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This is year 3 of my Runaways Alternate Volume 3. See that post for explanations of what this is all about. Last chunk is here. A bit rushed due to trying to get it out before NaNo month, so excuse typos.

Runaways #28 Solicitation:
(cover: Not released along with the solicitation. I'll mention it when we get there)
Chase and Victor have found themselves in a small town that's got big troubles. They may want to reunite with their friends, but the town's powerful sheriff is about to make them an offer they can't refuse.

Runaways #25 Outline:

Since last time we ended with the revelation that Xavin feels an attraction to Victor, it's only natural that we start the next issue with them. Close up shots of both of their faces, alternating as we go through a conversation like the following:
Xavin: "Can I get closer?"
Victor: "How close do you want to get?"
Xavin: "Close enough to touch."
Victor: "You can. That might not be the best idea, though. Are you sure you want to?"
Xavin: "Yes, I'm sure. I want to."
Victor: "And what happens next?"
Xavin: "I think a Shocking Grasp would be appropriate."

We see of course, that they're playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons (or an appropriate knockoff, if Marvel Legal would object), with Victor DMing. Molly, Klara, and Noor are also playing, but a little more distractedly. Klara is tending her garden. Molly's perhaps playing with her hat. Noor's got a far off look.

Victor tells Xavin that the guard doesn't notice him sneaking up from behind, so he doesn't get a chance to attack her, and the shocking grasp finds its mark. The guard captain twitches in pain.
Xavin: "Okay, now that he's down, I take his uniform and..."
Victor: He's not down. He stops twitching and then swings his sword at you, shouting an alarm. He hits doing... 8 damage.
Xavin: What? The last person I used that spell on didn't survive.
Victor: That was a guard. This is a guard captain.
Xavin: And medieval guard captains are trained to resist electricity? This is a pre-industrial world, they don't even have electricity.
Molly: Maybe he's a mutant.
Victor: No, they don't have mutants. It's just the way the game works, people get tougher the more experienced they are. Klara, what do you do?
Klara: Can I talk to the trees again?
Victor: No, you've already done that today. Once per day, remember.
Klara: Then I run away.
Victor: You can do other things... never mind. Molly?
Molly: Power attack!
Xavin: This is ridiculous. My whole plan depended on knocking him out before he could alert anyone. I thought the whole point of playing this was that you couldn't cheat.
Victor: I'm not cheating, that's the rules. The point of the game is imagination. Use your imagination.

Start to close in on Noor, who is looking distant. We see the 'telepathic thought bubble'.
1: We've completed what we need. We have all six pairs. It is time for your part.
2: I am not sure I can do this, Father. Isn't there another way?
1: Do not weaken, Noor. This is the only way. We need what they have.
2: I could get it for you.
1: They cannot be allowed to interfere. This is for the best. You will do your duty.

Interrupted by, "Noor!" It's his turn. He chooses to hide in the shadows and prepare for his sneak attack. But he doesn't seem too happy about it.

Suddenly, there's a thunderclap. Victor tells Klara that it's time to move the game inside, the storm's getting closer. She complains, because she wants to be out in the rain. But hey all move inside, and we close a bit on Noor who is looking sad.

Have a brief interlude (to allow the passage of time), probably Karolina and Nico, talking in a relatively friendly manner, about Xavin and Victor always arguing. Nico's a bit more amused because she knows things about it Karolina doesn't about Xavin and Victor. She's also in one of her 'slightly flirty' type moods.

Next we see Noor praying. Victor comes across him and asks him about it, saying he didn't realize he was so religious. Noor says his parents never put much emphasis on it, but he's been thinking a lot more about God since they... (trails off, lets Victor come to his own conclusions). Victor tries to comfort him, offers to pray with him and for his parents. Noor thanks him but says he prefers to do so alone.

What follows is a sequence of Noor approaching each of the Runaways in turn. As he does, we see their 'thought bubbles', because Noor is reading their minds.

First up is Chase. His thought bubbles are normal, but constantly surrounded by a stream of symbols (Old Lace's empathic link), perhaps. He's thinking about Lotus, wondering what she's doing, and whether he can sneak away to see her, while he does something time-killing, like bouncing a ball against a wall. Noor enters, and Chase strikes up a conversation to be polite, but he's not especially interested, maybe even thinking that they've got too many kids with them. Noor mentions, by way of explaining why he's not getting ready for bed, that he's been having nightmares that his old gang follow him and break into the Hostel. Chase tries to comfort him, tells him that it's impossible to get in unless you're a Stein or on the guest list, or somebody who is opens it up. The portals don't open any other way, and even if they did the security systems would activate once inside.
Noor asks if they couldn't just hack in, but Chase insists he's the only one who has controls the guest list. If they tried to hack it, the gate would fade out of reality entirely. Noor asks what happens if they took Chase hostage and made him open it. Chase says he shouldn't worry about it, he'd never break. Then his thought bubbles reveal that "there's always the override password I set, just in case," followed by how he'd better take Karolina aside and tell her about it, the surprising revelation that he's not sure if he can trust Victor OR Nico with it in case they 'go darkside', and Molly might forget in a crisis, Karolina's the one he trusts most... His thought bubbles also reveal the password itself (maybe something lacrosse-based). Noor then thanks him and says he's sorry. "For what?" "For this." And another thought bubble, Noor's, appears. "Sleep". Chase falls unconscious.

Next he sees Klara, who is coming out of one of the bathrooms. She's dressed in pajamas, but her thought bubbles (possibly tinged with green) reveal she's embarassed that she's being seen in her 'underthings' (full length pajamas apparently count). She's just got out of a shower, and is momentarily in her bark form before she turns on her image inducer to look 'normal'. He makes small talk (she's going to watch a movie with Molly), and although she seems upbeat, her thoughts are somewhat darker than she lets on, at least about herself. He asks her why she wears her image inducer, even when she's alone among friends. She says she does not know, but her thoughts reveal that she knows it is a sin to hide from her punishment, but she cannot bear people seeing her only as the monster she is, and that if the other monsters can hide, why shouldn't she? As she's about go off, he stops her and tells her that she is not a monster- He is. Then he uses the 'sleep' mental command again. There's a trickle of blood from his nose, which he wipes.

