2019-06-01 - Dark Leather and Heavy Truth


It's Friday night and Koa is wrangling demons.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Jun 1 08:34:42 2019
Location: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

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Theme Song



"Oh let him go, damn you…" Koa Turner is looking… rather normal. Which is to say he's looking like he's 30 ish. In no other respect is the situation he finds himself in normal, even by his rather odd and stilted standards.

It's a good thing Flushing Meadows Park is empty. It's Friday afternoon and most people have gone home. The weekend partiers partied out last weekend so they're not here. No, for about half a mile in any direction it's just Koa, the demon whose throat his chain is wrapped around and the fox spirit in it's belly.

"Let him out! Come on… damn you…" Koa plants his boot in the thing's back and hauls on the chain. Maybe if he just hurts this thing enough. Where this one came from he has NO idea and he's not good enough generally to tell whose demon this is. It's from A hell realm sure. Which one?

Who knows. But it came out of nowhere and gobbled up Kilkenny and now here he is.

Growling in frustration, Koa's eyes light up, literally. If this thing won't cooperate, maybe he'll just take a bite out of it…

If Koa didn't like seeing the one demon, he's not going to like seeing three more coming into sight. They're each about the size of a mastiff, and are just as slobbery with large, gaping maws filled with rows of knife-like teeth. All muscle and sinew and zero body fat, it's almost obscene to watch the play of muscle beneath skin as each of the eight legs with paws the size of dinner plates and claws like carving knives trot across the ground, headed his way. Worse, as they caught sight of him, they started to bay in the most chilling of manners.

They're getting up damned close to him when a stepping disk opens just behind them, and Illyana leans down to catch up the leads they were dragging behind him. Bracing her feet, she hauls back on them even as they're advancing and the spiked collars (with the spikes on the inside) squeeze tight around their throats, causing them to jerk to a whining halt.

"Oh, hey, Koa! You found Jeff." Illyana says cheerily enough. She moves around the 'dogs', winding the long leads around one hand as she does so. Coming into view, she's back to the black leather look, though this time her top has a high collar, no sleeves, and shows off her midsection. Her hair is slicked back, which makes her look very different. "Jeff, c'mere boy." Her tone isn't affectionate. It's mocking. She puts her hands on her thighs and leans forward, making kissy noises. "Here Jeffyweffy."

"Uh oh…" Koa mutters. He's just reaching for his sidearm when Illyana comes through.

'Jeff' or whatever his actual name is, is smarter than to just stay under Koa's boot when his mistress calls him and if Koa thought he had the demon pinned then he'd underestimated just how wiggly it could be when it got REALLY determined. The thing squirms out from under his foot, nearly knocking the agent over, and runs toward Illyana getting just up to her before he comes to the end of the chain.

Which Koa yanks on, just for spite.

Eyes still blazing he lets it loosen enough that the 'leash' can find purchase on Jeff. "He's got Kilkenny."

That comes out as half a growl, though Koa quickly tamps down on the temptation and shakes himself.

"Also hello Illyana. You look… different today."

Illyana Rasputina straightens, setting the hand with the trio of leashes on her hip as she looks Jeff over before looking back over to the angry Agent and arching a brow. "Has him? *Where?*" She doesn't even bat an eye at the rough treatment of her demon. The blonde eyes him knowingly. "He'd make a terrible meal." She advises him.

As to looking different? She shrugs. "Friday night. Figured I'd go out. Have some fun in case things go horribly wrong, hmm?" While Koa is… working. Of course he is.

The demon takes the hint. It spits a glowing fox out which stays only long enough to shake itself and then just bolts. Koa sighs. It can be a bit like a cat, that one.

The chain drops away and the Agent folds it up. It shrinks and becomes something that looks more decorative which is clipped onto his pants.

"That's gratitude. He'll come back at some point to express it, I'm sure." Koa eyes Jeff and then does the only thing he can think of to do with the troublesome demon. Dismisses him and pays attention to the sorceress.

"And this is fun? Walking the demons?" To be fair she's only been 'walking' them for about two minutes. They had been just ambling up to him when she arrived and it's likely a good thing that she did, not that he's going to say that here in front of them.

"I take it you didn't let these ones in on purpose?"

