What it Takes to Be a Hero

Characters: Voodoo, Iron Patriot, Starfire
Rated: PG-13 for comic book violence and potent descriptions of injuries.
Summary: A trio of young heroines come together by happenstance and fate to attempt to stop an alien-backed assault on a Halo Corporation facility.
OOC Date: 2017-12-07 - 2017-12-24
IC Date: 2017-12-07
Where: Unnamed Halo Corporation facility in the Bronx

The truth is, Priscilla has not been hunting down Daemonites everywhere she goes like the well-honed alien-hunter she was trained to be. She left that life and that team behind a good while ago, and has been making her own way in life ever since. Even so, when she happens across Daemonite operations, she does not ignore them; she takes action. They're dangerous, and must be stopped. And she is one of the few ideally suited to the task, and knows it.

Yesterday, Pris was riding her motorcycle - her disguised hoverbike, actually - down the streets of New York City, heading across the bridge out of Manhattan when she drove by someone she could see - thans to her Sight - was being ridden by a Daemonite. She didn't make a visible show of it, but kept an eye on the van he climbed into, and followed that van. A lone Daemonite really isn't a thing, so she kept following, waiting until he joined up with others of his ilk. She had not planned to take a trip all the way out to Long Island, but here they are. She has managed to spot at least three others amongst the crew being prepped for whatever they have in mind. But since she cannot be sure what they're up to, she has been waiting.

All of that waiting ended about fifteen minutes ago, however, when the Daemonites and their human patsies mounted up in a pair of blacked-out cargo vans and pulled out. The Coda-trained warrior climbed back on her boverbike and is now following them from an altitude of about a hundred feet. With no headlights, she's hoping not to draw any attention, just in case they have an aircraft of their own coming in on this operation.

Pris tenses up as she spots the signage for a Halo Corporation facility. The vans haven't picked up speed or slowed down, but they did just make a lane change … and that's an exit they're headed for. On the off chance that there's someone out there - anyone - who might be able to help, or need a warning, she unwisely breaks radio silence as she activates the comms on the hoverbike.

"Sierra-Indigo, Sierra-Indigo. Hostiles incoming, two dark vans, no license plates, armored and carrying heavy weapons. Anyone receiving, civilians in danger, these coordinates. Initiating repeat." A computerized, almost Siri-like voice then starts reading off longitude and latitude with precise minutes and seconds, as she follows the vans in on their attack run.

And then the heavy weapons deploy. Oh fudge.

There is, as it happens, already another van parked nearby, a blue cargo van, with a young woman with purple hair currently wheeling a box of something towards the back on an dolly. It's not something Toni LIKES to do…she always feels vaguely dirty using Halo tech, but she can't deny Halo components tend to be a cut above Hammer's in every way. And for some things, you can't fiddle with it to improve it.

At the sudden charge of the other vans, she turns, blinking, her hand on the rear door to the van, as her earpiece crackles. She has it set to the police scanner…it's mostly been background noise, but, well, she's also going to be testing her armor and doesn't want someone to call the police ON her….but it looks like she's going to be doing a different sort of test today.

As those in the vans produce all sorts of heavy weapons, she dives into the van, the door slamming shut behind her as she scrambles with the automatic opening systems for her armors, falling back into it as she quickly starts to seal it up manually. "Ohcrapohcrapohcrap…"

The Daemonites, or, as Starfire thinks of them based on her encounter with them in space, the blue energy things, left a trail leading back to Earth. This doesn't surprise her: Earth is delightful, like a constant Renaissance Faire, and she doesn't doubt it attracts all kinds of alien tourists, even evil ones. That they would prey on the simple, friendly people of this backwater planet is not surprising, but it is infuriating, and Starfire can feel her fists wanting to glow as green as her eyes. She lets themher plasma-enhanced fists had been effective against their energy-bodies in the pastbut she doesn't lead with them. She leads with her feet, plummeting from just below cloud level like a gold and purple comet. Her descent actually starts to whistle like a cartoon bomb, and her glowing body is not subtle in the night sky.

With no responses to her communications, Pris grimaces and taps controls, spreading that repeating call out to other frequencies, hoping against hope someone - possibly even Halo security personnel? - will hear this and take some measure of action.

