Sometimes an ending doesn’t happen the way it should have ended. Sometimes the curtains won’t fall when they’re supposed to and the show finds a way to go on. Maybe it’s because of the story, the way the audience reacts…but sometimes it’s because of its actors. They know how the story is supposed to end and they’ll do anything to make it happen. They’ll reclaim the stage and improvise until they either get the hook or until they make the show the smashing success that it should be. That was what I was thinking of as the Fallons’ car sped away from the dock where Ares had claimed Seth’s life despite all of our best efforts to capture him. I felt like the story couldn’t end here-it just couldn’t. The unseen audience that watched the city every day would hate this ending and I would forever hate myself for letting things end like it could have. No one would have won or got what they wanted. No one would have their happy ending… The idea of how devastating that would be to everyone I held important was pushing something back up to the surface. It bubbled up slowly from the pit of my stomach and gained speed as it combined with something in my heart. Before I could stop it, something unthinkable escaped the bonds I kept on my tongue and slipped past my lips. Something that would propel all of my actions from that moment on and give this show the ending that should-and would-be.
“We have to go back.”
As sudden as the force that caused Dexter to say those words, so was the force that came from Laurent slamming on his brakes and sending Dexter and Tyler tumbling down to the floor of the car with heavy thuds and quiet cursing. “Ahh…oh, my face…”
“I think I nearly chipped a fang…”
“Now either you hit your head HARD somewhere during the last twenty minutes or you’re finally proving how much of a bonehead you are!” Laurent snarled as he looked at the two detectives in the back seat. Donny-with a still startled and shaking Reisen in his lap-didn’t look so pleased with this idea either as he glared at them from the front seat. Tayte…was simply stunned before she had something to throw into this latest development.
“In case you forgot, ARES HAS SETH NOW! There’s no point in going back because there won’t be anything left of that guy to find! Ares will see to that.”
“I have to agree with the harpies, Dex…Seth will be lucky to be fed through a meat grinder at this point…and if he’s lucky enough to get that treatment…” Tyler admitted, much to the angel’s disappointment.
“But-But we can’t make a case without him! Cyrus won’t get justice and Tayte will have to run forever! I thought the Fallons were into revenge and lashing out against people dumb enough to go after the family! And what about what happened to Reisen and Sveta?! Can you let what nearly happened to Reisen here slide?!”
“Only until a god that’s whipped all of our asses comes along. He’s been underground in the gangster world until now…but we’ve had plenty of dinners with him and Kristine over the years to know what he’s like.” Donny said as he held the teal angel girl against his chest. “I’d rather have Reisen safe with me than go after someone who’s clearly going to get what he deserves from someone that’s far more capable than any of us are…”
“Knowing that, we’re all going under for a bit too. At least until everything cools down.” Laurent declared as he started to drive again. “We’ll tell Nicky it’s time to stop playing with Eclipse and get out of town tonight before the cops can pick up their act and come find us. We’ll come back and rebuild once we can. Even we know when it’s time to run…”
Dexter couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. The Fallons were ready to cut and run…while still talking about rebuilding what was possibly lost that night. And Tyler was letting his usual fight get knocked out of him! It wasn’t to say that Dexter wasn’t scared witless by the god Ares and his aura…but… and of course, there was Tayte. “And can you be happy with this? Can you just run away without a fight and let your name be associated to a crime you didn’t commit?”
“…I’m not happy about it…”
“Then come with me and Tyler and we’ll get Seth back from Ares!”
“What the Hell are you trying to babble about, Dexter?”
“And why are you dragging me into this?!”
“Please Tayte! Don’t give up now, not after everything that’s happened!” Before his common sense could say anything, the angel grabbed the harpy’s hands and held them close and tight in his own. Tayte was surprised by this-almost flustered-but didn’t take her hands back. She almost looked like she wanted to see what he had to say. Dexter was practically kneeling before Tayte by then. “I promised that I would solve this, didn’t I? And that I would see to it that you’d be free like Dasha? Well this could be the only way! You can fly free forever but you can’t enjoy it if you’re only using it to run away! So please-help me find and free Seth so we can turn him in. If not…then just pull over and let me and Tyler out of this car. But just know that I’m not just doing this for Cyrus and the others anymore-I’m doing this for you. Because ever since I first saw you, I wanted to protect you. It felt like what God sent me here for-for you.”
Things were quiet for a moment. Tayte was still stunned by what Dexter said, the angel was beet red but determined. His partner on the floor was…impressed but more stunned than anything. Reisen came out of it to look over Donny’s shoulders with wide eyes. And the harpy brothers exchanged a look before acting. The car came to a sudden stop again before there was a blur of feathers and limbs in the back seat as Laurent and Donny reached for the detectives. Despite the protesting from everyone in the back seat, the brothers Fallon tossed Dexter and Tyler out on the sidewalk unceremoniously in a heap of bodies.
“Don’t be such a sap.” Laurent said as he settled back into the driver’s seat. “Really, it’s pathetic to hear stuff like that from someone like you.”
“We’ll watch out for Reisen tonight and our own from now on. You two…just don’t do anything stupid.” Donny said. Reisen wanted to say something but decided against it. Tayte was ready to jump out of the car when it sped away, leaving the detectives in the dust and the sound of sudden shrieking and bickering drifted to their ears like the dust particles that littered their clothes.
“Reisen! Don’t-Don’t leave town with her! JERKS!” The werewolf wasn’t happy as he huffed and puffed on the ground. He straightened himself up and looked over at Dexter. “So…you finally took the plunge huh?”
The angel was almost ashamed by this as he picked himself up. “Lot of good that did…I sounded like a sap and now we’re on our own…that is of course assuming that you don’t want to quit. I’d understand if you did…”
“Don’t assume that I’ll quit just like that! We’ve come too far and I’d never run out on you.” Tyler stood up and looked at Dexter with a smile. “You’re my partner after all! No god or gangster is ever going to change that.”
It was times like this that both boys were glad to have each other. After a moment to pull their appearances together and bump knuckles, it was time to work. “Okay Ty, here’s what we need to do…” The plan was simple: Find Seth before Ares could kill him, drop him off along with his goons and their evidence at the police station and PRAY that no one busts them before Seth can be put in jail and everything cleared up. Oh, and that Ares doesn’t murder them both anywhere during this operation. That was a huge part of the plan. After the plan was made clear, the sleuths took off into the night.
