Lilim Tales - Part 3

FotoFlexer_Photo4.jpg Cassandra has at last learned who transformed her: mythical demons called lilim; the incubi and succubi of horror stories. Luna now promises to change her back to Cody if Cassandra helps save Jayden. Cassandra doesn't know if she can trust Luna, but since she figures her 'condition' can't get any worse, she has nothing to lose. She couldn't be more mistaken.

 
The Lilim Tales - Part 3
by Armond


 

Author's note: for a cleaner pdf version of this story, please click here.
 
 

Part 3.

~o~O~o~

8.

The research was fascinating! Enlightening! And ...useless.

Cassandra ran 'Jaiden and Luana Lundquist', 'Jayden and Luna Longaine' and any possible variation she could contrive through every search engine known to man. The hits she gathered were a history walk into the 20th Century - a 'Jaide Lundquist' was a diplomat with the South African delegation that signed the original League of Nations charter in 1919. Curiously, 'Luana Lundquist' was listed as an attaché to the Swedish delegation at the UN Charter signing in 1945.

'Jayden Lundquist', she learned, served on the board of several multinational corporations, most recently as the CEO of Ascent Investments. Cassandra managed to Google image a blurry picture - a silver-haired man wearing a navy two-button Brooks Brothers suit. His jaw line looked so much like Jayden's, she thought they could be related; Daddy and Junior?

Luna's name, showed hits as the owner of dozens of high-powered media publications and outlets.

“Fabulous. I have a surfer dude -slash- limo driver whose father is king of Wall Street, and a crazy bitch who gives Rupert Murdoch a run for his money.”

The term 'lilim' produced bizarre disturbing links, to demons called incubus and succubus and their mother Lilith. Cassandra had never put stock in such myths, but then, here she sat, living proof that the impossible could happen.

Even if those myths were true, they offered nothing to explain her sex change. After two fruitless hours, Cassandra's head nodded to the keyboard; the day had seemed a year long and her brain circuits were fried.

Her cell phone ring tone -Bad to the Bone- jolted her awake.

“H-hello?” Her face felt funny; she ran her hand over her cheek and felt the key imprints. She also discovered she had drolled on the keys. Great.

The panic in Luna voice dragged Cassandra back to consciousness.

“Yeah, Ms. Longaine? Was there some name you forgot to call me, or did 'piece of shit cover it?'”

Luna was …crying? Sobbing something about Jayden being injured? Worry blanketed her, though she did not know why.

“Whoa, slow down…what happened? God, Luna. Call 911, or-”

Cassandra did not catch her answer, because Luna turned hysterical, screaming how Cassandra must save him.

“Okay, this is insanity, plain and simple. I'll call and have an ambulance sent to-”

Cassandra listened unbelieving to Luna's next words, answering after several moments of silence.

Are you serious? Because, I would drive at warp speed through a hurricane for that. Alert your security guy, 'Bob', to let me in; you know the helpful lad who tossed me out?”

Cassandra clicked off her phone. She was stoked; this was the moment she had waited for since her change. She would throw on jeans and t-shirt, grab keys and wallet, and hit it.

Wait! She needed extra clothes too, Cody clothes, because Luna promised if she helped Jayden, she would change Cassandra back, tonight. The end of this nightmare had come!

~o~O~o~

The thunderstorm had taken up residence in the city, and continued to hammer away with lightning, thunder, and sheets of rain.

So, warp speed to Luna's was downgraded to impulse power, and the extra transit time brought her down to earth. Not all the way to ground, but close enough to question what she was doing.

Think, Cassie! Does this make sense? A) They change you for reasons unknown. B) Jayden, the limo man, is hurt and so, C) instead of rushing him to the hospital, Luna calls you to do …what? And D) if you do this ...whatever ...for Jayden, she changes you back?

Right, and, oh look! The next street sign you see ahead says 'gullible'.”

Ultimately, she kept driving, because what did she have to lose? If Luna didn't change her back, then she was no worse off than now, right?

The surreal-ness hit hard when she entered Luna's building lobby, and the security guard -she named him 'Bob' because he looked like one- smiled and waved her through. Like they were old friends. Like he had no recollection of shoving her out the door just hours ago, threatening to sic the police on her.

The elevator ride up creeped her out too. The overhead lights flicked, making her wonder if she was going to be trapped. And the elevator interior reminded her of a mausoleum; she could not for the life of her, figure out why it needed to be arched and NBA player tall.

Cassandra knocked several times on the penthouse door, but no one came. Finding it open, she let herself in. Her footsteps echoed down the dark hallway; had the storm knocked out the power?

“Hello?”

“In my bedroom. Hurry!”

Luna's voice sounded …off, like multi-toned reeds vibrating. Cassandra followed it down the penthouse hallway, and the lightning flashes lit the way. She stopped in front of the doubled doors at the hallway's end. Even the lightning failed to penetrate that gloom.

“Ms. Longaine?”

“Cassandra! Thank Lilith you came! Jayden is dying and needs your psi now!”

Cassandra could just make out Luna's outline; a blacker shape in the shadowy dark, and ...something was wrong; her outline seemed too big.

“My …Psi? What's that?”

“Psi is energy that you -you alone- produce when your body is stimulated. Jayden needs to feed from you to regenerate. This is why we changed you, because -as a srryn- you produce energy we lilim live on.”

“You said that word earlier; lilim. They are supposedly sex demons, but that can’t be true.” Cassandra gave a nervous laugh.

“In your genetically altered body, when you are stimulated, you produce huge psi amounts. Jayden needs a massive dose now!”

“Wait ...wait ...” Cassandra puzzled it together - Psi. Stimulation. Sex. Demons. She wasn't escaping the nightmare, she was diving in deeper! What the fuck had they done to her?

A sinewy blue hand shot from the black and clamped her wrist.

“I've fed him all the psi I could, more than I should have. Do not be scared; I won't hurt you.”

“I don't know what you want!” Cassandra yelped. “Change me back, please! I ...won't tell anyone about this. I promise.”

“No 'changing back' for you, srryn. You will do this.”

“Do what? Let me go!”

She fought to pull away, but even as Cody, she couldn’t have broken Luna's steel grip. As little Cassandra? Her efforts were laughable. Luna yanked her into the shadows and pinned her to a wall.

“We do not have time for this, srryn.”

