Monday, August 7, 2017

Chapter Twenty-Three: Day One

Chapter Twenty-Three: Day One

The day was unusually frigid as Luthor stepped out to get to the limo. As soon as he entered, he felt the warmth overpower the cold air from outside. He was in a good mood, incredibly. He had just sealed a deal with Wayne Enterprises (to the reluctance of a Ms. Wagner and half of the board of directors). He had heard after the unfortunate deaths of both Wayne and Earle that the company had decided that rather than appoint a new head, that they would put control of the company in the hands of the board until they deemed it... safer for their employees.

That allowed for him to easily allow 'democracy', meaning a near half and half vote, to decide if they'd do business with him. And with a few extra dollars in their pockets... well, that could go a long way. Of course he had been slightly surprised that Slade had targeted Earle, but whatever Slade was doing wasn't his business. His first thought was that Slade was attempting to cover up Wayne with a mess of murders, but knowing Slade, Luthor had a feeling that there was more to it than that.

Not that it really mattered. As long as it didn't cut into his business, he didn't care. Luthor drove down the streets of Metropolis. After such an excellent deal, he felt the urge to go down to Cadmus himself to deliver him the shipping details. Glancing outside, Luthor saw a streak of red and blue pass by him. Wouldn't he be glad when there was a day that he didn't look up and see that. He felt that birds and planes were good enough.

Upon arrival, Luthor stepped out and walked immediately towards the doors. He didn't like the cold. Once inside, he took off the jacket and let an assistant take it. Walking down the hall, he eventually found Westfield's office. Unfortunately, he wasn't in his office. Resisting the urge to growl, Luthor walked down the hall, looking through the construction rooms' windows. After a minute or so, he finally found Westfield. Storming into the room, Westfield turned to see Luthor in surprise.

"Mr. Luthor, what are you doing here?" He asked.

"How's that technology piece I ordered coming?" Luthor asked back.

Westfield bit his tongue and slowly answered, "The sonic cannon is... well, mostly up and running. But the technology we have is having a hard time converting the... um, the..."

"Well, then, you should be happy with this news," Luthor told him.

Luthor motioned for him to follow him. Westfield told the workers to take five and followed Luthor back to his own office. Luthor walked up to the desk and sat behind it, trying hard to ignore the pictures on the desk of Westfield's family.

"I've just sealed the deal with Wayne Enterprises. Project Xeno-mineral is ours," Luthor told him.

"Project Xeno-Mineral, sir? Is that the final component?" Westfield asked.

Luthor sighed, "Well, yes, considering your people can only seem to duplicate other people's designs."

"We were right on the verge of..." Westfield began, but was cut off.

"Right on the verge of telling me that you're not satisfied with your pay, right?" Luthor interrupted, "Dr. Westfield, if your people could have come up with this sort of thing, then they're in serious trouble because I would probably fire them if that was the case."

Westfield remained quiet for a moment before continuing, "Well, what is the extent of Project Xeno-Mineral's files?"

Luthor chuckled, "It has the ability to break down the mineral to its base form, and reconstruct it into almost an anti-mineral form. Afterwards, it converts it into a form of energy. They were going to test other ways to convert this matter, but stopped there."

"And by mineral, you mean... Kryptonite?" Westfield asked.

Luthor smiled, but answered, "I never said that, but then again, what other Xeno-minerals are there of interest? What I'd like your people to do is to take out the portion of the machine that converts it into anti-Kryptonite. There's no reason to make Superman stronger, after all."

"And then you'd like us to use the energy with the sonic cannon's design?" Westfield ended.

"Precisely," Luthor said, "You can do that, right?"

"Should be easy enough," Westfield informed him.

Luthor got up, satisfied. At least they could do that right. Before he got to the door, though, he turned around, "How's the cannon coming, by chance?"

"Oh, uh, it's down the hallway to the left, if you want to see it. It's almost done," Westfield informed him.

"Good," Luthor said, before walking out the door to see the cannon.

Normally, Luthor would have just walked out, but even he could appreciate a weapon such as the sonic cannon. He took a moment to take in the enormous ferocity of the Sonic Cannon. And to think, in time, it would actually be done. It was perhaps at this moment that Luthor decided that he didn't care how long it had taken Slade to complete his job. He'd probably contact him again. His work was clean, efficient, and most of all effective. He left no trails that it had been him. And that's what mattered.