The first place to check for any sign of Seth was back at the docks. It was…well-insane-trying to find a way back without getting spotted by wandering police cars or getting caught up in conflicts between the cornered gangsters and the officers. And the fey were still drifiting through the streets, looking for something to start the Hunt again. However, between Tyler’s instincts and Dexter’s wings, they were able to get back to the waterfront by the skin of their teeth. The cargo ship Seth had attempted to use as his means of escaping the country-and his stage for baiting the detectives and harpies-was long gone…as were Seth and Ares. The werewolf did his best to try and track their scent but he only got as far as the warehouse before the trail went cold. The scent of gods should have been easy to follow… “I can still find those other guys though. They didn’t get too far from here!” He took the lead on this part. Much like the rats that made alleyways and waterfronts their homes, the detectives found the members of Seth’s gang scattered and trying to recover around the area. Some were plucked from the surf as they waded towards the shore. Others were caught in a blitzkrieg while trying to hide in alleyways. It didn’t take long for Dexter and Tyler to have everyone hog tied and stashed in an empty dumpster for safe keeping. After that, they pulled all the loose change they could find and crashed in the nearest phone booth. They needed to make a phone call…to someone else that most likely had a gangster prisoner or two of their own.
As soon as the call went through, Dexter and Tyler’s ears were assaulted with the sounds of a red neck household up in arms and one very large dog barking. It took a few moments before Lillian could be heard. “Ty? Dex? Wha’ in the Hell have ya done now!? Pa and I just caught some hoods snoopin’ around the house tryin’ to get the jump on us! It’s got Patrick all worked up an’ Ma’s got the gun out an’ my uncles are ready to line ‘em up an’ take runnin’ charges at ‘em! You two are in trouble again, aren’t ya?!”
“Lillian babe, I can explain! Just keep the guys at your place-alive and in one piece-and call the cops! Say that they’re Seth Tarik’s men and there are more of them in a dumpster at this address!” Tyler coxed his mate over the phone. “We’ll explain everything else later!”
“We still have something important we need to do but if we’re lucky, we’ll have this case wrapped up tight! Just…pray for us, okay?” Dexter added.
“Pray fer…ya idiots are fixin’ to do somethin’ stupid again! Don’t ignore me, Ty!”
“I’ll always love you Lillian, don’t forget that.”
“YOU WILL NEVER SEE ME NAKED AGAIN AFTER THIS, TYLER LEVION!!!” It was her way of saying that everything would be alright…but he would still be punished for being so stupid.
“See you later, love you!” After that, Tyler had to hang up. He stood there for a few minutes before his head sunk down to his chest. “Oh man…” He whimpered.
“Geez…sorry, Tyler. But…at least we got all of Seth’s guys together now…”
“…if you end up seeing Tayte naked before I can see Lulu again, you’re gonna get such a pop to the face.” Ignoring the angel’s obvious reaction to this declaration and assumption, the detectives were ready to move on. They needed to make a stop to see someone with information on Ares and where he was likely to be now. This particular stop would take them both back to Rosa Medical Hospital…
“I guess realized something…”
“Saria is also going to be pissed at us for saying that we got those records from her in front of everyone…and for wanting to turn those into the cops as evidence…”
“…Dang it, you’re right… Well…we’ll…worry about her later.” Dexter was in the middle of jimmying open the door on the roof of the hospital with his sword. The angel didn’t want to think about having to deal with another possible homicidal maniac bent on revenge against them. The one they had to find was enough… The door swung open after there was a cracking and snapping sound on the inside and the pair slipped inside. The hospital was dark and quiet-as most things should be during the middle of the night. Nurses and night guards drifted through the hallways, ever vigilant against the dangers that could come from the outside world or from within the bodies of the ill and injured. The detectives needed to sneak past all of these people, into the nurse’s station and find the room number for patient they were looking for. With only one nurse at the station, it was easy to devise a distraction. The angel found a marble in his pants’ pocket and threw it from around the corner. Flying across the darkened hallway, it crashed into a cart with bedpans and basins and created such a noise as everything fell to the ground. The nurse left her post to investigate, leaving the werewolf to slink before her desk and flip through her papers for a name and a room number: Wellington, Kristine. Room #516. The werewolf was in and out before the nurse was any wiser and the pair was gone. Up several flights of stairs and down hallways until room #516 was approaching. They were around room #510 when they saw two large men standing outside the door to #516. They hid behind the nearest corner. “Bodyguards from Daddy?”
“Yep. Dex, you go high. I’ll go low. And we’re-“ Before Tyler could finish, there was the sound of a struggle. It didn’t last long-maybe a moment or two before there was the sound of something popping…and slicing…and finally the sound of heels walking on the hard floor. The detectives looked around the corner to see that both men were down on the ground-in pain but unconscious-and at the feet of the one that brought them down in five seconds. “Damn.”
“Tayte?!” Dexter had a hard time controlling his voice-both the volume and the tone-when he saw the harpy girl in the hospital with them. “What-What are you doing here?!”
“Keep it down! You’ll wake up everyone.” For a split second, Tayte almost looked…flustered, to see Dexter. She kept a serious face despite this. “After you two were…escorted out of my brother’s car-“
“You mean tossed out on our asses.”
“Cram it, wolf. Anyway, after you two were out of the car, I told Laurent to take the tire iron, shove it somewhere good and tight and left. I thought that maybe Kristine would know where Daddy Dearest would be hiding with Seth. Looks like you two had the same idea.”
“Y-Yeah…since gangsters made deals with Saria, we thought Kristine would be brought here. How did you know where to look?”
“It’s the same hospital she’s been going to for years. I should know…I sent her here once when we were eight. A few stitches as payment for her tattling on me like the goody two shoes she is.”
“So…does that mean…you’re going to help us?” Dexter almost sounded…hopeful of this.
Tayte didn’t respond as she opened the door to Kristine’s room-not caring that she was standing on top of an unconscious man with high heels. “I’m just here to twist the brat’s arm so she’ll tell me where Daddy is. Seth belongs to the Fallons and no one else.” She ducked into the room before the boys could see that she was…blushing. They both looked at each other before following her inside-taking care not to step on the men passed out on the floor. The hospital room of the demigoddess was like any other hospital room-bland colored walls with unremarkable landscape paintings, a cot like bed with sides, a wide window and gifts of flowers and balloons in the dozens in hopes of a speedy recovery. The lights to the room were off so Kristine could sleep in peace. Only the weak moonlight illuminated the demigoddess slumbering, her make-up gone to reveal her natural beauty…her only flaw being the small bruises and dark rings around her eyes. Dexter and Tyler took a moment to think about what they were doing here…while Tayte went right up to Kristine and got ready to wake her up.
