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Golgotha Tenement Blues IC

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Bedlam First Assembly

9PM October 30th 2018

Light Rain 

 

Dr. Thorne sat nursing their drink at the dinner where their prospective, client? informant?  had requested to meet.  The girl had sounded scared, genuinely scared, but determined and thought the PI might just be able to get what she knew to the right kind of cops.  Outside in the spotty glow of failing streetlights the occult investigator could make out the knot of hardened looking young men paying a bit too much attention to the diner.  Perhaps looking for victims, perhaps trying to screw up the courage to knock over a place under the protection of one of the families.

 

Mr. Strix had stalked, followed, the group after he'd seen the handoff of clean and disposable guns in an ally a few blocks away.  They had kept to the better traveled streets not giving him alot of room to find out more but that kind of hardware was not the sort of thing for a casual carry.  They intended to use it.

 

Pastor Theo set the last of the chairs up on the table in the churches small community room.  The last of the NA attendees were vanishing into the cloud of cigarette smoke that lingered outside every meeting of this sort.  Event he chill rain wouldn't stop them, though one supposed it was mostly better than the less legitimate vices they were trying to kick with varying degrees of success.

 

It was like the weather.  I night that seemed to be holding it's breath.  Not quite still but with an air of something to come.  And then it did, in a flash of dirty scarves and worn sneakers the girl spotted the gangbangers ont eh corner and bolted nearly knocking more than one off balance junkie off their feet as she sprinted for the closest thing to sanctuary in a town like Bedlam.  A church.  Most of the gangs were just superstitious enough not to try anything in a house of god, most of them.  Across the street Thorne and Strix saw the gang member move into action the jumpier one flashing enough of his new iron to have the junkies and other patrons clearing out before they became victims, or worse witnesses.  

 

While a pair headed around the back and a couple fanned out to watch the street in each direction just in case the apparent leader approached the door grinning through a mouthful of fake gold.  "Eh man, you see my sister eh?"  he snickered not even trying to hide the lie, "She need get home real quick momma gonna be worried where she get to."

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Liam Conner

Liam had insisted that he was the one that handled this meeting, these things always had the potential for disaster and as skilled as she was Rosa didn't have the nose for trouble that was sometimes necessary to survive in certain parts of Bedlam City. It didn't help that she'd been pensive for the whole day her magical senses suggesting that something was going to happen.

 

Rosa wouldn't have noticed for instance the thugs gathered outside or know that trouble was most probably about to start. But as she was floating around in his consciousness she was very aware of what he'd noticed.

 

You're not going to do something stupid now are you? Rosa warned Liam, knowing she'd probably be ignored.

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Pastor Ward hummed to himself as he picked up and got ready to lock up the church for the night. As much as part of him would love to leave this beautiful building open all the time, it simply wasn't possible. Not in this town, when he was basically the only full-time staff member. So instead he ran what programs he could during the week, helped how he could, and kept big locks on the doors. He'd just locked up the community room and moved into the sanctuary when the shabbily-dressed girl all but sprinted in. Theo stepped up.

 

"Miss, are you okay?"

 

Before she had a chance to answer, someone all but banged on the door. Her fearful reaction told him all he needed to know. Tugging at his jacket in a fruitless attempt to appear a bit more commanding, Theo pointed to the back of the room of worship.

 

"There's a small room over there. No windows. It leads into my office, but don't go there yet; someone might see you through the window. I'll see if I can dissuade them. You're safe here."

 

He gave her a wan smile and turned to head to the door. Once there, he opened it and offered the man a friendly smile.

 

"Well hello sir! Hm, a lost sister you say? Well. I do have a phone. Could we call your mother after we find your sister, to make sure she knows she's headed home? I wouldn't want to leave anyone confused or worried, you know."

 

He was carefully sidestepping acknowledging or denying the girl's presence in his church just yet. 

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Mister Strix flinched and hesitated for a moment when he looked up and saw that the building the girl had run into was a church.

 

She needs help. Just do it. If He doesn't want you to go in, He'll stop you.

 

His muscles briefly tensed up. As they relaxed, his body dissolved into a cloud of mist, almost the same pale white as his flesh or his costume. The cloud stretched and condensed into a narrow tube as it shot into the sky in an arc, like a mortar launched from one roof to another. He started at the top and worked his way down, circling the building in search of an air vent or even a crack in the walls.

 

The people on the street and in the church might have heard a gust of wind, or maybe something that sounded like a car racing down the street at double the posted limit. They definitely felt colder than they had a second ago. The rare soul who paid attention might have noticed that they could now see their own breath, or that the rain collecting in puddles and gutters was starting to freeze over.

