Tue, 13 Jun 2000
D Benway <d_benway@yahoo.com>
XMANSON [3/5]


X-Manson

3 Haverhill (1980)

D Benway

 

Two bags of chips and a tub of chip dip sit empty on the floor. As the commercial asking her to buy Blue ends, she starts in on the chocolate chip cookies. They are the cheap kind made in Ontario, and the chips taste more like wax than like chocolate. When she finishes these, there will still be two litres of ice cream, another four pounds of cookies, three more bags of chips with another tub of dip, and two large jars of peanut butter waiting for her.


[Shot of a woman sitting in a rattan chair in a nicely appointed but small living room in one of those beautifully built bungalows from the 1920s, once meant for factory workers but now only affordable by doctors and lawyers. She has blonde, almost white hair and a perfect complexion. She would be strikingly beautiful were her head not so lopsided from reconstructive surgery and her eyes not so cold.]

[Caption: Emma Frost, former headmistress, Massachusetts Academy, Lowell MA]

EF: The Massachusetts Academy was one of the first schools in the country to encourage education of mutant children in a fully integrated environment. I have always believed that segregation would only encourage the further spread of anti-mutant hatred.

Int: This was based on your own experiences?

EF: Not directly. I myself had a very sheltered childhood. My psi-abilities manifested very early and I was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and threatened with institutionalization at the age of four. My father refused to believe the diagnosis and spent over half his fortune to research my condition. The result was the development of the protocols that are now used in the care of all potentially psi-sensitive children. It was most unfortunate that they had not been available when Charles Xavier was a child.

Int: They might have changed him?

EF: To develop psi abilities in isolation is terrifying. There are no boundaries between you and those closest to you. Every aspect of the personality that a parent might choose to hide from a child is there and the child must interpret these things, sometimes before they can even speak. The strain of this can negatively reinforce other personality and cognitive deficits in a young mind. Tendencies towards sociopathy or psychopathy can be emphasized, or in the worst case the mind can become completely unable to construct a proper interface with reality. I cannot imagine what Xavier's or Cable's childhoods might have been like, to make them into what they became.

Int: How did you come to be headmistress of the Massachusetts Academy?

EF: In the early 60s, my father saw that much civil rights activism had a very narrow focus. While the advances made by African-Americans were necessary and of great benefit to us all, many other foci of hatred had been completely overlooked. Those who sought to live homosexual lifestyles, women who sought to take on traditionally male roles, and of course mutants who wished to live in open society were often ignored in the quest to bring the 20th century to the South, or for that matter to the North. Busing in Boston produced riots, and not riots in favour of the practice. When I finished at Radcliffe, I had a meeting at our home at which I proposed to several of my father's friends the idea of a school that would turn the notion of a private educational institution upside down. Instead of educating the children of the privileged in conformist isolation, we would seek to build a school that brought everyone together, that would reflect the society as a whole, and would provide the best facilities and the latest advances in educational techniques. We took over the Massachusetts Academy, a failing school that had a reputation for training the stupider sons of the American aristocracy to read, and we turned it into a haven.

Int: I understand that you had some difficulties in the beginning.

EF: Not all of the latest educational advances proved to be advances toward greater wisdom. We had all the doors back on the classrooms within a month, and we certainly found that television in the classroom was anything but educational. Nonetheless, we made it work. Our graduates went on to Ivy League schools at rates far greater than those of other private schools and in time we had a waiting list of over ten thousand for the one hundred places in the annual entering class.

Int: Were there problems with the mutant students?

EF: Yes, there were problems. Some of the mutant students were not visibly different from the non-mutant students and, when their abilities were innocuous, there were no difficulties. In other cases, I would have to intervene with my own power to block them from acting as children would and using their abilities in harmful ways.

Int: Could you give an example?

EF: I would prefer to respect the privacy of my students and not discuss particular cases. All I will say is that if you treat a child as if they are human, they will stand an excellent chance of becoming a good adult human being. If you treat a child as if it were a monster or as refuse, then you should not be surprised at what it grows into, and you must accept full responsibility for the result of your brutality.

Int: But you had many successes.

EF: We certainly did. I have many students that I am very proud of, among whom are the ones that you have chosen to interview.

[Shot of a couple sitting on a sofa in a windowless room with concrete ceilings and walls. It has something of a bunker-like feel to it. The man is boyishly handsome, blond with striking blue eyes and a golden halo floating above his head. The halo is the most sophisticated anti-psi shield in existence, and costs about as much as a small yacht. He's also very twitchy, like a smoker who hasn't been allowed to light up, even though it's clear that he doesn't smoke. A slender and very attractive woman, attractive in the way that French women who eat only small pots of yogurt during daylight hours are attractive, sits beside him, barely disguising discomfort. He plainly wants to talk. She plainly wants the interviewer to go away.]

[Caption: Douglas and Marie-Ange Ramsey, East Hampton, NY]

DR: I first met the woman I'll call Ariel on the net. We were both in gifted programs at universities when the net was only e-mail. I was 12, she must have been about the same age but I didn't know that then. I was still living at home, in Brewster.

Int: You had no idea you were a mutant?

DR: Not a clue. Neither did she, as far as I knew. Emma approached me first with a scholarship after I hacked into the mainframe at the Academy.

Int: You were also approached by Charles Xavier?

DR: Yeah. His school was only a half hour's drive from where we lived, so my Dad sent me there to have a look.

Int: By yourself?

DR: Yeah. Seemed kind of odd at the time. I thought he was showing me how grown up he thought I was. Turned out he wasn't resistant and I was. Only, I didn't know that at the time.

Int: But you didn't go alone.

DR: No, not at all. As it turned out, he had some other kids in that weekend.

[Shot of a couple in a very high-tech space, also presumably underground. They're both in spandex, and both look very fit and very white in a sort of Middle American kind of way. Somehow, it is also obvious that they're not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.]

[Caption: Vance and Angelica Astrovik, Avengers; New York, NY]

VA: We got picked up at the airport by Scott Summers. He picked up Doug from the bus station in White Plains on the way.

Int: Did you sense anything ususal?

AA: Summers kind of weirded us out. He didn't say anything. He was waiting for us, holding up a sign with my name on it as I came off the plane. Vance was there with him. It's how we met.

VA: I was so glad to see you. Summers had met my plane an hour earlier and hadn't said anything to me. I asked him some questions, but he just dismissed everything I said with a Yes or a No until I gave up.

