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The First Rule (IC)


Avenger Assembled

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Fall 2021 

 

It was a nice fall day, cool and crisp, the sort of day where you can still go outside but you should wear sweaters to do it. Leon and Luke had taken their lunch period outside under the fiercely blue sky of a cool autumn day when suddenly a large black raven descended from the sky and landed between them. 

 

"Fellows!" it declared in what was clearly Owain's voice, booming out as clearly as if he was with them in human flesh. "Have you see my friend Neko?" (There had been no sign of Claremont's cat girl that morning, not that the boys had spotted anyway.)

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As most days at lunch, Luke was devouring his meal with glee and had used his best puppy dogs eyes to get a little bit of extra to fill up his plate not long before. After all, while in truth his parents had always done their best to keep him and his little 'bro from going hungry despite their chronic lack of money, even after a year, he had yet to get fully accustomed to the abundance of stuff they could get at the school cafeteria and definitely indulged whenever he had the chance. Plus, he did train a lot and kinda had a dragon appetite anyway...

 

The weather was nice that day and although perhaps a sweater would have been needed, Luke was wearing just a red sleeveless t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, seemingly minding little of the cold. Although he was actually feeling it deep inside his pride prevented him from showing it.

 

".... and so Muirne invited me to see her guardians in a couple of days..." He had shared with his roomie between bites, with at least a vague hint of dread in his voice. Now, getting to know the people that acted pretty much as his girl's parents was perhaps a good sign, but then again, as a teenage boy, Luke would have to admit that he was at least a tiny bit nervous. "...in London and-

 

His eyes drifted toward the raven that had just joined them at the table. Now, perhaps a year ago he would have been surprised if a Raven began to talk to him, but now, well... he had seen much weirder stuff in the past.

 

"Sup man?" He saluted Owain. 

 

"And nope..." He shook his head. "Haven't seen her anywhere. Need some help?" He tossed. 

 

Edited by Nerdzul
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It was a crisp Fall afternoon as Leon sat with Luke, eating lunch. His grey hoodie was enough to stave off what little chill there was and let him enjoy the clear sky. He tilted his head in amusement while chewing as Luke mentioned meeting Muirne's guardians. The bit about going to London to meet them hadn't registered as Leon was already about to rib his roomie about 'meeting the parents'. Swallowing, he opened his mouth to do just that, when a raven landed between them.

 

10 hours ago, Avenger Assembled said:

"Fellows!" it declared in what was clearly Owain's voice, booming out as clearly as if he was with them in human flesh. "Have you see my friend Neko?"

 

He was use to shapshifters at Claremont, so it wasn't surprised by Owain's voice coming out of the bird. He gave the avian a lopsided smirk.

"Not yet today, I'd remember if I had."

 He took another bite as Luke spoke.

 

2 hours ago, Nerdzul said:

"Haven't seen her anywhere. Need some help?" He tossed.

 

"Ya, we're always up to help a friend. Especially if its to find a cute girl."

Leon grinned jokingly.

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"Nay, 'tis I who is the quarry in this hunt, fellows - awp!" 

 

All of a sudden, what had appeared to be a pile of fallen leaves nearby revealed itself to be a catgirl in a bright gold and yellow kimono - who promptly leaped upon the landed bird and caught it between her hands. "Watashi no kachi!" she called excitedly, rolling over on her back as she tossed the raven into the air. "I got you!" Brushing the leaves out of her white brown-spotted hair, Neko sat up on a nearby stone wall and laughed as Owain transformed back to himself with a murmur of Welsh. 

 

"And a fair touch it was," Owain admitted, his dignity only slightly tattered by the experience. "Dishes tonight are mine to perform." 

 

Neko nodded at that, then looked over at Luke and Leon. "Ah, hello," she said, looking at them with big yellow eyes. Her sleek white tail was curled up behind her where it poked out of the bottom of her kimono, her long pointed ears straight up atop her head. There were no visible human ears underneath her fluffy white and brown hair at all. "We were hunting. Owain was not watch well." 