Nico is next. She's at a computer terminal, talking to her mystery internet friend (who is of course, Victor). Her thought bubbles are relatively normal in style. She's thinking about the guy, pleased that there's something normal in her life, even though he's probably really a freak or 40 or something, he seems nice, and at least in a long distance, anonymous conversation, it's somebody she won't be tempted to hurt. Sleep.

Karolina is reading a magazine about some sort of good cause (maybe a mutant rights rally in SF?), and thinking about why they (the team) only seem to go out and fight supervillains instead of trying to do good in other ways. Her parents were involved in all sorts of worthy causes, and even if they were evil it doesn't make sense to try to make up for the bad without keeping up with the good, and how she's totally going to bring it up to Nico and Xavin.

When she sees Noor, she's thinks about how at least they're doing good with helping kids who really need it. She says hi, but Noor doesn't speak back to her, just makes her fall asleep.

He visits Xavin next. Xavin is exercising in a gym. However, because Xavin is an alien, and was raised as one, in a completely alien culture, his thoughts are pretty well indecipherable. Alien language, with occasional English words, and flashes of images. The images are mostly Karolina-focused, but every once in a while there's a provocative memory of Victor, which makes her grimace and try to push it out of her mind. Noor enters, and she asks if he's there to get some exercise. He shakes his head, and tries to make Xavin sleep. Xavin doesn't fall quite as quickly as the others though, and becomes aware of an attack. She actually gets close to one of the wall communicators, but Noor's repeated command takes her down. His nose is bleeding more seriously now.

He stumbles out. On his way to his next target, behind him, Old Lace is dragging Chase's body with her teeth, but, in pain, doesn't even notice. He goes to Victor, who's just coming out of his room.

Victor also doesn't have readable thought bubbles. Maybe just a 101001001010101100001101010101 type string. He notices Noor's nosebleed and asks him about it. Noor says it's nothing. He then reminds Vic of how he offered to pray with him before, and he asks if he believes in God. Victor answers that he does, and though sometimes he wonders if it's just his programming, it doesn't make his conviction any less. Noor then says he has been thinking a lot about God, and there's one thing he doesn't understand. He then uses one of Victor's "three kill-phrases", probably the same one Chase tried in Victor/Victorius... "If you have free will, could you answer yes to this question, even though God knew since the beginning of time that you would say no?" This time, since it really is Victor in his body, he goes into a feedback loop and conks out.

Molly comes in on them then. Her thought bubbles are mostly blank, with a isolated word out of a sentence faintly readable. Sort of like, you know how dialog boxes bold certain words that are being emphasized? You see only the bold, and only faintly. This represents her instinctive but undeveloped psi-shields. She's seen what happened, and at first she thinks it's an accident, but she sees Old Lace dragging Chase's body, and realizes what's happening. She yells at him, hurt and betrayed because she thought he was nice. All while she's ranting at him, Noor's trying to do his "sleep" trick on her, and backing away as it doesn't seem to have any effect. She advances on him and tells him that he's going to bring them back or she's going to make him pay. He refuses, and keeps trying to make her sleep. She throws him against a far wall. As she approaches him again, glowy-eyed, she gets a dark look and says that the last two traitors they had died, and "you don't want to wind up like they did".

Molly throws a punch right beside Noor's head. It creates a huge dent in the wall. She calls it a warning. Noor tries one more "sleep" command, the loudest of them all, and Molly starts to get woozy. As she starts to fall unconscious she complains that she shouldn't be getting sleepy yet. Noor clutches his head, in obvious pain, blood streaming out of his nose. It looks like he blacked out for a moment. Then, he pulls himself up and, limping and holding his head most of the way (and at one point he crosses paths with Old Lace, who growls at him uncertainly but isn't sure enough of what happened to attack... Noor passes her by), he makes towards the computer terminals near the doors, enters in Chase's code. Then he exits the Hostel, and we see him outside. "I'm done" he sends to somebody.

We next see Old Lace licking Chase's face. Chase doesn't wake up, so Old Lace bites him, gently. This makes him yell and get up. At first he's confused, clutching his head. then he sees - all the other Runaways are piled up around him. He starts waking them up, and, with the exception of Victor (who's still 10101010100010ing) they all start to groggily wake up. They realize Noor was the one who did this, in particular when Xavin asks about what happened to Victor, and Molly reveals she saw Noor asking him a question. He asks which question, and Molly gives a summary. Chase reveals that he knows how to snap Victor out of it, but his head it pounding and he can't think, it's like he's got feedback in his head. Old Lace has also brought Chase's fistigon (only has one still)

They're about to go track Noor down (leaving Vic where he is) when they realize there are voices in the Hostel. The voices are suggesting they do a search. Chase tries to go to a computer terminal, but is getting a lockout signal. They make a break towards the exit, and on the way, they encounter the first of the new Pride-wannabes.

They're magicians, and hooded. Nico tries to cast a spell on the walls (making them close in), but remembers the walls are magic proof. They respond by casting a spell at her, unleasing demons. Chase fires the fistigons while Karolina and Xavin produce firepower/force fields, forcing the magicians to duck into one of the Runners room, Nico binds the demons with a spell, Klara blocks the passage with a big tree, and they fall back, deciding they'll take another route... if they get to the computer by the main door he can override the override and activate the security systems. On the way, they spot Noor's parents. Molly says he looks familiar, but she can't place him.

He's talking with the sciencey couples from the "Internet Famous" arc, talking about how this operation is a disaster already, they need to take down the kids, and take them down quickly. The science guys hold hitech
weapons, and how one hit with the de-energizer will render them powerless, and that together they can handle
anything the kids can throw at them, they planned for all the contingencies, but they can't afford to be split up.

The magicians return, claiming they saw them. (At some point they might get a glimpse of the main room, in which the leapfrog is enclosed in a force field).

During this, the Runaways whisper, trying to figure out what to do. Xavin favors a frontal assault, now, while they're still disorganized. Nico wants to try to lure them down a false path with an illusion and make a run for it. Karolina likes that plan. Klara doesn't want to fight at all Molly's worried about Victor and thinks they should go back for him before they find him and use him as a hostage. Chase just has a headache and wants people to shut up.

They see Noor brought out, with his mother, who holds his hand. Noor's father asks if he can sense them. Noor looks around, and says he can't, it's too confused, too many people around to be sure. He then looks in the directions of the Runaways. The science guy picks up on it, and says, "There. That connects to the hallway you saw them in." There's a brief fight, during which Karolina is hit by a de-energizer beam and seems to turn to a normal human. The scientists just launch what they call a "stun grenade", but Xavin is able to block it. The Runners fall back again, through the kitchen where Karolina grabs an apple from a bowl and tells Klara they need another tree wall.

