Dark Carnival IC

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Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby NorthernSoul on Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:27 pm

It was odd to think that he was almost a thousand feet above sea-level. Atticus might as well have been underground for all the natural light that filtered in through the towering hives above. Instead, the walkways that linked the narrow rumbling transporter tunnels to dingy corridors of illogically numbered doors and grimy shop-fronts were lit with dim flickering fluorescence. The city was not as busy as he'd expected it to be, perhaps because most of the people out and about in this part of town were already at the square to watch the arrival and gradual unpacking of the circus, and Atticus passed mostly unnoticed as he limped through the maze of walkways in search of the place he'd been given vague directions to not ten minutes before.

Here, no one took a second glance at the hint of tattoos that showed above the neckline of his jumper or across his knuckles. They might have done, had they realised they were not in the style usual to most parts of the Core, but for now Atticus might have been a local and all that walked by did so without averting their beaten-down gaze from the steel paneling underfoot. Roisdor was nothing like the planet he'd grown up on; Ischator was red dust and squat beetle-like domes huddled against the onslaught of the sun and wind unlike Roisdor's dank sunless hives, but the attitude of the two peoples residing upon them was not dissimilar. They all had that same hard-eyed tiredness about them, that same wary hostility.

He turned the corner and came across what he'd been looking for. A door painted in peeling green with the rusting skeleton of a hoverbike engine sitting next to it. Beyond the grubby frosted glass of the window, someone was sitting watching a screen.

Atticus knocked on it and stood back to wait. Within a few moments, the glass of the window set into the door flickered into clarity and the worn leathery face of a middle-aged man appeared to unleash a barrage of harsh words in a language Atticus didn't understand before disappearing once again.

"Do you speak Terran Standard?" he said, knocking again more impatiently. "Egor Yemenev, right? I heard you tattoo..."

"Not that kind," came a heavily accented voice. The man appeared again, but this time through a crack in the semi-open door. He was short but built like a barrel and he wore only a pair of stained trousers and a grey vest. "I don't do that kind," he repeated, indicating Atticus' tattoos with a derisive nicotine-stained finger.

"I know what you do. Are you going to let me in?"

Egor's expression changed and he reluctantly stood aside to allow Atticus to enter before shuffling down a long dimly-lit corridor to what appeared to be a lean-to bolted onto the external frame of his apartment. Beyond the glass roof, a few bars of light from the sky high above were just visible.

"Visi or invisi?" he said, crouching suddenly to retrieve a battered suitcase from behind the door. He opened it to reveal a surprisingly well-polished tattoo gun and a few vials of something that gleamed like liquid mercury then waved for Atticus to take a seat. "I got some new nano, you inject it right into the retina and you can see-"

"Visible. And the ordinary skin-meshing nano is fine," said Atticus, sitting down and resting his cane on the arm-rest.

"You got any already?"

Atticus snorted. "Are you blind?"

"How the hell am I supposed to know what's nano and what isn't, gaand? A lot of people do that 'round here, you know. Hide it in ordinary ink, over the heart, usually."

"It's all nano."

Egor stared at him, unshaven jaw slack for all of three seconds before erupting into guttural laughter that made his paunch shake. Atticus rolled his eyes and waited for him to shut up.

"You're not joking, are you? You're crazy!You're fucking crazy!That's all nano? No one ever told you no one knows what that much will do to you? You got a death wish?" he said, gulping down air between bouts of laughter. He seized Atticus' arm and began to inspect the tattoos inked across it.

At his final question, Atticus grinned but extracted his arm from the other man's grip. "There's a spot here," he said, indicating a small patch of bare skin above his left hip. "For this." He took the sketch of Pegasus from his pocket and handed it to Egor.

"Sure. You got the credits for it, I don't give a shit," he said, glancing at the piece of paper before slipping it onto a scanner inside the case. A moment later, he removed a transfer and kicked the lever on the chair that lowered the back down to ninety degrees, taking Atticus with it.

"Get the hell on with it then," he growled, a bolt of jarring pain shooting up from his injured leg. Egor simply grinned in return and the room was filled with the buzz of the tattoo gun.
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NorthernSoul
Member for 7 years



Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby CortezHorse on Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:56 pm

Laine's act always left Entek in sheer childlike awe. The beautiful ribbons that hung from the sky, music drifting from the speakers while she moved perfectly in time to it, her sparkly costume glinting in the bright lights. He watched with wide, black eyes and a slack jaw as her performance went on, not noticing her slip up and assumed it was a new trick which caused the beast to chatter in joy. It was something he hadn't seen before! When the performers updated their acts it was always a thrill for him but his chattering was quickly silenced as Strella stretched out over his head to clamp his mouth shut with her arms. "Shh! Keep quiet Entek! You don't want to interrupt her do you?" He shook his head in the negative with enthusiasm before letting his eyes snap back to the act.

The moment the crowd burst into applause, Entek jumped about happily and squawked in joy. Strella held on for dear life as her easily riled friend bounced about. "Ah! You're gonna give me motion sickness you crazy behemoth!" His happy romp ended when Laine walked towards them and gave him a pet. Rumbling contentment in his throat he pressed his face in her hand and settled down on his side near her, hoping that laying near her would prompt more rubs. "Good job Laney!" He growled to her, mispronouncing her name as he always did. Strella sighed overdramatically and slid slowly off of Entek until she thudded on the ground. "Thank goodness! Whoo, you need to stop entertaining him so much. I don't think I can take much more of his giddy bounces." She popped her head over the opposite side of her friend and grinned at Laine. "Awesome job by the way." Now, if only she could survive his enthusiasm through Kayne's performance then they would go on and she'd be scott free after that.
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CortezHorse
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Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby SkullsandSlippers on Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:03 pm

Laine smiled as Entek rubbed his head into her hand and then plopped down on his side next to her. His enthusiasm was always contagious, making her forget her small mistake. Laine rubbed the great creature’s side and stomach. His happiness vibrated under her hand, making Laine smile even more. Sweet, that was the word that came to mind whenever she looked onto Entek’s form. She didn’t see the scary creature the audience saw but that was the point of the show. Smoke and mirrors, tricks and magic...nothing was ever as it appeared.

