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Stark Hill

July 12, 2018


The world was on fire. But it took a long time for the ashes to reach some places.


While the sky bled crimson and the towers of the capes burned off on the East Coast, Bedlam was in a state of gridlock. There was doomsaying, but only at a somewhat greater pitch at any other day. The Mayor had already talked about getting the National Guard ready to deploy, but word was the Governor was holding off until there was tangible evidence that the threat had gotten beyond Lake Erie - and even then, odds were he would be much more interested in anywhere that wasn't Bedlam. The Special Assault Squad was in the streets in force, but they seemed to be taking their exercise dealing with desperate and fervid individuals hoping to take advantage of an all-you-can-grab, end-of-the-world sale. 


And so, the morning of July 12 dawned in Stark Hill as it had any other day. With the blood being hosed into the gutters, with the rise of an oppressive heat fed by the winds off of Lake Michigan, with Obedieh Brick on the 12th hour of "BREAKING NEWS," screaming about the need to grab the biggest gun one could and use it as the ultimate deterrent against the death gods from outer space. The haze and the fury was growing, but it was the same haze and fury as might be expected as Bedlam approached the dog days of summer.


That is, until the brownstone on 3rd Street was cut in half.


Those who were nearby would say it started as a "flash of black light," a half-second glimmer of palpable darkness. Curiosity turned to panic as the sound of crumbling brick and creaking steel filled the air, as gravity took hold on the building and rent it like a hunk of bread, causing it to list and tilt towards the buildings at either side. And from within, there was still that glimpse of brilliant darkness...

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Day 1. July 10.

Oh god. Oh, god. Caroline couldn’t process this. 25 years gone. Countless heroes dead. Countless people dead. And for what? They’d come back. The Terminus had returned. Okay then, if she was going to be killed or Omegadrone-ified (god, what a horrible thought), she’d at least be completely insensate for it. To the liquor cabinet. So to speak.


Day 2. July 11.

Okay, so that was…not a good plan. Hello shame, my old friend. Localized to Freedom City for now, huh? She couldn’t get there. But she knew they’d come here eventually. JETTE would have to be ready for action. There were people who needed her. But she didn’t know if her gauntlets would hold up or even be powerful enough. So. Today she’d work on them. A little maintenance, just in case. But first, a couple of fingers on ice. So her hands would stop shaking.


Day 3. July 12

What are you doing, Caroline? She was dressed in full JETTE regalia. Hovering above 3rd Street, by god. This wasn’t who she was anymore. Like, literally by law. Okay, figuratively, fine. She wanted to go back home and crawl into a bottle again. If this was something Terminus (and the odds of that this week were beyond high), she was just going to get herself killed. But…there were people in that brownstone, probably. And there were people on this street. There was a part of her that rebelled against just leaving them to their fates. It was the part that always won in the end. So, swearing viciously under her breath, JETTE started down to investigate. And prayed to a God she wasn’t entirely sure she believed in anymore.

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 It had been some of the worst days of Anna's life - though not the worst. Screaming on the phone to make sure her grandbabies were okay and were not being sent into the fight in Freedom City (and they weren't being sent to her, because she hadn't been honest with her own blood about where she was living, and for once she didn't care because it meant they were going somewhere safer than Bedlam) - praying to Egyptian gods she didn't really believe in for a salvation she knew perfectly well she didn't deserve. The last time the Terminus had come to Earth she'd run away, left people to die because she thought they deserved it for locking her up - and all in all it was one of the many reasons she knew she was damned. 


All in all, Esperanza's warning that somebody had blown up a house in Stark Hill was almost good news. She took the time to dress and don her godly disguise, and to get her sidekick out of the house and dressed. Esperanza was inclined to doom and gloom in the best of times, and the end of the world threatening wasn't helping her. Getting out of the house and helping save the day would be just the thing! It would keep her from running away and vanishing down the interstate, anyway, which was what Anna worried about half the time. So it was that Lady Horus made a quick deposit of her sidekick nearby the broken house in Stark Hill, and then a much more spectacular public landing at the site of all the damage. Well holding it up ain't gonna do a damn bit of good, that thing'll fall apart! 