Int: Did you have any idea of what awaited you at the house?

VA: We were pretty nervous, but we had no idea what was coming.

AA: No idea at all.

[Shot: Doug & Marie-Ange Ramsey]

DR: If I had been religious, I'd have said it was like something out of Hell. Going there totally killed off any belief I'd had that there was a God. No God would have allowed that place to exist.

MAR: But you didn't know that then.

DR: No, not then. Not on that visit.

Int: Did you see anything that disturbed you?

DR: Nothing, at first. On the drive in, I met Vance and Angie, but we were all kind of nervous. Summers kind of projected this weird cone of silence, and I didn't even ask them their names until we got to the School. Xavier and McCoy met with me in this really slick office. Xavier asked me some questions, but he seemed kind of pre-occupied and not really interested. McCoy was the one who really took an interest and asked all the questions.

Int: What kind of questions?

DR: Going-to-the-doctor-type questions. Height, weight, blood type, any loathsome diseases, all that kind of thing. I suppose I should be glad I've still got all my original parts.

Int: Do you think that Xavier tried to take control of your mind?

DR: Someone was sure trying to do something. It felt like a worm was trying to crawl around in my head, but as soon as I'd think that I'd forget it. It was weird.

Int: But you still felt that you were in control.

DR: I still was. I'm resistant. Almost all the survivors were. If you had no innate defenses, there was no protection. I've got protection now. This entire house is a Faraday cage, buried 10 feet below the ground. No psi is ever going to get in here.

Int: You still worry about an attack?

DR: I won't risk it. Never again.

MAR: It won't. I'm sure that our guest would like to know what happened next.

DR: We had a tour of the grounds, which I thought was kind of weird, because I wanted to see what was inside. Computers, science labs, that sort of thing. Instead they showed us the forest and the lake and the boathouse.

Int: Did you meet any of the staff?

DR: Jean Grey, Summers, Logan, McCoy, the Irish guy, the Russian guy and his sister. There were two students there, Sam Guthrie and the one I'll call Psyche. Besides me, there were three other kids visiting. Vance, Angelica and David.

Int: David Lehnsherr?

DR: Yes.

[Caption: Gabrielle Lehnsherr]

GL: We couldn't keep it from him forever, and I suppose that he found out at a bad age, but then I'm not sure that any age would have been better.

Int: You told him who his father was?

GL: Not in so many words. David was a powerful Type D late-onset psi. We had no idea. They can hide it so well.

Int: He demanded to see his father?

GL: He did. I begged him to seek psi-counseling, but he laughed at us. He read everything he needed to know out of my mind and ran away from home. He coerced his way onto a flight to New York and went straight to the School. He pretended to be a potential student who had seen the ad that Xavier used to put in the back of The Nation. We were frantic, it took us weeks to trace him there.

Int: Did he contact you after that?

EL: No, he did not. My poor boy was lost.

[Shot: Vance and Angelica Astrovik]

Int: What did you think of the School?

AA: We thought it was neat.

VA: Yeah. They had some cool cars. They let me drive the Rolls-Royce, even though I didn't have a license.

AA: The house was really big, but they didn't let us see inside. Not until dinner.

Int: Did you have any misgivings?

VA: Yeah. David was creeping us out. Kept staring at Angel.

AA: No kidding. I think he tried to get inside my head. I'm resistant, but not as resistant as Vance.

Int: What about the other students?

VA: Guthrie was quiet, but Psyche really started to get to us after a while. She just kept saying over and over and over how much she liked it there.

AA: You didn't have to be psi to see that she was scared.

VA: Terrified.

Int: What about Doug Ramsey?

AA: Doug was cute. He was smart.

VA: I could tell that Ramsey couldn't figure it out, but he was playing along, just like we were.

AA: Everything was OK until dinner.

Int: That was inside?

VA: Yeah, in this big huge room with an X painted on the wall.

AA: The room they found the throne in, or what would have been the upper part of it before they cut the floor out.

Int: Did you see the throne?

VA: No, it must have come later. They had wooden picnic tables for us but McCoy and Grey and Summers and Xavier were all sitting up in chairs on this kind of podium thing. There was one chair up there that was bigger than the others, but no-one was sitting in it. That was the nearest thing to thrones we saw.

AA: I didn't like it because they didn't say grace.

VA: They gave us this weird vegetarian stuff, but we couldn't eat it right away. They made us do this chant thing, it just went on for ages.

Int: A chant.

AA: The dream, the dream, the dream, over and over and over again. Kind of hypnotic, like those Krishna people at the airport.

VA: It was weird as anything. We were doing this for maybe ten minutes, maybe twenty, when Angel bolts.

AA: I had to get out. I knew if I was there a moment longer that they'd have me. I just knew it. I heard a voice in my head that said Go and I went.

Int: Do you think one of them made you go?

AA: Xavier wanted us there, so it couldn't have been him. I like to think it was Mary.

Int: Mary?

AA: Mother of God.

[Doug & Marie-Ange Ramsey]

DR: All that time out in the grounds, I kept feeling like someone was trying to get into my head. David kept trying to get me away, like he wanted to say something to me, but they never left us alone for a moment.

Int: What do you think he wanted?

DR: Don't know. It was weird. At first, he was creeping me out as much as the Russian guy and Logan. He kept staring at Angelica. I mean, she was pretty hot back then and I think Vance and I were staring too, but I didn't like the way David was staring and neither did Vance. As they took us past the lake, David suddenly got spooked and then looked more and more terrified for the rest of the time we were there.

Int: How did it come to an end?

DR: We were at dinner and they were serving some kind of homegrown tempeh or sausage that really looked ugly. They had us doing this weird chant, The Dream, The Dream, over and over again. I got bored pretty quick, but when I looked up Logan stared at me and I put my head down pretty quick. I kind of looked at David out of the corner of my eye, and I saw he wanted to say something to me. He kind of mouthed something, maybe good-bye, then all of sudden Angelica takes off like a rocket and Pow! right through the roof. Then Vance grabbed me and flew off through the hole in the roof she made.

Int: Did they pursue?

DR: No idea. I didn't even know that Vance and Angie were mutants, let alone that they could fly. I'm kind of afraid of heights. I'd heard my dad say once or twice that something scared the crap out of him, usually when he was talking about that maniac from California that the Republicans put up for president that year, but I never connected it with real life. I kind of passed out.