A chuckle met Entek’s congratulations of her performance. “Thank you, Entek.” Laine kept up her rubbing and patting his side. Laine bit her cheek as Strella sighed dramatically and slid off from her perch. “I promise Strella, I won’t be nearly as entertaining next time.” Laine tried hard to keep her voice serious but failed as a smile broke out. “That excited is he?” She shook her head in amusement. “Oh Entek what will we do with you?” Laine gave him a big rub on his stomach.

Laine looked at Strella as she popped up on the other side of Entek. “Thanks. You two ready? It’s an odd crowd, well...odd planet really. “ Laine frowned just slightly. Things just felt wrong here. “Kayne’s up next.” Her eyes glanced out to the ring.

Leaning her cheek against Entek’s head, “Hey, you know what? Tomorrow Kayne is going to see if he can lift me while I do a few tricks. You should come watch the rehearsal Entek, let us know if it looks okay.” Laine smiled, knowing that changes and new add ons to the acts made him excited.

She remained there with Strella and Entek as they listened to Cooper announce the next act and the strongman prepared to enter the ring. Laine was more tense than usual. This place was throwing her off. Everyone seemed on edge and she couldn't shake her concerns. Laine inhaled deeply, practically hugging Entek's head as they watched the show.
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SkullsandSlippers
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Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby Tigeress on Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:43 pm

The androids face lit up with a knowing expression as one slender hand reached out and grasped Kayne's offering. His large powerful limb dwarfed her own as she tightened slightly, feeling the surprising strength, yet subtle control to a man who had not only built strength, but practiced perfection of its control. "I have your back." is all she stated before moving away towards the roaring crowd.

They would be delighted, for it stood upon logic as a working class that they would throughly enjoy the coming splendor of physical might. In fact, from what she understood about most intelligent beings, strength presented a odd form of attraction, born from perhaps sexuality of a "Perfect" body? Or maybe it was raw power?

Drifting amongst the crowd with ease born from years of practice as well as keen observation, she found herself in a good postion at the top of the mobile seats, staring down at the masses, subconciously judging each one.

After several minutes of searching those motherly eyes fell upon several red tattoos drifting around eyes, similar to the boy she had saw earlier... how did she miss them? The answer was obvious, she did not, they had only just arrived while she was moving the crowd, clever move to head in during acts.

Shifting herself to once again move through the crowd, she neared the trio, recongizing the youth whom had been bested only moments before. "He's here man." she heard mentioned, nodding quickly and grinning despite his bruised body, the long gold chain flapping around slightly. It was a truly unpleasant smile, oddly reminscent of a dog who had just pleased his owner.

One of the other men merely nodded, his shallow thin features making him almost appear rat-like in the dim lights. From her postion, she could not fully see his face as he chatted silently with the young ganger, whom left quickly out of the tent, moving easily through the crowd because many avoided him, rather than true skill.

All that she could see of this "Rat-Man" was mostly his back, and these small glances were instantly stored in her memory banks for analyis, which was being conducted only 3 seconds later. These images displayed a white male dressed in dirty laborers attire, and thus he was almost completely invisible to most of her software, as there was no key features to recongize.

The last remaining man spoke now, his voice was ridden deep with authority. "That... boy seems to have some usefulness." and she heard a very small noise, the sound of metal clinking. Her eyes darted towards the noise instinctively, inwardly concerned that it may be a firearm. Instead she was greeted with a large flame from a old world oil-lighter. Relevant, because oil was a prohibitably expensive luxury in this era.

This authority figure was dressed uniquely in a business suit of black, and Melane was able to pair the voice with the records she had available towards her. The Data Net was a powerful thing indeed, in the right hands. Ralph Revi, a catchy name that belonged to "The Hive's" various Unions.
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Tigeress
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Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby Centraiu on Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:01 pm

Kayne let out a deep breath. He looked back out to the crowd and then began to walk out. He carried the weights effortlessly and stepped into the middle of the ring. He looked at the crowd who'd began roaring. He set the weights down and let out a quick signal. Instantly a flashlight went on over a man standing by a cannon. Kayne raised one hand as he lifted the weights with another. Once the hand dropped the cannon went off. Kayne swung the weight hitting the cannon ball directly to the ground. He raised the weight over his head and swung it around in a circle, he then tossed the weight up and as it fell caught it on the top of his foot. He kicked it back up into his hand and then set it down.

He raised his arms and dropped them as another cannon shot went off. This time Kayne turned quickly to the side. He took the cannonball to the chest without budging. The crowd now going wild fell silent as Kayne stood completely still for a second. The cannon went off again and Kayne looked up in time to catch the cannonball in his bare hand causing his muscles to ripple in a form that would severely hurt and break a normal man's arm. He dropped the cannonball to the floor and looked at the crowd to take a bow.

As he raised the crowd went wild. His attention was drawn to the men. They just sat there staring at him. The minute they stood. His heart sank a little. He stood back up and began picking up his equipment. As he did the crowd went back to a seated position. He took one final bow and proceeded backstage.

Once there he immediately went to his area set down his things and sat there in perfect silence. He just exhaled heavily and rubbed his hands together frequently. He looked at himself in the mirror and just sat there blankly watching himself.
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Centraiu
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Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby Tigeress on Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:29 am

Melane watched the pair stand as Kayne performed the final part of his dangerous act, his body seemingly a wall of steel that held forth the mighty cannonball, all showmanship in its own powerful might, but it worked on the crowd as spirited applause sounded into the tent. Impressive.

The union tycoon moved the lighted oil lighter towards a thick cigar, also a rariety unique to him, and the flames licked the earthen colored wrap until it begun to smolder under the intense heat, "Quite the brute." he said in a tone that seemed to hover between friendly and judgemental at the same time, combining into a tune that mostly resembled arrogance.

