Author Topic: Fortune Favors the Bold  (Read 383 times)

Lucas Foster

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Fortune Favors the Bold
« on: June 24, 2019, 08:00:39 PM »
Summer carnivals were a dime a dozen, not only on Earth, but in RhyDin and not only in the city, but all over the countryside. It was to one such carnival that Lucas and Fliss found themselves on one of the first official days of summer. There was the usual assortment of rides and games and food trucks, and it wasn't long before Lucas was toting around a large plush unicorn he'd won for her in a ring toss. A goldfish might have been easier to carry, but likely wouldn't have survived the day.

Fliss was laughing as she walked along beside Lucas. "I can't believe you insisted on winning the biggest thing you could find for me," she was saying affectionately, brushing her cheek against his shoulder as they passed through the mingling crowd.

"Hey, I'm the one stuck lugging it around all day!" Lucas reminded her with a grin. He had the unicorn tucked under one arm, his free hand clasping Fliss' while they meandered through the crowd. "So, what now? Ferris wheel? Cotton candy? Fake tattoos?" he asked with a gleeful grin. It had been a long time before Lucas had found anything to smile about, but now that Fliss was wearing his engagement ring, there were few reasons not to smile.

"Oooh, we should do a Ghost House, or a Tunnel of Love," she teased, her own smile as wide as his. It had taken some getting used to, but finally everything felt just as it should in her life. A happy home with Luc, getting an education in a subject she was fiercely interested in, watching their wider families grow and settle in with each other close by ... it was all good.

"Ghost House?" Lucas echoed, laughing. "You know those are fake, right?" Then again, you never knew in RhyDin. The Tunnel of Love sounded interesting, though he thought the unicorn might get in the way of romance.

"Oh, you know what we should do this Halloween?" she suggested suddenly. "We should do a haunted house. I've totally got enough control not to set anyone on fire for startling me now!"

"We could do one for all the kids at the Grove," Lucas suggested, building on her idea. There were enough kids there now who were old enough to enjoy it, and enough teens and younger adults to make it possible.

"I guess it depends what the supposed adults have to say about it," Fliss agreed thoughtfully. "But it'd be cool to give it a try. Shame it wouldn't work on Alex or Mo, though."

"You don't really want to scare them though, do you?" Lucas asked, pausing in mid-stride to adjust the unicorn, as it was bumping against one of his wings. Even folded against his back, they were sometimes awkward, but at least, no one looked at him twice in RhyDin.

"A haunted house is supposed to be a fun scary experience, isn't it?" she pointed out. "You go there because you want to be scared, because it's a safe environment to be scared in. Right?"

"Yeah, I guess," Lucas replied, thoughtfully. "What if we asked Alex and Maria to help?" he suggested. "That way, they can still have fun with it, but instead of getting scared, they can help do the scaring."

Fliss' smile suddenly turned almost evil. "What if we set up a haunted house for the adults to walk through, run by the kids?" she suggested with a wicked quirk to her expression.

Lucas laughed again. "I like that idea!" he told her, with a not quite as evil looking grin. "We could even charge admission and have the money go to charity," he suggested further. That was often the way it was done on Earth, and they had all summer to plan.

"Maybe we should test it on our Grove guinea-pigs before opening it up to the general public," Fliss countered with a cheerful giggle. "We've got enough of them!"

"That's true! I'll mention it to Uncle Humphrey and see what he says," Lucas told her. There had been a time when he'd been a little shy of his uncle, but he'd since learned that "Old Man Granger's" bark was worse than his bite. In truth, he was a big softie.

"He's never going to say no to you," she told her fiance affectionately. "Are you sure you don't want me to carry the unicorn?" It was a very big cuddly toy.

"No, it's okay," he assured her. It was just a stuffed toy, after all. Though it was a bit on the large size, it wasn't very heavy. He paused a moment as they neared a small group of tents with a sign espousing them as fortune tellers. Did they dare?

Liv had commented that Fliss and Luc were more in sync that many other couples she had known, and this was in evidence in the way that Fliss slowed before she seemed to realize that Luc had paused, coming to a halt to look in the same direction curiously.

