And So It Came To Pass...

The bomb changed everything…

Prologue

We were all living our lives, the world sucked but at least we knew what to expect from it. Then on November 8, 2006 a nuclear explosion tore through Midtown Manhattan, right near Times Square. It was probably the most horrifying thing I've ever lived through. The sky was turned black from all the ash and soot kicked up into the air from the blast, the fires burned for days, electricity on the whole island of Manhattan went out in a flash. People were just running screaming in the streets, police and emergency services couldn't even handle the strain of the chaos and broke under its weight.

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The initial news reports said a few hundred thousand people died instantly in the explosion, but the death toll's somewhere even higher from those that died in the fires that burned for weeks afterward and from the radiation poisoning of the fallout cloud that drifted south over the city and settled somewhere in Jersey.

There were mass evacuations, some organized and some done out of simple psychotic panic. Before people could even pick up their heads and see what was going wrong, the world had completely changed around us, but we weren't even aware yet. The news was blaming radical Islamic extremists, North Korea, Iran, anyone with a grudge. No one could understand how this could happen on American soil, and worse yet no one had answers to how it happened.

Overnight, New York had practically become a third world country. Yet somehow, this city survived. Sometimes I wonder if it would've been better if I'd died in the flash.

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In the months that followed from the nuclear explosion, the chaos never really ended. The city's infrastructure had been hammered by the detonation, a few square blocks right in the center of Manhattan just south of Central Park were completely gone, there wasn't anything but a radioactive crater left behind. But it wasn't all clean cut - dozens of blocks of buildings were eviscerated by the blast wave, these derelict hulks of places left standing like tombstones and monuments to the dead. Fire burned even further out from there, and Manhattan was practically divided in half by this scar on the city. You could smell the poisonous smoke on the air well into the new year.

The recovery from that day in November was as much of a cluster-fuck as anyone could have imagined. Politicians waving their fingers at each other trying to place the blame, talking heads on the television giving analysis on how they think the "terrorist" managed to slip the bomb into the country, hours and hours of pointless experts and specialists trying to explain away something that everyone wanted answers to. None of them were really right.

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In the meanwhile, the people who survived the bomb were praying for death. Radiation poisoning from the fallout cloud, looting, mindless violence. It was like the whole goddamned world came to an end and everyone just went out of their goddamned minds. For a while it was bad, it was so bad that the army was called in to settle things down. Some places in New York, like Staten Island, they never fully recovered.

By the beginning of 2007 we still didn't have someone to hate, an enemy to point out fingers at, but you can bet the Washington war machine was ready to jump at any and all of this country's enemies like this was some sort've justification for everything they've ever wanted. Before the whole goddamned world broke out into World War III, someone finally stepped forward with answers.

His name was Nathan Petrelli. Then, he was just a senator from New York. But he had answers; but, scary, impossible answers and we were all ready to listen to whatever he had to say.

Super powers.

That's not what they called it, but that's exactly what it was. On February 18th, 2007, Senator Nathan Petrelli explained to the world what happened in Midtown on November 8th, 2006. A man by the name of Sylar, a serial killer, who possessed the ability to manipulate radioactive energy with his own body went nuclear at the site of ground zero. The first words of his speech, "People of America, I come to you today with what the world's been seeking for several months now; the truth," was the headline on every newspaper, blog and magazine publication around the world. To back up his claims, Petrelli had people step forward to demonstrate their abilities to the public - it was like something out of a movie. Most of us watching at home, we thought we'd died and this was some sort of crazy dream. It's funny — looking back — that was probably the least insane thing we've had to deal with since.

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A former LAPD officer named Matthew Parkman was among those who revealed their abilities to the world - he was a telepath and read the minds of the news crowd. There was Daniel Linderman, CEO of the Linderman Group, that healed this poor kid with radiation burns all over his body, and Jesse Alexander Knight, an NYPD beat officer, who could move things with his mind. They were the poster-boys for the world of the weird.

Petrelli said the government had already been looking in to what happened in Midtown, that this Sylar guy had died in the explosion and that there was no reason to fear, but that in his words, "The world as we know it has changed forever, and now it's time for us to move on into the future." We moved, sure, but we were kicking and screaming the whole while.

It was absolute pandemonium after Petrelli's speech, absolute god damned pandemonium. People all across the world started coming out of the woodworks, claiming they had special powers too. Some of them were right, some of them did. Most of them, they were just attention-seeking lunatics. Petrelli's shills who revealed themselves were on the cover of TIME magazine and pretty much every other media publication from here until the end of time. I don't know if they thought it was all going to be handshakes and smiles, but it wasn't. Things were bound to get ugly, and they did — fast.

It started with the reprisals, violence in the name of revenge against what happened. There was no group or organization to hate for what happened and all the lives that were lost, but there was a new genetic culture that could be hated - people were hurt, killed, or worse. It started with a few isolated incidents, then for about a week it was just absolute madness. Those first few ordinary people who stepped out — The "Evolved" as the media called them — got their lives ruined. People were dragged out of their homes and beat, gangs went around looking for the "Freaks", violence spread like a sickness through the veins of the country, and then out to the world.

It only finally calmed down on its own. No one's really sure when the last punch was thrown or when the last lynching got done, but sure as can be said most of the people who got hurt weren't even "Evolved", they were just unlucky. The government stepped in, needed to regulate and control things, restore order. That had a name, and that name was the Linderman Act.

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The Linderman Act was an attempt at settling everyone's fears. The Evolved were dangerous, or some of them were, and people needed placation of their fears. Registration was probably the simplest and most sane answer to this. Anyone who had an ability had to come forward, by law, and Register what it was with the government. A whole branch of the Department of Homeland Security was put to the process of categorizing, registering and classifying the Evolved. It probably would have worked too if human beings were honest creatures at heart, but they're not, and things just went from bad to worse.

The problem with registration was that there wasn't a readily obvious way to tell if anyone was Evolved or not. There wasn't a blood test back then; there was just your word on the matter and a demonstration of what you could do. People lied about the aspects of their abilities because they wanted to keep things private, or they honestly had something to hide. The scary part is that there were more Evolved out there than anyone had anticipated. The lion's share of them say they discovered their abilities in the fall of '06 just before the bomb, but there were some people who came forward and admitted to having had a power for years. It was terrifying, in a way.

