Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1 - Cover

Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1

Copyright© 2023 by Uruks

Chapter 20: The Werecat Matron

This project has already suffered several unconceived setbacks, but I will not be deterred. I’m sending the Werewolves out again. Even if I have to get a little forceful, I will secure DNA samples from the main specimen!

“Savine! Lucille!” exclaimed Strass next to a stunned Leon. “What the Graymor are you two doing here? And why-”

“Step away from the crew of the Razorbeak, Captain Strass,” commanded Lucille coolly, that familiar smile of supremacy shining brightly on her flawless face. They are Elementals from the Fire Ministry.”

The grizzled Pirate Captain gasped, paling visibly as he backed away and drew his rifle. As he did so, all his crewmen nearby also drew their weapons on Leon and his company yet again. Torsha and Rachel raised their pistols, their gazes shifting between the pirates on the bridge and the Werecats who floated in the hovercrafts above them. Savine and her underlings made no move, but their hawkish expressions said that they could leap into action in an instant.

Out of his peripheral vision, Leon noted Rachel shooting him worried glances as she awaited some kind of act of competence from him. Unfortunately, he had none to give her. All thought and reason seemed to vanish from Leon’s mind the moment Lucille appeared before him. He had no idea what he should do. Lucille had told him telepathically to play along, but to what? To getting captured?

“And to think, I was gonna give you a job. Ya little shite,” said Strass as he glared at Leon.

Lucille suddenly jumped from the hovercraft to land directly between Captain Strass and Leon. Strass stared at her in confusion as she pushed the barrel of his gun away from Leon. “Actually, to be more accurate, those two behind him are the Elementals. This is Leon Lurranna, the heir to the Lurranna clan. He’s a freelance Mystic like me. We’ve been working together for years now waiting for the most profitable opportunity to betray the Fire Ministry. The coming attack on Nirvana provides such an opportunity. It was Leon who told me of these Elemental spies. We owe him much.”

Leon did his best to show no reaction. So this is what she meant when she said to play along!

He heard Rachel gasp softly beside him. He knew both she and Torsha were looking at him now, wondering if such a thing could be true. He could already feel the hurt and betrayal stirring within Rachel through his telepathy. Although Leon had never really entertained the thought of friends much, he realized that he did consider Rachel to be one to him in a sense. He only wished he could explain to her the ridiculousness of Lucille’s claims ... that is, if they lived long enough.

Strass’ suspicious gaze drifted between Lucille and Leon. He seemed to believe her as he lowered his weapon. Apparently, Lucille’s word carried a great deal of pull in the underworld. “So ... so he’s like you, then? A Mystic mercenary hoping to make a little profit on the side?”

Lucille slowly turned to face Leon, a knowing smile crossing her lips as she said softly, “Indeed.”

The look Lucille gave Leon. She expected something of him. He glanced briefly up at Savine who showed no reaction. Lucille had probably already convinced her of Leon’s loyalty. He didn’t know what kind of powers the Werecats possessed, but he could feel Elemency from them. Though they likely only had partial Elemency, making them less powerful than Elementals, they were all skilled Psionic Users like their leader. Savine, herself, felt like she was a match even for Mozar. And besides the Werecats, there were roughly fifty armed pirates clamoring around the wreckage of the bridge and itching to fire their weapons at the slightest provocation. On top of that, if he chose to resist, he still had Lucille to contend with. He might be able to defeat her if she faced him alone ... maybe ... but to fight her while fending off an entire army was simply impossible. Escape or victory seemed unattainable.

She said she would try to save my friends if I play along, Leon thought to himself. Rachel and Torsha’s only chance now is that Lucille will keep her word. To that end, I’ll have to do my part.

After holstering his useless pistol, Leon slowly walked away from Rachel and Torsha to stand at Lucille’s side. The young Elemental and the Monk gaped at Leon in disbelief. Leon shrugged at them, giving his best impression of guilty resignation. It wasn’t difficult under the circumstances.

“Leon,” Rachel whispered hoarsely. She slowly removed her sunglasses and let them drop to the floor, revealing brown eyes that seemed on the verge of tears. “Please ... please tell me this isn’t happening. We ... we were friends, weren’t we?”

Leon raised his palms. “Sorry, Rachel, but friendship just isn’t that profitable.”