"That looks like fun. Think you're gonna meet a tall handsome stranger?"

Lucas snorted doubtfully. "I've already met your father," he remarked with a smirk. "What do you think?" he asked, uncertainly again. He'd always believed fortune tellers to be a waste of money, but this was RhyDin - things were different here.

She snorted with laughter. "Dad is going to be so happy you think he's handsome," she teased him, squeezing his hand. She considered the tents for a longer moment. "Well, it couldn't hurt to get a ballpark date for the wedding, could it?"

Lucas shrugged, still smirking. "I'll take all the extra points I can get!" he told her, at least where her Dad was concerned. It wasn't that Johnny didn't like Lucas, but Lucas wasn't afraid to suck up a little. "Um, we don't really need a fortune teller to tell us that, do we?" he asked her. They might not have picked a date yet, but they were young and had plenty of time.

"Well ... no," she admitted merrily, "but it's a safe question to ask. You don't want to ask them something open-ended or morbid, because if they're right, it's just bleak, and if they're wrong, you get paranoid for no reason."

"I guess," Lucas admitted. "Or we could just wait and see what they tell us," he said. He'd never been to a fortune teller of any kind before and wasn't sure how it worked, though he understood the general idea. He shrugged again. "What's the worst that can happen?"

Fliss decided not to answer that, giggling as she squeezed his hand and leaned into his side. "All right," she agreed. "Which one shall we go to? And whose asking?"

Lucas took in the small circle of tents, unsure which to choose. They all looked the same from the outside, but as they got closer, they could see that each one had a small sign advertising their wares - tarot readers, palm readers, crystal ball gazers, tea leaf readers, and the list went on.

"I'm not sure," he replied, uncertainly.
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Lucas Foster

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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2019, 08:00:56 PM »
Fliss gently tugged on his hand to bring them closer so they could read the signs. "Most of the cons know how to read body language really well," she said absently. "I don't really know much about the different ways they tell fortunes. What about a palm reader?"

"A palm reader?" Lucas echoed, brows rising. He might have looked at his palm, if he'd had a free hand. "I don't know, Fliss," he said, about to talk her out of it when one of the tent flaps opened, and a woman emerged.

She looked ordinary enough - about middle-aged with chestnut brown hair she wore pulled up in the back, brown eyes, and a pleasant smile on her face. She wasn't overly pretty, but not ugly either - just ordinary. From the look of her, Lucas assumed she was a customer, not a reader, even as she made a beeline for the pair of young people.

"Hullo!" she greeted the couple. "I'm Maxine. And you are?"

Fliss blinked in surprise, assuming, like Luc, that this was a customer leaving one of the tents. "Uh, I'm Fliss," she introduced herself. "This is Luc." Her eyes spied the sign on the tent the woman had just walked out of, and widened just a bit. "Um ... Mystical Maxine?"

The woman grinned. "That would be me. Kinda catchy, huh?" she asked, winking at them both. "I won't boast how I knew you were destined to be here. I just heard you talking outside the tent and thought I'd come out and say hello. Have either of you ever been to a reader before?" she asked, looking from one to the other.

Fliss glanced at Luc, but found herself laughing a little as she answered. "No," she said, quite honestly. "Never really had a question I wasn't prepared to wait to find the answer to."

Lucas shook his head. "Me either," he replied, frowning a little uncertainly. It wasn't so much that he was afraid to have his fortune told as he was reluctant to part with his hard-earned cash, if he was just going to be ripped off.

"I can see you're both reluctant," the woman told them, still smiling as though it hardly mattered to her either way. "Tell you what ... Come on in and let's see if I can feel any vibrations, and if you don't like what you hear, you don't have to give me a dime. Sound fair?"

"You must be pretty confident in your ability to make an offer like that," Fliss pointed out, though she was still smiling. It can't have been easy, to make a living fortune telling in Rhy'Din.

Maxine shrugged. "I have a day job. I just do this in my free time because the spirits won't let me sleep nights if I don't," she explained. "Come on. I won't bite. Promise!" she said, leading the way to her tent. Lucas exchanged glances with Fliss, shrugging his shoulders and letting her make the decision.