“Wait-wait! Tayte. Be gentle.” Dexter whispered to Tayte.
“We don’t have time. Hey! Kristine! Wake your lazy ass up!” The harpy…wasn’t one for being subtle. She was ready to shake her awake but the angel stopped her-the mere touch on her shoulder making her flinch and him blush. It was a moment after this there came a sigh from the girl in the bed below them. She was waking up slowly. “Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty.”
“…am I dead?” Kristine mumbled as her big blue eyes scanned Tayte and the detectives standing in her room. She was trying to hide back under the thin blanket all hospitals tended to use.
“No, you’re not dead. You’re in Rosa Medical Hospital. Why would you think that?” Dexter asked. He was always good for victims in sets up like this one.
“I was…in a car accident…and Tayte’s here…I thought I died and went to the bad place…” Kristine was obviously still a little delirious from her accident-and acting a bit childish as well. Otherwise she probably wouldn’t have said that. Thankfully Dexter had Tyler there to help keep the harpy girl from slugging the bedridden demigoddess. “But Nicky…Oh Nicky! Is-Is Nicky okay? Is he safe?”
“Nicky’s fine. But Kristine, we need to talk about your dad.” Tyler said, no longer holding Tayte back. “We need to find him. And fast.”
“…why? Did…Did something happen to my Daddy?”
“No. Not…Not really. We…we just need to find him so we can find a friend of ours.” The werewolf didn’t want to freak Kristine out with the truth. She would never answer if she knew everything.
“Yeah-a friend that we need to find soon! Do you know if your dad would take people to a special place? Like back at your house or someplace in the city? Maybe a place that only he would know about?” It was a long shot at this point-maybe Kristine didn’t know anything or wouldn’t remember anything because of her injury-but the angel didn’t have many options left for them at this point. They were running out of time.
“He’s not going to be at his house, Dexter. My brothers and I know where he and Kristine live-we would have had an army knocking down his door by now if we didn’t already know he would be somewhere else.” Tayte said. “Unless you’re willing to let me smack her around a little, I don’t think we’re going to get much-“
“There’s…a second house.”
“There’s…a second house…Daddy and I go there for summer breaks…but I notice him going there on and off during the year. He says it’s so our house doesn’t smell like cigar smoke...his friends smoke a lot during their meetings…”
“That’s-That’s perfect! Where’s this house, Kristen? Is it close by?”
“Outside…of Los Angeles…near the vineyards to the north…and the ocean is close by…lots of statues of the Greek gods…marble pools…and olive trees…it’s like a big villa back in Greece…”
“…it’s not a lot to run on but maybe we could still find a place that looks like that.” Tyler said. “If we leave now, we could fly out of L.A and start checking out the countryside!”
“Right. Thank you Kristine!”
“You’ll tell my Daddy to come and see me again soon, right?”
“…we’ll tell him something along those lines.” The angel, the werewolf and the harpy left the hospital room to let the demigoddess rest. They were making a beeline for the stairs to the roof when Tayte stopped. She was going another way. “Where are you going?”
“My own way. I need to do a few things too.”
“Don’t try and follow me this time, Dexter.” The harpy girl was taking to the hallways before he could stop her.
“Forget her. We need to go!” Tyler pulled Dexter along before he started moving on his own. They made it to the roof and took off, flying north in hopes of finding the home that Kristine was able to describe for them. The moonless October night sky was quick to wrap them in a cloak of darkness, providing them with the cover they needed to escape the vigilant eyes of police and bystanders below. The familiar lights and sights of Los Angeles faded away under the wings of the angel as he flew north, his only guide in the darkness was the light from the roads below. Dexter and Tyler talked about what they were going to do as soon as they arrived and decided…that they had no solid plan. The most that they could do was try and seek Seth out without anyone noticing…because if Ares caught them, there would be no amount of planning in the world that could have helped them escape from the wrath of the god. It made for a very quiet flight over the dark landscape until a particular shape stood out and caught their eye. “Hey…Hey, look! I think that’s it!”
Drifting down closer to the ground on a cold breeze, Dexter squinted and saw that Tyler could have been right. “Yeah…Yeah! Hold on, I need to get a little closer!” The shapes of the trees grew clearer as they approached the ground, as did the building that they surrounded like soldiers protecting the king. The remaining olives that couldn’t be shaken from the branches hung in ripe defiance and the building materialized into a villa that could have been a ghost left over from Pompeii. Dexter landed with Tyler settled on the ground, their gazes drifting towards the villa. The walkways that led from the orchard to the house were flanked with statues of Greek origin and design. Despite the statues being forever frozen in their acts of war, frolic and love, it felt like their eyes were following the detectives as they moved towards the house. They scaled the walls surrounding the structure and crept towards the lit windows. Looking inside, they could see all the close members of Ares’ gang gathering in the living room, sharing dark laughs as they discussed something amusing. “What are they saying?” Dexter whispered as they hid under the window and in the bushes.
“…things you really don’t want to hear.” Tyler admitted after a few moments. “They’ve already started beating down on Seth! These losers are taking a break to figure out what they want to do next!”
“Creeps. Where’s Ares?”
“…no mention of him. Think he went out to get something from…the tool shed?”
“We need to get into the house-NOW.” The angel was already scrambling on the ground for a better view. “We need a-a window or a door that isn’t going to have someone nearby. Any way to get inside-we need it now!”
“Chimney would be a bad move without the skills Santa has and everyone sitting nearby…we need an attic!” It was hard to say whether or not villas had attics…or even a cellar…but they had to look for some way inside and then find Seth. Luck was once again on the detectives’ side…the werewolf could hear bats above them and saw the winged night dwellers fly in and out of a round boarded window in the wall near the roof. With Dexter’s wings they flew to this window and with Tyler’s claws he pried the wood away so they could crawl inside. It was a tight fit-it wasn’t a proper attic but more of a crawlspace like enclosure where the support beams and frames of the house showed and air vents rested as naturally as veins among bones. The bats that used the space as their home weren’t happy to have intruders as they shrieked and flew in and out through the window, leaving the detectives to scramble. If the bats got any louder, the men downstairs in the living room would suspect something. As they crawled through the rafters and over the air vents, a square outline made of light sat on the floor before them. They ditched their overcoats that caught onto nails and collected dust as they crawled to the light. The unique shape on the floor was caused by a panel that separated the attic from the second floor. Lifting it off the frame, the boys jumped through and landed on the carpeted floor below.
