not a very high bar for professionalism you've set there, but I guess this is Gothic. Warnings are optional." Sizing her up, she seems tall, taller than I am. Powerfully built too. Hard to believe I ever missed her, but that may be a testament to the influence of liquor rather her skill in stealth. "So, you gonna 'bring me in' for messing around on your turf? Or is this just a professional meet-and-greet sort of deal?"

@paragonxxx@apex_predator87

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#16708 Posted by Apex_Predator87 (112 posts) - - Show Bio

@arceus_aurelius-rex:

Apex gives no hint of any kind of emotion, remaining passive so that he can't read her. But she studies him, even now. Wondering, calculating the odds. Arceus could have killed that man, but didn't. "If I was going to bring you in, you'd be in hand cuffs right now."

Apex says it matter of factly, like it's not even up for debate in her mind. She's done her research on Arceus, she knows what he is capable of. And she is fully confident she can take him down if she needed to. But today, they aren't enemies. She's looking for something. Soon enough, he will find out what she is looking for.

"To answer your question, this is a professional meet-and-greet, but also an interview. Time is precious so I'll keep this brief. Why didn't you kill him? You could have."

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#16709 Posted by Arceus_Aurelius-Rex (468 posts) - - Show Bio

"Meet-'n-greet. Wonderful. Didn't even know I'd applied anywhere, so to make it to the interview process... Hooray for me."

But why didn't I kill him? Hmm... Why indeed....

"Don't know. Didn't seem... worth it. He just didn't meet the criteria, I guess." I take another long drag, killing the cigarette in hand and flicking it into a nearby bin. Rat scurries out.

"You've got all kinds of evil here in Gothic, and lots of it. This guy? He's small fry. Not even a drop in the bucket compared to the worst the city's seen." Whip out another cigarette. I'm starting to balance out, balance is getting better. "'Sides, maybe the guy's got family, or kids, or lost his job (cuz God knows there aren't enough of those around here), and suddenly he's got to do whatever he can to live, to survive in this funked up city..."

Conjecture. Hypotheticals. A practice in empathy that my father would say only serves to weaken resolve, but hey, I can't help it.

"I'm not gonna blame a guy for taking what he sees as his only way out. It's not his fault that people abandoned this place. That a president chose to drop it from the union and let terrorists and thugs take over. Nah. That's a problem that goes way higher up. That's just somebody up top polling for better numbers who figures that he'd fix the economy by dropping the biggest drain. That's some funk washing his hands and saying 'It's not my problem' when thousands of people are hurting, dying because he didn't have to balls to fix the issue, and instead chose to just drop it in somebody else's lap."

As I speak I can hear the bile filling my words, tinting them with that same bitterness I've felt all my life, but when I look at the bastard whose head nearly exploded, I feel... pity. Pity more than anything.

"That's why I didn't kill him. It's not his fault. Not entirely..."

A wisp of smoke catches my eye. Cig's still lit.

I drop it, stomp it out. It's lost its taste.

@apex_predator87

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#16710 Posted by Apex_Predator87 (112 posts) - - Show Bio

@arceus_aurelius-rex:

Apex listens to mild rant and does not argue with him. Right or wrong, she doesn't voice her opinion about what he said either way. She's not here to debate politics or the state of Gothic City. Usually the Justice League Alliance does not condone killing, which is why she wants to know why Arceus didn't kill that man. But would he be a good fit for the team or would he be too much of a loose cannon?

"So, you will kill someone but it depends on who he, or she, is and the circumstances. Your not afraid to make the hard calls and live with the consequences. Does that about sum it up?"

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#16711 Posted by Arceus_Aurelius-Rex (468 posts) - - Show Bio

@apex_predator87:

"Yeah. I guess that just about does it. Now why don't you tell me why we're here, and what this interview is for, exactly?"

I shift my footing, stop leaning against the wall, get some space to maneuver. She's probing for something, but for what, I don't know. The uncertainty makes me uncomfortable. Jumpy. I try to calm my nerves, but those clad in armored costumes are too often looking for a fight, and while nothing suggests that now, it's better to be needlessly prepared than caught off guard.

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#16712 Posted by HumansFirst (264 posts) - - Show Bio

Streets smell like wet dog and piss, and the soil's even worse. 's gonna be a hard night if I gotta absorb some a that junk later...

Diaz's battered SUV rolled slowly down the run down Gothic streets, over pavement cracked and disjointed from age, inattention, and constant battle, his eyes always scanning the horizon. The rumors of a blood-red devil prowling the streets of Gothic had been spread since long before his assault on the Khan, only he had never bothered to pay attention. Could this supposed savior be the same demon who had wrought such carnage on the now demolished Khan? The one who had killed with wild abandon, skinned his foes and left the remains as war banners declaring his intent? The one who'd kidnapped the kid and dragged her into God knows where? There was really only one way to tell.