Registration came and people seemed to come to their senses, if just for a little while. The world was still reeling, and outside of the US every country was handling their own Evolved crisis differently. Here in the states, we were watching the holding facilities get constructed. Some people who registered, you see, were just plain dangerous or couldn't control their ability. So the government had the idea of quietly tucking those people who registered out of sight and out of mind — indefinitely.

When word of that started to get out in rumors, the violence started again.

This time the violence wasn't as widespread as before, but it was more organized. Here in New York City, a group that called itself PARIAH was formed to fight Registration. Some of their members were Evolved, some of them not - they were like the Green Peace of the Evolved kind, fighting what they thought was the "good fight." The media says the first PARIAH attack was on March 7th 2008. A Homeland Security holding facility on the edge of the burn-zone in Midtown got torched by their members, and the group's slogan, "Fortis Et Liber" — Latin for "Strong and Free" — was spray-painted all over the area around it.

The public ate this shit up as fast as the media could spoon it out. Soon, the word "terrorist" was back on everyone's lips, and this time it was towards PARIAH and not Muslims or Arabs or whatever other racial or religious demographic was most common before. Now the "bad guy" could look like anyone, not just some narrow ethnic margin that the media could spill out.

The city was struggling and suffering, it was at what they thought was the bottom of the damned barrel and trying to claw its way out. Infrastructure had barely been restored across the city, and now Pro-Evolved terrorists were striking out at the government, blowing things up and burning things down all in the name of progress.

Some progress that was.

Volume I: Ascent

The world's a lot more complicated than I'd even suggested though. There's secret government organizations, see? Stuff that tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists had been talking about for years. The public doesn't know about them, doesn't know what they're called or who they are, but back in the summer of 2008, PARIAH sure found out who they were. You see, there's a group called the Company, and they'd been around forever hiding people like the Evolved from the world, "protecting" people. They slipped in to the government under the guise of the Department of Homeland Security's "Evolved Specialists" and kept on doing their work. But when that terrorist group PARIAH found out? They about lost their goddamned minds.

The city was still struggling to recover from what happened in 2006, and even the criminal underworld was trying to right itself after what happened. The city's mafia was, back then, run by a man named Frankie Civella, head of the Civella crime family - as big as you could get in the post-bomb world. While baby terrorists were discovering the Company, Daniel Linderman — remember him? — was setting his sights on old Frankie. See, conspiracy theories can be less crazy too, and if you listen hard enough to the street you can hear word that Daniel Linderman's something of a mobster in his own right. That's right people, that gentle old man who heals sick kids and donates to charities might just have you gunned down in an alley if you cross him. The world's full of masks, isn't it?

So Linderman sets out to ruin Civella's reputation and crush him under his heel by pulling strings in the NYPD and on street-level, trapping Frankie in a web of his own damned making so that Daniel can sweep in and take over to fill the vacuum. Most everyone at the time who was in the know on this just thought it was opportunistic sniping of the competition, it wasn't, but that's neither here nor there right now.

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While Daniel's preoccupied with crushing Frankie Civella, PARIAH gets its violent act together. A lot of new faces join the organization, and they find out a terrible secret — the Midtown Man, Sylar, is alive. They think he's being held in a facility in the Bronx, one owned and maintained by the "Company," that secret organization that'd known about the Evolved for years.

Turns out they were wrong. Sylar was alive, but he was the one leading them around by the nose, using them to help break in to the Company's Bronx facility by making them think they were going to be the big damned heroes and kill him. In truth, all Sylar wanted to get his hands on was this guy they had locked up, named Adam Monroe. See, Sylar's power isn't just all mushroom clouds and sinister laughter - he steals people's abilities from them by ripping their brains right out of their head. Adam's ability? He was immortal.

You can see how this went from bad to worse.

PARIAH barely got their shit together in time to stop Sylar from capturing Adam and stealing his ability, but not until the damage had already been done. Dozens of dangerous Evolved the Company had been rounding up for years got loose when their facility was raided, and everyone they kept locked up down there in "Level Five" was free to roam the earth and Sylar? Sylar got away into the night.

While PARIAH was making the single biggest mistake of its career, Daniel Linderman had set up Frankie Civella to take the fall, and on October 8th, he was connected with an attempted hit on a young woman from Brooklyn. The whole thing was orchestrated by Daniel, and when it all came to fruition and the final words were set in print, Frankie Civella was going to be put away for a long, long time and Daniel Linderman? He suddenly became the most influential man in New York City.

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For some people, things were looking up.

Volume II: Divisions

By the fall, PARIAH had realized they made a huge mistake. The group retreated to lick its wounds and consider the implications of what had happened in light of the attack on the Company's Bronx facility. Meanwhile the world at large had been mostly unaware of what was happening around them. This, of course, was about to change in a way very few people could have expected.

The first body was found on October 4th, shriveled up and desiccated like a fire-burned log in an alleyway n the Lower East Side. It started with one, but quickly started to escalate to dozens, and soon the city of New York had a new serial killer on their hands that the media had titled "The Reaper." He left his victims bodies' charred husks burned from the inside out and withered away, and as the body count started to pile up, it became clear that he was stalking the Evolved through their entries in the Registry.

While this psychopath was lurking in the shadows, claiming lives and stirring up panic, PARIAH started to have a crisis of conscience about what they done. This all came to a head when their leader — Cameron Spalding — became the next victim of the Reaper, and he was killed right outside one of PARIAH's hiding grounds. When his ashy body hit the street, everything started to break down in the organization and a fracture along ideological lines started in the power vacuum left in Cameron's wake. Half of PARIAH wanted to keep fighting the good fight, sticking it to the man and blowing up buildings and taking down the government's "fascist regime" as best they could. The other half happened to have a new figurehead, a young girl who'd been swayed by a member of PARIAH to try and take it a different route; activism and social awareness was the idea, but you know how ideas can go. She wanted to move away from the violence that had only caused problems and had led them to where they were now, and ultimately she lost out on the votes, and there was a division. PARIAH continued to exist as a violent group bent on breaking down the government and making them repeal the Linderman Act, while from the ashes of Cameron Spalding's death, Phoenix would become a vigilant source of the truth and information among the Evolved population.