The inside of the villa was as impressive as the outside. Marble columns with delicately carved leaves rested near the ceiling and hugged the walls, small sculptures sat on cedar tables and gold frames with pictures of Kristine and other members of the Wellington/Ares family were visible almost everywhere they turned. Dexter looked to Tyler and Tyler knew what to do-start tracking down Seth. The soft blue carpet on the floor absorbed their footsteps as they moved through the hallway, eyes on the doors for any sudden surprises. They only stopped moving when they passed one particular photo on the wall: Ares with a young man, both in formal wear. The brown feathered hair and icy blue eyes on the young man didn’t escape the detectives. What looked like another handsome young gentleman to the world was really a monster in disguise. They couldn’t resist making rude faces and presenting choice fingers at the picture before moving on. The staircase came up on their left and next to that, a balcony that overlooked a well kept and spacious living room-with lounging gangsters included. Tyler motioned for Dexter to get down onto the floor and start crawling through that past of exposed hallway. Not too fast, not too slow…nothing that could make anyone look up and through the railing on the second floor. The sounds of the men talking below them, sharpening knives, cracking jokes…discussing what they could have done to Seth next when the boss came back…the crawl to the other side was made especially long.
After what was like eons in a dirty sewer, the detectives made it over unseen, got to their feet and kept moving. Tyler was zoning in on the doors at the end of the hallway. One door especially caught his attention. “He’s in here.” He whispered to Dexter. “I smell blood…”
“Try the doorknob.” The angel whispered back. His partner was as quiet as he was when he hunted. The doorknob didn’t make a sound…it wasn’t locked. Dexter knew why-no one would be expecting a rescue for Seth. No one would be able to leave the room for one reason or another. Tyler slowly opened the door with a motion as quiet and natural as flexing an arm. Dexter followed him inside, eyes adjusting to the dim light. This room was what Ares used as storage space for the house, with wooden boxes stacked high among random bits of forgotten junk. A row of light bulbs dangled from the ceiling but only one was in used as the sleuths walked into the room. It hung like a patient will-o-wisp, luring the boys in to show off what was sitting under its glow. The light made Seth look like a corpse as he sat in the chair, chains wrapped so tight around his body it was a wonder that he wasn’t squeezed out between the links. The demigod’s face was nearly hamburger meat and there were small puddles of blood at his feet. Dexter and Tyler were stunned at the condition of the man in front of them…and this was only a warm up if they believed what they heard downstairs.
Seth’s head rolled between his shoulders before his eyes finally saw who had come into the room. “…I see…you two have come…to settle the score…” The demigod’s words sounded like he was gargling marbles…before he spat out some blood. “I am to assume…you’re here for some payback…for those girls…the jockey…and the Fallon b*tch?”
“We’re actually here to save your miserable butt. And don’t call her that!” Dexter said as he walked over to Seth. “A jail cell has to be better than a beating from the god of war.”
Seth made a sound that could have been chuckling if he wasn’t coughing up blood. “You assume…that I would run to jail…just to escape Ares? I’m not…as cowardly as you think…”
“Either way, we’re taking you in now. Dex, I can’t find a padlock on this guy!”
“So what’s keeping the chains up?”
“Ares…took the links on the end…broke them…linked them together…and squeezed them back together…like the serpent that continually eats itself…or was it a dragon…? Really…can’t remember…”
“Okay, we need to work fast-Seth is losing consciousness. Maybe I can break the chains myself.”
“Good idea. You grab some chain links and I’ll hold the chair down. Get good and angry!” The werewolf grabbed a hold of the chair’s seat and positioned himself on the floor. The angel stood behind Seth and tried to wrap his fingers around the chain. The metal grew tighter around the demigod as Dexter pulled even by the tiniest amounts, his flesh ready to squeeze out as blood dripped along the links. The scent of something metallic was doubled as it flooded the room. The groans of the demigod forced the angel to grab a hold of the chains and start pulling. Tyler held down the chair to provide Dexter with a better grip, claws digging into the wood to hold it tight. He watched as his partner pulled and pulled, muscles straining as his eyes started to glow bright blue. Finally, there was a loud snap and the chains started to slack as two broken ends were present in Dexter’s hands. “Nice!”
“Great. Now grab an arm and let’s get out of here! We’ll need to sneak out through the attic…” After peeling back the layers of chains and quietly discarding them on the floor, the sleuths gathered the limp Seth from his chair and carefully placed him between their bodies. The demigod was semi-conscious as the boys were prepared to carry him out…before they heard someone walking upstairs and towards the storage room. The angel and werewolf were ready to scramble before Dexter had an idea.
“Okay, Seth my boy! It’s time to see how well you handle-what the hell?!” The man that was coming upstairs to test out a new pair of pliers saw the open door and empty chair in the middle of the room. He rushed inside to look for Seth, only to have the door close behind him. The lone light bulb was shattered as a chain was suddenly flung over head and quickly dunked the room into darkness. The man was about to shout out to the gang downstairs when something crashed into him and wrestled him to the ground. Struggling in the darkness for a few minutes, Dexter and Tyler emerged victoriously from the closed room-taking Seth with them and leaving a beaten and unconscious man chained up and left in the demigod’s place. “Let’s go, let’s go, we need to get going!” Dexter whispered as they started to move down the hallway. They didn’t get far before they heard the sounds of more footsteps coming up the stairs. This time they scrambled before ducking into the nearest room.