Luna shoved a fat rose crystal between Cassandra's lips and sweet syrup splashed on her tongue. She tried to spit the liquid out, but Luna's hand clamped her mouth; she gagged instead, swallowing in coughing gulps.

“C'taia, undiluted; this will hit you fast.”

Cassandra continued thrashing until a twin rush of lethargy and euphoria blanketed her, spinning her mind to cotton candy. Her legs buckled at the same moment she giggled. Luna held her to keep her from falling. Then she unsnapped Cassandra's jeans and let them drop to the floor.

“Jayden and I are so drained we cannot project a human image. You will see us in our true state. As you said, humans name us demons. Do you want a blindfold?”

“Mmm? Don't …know...” Cassandra couldn't think straight; she couldn't think much of anything beyond how tingly her body felt. “Ummm, what eggzactly are you doing to me?”

“What lilim always do to their srryn,” Luna answered, as she slipped Cassandra's panties off.

Cassandra giggled again; everything was suddenly hilarious.

“A zillion natural women in town and you call the babe who used to be a man for sexual CPR?” She snort giggled, and continued, “seriously, you turned me into an Everready sex bunny?”

“As funny as it seems, you alone can save him.”

She lifted the petite girl and carried her to where Jayden lay. Luna switched on the bedside lamp. She watched as the girl's eyes swept over her, first taking in her nonhuman face, then her black feathered wings. Luna braced for the inevitable screams. But instead she heard:

“Looona! You are an angel! Where's my damn sketch book when I need it?”

“Save him, Cassandra, save my mate!”

Cassandra turned to the bloody gray figure with crumpled wings; srryn instinct licked in.

“Jayden!”

Her hands shot out to touch him. When they did, a jolt of her energy flowed to him, and his eyes fluttered open.

“What's ...happening...?” Jayden whispered.

“Hush, my love. Our srryn is here for you,” Luna said, as she placed the girl next to him. “Quick, take his janja, -that's his tail tip- into your vagina and-”

“-My what? Ohhh yeaahh, that thingy down where my ooold thingy used to be ...this is … how it works?”

“Yes,” Luna said, “Trust me, you are going to love this.”

Cassandra took his tail in her hands. The tip was bulbous, smooth and about the size of a golf ball. And translucent blue.

“Hurry!” Luna pleaded.

“This is all...” she sighed, instead of saying 'too much.' Her hands started to shake. “I'm scared.”

“Don't be, darling, relax, and enjoy. This is as natural for a srryn as breathing.”

Luna guided the tip of Jayden's tail to Cassandra's vaginal folds. On contact, the tip pulsed blue, and a buzz -a mind blowing buzz- looped through her body.

“ohhhhhhh …so …um, not so bad…”

Gingerly, she slid pulsing tip between her folds and in, and felt the janja hum alive, throbbing. Her tingle buzz amped to a cascade of pleasure.

Ahhhhmmmmm.”

“Yes!” Luna said. “He needs a massive hit to heal, as large as you can produce. I must stimulate you fully. Which means I am going to enter you with my janja.”

Cassandra grasped what Luna said, but couldn’t speak the simple question 'where.' Any sound other than moaning was beyond her.

Luna sensed her question. “Since your vagina is already filled...”

Luna pulled Cassandra to an 'all fours' position on the bed.

“...I'm taking you from behind.”

Her janja slipped into Cassandra's arousal-lubricated anus, and when Luna's tip started pulsing, the girl lost whatever shred of rational thought she'd clung to, surfing wave after orgasmic wave.

Luna tried to sip as little of Cassandra's psi as she could, but Jayden was right; Cassandra was the mother lode, and tasted fantastic.

At that instant, she became addicted to the girl.

~o~O~o~

9.

Jayden stretched his arms over his head. He felt weak and sore but whole. How had this happened?

He turned at the movement next to him, to find Luna's face ...kissing him.

“Are you mad? We shouldn't be this close.”

Luna silenced him with a finger to his lips. “Do you feel the feeding urge?”

No! For the first time since Lori died, he was psi sated. He shook his head.

“I am full too,” she whispered.

“But how? Beth could never have given such a charge. And why are we whispering?”

“Because we don't want to wake the srryn.” Luna raised a feathered black wing to show Cassandra curled and sleeping beside her.

“Cassie!” Of course, that explained the amazing psi. “This is fantastic news!”

He ran a hand along Cassandra's dark golden thigh and she answered with a small purring sound. Srryn purring. “And fully activated. She is magnificent!”

Luna sighed. “I do not know how she will be.”

“What do you mean?”

“We had months to prepare Lori for the Change, and she embraced it. With Cassandra, we have rammed every step of the process -her gender change, her new nature, everything- down her throat, including activating her last night. I had no choice; you would have died if I hadn't.”

Jayden shrugged. “She will adjust; srryns love their life.”

“Will she?” Luna ran a hand over Cassandra's smooth rump. “I tricked her to come here, drugged her, and then took her. Her srryn instincts are working fine, but the human part of her consciousness is in shock. Once that fades, another emotion is bound to kick in. How could it be anything but hate?”

~o~O~o~

Being fuck drunk didn't leave a hangover, apparently, because when Cassandra awoke, she felt the best she had in her life, even experiencing an after tremor of pleasure.

“Mmmm …Jesus.”

“Good morning, srryn.”

Cassandra opened her eyes to see Luna beside her on the bed. Luna projected her 'human' image, dressed in black silk pants and blouse. Cassandra scanned her surroundings: in the light of day, she found she lay on a bed three times as large as a king; it seemed like a football field. An image bubbled up in her mind, of creatures with huge wings, which explained the need for size.

Human survival instinct screamed ‘flee this creature’, but her new srryn nature countermanded with another directive. With shaking hands, she touched Luna's face.

“Are you well?”

Luna nodded, taking Cassandra's hand and squeezed.

“And …Jayden …he is better? Do I need to-”

Luna shook her head. “He is well, and resting in his bedroom.”

“Why did I ask that? Something forced me to …before I did anything else…”

“A Srryn's first thoughts are for her lilim. Thanks to you, he is healing. We owe you much.”

Images from last night flooded her brain, and she yanked her hands from Luna's.

“You lied to me.”

“I had no choice, I had to-”

“-You fucked me, and …I liked it.” Cassandra drew her knees close to her chest, lowered her head. “God help me, I loved it.”

Luna did not know what to say. Her feelings for the girl were in flux; she had saved her mate -no, saved them both- and for that alone she would be indebted to the srryn forever. And she craved the girl's taste; Cassandra was a drug to her.

