Friday 25 September 2020

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Seventy Two - The MacNeil Protocols (Part Seven)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. After a year of plotting, the coterie now controls the three North-Eastern Baronies and has successfully weakened several others. Unfortunately other Barons have used the chaos they have created to consolidate their own positions.
The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Nineteen - 'The Marius Contracts' - Part One and Two
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive and Six

The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

As I have written out introductions and dialogue for certain NPC's and some location descriptions I'll post these more or less as I wrote them so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style and they'll also be in blue so you can tell them apart from the more traditional write-up sections and occasionally an obscure Premonition will turn up in purple. If I think something needs a bit of out of character explanation then those will get a storytellers note that will helpfully be in red. Anything covered via player handouts will also be in blue as they're written in the same style as introductions and the like. Where particular NPC's have a mention in a faction profile you will be able to reach it by clicking on their name or faction beneath their picture.

Having now acquired an approximate location for Jeremy MacNeil's computer system, the coterie is looking at ways to get in and out of the area without drawing the attention of the local werewolf population. They have been given the name 'Crow', a Gangrel who works for Ike at the Brujah Fight Club, who can apparently get anywhere in the city for the right price. Meanwhile Mr Hertz is trying to narrow down their target to a specific address.

Scene Twenty Eight - An Elusive Crow
The Last Round - Downtown
As the Brujah fight club frequently changed location and altered the nights on which they met, the coterie first needed to find it's next meeting so as to gain more information on the elusive Gangrel known only as 'Crow'.

It was decided to begin their enquiries at The Last Round in Downtown. a location frequented by many Brujah who were 'In the know'. Michael also wanted the opportunity to speak once more to Nines with whom he had mended a number of bridges and wished to continue to rebuild his relationship with.

Unusually Damsel was absent from the bar, though Skelter was there. Skelter indicated to Michael that Nines was available to talk to him and that he himself would ensure that their conversation was undisturbed. Nines Gangrel enforcer had a fearsome reputation so Michael was sure that they would have no interruptions. Daniel caught his friend Leo just as he was about to leave and asked about the Fight Club's current whereabouts. 

Skelter - Gangrel
Nines Crew
Leo was on his way there himself and revealed to Daniel that this week the venue was beneath an old, and currently under refurbishment, dojo in Chinatown. They exchanged some more pleasantries before Leo hurried off after leaving Daniel with the address he required. While he waited, he mingled with the remaining Brujah to see if he could pick up any gossip of use.

Hope meanwhile was observing the goings on from a position near the door. The 'Census Taker' for the North East baronies was known as being unusually brutal even for a Gangrel and so was given plenty of space by the other patrons. This suited Hope just fine.

Upstairs, Michael had begun to explain to Nines how they had discovered the MacNeils already brutally destroyed. He also made the point that even though these kindred had been enemies of Nines and potential enemies of himself that it still meant that someone had casually bought about the end of over a dozen Anarchs. "...and you say that Marius was only there as a 'cleaner' for Isaac?, you're sure that he wasn't responsible?" The Toreador Baron confirmed that there had been a level of artistry to the kills and that one thing Marius certainly wasn't was an artist. The comparison, or lack thereof, seemed to amuse Nines a great deal. Taking advantage of his hosts amusement, Michael steered the conversation back towards kindred politics while he had Nines in a good mood. 

'Nines' Rodriguez - Brujah
Possible Successor to Jeremy MacNeil
He spoke of his commitment to the Anarch cause and his belief that a Baron should not only be a leader, but have the benefit of those he led as his primary goal. This was obviously something that resonated with Nines own opinions.

Detecting that he was making some ground, Michael continued. With a mixture of empathy and persuasive skill he easily convinced Nines of his sincerity. Being well read up on the works of Anarch notables such as Salvador Garcia also helped him to say all the right things in the right places. 

"Damsel speaks very highly of you..." said Nines. "...and I'm beginning to agree with much of what she said. Perhaps my earlier impression that she was bewitched by your appearance might have been unfair. You have more substance to you than I have come to expect from your clan..." Michael could tell that the statement was meant as a compliment so took it in the spirit that it was intended and ignored the sideways dig at the Toreador clan as a whole. Deciding not to risk making a mistake now he had gained so much goodwill, he decided to change the subject from politics.