Well, maybe more than one.

He stopped the vehicle in an empty alleyway, popping the trunk open with a prolonged press on the remote. His thumb then skated over the control in a complex combination of button presses, and, after a short delay, the hidden compartment built into the trunk's bottom clicked open to reveal a bevy of armaments. He observed them idly, his mind still turning the possibilities on how to best draw him out.

Lessee here... Gonna need a fittin' lure... Damsel in distress? Murder-crazed mugger? Nah, f*ck it. Let's go classic...

Diaz lifted his choice from among the armored car's arsenal, shifting the weight from where it dug into his shoulder, flakes of dried dirt shearing off under the heft of the Type-69 RPG's significant weight.

Terrorism.

His hand traced over the selection of ammunition contained within the vehicles armored shell, each tucked into its own piece of protective foam lining.

Anti-personnel incendiary, huh? That aughta do the trick. Thermobaric'll work real nice too... Don't think I'll need HEAT. Nobody's told me 'bout no tanks prowlin' around lately.

'Course it really all depends on what I'm hittin'...

His eyes shifted upward, toward the city's skyline. There were plenty of large buildings that would burn or blow nicely, but few were populated, making an attack on them nearly pointless. Without lives at stake there would be no way to lure out the city's notorious defender, its ever vigilant guardian, the one man who might have knowledge on the extralegal activities of the blood red vigilante.

I suppose I could always try n' ask nicely, o'course, but where's the fun in that? Lesse then... Hospital'd be awful attention grabbin'. He'd definitely havta respond ta that. 'Course there's always that new eyesore gone up in tha last couple months. Go after that, and I'm pretty sure I'd be doin' the city a favor...

Yeah. Why not? Let's go with that.

Grant Diaz slammed the compartment and the trunk shut, secured his vehicle, and began his trek through Gothic's lawless streets. To all who viewed him, he was just another heavily armed gangster flashing his latest terrifying acquisition. He took care to change garb and mannerisms as needed to blend in with the local gangs, deflecting the attention of Gothic's heavily territorial, almost primal, underworld elements. It would be a half-hour walk to get close enough to ensure accuracy, probably another ten or fifteen to find a decent vantage, and that was only if he made it there without delay, which, in Gothic, was unlikely to say the least.

C'mon on out little birdy... Don't make me set fire to the forest just to hear you sing...

@hawkshade

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#16713 Posted by Apex_Predator87 (112 posts) - - Show Bio

@arceus_aurelius-rex:

Always being the keen detective, she knows from his body language and the way he positions himself that he is ready for a fight. Good, She thinks, He's prepared in case this goes bad. He has good instincts.

Obliging him, Apex goes right to the point, "I want you to join a team called the Justice League Alliance. We could use someone like you."

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#16714 Edited by Arceus_Aurelius-Rex (468 posts) - - Show Bio

@apex_predator87:

"Justice League Alliance, huh? And what exactly are you all about? 'Cuz I've been on a team before, and the last time I was on one I ended up losing years of my life just to get jerked around like a goddamn puppet. So tell me, what makes you guys worth joining? What do you want to accomplish? 'Cuz if it's just another fool's crusade, I'll go ahead and take a pass."

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#16715 Posted by Apex_Predator87 (112 posts) - - Show Bio

@arceus_aurelius-rex:

Apex hopes it's a team he will want to join, but if not then she will have to look somewhere else. So, she states the purpose of the team, "The purpose of the Justice League Alliance is to handle threats to the United States and Earth's security - both terrestrial and extraterrestrial - beyond the power of conventional enforcement groups. Our last mission had us deal with the God of War himself, Ares. Yes, he's real or at least someone claiming to be him. We used to be Black Ops, but we're out in the public now. We want to accomplish world peace, but that is a never ending battle in my personal opinion. But we do good work, I wouldn't be a part of it if I thought it was a waste of time. Sound interesting enough?"

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#16716 Edited by Arceus_Aurelius-Rex (468 posts) - - Show Bio

@apex_predator87:

A thousand bitter dismissals swirl in my head, each one more caustic than the last as I run through them. Soon a list forms for why theirs is a pointless venture, why they're grasping at an unattainable prize.

I could list for them the ways in which evil is ever-present and always growing, while noting how good men are few and ever vanishing. I could tell them that humanity itself simply bends toward tyranny and hate, that to buck the trend is to die struggling pointlessly against a merciless tide, as so many of my kin have discovered over the years.

But this they must know. How could they not? They must have seen what I have. They too must have stared into the void, but unlike I their gaze was unflinching. They chose to stare into the black, to venture forth into its dark harbors and tie their own fates unto its cracked and perilous piers. They are braver than I.