The gangsters were ready to join their companion in the further torture of Seth as they entered the storage room. The sight of their buddy broken and chained up was a kick to the hornet’s nest and started a mad search for the demigod. The drops of blood that stood out against the colored carpet on the floor took some of the members to the room the detectives were hiding in. They only caught sight of Seth passed out on top of the bed before something pulled one of them into the room and a second something started to slam the door on another goon’s head repeatedly. Tyler was manning the door while Dexter duked it out with the man dragged into the room. The rest of the gang had caught onto what happened to their friends and were ready to flood the room and drag out the intruders. The werewolf kicked the man trapped in the door out and went off the nearest guy he could tackle into the room across the hallway. The angel was just finishing up with the first guy when the group split into two and flooded into their respective rooms. The detectives had their hands full to say the least. No one was willing to fight fair, weapons meant for small quarters were in play…not to mention that Dexter had to protect the passed out Egyptian man on the bed. Thankfully, they were just better fighters and stronger than their opponents…and willing to break some furniture over people’s backs and heads. The sounds of multiple struggles, the shouts of men fighting and furniture breaking echoed throughout the villa for several minutes. It was coupled with the snarling and growling of an animal, the thumping of bodies being thrown against the walls and the swishing of knives and other objects being swung around. The silence that came after would have been unsettling…but the groaning of the defeated was too low to hear unless one was right up against the men on the floor. Most were unconscious, the rest were just too broken and afraid to get back up.
Dexter came out of his room and rested against the doorframe…he was breathing hard, his feathers were ruffled and his clothes were shredded with spots of blood. The angel was also holding a broken chair leg and looked like he had collected some new bruises. From across the hallway, his partner emerged from his room and also rested in the doorway. Tyler was in just as bad shape, with his fur sticking out everywhere, his shirt almost torn off and his claws were bloody. He spat out some blood and checked his teeth with his tongue. When their eyes finally met, they started to relax and let out a collective sigh. “Did I ever tell you that I hate brass knuckles?” Dexter said to Tyler.
“You may have mentioned it…knives suck when you’re on the other end of the handle…Seth still alive?”
“Yeah, no thanks to me…He’s barely moved since we plopped him down on the bed…it’ll make it easier for us to get him back to L.A.”
“We’re dropping him off at the first police station we find…I can’t take much more of this.” With that statement agreed upon by everyone left still conscious in the villa, Dexter and Tyler started to collect Seth again and walk over the bodies to get to the stairs. The walk out of the house would have been easy…but the werewolf stopped them both at the top of the stairs. He was looking towards the front door. The angel looked…hearing nothing at first…but then he heard the footsteps. They only belonged to one person…but from the way Tyler’s fur were acting up, that one person would be enough to put them out of commission forever. The doorknob started to turn with the deliberate speed and motions that would later be famous in horror movies.
The front door swung open with hinges loud enough to be heard throughout the house. From the top of the staircase, there came in a dark silhouette carrying in a rusty axe! But that wasn’t the scariest part. The silhouette began to lose its dark features and change into a man…with neat blonde hair, a matching beard and horn rimmed glasses. Ares would have been intimidating enough without the axe but with it…the detectives had already ran away by the time Ares was looking at the top of the stairs. The god of war took to the stairs with a deliberate slow going pace…like he had all the time in the world to play cat and mouse with the sorry prey that was now trapped in his house.
Feeling the panic that mice would experience when being hunted by a stronger animal, Dexter and Tyler had to run. Even with Seth bouncing between them, they were running with the seriousness that came with knowing that their lives depended on their speed. They ran out of hallway in seconds and quickly dove into the last room at the end. The detectives looked to each other to see if the other knew of how they were going to escape. “Dexter, he’s-“
“I know. He’s coming…THE WINDOW!” To say that the angel and werewolf both lunged for the nearest window in the room wouldn’t be accurate to describe their movement. But they moved towards the window. How something made of glass and wood could resist their hands and refuse to move could only be attributed to Ares’ desire to kill them all…at least, that’s what Dexter and Tyler were thinking as they struggled with the window. Seeing no other way to open it, the werewolf grabbed the nearest piece of furniture-which was a chair-and threw it through. The glass fell to the ground in a shower that danced in the moonlight and kept falling as Tyler threw a footrest to clear the remaining glass from the frame. The angel took Seth into his arms and took to the windowsill. “Jump as soon as I hit the ground!”
“Right!” It was only about eight seconds but it felt like eight hours to Tyler as he watched his partner float down to the ground with the demigod. Once he landed, the werewolf jumped. Dexter wasted no time in setting Seth down and catching his partner in one movement. The pair wasted no time in collecting their semi-conscious charge and running once more. “We could take one of the cars and hit the road! No wait-they’re all on the other side of the house!”
“Well we can’t go back now! We’ll just have to run until-“The sound of something flying through the air and hitting the ground where Dexter stood only a second ago made them both stop in their tracks and turn around. The axe was buried where Dexter was-Ares had thrown it from the window over a hundred yards away! The sight of the god in the window-and of him jumping out of said window-made the boys start screaming and start running towards the only place they could think of as having cover-the olive orchard. Taking to the trees in the dark, Dexter had to depend on Tyler to be his eyes. But no matter how much distance they put behind them, it felt like Ares was only a few steps away. When they finally had to stop to rest, they could see the outline of the sky meeting the cliff…and hear Ares walking and talking to them. The angel and the werewolf ducked with their demigod behind an olive tree.
“You boys did your job well. You found out who it was that tried to kill my little girl…for your payment, I’m willing to consider us even for our past conflicts…and to let you live. However, I need Seth before I can let you both go.” Despite how calm and understanding Ares sounded, the three men in hiding could feel the horror that hid behind his words. It was enough to muster a fair amount of terrified consciousness from Seth and almost make the other two shake in fear. They all feared breathing too much in case Ares could hear them. They could hear the god of war walk through the orchard, leaves crunching under his feet. “I’m willing to give you a few seconds to push Seth out to where I can see him. If I can see him, I can’t see you both leave…there’s no shame in giving a criminal to another criminal.” They weren’t sure how many seconds Ares was willing to give them…it could have meant the difference between running and getting farther away or getting seen and taken down before they could get away from where they were. Seth looked at Dexter and Tyler, expecting them to toss him and run. His amazement grew as they held onto him and looked around for the god. The tension in the air grew as the countdown ran on, possibly connected to Ares’ anger. The sound of his footsteps stopped, the tension was mounting. Something had to give, had to explode or else the madness would never end! Something finally gave in though-something finally exploded. And it was the tree that the three escaping men were hiding behind.
The tree erupted in the center, making the detectives jump and land face first into the dirt. The sounds of the wood bending and cracking as something forced it to split open, right down the middle…it filled the night with such horrible noise. When Ares stood in the middle of the destructed tree, hands on the two halves of the split tree, the killing intent was very clear. In his posture, his faces…his eyes as he looked down on the three young men. The explosion had separated Dexter and Tyler from Seth and Ares was going right for him. The demigod had a hard time moving-he was a sitting duck. The angel and the werewolf had to do something. Ares was ready to reach down and snap Seth’s neck when he heard something going for his head. He caught a rock thrown by Tyler-and then caught another rock thrown by Dexter. “Do you two really wish to die tonight?” Ares was suddenly in no mood to play games.
