X-Men: Special Threats, Issue One

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X-Men: Special Threats, Issue One

Post  AndyWright on Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:15 pm

X-Men: Special Threats
Issue One

“Hey Illyana!”

The young woman with short hair dyed dark maroon didn’t bother turning around or responding. Maybe she needed to change her hair color again so this annoying-bubbly seventeen year old girl, Sarah, wouldn't recognize her anymore. Illyana had hoped to relax here in the student lounge area after nearly an entire day of helping Kurt Wagner teach basketball and PE.

But Sarah’s usual smile was absent as she came over and sat next to her. “You’ve taken classes from Frost before, right? She left us all this crazy homework before she took off. Like, what’s she asking for in this question?”

Illyana sighed and leaned over to look at the economics worksheet. Frost may once have ran a multi-million dollar company, but that didn’t mean she was a good teacher. Illyana looked at the question Sarah was pointing at, then read it out-loud: “Define and elaborate on the term used to describe the ‘output’ component of production in a micro-economics system.”

Sarah shook her head slowly. “I have no idea what this woman is saying.”

Illyana frowned and looked at Sarah’s backpack lying by her feet. “Do you have your textbook?”

Sarah handed the four hundred page tome to her, a the cover having a photo of an attractive, young, smiling, African-American woman holding a pencil and leaning over a desk covered with paperwork and receipts. Illyana tried to dig through it, not understanding the question either. She was suspicious the question was badly written, and the desire to prove this was half the motivation in helping Sarah.

Sarah was quiet while she waited. Until she took in a deep breath and spoke slowly. “Illyana?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you think Xavier will let me come with him when he leaves?”

Illyana shrugged, still scanning the pages. “Probably.”

“Because I don’t really think--I don’t know.”

Illyana kept searching. Sarah’s tanned face looked like it was turning gray as her eyes turned downward.

“Look.” Illyana spoke without taking her eyes off the book. “It doesn’t really matter because most mutants don’t have their powers now anyway. You’ll blend right in. Besides. He did say that he was declaring his school a safe place for anyone. He means what he says.”

“Yeah, because of the whole superhero registration thing. But I heard they’re probably going to
get rid of that anyway, I don’t--I mean, I don’t know.”

Illyana glared at her a second before returning to the book. “You chose to come here. No sense regretting it now. Besides.”

Sarah frowned as several seconds when by with Illyana not finishing her statement. “Besides what?”

Illyana smiled. “Wolverine and Storm are coming today. Better make your decision about going or staying real quick.”

* * *

Logan took in a deep breath, taking in the rich scents of the trees and flowers bordering the private road. Ororo didn’t look like she was enjoying the walk quite as much. He smirked at her.

“Glad you came, but you know you didn’t have to.”

Ororo shook her head.

“I like the new hair.”

She looked at Logan, smiling a little. She ran two dark fingers through her pure-white locks. “The conditioner I use is expensive. I don’t go through it as fast if my hair is shorter.”

Logan shrugged, facing forward. “Conditioner.”

“You’d probably benefit from using some.”

That made him laugh, then both of them stopped walking as they neared the gate of what used to be a home for them. The Xavier Institute. The walls surrounding the property showed the wear of the years. Little craters running along in zigzag patterns, made by automatic gunfire. Cracks and crumbles from explosions of innumerable varieties. Lichen and moss covered the stone, filling the older cracks and craters.

“What are those?”

Logan looked to where ‘Ro had gestured with a nod. A strikingly feminine figure, glossy gunmetal in appearance, was walking toward them from the other side of the gate. Logan raised an eyebrow as he sized up the robot. The limbs were skinned with tightly fitted plates of metal. Across the shoulders hung something like a cloak or a cape, made of six-sided metal tiles linked together and concealing the arms and reaching almost to the ground. The eyes had tiny lenses in the chrome sockets, and the hair was a fancy arrangement of silver chainmail.

Ororo shook her head. “At least there’s no metal nipples. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look too malicious.”

Logan folded his arms. “Yet.”

It came up to the gate, stopped, and looked at each of them. It didn’t make any mechanical noises. Logan could have sworn he heard it breathing.

In fact, it sighed after finishing looking them over. “James Howlett, registered super-human, operative handle: The Wolverine. Ororo Munroe, registered super-human, operative handle: Storm. Welcome to the Xavier Mansion.”