"I will have you know that I have hunted since I was a mere lad!" declared Owain as he sat down among his companions. He said something to Neko in Japanese that made her laugh, and said aloud, "Birds, wild dogs, wild pigs - all are things a young man must learn how to hunt in Logres!" 

 

"Yes but you did not watch well," said Neko, grinning, showing her slightly pointy front teeth. "And now, dishes!" 

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15 minutes ago, Avenger Assembled said:

"Nay, 'tis I who is the quarry in this hunt, fellows - awp!"

 

When a cat-girl suddenly pounced on bird-Owain, the two tumbling several feet before she tossed the shapeshifted bird back into the air. Leon blinked in surprised before laughing out loud at poor Owian's apparent loss at their game.

 

15 minutes ago, Avenger Assembled said:

Neko nodded at that, then looked over at Luke and Leon. "Ah, hello," she said, looking at them with big yellow eyes. Her sleek white tail was curled up behind her where it poked out of the bottom of her kimono, her long pointed ears straight up atop her head. There were no visible human ears underneath her fluffy white and brown hair at all. "We were hunting. Owain was not watch well."

 

Leon stifled his laughter into a chuckle as he returned Neko's greeting.

"Hey Neko. Nice job, I didn't even notice you hiding there."

He gave her a friendly smile as he complimented her stealthiness.

"She could give us a run for our money."

Leon gave Luke a friendly arm punch and chuckled. His roommate could tell Leon was already in 'talking to cute girl' mode.

 

30 minutes ago, Avenger Assembled said:

"I will have you know that I have hunted since I was a mere lad!" declared Owain as he sat down among his companions. He said something to Neko in Japanese that made her laugh, and said aloud, "Birds, wild dogs, wild pigs - all are things a young man must learn how to hunt in Logres!" 

 

"Yes but you did not watch well," said Neko, grinning, showing her slightly pointy front teeth. "And now, dishes!" 

 

"Ya, but everyone knows cats are better hunters."

Leon shameless sided with Neko.

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As he witnessed the scene Luke burst into laughter.

 

"You got him alright." He grinned when he recovered a modicum of composure. 

 

"Sorry man..." He gave Owain a playful pat on the shoulder.

 

"Do you always 'hunt' each other?" He tossed playfully.

 

"Btw that's a freakin' fun way to pick who does the chores..." The young man gave Leon a mischievous smile, although, to be perfectly honest, their rock-paper-scissors system had worked well for him so far. It was almost too easy in fact to play with a guy whose battle name was 'Paper'. 

 

"In my case though, there wouldn't be game at all..." Indeed, his track record on the matter of stealth at the school wasn't exactly stellar. Still, Luke shook his head and grinned when Leon nudged his shoulder, doing the same in return. We need to find you a date man... 


"I also have to side with Neko abou that..." He chuckled. 

 

"That's cool... Always wanted  to learn somethin' about hunting..." He added as Owain explained that he was a trained hunter. "I mean... a dragon should know right?" Not that he has ever had the need to hunt for his own food, thankfully, besides he wasn't sure if there was any quarry he could find in Freedom that could satiate his monstrous form.

 

"So how is it han- I mean, how are you doing, you two?" He added shortly thereafter. "I mean, looks like Claremont suits you..." 

Edited by Nerdzul
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"Hm." Owain gave Luke a suspicious look. The timelost knight had eventually been persuaded by James that yes, the other boy definitely was a dragon that could take the shape of a man - but that didn't mean he had to be thrilled at the idea. "We are...well. There are fine warriors here - and wise sages as well. In Logres," he said, "education was only for the wealthy or those who gave themselves to service to the church or a great lord." He put his hand to his chin and said, "But I suppose that _is_ a place like this, is it not? Where even the worst among us train that they might give themselves in service to others." 