“Change me back,” Cassandra rasped. “You promised!”

“I cannot. There is no reversal process. You will remain as you are for the next hundred years.”

“You fuckers!” When Cassandra raised her head, Luna saw tears glistening in her eyes. “I need …to get out of here. Where are my clothes?”

Luna sighed. “Modesty in a new srryn is like dew on summer grass, jeweled and fleeting.”

“Screw that, gimme my goddamn clothes,” Cassandra growled, as she searched for a top sheet to cover her chest. “Every fucking brainwashed thought I have is of you and Jayden. I am fighting urges telling me to wrap my arms around you. To comfort you. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?”

“Please Cassandra, calm down. Let me explain what has happened …and why. This is not what you think-

“-What I think,” Cassandra squealed, “is I need to get the fuck out of here! You have twenty-four hours to change me back. After that, I go to the police. Clear enough, Ms. Longaine?”

“That would not be advisable. First, with your story? The police will lock you away for psychiatric evaluation. Second, as the day progresses, the urge for you to feed us, the szen, will grow. The szen is a sexual burning, and will be stronger today because of Jayden's injury. If a srryn goes more than a couple of days without feeding her lilim, she becomes …erm…feral with desire.”

What was this monster telling her, that she would go into a mindless heat if she didn't fuck them?

No, no, no!”

She jumped from the bed, ran to her folded clothes on a dresser, and struggled into them.

“Never call or see me again, unless it is to change me back.”

Luna knew she needed to grab her srryn, caress her, and help her understand. But between her guilt for the way she treated Cassandra and her mourning for Lori, she was paralyzed.

“Don't go! You will be back, Cassandra. The szen will overwhelm you.”

“You are dead wrong; I will never become your mindless…” mindless what? Sex slave? Energy cow? Cassandra had zero understanding of what she was. “…I…I won't. I swear to God I won't. And …I'll buy a gun and ...and shoot you if you come for me. You hear me?”

“You are making this so much harder than it needs to be.”

But with a screamed string of obscenities, Cassandra fled the penthouse. Luna's human projection vanished, and the winged creature slumped over into her bed. Sadness enveloped her and images played in her mind.

Her ache for Lori tore her soul still, but a tide change had come; Luna no longer hated Cassandra, if she ever had. For the first time since Lori's death, she admitted the reverse could be true.

Since Lori’s death, whenever Luna closed her eyes, her beloved’s face appeared.

Every time except now.

For when she shut her eyes this time, she saw Cassandra,

enraptured as she gazed at Rembrandt's paintings,

kneeling before her in her silk kimono, bright-eyed and smiling,

laying in her arms, seeing her true form and calling her an angel.

Luna moaned a word:

Cassie.”

~o~O~o~

10.

“Is it possible to scream in pleasure and terror at the same time?”

Cody had never been a fan of theoretical discussions and neither was Cassandra now. What she debated was not hypothetical; she was, as far as she could tell, dealing with demons. Yet, Luna had looked so stunning, Cassandra's hands ached to sketch her. And when they entered her ? Her body pleasure-shivered at the memory.

Dawn’s glow greeted her when she stumbled into her apartment. She thought after her change two days ago, things could not get stranger, but now?

What should I do? What can I do?

She considered following through on her threat and buying a gun; maybe she could intimidate them, force them to change her back. The idea seemed stupid the moment she thought it, because, weren't they creatures pulled from horror flick casting, winged, super strong, and possessing weird mind powers?

And she was this tiny thing whose 'power' was to have mind-blowing sex.

“Yeah, that fight would last half a nanosecond.”

More than that, the thought of hurting them felt so wrong, it made her nauseous. Even now, she felt their call; she wanted to run her hands over their bodies. Her instincts told her she could never harm them.

Cassandra growled in frustration. “Fine, then I could ...I could off myself and end this nightmare story. Ha! Then the fucking energy feeders would be up shit creek.”

No, she could not do that, her srryn mind told her, in the tone a parent takes with a petulant child, because that would be hurting them, depriving them of the sustenance they needed to live. This was her duty, her purpose, to care for her lilim.

“Care for them? I never want to see them again! Jesus, they've screwed up my brain!”

Cassandra was about to crawl into bed and curl into a ball when her cell phone rang.

“Hello? ...E-emilie? ...No, I was up and ...hmm? An emergency? You missed your bus?”

Cassandra almost laughed; after last night, Emilie’s ‘emergency’ seemed so mundane. She did not think to respond with a typical Cody ‘sucks to be you' retort after Emilie begged a ride to her work. Instead, her offer of help was instantaneous.

'A srryn is helpful,' whispered a voice in her head. She shook it off, the way a swimmer shakes her head to get water out of the ears.

“S-sure, where do you need to go? Lexington and 12th? Near Market Street, right?”

A plan of action took root in her mind...

“...Great, cause this will work out pretty well for me, too…”

She knew Luna's words rang true; she could feel the urge, the -what had she called it, the szen?- building. Maybe this was like a drug addiction, and if she could get through the next few days without seeing them, she could beat it.

She adjusted her goal downward; she wasn't trying to change back to Cody. No, now all she wanted was to claw her way back to 'human normal.' If anything could take her mind off the szen, she figured her art would.

“…Maya wants me to do another ...er ...I mean do a watercolour of Market Street. See you in 15?”

An instinct -a new one- made Cassandra swing by Starbucks to pick up a latte and muffin for her friend. A dimpled smile lit Emilie's face when Cassandra thrust them to her.

“Mind reader! How did you know I didn't eat this morning?” Emilie said, and chomped into the blueberry muffin. “You are a life saver, by the way. I would have been in deep shit at work if I came in late today. Attorneys …ugh! Such prima donnas!”

They drove a while without talking, as Emilie attacked the hot gooey pastry. At some point, Cassandra realized the munching and slurping sounds had stopped and Emilie stared at her with eyebrow raised.

“What?”

“You look, er, healthy this morning; I swear you are glowing,” Emilie said, then her lips turned up in a sly smile. “Did you …get a little last night, girlfriend?”

Get a little? Holy shit! Understatement alert! She felt something in her lower body clenching at the memory, a something she struggled to identify. In her defense, it was a new body part …her pussy? It felt wet and tingly.