But it is not too late. Not too late to shirk off the cursed mantle of my father, to take up arms for the helpless, as my forebearers might have, had they been born in my place. I raise my eyes to hers once more, my fate decided, my lot tied to theirs in the dark and stormy waters of a battle as old as man, one they know will long outlive them.

"Yeah. It's interesting alright."

I extend my hand to clasp hers, cementing whatever bond this is, whatever oral contract I've just entered.

"I'm in. So, where do we go from here?"

We can move this to the JLA thread now if you like or continue here. Whatever works.

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#16717 Edited by Shield-Maiden (1427 posts) - - Show Bio

Gothic City, one of the largest cities in America, but also the most wicked. Like Corinth during ancient times, the city was filled with glamorous buildings, and enjoyed it's mass abundance. The rich plunged themselves in wealth while the poor drowned in poverty. Just like the Corinthians, the politicians were corrupt and did little to combat prostitution and other criminal actives, plaguing the city. Gothic City was the worst place to live, at least according to what everyone told her. But, Helena saw everything in a different light. Visiting a vile place like this, gave her a purpose until she left for her journey to Delphi to seek out Apollo. She heard tales of mysterious heroes attempting to wipe the darkness from the city through unorthodox methods, but their attempts seemed futile, at least to her. They brought fear into the hearts of the unlawful, yet crime continued to swell and fester. Helena was here to show a different method and to get away from being stuck on a floating headquarters. Her strategic plan was complicated. Forcecorrupt politicians to reveal their crimes to the public and allow the people to vote in politicians who would be tougher on crime and uphold their oaths. While that was underway, she would tackle the crime looming over the city. It was not a simple plan, but one that will free the people of tyranny...eventually.

Lotophagus, the first popular Greek restaurant, was Helena's first target. According to the media, the restaurant was booming with popularity, despite the restaurant being hit with multiple investigations. Multiple reports of residents entering the restaurant and disappearing haunted the outlet, yet they continued to attract the populous. One customer even told a reporter, he was so addicted to the menu there, he could not leave. Gathering vital intelligence from the rooftop for a couple of days, Helena realized costumers were actually living at the restaurant, continuing to indulge themselves with the food there. Either the costumers really enjoyed the menu or something more was at play. Standing behind a long line that led into the restaurant, Helena gazed into the restaurant sign. "LOTOPHAGUS."Something about that name flared in her brain, but she couldn't put the pieces together. Finally entering the restaurant, music notes entered her ears.

"Then you're left in the dust, unless I stuck by ya

You're the sunflower, I think your love would be too much

Or you'll be left in the dust, unless I stuck by ya

You're the sunflower, you're the sunflower."

As the music played in her brain, she began to dissect the lyrics. That name. The lyrics. It was all too familiar. The lyrics was a warning, she knew that much, but what was the warning her about. Wanting to continue her intelligence gathering, Helena moved in with the crowd. It was time to put her acting skills to the test. She wore a beautiful vintage Grecian dress from the 1970s, one a goddess would surely wear. The color was seafoam green, which was an interesting choice of shade. Aphrodite was born from seafoam due to her father, Ouranos. The fabric of the dress was soft and slinky, allowing her to move with grace. Fastened around her waist, a heavy goldtone shell clasp belt gleamed as if King Midas stroked the object himself. A long triangular dagger, known as a Parazonium, was strapped to her right thigh, concealed and ready to be used at a moment's notice. Her metallic vambraces gave off a lustrous glow as if they were polished. Strolling to the center of the restaurant, her hips swaying back and forth as she moved with elegance, bringing light to a city, full of darkness as she walked. "Aye, lad-I mean, madam, we are full with tas-we are full today as you can see. But, we can sit you with a partner, if that is what you wish?"The waiter asked with a crooked grin. Helena smiled as she stopped in front of the tall man. "That would be lovely, thank you." She said before following him to the person, she would be seated with. Was this an American thing? She asked herself confusingly.

No Caption Provided

@hawkshade

My apologies if the post was too long, I am trying to learn to shorten my post, lol.
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#16718 Edited by Hawkshade (4606 posts) - - Show Bio

@shield-maiden:

"Right this way sir."

Richard followed.

Music washed over him and the waiter as the billionaire was lead to the table. "I'm sorry sir but we are so crowded that another guest will be seated at your table."

He raised an eyebrow. "Oh? Fine."

Then he was seated and looked around. The restaurant was as crowded as he had been lead to believe. Some of the patrons were sweaty as if they hadn't bathed in days. Bloated. Signs of diabetic stress and sleeplessness. As if they had been here for days doing nothing but eating.

Drugged? He wondered as he adjusted the cuff links on his Kiton suit, dark navy blue with a white shirt and a black tie. Dignified. Classic.

He had begun to grow his hair and and he brushed it back with a hand while he perused the menu. Something is keeping these people here. But what?