"Soon, Superman, soon, you'll meet your doom," Luthor said, under his breath.

Luthor headed for the exit so that he could go back to LexCorp's headquarters in downtown Metropolis. Not too far away from LexCorp, inside the Daily Planet, Clark Kent was falling asleep at his desk while Lois typed like a mad woman on her keyboard while holding a cell phone up by her shoulder. Jimmy was down in the lounge, probably getting a Snickers bar. Clark didn't feel like speculating.

"I see, uh huh, okay, and you can confirm this?" Lois asked, "Yes, yes, thank you."

As Lois dropped the phone, Clark looked over to ask, "So what did you find out this time?"

"Well, all I can tell you is that Luthor's been taking out large amounts of money from his local banks in cash," Lois announced, "The only thing he's done lately is business with a couple companies."

"Perry's not going to buy it yet, huh?" Clark asked.

"Not yet, but I will find out what he's up to... maybe if I can do research on the selective areas..." Lois trailed off.

Clark offered a sympathetic smile when Jimmy came up to see him, "Well, they were out of Snickers."

"Sorry 'bout that," Clark told him.

"S'all right," Jimmy said, "I got a BabyRuth instead. Hey, so how's your parents doing?"

"Ma and Pa? Oh, they're doing fine," Clark told him.

"Don't you have any other family, Clark?" He asked, "I mean, you don't talk about many other people."

"Oh, I've got other family members. They're just distant, you know?" Clark told him, "There actually was a bit of turmoil earlier last month, but it seems like it's going swell now..."

That's when the phone rang.

"Hello?" He answered.

"Mr. Kent?"


"Good day to you, too, sir. Now, I'm just doing a background check on Bruce's files," Alfred said, "It's a little slower since I can't actually access Bruce's own computer... but, the bottom line is, I'm sure that we were in that will. Were we not?"

Clark was caught off guard by the question, but answered, "Um, yeah, I think I signed something... But what's this about?"

"Master Dick has been moved again," Alfred informed him.

"What?" Clark nearly yelled, "Who's watching him this time?"

"Some fellow named Grant Wilson," Alfred said, "Apparently we were to follow Ms. Kane's will..."

"Wait, Ms. Kane's dead?" Clark said.

"Not officially, just missing," Alfred informed him.

"Why didn't I..." Clark began when Alfred interrupted him.

"It just happened, Mr. Kent. Besides, I have been pretty busy with all of this," Alfred answered.

"Alright, I'm sorry, but... Yes, I'm pretty sure I signed something for Bruce like that," Clark told him, "I'll run some file searches when I get the chance. But... where is Dick exactly?"

"He's living in Uptown Gotham, in the neighborhood district. Quiet frankly, I will say that Mr. Wilson seemed like a fine gentleman, but the fact that we still don't know him bothers me," Alfred explained.

"I'd like to meet this guy myself," Clark told him, disgruntled, "Maybe even check some of the local paper work while I'm at it, too. I'll..."

"Clark, where's that article!" Perry yelled.

Clark bit his lip, "It's coming, Perry! Almost done... Alright, Alfred, I can't go down right this instant, but as soon as Perry lets me off the hook..."

"Very well then, keep me posted," Alfred said, "I will do the same for you."

"Alright. Thanks, Alfred," Clark told him.

"No problem. Good bye," Alfred said.

"'Bye," Clark answered back.

Jimmy took another bite of his BabyRuth, "Family?"

Clark glared at him, but Jimmy had seen that glare too many times for it to have a real effect on him. Eventually Clark just sighed and stared at the computer screen.

"Hey, Jimmy, when do you think that Perry would let any of us off work?" He asked.

"Maybe a couple weeks?" Jimmy answered back, "Holiday's coming up. Christmas, Hanukkah, you know. He's probably going to want an article or two in advance, though. I have to send him pictures online while I'm off since I'm not going out of town - He wants pictures of the town tree getting lit."

"Well, I don't want to go out of town that late," Clark told him.

Jimmy took a final bite and swallowed, "Well, good luck with that."

