The Long and Twisted History of GRENDEL
Part 1: Hunter Rose
Somewhere in the latter part of the twentieth century, in an ordinary midwestern town, to a pair of very ordinary parents, there was born an extra-extraordinary child whose true name is known to us now only as Eddie. A genius of immeasurable depth, Eddie excelled at his every form of endeavor. At the tender age of four, he had memorized his own local phone book as well as that of the surrounding half-dozen counties. By six he could quote any line of Shakespeare, and by eight he had written over a dozen plays and fifty short stories, and was working on drafts for several different (apparently unfinished) novels at once.
Unfortunately for both Eddie and the world, neither his parents nor his pedestrian teachers took much notice of his young achievements, and so the lad was nurtured solely on boredom. Initially Eddie found release from his frustrations in the world of competitive sports, but here, too, he overachieved and soon found himself competing at an international level on the fencing strip. True to form, Eddie took his zeal to the tournament finals, only to secretly throw the match in an agonizing denial of how very easy it all had been. It was at this point that Eddie met the woman who would be the most influential person in his young and tragically brutal life.
Jocasta Rose was a trainer for the British fencing team; she found herself fascinated with the daring young prodigy who, she was sure, had just deliberately relinquished his claim to the world championship. A hot-blooded iconoclast herself, Jackie confronted Eddie after the match and swept him off his tired and lonely feet into a world of glorious sensation and romance. Over the space of the next year- which would prove to be the rest of Jocasta Rose's life - she and Eddie never parted company again. A terminal illness killed her less than thirteen months after they first met.
The death of his lover devastated the young genius, but her fiery spirit lingered in his soul, her will to fight and achieve was twisted by twisted his grief into a monstrous and insatiable ideal. Returning incognito to the States, he adopted the name of Hunter Rose and soon wrote several best sellers, taking the literary world by storm at the age of seventeen. But, still, there remained an empty fury in Hunter Rose's heart. The need to achieve became the lust to control, and so another alias to an already fractured personality was born. The crime families of Manhattan were soon confronted with a presence even deadlier and more ,heartless than their own. The name of the masked assassin Grendel was spoken only in whispers, and many a seasoned killer prayed to avoid running afoul of whoever held Grendel's contractual reins of the moment. In less than two years, Grendel had moved into a position of power over one of the major families, and he soon consolidated his realm to include most of the criminal activities within the entire metropolitan area. Once again, he had won easily over seemingly insurmountable odds. But where was the challenge that would unseat him, the battle he could never win, the heart of fire that would rival his own?
THE CHILD AND THE WOLF
In fact, it was early in his nefarious career that Grendel first encountered the two lives that would ultimately prove to be the undoing of his own. The adopted niece of a crooked real-estate mogul, Stacy Palumbo captured what little empathy still existed in Hunter Rose's icy heart by her unnatural resemblance to his first love. Following the death of her uncle at Grendel's hand, Stacy came to live with Hunter as his legal ward. Ironically, the only other friend to this lonely child was Grendel's greatest enemy, Argent, the mysterious wolf. In Stacy, Hunter saw the potential and innocence that might have been his own lot, and, in Argent, he found the fury and power that were indeed his fate. This pathetic triangle was destined for tragedy, of course, and Stacy's discovery of her mentor's true identity precipitated the climax. Grendel and Argent met in a final, ferocious battle that left the wolf broken and withdrawn, and proved to be the ultimate doom for the man the world had known as Hunter Rose.
Stacy Palumbo spent the rest of her days in an institution. She was briefly released around the age of twenty-five to marry her analyst, but, here again, tragedy clouded her young, hopeless life. The wedding night became a rape/suicide, the result of which was the birth of Stacy's only daughter, Christine, who was soon given up for adoption. Following this, the tortured stepdaughter of Grendel lapsed into a stupor that lasted the rest of her days. Christine would never know her real mother until, years later, she interviewed Stacy for a book she was writing on the life of Grendel: Devil by the Deed.
The Wolf went into seclusion and was rarely seen in public again.