Footsteps. Richard looked up, blue eyes sweeping the crowd and then he saw her. A blue dress and beautiful. Richard was no stranger to beautiful women but she was above them somehow. As if she were a divine figure wearing the form of a woman.

He smiled and stood. Pulled her chair out for her. "Well. If I had known I would be joined by such an enchanting woman I wouldn't have delayed making my reservation for so long." He said, playing the part his secret identity demanded of him.

Online
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#16719 Edited by Shield-Maiden (1427 posts) - - Show Bio

Following the abnormal hostess closely, Helena could not help but notice the unusual crowd as she was escorted to her table. To her right, a man and woman began to panic after they finished consuming their meal, but settled down once the waiter came back with a plate filled with fruit. To her left, a child stumbled through the crowd and decided to rest against a marble pillar; His small stomach was bloated, his eyes wandered relentlessly, and in his hand was a half-eaten cookie, shaped like a flower. All around her, she picked up customers murmuring to themselves like mindless zombies. "I will never leave Lotophagus," One said. "The food here is magnificent. I want more," Said one female. "My wife, job, and children, are nothing compared to the food here. I am going to stay here forever. Wait.....Who am I, again?" Said another. These helpless customers were clearly addicted to the food and displayed symptoms that only a drug user would show. But, what drug was powerful enough to make someone lose memory? Or eat endlessly? She asked in thought. True, most addicts displayed the symptoms that were being shown, but something about this "drug" seemed different from most drugs.

Pushing through the overcrowded restaurant, the smell of feces, urine, and bathless days, overwhelmed her sensitive sense of smell. The odor was so foul, she wanted to stop following the tall bulky hostess and just run for the nearest exit. But, with everything she witnessed, she had to tolerate the stench and focus on freeing these people from whatever enchantment they were in. Besides, ripping through a Troll's stomach smelled far worse than this. "Here you are, foo-I mean, madam."The eight foot tall giant gestured her toward her table. Sitting across from one side of the table, clad in class, sat a charming man. He had a dazzlingly smile that somehow made her heart drop twice as if Thanatos, death itself, poked her chest, stopping the blood flow from her heart. His hair was gelled and brushed back, giving a slick and glossy appearance. Superion had her watch old American movies from the 1950s to learn about American culture, and one of the things she learned was that men preferred their hair gelled and brushed back. She had to admit, she was attracted to the look.

"Well. If I had known I would be joined by such an enchanting woman I wouldn't have delayed making my reservation for so long."

The mystery man said as he stood up and pulled her chair out for her to sit on. "Careful. It's the enchanting women that lure men into their demise. Ever heard of the Seirēnes?," She teased with her Greek accent as she accepted his hospitality. Looking over her shoulder, Helena warmly smiled, as he helped slide her into her side of the table. "A chivalrous man? That is as rare as the generosity of the Gods." She complimented. Arriving at the table, the two were met with another eight foot tall husky man. "Good Evening, my name is uh...Bob, and I will be your waiter today." The man said. His voice was unusually deep and rough. Seeing an eight foot tall man was nothing new to the demigod, Atholis was filled with them, but she wondered if that was normal to the gentleman seated across from her. As the waiter bowed and leaned in to place her menu in front of her, he instantly jerked back and inhaled the air deeply through his nose. Emitting a monstrous snarl from his throat, the waiter gazed at Helena. "Demi--" Realizing, he was making Helena uncomfortable and almost blew his cover, the waiter composed himself, smiled, and corrected what he was about to say. "Make sure to try out our newest ice-cream dessert, Demi-Sundae. I'll give you both some time to figure your order." He gave her one last murderous gaze before leaving the two to themselves.

@hawkshade

Hopefully you are able to work with this, if not, let me know. I am trying my best not to rush the story, so I am saving off her reaction for my next post, if that's okay? If not, please let me know, so I can give you more on what to respond to or write. Also, hope this post was a bit more entertaining.

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#16720 Posted by Hawkshade (4606 posts) - - Show Bio

@shield-maiden:

Richard smiled and his blue eyes twinkled. "A woman educated in the classics I see. Equally as rare in this day and age."Seirēnes. The Sirens. Beautiful women who lured sailors to their death with song.

The waiter 'Bob' approached and placed a menu in front of them. The youthful billionaire raised a jet black eyebrow as he set. It wasn't often he encountered a man bigger than he was. Not since Alpha Dog. But this waiter made his six foot four and muscular build look like a child.

He looked around. The waiter wasn't the only one here bigger than him. He did some quick math. Statistically there should be thirty or fewer males taller than 7'1 in the USA. Even fewer over eight feet. (Excluding mutants, of course.)

The odds of so many people of such height being hired at random in one restaurant in Gothic City was astronomical.

This isn't an accident. The employees have something in common. And they have a reason to be here. Together. Lot of them; safe to assume they control this restaurant. But why?