Damsel - Brujah
'Den Mother' to Nines Crew
Michael then turned the conversation around to werewolves as he knew that Nines had defeated one in combat and sought his advice. The Brujah admitted that his opponent had been little more than a 'pup' in werewolf terms and so his clans aptitude for supernatural speed and strength had been a great equaliser. He also had many more years experience fighting than the Garou, but even so it had been a very close fight. "You should ask Marius...or Nicodemus if you're feeling particularly brave..." concluded Nines. " is a descendent of a Xaviar, a notorious hunter of werewolves and the other has been a bane to their kind since before this city was even built...or so they say..."

One hundred percent sure that he had no intention whatsoever of dealing with the monstrous creature that was Nicodemus, Michael mentally crossed him from his list of information sources and decided to instead ask Marius when next they encountered one another. As Michael appeared at the stairway, Skelter stepped aside to let him pass and Daniel revealed to his Baron that he knew where the Fight Club was being held. "Nines believes the two best kindred to ask about dealing with werewolves are Marius and..." Michael paused dramatically. "...Nicodemus..." "So Marius, or an eight foot tall spider monster who drinks blood and liquified flesh while accompanied by an army of mutated spider ghouls?" clarified Hope. "Well, yes." replied Michael. 

All those present had seen Nicodemus in action and he was possibly the most horrifying creature and of them had ever seen. His venom liquidised flesh which he then drank along with his victims blood leaving only a bag of skin with the remnants of a skeleton within and sometimes not even that.

Scene Twenty Nine - A Way In
Lyko Wu - Ventrue
Dragon Head of the Blood Dragons
Chinatown was within the Barony of Downtown but had been granted to Lyko Wu and his two childer by Baron Walker. They were obliged to leave his own businesses within the area alone but other than that could run the domain as they pleased.

The politics of the area were familiar to the coterie as their Nosferatu accountant had a haven above one of the slaughterhouses. Mr Hertz also did 'the books' for a number of Chinatown's criminal organisations in return for a small percentage of their profits and guarantees of respect for his privacy.

The Ventrue Lyko Wu still allows the younger and more desperate of the cities kindred access to animal blood from the Slaughterhouse district as Marius did when he managed the domain himself. Visitors are expected to announce themselves on arrival and leave as soon as they have fed or acquired blood, but as long as these conditions are met, they are allowed free passage. Mr Wu also has complete control over the Blood Dragon triads that control crime within Chinatown.

Daniel and Hope aware almost instantly upon entering the area that they were being observed by a number of gang members. Probably ghouls under the Blood Dragons control. They were however unopposed in any way as they journeyed to the Fight Club.

This evenings venue in Chinatown, somewhat ironically in an old dojo that is seemingly 'Closed for Refurbishment'. 

Russell ‘Rusty’ Holman - Brujah
Brujah Fight Club Security
Daniel was greeted warmly by one of the two Brujah guards who was at the entrance as he knew him quite well after his infamous decapitation of Tara Kearney's emissary Garrick. Daniel's opponent had not been popular and Daniel had been the challenged party so the clubs organiser Ike had considered the matter closed.

As the kindred of Los Angeles believed Daniel to be Brujah, not Banu Haqim as he actually was, he was allowed access. Hope however was Gangrel and therefore not eligible for membership. 'Rusty', politely pointed out that she would have to wait outside but offered her the keys to one of their vehicles so "At least she could sit down..." Not wanting to cause a fuss, Hope complied with the request as Daniel entered alone.

About a dozen Brujah from a variety of baronies are present. As you enter, a contest is ongoing between Tabatha Mayer, formally defacto Baron of Covina and now Seneschal to Myranda of the Wilds Pack and Maikki, a regular at the Last Round. The combat is fairly even in the area of martial expertise as both seem more than capable street fighters. Tabatha however seems to have the edge in resilience. Leo is lurking around, no doubt betting on the fights. Speaking of which, attention in the room has turned back to the battle within.

Tabatha Mayer - The Wilds, Maikki - Anaheim

A flurry of blows forces Tabatha back though she recovers quickly and oddly, Maikki seems to have actually hurt herself during the assault. As Tabatha retaliates, Maikki leans down and taps the floor. "Hitting you is getting to be like punching a fucking brick wall.." she says, then smiles. They exchange a friendly hug and there seems to be no ill will between them. Leo strolls over to you. "Evening Daniel. Bet the wrong way that time. Maikki used to have the edge over Tabatha but lately she's got tough as nails. Next time I'll bet on her...if I can get okay odds that is..."

