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Hunting Ghosts (Aphelion)

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Draskovic's office had been a bust.

By the time Mal and Teddy got there local law enforcement was just about ready to swarm the place. Some smooth talking on his part had gotten them out of there without arousing suspicion, but also without any evidence that might have been there. It had been quite a blow. The dead businessman had been their best lead so far on the Assassin's Guild, and there was no telling what they might have found there. Anything mentioning the guild would be crucial to their efforts, and one way or another they would need to find a way to get to it.

Luckily, Adaanai and Pavel had been far more successful in their mission to infiltrate Night Rhythm, a club owned by a local gang, the Dead Eyes, Draskovic was known to have ties to. The pair had managed to copy the club bosses hard drive, and even magically bug the entire building. While the drive was taking some time to decrypt, but the bug was already baring fruit. Currently Mal was sitting at the kitchen table of the groups safe house, listening to a conversation between two high-ranking Dead Eyes members.


"We're fucked! You hear me? D-O-N-E Fucked!"

"Calm down."

"You fuckin calm down! Draskovic is dead! We both know what that means!"

"Yes, his contingency; I'm well aware."

"Then why ain't you freaking out?! He's got enough dirt in that fucking file to bury us ten times over, and it's set to be released in the event of his untimely death. Which you may have noticed just happened!"

"Then why haven't we heard anything? It's been three days since he bought it, but there's been nothing; no news coverage, no cops knocking on our door, not a damn thing."

"What are you saying?"

"I got a hunch... that whoever bumped Draskovic off is trying to get to us through him. Like, he managed to get that file, and he's sitting on it."

"Assuming this is true, why ain't they contacted us? I mean they got us by the short hairs here."

"I dunno... but we better find out."


Mal paused the recording there, and regarded the assembled members of his team.  

"You heard 'em. Somebody's putting the squeeze to the organized crime in the city, and they're using the Assassin's guild to do it. If this is true, we need to know more."

With a few taps, he pulled up a map of the city, "Besides the Dead Eyes, there are three other major gangs in the city. The Black Knife Boys, The Day Walkers, and the Red Phantoms. Adaanai, Teddy, and Pavel, each of you pick a gang, and get me eyes, ears, or both inside their operation. Elekteri, you keep monitoring the Dead Eyes bug and let me know if anyone gets in contact with them. I'll be making a some plans for our next move."

"Let's get to work, folks."

@Zashiii @L E V I A T H A N @ODSTDRAGON @Laughingmad

Spoiler

So I want you guys to be more involved in the story, and not just following after me. For this, I want you guys to come up with the details behind all four of the gangs, as well as how you guys bug their hideouts. @Laughingmad I want you to write the Dead Eyes being called by the Third Party. Just have him be obliquely threatening for now.

 

 

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The operations in Joran were a success. What did success mean? More Work.

 

     Such was the situation, but that was the path of success; Keep working, succeed, keep getting more work, repeat. It was a monotonous cycle, but not every operation was annexing a highly advanced settlement West of a Desert and East of an Ocean!

 

     In this time, Adaanai had taken the heed of Mal and did what he had to do. Blend, connive -- handle altercations accordingly. Aphelion was not some place that made you greater than you were - you either had it in you or you did not. The Khaiperi Stallion liked to think he was capable and prepared for anything, but a humbled mind reminded him otherwise. 

 

     While within Joran, he had left his steeds and responsibilities with the rest of his clan, as was their duty when he went away on business. With him, he brought nothing but a case full of gear, reagents, and crude resources. Anything used for blending in or getting by would be solely found within Joran - specifically similar to that of the Black Knife Boys. Dressy, almost flashy apparel was donned. Finely cobbled boots, slacks, a fitted tunic, and a jacket to be doused in memorabilia. Every Boy had a Knife, as per the name. This, in truth, was a long black steel folding knife, reminiscent of a spanish navaja meeting a wakizashi. Quick flick, quicker cuts. Some of the Boys even modded them for bevel-sake and exalta augmentations.

 

     Ada was more than capable of enhancing his own blades, which was nifty considering they wanted to hand him some poor quality "starter" set. 