Though hell… she might have. He has no idea. As to working? Well, if he is, he's dressed a lot more casually than usual. Jeans and a tee shirt with button up, rather than the usual collared work shirt. It's a lot less… striking than what she's got.

"No, this is me doing the chores before going off to have fun." Illyana explains to him. She gestures to the side and a large steeping disk opens, which she points to, looking at Jeff. Can demons drag their heels? Because it looks like this one is. "And I let out these three to find Jeff. I told them to let me know when they found him and viola! Here we all are."

Stepping over to the terrifying trio, she unlatches their collars and then shoos them through the portal as well as she gathers up the length of the leashes. Looking over to Koa, she eyes his outfit. "Or are you maybe spending the night undercover as 'The Most Boring Man In The Universe'?" Her lips twitch a bit, as she fights the natural smirk.

Koa looks down at his clothes. It's true they're not flattering. Well, okay they don't look awful but there's nothing striking about the way he's dressed. Certainly nothing that calls attention to him which given what he said last time the topic kind of sort of came up might well be deliberate.

"I was getting ready to head home. The fox was talking my ear off about some thing or other and then 'swoop, chomp' and I'm playing demon wrangler in my second best jeans."

The boring bit gets a bit of a chuckle. "Yes, you have seen through my disguise. So, what's fun for a Splinter Lord, if I may ask? To be honest I don't think most of them know what Friday night is…"
There's a short pause as he wonders to himself why SHE does. Given that she doesn't seem to do much in the way of 'work' and is often short on cash which he doesn't think is because she spends it all. Weekends generally only mean something to people who have a habit of, well…

Needing them to unwind.

He doesn't ask that though. Not yet.

"So 'Casual Friday' then? I have to wonder, just how casual to some people get?" Illyana steps over to him and plucks at his clothing as she walks around him, apparently to get a good look. "I could stay in Limbo, I suppose, but demons aren't great company. Also, there's no music." She's smirking at him again. That can't be good news, can it?

A stepping disk opens at their feet, sliding them off to Limbo. To Illyana's sitting room, to be precise. It has doorways, presumably out to the hall, her bedroom and a bathroom. There's also large floor-to-ceiling… well, windows. But there's no glass. Just a hell of a long fall. Outside is the blood-red sky of Limbo and, oh yeah, the wash of magic because it's so much closer to the surface here. Like instead of fishing, the fish jump into your boat. Too bad the fish are tainted and likely to eat you.

Illyana unclips one of the leashes from one of the collars, keeps that and tosses the rest of the hound's paraphernalia over onto a couch. The place has the feel of the Victorian era in an old castle. Stepping over to Koa, Illyana reverses the collar so the spikes are on the outside and then puts it around Koa's throat, cinching it tight.

As the collar is closed about his throat, magic spills downward from it over his skin, transforming his clothes. He might be out his second-best jeans.

"Around SHIELD? Fairly casual in some corners. But they're also not great on the musi-"

Koa has been to Limbo once. Briefly. Just enough to get an impression of the place. It was enough to tell him that this is a place very much a dangerous place for him to be. Also going there is like being suddenly immersed in cold water. The shock of the sensation of magic pressing in on his skin all around him makes him cut off and take in a sharp breath. It is oh so tempting to take in a lungful of magic with it. To just breath it in and let the place fill him.

And it is an effort of will not to do so. He manages though. This time.

"Nice place. Kind of looks like a set for 'The Tudors'. I take it you didn't redecorate wh- woah!"

For a second time Koa cuts off as he gets collared and his clothes just… change. Sleeveless shirt, nicely fitted that shows off his arms. Leather pants. Boots. The chain that he had used to wrangle the demon becomes a belt with a leering shark ornament as a buckle. Even his hairstyle changes a bit though his hair is short, so there's only so much it CAN change.

He might be forgiven for looking dazed. It's not just the change in clothes but the spell. He hasn't FELT magic like that before and the temptation to snack on what's around him again surges.

"So that's how you do that…" He manages, shaking himself a little. Illyana's possibly seen that disoriented kind of look before. But possibly not for exactly that reason, a direct reaction to being spelled.