"Spirits," Fliss repeated, looking to Luc with a teasing look in her eye. "Must be pretty powerful spirits to keep you awake," she murmured to her fiance in amusement as they moved to follow. "Seeing as most of the time, a nightcap puts you to sleep."

"Not that kind of spirits, dear," Maxine said, either overhearing or sensing what Fliss had murmured to Lucas. "It's more like ... how can I explain? Energy. It's like your Dad. He's got too much energy, and if he doesn't expend it somehow, he's up all night pacing the floors."

At that, Fliss hesitated, shocked out of her teasing tone by the comment from inside the diviner. "My Dad's pretty well known," she said, rationalizing that insight easily. "Anyone can see he's like that."

"True enough," the woman said, smiling. No one had told her she was Johnny Storm's daughter; at least, not as far as Fliss or Lucas could tell, but she didn't bother to explain. She only gestured inside as they arrived at the tent. Instead of the smell of incense, the smell of freshly-brewed coffee emanating from within.

To be fair, Johnny and Liv hadn't needed to protect Fliss from people knowing she was a Storm - she had been old enough to handle it from the start. It wasn't a city-wide secret. The smell of coffee did relax her a little, though, smoothing the hackles that had risen when her father had been mentioned unannounced.

"Come on in," the woman said, waiting for the couple to enter before following them inside. "Would you like a cup?" she asked, regarding the coffee. "I make my own blend." Inside, the tent was arranged casually with a couple of chairs set up in front of a table, as might be expected. The table was draped in a black cloth, upon which sat a crystal ball resting atop a pair of sculpted dragons.

"Ah, no, thank you," Fliss declined politely, glancing toward Luc once again. "You want the chair, or should I?" It seemed as though Mystical Maxine was already reading Fliss, whether she knew it or not.

"There's another in the corner," Maxine pointed out, without looking up.

Lucas turned to find there was indeed a third chair where he didn't recall seeing one before. He blinked and furrowed his brows at Fliss. Magic or was there a logical explanation?

Maxine claimed the chair on the other side of the table and waited for Lucas to join them.

Just as bemused, Fliss shrugged. It wasn't as though they couldn't defend themselves in a pinch. As for a logical explanation, they were visiting a fortune teller. Logic had clearly gone for a holiday while they were at the fair.

Instead of doing something mystical, like muttering some inaudible words to some invisible force or closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, Maxine only reached for a coffee mug that said, "No talking before coffee," and took a sip.

"Okey dokey, then. Shall we see what we can see?" she said, as Lucas pulled up a chair.

"I thought you were supposed to ask a question?" Fliss queried, glancing between Luc and Maxine. She was intrigued by this point. "Or is that not how you do it?"

"I can, if you want. Do you have something you'd like to ask?" the reader replied, looking from Lucas to Fliss. She didn't seem perturbed by Fliss' questions. She knew this was the first time they'd ever had a reading, after all, and it had been a slow day.

"Uh ..." Fliss looked into Lucas' eyes for a moment, offering him a reassuring smile. "When should we set the date to get married?" she asked Maxine, figuring they'd get a generic summer two years from now - that would give most people plenty of time to raise money and organize, as well as guaranteeing a sunny day, which was generally assumed to be wanted for a wedding day.
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Lucas Foster

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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2019, 08:01:11 PM »
Maxine chuckled. "I don't need the crystal ball to answer that question," she said. "When you want to," she told them, though she understood that the couple was looking for her to look into their future and give them a more specific answer than that. "All right," she said, smiling. "Let's see what we can see, shall we?" she asked, lifting her hands to cup the crystal ball, but not touch it. She drew a deep breath and focused her attention on the crystal, quiet for several long moments as the crystal clouded over.

Fliss stared at the crystal, too, surprised to see it cloud over as Maxine concentrated on it. It was a neat trick, she had to admit, and this was kind of fun, even if it came to nothing. She wouldn't let Lucas pay for it, though - not after he'd spent so much money trying to win that unicorn in the first place.