Int: What did you do when you woke up?

DR: Wished I had a second change of pants.

MAR: Douglas.

DR: No, I was freaking, Angelica was freaking, but Vance still had his head on. My house was the nearest, so they flew me there. They left me outside in a park around the corner, then flew off to get the police. When I got to my house, I went around the back because I was embarrassed. I looked in the kitchen window as I went past the side and I saw my Mom and Dad there, just sitting, not moving. Like dummies. He'd gotten to them.

Int: Xavier?

DR: I stood there watching for five minutes and they didn't move. Then the phone rings and my Dad picks up like he's a robot. I ran. I'd seen the original version of The Body Snatchers the week before going, and I just ran. I saw a cop car, and I knew it was looking for me. It probably wasn't, but I was freaking. I washed my clothes out in a stream, then went to sleep in a culvert. I almost froze.

Int: Why did you decide to go to Emma Frost?

DR: Her school was in the paper all the time. You remember, all those mutant freak show stories? I knew she was a psi, she was the only one I knew of. I hitched there. I stood at the side of the highway outside Brewster and a trucker picked me up. Drove me right to the Academy.

Int: Why did he do that?

DR: At the time I didn't know, but now I think he wanted my ass. He kept licking his lips and going on and on about Jesus and Leviticus and what was forbidden. I just kind of climbed up the side of the door on my side and sat as far from him as I could. It was almost as bad as being at Xavier's.

Int: But nothing happened.

DR: Thank God, no. He just told me to believe in God and dropped me outside the gate. I ran in and started asking where I could find Emma Frost. I was kind of upset.

Int: How did you know that Frost wasn't manipulating you?

DR: She always used to tell us that underneath it all, we're still animals, with animal senses that tell us things that reason won't. When I was at Xavier's school, I had an urge to run, the whole time I was there. When I saw Emma, I threw myself at her. I knew that she would save me, just knew it. She's a very special woman, but then she was even more special. Even if she hadn't been a psi, I would have known, just known, that she would do anything to save me, or anyone else in danger. She brought light into everything that she touched.

MAR: I am glad the bastard is dead. He as good as killed her.

Int: Killed her.

DR: I suppose it's selfish to think about it this way, but Xavier put out her light. She's still a remarkable woman and a very close friend.

MAR: She had so much to give, and he made it impossible for her to give any more. Took her money, destroyed the Academy, ensured that her name would be blackened forever.

Int: But this was after your second visit to the School.

DR: Yes.

Int: What happened after you were taken in by the Academy?

DR: She set me up at the Academy and then she flew to Brewster in her private helicopter and broke Xavier's hold on my parents. She brought them here and put in blocks that would keep any long-distance attack by Xavier out. She saved our lives.

[Shot of Vance and Angelica Astrovik]

VA: We went right to the police after we dropped Doug off.

AA: We told them everything.

VA: He'd gotten there first.

AA: They gave us Coke with something in it. Real cocaine, maybe.

VA: We kind of did a repeat performance of what happened back at the School, except that I took off first with her. We kind of got lost in the woods and then I passed out from the drugs.

AA: I've never been so scared.

VA: In the morning we were too exhausted to walk, but we were found by people we thought were hikers.

AA: But it was really Emma Frost and Trevor Fitzroy. They kind of let us in on it bit by bit that they were there to help us, but I did kind of freak when I saw the helicopter, but I knew that she meant no harm.

Int: So she flew you to the Academy?

AA: Yes. She took us in, too, in the last year before they shut it down. She arranged for us to try out for the Avengers after that, and we got in.

VA: Did she take you on her raid on Xavier's school?

AA: No.

VA: No. We wanted to go and she begged us not to.

[Shot of Douglas and Marie-Ange Ramsey]

DR: I was at the Academy for a week when I got an e-mail from Ariel. She said she was at a new school, but she didn't tell me where it was. I used the IP address and traced it back to Xavier's school.

MAR: I saw Douglas for the first time that night, how you say, streaking across the campus to Miss Frost's chambers.

DR: I kind of panicked. I was checking my mail before I went to bed. Ariel was a friend. I thought she was a graduate student, like a 30-year old or something, and she thought I was a compsci prof. We used to have hacking competitions, see who could get into NORAD first. I had my mutant ability, she was just brilliant. The thought of her there, it was terrible.

Int: Did you begin to plan the attack at that time?

DR: No, no. Emma insisted that any action would have to be well thought out. She had me and Vance and Angie help with the planning. We had to find out all we could about who and what was there.

[Shot of a large, craggy man with a huge mane of yellow hair. He's wearing a military green pullover and an ascot in regimental colours. His office is lined with books, mostly military histories and biographies. There are several plaques on the walls, indicating a long career in an army. The decor is mostly green and metallic, provided by somebody's civil service.]

[Caption: Col. Victor Creed, Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada]

VC: I still find it difficult to talk of these matters, even if they have been made part of the public record. It's difficult to break the habits of a lifetime.

Int: The man known as Logan used to be one of your agents?

VC: Not one of mine. We both worked for CSIS, when it was part of the RCMP.

Int: Did he have a first name?

VC: Not that we knew of.

Int: Where did he come from originally?

VC: I have no idea.

Int: Then why was he employed?

VC: Because our service has never been known for having a highly competent executive. He had his uses, although I did not approve of them. I was among those responsible for letting him go.

Int: How was he used?

VC: One of the myths of intelligence work is that it's all glamorous men in suits hanging about in casinos, blowing up islands, shooting the villains and saving the world. In reality, 90% of it consists of sitting about in libraries, looking for what's between the lines in the official statistics. Most of the rest of it consists of confirming what you suspect by finding an individual who is ideologically reckless or corrupt and turning them. Human intelligence, we call it. Problem is, many of those in our business have read all of the Bond novels or their predecessors. The American agencies are dominated by such people, who I suppose saw the Bond films, and who think that with eavesdropping and spy satellites they can know the human mind and the human heart.

Int: Logan was one of those who acted in that way?

VC: Not at all, although he was very useful to those who did. The man affected a love for old Japanese stories, and they provided plenty of excuses for bloodshed.

Int: In what capacity was he used?

VC: Human intelligence. Making contacts with those on the other side. He was thought to be valuable for the same reasons that I was. We both possess the same not immediately obvious mutation.

Int: How so?