“Ah ha! You aren't denying it, eh? So you did!” Emilie said, and then pointed to an office building ahead on the left. “Ahead there — the reddish looking one, where hours of glorious document scanning awaits.”

Emilie jumped out when Cassandra pulled next to the curb. “Thanks again for the ride, the coffee, and the scoop. I expect -nay, demand- a full report on your adventures later.”

Full report? Cassandra wondered how that would go down. 'Um yeaaaah, I did have sex last night, for the first time as a female. I lost my virginity to two demons, who double fucked me, until I blacked out from orgasms.'

The flashback —or feedback- of what the lilim did to her caused a soft purr to escape her lips.

“Cassie? Are you okay?”

Cassandra realized her friend still watched her through the open car door. Shit.

“Y-yeah, why?”

“I don't know; for a second you looked like you had an org-” Emilie shook her head.

“Whatever you're on, girl, I need me some.”

~o~O~o~

With a determination of pure will, she focused on her task, despite her growing ...heat.

She set up her easel close to the granite walls of the Fourth National Bank building. That way, no one could come up behind her and startle her with a 'whatcha doing, painting?' brilliant observation. Plein air paintings presented a different set of problems to studio paintings.

It was a bright fall day, and at 9:30 A.M. the shadows of Market Square were still long, but shrinking. This was the time of day she had painted the scene as Cody, and she wanted to duplicate the conditions.

A breeze rustled the leaves of the paperbark maples that lined the street. The deep red of the leaves against the orange bark already gave the trees a fiery feel, and when the leaves shimmered, they morphed into swirls of energy.

She blinked; she had never seen them that way before.

“Okay, as Cody we started with the main shapes first, then we filled in the details. So as Cassie we do the same.”

Cassandra inventoried the main shapes; the tan Farmer's Market building with its clock tower, the white and angular art deco 'Arena' movie theater, parked cars, and people.

She blinked again. The people …didn't look like people. They were energy swirls too; each different colors, and she wondered if they signified different moods.

Even the buildings pulsed color.

It hit her: she wasn't seeing forms.

She had never seen like this! Never! What had changed? A lot, obviously, but what would do this?

She loved painting as Cody. She loved painting now.

What was it about Cody that sucked the life from his paintings? Or, what did she have now that let her experience everything so …alive?

Cassandra neither knew nor cared. The fire in her head trumped the szen in her body.

She grabbed her brush …and painted.

~o~O~o~

“Ms. Soutine?” Meredith held out her hand. “Meredith Benson, Trend Magazine. Thanks for seeing me on such short notice.”

Maya led Meredith past the rows of easels to her office in the back of the studio.

“Excuse the mess,” Maya said, motioning for Meredith to sit. “Artists you know.”

Meredith grinned; the room did seem more collage than office. “As I said on the phone, we want to do a spread using Cassie, and I need to run background check.”

Maya squinted at the woman before her. They were roughly the same age, and Meredith looked like she was managing her forties well; her brunette hair looked natural and free of gray. She also sensed from Meredith's clear eyes she could like this woman. So why did she have the feeling Meredith wasn't being truthful?

“Yes, about that, do senior Trend editors do the background checks like this? I would have thought someone junior could have done this over the phone.”

“Normally that's true,” Meredith said. “But this 'spread' is the pet project of the owner and editor-in-chief Luna Longaine, and so I decided to handle it. How long have you known Cassie?”

“A couple of days. She is quite talented, much more so than her cousin whom I’ve known longer. Their styles are similar; uncannily so. I'll know more when I see what she does with an assignment I've given her.”

Meredith had hoped for more information from Maya about the mysterious young woman. She had already checked Facebook, MySpace, numerous search engines, and had learned nothing; Cassandra Albornos was the Ungooglable Woman.

Maya's eyes narrowed. “Something is going on here; I sense it. What aren't you telling me?”

Meredith leaned back in her chair. Maya was sharp; time to level.

“Something is different about her that…” Meredith struggled with how to phrase it, so Maya wouldn't think she was crazy. Well, she will think that anyway; what Meredith had to figure was a way to phrase it so Maya wouldn't think her bat-shit insane.

“Cassie is in grave danger. There are beings who would cause her harm. I'm trying to warn her, but I don't have an address, or phone number.”

“Beings? What do you mean by that?”

Meredith pushed her business card across the desk to Maya. “Call me. Anytime, night or day. I must talk with her.”

Meredith left Maya to wonder what the hell had just happened.

The practical part of her mind sent up red flags; Maya's first thought was she might be dealing with a lunatic. But -what had Cody called it? Her 'new agey' side- told her this woman was not crazy, and something bizarre was happening. Cassie was due to return to her class this afternoon. Maya would talk with her, and see what happened next.

Meredith's words echoed in her mind. Cassandra was, without a doubt, the most exotic creature she had ever seen. Yet when she examined her self-portrait sketch, she could have sworn…

In addition to her formidable artistic talent, Maya possessed a knack for art forensics; she could recognize a vast array of artists by their brushstrokes and style.

Maya's first impression when she looked at Cassandra's self-portrait sketch was that Cody had drawn it for her.

Now she contemplated a far stranger explanation.

~o~O~o~

11.

“Time. Pencils down.”

Cassandra stopped her sketching, looked down, and grinned. Gesture drawings had never been 'her thing', but they were a necessary warm up to a sketching class, just as a runner needed to stretch before he dashed off. After this morning's painting session, she captured the motion and energy with ease.

Maya had been standing behind Cassandra and voiced her agreement.

“You're in the groove already, Cassie. Excellent.”

Cassandra blushed at the praise; she wasn't used to it. The moment passed, because, after Maya arranged the model in a different position, Cassandra was off again, captured by the lines and contours. Two hours flew by without her realizing it; nor was she -thankfully- overwhelmed by her desires for Luna and Jayden. When the inspiration was on her, the szen faded to dull burn.

She sensed Maya hovering about her more than the other students, but figured the extra attention was because she was the 'new kid.'

After the session ended, Cassandra picked up the two paintings she'd brought with her and moved to the back of the line of students waiting to talk with Maya.

Emile was in front of Cassandra and she cocked an eyebrow when she turned to her.

“C'mon, Cass, dish; I've been waiting all day to hear about your tryst.”

“Tryst?” Cassandra had never heard the word. “What's that?”

“You know, affair, liaison,” Emilie leaned over and whispered, “do’in the dirty.”