Lucas set the unicorn on the floor beside him and reached for Fliss' hand, giving it a squeeze, either to reassure her or himself. He wasn't scared exactly, but he was a little nervous. He'd never been to a fortuneteller before and wasn't sure what to expect.

As for Maxine, she was quiet for a long moment as she gazed into the crystal. There was no telling what she saw there, but all Lucas could see what a smoky haze.

It was reassuring to feel Lucas' hand in hers, and Fliss went one step further, scooting her chair closer to his and wrapping her arm through the crook of his elbow to gather his hand between both her own. There was some kind of power here, she could feel it. She was beginning to think this might be the real deal.

Maxine furrowed her brows in contemplation, her expression having changed from friendly to focused. As far as Fliss and Lucas were concerned, the glass still looked cloudy, but the woman seemed to be seeing something there that they could not. "I see fire. Fire and flame. There's fear in the fire, but fire can be cleansing. A fresh start. Fire can burn, but fire can cleanse. Control is the key. And love. I see love in the flames. A heart made of fire. No, two hearts. There is much love there."

Despite herself, Fliss blushed, touching her cheek to Lucas' shoulder. She understood all of that in a way that was closer to her heart and soul than she might have expected. Mystical Maxine knew her stuff, it seemed.

"I see the elements. Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. All in balance. There can be no Fire without Air. No Earth without Water. All is as it should be." The reader paused a moment, the furrow between her brows deepening. "I see a conflict. A battle between light and dark. Good and evil. Not here. Not on RhyDin. Somewhere else. The light has triumphed over the darkness, for now. But beware. There is darkness elsewhere. A secret. A ..." She trailed off a moment, a look almost of shock coming over her face. "No, I will not speak of that. Trust those who love you and all will be well."

Frowning, Fliss glanced at Lucas. Could she be talking about Hydra? They knew they'd defeated the evil organization on Earth, but they also knew it couldn't be eradicated completely. Hydra would come back.

"I see a man. A handsome man. A man who was once full of hope. A man who wanted to do good, but he has become obsessed with power. He lusts for it. He has lost so much because of it. He has lost those he once loved. He has ..." She paused again, as she sought to understand what she was seeing. "There is no light left in him. He has given himself over to the darkness. The darkness uses him. He is ... one of many. A many-headed monster. A hydra."

Fliss' breath hissed between her teeth for a moment. She could make a guess at what that meant, and already her mind turned toward the Grove, to Matt, hoping he was there and not out and about in the city with Cas.

"Beware this man. He is not what he seems. He seeks only power." She exhaled a sigh, as if she was sad at what she saw there. "There is so little light left. So little chance for redemption." Lucas clutched Fliss' hand, a worried frown on his face. He thought she must be speaking of his father. There was no other explanation - at least, not for him. His father had sacrificed everyone and everything for power, but he couldn't be part of Hydra, could he?

Fliss slid her fingers between Luc's, squeezing gently. "We'll find out," she promised in a soft whisper, assuring him that she understood as well as he did.

Lucas nodded, his face a little pale. But it seemed the woman was not finished reading the crystal. She drew a deep breath, the strained expression relaxing a little.

"So many who love you and would protect you. You are safe here, but beware this man. He is not what he seems." She paused a moment again, a smile touching her face. "I see family. A large family. A family like a patchwork quilt made of up many different people, all of them connected, but not always through blood. Love is the bond that holds them together. There is much love there. Love can conquer all. That much is true. I see a bright future. Oh! A wedding. A merging of Fire and Air. Not soon, but not too far in the future. I see children - a boy and a girl. Wait, I see more children. I see ... four of them. Trauma. Something painful in their past, but that is behind them. The little girl - the one who does not speak. She must learn how to shield herself. Tell them to teach her. It is important."

Patchwork quilt was a good way of describing the sprawling limbs of their family, certainly. Fliss found herself smiling as the reading seemed to turn positive, only to have that smile fade at the explicit mention of Maria. She nodded in agreement, the movement coming without a second thought.

Lucas' brows rose at the mention of a wedding and then at the warning, which was obviously regarding Maria. Either this woman knew a lot about them, or she was the real deal. "I see children. So many children. All of them carrying a shadow of sadness, but there is light in the shadows. Healing. Both of you are meant to be healers - one of the body, one of the mind. This is your soul's destiny. Together. You will help them together."

