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Quinn

Robots! (IC)

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May 19th, 2011

10:20 AM

City Centre, Freedom City

Mr. Maus was a very precise man. Almost mechanical in his timekeeping; leave home at 10:00, coffee at 10:15, arrive at his office building at precisely 10:30. Like clockwork, always with his coffee and his briefcase and in the door of the building where he worked downtown at exactly the same time every day of the week (except weekends, those were for golfing). Which made it distinctly irritating when he walked out of the door of his coffee shop at exactly 10:15 sharp, and noticed the fact that his car was missing a wheel.

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Sylvia Trent always went to the same hairdresser every week, have her hairdo done just the way she liked it by that cute stylist with the chiseled jaw. She'd asked him out more than once, but he always demurred or moved on to another subject. Still, she was stubborn, and this time she'd made sure she'd used that perfume he liked. As she walked up to the shop, she stopped and stared at the small crowd that was around the entrance, looking up. As she looked up herself, she noted with some surprise that the large "H" from the neon Hair Stylist's sign was gone.

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Several people in downtown Freedom City stopped what they were doing in surprise; some holding coffees in their hands, others with a hot dog, others reading a paper at a bench. All stared at the odd progression of items that trundled down the street or the sidewalk, incongruous items such as a tire, a briefcase, a huge neon H, an air conditioner, all being carried by one or more miniature...well, they could only be called robots!

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Among the onlookers on the sidewalk was a girl. She was of average height, brown hair, 20 oz. Starbucks coffee cutched in her left hand, and her mouth gaping just like the rest of the onlookers. After just a moment of inaction, she reached into a pocket with her left hand and pulled out something small and metallic with a piece of glass attached to it. The item was about the sized of a bluetooth earpiece except it had a small pane of glass that was suspended in front of her right eye instead of a microphone which hovered in front of her mouth.

Wait a second. Those runes. Like old magic. Golem animation. This is... Oh boy. Push'll wanna see this.

Rachael quickly downed the rest of what was in the paper coffee cup she held while shoving the small device back into her pocket. Thankfully the rest of the onlookers were too engrossed with the strange parade to notice anything she did. She flipped the cup into a nearby trash can and turned her back on the whole scene. As she walked toward the alley behind her she already had a cell phone pressed to her ear.

"Gabe? Hi. Rache. Got something. You'll wanna see. This is... Well... It's too much for words. Meet me in front of the Starbucks on Monument and Raymond? Cool. And Gabe? You should... um... You know. Dress up?" Finished 'checking in' with her boyfriend, Rachel stuffed the phone back into back left pocket, the head of a small yellow pony dangling from a short cord out of her pocket.

The next few seconds were a blur of action. Rachel reached into both of the cargo pockets on either side of her jeans with both hands. She withdrew two small flat metal plates shaped like the sole of a shoe with her left hand and two metal bracelets with her left. The plates she dropped onto the ground, and the bracelets snapped onto either wrist like a pair of police handcuffs. Another delve into the pockets produced two more items. One looked like a wireless radio headset, the other like a plated, sectioned, punk belt. She dropped the headset on her neck, and whipped the belt around her waist. There was a magnetic snap as the two ends met and fastened together just above her belly button. Raising the headset to her ears, she pressed a small button on the right side of it. There was a wooshing sound like a vacuum which lasted all of a second, and a neon blue visor swept from one of the headset's earpieces to the other covering her eyes. Reaching to waist of her pants, she unbuttoned the front, then lifted the sweatshirt over her head letting her pants drop to the ground. Her street clothing gave way to the electric blue body suit which had spread from the connecting devices on her limbs which now clung tightly to her entire form up to her neck. Her brown hair had instantly recolored to become a golden blond. The bracelets on her arms had expanded to become full sized gauntlets, and the she had stepped on now reached all the way to her knees as metallic boots. She kicked her pants into the air, and held them with her sweatshirt in one hand, opening a compartment on her belt with the other. Another wooshing sound echoed from the belt, and in a split second the clothing was sucked away to the hyper compressed storage compartment within the belt. With both hands she unhooked another section of the belt, and whipped it with a sweeping motion over her left shoulder. The ends of that band also magnetized together, forming her bandoleer, the back of which expanded to become her cloaking generator.

Seconds ago, Rachel Geist had entered the alley way out of sight of prying eyes. Now it was Blueshift that emerged.

The rockets on her boots fired up as she rushed to the side of the street where the miniature robots were still marching past with every mundane object imaginable, household or not. She could have sworn she even saw one tiny robot wearing a kitchen sink on it's head like a strange helmet.