 

"Remember: Don't lose this; protect it with your life, Addy."

 

"I swear on my word, Sir!" He barked, bowing his head to his Oyabun. 

 

"You had better; your head will be mine, if not. Find your Brothers and settle in."

 

      And he was off; ushered away by attendants in the undercarriage of the Black Market Joran Sect's territory. The Boys, His new Brothers, all howled as they made off to initiate and inlay their mark on his gear. They also showed him where he might rest and keep his things for the time being. Weeks of association and odd end jobs for the oyabun finally started to pay off. 

 

     In the odd hours and times of low population -- sometimes not even waiting for such times -- Adaanai began his Craft. He once again had formed a traceable mineral dust and bugged the interior, the people, their items and the housing. mineral crust formations were laid in vents and on walls -- dominantly places that went without much physical, biological touch.

 

     At times, he'd don one of the collapsible masks Aphelion afforded and move in the darkness, planting actual bugs more Mal's style in hardware where he could. Vehicles, weapons, samples of drugs and evidence of crime were abundant. It was an interesting difference from Natural Living, but Adaanai was known for his adaptability. With his free time, he mapped out everything he could for the good of the Operation, occasionally dead dropping and relaying when he could manage it. 

 

     More often than not, it felt like, he was being brought into more and more illegal work and altercations, be it slicing up a business and its owner or shaking down dealers and selfish pigs in the pin. They were not the worst of groups, but they had their faults for definite. Ada would see to their demise upon his exit, but until then... He played the Game. "Addy", as they knew him, was a prominent figure in the public eye due to his lawful or outright defensive approach when it came to commonfolk. His Brothers had been weary at first, but some of them appreciated the interpretation of the work set upon them. Too bad they hated Terrans. If they knew of his origin, he'd truly be butchered in this town without a second glance.. much like victims in this city already have it made.

 

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On 6/1/2020 at 6:22 PM, danzilla3 said:

"Besides the Dead Eyes, there are three other major gangs in the city. The Black Knife Boys, The Day Walkers, and the Red Phantoms. Adaanai, Teddy, and Pavel, each of you pick a gang, and get me eyes, ears, or both inside their operation. Elekteri, you keep monitoring the Dead Eyes bug and let me know if anyone gets in contact with them. I'll be making a some plans for our next move."

After the success of their previous operation, it seemed that Aphelion was on a roll. While it helps boost the group's moral, Teddy hoped that the success did not get too much in their heads. After all, overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer.

When the discussion was concluded, Teddy headed back to her quarters. She needed time to prepare. While she was confident enough that she could force her way through the organization and claim it as her own but there must be a more peaceful way. For now she must do some scouting and reconnaisance. In her defense, the gang's name 'Day Walker' sounded pretty cringe and childishly edgy.

The next day, she set out in search of this 'Day Walker' gang. Not exactly search as she had no leads in finding this edgy gang. However, she did have a trick up her sleeve. Before her previous organization was dissolved, Tedimius was a very important figure to its structure and creation. That was mostly due her ablity to 'connect' two or more entities together even at a distance. There was this psionic virus that she developed which infects people through physical contact and airborne droplets. Once infected, they were now her sleeper agents for a short period of time. Having spread the virus to a few individuals yesterday, now she only needed to watch and wait.

 

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"Understood, I will notify you immediately. I suspect we will not have long to wait." This routine was fast becoming commonplace; the others setting out for field work leaving Elekteri to watch over bugs and report his findings. Not that he ever minded it, of course. He lacked the capability to complain or argue, and most importantly, refuse a command from his superiors. It didn't matter how his capabilities were used. Successfully completing the mission was all that concerned him.

Barely fifteen minutes passed since the others left before the Dead Eye's received a call. "Mal, I have confirmed contact from an unidentified third party." Whoever was calling used a voice modifier to remain anonymous. A predictable move for a blackmailer. "Hello gentlemen! I haven't much time to talk, so I'll just skip the formalities and cut straight to the heart of the matter. As you are no doubt aware, a certain man has recently been murdered, and a certain file is now in the hands of his killer. It's a shame really. If any of that file's contents were to be leaked to the authorities, the consequences would certainly be fatal to your "organization". Oh, but there's no reason to panic; you see, there is a way to prevent any further mishaps from occurring. Alas, my time is already nearly up, so it seems I'll have to hold off on the long-winded explanation. For now, just be aware that some form of payment in exchange for the safe return of your papers will be necessary in the near future. You will hear from me again soon. Goodbye for now."