Good line, Lucille’s voice echoed in Leon’s head as she spoke to him telepathically. You’re marvelous at improvision, dear.

It took all of Leon’s willpower to keep himself from strangling Lucille. Even if she was kind to him as a child, the thought of her killing his friends filled him with rage.

Lucille, if they die, you will join them, Leon warned her telepathically, though he still hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

He heard Lucille giggle in his head, but her face remained unchanged as she mentally responded. You would kill me for them, wouldn’t you? I suppose that’s just like you. I remember how fond you became of our servants, and how you often tried to kill your father when he treated them poorly. You always did have a soft spot for lesser beings. Don’t worry, though. Like I said, just play along with whatever happens, and we’ll see about getting these two out of this alive.

Leon wanted to ask what other monstrosities Lucille had in mind, but his attention was diverted as Savine jumped from the platform to land behind him and Lucille with a literal catlike ease. The bridge shook slightly from the Werecat’s landing. She was a lot bigger and heavier than Lucille, and a lot meaner looking.

“Enough,” said the Werecat with an angry growl, her voice a mix between feminine grace and bestial ferocity. “Lucille, you said this one came to Nirvana with Mozar. I want to know where he is now!”

Lucille turned to Leon expectantly, obviously wanting him to answer.

Leon decided that the truth would be the best response in this situation. “I don’t know where he is. He left our company a few days ago, though he’s probably still somewhere in the Inner City.” That last part didn’t reveal too much. The Inner City was massive after all.

Savine’s ears twitched in annoyance, then she leveled her glare at Rachel and Torsha, her cybernetic eye glowing menacingly. “Then maybe one of those two can tell me. That young cub may be a Monk, but she’s also a Werewolf. Mozar may have trusted her more than the others. Even he is capable of such naivete every now and then.”

It was alarming how much intel Savine already had on the inner workings of his team. Before Leon could process this, Rachel gritted her teeth. He knew that look. It was somewhat similar to the fierceness he’d become all too familiar within Éclair. Rachel was usually more levelheaded, but she still had her own streak of stubbornness from time to time. Despite the overwhelming odds arrayed against her, she intended to fight.

Leon jumped back as he guessed who Rachel’s first target would be. Like any good Elemental, she would try to eliminate what she perceived as the most dangerous threat first, and then work her way down from there. Rachel threw away her pistol, shot her hand forward, and a bolt of yellow lightning sprang from her fingertips. Leon moved just in time as the arc of energy crackled towards Savine. The Werecat raised her cybernetic hand and caught the bolt of energy. Savine gave a wicked, confident grin as she withstood Rachel’s lightning assault. Rachel kept up the pressure, pouring every ounce of her strength into the attack as she grunted. Savine only took a single step back, but was otherwise unfazed. Amazingly, it seemed like Savine’s cybernetic arm was somehow absorbing Rachel’s lightning. The metal arm glowed with an orange light as the lightning dispersed into the mechanical fingers, dissipating harmlessly into the joints. Leon didn’t know if it was the mechanical ingenuity of the prosthetic, or a psionic technique employed by Savine, but her confidence told him how much of a chance Rachel had of winning this struggle.

While Rachel and Savine were locked in a battle of Lightning Elemency, the pirates finally recovered from their fright and opened fire. With one hand still directing lightning at Savine, Rachel summoned her psionic nunchakus with her other hand in a flash of light, spinning the yellow-glowing chained weapon wildly and deflecting the bolts that came her way. The sounds of gunfire reverberated throughout Leon’s being. When it seemed Rachel might be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of laser bolts coming at her, Torsha stepped in, summoning her double-bladed Corrucks and knocking away energy blasts with superhuman reflexes. The Monk’s white-glowing staffs pulsed with Light Elemency as they spun just as quickly as Rachel’s nunchakus. Some of the bolts, Rachel and Torsha bounced back at the pirates, killing at least half a dozen. Most of the lasers were tossed around the bridge, burning fist-sized holes into computer consoles, chairs, and within the walls.

As the battle intensified, Leon’s first instinct was to help his friends. However, Lucille put a hand to his wrist as if reading his mind. He wondered if she had for real. She pulled him back towards the other end of the bridge to avoid more laser fire. Reluctantly, he allowed her to do so. A few stray shots occasionally ricocheted towards them, but Lucille and Leon both were quick enough to avoid any laser bolts or metal bullets that came near them.