Logan frowned. “It knows my real name. That’s a little creepy.”

It executed an about-face, walked away, and the gate unlocked with a shutter.

* * *

“I was expecting giant Sentinels and I find the grounds covered with robo-babes. Whose idea was this?” Logan shook his head as he paced around the kitchen.

Scott Summers, leaning against the doorframe, shrugged. “I wouldn’t underestimate them. They had ten Sentinels here before. They only left six of these things. The professor thinks they’re built on the same tech as the Thor clone.”

Ororo shivered.

Logan’s fists and jaw clenched up, a low snarl coming out his nose. He stepped over by a window to look out at one of the things. “That’s not good. I have a feeling they won’t just let us walk out of here either.”

“I know they won’t.”

The three of them turned as Xavier rolled into the room, Summers moving out of his way. Xavier stopped, looking at each of them, then smiled. “Brings back good memories, doesn’t it?”

Ororo was frowning. “How many of us are even here, professor?”

“Logan told you what we want to do, correct?”

She nodded.

The professor paused a moment, a wrinkle forming on his forehead, then fading. “There are eighty-seven in total. Many of them children.”

“Eighty-seven.” Ororo whispered the words out. “I thought most of the hundred and ninety-eight were here.”

Xavier shook his head. “After Steve Rogers surrendered, many left, for various reasons. Some that had refused to come here before showed up on our doorstep. Many that came aren’t even mutants.”

Ororo had her mouth open, her eyes focused on the wall a moment. “You mean, they’re mutants that lost their powers after what happened with Scarlet Witch?”

Xavier shook his head. “Some. Many are not. Perhaps most. I don’t know for sure.”

Logan looked at Summers. It was amazing how easy the guy was to read, even with half his face covered up by his goofy headwear. Logan hadn’t known about the non-mutants, and it didn’t bother or surprise him that much. Summers almost looked ashamed.

Finally Logan chuckled. “What’s eating you?”

“I never thought it would happen like this.”

All of them looked at the tall leader of the X-Men.

“We wanted equality.” Summers looked up, a smile almost forming on his face. “The way we get it is all backwards.”

Ororo looked at the professor, then back at Summers. “I don’t understand. Why would non-mutants come here?”

The professor took in a breath, but then looked past the group, at the doorway.

“We required debriefing on this conference you are having.” It was one of the Valkyries.

“You require?” Logan folded his arms.

“Yes.” It looked at him, then at Summers. “Specifically, we suspect that you are intending on removing the refugees from the safe-house.”

“So? You gonna stop us?”

Summers sighed. “Logan.”

The robot smiled. “Yes.”

Logan threw a punch. Blades extended from the back of Logan's fist in mid-swing. In the same moment the Valkyrie lifted her cloak with an arm. Metal hit metal, Logan’s blades deflecting off the cloak and sparks shooting off from the impact. His eyes went wide. He hadn’t even put a scratch on the cloak.

The blades extended from his right hand as he pulled back to punch-stab the thing in the face. Before his fist was half-way there, it kicked him square in the jaw.

The room went spinning as he staggered backward, running into Summers. He brought his blades up just in time to block the cloak from whipping across his face.

“A little help!”

Summers lifted a hand to the side of his head. “Left.”

Logan dodged left. Summers fired from his visor.

The Valkyrie whipped its cloak into the path of the blast, sending the red beam of energy scattering upward, blasting apart the ceiling.

Meanwhile Logan had grabbed a metal bar stool and had taken advantage of this minor distraction to swing it like a baseball bat into the robot’s hip with a yell. It slammed through the wall and out of view.

Logan examined the mangled bar stool, then tossed to the side as he turned to face the group. “Great. Can’t cut it, can’t blast it. I guess--”

It jumped back out of the hole and wrapped itself around Logan in a rear mount. It wrapped its arms around his neck, but Logan got a hand between the metal forearm and his throat in time to keep it from choking him. Both hands were occupied now, however, trying to pull the arms off.

Logan ran backward, trying to slam the robot into the wall. This just made another hole and didn’t phase the thing at all.

It whispered into his ear. “This violence is unnecessary.”