“Oh.” Cassandra’s cheeks warmed, and she hoped her new dark coloring camouflaged it. She couldn't help it; Emilie's words unlocked the heat Cassandra had fought all day to cage. Her lips started moving before her brain could intercede.

“It's not what you think. These inhuman creatures have changed me in ways you cannot imagine and control me; they make me have orgasms so they can eat my energy.”

“Cassie? …what are you talking about, are …are you all right?”

Shit! Why did she say that? The look on Emilie's face spoke volumes; if Cassandra told the truth, people would think she was a complete whack job. She would have three days ago if she had heard her words coming from someone else's mouth.

She plastered a big fake grin on her face and tried to undo the damage.

“Psych! God, you should have seen the look on your face. The real thing is this: I …came to town just a couple of days ago, and already I'm in a relationship. I have no idea where it's going but-”

“Okay, who is he? Now you got me hooked. I quit my second job and am going to actually paint tonight-

“-Congratulations!” Cassandra gave her a fist bump.

“Thanks. Since I’m painting tonight, I can’t do dinner. But I must hear more about your new boytoy. Free for lunch tomorrow?”

“Yeah, how bout we grab fish tacos at Wahoos?”

“What is it with your family?” Emilie said.

“Eh?”

“That's Cody's favorite place. I elect you to drive, since, um, you have the car.”

The conversation ended then, because Maya was ready to talk with Emilie. Emilie gave Cassandra a quick goodbye after she asked a composition question. Which left Maya and Cassandra alone in the studio.

“I'm anxious to speak with you,” Maya said. “Is that the Market Square assignment?”

Cassandra nodded. “Why have you wanted to talk to me?”

Maya's smile smoothed the lines on her face and lit her eyes. “Because you present a mystery. Did you bring Cody's painting? I want to look at it first.”

Cassandra nodded and lifted it up. They looked at it in silence.

“His composition, color manipulation, and brush stroke technique are competent…”

Cassandra heard Maya’s implied 'but'.

“Let's see yours.”

For a second she was scared; what if it was no better? What if she hadn't improved? She bit her lip and brought it up.

“WOW!” The word burst from Maya's lips.

“Wow? Really?”

“Yeah! Double wow! The energy is amazing! God, girl, you've burst boundaries here! Well, scratch that theory.”

“What theory?”

“I'm a bit of a free spirit thinker, and having watched you in class today, I noticed you have the exact same pencil strokes as Cody. Not similar; the same. My belief is an artist's strokes are like fingerprints, no two alike. After I talked with a magazine editor I met today who was asking about you, I developed the crazy theory you weren't Cody’s cousin. I thought, somehow -magically, I guess- you were Cody. This blows my theory all kablooey.”

Cassandra couldn't breathe; Maya had guessed it! Or ...almost had.

“How does my painting …um, blow the theory?”

“Because Cody could never have painted something like this. This is a level he will never reach. Unless ...hey! Why weren't your first words something like 'that's a crazy theory, Maya?'”

“Can I ...ask a favor?” Cassandra whispered.

“Sure, hun, what is it?”

“Don't say this to anyone else. I'm begging you. When I make sense of things, I will tell you if I can. I promise. But PLEASE keep this between you and me.”

“Wait! Are you saying it's true?” Maya's mouth could not have hung open any wider.

Cassandra didn't answer. Instead she gathered her paintings and materials and bolted to the studio's glass doors. Outside, the autumn sun was setting, and the light framed her. Maya blinked as she stared at the girl, because, in the direct sunlight, her dark golden skin sparkled.

~o~O~o~

12.

She was a caged animal, stalking from one side of her apartment to the other.

She had returned from Maya's class hours ago, worried by Maya's insights, but euphoric over her praise. Her painting was good. No, it was special, a breakthrough for her. Maya raved about it!

Her high fizzled as her body's desires redoubled their assault. Images of Luna, of Jayden filled her mind. She needed to touch them.

“No! God dammit, NO! I am not their sex pet.”

Even as she spoke those words, she realized her hands were rubbing her pussy. Again! At some point in the last half hour her clothes had disappeared from her body, and she couldn't remember how or when.

Jayden's crumpled figure flashed again in her mind, and she howled in frustration: he was wounded. He needed her. Luna too. She felt her body's sexual heat, her 'psi', revving up.

“No,” she whimpered. “This is not. My. Duty. They forced this on me.”

She tried everything to break her rising arousal, but nothing worked. Cold showers weren't cutting it, for even ice cold water tingled her skin. Sleeping pills were a bust too; her body burned right through them.

She remembered her reading of The Odyssey, and Odysseus' solution to the Sirens, lashing his body to the ship's mast. Maybe she could tie herself down, to stop from running to them or, at the least, continuously frigging herself.

Except …the image of being tied up thrilled her more. What’s wrong with me?

She fell to the floor and curled into fetal position, breathing hard. From somewhere she heard her cell phone ring. She managed to crawl to it and click it on speaker.

“Cassie? Tell me what is going on with you.”

Looona! Help!”

“Come, my srryn. Come now. Can you drive?”

“N-no ...can't …”

“Don't be scared, darling, I will fly to you-”

“Hurry. Need you.”

“I am coming.”

~o~O~o~

Luna found Cassandra still curled on the floor. The girl's breathing was fast and shallow, and when Luna checked her eyes, she found they glowed amber.

“You poor thing! I never should have let you leave me today.”

At Luna's touch, Cassandra moaned, “Loona!”

Luna carried her to a nearby couch, laid her down, and kissed her. She tasted the girl's psi from her lips, hot and rich. If she turned off the lights in the room, Cassandra would be glowing.

Luna did not want what was to follow to seem like a 'feeding' to Cassandra, but rather an act of love. She kissed every inch of Cassandra's body. When her lips reached her clit, Luna slid her janji into Cassandra's vagina.

She held the girl to her chest as the delicious psi poured in. A long sigh escaped Cassandra that evolved into purring. Cassandra's eyes closed in an orgasmic pleasure loop and a lazy smile played on her face.

“You poor creature,” Luna whispered. She kissed the top of Cassandra's head, which made her purr louder. Her longing for Lori had not lessened, but she no longer viewed Cassandra as replacing her. Instead, she supplemented her, carried on for her first srryn. And there was something familiar about the energy she tasted from 'her Cassie.' She couldn't put her finger on it, but it was comforting.

“You were right, Lori, about everything,” Luna said as she clutched Cassandra in her arms.