Rachel’s lightning finally fizzled out when she grew tired, and she let out a haggard breath. Seeing her attack on Savine prove useless, Rachel redirected her efforts into aiding Torsha fend off the pirates. As Strass’ men advanced forward, Savine raised her mechanical hand which still glowed after absorbing Rachel’s energy. A huge ball of crackling electricity erupted from Savine’s hand into the air just in front of the pirates. Leon, already realizing the kind of technique Savine had intended, covered his eyes just as Lucille did the same. Unfortunately, they were the only who did so.

The pirates cried out as many of them were temporarily blinded by the flash of light followed by a loud crack of thunder. The gunmen stopped firing to shield their eyes. Rachel and Torsha, who had been too busy fending off hundreds of laser blasts, didn’t react fast enough. Both were dazed by the flash of lightning that had been turned into a makeshift flash bomb. They staggered, and that was all the opportunity Savine needed. Within an eyeblink, the Werecat had zipped behind Rachel and knocked her to the ground with her elbow aimed at the back of Rachel’s skull. Leon had heard that Werecats specialized in speed more than any other Demihuman race, but even he wasn’t prepared for how fast Savine could move. He doubted even he could match her as far as sheer running force went.

Torsha, though temporarily blinded, still had her sense of smell and hearing, and thus sensed the Werecat’s presence. She swiped at Savine with both weapons, but the Werecat easily sidestepped her disoriented attacks, and kicked her savagely in the chest. Torsha gave out a dog-like yelp as the powerful kick sent her flying off the ground. As Torsha flew through the air from Savine’s strike, two male Werecats suddenly appeared at her sides. The two large Werecat Hunters moved almost as quickly as Savine as they slammed Torsha to the ground, and immediately kicked away her weapons before binding her with suppressant ropes while she was still dazed. They even used the specialized silver glowing suppressant ropes, designed to bind special Elemency like the light powers employed by the Monks.

Rachel, still on the ground, though not quite as beaten as she had pretended, suddenly lashed out with a backwards strike with her Psionic Weapon. Savine, who was standing behind Rachel, miraculously caught the lightning-infused nunchakus with her mechanical hand, her knifelike fingers unharmed by a weapon that could burn hotter than a sun. Savine then stomped down on Rachel’s back, slamming her to the metal floor. The force of the kick was so tremendous that Rachel’s body dinted the metal plating, caving the floor inwards. Rachel grunted and went limp as the Werecat bore down on her with her full weight. Savine then pulled out blue glowing suppressant ropes from a pouch on her belt. She jerked Rachel’s weapon away from her and forced her hands behind her back as she bound her wrists.

Leon almost shook Lucille’s hold off him to leap in and help, but then he heard her speaking to him telepathically again. Savine won’t kill them. Just wait and see what happens next; otherwise, not only are they as good as dead, but so are you.

Leon forced himself to stay put. He knew better than to question Lucille. She may have been cagey at times, but she had never lied to him outright. He knew she didn’t care much for those she deemed as ‘lesser beings’, but she did care for him ... or at least, she once did. A lot of time had passed, so perhaps she was just trying to manipulate him by letting him think that she still cared for him. Whatever her true feelings for him might be, she still wanted him on her side, so maybe that would be enough to account for Rachel and Torsha in whatever plans she had made.

Savine forced Rachel to her feet. Blood poured from Rachel’s nose, making Leon wonder if it had been broken. She was barely conscious as her eyelids fluttered erratically. Savine then shoved Rachel away and more Werecats appeared, seizing Rachel by the shoulders, and forcing her to kneel next to Torsha.

Savine leaned down to one knee, examining her two captives with cold, dispassionate eyes. When her gaze settled on Torsha, she looked more annoyed than calculating as she grabbed the Werewolf by her jaw with her organic hand, turning her head to the right and the left. Torsha growled softly at the Werecat, but otherwise offered no resistance.

“I can already tell that neither one of you intends to tell me anything. And I doubt breaking you will be an easy task,” mused Savine, almost to herself. She then leaned in close until her snout was inches from Torsha.

Their jaws were so close now, Leon wondered if the two predators might attempt to bite each other. He didn’t know who would be the winner of such a contest.