A quick blow disposed of the door, and she stepped inside.



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Osla had been all in favour of rushing to the East Coast to help, but her father had told her not to. She wasn't a pawn of his, to move and not move at his say so, but... she had never seen him look scared. In the short time she'd known him, in all the stories she'd heard of him, he had never once been scared. Never. It had unsettled her enough that she'd felt compelled to stay put, dealing with the violence caused by the rising oppressive heat.


Until, just as she was heading home to rest, the house in Stark Hill crumbled. She was approaching it just as she saw the foolish fake Sunhawk smash through the front door, regardless of how precarious the building was. Taking Orheidr in one hand, she openly strode towards the building, eyes narrowed, not taking in the other two women nearby as she rushed to make sure Horus hadn't walked into something blindly and gotten herself killed.

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The brickwork crumbled further as Lady Horus's hammer blow sent reverberations throughout the building. The first thing she noticed upon entry was the smell. It was a thick melange of the unpleasant - gas leaks, particulate, and, off in the distance, blood. But there was something that cut through it all - a smell like ozone and fresh winter snow, cold and stinging. 


On the ground floor, residents were emerging from their apartments. Some were half in a daze, as if trying to figure out what had happened; others had already registered the situation and were running, almost trampling the others in the process. The sound of cracking brick filled Lady Horus's ears, and a second later, the ruins of the second floor hallway came down where she had been standing. Someone hung onto the edge of the shattered floor by his fingertips, as above him, the other corridors came tumbling down...




Jette had a vantage point as the taller floors of the brownstone fell to the sides. The side alleys had been narrow, and the buildings on either side offered support - but it wouldn't be for long. That much was obvious. People stood, looking out into the void, trying to find ways down. With the building in its current position, navigating the fire escapes would be a feat only suitable for gymnasts. 


Two things caught Jette's attention. The first was the thing flying past her, too fast for her to register fully. The second was where it had come from - an old apartment, plastered in decor that look like it came from a statelier era, as if somebody had excised a tea room from a Victorian mansion and stuck it in a two-bedroom. The finery had been reduced to ruin, however. The furniture was in splinters, the walls were covered in scorch marks, and blood ran across the floor. The source was obvious - an old woman, perhaps in the late 70s, her face locked in fury and her chest reduced to a burned ruin.




Arrowhawk strode forward through the tide of humanity, trying to get in and aid Lady Horus before she did something truly stupid. Before she could, however, she felt a hand tugging at her jacket. She spun around to find a woman in her early 60s, with raven hair, a red pantsuit, and... a silver dagger strapped to her belt.


"You!" she said. "Godling. I know you can best it. They've gone mad, mad with the thirst for annihilation. They don't know what they deal with. Their angels are broken. They --"


A loud, metallic crunch cut off the woman's tirade. Followed shortly by the screaming. Behind her, Osla could see the thing that had landed in the street. Its armor was black as pitch. Its wings fanned out much further than one might expect, tipped with silver, glistening blades that almost resembled feathers. Its plate was covered in a hundred eyes that seemed to close and shut behind hardened lenses. And its face was bedecked in a pattern that resembled a bloody-eyed skull. And around it hung an aura like the grave - the flicker of ectoplasm, the hush of desperate whispers, the smell of grave-dirt...


"Stay, angel!" said the woman, black energy crackling from her hands. "Stay and return to your side of the grave!" 

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The grim specter cast its unblinking eyes over the street. It seemed to fix on Arrowhawk's divine profile for half a second... before trailing back towards the woman in the pantsuit. She raised the dagger, pointing the blade towards herself and the hilt towards the angel of death. 