They meet up again at Victor, talking about they could really use his help disabling their hi-technology. Chase claims he still can't think. There are sounds of explosions that they all wonder about, not knowing what they're doing. Xavin asks if there may be a weapon room or at least a secure room they can use, since they still haven't explored the whole base. Since nobody else takes charge, she has. She tells Molly to carry Victor. She tries, and can't. She's surprised at this, because she never got hit by the de-energizer. Xavin tells Chase to carry him, since he's not good for much else right now. As they walk into the deeper areas of the complex, Nico asks what they're going to do. xavin snaps, "I don't know. Right now I just want to find somewhere safe and buy us some time to think of a plan."

Nico: We may not have time. You were right the first time, we should hit them before they have a chance to get ready.
Xavin: After we got beaten the first time? We don't know what our enemy can do, and most of us are weakened or disabled. Our only hope may be to find weapons, or a security control center, or another way out of here.
Chase speaks up then. "I know another way out." They look to him, and he nods down a corridor, telling them it's that way, he thinks. He leads them to a locked room, palm-locked, one we saw in issue #13. Chase opens it.

Inside is a time machine. "Maybe we can go back a few hours and undo this."

They all pile aboard, though it's a bit of a tight squeeze. Chase starts to activate it, and it begins to hum loudly, but it doesn't seem to be doing anything, and they wonder if it's broken. They hear somebody outside, and Nico uses her staff and casts, "Let's go!". The room disappears, and we have some weird effects, some dialog/art to the effect about it shaking and being hard to hold on. "Does this happen every time?" Chase says it didn't happen the last time he used a time machine (Whedon's arc). There's a sudden lurch, and Nico goes flying off. Karolina grabs her hand and they go flying off. Xavin tries to grab Karolina, but the machine jolts again, and everybody goes off into different directions, sliding off the time machine except Molly who manages to hold on (eyes glowing), and screaming.

To be continued!

Runaways #29 Solicitation:
(Cover: A parody of a Y: The Last Man cover (#23). Molly is standing alone. Instead of a gun, she's holding a hat. Instead of a monkey, a weird alien-looking critter is on her shoulder. Instead of a Y, a tree forms an M).

When they escaped, everybody wound up in different time periods. So where did Molly go? Here's a hint. She's the last mutant on Earth.

(About this time the cover for #28 is probably revealed: It's Victor and Chase in a parody of the classic "Days of Future Past" cover, against the wall. Molly's picture is among the 'missing')

Runaways #26 Outline:

Nico and Karolina land in a civilized era. It looks something like a small town, it's early morning. There are people about, but not too many, and none of them seem to have noticed. They freak out about not being able to find anybody else, and that maybe they have fallen off the time machine and landed in the wrong time, but Nico thinks that if it comes down to it, they know her staff is capable of time travel (since they sent Geoffrey Wilder back), so they can probably at least contact the others and get them to pick them up in the time machine. They also notice there's a flickering light where they came out, but don't know what to do about it. Somebody yells at them to get off their lawn, and they realize that the other person can't seem to see the weird light from where they emerge. They decide to go walking about and try to figure out what to do. Karolina quickly recognizes the layout... it's the ghost town they used to live in, but it's alive and vibrant... she remembers there being an old abandoned diner in one direction, so they go and sit. After their money's no good (new bills issued in the 90s), they scrounge up enough change to buy one coffee, and they snag an abandoned newspaper at the diner. It's 1989. (A few people might also mock Nico for her outfit, about Halloween being a few months away, or something).

Suddenly there's a weird shift. People in the diner change, suddenly. There's a TV where there wasn't one before. It's talking about Spider-Man, stopping HydroMan from robbing a construction site, with pictures (Amazing Spider-Man #315, May 1989). They stop, and Karolina says that something's not right. Spider-Man wasn't around in 1989. "Are you sure?" "I remember studying his first appearance in my History of Masked Crime elective. We were kids when he first came out, don't you remember." Nico admits she doesn't, but will take her word for it. There's another earthquake, Nico's all "Okay, seriously, what is that?" and notice other changes. They decide to head back to the place where they first came back in time. When they get there, they see the 'breach' has grown (though still nobody seems to have noticed it). K: "This can't be a coincidence. We've got to do something." N: "I don't know what to do." Then a voice says, "That's where I come in."

It's Gert. Or rather, future Gert, looking similar to but not exactly like the last one we saw. She's not actually there, she's something like a holographic projection. After they react and start asking her questions, she says, "Look, I'm not the same Gert you know. And I'm kind of talking to multiple versions of you right now, so this will all go a lot quicker if you just shut up and listen to me. What happened is this. All of you tried to use a time machine while you were in the Stein's base. Unfortunately, his base is in an extradimensional pocket, and you had to use Nico's magic to pierce the temporal veil. Well, you punched a hole in it. One that now threatens all of reality. Most of you have probably seen some of the effects by now. Timequakes, sliding timelines, reality-bleed. It's the way timelines react to temporal damage. Most of it will go back to normal if you fix the hole. Your friends are probably okay, just somewhen else. The good news is, what do you need to do to get them back is the same thing you need to do to fix them. Use the Staff of One to pull them back, it's like pulling the bullet out so the wound can heal. Reaching through a vortex like this with magic is going to take a lot of power. But you're teenagers, if there's one thing you can generate in abundance, it's angst. You have to move quickly... the longer you wait, the more damage will be permanent. In my reality, you fixed it and found a way to get back to your normal time. But time travel's weird, so if you don't fix it now, you could still mess things up for me. So help me if you make me have 80s hair at my bat mitzvah, I'll never forgive you. The pictures are bad enough as it is."

She then looks off to the side and swears. "This wasn't supposed to happen. I have to go. You'll figure something out." She disappears.