Elekteri reestablished contact with Mal and gave him a brief summary of the blackmailer's spiel. It was unclear who they may be, and what exactly they wanted, but they made their intentions of getting it very clear.

Edited by Laughingmad

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Spoiler

Long time waiting, sorry for such delay!)

 Pavel didn’t get much choice, considering his large stature, the only gang he could pick was of course that of the big tough gangsters that could push shove and frighten the toughest of the city cops.

 

   To be clear he wasn’t that large, but he lacked the defining characteristics of the other gangs, and he was built to carry weight, very much making him appear like a bruiser. Like some bar room boss in a beat em up.

 

  He’d miss the company of his companions, but they’d go about things various ways. What one should never do was appear to be seeking out the gangs without having an inn. Be it friend, a sponsor, mentor, family, if you didn’t have one you made one. Which could never be easy since gangsters kept up their guard, letting in cops or letting people get to their boss would mean death or prison, or of course all of the above.  What you do is you bump into one and try and hit it off. Never mention the gang first hand, until they mention it to you. That was an immediate red flag.

 

 The style of his target could be deceptive, as most of the men in the outfit  loves to party have fun and didn’t appear to give a lick about the consquences. But they were like all the others smart and dangerous, the fun life style, the appeared of authority, it was a lure, and distraction. The pressure of the money, the paranoia, you could easily be gunned down, stabbed poisoned, maybe executed by your boss because you were off the night of a shooting, or of course gang warfare, police shoot out, and of course other things that can happen. It isolated and made the drugs, booze, and women all to easy to accept, all to easy to lose yourself, you were going to hell for a simple sin anyway, why not just go ahead and take it all the way? 
 

 With that Pavel made breakfast once more maybe one of the last times for the squad and began doing research. Going out inspecting the frequent locations, their slang, relation ships, and began rummaging around for clothes to make the look.

 

  He’d lived another life once, where purification was king, he knew how to burn men out.  So of course, fake tattoos vibrant clothes, out on a show. He was a brute who loved fire, he cousin crush your skull or would seee you drown in gasoline. He was large, he was mean, and an unstoppable machine.

 

 Pavel for the time being was no more. Andre Ivanovitch was born. Having grown up in Tenerus,  served as a merc with several of the military units out there, and of course eventually ended up on the decline with drugs and violence and a length prison sentence.  Bad burns on his face and hands up to his arm and shoulder from a little “Accident”  while playing with gasoline. And he’d killed many men for the pleasure of scattering the ash. 

 

  Before A few to many days went by he politely knocked on Mal’s office door and then realized Andre wouldn’t knock unless he was getting paid. He opened it, with his shoulders rolled back and a new found cockiness in befitting of the once polite and kind team cook and arson specialist who would make sure any evidence of this operation would end up like the make believe victims , particles on the wind.  
 

 He tossed a whole folder thick like a fantasy book onto the table. 

 

 And spoke in a very rehearsed Tennerian accent.  And made sure to give Mal his best shot at Physical intimidation.  He was missing his flame thrower, but walking up to a gang member with that sure wouldn’t go over well. 
 

“I need those documents authenticated and easily found in the event of background checks, I need a forged criminal record, and I have picked out a suitable apartment.  It’s close enough that we should be able to put in a land line just between the two. I am under the full beilve the rest of the team that are under cover need to be scattered, and placed randomly, but within easy access of each other should the need arise to check in on them. As of today, I am Andre, and a criminal, I ask that should the need arise to meet in public you act fully as if you were netting with a big dumb criminal thug. And that we have never met each other. I will be acting fully in character and I will punch you if I need to.   And if possible I think you should use any monetairy or press contacts to begin generating rumors and a little bit of street credibility for me and the other members whom are to be undercover.  Inside the file is the full constructed backstory I have worked on for this mission. I submit it to you for formal review. However I’ve gone over it hundreds of times and made sure to memorize it. “ he breathed in and sighed raising his finger. 