His attention returned to the woman in front of him as the waiter departed. "Demi-sundae? What is that?" He asked, running the word Demi through his memory palace. "Half a sundae?" Demi; means half or of reduced rank. Commonly used as a prefix in demigod. Supernatural connotations.

Perhaps he wasn't dealing with mutants or drug dealers after all.

He reached out and offered the woman his hand. "My name is Richard, by the way. Might I ask whom I have the pleasure of addressing?"

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#16721 Edited by Shield-Maiden (1427 posts) - - Show Bio

"A woman educated in the classics I see. Equally as rare in this day and age."

No Caption Provided

A playful and secretive smile stretched across her face. A smile famously displayed by Princess Diana of the Royal Family. "Oh, you have no idea," She snickered. "But, in order for you to give me praise, you must be knowledgeable in those tales yourself," Her smile was still held tightly as she quirked an eyebrow in amusement. A man living in the United States, invested in the rich stories of Ancient Greece was as rare as coming across Pan in the wilderness. Most American's could not even cite one amendment from their Bill of Right's, yet here this man was, acknowledging her knowledge. Interesting.

Helena narrowed her eyes as she watched the tall waiter depart. She had to remain calm, not even giving the slightest of hints from the muscles on her face and body that revealed she was surprised and aware at what just occurred with the waiter. His back was slightly hunched, like his body was beginning to deteriorate from old age. At first, she believed it was bad posture, but as the giant walked through the aisle, his posture was perfect-his head close to touching the ceiling. It was only when he stopped and directed his gaze toward the ceiling that his posture hunched, like an animal. No, it was not bad posture nor old age. He was picking up the scent of a "demigod"-her scent. The waiters here were not human.

"Praise her mother for giving her the idea" to mask her scent with essential oil. She smelled of Jasmine-sweet and sharp, enough to mask herself and envelop anyone near her. The "demigod" warrior was aware of the possibility of this happening. How were the peacemakers-those who upheld justice not able to rid Gothic of this foul place? How was this place booming with popularity despite the controversy surrounding it? Inhabitants disappearing and bond to this place like their souls were sentenced by the Judges of the Underworld. All this should not be possible and occurring. Loved ones should be calling and looking for those chained to this place, yet nothing.

She was certain of two things; these attendants were not human and sorcery was involved. Were they mythical? Possibly. Their height matched the Laistrygonians and Gegenees, but they looked nothing identical to the giants of Greek tale. This was a Greek restaurant, yet it still did not prove they were those specific giants. Sorcery would explain why the peacemakers, the media, and families, had nothing on this place. But, what of the constant eating? The addiction to never leave? Was that the result of witchcraft? Possibly. She needed to gather more intel on the waiters and the food before deciding the next course of action.

"My name is Richard, by the way. Might I ask whom I have the pleasure of addressing?"

No Caption Provided

Returning her attention back to the handsome man sitting across from her, she couldn't help but warmly smile as he introduced himself. "They say a name can reveal everything you wish to know about someone," She placed her hand gently on his palm, continuing to play the game that they both were playing. As she observed his face with her electrified calculating eyes-attempting to read through him like a word puzzle, she noticed something. The muscle in-between his eyebrows, squeezed together, as if he was in deep thought. Since the two sat together, she instantly realized he was just as observing as she was-assessing surroundings, the state of the costumers, and even the waiters.

"Richard. A name of power and courage," She lightly pulled her hand away once he was done with it before introducing herself. "My name is Helena." She introduced, but held back her last name in case he decided to look into her. "So what is your profession? FBI? CIA? Police Detective? Something more? You go into a trance as you ponder, and you have eyes that seem to wander a lot," She pointed out with a smirk that brought out her extradentary beauty. "Which only means, two things. Either you are not interested in what sits in front of you or your presence here is not genuine." She deduced, feeling pretty confident. Helena could care less if he was not interested in her, it was all part of her act to portray herself as conceited.

As the two discussed, the giant waiter returned with a tray containing two Bordeaux glasses and a bowl of dessert-DemiSundae. The giant grinned as he placed the drinks each respectfully on their side, the sundae in the center. For a brief second, she could of sworn she saw his teeth went from normal to sharp stained teeth. "Um, we did not order anything." She told the waiter who discreetly sniffed the air. "Oh don't worry, it's on the house. Besides, you two are our newest costumers. Once you dive into that sundae, you'll never want to leave," He snarled roughly when the word leave was uttered from his mouth. "Enjoy!" He gave one last grin before departing from their table. The corner of Helena's eyes followed the giant as he walked on over to the other two tall waiters. Grouping together, the giants began discussing loudly. They probably thought it was a good idea due to the customers being drugged, the loud music, and the fact they believed Richard and her were as good as dead. Foolish.

Waiter #1

"I believe we have a demigod among us."