"Okay. What is this? The Sci-Fi channel remake of Disney's Ants?" She asked, placing her fists on her hips and cocking her head to her side.

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Brian Harris had -- barely, in one case -- passed his classes at Claremont, leaving him with a free summer and plenty of time to fill. It probably would've been a smarter idea for him to sign up for some summer classes, but for the moment at least he wanted to focus on heroing. To that end, he'd decided to spend it wandering around the city and getting to know it better. Getting around was less of a bother when you could fly at highway speeds, but he still needed to learn where everything was.

He was tracing the elevated train route when he'd noticed a pint-sized robot lifting an entire Coke machine and walk off with it. He'd followed for a distance, watching it meet up with more or their kind until there was a veritable parade of them going down one of the city's main arteries. Glowstar was reluctant to intervene, but when the other hero zipped in front of the crowd he felt obligated to go help her. So he set down on the street next to her, force field active and crackling, hands on his hips. "I think it's the Million Bot March," he said, "or maybe they're just going to an awesome swap meet."

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Siobhan had just come out of the small store and popped the tab on a can of Coca-Cola when the little robot went past, holding aloft what looked like... a Segway?

Mournfully, she looked at the can of Coke, and handed it off to some random kid, not even bothering to explain herself before storming grumpily into an alleyway. And I was looking forward to that... Looking quickly around to make sure no one was looking, she clicked her fingers. In a brief instance, her jeans and t-shirt turned into white garments embossed with a black and white symbol much like a yin-yang sign. A black trenchcoat flowed down her shoulders and back as her hair turned jet black and her eyes began glowing white.

Floating up into the air on white, glowing wings, Equinox scanned the area, seeing a veritable parade of these robots carrying various items, all moving in one direction. And through it all, she felt a crackling in the back of her mind. Swooping lower towards the robots, she extended her senses towards the robots, and was amazed to find a weak magical signature coming forth from them, cool, crisp and mechanical.

Magitek, she thought grimly to herself.

Abruptly, she swept down towards the pavement towards two individuals, one crackling with force fields, the other garmented in some form of bodysuit. As her feet hit the cement, her wings folded back and faded into nothingness. "You're superheroes, I presume? Because these robots aren't just machines. I can feel the magic coming from them. It's weak, but it's there. It seems like they're all heading Downtown. I think it would be easier if we worked together on this one."

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The roar of an engine from above, a swirl of scarf and coat fabric, and a flying motorcycle came to rest besides Blueshift, kicking up dust for a moment before it landed. It had taken Push a few minutes to "dress up", as Blue had called it, and what he'd seen as he flew down to meet her brought on a mix of excitement, chagrin, embarassment, and irritation. No way. No way he came here. No. Effing. Way.

Unfortunately, the truth was in the two little robots who walked by carrying a stop sign Indian-style. Though he held out some hope that perhaps it wasn't the particular bad guy he was thinking of...Push facepalmed, then gave Blueshift a one-armed hug, nodded at Glowstar, and blinked, then waved at Equinox.

"I'll second that motion. Blueshift I know, and good to see you, Equinox. How about you..." He looked Glowstar up and down for the moment. "Nah, too easy. Call me Push." He stuck out a hand, eyes smiling over the scarf.

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Glowstar raised an eyebrow at Push's comment, but he smiled easily at the other heroes. "It's Glowstar," he said. The teen reached out and poked the force field from within, sending little bolts of energy across its surface. "Can't shake hands through the bubble, sorry." He fell silent as Equinox drifted over and gave her assessment. "Magitek, huh? So is that the reason we're not blasting these guys? 'Cause I'm just about convinced this isn't a Halloween parade."

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Blueshift leaned into Push's hug, briefly pressing her head against his shoulder. When his question came up about Glowstar, and the hero himself did little to fill in the blanks, she piped up, "Glowstar. Flying force field guy. Put simply. Also likes blasting things. And Equinox. Mystic extraordinaire, correct? Good. That'll help."

"Magitek, huh? So is that the reason we're not blasting these guys? 'Cause I'm just about convinced this isn't a Halloween parade."

"Because," she responded in a light tone of voice, not wanting to offend, "Blasting things isn't always the quickest solution. For instance. Logically, we can't stop them all. Or if we could, How are we going to return all this stuff? But!" She pulled a small device from her belt that looked like a cross between a taser and a palm pilot, "If I can reprogram them, they'll do all the work for us. But for that, I'll need access to whatever's controlling them."

Blueshift tapped at a button on her visor once or twice, "Equinox. You've dealt with Golems and Homunculi before. That glyph on their chassis. Know anything about it?" She pointed out the shining symbol she'd noticed earlier, "And Push, you've dealt with this type of stuff before. Any of your... ah.. 'friends' possibly involved?"