“I have addressed you in this way for the purposes of character and the final need I have for this operation to have any success is a complete wiping of any digital media of me and our other operatives that could have been caught, especially from the night club, and I need all attempts to ascertain my real identity to be as hard and as painful as possible. That is all.” He exhaled trying not to fall back to attention, doing his best to lack displine. He stared down Mal not as a kind man but as a big Russian beast and with a pressure fitting of one. In another life, Pavel would’ve been a steam roller flattening out any opposition  he came across. Good thing this wasn’t that eh?

 

 He waited for Mal’s response and hopefully his appraisals if this newly constructed characture before him. 

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Mal's team knew that he expected results quickly, but even he didn't expect Elekteri to inform him of the Third Party contacting the Dead eyes before half an hour had passed. Whoever the guy was, he certainly had a flair for the dramatic. Stripped of all the flowery language, the message was simple; I have you by the balls, wait for further instructions. Ultimately they didn't know much more than they had fifteen minutes ago... but it was a start.

"Good job, Elekteri. Keep listening, and wait for the others to patch you into any bugs they set up."


While his cohorts busied themselves with the infiltration of their chosen gang, Mal had gotten down to the task of figuring out a way inside police HQ. His initial findings were far from promising. As one might expect from the law enforcement hub of the city, the place was like a fortress. Biometrics, surveillance cameras, multiple security checkpoints, the station had it all. Breaking in was possible; with enough time and money, any security system could be circumvented. However, seeing as he was lacking in both of those areas, it looked like he was going to have to do things the old fashioned way.

Pavel interrupted his research by barging in and dropping huge stack of documents on his desk before informing him of the character he was playing and what he needed to make it believable. From across the desk, Mal stared him down.

"If I didn't know you, I'd have shot you for threatening to assault me," he said casually, "Good job. I'll get all this done, time for some shit to roll downhill to the support boys. And don't worry about being picked up on surveillance. The tech boys scrub that shit as we go."

@L E V I A T H A N @Zashiii @Reflectsor @ODSTDRAGON

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With all said and done. Pavel gave a jovial smilie breaking. Character a bit. That was the reaction he needed from Mal. “I’m off.” He said as gruffly as possible.

Leaving Mal to do his job. For a man who didn’t have a lot of  infiltration experience he was certainly giving this his best shot. Which mainly included tons of research and looking into how other agencies and of course his own would conduct long term infiltration missions.

 

 The key, was time,  you had to carefully wiggle and maneuver your way through the workings of the gang. 
 

  With that said, Pavel took up his post at a bar  and acted like he was drinking Vodka. Heavy liquors and spirit to make one seem strong and hearty. Then came the waiting game, eyeing up his mark, and looking for a chance to bring them over.

  

 Not much happened first go, it took several days before a bar fight broke out and Pavel could assist his mark in the brawl. It was fun to feel the rush of lifting someone over his head and tossing them like some great monster.

 

 The details weren’t important what was, was what came after...

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There was no need for more effort on her side. The magical virus she developed would do all the work for her. This concept lead to her just sitting down in her room while she spread her senses through all the infected. It was slow at first since the only method of transmission was through physical contact so she had no choice but to mutate her virus. Now it can transfer through droplets so she could get her wanted results faster. It was only a matter of time before she figure out who leads this 'Day Walker' group.

A few more days and her answer finally arrived. Observing through the eyes and ears of one of the higher ranked 'Day Walker' member, she finally came into contact with the Leader. Oddly enough the man looked surprisingly familiar. She had her assumptions but it was best to be safe. Logging off the neural network she formed from the virus, Teddy spent the whole day lying on her bed. She was sifting through all the data archived within her brain. Even when she could no longer access the cartel's information network, there was more than enough data stored withn her mind most of which she had gathered herself.  A few more hours and she found a match.

"Interesting," Tedimius mused. "I never thought I would meet my descendant."

