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Dr Archeville

Triple Murder in Riderside, Rebooted

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Avenger hunted that night, stilling his rage and frustration at this investigation in violence and blood. He found answers in the neck of a rapist in the Fens, leaving the man's anemic, unconscious body on the footsteps of the local police precinct as a message to the predators of Freedom City. The contradiction wasn't lost on him, but what other choices did he have? It was a relief, as always, when the sun set the next night, and he got on the phone to Scarab for further information the moment he could.

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Sandro skated up to his house, noticing that the lights were still on.

'That's not a good sign.' he thought to himself.

Looking in the window, he could see his father at the dinner table eating while working on his laptop.

Knowing that he probably could sneak past his dad while also knowing that he was probably in trouble since his dad was in the dining room, he decided to take the direct approach.

Walking in the front door and, after locking the door, he walked into the dining room.

"Hi papa... whatcha eating?" he said as he started to walk into the kitchen to see what he had ordered on his way home.

As he got about half way through the room, his dad put his hand up letting Sandro know to stop... and also letting him know he was about to get lectured. After a moment, he looked up at Sandro, "I thought we were going to try to have dinner on Mondays?" arching his eyebrow while he waited for a response.

"Sorry, papa, I got caught up with my study group... I should have called but I didn't realize how late it was."

"Which is the same excuse you used last Monday... and the Monday before that. Maybe you could talk with your friends about rescheduling? Or, what you can really do it talk to the people at the shelters and let them know that you need to leave by six-thirty so you can live up to your obligations? If you can't try to act like a responsible adult, maybe one of adults there can try."

Antonio then turned back to his computer, scrolling though some spreadsheet. As Sandro moved to the kitchen he said without looking up "I got you the rack of lamb and cream of mushroom soup from Veltrino's but it's probably cold now." Sandro knew that this was the end of the conversation. Warming the soup up on the stove, he ate the lamb that was just a few hairs away from being room temperature. As he gnawed on the bone to remove the last of the meat, the light in the dining room went out and he heard his dad walk up the stairs.

Sandro sat at the table overlooking the backyard as he ate his soup and worked on his homework, muttering to himself as he continued reading his Coleridge. Finishing the required reading for tomorrows class, he drug himself to bed without noticing that today had, in fact, become tomorrow.

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Another night ends, and another day dawns. Tuesday, September 16th looked to be pleasant enough, at least to those who had not been investigating gruesome murders and demon dog-summoning adrenaline junkies. The weatherman reported that the skies would be clear, with temps in the high 60s/low 70s all day.

But all was not sunshine in the minds of three of Freedom's burgeoning heroes. The experiences of the past two nights stuck with them, intruding upon their thoughts as they day wore on, as if a part of them was raging to do something about it all.

For Alessandro "Slamdance" D'Aquila, the day was especially hard, because he had been so close to one of the victims, and so close to the age of the "Vulture" they apprehended last night. He either could not or did not want to know how a high school age kid with so much life ahead of him could turn to so dark a path. Needless to say, these intruding thoughts made his day at school quite hard, and the pop quiz in history class even harder.

Avenger dropped the badly-beaten Thomas "Vulture" Wells off at his Fens home -- a fairly typical Fens home, low cost for lowlifes -- before hunting down a quick meal and leaving it at the local police station. He also thought of the past nights events, though from a different perspective. He could make some very good guesses about Vulture's life, because during his nights in the vampire courts he'd met men and women as depraved (and then some) as the lad... and he himself had done things almost as bad. He knows he has a job to do, though, and does it, using his contacts amongst the "behind the magical curtain" types to learn what he could about the odd slips of paper.

His first hunch was right, they were components in demon summoning rituals, each slip being a "phone number" for a particular demon. He was able to find out some of the specific demons: Izon the Imagist, L'tahet Laharspawn, Ohmhep the Obstructor, Rozasol of the Five Slumbers, and Uhsemes Snaketongue. All fairly "high" on the demonic ladder ("higher" being weaker and "lower" being more powerful), though still more powerful than what a typical mage of Vulture's years should be able to get. Either he'd been studying demonology from the day he could first read, or he had some sort of 'knack' for it.