As Jimmy finished, Lois called him over and the kid went running. Clark took off his glasses for a moment, rubbing them on his shirt needlessly. He stared at the article on his computer and quickly finished it, checking it over before printing it. Grabbing the sheet from the printer, Clark let out a breath of air and got up to head for Perry's office. Pulling at his collar, Clark resigned himself to his fate as he went to the door wondering how he was possibly going to get out of work.

"Kent!" Perry yelled.

It was now or never.

Clark almost wished never.


Dick woke to the smell of something cooking. Rubbing an eye, Dick stretched and opened the door of his room. The small nap had rid him of his headache, but left him groggy and slightly uncoordinated. Walking downstairs, Dick turned to the kitchen to find Wilson finishing up with cooking dinner. For some reason, this was unexpected. What he had expected consisted of the type of dinner Ms. Kane had often prepared, the rushed, not thinking about it too much type. But if his nose was correct, he was smelling meat cooking on what he thought was a grill... Steak?

"I was wondering when you'd wake up," Wilson said, "We'll eat in the dining room, to your right."

Wilson gestured over to the dining room and Dick looked over. Walking in, it was apparent that this guy had class. It was painted a brownish orange and the furniture was all carved wood. Dick looked at it closely. The wood was smooth, but almost more of a dark red than a brown. He eyed the carvings on the side. They looked hand carved...

"Hope you're not a vegetarian," Wilson said coming in and placing two plates on the table, jerking Dick from his trance.

"I, um, no, I'm not," Dick said, but he had found a new thing to look at.

How much food was on his plate.

"Uh..." He began.

"Something wrong, Dick?" Wilson asked.

Dick moved to sit down as Wilson did too, "I just... um, do you normally cook this much or is this just for tonight...?"

Wilson chuckled, "Don't tell me you have a small appetite, Dick."

"I, well..." Dick said, "I normally just have, um... yeah, not much. I mean, I can eat this, I just..."

Wilson eyed him and Dick gulped, without knowing why, "I... I just was hoping that you weren't just doing this for my sake."

Wilson picked up his fork and knife and began to cut the steak, "Well, you haven't had much to eat today, if I'm not mistaken. But really, I just believe in hearty meals. Gives you energy and muscle when you use it to your advantage."

"Uh, huh," Dick said, starting to work at his own dish.

There was a bit of silence. Dick was starting to feel awkward. The quite was unnerving.

"Um, I, uh, do have a friend that's a vegetarian," Dick said, thinking back to earlier.

"Oh?" Wilson asked.

'Probably Beast Boy,' He thought resisting the urge to roll his eyes.

"Yeah, it's sort of ridiculous sometimes," Dick said, "Especially on pizza night..."

"Pizza night?" Wilson asked, not really interested in reality.

"Yeah, I, uh, at school, and, yeah," Dick mumbled, realizing he was getting nowhere with this.

Dick hunched his shoulders. He ate what he could but by the time he got half way through, he realized that his stomach was beginning to hurt from the amount of food. He winced as he forced himself to eat more. He didn't want to be rude, but he sort of wished that Wilson would say something, anything. But he didn't, the man continued to eat on his own, not minding the silence. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it.

Dick didn't.

So he did what he could to start a conversation again, "The table, it's um, really unique."

Wilson chuckled, "I suppose. I ordered it off the Internet, thought it would work in this room."

Dick nodded, "How did you come to live here?"

"My job moves all over the place, that's all," Wilson said.

"What do you do?" Dick asked.

Slade swallowed his food and answered, "Travel agencies."

"Oh," Dick said.

"You're not full are you?" Slade asked him, watching how Dick was sort of just pushing his food across the plate.


"Oh, never mind that. I haven't shown you the whole house, have I?" Wilson asked.

"Uh, no," Dick answered.

Slade got up from his seat, wondering how it was possible that the kid could only eat that much. Getting up, Dick followed Wilson into the room behind the dining room. It was filled, wall-to-wall with books and shelves of other items. Dick's eyes widened. It looked like a multi-cultural mural. Mostly from Africa probably, but he could see Asian influences, European influences, even Southern American influences in there too.

"Wow..." He said.

"This is the library," Wilson explained, "When you work with travel, you get a lot of... well, rewards, to put it lightly, but on to the next room…"

Dick followed Wilson into the room in the back behind the kitchen, "This is the lounge. Up front is a welcoming room. I'm not sure exactly what to call it."

