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Worth Its Weight [IC]


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December 26th, 2011

10:32 AM

It wasn't like he needed to stick to the rooftops and back alleys at this time of day, but he still did so out of habit. Cannonade wasn't exactly used to a diurnal patrol on a weekday. Sure, he'd take the occasional weekday stroll in broad daylight, and there were more than a few times that some sort of crisis had drawn him away from work or other daily duties. But it was the day after Christmas, he didn't have to go back to work for a week, and here he was, bouncing about downtown Freedom.

The holidays had been pretty good. Spending more time with the family was always great, and his Christmas bonus at work had gone to some great gifts for them. A light snow had fallen on Christmas Eve, and enough was left on the ground to keep some of that beauty around without clogging up the works. Eventually, somewhere around Pyramid Plaza, Cannonade worked his way down from the rooftops to the sidewalk. The city was starting to stir back to life after the holiday, and he wanted to be a part of it.

This isn't so bad, he thought. Looks like the whole "good will towards men" idea actually took off this year. I could use more days like this.

He was even considering stopping at the nearest Starbase for a cup of coffee when the Eastern Seaboard Bank Building caught his eye. Despite it being about an hour into the work week, the blinds were drawn in all the windows, and it looked like the doors were locked. He would have written this off as another business taking an extended holiday break, if it weren't the heart of one of Freedom's most prominent banks. As he edged closer, he could see a good deal of movement in the space between the blinds -- not enough to get a good look, but a good deal more than there should've been for a "closed" bank. Just as he was considering how to go about checking into the matter, a massive explosion rocked the street. Stone started raining down and people scattered as a small chunk of the east-facing second floor blasted out in shards.

Well, looks like it's back to work.

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Jessica Parker was in the habit of doing almost all of her banking online, but when the amounts you moved regularly involved six figures, and occasionally involved seven, the banks did insist on seeing you in person a couple times during the year. Jessica usually put it off as long as possible, which was why she was parking outside of the bank just a couple days after Christmas.

The young inventor fed a few coins into the meter and wrapped her coat tighter around herself as she hurried towards the bank's front door. She put her hand on the door handle and a massive force slapped her away from the building, dumping her on the street and making her ears ring. She glanced up to see an expanding cloud of dust and looked around at the few people on the street hurrying away. She stood up, shaking her head sharply to try and stop the ringing, and touched the bracelet-cum-watch around one wrist.

There was a flash of light, a sudden flare of heat that melted the snow on the street, and Ironclad stood there. Still wearing Jessica's fur-trimmed coat, but as powerful and impervious as ever. The heroine stalked towards the bank, ripped the front door off, and proceeded inside.

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Siobhan sidled down the quiet street. She enjoyed quiet mornings like these. Hayley was back at the apartment, no doubt assaulting the fridge with much enthusiasm. There wasn't much traffic, she didn't have any marking to do, she had nothing mystical which urgently needed doing... she could just saunter down the street, cigarette in one hand, cup of coffee in the other, and relax...

Thankfully her reflexes were quick enough for her to drop her cup and shout "Kinesi!", holding a chunk of rubble above her head in order to prevent it going into her head.

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He was walking to a meeting down the road from the current Transnational building, when that explosion happened. Second thoughts didn't happen, only the slight wherewithal to pass his phone off to his assistant, before he found himself running, then flying towards it. Exploding up towards the huge bit of rubble coming off the building, catching it with his body and hands with almost equal impact. And he felt the power echo and reverberate through himself as he was pushed back, though that slowed with each passing second until he could safely lower the stone of the building. Dusting off his hands, still dressed in his expensive Italian tailored suit, he looked up at the building and rose back into the air once more. His expression most decidedly cross as he moved towards the bank proper, wondering how much this escapade was going to cost him, after all one would be hard pressed to find someone in this town he wasn't invested in. Well that was only a slight exaggeration.

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Asad took the brunt of the largest chunk of rubble; the other pieces rained down in pebbles and stones, shattering a few windshields but not doing much else. Whatever had shattered the wall had some real impact behind it. As the smoke began to clear, the sound of a descending helicopter filled the air. The chopper - nothing more than your standard traffic copter, but with a heavy duty rig strung up between the landing skids - hovered above the ruined wall. A woman with long white hair, a black mask, and a black and white bodysuit poked her head out of the open cabin doors, signaling towards the smoke. A man in a red and black battlesuit flew out from the smoke, holding a steel cable between his arms. In the space of a few seconds, he threaded the cable through the rig under the copter. Slowly, the chopper took off, with the man in the battlesuit following behind -- and the cable went taut as something heavy scraped across the stone floor of the ruined story, following in the chopper's path.