They decide they need to generate a lot of angst. Nico wishes the others were there. She knows what buttons to push with them that can hurt them. "You don't know with me?" "I don't want to. Look, maybe if we just think of the angstiest things we can..." Maybe a panel of them sitting and thinking. Finally Karolina says, "Truth or Dare." "What?" "I know it's stupid. We've been through so much. But my mind keeps coming back to Truth or Dare." "What about it?" "I always _hated_ that game. The first time I kissed a girl? It was because of that stupid game. I had to pretend I found it as disgusting as she did. But it wasn't the dares I was most afraid of, it was the truth. I was terrified somebody would find out that I liked girls, or about other things, and I'd be an outcast, so I almost always did dares." "Why are you bringing this up, Karolina." "We need angst to fix this... well, I know the Truth hurts. Cast a Truth spell on us, and we'll probably get the pain we need." Nico asks if she's sure, and she is, so Nico cuts herself, brings forth the staff, and casts, "The Ugly Truth"

She then asks Karolina, since she was the one who wanted to do it. Most of the rest of the issue is one long
conversation, something like this (but of course, not exactly).

K: "Do you get weirded out by... what I am?"
N: "An alien? A little."
K: "No, I mean... wait, you are?"
N: "I'm weirded out that you're an alien, that my ex is a robot, that Molly could break us in half without even trying, and so many other things. I'm weirded out by what I am more than anything. I try not to think about it, but every so often... it IS weird, don't you think?"
K: "Yes. But what about me being... gay. Cause you say you approve but every so often.... I feel like I get mixed messages."
N: "You being gay doesn't weird me out much, not directly. What you feel for me does sometimes. And you and Xavin really does... oh god why can't I shut up?"
K: "I knew it. Xavin said she thought you were trying to break us up."
N: "When?"
K: "After your birthday. She didn't say how. So what's the story?"
N: "I told him I might be able to give him his full powers back if he broke up with you. That was the truth."
K: "But you wanted her to take the offer, didn't you?"
N: "Yes! No! I don't know. Part of me did, part of me didn't."
K: "What do you have against us?"
N: "He's not right for you. For one thing, he's a guy. He grew up as a guy, and worse, a warrior guy. It's beneath you to settle for him. He may be stuck in a girl's body, but he doesn't want to be, and the only thing it changes is that he's getting the hots for Victor."
K: "What?"
N: "Guess he kept that from you, huh? He says he loves you, but he's attracted to Victor."
K: "That hurts. But it... doesn't really mean much. Just because we're together doesn't mean we tell each other everything. I haven't told Xavin about Julie."
N: "You and Julie..."
K: "It's not what you think. We're going to have lunch together, as friends. She wants to thank me cause I helped her get my parents old agent. I knew Xavin might get jealous. But I don't plan on anything happening between us."
N: "That's a very specific wording. You don't "plan on" anything?"
K: "I mean I don't... plan on anything happening."
N: "So say nothing's going to happen. Or that you don't want anything to happen."
K: "I can't. Damn it, maybe this truth thing was a bad idea. She's hot. I guess part of me wants something to happen. Everybody has urges like that. But I don't think I'd cheat on Xavin. I didn't when I thought she was you!"
N: "Run that past me again?"
K: "Xavin disguised herself as you. I thought it was you coming on to me. Gah. I shouldn't have said that, I just couldn't stop myself."
N: "That's pretty disgusting of him."
K: "She wasn't trying to trick me, it was like a role-playing thing."
N: "So he says, but he's not here under a truth spell."
K: "Stop calling her a him!"
N: "I can't help it. I guess it's the spell. It's how I think of him. And I don't like you together."
K: "The point is I turned you down before I knew it was Xavin."
N: "What about after? Did you go through with your little bedroom role-play?"
K: "No! I wanted to, but no! Do we have enough angst for the spell yet?"
N: "I don't think so. And I'm flattered... but do you ever think that maybe the reason you're so tempted by others is because you know he's not right for you?"
K: "Sometimes, but I care about her, and I don't want to betray her."
N: "But do you love her?"
K: "I don't know. I think so."
N: "You shouldn't be with him if the answer's not a yes, absolutely."
K: "Life's not that simple. Neither's love."
N: "Do you love me?"
K: "Yes. Damn, Nico. Why did you have to ask me that now?"
N: "I don't know. It feels good to know."
K: "Is that it, having me around is a walking ego boost for you, knowing how I feel? Maybe that's why you don't like Xavin, because when I'm with her I'm not thinking about you."
N: It's part of it. I'm sorry, Karolina, I hate myself sometimes... But it's not all of it. Everything I said is still true. So is everything you said. You don't know if you love him. But you do love me."
K: But it's not the same. Because nothing could happen between us, could it?"
N: "It could."
K: "What?"
N: "Sometimes I think about it... think about you, that way. More often than I want to admit. I could see us having a fling."
K: "A fling."
N: "That's all it could be. It would be a mistake, but I could see it happening. I couldn't let it be more, though... Not a relationship. That couldn't happen."
K: "Right. Got it."
N: "Karolina, please. It's not you, it's me."
K: Please. Are you sure you're not immune to your own spells? Cause that's got to be the oldest lie..."
N: But it isn't. Look at me, I feed off other people's pain. I know what buttons to push to get what I need. I even like it now. I'm turning into some kind of monster.
K: I know. I was worried about it before, but your staff changed in 1907... it's gotten a lot worse. What
happened?
N: My great grandmother showed me what pain was. How it can fuel you, fuel the staff... but I don't think I
learned the lesson she wanted. I learned somebody else's pain is easier to control than your own. I hurt her, called her staff into my own. At first I promised myself I'd only hurt the people who deserved it, but it's so easy to hurt the people you care about. I know what buttons to push. And if we were together, I'd do it to you, too. I know I would.
K: You have already, haven't you.
N: Some, but less than everybody else. I'm scared I'd do it more. And you don't deserve that. You're the best out of all of us.
K: I wish people wouldn't say that. I'm not a good person. A whole planet died partly because of me. We could have tried to stop it. We ran.
N: That's not your fault.
K: You don't know that. You weren't there. You just don't want to hear it that I have problems too.
N: I've known you my whole life. You're probably the best person I know. It was a war. If you could have stopped it, you would have. You try and look after everybody.
K: Because its the only way to make sure people want me around. The Majesdanians didn't want me. Even my parents never wanted me.
N: I know your parents. They loved you more than anything. You were the center of their world.
K: They were actors, Nico. I know they loved me but they didn't really want me around unless it was on their terms, unless I was taking care of them. Xavin accepts me on my terms. She doesn't need me to change for her. She's willing to change for me.
N: I'm going to try not to get between you and Xavin. But take it from me, I know. Somebody wanting you, accepting you, it's not enough. Even if there wasn't a truth spell, I'd have to tell you that, because we're friends.
K: I'm starting to think we shouldn't be.
N: What? Karolina, don't say that.
K: Maybe we never really were, if there's so many lies between us. We've known each other for years, and we've ideas about who the other one is and... I think we're both wrong. I think I need a break from us.
N: Because I don't think we could ever be together?
K: Because I think you're going to keep hurting me, and I'm going to keep letting you, because of how I feel. Tell me I'm wrong.
N: I can't. But that doesn't mean we can't be friends anymore, does it?
K: I don't know. I just know something needs to change. It's not healthy. We'll still be teammates. But I'm going to start pulling away from you.
N: For how long?
K: I don't know. Until I don't have those feelings for you, I think.
N: I'm worried without them you won't want to be friends at all.
K: Me too. But if not, we didn't have a friendship, I had a crush.
N: Well. I guess we don't need any more pain. Time for a reunion.
(last word said as a spell in magic-speak, with the staff, pointing towards the time rip, and we close with a to be continued)

