Session 13 – Sinking Deeper

This is a session recap for my current Kult: Divinity Lost roleplaying campaign. Jessy Button is played by my wife, who also does the art, and I am the game master.

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Despite her headache and definitely not wanting to go, Jessy does head out in the morning for her first doctor’s visit since her ‘accident’. The hospital’s bright lights and long wait times already have her in a bad mood by the time her doctor, Edward, enters the examination room. Jessy’s new bandages and wounds, sores made from a thousand needles burrowed into her skin, force Edward to ask many worried and intrusive questions until Jessy guilts him to stop. She had sex. It was consensual. Deal with it. While examining and redressing her shoulder wound, nearly healed, the doctor asks Jessy about her head injury. Has she experienced migraines, mood shifts, noises, flashes of light, anything else strange? While Jessy tries to explain to Edward that she’s been hearing and seeing her grandmother, he at first appears to ignore her response entirely and later dismisses it as dizzy spells. Jessy gets the sense that what she tried to tell him and the words that actually came out of her mouth didn’t match up. She told him something different.

A knocking on the door, persistent. Edward continues his examination, slowly unwinding the bandage around Jessy’s head. She asks him to answer the goddamn door, but he hears no knocking even as it rattles the inoffensive art piece framed on the wall. She complains about her hallucination, and the building headache. At first Edward tries to calm her, the examination will be quick, but as the bandage loosens around the hole in her head she can feel air and spirit seeping inside her, reach for her. Jessy’s distress becomes too much to ignore, her panicked screaming loud and persistent. Edward calls for help and extra medication for Jessy. Crying from pain and distress, she demands he open the fucking door. Of course there’s no one there, but the knocking continues, a loud banging rattling the entire room, coming from somewhere below. Angela, Jessy’s grandmother, is calling out to her. Beckoning her, asking to be let in.

Nurses enter the room to help Jessy calm down or at least get a sedative in her. They talk over her, discussing what to do while getting Jessy to her feet. Doctor Edward seems gravely concerned by Jessy describing her hallucinations and suggests that the nurses take her to another room, down two floors. The banging and begging from below was bad enough, but Jessy knows she’s on the hospital’s ground floor and doesn’t want to know how deep they would take her. She refuses, struggling to leave. A muscular nurse holds on to her as they take her out into the corridor, ready to bring their unruly patient with them. Jessy slips out of the nurse’s grip1 and makes a run for it. She’s shaky on her feet, her heels make her fall over at least twice, and she trips at least one person walking past her with a crutch in her panic to get outside. Jessy reaches the lobby to the sounds of Code White being called out on the PA system, but she is out in the cold Toronto afternoon before they manage to catch her. The hallucinations, if they were hallucinations, diminish and disappear to be replaced by the noise of her phone. Hospital calling. She blocks the number, runs to a side street, and takes an Uber home to Tan’s apartment where she crashes onto her bed for a drug-induced nap, speaking to no one. 1 Act Under Pressure
Full Success
When she wakes up, Jessy goes to look for Carolina. She finds her in the second floor lounge, dusting the exaggerated bosom of an old erotic statuette. Carolina asks about Jessy’s hospital visit, and she explains how she ran away from it. They were going to keep her there and she didn’t trust them. Carolina agrees with her on that notion. She shouldn’t trust doctors, strangers that they are, she doesn’t know what they want nor who they work for. The conversation turns to Jessy’s grandmother, who she admits seems to be haunting her, trying to ‘get in’. Carolina says she understands, and promises Jessy she’ll get in contact with someone who may be able to help. In the meantime, she suggests that Jessy spend some time praying to Dehu and Mil and let the Twins grant her power and control over the situation. They see her potential, and can lead her anywhere. Just as their chatter fades and Carolina readies herself for work, Jessy asks what Carolina’s impression of Jessy is. She responds by naming Jessy a thief, and the smile fades from her round, saggy face2. 2 Liar Hold spent
Tan told her. Of course. Jessy feels herself losing grip on the conversation and quickly tries to recover, apologizing to Carolina with as much sincerity as she can fake3. While Carolina puts Jessy on the defensive by insulting her for her stupid, senseless actions, she sees in Jessy’s eyes just how much she wants Carolina on her side. Jessy, frustrated, asks if she needs to cut off her hands to make it up to Carolina, to which the older woman laughs and instead suggests Jessy’s hair. Jessy is stopped dead in her tracks. Carolina goes on to calmly explain that she would like Jessy’s hair for a private ritual of hers, perfectly harmless. She has done the same with Daisy. While Jessy finds it funny that Daisy wears a wig, the suggestion is still a shock as she fails to understand what the ‘catch’ is. There is none. If Carolina is allowed to shave Jessy, all of her, and keep the hair for herself, she would consider it a gesture of goodwill from Jessy and the start of a great friendship between them. It is simple as that. 3 Read A Person
  • Intuitive
Failure
  • How can I get you to like me?