Dick resisted the urge to laugh at that as Wilson led him back upstairs, "Downstairs is just storage. Up here, you already saw half of it. The two guest rooms, now one is yours. There's a bathroom on the left. My room's at the end of the hallway. Laundry room's to the right. Then up ahead to the right is the staircase to the third floor, which just has my office."

Dick nodded as Wilson added, "I have to keep it locked because of the files I take care of, so I hope you don't hold a grudge against me if you can't get in there."

"Oh, no," Dick said, "What do you have, passports, or something?"

"Yes, birth certificates, death certificates, and other proprietary information," Wilson said plainly, but a small smile crept onto his face.

Dick raised a brow. Death certificates? What about that was funny? Dick followed Wilson down the hallway when Wilson turned around and Dick had to stop point blank in his tracks to make sure he didn't end up bumping into him.

"Listen, Dick, I know there's not much to entertain you with, so I hope you'll forgive me," Wilson said, "I'm stuck working most of the day, but they have things around the neighborhood that you might find fun."

Dick replied, faking miserably, "It's fine, I mean, yeah, who says I'm bored?"

Wilson smiled, "I'm sure you're not, Dick."

With that Wilson walked down the hall to his own room, leaving a thoroughly confused Dick Grayson alone. Well, that was weird. He wasn't quite sure what had just really occurred right there or what to make of Wilson. Maybe it was just odd because he still knew nearly nothing about the guy. Yeah, that was it. Wasn't it that way with Bruce? Actually…. It wasn't, Bruce just wasn't around enough for him to even get to know him. But that's not the point. The point was that he still knew nothing. Then again, it was just day one. Dick groaned and went into his room again.

Collapsing on his bed, Dick instantly felt sick. How much had he eaten? Turning onto his back, Dick nearly fell off his bed again when he heard his T-Communicator ring out. Kicking the door closed, Dick rummaged through his bag and quickly grabbed the communicator and silenced it.

"What?" He asked in a whisper.

"What's up with you?" Raven asked, noting his tone.

"I, got-," Dick started, "What are you trying to do, it's still early."

"Where are you?" Raven asked, looking around him.


"Dick?" Dick turned to hear the door outside.

"I, um, be right there!" He called, closing the communicator and shoving half of his stuff under the bed and out of sight, leaving Raven on the other side of the continent thoroughly confused.

Dick ran to the door and opened it to see Wilson in front of him with a very confused expression, "What was that phone call all about?"

"The… the phone call?" Dick asked, trying to be oblivious (after all, being innocent worked out pretty well most of the time).

"You weren't talking to yourself then, were you?" Slade asked, not about to let the subject go.

"Uh… I um," Dick began, but slowly the question wedged it's way into his thought process about why he even needed to hide a phone call or even why this guy should care, "I… was talking to some friends."

"How?" Wilson asked, it was hard not to smirk, "I don't have a phone line in there."

"I… I have a cell phone…" Dick replied, stiffly, hoping that they could somehow get off topic.

"Who provides for it?" Wilson asked this time.

This was starting to get annoying. He didn't know why, but it was. Probably because Wilson could legitimately have reasons to ask these questions and because Dick should be able to honestly answer them. Either way, Dick felt an overpowering sheer annoyance. Most people would be satisfied with 'what phone call?'. Not Wilson apparently. Then again, he had been in the army, right? That's what the will had said and that meant the guy was smarter than your average kid. Dick almost felt like pouting.

"Wayne Enterprises does," Dick said, indignantly.

Despite this tone, Wilson went on as though he hadn't caught it, "I see. That's good to know. Well, I'll be downstairs in the front room."

"Okay," Dick said, before shutting the door and separating himself from Wilson.

Slade heard Dick shut the door and had to suppress the urge to march down the steps loudly. Insolent, disrespectful, little... Slade stopped at the bottom and took the moment to breath out a hint of anger. Dick hadn't acted this way when Adeline had taken him in. Then again, the kid was probably still in shock at that point. Walking into the front room, Slade sat down and picked up a package, unwrapping it to reveal a copy of The Art Of War by Sun Tzu. He smirked. He'd read it a dozen times, but with every new analysis of it, he'd buy a copy to see what else he could learn from it. Often nothing, but every now and then...