At this, Fliss perked up brightly. She had decided this Maxine knew her stuff - there was too much mentioned for her not to have been giving them a true reading - and if she said they would be healers together, that was wonderful news. I guess I made the right decision after all.

Maxine turned quiet again, if only for a moment. The shadows in the crystal swirled again, slowly clearing. "There is strength in numbers," she whispered. "Remember that. And remember that love conquers all. The light will always overcome the darkness."
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Lucas Foster

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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2019, 08:01:27 PM »
There was a long moment of silence before Fliss shook of the strangeness of the reading. "Wow," she said, her eyes seeking Lucas' gaze for a second. "Okay, so maybe I was wrong about it being fun, but still pretty cool." She was being deliberately flippant, not wanting to focus on the warnings they had been given. Not yet, anyway. "Are you okay, miss?"

Lucas met Fliss' gaze, a worried expression on his face. Hadn't they defeated Hydra, at least for the foreseeable future? And what about his father? He was certainly power-hungry - that much was certain - but was he really connected to Hydra? At least, the woman had seen good things, too, but he felt confused more confused by the reading than anything else.

Maxine drew another deep breath and leaned back, the crystal before her clearing completely. "Yes, sorry. It always takes me a moment to recover."

"You've, uh, you've given us a lot to think about," Fliss said quietly, pulling out her wallet to offer more than was really necessary in payment. "Thank you." She bit her lip before continuing. "Are you going to be near the city for a while longer?"

"Was anything I said helpful?" the reader asked, as if she had either forgotten what she'd told them or was unsure of its meaning. She glanced to the payment Fliss was offering and shook her head. "Oh, no, dear. That's much too much. I don't do this for the money."

Lucas frowned in further confusion. He didn't recall any fee mentioned or posted outside the tent, but had assumed the woman didn't do this for free.

"I'll be here as long as the carnival is here," she said, answering Fliss' question.

"Uh ... yeah," Fliss assured her. "Good and bad, but it's better to be forewarned, right?" She took a third of the money back, but left the rest on the table. "My parents, and my uncle, they might want to come and talk to you," she said, offering a sort of warning of her own in return. "They, um, they know a bit more about what you were talking about."

"I can only tell them what I see, but they are more than welcome to visit," Maxine assured the young woman. She looked from one to the other of them, noticing the look of worry on their young faces, and reached across the table, palms upward. "Give me your hands."

Still gripping Luc's right hand in her left, Fliss reached over to set her right hand into Maxine's open palm. The worry was going to be there for a while, probably until whatever it was looming had happened, but for now she wasn't sure what the woman could do to soothe them.

Lucas mirrored Fliss, a little reluctantly, reaching to take the woman's hand. Maxine closed her eyes as she made contact, reaching out with her mind to see what the spirits might still tell her. She said nothing for another long moment and then she spoke, quietly but with conviction.

"I see a long and happy life for you both. Together. You will be together. There is a connection here that was forged before birth. You are meant to be together. Nothing can break that bond. It was written in the stars, so to speak. There is much hope for the future. Much love. Much happiness. Love is the key. You are stronger together than apart. There is balance in this union. Yin and yang. A light will shine in the darkness, and all will be well." She frowned, silent for another moment. "That is all I can see."

"You see a long way, Miss Maxine," Fliss murmured softly, but the lines of worry on her face had faded as the woman spoke. Her thumb stroked over Luc's in their joined hands, glad of the reminder that there was more good than bad in the future ahead of them.

"I'm sorry I can't be more specific," the woman said as she slowly opened her eyes and let go of their hands. "I cannot force what comes to me. I saw a letter A. It means something, though I'm not sure what, but I felt power and protection there."

Fliss' face creased into a smile. How could she have forgotten that? "Yeah," she nodded in agreement. "That letter does mean protection for us, in two ways. Thank you."

"I hope I've been able to help. I sensed something about the two of you. Something special," she said, smiling warming again. It was hard not to notice the wings Lucas tried so hard to hide, but Fliss' gift was not so obvious.