“Like-Like a washed out old god could kill us!” Dexter challenged, despite the fear in his heart.
“Face it-you’re a has been!” Tyler added, his tail slowly creeping between his legs. They knew what they had to do…it was just incredibly stupid and went against their sense of self preservation. It was starting to work though-Ares was losing interest in Seth. This act of baiting wasn’t working because they were making Ares angry-Ares wanted to personally acknowledge Dexter and Tyler and their existence by killing them first. As the god of war took a step, the pair took a step back. This exchange carried on until the two turn and made a break for it, not hiding their fear as they screamed and ran. “DEX! I’M GONNA KILL YOU IN THE AFTERLIFE FOR THIS!”
“I KNOW AND I’LL LET YOU! BUT NOT JUST YET! I GOT AN IDEA!” The details of such a plan were exchanged in hushed tones, not that they had to worry about Ares hearing and intercepting their plans. The god of war was still slowly following after them, confident beyond that doubt that he would kill them all in no time. He continued to follow after the angel and the werewolf before he moved in blur of motion. A tree exploded near the detectives, threatening to shred them to pieces as Ares collided with the wood. Grabbing at each other and scrambling in the opposite direction, Ares let them ran away again before rushing at another tree, destroying it with his fist and unflinching against the shrapnel that erupted from the tree. Ares was herding the detectives towards the cliff and would catch them just as they prepared to fly away. The orchard turned into a war zone as trees exploded from the force of the colliding fists of the war god, with three mortals trapped inside…two of them running for their lives. Despite the explosions and the shrapnel, Ares could see glimpse his prey still talking to each other before they had a certain look on their face. They were done with their cute little attempts to plan their escape and were ready to act on it. The cliffs were fast approaching and Ares was preparing to move in. He had them right where he wanted them and the timing in his calculations was right on schedule.
Leaving the half destroyed orchard and walking towards the open space that fed into the cliff side that overlooked the ocean, Ares was anticipating the detectives to make their next move. The god was under the assumption that their next move-and the only logical one-would be to use the angel’s wings to fly away. Ares was ready to rush them both as soon as they got off the ground, enjoying the sweet look of despair in their faces as he pulled them back down to earth to meet their demise… Only this wasn’t what he was seeing. As he got closer, Dexter had grabbed a hold of Tyler’s arm and started…swinging him around in a circle. Stopping to see this, Ares needed only a moment to recognize this motion as what was needed to throw a shot-put or a hammer-throw. That moment was all Dexter need to launch Tyler over Ares’ head. The werewolf landed with a series of rolls and took off running. The god of war was ready to go after him when out of the corner of his eye, he saw the angel charging him with those wings and one of his blasted swords! He should have seen this coming as he caught the sword only centimeters away from his face with his hand. “…you have stones, boy. Trying to take on a god like this…it’s brave but stupid!” Dexter was thrown back with a light toss, blood dripping down the blade of his sword in a thin thread of red. It had been a long time since Ares had been taken by surprise like that…and enough to make him bleed a little.
It was a crazy, stupid, idiotic idea if there ever were one…but Dexter needed to keep Ares busy for a few minutes. He had barely caught the god off guard and managed to cut him (a little)…but now he had to keep his attention and survive! The angel could already see that he was thinking of going after Tyler so he charged again, this time faster and with more strength behind the swing of his sword. Ares couldn’t be caught off guard again this time, catching the blade with both hands…but the fact that the swing made his body move along the ground made him focus on Dexter more. In a counter attack, he swung the blade towards the ground, forcing the angel to fall after it. Slamming an elbow into his ribs and stomach, he sent the angel flying with a heavy thud a hundred feet towards the cliff’s edge. He watched as Dexter picked himself up, coughing up blood as he tried to find his feet. Despite all of this-and the fear in his eyes-the angel summoned up another sword with a palm of blue light. “W-Well?! What are you waiting for, an invitation?! COME ON!” The invitation-as Dexter put it-would not go ignored. Using his foot to kick up the discarded blade, Ares caught it and walked towards his opponent.
“Alright then. You can die fighting like a man.”
There was no better setting than the cliff side for the fight that took place. The crashing of the waves was the background music for the swing and cling and clash of blades that took place above. Dexter was fighting for his life. Ares-for some parts-was toying with him. The angel’s experience with the katana was limited while the god had centuries to study. It took him everything he had to simply keep from getting sliced up…and to so much as force Ares to block with the sword instead of simply moving out of the way just in the nick of time. With eyes glowing with a fierce shade of blue and lungs fighting for air, Dexter kept going with all of his strength and speed. His wings offered only so much of an advantage, feathers getting nicked and cut if he tried to fly for too long. The angel had to wonder how much longer Tyler would need…he dare not take his eyes off of Ares as he fought to see if his werewolf partner was anywhere nearby. When he and Ares had finally locked blades, Dexter summoned up all the strength his powers could give him and started to push the god towards the cliff with a hearty scream. Ares fought back, feet digging into the soil and regaining his stance against the angel. He was impressed…but not by much. He would soon have the advantage in three…two…one…
The blades finally gave in from the wear and chips of their battle. Dexter-taken off by this-didn’t expect Ares to react like he did. The god of war used the pommel of the broken sword, jammed it where he had struck Dexter before and pushed the angel back. The pain made Dexter cry out and roll on the ground, hugging his ribs and stomach. He wanted to just lie there, hoping the pain would go away…but Ares wouldn’t let him. He grabbed the angel by the head, lifted him up and looked him straight in the eye. Ares’s eyes were cold with a sense of satisfaction that came from crushing something small and powerless. “What can I say? Sometimes…you just can’t win.” Seeing that Dexter still wanted to fight-desperately clawing at his fingers in hope of being released, Ares decided to tell him a little secret before dying. “You know…I was hoping I’d get a chance to kill you. Even after I decided to forgive you for what you did to my son Kaede…” Achieving just the right look of confusion and pain on the angel’s face, he leaned in closer to whisper something. “It was because of your god that we on Olympus and all over the Empire lost our followers, our influence over them and our rightful place as their rulers. It was because of Constantine and his belief in a god that no one could see… Tell me.” Ares presented the broken blade to Dexter’s exposed throat. “Will God finally take form, to save one of his messengers from one of the gods He replaced?”