Runaways #30 Solicitation:
(Cover: Group shot. The Runaways reimagined as 80s cartoon icons - Chase: Bobby the Barbarian, D&D Old Lace: Uni from He-Man. Karolina: Jem Victor: Inspector Gadget. Klara: Flora from Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors (cause apparently she was made out of a flower, never seen the show just did some wiki-browsing), Molly She-Ra (Princess Powerful/Princess of Power), Nico: Evil-Lyn from He-Man, Xavin... I dunno, maybe Ranma1/2? Can't think of anything appropriate for him..)
Scattered, Part 5:
The Runaways are reunited, but the 80s are a long way from home. Nico's out of Juice, and nobody wants to live through the 20 years separating them from their enemies. But there is one source of time travel technology they already know about. Because in the 80s, The Pride is alive and well.



Runaways #27 Outline:
As we open the issue, Xavin is flying through the air using the Human Torch part of her powers, over a huge jungle. She's yelling out Karolina's name. There's a header of "65 Million Years Ago...".

Xavin lands at a spot Klara and Old Lace are waiting. It's still a jungle-like environment. None of the plants have flowers, though. They're all fern-like. There's also no grass. Old Lace looks nervous. Xavin says that she can't see any sign of the others, and asks if Old Lace has picked up a sign of Chase. She hasn't, she's just been looking into the sky. Klara announces that it's okay, that she knows where "we" are at least. Xavin's skeptical, but Klara asks what she saw when she was flying. "Nothing. Just jungle, and ocean in the distance." Klara is satisfied. "Exactly. We're in the Garden of Eden." Xavin's all "Wha?" and she explains about the Garden of Eden being a time before sin, and how she believes they were taken there and given a second because they were being forgiven for what they are.

"What we are?"

Klara explains that her parents told her faeries are the servants of the devil. She knows she was damned to hell for what she was, but tried to do good anyway. Just like all of them have done.

Xavin is unimpressed with that theory and asks what she's done. Klara says that she knows she is not supposed to speak of it, but Xavin being with Karolina was an abomination. Xavin gets angry and Klara tries to say, "I know you are not bad people, but you've done bad things. Immorality. Witchcraft. Most of us have not honored our parents, and that's a commandment. And we shall go to hell for our sins if we don't take this second chance."

Xavin gets frustrated and tells Klara that she's going out again to look for Karolina. If she wants to be of help, she can make a shelter from the trees. When she's gone, Klara pets Old Lace and says something about hoping Xavin isn't too stubborn to refuse a gift like this. Old Lace perks up, catching a scent, and goes bounding into the forest. Klara calls after her, but is left alone.

Old Lace gets a bunch of solo scenes for most of the rest of the issue, not interacting with the others, and the storylines go back and forth but I'll just give the gist of each as one lump. A number of different fights with dinosaurs, however, in almost all cases she's attacking a bigger dinosaur than herself, and doing so to defend a smaller one. She even feeds off the bigger ones. It's the instincts and behaviours she's learned from the Runaways poking out. She eventually finds a dinosaur that's very close to herself, and begins some sort of mating type behavior.

Night falls and Xavin seemingly still hasn't returned. There's some rustling in the bushes and Klara, thinking it's Xavin or Old Lace, goes out to investigate. She's attacked by another dinosaur though, a savage one, and screams. She instinctively gets nearby ferns to grab it and it gets closer, when suddenly a gout of flame bursts out, and scares it away. Klara cries, and Xavin holds her (apologizing for staying away for so long), and takes her back to the shelter. When asked if she found anyone, Xavin reveals the theory that everyone else must be elsewhere in time. To comfort Klara, she insists that the others will find them.

Finally, Klara says, "This isn't Eden, is it?" Xavin tells her he doesn't think so, and reminds her of the trip to the museum they once took, the part where they showed her the time of dinosaurs, like Old Lace. "Then I'm still damned."

Xavin says she doesn't think so, but Klara points out that Xavin doesn't know the Word of God. Xavin admits she's not especially familiar with their Bible, but she has read it. And that Xavin finds there are similarities to something some skrulls believe of God and what Humans do. "That God, firstly, is a God of Love. And perhaps in that similarity is the truth. And I cannot imagine a being of love would damn someone for something they are, or for acts of love. I can't believe in one putting you what you've gone through and then punishing you just for how he made you."

The next day, Klara awakes from a dream. She says it was her mother, or at least she thinks it was, though it didn't sound like one. She was telling her that she was almost grown now, and it was time to find a nice place to set down roots, and get ready to start a family. Xavin, not really sure how to take this, (other than to say that this isn't a good place to start a family), announces that she's going out to look for food. She can't digest the plants here and asks if Klara can produce some fruit. Klara can't, though - none of the plants here know how to make fruit. She's talked to them, and they're not familiar. "I could try to teach them." Xavin's all "yeah, you do that. I guess that leaves hunting. I just hope Karolina understands." Klara provides her with a makeshift spear made out of wood - thats easy enough, just shaping what's already there. Xavin is a little reluctant to leave Klara alone, but Klara promises she'll be okay... if she hears anything coming she'll just make the tree grow really really high while she's on top. She also reminds Xavin to keep a look out for Old Lace (Which triggers a shift to an Old Lace scene).

We get a quick montage of scenes, showing time's passing - several days. Xavin hunting, or fishing. Old Lace doing stuff. Klara helping Xavin fish by using seaweed. Klara teaching a plant to make something that is shaped like a flower, but just made of leaves, and saying, "no, no, that's not right.".