VC: If you'll excuse my being rude, have your camera zoom in on my mouth. Ere. Ee?

Int: My god.

VC: Very big teeth. I can chew through concrete, just like a rat. I also have better senses and reflexes than any ordinary human, much better healing abilities, and greater strength. I also have the ability to transform my fingernails and toenails into very sharp claws. More than once they allowed me to make the best of a bad situation. Logan had very similar abilities, except that he ejected claws from the back of his hand.

Int: What exactly did he do while working for your organization?

VC: Interviews, mostly. Unfortunately, he had American friends who occasionally borrowed him for use in extraction operations. They were forever screwing up and losing agents. Logan was very good at going in and getting them. He was a cowboy. He put pressure on some of the less responsible people in our organization, and sought out more aggressive assignments. He completed these assignments, but at such a cost in human lives that it makes me shudder to think of it. It's not the way we normally do things here at all.

Int: So then you fired him.

VC: The first time I tried to, I ended up at a SigInt complex above the Arctic Circle for two years as a consequence. Problem was, he'd caused so much damage that they couldn't fire him. The cabinet ministers involved liked pretending that they were M, and he had told them that he would go public with what he'd done if they let him go.

Int: But then he must have done something that couldn't be covered up.

VC: He became convinced that a plan to build a Sport Utility Vehicle factory in Western Ontario was some sort of Yakuza plot. What he imagined the Yakuza would want in Woodstock I cannot imagine.

Int: And then?

VC: We used an American solution. We sent Alpha Flight after him. We lost an underwear factory, but he got the message. We believe that he escaped by swimming across Lake Erie to Cleveland.

Int: Where did he go after that?

VC: No idea. He tried to return once, and we sent Alpha Flight after him again. Lost a paper mill in Thorold that time, and after that the insurance companies forced us to disband Alpha Flight.

Int: Was that before or after he went to Xavier's school?

VC: Just before, early '78 I believe.

Int: Were you watching the School at that time?

VC: We told the Americans where we thought he was, and left it with them.

Int: Never thought of sending anyone after him?

VC: What surprises me is that the Americans never did. We told them that we suspected that he was working with a psi, but they never seemed to take notice. I'm afraid we rather underestimated the seriousness of the situation.

[Shot of a large and almost absurdly muscular man, sitting in an almost dainty antique chair. He is long-haired and blond, and looks vaguely dangerous.]

[Caption: Brian Braddock, Oakham, England]

BB: Elizabeth Braddock is my sister. More correctly, she is my adopted sister from a biological perspective, which accounts for the difference in features.

Int: How did she come to be adopted?

BB: My father was in Hanoi just after Dr Lehnsherr had arranged the cease-fire there. The bombings had ended, and my father saw a great many children living in want, who had been orphaned by the American bombing. He decided to adopt one.

Int: That was rather unusual, was it not?

BB: Very unusual. I took no notice of it when I was small, it wasn't until we went to school that I even noticed the difference. It was much worse for Elizabeth. She would come home crying every day. They called her names. The Ping Pong from Hong Kong, rubbish like that. I tried to teach her to keep a stiff upper lip about it all, but she never managed it. Weaker sex and all that, one supposes.

Int: When did her abilities manifest?

BB: She manifested late-onset psi abilities, although it's possible that she had early onset and simply hid it very well. We didn't notice, none of the rest of us being resistant at all. She was in her seventh school when suddenly she had purple hair and a safety pin through her nose. That was it for Rodean.

Int: Was she able to manipulate you?

BB: No. She was read-only. Couldn't write into other minds. Unfortunately, she chose the traditional method for control of the reading ability.

Int: Opiates?

BB: Heroin, to be precise. She said she needed it because what people thought of her was often so much uglier than what they said. We tried to get her into a late-onset psi program in this country, but they all had waiting lists. The choices were between the Fliess Institute in Vienna and the Massachusetts Academy. On the basis of her experiences in schools here, we decided that she would be better off at the Academy. They made a great deal of their experience in dealing with, how did they put it, diversity.

Int: I understand that she never reached the School.

BB: My older brother that very weekend crashed his car at a race in Cape Town and was seriously burned. It looked as if he might die. Elizabeth was in such bad shape that we decided it was better for her to go to America as soon as possible, and not to see Jamie. We sent her on with two of her few remaining friends as chaperones. We had a complicated regime of phone contacts established, but these were disrupted when Jamie died. There was a call on the day of the funeral from Heathrow, but no call from Boston to indicate that they had arrived. There was a call about an hour late, but it was from Emma Frost, indicating that they hadn't been seen at the airport. We phoned the airline, and they had witnesses to say both girls and Tom were seen boarding the plane, but they weren't seen coming off of it.

Int: Were you able to establish what had happened?

BB: Not fully. Alison turned up a day later, washed up on a beach near the airport. There was a manhunt, but it turned up no leads. Poor Alison provided no clues and Tom simply vanished. They never did find his body. What we suspect happened was that Xavier and his psis walked into the airport, did something to Emma Frost's people and simply walked out of the airport with Elisabeth in full view of everyone.

Int: That would have required psis of exceptional ability.

BB: Xavier had three of them at that point. Betsy made four. We didn't hear anything of her until they raided Xavier's compound.

Int: Has there been any recovery?

BB: No. Her mind is gone. She cannot feed herself or use a toilet without assistance. She will need to be in care for the rest of her life.

[Shot of a tired-looking woman with a magnificent head of red hair. She looks more than vaguely familiar, and might have been a sister of Sarah and Jean Grey.]

[Caption: Madelyne Pryor, Anchorage, Alaska]

MP: I first met Scott when I was working at a coffee shop in Croton, just after my divorce. I began to notice him because of the glasses.

Int: The red glasses.

MP: Yeah, those. He was polite, always ordered the same thing each time.

Int: What was that?

MP: Hamburger, rare & dripping, followed by apple pie and ice cream and coffee.

Int: How did you start talking?

MP: I asked him if he ever had anything else. He said no. I asked him if he'd like to try the fish. He kind of turned redder than his glasses and upped and left. I didn't mean anything, but next time he came back he had the fish, and we got to talking. Then, he asked me out.

Int: Where did you go?

MP: Right to a motel, actually. I was kind of surprised, but he didn't have too much experience with dating, far as I could tell.

Int: Did he tell you his name?