People were afraid in the city, the Reaper was leaving a trail of ashen corpses in his wake, the Evolved were afraid to Register, and PARIAH was about to make everyone's day even more miserable by making their biggest announcement yet with a bang, and Phoenix was born from all of this chaos and turbulence and left to try and find its own footing in the world.

To say this was the calm before the storm would've been generous.

Volume III: A Collective Fear

Fear's a powerful thing, it can motivate people to do things they would never do on their own. Everything from crimes of passion to simple psychotic rage can be attributed to fear in whatever flavor or fashion fits the bill. Those that know how to manipulate the public's fears of the day have a measure of power that most rulers in their time come to know and understand. As New York City started to make its steady crawl towards the end of 2008, fear was in high demand, and everyone was serving it out.

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It started on November 8, 2008, the second year anniversary of the Bomb that changed everything. At St. Luke's Cathedral, during a peaceful remembrance ceremony, the new leadership of PARIAH showed up to make their demands to the public on live television. Their leader made a statement to the public heard around the world, addressing the Secretary of Homeland Security Everett Hicks, demanding equality for the Evolved and the right to live without the fear of the Department of Homeland Security determining that they were too "dangerous" to be free. When the gloves came off, PARIAH had made their case clear and everyone was waiting to see what would happen next.

While PARIAH is making their grandstanding gesture, the rest of the world is looking at the 2008 Presidential elections. The country had narrowed it down to three candidates by the fall; frontrunner among them was the senator that revealed the truth to the world, Nathan Petrelli. His competitors were both powerful and influential men, from Andrew Mitchell who was seen as a proponent of stricter and heavier Registration laws, to the liberal and Evolved-friendly Allen Rickham who seemed like the world's best bet for a brighter future. Political lines were being drawn at the same time battle lines were, and no one in the city seemed to notice that there was something far more sinister at work behind the curtain.

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PARIAH's violence hit an upswing; a company that developed software for the Registry was bombed as a warning to the supporters of Registration, but then it seemed like PARIAH just lost its mind. Just when the Reaper's serial killings seemed to come to an end this new wave of violence exploded from out of nowhere. Banks were robbed in the name of PARIAH, and then the most tragic of all, a Rocket attack on the Washington Irving High School on November 21st killed dozens of innocent children in the name of PARIAH's work. It became clear to PARIAH that someone was trying to frame them for horrific acts, but at the time no one could have guessed how horrible the truth really was.

In an attempt to balance out the scales, the newly formed group Phoenix made a point of utilizing their powers for the common good, setting off a "Miracle Day" through New York City, where their organization made charitable donations of food to city shelters, their healer ventured through hospitals to cure the sick and dying, and they tried as hard as they possibly could to make the world see that everything wasn't so bad.

This seemed to be solidified when the public at large pulled their heads out of their collective asses and elected Allen Rickham to be the next President of the United States of America. A progressive and compassionate president, Rickham began a plan to tour New York City's devastated areas in an attempt to understand the wounds his country bore, and bring about reconciliation to all of the different voices crying out for understanding.

Unfortunately, not everyone was listening.

On December 14th the NYPD's special evolved-crimes unit SCOUT in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security made a raid on PARIAH's headquarters after information about their next planned operation was leaked to the police. In a short but bloody raid on their compound in the ruins of Midtown, the leadership of PARIAH was killed and their members scattered to the wind. What at the time seemed like a blow against a senselessly violent organization was actually all a part of some far greater machination, and no one realized it until it was too late.

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During President-Elect Rickham's tour of the ruins of Midtown, the true threat to the world made itself visible for the first time. A clandestine organization of anti-Evolved soldiers made an attempt on Rickham's life. At the time no one knew who they were, not even the government at large, and was it not for Phoenix finding about the attempt at the absolute last minute he would have died by this shadowy organization's hand.

But saving Rickham's life didn't end anything. In fact, with President-Elect Rickham having disappeared into Phoenix's custody after the attempt on his life, things only escalated, and just like had been planned all along, the city was wrapped in fear and ready to accept whoever could give them a semblance of peace.

What they were going to get, wasn't peace, but a taste of Armageddon.

Volume IV: A Taste of Armageddon

It's hard to say when it all came together and truly went to hell, but it's generally accepted that by December we were slouching towards the apocalypse and hardly anyone had an idea what was actually going on. The NYPD were still investigating the "Reaper" case, completely unaware that it was all a big smoke and mirrors act.

The rocket attack on Washington-Irving, the Reaper killings, these were all a targeted attack on the vulnerable psyche of the people of New York City and America at large. The perpetrators weren't anything we were used to; they weren't your average terrorists, political idealists or fundamental extremists. They were an organized paramilitary organization out of Europe called the Vanguard.

Their leader was the man responsible for the "Reaper" killings, an Evolved come Evolved hunter named Kazimir Volken. If you believe the rumors and ghost stories, people say he was well over 100 years old, a body-stealing psychopath with generations of wealth smuggled out of the fall of Germany during the end of World War II.

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Sure the rumors sounded crazy, but the truth was even wilder. Worse was the fact that Volken had a plan, something he called "The Work" and the end result was nothing short of the end of the world as we all know it. Turns out when you're a psychopathic madman bent on purging the Evolved from the world, and you hire out a few Evolved just zealous enough to follow you to the grave, you might have a few bad eggs in the lot that go traitor.

That's just what happened. No one really knows what drove some of Kazimir's most loyal followers to turn on him at the 11th hour, but they did. Right when Volken was planning his most ambitious part of his plan, a targeted viral attack on New York City prophesized — by honest to God prophets — to reduce the world's population by 95, some of his lieutenants jumped ship and did their damnedest to warn people who could do something about the threat before it was too late.