Scarab's sleep was uneasy, though on awaking she could not remember anything in particular from her dreams. Though she had hazy half-recollections of previous incarnations dealing with equal or greater horrors, these events still shook her.

Her research into the slips of paper did confirm Avenger's assessment, though she was unable to find any specific names. The fact that she could verify that they were names, though, was enough to tell her that Vulture was an uncommonly adept demonologist. Her research into the flute was also illuminating: as she surmised, it was indeed a component in certain demon summoning & controlling rituals, though she could not find a match to it in any of her records. She did work out that musical instruments like these were frequently used in summoning and controlling animalistic demons, such as demon dogs like the ones seen last night.

Not long after sunset, the trio made their way back to the house in Riverside, ready to share what they had found and to go after their best leads, Vulture's partners known as Fox (in Hanover) and Shark (somewhere there in Riverside).

Which is when they noticed something odd. (Or not; see OOC thread.)

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All three noticed fresh police tape on the front door.

Avenger and Slamdance noticed some people hidden behind the trees, hedges, trash cans, and assorted things in the front yard.

Avenger spots two: Vulture (in either a repaired or spare Vulture costume) and, judging by his outfit, the one known as Shark. He looks sorta like the mutant man-shark Megalodon.

Slamdance spots those two, and a third, around the corner of the house: someone in a Fox costume. He's holding a large ultra-tech rifle in one hand, and... something shiny in the other.

[Check OOC thread]

EDIT

Fox steps out from around the corner -- making himself visible to all the heroes -- and fires a blue-white beam from an ultra-tech rifle at Scarab. At first it appears to be off, but it was apparently a trick of the light, for it does indeed strike her -- with bone-numbing cold! "Die!"

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Avenger felt a surge of cold fury shoot through him at the sight of the lurking boys, a feeling of rage burning in his undead heart that made him feel alive again for all the wrong reasons. Vivid images of ripping the boys apart shot through his mind, as well as no little regret that he hadn't beaten Vulture to within even more of an inch of his life. "If you boys don't stop this $#!@ right now, I'm going to..." Shouting at the top of his lungs in the broken sentences of a psychopath, he then proceeded to lay out in gruesome detail exactly what he was going to do to Vulture, Fox, Shark, their families, their friends, their beloved pets, and even their sweet old grannies.

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Sandro saw the three figures lurking but he wasn't sure if his new partners had. 'Oh, man, what...' was as far as he got into this thought process before the guy in the Fox outfit fired his gun, striking Scarab.

"If you boys don't stop this $#!@ right now, I'm going to..."

Was as far as he heard from Avenger. He didn't see if Scarab crumbled from the blast or not, but he knew he needed to act. From their prior experience, he knew that Avenger could handle the Vulture. He just hoped that he was fast enough to knock the Shark off his feet before he could pounce on either of his allies and get to the Fox before he could fire his weapon again.

He couldn't tell who the Shark was looking at but he hoped it was somewhere else. As he started to charge forward, it seemed as if everyone slowed down, moment by moment. Avenger, pointing and yelling, seemed to slow like some bad edit job in an unfunny movie and his movements were as if he were underwater. As he moved towards his target, the world around him seemed to contract as if he had some sort of tunnel vision. At the last moment before he slammed into the Shark, he pistoned his hand forward like he had learned in his martial arts class. It blurred forward, even to his senses, awkwardly striking the Shark as he thought 'I really need to practice more or get back into that class if I'm going to continue to do this', the blow resonating through his body as everyone seemed to speed up and catch up to him.

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A thin layer of ice forms around Scarab's torso, and she feels a bitter, bitter cold set in.

