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Matthew Lane

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Jacarandas in bloom Nov. 21st, 2017 @ 08:03 pm
Went down to Applecross on Monday to walk thru the area with all the Jacarandas that are in bloom. There are just hundreds of them in that area. Well worth going down there to check them out.



As for today, I pretty much sat on my ass all day, having a quite day, enjoying the last cool day before it all ramps up again tomorrow with the heat & my necessary activity level.

Tales from the Table: 1940's LA Heroes, part 6: The Epilogue. Nov. 4th, 2017 @ 07:51 pm
The Epilogue

I know what you are thinking, how did they survive? Well The Veil shadow-stepped with Eclipse to the surface & The Spider & Night-Girl simply stepped phased thru the floor. When phased she can safely drift to the ground, where as the spider well he can leap 250 feet, so the drop wasn't all that for him.

As for what happened to the Zeppelin, yeah it hit the ground & then exploded, at which point the Scorpion resurfaced, because Timestorm was telling the truth, he wasn't the real Scorpion, he simply took the name of a villain that was about to appear, thereby creating the very villainous identity & organization he usurped to begin with, closing the temporal loop cleanly.

The real Scorpion, if such he could be called, was a his own protégé, something Timestorm knew with his future knowledge & so recruited him knowing that he was making the very legacy he stole in the first place.

As for our heroes, well they all went back to their own home, knowing that while they didn't stop Timestorm from hopping forward in time again, they likely stopped him from getting past whatever the firewall was & that whenever he was now, the Artifacts ultimate power was now, once again lost to him.

The Spider got his story on the new crime family in LA, but chose not to mention the intervention of anyone but Night-Girl (to spare the others their secret identities being in town the same time their masked identities were). Night Girl returned to her news paper with the story of the stolen artifacts, but didn't link it to the crime boss. Eclipse went home with the artefact, where he placed It in his vault of dangerous items & Veil, well he went home to Tower City just in time to get a couple of hours sleep before he had to wake up for his Monday morning shift as a beat cop.

As for where or when the Scorpion ended up, that as they say is a story for another time.... Maybe even next years Halloween game.

Tales from the Table: 1940's LA Heroes, part 5 Nov. 3rd, 2017 @ 06:36 pm
34. Our Heroes restock their gear & decide to show up early at the El Capitan Theatre an hour early

35. After finding the area empty of enemies (but still with quite a few civilians), they break in to the already closed theatre & find it's abandoned, after waiting until the allotted time, when no one shows.

36. So they decide to leave the theatre & as they walk up to the front doors, they realise that they've been had, that whoever had organised this had expected them to show up early & had used the cover of them entering the theatre as a way to bring their forces in to the fray.

37. As they open the door they spot a hooded & cloaked man, 4 of the 30 foot tall Automatons, sharp shooters on the roof tops & a phalanx of the armoured laser gun totting guys & any number of every day gangsters with tommy guns.



38. The hooded man introduces himself as The Scorpion & you have something that belongs to him. Surrender the artifacts immediately or I shall kill these civilians, destroy this historic landmark & kill you.... At which point I will simply take the artifacts from your corpses.

39. Eclipse whispers to the Veil, who is still standing in darkness & practically invisible, to get to the roof, just go, no time to explain, you'll see it when you get there.

40. the Veil shadow-steps away to the roof, while our heroes step out in to the night air. An argument occurs as Eclipse & The Scorpion waste time bantering back and fourth. With the massive amount of weapons arrayed against them they know that they don't stand a chance, even with them being mostly minions, their numbers are just to much.

41. So Eclipse negotiates the surrender of the artifacts, hoping to play for time to let the Veil do whatever it is he hoped the Veil would do.

42. Meanwhile on the ground time has run out & whatever they had hoped the Veil would do he hadn't done, as Eclipse handed over the artifacts. So artifacts in hand, the Scorpion turns to slowly walk away, as he throws a parting line over his shoulder; "I have what I came for, you are of no more use to me, kill them."

43. And just as the words leave his lips & as the many arrayed forces raise their weapons to fire, a horrible crackling sound of radio feedback plays through the radio on Eclipses belt & the Automatons stand, but instead of drawing fire on our heroes, they attack the Scorpions own men.