Part 2: Christine Spar
A MOTHER IN PAIN
The daughter of Hunter Rose's adopted ward Stacy, Christine Powell spent her entire life trying to shake off the ugly vestiges of a legacy she never really knew. Even the untimely death of her husband, war correspondent Peter Spar, served only to remind her of the bloody heritage thrust upon her not only by the world at large but, indeed, by her very lineage. Finally, Christine decided to exorcise these inner demons by undertaking an in-depth examination of the man whom her mother had actually succeeded in killing. This investigation served instead to awaken in her an even deeper fascination for the man known as Grendel, and the result was the now infamous book Devil by the Deed. It was shortly after the advent of her newfound notoriety as an author that Christine and her young son Anson attended a kabuki theater performance at Radio City Music Hall. At first, Christine found herself entranced with the star dancer, Tujiro XIV, but in a subsequent backstage meeting she was soon repulsed by his boldly lascivious manner. As she tucked Anson into bed later that night, little did Christine suspect that this would be the last time she would ever see her only son alive.
A NIGHTMARE IN DISGUISE
When police investigations yielded nothing on Anson's disappearance, Christine took up the chase herself and soon made a startling discovery: a trail of disappearances, all of young boys and all coinciding with the nationwide tour schedule of Tujiro's kabuki troupe. Grief-stricken, but focused with a cold and unreasoning hatred, Christine set about the task either of rescuing or of revenging her missing child. Knowing this would take her into a realm outside the law, Christine resolved to disguise herself behind a persona that literally embodied the contemptuous emotions in which she was slowly drowning. Stealing the original mask and fork of Hunter Rose, she set off for the west coast▀and the spirit of Grendel was thus born again. In San Francisco, she eventually caught up with the traveling show and began a cover espionage of her suspect, which soon revealed even more shocking facts. Tujiro was, in fact, a vampire who not only displayed a marked taste for young boys but also doubled as the head of an international slavery ring. It was here that Christine Spar's trail of vengeance hit an unexpected snag. Throughout her intricate hunt for the monster, Tujiro, she had, found herself becoming involved with the stage manager of the kabuki theater's latest venue, Brian Li Sung. When Christine discovered that Tujiro intended to kidnap Brian to serve as the latest slave in his insidious schemes, her rage finally exploded and the stage was set for the final confrontation.
After a fierce and bloody battle that failed to bag her intended prey but did succeed in breaking the vampire's ring of power, Christine was forced to flee both the city on the bay and the gentle young man she had so quickly come to love.
A MONSTER IN HIDING
Although she did her best to leave both the persona and her actions as Grendel behind, Christine soon found herself swept along in the hatred and fear that had marked the life of her predecessor. Back in New York, she was immediately hounded by both the police and Grendel's original nemesis, Argent the wolf. When Brian Li Sung followed her back to the east coast, he soon fell victim to this police brutality, and Christine finally gave herself over to the overwhelming anger of Grendel. In a battle that seemed written by the cruel hand of destiny, she finally met her end at the hands of the vicious Argent, but not before she succeeded in killing the monstrous wolf as well. The legacy of Grendel, it seems, had at last seen its end. or had it?
Part 3: Brian Li Sung
The death of Christine Spar left another, all-but-unnoticed casualty in its bloody wake▀the bruised and tortured spirit of her young lover, Brian. Firm in his blind ambition to steer Chris from her seemingly fated path, Brian had no idea how this vortex of violence would eventually prove too much for his own fragile soul as well. His tragic catharsis first began at the very moment of Christine's death as Grendel. It was only later that Brian began to realize the full extent of her isolated madness, a lonely certainty that she passed onto him in the form of Grendel's logs. These copious journals, which included not only those volumes stolen by her mother, Stacy, from the original fiend, Hunter Rose, but also Christine's own account of her life as Grendel, were secretly buried by their jealous owner in the unmarked wilds of Central Park. Nestled under the pillows of the same bed in which he and Chris had shared their last moments together, Brian discovered both a map and the key to this strongbox containing the festering memoirs of demons. Unable to leave these infamous relics behind, Brian was also quite sure the encroaching eyes of the police would never allow him to smuggle the journals out of New York either. He soon found himself taking a low-paying job off-Broadway as well as making do with dreadful living conditions, all to ensure that he might spend his evenings slowly drowning in the lives of two people possessed by violence.