 

Once the cloud had slithered its way down into the main room of the church, like a maggot hatched in the nose of a corpse finally finding the brain, his body re-solidified. His hands and feet were pressed against the ceiling, allowing him to crouch upside-down over the pews. He tried to focus on the two men at the front of the room. His back felt like it was blistering, as though the giant cross on the wall behind him were a campfire and he was sitting too close. The veins in his neck bulged, thick and black. He clenched his teeth.

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The assailants attention was pretty firmly placed on the church and it's occupants.  They seemed unconcerned about witnesses in the diner or at least confident none would come forward that they couldn't get too.  Though some shivered in the sudden chill as dark forces moved through the night they remained unaware of the greater events building in the rain slick streets, and equally clueless of the danger they were now in.

 

The girl stared wide eyed at the Priest and nodded with a whispered thanks before following his instructions to dodge back into the appointed alcove luckily looking down and not taking note of the monster on the ceiling.  There she cowered trying to be quiet and as small as possible while still peeking out to make sure the priest didn't sell her out and leave her trapped.

 

At the back door the pair of thugs were already setting to work on the locks.  Mr. Strix keen ears could make out the tell tale scratch clink of the tumblers being clumsy manipulated.  They may not get in soon but they'd get in before the girl could get anywhere to safety for certain.  At the front the thug smiled menacingly.  "Listen man, I think she ran in here."  he glared at the obstinate man of god, "You trying to hide her?"  he sneered with a shake of his head, "You one-a them kinda priests then?"  he grinned with a conspiratorial nod, "We can work something out we just need talk to her when you done yea?" 

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When he heard the men trying to break in through the other door, Mister Strix glanced over his shoulder, then flinched and averted his gaze. He closed his eyes tightly for a second to re-active his psychic invisibility. Once his presence was again hidden from the weak-minded, he crawled and skittered like a spider, across the ceiling and down the wall, dropping to the floor next to the frightened girl without a sound.

 

He knelt down beside her in the back room. From her point of view, he appeared out of thin air when his hands, hands that could crush brick into powder, clamped down over her mouth and gently, carefully turned her face to meet his. He kept one hand over her mouth but let go of the back of her head to raise a finger to his lips. He whispered into her ear. "More coming in through the back. Don't move." Then he removed his hand from her face, rose to his feet, turned his back on her, and crept toward the back door.

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Liam Conner

Draining the last of the passable coffee Liam got up and found there waitress giving her as generous a tip as they could afford right now.

 

"Trouble might be starting soon probably best if you hunker down and wait it out, best if we don't get the police involved." Bedlam Cities "finest" just made things more complicated.

 

And with a last reassuring smile, he stepped out of the Diner and made his way to the gathered thugs out the front of the church. At over six feet and with a physique of a Norse god he was a suitably intimidating even before the changes that had left to him being here.

 

"Boy's I suggest you give up on all this before things get messy!"

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Theo just kept smiling at the man in front of him, fighting down the urge to snarl. Fighting down Judex. It was not the time, not yet, not like this. Instead, he laughed and wagged a finger at the gang member in front of him, as if they were both in on some great joke.

 

"Hah! You're a funny guy, you know that? Humor's great, my friend. See, you know what the funniest thing is?"

 

He kept smiling, but the warmth left his eyes as he pushed his glasses up his nose a bit.

 

"The sort of guy who makes that kind of offer isn't the sort of guy I'd turn a person, man or woman, over to. I'll let you take the cheap shot at me, it's no skin off my back. But you're not getting in this church. Have a nice day!"

 

Theo then went to close the door, perhaps with a bit more force than his frame ought to be able to manage...

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The apparent leader of the band of criminals tried to block the door with his foot but the priest moved with greater alacrity than expected and with a resounding thud the heavy door slammed shut echoing through the small church.  Turning with rage at being denied his target the leader sneered at Dr. Thorne  flashing the shiny nickel plated piece shoved in his waistband "Walk on man."  he called out and shook his head as he looked at his crew who seemed to be on the edge of bolting, "What the fuck you bitches doing?"  he bellowed, "Smoke this fool!"

 

Inside the girl let out muffled scream at the hand over her mouth but nodded frantically at the instructions  and cowered down deeper in the corner as the creature of hte night vanished from sight.  The back door creaked open and the thugs there guns in hand crept quietly into the small mudroom leading off the back alley where Mr. Strix awaited still unaware of his presence.

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"You one-a them kinda priests then? We can work something out, we just need talk to her when you done, yea?"

 

Mister Strix's eyes turned completely black, the darkness at the center expanding to quickly engulf the rest. His canine teeth extended, becoming fangs.