We see Xavin returning from a hunt, now green. Klara asks about it, and Xavin says it works better for camoflague, and she's more familiar with it anyway. Xavin makes a reference to Karolina (maybe something like, "if I thought Karolina wouldn't find it weird, I'd stay green all the time"), prompting Klara to point out that it's been days and they've seen no sign of the others. Xavin just says "she'll come." Maybe we get a bit of a comparison to Klara's faith in God.. Xavin having a faith in 'love', or people.

More time passes. Klara's improved the shelter so it looks more like a tree house. Xavin cleaning her torn clothes (perhaps wearing something made of leaves in the meantime, or perhaps obscured by the environment) Night scene. Xavin points out what she thinks is the Andromeda galaxy, where her people come from, but she can't be sure, because "the stars have changed." Klara's surprised by this notion, the stars changing. "Everything changes, Klara. Nothing is constant."
"Except God, surely."
"Maybe. Maybe God IS change."
Instead of addressing it, Klara asks, "What will you do, if Karolina, and the others, never come?"
Xavin says, "I don't know. I once thought I would be lost without her... but I think I can adapt to even that. And that makes me saddest of all."
"But you'll miss her?"
"Always." (smiles) "But she's coming. I'm sure of it. It'll just take a little while."

Next morning, Xavin leaves to find some food. She stops by a stream, and begins to cry, having her own little crisis of faith (realizing that she's just saying Karolina's coming to keep Klara upbeat) inadvertently shapeshifting out of her green form and back to her default female form. As she does, raptor-like dinosaurs start to sneak up on her. She turns to face one and gets ready to shoot fire at her when another tackles her from the side, knocking her down. She barely gets a forcefield up between her neck and the jaws, and is struggling, when the dinosaur attacking her is itself attacked... by Old Lace. It bites into the creature's neck, which then runs off. Old Lace licks Xavin's face.

Xavin returns with Old Lace to their shelter, saying, "Look who I found!" Klara's happy, but not just about Old Lace. She has something to show Xavin: She did it. She taught a plant to make fruit and flowers. "Now she just has to teach it to others."

A strange sound draws them outside the shelter. The area they first arrived is now pulsing and glowing. Old Lace is visibly excited. Klara asks what it is. Xavin says, "I think it's them. I told you they'd come for us." A magical hand comes through the portal and grabs them all, dragging them through.

(For those not aware, the story takes place 65 million years ago, which is about the same time as the first flowering plants formed... so the story suggests Klara might have produced the first).

Runaways #31 Solicitation:
(cover: The Leapfrog in fighting action)
Hostel Takeover, Conclusion
The Runaways have made it back! And earlier than they left. But will planning ahead give them the edge they need to take down the Cabal? This time, not everybody will escape unscathed!


Runaways, Volume 3 #28 Outline:
Victor and Chase are in a garden, near a tree. Chase is telling Victor the solution to Noor's riddle. "God is outside space and time and will know only what you have freely chosen." Victor snaps awake, demanding answers.

Chase gives him a quick recap. He's pieced together that they've travelled in time, the others aren't around, and he can only sense Old Lace faintly and 'all weird'... but at least his headache's gone. He doesn't know when they are, but he nows where: they're in Klara's garden. Since the tree wasn't there before, he guesses it's the future somewhere. Victor says he has an idea of how to find out when. He'll hook into the net through a satellite. Chase is impressed he can do it - Victor hasn't revealed it to the others. Victor soon reveals they're in the year 2029. Chase figures that at least they're not in the stone age, and asks Vic if he can call them a cab. "Don't you dare. You've done enough damage already." It's a newcomer, a grown woman. She looks familiar. "Victor, hang up the imaginary phone in your head right now."

They ask who she is, and she seems a little disappointed they don't recognize her. "Oh, I know what it is." She takes a sherrif hat off her back and puts it on her head. "Recognize me now, big brother?" It's Molly. They start assaulting her with questions, but tells them, "Later. Right now I need to know, you're off the net, right?" Victor is, and Molly tells them she's worried somebody might have picked them up. Come on, we've got a lot to do."

Victor talks about how they have to get home, and Molly tells them that they will. "Nico should be bringing you to her in a few hours. Until then, I need you." As they walk through the town, they see a number of people, some of whom are obviously mutants or other metahumans somehow. Molly flags down two kids, young teenagers. One she says, "Gather the Sprites and get them to get ready to make a circle," and to the other, she says, "Tell your mom it's time for her to send the message. And give her this." We don't see what "this" is. Victor asks what this place is, and Molly explains that it's the community of Giving Tree, California. It's been my home for the last ten years." She leads them into the Sherrif's office. "And if we survive the next few hours, it'll be my home for many more."

Victor asks about the others, Nico first, then Karolina, Xavin, Klara, and for that matter him and Chase, if they're around. Molly frowns. "Look. I can't tell you everything. What happened to bring you here, it messed up the timestream. You might not actually be from my past, but a similar timeline, so anything I say might not apply and make you make the wrong decision. I don't want to be responsible for that. And if you are from my timeline, you could destroy the universe by changing things. So I'm not going to tell you anything about yourselves, or anything you might try and change, unless you told me I told you when you were here. Believe me, this is harder on me than it is you." When asked what she can tell them, she says, "Giving Tree is off the map. Nico's old spell, reinforced many times over by everything from faerie magic to mutant powers to alien technology scavenged from the Dean's old starship. We're a Sanctuary. America... it's gone a little crazy. Mutants are hated more than ever since they started coming back. The Sentinel Program is in operation to capture and 'detain' them. We're part of an underground railroad, helping people who need to run away. And you jeopardized that when you sent a signal where there shouldn't be one."

Victor apologizes, saying he didn't know. Molly forgives him, but warns that there's probably a team of sentinels on the way, and they could use the two of them.

They go outside, and Molly gives a little speech to an assembled bunch of families, warning them that the sentinels are coming. Anybody who can't fight or help out should move on to "the alternate universe". If there's a home to return to, they'll open up the gate when they get back.

During this time we meet a couple of people. One's James, a hotheaded teen Majesdanian. A few seeming faeries, of varying types, referred to as Klara's kids. A few others, although no obvious other 'children' of the Runaways themselves. (Some who are potential kids, I suppose wouldn't be out of place, like James, who isn't actually Karolina's son or anything, but rather something like a young cousin). Some of them give hints about knowing or hearing about Chase or Victor (Victor with a little fear), but Molly is vigilant, always shooing them off.