Waiter #2

"A demigod in America? Impossible! She vowed the Gods would not interfere here. That's bad for business!"

Waiter #3

"You fool! She never said that. America is-"

Waiter #1

"Shut up! We need to find the demigod quickly before it ruins everything."

Waiter #2

"I haven't had demigod since that Odysseus escaped our grasp. Do you know who it is?"

Waiter #1

"I suspect it's the woman I am taking care of, but she smells too pretty. No matter, allow the narcotic in the food to do it's job. Once it's done, we'll feast on her as a precaution."

Waiter #3

"This better be quick! I am craving toddler soup."

Drowning out Richard and the distractions surrounding her, Helena absorbed every detail uttered in the conversation. The words passing through her ears like the whispers from the River of Woe-Acheron. "Laestrygonians." She murmured with disgust.

@hawkshade

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#16722 Posted by Phantomshell (1151 posts) - - Show Bio

Fantastic read ^

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#16723 Posted by Shield-Maiden (1427 posts) - - Show Bio
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#16724 Edited by Hawkshade (4606 posts) - - Show Bio

@shield-maiden:

The food arrived and Richard looked down at it. There was not a chance in hell he was going to eat that. Not until he had taken a sample back to his lab and run a thorough analysis.

But his attention quickly returned to his charming, yet mysterious dinner companion. "Neither FBI nor CIA. I'm the CEO of Excalibur Industries."

The powerfully built young man shifted his posture to rest one ankle upon his knee, leaning back and arm tossed over the back of his chair.

"I'm afraid you've caught my wandering eye. You see, the truth is I'm not here for the food or the company, as pleasant as they might be. In fact you could say this is something of a work related matter. A number of my employees have vanished. No call. No show. Now, I take care of my people. After all they could command tremendous salaries anywhere in the world (I hire only the best) but they choose to work for me. Here. In Gothic."

"A couple went missing. I looked into the matter. A competitor poaching my talent? Perhaps something more sinister? This is Gothic, home of supervillainy and world-wide criminal syndicates, after all. The trail lead me here."

"Here to Lotophagus. Greek. Means lotus-eater. Odysseus encountered them. Herodotus wrote of them. Lived on an island off the coast of the Peloponnese. Ate only the lotus flower and it's fruit. Drifted away on a cloud of apathy and bliss, caring for nothing but the taste of the lotus."

"A myth. Or so they say."

His gaze swept the patrons as they gorged themselves and then returned to his beautiful companion.

"And you're right about names. They reveal much."

"Yours for example; Helena, Greek. Beautiful wife of the spartan king Menelaus. Kidnapped by Paris which sparked the Trojan war. Means light. Bright. Torch. Some say she was the daughter of Zeus."

Richard adjusted one of his cufflinks.

"Greek. Like Lotophagus. Like the prefix demi-. Like the Seirēnes. Like the Grecian styling of your dress."

"Forgive me for being blunt Helena but I do not believe you are here by coincidence either."

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#16725 Posted by FlashLightning (27 posts) - - Show Bio

*Keeps an eye on Hawkshade*

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#16726 Edited by Shield-Maiden (1427 posts) - - Show Bio

Helena glanced downwards at the lustrous sundae - three scoops of graham crackers incorporated into ice-cream, topped with hot fudge, and sprinkled with small marshmallows and pieces of tiny fruit. She spotted the fruit buried within the scopes of ice-cream, round and bloated - dark yellow drupes of some sort. She recognized that drupe anywhere - native to the Mediterranean and considered sacred. The name of the drupe sailed within her mind, looking for a way to escape her hippocampus and paddle to her tongue, but immediately was scrambled as if something was preventing her from uttering the name and reacting to what it was.

Her energetic eyes gazed into the structure that made up his striking face, a playful smirk still plastered across the side of her mouth as he denied having any involvement with the Peacemakers of America. Disappointing: she truly wanted him to have an affiliation with one of those two occupations because any other occupational claim would only make her grow more suspicious. No ordinary occupation made someone study their surroundings, unless they were paranoid or uncomfortable. Richard's body language did not show any signs of being uncomfortable with her presence, in fact he seemed to snap out of his "trance" when he laid eyes on her supposed beauty. His body displayed no signs of twitching, heavy breathing, stiffness, or sweat - signs that proved paranoia. Her eyebrow raised as he revealed his occupation was a businessman; Interesting.

A business man concerned in the affairs of his employees; very plausible. In fact, very noble. But something about what he said lingered in her mind "This is Gothic, home of supeprvillainy and world-wide criminal syndicates." A light blub illuminated the frontal lobe of her brain - Praise Athena. Helena believed he was a businessman; it would explain the expensive suit and cologne. But there were loopholes in his story, enough to keep her suspicious. Home of the wicked and injustice. She continued to play the thought in her head.