A broken edge of the sword was slowly being pushed into Dexter’s throat, a thin stream of blood beginning to flow. Ares was intending to make this as slow as possible and have the angel feel everything. The panic in his eyes was hard to ignore and what the god of war focused on the most. With such intense gazes and emotions being exchanged between the two men…Ares felt something was wrong when Dexter’s eyes started to go soft with relief…and a gleam of light was reflected in them. A light started to shine from behind them and grow brighter and brighter. The sound of a car grew louder as well. Turning around, the god and the angel could see a car speeding right towards them-with Tyler behind the wheel! “HANDS OFF OF HIM!!! ARES!!!” Tyler was going to run Ares over!
Throwing Dexter aside, Ares had to catch the speeding car with two hands. The headlights exploded, the headlights and bumper were ready to wrap around his body but the car found a way to keep on rolling. The god’s strength threatened to stop the car all together but the werewolf slammed on the gas pedal. The back wheels spun and dug into the dirt, screeching at a high speed pitch as it fought against the god of war. Pushing himself onto his toes, Ares was getting ready to push back the car-or pick it up and throw it. Tyler ducked under the steering wheel to plant a rock on the gas and stood on the dashboard as the car continued to fight against Ares in one swift motion. From the glove box, the werewolf pulled out a hand gun and took aim with two shaking hands. “DROP DEAD!!!” Each time he pulled the trigger his shoulders shook and his ears flinched against his skull-Tyler hated guns and the way they sounded. But bullets continued to fly at the god essentially stuck to the bumper. The werewolf’s aim was pretty lousy. He accidently shot into the hood and the car’s engine before he could even graze Ares. But he did get a few lucky shots into the god’s shoulders and arms, which caused him to lose his grip on the ground and get pushed back several feet. Each time Tyler stuck a part of the god’s body with a bullet, the car was able to push him back. This process continued until they were almost at the cliff’s edge.
Ares saw the cliff approaching over his shoulders and fought back against the car. Tyler heard the clicks of an empty gun in his hands and started to panic. The god of war was looking at him with eyes that burned with a hatred that had centuries to develop…and started to shake the car side to side. The werewolf slid along the dashboard, the fear of the war god overwhelming the instinct to either take flight or fight. He finally fell out of the car where he was able to look up and see what became of his angelic partner. “CRAP!!!” The werewolf ran away, leaving Ares to look up and see what was coming at him. Dexter had returned-and he was swinging an intact olive tree at Ares like a batter in the major leagues.
“ARES!!!” With all of his strength, Dexter brought down the tree against Ares. The car slid several more feet, the hood caved in under the weight of the tree and the force of Dexter's swing. The god was struggling against the combined weight of the car and the olive tree and the angel's swing as he balanced on the edge of the cliff. After the angel scrambled out of the thicket of branches and leaves he landed in once he swung the tree, he joined Tyler behind the car. “START PUSHING!”
“RIGHT!” The two detectives started to push on the car, putting all of their strength into the effort in hopes of sending Ares over the edge. The wheels were still spinning, smoke starting to appear from the rubber that was beginning to burn. Despite everything that Ares had endured, he was still able to fight back against the car. The detectives were starting to fear for their lives again as they felt Ares begin to push the car back towards them, his killer aura starting to cut at them with desperate jabs. It looked like things were over…until all three of the men noticed something black oozing out from under the car. “…oil?” The sight of a small ember drifting with…almost an intelligence of sorts…made the angel and the werewolf take off running with screams and shouts. By the time it hit the oil-and by the time Ares had realized what was happening-it was too late. The oil lit up like a fiery serpent along the ground and soon the car exploded with a heavy weight behind it! The tree resting on the hood caught on fire as the car burst into flames…and Ares wasn't moving. He couldn't stop the car from rolling off of the cliff, with him along for the descent down to the ocean beating below. As soon as the flaming wreck rolled off of the cliff, Dexter and Tyler had to rush over to see it fall. The light of the fire grew dimmer and dimmer as it fell, until it was finally extinguished by the waves. The sudden shift of light to darkness was unnerving…it made the detectives feel a strange calm about them. “Dex…how did you…”
“I thought that was your doing…”
“It was mine.” The reappearance of Seth-battered and broken-almost made Dexter and Tyler jump off the cliff. “I didn’t think I had enough left in me for that much but I guess I did…” The demi god sat on the ground besides the detectives, wincing from the pain of his injuries. “Perhaps jail is the best place for me now… I doubt there will be any place on Earth that I will be safe from that man if I were on my own…”
The full realization of what they had just done come down on the detectives harder than that burning car and tree did on Ares. They couldn’t help but scream at the idea. “WE-WE ARE SO BEYOND f*ckED NOW!”
“I-I know! There’s no way we killed Ares with that stunt! HE’LL BE AFTER US FOR SURE NOW!” The sleuthes didn’t notice how Seth…almost looked pleased with this set up. As if there were a decent enough payback for them foiling his plans… His part in this event wouldn’t hit him until much later. In the meantime, he passed out with the angel and the werewolf still freaking out about any possible strikes from Ares against them in the future.
After getting over how they had just hit the god of war himself with a car…and shot at him…hit him with a tree…set him on fire…and then pushed him off of a cliff… the detectives found another car and were taking off to Los Angeles with Seth. The demigod was passed out in the back seat…and Dexter and Tyler were both happy enough with that. It felt weird being behind the wheel of a car given Dexter’s past…but the angel was so bone tired that he couldn’t even think about it. The werewolf beside him was about the same as he dug pieces of broken wood out of his flesh. They were both in bad shape…but…it felt like they did it. They solved the case, caught the bad guy...accidently took out a bigger bad guy…but they did it. Now they just needed to turn Seth over to the police and hope they could explain everything. Things were looking good.
“…you think Tayte will…you know…talk to me after all of this is over?”
“…given all the crap you’ve gone through for her…it’s the least she can do for you…”
“I hope so…” Thinking about how his ties to the harpy girl would be affected by the conclusion of this case, Dexter almost didn’t notice the number of glowing lights behind them. When he did though, it wasn’t good news coming for them. The number of headlights confirmed that suspicion. “…you got to be kidding me…”
“What?” Turning around, Tyler saw that they weren’t going to be alone on the road for long. The few members of Ares’ gang that had regained consciousness were coming for them, with cries for blood and vengenance for their boss (who they thought was dead). “…oh sh*t…” The two of them were too weak to fight and Seth was useless now. “…think you can outrace them until we find a billboard with a highway patrol behind it?”