MP: He said he was Scott Drake. I asked him if he was married, but he said no. He kind of hesitated, but he didn't have a ring so I asked him again. He said no, and I said I thought he was lying. He said he wasn't lying and that the fact that he was not married was as true as the fact that he was a mutant. Then he kind of drills a hole through a quarter with these beams from his eyes. Then we, well we got along a lot better after that.

Int: Did he tell you what he did for a living?

MP: He said he was a teacher, but I didn't really believe him. He was so quiet. If he'd been a high school teacher, the students would've eaten him alive. I think he really hated teaching.

Int: Did he ever mention anything about the School?

MP: A few times. They were putting a lot of pressure on him. He was supposed to be inheriting some sort of really important job, and the future of all the mutants in the world depended on it. Sounded kind of crazy. That and the dream, the dream of humans and mutants living in harmony. Just like us, he'd say. Kind of made me wonder what it was like where he lived. He never mentioned where it was, or about any of the other people there, except someone called the Prof. The Prof was in charge and had made him first among equals or something like that, but I think he was lying about that too.

Int: How often did you see him?

MP: Every Wednesday or maybe every second Wednesday for most of the Summer of '80.

Int: How did it end?

MP: I kind of messed up with the pill, and I told him I was pregnant.

Int: What happened?

MP: He took off, came back four hours later with one of those aluminum suitcases. It was full of money. He told me to come with him to Newark Airport. I told him, well, to get lost. He said if I didn't go he'd kill me rather than let them get me.

Int: Did you believe it?

MP: Yes. Yes I did. Oh Christ thank God I did. He told me to go, go as far as I could and not come back. I never did, not until I heard what happened.

Int: Have you ever been in contact with Alex Summers?

MP: Briefly. Didn't work out. No way I'm going to convert to Scientology.

Int: Has your son ever shown any mutant abilities?

MP: Not a thing. Nathan is a perfectly ordinary 20-something baseline human.

Int: How did you choose the name Nathan?

MP: Scott mentioned it once, that if he ever had a son he wanted him to be called Nathan. After everything that happened, I kind of wish I'd picked another name.

[Shot of Douglas and Marie-Ange Ramsey]

DR: The raid. Oh, boy.

Int: Why did you not bring in the authorities?

DR: I think there was too much going on. I was freaking out over Ariel ending up there, then Elizabeth Braddock disappeared and there was that big manhunt and there were reporters all over the place, and then Professor Lehnsherr showed up and he was in a worse state than I was.

[Shot of Gabrielle Lehnsherr]

GL: He can't talk about it, can't even think about it. I only know parts, from what he cries out in the night and from the reports on the investigation.

Int: He went to Emma Frost for help?

GL: It seemed the logical place to start, since she knew about the School and was a psi. Also, at the time Erich was not welcome in the US at all. Besides the Cape Citadel incident, his interference in the deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe and his resolution of the Korean conflict had made him a great many enemies in Washington, especially in the State and Defence Departments. It was part of why we lived in Vienna. When we tried to live in Germany, the Americans had them revoke his visa. The French and the British were no help, since Erich kept messing with their missile programs also.

Int: So he entered the US illegally?

GL: Yes. He flew to Montreal on a commercial flight, then flew to the Academy on his own power. His original plan was to convince Emma Frost to engage the authorities in an assault on Xavier's school.

Int: But that's not what happened.

GL: No.

[Shot of Emma Frost]

EF: Ultimately, the responsibility for the raid on Xavier's school is mine alone. If I could go back and change anything in my life, it would have been my decision to attack without support.

Int: Just you and Erich Lehnsherr?

EF: Yes. I found that my resistance was not what I had hoped that it was. With Erich's panic and Doug's fear and my own guilt for not going myself to pick up Ms Braddock from the airport, I allowed myself to act precipitously. Xavier was going to New York to debate a fundamentalist preacher over mutant rights issues. Doug hacked into the computers at the Stryker Crusade and found that Xavier was to be accompanied by Summers, Grey and Logan. Worthington was supposed to be at some big pro-mutant fundraiser in Los Angeles, and McCoy was still in Princeton. From what Douglas and Angelica and Vance had said, that left the Russian and the Irishman in charge of the School. We thought that we had a chance. It was hubris, pure hubris.

[Shot of Doug and Marie-Ange Ramsey]

DR: I had a feeling that they were going to try something on their own. Vance and I talked about calling the FBI and then he told me about what happened with the cops again, so we decided that we'd have to call a whole lot of different places at once so that there'd be too many for Xavier to get his claws into. Vance was into calling the Avengers. Angie ran in and said she saw Emma and Erich heading for the chopper. Vance and Angie took off after them, but she sent them back.

Int: Manipulating them?

DR: No, no. Just sending very forcefully. She told us not to follow. We had a big argument. I said we should follow, Vance and Angie wanted to do what Emma said.

Int: But you ended up there.

DR: I said goodnight to them then took a taxi and the train to Boston followed by a train to Rye. Then I took a taxi to Salem Centre. I got there at 10:30.

Int: Why did you disobey Frost?

DR: I just had this terrible feeling that something was going to go wrong. Kind of like what Marie-Ange gets when she deals the cards, but not so focused. I had this feeling that we'd overlooked something.

Int: Did you have a plan?

DR: Kind of. It was so insane in retrospect that I still can't get over the fact that I'm still alive. I had this crazy idea of sneaking around the outside and checking to make sure everything was OK, that they'd all gotten out. Then I would call for help, if anything looked wrong. I couldn't see anything from the road, so I got into the grounds by going over the wall and into the woods. I didn't even think that they had any security equipment in place. I found what was left of the helicopter under a tarp by the lake, but neither of them were in it. I was going to go and phone Vance and all the agencies when I saw the car drive up.

Int: Their car?

DR: The Rolls-Royce. I saw Xavier get out and go into the house with Logan and Summers and Grey.

Int: They had no idea that you were there?

DR: I'm resistant enough that he couldn't pick me up unless he knew where I was. If there hadn't been a storm blowing in, or if it had been blowing in from behind me, Logan would have picked me out. If I'd known how lucky I was, I would have just taken off and made the calls.

Int: But you didn't.

DR: No. They weren't racing in, so I knew, just knew, that Ariel and Ms Frost were still in there. I watched Xavier go into a side entrance to the house, kind of into a basement. I waited five minutes, then went to the door. It was open and it was dark inside, so I went in.

Int: What did you find?