What can she do but agree? Strange though it is, a wig would be easier to take care of, and besides it could have been much worse. Jessy can deal with strange. Carolina and her go down to the first floor bathroom, where Jessy strips naked for Carolina and allows her to meticulously cut and shave off every bit of hair on Jessy’s body. It is a long process, done in near silence. Head, eyebrows, arms and legs, privates, Carolina moves down her body with ease without mistake or hesitation. Once she is done, Jessy feels more naked than she has in a long while. Carolina offers her a wig, similar to Daisy’s but in a darker color, and leaves Jessy to her own devices while she sweeps up all the hair left behind.

Over text, Jessy messages Carl and suggests they go for dinner. She hasn’t given him the attention he needs, and knows she has to rekindle their relationship somehow or risk losing him and his credit card. She doesn’t need it, but she wants it anyway4. Carl books them a private lounge at a high end restaurant, obviously eager to spend money on Jessy. The pudgy older man sits in a neat gray suit across from her, admiring and complimenting Jessy on her smile which looks so much like his daughter Maddie’s. Jessy has dressed up for the occasion, donning clothes in Madeline’s colors and improving a makeup look she’s posted on her Instagram. Everything to look good for Carl, in just the way she knows he wants it. She expertly lies and explains away her poor behavior, apologizing for being so distant to him and telling him how grateful she is. She’ll move in to the apartment he bought for her when she’s not so sick, and of course she’ll re-apply to the university. Carl eats it all up, blinded by Jessy’s glamour, and the two part ways later with a long embrace. 4 Influence Other
Full Success

After far too long and much awaited, Jessy gets a day where Tan is home. Other than their incessant flirting, sex and general debauchery, Tan would also like to talk to Jessy about something important, a feeling which she shares. She explains to Tan what happened at the hospital. Her grandmother, the doctor trying to take her down two floors into the basement, her escape. He agrees, same as Carolina, that Jessy was right to run away and that she shouldn’t return. Jessy’s grandmother seems an unstoppable presence, and whatever she’s planning Jessy must remain alert and strong minded against it. 

In his office, Tan reveals to Jessy what his plan is. An old book, falling apart, is placed on his desk. Alongside it two parchment scrolls, one ripped in two, and a stack of printed paper from his computer. These are his research materials, and his notes, for the ritual he intends to perform with the Twins’ guidance. In three weeks time, he and Jessy will act as the leading pieces in this grand gesture to Dehu and Mil, performed in ceremony together with the rest of the faithful. Their purpose? To summon a mancipia, an enlightened creature of lust and power. Through Tan’s many years of research, he has discovered the true name of one of these spirits, and will use it to bring it amongst them. Tan explains to Jessy that this servant of the Twins will bestow upon them, as the two sacred summoners, incredible insights and power over the rest of the flock. All will be shared with them through Dehu’s wisdom, and with Mil’s guidance they will use their higher knowledge to control and benefit from all of Toronto and Canada. Jessy wonders why Tan has chosen her for the task, and with a glimmer of excitement in his eye he professes that he simply believes her to be the perfect candidate to stand alongside him. He’s looked for someone for this, and no one has been like Jessy. To him, she embodies everything the Twins needs in a woman.

The notes are detailed. Everything on the scrolls, and in the book, has multiple translations provided by Tan to ensure Jessy grasps all the layered meanings of the words, and additional clarifications on top of it. He explains briefly some of the arcane diagrams to Jessy, configurations of people involved in various actions, sexual or otherwise. All of it is connected, and each participant is chosen and placed based on who they are and what their relation is to everyone else in the ritual. Tan has pages upon pages of text, detailing the personal and interpersonal life of every member of his flock. Very intimate details. Jessy sees no notes for herself, however, but this is surely a conscious decision on Tan’s part. He asks her to study all these materials thoroughly. She must understand every bit of the ritual, its design and intent, for it to work. Tan trusts that in three weeks, they will perform great deeds together.