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Blueshift leaned into Push's hug, briefly pressing her head against his shoulder. When his question came up about Glowstar, and the hero himself did little to fill in the blanks, she piped up, "Glowstar. Flying force field guy. Put simply. Also likes blasting things. And Equinox. Mystic extraordinaire, correct? Good. That'll help."

"I prefer witch to mystic, but yes..." Equinox bowed her head briefly, conceding the point. "I like to think I at least know what I'm talking about."

Blueshift tapped at a button on her visor once or twice, "Equinox. That glyph on their chassis. Know anything about it? And Push, you've dealt with this type of stuff before. Any of your... ah.. 'friends' possibly involved?"

"That rune?" she repeated, raising an eyebrow. "Well, have you seen Fantasia, with that Mickey Mouse short... The Sorcerer's Apprentice? It's that sort of thing. Only without the duplication of the brooms. It's modified a little to pick up random objects instead of sweeping, but that's it. I'm not sensing any incitements to offensive action." She pulled out a slender wand from her belt.

"But they're not entirely magical, so I wouldn't count on that part."

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Push cocked his head to the side as they examined the robots, and he himself took a close look at one. Although not so much with the runes, but more at the tech behind them.

"Yeah, I'd bet one of my 'friends' is involved."

He took a careful look at the small robot, watching it struggle along as it tried to drag a whole car bumper behind it. The tech was a kludge as usual, but it worked; and there were vaccum tubes on the interior here, there, and everywhere...definitley WyrdTech.

"Okay...used to tussle with a guy named Professor Wyrd - sorry - The Notorious Professor Wyrd, he's very specific about those first two words, this looks like his tech. He's your classic mad scientist, except that he apparently knows how to mix magic and technology."

He eschewed mentioning that his hammer was made by Wyrd, deciding to leave it on the bike for the duration. Blueshift's assertion caused him to turn, followed by Equinox's description of her senses, and he cocked his head to the side.

"Well, we gotta make sure these little dudes put their toys back, alright. 'nox, any chance you can track back to where they're taking this stuff?"

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The witch nodded, briefly closing her eyes to concentrate. Even when she did so, a faint white glow was visible through the skin. Opening them again, they flared back into a bright enough light to obscure her features slightly. "I can feel a lot of them, and therefore, can figure out what direction they're heading. If you'll all just follow me-" With a brief gesture, she rose up off the ground again, white wings spread. "I can lead you to wherever they're going."

But she looked at Push, remembering Stratford. "But we do this properly," she stated, pushing aside the urge to say her way, trying to remain diplomatic. "No rushing in half-cocked. We ask questions before shooting, I don't care if you've got history with this man. And I will be flying myself there." Equinox kept her face locked in her best 'strict teacher' look.

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Glowstar glanced between Push and Equinox, sensing the tension between them but not wanting to get caught up in it. In fact, with Blueshift's clear connection to Push, he was sort of feeling like the odd man out.

The teen hero pushed those feelings away. He had a job to do, he could worry about stuff like that later. He rose into the air and followed Equinox, staying a length or two behind the self-professed witch. "So, we track down the guy who made these things and then blast him? How? Are you just planning on following these things from the air?"

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"No rushing in half-cocked. We ask questions before shooting, I don't care if you've got history with this man. And I will be flying myself there." Equinox kept her face locked in her best 'strict teacher' look.

"Roger that," Blueshift replied, switching the filters on her visor with a simple thought. She followed the heat generated by the machines. If it was enough to leave any residue, she'd be able to retrace the steps the robots took, and aid Equinox in tracking them.

"So, we track down the guy who made these things and then blast him? How? Are you just planning on following these things from the air?"

"Glowstar." Blueshift laid her hands on her hips, "Again with the blasting? There may be blasting. First we need info. Find everything we can. If you start blasting, chances of that go down. Gather intel first. Possible blasting later." She diagrammed the chain of events by laying it down in imaginary sections with her hands. "Teddy Roosevelt. 'Speak softly, but carry a big stick.' You're our big stick. Well, you and Push."

She shook her head, and glanced up briefly at Equinox, "Men."

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She shook her head, and glanced up briefly at Equinox, "Men."

Ignoring Glowstar, Equinox rolled her eyes. How many times am I going to hav to explain I can sense where they are? Instead, she spun in mid-air to look at Blueshift.

Then looked up, shouted "Pyrkaaaaaaa-" and raised one hand above her head. "-KAAAAAAGIUS!" As she did so, a huge blast of flame erupted forth from her hand, illuminating a wide area temporarily, before vanishing leaving nothing more than a small of burning ozone.