Sure the lion's share of these opportunistic traitors were murderers and psychopaths themselves, but they — apparently — had limits. These elements of the Vanguard that rebelled joined up with Phoenix, the organization that had arisen from PARIAH's metaphorical and literal ashes, to try and stave off Armageddon while the United States Government was busy trying to pull its collective head out of its ass and realize that the warnings they were given were not, in fact, a hoax.

No one believed the warning signs, not until the day the virus was supposed to be released. You remember when the news covered that massive explosion on the Verrazanno-Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island? Yeah, they say it was a terrorist attack that dropped the bridge, but in truth it was those remnants of Volken's Vanguard, Phoenix, and hell even Sylar - who had reemerged as a Vanguard operative — decided that maybe the whole serial killer lifestyle wasn't all it was cut out to be.

All the other major events in the city that day were tied to stopping the virus' release: The unexplained explosion on the freighter off the New York coast that sank to the bottom of the ocean, the demolition of the Consolidated Edison power plant that left us all in the dark, even the fire at the ruins of the Sea View Hospital on Staten Island. These weren't isolated terrorist incidents like the media told everyone… no, that was Top-Shelf Heroism.

But it made the government look bad, incompetent, and worst of all to them it made the extremists look right.

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In the end, Kazimir Volken was destroyed (or so we all assumed) and Phoenix's big reward for saving the whole goddamned world was the government freaking out and arresting half of the organization's membership that was present on the bridge. No heroes welcome, no parades in the streets. No, there was no happy ending, just a lot more pain.

In the chaos that was happening, President-Elect Allen Rickham mysteriously stepped down from the office of the Presidency before being sworn in to office and the world held its collective breath as the Vice-President's health deteriorated to the point where he could not serve as President in Rickham's stead. This left Secretary of State Nathan Petrelli to ascend to the Presidency, dragging his lap-dog Andrew Mitchell at his side as his Veep. The day Petrelli was sworn in felt like a slap in the face for everyone in the US, to everyone who voted for change, for the progress of out society.

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The day after the Narrows fell and the day Nathan Petrelli ascended to the highest office of power in the United States was the lowest point for a lot of us truth-seekers in the city, across the country, hell even across the world. Strife was coming, and boy howdy did it know how to make an entrance.

Volume V: Nadir

In the days following the Fall of the Narrows, New York City was in shambles. The electricity was out across the board everywhere from the destruction of the Consolidated Edison Power Plant. That one station going down nearly knocked us all back to the dark ages. Thankfully the weather was getting warmer and the deluge of rain coming was starting to wash away the bad memories.

The government, however, felt a little sheepish after nearly letting the world come to an end. You could say they've been overcompensating ever since, but that might be putting it mildly. From that day forward, the curfew in New York City has been observed; nobody but government workers or people with special purpose passes out on the streets. The hours fluctuate depending on the crisis level, but the outcome's the same; a stranglehold on freedom.

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The curfew was just the beginning, but south of Manhattan on Staten Island, it was like the Wild Goddamned West. Staten Island was reaching the height of its debauchery. A neighborhood called the Rookery had come into prominence, covering a good quarter of the island on the northeastern side. To give you an idea of what the Rookery used to be like, combine Las Vegas and the old West, and remove any sense of accountability, and add in a dash of Romanesque debauchery.

There were cage fights between kidnapped Evolved, rape gangs, brothels, drug dens popping up everywhere. It was an honest to God hive of scum and villainy. Obi Wan Kenobi couldn't have described it better himself.

The months that followed the chaos of the Vanguard's defeat saw a rise in criminal power the likes of which the city hadn't seen since Daniel Linderman climbed to the top of the shit-pile. Triad wars, gangs, you name it the city was crawling with it.

Outside of New York, things had gone from bad to worse for the people captured by the government at the fall of the Narrows. See, the government got it in its head that the Company couldn't be trusted to be the only ones responsible for the detention of Evolved criminals any longer, ever since the Level-5 breakout months prior. So billions of dollars were funneled into something called the Moab Federal Penitentiary. Of course Moab wasn't a prison on any map, and the government to this day still denies it ever existed, and hell — most people don't even know it did.

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It was the Guantanamo Bay of the Evolved, a place where people just disappaeared to without due process. An internment camp for government dissenters, evolved with abilities that were deemed "too dangerous" and yes, a few absolutely psychotic people who honestly deserved to be there — or have a bullet set in their heads. The problem was, Moab started getting filled before it was finished and before the full security compliment was established.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Company is getting played the fool of by an inside job that's also creeping up the government's leg like a blood-engorged leech. Someone behind the scenes was sowing the seeds of dissent, and arranging to have those Phoenix kids arrested when they should've been getting medals. Why would anyone do this? Propaganda, of course - political spin.

At the time we only had the faintest of inklings of what was really going on, but when Phoenix decided to take care of its baby birds that got captured and spring them from Moab with guns blazing, things went completely out of hand. If you listen to the stories of inmates who made it out of Moab, they say the sky turned purple and the whole prison just disappeared. Satellite images show a mile wide crater where the penitentiary used to be, and some inmates who were caught in whatever happened claimed to had been launched days or weeks into the future and some also thousands of miles away.

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You know that law of physics though; every action has an equal and opposite reaction?

We were about to get smacked in the face by it.

Volume VI: A Sound of Thunder

So it looked like something was going on inside of the Company. An assistant-director was pulling some major strings and rubbing elbows with an operations director of Homeland Security. By the time the Company got the wool pulled over their eyes and found out their archives had been pilfered of sensitive documents pertaining to the Company's history and some of its darkest secrets, red alert wouldn't have been nearly a high enough stage of readiness.

When Moab disappeared, something truly major got put into motion. The truth of it all is up for debate, but the rumors I hear claim that a handful of prisoners from ten years in the future had displaced the whole damned prison in some sort of time-travel prison break. I know it's hard to believe, but these people came back with warnings from the future and an agenda on how to change it so it couple never happen. The thing of the matter is, a bunch of people from Moab allegedly got sent to this bright future they came from, but trying to get anyone to talk about what happened there is like trying to squeeze blood from a stone.