Though their costumes hide their faces, it's not hard to tell that they are affected by Avenger's threats.

Slamdance zips past Shark, but only barely connects. It is, however, enough of a hit that Shark is battered around a bit by the strike.

From the tops of the trees, small dark clouds pour out and coalesces into one man-sized amorphous mass that hovers in the air. A droning can be heard coming form it, and in the light of the almost-full moon (and a few streetlights), you see it is a great swarm of thumb-sized black wasps, with tiny pinpoints of baleful green light shining in their eyes, eyes which look in all directions.

As Slamdance turns back to assess the situation, he sees Shark detach something from his side and toss it at him. The something is a demonic eel-fish-thing... and it's not only coming right for him, it's already upon him, biting at his throat!

Meanwhile, Vulture turns to his two nemeses -- well, turns to Avenger and Scarab -- and laughs a semi-menacing laugh (imagine Squeaky Voiced Teen from The Simpsons trying to do an Evil Laugh). It'd be more than a bit pathetic... if the laugh didn't turn into an ear-piercing shriek!

And the quick brown fox shoots at Scarab again with his freeze-ray. "This is our turf! No rejects from the 90s or the 60s are gonna stop us!"

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"Warned you. Warned you what I would do to you." Avenger went for the screamer first, letting Scarab deal with the hoodlum who'd injured her in her own fashion. He whispered Vulture's true name like a lover as he went for him like a tiger at its prey, leaping into the air and coming down hands-first on the little hoodlum's face. If all went well, he took the downed boy by the arm. "Now you will pay."

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Fox steps out from around the corner -- making himself visible to all the heroes -- and fires a blue-white beam from an ultra-tech rifle at Scarab. At first it appears to be off, but it was apparently a trick of the light, for it does indeed strike her -- with bone-numbing cold! "Die!"

A thin layer of ice forms around Scarab's torso, and she feels a bitter, bitter cold set in.

The Scarab gritted her teeth and forced herself to ignore her own shivering. I will not give this little waste of skin the satisfaction of knowing he hurt me.

"Is that really the best you can do, Little Man? A light show and some snowflakes?" The Scarab brushed some ice flakes off her chestplate with the backs of her fingers. "At least some supervillains want to accomplish something, like conquering the world, or committing genocide. But not you. You did it to get laid. And you're so pathetic you were willing to murder an innocent woman, just so you could score an interdimensional pity-date. Even guys who pick up prostitutes on the street corner have more dignity and self-respect than you. Is there anything about your little club that isn't banal and derivative?"

"This is our turf! No rejects from the 90s or the 60s are gonna stop us!"

"That's what they all said back in the '90s. And the '60s."

The Scarab reached out toward Fox with her open palm. She concentrated on the futuristic firearm, and imagined a ghostly hand extending out from her, grabbing it and yanking it out of Fox's grasp.

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Slamdance did a quick survey of the situation, and saw the Fox weaponless. Quickly thinking he could distract him long enough for Scarab to finish him off while giving himself the room he needed to be effective against the Shark, he charged canid-looking villain.

He looked towards Avenger and Vulture, starting to move in there direction, hoping that Fox would think he was going against another target. Changing direction a few steps in, he caught the Fox off-guard with his charade, charging forward at Fox full force. Putting his head down, he thought about which direction he was going to set himself up for his charge against Shark. He felt the impact with Fox as he started to slide around him but failed to see the Fox raise his arm and, in what would have made an professional wrestler proud, clothslined Slamdance. Spinning head over heels a few times, crashed to the ground in a heap with his face pointed to the sky. His only thought was to wonder if the stars were really up in the sky or just in his head.

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"Ha! I'm still numb there from your last assault!," Vulture snorts as he wriggles in Avenger's grasp.

As Fox clotheslines Slamdance, the great swarm of hell-wasps descend upon Avenger. He feels dozens of stingers pierce his flesh and pump poison into him... but it really doesn't do much more than mildly irritate him.