44. The sudden change of fates throws everyone in to disarray, as heroes, minions & villain alike scramble in the fog of war. Stranger still was the Automatons destroying each other (at which point the radio feedback cuts off), leaving a huge mess, but no civilian or hero causalities & only superficial damage to any structures.

45. The other heroes are pissed that they've lost the artifacts & still trying to figure out what happened when the Veil leaps from the roof of the El Capitan Theatre & he explains that the Automatons where being controlled by radio control units on the roof, he had taken out the guards protecting it silently & countermanded their unit, forcing them to open fire on their own units.

46. Still the heroes had lost the artifacts & apparently had no way to track them down.... Except for some reason John (guy playing Eclipse) looks way to smug & the players look at him, as if to say "what did you do you clever asshole." Eclipse explains that while they don't have the artifacts, they haven't lost them, he slipped a radio tracker into the gap in the spine of the book, they can track it where ever they go. Needless to say hero points were given all round.

47. So they mount up & start to chase down the Scorpion and the artifacts. Their chase leads out of Hollywood & further in land, until eventually they reach an old private airfield, which they decide to not be at all subtle about hitting, for obvious reasons. They ram straight thru a hanger door, just in time to see a giant over sized zeppelin lifting off thru the open roof of the hangar.

48. The few remaining thugs did not fair well & let's just put it this way if our Heroes had the "don't kill" methodology of a Superman, that would have been sorely tested, since they um, well they kinda took out the remaining mooks by running them down.

49. Luckily our heroes while otherwise earthbound, had some means of reaching the Zeppelin, by grapple & line & by shadow stepping. So now aboard the Zeppelin they fight their way thru the few remaining minions, until they find The Scorpion.

50. He monologues, everyone fights, with the Scorpion holding his own with his pair of Falchions capable of shooting red electrical arcs, as he explains that he's not a petty thug from this backwards time period, that he is Timestorm, villain of the distant future & that with the power of the artefact he can finally punch past the Firewall trapping him in the past, without it he'll only be able to jump a couple of decades & have to start all over again. That is also why they are in the air, the zeppelin is moments away from reaching a weak point in the skin of reality, where time is more permeable. the Scorpion even reveals that he's not the real Scorpion, he simply usurped the mantle of the real Scorpion, but that history will never know that there was more than one Scorpion, as he'll take up the mantle now that he's leaving this shit hole of an era.

51. They fight continues as the machine sparks to life, opening a portal, as the Scorpion starts to fight a retreat back towards the portal, until Night-Girl flashes her light attack in his eyes, dazzling him for a moment, The Spider jumps over him, runs for the machine, rips the box from the machine, disconnecting starting to power down extra power source keeping it breaching the firewall. As it does, the boxes mechanical parts close up & in anger Scorpion opens up with his Falchions as energy rips thru the semi ridged vessel like it's tissue paper.

52. The Scorpions blast has done some real damage & it's clear that the airship is crashing, as it's already listing crazily to one side, causing the remaining artifacts to fall in to the firewall breaching portal as it becomes increasingly unstable, losing through out history once more, leaving only the box in hand, with no way to open it. As for the Scoprion, realizing that retreat is the better part of valor, runs for the portal, jumping through it, as the firewall breach closes, then the portal entirely closes & then the entire machine explodes, clearly this vessel is not going to last even a matter of a few seconds now.

And so that leaves us with only the conclusion.

Tales from the Table: 1940's LA Heroes, part 4 Nov. 2nd, 2017 @ 08:21 pm
The Cliff notes continue, as we reach day two of our adventure.

25. At the rendezvous point the group compares notes & decides what to do. The codex, when read thru the seeing stone reveals some of the boxes history, how to open it, but is still vague about what it contains exactly.

Eventually they decide to split up these remaining artifacts & scatter them around again, so they can't be used again.

But clearly that's not the end of this story.

26. After they all sleep on it, they awaken to special radio bulletins informing everyone to stay away from North Hollywood, where a giant rampaging automaton is proceeding to destroy the area & anyone it comes across.

27. Our heroes all hear it on the radio about the same time & so all rush to the location using the running radio broadcast of the action to guide them. Upon getting close the radios conk out entirely, becoming nothing but static across all radio channels.