It's only gonna' hurt.

The prisoners, these were some Grade-A lunatics. They were wreaking havoc not indiscriminately, but trying to change the course of historical events to better suit themselves, or so it seemed at first. While all this was happening, the whole reason they were trying to change the future was forming up under our feet. A company called Pinehearst was making deals with the government to develop a serum that could empower any old ordinary joe with superhuman abilities. Problem was the formula for this had been lost years ago, and Pinehearst was working hard to get it back.

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The shadow behind the throne of Pinehearst Company was a man named Arthur Petrelli, you may find a bitter taste in your mouth upon trying to say that family name; I assure you it's a natural gag reflex. Petrelli's plans were pretty grandiose; destroy the Company that had turned on him and tried to murder him, strike a deal with the government to create an army of super-soldiers to control the "Evolved situation" and quietly take over. Maybe it would've worked out for the best, but we never got the opportunity to find out.

Those criminals who came back were led by one man, a man named Edward Ray. Edward used to be an ordinary mathematician from MIT up in Massachusetts, till one day he saw some big pattern unfolding in front of his eyes and just went fucking berserk. He's the one that helped organize everyone to stop the Vanguard, but ten years in the future he'd been a prisoner of Arthur Petrelli. Maybe because he was dangerous, maybe because he knew something he shouldn't, maybe something we'll never know.

Edward had orchestrated some elaborate plan to try and change the future forever, and right up until the last minute we almost played right into his hands. See, there was only one person Edward was conceited enough to actually not be able to account for the actions of with his statistical prowess— himself. He organized this band of misfits together to try and stop his future self's plan, for what end no one damned well knows, because the end result of both their plans wound up with a series of unfortunate events.

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One: the destruction of Pinehearst's headquarters in Fort Lee New Jersey. Two: both of their deaths. Three: the prevention of the Formula from ever being finished. Just like that, the future that could have been was wiped out, and we were back to writing out own destinies again. The problem was, the only person who had a road-map on how to get out of the mess the country was in socially and economically was martyred as a villain and both of the statistical geniuses were either dead or missing. It was hard to tell with all the rubble and carnage.

What the world was left with was everyone driving full speed into the aftermath of trying to change the future, and it became pretty obvious pretty fast that nobody was in the driver's seat.

Volume VII: Escalation

With summer starting to come to a close, things were looking pretty bleak, but in all honesty it hadn't even begun to rain fire and brimstone yet. The violence had started as early as June, but it didn't truly heat up until August. The source of the violence was a very organized group of bigots calling itself Humanis First. They'd started out as little more than a reason to saw the state of Florida off the bottom of the country and let it drift into the ocean, but over the years the hate and the sickness that they represented had just festered and grown like some cancerous tumor ready to burst.

Two leaders rose up to take the reins of Humanis First's cell activities in New York City in the summer of 2009; Emile Danko, an Ex-Marine with a chip on his shoulder the size of the Grand Canyon, and Bill Dean, father of the face of Phoenix Helena Dean, bigot and hypocrite closet-Evolved with a bad temper problem. These two sociopaths managed to carve up one side of the city to another with suicide bombings, executions, kick-in-the-door style raids, even a high-profile assault on a government banquet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with — I kid you not — an armor plated ice cream truck.

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All jokes about Rocky Road aside, Humanis First was an honestly dangerous threat. The problem with all this was, for all the damage they were causing in the city and the fear they were instilling in people, they weren't the only ones doing it. See, when Moab disappeared — or whatever happened to it — some of the actual dangerous criminals that were held there and should've stayed there were just free and running around. Chief of these nut-jobs was Norman White, a man who believed that God put him on this earth to lead the Evolved to a promised land or some crazy nonsense like that.

Norman wasn't just all talk though, he was a big, charismatic and powerful Evolved with the ability to literally move mountains. He wasn't alone either. Like some sort of psychotic Moses, he was gathering up people, non-Evolved and Evolved alike, rallying them on Staten Island to try and prepare for a time when they would rise up and fight the government. Norman had this plan, of making a big, and we're talking Bomb 2.0 big threat to the government, that if his demands to cease registration weren't met, he was going to start dropping land masses into the Atlantic Ocean.

Fighting a battle on two fronts was bad enough, but it was a three-way clusterfuck in New York that summer. Violence was at an all time high with two different Chinese Triads — the Flying Dragons and the Ghost Shadows — were warring for territory. The former of the two had powerful Evolved leaders and were beginning to grow strong and influential enough that even Daniel Linderman felt threatened from atop the crapheap.

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It turns out, Linderman bought out the Ghost Shadows and together with the combined might of the Flying Dragon's worst enemies, spies in their own midst, and the government's new Evolved-Only paramilitary brainchild called FRONTLINE hammering at their gates, things were only going to end one way; bloodily.

That's how all three of these conflicts ended, truth be told. Bill Dean allegedly ate his gun in a Humanis First bunker in Midtown when it was raided by an underground network that you heard me talk of a while back called the Ferrymen. Turns out the people who've tasked themselves with protecting the Evolved and their safety don't take too kindly to bigoted genetic purists. You whack a bees' nest enough times, you will get stung. Emile Danko seemed to disappear off the face of the earth after a high-profile kidnapping, but rumors in the underground say that the Ferry got their hands on him and turned him over to the government.

And Norman White got himself killed at, of all places, the Statue of Liberty, by a hero the world may never know the name of. Everything I've heard said it was a man who went by the name of Shard, yeah, the gold-record winning rapper who had been in the news for a while talking about equal rights for the Evolved. If the word on the grape-vine is right, and more often than not it is, Shard gave his life trying to make sure Norman White didn't take ours. I'm sure he had a little help along the way, but some of those shadows prefer not to be known by the history books.

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After all that blood, sweat and tears, you'd think things would calm down by the time fall came.

Things were just warming up.