"Don't kid yourself," the rat man said, turning his head ever so slightly as he gave a mild, almost mocking applaud, his mouth twisted into a angry frown, as one sinewy hand reached into his pocket, withdrawing a wicked looking switch blade, its length and width making it seem more like a ancient dagger "he still bleeds if you stick em enough."

Ralph Revi lifted the long cigar towards his lips and took a puff, a small almost dainty movement quite unlike the powerful, conflident man behind it. It was as if he didn't want to dirty himself with the very ash, a sign of perhaps a mild obessive compulsive. His eeirly clean hand slipped into his pocket, leaving behind the oil lighter, "I trust you'll do what is necessary then?" he said so quietly that it almost vanished into the crowd.

The rat-man nodded, putting away the knife in a fashion that shown the ease he had around the tool. His own dirty clothed body seemed to shake a bit as he chuckled, moving away from the figure as others nearby made a path for him and his unpleasant appearance.

The Union advocate shifted his gaze, looking over his shoulder as he spoke, "Let us see the leader of this..." his pale elderly face seemed to almost taste the word, shifting into disgust, "petrid place. Later we will find Cooper." and he begun to walk away.

Behind Melane was movement, as a security gaurd of some kind stood up. Had she been human, she would have probaly panicked. Her body had remained so absorbed with the show that to any other it would have appeared that she was just a new comer, but her mind had processed every bit of data in those few scenes. Still she did not turn her body, watching for the next act. "Good show wasn't it?" she said, leaning over to anouther nearby, whom smiled and nodded vigorously.

Ralph Revi, the man he had spoken with, and the person Melane assumed was a body gaurd, was long gone by the time she allowed herself to move. Had she escaped "death?" just now? No, for these men would be fools to try to harm her in public. Had she marked them as suspects? Yes. Would she tell Cooper? Yes of course, though when things were quiet enough. Would she tell Kayne? That... was far more difficult to analyze.
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Tigeress
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Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby CortezHorse on Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:07 pm

Entek lounged and fully enjoyed his rubs as Strella and Laine conversed over him. "Yea, this place does give you that on edge feeling doesn't it? I'm just ready to move on to the next show, it's a wonder that Entek hasn't been freaking out the entire time in a place like this." She eyed the big beast as his tongue lolled out of his mouth while Laine rubbed his belly. Well that's the answer right there, she thought, he's been surrounded by us the entire time so he has no reason to feel unsafe. Her eyes turned back to look through the curtain at the rowdy crowd's greeting to Kayne when he stepped out to perform. God help them when they went out there though.

He could feel the anxiousness rolling from his two friends as they spoke with one another. Of course he wasn't capable of understanding it all but he knew whatever it was, it made them afraid or, as Strella would say, gave them the heeby jeebies. What were heeby jeebies anyway? His mulling over this all important question was haulted after Laine asked if he wanted to see her and Kayne do tricks tomorrow. Now that he understood all too well! He loved seeing new tricks! Rolling over to lay on his belly, he nodded his head enthusiastically. "Yes! Laney yes!" Chattering happily he settled down between the two of them to watch the show as Kayne stepped out. The strong man's act was always something that amazed and confused him. He knew others like him couldn't withstand such physical abuse and the fact that Kayne himself could always excited the monster. When the crowd went wild, so did Entek but this time he made sure to stay in place since Laine was leaning on him. So he contented himself to squirming happily and chattering. "Hey, how come you're so calm when Laine's around but go completely bonkers when I'm on top of you?" Entek answered by sticking his long tongue out at Strella then snuggled into Laine which earned him a playful pop on the head and an indignant huff from his partner.

Now that the crowd had died down, it was time for their act. Strella took in a deep breath as she and Entek bid their farewells to Laine and inched closer to the opening of the stage. The so called mighty beast flattened himself on the ground and whined at the sight of the wide open area and all the eyes watching."It's alright buddy, I know this place is creepy but come on you perform almost every night and we always have to go through this. You know nothing is going to happen to you out there and I will make sure nothing ever does, ok?" Squirming nervously, Entek finally faced her and nodded. "Good, now I'm going to go out there and please make sure you don't miss your cue. You'll be fine big guy." One pat on the head to comfort him and his partner was gone.

Strella stood in the middle of the arena dressed in a bright costume with long sleeves that would flow in the wind when she rode Entek, a dramatic effect. She began to move in the stage lights beginning a peaceful dance until the fog machines cut on and made everything bleary to the eye. This was his cue and the great beast made his way forward, his large form barely an outline in the fog. Remember, nothing bad will happen and you promised you would be brave. A long, low growl came from his throat and the act had begun.

After a few charges toward the audience, ear splitting roars and snaps of his large maw towards Strella and the closes audience members, Strella finally succeeded in "taming" the monster and climbed aboard as Entek laid on the ground docilely for her to mount. The crowd cheered as he lapped around the arena and Strella pulled feats of great balance and courage on her quick steed before he trotted backstage and back to safety. "You did great Entek! Oh who's my big, brave boy hm?!" Strella praised him from the ground and squished his cheeks while his long, barbed tail wagged happily at the praise. It was over! Now all he had to do was wait back here with the others and watch a few more acts, something he could definitely pull off.
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CortezHorse
Member for 4 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby SkullsandSlippers on Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:34 pm

Laine couldn’t help but chuckle at the banter between the beast and his friend. He was snuggled next to her as Kayne finished his performance. Laine watched the strongman leave the ring, passing them as he made his way backstage. He should have been more pumped after his performance and yet he seemed distant.

It was Entek’s turn and Strella said goodbye. Laine stood as Entek followed Strella to the split in the curtain. He was nervous and Laine watched the girl coax her friend, as she did before every show. Just like that their act began. Laine turned, smiling and more relaxed now. The acrobat headed out of the big top intent on her bunk.