28. But it doesn't take them long to find the epicentre of the destruction, even without the radios & they set eyes upon a giant 30ft tall automaton, with traits familiar in design to the armoured thugs Veil & Night-Girl fought in the museum, but scaled up to a large robot, but with a single laser eye instead of hand held ranged weapons.

29. The fight was joined and the heroes took a good hour and a half of real time to defeat what was quite a powerful enemy thru shear force, along with constantly having to rescue civilians, as the machine tore up large swathes of ground with it's eye beam, but also staying within a three block radius.

30. Once it was destroyed, a man in bespoke suit walked out of a nearby alley way, dusting himself off, walked up to the nearest hero (Night Girl), introduced himself as a lawyer, who had been hired to deliver a note at this time, at this location, to the "colourfully dressed individuals"

31. The note read: "You have something that belongs to me, you will bring all the artifacts you have gathered to the El Capitan Theatre downtown L.A, 10 pm tonight. If you fail to do so people will die. Kind Regards, The Scorpion."

32. The Veil & Night-Girl tried to get more information from the lawyer by playing their own version of good cop, bad cop, they took to calling "grim vigilante & good time girl" but discovered he knew nothing else, it was simply a job he was paid to do, he had never met the sender.

33. Meanwhile Eclipse was twiddling with the radio n his belt (he has a full sized cathedral radio, but at tiny Walkman size in his utility belt). Apparently whatever wiped out the radio waves had stopped after the machine was defeated.

What will our heroes do? Well that will have to wait until tomorrow true believers, when this story concludes.

Tales from the Table: 1940's LA Heroes, part 3 Nov. 1st, 2017 @ 08:13 pm
The Cliff notes continue

8. Veil & Night Girl decided to go to the museum, to go after the Eye of Osiris. Eclipse & the Spider decided to go to the manor of Bruce Van Staten, in the Hollywood Hills.

9. Veil & Night-Girl both entered the building without opening a door, Veil by Shadow Walking thru the shadows & Night Girl by phasing thru the walls. They both snuck thru the museum, hid from the night guard & finally found the Eye of Osiris. Alas they found it was on a pressure plate, behind glass, where even moving the glass would set of the alarms.

10. So between the two of them they are trying to dummy it open without the skills to disarm it. Luckily they figure it out by using a combination of selective phasing to hold down the trigger mechanism thru the glass, then to remove the glass & then replace the glass over an object of the same weight.

11. Just as they are making dex checks to slide the case back in to place, they make the final dice roll & KABOOM! The doors blow open, alarms go off & armoured thugs walk in wearing strange metal armour, all rivets & plate steel. Scorpions men, outfitted with armour, laser weapons & no intention of leaving without the eye of Osiris.

12. Unfortunately Veils powers are vulnerable to searing light, like lasers, one shot & he'd be down. But never fear, they both have pretty superior movement modes & so they both beat the entire hit team without taking a single hit themselves (though there were a couple of near misses).

13. It pretty much became one of those predator takedown sections from the Arkham City games, I think my favourite take down was when Veil shadow-walks to the balcony, uses his "Dark Voice of the Shadows" ability to not only intimidate the fuck out of an entire room of thugs with battle armour & lasers, but also do so from the shadows, by throwing his voice, making it come from everywhere at once.

14. From there it was just a case of shadow-walking and phasing around and taking them out one at a time.

15. Meanwhile across town, Eclipse & The Spider break in the mansion in the Hollywood Hills, where after to going to great lengths to sneak in discretely, gassing the guard dogs with sleep gas, doing the same to a couple of guards, finally getting in the to library, where the safe is kept, only to find Mr Van Staten sitting in the dark drinking cognac, holding a sawn off shotgun.

16. He had already heard about the museum break in from the police, since he's friends with the police commissioner & he already knew about the link between the items. So he sent the codex away by car moments before they had arrived, the second he'd heard that two of the places where he knew the others to be kept had come under attack: The Museum & the Key-Club, a private club down town, rumoured to be owner by an Irish Crime Family.

17. It's at that point as they are explaining that they aren't the bad guys, the radio sqwarks to life, the car transporting the Codex is being chased by another car. One that seems intent on running them off the road.

18. Eclipse finally gets thru to Mr Van Staten & convinces him to give up the location & get his driver to double back round, at which point they both make a run for the Lunar-Mobile & a high speed chase occurs, as they try to catch up to the pursuit car.