Leo Frost - Brujah
El Hermandad
Daniel enquired with Leo about 'Crow' but he only he didn't have much information. "Crow? she's doing something for Ike, saw her for outside for like two minutes then she was off..." Ike was in a small office off to one side, the door guarded by the other of the Brujah security men that Daniel knew as 'Row'. It looked like he was going to have to go to the main man if he wanted to find the elusive Gangrel.

Ike greeted Daniel and offered him a seat which he took. "I was looking to put some work Crow's way but it looks like I've missed her." he began. "She's scouting a venue for me." revealed Ike. "But I might be able to get in touch with her afterwards if it's important. Finding secure venues is getting trickier, so I wouldn't want to interrupt he rover something trivial." Daniel had a good idea where this conversation was about to go. He was correct.

Deciding to take the bait he engaged in a conversation about potential locations around the city before coming around to the North-Eastern baronies of Michael Tomassio. "I'm sure I could mention it to Michael,.." said Daniel. " long as you were willing to follow his guidelines for behaviour I can see no problem with you hosting events in Pasadena." It was no surprise to Daniel that Ike already had a list of places he'd like to use already sketched out. "I'll just make a quick call." said Daniel. "Then so will I." replied Ike with a smile.

Isaac 'Ike' Griffith - Brujah, Brujah Fight Club

Seeing the necessity of the deal, Michael agreed and even offered to provide security for the venues. This was mainly so he could have someone keep an eye on things. Vin would be an ideal candidate for the job. With the deal struck, Ike arranged for Crow to meet them outside this venue in an hour. It looked like Hope was going to have to wait for him a little while longer.

'Crow' is a petite, young looking woman wearing a dark dress and a hooded top, the air above her is filled with tiny birds as are the roof's and walls of the surrounding buildings. She gets straight to the point "So where do you wanna go then?"

'Crow'  - Gangrel of the Greek Bloodline, Independent Anarch

Daniel and Hope admitted that they didn't have an actual target yet and that they were currently in the process of narrowing down the specifics. The young looking woman didn't seem particularly perturbed by this and began to lay out her terms. "I can take up to three people, pretty much anywhere within this city, every extra one above the three ups the price." "My standard rate is ten grand in cash, half in advance and feeding rights in a well populated area within your domain for a month plus one week per extra person above the three. Rights to be starting the day of the job. It can be thirsty work after all..."

Griffiths Park - Los Angeles
Werewolf Territory
For the second time this evening, Daniel found himself laying out Michael's rules for feeding within his domain. Crow seemed to have no objections to them. "Self control isn't an issue for me, so you needn't concern yourselves about that." "Though you must have an approximate idea of where you need to go, I'm not providing guided tours..." Realising that they'd have to tell her eventually, Hope decided to just get it over with. "...It's in Griffith Park..."

Crow raised an eyebrow at that. "The price will have to reflect the danger of course so for Griffiths Park I'll be wanting fifty, not ten, for obvious reasons. It's been a while since I took anybody into that area, most kindred avoid it like the plague." Seeing no other option, Hope and Daniel agreed to her revised terms and she then continued. "As soon as you have a specific location in mind leave a message for me with one of the Fight Club bouncers. No need to keep bothering Ike, he's my best customer at the moment so I'd like to avoid pissing him off."

Marius Walker - Gangrel
'Fixer' and Baron of Downtown
Curious about the other rumours, Hope enquired about whether Crow had really told Marius to "Fuck Off." when she'd been offered a permanent job.

"Marius? It's kinda true. I turned down his offer because I like my independence. He seemed to find the refusal amusing so I guess I got him on a good night. I still go to him for the small things, like a third of the kindred in the city and three-quarters of the Gangrel but I've no wish to be under any patrons beck and call, even if the position would have had some advantages." Crow then turned and walked towards the shadows but had vanished before even reaching them.

At least now when they had a firm address for the final location of Jeremy MacNeil's system they had a guide that seemed willing to navigate them through werewolf held territory. Though when it came to kindred it was never safe to make presumptions, both Hope and Daniel had a good feeling about 'Crow'. This didn't mean that they wouldn't be taking precautions though.