He turned to see another one of them coming down the hallway, not running. Just walking briskly. No urgency.

“My turn.” Ororo lifted up one hand, and wind began blowing violently down through the holes in the ceiling from Summers’ optical blast. Pots and pans hanging up by the stove began rattling loudly. Logan, with the robot still wrapped around him, was blown back down the hallway toward the second robot.

He closed his eyes as the robot on his back slammed into the one walking down the hallway, knocking it to the ground. He and the one wrapped on him kept moving, flying out the mansion’s open front door. They shot into the air as if pulled up by a tornado.

“'Ro! I don’t see how this is helping!”

* * *

“You know.” Xavier cleared his throat. “Logan may be able to survive severe falls, but that doesn’t mean he enjoys them.”

Ororo, arms up and eyes closed, smiled. “Don’t worry.”

“Professor, what’s going on?”

Xavier turned to see a handful of students standing at the other entrance to the kitchen. Illyana Rasputin was standing behind them, looking grim.

Scott frowned. “Magik? You’re here?”

She didn’t look at him, she was watching Ororo. “Please don’t call me that.”

Xavier looked at her, then at Scott and Ororo. “You two distract the Valkyries with Logan. Illyana, tell Kurt to gather the students who said they would come.”

* * *

The mansion shrunk below them. Wind rustled as Logan and the robot went higher and higher. Above them, the clouds were turning gray, then black. Or they could be getting darker because the pressure on his neck was cutting off all oxygen from reaching his brain.

“Screw this.” Logan let go of the Valkyrie’s arms and all the blood stopped going to his head as it squeezed down like a vice. He placed his hands on either side of his head and let the blades shoot out, right at the thing’s face.

It screeched, loosening its grip on him just a little. The two of them still tumbling through the air, cold wind and rain blowing in every direction, Logan grabbed onto one of its legs and ripped it free of himself.

He threw it down, which made him start tumbling in the opposite direction. Black sky and wind-swept ground spun and switched places violently as he fell or flew or whatever it was that was happening in the loud chaos of the storm.

Eventually the ground seemed to be approaching. He could make out the markings of the basketball court getting closer and closer. But he felt the wind slowing him down and was able to right himself in the air a little.

He slammed down into a kneeling position, the concrete cracking under his fist and knee. He took a moment to catch his breath and regain his bearings, then looked up.

On one side of him was Ororo. On the other was Summers. Surrounding them were the Valkyries, six total. The storm circled over them, lightning striking out at a distance.
Two of the robots were damaged, one with a scarred face and neck courtesy of Logan’s blades, one with a mangled hand.

“So they’re not invulnerable.”

“No.” Summers shook his head. “But they are fast. And their capes seemed to stop anything we throw at them.”

One took a step forward. “This violence is unnecessary.”

“Scott.” Ororo was whispering. “Why are we on the basketball court? How is the Blackbird supposed to leave if we’re blocking the hanger door?”

Scott smiled at her as he unbuttoned the cuffs of his shirt and rolled up his sleeves. “I don’t know if I trust them to play fair. They could very easily blast the jet while we’re trying to distract them.”

“Great.” Logan stood up, extending his claws and trying to whisper as best he could considering how riled up he was. “So we’re the distraction.”

Summers’ voice was slow and flat. “Only because you had to go and attack the one that interrupted us.”

“Huh.” Logan assessed the situation. “Three of us against six super robots that stop my blades and Summers’ eye blasts.”

“We could try this.” Ororo’s eyes glowed white as both her arms shot up. The clouds above began to twist and distort and darken. The air smelled of ozone, then flashed hot as everything was engulfed with flashing purple. It sounded like fifty bombs going off all at once right in front of them.

Through squinted eyes, Logan watched a pillar of crooked light dance in front of him from one of the Valkyries to another. The air shook with thunder each time the crack of light shifted.
Ororo lowered her hands just a little. As fast as it had appeared, the lightning vanished.

Somewhat.

Electricity was arching back and forth between the Valkyries, blue and purple bolts circling around the three out-numbered X-Men.

There wasn’t a single new scratch or score or dent on any of the robots.

Summer sighed. “And apparently they’re immune to lightning.”

One of them raised a slender, metal arm and all the arcing electricity flowed from the others to that one and collected on hand.