 

Not a "misunderstanding," then. No need to go easy. No reason they should be able to walk away from this. No reason they shouldn't be carried away.

 

When the gangsters cleared the doorway into the mudroom, they heard the distinctive, echoing roar of a lion or a tiger. Pastor Theo could hear it in the nave. Doctor Thorne and the other gangsters could hear it on the other end of the building.

 

With that roar, Mister Strix sprang into action. Mortal eyes could glimpse a series of white blurs, if even that, as his fist and feet crashed toward them like a wrecking ball. There was no grace in his strikes, no beauty, just raw speed and fury. A trained soldier, or even a seasoned brawler, probably could've dodged or blocked the blows successfully, if Mister Strix wasn't moving too fast for them to see, or if he wasn't hitting hard enough to knock them through a wall.

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At the animal roar the pair watching the side alley bolted into the back drawing their guns just in time to see their fellows fly limply through the door they had just picked.   The unconscious forms flew out the door the hinges cracking as it whips out of the way.  Not slowing they slammed in resounding staccato as they slammed into the dumpster staving in the steel sides before sliding into a broken heap in the pooling rain below.  The others stared in horror for a long moment before taking cover behind the strewn refuse and drawing down ready to fire on the next poor soul to step out of the door.

 

Inside the girl let out a terrified scream at the sounds coming from the next room over and bolted for the small office scrambling to hide under a desk or maybe make for a window.  The gangsters in front looked from their leader to the towering man in the street uncertainty before the frustrated captain spat a curse at the ground muttering to himself, "Gotta do everything myself." as he reached for his gun.

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The man in white stepped slowly through the ruined doorway out into the alley behind the church. He didn't seem to react when the trembling gangsters fired and their bullets ripped through him. In the dark and the rain, it was easy to think that the shots hadn't connected at all, or to miss how no blood followed the slugs as they tore through his back on their way to the next building over, or how the bullet holes closed behind them a half-second later, light wisps of steam rising from them as tiny amounts of vampire blood burned itself off to grow new dead flesh. He turned to look at the far end of the alley where the gangsters crouched behind bags of trash and empty boxes. He knelt down, and between the blinks of an eye, he jumped, closing the distance with a pounce and another roar, smashing into the thugs like a bowling ball, fists and feet flailing in the general direction of any human flesh he could see.

 

Now that he was outside, the crowd gathered at the front door could hear the tiger-growl even more clearly.

Edited by Grumblefloof

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The gunmen didn't even have time to register their shots had been useless before the white clad creature of the night was upon them.  Moments and a strangled cry later they lay in a pool of dirty refuse unconscious, battered, and bruised the avenging form looming over them as the chill frost traced a spider web across the greasy water they lay in.

 

At the front of the church the Leader pulled free his gun as he heard the sounds of a fight echoing down the alley.  Looking back to Thorne he smirked like it wasn't his guys getting torn up.  Maybe he actually thought it wasn't, he didn't seem particularly bright, "You brought backup good thinking."  he laughed, "But still gonna get you and yo boys dead."  he sneered and leveled the pistol opening fire to send bullets flying wildly into the night and shattering one of the few working lights in the diners sign behind Dr. Thorne sending a shower of sparks cascading down in the background while he remained probably in the safest place he could be given the gangsters apparent accuracy.
 

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Liam Conner
With supreme concentration, Liam ignored the excited voice o Rosa at this apparently supernatural creature and instead strolled forward confidently towards the apparent thug in charge. He wasn't particularly worried about the bullet whizzing past him, being virtually bulletproof though he'd rather not have to replace the shirt.


Once he'd reached the man rather than an elaborate fighting move he simply pulled his fist back and punched him square in the face, not even giving him the satisfaction of a witty quip.

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Suddenly, Theo was alone. He heard the sounds of fighting, and sighed at the thought of having to get the back door fixed. Again.

 

'The Lord never promised it would be easy work...' he thought idly to himself as he began to move, taking off his glasses and tucking them into a pocket on his suit. The lights flickered, just for a moment, and then the burly form of Judex was walking where Pastor Theo had before. He smoothly opened the door in the community room, just around the corner from where the leader of the thugs had fired his gun. In a near-blur, he was running, almost skidding around the corner, and picked his targets almost as soon as he saw them.

 

One meaty arm went out to the side while his weather-inappropriate Hawaiian shirt flapped behind him. The crook of his elbow met the first thug's neck, soft enough not to break or crush it, hard enough to send him sprawling to the ground to bounce his head off the street and knock him senseless. His compatriot didn't have time to react before powerful hands grabbed his head and made it meet Judex's, a blow that flowed directly into a two-handed punch to the solar plexus. He might not be fully unconscious from that, but he'd be useless for several minutes.