 

For her part, Neko met Leon's gaze and cocked her head, smiling with her eyes shut and mouth closed, before she folded her hands in her lap and said, "It is very big. And there is so many - things." She made a little gesture with her hands, obviously trying to describe a great many things at once, as her tail thumped behind her. "I don't know anything about that." 

 

 

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Luke grinned and shook his head at Owain look. I guess that dragons and knights are natural enemies or somethin'  The thought made him chuckle.

 

"It's not as different as you might think now..." He replied "I mean, the basics are free for everyone, which is great, but if you need the training that really helps you make money you gotta be loaded."  Then again, of course it was much better than the middle ages, but the disparity of treatment was still definitely there. In fact, for himself, the level of instruction he was getting at Claremont was way above what he would have had without manifesting superpowers (although, he would have to admit that it would have been at least partially his fault as he was also less motivated in his old life).

 

He furrowed his brows at Owain's mention of 'the worst among us'. "What do you mean with that, man?"

 

"Yeah there must be a lot of cool stuff to see for you two." He grinned at Neko's exuberance. "By the way we  can show you around a bit if you like..."

 

 

Edited by Nerdzul
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Leon chuckled as Luke nudged him. Luke forgot his strength sometimes, thankfully this wasn’t one of those times and Leon didn’t go tumbling… like last time.

 

He gave Owain an inscrutable look at the ‘worst of us’ comment. Silently echoing his roommate’s response.

“Public education is mocked, but for some it’s all they have access to. But I t’s something to get you by.”

Leon shrugged.

”But ya, if you want the better education it’s gonna cost you. That’s not to say people can’t get lucky. Grants and scholarships can really help peeps that need them.”


He leaned back on his hands watching Neko’s tail flip back and forth.

“But that’s way too much talk about school. There are plenty of things more fun to talk about.”

Leon grinned mischievously and nodded at Luke’s offer.

“Like showing you around town. We can always find fun.”

They could show them the club… no, wait, it shut down after the the incident with Holly and her brother.

”There are monuments and museums. There’s a botanical garden and a zoo.”

He thought for a moment.

”Say, you two been to the mall yet?”

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"The mall? Oh yes, with the stores," said Neko hesitantly. "Danica and Tori took me to Hot Topic. They had some nice clothes, and Japanese movies. I never used to watch, um, movies very much, but it is very nice." 

 

Owain considered a moment, then with barely a pause walked over and looked Luke in the eye. "Luke, I...if I have judged you false, I ask for your pardon." He reached out and clasped the other boy on the arm. "Your curse must be a great burden for you, and I do not judge you for it. I meant only those with a weak nature, not those with bodies unlike my own. It is the quality of a man's soul that matters," he said with great feeling. 

 

"Owain needs clothes," said Neko suddenly, giving Leon a conspiratorial look. "He wear what he gets. Not like other boys."

 

"Neko I am having a moment with our dragon friend," said Owain, defensively but not actually angrily. "And I...wear what I wear! I have no need for sartorial extravagance." In what was clearly a second-hand jacket and slacks, Owain's words did not seem to live up to his appearance.  

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Leon gave Neko’s conspiratorial look a mischievous grin in response. He tilted his head and eyeballed Owain and nodded. He leaned aside and looked at Luke.

”Oh ya, we gotta hook this boy up with some new threads.”

He said thumbing at the time-displaced knight and joked.

”His fashion sense is a few centuries outta date”

He looked up at Owain and teased.

“Ready for a real challenge? Dealing with sales reps.”

 

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"It's ok..." Luke shrugged. "No need to ask for forgiveness." He gave Owain a playful pat on the back and a friendly smile as the young time-lost knight defused the tension that had manifested between them. In truth, but of course Owain couldn't know, he had managed to hit a sore spot for Luke, who at his old school, had been in more than a few fight when the subject of his worthiness had been raised by another student due to his humble upbringing. This was a new life though. Time to turn the page.