But the Coda-trained young woman has no choice; she must take action, before innocent people are killed. She can no longer wait. If they open fire unmolested, Halo personnel are going to die. Pris pulls the full-hood mask up and over her head, securing it in place as she taps the keys to activate an autopilot sequence to take the hoverbike out of range and land in five, four, three, two …

And just as Voodoo leaps from the back of her hoverbike, toes pointed as her legs shapeshift into exoskeleton-covered, reinforced and conjoined shapes perfect for withstanding the landing she's about to make, a glowing and fiery purple and gold missile slams through one of the vans' engines, quite explosively. What remains of the van goes end-over-end, disgorging its armed and dangerous personnel contents thither and yon in absolute chaos. A rocket and a plasma burst erupt from misfired weapons, going wild in destructive wakes to either side of the road as the men tumble and twist across the roadway.

This is the warning the other van is given, and they take full advantage of it as they swerve out of the way and then fire their opening barrage at the Halo Corporation security installation at the entrance to the facility. Thankfully it appears that those assigned there were already scattering in response to the explosion of the other van. Even so, they are flattened by the explosions, hurled about like toys before that terrible force, and they are in no way prepared to resist the onrushing van as it takes aim on the last remaining barrier to the facility.

Until something else falls from the sky and quite literally stabs into the asphalt of the roadway right in front of that barrier. Voodoo's blaster comes up, and she fires in fast-cycle repeatedly, until the blaster's core overheats and shuts down, her small plasma bursts still enough to rip through the engine block of the vehicle and tear its transmission linkages to scrap. Those inside bail as the van fishtails and then slams side-first into the barrier rods that were not retracted, and have not been sufficiently destroyed.

Ooh. Look at the pretty fireballs!

Unlike the other exploding vans….Toni's van just opens, though the armored figure that slides out is certainly eyecatching. Blue and silver armor rather than red and gold, of course. A different looking map. A perhaps slightly wider hipped exosuit.

But mostly because it takes to the air with a roar of boot jets, soaring upwards as she holds out her hands, summoning a large force field that springs into existence between the building and presumably innocents inside and the fireballs exploding out of the destroyed vans, the pieces slamming into it to bounce off firmly. "I really wasn't expecting RPGs today…" Iron Patriot notes, turning her head to scan over the attackers and the…defenders? She thinks they're defenders.

Starfire's skin is incredibly durable, and it's enhanced further by the deep stores of solar power sizzling through her veins. But physics are physics, and Starfire doesn't even weigh two hundred pounds. The explosion blasts her back as easily as it did the Daemonites, launching her from the blast's epicenter in a flaming arc like some kind of firework.

'I didn't expect that,' she had time to think to herself nonsensically, dazed nearly to the point of being in shock by the concussion of the blast and the wheeling disorientation of her sudden, uncontrolled flight, before she lands chin-first on the pavement thirty feet away from where the van had been before it began its own gymnastic routine beginning with its forward flips. The impact is bone-deep, filling her vision and her brain with blackness that blooms like flowers. It's pretty. Starfire decides to watch the black flowers for a while and maybe take a nap.

For her own part, Voodoo is busily trying to wrench herself out of the wreckage of the van that is now pinning her against the damned concrete pylons.

~"Nice forcefield. Hope you can keep that up. Heavy weapons fire incoming …"~ a telepathic message is projected towards the human mind Voodoo senses behind the facade of that flying powered armor, while she rips and twists her way out and stumbles away, shaking her head.

Sure enough, the Daemonites and their stooges thrown from their vehicles start shaking their heads, climbing to their feet. Those ridding by Daemonites are up faster, their bodies enhanced and augmented, and they seize their heavy weapons and open fire on the building's defenders, only to find their shots interdicted by that force field.

Rather than relent, however, they chivvy their subordinates with shouts and kicks, until yet more fire is raining down on the force field, hoping that it might not be able to stand up to their concerted attacks.

~"Hey. Starfire? Star? This is Voodoo. C'mon, now, don't go to sleep on me … "~ comes a telepathic prod to the darkness-flowering mind of the Tamaranean princess in exile.