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The BKB, or Black Knife Boys, were more admirable than some, but at other times it was vile. "Addy" had witnessed many things, among them punishable crimes. Things he would not report but document for the end result. Who knew if these men would fare any better behind the prison system of the tech capitol in the west? For now, Ada had enough to report. 

 

According to the more established members, two of which Ada had rescued from imminent doom, there was "unwarranted aggression" on the gangs. They estimated it was the disruption from the assassinations as of recent. They beat around the bush, mostly because they lacked fine details, but they'd spilled enough for him to run with. 

 

The brothers had mentioned that the Oyabun had been attacked on the way to his own estate... which ran as increasingly troublesome due to the idea that someone was either leaking information or had the information already. Like every other conversation, Ada's crystalline network fed information to the Nerve Center for Mal and El to overlook. He always made sure to document in the form of recordings with the crystals he kept on his person, following up with a geo-locked drop for them to receive. Usually, this could be done with birds or constructs, should Adaanai find himself outside of the city proper. He had mediocre connection to the earth and leylines within the city... Something about technology just rubbed him the wrong way. It would be nice to head home once more.

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Until then, he worked his way closer and closer to the appointment of the Oyabun's personal security detail for a night out in the town. Five BKB moved with their Big Brother; Adaanai among them. Spell-cycles whirred, vibrating the air with a preternatural effect on the trained ear. The scent of burning Exalta and mana-induction brought a barrage of blasts and caster fire upon them. In a flash, three were gone. With return fire and a crystalline javelin tossed by Addy, the cyclists were either taken off their cycles or drawn into a re-entry U-turn. Unmarked, as far as what could be seen. Adaanai had the Oyabun's left, for good measure too. Searing impact points sat against a crystalline second skin and the earthen wall ripped from the walkway beneath them. Without so much as a wince, Ada flexed and the heat-crisped minerals fell away like sheets of mica.

With his Knife extended, Ada charged the returning cyclist, going as far as to burst from the ground and crack it while the cycle sped head on. The driver gripped the throttle and ripped it, slapping the lever for his cycle to go from blast to joust. The intent was to spear and bisect Adaanai and whoever else was within a four foot diameter in the street while he charged with a mana-blade for a bowhead. Blade for Blade, the BKB should not have had a chance. With a lean in, his blade touched the earth as he confronted the rider, pulling up at the last moment and re-setting the walkway into a ramp-- one that sent him riding into the air. 

A jump, a kick, and Adaanai was in the air, too. Upon his will, he stood on energy-laden platforms beneath his boots and jumped again. His blade was no side piece, now, either. A recent aug left him with a fully extended blade coursing with mana. Finer than the military grade for its versatility, especially in such capable hands. Adaanai went from long knife to short spear, and threw it through the Spell-cycle. It was destroyed by the collision of disruptive mana set upon delicate magitech. These people had friends in high places.. It would not matter for long. Joran was not theirs to run, nor was it the lowly gangs feeding in all echelons of this acursed technological steel trap..

 

Adaanai fell from three stories with the explosion, a pulse from his body forcing the debris from the Oyabun who lie below. When he landed, Addy hit the earth with grace. No roll or tumble or pencil dive-and-stick-the-landing. He had landed in a kneeling position by the Oyabun and rose quietly before adjusting his ripped coat. Two rattled Brothers looked after a wounded pair on the ground, and the Oyabun had been hugging himself to the formation that previously saved his life. 


"Good work, Addy.. I suppose we owe you a new blade." He said with a grimace, uncovering his head from what he assumed would be imminent death by debris.
 

"It is my duty and honor, Big Brother." He said, grinning and patting his shoulder. 

"Shansi, retrieve that cycle and bring it back in one piece." A typically unheard of-but-common tone within the BKB for Ada barked these words. He meant business, and they could always pick up on it.  They rifled through everythignt he unmarked killers had, and salvaged just as much -- even their gear. He had risen in the past weeks exponentially, proving his worth and productivity without diminishing the morale of the neighborhoods under their control. Unfortunately, that meant Ada had put people out of healthy living, but minimal death -- save for now. Ada was not going to let an inorganic vehicle to take him out if the dragons of his territories could not.  