That can't be good, Cannonade thought, visions of wrecking balls filling his head. Quickly, he leapt up to the second floor from the street, nimbly landing in the middle of the smoke-filled second story --

-- and finding himself right in the path of a speeding vault that had been freed from its moorings.

"Aw, crap," he said, as he planted his feet, bracing for impact. While Cannonade braced for the inevitable, however, Siobhan, down on the street, perceived a familiar looking glow from within the smoke. Something up on that floor was magical -- and judging by the way the glow was moving, it was whatever the thieves had decided to liberate.

Inside the first floor of the bank, meanwhile, Ironclad found herself face to face with two blonde women, both clad in a flattering black bodysuit, holding the tellers at gunpoint. Their attention was drawn upwards, but one of them quickly noticed the armor-clad heroine, and the other followed at the same time. "Don't move," they said as once, their voices echoing across the lobby. "Do this right, and no one gets hurt."

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Ironclad stomped to a halt, steel-shod feet clanging nosily on the stone tiles of the central area. She moved slowly and with exaggerated care, raising her hands in the air and crouching slightly, trying to appear as nonthreatening as possible when wearing a state-of-the-art battlesuit. "Okay, okay," she said. "No reason for anyone to do something they'll regret in the morning..."

While she tried to sooth the supercriminals, the young genius' mind raced at incredible speed. She quickly identified the woman -- both the women, in fact -- as on Looking Glass, a member of the (very) loose coalition of supercriminals that called themselves the Thieves' Guild. Looking Glass herself was more known for mirror-based illusions than duplication. All of that meant there was a very good chance at least one of the hostage-takers wasn't really there. So the question was, which one was the fake?

Ironclad's suit quickly rearranged itself as she considered how to test the images without getting any closer. She raised both her arms and a panel surreptitiously irised open on either gauntlet. A thin infrared beam projected from both arms, landing on the women in front of her. Normally these beams carried information in truly staggering quantities, but right now they only carried one thing -- heat. A real object would heat up, even just a couple of degrees. But an illusion, something crafted by an outside sentience to fool her, hopefully wouldn't know to respond properly.

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Cannonade braced for impact as the vault came skidding his way. The sudden burst of wind didn't help; it caught him slightly off his feet, and it made the vault, which had to weigh somewhere around 2 tons, shoot forward like a missile. In the confusion, the vault hit him like a wrecking ball, sending him stumbling to the side... but he was back on his feet soon after, rolling with the impact and taking nothing from the hit. The vault was on the lip of the roof now, about to go tumbling out into the void. He ran after it and leapt, clearing the vault and landing -- just barely -- on the helicopter's landing gear.

"Ain't there some cleaner way to steal this crap?" he asked as he swung towards the woman in black and white -- but between the reeling of the chopper and the aftermath of the impact, the swing went wild. "Someone could get hurt like this."


Meanwhile, down in the lobby, Looking Glass - both of her - paced around Ironclad, one training a gun on her and another training a gun on the nearest hostage. "That's right," they said in unison - though by now, Ironclad could detect that the one approaching her was hollow, an echo of the original's voice. "Just stay there. We'll be out of your hair in no time..."

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Ironclad's helmet stayed immobile and fixed on the hostages, while inside she rotated the sensorium display between the two approaching criminals. Which one, which one, which one!? They both moved like humans, their voices both registered properly... But one's temperature didn't change! The one holding the gun on Ironclad was as unchanging and hollow as blow-up figure; the one with the hostages was the real deal and the real threat. "Sorry to disappoint," Ironclad said, bounding forward and reaching for the real Looking Glass with servo-driven strength, "but there's already a banking crisis and if we allow large withdrawals like this, it'll just get worse."

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Looking Glass managed to nimbly dodge out of the way of Ironclad's steel fist... but as she did, the effort caused the other her to wink out of existence, like a TV going to a black screen. She smiled. "I see you made it through the maze," she said, bringing the gun closer towards her hostage. Up close, Ironclad could see it wasn't exactly a gun -- at least, she didn't know guns that looked like someone had poured a mirror into the mold. "Time to claim the prize."


Meanwhile, Cannonade was trying to hold onto the helicopter as the pilot tried to compensate for the change of weight. "I mean, can't you guys go through the drive-through window like everyone else? Maybe the ATM?"

"We tried," said the Weather Mistress. "They don't carry what we're looking for. Go away, hero, or I'll blow you out of here myself."