Laine went through the mental list of what needed to get done before her evening show. She had time; there was a few more acts and then the short break to clean the tent of garbage. Then the lights would go down and the other acts would come out to play. Laine frowned wondering how this crowd would handle the erotic nature of the acts and the freak show aspect.

Entering her small hut, Laine stripped from her day time costume, tossed on her regular clothes and washed her face of her stage make up. There was time to reapply when she dressed in a little while. Blonde waves were brushed and tied into a loose ponytail that swished as Laine walked out across the grounds.

She was intent on the mess tent, her stomach rumbling slightly. Licking her lips at the thought of coffee and perhaps a cookie to tide her over, Laine’s mind wandered. “Atticus...” It was the first thing that popped into her head. Laine had not talked to him since their very brief and angry conversation in the training room on the Traveller. Her nostrils flared slightly as she thought of the incident.

There hadn’t been time to talk to him, to follow him out as he stormed off. Oh, she had wanted to. There were angry words running through her head, there were things she needed to say to him. The tattooed, death defying man was not the only one who could have a sharp tongue. There was more than anger though that coursed through her when she thought of him, of the incident...or his hand on hers.

Laine gave her head a slight shake, as if hoping to dislodge the memory. Instead, her eyes caught movement by the gate. There were plenty of people filtering in and out but this figure was coming in and the gait was distinctive. The cane, the slight limp, Laine would know them anywhere. She stopped where she was, half way across pathway from the performer’s area. He’d see her and Laine wanted him to. Laine relief and happiness coursed through her. He was back in the camp and safe. Yes, Kayne was right it wasn't like Atticus would die but it did not mean she wasn't worried about him or glad when he returned in one piece. The performers were her family, she worried about them all, some just differently than others. Laine's hands made fists. "Now or never." Her voice a soft whisper for her ears only.

Laine walked to meet him, “Atticus, we need to talk...please?” Her tone was emotionless as Laine tried desperately to hold her feelings in check. Her eyes sought his green ones, she knew full well what the eye contact would do to her but she needed him to know that she would not take no for an answer.
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SkullsandSlippers
Member for 3 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby NorthernSoul on Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:46 am

Egor, for his appearance and the unsavory setting of his make-shift tattoo shop, was surprisingly good at his craft. The Pegasus now inked on the skin just above Atticus' hip had been drawn with unexpected delicacy and he made a mental note to come up with another design to add to his collection before their time on this planet was over. Pausing only to briefly adjust the gauze that had been used to dress the rapidly healing tattoo, he made his way back through the labyrinthine streets to the circus. The day show would have finished by now and Atticus planned to grab a quick dinner before the night-time performance.

As soon as one of the roustabouts nodded him through the back entrance, he realised he'd been wrong. The music that filtered across the dimly-lit square signaled that the show was still taking place within the big top. The guttural roars that cut through that music and the appreciation of the crowd were unmistakably from the docile and good-natured Entek who was pretending to be tamed by Strella for the entertainment of the audience. Atticus grinned a half-grin at the fallacy and diverted his path towards the tent with the intention of watching the last few minutes of the show.

But that wasn't to be. Across the scrubby artificial grass of the performers area, Atticus glanced up and saw the figure of an off-duty Laine tentatively approaching him. After years of perfecting his act, not even the prospect of something close to his own death could make Atticus nervous these days, but hearing Laine tell him they needed to talk with a firmness that was unusual for her sweet deposition made his chest tight. He hadn't expected to tell her so soon... But it was now or never, he knew that.

"Alright," he said, casting a glance back towards the light and sound of the big top before leading the way along the narrow alleyways that separated the rows of pre-fabricated tents that housed the performers' quarters to where his own stood. He didn't look at her but he could feel her presence close at his back as he paused to draw back the canvas and allow her to enter.

Inside, he tapped the control pad set into part of the frame and the lamp hanging from the ceiling bloomed with dim yellow light that cast deep shadows across the narrow bed in the corner and small stack of sketchbooks on the desk opposite. With his back to the desk, he met her gaze and waited for her to speak, putting off the moment for just a few seconds more.
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NorthernSoul
Member for 7 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby SkullsandSlippers on Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:58 am

Laine hid her shock as Atticus agreed to talk to her. She expected more of a fight, for him to storm away and to have to follow him. She had been ready to force the issue, now he agreed and led the way to his tent, Laine’s resolve waivered slightly. It was almost as if she needed him to fight it for her to have the courage to say what was needed to be said.

Laine’s stomach knotted as she followed. Atticus opened the canvas, holding it back for her to enter. Laine didn’t meet his eyes. Her back was straight and her jaw set as she attempted to keep up the illusion that she had any clue what she was going to say to him. This conversation would have been easier in the training room when she had been angry, hurt and embarrassed. Now, being in his room, in his presence with Atticus ready to talk to her Laine’s mind was a blank.

Stalling, Laine gazed around his room. She had been in here before but never with him. Last time it was to grab some clothes for him after his act. Laine turned to look at Atticus, expecting him to be focused on the things in his room. Instead, Laine looked into those green eyes, so full of anger and bitterness and she couldn’t look away. Inhaling deeply she tried to compose her thoughts.

They were both quiet for a few seconds, as if waiting for the other to make the first move. Laine raised her chin. “Atticus, what you saw in the training room was me attempting to work through the feelings I have for you.”

Laine tried to keep the anger from her voice. If she could keep it neutral it was best for both of them. “I was hurt that you would dare tell me I shouldn’t feel anything towards you, as if you were not good enough for me or me for you. I enjoy time spent with you, in your presence. I never even considered that you might actually have any sort of feelings for me other than the bare minimum of tolerance.” Laine frowned.

That wasn’t true, not entirely. They had many conversations about a great deal of things it was only more recently that something had shifted. Laine shook her head, her ponytail swinging slightly with the motion.

Laine tone softened, “That’s not right. Something has changed, Atticus...we have always talked but now...” Laine stepped towards him. “It doesn’t matter how I feel. You are resolved to push me away and to hurt me. I care about you, you don’t want to acknowledge it than fine but I can’t let it go, not yet. I tried...”