"By the name of the Maiden and the whispers of the twilight lands, I rebuke thee, specter, and drive thee back --"


If the angel heard her words, it paid them no heed. Its blade shined with the color of midnight as it charged forward, swiping down on her. What should have been a massacre turned into a terrible show of light, however. The angel was driven back, its steps unsteady as its blade collided with seemingly empty air. The woman, however, seemed to take the worse of the blow, slamming back against the wall of the building, blood streaming from her nose. However, she still stood on both feet, if somewhat unsteady. 


"It... heh... will take more than that to undo me, spirit..."

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Arrowhawk was baffled. This looked like no angel of death she had ever encountered and yet, here it was, assaulting people. Her hesitation was her undoing, it giving a crucial second for it to attack the woman. Surging forward, she saw a smear of acid dissipate harmlessly against the angel. Finding out where it had came from was down her list of priorities right now, as she pulled out her axe from beneath her cloak.


In a quick, violent motion, she leapt up, kicking the angel hard in the face, just long enough for her to spin in the air, bringing the axe down in a vicious downward stroke. It didn't bring the angel down, but did clearly do something to it. "By Tyr's blood, you will not harm these people. Try it, and I will stand against you. Trust me. You do not want that."

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Tick tick tick. 


Lady Horus hadn't always been a god - and she used to be a lot faster. In past times, she could have cleaned this building out in a half a second. Yeah, well, the past is in the past, honey, she reminded herself an instant before she sprang into action and ran up the falling bricks, gathering the dangling man up in one arm and depositing him outsideBack inside the building, she ran up the crumbling stairs and grabbed more people, darting through hallways and kicking down doorsslowed only by the fact that even a god could only carry so many people at one time. But she ran and she ran, faster than a falling object and almost faster than a man could see, and if she was probably going to miss someone, she was sure as hell gonna keep running until there wasn't any more goddamned floor. Because that was what heroes were supposed to do when civilians were in danger, right?


Wadjet looked at the Hammer of Justice, no, at the ICE agent, no, at the-Ese puta fucking madre! When she caught sight of the Omegadrone, she acted by reflex, shooting it in the midsection with an acid ball that sizzled against space metal but didn't do a damn thing otherwise. Under normal circumstances, she might have retreated at this juncture but that crazy Viking lady was throwing down with the Omegadrone in the middle of the goddamned street, and if Anna was right the whole damn world was going to end if they let these things through the door. "Dammit old woman!" she hissed into her microphone. "There's an Omegadrone out here!

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JETTE’s eyes widened as the mother @#$%ing Omegadrone came into focus. It wasn’t literally an angel of death, but Dios Mio it was more than close enough. But she had to focus. There were people who needed to get out of the shattered brownstone, and Horus couldn’t get to them all in time. Anna wasn’t as fast as she used to be. “Human chain! I’ll pull you all out!” It had nothing to do with the fact that Caroline was terrified. Nope, nothing at all. The Gauntlets protested such vigorous use, she could feel it quite literally in her bones, but they’d hold. The glowing quantum energy surrounded the stragglers and with a deft touch she didn’t know she still had, she pulled them up and placed them on the street. “Run!” She turned her eyes to the Omegadrone. God, she didn’t want to die today. But she didn’t know if that archer and Horus (plus Wadjet, who was here somewhere) could handle it alone. So she’d help. In a second. Just as soon as she remembered where she’d left her extra courage.

Edited by EternalPhoenix
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Tick tick tick.


Lady Horus erupted out through the crumbling roof, carrying in one arm a sweaty man in overalls, his green shirt stained with water, and in her other arm a blonde woman with a baby wrapped in a turtle blanket. She hit the asphalt on the street hard enough to crack it. She deposited the man on one side, the woman on the other, tucking the latter around herself so she didn't drop the baby. Then she turned and spotted the Omegadrone, right where Wadjet had said it was. Well ain't that the goddamned best. She ran up behind the Omegadrone, ankh glowing with solar energy, and smashed the creature in the back with a boom and a flash of light like the Sun itself entering the fray. "I SAY THEE NAY!" she boomed while thinking, Suck on that you cybernetic son of a bitch! 