19. When they finally do, they are pulling high speed manoeuvres in the middle of Hollywood traffic, at night, with not great visibility. Eclipse keeps on trying to get in front of the pursuit car but he's having none of it, he's blocking at every turn. So the Spider jumps out of the still moving car, and leap frogs from car to car, till he gets on the roof of the pursuit car & slides in the passenger seat.

20. Scuffle occurs for a couple of rounds until the Spider has a free hand to punch the guy in the jaw, one hit knocking him out.

21. At which point the first car no longer being pursued stops, but before they can recover the Codex, the first car rabbits, now running away from our heroes & so the chase continues, but now we are joined by the constabulary, who have decided to put a stop to our heroes.... But John is having a grand old time playing this role, it's the superhero RPG role he was born to play.

22. With the flick of a switch as he takes a high speed corner, he drops a metric shit tonne of caltrops, stopping the cops dead, as the police cars all pile up on top of each other as one car rear ends the other, in classic movie style.

23. Finally the driver of the first car messes up, Eclipse manoeuvres in front and drops a payload of oil, causing the vehicle to lose traction, corner to quickly & flip over.

24. The Spider recovers the book & they head towards the rendezvous point.

And since that's where the first session finishes off for the day, after a good 8 or 9 hours of gaming, I think that's where I will leave off this recounting of the adventure for tonight. More to come tomorrow.
Other entries
» Tales from the Table: 1940's LA Heroes, part 2
So the basis of this adventure was pretty simple: A villain is collecting the five parts of a powerful alien artefact scattered across the United States.

So here is the cliff notes version of the plot & how it played out.

0. Vignettes used to bring everyone up to speed & to throw them right in to the adventure.

- Spider had stopped a theft of a precious gem from the New York Museum, but then he um, borrowed it himself. The thug had a tattoo of a scorpion.

- Veil followed a successful break in and theft of an artifact, a mechanical looking puzzle box of ancient design & unknown provenance, at the Tower City University by thugs with a Scorpion tattoo, one of who was shot dead by a cop before the rest escaped, but not before shooting the history professor who was studying them & putting him in to a coma.

- Eclipse stopped a robbery at one of his secret identities scientific research & manufacturing companies, of an experimental type of new alloy. Someone had paid off two of his night watchmen to do the job.

- Night Girl was investigating the new crime family that has taken over LA's organised crime.

1. The characters all show up at the warehouse for different reasons, all related to the plot.

2. Ass kicking of gangsters proceeds & they discover that these guys are all working for a crime lord that took over much of the organised crime in L.A, a guy calling himself the Scorpion. All of his minions have the tattoo, the Scorpions Mark as it's called.

3. They discover the puzzle box stolen from the Tower City University & notes from the professor which states that the box is a powerful object of the old world, supposedly containing great power & that all of his probes in to what's inside seemed to suggest a huge amount of raw energy, detectable with a hypothetical gizmo.

But he couldn't open it & find out what was inside because it was an artefact in 5 parts.

1. An impenetrable mechanical puzzle box
2. A small blue gemstone on a leather book mark strap
3. A quartz key
4. A red seeing stone
5. A codex

It's at this point that The Spider reveals he's already got one of the pieces & the box is another, that leaves three pieces. They decide these pieces are to dangerous to leave lying around & so they decide to collect them as quickly as possible.

4. The team crashes for the night (or whats left of it, since they hit the warehouse at night) & goes in to research mode the next morning, the Spider uses his contacts in New York, and Night Girl uses he access to the paper where she works in her civilian ID to research. Between the two of them, with some disastrous dice rolls between them they figured out that the seeing stone is currently on exhibit at the museum in the Egyptology exhibit under the name, the Eye of Osiris.

5. Meanwhile Eclipse & Veil are busy in the L.A County Library where they do the slow research of tralling thru the libraries large quantity of records in the closed collection. How did he do that exactly? Well one of Chicago's most eligible and wealthy benefactors Dan Harwell (secret identity of Eclipse) charmed the mousey bespectacled librarian in to letting them in to the closed collection & even charmed her in to helping.



Which just goes to show that 8 ranks in persuade, plus 2 ranks in attractive, +2 circumstance bonus for some really decent roleplaying is really something when used at the right time.