Laine pulled her eyes away from his. This was hard, putting it out there for him and knowing he would not return any part of it. Her voice dropped. “I am angry with you, I am hurt by you and yet, I can’t seem to stop wanting to be around you.” Her eyes found his again. Laine’s heart was pounding in her chest. She knew what was needed for this to go away.

“Let the cruelty be swift and cut deep...tell me that you want nothing to do with me. Just do it Atticus. I can’t do it, not on my own.” Laine trembled slightly. “Tell me you hate me, that you can’t stand the sight of me and want nothing to do with me. It would actually be kinder than knowing you care about me but do not want to actually be with me.”
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SkullsandSlippers
Member for 3 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby Irish Wolf on Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:59 am

Cooper smiled to himself, when the crowd clapped and cheered, as Strella and her terrible beastie trotted pasted him and into the backstage area. The show was going well. Laine had wowed the audience with her opening act, dancing among among the ribbons, so high up in the air. True, it would have taken a master acrobat or someone like himself, having spent the better part of two decades watching acrobats with augmented eyes, to catch the slight slip, which had caused his heart to miss a beat but none of the downtrodden masses seemed to have noticed. It was a little odd to him, as he could have counted the number of times he had seen her make a mistake during a show, on his hands without using all of his fingers but he had already written it off. Everybody was a little edgy and nerves were stretched.

The crowd had loved their strong man Kayne, as he played baseball and catch with a primitive cannon. The ringmaster had always noticed, that workers always went wild when they saw amazing feat of strength from an unmodified human being. Maybe it was a rage against machines, which did most of the work on the more advanced planets (mostly in the Core) that they would have done. He felt stirred by it but for different reasons or maybe the same, his occupation before the circus had been physically demanding. And there was a yearning too, more primal, to match his strength against the large man's, not in a lifting contest but in combat.

The other acts were just as well received. The clowns had the poor wretches howling with laughter at their antics, as they tricked and fooled each other. Tumblers had gotten hearty claps, as the mutated midgets impressed the crowd with their ability to jump, given the small proportions of their bodies. Tightrope walkers had the masses on the edge of their seats, as they walked across tiny wires, often over rather nasty things set under them and no safety nets to stop them, if they fell. A parade of trick doing animals, some recreated from old Earth genetic stalk and others from strange and alien planets, brought out cheers and cries for more.

The show was going well. Cooper stuck his head through the curtain, to check on the next act, as a band of clowns took the stage.
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Irish Wolf
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Member for 6 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby NorthernSoul on Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:46 pm

She was offering him yet another way out. He didn't lack the capacity to be cruel and he knew that if he resolved to do what she suggested and tell her he didn't want her, words wouldn't fail him. Cut deep... He could certainly do that; Atticus had come to know her well enough over the past few years to know where her insecurities lay and if he had the inclination, he could pick out each and every one of them and throw them back in her face. Just as she could do with all of his. Well, almost all of them.

But he couldn't bring himself to do it. It might make things easier, day-to-day perhaps. But once again he simply could not stand there with her in front of him and tell her she repulsed him. Not only because the idea was laughable for its untruthfulness but because he was a coward and wouldn't face the expression of hurt that she would force into a smile as she thanked him for being honest and pretended it was all for the best. No, not pretended, it would be for the best. Eventually.

So why couldn't he say it?

"I can't- I'm not going to tell you that," he said, glancing down at his hands as he subconsciously rubbed his fingertips over the inked-on swallow that soared across the back of his hand. "Look, Laine, I told you I used to be an acrobat... But I never told you why I left the circus I used to work at. I could have done all this-" He indicated the tattoos visible on his exposed forearms with derision. "-there, after all..."

His pulse was thudding in his ears and he felt vaguely sick but he continued, with the same impulsion he used every night he had a knife plunged into him.

"Seven years ago..."





"I- I fell from the trapeze the next day and did this," he said, pressing his clenched fist into his leg. He'd told her enough and now that the words had been set free, never to be taken back, he felt like a little of the tension had been removed from his shoulders. "Once I'd recovered, I left. And found this show a year or so later."

"Don't feel sorry for me," he said fiercely, suddenly pushing himself back off the desk as the idea that she might occurred to him. That would be the most sickening thing of all. "I'm telling you this so you'll know why this isn't a good idea. You and Cooper sleep with each other; everyone in the damn show knows. That's fine, but the two of you- I can't deal with that if at the same time, we..." He rolled his eyes at his own inarticulacy and looked back at her. The sight of her eyes, a clear cloudless blue in the lamplight, suspended between expressions as she waited for him to finish, almost made him mentally take back what he was saying. But he'd been down that road before and for all its soul-intoxicating violent pleasure, it was a dead end.
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NorthernSoul
Member for 7 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby SkullsandSlippers on Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:56 pm

Laine waited for it, the words that would crush her and force her to put her heart back behind a wall. She knew he could be cruel, that if he could just grant her this, that Atticus could end this torture for the both of them.

Laine wasn't sure if she should be angry or start to cry as Atticus told her he wouldn't say it. Why was he doing this to her, to them both? Why drag this tension, this attraction on? A frown creased her brow as he rubbed at one of his tattooes and began to explain why he had left his previous troupe.

Atticus told her about Ruth, about how he had loved her and what she had done to hurt him. Laine's frown fell away. No, she hadn't just hurt Atticus, it was....the bitterness, the anger in his green eyes, that was the cause of it. Laine kept her mouth closed, listening as the tattooed man told her about how deeply in love he had been. Her eyes never left his form as told her all he had to say.

Laine blinked once and watched Atticus push himself off the table, ordering her not to feel sorry for him. Laine quietly walked over to Atticus. She stood in front of him, looking up, her eyes searching his. Her hands went to his chest. Laine could feel his heartbeat under her palm.