Lost not only in the past, but also in the harsh, day-to-day existence of New York, Brian soon found himself victim to all the pent-up anger and frustration revealed in the pages of his newly sacred texts. A recovered alcoholic, Brian desperately began drinking again. He experienced memory losses as well as outbursts of temper and even started keeping secret journals himself. Eventually, he became convinced he had actually encountered Christine's ghost in the seedy confines of the theater he managed. In an effort to once again call forth his lover's spirit, he finally donned a crude Grendel mask which he had fashioned to act as a talisman. Although the apparition never materialized, its presence was felt when Brian, still masked, viciously battered a security guard who had interrupted the ritual. Although outwardly sickened by this startling change in his demeanor, internally Brian continued to nurture his growing rage.The evolution of Brian's violence finally peaked with the killing of a would-be assailant in Central Park. In his obsessive zeal to know and understand Grendel he had in fact become the fiend. continually hounded by the flamboyant Captain Wiggins of the New York Police, Brian then began to perceive his condition as an actual possession. The spirit of Grendel had somehow burrowed its way into his soul and there it gestated, a diabolic consciousness that cared naught for anyone, most especially the hapless host body it so viciously toyed with.
The final stage in Brian's madness came when his delusions focused on the person of Captain Wiggins. Convinced that Wiggins was keen to the truth of his masked excursions, "Grendel" next decided to stalk and eliminate the troublesome cop. Here Brian's tragic downslide reached its conclusion, but not without a final moment of redemption. Bound by the demon's desires to hunt down his persecutor, Brian nevertheless strove to break what he saw as Grendel's control over his body and mind. Unable to resist, he trailed the detective over the course of an evening until his path eventually led to Central Park and the site of Brian's one and only act of murder. In these last moments of confrontation, Brian fought an internal battle for the sake of his very soul. His defiance finally triumphed, as Brian barely managed to stay his own attack by a crucial fraction of a second, all the time necessary for Captain Wiggins to turn and shot this latest Grendel dead.
Part 4: The Incubation Years
A PERSONAL NIGHTMARE
With the death of Brian Li Sung, the force he had perceived as a conscious, aggressive entity went into an extended period of apparent remission. It was to be almost five hundred years before another singular incarnation of Grendel would walk the earth again. This is not to say that Grendel had no effect during this time. Far from it. In fact, human civilization continued to feel the weight of Grendel's rage -- but in a far more subtle and, in the long run, insidious manner.
As the one surviving person to have been directly involved with the succession of criminals known as Grendel, Captain Albert Wiggins suddenly found himself having an unexpected celebrity status. Eventually, he left COP (Confederacy of Police) to retire in the tropics and spin out a series of best-selling tales about Hunter Rose, the only Grendel Wiggins had never actually met. With this success came all the trappings of luxury as well as all the pressures of wealth. It was later in life and new career that Albert Wiggins finally began to go mad. Spurred on by an apparent malfunction in his prosthetic eye, Wiggins began seeing the world around him as distorted and grotesque. Fans, publishers, agents, even his doctor took on a hideous demeanor behind the waves of Wiggins' dementia. Finally, his sense of reality lost, Wiggins succumbed to his own inner rage and stabbed his nagging young wife to death. Grendel, it seemed, had managed to strike again.
A CORPORATE WEAPON
A century passed before the presence of Grendel would be so directly felt again. In that time, the power of civil government had dwindled. Mega-corporations now controlled most everything, and the biggest of these was Omni Broadcasting and Entertainment Systems (OBES). At the head of the board of directors sat Charles Dore', a rather complacent executive who nonetheless saw Omni's bevy of Grendel entertainment products as an effective tool for spreading into an even wider world market. At the opposing end of Omni's management sat Harold White. While Charles Dore' strove for constant expansion, Harold's schemes were entirely directed towards eliminating competition. Harold deemed the world's civil governments to be both obsolete and deserving of nothing less than absolute destruction. In the end, this doubled-edged greed led from mistrust to misconception to tragic global mishap. The result was the world's first extended nuclear conflict, the near eradication of the mideastern OPEC nations, and the total contamination of a major portion of the world's crude oil supply. From within the very core of the system itself, Grendel had struck again.