6. They discovered that the Codex had been sold to a private collector & so phoned the New Paper office to organise a clandestine meeting to figure out what to do next.

7. At that meeting, since they could only figure out where two of the missing artefact parts were, they decided to split in to two groups (since they had two cars) & hit them both at the same time after dark. Veil & Night Girl took the Night-Car & Eclipse & the Spider took The Lunar-Mobile.

And that's where I'm going to leave off for tonight, about half way thru the Saturday session.

MVP MOMENT: My favourite part of the session at this point is the funny interlude with the cars, that I skipped over. Upon beating up the mobsters in the warehouse & introducing themselves to each other, they walk out side & discover that two of them have parked in the same area & so this funny game of "i'll show you mine, if you show me yours occurs between Night-Girl & Eclipse.

So they are comparing vehicle stats, but I made them do it in character. Once they discover that they are both points wise very similar for the most part, Night-Girl pulls out the big guns. She hits a switch on the dash board & the cars paint job changed colour from bright red (a colour that can only be called discrete if you live in LA), to a dark blue. The license plate flips over & other basic features change.

Eclipse then brags that his has caltrops & oil slick capabilities

Night-Girl then proceeds to brag that her's is mostly bullet proof, is yours mostly bullet proof. To which instead of answering he walks to the nearest unconscious gangster, grabs two dropped tommy guns, aims the first at his own car & just lets loose with the entire clip until the gun runs dry.

The other players look at him like he's gone mad. Especially when I don't ask him to roll a toughness save & I describe he perfectly unharmed car, not a scratch on it. Then he wordlessly passes the other tommy gun to Night-Girl & points her towards her car, to which she answered "okay, you win, you have the better car."

Needless to say this got laughs all round & both characters received hero points for the genre friendly roleplaying banter. As for how he did it, John, the guy playing Eclipse has played in a couple of these things before & he did the math. He guessed the damage on the guns was low & he knew his car not only had higher that average toughness, but also had impervious, due to the entire vehicle, including the glass being treated with a special high impact lacquer, on top of the cars already impressive metal body work, made out of a sheet version of the same material as his costume, making it entirely bullet proof from anything less than a rocket launcher or a flamethrower.

Here are what the two cars look like


THE LUNAR-MOBILE



THE NIGHT-CAR


» Tales from the Table: 1940's LA Heroes, part 1
So two days of gaming has drawn to a close as the annual Halloween game finishes up for the year. This years theme was 1940's mystery men in L.A.

The funny thing is, none of the characters used were created for this adventure, they are extant NPC's created as 1940's characters across the U.S that just happened to fit the bill, so I built an adventure around them.

So the year is 1942, the second World War is still raging, the Midnight Society disappeared on a government job 6 months earlier & are presumed missing in action, but life on the Home Front still must go on & that includes the lives of criminals.

Enter our four heroes.

The Veil: The resident Mystery Man of Tower City. By day Adam Moore is an honest beat cop in a city where most of the remaining force is less than honest, but by night he bedecks himself in the mantle of shadow & with his power over darkness, he fights the forces of injustice.

Powers
- Shadow pistols
- Shadowstep (teleport thru darkness)
- Shadow Mantle
- Dark Voice of the Shadows (intimidate, voice throwing)



The Spider: A Mid western 20 year old, who travelled to New York after he failed the physical to get in to the army due to a heart arrhythmia. He worked a succession of unskilled jobs, including one on the docks, where he accidentally stumbled across two opposing families of organised crime goons trying to steal ancient African artifacts, that were being transported to the New York Museum.

When gun play broke out he hid between the crates where thru chance or fate he just so happened to catch himself on the sharp edge of a bejewelled Spider broach from the Ashanti tribe & discovered that it had given him extraordinary spider like agility, strength, wall crawling & leaping powers.

With these powers he tracked down the rest of the artifacts, punished the criminals, returned the jewels to the museum & when the cops refused to act on information he took the story to the New York Chronicle to force their hand. He helped them find the story & did such a good job of it they offered him a job doing it full time & the recovery of the jewels netted him a big enough reward to set himself up as a decently well off street level mystery man.