Toni twitches a bit, her helmeted head looking back and forth until she spots Voodoo pushing her way out of the van. ~"Ah, yes, I think so, as long as they don't pull out anything heavier than the rocket launcher. Not forever though, I wasn't expecting full on combat when I charged my systems today."~ She shifts, keeping her hands outstretched as the ghostly blue force field continues to hum along as she blocks the fire from hitting the Halo base. Of course, the Halo defenders inside aren't able to shoot back either…it's a two-way shield, after all. Then again, they're assuming it's a new Iron Man suit at the moment….

Starfire is shaking her head to clear it before she's aware of the choice to do so. Reflexes kicking in, maybe. This fuzzy, disconnected feeling is bad, keeping her from accessing her powers, but she's still too dazed to really care rather than just distantly observe the fact of it. One palm slaps against the pavement and pushes before the other one has found its way to the ground, so rather than rise, she finds herself flopping over onto her back. Maybe that's for the best. Sitting up requires the coordination of fewer limbs' effort. Jerkily, she sits up, gathers her feet beneath her butt, and finds herself rising. A Tamaranean princess may fall, but she rises again while she can still breathe!

Starfire has one last, disjointed moment to think her parents will be worried to death that she fell like that, and then she remembers her parents are probably dead. It's an emotional sucker punch, but it's also cold water to the face, waking her up. Yes. She forces her eyes to focus on the dizzying lines of weapons fire pounding toward the building, whatever building this is the thieves wish to sack. It means their attention isn't on her. Good. She can throw a few sucker punches of her ownmaybe not honorable, but how honorable are her foes, picking on poor humans?and start to draw their fire. She lifts into the air a few feet, finds her flight steady enough to be trustworthy, and summons her starbolts again, flinging them in exaggerated, overhand throws toward the concentration of firing enemies.

But heavier than rocket launchers the Daemonites do have, and once they get their minions organized, heavy plasma canons fire, hammering at the forcefield together with those RPGs.

Voodoo clears herself of the debris and then yanks her sword from its scabbard across her back. ~"Hold it as long as you can. Let me see if I can thin the herd a little for you. Name's Voodoo, by the way. Nice to make your acquaintance. I like your priorities."~ Oh yes. Those who protect innocents first, and vent frustration on bad guys second rank pretty highly in her view of things.

Voodoo vaults over the remnants of one van, landing on its roof only long enough to push off again and flip mid-air, coming down on one of the gunmen on the other side. She is Coda-trained, and could aim to kill the guy. But instead, she puts that mono-molecular sword's blade down through his weapon, cleaving it in twain, then drops her butt onto her heel and spins, legsweeping him before he can recover. Then she charges towards the next target: one of the actual Daemonites.

Always a tactical win when one can take targets from behind without their being originally aware of it. Starfire starts launching starbolts at the gunmen disgorged from the van she ruined, as scattered by its explosion as she was herself, and she gets two of them before they are aware of the attacks. One goes down hard, his vest smoking. The other tumbles to a knee, but climbs back up, turning his weapon on the Tamaranean princess. That would be a clear sign to a clearly thinking opponent that this one might just be a Daemonite-ridden target. Right before he lifts one of those heavy plasma canons and fires at Starfire.

~Um, Toni..um, Iron Patriot, I guess, nice to meet you too Voodoo!"~ the hovering armored figure responds with. She glances down towards the girl who still picking herself up. She flicks to her loudspeaker. "Miss? Are you okay?" She starts shifting towards her, keeping the field up, but moving so she can try to angle to protect Starfire with the field while she's shifting, her eyes flicking to her rapidly lowering power readouts on her armor. ~Um, I don't think I can sustain this past another…47 seconds…without shutting down my armor…."~

Starfire is thinking clearly, but, unfortunately, not well. She's never been the most analytical person. It's only her Okaaran training that suggests to her she can best continue to draw fire by retreating toward the ruined hulk of the shattered van, so the human can try to pin her down; she acts on that training, soaring backward through the sky toward the van. She doesn't expect its thin, Earth metals to last long against this kind of firepower… but her lips part in a grin as she gets an idea. The Daemonites had better hope the van doesn't last long against their fire.

Because she's picking the back half of the van up and throwing it at them.

Forty-seven seconds. That can be a lifetime in a fight … or not. Voodoo is going with 'not' right now. ~"Oh crap. OK. Hold it as long as you can, but warn the guys inside to get down. If I do it … well, they'll be unconscious. not that helpful."~ Voodoo responds to Iron Patriot - Neat name! - as she sprints for her next target. She can see who is being ridden by a Daemonite, though no one else can, and she can do something about it. Which she does, as she slides in behind him as he lifts that plasma canon to fire again, and slaps her hands on his legs.