"Yeah, overtake a helicopter with a gust of wind. Great idea. How about you just set it down, and --"

"I've got another idea." Cannonade felt something like a flaming cannonball hit him in the small of the back. He kept his grip on the door frame, but just barely. He turned to find Firebug hovering right behind him, keeping pace with the helicopter. "You get out of here, and I don't see how long it takes to turn you into a charcoal briquet."

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Asad pushed up hard arms outstretched as he made it to the vault. Time to see just how strong he was. Fingers slide and scraped over the surface, and gritting his teeth the billionaire hero pushed fingers into steel almost willing his grip into being, and then hanging on, as he pulled back. And he felt power surging and roaring in his ears, and the rope went taut. "Excuse me! I don't believe you have an account at this bank, would you mind terribly just desisting and not almost killing bystanders with collateral damage?" Smirking a little bit as he looked at them, hanging on quite tenaciously.

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Asad's enhanced density and ungodly strength went toe-to-toe with the helicopter's towing capacity, and Asad won. The cable went taut as the billionaire hero planted his feet onto the ground, and the helicopter jerked futilely in the air to the sound of straining steel. The pilot looked out to his passengers. "We're gonna lose the landing gear if he keeps this up!" he yelled. "Either we cut the cable or --"

"Do you think you're getting paid enough to finish that sentence?" asked the man in the armor. "Mistress, blow this guy out to the street. I'm taking on rich boy." He fell out of the copter, flying down to the street below, as Cannonade steadied himself in the cabin.

"Thought I recognized you," he said. "You guys look like you're playing with half a bench. Where're the others?"

"Prison," Weather Mistress said as she danced around Cannonade, "out of town, and... holding some very serious beliefs about Boxing Day."

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Equinox stood tranquil among the the chaos and brawling, aiming her wand carefully at the chain connecting the helicopter and the safe. If she used too little force, nothing would happen to the thick metal. But if she used too much and aimed incorrectly, she could do a lot of damage to the surroundings, especially the hero clinging onto the safe.

"Pyr," she whispered, letting the magic flow into her wand naturally, not forcing it through. "Pyrkagius." The jet of flame lanced into the chain, turning a few links a white-hot colour, but not shattering them.

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The chain was weakened by Equinox's assault, but still held together... for the most part. With Asad pulling in one direction and the helicopter struggling to move forward, who knew what would happen. Weather Mistress appeared to notice this as well, as she raised one hand to the sky and brought it down in a sweeping gesture. Cloud cover swept over the sky like oil over water, and the area was beset with a flash hailstorm. Chunks the size of watermelons came flying down towards Asad and Equinox, while Cannonade - still in the helicopter - got hit square in the back by a few softballs, blasted his way by an unnatural gale.

"Not bad," he said, wincing at the jolt running up his spine. "Thought you'd hit the copter."

"Who do you think I am, Stratos?" Weather Mistress said. "I know exactly what I'm doing. If I had called down lightning --"

Cannonade took the opportunity to strike the meteorological menace right in the breadbasket. She doubled over from the impact, trying to maintain her balance in the choppy copter. Just get 'em bragging, and they forget about everything.


Down in the bank, Looking Glass pulled the trigger on her gun -- but it didn't fire so much as shatter. The strange, reflective firearm burst into a hundred tiny shards, flying towards Ironclad like a hail of bullets. The shards cut deep, piercing the outer layer of her armor and clipping a few non-essential wires.

"Do you like it?" she asked, as some of the leftover glass slid over her fingers like mercury. "A little trick I picked up from a glassblower in Florence. Shame I had to make it a trade secret."

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Ironclad felt the pain of her wounds as the shards of glass sliced through her armor, finding chinks and joints and scouring the flesh underneath the steel. She fought through the pain of her wounds, though, and swung a metal-clad fist at Looking Glass. "I know breaking a mirror is seven years bad luck," Ironclad said as the criminal slipped away from the blow. She'd been planning that, however, and her opposite knee came up to sweep Looking Glass' feet out from under her. "I'll bet you get at least seven years for this job!"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looking Glass hit the ground with a thud. The mirror-like sheen on her costume, something Ironclad had thought was a trick of the light at first, cracked slightly, revealing a very thin protective coating. She glared up at Ironclad. "I don't think it counts if you can put it right back together," she said. She focused her attention on the remaining shards of the gun still clinging to her hands, but they were slow to draw together. She just kept staring, trying to focus on her broken armament.


Firebug, meanwhile, was rocketing down from the helicopter towards Asad. He came to a stop several yards above the superpowered playboy, training his cannons on the man below.

"Hey, rich boy," he said. "Hasn't anyone ever told you about the redistribution of wealth? Way I see it, you've got two options. One, you let go of that safe and just let us go stimulate the economy. Or two..."