Shark looks around, to to Fox and the prone Slamdance, to Avenger and Vulture, to Scarab, then back to Fox and Slamdance. "Don't you know sharks hunt in packs!" he shouts out, followed by more unintelligible shouting in his excessively deep and guttural voice. The Sky-Remora which had been on Slamdance disappeared, but now ten more Sharks appeared, bursting forth from the ground as if it were water. Three surrounded Slamdance, three surrounded Avenger, two began to climb up trees towards Scarab (they stank like rot and the sea), and the last two stayed by Shark-Prime's side. Shark-Prime, and two by his side, looked up to Scarab, "surrender, or your chums become chum!"

"Wh-why aren't y-you-?," Vulture started upon seeing a certain lack of reaction on Avenger's part to the hellwasp's stings, and continued trying to wriggle out of Avenger's grasp (and failing utterly). When the Shark Pack sowed up, though, his bravado was back, "Oh, your gonna get it now!," he snorted.

"You'll have to be more specific, sweetness," Fox barked (though his voice was the lest garbled/inhuman sounding of the Trio) as he turned from Slamdance to face Scarab, "I've done lots of women. And given how you're dressed, you've got a lot of nerve calling me derivative!"

Fox had held two devices in his hands. One was the rifle Scarab had taken. The other was a shiny baseball-sized orb, which he now held aloft. It let out two quick pulses of light, and Scarab became aware of a fog lifting from her mind... which was then replaced by another, "darker" fog.

"I want you to do nothing but tell me who you three are and what all your powers are."

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It would be so easy to kill the boy. Jack could imagine how very surprised Vulture would look when his claws tore out his throat, the delicious way his fear would flavor his blood as it poured down his throat. But that would be wrong, he forcibly reminded himself, and worse it would be problematic at best with all these superheroes around. "You know nothing of fear. Of pain. I show you." He'd shown Vulture mercy before, and gotten nothing but ashes in reply. He wouldn't take the boy's life. But he wouldn't let him enjoy it, either.He lifted Vulture up high, where the others could see, and then brutally smashed the boy's face into the ground. "ONE!"

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"Surrender, or your chums become chum!"

The Scarab snorted and waved a hand at Shark derisively. "Surrender? We don't know the meaning of the word. Really. See, we didn't have dictionaries back in the '60s. Nevertheless, my comrades and I are hardly about to lay down arms in the face of what amounts to a figment of your twisted little imagination. That's right, folks - they're illusions. Nothing to 'see' here. Moving on..."

"You'll have to be more specific, sweetness," Fox barked (though his voice was the lest garbled/inhuman sounding of the Trio) as he turned from Slamdance to face Scarab, "I've done lots of women. And given how you're dressed, you've got a lot of nerve calling me derivative!"

Fox had held two devices in his hands. One was the rifle Scarab had taken. The other was a shiny baseball-sized orb, which he now held aloft. It let out two quick pulses of light, and Scarab became aware of a fog lifting from her mind... which was then replaced by another, "darker" fog.

"I want you to do nothing but tell me who you three are and what all your powers are."

The Scarab reeled backward in mid-air, as though she just took a shotgun-blast to her chest. She grabbed the sides of her head. "AARGH! My name is...Inigo Montoya!" She laughed and looked up as her hands dropped to her sides.

"Did you really think your puny parlor tricks would work on me? Are your little toadies here honestly that easily impressed? She shook her head slowly back and forth. Then she imagined two giant crushing fists, one grasping the orb, the other at Fox himself.

"You're just a maladjusted little boy in a costume. I AM THE SCARAB."

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Sandro was staring at the sky when he heard something he couldn't quite make out but thought it was coming from the direction of the Shark.

Suddenly, he was surrounded by 3 more Sharks with the Fox looming over him.

'Jeez, if I stay here these guys are going to tear me apart!' The thought floated briefly in his frenzied mind, his body already moving almost of his own volition.