DR: Guns. Lots of guns and grenades and something that looked like a missile. There was another door, kind of half open. I went over to it, and looked in. It opened onto a kind of balcony over this indoor pool. It was all tiles, and it really stank. There were people down around the pool chanting, and one of them was walking back and forth over the surface of the water. The water was, it was, it was-

MAR: Blood.

DR: It was like he was walking on a pool of blood, but it couldn't have been blood. Not that much..

Int: Did you see Emma Frost and Erich Lehnsherr there?

DR: I saw them, I saw Xavier, but not much else. From what I did see, Emma was being held by some kind of force and Professor Lehnsherr was floating in the air, moaning. I didn't know it at the time, but it was Cable walking on the water, holding them there.

Int: So what did you do?

DR: I thought of running, but I just knew that they'd be killed before help would come. Then it struck me. They might have all that power, but I was in a room full of grenades. I thought that if I could distract them like they did in all those World War 2 movies, then they might be able to escape. I found some grenades that said they were concussion grenades and some that were smoke. I laid out three of each and then I pulled all the pins really quick, then threw them through the door all at once.

Int: What happened?

DR: They always counted to ten in the movies, but these things had twenty second fuses. I counted onetwothreefour as I pulled the pins fivesix as I picked them up, seven as I stepped up to the doorway, eight as I threw them, nine as I turned and ran, then ten and nothing. I mean, I had it all thought out, and it didn't work, so I stopped dead, turned around, went back, and looked. They were all staring at me.

Int: Oh shit.

DR: Oh yeah. Emma sent to me: RUN. I ran, and I kept thinking of the car and I just got outside when all the grenades starting going off. I heard the roar and the glass breaking and I thought, I killed them all. I got to the car and the keys were still in it. I started it just like I'd seen my Dad do, and Emma sent to me and told me to drive it around the side. If it hadn't been an automatic, we'd have been fucked. So I drove this car, which was about the size of a bus, down across the lawn just as she's dragging Professor Lehnsherr out the door. There's people all over the place, crawling out the windows, throwing up everywhere from the gas, but they don't see us. She wrenches open the door and throws Erich in and sends DRIVE so hard I had a nosebleed. So I drove.

Int: Did any of them try to stop you?

SR: Logan was the only one in any shape to stop us. He tried to charge the car.

Int: So you drove away from him?

DR: Ran right over him.

MAR: That's enough. Stop the tape.

[Shot of Gabrielle Lehnsherr]

GL: Erich regressed. What he saw took him back to the War. He had a very bad War, as well you know. He didn't utter a single word for five years after that. It took a decade for him to make a full recovery. He did all he could, but he couldn't save my son.

[Shot of Douglas & Marie-Ange Ramsey]

DR: Sorry about that. I'm OK.

MAR: If you're certain.

DR: I am.

Int: How did you get back to the Academy?

DR: I had to get out of the grounds first, and I was panicking. I mean, I could barely reach the pedals and see over the dash at the same time. I remember driving across the patio twice and almost hitting people both times, then I somehow found the gate and drove out of it. I pulled over about half a mile down the road and looked in the back. The Professor was unconscious, and Emma was just sort of collapsed on top of him. I looked at her and said I can't drive or something like that and she just stared back at me, like she was some other person.

Int: She was possessed?

DR: Not in the classical sense. You know those old comics where someone sees a ghost and their hair turns white overnight? It was exactly like that, except that her hair was already white, it was just like her face matched or something. I could see people in the road, so I took off. I drove for like three hours until I found this phone booth by the side of the road. I called the school emergency number and got Mr. Fitzroy, and said that he had to come out and get us.

Int: How did he find you?

DR: I gave him the number, and I think he had some connection in the phone company. He was out with half a dozen masters in a van within 15 minutes. It turned out I was only ten miles from the Academy.

Int: Did you go to the authorities?

DR: When I got back, they sedated me. They didn't know that would break down my natural resistance to telepathy. I was almost asleep when they came to see me.

Int: Who?

DR: Xavier and Cable and Ariel. They were standing at the foot of my bed. They weren't physically there, of course, but they were there for me. To give me a message.

Int: Did you know it was her?

DR: Not until they told me. She was very pretty. She had long brown hair and these big brown eyes. She looked so scared.


She sits up, upending the half-fill tub of chip dip onto the shag carpet. The chips follow, but she doesn't notice. She goes down on her knees before the set and touches the image of his face on the warm unyielding glass.


Int: What did they say?

DR: They made it clear to me that if I told anyone about what had happened, that she would die, and that everyone I loved or cared about would die, too. Then I fell asleep and they sent me a dream that showed me what happened down in the pool.

Int: What did happen?

DR: Don't know. Woke up screaming. Forgot the whole thing. Emma says that's how the brain heals itself. It didn't happen that way for her. She remembers everything.

Int: Did you have any further contact with the School or Xavier?

DR: No. I went to talk to Emma the next day, and she was still twenty years older than she'd been the day before. It scared me so much that, when she told me I couldn't talk, I knew I couldn't and I didn't.

Int: Do you think she manipulated you into not talking?

DR: No. She didn't have to. Xavier did that for us.

[Shot of Emma Frost.]

EF: What happened? People died.

Int: David Lehnsherr?

EF: In front of his father. He wasn't the first. What they did to that baby-


She switches on the mute. She sees Frost's lips moving, the only sign that there's anything still alive behind that dead, lopsided face. She races for the toilet and barely makes it. Two bags of chips and a pound of chocolate chip cookies come back up, mostly into the bowl. When she was finishes, she slumps back onto the floor. She looks at the twin sticks of her legs, curled up in front. Her spandex cycling shorts hang loosely from her thighs. Perhaps she is thinking of what her analyst might say. She flushes it all away, then goes back to the kitchen cabinet. She looks at the TV over her shoulder, and sees that Emma Frost is no longer there. Instead, some sort of weedy-looking man is explaining something that must have been very important. She switches off the mute and starts into the shortbreads.


[Shot of a weedy-looking man]

WLM: -and so we were completely unprepared for Shaw's charges.

[Shot of Emma Frost]

EF: I should have known that he wouldn't leave it at that. I should have known that he was going to retaliate.

Int: How did you find out about the charges?

EF: When the detectives came and arrested me in the middle of morning assembly for statutory rape. They were careful to tell the entire school what they were arresting me for, as well.

[Shot of Douglas and Marie-Ange Ramsey]

DR: It was bullshit, pure bullshit. Shinobi was always saying crap like that.