Unfortunately, he didn't think any of them would help him with changing a teenager's disposition towards him. Slade stared at a page in the book without reading it. He had had a feeling that there would be... consequences and trade offs to this prolonged plan. After all, this time, Dick had been able to recover from the shock and had very quickly slipped back into his attitude. Slade studied it out in his mind. The goal now was to get Dick to end up liking it here. And that meant having Dick shut himself up was the last thing that he wanted to do.

Not to mention that it reminded him too much of how Dick's late mentor had worked. He would have chuckled at the thought, if it hadn't been for his other worry. In what he had seen as of lately, Dick's behavior as Robin hadn't been pleasing, either. He had barked orders at his teammates, kept a distance from them (that actually had it's good points, but was still... worrisome), and on his own had become increasingly violent and, to some extent, reckless.

He was mixed on the issue. It was... promising, in some ways, to see that Robin possessed such abilities, as to scare mere men and fight them with ease, as though the ability ran through his veins. He was a natural. But this... power... it had to be redirected. After all, he couldn't train an unruly apprentice and Dick didn't benefit at all from venting in that manner. If he could do that, temper that energy for the moment, it would be much easier to train him and get him to like living there.

Slade put down his book and took out a pack of cards, setting them up for solitaire, a small smile on his face. When he thought about his next step, it seemed quite simple, really. Keep Dick from getting the chance to be Robin for at least the first week or so. Get him to do something else fun and productive. And lastly, become a confidant; get Dick to trust him. Easy enough, in fact, he had a feeling he'd even have a little fun with it.

He drew his first set of cards. All aces. He took it as reflecting a promising start, for him. Upstairs, Dick was slowly unpacking his stuff. What bothered him the most was that there didn't seem to be any place for him to hide his gear. Eventually, he decided to hide it underneath the mattress. His belt and communicators remained in the front drawer of the bedside table. If he couldn't waste time, he wasn't going out without anything handy. As he was about to close the drawer, he remembered that he should probably send a message back to the Titans about that... rather rude hang up.

Deciding a text was better, Dick told them that he'd call them as soon as he got out of the house and give them the 411. After wards, he pulled out his iPod and plugged in, playing songs randomly. At the moment, he wasn't sure exactly what he was supposed to feel. He couldn't help but feel angry, to say the least, at Gordon and the rest of the Police Department. Sure, he was a one man SWAT team, but it couldn't hurt if they brought in their people once in a while to do their job... Alright, so it wasn't their fault. He still was pretty irritated by it all.

And then there was Wilson. Who on earth was Wilson? Did Ms. Kane ever mention Wilson to him? He didn't think so. They were in the army together and Ms. Kane hardly ever talked about that. He wasn't bothered by that as much as he was by Wilson himself. He couldn't explain why, but through out the entire dinner, he had felt nervous. He thought back to when he first met Bruce. Yeah, he had been nervous at first and he tended to feel awkward not knowing much about him. But this was a different sort of nervousness. He saw no reason to be nervous, but he was tense, tense like he had to be.

He thought over Wilson. He worked with a travel business or something like that. He seemed to collect unique stuff from different countries, but that didn't really surprise him. The only thing that surprised him was how much he could possibly eat. That, and the guy could cook like only Alfred could. Then again, (even though Wilson had said he hadn't) he might have just made a big meal considering it was his first night here and... now that he thought about it, Dick really hadn't eaten much all day. The guy was right. But then, why on earth was he nervous about him?! It was infuriating. Maybe it would wear off... Yeah, that would wear off - he hoped.

He grabbed his laptop and began to work on what he could, looking through files. He did this for about fifteen minutes before he began to fidget and grow bored and restless. Pulling out his headphones, Dick decided to see how safe it was. He didn't hear anything from the hallway or from downstairs. Wilson must have gone to bed by now. Dick went over to the window and unlocked it. The problem was: it wouldn't open. Dick tried again to budge it open, but the wood frame was sealed shut. Annoyed, Dick pushed his weight against the window again, heaving as hard as he could to force it open without breaking it because wouldn't that be a fun thing to explain to Wilson later.

After about two minutes of this, Dick stepped back and stared at the window. Alright, well, if the bottom wouldn't open, maybe the top would. Two minutes later, Dick decided to bet on the fact that he was going to have to get out some other way. The clock read 9:45. Opening the door quietly, Dick snuck down the hallway and down the staircase. It was completely dark. Completely dark, until he reached the staircase where he saw a faint light coming from downstairs. Not too worried because many people left a light or two on at night, Dick crept down the steps, but when he looked to his right at the front room, he saw Wilson sitting, reading a book with what looked like a pack of cards out on the table.