“What is Mozar to you, young wolf cub?” Savine asked in a low voice. “What connection do you have with him? He hasn’t made contact with his own kind for years. Is he interested in you because you’re a Monk, an outcast from fellow Werewolves like him?”

Torsha smirked a little, her lips curling back to reveal her fangs. “Couldn’t say. He doesn’t talk to me much. The old fart actually tried to kill me when we first met because of a misunderstanding. Maybe he just stuck around to settle that debt.”

Savine cocked her head to the side. Her ears twitched in agitation, as if she were trying to ascertain if Torsha was lying.

“What’s it to you, pussycat?” said Torsha in a taunting voice. “What beef do you got with Mozar, anyway? What, did he give you those nifty little gadgets you use in place of body parts? If so, as ugly as all that gear makes you look now, it was probably an improvement.”

Savine growled, extending her claws which dug lightly into Torsha’s neck, making a small trickle of blood that ran down her throat. Torsha only gave a small hiss in acknowledgement of the injury.

“Mozar has left scars on me, to be sure,” Savine whispered with a slow nod. “Just as I have left scars upon him. Perhaps I’ll give you a sample, little puppy, of the scars we both bare.”

Savine then released Torsha and stalked back to stand under one of her hovercrafts. She looked up to her subordinates waiting above, and said sharply, “Bring down the Quiss!”

Quiss? thought Leon to himself. I’m not familiar with that phrase.

Two of Savine’s subordinates suddenly leapt gracefully from the hovercrafts to land on either side of Savine. They each carried silver canisters in the shapes of silver tubes.

Savine grinned wickedly at Torsha and Rachel, showing off her fangs. “Show them.”

The two male Werecats twisted the lids off the tubes, and poured out small drops of a green glowing liquid of some kind. The liquid made a sizzling noise when it hit the floor, burning through the bridge of the Boar’s Head like acid as small holes appeared where the droplets fell. A brief flash of alarm resonated between both Rachel and Torsha as they observed the liquid that could burn through metal, no doubt imagining what might soon become of their own tender flesh. The bridge went completely silent as the pirates watched in grim fascination of the whole thing. They seemed to be more afraid of Savine and her Werecats than they were of the Elementals, so they gave the ones carrying the tubes of acid a wide berth as the felines made their way to their intended victims.

Rachel found her grit yet again and gave a defiant sniff. “You’re wasting your time, you mangy old cat! We won’t tell you anything!”

Savine’s evil grin never left her feline face as she said, “I know you won’t.”

Rachel’s expression flared with confusion as the Werecats holding the tubes stood over her. Even Torsha’s courage seemed to fail her as she asked, “Then why? What’s the point of inflicting pain if you know we won’t tell you anything useful?”

Savine’s smile faded, and Leon saw her expression go cold with hate. “You’re friends of Mozar, or at least close enough. That’s all the reason I need.”

Rachel and Torsha tried to jerk away, but their captors held them firm, pushing their faces closer and closer to the metal tubes filled with acid. Rachel shot Leon a pleading glance, and it tore him up inside. Leon turned a glare on Lucille. He didn’t have to tell her through telepathy what he intended to do next. As she regarded him silently, it didn’t seem as if she intended to stop him. Leon turned back, preparing his psions to attack the Werecats holding Rachel and Torsha. However, he found his actions were no longer needed. In the brief moment that Leon had looked away from Torsha and Rachel’s plight, many things happened.

Firstly, all the Werecats holding the two captives were dead. Somehow, the four Werecats holding Torsha and Rachel were now in freefall, their throats severed and leaving trails of blood as they fell. The two Werecats that were about to douse the prisoners in acid weren’t quite dead, but soon would be as each found the metal tubes had been shoved down their throats. As the metal tubes stuck out of their mouths, the Werecats gasped and writhed, their stomachs smoking as the liquids burned them from the inside out. They died quickly, but not quite as quickly as the others did. Torsha’s and Rachel’s bonds had also been cut, but it happened so fast that they hadn’t even noticed yet.

Standing between Torsha and Rachel was a large figure wrapped in a brown cloak with his back to Leon. Mozar then turned, his brownish-golden eyes blazing violently as he glared at Savine. Mozar always seemed a little angry, but now, he seemed downright furious. It was evident that he despised Savine with every fiber of his being as his gray-furred ears bent. Then he growled deeply, his lips curling back to reveal his large glittering fangs still slick with the blood of his recent Werecat kills.