Volume VIII: Fallout

While everyone had been focusing their problems on New York City, the world continued to burn down around us. Seriously, things anywhere else in the world are just as bad as back home in the States. It all came to a head though when the legacy of the Vanguard finally came bubbling up to the surface like a leak from a septic tank. In May 2009, there'd been a raid on the Vanguard's central stronghold in Berlin, and what the UN and NATO forces found there scared the shit out of them.

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You see, when the government was trying to determine the difference between its ass and its elbow back in the winter of 2008 when a virus was about to wipe out all of mankind, they'd been served papers by a Homeland Security Agent named Minea Dahl with information attributed from several anonymous sources. The "Einliter-Dahl Files" detailed everything she'd gathered on the Vanguard in terms of intelligence, but none of the data had been vetted. By the time the government realized it was all true, it was too late. The follow up though was the raid in May, and that led to even worse discoveries.

Kazimir Volken had a contingency plan set into motion in the event of his death, a "Final Solution" to the world's Evolved problem that — up until he discovered the virus he nearly killed us all with — was going to be his swan song to the world, one that ended with the roar of a 100 megaton nuclear explosion.

You see, a long time ago during the Cold War, Russians were fucking out of their minds. They devised a nuclear weapon that when detonated in Russia rattled windows in Sweden. Look it up on Wikipedia sometime, it was called Tsar Bomba. Two of these bombs were made; one of them disappeared into the Stepnogorsk Nuclear Weapons facility in the village of Stepnogorsk in western Russia. That, in turn, ended up in Kazimir Volken's hands sometime in 2003 along with a much smaller nuclear warhead. He, perhaps ironically, dubbed them Hugin and Munin.

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Hugin was found by the strike force that took down the Berlin bunker in May of 2009, Munin had already been secreted away. So the government discovered that the Vanguard had holdings across the globe, and a very hush-hush military operation went underway to find the bomb before it could be used to make good of the Biblical story of Noah's Ark.

Russia, Madagascar, China, and Argentina held the last remaining strongholds of the Vanguard, and conscripted soldiers drawn from the ranks of the Vanguard's traitors who turned on Kazimir at the end of 2008 and an assortment of other freedom fighters that the government thought looked pretty standing shoulder-to-shoulder on an aircraft carrier, along with several thousand US soldiers banded together to crush a heel in the Vanguard once and for all.

While there was a globe-trotting spy adventure going on, New York City was falling apart at the goddamned seams. In the wake of Pinehearst's destruction, a designer drug called "Refrain" made it out onto the streets. It works on the Evolved only, gave them vivid hallucinations of happy moments in their past. Problem was it was highly addictive and may have also been responsible for a sudden jump in suicide rates in the city. Or, if you believe the rumor mill, there might have been a dream-walking serial killer taking advantage of the holes Refrain bored into the subconscious, but honestly that's a little far out to believe.

To try and shore up the crumbling city, the Petrelli administration put together the Department of Evolved Affairs, a special-actions group designed to look pretty, smile on camera and shake hands and kiss babies and make everyone think everything was alright. While people like the Ferrymen are putting blood, sweat and tears into rejuvenating places like the ghetto Summer Meadows on Roosevelt Island, the DoEA stomp in and take all the credit for all their hard work.

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The average joe never finds out about Operation: Apollo and the secret war against the Vanguard, never finds out why the US suddenly decided to invade the country of Madagascar and end the violent coup there, no one ever found out how the rebellion in Argentina truly came to a close, or why a monastery in the small city of Ryazan, Russia was destroyed. Truth be told very few people know why the Amundsen-Scott research facility in Antarctica sank into the ice. But there're stories out there, on the internet and on the street, about a photo-negative nuclear explosion rising a few hundred kilometers over the south pole.

The truth? Only the people who participated in Operation: Apollo know, but whatever it is they did, they saved the world. For better or worse.

Volume IX: Fahrenheit

When it rains it pours, and when it snows… well, that's a whole 'nother story.

As if the fears of a virus that could potentially leap from the Evolved to Non-Evolved weren't the worst thing imaginable, what happened to the eastern seaboard of the United States over the months of February to the beginning of June is — in many people's minds — almost as bad as the bomb itself.

It started with some bad weather that lingered around like an unwanted houseguest. By the time it had been cloudy for four weeks straight and the snow didn't stop falling, meterologists started tearing their hair out. The northeastern coast of the United States, from Maine all the way down to Virgnina, was under the influence of what many were calling the worst blizzard in decades. It turned out, when the storm finally reached full size and parked itself over the northeast, that it wasn't going to just be the worst storm in decades, but the worst storm that the United States as a nation has ever faced, possibly the worst storm to lay itself down across our little troubled world.

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By the time the snow started blocking first story windows and the jet stream began changing its course erratically, it became clear to everyone that this wasn't your average run-of-the-mill disaster weather. It was like something out of a bad Michael Bay movie, but unlike some terrible eighty-minute diaster flick we didn't get to walk out of the theater after the fact to normal weather. No, by the time the government threw out the term, "Evolved Eco-Terrorism" the world already knew that it was in for a bad one.

The media has called it "The Great Storm" in the aftermath, and for a while it looked like there might not be anyone to report the news to if the weather didn't stop. By the time all was said and done, the storm had dropped over twenty-five feet of snow up and down the northeast, with the New York tri-state area and portions of New England getting it the worst, while southern areas like D.C. and Virginia still got record snow but didn't quite reach the Antarctic -100 degrees Fahrenheit that everyone else faced.

That the weather was caused by an Evolved wasn't even so much the worst thing, but it was the casualties that came from it. Tens of thousands of people in New York City alone died from exposure and from building collapses connected to the weather. Electricity was out across several states for months and buildings on private electric grids became shelters for people seeking to survive the storm. Hundreds of people were sardined together in hotels, hospitals and whatever other buildings had their own independant power. Those poor bastards living in the FEMA trailer-parks since the bomb? Nearly all of them froze to death if they didn't leave.