And then time moved again, and Arrowhawk finished picking up her axe and Jette stared at the Omegadrone and Wadjet reloaded, and Lady Horus zipped out of melee range from the Omegadrone, and the bricks started falling again. 

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Arrowhawk recoiled a little as the Sunhawk slammed the angel so hard the veil dropped from it and the cybernetic monstrosity beneath was visible to her. Osla's eyes widened as she realised what the creatures of nightmare her father had been so keen to keep away from her were. "Omegadrone," she breathed.


Her hesitation was only brief. She came in hard to the left, Orheidr coming down with a whipcrack to rebound off some kind of energy field. No matter, she'd keep up the momentum, pivoting round to let her ax visibly and audible spark off the field. "Do not think you can escape further injury today," hissed Arrowhawk, bringing one boot up in a brutal kick to the thing's knee. In the split second of momentum, in the tiny gap where it was off balance, she slammed her bow into the Omegadrone's 'clavicle' and began pushing backwards. Her axe slammed into the thing's forehead, exerting as much effort as she could, struggling even with the supernatural might in her gauntlets. At some point she realised a scream of exertion was coming from her mouth, teeth bared, as she managed to bend the fiend from another dimension into a twisted parody of a limbo dance.

Edited by Ecalsneerg
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Oh, right. There it was. Hell, no Caroline Cruz was just going to leave an Omegadrone walking around alive. Screw that. A quick glance showed there was nobody left-thanks so much, Molasses Knight-so there was nothing left to do but tee off on this unholy abomination. Still in midair, JETTE aimed carefully at the grappling duo. She only wanted to hit the one, so…please, God, let the first shot do it. Heroes didn’t kill people, sure, but she wasn’t so sure she was a hero anymore. And Omegadrones didn’t count as people. With a cry of fury (and more than a little terror) she unleashed more quantum energy than she had in years from her right hand.

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Lady Horus hit the creature in the midsection, then at the joints - she wasn't sure how an Omegadrone was put together but blows to the knees and the elbows were generally a good place to start once you'd hit something about the body a few times. She leaped in front of it and hit it again; short, tight jabs that didn't interfere with Arrowhawk's wrestling match. She heard the sizzle as solar energy struck unholy metal, and smelled the stink of burning - well, she didn't want to think about what was burning, but it looked like it was the Omegadrone. Maybe she'd run in 1993, when all hope was gone, but she'd fought these bastards in the 60s and she knew a thing or two about a thing or two. "Strike it down!" she urged the others. "It is a fiend - unholy!" Jesus Christ why does she have to sound like that? thought an annoyed Anna. 

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The Omegadrone staggered back, still confined by Arrowhawk, under the assault of Lady Horus. By now, the illusion was gone entirely, and everyone could see it for what it was. Some of those who hadn't decided to run took a second to process what they were seeing - the colors of the Omegadrone weren't the standard red from the news footage, but pure black - but once it got through, the panic only intensified. As the civilians struggled to get clear, the Omegadrone managed to push against its confines and manipulate its power pike. The surge of black energy lashed out from its tip, towards Lady Horus - 


- and right past her, into the brownstone. The exposed timbers of the building caught fire, and in a matter of seconds, so did the gas. The explosion ripped through the street, charring the sides of both buildings and knocking those gathered back. In the confusion, Arrowhawk's grip faltered - and the Omegadrone surged out of her arms, flying sky high at blinding speed. 


The sound of distant sirens was growing closer as the building burned. The old woman with the dagger started to stagger away, muttering to herself. "Those zealots... they think they know... well, if the end comes, then so be it..."

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Arrowhawk lunged for the fleeing Omegadrone, but only succeeded in staggering forward, missing it by inches as it flew away. A feral growl escaped her throat as she could only frustratedly watch it flying away. Perhaps her father could have shot it down, but she knew she wouldn't be able to.