"Here to Lotophagus. Greek. Means lotus-eater. Odysseus encountered them. Herodotus wrote of them. Lived on an island off the coast of the Peloponnese. Ate only the lotus flower and it's fruit. Drifted away on a cloud of apathy and bliss, caring for nothing but the taste of the lotus."

Lotus. Eater. Flower. Odysseus. The sly smirk that once dominated her mouth washed away immediately as he revealed what her brain had been warning her since she first entered the restaurant. Richard's deep knowledge for Hellenism, freed her from whatever was mentally blocking the words from escaping her mouth. Her eyes now in total disbelief - widely open and stunned by the revelation. Everything now was so clear as the truth broke the mental barrier restricting her from solving the mystery plaguing this place. At first, she had to restrain herself from jumping up and springing into action - ruining her undercover approach, but she reminded herself of all the collateral damage that could ensue as a result of her emotional reaction.

The Laestrygonians were using the Lotus Flower and Fruit to keep their business booming, infusing the mythical flower and fruit with the food from their menu. It all made sense now. They were using the narcotic to imprison the inhabitants here forever, giving them an abundance of human flesh to feast on. They set up shop in Gothic City because no one would bat an eye due to the wickedness plaguing the city - a sound and strategic move, but disturbing nevertheless. What puzzled Helena though was the execution of this plan. Based on her encounters with the Laestrygonians and what she gathered about them, they were not bright enough to pull this off by themselves. It's true, they were more intelligent than the Cyclopes, but still not intelligent enough to perform such a feat. Someone was aiding them from behind the scenes; it was the only logical conclusion. Whoever this person was, they drowned in wealth and status, enough to sway the media and authorities to ignore the horrors of this place. That or sorcery was at play. What else could keep the authorities from shutting this vile place down? What else could prevent people from seeing the monstrosity taking place here? The conditions these people were in.

"Yours for example; Helena, Greek. Beautiful wife of the spartan king Menelaus. Kidnapped by Paris which sparked the Trojan war. Means light. Bright. Torch. Some say she was the daughter of Zeus."

"Greek. Like Lotophagus. Like the prefix demi-. Like the Seirēnes. Like the Grecian styling of your dress."

"Forgive me for being blunt Helena but I do not believe you are here by coincidence either."

No Caption Provided

Helena poked the inside of her cheek with her tongue - nodding in amusement as he described the meaning of her name and it's origins. The most amusing part about it all: Her name gave away nothing; her mother intended it to be that way. Growing up, the demigod warrior always wondered why her mother bestowed her with a name she despised. Helen of Troy became an enemy to Athena when Paris refused her and Hera's offerings for Aphrodite's gift - the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen of Sparta. Not only did Athena despise Helen for this reason, she also hated her for being a Spartan Queen. When the two reunited during the confrontation with Ares, a curious Helena asked her mother the question and discovered the true reason; she was named Helena Troy because it was a name that would confuse her enemies and further shroud her in mystery. "Impressive for a man of business," She complimented, a smirk predominating her mouth once again as she continued to play her role. "But if you took the time to know me and my story you'll discover a whole different woman." She chuckled as she kept her eyes locked on his, their intuitional minds attempting to dominate one another.

The former princess had to admit, it was charming seeing her dinning companion flex his intelligence - a rare sight in this age. But she was no fool, she knew he was more than a businessman and she was going to out-chess him until he caved. The way he analyzed everything and came to the right conclusion as she did, furthered her suspensions - there was more to him than he was letting on. Richard was just as suspicious of her as she was with him; now all she needed to do was mislead him and prevent herself from being compromised. "You got me," She playfully rose both hands, letting out a light chuckle. "I am Greek," She said with an intoxicating English-Greek accent. "I immigrated to the United States from the Hellenic Republic," She placed her hands back on the table and let out a fake sigh of deep sorrow, her eyes drifting downwards and her face sagged with a frown as if Achlys plagued her with misery and sadness. Hopefully, Richard fell for her decent acting skills; Athena forcefully made her take theatre as a child and she remembered loathing every second of it. But now, she realized why her mother forced her into it in the first place - a warrior had to be prepared in every possible confrontation.

"As to why I left my home country, well...I shift the blame to the European Union. I feel as if Greece, once center to the world, had been robbed of it's sovereignty and I could not bare to reside in a country that I no longer recognized. Being an Anthropologist in Greek Mythology grew rather burdensome as all it did was remind me of how much Greece has fallen," Helena wrapped herself so deeply in the false story and character she made up, her eyes began to drown in tears. She was able to achieve this through relating her own life to the character she made up. Perfect. "But now I reside in the United States as a health inspector," She said, dampening her eye with a napkin. "So indeed, Mr. Richard; It is my job to determine if this place should be shut down." Helena lied, praying he took the bait. "Forgive me by the way; these allergies are vile." She continued to dampen her eyes before finally "regaining her composure." "Now," Helena folded her hands, let out a sniffle, and postured herself well - her back aligning with the wooden back support of the chair. "Let us discuss you again." Her usual smugness returned as now she was ready to make her move. "Now who am I to deny you are a business man who cares about his workers. But tell me, business man; you said it best, Gothic City is plagued with corruption and wickedness. So you of all people know, justice will not be served," She checkmated, hoping she backed him into a corner.