"It's a different world for you anyway..."  

 

For both of us...

 

"Mall is fine... or we can show you an amusement park or somethin." He chuckled. Although, they would probably have to sneak inside in that case as Luke didn't exactly have spending money for a ticket. Wouldn't be the first time though... 

 

Luke grinned when the subject shifted on the matter of Owain clothing. "Don't see any problem with that." After all, Luke was used to second-hand stuff (or worse) for himself, although, to be completely honest, he still did pay attention to his attire more than he would have dared to admit.

 

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"I see no need to haggle with some hard-working clothier who must surely have better things to-" Owain made eye contact with Neko and made a very big-brotherly noise before he said, "Very well." 

 

 

On the walk to the mall, Neko walked around with her head up, watching the buildings they passed with undisguised fascination. She had stopped to change before they left and between that and some judicious use of her abilities she appeared almost normal; an Asian girl with jet-black hair, wearing a poofy black skirt that went all the way down to her shins and a black jacket emblazoned with disturbing art that she identified as being the work of "Junji Ito! I like him best" - this was only technically true, as Junji Ito was the favorite artist that she'd encountered in the 'present', but there was no reason to dwell on that in more detail. 

 

For his part, Owain was a bit quieter, hands in his pockets as he walked along with the other boys. "Say fellows," he said suddenly. "When you leave your schooling here - what will you do?" 

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Leon watched Neko as they walked down the sidewalk. He glanced around and chatted with Luke, but his attention eventually fell back on the cute girl.

When she had rejoined them after changing he’d joked that her jacket should have a spiral design.

Watching her looking around at the city with such open wonder was entertaining. As quiet as he was, Leon as a surprised at Owain’s sudden question.

 

Leon opened his mouth to reply but paused for a moment and closed it, obviously thinking before starting again.

”You know, I thought I knew. At fist, I kinda just figured I’d go back to my brother and sister. Be a family again. But now…”

He shook his head.

”I’m not sure. A lot of things have changed.”

He looked at Luke, curious of his friend’s answer.

Edited by Spacefurry
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Luke had given an amused grin as he saw Neko and Owain 'democratically' settle on a plan for the rest of the day, the two reminding him of himself and his younger 'bro. 

 

At Owain's question, Luke ruffled the hair on the back of his neck. In truth, the boy himself didn't really have a plan about what to do after Claremont. College, unfortunately, was not likely and even if he did have a chance for it through an athletic scholarship perhaps, he wasn't even sure that he was going to pursue that path...

 

He listened to his friend and in truth, he was somewhat pleasantly surprised that his roomie was beginning to change his mind about going back to his old ways. 

 

"Well we do have a certain superhero team we are workin' on..." Luke grinned as he playfully nudged his Leon. Now, the track record of the Young Guardians wasn't exactly the most stellar yet, but the young man was convinced that they had something great going on with that and he for once, did not intend to abandon it even after school was over.


"As for myself... Well I'm gonna try and give something back to my neighborhood." He smiled.  "I mean, I grew up in Southside and...  it sucks. The place sucks, but the people there... they... well we deserve better." He clenched his fists slightly, it was not out of anger, though, but determination. "I'm gonna do everythin' I can to help out. Clean up the place." Now of course, not every problem in his neighborhood could be solved by crimefighting and dragonfire and in truth, Luke wasn't sure yet about how he could fix everything, but that didn't mean that he wasn't gonna try.

 

"What about you two?" He added casually.

Edited by Nerdzul
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"Oh, well..." said Owain, his voice trailing off. "I suppose I've always hoped for a return to Logres. My home is far out of alignment with this dimensional plane but your great wizards hope it might yet be found." He glanced over at Neko, who was staring at the ground, and coughed before he said "I - well, you see, there are many realms of Logres, many of them very different from each other. Worlds where the old faith of the druids be the true faith of Camelot, others where we live as our ancestors did after the Romans left our land, others with science beyond even this time, and many more enow. Mine own Logres was close in the time of the Second World War, but it is far now. My mother and father are there still." He fell silent, looking rather pensive. 