"Atticus, I do not feel sorry for you. I am....you know damn well that Cooper has many lovers, I have on occassion been one of them. Cooper and I, it is not....I love him as my closest friend but what you make me feel...I would not...." Laine's nose scrunched up a little. "You know me well enough to know that this, you and I, whatever this is...is not what I have with Cooper. It can't be."

Laine felt almost desperate, that she could be so close to him and that all that stood between them giving in was her occassional appearances in Cooper's bed. "Tell me that all that stands in the way of this, of you and I, is me telling Cooper I will never set foot in his bed again." Laine's hand went to his cheek and her eyes pleaded with him.

"Atticus, tell me....if you cannot tell me that you hate me then tell me to never again sleep with Cooper and I will do it. Tell me that this isn't wrong and that you want..." She was scared now that she wouldn't be able to make him understand that Cooper was well Cooper but Atticus was something more to her.

Laine's hand caressed his cheek. She wished that she had the ability to put into words how she felt about him. To be so close, knowing she just had to find a way to make him understand was frustrating. Laine leaned in and pressed her lips to Atticus'.

Laine was not going to shy away from this. It wasn't pity for his story. No, not pity. She did not pity him, never once had she felt that. All the emotions her dancing had stirred up came rushing back as Laine's lips touched his. If her words would not be enough, then Laine would pour it all into her actions.
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SkullsandSlippers
Member for 3 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby NorthernSoul on Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:53 pm

The tunnels of the hives were narrow and in poor repair but Hanna had seen and ridden on far worse in the illegal underground tracks from the early days of her career. In fact, she rather enjoyed riding something other than the pristine micro-polished techacarbon the highest quality runs were made from now. It made riding less... academic and more... fun. Which was as it should be, of course. She supposed that was what her move to Cooper's show was all about; making things fun again. What was life without a bit of fun?

She kept her helmet on until just after she wheeled her bike over to the gate that led to the circus compound. A few nasty-looking types about, she mused, and she'd stick out like a sore thumb around here. Regardless of the fact that she came from a completely different star system, there was something about differences in class that translated across galaxies and she sensed that the hives were not the most sensible place to be advertising that fact.

Safely inside, she lodged her helmet under her arm and took the opportunity to wander around a little. Across the performers area, the back entrance to the big top had been left open and the people that were filtering out of it signaled that the acts were drawing to a close. Over at the far end of the compound, a few roustabouts were beginning to set up a huge bonfire- a tradition in travelling shows such as this one, Hanna had read this once- and already people were beginning to gather around it like moths to a flame. It was all very quaint. But perhaps when the night-time show began, this place would shake that feeling off and replace it with something a little darker.

After asking a passing animal-keeper, she soon found her way to Cooper Smith's tent. She was greeted by a note and promptly turned and strode back to the big tent, ducking inside as if she was already a seasoned member of the circus to look for a sign of the ringmaster.





Laine kissed him and this time he didn't flinch or move away or leave. It had been a long time. But after a moment or two of hesitation, he returned her kiss, brushing her wrist with his own as one hand snaked to her cheek and the other to her lower back to pull her closer to him. He felt a fraud; he was a fraud, but it didn't matter to him. Self-loathing was temporarily overcome by desire; something to pour onto the flames of the former later on, but he was too weak-willed to fight against it now. Indeed, he could hardly believe it was even happening. If not for the very real sensation of Laine's body against his, it might have been some guilty figment of his imagination.

"Don't... ever sleep... with Cooper... again," he said, each time their lips parted briefly.

The prospect of the evening show was becoming more unattractive by the second. He could lock the door and the outside world- the rest of the circus, the late-night performance, the hives and all the myriad pieces of his past that were walking around somewhere in the galaxy beyond- would cease to exist. He could protect this from all of that.

At some point during their kiss, Atticus had stepped forward, away from the desk and now his injured leg was beginning to protest. Reluctantly, he broke away from Laine to shift his weight and took the opportunity to breathlessly pause and draw his gaze across her features. He'd seen her almost every day for the past four years and her face had lost the novelty of unfamiliarity. Mutual attraction had sprung secretly and grown strangely over months, maybe even years. And she wasn't anything like Ruth.

He pushed that particular thought out of his mind and crushed his lips back to hers.
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NorthernSoul
Member for 7 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby SkullsandSlippers on Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:58 am

Atticus didn’t pull away from her but he wasn’t kissing her back. She had her answer. Laine was about to step away from him when his wrist brushed hers, his hand touched her cheek and the other pulled her closer. Suddenly, their lips were moving together. Laine moulded her body into his arms and moaned softly against his lips.

It was more than she had hoped for. At best she figured he would do nothing and that would be the end of it, at worst he would pull away and tell her to leave. He was kissing her back and holding her close. Her mind briefly considered that perhaps he was doing it simply out of physical need, pure reaction. Atticus’ voice caressed her ears and silenced her doubt. He wanted her to stop sleeping with Cooper. Her kiss was slightly more passionate in response.

Laine didn’t know when she had closed her eyes but she opened them now to look at Atticus. He pulled away. This time it was different, it was clear he was only doing it to ease the discomfort in his leg. Laine let him shift but one hand remained on his chest. She wasn’t really willing to let him move to far away from her.

It didn’t matter as it seemed Atticus had the same thought. It was the shortest of moments before his lips found hers again. Her arms circled Atticus neck now. Laine kissed him slowly, savouring the feel of his lips on hers and his hands on her body. She was breathless but it didn’t matter, nothing mattered.

Their lips parted briefly and Laine took a moment to let her fingers play along the back of Atticus’ neck. “I will not set foot in Cooper’s bed again. For this...for you...” Laine’s voice was soft and her nose nuzzled the tattooed man’s jaw. Her eyes looked up into his.

A soft kiss found its place on his lips before Laine sighed, “You know we have to perform tonight.” There was disappointment in her voice. Laine didn’t want to leave his arms. For the first time in her life Laine wanted to forget about the audience, the performance and the things that needed to be done. Laine knew that neither one of them had that luxury. She had to get ready, the minutes were ticking away. Laine wished there was more time between the shows, more time in his arms, more time pressed against him....