Jessy promises to help, of course. Her heart races when she thinks about the power Tan is offering her. Their flock. However, she still feels so new to the faith. In fact, though she’d never tell Tan, Jessy isn’t sure about this worship of the Twins at all. She needs to learn how to pray without Tan’s help and feel Dehu and Mil’s presence on her own. Carolina suggested it, but Jessy needs guidance. Tan is understanding, and provides several suggestions. Any form of meditation, wherein you admit and revel in the Twins’ purpose and wish, will serve as prayer to them. Building an altar, or two mirrored ones, also helps, especially offered together with a sacrifice either physical or emotional. These are simple steps, but Jessy must find her own path towards worship. Nothing is off limits in the search for enlightenment.

It’s been too long since Jessy saw Andi. After solidifying their plans over Instagram, there’s finally a date where Andi and her friends can meet Jessy. She’s wrapped up for her various injuries, but her head bandage is now thankfully hidden underneath the wig she wears. The three wait at Fran’s until Jessy gets there fashionably late and notices a familiar face among them she wasn’t expecting. Jessy stops and meets Simon’s eyes. They recognize each other. Jessy reacts with barely suppressed shock, Simon with desire. She was sure the man was dead, given what Artyom had her do to him, but still he sits next to his and Andi’s friend, Jana Causevic, looking decisively alive. It takes a moment for Jessy to recover, but she eventually walks up and greets the table with smiles and nods. Andi is so excited to see Jessy again, making sure at all times she’s feeling okay. Sitting across from Simon, Jessy works hard to maintain her composure and getting used to the smiling man whom she last saw naked and mutilated.

Once the pleasantries are over and done with, Jessy turns to Jana and asks for stories about Granger Fine Jewelry, as much as she knows and remembers. She worked in the sales team for the company for eight years, and claims she has so many odd stories and anecdotes about the place that she could never get through all of them. Jeremiah Redwood, the man who made Jessy’s ring, is an angry and old little man. He must be a hundred years old, yet he continues to wander through the office in his dusty suit, not looking at or talking to anyone except his own senior team of designers. It is his team, too: a separate team of designers under Jeremiah’s guidance who, to Jana’s knowledge, don’t really communicate with the rest of the company other than Efraim Granger himself. They work on the third floor of the office, off-limits for everyone else, and stay late enough that even the self-admitted workaholic Jana didn’t always see them leave. They’d stay up there, and the singing and shouting would sometimes reach through the floors and down to her desk. Visitors for Jeremiah who Jana never saw leave, employees carrying boxes of old books, paintings and other assorted junk up to their floor. There was so much she witnessed and never had time to register while she was there. Andi asking her to come meet Jessy opened the floodgates to all these memories, and she’s sure there is yet more to say.

As Jana gets a call from work and Andi leaves for a bathroom break, Jessy and Simon are left alone together. Immediately, she leans in close to him and asks why, or rather how, the hell he’s there. After what she did to him, she was sure Simon wouldn’t survive. He explains with a wide smile how Artyom saved him, as Simon had known he would. Artyom found him via a mutual business contact and promised such beautiful suffering. Oh, how Jessy had delivered… Simon is ecstatic to have found Jessy again, professing again and again his desire for her to do to him what she did before. He even reaches out and places his hand, fingers swollen and at disturbing angles, on top of Jessy’s. He begs for more, without reservation. Jessy suggests that Simon contact her privately over Instagram. She won’t pass up such an alluring opportunity.

The group continues their discussion over food, making wide-ranging speculation on what this secret team of supposed designers actually do. Perhaps Jeremiah Redwood runs a secret business which only Efraim knows about. All the clients that she saw Jeremiah interact with were specifically there for him, and none of his dealings ever went through their regular sales system so far as she knows. Jessy wonders whether there’s any way for her to get into the office. Jana explains that security is tight, but the two hatch a plan together to get Jessy there as a client. Money will not be an issue, Jessy assures Jana who figures she may be able to contact Efraim Granger about it. She admits that she too is curious about all this, and if Jessy finds anything out she wants to hear about it.