 

With this said and done, the area was adjusted to its original physical state, with a pulse given off to send the world on a mend and prevent disharmony and, for worse than better, the potential of an infirm development. The city was warded, sure, but leaving a crack in the fabric of space was what led many other socieites to fall. Who knew what a Spell-Cycle's engine could bring upon an area? Well... besides an inward warping explosion that proceeded outward afterward in waves. Yea, the street would have work to do, but their Oyabun did not perish!

 

On the way home, The Oyabun began telling Ada about his suspicions.. This is it, he thought, listening to how he was under fears that information was being shared.. something about that shady fuck that died a few months ago and seemed to trigger a shit storm bigger than any mage storm this side of the continent had seen. He was certain there was someone with eyes on them or their frequented spots. They were flexing their knowledge and the Oyabun was pissed. For good measure, too. His businesses, both fences and legitimate, were being bled for what they could have taken, and the Brothers in the Boys were taking hit after hit for the sake of protecting their Big Brothers. Desertion, Paranoia, and Hostility was the result. 

 

Once back at their space, they'd find a large, luminescent tag relevant only to the Oyabun himself, who cursed in his native tongue now, painted across the face of their shop entrance. Ada barked commands, issuing cleaners and watchmen as he assured the Oyabun of his safety. Ada took to the streets, himself, ensuring he would keep an eye from a distance. The Oyabun was impressed with the skills presented, and ultimately reveled in the ideea of such power among his ranks. It was the only reason he let Ada off the leash -- how would one contain a Stallion, after all?

 

With his newfound freedom for the night, Ada made his way to spaces more secluded. He had gathered his intel and found what he believed to be a few names potentially driven to the idea of the destruction of the BKB, among other gangs. Bad business, Assassins, a diluted and loose paper trail.. Oh, and the Oyabun's personal phone. Everything was sent in a stone box to Mal via dead drop as the vantablack box flew in the night sky. Ada meditated in an open space, nestled against the earth at a high peak among the sands of the coastline. It was one thing that had been nicely preserved and refined in the time of Joran... How pleasant.

Upon completing the drop via mind-driven dropbox, his meditation would continue into the night. His channel was open, should Mal have anything to say, but otherwise he would cease within the hours following and head to the base of the BKB once more to "rest" and recuperate... and also refresh any of his communication devices bound to the edifice and people.

 

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"Affirmative. Maintaining communications." Elekteri kept his channel open and his sensory arrays powered up. one after another, bugs planted on the other gangs activated and flashed on the screens before him. There was surprisingly little to report;  all that stood out was some members of Dead Eyes discussing concerns of their blackmailing being part of some crazy scheme perpetrated by an ex-member, though they appeared uncertain. They couldn't even think of what said ex-member's name might be; it seemed to be little more than unsubstantiated conjecture based on the paranoia of some less than competent rookies. Despite this, Elekteri held onto the tidbit to report later. There was little point in bothering Mal again so soon with a mere possibility.

Something odd began flashing up on the center screen. A dark image that was hard to make out, accompanied by static. After flashing for a few seconds more, the image appeared fully, still dark and very blurry. A vaguely humanoid silhouette seemingly clad in some sort of armor. A faint red glow emitted from what looked like the visor of a helmet. Amid the static, a deep and bizarrely robotic voice spoke, though the message was impossible decipher as it cut out repeatedly:

"ZZZZZ-UNIT D-3-ZZZZ-5W31-ZZZZ-OPERATIO-ZZZZ-SEARCHING FOR-ZZZZZZZZZ..."

The surreal transmission cut out completely, and the normal feed was restored. This definitely warranted contacting Mal again, and Elekteri wasted no time doing so. "Elekteri to Mal, a transmission of unknown origin was picked up on one of our bug feeds. Audio and video were too poor of quality to accurately decipher."

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5 hours ago, Reflectsor said:

Is this ever gonna continue?

I went all out for my last, and my character is no longer canon or even existing so... idk bro I would LOVE to finish a thread but 🤷🏿‍♂️ 😂 lmk if you wanna try and find something to do I suppose? 

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