What follows is a disharmonious scream of agony, from two mouths at once. The figure she just touched convulses and collapses, screaming in rage and pain, and so is Voodoo herself. His body ripples and warms, as bit by bit his form splits and separates into two: one just like the man everyone just saw, and the other a carapaced reptilioid insect thing, hissing and steaming in the atmosphere of Earth.

Very unpleasant.

That scream and what it represents causes three of the other figures in the attacking force to turn, taking that in, and immediately change their firing priorities to aim not at the force field, but at that woman!

The van Starfire reaches is largely shredded away. The RPGs do plenty of damage, but the plasma canons literally melt the thing away to puddles of liquid metal goo, explosively sublimating some of the solid metal and other materials directly to a gas. But when Kori hoists up the remains of the van and throws it at one of them, he clicks this control wide open, the spitting stream of plasma searing it away to nothing quite impressively … but also overheating the firing coil, which shuts down the weapon.

The very obvious image of, well, a huge carapaced alien spirit glowy thing being pulled out of one of the attackers draws attention from the attackers.

Also from the defenders.

"HOLY SHIT?!" comes from Iron Patriot's loudspeaker, which she hadn't shut off yet. THAT is something you don't see every day, in more ways than one! She hesistates as the van goes flying past and is blasted…but it's enough to temporarily drain the power, and with the fire being drawn towards Voodoo, Toni goes on the offensive, the field dropping before she raises both hands. There's a spark *vorpvorpvorp* as she targets the temporarily overheated plasma gun, sending a spray of concussion bolts. It's a bit like being pelted with baseballs. She's mostly trying to target the weapon itself to try and rip it out of his hands, or to damage exposed elements. "That's enough of that!"

Electrolasers strike the overheated plasma canon, sparking up and down along the electronics. The shooter snarls, clicking the firing stud only to get nothing. Faced with Starfire approaching, he reaches back and pulls around an MP5 submachine gun, and starts firing off .45 caliber bullets at the fiery glowing alien lady, 'cause HOLY CRAP!

Unfortunately, all of that leaves Voodoo terribly exposed, unable to defend herself at all physically as she strives to tear the daemonite from its host. Its allies open fire, and Voodoo's cries change timbre, as she is no longer screaming from reflected psychic backwash from the daemonite's and human's pain, but instead screaming her own agony, as her body is seared with suprheated plasma, and pelted with high-velocity mid-caliber bullets.

It's a mess. But the screaming stops. The daemonite form hisses in rage, shaking itself, and then dives back into the unconscious form of the human being it had been riding. And all of this is about to start all over again.

With one fewer hero.

Toni feels a brief sense of accomplishment, followed by horror as The other woman goes down under the wave of fire. "NO!" She shoots down, then drops into the midst of it, shoving out her forcefield in a hemisphere around her as she tries to get to Voodoo.

Firing a large-caliber weapon like an MP5 on automatic is a terrible idea. It's like trying to control a jackhammer with nothing but your forearms: the kickback will cause even a strong human's aim to rise and his body to start pivoting to the side, so if the first shot doesn't hit the target, none of the remaining ones will. All she has to do is drop to the ground, and a fanning arc of bullets whiz harmlessly overhead before the assailant can get control back… and of course, by then, it's too late. Starfire has glared his pelvis into a fracture. If the pain of that blast doesn't take him out of the fight, the pain of trying to control a firearm will. She counts him out and shoots up into the air twenty feet, burning literally and metaphorically with rage, to turn the tables on her opponents and lay down her own suppressive fire for once, pelting down starbolt after starbolt in overhead lobs designed more for speed than accuracy.

Iron Patriot's re-activated and much more constrained force field manages to push the awakening dawmonite's body out of reach, breaking the connection between it and Voodoo's smoking, bullet-riddled body, as she tries to shield the other woman. How long her shield can hold, after all it has already been through, is only Toni's guess, but it is unlikely to be long, whether due to component stress, or a lack of sufficient power. At least she's keeping it small this time.

Checking on Voodoo finds a mess. Honestly, how anyone could survive being virtually melted like that with high energy plasma and no body armor … and then the bullets. She has to be dead.