"Well ... not everything is a metaphor," Fliss said, taking her hand from Maxine's and igniting a flicker of flame at her fingertips for a moment before extinguishing it. "Thank you. You've given us a warning that we would not have even thought to look for. That means a lot."

The woman looked surprised for a moment before a smile spread across her face and she chuckled at the demonstration. "Fire and flame," she said, before looking to Lucas. "Air and wind." Lucas shifted a little uncomfortably at the attention, but nodded. "Do not look so worried. They are not curses, as some would have you think, but gifts, and you are only just learning how to use them."

"See, I told you we'd be able to have sex in mid-air at some point!" Trust Fliss to break the tension with a hammer blow of terrible humor. She flashed Lucas her best wicked grin, nudging his shoulder playfully.

Lucas rolled his eyes, blushing furiously. It was one thing for a complete stranger to point out the fact that he was different, but quite another for his fiancee to mention their sex life in front of said stranger. "Yeah, I'm totally sure that's what she meant," he said, with a sarcastic tone in his voice.

Fliss was completely unashamed, grinning as she leaned over to kiss his burning cheek. "You're so cute when you're embarrassed."

Lucas only glared at her, though he looked more annoyed than angry. Still, there was something in his eyes that said he wouldn't hold it against her. "Come on, Sparky. Just for that, you owe me a ride on the ferris wheel."

"I absolutely do," she agreed, not letting his annoyance get a moment to simmer. Fliss knew perfectly well that Luc found it very hard to stay grumpy in any way in the face of her relentlessly cheeky smile. "Thank you so much, Maxine. It was interesting to meet you."

"It was my pleasure," Maxine replied, moving to her feet to see them out, as if this was so much more than just a carnival tent.

Lucas grumbled a little to himself as he got to his feet and scooped the unicorn up to tuck it back under one arm. He couldn't stay angry at Fliss, even if he tried.

"Shall we circle around and put that in the car before trying to get on a Ferris wheel?" Fliss suggested as they walked away, absently kissing Luc's knuckles as she took his hand once again.
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Lucas Foster

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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2019, 08:01:39 PM »
"That's probably a good idea," he replied, quickly forgiving her and forgetting why he'd been annoyed with her. The silly thing was liable to take up an entire seat all by itself.

"So," she went on as they angled for the parking lot together through the mingling crowd, "should we set a date then?" She looked up at him, her smile sweetly inviting as she spoke. "Like ... autumn, maybe?"

"She was kind of vague on that, wasn't she?" Luc asked, though she had been pretty spot on about everything else, it seemed. He came to a halt, turning to face her with a look of surprise on his face. "This autumn?"

"Is that too soon?" she asked, not worried but curious. "I mean, she said soon but not too soon. So if that's too soon, we can stretch further?"

"It's not too soon for me," Lucas was quick to assure her. "Is it too quick for you?" he asked, though she had been the one to suggest it.

"No," she promised with a smile. "I mean, the supposed responsible adults might get a bit antsy about us being married before we're twenty, but it feels right, you know? You're my future. I've never been so sure about anything in my life the way I'm sure about you."

"I'm sure, too, Fliss," Lucas said, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. "It's not because of the fortuneteller either. I don't need someone else to tell me how I feel about you, or to tell me that we're meant to be together. I love you, and that's all that matters," he told her. He leaned closer to kiss her, smirking as the stuffed unicorn got in the way.

She giggled, guiding the unicorn out of the way to press smiling lips to his tenderly. They had grown up together, through the worst that could have happened, and they had proved to their parents that their relationship could stand the test of independence and time together. And no matter the warnings they had been given, they had a good omen of sorts to live by. Together, they were stronger.

Lucas smirked as his lips parted hers. "You still owe me a ride on the ferris wheel though," he told her, not letting her off so easily. It was true they were young - not yet twenty years old - but they'd been through a lot together, more than most people twice their age. They had survived, and more importantly, it had only made them that much more determined to stay together. It was true - they were stronger together than apart. They were meant to be together. He didn't need a soothsayer to tell him that either.
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