A blur of blue stood up and shot between a hole left by two of the Sharks.

'I need space to do something... otherwise I'm not going to be of any use to Avenger and Scarab.'

He zigged and zagged, hoping to dodge anything thrown or shot at him. Maybe, with a little luck, these bad guys might loose track of him or think he fled.

Coming to the edge of the yards, he skidded along the ground, leaving tracks in the grass as he spun around, setting himself up like a sprinter.

"Ok, big boy, let's see if you're any better at playing catch" he whispered to himself as he eyed the Shark.

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"Ooof!," Vulture gasps as Vulture slams him to the ground... but then he starts to laugh, and it's very apparent he's not that badly hurt.

Scarab concentrates her telekinetic might on Fox's ball... and it becomes slightly dented. She also shouts something about illusions.

Slamdance bolts; the three Shark-Men around him appear not to have expected that maneuver.

The great swarm of hell-wasps descend upon Scarab. Initially confident that her force field would hold them off, Scarab is more than a bit dismayed to see them -- and there are a lot of them, and they are quite loud -- chew through her force field with their tiny glowing maws, then plunge their stingers into her! While it is noticeably discomforting, she doesn't feel any real effect from whatever it is they're umping into her. At least, not yet.

Shark looks to Avenger and Scarab (Slamdance being temporarily too far out of sight). "Illusions? Ha! Reality itself is mine to shape and mold!" he shouts. As he does, two of the three Shark-Men surrounding Avenger dive upon him and begin to bite and claw. "Feed, my pretties, feed!"

(Scarab's senses are still telling her that the sharks are a mental effect. The hellwasps aren't.)

"Let... me... go!" Vulture squawks, still trying to wriggle out of Avenger's grasp (and still failing utterly).

Fox looks down at his dented device, then up to Scarab, "hey, sweetness, if you wanted to grab my ball, all you had to do was... hey, you!!" He turned to Avenger, and another double-pulse of energy came off the device and struck Avenger. "Let him go, and tell me who and what you people are!"

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Jack felt blood vessels in his head break, the stolen blood inside his body leaking through his undead flesh. It hurt, and told him how quickly he needed to end the fight. When he looked down at Vulture again, his eyes were red. "I am an avatar of the damned. I am the blackened soul you have summoned from the depths of Hell!" His loud voice echoed through the fight, loud enough for all the teenagers to hear. He brought his hand up and smashed it brutally into Vulture's costume midsection, directly over the teenager's face.. "TWO!"

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The Scarab frowned beneath her mask. Blast. That wasn't quite the dramatic effect I was going for. I guess I'll have to make more of a direct impression on the lad.

"Quite a sturdy little toy you've got there. But a weapon is only as strong as the one who wields it."

She glared at Fox as she reached out toward him. She imagined her reach extending far past her grasp, her hand stretching all the way to Fox's head. She pictured digging her fingers all the way down into his brain. Then she clenched her fingers tightly into a fist as she jerked her arm back in a loop toward her, as if suddenly digging in and pulling his brain out through his face.

"And for all your bravado, you're the weakest link."

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Slamdance charged forward, hoping the Shark he picked was the one controlling the others. He charged forward in a blur of motion, feeling the grass tear from its roots as he left a strange looking zigzag rut in his wake, as he felt time seem to compress around him.

At the last moment, he dropped his head in anticipation of making contact, as he yelled out "See you when you wake up!"

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"Wrawk!," Vulture screeched when Avenger struck... and then he was very quiet.

Scarab concentrates her mental might on Fox's mind... and gets the image of rough, calloused hands smacking hers away from his brain before she can dig in.

Slamdance bolts zips back, charging towards what he hopes is the 'real' Shark, and almost bounces off the Shark-man. It's clear he was unharmed by the attack.

The great swarm of hell-wasps continue to sting Scarab; their presence around her continues to hamper her vision and hearing.