Ororo relaxed her arms at her side. “That’s not good.”

Lightning struck from the arm, right at Ororo. As the shaft of light struck her and she struggled to redirect it upward, she yelled and doubled over.

Immediately after, Summers took a shot at the Valkyrie, but another one stepped in front and held its cloak in the path of the beam, each little hexagonal tile scattering a different ruby shaft off into the sky.

Logan shook his head as he carefully helped Ororo to her feet, her left arm and the left side of her head covered with burns and blisters. He kept his eyes on the robots. “Well this sucks.”

* * *

“Come along, everyone, up the ramp.” Xavier’s voice was infinitely patient as he directed traffic amidst the booms and thunder coming from directly overhead.

Illyana stood off to the side with arms folded. In the bright light of the overhead fluorescents her hair looked a comical red. She watched the scene, ignored by everyone. She spotted Sarah, walking with the group with her eyes darting left and right. As if she was afraid of being caught. Afraid of being labeled normal among freaks.

About forty of the refugees had elected to come with Xavier. Most of them looked normal, only half a dozen having oddly colored skin or strange body structures. A green lizard girl here, a red squid boy there.

These were the ones choosing to trade the high profile and constant government surveillance for the uncertainty of whatever plan Xavier had cooked up with Wolverine.

There was another boom from directly above, coming through the steel of the hidden door, then the very distinct sound of Wolverine yelling and slashing at things.

Blue-skinned Kurt Wagner ran down the ramp out of the jet, looking impatient. “I cannot see why they think fighting directly on top of the hanger is a good idea.”

“Illyana!” It was Xavier. “Come on. Everyone’s on board.”

“I never said I was coming.”

Xavier looked taken off-guard a moment. “That is your choice. When Frost gets back from DC tell her we’ll keep in touch.”

The ground shook, dust falling from the overhead lights.

Kurt shook his head. “It doesn’t look like any of us are going anywhere at the moment.”

Xavier grumbled. “Sounds like they need some help.”

Kurt nodded. “I’ll go, professor.”

“Wait.” Illyana walked toward him. “Take me up there with you.”

Kurt narrowed his unnaturally dark eyes. “Why would I need to take you? I thought you were able to teleport as well.”

The ceiling indented downward, followed by a very frustrated sounding scream from Wolverine coming muffled through. She shook her head. “Not anymore. It doesn’t matter. Get me up there.”

* * *

Logan’s arms were getting tired from slashing and hitting nothing but the stupid adamantium cloak, but so far it was all he could do. The massive burn on his shoulder from narrowly missing a direct blast from a lightning bolt wasn’t helping either. It was healing fast, but it still hurt like hell. Chasing one of the Valkyries backward across the basketball court, he swung left, right, left, right, then threw a side-kick when the robot left an opening by over-extending one of its blocks.

The Valkyrie tried to block the kick, but was sloppy. That was his in. These things were fast and tough, but they weren’t seasoned martial artists. Just dumb robots. The sloppy block caused the robot to go slightly off balance.

Logan yelled as he swung fast to the thing’s face. It leaned its head back, stumbling in the process. It was forced to move its arms up and out to fix its balance, which lifted the cloak up and out of the way. Logan shot his other fist and blades forward, thrusting straight into the thing’s thigh.

“Finally!” he half-said, half-grumbled.

It screamed, then growled as he twisted and pulled outward, tearing the metal like a soda can.
He looked up at its face, smiling, just a second before it jumped off its good leg and kicked him square in the chest with it.

He tumbled to a stop next to Ororo, who was currently sending a driving, freezing rain at two of them. It didn’t look like it was accomplishing much, other than pushing back on them mildly.
Summers looked irritated, constantly trying to find openings to shoot through. He looked down at Logan. “You okay?”

Logan brought himself up on a knee. “Sure.”

They heard a distorted scream behind them. They turned and saw one of the Valkyries fall to the ground, limp. Most of its face looked like it has melted off, leaving a patchwork of metal plates and framing.

They heard a similar scream from the other side and saw another mutilated robot, this one with half its head and some of its cloak dissolved. It twitched and flopped on the ground like a fish out of water.

“Scott!” It was 'Ro, screaming at the top of her lungs. “Behind you!”