Dick's mouth dropped, slightly before Wilson looked over to see him, "Dick, you're still up? You've been pretty quiet up there?"

"Uh... yeah, I..." Dick stuttered, "I was just... getting a glass of water... yeah."

Dick made his way down the rest of the steps and somehow found the cabinet with the cups in it. He quickly downed a glass of water and turned to head up the stairs. Wilson hadn't moved. He eyed him for a moment before Wilson noticed (or rather, as Slade saw it, acknowledged him).

"Get a good night's sleep," Slade told him.

Dick forced a smile before trudging back up the stairs and then turning to sit on the top step. The guy couldn't stay up that much longer, could he? He waited about half an hour, picking at the bottoms of his jeans, when he finally decided to see if Wilson had just fallen asleep in the front room. Creeping down, he was disappointed to see Wilson was still awake, a new game of what looked like FreeCell in front of him. He scowled, at least until Wilson looked over.

"Dick, you're still up?" He asked, feigning surprise, though Dick didn't notice... much.

"I... I tend to stay up late... and I just wanted to get another glass of water," He barely managed to excuse himself.

"By all means," Wilson told him.

As Dick drank his second glass, Slade forced himself to keep from smiling as wide as he wanted to. He hadn't heard the tell tale signs that Dick had actually gone back to his room and there was no doubt in his mind that Dick had found the window to his room was sealed shut. It's amazing what some adhesives can do these days. Dick forced a natural look on his face as he passed Wilson again.

"Uh, 'night then," Dick said, before storming back upstairs to wait again.

This time, he waited maybe ten minutes before realizing that it was almost eleven. He had to get out, he couldn't wait anymore. Quietly walking to the other rooms of hallway, he found that two were locked, one was a closet without windows, and the rest of the rooms (his, the guest bedroom, and the laundry room) to all had their windows sealed shut. At this point his was considering breaking down or picking the locks to other two doors. Or, he could cut through the glass... but that would be really hard to explain to Wilson. All of these circumstances resulted in Dick sitting back at the bottom of the steps, another half hour wasted. He waited maybe twenty minutes before he decided that Wilson couldn't possibly still be up.

He crept down the stairs for the third time, careful to keep out of sight from Wilson. He bent his head down low and as soon as he could see the front room, Dick felt his jaw drop. There was Wilson, still playing cards and reading. Dick saw Wilson's head begin to turn and back flipped quietly to retreat. He would NOT drink another glass of water. No way. Slade let a silent chuckle escape him while Dick stormed back (as quietly as he could restrain himself to be) to his room, where he spent began to fume.

It was past eleven! Didn't the guy work or something in the morning? Didn't the guy move? Hadn't he already been sitting there for two hours or something? And what, was the guy paranoid that someone would break into his house or was the guy's house so old the wood had started growing together again? It was at this point, Dick realized that all nervousness had passed and Wilson had instead become officially annoying and irritating. Dick growled slightly as he dropped onto his bed. It wouldn't be like this every night, right? Right? Dick groaned at the thought.

Grabbing his communicator, he sent another text telling the Titans that he couldn't talk tonight, but would call them in the morning. Resigned to the fact that he wasn't going out tonight, Dick laid on his bed trying to think of ways to occupy his time since he was pretty sure that he wouldn't fall asleep till maybe three or four. Grabbing his laptop again, Dick started playing games until he began beating his high scores with every new game. He began to write an email to Alfred, but he couldn't send it as he wasn't hooked up to the internet. That's when he actually noticed that he was falling asleep earlier than normal. Yawning, Dick placed the laptop under his bed and let himself try to catch up on his sleep.

Around three in the morning, Slade finally came upstairs, having finished with some designs to upgrade a few models of his robots back in Jump City. Yes, he had kept himself busy and hadn't been playing cards all night long. He brought up the book with the designs inside, but stopped at Dick's room. Hearing nothing, Slade smiled and walked down the hall, ready to get a couple hours of sleep himself. Re-locking the door to his own room, Slade went to his computer and entered on his calendar.

Day one: Success.

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