Laine placed her cheek on Atticus’ chest, listening to the sound of his breathing and his heart beat. “Will you allow me to take care of you tonight? I’d like to be there when you wake up.”
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SkullsandSlippers
Member for 3 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby Irish Wolf on Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:29 pm

Cooper relaxed backstage, his lean frame stretched out in a folding chair before one of the many dressing stations, with his booted feet on another. Even though the day show had started much much later then it normally did and had been shortened, it had still been draining. Maybe it had been the couple of days he had already spent within the hive, without the stars to look at or just the prickling along his spine, that something bad was going to happen, sometime but this opening had been draining. The wheels in his head had just been spinning and grinding all day.

It was nice to just sit right now, as the freak show started to wind down. In the two lesser tents, those abnormal humans and odd aliens displayed themselves, as visitors walked by but here in the big top, it was a whole different beast. They were putting on a show, there was dancing and singing and skits. Most of them never would have made it in showbiz, not with their skills but people loved to watch them, just because of their deformities and they were alright with that.

The ringmaster reached over to a plate of fruit he had gotten from the mess tent and which was sitting next to his top hat. A smile crossed his face, as he looked at what he had grabbed, a Gula Apple. A roundish purple fruit with a waxy outer skin. It wasn’t an apple at all but was called one, for some strange reason. It didn’t look, taste or even have the texture of an apple. The sweet, juicy pulp inside the thin inner skin tasted kind of like a mixture of maple, orange and if it was overripe, peach. More widely exported then they had been eight years before, the fruit was still uncommon inmost systems.

Cooper could remember the first time he had eaten a whole Gula apple. It had been the first day Laine had joined them. Now that was a pleasant memory. He had taken breakfast to the young woman, who's debt he had just bought (and managed to smash up the place she used to work in and her former boss) and they had both been covered in sweet and sticky juice, as the fruit tended to explode if not eaten correctly. Cleaning up after trying to eat the Gula apple had been fun to say the least.

Chuckling, he put the fruit back and selected a true apple. When Laine showed up, to add the finishing touches to her costume for her night performance, he'd give the Gula to her. See if she laughed or if he could get one of her signals she wanted company after her show. Smiling, the ringmaster looked towards the entrance and paused a little. There was a woman, ducking inside, that he didn't know. Because of his augmented eyes, he could recalled the face of everyone in his circus. Working hard, making the damaged facial muscles around his eyes work, he arched an eyebrow and stood up, apple in hand.
Irish Wolf
Contributor
Member for 6 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby NorthernSoul on Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:45 pm

Atticus made a non-committal sound when Laine reminded him of their impending performance and replied only by bowing his head to press his lips against the side of her neck. However reluctant he was to acknowledge it, she was right; he only had to gather a few props for his own act but she had more to do for hers, which came earlier on in the show. And he was beginning to realise that Cooper might not respond with complete ambivalence when Laine gently rejected any further casual hook-ups. Not to mention when he eventually found out the reason. It wouldn't be in their best interests to disrupt their first evening show on a new planet.

Not that Cooper was petty enough to do anything as extreme as fire Atticus from the circus because of Laine, and anyway, everyone knew their relationship was nothing more than the odd night when one or both desired it. But missing his cue for the final act definitely was a fireable offence (if Atticus was in Cooper's place, he'd be no different) and he'd be damned if he'd give him a reason to kick him out now.

Laine manoeuvred herself out of his reach against his chest so he rested his chin on top of her head instead and buried his nose in her hair. It was all losing its surreal quality now and the immediacy and reality of her presence made him wish away the evening show even more fervently.

A little muffled by the fabric of his shirt, she asked the question he'd been expecting to hear and he nodded.

"Alright," he said after a moment. "But you'll promise not to get John to put me on your bed. Bring another one in or put me on the floor. I'll be out of it anyway so there's no point in you getting no sleep," he added, taking her face in his hands and briefly kissing her again. Accepting her request didn't come easily, just as it hadn't the last time she'd asked. But he supposed he was going to have to get used to this sort of thing again.





Hanna spotted Cooper within a few moments of ducking inside the big top. She recognised him not only from the advertisements that were plastered through the Hives in preparation for the circus' arrival but also from the profile she'd found when she'd drafted her application to him. She strode over to him with purpose and a large smile on her face.

"Mr Smith!" she said, extending her hand in order to shake his vigorously. "Delighted to finally meet you in person. Hanna Freeman, reporting for duty, etcetera."

She'd not paid it much attention in the pictures she'd seen of him but those cyberkinetic eyes of his was really a marvellous piece of work. She'd not seen anything like it in years but then modifications that delicate were hard to come by these days without paying through the nose for them. It was rude to stare, of course, so Hanna didn't, but she inwardly wondered what had happened to necessitate them. Maybe it was nothing at all; some people did that, didn't they? Modified perfectly good bits of anatomy.

"What a splendid set-up you have here," she went on with enthusiasm. "I can't wait to get started. All my kit's getting delivered tomorrow but I was rather wondering if I might watch the evening show, if you wouldn't mind. See my colleagues in action and all that." She beamed at him again. "And my boss, of course."
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NorthernSoul
Member for 7 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby SkullsandSlippers on Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:43 pm

Laine’s head was tilted up by tattooed hands and a smile touched her lips as he kissed her again. Blue eyes slowly blinked up at him. Part of her still didn’t quite believe he had taken her in his arms, that he had returned her kiss. Her smile grew slightly.

“I promise I will sleep and you will be comfortable. I won’t have you on the floor. Leave the details to me.” She knew it wasn’t easy for him. Her hand found his cheek again. Her voice was quiet, “I have to go.”Laine with extreme reluctance removed herself from Atticus’ arms. Before stepping away fully she kissed him quickly, simply because she could. That thought made her smile. Laine backed slowly towards the door of his tent, the smile never leaving her lips.