Logan and Summers turned at the same time to see one of the Valkyries running straight toward them, three or four paces off, a hand extended with palm aimed at Summers. The palm of the hand was glowing white with electricity arcing between fingers and snapping from hand to shoulder and head and ground.

Logan was trying to scramble in between it and Summers, who meanwhile sent off a blast that was of course deflected by the robot’s cloak.

Time slowed down. Logan wouldn’t get there in time.

Something in the air cracked. The air shifted. Suddenly, right to the side of the Valkyrie, appeared Nightcrawler’s thin, blue frame with a girl in his arms. He was in mid-throw, tossing her by the waist. In the air she spun, throwing her foot around right at the robot’s head. Her bare foot.
He watched the head of the Valkyrie dissolve and dislodge under the force of her kick, like it was nothing but soft clay. As she came back to the ground, Logan noticed that her arms were covered in some sort medieval-looking armor pieces.

The metal of the head was now wrapped around her leg, reforming slowly, changing shape. Logan’s eyes narrowed, watching the transformation, not even being distracted as the heavy, headless body of the Valkyrie continued running and slammed into Summers.

The metal was spreading out along her leg, but before it was done, Kurt grabbed her arm and they were gone in a puff of blue smoke.

Logan heard another crack behind him, seeing Kurt and the girl next to another Valkyrie. This one wasn’t taken off guard. It immediately jumped back, then went airborne, hovering just out of reach of any of the girl’s strange attacks. Now the metal on her leg had turned into armor that matched the style of the pieces on her arms.

Kurt grabbed her again and tried throwing her at the Valkyrie again, but now all three remaining robots were wary to the strategy. They moved to surround Kurt and the girl.

Logan’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the girl’s face. “Is that Colossus's sister?”

Summers sent off a blast at one of the Valkyries from behind, but it hardly had to move to block the attack. “Damn it! This is pissing me off.”

Logan chuckled. “You and me both, Slim.”

The floor below them shuttered. The basketball court began to retract into the sides. They ran off of it as the Blackbird below was slowly revealed.

One of the Valkyries looked back at hearing this, but then was slammed in the face with an ornately carved granite bench.

Logan smiled, looking up at Ororo suspended in the air over him. “Nice.”

She nodded, then sent the roof of the gazebo and other debris flying on the wind at the three remaining Valkyries.

* * *

“Illyana. That ability is incredible. How did your powers change so dramatically?”

Illyana didn’t answer Kurt. She was watching the robots, waiting. Two were looking at her, electricity arcing and snapping between their hands. One of them looked like half its left leg had been filleted.

The third one, two holes torn in its cheek and another on its neck, hovered between them and the hanger, watching the door open and dodging the rubbish Storm was throwing. In a few moments the Blackbird would rise up from the underground hangar. That one would probably shoot it down.

“I think we should move!” Kurt was reaching toward her.

She nodded. “Pick the one off by itself and send us after it. It should buy time.”

He smiled. “I can do better than that.”

* * *

Logan couldn’t help but smile as he watched. Kurt grabbed the girl’s hand and spun her around as if to throw her to the side. They vanished right before he released her.

A crack, and they reappeared up in the air next to the Valkyrie on the far right. Kurt let go of the girl in the air. She did a spinning back fist in the air, the Valkyrie moving out of the way.

Kurt vanished, reappeared right in the girl’s path through the air, grabbed her and vanished again. They reappeared in the air right above the Valkyrie in the center, Kurt throwing her down at it. It moved away just in time, withdrawing from her with an enthusiasm that looked a whole lot like fear. It immediately charged up a lightning bolt strike on its arm, but before it could even aim Kurt had teleported, appeared next to the girl, grabbed her, then teleported away.

He appeared in the air, off to the side, swinging the girl around and vanishing again to appear next to the third Valkyrie on the left with the leg Logan had diced. He merely swung her right at it. It arched its back to avoid her lethal touch, her hand just barely grazing the cloak and taking a handful of metal away with it. It scrambled away, more terrified than the other.

Immediately after, a red beam of energy slammed into the back of that robot’s head, sending chainmail hair and chunks of its head scattering into the sky as the robot fell.

“Finally!” Summers took a couple steps forward after it slammed into the ground and blasted it again.