Int: Do you think Xavier put him up to it?

DR: No idea. Shinobi was such a complete shit that he probably did it on his own.

Int: Why would Shinobi Shaw have done that on his own?

DR: There was a lot of pot use in the school, even before they legalized it. Emma and the staff knew it wasn't any more dangerous than cigarettes, so they tried to discourage all of us from using it but didn't come down on us hard if we did. I mean, I met Marie-Ange at a hash brownie party. We kind of shared an unofficial award for the longest fit of uncontrolled giggling.

MAR: You would have to remember that.

DR: Anyway, anything harder than pot or hash and you were out. Shinobi got caught with a salt shaker from the school cafeteria that was filled with cocaine, and so he did a deal with the local DA. Xavier might have gotten involved at that point, because the evidence was so flimsy, it shouldn't have stood up in court.

Int: I understood that the prosecution presented a strong case.

MAR: In the court or in the newspapers? The conservative media went mad about the story. They had pictures of her in every newscast, dressed up for events in very glamorous outfits. We never saw her like that. She always dressed down on campus, wore baggy clothes, that sort of thing because she knew what could happen to teenaged girls. Even then, she still looked better than any of us. It made her life a misery, constantly being aware of how many men wanted to fuck her. She gave in to that misery at the wrong time.

DR: She never gave in to it with a student. Never, not that I ever knew of and certainly not with Shinobi.

MAR: Yet you all talked as if you did.

DR: Come on. We had 200 teenaged boys in the school, and one of the most beautiful women in the world looking after us. We used to fantasize all the time, but it would have been like sleeping with Supergirl or Princess Leia. No one would have ever dared do it. No, at some deeper level, I think that most of us loved her. Not sexually, more like something out of the middle ages.

MAR: I do believe that you are romanticizing this all too much. The point is, they had no difficulty in finding twelve boys and one girl who hated the world and who were more than happy to say that Emma had fucked them. The conservative media made a circus of it.

DR: While the left wing media kept silent. It was a circus. Half the kids got pulled out of school, two of the masters were arrested, and one of them ended up doing ten years in prison when they found an obscene parody of a Mickey Mouse comic that he'd drawn.

MAR: She would never have employed a master who would have hurt her students.

Int: And yet she could have made you believe this.

MAR: She could not have manipulated 400 students. There was very little privacy in the school. Someone would have talked. You are far too comfortable with the picture of her as the predator, the cold woman who eats her young as Xavier did his. She was not always so cold, not before she tried to kill herself.

[Shot of E Frost]

EF: I was not always what you see now. The one time that I did see myself on tape, I was horrified. I cannot bear to see what I have become.

Int: Do you recall what you were like before your injury?

EF: I do, and it is so strange to me. I can almost drown in the memories, they are so sweet and warm.

Int: Why did you try to kill yourself?

EF: Trying to keep the school open had been such an effort. I had expended almost all of my cash reserves, and the school had gone into bankruptcy. The strain killed my father, who had been suffering from a heart condition. Of the two physicians who had saved my mind as children, one died and the other had a stroke. I was arrested twice and held in a psi-blocked cell, and all I could read were the warders, whose minds were almost uniformly hideous. I was released on bail before the trial, on the understanding that I would be re-incarcerated before the hearings to prevent my influencing the jury. It was so ridiculous, because neither the judge nor the prosecution were shielded from Xavier. I was so alone, and I threw myself at John.

Int: John Kelly.

EF: Yes. Right after his divorce. The papers found out, and used it to tar him. We were together perhaps all of three weeks. It was hard for me because he was resistant and I could never quite see him clearly. In the end, he broke off the relationship quite abruptly, leaving me alone. I received a phone call the same afternoon saying that I should present myself to the prison the next day, as the jury selection was about to begin. I was wandering through the house and I saw this old hunting rifle above a door. It had been there for years as a decoration. It had a bullet in it, so I pointed it at my head and pulled the trigger with my toe. The powder was very old, so it didn't kill me.

[Shot of Marie-Ange and Douglas Ramsey]

MAR: I found Miss Frost in her chambers. I was one of the last students to leave the school, as my parents were still trying to raise the funds to return me to France. I heard the shot, and disregarded her orders that she should be left alone.

DR: There was a court order banning her from contact with minors. She was confined to her apartment and we'd see her watching us, sometimes. What was left of the choir would sing at night, under her window. We could see the strain was getting to her.

MAR: I could not take the chance that the sound was a car backfiring or something of that sort. I climbed in through the window from the roof and found her on the dining room floor, all covered in blood. I performed the first aid that I knew, and phoned for the ambulance.

DR: If Marie-Ange had waited a minute longer, Emma would have died.

MAR: Emma did die, or rather much of her did. The bullet destroyed several important parts of her brain. She lost all of her psi abilities, and her ability to feel.

DR: Not like in tactile feeling, feeling as in personality. She became very cold, iced over.

MAR: And this got her off, on a technicality. She never had the chance to defend herself, and so her reputation remains blackened.

[Shot of Emma Frost]

EF: It freed me from the noise, and from my feelings. That alone would end my life as a teacher. I still consult for state and assist with the development of facilities in public schools for mutant education, but I could never be involved with students on a day to day basis again.

Int: Yet you remain friends with many of your former students.

EF: Oh yes. When I'm with them, I can feel the ghosts of feelings come back like the pain from phantom limbs, except that it's not phantom pain, it's phantom joy.

[Shot of a portly man in a sweater, wearing a blazer but no tie. He is puffing on a pipe that has not been lit.]

[Caption: Nicholas Dio Cassius, Roy Cohn Professor of American History, University of Chicago]

NDC: It was one of the most celebrated cases involving the Hinckley Law. Because her old personality was destroyed, she could no longer be accused of any crime. They made a deal that so long as she stayed away from adolescents, they would let her go. The death of her accuser from a heroin overdose before her trail no doubt helped. Her defence was very strong, perhaps stronger than she realized.

Int: Was there a political dimension to her break-up with the Senator?