After several minutes, she saw the amber glow of Cassandra's eyes had lessened. Her breathing had deepened as well. Luna knew Cassandra was not yet released from the szen urge; she was still filled with power that needed to be fed to Jayden. The girl's own words confirmed it:

“Take me to him …please!”

At least she was speaking in sentences again. “I will. I wish I could fly you, but I can carry but twenty extra pounds and still fly. Though as filled as I am with psi, I'm tempted to try. What car do you drive? Please don't say the words 'Mini Cooper'.”

Human projection or no, lilims couldn't defy the laws of physics, they couldn't squish into tight spaces.

Cassandra blinked at her, willing her pleasure addled brain to retrieve the information. “328i.”

Luna hoped she would say said something like an SUV, but a BMW sedan would work, if she lowered the backseats down and draped her wings onto the enlarged cargo space.

“Let's go home, Cassie. Put on some clothes; you need to try to pass for human when you are outside.”

“Clothes?” Cassandra blinked again.

Luna chuckled. “We lilim have a saying: 'a srryn is parted from her clothes faster than a human from his gold.'”

Luna gathered Cassandra's jeans and t-shirt and dressed her. Then, spotting the girl's sketchbook, she took it also. Her new srryn was an artist, she remembered and would perhaps want to draw when the szen heat passed? Luna would have one of her rooms converted into a studio.

Luna felt a tug on her arm.

“Jayden. Need.”

Cassandra's eyes glowed bright amber again from the szen.

“Of course, darling, I will take you to him”

There was much she needed to do for Cassandra, and much to learn. But she had so mangled Cassandra's srryn initiation, she wondered if the girl could ever feel anything for her other than srryn duty.

Luna accused Cody of being despicable, yet it was she who won that title. She felt a soft hand on her cheek.

“Loona? Are you well? May I help you?”

Though she knew this was pure srryn instinct talking, the knowledge did little to salve the guilt burning in Luna's chest.

~o~O~o~

Lilith!”

Jayden moaned the word; Cassandra tasted so good! Another couple of days of this psi diet would find him up and flying. And just twenty-four hours ago, he hurtled to ground and almost died. Amazing! What a srryn! The other lilims were sure to be envious.

“I wasn't able to thank you last night; I owe you my life.”

Cassandra nodded in return. She didn’t know what to say; part of her -the part controlled by her new hardwiring- was thrilled to hear the praise from her lilim.

Sighing, she raised her knees and held them to her chest. After the szen ended and her human consciousness returned , she realized how exhausted she was. She guessed it was midnight, but she didn't know; all her days and nights had blurred together after her change.

“Come, Cassie.”

Cassandra looked up, to see Luna framed in Jayden's bedroom. Something told her she had to obey.

“okay.” Her voice was plaintive and soft.

Jayden heard the sadness. He guessed Luna was right; Lori's journey had been so different. He felt a guilt twinge but then shrugged. What could he do? Luna would get her feeling right; srryns always bonded closer to the female lilim.

When Cassandra reached her, the winged creature swept her into her arms and carried her to Lori's room. She placed her on the day bed and sat next to her.

“Your struggle against the szen today was a terrible ordeal for a srryn to endure, Cassie. I am so sorry; I did not prepare you, and you suffered for it. Do you fight your change still?”

No,” Cassandra sobbed.

She wanted to fight it; oh how she longed to. But after the pure pleasure she received from Luna and Jayden last night and tonight, she knew she couldn't; humanity had nothing like this ecstasy.

Nothing.

“I am your fuck unit.” She spat the words. “Where do I stay when I'm not reporting for duty? In a refrigerator or something?”

“Stop speaking so! You are not a 'fuck unit'; this is supposed to be an extraordinary life you've landed in,” Luna said.

“Oh? You feed off me like I'm a ...a kind of milk cow, or psi cow ...and my sole purpose is to service you -that's what the little brainwashing voices keep whispering in my head- so how am I not livestock to you?”

“You have this backwards, Cassie. It is our duty to care for you and make you happy. We serve you, for without you, we die. And we must fulfill your desires, because the greater your pleasure, the more potent and better tasting your psi.”

“Cows are fattened before they are slaughtered, to make their meat taste better. How is this different? How am I different?”

Luna stared down through the green eyes of her little srryn and into her bleeding soul. What could she do? Lori had welcomed her new life with joy, and their partnering had been glorious.

Lori! How she missed her old srryn.

Yet here lay another bright-eyed srryn in her arms. Maybe she would never love her as she had Lori, but she did care for her, and her Turn had started with disaster and suffering. True, Jayden acted rashly, but Jayden was, well, Jayden, a typical male lilim. It was she who made this worse by rejecting Cassandra -unfairly- because she couldn’t let go of Lori.

How could she right things? What should she say?

A lilim’s first duty to a new born srryn is to explore the srryn's sexual fantasies, to learn which buttons to push to heighten her psi production. While this discovery time between Luna and Lori had been innocent and fun, Cassandra was in no condition to handle the subject. Mentioning it would reinforce her view that she was food.

She could tell Cassandra she was now a full partner in something akin to human marriage, but among three instead of two. Because of the Changing, lilim couples only experienced intimate contact through their srryn, and they were as bound to her as she was to them.

Though true, this wouldn't help Cassandra either, since the 'marriage' had been rammed down her throat. She needed to hear something else; something to give her hope.

Cassie,” Luna stroked Cassandra's face, “you are not a glorified 'sex cow'. We care for you, little one, and are duty bound to ensure you live a rich, fulfilling life.”

Cassandra barked a harsh laugh. “Sure, and you started by destroying everything about me. Would you go? I want to sleep, and it will be easier if you weren't here. Because, even now the little whispers are telling me to caress your face.”

“You are supposed to sleep with me; a srryn's place at night is beside the female lilim.”

“This is all ...I need more time to ...”

“Okay, Cassie. Sleep here. I'll see you in the morning.”

Though she tried so hard not to, the tears she dammed burst forth.

“Shit! Don't ...don't look at me! Just go!”

“What's wrong?”

“Are you serious?” Cassandra spluttered. “I'm already thinking about our next 'feeding session' and I can't wait. It felt so damn good and I hate myself for it.”

Luna looked across the room to Lori's desk. With the slightest wince of concentration, Lori's journal lifted and floated from the desk to rest on Cassandra's lap.

Jesus! You just ...I mean ...Jesus!”