With a small inhale, Laine left Atticus in order to prepare for her act. She was elated and even though she had far less time than normal to prepare it didn’t matter. Right now, nothing could break the feeling of his arms around her or his lips pressed against hers.

Laine entered her own tent and quickly donned her costume. She was extremely glad she had set out all the pieces earlier that morning as it saved her the time from picking it out now. Pulling out the sensible ponytail, a brush was run through the blonde waves and it was swept up in a clip adorned with feathers and sequins.

Laine was still smiling as she grabbed her makeup bag deciding to finish up in the big top rather than her own room. She still needed to find Cooper and there was a chance the man would be lingering somewhere nearby. He always did.

As Laine walked from the performers living area to the performance area, she began to wonder exactly how she would explain to Cooper what was going on. He had been trying for years to convince her to open herself up to care about someone and to let them care about her. It bothered him to watch her push men away who might care and he had told her so on many occasions. It wouldnt' be the first time she had told Cooper they would no longer share a bed. The difference was the last time she had thought she was protecting him from trouble when all she had been doing was closing herself away. This time, this time was different.

Laine stepped into the big top. As luck would have it Cooper was not only around but in the prep area. She smirked. He was talking to a woman that she did not know. Laine approached one of the dressing tables but waved and nodded to Cooper as she passed. She also gave a woman a friendly nod. She didn’t wish to interrupt.

Sitting, she watched the pair in the mirror as she put her makeup on. A glance to the side and she spotted a plate of fruit. A chuckle issued forth as Laine applied her eyeliner. There was a Gula apple on the plate. A slight shake of her head as a memory crept into her mind involving Cooper and that fruit. Laine, smile on her face, finished her makeup and with a nod was satisfied with the result. Laine noticed that Cooper and the woman were still talking and opting to delay her conversation with Cooper for slightly longer Laine sought out John. The big dark man was never too far, appearing in the shadows when you least expected him. True to his character, John stepped out just as Laine rounded a corner.

She filled him in on what she wanted and he assured her it would be taken care of. Laine thanked the roustabout and headed back to warm up. Cooper appeared to be wrapping up his conversation with the unknown woman and from what Laine could tell it was a good discussion.

Laine began some slow stretches to warm her limbs up. She caught Cooper’s attention with a gesture of her head. He’d know she wished to talk when he was done. Her eyes strayed from Cooper to the door. Atticus would be coming backstage soon as well. The thought made her cheeks colour slightly. She wished he didn’t have to go through such pain every night but this time would be different and hopefully the first of many times that he would allow her to wake up with him.
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SkullsandSlippers
Member for 3 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby Irish Wolf on Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:59 pm

As the unknown woman approached, the software installed in Cooper's eyes began to run through files of face he might have known, from sources outside of his circus. The way she was making a beeline right for him and walking with a purpose, made it clear that she knew him or at least knew of him. A match was found, just as she came within handshake range, an application flashed in front of his eyes, complete with an image of the very woman and her name. Despite having left her a note on his door, he had forgotten all about Hanna Freeman, with the events of the day and the lifting of the weight from his shoulders. He smiled, remembering that the application she had sent him, could be more described as a letter stating that she was now working for him, rather then a request to join his circus.

"A pleasure to meet you Ms. Freeman" said the ringmaster, after his new employee had given him a rather energetic handshake and introduced herself, "But please call me Cooper. It's good to see someone so enthusiastic about working here on their first day, well, night, although it might be expected, given your application."

He paused to chuckle softly and in doing so, noticed Laine walking through the backstage area. As she waved and nodded, he bobbed his head back and smiled before taking a bite of his dinner and returning his attention to Hanna.

"Now then" the ringmaster continued, after a second bite, "You may of course watch any of out shows, in any of the tents, if your not preforming at that point but you'll have to wait until tomorrow if you want to see me in action. Unlike the day show, both our freak show and the night time acts, move to their own pulse, without need of me to direct them. Speaking of which, I recall from your application, that you will be doing tricks with your hovercycles, are there any other acts you want to try out or want to learn?"

--------------------

With the conversation with Hanna ending (and his apple eaten), equal parts her wanted to find a good spot and his wanted to make a round of checking in with his people, Cooper's augmented eyes picked up on Laine, making a little bob of her head at him. Eight years was plenty of time to pick up on the subtle signals of good friends (and lovers) and he knew right away, she wanted to talk. Smiling, like he hadn't before on this planet (thanks to a new feeling that everything was going to be alright), he picked up the Gula and strolled over to his mistress of acrobats, dear friend and lover.
Irish Wolf
Contributor
Member for 6 years


Re: Dark Carnival IC

Postby SkullsandSlippers on Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:13 pm

Laine smiled as Cooper made his way over to her. Oddly, her stomach knotted as she thought about how she was going to explain it to Cooper. She frowned slightly as he got closer. Laine realized she was nervous. Not like she had been when talking with Atticus and not like she was before a show.

Laine bit her lip to hide her nerves. "Cooper..." She spotted the fruit in his hand. A smile grew on her face. No, this would be okay. Cooper of all people would understand and would support her. Hell, he was the one always pushing her to feel more, grow and learn to care about people. More importantly, let them care for her.

With a deep inhale Laine began again, "Cooper, I need to tell you something. Atticus and I talked. We...Cooper..." Laine sighed. She had come to realize she was incredibly bad at this sort of thing. She was a better listener than talker. "I care about him, I don't know where it will go or what it will become but I want to try."

Laine reached out to take Cooper's hand, "I cannot continue to come to your bed if I wish to be fair to Atticus." Laine's eyes searched Cooper's face. His eyes wouldn't give anything away but she knew him well enough to know the other tells in his face. Just as he did hers. Colour stained Laine's cheeks.

Laine cleared her throat, "I um...should get ready..."
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SkullsandSlippers
Member for 3 years


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