Powers
- Increased Strength & Agility
- Leaping
- Wall Crawling
- Throwing blades



Eclipse: The son of a self made millionaire, who made his money during prohibition. He went straight & diversified his investments, Making money when everyone else was going belly up. He was gunned down in front of his son, who grew up with a need for vengeance & as the sole heir to fortune.

He served his country in military intelligence, but was honourably discharged after his mother passed away & he became more important as the heir apparent to the companies that held many military contracts for production of any number of important goods, necessary for the war effort.

Upon getting home he discovered that the man who had killed his father had resurfaced, as a member of the local organised crime syndicate & so with the help of his childhood friend James Walker (engineering genius), he created the night-time mystery man identity of Eclipse, ready to take out the organised criminals & the gangsters of Chicago.

Powers
-Costume made out of a steel silk
- Utility belt full of throwing bolas, crescent blades, smoke bombs, sleep gas, a radio & mini grapple launcher
- Combat training



Night Girl: The daughter of a U.S Senator who had his hands in many different pies, including a city newspaper in L.A that he let others run for him. He signed that business over to his daughter, on the proviso that she work her way up. So she secretly started out as a secretary & general office gopher.

Every day she saw the worst mankind had to offer, until one day a crazy bum ran in, demanding to see the editor, ranting about some kind of conspiracy to kill him to steal something from him. The editor had her remove him from the building with a couple of dollars in his hands & as Melissa walked him out he was gunned down right on the newspapers door steps in a drive-by.

With his dying breath he forced a bracelet into her hands, a bracelet with a strange triangular stone set in to it & so she sat cradling his dying body until the police arrived.

Time passed & she hid the bracelet, until it became clear the cops wouldn’t find anything & so she started to play with the bracelet herself & discovered that it had amazing properties. So with these amazing properties & the investigative skills she had picked up from her colleagues at the news-paper, she decked herself in a sexy costume & sought to bring the professors killers to justice, as Night-Girl.

Powers
-Judo combat skills
-Sexy enticing costume (based on the classic Phantom Lady costume from Matt Baker, the first black full time comic book artist, who was wracked over the coals for his artwork being to sexy, during the Seduction of the Innocent scandal.)
- The Night Bracelet that allows her to turn intangible, produce energy blasts, leaping & low light vision.


» Character Redesign: How the Joke became Wildcard.
So I created a character years ago for M&M 1E that combined elements of Harlequin with Marvels Jester, leaning more heavily on the Jester side. Her look was redesigned when Superior Spider-Man came out because I loved the Jesters redesign.



Unfortunately that meant that the character ended up looking more like this



Yeah way to much like a piss poor Harlequin homage. To make matters worse the origin I gave to the Joke all those years ago, falling into a vat of chemicals resulting in increased agility, an origin that was distinctly different from Harleys is exactly what the NU52 changed Harleys origins to. To add insult to injury the recent Suicide Squad movie made her in to a consummate acrobat.

The only aspect they hadn't added to Harley was a staff & exploding throwing cards.

So suddenly my original character drawing from elements of other pre-existing characters suddenly became a retroactive rip off of Harley.

Unfortunately DC's obsession with turning Harley in to a suicide doll knock off had also pissed me off over the years, since I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to superhero costumes, so I decided it was time for a character relaunch & so The Joke became Wildcard.

First I stripped out the inconography of humour, which meant ditching some smaller elements of the character, the only one that mattered statistically was the boxing glove on a spring. Then I doubled down thematically in to the playing card aspect, but without going as far as DC's Royal flush Gang.

Still I needed a visual aesthetic, which I didn't find until I stumbled across a sexy Halloween costume version of a Circus Ringmaster & so the direction was set.

So I threw in a little Zatanna stage magician in to the design, added in the iconography of playing cards as lapel pins & cuff links & a domino mask for good measure & boom, the Joke is dead, long live Wildcard.


» Location Scouting: Perth Station Exterior
A great urban location, that I think will look really good by night. Lots of features to work with from the stairs, to the steps, to the phone, to the glass platform.


» Oh (bra) Snap
Had he funniest interaction today with a female friend of mine while she got all uppity over the fact guys like boobs.

Friend: Breasts are just fat

Me: Sure, in the same way that a poet is just a collection of self replicating cells. I think you may have mistaken what a thing is made off, for what a thing is.
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