“What the what?” stuttered Strass when the bodies of six Werecats hit the floor. He pointed a shaky finger at Mozar. “Where the bloomin’ hell did this maniac come from?”

At first, Savine was so stunned with rage that it seemed like she could barely think. Her one organic eye widened, and she quivered with abject fury. Then she leveled a growl at Mozar just as menacing as his own, her fangs looking just as deadly even while unstained red with blood.

“MOZAR!” she hissed between clenched teeth as she crouched low, her mechanical and organic claws extending for an attack.

Savine was soon flanked by her Werecat followers as twenty of them jumped down from the hovercrafts to land behind her. She didn’t even notice. Nothing seemed to exist for Savine in that moment apart from Mozar, the object of her hatred. Eventually, the pirates also realized something amiss, sluggishly raising their guns towards the newly arrived Werewolf.

Torsha and Rachel gasped in astonishment as Mozar positioned himself between them and Savine. The Werewolf didn’t seem like he was going to back down, blood from the slain Werecats still dripping from his long claws. With Savine and her forces arrayed against Mozar, Leon once again wondered if he would be forced to interfere despite Lucille’s designs here.

And then, a Werecat beside Savine took a blue plasma blast to the head. Half of the feline’s head was blown away as his blood sprayed his companions. Several pirates also took similar plasma shots in their chests, causing them to cry out. Leon turned in the direction to see another hovercraft approaching the demolished bridge. This one, though much larger, was of a similar design to the ones the Werecats arrived on. Only, instead of carrying Werecats, this hovercraft carried Werewolves. Their numbers seemed to be comparable to that of Savine’s allies as they leapt from their vehicle and engaged the pirates and the Werecats with wild abandon.

Leon didn’t know how he should react to any of this, but soon it didn’t matter as a goodly number of Werewolves set their sights on him and fired their weapons. They attacked Lucille as well, and Leon summoned his dual swords to defend himself and her. Lucille summoned her sickle and chain, blocking any shots that came her way with the ease that only Lurranna knew. Leon’s guess was that these Werewolves were affiliated with Mozar somehow. Since Lucille had convinced everyone here that he was now on Brocktree’s side, it came as no surprise to him that these Werewolves would be of a similar mind. He wished he could explain to them that it was all a misunderstanding, but he had a hard enough time of it just staying alive. He had never fought Werewolves before, but from what he could tell, they had more than earned their reputation as the most lethal race of hunters the universe had ever known.

Rachel was in a daze. She was just coming to terms with the fact that Mozar had appeared and somehow killed six Werecats within an eyeblink. And now, apparently, Mozar had some Werewolf buddies who really liked eating Werecats and pirates.

The Werewolves snarled and growled as they fought, their shaggy fur coats in various shades of gray and black. They wore simple brown leather armor which offered little protection, but they were so quick and so fierce that the Werewolves didn’t need anything else. When the pirates regained enough cohesion to mount a counterattack, most of the time they shot nothing but air. Only a few Werewolves were slow enough to get caught by the gunfire, and sometimes they didn’t die right away as Werewolves tended to be quite hardy. Many more pirates fell to the Werewolves. Some of the Pack Hunters used staffs similar to the one that Mozar wielded, only his was golden, and theirs appeared to be bronze or silver. Their staffs fired condensed beams of plasma that tore through the ranks of the pirates as if they were paper. However, some of the Werewolves simply used their fangs and claws, running on all fours before grappling the pirates as if they were taking down does on a woodland hunt.