The gunman gets off his shots, and proves better trained and a better shot than might be assumed. Nevertheless, he is mortal and human, without a daemonite riding him or enhancing his physical prowess to ridiculous degrees. Blasted through the pelvis he screams, flailing wildly, bullets sailing in all directions, as he collapses in agony.

Toni's shield is still the target of two high-energy plasma canons, a couple of RPG shells, and a stream of medium-caliber bullets. Of the attackers, three daemonites are still standing and firing, while three more turn and start firing on the Halo security guards who just got uncovered by Iron Patriot.

Said Halo security personnel, however, have had time to prepare. To arm up. To get civilians out of the way. And when the shield drops, they act. They may assume that Iron Patriot is Iron Man, or some new protege. But mostly what they assume is that this is still their job, and they are paid well to do it. So they start returning fire.

Starbolts from the heavens. Bullets from the opposing guards. Soon enough, the remaining entirely human operatives have stopped firing, either because they are injured, or perhaps because they are something worse than merely injured. But the daemonites have not stopped.

And now the fourth of those has stood up right outside Iron Patriot's forcefield, and is pounding on the field with tons of strength, empowered by rage and alien determination.

Iron Patriot straightens, kneeling next to Voodoo's body. Behind her helm, her eye are widen and glistening. "…I'm…I'm…" Sorry? She flinches away from something so pathetic to express her complete and utter failure. This is everything she argued against her friends idea that she should be active about intervening. That she'd screw up. That someone would get killed because of her not knowing what she was doing.

And the mess next to her that used to be a young woman certainly speaks to everything she feared about trying to be a vigilante, as do the endangered Halo guards nearby

And that sense of failure, of frustration, rapidly morphs to anger as the Daemonite beats on her flickering shield. With a wordless scream, the shield drops just as he swings to throw him off balance, before she fires her boot jets, drawing back a metal fist as she hammers it into the person in question, the strike powered by the superhuman strength of the suit, designed to dig out those in danger. Now, just to swing at those attacking, since she can't really punch herself.

As the human guards begin their own assault on the would-be intruders, Starfire has time to slow down and actually aim her shots. She rather pities the poor humans down below, but at this point, the only form of mercy she can show is speed, to finish this quickly. That's not to say each starbolt hits its markthe targets are moving and so is she, to dodge their return firebut she can take the time to be accurate, and soon, the humans are down.

Now, for the blue bugs who seems the architects of this tragedy. Starfire's jaw tightens with resolve and fury as she flies down. Her enhanced strength and durability are, she knows, at pretty low levels after all those starbolts, but she's still stronger than she should be; and even if she weren't, she wouldn't stop. She drops low to the ground and soars inches above the crumbled pavement, arms out to the sides to reap Daemonites by striking them at knee level and knocking them down.

Between the human gunfire of the Halo security personnel and the starbolts from the Tamaranean, the human goons in service to the daemonites fall. Most are not dead, merely wounded. But they are down, they are not continuing to fire, and they are not getting away, at least not right now.

Sirens sound, as security vehicles unable to pull out until the field came down roar in on the site, bringing more support and some more substantial weapons.

Iron Patriot hammers on the daemonite-ridden human, who roars in fury, hands reshaping into claws as he tries to rip at the armor to get at the woman he can smell inside. "Curse you filthy meatbags!" he shouts in a rasping, unnatural voice that echoes through the mind. But her fists do damage, and it staggers back. Yet it does not stop coming. Damned thing is tough.

So too, the daemonite-ridden humans that Starfire manages to kneecap go down or get tumbled or are carried aloft, but they do not stop. They may lose their grips on weapons, and their positions, but they keep fighting, and claws and spikes appear as they try to take on the weakened Tamaranean princess with fury aforethought.

How pleasant!

Unseen, unwitnessed, the still-smoking form of Voodoo convulses momentarily, coughing, hacking up burnt lung tissue and blood.

Toni's philosphy of building exosuits has always had a fairly strict thing she strives for….she doesn't build them as weapons. She doesn't want to be Tony Stark, or Iron Man, with enough weapons to wipe out a combined arms unit. She wants to protect people. So her armor is geared towards that…the force field being the most powerful system on it, though she's since added a variety of secondary systems consisting of nonlethal weapons.