When their lunch is almost complete, Jessy receives a message on Instagram, from the mystery account that’s been pressing her for details on Tan for the past weeks. She is in danger. Police are coming for her. Follow instructions to remain safe. As if waking up from a daydream, Jessy hears the blaring of police sirens closeby. They’re so close. She excuses herself from the table with the lie of a personal emergency, drops a bundle of cash she stole from Carl and heads out into the frigid city. Quietly in her mind, Jessy begs for the Twins to guide her and protect her, a repeated prayer hoping to avoid capture. A flurry of messages on her phone guide her two streets north, into an alleyway, then back again only to run across the street and continue west before switching directions once more. Downtown becomes a labyrinth of glass and brick. With each turn and every time Jessy stops to catch her breath, the sirens hound her. Finally, a message instructing her to enter a building and take the elevator far up. She is so relieved to have found safety that it’s not until she looks herself in the elevator mirror that Jessy realizes she has no idea where she is. She can’t recall which street the building was on, its number or name, nor what path she took to get there.

The elevator comes to a halt on the 35th floor. Jessy steps out into a reception area, all wood tiling and thick carpets. Behind the desk sits a receptionist, a cute thin girl who can’t be much older than Jessy herself. She peeks up from her laptop and greets Jessy by name with a smile. Sol will be ready in his office shortly. Jessy takes a seat in one of the wide, plush arm chairs and idly flips through one of the nondescript business focused magazines on the lacquered wooden table. The rhythmic ticking of a large pendulum clock hanging by the receptionist desk is her only indication that time is passing. Everything else is quiet. There are paintings hanging on the walls, portraits of old men and scenes of warfare against native Americans. Jessy flips to the next page and looks up at the receptionist, whose thin wrists appear more like two sticks wrapped in human skin. The ticking continues, but the clock has no number markers and every time Jessy looks at it, it seems to hang askew, totally unhelpful in telling the time. Seconds are passing. The receptionist, her face stretched taut against her skull, reaches across her desk and grabs something crawling across the surface. She cracks it between her fingers, audibly, and licks them clean. Time has passed, perhaps half an hour, and Sol is ready to see Jessy.

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Session 6: Sadism

This is a session recap for my current Kult: Divinity Lost roleplaying campaign. Jessy Button is played by my wife, who also does the art, and I am the game master.

This post contains violence and gore.

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After texting Carl Hunt, her kind sugar daddy, about the break-in, Jessy quickly has to clean herself up and put on clothes that cover her bruises from the night before. He’s going to come over. They’ve never met before, but this is his apartment and he needs to survey the damage. Carl is quick to get comfortable with Jessy once he arrives, hugging her close and petting her head as she explains with some panic in her voice how she has no idea why this has happened, that she was studying at a friend’s place and came home to this.

Carl is worried. The police have not taken what happened to Jessy at the hotel seriously, assuming it a strange scam, and now this. Because nothing was stolen, he feels it may be viewed as a poor attempt at insurance fraud, and he would rather not get involved in that. It may reveal his relationship with Jessy to his family, which is the last thing he needs. Instead, he promises Jessy that he’ll get a private investigator on it, and eventually sort out a place for her to stay. Jessy makes him promise this will all be alright. For the moment, she’ll have to stay with friends. She is given a kiss goodbye when Carl leaves.

On Instagram, the mystery account offers money yet again, asking pointed questions about what happened to Eduardo Sarmento. Jessy shares the pictures taken at the party, confirms when asked that yes, Eduardo and Tan were alone at some point, and promises that she will deliver the names of any people that Tan associates with in private. Two thousand dollars are added to her PayPal. It will all soon be spent on shoes, no doubt.

Finally catching up on her emails, Jessy also notices that she finally has a response from the forum user she messaged last week about Granger Fine Jewelry. He provides her an information dump, which delivers some odd information even when you filter through some of the crazy claims. The poster argues that “puppeteers” control the world and that the raid on Granger Fine Jewelry was a counter attack because the puppeteers were scared of Abraham Granger’s powers. Records, either stolen or public ones, show that no police investigation came prior to the raid. A massive amount of materials were collected for ‘evidence’, but barely any of it is documented. Abraham Granger was briefly arrested on suspicion of high treason and conspiracy, but the charges were dropped in favor of financial crimes. The list of oddities goes on, but one linked picture in particular sticks out to Jessy. A picture of Jeremiah Redwood shaking hands with then-newcomer to the team, Abbas Ali.