Twin jets of flame erupted from Firebug's gauntlets, showering Asad with burning accelerant.

"...I see how long I can make you burn. Huh. Guess the options were a bit more limited than I thought."

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The hail pelted at him, ineffectually, except for making his five thousand dollar suit sodden. His fingers tightening their grip on the Vault, a grim smile on his face as he held onto it like a pitbull. Then came the fire, it hurt, but only in the 'first degree burn' level. He'd get some aloe vera and he'd be fine later. "Don't you people understand that today is a bank holiday? That means: NO WITHDRAWALS!" Swerving his head about, he looked at Firebug, lining it up carefully, before releasing some of the force that had be absorbed by him earlier. He was getting better at channeling it, and this time he channeled out of his eyes, something he had experimented with prior. A beam of distortion and light and it hit Firebug square in the midsection, sending him away with the force of a hammerblow and crumpling the man like a ragdoll. "Sorry chum, you didn't see the third option. I beat you."

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Equinox saw the hailstorm coming before it even hit her, standing in its path and raising a hand against it. The shards of hail shattered in the air a good five feet in front of her, tiny fragments of ice scattering around her in a wide arc. Her eyes flared brightly, as she raised her wand even higher, calling out to the clouds up above.

Her fellow superheroes were busy fighting the actual robbers, so it was up to her to stop the getaway vehicle properly. So, with a crackling surge of power, she called to the sky.

"Pazuzu, lord of wind, Pazuzu,

Help me fight the evil men do,

The craft is in the air, it should not be there,

Bring it down! MOTE IT BE!"

A powerful hammer of air, spiralling and gusting in a tornado and a hurricane, seized its way around the helicopter's blades, simultaneously wrapping around the underside of the craft, shaking the entire thing with turbulence and trying to force it to the ground.

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The helicopter rumbled in mid-air, and for a second Cannonade was afraid it would come crashing down with him in it. Fortunately, the air currents that were playing merry hell on the rotor also helped to guide it down, lowering the chopper to the street below. He was about to close the distance with the now cogent Weather Mistress when he heard the roaring of jets overhead. He stepped out of the copter, giving the thief and her pilot a glare that spoke clearly - "Don't go anywhere."

His eyes turned to the sky, where three suits of powered armor tore through the valleys of Freedom City's skyscrapers. They converged on the now devastated second floor of the Eastern Seaboard Bank Building, trained on the vault. The first broke ahead of the others, charging for the thing's sides. It drew back its fist with a whirr of servos, and plunged it in, gouging a hole in steel and marble alike. Equinox, who had the magically-protected vault in the corner of her eye, watched as the ward just went out -- directly into the man in the armor, who jerked like a marionette under a shaky hand. He veered wildly, trying to regain his balance, tumbling away from the hole in the vault.

Cannonade, meanwhile, trained his eyes on one of the man's comrades. He leapt to the air, aiming to catch both it and its buddy, but the other one was too fast. His target, however, took a blow right to the sternum, and plummeted a few feet while Cannonade managed to roll with the impact, tuck in midair, and land softly on the devastated second floor. Behind him, he heard the other guy in the suit plunging into the damaged safe - no fireworks show this time - and begin to unload whatever was inside.

"Look, I don't know if you're with these jokers or not," he said, "but I'd really have to peel every piece of that tin can off you and leave you out here in just your --"

That's when Cannonade noticed the extent of the damage he'd done to the suit's chest. He saw wiring, dented steel, and holes that went through almost to the other side. What he didn't see, however, was a person.

"I take that back. Guess you're all tin can."

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"I don't think all the king's horses and all the king's men are going to put your mirror back together again. Because I've got you lock." The heroine reached down, grabbed the back of Looking Glass' head, and hauled her upright. "Shock!" She continued lifting the criminal into the air, grabbing one thigh just about the kneed, and activated a pair of well-insulted metal prongs in the palms of her gauntlets. The prongs made contact with Looking Glass' suit and she temporarily became the path of least resistance for around twenty thousand volts of electricity. "And over a barrel!" Ironclad hoisted the other woman up high and flew into the air, carrying her to the peak of the lobby's high ceiling. "Now, are you going to give up or do I have to shake you until all the stolen change comes out?"