Illyana Rasputina's brows arch a bit as she watches Koa's reaction to the magical transformation. Most people don't notice it. Most mages even, don't pick up more than the tingling of their senses. Clearly it affects Koa more. "What, you think I control an entire realm and go shopping for clothes?" It's a joke. She'd probably go shopping with Kitty if she had money too, but she wasn't raised in the 'shopping' culture so it would really be to spend time with Kitty and have some 'normal' outfit options.

She's still standing close enough to him to have put that collar on him, so she takes his face lightly in one hand, turning his head back and forth a bit to get a look at his eyes. "Keep it together, Turner." She advises with another small smirk. It's rather amusing, the effect her magic has on him.

But she doesn't keep him amidst temptation long. Another stepping disk jaunts them back to Earth, to the third floor balcony of a very large club. The music has a heavy beat and leather and chains are the norm. On the floor below, bodies writhe as they dance and the air smells of leather, sweat, and alcohol. Illyana steps forward, leaning her elbows on the railing as she looks about. Up here, there aren't a lot of people. Those that are tend to be in shadowed corners and really aren't paying attention to anyone but the person they're with.

Keep it together. Sound advice and Koa does manage it for the moment. He definitely gets the hints of amusement in there. Though he has not yet fully realized that what amuses her might often be repeated. Especially if it causes someone discomfort. Though… that'd make sense if he thought of it.

The loud music is what shakes him out of it more than the abrupt teleportation. Koa is not used to clubs. He knows what they are, he's even been inside them a few times but it's not a regular hangout. He takes the sights and smells in, before leaning on the railing next to Illyana.

He's quiet for a moment, watching, but it's not like it's silent when he is.

"Is it the people? Or the setting?" He asks. Maybe she just likes dancing. Or just likes watching people dance. The floor is packed. Clearly people are enjoying their Friday night. Maybe she likes to be able to lose herself in the beat and just move.

Or maybe it's something else. He's gathered that she likes to watch. That regular people doing regular things holds a fascination for her.

"Yes?" Illyana 'answers', looking over at him with a hint of a smile. "I… don't get along with people well. They don't know how to deal with me. They expect me to conform to their social construct and, well, I don't. If they piss me off, I'll hurt them. These days I don't tend to *break* them, though. I sometimes know how to deal with them academically." She points to her head. "Up here. But that doesn't mean I can bring myself to do it. Part of me wants to learn to be like them. The other part thinks, why should I bother."

Pushing away from the rail, she starts towards the stairs. She's still talking, so she must expect him to follow her. "Part of this, I totally get. The dancing, the music. It's like spellcasting. It's a rush and you just feel *alive*. But the other part, the… courting? Only sometimes not?" She shakes her head. "I don't get it."

"Ah. You want to be… part of their world?" The reference is… okay it's not that subtle but it could be missed especially if someone hadn't seen the movie in question. At least he doesn't sing it. He doesn't do a falsetto very well.

"Most folk don't really think of it as a construct. They just think it's the way it is. Which is why they get so freaked out when someone doesn't play by the rules. In one sense it's all kind of a game… one everyone is taught to play when they're young. Well, most people, I should say."

When she turns he follows. He's actually rather interested in talking to her and hell, might as well do whatever else she's going to do - dance, likely - since he's here.

"The feeling alive part is what leads to…" Koa trails off and jerks his thumb behind them as they descend the stairs to the couples who are lost in one another. "… which granted is less courtship and more looking for someone who is looking for the same thing." Though there is a fair amount of 'mating dance' that happens out on those floors.

"Connections, I think. People need them. And most of the time they don't really realize how much." That she doesn't get it, that doesn't surprise him. Where would she have learned it after all? The need for connections though… well that's a very human thing. And he wonders how much of it she still has.

Based on the fact that she's got family and friends who mean a lot to her, he'd say she's got enough of it to matter.

"So this is research, then?" That's a joke and said with an audible grin.

The look Illyana gives Koa could melt stone. Clearly, she recognizes it. She was a kid once too. A kid on Earth, even! And Disney Princesses, they stand the test of time, marketing-wise.

"Yes, I get some of this." She says, motioning back to the upper floor as they make their way down. "But it's rarely so simple as that. There's usually, as they say, strings attached. I could understand dating if it were the two things it seems like it should be. A deal between two people to go to events together. Movies. Dinners. Dancing. Or to learn the other person to enter into a more serious contract. Marriage. But sometimes it seems like it's neither." She pauses on the stairs and glances up to him. "Why is that?"