“Read this, srryn. First thing tomorrow morning. I order you to.”

Cassandra's head bobbed up and down. Her eyes widened when she realized her new 'programming' also compelled her to obey orders from the lilims. Shit.

“You gonna throw me out again after I do?”

“I'm so sorry I did that Cassie, I … if you could understand what Lori meant to ...” Luna sighed. “Read it, and know what a life as a srryn truly means.”

After Luna left, Cassandra placed the book at the foot of the day bed and lay down. She was so exhausted; the thought didn't occur to her that she was naked and had been so for hours. Even if it had, her programming would have told her a srryn's natural state is au natural.

She didn't have another thought, tumbling instead into a deep sleep, where the face of a young woman filled her dreams.

The dream face was dark gold, a srryn's, and she seemed to be trying to talk to her.

~o~O~o~

13.

The first thing Cassandra did when the morning sunrays licked her face, was to read; the life story of Lorraine Cynthia Aaren.

She would have sought out her lilim, to tend to them, her programming told her, but Luna had given her a direct order, and so read she must.

As she flipped page after page, Lori's life with Luna and Jayden played before her.

Lori was a young 18 when the lilim found her, and she confessed she was scared when they 'proposed'. But Lori was an adventurous soul and the young woman agreed to undergo the srrynah process.

The lilims were young then too, Lori wrote, in their first Turn, and without responsibilities yet, so they 'stretched their wings,' and saw the world. Officially, Lori traveled as Luna's assistant, and they booked eastbound passage to England on the RMS Lusitania in 1911. Which, Lori wrote, was later torpedoed by the Germans in World War One...”

They sailed on the Lusitania? Amazing!

The images of their travels, their life, rolled from Lori's pages and into Cassandra's brain: life in London, Paris, Madrid. Rome. Cassie saw history unfold through Lori's eyes. And not just human history, for Lori wrote of the lilim culture in hiding, too. Their annual ‘Gathering’ in the secret lilim stronghold high atop the Andes. Their songs, their art.

That got Cassandra's attention. Though Lori gave a brief description, Cassandra guessed they expressed their art through some sort of 3D medium. Which blew her mind, her 2D canvas was daunting enough. She wished she could see their works; how amazing that would be.

Their life continued, through the 1930s and 40s, and Cassandra learned Luna had, indeed signed the UN Charter. Through Lori's narrative, Cassandra also learned the lilim were heavily involved in human affairs. According to Lori, the lilim were dedicated to helping humanity not repeat their terrible evolutionary mistake.

Whatever that meant, Cassandra thought.

With their traveling days behind them, Luna and Jayden assumed prominent roles in business.

So it was Jayden -not his father- who was the Wall Street tycoon? Then why is he driving a limo now?

Cassandra wondered if Jayden was having a midlife crisis, but since the lilim lived several hundred years, this wouldn't be midlife.

Hell, maybe they had several.

Lori's description of her sex life was ...incredible. Cassandra realized it was silly to consider the trio would engage in the lilim equivalent of the missionary position for their many 'feedings', and of course, they didn't. They explored every kink and fantasy Cassandra was aware of, and many more lilim practices she had never dreamed of.

Cassandra reread one passage several times, where Lori described one of her many sexual fantasies. From what Cassandra gathered, the lilim somehow made her fantasies become real.

To pump up her psi output, no doubt, Cassandra thought, trying to affect disgust. But still ...what would that be like?

In this scenario, Lori was kidnapped and sold at an auction to a sheik for his harem. The fantasy lasted an entire month. Only at the end did Lori learn Jayden had disguised himself as the sheik.

God! Cassandra felt the szen twinge low in her body. Can this be real?

Through the spectacular march of history, the glorious sexual escapades, through it all, Cassandra found Lori's journal at its heart...

...was a love story.

But …not between Luna and Jayden! No, it was Luna and Lori!

Then Cassandra found a page with an old Polaroid photo taped to it. A golden-skinned woman, a srryn, Cassandra thought, grinned at the camera. Behind her stood spectacular snow-capped mountains.

Below the snapshot, Lori had written, Me, at The Gathering, 1972.

Cassandra blinked at the picture, looked up, then looked down again.

“Wait a minute. Wait just one damn minute …that’s Lori?”

Cassandra hopped up from the bed, trotted over to Lori’s desk to pick up her sketch book, and with both books in hand, steamed down the hallway to Luna’s bedroom.

~o~O~o~

“Thank you for meeting me at this ungodly early hour, Meredith. You too, Emilie.”

Emilie nodded. “You said it was an emergency. So, what's up?”

Meredith and Emilie sat in the chairs in front of her desk; each wearing curious looks. Maya did a quick sweep of her desktop to confirm the absence of blunt objects. She half-suspected she might be hit with one, once she aired her thoughts.

“Emilie, this is Meredith Benson. She is a senior editor with Trend Magazine, and yesterday she expressed concerns to me about Cassandra's wellbeing. I've since talked with Cassie, and have developed some different sorts of worries. I wanted you here because you've met Cassie and know her cousin Cody well too.”

Emilie raised her eyebrows. “I'm not sure what one has to do with the other, but whatever I can do to help Cassie; she's been amazing to me since I met her.”

“Before I tell you what I've discovered, Meredith, why don't you share more about your concerns.”

“I will, but first, to set the tone of the meeting, I want to show you something.”

Meredith pulled a small stack of papers from a folder she had brought, and pushed them across the desk to Maya. After Maya skimmed the first couple of pages, she felt her breath catch.

“I'm …so sorry,” Maya said, giving the papers to Emilie with shaking hands.

Emilie did a quick read and the words 'breast cancer' 'terminal' and 'prognosis: eight months' leaped out.

“Oh no!”

“Wait, stop the pity train, ” Meredith held up her hand. “Look at the date of the diagnosis.”

Emilie took another look. “This was six years ago, so …you're beating the odds?”

Meredith shook her head. “I am cancer free. Which is a medical impossibility. I needed to show you this, so you would have some hope of believing what I say next.”

After this lead in, Meredith had the complete attention of the women.

“My cancer was cured by a woman named Luna Longaine six years ago.”

“You mentioned her name yesterday. Doesn't she own Trend magazine?”

Meredith nodded. “And about a dozen others.”

“Alright. So, I'm a free thinker here,” Maya said. “How did she do it? Is she a healer?”

Meredith shook her head, gulped, and launched into her explanation.