“We can’t fight so we may as well-HOLY COW!!!” Swerving suddenly off of the road and into a dirt ditch, Dexter had to get the car out of the way of a fleet of cars coming right towards them. They kept on flying past them and towards Ares’ gang in a huge collective game of road chicken. Being the weaker of the two groups, Ares’ group skid to a stop before the opposing group got out of their cars. They were armed to the teeth, very vicious…but also like they were all in a recent fight and lost. The strangest part of this sight was how some of them went to the car the detectives were in and…surrounded them like they were protecting them! It didn’t make any sense…until the person leading the fleet stepped out of the car in the far front. “T-TAYTE?!”
“Get out of here, harpy b*tch! This is between us and those fu-OH! OH GOD-AHHH!” The fool who spoke out against Tayte quickly folded into himself and collapsed onto the ground, grabbing at his bleeding crotch. The harpy quietly slipped her small handgun back into her bosom before addressing Ares’ group.
“Here’s how it’s going to go down! You’re all going to let these three head back to Los Angeles UNHARMED! You’re going to let me talk to Ares and neogiate a deal with him! And you’re all going to help me get everything I want out of this deal OR ELSE!” Tayte meant business as she stood at the head of her attack force, all guns at the ready to follow her commands. No one on Ares’ side knew what to do or how serious Tayte was…or if she had the means to make all of this happen. The harpy girl sensed this and decided to prove herself. Gesturing to two of her goons, they went into her car to get something…or someone. Returning to the middle of the opposing groups and placing it down on the ground…wrapped in blanket after blanket and still pretty out of it because of the medicination…was Kristen. Her presence caused quiet the stir among’s Ares’ men.
“Tayte! You-You kidnapped Kristen from the hospital?!”
“That’s what you were doing?!” They tried to scramble out of the car to stop this but the detectives were stopped by the goons-probably for their own protection.
“So what’s it going to be, boys?!” Tayte said, ignoring the angel and the werewolf. With a snap of her fingers, all the guns in her group were pointed at Kristen on the ground. Ares’ men practically lunged forward to stop this before they heard the clicks of guns being loaded. Frozen in place, Tayte stared at them all-forcing them to consider their odds and their options. Maybe they could shoot some of her men and take a few out before they could retaliate and either shot them or Kristen…but was it really worth it? Were they willing to risk the life of the one person Ares cared about the most? And if they did, how would Ares react? They all knew that he was still alive despite wishful thinking deep in their hearts…so why risk doing anything that would displease him by allowing harm to come to his precious family? The harpy’s silver dollar eyes flashed these questions into everyone’s minds as she continued to stare them down. Yes, she had a small army behind her…but a lot of the terror was coming from her alone and those eyes that made a man question everything he thought he was sure of, doubt himself, doubt what he knew and essentially break him down into a helpless puddle of goo she would walk all over with tall heeled shoes. That was the power of the stare of the youngest Fallon and one of her weapons that lead her position as a gang leader. Soon enough, she had broken the will of Ares’ men with her stare and her threat of force against Kristen. “Now drop your weapons! Guys, move in!”
With her men taking Ares’ as their prisoners and neogiators, Tayte picked up Kristen and put her back in her car. “Now stay here. I just need to talk to some people before we go.” Strutting over to the detectives who were flabbergasted by what they witnessed, the harpy had a lot to say to them. “What? It wasn’t like I was REALLY going to let them shoot Kristen full of holes in front of those guys...not today anyway…it was just a necessary bluff… I was going to return her to the hospital after I was done with her dad…” The boys still looked…confused…and unsure…and just…surprised. Tayte wasn’t sure what else she could have said. “I was really hoping to have gotten whatever army I could throw together at the last minute and crush Ares before you even got close to him. I didn't want you to get anywhere near him and put yourselves in harm's way when I knew how to stop him and make him back off..." Looking over their haggard appearances…and glancing in the backseat to see Seth still unconscious…the harpy found a reason to smile-namely at Dexter. “I will say this-you appear to be a lot more capable than I gave you credit for,Angel cakes. Next time though...be with me when crap like this happens. I want to see just how capable you really are when you mean it. And I want to be there when something amazing happens."
Dexter and Tyler could find nothing to argue about this. They didn’t care that they didn’t know that Tayte was tracking down and beating the snot out of her men in order to get them to fight for her in one final strike against Ares. They weren’t angry that she decided not to tell them of her plans back at the hospital. They didn’t regret holding off on their plans in the hope of having reinforcements. They were…just very tired. So much so that it all finally caught up to them. “O…Okay…” Dexter mumbled before he finally collapsed. Tyler lifted a finger to try and add something…but he passed out almost immediately afterwards. Tayte looked at the detectives resting in a pile at her feet and sighed a little…but did so with a smile.
“...you really did it. You said you would and you did it..." Tayte would never say it outloud but...maybe Dexter was right about what he said to her earlier...about being sent just for her...or maybe he was just determined enough to amake things happen for her and still believe it was because of some other kind of force. The harpy liked the idea of it all being Dexter better. "...you're amazingly stubborn...but amazing all the same."
Dexter and Tyler were already fast asleep on the ground. They didn’t care whether or not Tayte would do anything to them. For whatever reason, they felt safe now. Or maybe they were just too tired to care about anything like Ares wanting revenge once he was out of the ocean…or the vampires back in L.A…or the gangs being mad at them. Somewhere in their minds…they knew that the case was over. Seth wouldn’t run. He was as good as arrested. They would tell everything they knew to the police, give them all the evidence they needed, clear Tayte’s name…give Cyrus the justice he deserved…
Now that I think back, that case was the first major case that Tyler and I ever took on. We made a big splash of it, got our names out to a lot of people both good and bad. We drifted between the worlds that can exist in the color and in the grey and saw a lot of things that changed us. Some things would stick with us forever…I was hoping for one thing to always stick with me as I slept on the ground…and she was watching over me as we slept. But all the same, Tyler and I could take some pride in the fact that the case of the Fallon Framing…the Valencia Jockey Murder…the Usurpation of the Los Angeles Underworld…whatever people want to call it…was now…closed.
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