A RITUAL PENANCE
The resulting social upheaval caused by this environmental tragedy affected life on earth as had no other event in over a millennium. the world's major power supply had been severely crippled, and, finally, the people of earth were forced to adopt alternative sources of energy. Many methods were developed but none more successfully than solar power. In a world now even more dependent on the sun, life in the uppermost northern hemisphere soon became undesirable. In a mass exodus unlike anything seen before or since, the world populace began slowly to situate itself closer to the equator. In America, the United States now became the United Californian Systems of America, and the already crumbling east-coast megapolis soon became an immense ghost town of concrete and steel. A few savage tribes/gangs continued to linger in the ruins, constantly fighting amongst themselves for control of the few oil storage tanks that still retained some usable sludge in their depths. One of these clans, the Forx, adopted the figure of Grendel as their totem. They believed that the oil should be torched rather than be put to any use whatsoever -- a nihilistic penance for what they saw as man's never-ending aggression. Grendel, at last, had gained a welcome foothold in the psyche of a race -- as opposed to that of an individual.
A SOCIETAL ARCHETYPE
Several hundred years passed before the world again took on some semblance of a civilized structure. The rising new world order was mishmash of opportunistic religion, obsessive personal indulgence, and the slogging advances of a technology not yet sure of itself. The battle for control of the fading American Empire was fought in the church pew as well as in the boardrooms, and, perhaps most importantly, in the chemical-swilling minds of the public at large. Drugs were big business in this world of the future, and corporations strove incessantly for that elusive stimulant mixture that would provide the greatest euphoria with the fewest side effects. It was these zealous experiments that culminated in a heinous accident, which unleashed a new and dangerous drug on an already imbalanced populace. This drug, whose laboratory designation was Arcana-Prime, ultimately became known by the infamous term that the Church itself had even adopted to replace the more antiquated name of "Satan". The kingdom of Grendel was at hand.
Part 5: Eppy Thatcher
THE CHURCH OF LIVING DECEPTION
Another period of darkness had settled over the globe. Following WWIII there came the great migrations, as the world of men slowly divided itself into continents by race. In the face of all this social upheaval, the Christian church once again re-emerged as a powerful force in people's lives. Dominant but fractured, the Church eventually also split into racial factions across the earth. This period came to a peak under the American papacy of Innocent XLII. The latest in a long line of despotic popes, Innocent was a media darling, a talented manipulator of overwhelming charisma. Invoking antiquated laws of civic funding, Pope Innocent had for years been financially pursuing the continued growth of an immense tower in Denver, at the pinnacle of which sat Vatican Ouest. this outright purging of the public welfare soon aroused the enmity of a civic-minded aristocrat, Orion Assante, the son of a excommunicated family. Taking the matter before America's central Board of Directors, Orion succeeded in being appointed head of a regulatory panel known as the Tower Commission. Knowing full well the immense uphill struggle he had accepted, even Orion had no way of guessing how twisted this adventure would soon prove to be. As he settled down with his sisters/lovers to view the televised ceremonies for the beginning of Lent, Orion was truly shocked to see the devil himself walk the earth once again.
THE DISCIPLE OF HISTORIC MADNESS
As Innocent XLII began accepting the congregational tithes, the ceiling of St. Elvis Cathedral exploded, and a ragged, spindly Grendel figure dropped onto the altar of the church. There, in front of millions of viewers, this unknown devil callously killed several worshippers before stealing the flying collection platter and dumping the offerings into the throngs of the faithful, swarming through the streets surrounding the Tower. What followed were a series of terrorist attacks, each more random and bizarre than the last. This mysterious Grendel was effectively wearing away at the public faith, and the man at the head of that trust was furious. Innocent turned to the mercenary police squads of COP for assistance by striking an unholy deal with their jaded leader, Pellon Cross. Thus, while Orion continued to attack the Church in a legal sense, Grendel proved to be the greater thorn in Innocent's side. Still, the grand Easter mass was approaching, and for this, Innocent turned to his lackey Pellon Cross with an even greater request.
THE PROPHET OF TOTAL DESTRUCTION
Innocent, it was soon revealed, was actually building a very special gun high in the upper recesses of the Tower's central spire -- a weapon for which the final component was the forbidden element plutonium. Personally challenged by this ultimate act of thievery, Pellon Cross succeeded in securing the necessary material -- but at the cost of his very life. After delivering the nuclear core to his master, Pellon discovered the fateful truth behind the papal robes: that Innocent XLII was, in fact, centuries-old vampire Tujiro XIV -- and his gun, a device meant to eradicate the sun!