Interlude  - A Long Distance Call
Desdemona Moore - Brujah
Camarilla Praetor, Sire of Vincent 'Vin' Ghast
Vin went to the specially prepared area within his haven, where he knew he would be undisturbed. The room was soundproofed and nearly impossible to open from the outside once sealed. Marius's agent from Aegis Construction had asked no questions about the construction of the addition to the basement and the heavily brainwashed and programmed workers had completed it in record time and with barely a word.

The plain, white walled room contained a raised platform on which stood an intricate silver bowl filled with clear water, a plain but razor sharp double edged dagger and a circular black earring encrusted with white gems. Before these was a comfortable cushion on which to sit, set at the perfect distance to allow the items to be reached without effort. The room had a single purpose, to enable a single specific ritual to be cast with the maximum chance of success.

Blood Sorcery
Communicate with Kindred Sire
Vin had many skills but had found this blood sorcery the most frustratingly difficult to make any progress with. Mandi McBride of the Consolidated Tremere Chantry in Downtown had been patient with him, though Vin presumed this was due to her being incredibly well paid by his sire to complete his training rather than any affection towards himself. He also disliked the sneaking around that this had entailed.

Clearing such thoughts from his mind as he had been taught, he dropped the earring of his sire into the water and then drew the blade across his wrist allowing the droplets of blood to trickle into the bowl. Then he began to concentrate on the last memory he had of his sire.

After what seemed like an eternity he heard the voice of his sire within his mind. "Greetings Vincent. we have much to discuss...." Desdemona was the only kindred who never used the abbreviation of his name, It was always Vincent, never 'Vin'. "It's good to hear your voice once more, Sire..." replied Vincent. "...What can I do for you?"

Scene Thirty - False Pretence's
Velvet Velour - Toreador
Club Vesuvius - Hollywood
Michael has an incoming call from Velvet...

"Hello Michael. Issac would like you to make some time to meet with him this evening. Either at his shop or at the Succubus Club, he didn't seem concerned about which venue you chose. He would however like you to also bring both Daniel and Hope..." 

Michael decided that Isaac's shop would be as good a place as any to meet. Daniel and Hope had both barely been acknowledged by Isaac in the past so it was a surprise that they had been specifically invited. Michael's suspicions were somewhat mitigated by the fact that the request had come via Velvet. "I thought I was below his attention?" was Daniel's only comment.

Once near to Isaac's shop and usual meeting place 'Abrams Golden age Jewellery', They were met by Nicholas Rowland, Isaac's 'Sweeper' and one of the few other kindred who inhabited the Hollywood Barony's surface. The majority of it's populace being the Nosferatu below his domain.

Abrams Golden Age Jewelry - Isaac Abrams Meeting Place

As you enter Issac checks the time with an expensive pocket watch. "A surprise gift from Marius. I imagine he's done something terrible that I'm yet to be aware of. It is a lovely piece, though, maybe it'll be enough to mitigate my irritation when I discover what he's done..."

A Gift for Isaac from Marius
Though jewellery wasn't really Michaels thing he recognised the timepiece. It was called the 'Breguet Grande Complication Marie-Antoinette' and Michael estimated it's worth at about thirty million. It was only finished in 1827, thirty-four years after her death, four years after Breguet’s, and forty-four years after the designer had accepted the order.

It had been stolen in 1983 and retrieved in 2007 when it was immediately acquired by a private collector. Michael's supernatural senses could clearly see that several strange aura's overlapped one another, centred on the timepiece though he couldn't discern their meaning or purpose.

Storytellers Note - The watch is a real thing. I've just made it a bit more suited to the World of Darkness so have taken a few liberties with it...

"Given our shared clan heritage and the respect you've always shown me I've turned a blind eye to some of the transgressions of those under your control. However I have to draw the line at gun battles on the street and consistent trespasses by your man Daniel. I allow the Nosferatu to exist beneath my feet, but it is still my domain nonetheless. I have begun to find this lack of courtesy...vexing..."

Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
Michael began to excuse his agents. Though he admitted they had entered the domain without permission, they were in fact eliminating a potential threat to Isaac and Hollywood in the form of rogue elements of the cannibalistic Gangrel known as 'The Swarm'. He categorised their pursuit of one of the escaping kindred as 'overzealous' rather than malicious and offered his sincere apologies. However, throughout his speech, Isaac had been far more focussed upon Daniel.