At his question about research she chuckles. "If only I had a company card, I could put my expenses on it." She says, the joke a reference to Hellboy taking her out for pizza, though Koa likely doesn't know that.

"Should convince New York to set you up an embassy." Koa winks. No, he hadn't heard about Hellboy taking her out for Pizza. Big Red hadn't mentioned, not that there's any particular reason he would. But Koa also wouldn't be surprised to hear of it. He's already cottoned on to the fact that food is an excellent way to thank Illyana. Or just to get her attention. There are other ways… but food is usually more congenial.

The now leather glad agent comes to a halt behind her, chain on his waist clinking when he does. It's loose enough that it does jingle a bit when he walks though that's hard to hear over the music. The question gets a moment of rather serious consideration.

"Because people are complex. Because people don't know what they want. Because some people have been told that this kind of thing is expected of them, so they play the game without ever having a real reason to be in it. Because people are lonely and they'll do anything at all to take the edge of the ache. When you start getting emotions and adrenaline involved like this, a lot of the 'thought' goes out the window and it's about what feels good at the moment, no matter what it costs. People are… bad at considering costs."

Some people are. The ones who aren't, those are usually the people who have paid a heavy price for something. Which might make it interesting that Koa himself seems to be one of those few. Someone who… considers. Maybe that's his nature. But maybe there's more to it.

As they hit the bottom of the stairs, Illyana turns back to Koa and reaches out to hook her fingers through his beltloops, jostling that chain. Walking backwards into the dancing crowd, she drags him along with her. Without her even trying, people edge out of the way. Their dancing takes them in another direction. It's not hard for her to get into the thick of it with the press of bodies and the music coming up through the floor.

"And you?" Even with the music, he can hear her without her having to raise her voice. He can feel the tingle of magic around the formerly-demondog collar. "Where are your connections? I don't see you go out, I don't see you with friends." She stops walking, but keeps pulling until the front line of his body brushes up against hers. "Did you deicide the cost was too high?"

That makes Koa laugh, though the laugh is sharp and not entirely full of humor. He's easy enough to lead onto the dance floor and he's not even horrible and moving to the music though there is admittedly less skill involved in that than in other forms of dancing. The tingle on his collar gets that slightly spaced look again for a moment. He really is hyper aware of what's going on against him, magically speaking.

"Magic has a way of working itself into everything you do. You… probably know that better than most. And you've seen me. I'm not trying to give you the 'oh I'm a monster' talk but… doing what I do makes maintaining normal relationships even of the friendly kind… tricky. And without giving you an anguished 'I'm a monster' speech… it's not really a good idea for me to be in places where I get… hungry. Places where that rush of life happens. If I did that to a mage it'd hurt them. And change me. If I did that to someone normal…"

Well, the best case scenario on that is a bit unhappy.

"But what are my connections?" Koa has to stop and think about that. In truth, how many does he really have?

Illyana Rasputina seems content to mostly sway amidst the gyrating bodies about them at the moment, so she can focus on Koa. It might be a bit unnerving for him to have her hands slide over him as she stands so very close though. Her eyes narrow slightly as his gaze unfocuses. She likes to watch. She's good at watching. It's unlikely that she won't poke at that reaction a bit more.

"Have you ever been 'full'?" One of Illyana's fingers slips down over his hip to trace over the shark-buckle of his magical chain. She's seen his astral form with it's similarities to the aquatic predator. "Or do you keep that side of you like a dog for pit fight, always on edge. Always hungry."

A brow arches up as Koa can't answer that question. "I tell myself, it's my connections that keep me human. That keep me from becoming something like Belasco or Plokta. That keep me from being… well, from being *all* monster."

It's a bit unnerving for him to have someone so focused on him. The touch is unusual, not that the touch is inappropriate but in that it's uncommon. Spirits don't. And of course people in a work environment don't. Or at least… shouldn't.

The shark buckle is appropriately… Limbo. It's got articulated teeth and it looks like it's smiling unpleasantly. Not like that's a hard thing to do on a shark's face. It's funny, isn't it, how the magic knows just what accents to put. And just how to twist them to bring out that dark side or at least it's appearance. The entire outfit makes Koa's face look narrow and angular. Predatory, in a word.