NDC: Most certainly. Kelly was always flirting with disaster. The coalition that produced the Second Revolution that demolished the idea that corporate and property rights were superior to human rights, this coalition was always unstable. Throughout the Kennedy, Johnson, Kennedy, King, Bradley and Kennedy administrations, the only way that they could keep the revolution on track was when the Progressives, the Liberals, and the Democrats would all stand behind one presidential candidate. The Republicans were always the largest party of the four, and at any moment could have swept away the gains of a generation. Kelly had been instrumental in the foundation of the Social Democrats and might have even been their candidate in '84, but for the scandal. It also imperiled the passage of the Chavez amendment, and had that failed the United States might have remained unilingual and the southern borders might have ended up looking something like that wall that used to surround West Berlin.

Int: How did he react to her suicide?

NDC: No one is really sure. The authorized Kelly biography says that it was responsible for his abandoning his presidential bid in '84 and in not seeking the bids in '88 or '96, when he might have stood a chance, but no scholar takes that book seriously. From what I know of the work of other biographers, there is a case to be made that it may have contributed to brief descent into alcoholism. One is struck with the parallel with that incident with Kennedy, the one that was rescued from that car crash by the secretary who had gills.

[Shot of a short, pear-shaped man wearing a powdered wig that sits slightly askew upon his head. He is wearing wire-rimmed spectacles, and 18th century clothing. He looks not unlike popular images of Benjamin Franklin, but also seems to be under the influence of mind-altering substances.]

[Caption: Sebastian Shaw, Private Investor, Phuket, Thailand]

SS: Of course, they would make this out to be a tragic history. Poor Emma Frost. Poor, poor, crippled, Emma Frost. After what she did to my son, they should have hanged the bitch.

Int: Did your son ever discuss the alleged incident with you?

SS: He most certainly did. I had sent him to the Academy, as a legacy. It was an excellent school when I attended. They brought up young men to be the leaders of tomorrow. The lash was not spared, no, not once.

Int: I thought that that would have been illegal.

SS: Oh, no, no, not at all. Very character building. And even if it had been illegal for the common folk, such rules would not have applied within the confines of the academy grounds. It was a school for the building of elites.

Int: So your son's letters must have come as quite a shock.

SS: Oh, yes. Not only did that witch take over the school herself, she desecrated the quads by bringing in both female teachers and students. How could men learn to become men in presence of all that disgusting femininity?

[Text of a letter superimposed on the screen, read by a narrator with an incongruously English accent]

Narr: On Walpurgisnacht, Miss Emma led a black mass in the quadrangle. We had no choice but to participate, or our families would be killed. We were led down into the cellars and the old gymnasium, where we were forced to don black hooded robes and bow down before an altar with an inverted cross on it. Miss Emma stood on the altar in a skin-tight white leather outfit, with her most trusted students at her side. Gradually, they unrobed her, revealing her full roseate-nippled breasts and her broad muscular stomach. As the crowd chanted, they stripped her of her remaining undergarments and set about licking her with their tongues. I was tied to a school bedframe with hempen ropes. Once she had been groomed by her minions, she approached me with the lighted end of a Cuban cigar....

[Shot of S Shaw]

Int: Didn't you find this a bit difficult to believe?

SS: Not at all. It is exactly what I would have expected of a woman of that sort.

Int: Was his statement to the authorities of this nature?

SS: It contained passages that were far more disturbing than this.

Int: Why do you think that they believed him?

SS: Because they were true!

Int: But the parts about the children?

SS: Just look at that man Xavier. What would make you think she was any different?

Int: Why did you release these letters to the newspapers?

SS: It was necessary, to show that my son was not what the liberal media were making him out to be.

Int: What was that?

SS: A drug-addled fantasist. They had senators and eggheads of all descriptions besmirching my son's character. I had to fight back to preserve the good name of my family.

Int: Why did you not remove him from the school after you received the first letter?

SS: It was a most stressful time, and I believe that I made a noble, yet erroneous decision. I and the other members of the Republican Central Committee were involved in plotting election strategies for the '88 elections, and all of my resources were committed to this enterprise. Had I been for one moment able to step away from our deliberations, perhaps my son would have been spared the worst of it.

Int: It was that important?

SS: My god, sir, yes. What this country needed then and still needs now is a return to the government of our forefathers. They were men of universal knowledge, experts in every field, not like the pointy-headed liberal specialists of today. They knew the world, and everything worth knowing. We don't need a single one of the amendments passed to our hallowed constitution, especially not those that destroyed the hallowed right of all men to own unlimited property. With that right, every man can aspire to being one of the Gods themselves!

Int: This sounds similar to the arguments expressed by the mad philosopher Scalia.

SS: If there were any justice in this land, Mr Scalia would be on the Supreme Court, not locked away in an asylum.

Int: But this is Thailand.

SS: But in spirit, I remain at home in what was once the greatest country in the world.

[Shot of Douglas and Marie-Ange Ramsey]

Int: Were you relieved when they raided the compound?

DR: God yeah, especially when they got all the main psis that I knew of. I mean, it was terrible what happened to them and all, but maybe I can start feeling safe again.

MAR: Douglas has difficulties with the out-of-doors.

DR: It's just, if I'm not in a Class 1 psi-blocked environment, I kind of get freaked. That means lots of concrete and Faraday cages.

MAR: He's been better about going outside, lately. He spent an hour in the garden yesterday, with only head armour on.

Int: Do you feel that you will ever feel safe?

DR: Something happened to me, and it was so big I can still barely get my head around it. I can talk to you about it, and you can try to imagine it, but you weren't there, experiencing it, fighting for your life at the age of twelve. It's left me scarred, but it wasn't all bad. I'll give you an example. Twelve years ago, Bill Gates came over from Seattle to show me the latest thing he'd been working on. He was going to build a Mac-like operating system over his command line OS, and he wanted me to help him get it to work.

Int: I heard he offered you half the stock in the company.

DR: More than half. Well, I looked at what he'd done, what they'd bet the farm on. It barely ran. The code looked like someone had barfed onto a hard drive and then tried to compile it. I knew I could get it to run. I knew if I did, Bill and I would own the operating system for the world. All the businesses would buy it, and the much superior Mac platform would become a niche item or die out completely. So I thought about this, and I looked at Bill, and don't get me wrong, Bill's a great guy, he's going to have every classroom in India wired by next year and he's starting in on Africa, but if he or me or anyone else owned the computers on every desk in the world, and something happened like what happened to Emma happened to us and we turned into something like Xavier, then, well, I turned him down. I went to Apple and said that I'd marry the Mac OS with this free version of Unix from Europe if they'd turn the company into a cooperative, which they did. The rest is history.


PART4

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