Logan sighed, then turned toward the now fully-open door of the hanger, the Blackbird fully exposed. “Professor! Now!”

The air filled with the screech of jet engines spinning up, the sound becoming louder and louder. Wind began to blow and eddy around the hanger opening.

The two remaining robots, one undamaged and the other with the facial work from Logan’s claws, hovered together in the distance. The girl and Kurt stood between them and the jet. The machines had their eyes on the girl. They each had an arm charged up and ready to send lightning.

Ororo was watching, a tornado at her side that was filled with all sorts of landscaping structures. Summers had his visor ready, waiting for the Valkyries to make a mistake.

The one with the cut face called out, its voice scratchy and distorted. “The grounds are no longer secure.”

* * *

Illyana looked at her arms, at the armor that had formed there. Some sort of strange combination of one of her many old abilities with her single new ability. She looked up at the Valkyries. “Let the jet go. Not everyone is leaving, and you need to protect the campus.”

They didn’t respond. They were afraid of her. They no longer had their advantage.

She turned to go back to the hanger. “Try to stop us and I’ll destroy you.”

* * *

The belly of the Blackbird was incredibly cramped and stuffy. Xavier kept drifting in and out of a restless, groggy sleep as the loud roar of the engines both relaxed him and made him uneasy. Too many years associating riding in this craft with going into battle.

He was supposed to be a teacher and mentor. Right now he felt like an old, battle-fatigued war veteran.

He couldn’t help watching the mind of the girl, Illyana. The one who had turned a difficult fight into a one-sided one. She had done it without having to be asked, but there was something off.

Scott stepped over a handful of kids sitting on the floor, then squeezed around an overweight teenager to lean against the curved wall of the jet next to Xavier. He noticed the direction Xavier was looking in.

“Definitely not the Magik I remember.”

Xavier nodded. “Her mind is--damaged. It’s hard to say how.”

“The decimation took most mutants powers. It didn’t change them.”

“I know. Something else happened to her. She remembers what it was, but that’s as deep as I’ll go. I don’t like taking people’s secrets without permission.”

Scott frowned. “I could be wrong, but it looked like she could dissolve and reform adamantium. I’m not even sure Magneto could do that.”

Xavier leaned back in his chair, sighing. “She can do a lot more than that.”

* * *

“Excellent work out there! But I thought you said you weren’t coming.”

Illyana looked at Kurt as he squatted down next to her. “I said that I never said I was coming. I didn’t say I wasn’t coming.”

Kurt shrugged. “Either way, I’m sure Xavier is glad you came. I doubt that’s the last of those machines we’ll see.”

“I got lucky.”

“Lucky?” Kurt leaned back to rest his shoulder blades against the wall of the jet. He stretched out his two-toed foot and kicked the metal boot sitting on the floor in front of her, next to the gauntlets and forearm plating that had also formed during the fight. “I don’t believe in luck. This armor, it forms and then you can just keep it?”

“I’m not very good at controlling how metal reforms.” She picked up the boot, and it seemed to suck into itself, pulling together and forming a soft-ball-sized sphere in her hand. “I guess I can make it into the armor because of one of my old abilities.”

“You used to be a teleporter.” Kurt chuckled. “I don’t know how well I’d handle losing that ability. I’ve gotten too used to being able to get out of trouble quickly.”

She nodded. “Yeah. I don’t get out of trouble anymore.”

Kurt said something in response, something in a lighthearted tone, but she wasn’t listening. She was looking at Xavier. She knew he was listening, either with good hearing despite the roar of the engines or with his mind reading.

He looked back at her, their eyes locking. She didn’t hear a voice in her head or feel psychic energy touching her mind, but she knew that he was reading her one way or another. Anger flooded over her, but she wasn’t sure why. Something about the enormity of his power combined with how much misery he’d gone through. How much hardship his students had endured. How hard his X-Men had worked to protect all varieties of humanity, but always seemed on the verge of complete defeat.

It didn’t seem fair.

He shook his head. “I’m not a savior. I’m an old man trying to do what I can with what resources I have. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like very much, but it doesn’t mean we give up.”

Her expression didn’t change and she didn’t take her eyes off his. “Where are we going?”

Xavier smiled. “You’ll see. I think you’ll like it.”
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AndyWright

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