"A few times yes, mostly early on before I figured everything out. Sometimes I've felt like I had no choice but to… gorge. But taking magic in hurts, as much as it feels good, and I learned long ago that the more I take in, the faster I warp myself."

Warp into what? Good quesiton.

"Plus beast-Koa is kind of an ass, and he's stronger when he's full." It's a convenient thing, labelling that part of him, but of course Beast-Koa is just Koa. Koa with a hunter-killer's filter over all his senses.

"I have friends, of course. Mostly at work. Family. But not, I don't think, like you do. Not the same level of… well, what I've seen with the people you call friends."

A level of… what's the word, devotion? Something like that.

"I'd say yes. That human connection is probably a big reason we're talking like this, here, and not in a castle in Limbo." So what does it say that Koa seems to have cut most of his?

"You know what's that like, don't you? To be hungry." Maybe not for the same thing, but to feel that same gnawing in the very pit of your being.

Illyana Rasputina doesn't seem the slight bit bashful about invading Koa's space, even if he's not one of her 'devoted' friends and family. "And does it hurt and feel good the same way, when it's pulled out of you? Or when you offer it up? Has WAND made you train that skill, hone it into a weapon?"

There's a flicker of dark amusement as he mentions 'beast-Koa'. She does the same with her demonic side. That appearance she tries to keep hidden, so no one sees it. So she doesn't see it. "Piotr's always been devoted to me. I was his baby sister. He was ten when I was born and he was my protector. It scarred him. Not being able to save me. My friends, they're… aware of what happened to me. Even without the details, it's offensive to them, you know? So it makes their need to support me so much the stronger." That's a rather cold, clinical observation of her friends love. She doesn't discount it, but she has ideas what caused it. And usually, it's something other than her sparkling personality.

The smile she gives his last question isn't nice. It's almost chilling. "To want things, yes. With a desire so very akin to hunger. Oh yes."

"WAND hasn't particularly encouraged me to be a battery since that requires me to feed in the first place and that means things die. Not just the things I kill either. Places die too." If he does it enough. Or if he does too much at once. "But since you asked… yes. It felt good to offer it up and have it pulled out of me. Different kind of good. But good all the same."

Why would he answer that question? Well, he did say that he owed her some answers after he asked her a fair bit about herself.

"It breaks the rules of the game." Koa doesn't discount her brother's love either. Or her friends' love for her. But he knows a little bit more about the realities of the magical world than it's likely that any of them do. And yes, Illyana's not wrong. A lot of their reaction will be because of the affront to the Way Things Should Be. And some of it will be personal. Piotr's… probably got a lot of guilt about him, if Koa were to guess.

"Do you ever want them to really understand?" It's an honest question. "Or would you prefer that they never did? Do you want them to share that painful truth? Or would you rather they never had to carry the weight of that knowledge."

There's an old proverb among mages that the worst thing you can give someone is answers.

"I… remember seeing it on you. Something in the eyes. I recognized it. For a moment it felt like looking in a mirror." He doesn't ask what her hunger is. He may have some idea already.

Illyana Rasputina doesn't have to think too long about Koa's question. She shakes her head. "They can't save me. What does the knowledge do, other than hurt them?" She lets out a sigh, one he can feel from the rise and fall of her chest and the tickle of her warm breath against his skin. "Sometimes I want to talk about something from my past… But it's a small thing, to keep my silence. I'd never want to see the darkness in their eyes that comes from knowing." She doesn't say knowing *what*. It's not a single Bad Moment, or even a Bad Day. It was the worst day. Until the next. And the next. And so on.

Koa gets another smirk. "You remember how you felt, riding the high of Darque's power? That's what it's like. The temptation to push power into you until the civilized facade falls away. And then pull it back out just so I can do it all over again. Until you're begging me to stop. And begging me to do it again." The arm around his shoulders shifts a bit, her fingers finding the D-ring on the spiked collar, tugging it back until he can feel the pressure of it on his throat. Enough to make his breathing rasp just a bit. A moment. Two. Then she lets it go. "I want to set that darkness in you free."

"You can talk to me. I don't know if you think that's a good idea. Or trust me enough to do that. But I'm safe enough. You won't add much to my burden that I'm not already carrying." That may or may not be true. And it's DEFINTIELY true that Koa doesn't know Illyana well. But he's seen and done a lot of strange things. And experienced a lot of things that are seared into his mind. If she wants to come and talk - given that she knows how to find him anyway - it's an easy offer to make even if one he doesn't really expect to be taken up.