Storytellers Note - I asked Daniel's player what his character was thinking at this point as Isaac would certainly be able to tell.

Daniel wasn't sorry about what he had done as it had, in his opinion, been entirely necessary. He also had very little respect for Isaac as he found him condescending. "It seems your agent doesn't share your regret..." Began Isaac. His expression cold as ice. "...perhaps he'd consider a gift as an apology. His right hand trigger finger for example?"

Daniel reached into his pocket and removed a handkerchief which he placed upon the desk and then drew on of his blades and calmly sliced off his own finger. He then wrapped it carefully in the cloth and handed it to Isaac reverently. All through the act he was convinced that this was completely his own decision. Michael and Hope were both well aware that it most definitely wasn't.

Baron Michael Tomassio - Toreador
Extremely Unhappy...
Michael finally abandoned diplomacy, his normally calm demeanour was replaced with a rage born of frustration. He had been forced to endure the dubious honour of meeting Marius at a Bahari ceremony, followed by being forced to order the execution of one of the MacNeils and now a kindred of his own clan was admonishing one of his coterie. This rage triggered something within him that he'd never experienced before and he focussed it outwards by pure instinct.

Hope, Daniel and Isaacs Sweeper, Nicholas all felt an awe so intense that they were stunned into inaction and a moment later this was overlaid with an intense desire to escape from Michael's presence as fast as they could. Isaac's eyes widened slightly but he seemed totally unaffected, though a look of surprise and a certain level of fascination were evident on his face.

Gangrel were pragmatists at heart and the desire to run being overridden caused Hope intense distress, Daniel felt the same though in his case it was the fact that he was prevented from striking out at the source of his paralysis. Isaac's sweeper was similarly effected and Michael noticed that Rowlands own Baron was looking at him with complete disgust, as if he saw their failure as a reflection upon himself.

Nicholas Rowland - Toreador
Sweeper for Hollywood
Realising that he was the source of everyone's suffering, Michael concentrated on the effect, pulling it back into himself. "I need to leave..." said Michael, his frustration still apparent, but his anger fading. "...perhaps your census taker would be so good as to escort me from your domain." He then turned to Hope and Daniel, seeing as he did the looks of confusion and betrayal on their faces. "I need some air. Take the car back and I'll meet you back in Pasadena." He then beckoned to Nicholas. "You lead the way..."

As they left, Michael addressed Nicholas once more. "Hopefully your baron will have reconsidered your destruction by the time you return." Baron Tomassio could see that the thought had definitely occurred to him. "So consider this a favour That I've done you..."

Daniel and Hope drove back to their Havens in their domain in complete silence. Each lost in their own thoughts.

Neither had seen Michael lose his cool like that before and the fact that it had occurred in front of Isaac was even more of a shock. Especially as Michael always made a special effort to keep the Baron of Hollywood happy so as to stay on the good side of Velvet Velour who thought of Isaac as a father figure. It would be interesting to see who Velvet would side with if, or more likely when, she discovered what had happened this night.

In Conclusion
I like to do a round-up of how the session went in these features but if you couldn't give a shit what I think then feel free to skip this bit...

So...Michael's player had forked out the 25XP for Majesty but we wanted a grand reveal for it rather than just scaring some mooks. The player asked if we could do it as a reaction to a stressful event and this session had the perfect moment. I took some liberties with just how the power worked this first time just for dramatic effect as it's not strictly meant to exhibit both effects on a single individual.

Fortunately I'm the Storyteller so can do whatever I damn well please, lol.

The rest of the session had some good interactions and allowed me to introduce an interesting new character. Hopefully the players will be interested enough in 'Crow' for me to feed some of her plotlines into the chronicle.

But with players you never know. That's part of the fun.

Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved. For more information please visit

I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Skelter is Vin Diesel, Nines Rodriguez is Luis Carazo, Damsel is Irina Delnova, Lyko Wu is David E Collier, Russell ‘Rusty’ Holman is Kevin Nash, Tabatha Mayer is Michelle Rodriguez, Maikki is Sofia Helin, Leo Frost is Danny John-Jules, Isaac 'Ike' Griffith is Jason Statham, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Desdemona Moore is Amanda Donohoe, Velvet Velour is Olga Bazanova, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman and Nicholas Raymond is Matthew Mcconaughey.

Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement.


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