Abbas Ali in the picture is identical to the Abbas she saw at Eduardo’s party. At most there is a year in difference, but it is undoubtedly the same person. The picture was taken in 1974. It is unnerving, but it does remind her of something that Artyom told her – that Abbas used to work for Instagram. After doing a bit of research, she finds his full name and manages to connect with the man through LinkedIn. His birth year is stated as 1982.

Over the next few days, Jessy drifts in and out of homes1. Some guy who adores her private pictures, a woman she went on a date with, she has a network of people to use up. For the first two nights, she stays with a girl her age called Liz. The two bought a dog together, but Liz takes care of it. Really, Jessy doesn’t care for the mutt much at all, it’s too jumpy and poorly trained. She avoids any and all sexual advances, ensuring Liz that she’s just not in the right headspace, that it’s too traumatic for her to be able to. Later, she promises. Always later. Jessy does seem unwell – her nightmares get worse every night, and she either wakes up terrified or doesn’t sleep what so ever. 1 Impostor
Result: 10-14

After several days of messaging with Abbas, there’s finally a chance for Jessy to bring up Eduardo’s party, and Artyom. This is why she actually contacted him. For now. His connection to Granger Fine Jewelry still needs investigation, but Jessy can’t bring herself to focus on that for the moment. What she saw at the party demands all her focus. On a phone call, Abbas seems a little hesitant to tell Jessy how to find Artyom, but she insists. She needs to see him.

In a rundown brick building, next to the train tracks well west of Kipling Station, lies Silverpine Hotel. It is a sad place, with a breakfast and lunch café for old people and crackheads to get a stale sandwich. Jessy does as Abbas instructed her and asks the old lady at the reception for Artyom. She gives Jessy, in her chic designer clothes, a judging glance, but hands over a brass key with no room number to her. Jessy’s nicely manicured nails contrast against the woman’s fat fingers where no fingernails can be seen at all. Only raw, red flesh.

Down a set of stairs. Through the nondescript corridor, doors on either side labeled 101, 102, 103, and so on. Room 117, that’s what the receptionist said. Jessy knocks first, then unlocks the door, as she was told. The room is almost shockingly normal, an old flat-screen TV mounted on the wall and a neatly made double-size bed below a small window near the ceiling overlooking a parking lot and the train tracks. Two old, wobbly arm chairs and a side table finish off the room, along with its faint smell of dust and, hm, something else. There is a door leading into the next hotel room over.

Artyom, sitting in one of the chairs, was not expecting to see Jessy. He had been told that someone would come over, but not the goat fucker’s whore. He says as much, openly hostile towards Jessy because of her connection to Tan. However, Tan hasn’t talked to Jessy since the morning of her break-in, despite her repeatedly messaging him. She’s there alone, for herself. Jessy tells Artyom that she needs to understand what happened at the party, that Tan isn’t telling her everything he knows. If it is truth she wants, Artyom confirms, then he can tell her.

He refuses Tan’s explanation as Artyom being a servant or a slave – he does what he does because he wants to, because it is his calling. Everyone who uses his services do so because they want what Artyom can give them. Jessy can take part in that, if she is willing to look at the truth of humanity without balking. Desperate to learn, she agrees, and she is shown into the other room, room 119. Artyom looms behind her, ensuring that once her foot steps over that boundary there is no return.

Chained by his hands and feet to the bedframe standing in the middle of the room, a wiry black man named Simon greets her with a smile. He is naked, with tight curls of hair around his crotch and chin. The rest of the room is dark, cardboard taped over the window and boxes stacked in front of the door and with only a flickering lamp standing in a corner. Garbage bags are strewn about the sides, and the dark, green rug is covered in blood. Jessy is more than a little bit uneased2 by the stark contrast, stepping across the border from simple hotel room into this… whatever it is. Still, she has come so far. She has no choice but to dive deeper. 2 Keep it Together
Result: 10-14

Artyom explains plainly that is Simon is there for the same reason Jessy is – to experience truth and pure humanity. It is pain, Artyom asserts, that is the final gospel, the only path to understand reality. When in pain, humans find their truest essence, and to give that to someone else is a euphoric experience in itself. Artyom gives Jessy the opportunity to give pain, to experience that most human feeling and welcome it into her life. On a small table beside the bed is a scalpel, a pair of scissors, metal pliers, and a large barbeque lighter. They will be her tools.