"So... brashness, lack of judgement and a propensity for violence are gender-specific traits? I could lend you a book on the subject, ma'am." She smiled down at Blueshift radiantly. "Sound good?"

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Then looked up, shouted "Pyrkaaaaaaa-" and raised one hand above her head. "-KAAAAAAGIUS!" As she did so, a huge blast of flame erupted forth from her hand, illuminating a wide area temporarily, before vanishing leaving nothing more than a small of burning ozone.

There was a sound like heavy static from a television. Blueshift's heat sensors had been overloading by the sudden gout of flame launched by Equinox that she'd unfortunately been staring directly at. Her visor overloaded, but not before her entire field of vision when blindingly white, then dark as the abyss. A sharp pain shot through her head as her retinas screamed in protest. "Ayyaugh!" Blueshift's knees buckled, and she sank to the ground, ripping her visor from her head, and clutching at her eyes with both hands.

"So... brashness, lack of judgement and a propensity for violence are gender-specific traits? I could lend you a book on the subject, ma'am." She smiled down at Blueshift radiantly. "Sound good?"

"No! Not good!" Blueshift's hand's dropped away from her face and she stared up toward the sound of Equinox's voice with sightless eyes, "Books won't do any good if I can't read!" She clutched at her face again, "@#$%!" The curse wasn't a normal part of her vocabulary, but it escaped her lips anyhow. "Honestly. You're the smart one. What part of heat vision don't you under...Oh my god." Blueshift was staring at her hands, her eyes searching back and forth, finding nothing. "Push? I... I ca... I can't... Oh god..." Blueshift was shaking, the rate of her breathing increased. As she reached out and clawed at the air toward where she remembered Push standing, it was clear fighting hard against having a mental breakdown, but it was quickly becoming a losing battle.

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Push's reaction time was quite extraordinary, he'd started moving the second Equinox's flare had gone off and was kneeling and holding Blueshift once she hit the ground herself, quietly murmuring in her ear. Inwardly, his mind was terrified that there was actually permanent damage to Rachel's eyes, but he did his best to keep that from showing outside.

"Easy, easy Blue. It's alright, I'm here, I'm not going away, focus on the sound, listen carefully. It's just like a flashbang, it'll go away in a few minutes. Just focus on my voice, alright?"

He hugged Blueshift, then shot a look towards Equinox. It was actually quite surprising that even with half of his face covered by the scarf, the mutant could still manage to convey a distinct look of 'You and me later. Words.' The kineticist's voice when he spoke to the witch were calm, polite, clipped, precise, and absolutely chilling.

"Please. Don't do that again."

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A silent curse formed on Equinox's lips. "Skies above, I am so sorry, I had no idea that would do that to your goggles." Oh Lord, Lady, forgive me, for I have harmed without just cause.

She put one firm hand on the side of Blueshift's head, ignoring Push's stare. Please let this work, please let this work, I can fix this. She pulled a wand from her belt, and used the tip to gently shut the woman's eyelids properly. Lady, please... guide my will.

"Fotizei," said Equinox softly, in something sounding like Greek, white light spilling forth and into Blueshift's eyes. Stars and stones, this isn't working... After a couple of seconds, she gently withdrew her hand from the side of Blueshift's head, and held it before her, making sure her wand hand was steady.

I hate equivalent exchange. She jammed her index finger into her left eye socket, sending a bright burst of pain through her skull, and a bright burst of light out of her wand tip.

She slowly drew back. "I deeply apologise, I've never had that reaction occur with anyone before."

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There was a flash of light, and suddenly Blueshift's vision came rushing back to her. She sat, still panting, and clutching at Push, though her feelings of terror were rapidly diminishing. "I can see." She stated bluntly. "Heh, Push! I can see!" The second exclamation was more excited.

"I deeply apologise, I've never had that reaction occur with anyone before."

"I...Equinox, it's okay." Blueshift looked up at her, wincing at the look of her eye, "You fixed me. No harm, no foul, right?" With push's help, she stood, and placed the goggles back on her head. She adjusted some of the settings to get them back in working order while saying, "Nothing's wrong with your powers. Just an unfortunate side effect of a strange situation. I'm a woman of science. I'm used to experiments blowing up in my face due to unforeseen situational factors. We live. We learn. Right?" One last adjustment caused the display on her visor to flare back to life again. "Ah! Much better. Next time, Large gouts of heat and light plus active heat sensors equals problems." Blueshift shrugged.