Meanwhile, Orion's own activities had in turn driven him into self-imposed exile and had cost the lives of his treasured sisters as well. His path eventually led him to the discovery of this latest Grendel's true identity: an idiot/savant and societal victim name Eppy Thatcher. It was while trying to confront this maniacal rebel that Orion encountered the confused and newly vampire Pellon Cross. Finally realizing the immensity of the situation, Orion led a mercenary armada in a desperate attack against the Tower, as the Easter sun broke over the Rocky Mountains. As the day's ceremony progressed, several forces converged on the Tower: Orion and his troops; Pellon and steadily swelling army of vampires; and Grendel himself, seeking personal battle with a persistent and ancient foe. The resultant battle was a catastrophic, with Orion's forces just barely managing to dynamite the Tower as the deadly Sun-Gun was being ignited. The monster/pope was incinerated by the full force of the blast, which then carved a path of destruction across the face of the city. Grendel, also caught by the powerful beam, blazed out of sight in a trail of twisted glory. As Orion surveyed the carnage from his air-cruiser, a grim realization came to this man who had tried for so long to fight by the rules: there are no rules but the ones we make for ourselves. Orion could not see the many vampire survivors far below, crawling from the wreckage to follow their leader Pellon off into the twilight.
Part 6: Orion Assante
A RACIAL PLAGUE
Following the collapse of Vatical Tower there came a period of grand upheaval in America. Not only was Chrisianity being abandoned by the masses, but now there was an ancient and largely unknown plague to contend with. In the confusion following the Sun-Gun catastrophy, Orion Assante emerged as a tireless leader in the crusade to stem the tides of vampirism. As a result of this relentless pogrom, the vampires went underground in the resort system of VEGAS. Eventually they were contained in one of the massive casinos, which soon became a high-security prision known as Grendel's Palace.
A SOCIETAL ICON
Shortly after his political rise to the top, Orion finally consummated his long-standing relationship with Sherri Caniff. It was on one of her many missions of foreighn diplomacy that Sherri met the Australian psychic, Manny McDoon. Manny soon joined Orion's core group of advisors, his secret abilities often giving his master the edge necessary to ensure victory in most political arenas. Orion's ultimate goal was a solitary global government, and through the use of his "Orion's Sword" military fraternity, he soon managed to unite the entire western hemisphere under his increasingly imperial rule. Fearing both competition from Great Japan as well as rumors concerning redeveloped nuclear technology, Orion sought to extend his influence into the eastern half of the world as well.
A turning point was reached when a seemingly independent group of terrorists kidnapped Sherri Caniff. With rughless efficiency, Orion managed to rescue his mate as well as utterly destroy her captors. The message to the world was clear: Orion Assante would stop at nothing to achive his goals. Only later did he learn that the espionage was really masterminded by Great Japan. It as during this time that Orion's growing legions of troops began to refer to themselves as Grendels (this stemmed from an older nickname for Orion due to his role in the collapse of the Church: "Grendel - the scourge of God").
A GLOBAL EMPIRE
Worldwide unity was neither an easy nor inevitable goal. With various forces opposing his efforts, Orion battled fiercely over the next decade to secure the beginnings of his world empire. As war between the east andwest became imminent, Orion found himself besieged on all sides. He zealously struggled to maintain control of the ground already gained. It was during this period of incalculable stress that Sherri Caniff lost her life to cancer. Bereft at his loss and disgusted with public life, Orion seemingly abandoned his goals and went into seclusion along with the semiretired Manny. Finally, Orion found the source of his meditative cure. He convinced Manny to use the last of his mental powers to help the troubled leader locate the person who had once embodied the madness Orion felt consuming him now - Eppy Thatcher.
Returning to public life, Orion again took up the helm of leadership as war with Japan was just beginning. With the development of improved solar superconductors, he was able to ensure victory at last with the creation of the incredible Sun Disc. This flying device sooned proved the the ultimate weapon as it leveled a path of solar destruction across the Japanese archipelago. As his last enemies sank into the sea, Orion declared himself ruler of the globe and assumed the mantle of the first Grendel-Khan.