Jessy takes the opportunity. A pause, certainly, but she knows this is the way forward. Artyom places the scalpel in Jessy’s hand, then guides her through the first movement to place the blade against Simon’s stomach. She makes the first cut, realizing just how easy it is. Simon’s screams of agony and bliss fall upon deaf ears as Jessy cuts a deep wound down to his hip. She likes it. The feeling of control, the simplicity of it, the way blood gushes out of the wound, filling it up like a river.

She sees a reflection in the blood. Artyom, as he truly is, and some other place. Here, but somewhere else. The blood feels like a gate, Simon’s pulse welcoming her to the true depths of reality. Jessy places her hand over the wound, and when the blood gushes over her ring, it burns. Something screeches to a halt, far away, and Simon’s agonized crying becomes a choir of likeminded euphoric suffering. Jessy realizes in that moment that the garbage bags surrounding her are filled with body parts, that beyond the barricaded door lies not the hotel but some other place entirely. She can not see Artyom behind her, but she feels him. There is no disguise covering his broken and rebuilt body in this place.

Snapping back from her vision, her sweet sadism is interrupted when she realizes that Simon is hard, fully erect and begging for more. Disgusted by his display, she grabs hold of his manhood and slices it clean off. A spurt of blood explodes over her clothes and Simon’s cock deflates like a balloon in her hand before she throws it to the floor. With the distraction gone, she returns to methodically experimenting on his body.

With scalpel, scissors and pliers, she cuts off skin, drives deep wounds into his stomach, and attempts to cauterize some of the wounds by burning them into horribly charred scabs. She snaps several fingers, testing different methods to break Simon’s bones until she feels satisfied with the result. She smiles at the twisted Artyom-figure watching her, elated, and he finally decides that it is time to leave. Simon is left bleeding and wailing, chained to the bed, while Jessy and Artyom step back into the calm hotel room. The door to room 119 closes, and Simon’s screams disappear entirely.

Artyom, now again as a tall Russian man, sits back down in a chair. After her experience, Jessy can with ease see why he always looks so off. He doesn’t smile because the mask doesn’t let him. His walk is so twisted because the stakes driven through his legs can’t bend. The suit is ill-fitting because Artyom’s stomach is ripped and stretched. It seems so obvious.

The two discuss what happened. Jessy liked it, and she says she understands why others would too. How could anyone not enjoy that, if they let themselves free? She asks about Elise, saying that it didn’t seem like she wanted the pain. When Artyom asks if that would matter to Jessy now, knowing what she knows, Jessy concedes that it doesn’t. To give pain is what matters, and whether Elise wanted it or not seems to matter less the more Jessy thinks about it.

Artyom knows so much, and Jessy has so much she needs to learn. The woman in her nightmares can’t be stopped, she doesn’t know how to. She tries to explain the situation to Artyom. Nightmares, threats, panic. Jessy is brought so much pain, and Artyom has a simple solution for her. Bring pain to her. That piece of advice burrows deep into Jessy’s mind and sticks. Give her pain.

Finally, Jessy wants to know what Artyom dislikes so much about Tan. That is, other than Tan pointlessly trying to enslave Artyom. He responds that Tan is playing carelessly with powers he doesn’t understand, and it will not end well for him. Jessy asks whether Tan might die, but for Tan, death is only the beginning. She leaves soon after, in borrowed clothes to cover up the stains of Simon’s blood.

On her way back to the apartment she’s staying at, since this morning with a college guy called Evan, Jessy calls Tan. He hasn’t responded to any of her messages in several days, but he does pick up the phone. Seeming stressed and hurried, he apologizes for not responding, tells Jessy that things are crazy right now, and that he will call her soon. She is not given an opportunity to talk before he hangs up.

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