She turned, and saw the old woman with the dagger. She clearly knew what was going on. Arrowhawk whirled on her heel, striding over to her, and grabbed the old woman by the shoulder firmly, yanking her around to face her. "Tell me what is happening," snarled Arrowhawk, in a tone brooking no disobedience.

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Oh, well that was super. An Omegadrone, loose in Bedlam. Caroline sighed. She considered going after it, then remember how slow she was these days and trashed that idea. Instead, time for some information gathering. Starting with Miss “It’s A Death Angel”, down there. She landed just in time to hear Arrowhawk get all threaten-y. “Please, do share.” She was still flush with energy, and she could feel it pulsing through her eyes. Her pupils vanished when that happened, and the odd harmless spark crackled out of her eye sockets. “Inquiring minds want to know.”

Edited by EternalPhoenix
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Lady Horus stared after the fleeing drone for a long second, then suddenly was in the air with the sound of a sonic boom. It ain't faster than me, dammit! 


A few moments later, the duo of heroes still on the ground heard an artificially amplified voice call "Pigs! This way!" before a plastic ball smashed into the ground at their feet, covering them in a sudden cloud of rapidly-spreading artificial smoke; leaving the nearby alley with its overhanging fire escape the best place to get away from the arriving cops - and continue their interrogation. Wadjet kept her perch as she reloaded, listening to Lady Horus overhead as she chased the Omegadrone.

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The old woman had a glint of steel in her eyes the second Arrowhawk spun her around - but between the explosion and the carnage in the room upstairs, there was clear reason for her resolve to snap. She turned away, trying not to meet anyone's eyes. "There are things I cannot say," she said, "for my tongue is bound and my soul may be forfeit. We all swore to follow from the examples of our mothers, who were bled for this city and decided to make it bleed in turn. In time, however, they decided we were more important. But there are those who still believe that death must be grasped with both hands... and whatever they extended a hand towards, it is horrible beyond the telling."


Lady Horus, meanwhile, was closing on the Omegadrone. It was still staggered from the assault it had taken, and while it seemed to be righting itself, its flight pack was no match for the Ankh of Horus. He was 1000 feet out... 500... 200...


And then there was a grand swirling tide of black in the air, north-north-west from the Omegadrone's current course. The Omegadrone banked hard, driving into the portal and vanishing into its inky folds. Lady Horus was no expert in magic, but the thing seemed to be collapsing fairly rapidly. She might have a few seconds to get through... but what would be on the other side? 

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Lady Horus hadn't lived this long by running head-first into murderholes. She took a long look in a short time and then banked left, coming down so fast she was practically invisible. She touched down in the alley where the group had taken shelter, the bulk of a nearby dumpster blocking them from the view of the police in the alley even as Wadjet's smoke cloud faded. "The shadow-shat thing is lost," she said as she appeared next to the others, her tone briefly sharp with annoyance. "for now. Wadjet!" she called up to the fire escape. "Call the emergency number for the Freedom League and tell them an Omegadrone was sighted here.


"Oh mighty Sunlord! The sun be praised for your wisdom!" came a reply from above.


"This is not the time for thy japery Wadjet!


"Hey, you're the one that told me that if you can't make a joke in a crisis, you might as well put yer head between yer knees and kiss your ass goodbye!

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JETTE sighed wearily. She was too old for this shiitake. Not getting too old, too @#$%ing old. The adrenaline was wearing off, and she was feeling every one of her near 60 years. All she wanted was to quietly wind down her life in this crap city. First, Anna. This was fine. It was just PI work, after all. That, and the Hammer deserved everything he’d get and then some. Afterward, the old supervillain would do what she did best, and run away. But now, an Omegadrone. Hell. Focus, Caroline. Work the job, then go home and murder your liver. Same as usual. Aside from the Terminus.