 

Meanwhile, what looked like a crazy homeless guy in a brightly-colored shirt stood standing there in the gloom and the wet, smiling

 

"Shepherds must guard their flocks, but sheepdogs may hunt the wolves. Today is not a day that favors the wolves, my friends!"

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The Captain looked down at his gun like it not his haphazard stance and general misunderstanding of firearms that led his bullets astray.  He looked back up just in time for his eyes to grow wide as Liams fist surged toward his face.  Staggering a step back he wove on his feet trying to focus his eyes and blinking, "I'm gonna get you suck..." he babbled before collapsing face down on the sidewalk blood pooling from a broken nose.

 

Down the block the remaining thugs looked down the street at the toughest of them go down to a single well placed punch and the bellowing hobo avenger that had apparently taken out the rest of the crew and realized their first instinct had been the right one.  They did the smartest thing they had in their short and uninspiring lives.  They turned and ran as hard and long as they could for someplace far from whatever was happening at that church.

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Mister Strix picked up the nearest trash bag, emptied its contents onto the ground, and replaced them with all of the dropped firearms. Then he grabbed each of the two unconscious thugs by the cuffs of their pant legs and pulled them through the alley to the back door, where he grabbed the other two battered gangsters, transferring his grip to two legs per hand. He dragged nearly eight-hundred pounds of bleeding and broken criminals back into the nave, where he heaved them one by one up onto the pews like they were wet towels.

Edited by Grumblefloof

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Dr Rosa Thorne

With almost no effort at all Liam had helped by bringing in the larger of the unconscious thugs, all the while looking strangely at Mister Strix as if trying to work out just who or what he was.

 

"My partner has a question..."

 

Before he could finish the question, and without any real ceremony he was gone and in his place was an African-American woman.

 

"... It's okay I'll handle this myself! I'm Doctor Rosa Thorne, parapsychologist, and my pugilist partner is Liam Conner. So no respiration or blink reflex and ashen pale skin. The question is what kind of undead you are and what intentions you have towards our thuggish friends?"

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Doctor Thorne's blurted analysis brought several disparate irregularities of the scene into sharper focus for the people in the church. It was colder inside that church at the moment than it was in the rainy night outside. They could see their own breath, and the breath of everyone else, except for the man in white. The plants in the lobby stood tall a few minutes ago, bright and green, but when Judex and Thorne passed them again on their way back inside, those same plants were now brown and hanging limply. The overhead lights in the nave were bright enough for everyone and everything beneath them to cast a shadow, but the man in white had no shadow. His shirt had several obvious bullet-holes, but no blood, and he wasn't wearing any kind of body armor, because his pale flesh was clearly visible behind those holes, smooth and unscathed. The only blood on him was spattered across his boots, and the knuckles of his fingerless gloves.

 

Now that they had a clear view of his face, or at least the parts his mask didn't conceal, they could see that it was...wrong. His skin was so pale that it was difficult to tell where it ended and the white cloth of his costume began. His eyeballs were completely black, and his facial features were out of proper proportion with one another. His mouth was too big for his face, twice as large as it should have been. He touched a finger to the trickle of blood seeping from the nose of an unconscious gangster, scooped up a few drops onto his fingertip, raised it to his mouth, and licked it off. At that point, they could see that his canine teeth and his tongue were both also two to three times as long as that of any human. The rest of his teeth almost could have looked normal, if they weren't so distractingly bright and clean. When he swallowed those drops of blood, he gave a slight, almost imperceptible shudder.

Edited by Grumblefloof

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Outwardly, Judex merely sauntered into the sanctuary, his gaze sweeping over the thugs piled in one corner without a care in the world, a smile upon his face. Inwardly, though...

 

'Lord give me strength does he know how hard it is to clean this floor? How am I going to explain those pew stains to Muriel, that's Her Seat!'

 

One must make sacrifices in this line of work. He did raise an eyebrow at Doctor Thorne's quick appearance.

 

"That's a mighty useful trick, good Doctor. Roses have their thorns, but rare is the rose with thorns and helmet both, and a hound at her beck and call. Still and all, petty matters compared to the sinners before us."

 

He looked to Mister Strix, his face now a bit more severe.

 

"These were wolves, the girl is one of a flock, and we present ourselves as hounds against the pack...but are you truly hound? Or a wolf in hound's clothing?"

 

He peers at Strix for a few moments, then smiles. 

 

"Your appearance would make one think of a carrion bird, picking at the edges of a dying city. Yet...I think a servant of the Enemy would look fairer and feel fouler."