The pirates were in between the Werewolves and the Werecats. However, the canine predators seemed much more eager to get at their feline rivals as a few all but ignored the pirates to attack the Werecats. Savine’s Werecat followers responded much more fluidly than the pirates as they returned the Werewolves’ charge with equal skill and ferocity. Sometimes, the Werecats engaged the Werewolves paw to paw, snarling and growling as they rolled around on the floor ripping savagely into each other with their fangs and claws. Other times, they engaged in close-quarters combat with their weapons, the Werewolves using their staffs and the Werecats using their knives. Their movements reminded Rachel of Elementals as they parried and thrust at one another with obvious finesse. When the Werecats needed to engage the Werewolves in long-ranged battle, they used lasers attached to their wrists which fired small beams of yellow energy. Werewolves began to fall to the pirates as well as they found themselves outnumbered by the two small armies, but still, the dogs didn’t seem even remotely close to backing down. If anything, the renewed resistance of their adversaries made the wolves fight all the harder as they zipped back and forth, attacking and retreating when necessary, but never outright abandoning the battle. The sounds of howls, growls, barks, and hisses echoed throughout the embattled bridge as the Werewolves and Werecats fought in a mad frenzy. Many of the combatants continued after sustaining grievous injuries, their need to kill overriding their need to preserve their own lives.

At least three Werewolves managed to push their way past Savine’s guards as they went for her directly. She dodged the plasma shots they fired from their staffs, dashed at her attackers with unfathomable speed, and was among them before they could react. Savine slashed through all three Werewolves with a single swipe from her cybernetic arm, cutting each of them in half and leaving their pieces oozing blood onto the metal floor. More Werewolves engaged Savine, forcing her back with mad swipes of their claws as they barked and snapped at her viciously.

While Savine busied herself with killing Werewolves, Mozar focused on Rachel and Torsha, slapping their cheeks lightly to get them on their feet. Rachel, still a little wobbly from her tussle with Savine, forced herself to stand. Mozar then handed them their weapons which he took from the corpses of the Werecat guards.

When Torsha stood as well, Savine noticed them after dispatching the last of her attackers. She grinned madly, and said, “So they were your friends after all, Mozar! You should know better by now!”

“Run!” Mozar barked. Under the circumstances, Rachel couldn’t agree more.

“But what about you?” asked Torsha.

Before the young Monk could argue further, Mozar shoved her towards Rachel and dashed at Savine, snarling savagely. Rachel grabbed Torsha’s arm, pulling her back before she could go after him. As Rachel struggled to tug Torsha away from the battlefield, she actually caught sight of Leon fighting the Werewolves alongside that Mystic girl.

Rachel couldn’t bring herself to fully believe it before, but now she had even more doubts. Is it really true, Leon? Have you been playing us the whole time?

Rachel wrenched those thoughts, as well as her damaged heart, under control. Now was not the time. More pirate reinforcements were coming ... coming into the bridge from the crew’s quarters where they had boarded. They didn’t know what was going on, but that didn’t factor in too much as they rushed in shooting at anything that moved. Rachel knew the flow of battle well. The Werewolves would soon be outmatched, especially with Leon and that Mystic helping Brocktree’s side. They had to get off this ship. They had to call Kormal and Nazz back on the Razorbeak. She’d worry about Leon later. As of this moment, everything had gone to shit, so there was no use trying to rationalize anything.

Torsha finally seemed to get the message as she stopped struggling against Rachel ... finally started to understand that retreat was their one hope for survival. Yes, Rachel did feel bad for leaving Mozar behind, but she saw the look in his eye when he glared at Savine. He hated that Werecat more than anything. Nothing was going to force him away from this fight. Besides, he was just about the scariest guy Rachel had ever known. He’d probably be fine.

As Savine and Mozar exchanged a flurry of lightning-fast attacks with their claws, the Werecat leader shouted, “Strass! Send your men to get after those two! Some of my Hunters will accompany them! The rest of us will stay behind to deal with these mongrels!”

Rachel didn’t wait to see if the Pirate Captain complied with Savine’s orders. Leading Torsha to the edge of the bridge, Rachel jumped. Good thing the roof to the bridge was gone and there were now several empty hovercrafts just sitting there for the taking. As they climbed aboard the nearest hovercraft, shots were already being fired at them from below. Torsha blocked the shots with her white-glowing weapons while Rachel stored her nunchuks and busied herself at the controls. Soon, the vehicle soared to life. Rachel took the steering wheel nearby, and they zoomed away. Torsha held on to the railing to keep from flying off the side as Rachel forced the hovercraft into a violent turn. The way the hovercraft had been designed, Rachel had to remain standing as she piloted. Obviously, this vehicle was only meant for short-range travel. Glancing behind, Rachel could already see dozens of pirates board their own hovercraft using jetpacks and grappling lines as they brought their ships about to give chase.

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