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People are still arguing on when the storm actually first hit, but most estimates say that the storm began some time in February and ended right around the 20th of May when the skies finally cleared late at night. The temperatures began to rise back from the brink, because by that time it was so cold that not even emergency rescue personnel could go anywhere. As the weather started to warm and the thaw came, people were naturally asking questions: "Where did the weather come from? Who was reponsible?" People are demanding answers, and right now nobody has them. The only thing that's getting front-page coverage in all of this is the weather and the bodies being pulled out of muddy puddles now that the snow's finally melting and flooding is rampant.

But there was more going on in that snow, more than just a blizzard, but the cold and the ice and the gray skies hid something terrible happening behind the scenes. The government was working on trying to cover up a serial killing spree happening across the city. Turns out a copycat killer to the Midtown Man was working his way up and down the city, and that all got blown out into the public eye right before the electricity went out when NYPD Police Commissioner Karen Lau got murdered in her own office. To date the FBI and Department of Homeland Security still hasn't released information on the killer, and the investigation is still pending.

Depending on where you stick your ear to the ground, you might hear rumors about government "sweeping teams" going through neighborhoods of H5N10 infected and rounding people up for quarantine and evacuation, you might hear about terrorists attacking CDC shipments of the vaccine, you might hear a lot of things. But is that just a sign of the times?

Or is it a shape of things to come?

Volume X: Awakening

When the snow finally melted and it looked like spring was really going to come, New York City and the entire east coast of the United States shook off its warm coats and took a look around to assess the damages. Thousands were dead from the cold, streets were flooding from the melting snow and it would take months to truly assess the damages done by the winter weather.

Areas of untended infrastructure like Staten Island suffered the worst, whole neighborhoods of flattened buildings crushed by the snow look like a Tennesee trailer park after a tornado whipped through. The missing were showing up in shelters, out of town and as corpses in melting snowbanks. By the time May had arrived, the snow was gone, the flooding was becoming manageable and it looked like we may have all dodged the biggest bullet possible.

Apparently there was one more round left in the chamber.

They're going to be dissecting June 10th, 2010 for decades to come. Like November 8th, 2006, like September 11th, 2001, it's an epoch in American history where something unfathomable happened, something unexplainable. Across New York City, portions of New Jersey and their shared coastlines a phenomenon occured that hundreds of thousands of people — evolved and non-evolved alike — all experienced together.

The media is calling it "The Flash," originally believed to be a shared hallucination of Evolved origin, now it's suspected that it might have been a city-wide incident of mass precognition, a view into what most people are calling a "possible" future. While everyone who experienced the Flash Forward saw it from different perspectives in the near minute they were blacked out, everyone saw the same day in time.

November 8, 2010.

On the four-year anniversary of the nuclear explosion in Midtown Manhattan there will be a riot, a riot to end all riots that consumes New York City the way an out of control fire consumes a forest. The panic following the vision nearly crippled the city itself and analyists are still trying to piece together the puzzle of what causes the riots to break out, what could have been the catalyst that drove the entire city out of its collective mind. Worse yet, no one is sure that the riots themselves are even contained to New York City, or if they're happening everywhere. Did everyone witness the end of the world, or is it something else? The beginning of something worse?

Those who witnessed the flash were unconscious for nearly a minute. Bus drivers, pedestrians, joggers, students and on and on. Vehicular accidents clogged up the city, hospitals already strained from the storm were pushed to their limits once more by this incident and the media — everyone — was blaming the Evolved for what happened. No one could agree on the veracity of the visions, whether they were fact or fear-mongering implanted like some great illusion to drive the world to the brink.

There's a handful of people, the ones in the know who are aware of what actually caused the visions, and those select few among the Ferrymen, the Endgame and the other disperate factions that survived the storm say the name Institute with venom and distrust.

While everyone is focusing on the Flashes, the organization indirectly responsible for the great storm began establishing its base of power in New York City. The Commonwealth Institute is, on the surface, a branch of research for the Department of Defense. Underground it is a government-sanctioned organization designed to observe, detain and maintain the "Evolved Situation." It sounds like there'd be a lot of overlap with the other clandestine organization called the Company. You'd be right.

In the wake of the Flash, the city continued to tear itself apart as stark lines of allegiance were drawn across the country's landscape. A pro-evolved and violent organization known as Messiah came into the fore of everyone's minds with their brazen attacks against government installations. The bombing of a Chicago CDC building, the destruction of a Pharmatech facility in Colorado, attacks against companies supporting SLC test kits, even quietly performed battles against Humanis First. Branded terrorists by the media and the public, Messiah madeitself known as loudly as possible across the country without really explaining why they do what they do…

While everyone is chasing the tails of Prophets and Messiahs, the Company had been struggling with administrative tangles created by the Department of Homeland Security and potential ties to the Institute. With positions of power shifting within the organization, the Company was forced to investigate a series of high-profile cases involving the Evolved, from mind-controlled cults to murderers of senators.

In the heat of all these situations, legislation was pushed through to create a comprehensive national Registry expansion of the Linderman Act. No longer would only the Evolved be forced to Register, but everyone, Evolved and Non-Evolved alike would be forced into the Registry to weed out the Evolved still hiding among the populace. Public opinion was ablaze on both sides of the debate over the public Registration, but in the wake of incidents like the Bomb, the Great Storm and the mass-hallucination people were ready for structure to be enforced, they were ready to embrace any solution that could come along.

Mob mentality was the rule.

Everything came to an explosive head all at once in August. Messiah turned their sights on the Institute and specifically a facility located on Staten Island that had been performing experients related to the research of the now defunct Pinehearst group, horrible and inhuman experiments that even the Institute itself could no longer condone. Along with allies from the city's disparate factions, Messiah — according to the media Messiah alone — destroyed the Staten Island Hospital, though the truth that they were preventing the horrors from happening their from continuing while rescuing unwilling captives went unsaid. They were made to be the villain in this story, even while the Institute painted itself out of the public eye. It was fortunate, though, that Messiah and their unlikely allies did the Institute's dirty work for them, because they had one very important task left to perform before the month was out.

The public didn't know it even happened. Black helicopters raced across the skies of New York City, some loud noises were heard on Long Island, and 24-hours later the world's greatest kept secret since the Evolved was all across major media.

Overnight, the Company had fallen.