 

He glances at Doctor Thorne, that strange smile still on his face.

 

"I think we have no choice but to trust him. Else our quest may yet be in vain though we strive mightily. Besides, I'd bet on two hounds against one carrion bird any day of the week, hm?"

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The man in white held his unblinking gaze on Judex and Thorne. When he spoke, his voice had a slight echo to it, but not one created by the acoustics of the church. "The girl needs help. If she's still here, then we need to find out why she came here. If she ran off, then we need to track her down. You'll have better luck with that than I will." He pointed at the unconscious thugs draped over the pews. "We also need to make them talk. I'll have better luck with that than you will. Just point out the one who was doing the talking outside, and give me a few minutes." His shoulders slumped and he looked down at the ground for a few moments. "We need to find the priest, too. Whatever cash the goons have on them will hopefully cover the cost of repairs. And when you find him...tell him I apologize for desecrating this place with my presence."

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Doctor Rosa Thorne

She'd encountered a few supernatural over her time in Bedlam so to be in a church with one, maybe two but the undead played fritz with her sense. As long as they weren't causing anyone any harm she was cool with them, after all how better to study their ways than working alongside them?

 

"If it makes you feel better I think I'm covered by Deuteronomy 18:9-12, only Simon Magus gets to be both apparently."

 

If there was one thing that fascinated her as much as the study of the occult it was a mystery to be solved and one had dropped into their lap. Though getting paid was also quite nice, but you couldn't have everything.

 

"Let's go see what this woman has to say then!"

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Judex considered the two rather unique individuals in front of him. Or perhaps it was three?

 

"The sheep shall know their Shepherd, but the hounds must use their minds and their noses. Discernment is for the wise. And I discern that you are both what you seem. Dear Doctor of Thorns, mayhaps your presence would be most beneficial for the young lady? Our fine feathered friend here might give her a fright, and I have been known to startle a wayward lamb now and again."

 

He turned his attention to Strix, tipping his had just a bit.

 

"Your eyes did not deceive you, indeed there was a shepherd present. He and I share acquaintance, and he alerted me to the trouble. The hand of the Shepherd of Shepherds ensured this hound was present to harry the wolves, while his humbler servant put himself out of danger. I will ensure he has removed himself and that we will secure this place. And do not apologize overmuch, yon bird of the carrion; your contrition shows itself in your deeds. A white-washed tomb is a deception, but a tomb plain and honest is merely a resting place."

 

Judex began to amble off, then stopped and gave the vampire a calm, level look.

 

"Do try not to stain the pews, though. The poor shepherd will likely be all a-flutter as it is."

 

'Lord preserve me I'll be scrubbing for hours if I want good food for the rest of the year.'

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"If it makes you feel better I think I'm covered by Deuteronomy 18:9-12, only Simon Magus gets to be both apparently."

 

"Sorcery. Witchcraft. Abomination. I'm all that and more. And you two are quicker to trust than you should be."

 

Quote

"And do not apologize overmuch, yon bird of the carrion; your contrition shows itself in your deeds. A white-washed tomb is a deception, but a tomb plain and honest is merely a resting place."

 

"Not all owls are scavengers. Some of us hunt live prey."

 

The man in white dropped a plastic trash bag onto the pew next to him, triggering a series of loud clanking and thumping. "Guns. From the four in back. You should secure the rest if you haven't already. If you can't destroy them, let me know and I'll take care of it. Anything else, and they'll just wind up back on the street." Then he walked over to the gang leader, heaved him up over his shoulder, and started back toward the central room. "I'll find out what he knows. He'll be alright. But you don't want to watch."

Edited by Grumblefloof

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As if to punctuate Judex' concerns there was a screech of metal on metal as the window out of hte office not opened in possibly decades was not so stealthy pried into an egress.

 

When the good samaritans of the evening investigated they'd find their youthful charge pressing at the bars blocking their escape from this madness.  Turning and looking chagrined, eyes downcast she climbed off the desk, "I, uh, should be going ..."  the girl murmured.  Getting a closer look she couldn't have been more than fourteen, a shock of dark hair emerging from her hood and startlingly green eyes and swarthy skin gave little hint as to ethnicity.  Her clothing was ragged and at least a size too small but not so tattered as to indicate homelessness and she looked to have bathed within the last day or two.  She at least it would seem had a home to go to.  

 

The men who had tried to corner her in the church were a motley mix of various races.  they didn't carry the tattoos or colors of any of the major gangs that based themselves nearby and the wiry, sickly frames suggested more than one dependency among them.  Hired guns, low rent hired guns with plenty of deniability for the kind of hit that even the gangs and families of Bedlam wouldn't want to be tied to.

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