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Glowering at Firebug, and releasing the vault, as he channeled his power to a different direction. "Let's see if this works..." Seeing Cannonade putting a fist through the chest of one, he got an idea. Holding up a hand, he did something a bit new. There wasn't much of an initial visual effect, but it was the same as every time he consciously siphoned energy, it took a lot of concerted effort. So hopefully no one got him by surprise. It was like a dam burst as the power poured out of two of the Charibdrones, and the helicopter, and arced back to his outstretched hand. "Let me demonstrate how one properly does an assertive capitalist economic model."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Equinox didn't even bother hesitating to watch the energy currents flow into Asad, simply taking one step forward and pulling the spiralling currents of the wind back towards her. Then, she flicked them towards the metal man reaching into the vault, the effort about as much as opening a jar of jam.

The winds hammered into the figure like a small localised hurricane, stirring up the powdered snow and tossing it into the air in its wake. The very air took on a faint white tinge as the magically charged air came down upon it in a fury.

Satisfied, the witch raised her other hand, a shield shaped emanation of solid-looking energy coming into being before her.

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The air tore through the Charibdrone's systems and rattled its servos. The gold it had stuffed in its chest made a hideous clatter as it struggled to stay aloft, even as it lost limbs. Finally, it hit the ground with a thud, several bars spilling out of its chest onto the roof.

Weather Mistress, meanwhile, was glad that the new threat to their job was taken care of... but that left all the other myriad threats. Scanning the rooftop, her eyes fell on Asad, who'd drawn the power from the helicopter inside his body. She raised her hand, and the clouds above her - still there from the hailstorm - crackled and burst. Lightning fell on Asad, running through his body.

"You really don't know when to give up, do you?" said Cannonade. He dove at her, but Weather Mistress had recovered from her stumbling fit, as she swerved out of the way.

"What can I say? I'm dedicated to my work."


Down in the lobby, Looking Glass struggled against Ironclad's grip. She tried pushing against her bonds, but it was obvious that the armored hero's battlesuit would beat her minor grappling skills at any go. Instead, her eyes fell on one of the one-way mirrors from the ATMs, used to cover up the surveillance cameras - shattered and melted when Firebug had let off one of his warning shots. And one of the shards had worked its way over to her. She reached out, worked her fingers around the shard, and flowed like quicksilver into it. She was gone, leaving Ironclad and the hostages alone in the lobby.


Down on the street, Cannonade felt someone appear behind him. He turned around, to find Looking Glass standing right in front of the helicopter's rear view mirror, the rather shocked pilot sitting right next to her. She brought her hands together, silver shards running across her fingers. Cannonade swerved at the last minute, as a storm of shards embedded themselves in the far wall.

"Watch where you're firing that thing!" yelled the pilot. "Who knows what you could take out!"

"Like it matters," she said. She turned to Weather Mistress. "Time for Plan B."

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Ironclad blinked as the criminal disappeared from her grasp, her thrusters bobbling for a moment as they adjusted to losing over a hundred pounds of weight in an instant. The heroine lowered herself down to the floor, checking her sensors and scowling. "Everyone, stay down," she shouted to the civilians before jetting out the door. Outside was, well, Armageddon in capes and tights. A crashed, smoking helicopter, a safe that was mere scraps of steel, two suits of powered armor that didn't seem to be moving anymore, all pelted by golf ball-sized hailstones. Her sensors screamed at her and Ironclad spun, eyes fixing on the two villains standing tall on top of the bank -- Weather Mistress and Looking Glass, again!

The armored heroine rose into the air, attitude thrusters easily dealing with the gale-force wind, and drew a bead on Looking Glass. "Naughty, naughty," she taunted, snapping off a smaller, more controllable blast. "You've got an appointment at Blackstone. Do you really want to disappoint the warden?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

The suit was not meant to stand up to the Weather Mistress' attack, but he bore down through the next assault on him. It didn't matter, he saw the blades of the helicopter starting to slow, and two of the unshielded bots drop. Asad smiled, as he clenched a hand, gathering the power, and then throwing it out at her, but there was a method to it. As he made it look like he was throwing it like a pitch, as a wave of force and electricity surged out, but it dissipated before it struck her, brushing back her hair and uniform without much of anything behind it. Using the momentum from the throw he spun about, "Did someone get fooled by a changeup? Well here, have a fastball!" And as open as she left herself, he focused himself on hitting her, and this time unleashing the power out of his eyes, forming twin beams of energy, something he had noticed was that he could get more accurate by releasing the energy like this, and the beams struck her dead center in her mass, as he started to lose balance with the Italian leather dress shoe clad foot on the slick groun beneath him.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Equinox quickly leapt forwards into the air, a gust of wind carrying her over to hover just above the vault everyone was so interested in. The fight was still raging, but violence wasn't necessarily going to end it. Removing the objective of the fighting... well, that might work much better.

She screwed her eyes shut to let her magical senses twirl and twist over the vault, looking for any traps or tricks or indications as to what was so important about it all.

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