Shark had been keeping an eye on Avenger & Vulture, but Slamdance's sudden arrival drew his attention. "Fool! Are you so willing to be a meal?". One of the Sharks next to him lashes out to take a bite out of Slamdance, and one of the Sharks at Avenger lunges to bite him. "There's plenty of food for all, my pets!"

(Scarab's senses are still telling her that the sharks are a mental effect. The hellwasps aren't.)

Vulture is no longer struggling to get out of Avenger's grasp.

"Who's the weak link, sweetness?" Fox said; Scarab could swear he was smirking under his full-body costume. Suddenly he was on the move, leaping up off the trees and the house to get up to Scarab, and reaching for his gun...

... and grabs it, takes lighting-fast aim at Scarab, and shoots her in the face with it before landing in a crouch.

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Avenger ignored Shark's bite with contemptible ease, looking up at the other boy with a malignant look in his red-rimmed eyes. "You're next." With that, while Shark was looking at him, Avenger vanished.

In the shadows a few feet away, once he was sure he was perfectly concealed, Jack flipped the stunned Vulture around and whispered in his ear. "You're mine, now. I hope you like knives. I know I do." And with that, he extruded his claws and rammed the bony talons through Vulture's back. He pulled the pointed tips back the moment the damage was done, his now-ragged motorcycle gloves stained with blood.

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Avenger feels something warm and wet in Vulture. He thinks it's his kidneys. Realizing this, he stops just short of doing any serious damage to him.

Scarab is temporarily stunned by the bone-numbing cold of the point-blank blast Fox's freeze-rifle, but she shakes it off. She concentrates on Shark's Sharks, and though he puys up some respectable resistance, they fade out of existence like a fine mist.

Slamdance is still stunned from having seen and felt a shark bite into and savage his shoulder.

The great swarm of hell-wasps dissolves in thousands of tiny puffs of brimstone.

Shark lost sign of Avenger, and then loses his Sharks. Surprsingly, he slumps tot he ground, sobbing, "My... my babies...."

Vulture continues to be limp in Avenger's arms..

Fox, upon seeing both his associates are apparently down, begins to fade form sight. "This isn't over, you witch!"

And then he was gone, from sight and from Scarab's mental senses.

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Avenger dropped the nearly-unmoving Vulture, feeling a twist in his gut at how close he'd just come to taking yet another life. Not an innocent life, mind you, but a life nonetheless. Blood on his hands, his face expressionless even behind his mask, he walked up to Shark and punched him in the face, putting his full body weight into the blow. No more killing; no more blood. Well, maybe a little more. "Two!"

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Shark lost sign of Avenger, and then loses his Sharks. Surprisingly, he slumps to the ground, sobbing, "My... my babies...."

The Scarab floated down to the ground. "Like I said - merely figments of his diseased imagination." Her feet touched the grass of the Dickson lawn. "And the problem with 'living the dream' is that, sooner or later, someone or something comes along to wake you up." She walked slowly and deliberately over to where Vulture lay and crossed her arms over her chest. She glared down at him as she reached out with her mind, seizing his. She formed a mental picture: Her fist, smashing through a window, grabbing Vulture, and pulling him up to her face.

"Your friends have deserted you. Your powers have failed you. It's over. Take off that armor, before you hurt anyone else with it."

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Vulture began to peel his armor off.

Shark continued trembling on the lawn. He'd fallen to his side, and was partly curled into a fetal position.

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Sandro stood, surveying the situation. 'Well, I was just about as useful as a third elbow. I should wait and see if Avenger or Scarab say anything but we shouldn't talk about it in front of these two.'

He stood, keeping an eye on Shark. 'Hitting that guy' he thought to himself 'was worse than hitting a brick wall. I need to get better at this if I'm going to make a difference.'

He looked up at his allies, trying not to look flustered as he asked "What do we do with these guys, now? Something big is going on but I doubt these two... three were the heavies."

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