Helena truly felt she had him where she wanted him and just as she was about to make another chess move, she caught something moving toward them through the corner of her eye; The Laestrygonians disguised as waiters, pushing through the crowd and sniffing around like a pack of dogs. They were attempting to pick up her scent; she only had seconds before they all reached her table and confirmed she was the demigod. "Actually, you can enlighten me while we dance." She pushed her chair back and rose, waiting for him to take her hand and guide them into the crowd for a slow dance. The only way to keep the giants confused and off her trail was to mask her powerful scent with the horrendous order that came from the crowd - As quick-witted as her mother.

@hawkshade A bit rushed; Since so many days went by. But hope you enjoyed nevertheless.

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#16727 Posted by NightBreaker (292 posts) - - Show Bio

Once again Marcus embraced the night, for it was his only opportunity to indulge his vigilante nature. Like a creature of the night, he perched atop a buildings roof top, leering over with a watchful eye. With his guns holstered, he cracks his knuckles as a prelude to the oh so many bones he planned to break, provided he could find any criminal activity below. But as Gothic city was a hot bed of unscrupulous activity, it was simply a waiting game. By now the city was dark , lit only by trash cans set ablaze to warm the homeless. By now Nightbreaker was getting anxious, an unproductive trait, but one he needed to deal with. Hoping to find trouble elsewhere, he began an athletic jaunt across the roof tops, beginning with a sprint towards the edge, followed by a triple forwards flip, until reaching the next roof top. Then as his forward foot set ground he finished off with a perfectly executed somersault, until landing back firmly on both feet, ready to move to the next. With no signs of either exhaustion or fatigue, about thirty minutes later he reached the industrial side of Gothic, were many of the towns locals would be in bars wetting their whistles. By sheer luck, he made it just in time to see a local biker gang pulling up numbering around a dozen men, each proudly displaying their gang signs and off setting tattoos. Unfortunately, for now they had done nothing wrong, to warrant Nightbreakers sense of Justice, but he proudly kept an eye on them until inevitably, they crossed the line!

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#16728 Posted by Hawkshade (4606 posts) - - Show Bio

@shield-maiden:

"Who could pass up such an offer?" Richard said as she pushed his chair back and took Helena's hand, guiding her onto the dance floor (assuming she went along; if she did not he would not make a scene.)

His bulk cleared a path through the crowd. There were a few disgruntled looks. The CEO paid them no mind. Another problem occupied his attention; he couldn't dance.

Richard's public backstory claimed he was a poor orphan of Russian immigrants who had the misfortune to settle in Gothic after the collapse of the USSR. Orphaned in one of Gothic's many crime sprees the boy turned to technology and was an early adopter of bitcoin, selling at its peak and becoming the so-called Bitcoin Billionaire.

It was all a lie.

He had been born of a secret program run by the Strigidae Order designed to produce the strongest mutant warriors possible; weapons in their merciless shadow war against humankind. Trained at the feet of the Seven Secret Masters inside their hidden fortress-temple he had learned a hundred and forty four ways to kill but never to dance.

The Son of the Shogun searched his mind as they walked. Searched it for memories, memories of dancers. He found them as they entered the dance floor.

As he turned to face Helena he ran those memories through the Strigidae thought-language of Iktet-Ur, a language based ideographic and nomothetic logic that gave Richard the ability to memories and replicate any movement he saw. The so-called photographic reflexes.

By the time their feet first moved to the music Richard was a grand dancer. An amalgamation of every fragment of classical dance he had ever glimpsed out of the corner of his eye. Limbs thick with sturdy muscle moved with grace and poise.

"Let me offer my sympathies to the plight of your homeland. To fall from one of the greatest civilizations on earth with your own history and culture to the rule of the bureaucratic EU who care only for money, that must be a painful thing to witness. I hope you do not take me as too radical when I say that I hope someday Greece throws off those shackles and rises to seize control of its own destiny once more."

"As for this city, you are correct. Justice is in short supply. Oh it strikes here or there. But it is rarely to be found here. Even if found out a criminal can escape punishment with a bribe in the right hand. A favor owed by a corrupt officer of the law. Or simple bureaucratic incompetence."

"That is why I came myself. If my employees are in danger then I cannot trust the law to resolve the matter. I must take action myself and use my fortune to grease the wheels of justice so they turn in the right direction-- for once."

"That such a thing is necessary is the shame of Gothic City."

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