Much of the action of the issue is the big fight with several mini Scout-Sentinels. Chase takes out one with his fistigons, but runs out of ammo.. it takes time for them to generate new ammo (from raw materials like rocks and such, I think, using nanotech to synthesize missiles and such). Victor takes out another, tearing into its brain and running it like a puppet.. Some of the other defenders take out others. During the fight Victor hacks into the Sentinel, looking for information on Victorius... and unfortunately he finds it, listed under supervillains, deceased. The shock is enough that he loses his concentration, and he's shot at by a scout and injured slightly.

After running out of ammo, Chase goes to get more (maybe looking for specific materials to refuel, like nails or something he could find in the area around the harden), spots Gert standing beside the big tree. She's giving the tail end of the speech we saw Nico and Karolina hear. She spots him, and gives the "This wasn't supposed to happen. You'll figure something out." She then starts running, and disappears into a phone booth, which also disappears. Molly catches up to Chase, and when he demands to know what's going on, how Gert came back, Molly's eyes start to glow. She says that she didn't want to do this... but we don't see what "this" is. We later see them return, Chase rubbing his head, as the last of the scouts are destroyed.

Molly tells them that they need to go in and have Victor bulk wipe all their memory. That way when others come to investigate, they won't know what happened and assume it was a particularly powerful mutant on the move. In the meantime, they need to move the town for a while, using faerie magic... Klara's kids. And they can't take Vic or Chase with them, because they're due to be picked up soon. So they have their goodbye scene. Some hugs, and Molly just gives an enigmatic, "It was really good to see you guys again," before the town starts to shimmer and fade, leaving Chase and Victor in the desert.

They talk, a little.
Chase: "So, this is the future."
Victor: "A future. It might not be the real one."
Chase: "Whatever."
Victor: "No, seriously. We make our own fate, right? You guys told me you saw the future once before."
Chase: "You mean the one that you killed Gert."
Victor: "Yeah.... right. But that can't happen anymore. It changed. We can change this one, too."
Chase: Maybe we should leave it be. It doesn't look so bad.
Victor points out abut the mutant hunting monsters, but Chase's response is just that Molly seems happy with her life.
Victor: "Didn't you get the impression that neither of us live to see this future?"
Chase: "Yeah, but I never expected to anyway. Just keep your eyes on the now. Don't worry too much about the future. It'll drive you crazy."

They see the 'portal' sparking with the recall spell, and Chase gets a 'That's our bus.'


Runaways #32 Solicitation:
(Cover: Molly crying, alone)
Resurrection, Part One:
The Runaways are well acquainted with loss. But they've never been this bad off. Away from civilization. Their best weapons, gone. One of their own, fallen. Others, willing to work with the enemy. Now, as the Cabal prepares its endgame, the remaining Runaways must find a way to regroup.


Runaways #29 Outline:

Molly is beside the time machine, in what looks like a shattered wasteland. She calls out to the others, and looks up to the sky, where there's a lot of glittering lights that are far more than normal stars, like the earth is swarmed with satellites. She starts walking, and we see strange biomechanical creatures observing her out of little tunnels made out of wreckage. The wasteland ends abruptly at a point where it looks like a city begins. She gets close enough to the city, where she sees a statue... of Kang. She doesn't recognize him, just calls out, asking if anybody's there, she needs some gas for her time machine. When she looks back to the machine, she sees that it's about half its previous height, and covered with the little metal creatures. She runs back, and yells at them to stop, that it's hers, and they scatter, each taking a little pieces of the time machine. Only a little is left. At first she's desolated, the time machine is destroyed. Then she picks herself up, grabs what remaining pieces are left, and starts walking towards the Kang city.

In a mostly silent bit of panels, she walks through almost a block of Kang area, which is completely empty of
people, before it ends abruptly (with a sign in an alien language), into a strange city that looks almost like something a fantasy elf would live in. She comments about how it's weird, and then goes back into the Kang city. she finds a tall skyscraper with 'arcology' written on it. In a directory, 'hotel' is listed. The doors open automatically. She asks about the hotel, even though there's nobody there, and elevator doors open. A voice talks to her, asking her to select her room. After confirming it's just an automated system, she asks if there's anybody around. It says nobody is on the premises, but the arcology is fully automated, then repeats the request to select a room. She says penthouse. It quotes an absurd price, which will be "deducted from her account". She says 'okay' and is worried for a second as it processes, but apparently it thinks its successful. She asks it if know where there IS anyone, and it tells her that there are no living beings within its sensors. It doesn't know why (seemingly a fairly dumb machine). Molly says that her friends will be coming after her, but it might take a while, maybe even a week or so, so could it please tell her if it detects anybody in the city? It agrees, of course. We get a short montage of Molly 'enjoying' life in an empty, but fully functional city. Eating pizza from TNG style replicators. Watching movies (a Firefly remake?). Shopping in empty malls. Fighting robots in a recreational game. But pretty obviously being very bored with no people around. Finally, the robo-butler informs her that there's movement detected in the city. She rushes to the site (just at the border of the city and the post-apocalyptic area), but doesn't see anybody at first, until she notices some of the little metal creatures.

"Oh, it's just you". They seem to be disassembling part of a electrical post. She tries talking to them, mostly because she's been so lonely and talking to them is better than nothing, but all they respond to her is with whistles and such (or R2D2 talk as she calls it). While talking, a group of giant metal centipedes approach. They attack the tiny creatures viciously, to the point of even drilling into the ground when they go into undergound tunnels. Some are simple smashed, others are collected in sacks. Molly decides to take sides on the "Pick on someone your own size" basis, and attacks the centipedes, destroying/disabling two of them to free the others inside. They don't fight her back directly, and one stops, examining her. It tries speaking too, at first in a series of alien languages, but when she doesn't understand, it starts speaking English, explaining it has downloaded the English Language Packs, 18th to 40th Century (Local Reckoning). Molly's a bit apologetic upon realizing it can talk, and asks if it hurt its friends bad, but it assures her that they are all the same being (Sector Ninety-One Forty Maintenance Subsystem), just remoted controlled units. She is, however, interfering with maintenence operations in this area. It explains that the creatures it was fighting were damaging the "exhibits", and had been doing so for the last thousand years. "So they're not intelligent?" "They are Class 3 emergent intelligence, capable of reason and culture but unsophisticated and iminical to my programming. Their life cycle damages the exhibits, and so they must be destroyed." Upon asking about the exhibits, it explains that Earth has been designated a historical landmark and each section is designed to showcase a particular era of Earth history.