Suddenly she seemed distracted, "Actually, that's a great idea for..." Blueshift shook her head, bringing herself back to the subject at hand. "Robots! We can take care of apologies until the cows come home, Equinox. But later. Right now, job's more important. I forgive you, let's move on. Heat sensors off." She clicked a button on her visor, "Just in case. Lead the way."

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Following the little robots wasn't that difficult, even with Equinox's magic senses; the little metal men weren't really trying to be stealthy. A few minutes of flying revealed there was a small army of these things all over the City Centre, carrying the oddest assortment of objects and converging on a single office building in the centre of Downtown. For the other heroes, they simply saw the robots enter in through the front doors, the side doors, even a few going in through open windows; but Equinox could feel their movements inside, the whole lot of them seemed to be going down into the basement and then vanishing from her sight, only to reappear a few moments later going back out...without the items they were carrying!

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Glowstar hung apart from the trio of other heroes as they went through their drama. He wasn't sure which side to take. On the one hand, Equinox was being rather short with Blueshift, and lighting off a fireball in the middle of the city wasn't the most adult course of action. On the other hand, one should prepare for something like that and not go into a nervous breakdown when it happened. Besides, Push was giving her plenty of support.

He was glad when they all started moving again. Equinox lead them to the office building and he idly noted that it was near the middle of the city. He waited for the witch to give them a heads up on what the robots were doing, but she was just staring at the building. He did the same, focusing his vision past the walls and roof, seeing through all that as he followed the robots in and down.

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"Anyone see anything?" Blueshift asked when they arrived at the building. None of her scanners would penetrate the building's construction, but she had a few tricks that could sense any radar or radio signals that were being broadcast to or from either the building or the robots that she could still see while outside. "Currently scanning radar and radio channels for possible broadcasts. Hoping the source isn't just internal programing. Have to pick one apart if that's the case." Blueshift continued her scan in silence for a few moments before adding, "I could infiltrate, and relay what I can see from the inside. Keep in touch via radio? Call in the cavalry when I know the sit rep. Thoughts?"

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"I say we split into two," offered Equinox. "You physically infiltrate, I'll astrally project. It also means I can very quickly get back to my body if the situation changes. The guys can stay outside as guards." Although with 'Stone' not especially happy with me...do I want to leave my body in his care?

The witch shrugged. "Although keeping in radio contact would be a good idea. Projecting back and forward is fairly exhausting."

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Glowstar's eyes did not fail him as he scanned the building, discovering it was (mercifully) empty of civilians, but the offices were pretty much 100% clear of everything (literally, it looked like the robots already stripped the place). Strangely enough, there was a hole in what seemed like a basement storage room that the little robots were all walking up to and chucking the stuff into, before beginning to troop back up to the surface.

As for the kineticist, Push nodded in acceptance, slinging his legs over the bike and landing on the pavement with a thud. A quick tap on the commlink, and the hovercycle shot off into the air, aiming towards the L.A.I.R at full-bore with the hammer on it's side.

"No problem. If anyone here's got a commlink or radio, I'm on channel 1337; should we sync up?"

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Equinox shook her head. "Even if I did have one, I can't use one if I'm not in my body," she explained, before slipping into a nearby alleyway. There came a muffled cry of "Astrikos!" and then a thump as the woman's body fell to the ground, completely limp.

And yet a shimmering, half-formed image of her walked out of the alleyway. <You can tell I rarely do this spell by the fact that I completely forgot to sit down,> explained Equinox sheepishly. The astral form was visibly the same as her physical appearance, only with brown hair and her eyes weren't glowing. Also, while her mouth moved, and the three other superheroes heard her voice, there wasn't actually sound coming out.

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Glowstar had seen some weird stuff in his brief time at Claremont, but a magic ghost with a telepathic voice put him off his stride for a moment. Only a moment, though. "So are you sure that you want to leave your body in an ally instead of having two strapping young men stand over it and wow, that sounded a lot less creepy in my head." He finished the sentence in the same tone as he began it, and topped the whole thing off with a bright, sunny smile in Equinox's general, incorporeal direction.

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Equinox shrugged, pretending to ignore how Glowstar's sentence had started. <Why do one or the other? You both know where my body is,> stated Equinox. <Nothing stops you from at least keeping half an eye on it.> She took a couple of steps towards Blueshift.

<I'm going to be a couple of steps behind you,> assured the witch. <But I'm going to be doing it silently and invisibly. Don't worry, I won't fall back into my body without telling you, unless something forces me to. Shall we proceed?> Equinox nodded briefly, before her astral form shimmered until it was nothing but a heat blur, then faded completely into invisibility.

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