 

This time it was Neko who broke the silence. "I did not know," she said in her slightly sing-song voice, "but my friend Merlin, the monkey, he told me I should make 'reaction videos.' But I don't know anything about that." She shrugged. By now they were at the front entrance to the local mall; a older place that had been standing there for longer than - well, longer than two of them had been alive. "Hot Topic is nice," she opined, "but not clothes for boys like Owain." 

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Leon

 

Leon rolled his eyes jokingly at Luke’s ribbing. Their ‘team’ hadn’t done much together yet, but every seemed excited for it. He supposed he enjoyed the idea of it too.

As Luke talked about his own plans Leon couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. He hadn’t looked past himself when considering the future, and here his roommate was planning big. His shoulders hunched a little it he managed to shake it off as Luke turned the question back on Owain.

 

He felt a twinge of something he couldn’t place when Owain mentioned his parents still being back where he’d come from. He had a bad habit of forgetting that others had parents. He couldn’t completely understand the desire to be with them, but he couldn’t bring himself to fault someone for it.

 

When Neko spoke up Leon actually chuckled.

“I’d subscribe to that.”

He chuckled.

“Get you playing a couple of scary games too. You’d make a mint.”

 

He smirked and eyed Owain.

“I don’t know, I can see our boy in a ‘Quest for the Holy Grail’ tee shirt.”

He laughed.

“Or maybe a Blink 182 shirt with a couple spiked bracelets.”

Leon’s laugh eases into a chuckle again.

“Seriously though,”

He glanced at Luke.

“Whatcha think, PacSun? Maybe American Eagle? I swear if you say Old Navy I will lose all respect for you.”

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Luke nodded as Owain mentioned wanting to go back home. "Yeah, I imagine it's hard to be so far from your family..." Himself, well, he could definitely understand the feeling and he was quite grateful that fate allowed him to stay close to the ones he loved. "I'm sure that we will figure out a way to send you back though." He smiled. "There are a lot of great magicians at school..." Yeah, in fact he was being mentored by the freaking Phantom after all.

 

"You know... I'm kinda from another realm myself as well... I mean, I think at least, I have lived here all my life, but I got taken away with magic or somethin'" In truth though, while curious about his origins, Luke wasn't as eager to know exactly where he came from, in fact, one could say that he was almost a bit afraid of one day meeting his draconic birth parents.

 

"Liked and subscribed." He chuckled. "Hey that's not a bad idea by the way... We should, like, make a superhero channel or somethin'" 

 

"Hey..." He gave Leon a playful nudge when he mentioned Old Navy. 

 

"Why not a cool Blind Guardians' T-shirt, or maybe Powerwolves..." he grinned.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The teens headed into the busy mall, where amid all their strangeness they were largely lost in the busy crowd. Though Neko had legitimately come to try and get Owain to actually buy some clothes and care for his personal appearance, she was thoroughly distracted by the Christmas decorations that had recently been placed around the mall. It was mid-November in Freedom City and though the Christmas shopping season hadn't technically started yet, there were candy canes and holiday symbols everywhere, busy sales going on, and and the line of children waiting to sit on Santa's lap! (It was a good press this year, complete with costumed elven attendants and everything.)

 

It soon became apparent that Neko had no idea who the bearded fellow in red was, and Owain's comments about "that is hardly how elves comport themselves, now is it?" were not really helping anything. (Though Owain hadn't raised any issues with anyone else's Christmas celebration, he had opined on campus that Christmas was a holiday to be spent giving to the poor and needy, not throwing festivities for one's own self) She got as close as she could, peering at Santa Claus as she leaned over the 'candy-cane fence' that kept the children moving in a neat and orderly line, her nose wrinkled as her ears caught everything the children were whispering to the 'right jolly old elf.' 