The (name of little aliens) hyper-evolved from alien spore weapons that got through a gap in the Galactus Defense System. "That doesn't mean you have to kill them." "They are alien." "So are some of my best friends." "They are machine-life." "I've got a friend like that, too. He's a little weird, but he's okay." "They damage the exhibits. They do not belong here." "Neither do I." "You are instantiated as a human." "Mutant." "Mutants are a subclass of humans. It is for your kind the museum exists. However, you are the first approved visitor to the planet in approximately 9 million years." The number freaks Molly out of course, and she asks what year it is, only to find that it's about 65 million years since she left.

Anyway, I've been going into way too much detail lately, so I'll go back to sketchy form... most of the rest of the issue deals with Molly trying to get the Maintenance machine to make peace with the little robots and let them live their life, since clearly nobody's using the Earth anymore, with a sort of "humanity's mission for you is like your parents controlling you" theme, and convincing it to break out of that and, instead of living the Earth maintaining somebody else's world, it strikes out on its own. It doesn't happen all at once. Molly keeps protecting the little ones and making her points and there's probably a time that the AI decides that if she's from the past it can possibly destroy her for the betterment of its mission, before Molly makes the last best argument. The computer is intelligent enough to make its own choices, it's just never been confronted with the need before. By the time Molly is called back, the little eater bots all speak English (although their intelligence is seemingly slightly less than human in individuals, they can share information among each other and with other AIs), and are demolishing parts of the exhibits, with an agreement that others are to remain. They want to show her something.

Before she can arrive to see it, she's wisked away by Nico's spell, but they've converted the statue of Kang into one of Molly.

Runaways #33 Solicitation:
(Cover: The Cabal, in a celebratory toast)
Resurrection, Part Two:
Locked in the old Hostel, Noor is called to account for betraying the Runaways while the Cabal makes some last minute arrangements. And Chase calls an old friend for help.


Runaways #30 Outline:
The Runaways have all reunited as a result of Nico's spell. They have some natural points of reunion, and comment on the oddness of how for N/K and V/C is was only a few hours, but for both Molly and Xavin/Klara it seemed like days (guessing that maybe the father away in time they were the longer it took the spell to find them). Then they notice that the time machine didn't come along... Molly explains about how it was eaten. Naturally they discuss what to do, realizing that they have to go to the future to avoid screwing up time any more. And if they want to go back, they need a time machine (Nico's staff is ruled out, at least at first, because time travel spells would need a lot of pain, and she's had more than she could take). Chase points out that they know where there's at least one time machine. The Pride. But that's back in the city. We see them taking the bus (maybe a bit of dialogue about Molly having manufactured a diamond in the future and selling that), but they're not all in the same spot, because the bus was mostly full when they got tickets. So they're scattered in small groups. Molly and Klara are sitting together, exchanging stories about the future vs the past. Chase and Victor sit together. Nico sits alone, near the front, even though there's a seat open beside Karolina and Xavin near the back. Xavin at the window, staring out at it. We see she's staring at Old Lace, who she's made invisible and carried along in an invisibility bubble. Karolina's filled Xavin in about her fight with Nico, describing it as taking a break from their friendship. Xavin asks if she's sure that's wise, and Karolina's seemingly firm in her decision, citing all the things revealed under the 'truth' spell. Xavin pulls the "my people are a race who's chiefest evolutionary advantage is the ability to decieve. So we value truth perhaps even more than humans. But we know that truth can be a lie, too, because it doesn't always tell you everything important."

At the city, they check out the LaBrea museum, but apparently the entrances to the secret base aren't built yet. They realize that since none of the kids are born yet, the best place to keep all their stuff would be at their homes. Xavin suggests that getting home is all well and good, but unless they have a plan for what happens once they go back. Some suggest they could arrive before the attack and prevent it completely, although they worry about what happens then because there'll be two versions of both of them if they have no reason to go back in time.

Chase makes some vague suggestion about kicking their asses out of their home. Molly says they'll have to do the same to Noor too, being almost scary about it, that he's a villain and deserves anything he gets. This line makes Klara speak up to defend Noor, saying it's not his fault, it was his parents who made him do it. Everybody else is against this reasoning - he made his choice, he could have said no. But Klara gets teary eyed about it, pointing out that SHE could have said no to her parents, or to her husband, too. "But you all said it wasn't my fault because I was too young, that it's not my fault I couldn't say no to MY parents, or my husband. Were you lying about that?" Of course they deny that, and Klara insists that Noor's a good person, even if he made a mistake." Karolina finally says that they won't hurt him, but they he's proven he's not one of them. Molly's not entirely on board with that judging by her facial expression, but doesn't speak up.

They worry that the Abstract might screw up their plans, or the whole future, because it relates their future just like it did the Pride and so might warn them, but Nico suggests that if she gets her hands on one of them, she can 'censor' all of them with a spell. So While some of them stake out the Dean house to watch their movements, others tackle the Stein house (since Chase knows their Abstract would be kept in their lab-shed). So we might get a scene where they're breaking in, only for Victor to be spotted by Janet Stein... who thinks he's the pool boy, and flirts with him, before going off to work, and they're able to break in (maybe also some speculation that Nico's censorship is what prevented the Pride from learning their kids would overthrow them).

Then they break into the Dean's. Not going to get too detailed, some action with security features of course. But they can't find the time machine. It's then that they're surprised, not just by the Deans, but by the whole Pride returning - they see them through the window. To preserve the timeline, Nico casts a disguise spell, and though there is a fight, it turns out the Yorkes monitored the time rip and want the same thing as the Runaways - to send them back to the proper point in time so it doesn't damage the universe. So they agree to send them back, and the time machine would return the moment they're in the future.

The issue ends with the group arriving in the future. AS soon as they get off, the time machine disappears, back to the past and its appointed spot in history. "So what now?" "Now we take back our home."

I should also note that Karolina has started to recharge from her depowering in this issue, indicating that it was only temporary and she just needed to be in the sun again.

-

Here's a good time to break, since LJ won't let me post stuff too long.
Next Post, issues #31 to #36, back to the main plot of the year.

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