Crushed under the heel of the Institute and traitorous agents allied with the Institute operating on the inside, the Company was demolished by their replacements and the entire sordid affair was brought into the public eye. The Company was blamed for everything from the Bomb to the 2009 attempted viral attack on the city. Their agents were arrested, shell corporations seized and blood would fill the gutters of the city before all was said and done.

The coup de tat was over before anyone knew, but the aftershocks of the Company's fall fills the national media and fuels speculations about an "Evolved Agenda" to take over the White House and the country. Somehow Nathan Petrelli came out of all of this smelling like roses and looking like a national hero and the country ate up the story of the Company with a spoon.

Checkpoints were formed on Staten Island and Roosevelt Island, creating what would become the country's largest gated communities, though other people are more colorfully referring to them as concentration camps. It may not quite be Dachau or Auschwitz yet, but the paralells of relocations are starting to make it obvious. Maybe groups like Messiah and Phoenix were always right:

It really is a Brave New World.

Volume XI: The Hunted

There was a poem, once, that said something about the world ending with a whimper, not a bang.

Boy were they wrong.

It all started with what came out in the public media. The Company, the people who had been hiding the secret of the Evolved for generations were dragged out into the light, kicking and screaming. The truth of the revelation was kept hush-hush, but the story fed to the public had enough kernels of truth in it to be palateable.

As the story goes, the Company was outed as a conspiracy existing since the 1960s, hiding the secret of the Evolved and being blamed for everything from global warming to the Midtown explosion. Maybe the former is a bit of an exaggeration, but the latter most definitely was not. The Company's heads, all save for Angela Petrelli and Daniel Linderman who seemed to get a "get out of purgatory free" card, were rounded up and arrested. Global actions against the Company's holdings, agents gunned down, a full routing of their capabilities.

It was the end of an era, and with the fall of the Company the Commonwealth Institute of Massachusetts quietly assumed the role that the Company had been playing for all those years. However, the Institute — or so most people in the 'know' think — is wholly held on the American government's short leash.

The media has been saturated with information about the Company, or as much information as the government propaganda machines would feed them. The cover of Primatech Paper was blown wide open, the Company's development and research on the Shanti Virus that the Vanguard nearly released on the world in 2009. All of that came out, so many skeletons tumbling out of the closet that soon the airwaves looked like a graveyard.

By the time we were halfway through September it was like someone had pulled back the curtain and revealed the Great and Terrible Oz for who he really was. CEOs of major global corporations were being arrested in their own offices, doors were kicked in, the guard was changing before our very eyes and only a handful of people realized just how deeply we were in a secret war all our own.

But the government's game of playing army-men behind the curtain wasn't over, not by a long shot. The Messiah terrorist group — or so the media labeled them — continued to try and fight government oppression of the Evolved, playing by the guidebook of Rupert Carmichael, their brilliant tactician. You see, Rupert had his nose in the government, had a direct line to classified intelligence that he used to direct Messiah to high-value targets. Or at least, that's what the story was.

Turns out Carmichael had an agenda, one that tracked all the way back to Vice President Andrew Mitchell.

It all got brought out into the light when Carmichael got tied to Messiah's activities. In the blink of an eye a former Columbia professor of History was outed as the mastermind behind a nationwide terrorist organization. More staggering was the list of people found in Carmichael's house who, presumably, also had associations with Messiah. Among them, the troubled brother of the President, Peter Petrelli.

It was an immediate shit-storm again. Houses were raided, families were questioned, and Messiah was suddenly divided between two camps, one that continued following Carmichael's leadership and those that rallied behind Petrelli, thinking — rightly — that Carmichael sold them to the wolves.

It wasn't just terrorists that wanted to get the jump in on the action though. Criminal organizations have been maneuvering for months, circling like vultures with the scent of blood in the water on the Linderman Group's dying days. Efforts of a conspiracy whispered about in the underworld called the 'endgame' were orchestrating the fall of the house of Linderman, and every crime lord with an ounce of ambition saw an opening.

The groundwork was laid by blood, sweat and tears through the endgame conspiracy's actions, to seize power from the Linderman Group and take it for their own. You know what they say about the best laid plans of Mice and Men, though.

Through all this, rumors were flying in, fantastic stories of things far and beyond what was happening in New York. Rumors of a space shuttle being hijacked in mainland China, rumors of it being found in the deserts of the American southwest days later. Rumors about a man who can bend time and space, dragging people into the past to prevent history from being changed by somoene with the power, the desire and the insanity to do just that.

Rumors too fantastic even for the world we live in.

But some people, they know it's true. Hiro Nakamura, terrorist, time-traveler; he had been recruiting people in secret, taking them back to the past where the efforts of a madman were being thwarted, a madman with access to a power similar to Hiro's very own, a man who wanted to change the future by destroying our past. Hard to believe the rumors, harder still to believe they might just be true.

Makes me wonder about the shuttle hijacking too.

As autumn came, things in the city were heating up again. Messiah was turned inward, fighting itself, and other organizations around the city were fighting something even more terrifying on the horizon. A discovery had been made, about the visions of the future that plagued the city earlier in the year. The riots, they were triggered, by none other than Rupert Carmichael.

You see, what most of Messiah wasn't aware of — what most of everyone wasn't aware of — is that Rupert Carmichael was working for the government all along. He was the man on the grassy knoll, he was the patsy. All of Messiah's violence was for no benefit other than the governments, a carefully constructed conspiracy to manufacture a threat that the government could rally the people around. It was the Bomb all over again, an artificial crisis designed for the expressed purpose of changing society to fit one group's ideals.

It was coming on November 8th.

A signal was discovered, a broadcast that would trigger a subconscious suggestion implanted by Carmichael through the use of his persuasion ability into thousands of people he had contact with over the last three years. In setting up this plan, Vice President Mitchell would orchestrate the beginning of the end.

Try as they might, with signal jammers, with bringing the fight to Rupert himself and assassinating both Carmichael and his body double, it was all for naught. Some lives were saved, some time was bought, but when November the 8th finally came around, it just wasn't like the book said.

The world would really end with a bang.

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