She directed her own voice up the fire escape. “Keep my name out of it, please.” She sighed again, relaxing so the stored energy would dissipate temporarily, and redirected to her attention to the old woman who wasn’t some kind of superhero. “Yeah, you’re gonna have to be more specific. There’s more than one death cult in this town. They’re mostly harmless, because the mob likes living people who can pay. I need these super useful things called names. Give me a place to start and I’ll throw a literal deity with a big, scary club at the problem. And the chick who wrestled that monster down, eariler.” Caroline wasn't entirely familiar with Arrowhawk, but she was bow proficient and strong enough to wrestle down an Omegadrone. Good enough.

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Arrowhawk broke off from her glaring to look at the woman in the bedraggled clothing. "Chick who wrestles?" she asked, a mix of disbelief and wry amusement in her voice. A smile briefly crossed her lips before turning back to the old woman, baring her teeth once more. In all this, she hadn't once let her grip on the woman waver, supernaturally strong grip clasped on her shoulder.


"I was born to death," hissed Osla. "I grew up in a realm of death. And I walked straight out. I do not have the patience left for riddles and enigmas, for gods and for monsters." This was true, she did not have the patience to deal with the Sunhawk's mannerisms today. Her nerves were fried. "I want this done with. Now."

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"Well, good for you," said the woman in the pantsuit - with something approaching scorn and shot through with a strange dash of admiration, but underlined with that fear reflex that seemed to cause so many things to come out of a terrified individual. She leaned back against the brick wall, trying quite hard to catch her breath. A grim determination seemed to settle over her features. "Very well, then. If someone like that is loose, we're all going to die. But perhaps my death can mean something..."


She stepped forward. "I can't say too much. If I speak directly, I..." One eye began to droop, drifting downward as the other stared right ahead. "It's... starting. The bind, it's..." Her words choked for a second, as if her tongue turned to raw meat. "You musst know... find... Bedlam... Ladies'... Accckkk..."


She slumped to the ground, one arm twitching. Her back fell against the wall, and she sat much like a marionette lying discarded on the stage, one hand still in convulsions. 

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Ah, jeez! Esperanza, get yer ass down here! 


"By Ra's flaming eye! Wadjet, come quickly!


The sniper did so, sliding down a zip line so fast that the distinct smell of burnt nylon filled the air. Armored and armored, Wadjet was an enigma in blue as she went to work on the fallen woman, peering into the woman's eyes with a flashlight and checking her pulse, before turning and shaking her head at the other heroes. "Stroke," came her muffled voice, having lost its playful edge entirely. "Not normal. Can't make the drugs in time. Your call.



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Arrowhawk knelt down besides the fallen woman. "Tyr's fell hand, I should have known. Someone has laid a geas on her. I am unsure if it will be fatal, but well..." She shrugged, glancing over at Wadjet. "She is compelled to conceal the source from us, or else death will claim her. Or at least agony enough to make death preferable."


She tilted her head to glare at the Sunhawk from beneath her cowl, one piercing blue eyes fixed on her. "I do not know what power you have, discount Álfröðull, but only magic or the gods can intervene here." She gestured with one metal-gauntleted hand. "Do you have the skill to?"

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"Behold, daughter of the valkyries," said Lady Horus, even as she thought Pay attention here, sweetheart, you might learn something about how a real fake god does it. She raised her ankh to the Sun overhead - and said orb seemed to suddenly glow a little brighter before distinctly shooting a beam of golden energy directly into the upheld symbol. (Evidently used to this sort of thing, Wadjet had stepped back into the shadows and covered her eyes.) It was an impossible sight to anyone who understood physics but it made sense given the power of a living god. Turning, Lady Horus unceremoniously drove the energized blade into the woman's chest - not cutting her open but seeming to infuse her with golden solar power. "By the might of Imhotep!" declared Lady Horus. 


"By the might of the cops shooting us in the $9$)ing head if we don't get moving!" hissed Wadjet in reply 

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