She's not really thinking about those at the moment, as it's fairly obvious this is someone who is well over thep ower level of the more normal looking humans. That's not to say she can't be creative with what she does have, however.

As the claws swing down and score across the front of the armor she leaps back, firing her bootjets to give herself room. "Reconfigure field, ram form." Toni snaps to her onboard computer, then holds out her hands as the force field reforms…this time in a rectangle about four feet long and maybe three feet across. At which point it extends out like a battering ram from her, the emitter on her chest flashing as she tries to slam the field straight into the body of the superstrong Daemonite.

Starfire honestly has no ideas whether she is stronger than a Daemonite at her best, let alone right now. Nor does she know if she's faster, and she can only assume she's better trained in combat, but can't yet be sure. There are too many advantages she can't judge, so she doesn't bother, focusing instead on the advantage she knows she has: inches. Taller and therefore longer of limb than the Daemonites, she lands on the balls of her feet with fists clenched and focuses on the nearest Daemonite, punching hard and straight, pushing that reach advantage for everything it's worth to rock her enemies back out of reach with every blow.

Still, three on one. Bad odds. She might have been better off flying, but hand to hand combat while flying is disorienting and, if someone gets a grip on you, dangerous. This was the best of some bad choices.

The battering ram drives the angry, flailing, clawing daemonite back ten to twelve feet, which is enough of an opening that a pair of directed pulse weapons from the Halo security forces then slam into the thing, sure they can hit it and not the Iron Patriot over there. This raises up a hissing howl of fury, to be sure, but the daemonite hops up on its rage and charges after the armored woman with a seeming vengeance.

Kori's confrontation on foot with the three other daemonites proves out a few interesting factoids: first, that the daemonites are very, very strong. Perhaps not normally strong enough to outdo a fully topped-off solar powered Starfire, but nearly so, and more than enough that their strikes on a depleted Kori are quite painful; second, that the daemonites are very fast; and third that they are apparently more skilled than one would wish, if perhaps not quite to Kori's level.

And there are three of them.

Damned unrelenting bastards.

For a moment, the blue and silver armor is free to soar upwards, giving her a moment to survey the battlefield and see Starfire's situation. She mmphs, then swoops down, holding out her palms as she simultaneously puts some distance between her and the superstrong Daemonite, at least to give her some breathign room, even as she strafes the DAemonites, swooping down, then trying to grab hold of the nearest and turns to hurl it at her pursuer, trying to disrupted their assault, trying to go off suprise more than skill.

Tamaranean fury can sustain a warrior, but eventually her body must give out. Bleeding from a dozen cuts, and probably concussed from that explosion, Starfire is aware even as rains of blows too fast for her to block and too powerful for her to stop rain down on her, of how close she is to giving out. But what option is there? She chose this battle, and found herself completely outmatched. Her starbolts don't stop them, her fists don't stop them, exploding vehicles don't stop them, the humans don't stop them, the silver robot doesn't stop them.

So this is how it ends.

Starfire keeps her guard up and fights back grimly, but without hope. All she can do now is try to die well, and hope she softens these monsters enough for the next person, the worthier person, to finish the job she can't.

Iron Patriot swoops in, electrolasers discharged, stunning and suttering one target, if only for a second, and then she is in the midst of them, seizing one Daemonite and throwing him into her pursuer. Back to back with Kori, now, her very presence cuts down on the attacks on Kori, giving her breathing room enough to stand, and call her shots. Two against two is much better odds, and even two against four is better than one against three.

As soon as one Daemonite tumbles into another, both pulled back from the heroines, the Halo security guys in the cars pull out the heavy weapons, and they open up. Repulsor canons. No arc reactors to power them, they drain the power cells in the trunks of the cars in four blasts, but those four blasts are powerful enough to drive the daemonites into the asphalt and shatter it, crushing their bodies with force, making them expend their efforts instead to heal their host bodies' injuries instead of augmenting them or attacking.

It is the break both women have needed.

Then, in the next moment, something even stranger happens. One moment they are each alone, back to back but alone in their own minds, facing these fierce and determined foes with little hope of another breakthrough. And suddenly … they are not alone.

They are together. Both women instantly know everything the other knows about position, movement, intent, injury. Their situational awareness is magnified almost to infinity. Perfect coordination, as if they've been training to fight like this for years.

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