"You don't want them to realize what's behind the fa%<231>ade they call normalcy. That's… basically why I don't have connections." That and the possibility of eating those connections. Let's not discount that.

The smirk, the description, gets a shiver. Koa is more keenly aware than most of the darkness in his own soul and having experienced it once he can imagine if just a little bit what that process would feel like done over and over and over again. The thought is enough that he doesn't notice her tugging that D ring until she's already done it. Until his breath is already coming raspy and slightly labored.

Setting the darkness free in him is a horrifying thought. And he thinks he knows why it appeals to her.

"The coffee…" He gasps slightly as he gets his breath back, and it might not follow at first. "That's… that's why, isn't it?"

A leap of logic, but not a hard one from where he's sitting.

"Maybe." Illyana murmurs as he volunteers to be an ear. She knows that he's already seen darkness. That it's not some innocent offer of help. You can't do what he does and not have peered into the Abyss. "If you don't have your own connections," She warns, "I think eventually you'll forget what you're fighting for, and fall victim to your own darkness."

Pale blue eyes half-close as Koa's shivers and his breath comes shallow and raspy. The question gets a chuckle. "Maybe I'm working against my own interests there. I train you to accept me as the bigger predator, you're unlikely to need me to put you down hard."

Illyana gives a slight shrug, eyes glinting with teasing amusement. "I also like coffee and it's *right there*." Well. Her idea of coffee, anyhow.

She let the pressure go against his throat, but her finger stayed hooked in the D-ring. Her arm comes off his shoulder, twisting the collar around until the ring is in front. Her gaze shifts down to it and she pulls her finger free, stroking down the long edge of it. While Koa can't see it, he can feel the twist of magic as the spikes along the collar go fluid, smoothing and spreading out and forming an intricate silver filigree over the black leather and the ring flattens, tightening around the band to form a lock with no key.

Illyana's hand slips down to the center of Koa's chest, patting it lightly, her tone filled with a smug sort of mocking. "Good boy."

Koa doesn't repeat the offer, nor encourage her to take it. If she decides to take him up on it then he's happy to do it. If she does not, well, that's her decision. But she's right to think that he knows what he's offering. He knows it because he has experienced it. The sensation of the Abyss gazing make. Exposing yourself to Things That Should Not Be.

"Perhaps… that's one of the things about doing this job. Losing yourself slowly…" But it's not really about the job. It's about what he is and how he goes about using his power. "What would you do, Illyana? If you thought you might just… end someone you cared about by accident?"

A hypothetical question and purely that. This is not, thankfully, something that Koa has ever done. But the risk has made him balk before. And there aren't many people he can ask about it.

"Do you think I don't know who is the bigger predator here?" Koa chuckles. His eyes follow her hand and he's about to ask what she's doing when she uses magic again and his world very very briefly goes hazy.

Like the coffeeshe just mentioned, it's right there.

"Good boy?" Koa chuckles. "Have we met?" He knows he's being mocked. And yet, he hasn't objected… He does go a bit crosseyed looking down at the lock though. "That's a hell of a statement…"

Fashion statement, he meant. What other kind of statement would she be making?

"I might be able to forgive myself if it were only by accident." Illyana says, too seriously, and there is that cold certainty that she *has* killed someone before. Someone she cared about. And not accidentally. "It's not in me to give up. Even for the noblest of reasons." Perhaps that makes her irredeemably evil already. Or maybe there's a certainty that doing so might be better for those she loves, but worse for the rest of the world.

The smile she gives him is thin, and she lays her finger against his lips to quiet him. "No more talking." She lets her eyes close and lets the music rise up through her as she starts to actually dance now. As she steals this small moment in time to enjoy something that doesn't come at anyone else's expense.

Koa doesn't answer. He's okay to just dance. Nothing to worry about. No expectations. No problems for the next little bit. Just the beat and the music and company that neither of them object to. It's not the way he was planning on spending Friday. But if he's honest about it, it's almost certainly an improvement.

Some small part of his mind tells him this lock's going to come up later. That part quickly get quieted. And he dances.

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