 

And so it was that she was the first in position when the skylight overhead blew off as if from a mighty storm and three terrible figures plunged down into "Santa's Workshop"! There was a great crash as screaming children and parents began to panic and flee, even as voices emerged from the wrecked fiberboard buildings that had once looked like the North Pole. 


"HO-HO-HO!" boomed the giant in the middle of them, a muscular fellow wrapped in a red and white furred outfit, a fiery crown of candles atop his head. "There is-hey! Hey stop screaming you little brats! Listen to me!" But the panicking crowd was in no mood for a supervillain's speech, and the big guy's face flushed red. Next to him stood a skull-faced figure in red, carrying two menacing looking gas guns, and on the other side a sinister glowing figure in green. The students didn't know the one in the middle but they knew the other two well enough; skullface was the Red Death, a murderous anti-capitalist supervillain, and the glowing humanoid form was Hiroshima Shadow, among Japan's most fierce supervillains. The latter certainly seemed to be in fine form, rising into the air and declaring "Yankee scum! I told you we should just have burned them!

 

Red Death immediately shouted back that they were here to send a message to the children that their parents had lied to them about Santa Claus to make them wage slaves of late capitalism, seemingly blind to the threatening stampede in front of them. 


For her part, Neko stared - and stared - and stared at the glowing green figure of Hiroshima Shadow, her small mouth open, green fire reflected in her huge yellow eyes. 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Leon

 

As he went tit-for-tat with Luke over possible clothing choices for Owain, Leon had enjoyed watching Neko’s reaction to all the holiday decor. As such, he was watching her as she leaned on the candy cane ‘fence’. It was a cute sight up until the skylight over head shattered.

 

Reflexively he flinched and whirled towards the trio that was now front and center. He thought he recognized some of them, he really needed to pay more attention in super villain identifying lessons he thought to himself. Paper was already in his hand and he slapped a paper mask over his face. The blank white full-face sporting only eyeholes.

 

“Hey a$$holes, don’t mess with Santa!”

Paper hollered back at the arguing trio. From under his hoodie paper flowed and pooled around his feet before it surged forward. The paper shaping itself as it arced over Neko, taking the form of a giant snake as it barreled down on the central figure to slam into him.

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"No! Listen to me!" The giant seemed to be falling out of character entirely, his crown askew as the snake clamped down on his arm without seeming to do any real damage. "This is a political statement that-" 

 

There was a flare of green light off to Leon's left, and then a flash of brilliant radiation exploded from Hiroshima Shadow's fingers to burn along his face. The blast had just missed "Christmas Past", and just barely hit Paper. It was hard to read anything on the face of that cold green radioactive outline. "Pathetic! A crew of weaklings and the only one here with any spunk is a Yankee dog imitating Papercut!" declared Hiroshima Shadow, floating over to the mall's empty food court to actually take a seat and fold its arms irritably. 

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Damn! One moment they were teasing each other and the next an army of supervillains burst in to ruin everyone's Christmas fun. There should be a law against that right? Although, given that it was villains they were talking about, they would much likely ignore it anyway.

 

"Yeah, hell of a way to make a statement buddy..." Luke remarked, in truth though, it was no time for snarks, this was a crowded mall, during the holiday season, people were in danger and in fact, the boy could spot more than a few that have been caught in the crossfire. Thinking little for his own safety (admittedly a bit easier to do when you are a freakin' dragon and not a squishy human), the teenage boy dashed in, doing his best to liberate a small family that had been trapped by the collapsing rubble eyes glowing and ghostly wings unfolded to shield them from harm, in case one of the villains decided to vent his range on those innocents. "Hey don't be scared..." He smiled at a kid that was roughly around the age of his little brother and was tearfully hugging a plushy in search of confort "You are gonna be safe. We are professionals here." He smirked, pointing toward his friends.

 

Edited by Nerdzul
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