Unfortunately, with all his battles now won, the fight seemed suddenly to go out of Orion. He lay down a code of ethics for his worldwide legions of troops, but otherwise left the daily tasks of ruling to a battery of aides. In a vain effort to produce an heir to his lonely throne, he eventually married on of his young assistants, Laurel Kennedy. The union proved to be fruitless and, finally, Orion made only two further contributions to world politics in his waning years. The first was to reinstate the long dormant pogroms against all vampires. soon driving them and their sacred-cow leader, Pellon Cross, into exile. The other was to miraculously fulfill the purpose of his unhappy marriage by both carrying and the bearing an heir, himself, from a surgically-constructed male womb. Leaving the government in the hands of his wife, Orion went into selcusion to raise his son and died quietly in his sleep on October 17, 2588.
Part 7: War Child
The Unknown Paladin
With Orion now gone, the scene was ripe for Laurel Kennedy Assante to seize the reins of power. Assuming the role of Imperial Regent, she cloistered both Orion's son Jupiter as well as her won daughter Crystal within the confines of the secret Dakota complex - until such time as the heir was ready to assume the throne. Although she claimed the Regency, Laurel's position was tenuous, and she soon became secretly known as the Dowager-Khan. After several years of shaky rule, the Dowager-Khan was ill-prepared for the emergency alert that summoned her to the chilly Dakotas early one spring morning.
During the night, a solitary Grendel had broken into the complex, bypassing the most sophisticated security alarms, and had kidnapped the heir! Laurel was furious when her Prime Minister, Abner Heath, advised her of the escape. Summoning a troop of her elite Red Devils, Laurel began a relentless pursuit of the mysterious rogue Grendel - one that would end in vain and lead her down the path to madness. Following a report of the fugitives' apparent demise in the Louisiana swamps, Laurel's grasp on reality quickly began to unravel.
The Underground Worlds
After years of virtual incarceration, Crystal Kennedy was ripe for rebellion. Her mother's distant nature only seemed to harden after the abduction of Crystal's stepbrother. Finally, confused and emotionally abandoned, the Dowager's daughter fell into the arms and bed of her bodyguard, a young Grendel named Susan Veraghen. Together, they planned an escape.
Meanwhile, having thrown off the scent of their pursuers, Jupiter and the nameless Grendel continued their flight through the wild plains of Africa. Unknown to them, Minister Heath had taken up the chase in place of the demented ruler. With the Imperial dogs at their hells once again, Grendel and his charge had no choice but to flee through the radioactive hot zones of the mideast. Here, they nearly fell prey to nuclear mutants butwere ultimately saved by a search party from a small rebel alliance.
The leader of the alliance, Azif A Barouk, soon discovered this Grendel's secret as well his purpose - that he was, in fact, a solar-powered cyborg, programmed by the Great Khan to act as his son's paladin. During the course of this interrogation, Jupiter was taken from the rebel hideout by another search party - this one consisting of vampires. Rousted soon after by the Red Devils, the rebels joined Grendel on a journey deep into the Siberian wastes.
In the bowels of an abandoned missle silo, the rescue team led a desperate assault on the vampire sstronghold. Arriving just in time to save Jupiter, Grendel crippled the vampires' power by impaling the brain of the incoherent figurehead, The First One. Eshausted and their numbers devastated, the rebel fugitives were to spend the next ten years in continuing exile.
The Final Battle
Having long ago usurped Laurel Kennedy's power, Abner Heath found little success at uniting the global community. As he strove to rein in the unruly warrior clans as well as to rediscover the secrets of Orion's dormant Sun-Disc, Regent Heath also lost track of the gathering winds of rebellion.
Now in his early twenties, Jupiter Assante commanded the respect and lvery lives of a vast network of secret rebel enclaves. As he joined forces with his empathic stepsister, Jupiter led an attack to reclaim his father's secret hideaway.
At the same time, the cyborg Grendel literally catapulted into the center seat of power, the Sun-House. As an army of incognito rebels held the tide of battle, Grendel slashed his way into the guts of the Disc. Plugging himself into the control terminals, Grendel successfully ignited the Disc's firing mechanism. As the Imperial communications satellite was blasted out of orbit by the Disc's destructive ray, a rebel transmitter began to broadcast a global message from the heir.
Jupiter Niklos Assante soon assumed the throne as the second Grendel-Khan, swiftly disposing of his enemies and installing his allies into positions of power. The cyborg who became known as Grendel-Prime disappeared into the wilderness and was only rarely encountered by those who lived to tell the tale.
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