“She is a non-human creature called a lilim. She used some sort of crystal to rid my body of cancer. In the last few days, she has set her sights on your friend Cassandra Albornos. I fear she is enslaving the girl, though I know not how or why.”

There! She'd said it! They might think her insane, but she had at least gotten the subject onto the table. From the expression she read on Emilie's face, the young artisit, did, in fact, think she was raving mad. But Maya, she saw, was considering it.

“Since we are 'talk'in crazy,' let me share my thoughts,” Maya said. “I have found that an artist's style and brush strokes are uniquely her own. They are like fingerprints or DNA, and no two artists strokes are alike. I believe that Cassandra Albornos is, or three days ago was, Cody Elias.”

“Were you two doing shots of crazy Kool Aid before I arrived? Cuz you are both talking gibberish.”

Meredith leveled a stare at Maya. “Are you making fun of me? I’m serious, and I think Cassie's freedom and her life are in danger.”

“I'm serious too,” Maya said, flicking back a stray strand of gray. “Cassie confirmed as much to me yesterday evening. Emilie, did you notice her acting, oh, I don't know, antsy or agitated after class?”

“What?”

Detailed started to click in Emilie's mind: Cody vanishes and *poof* Cassandra appears, living in his apartment, driving his car. And she's an artist, just like he was.

Fragments of conversations replayed in her mind, where Cassandra apologized for Cody, or wanted to eat at Cody's favorite place or…

“Wait …she had this glow about her yesterday morning, like she'd had amazing monkey sex, then last night when I pumped her for info, she said the oddest thing; that these creatures…”

Emilie looked at Meredith then, with wide eyes.

“…inhuman creatures, changed her somehow, controlled her, and were feeding off her energy.”

“Alrighty then,” Meredith said. “This is stranger than even I imagined, but, great; we are getting somewhere. Let's call Cassie and confront her-”

“-We can try,” Maya said. “I've been calling her cell phone -which is Cody's old number, by the way- and haven't gotten her to answer.”

“Then let's go to Cody's place; I know the way,” Emilie said.

“Sure and if she's not there, then I suggest we pay Luna a visit. A hundred bucks says we'll find her there.”

“Where does the dragon lady of the media reside, Meredith?” Maya asked.

“She and her lover Jayden occupy the top floors of the Beckendorf Tower.”

The Beckendorf Tower? The building had always reminded Maya of a Gothic Castle.

“Why do I get the feeling we've stepped into a horror movie, and we are the peasants who storm Frankenstein's or Dracula's castle armed with pitchforks?” Maya asked.

“I hope you are wrong,” Meredith said with a grim smile. “Because that always ended poorly for the peasants.”

~o~O~o~

Cassandra found her lilim asleep. Intuition told her to crawl into bed with Luna. After reading Lori’s journal, she didn't know if she should resist the urge.

During her life, Lori traveled the world, became fluent in ten languages, was a published author and an accomplished ballet, ballroom and belly dancer.

Which must have fit nicely with that harem fantasy.

Cassandra admitted this did not sound like the life of a 'psi cow' So ...maybe she shouldn’t fight this so hard?

Maybe maybe maybe!

She sighed, set the books on the edge of the bed, and climbed into bed next to the gorgeous winged creature.

“Good morning, Luna, are you well?”

Blue downed arms pulled her in. “Mmm. I am now, srryn.”

Cassandra watched as full consciousness cleared in Luna’s black oval eyes.

Lilim have trouble waking up too; who knew?

“C-cassie? Good morning.”

“She loved you so much.”

“Loved me?” Luna was still not quite there. “What?”

“Lori,” Cassandra pointed to the journal. “She loved you with everything she had, for a hundred years!”

“As I did her! We were …we were…”

Cassandra put a finger to Luna’s mouth. “I know. I read it all. Her last entries were so sad. She knew she was dying and worried so for you. For Jayden, too, a little, but mostly you. Does he know how close you and Lori were?”

Luna gave a sad smile. “Lilim males are pretty stupid about these things.”

“I am sorry for your loss …if I could make your pain go away, I would.”

Luna pulled Cassandra so close she could hear the lilim’s two hearts beating. And feel Luna's body convulsive in sobs.

“What do you think of her story?” Luna finally asked.

Cassandra’s voice was soft. “It gives me some hope.”

“Some?”

“A little.”

“But seeing will be believing?”

“It’s just …this is all so new and strange and…” and unasked for.

“All I ask is one chance. Let me show you how good your life with me …and Jayden, of course, can be.”

“Okay, but …promise me you won’t sell me off to a sheik. At least, erm …not yet.”

Luna chuckled; she would definitely be digging into her new srryn’s fantasies soon. “So, now you have a better understanding of what you have become, you must have a thousand questions. Fire away.”

“I do. Question 1. And it’s a strange one.”

That sounded stupid, Cassandra thought, what part of this wasn’t strange?

She flipped open the journal. “This is Lori, right?”

After Luna answered with a wistful yes, Cassandra continued. “Why do I see her face in my mind?”

“I don't understand...”

“Ever since you threw me out of here, I see her in my mind and dreams.”

“But surely you saw her picture that night when you opened the journal.”

“No, I didn’t, and …look here.” Cassandra opened her sketch book. “I drew this yesterday in art class.”

Luna looked down at the unmistakable likeness of her first srryn. What could this mean?

Memories converged. Both Cassandra and Beth had mentioned feeling a presence in here. Beth claimed a ‘something’ tried to possess her and she had fled the room, screaming. Cassie said she heard a voice too, but what happened then?

In the olden days, when srryns were more powerful, it was not uncommon for the srryn of the second Turn to take the first srryn’s essence into her. Their 'spirits' fused over the Turn, to form a srryn so powerful, she lived through the third Turn as well. They were named srryn-bas, but one hadn't appeared in ten thousand years.

But Cassie is so strong ...was it ...could it be possible?

“Wait. right. here.”

Luna was a blur of motion, gone and back again in an instant. Her hand now held a small crystal ball dangling from a silver chain.

“Cool,” Cassie said, “what's that?”

“A k'jarn; hold still.”

As before, the stone pulsed a brilliant green; if anything, it was far stronger than Cassandra's first reading as Cody.

What an amazing srryn! Luna thought.

Then, after the first bright pulse, there followed a second one...

Faint, but unmistakable. And steady.

“Lilith!” Luna shrieked. “Oh my holy Lilith!”

End part 3.



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