Description: Hayely Bretherton, on a mission to fight her way around the world in search of greater martial understanding, pays a visit to the Thunder Fist dojo in Sydney Australia. What she finds is by no means what she expected.
Sydney Australia, the crappiest part, 7:35 PM.
The most obnoxious part about Australian winters is that they can't commit. One day it might be a tad chill, the next your armpits are swamps. Today is a swampy day. The air is soupy and warm, clouds hanging fat and black across the whole of the sky. Only the occasional shaft of sunlight pierces the gloom, throwing the city into a state of perpetual twilight.
And as if that weren't bad enough, the local terrorist attacks have really darkened the city's mood. Bad weather, bad attitudes. For most people it has been a miserable couple of days. But, for someone looking for fights? There have likely been a bunch to find!
The Thunder Fist dojo is a tiny ramshackle hut crammed between two crumbling tenements half way along a cracked gravel path. Made of barely together boards and a wobbly roof, the entire structure couldn't be more than one or two rooms max, with a faded blue curtain hanging over what should be the front door. Flickering yellow firelight shines through that curtain, dimly illuminating the space outside, but there are no windows. In fact, if it weren't for the crooked wooden sign above the opening that reads 'Thunder Fist Dojo', it would be doubtful that this were even the place. But, apparently it is. Who knew that buildings like this even still existed? The path leading to the door is dirt, surrounded by a weed-choked grass yard. it looks nearly abandoned, and is eerily quiet.
Hayley Bretherton has rarely let herself be intimidated by out-of-the-way locales or dangerous habitats. As such, the Thunder Fist dojo has failed to chase her away despite its rough location and ramshackle appearance. Hayley has instead continued on her course toward it. She's presently dressed in her standard "uniform" of blue karate pants, a gi shirt tied around her waist, and a black tanktop. She has her backpack slung over her shoulders and has opted for tennis shoes today due to the amount of walking and the likelhihood of broken glass and other hazards. She may do stupid things, but she does at least seem to take reasonable safety precautions.
And when she gets to the door of the dojo, she tilts her head up toward the sign. Confident that she's found the right place, she taps on the wall next to the doorway rather than simply inviting herself in.
Tap tap tap.
The light rapping of Hayley's finger is soon drown beneath an enormous clap of thunder, the force of which causes the ramshackle hut to shake and shudder in a most alarming way. The fading echoes of the blast rumble over the countryside, cloudy sky grumbling discontentedly.
Surely that was just peculiar timing. It's been cloudy all day, after all.
Moments later, the tip of a simple wooden staff pokes through the edge of the curtain and swings it to one side, revealing a medium-sized old man of Asian descent. He is at once impressive and not. His features are strong and slanted, black eyes contrasted heavily by the snow white hair that flows down around his shoulders and back. He is beardless, vigorous but clearly not young. Almost ageless in a way. Wearing a baggy grey robe with the hood pulled back, and barefoot, the stranger pauses, taking Hayley in from her spiky hair to her shoes. Slowly, one snowy brow quirks upward.
"I Thought that was too light a tap to be the landlord." states the old man, one corner of his mouth twitching in a wry little smirk. His voice is soft and dry, with a touch of something that isn't quite a rasp, and isn't quite hoarseness. it's almost, crackly. "Please. Come in! Come in." Stepping backward, he vacates the door, cheerful in a relaxed sort of way as he turns to retreat deeper into the shack.
Inside, the dojo is dirt floored and spartan. Directly beside the door is a stand, hooks protruding form it to hang coats and hats. one such hat currently hangs from an upper hook, broad brimmed and straw in the style of a Chinese harvester. Further in, a rough wooden rack stands against the left hand wall, displaying a few straight swords of various lengths, a couple of fighting staffs, and a set of twin hook swords. Otherwise the room is open and bare, containing no mirrors, no modern amenities, and lit by sets of candles burning in all four corners.
Hayley tenses when the thunder crashes. She's been out in the weather during a storm many times before, but something about the timing is still enough to make her hair stand on end. Before she can dwell on it, however, there's someone answering the door.
"Oh, great! I was worried I had the wrong place. Or maybe that no one was home." Hayley claps her hands to her sides and offers a bow at the waist. "Thank you. My name is Hayley, and I'm studying the martial arts." The Aussie pauses, realizing she's been invited to go inside. She kicks off her shoes at the door, setting them beside the doorway to step in barefoot. Her eyes move through the interior of the dojo inquisitively, lingering briefly on the few acoutrements, but also the lack of furnishings.
"Err, if I may ask, what style is taught here at the Thunder Fist Dojo? I know a bit about different styles, but I'm looking to learn a bit more..."
"Oh," The old man begins, his slow, idle steps carrying him further into the dojo at a wandering pace, staff propped lazily over his right shoulder, "Southern Kung Fu. Staff fighting. Nan Chuan, Gun Quan."
Sliding his staff from his shoulder, the master allows the tip to swing down, butt whipping up and sending it into a lazy set of twirls while he putters about the room. He seems to have forgotten to bow in return to Hayley, which is kind of rude, but. Eh. He's old.
"How to harness your chi in defense of Earthrealm." This last bit is said just as casually, a note of offhanded amusement creeping into the eccentric master's voice. Turning slowly about, he drops one end of his lazily spinning staff into the dirt by his foot and peers at Hayley , scrutinizing her with open interest.
"Is that what you expected to find?"
"Oh!" Hayley smiles brightly. She clenches a fist excitedly as he explains a few of the styles taught. Watching the old man scoot away, the Aussie bites her lip slightly but doesn't comment further right away. The last part is mentioned, and Hayley tilts her head just slightly to the side.
"Err, what was that last part?" she asks first, then adds. "Defend--" a pause, "--'Earthrealm,'" she says cautiously and uncertainly, "from what?" But then she's asked a question in return.
"Err, the Southern Kung Fu wasn't surprising, but I'm not not sure on that other part. That one's new t'me."
"Aaaaah." the old man breathes out with good-natured understanding, words soft and crackly as ever. That odd, mischievous glint remains in his eye, lips slightly quirked as he responds rather innocently, "The staff can be a difficult weapon for a beginner to overcome."
He knows that isn't what she's talking about, the snarky old coot! it's visible right there in his face! Subdued, but there! Besides, who's he calling a beginner?
"I think I can help." the old man decides, relaxed and smirking as ever. Stepping forward, he flicks his staff up from where it was planted, swiping the end effortlessly through the air in a rather lazy strike for the side of Hayley's head. The blow is one-handed, light, and rather slow. Easily dodged. But the next? Well.
The master of the Thunder Fist dojo catches his swinging stave in both hands and holds it angled across his body, left foot sliding forward and shoulder turning toward her. Cradling the stick from below with his left palm, he grips it lower down in his right, almost as if it were a spear.
His smile is tight and, maybe a bit taunting.
COMBATSYS: Raiden has started a fight here.
As she moves farther in Hayley sets her bag down right near the door, the heavy knapsack stirring up a bit of dust when it thumps against the barren floor. The old man speaks about the staff, and Hayley bites her lip again. "Well sir, I wasn't really talkin' 'bout the staff, but--"
%Hayley drops backward, shifting her footing to rest her weight on her rear heel as she lifts her front leg onto the heel and leans back and away. The second swing forces her to actually lean all the back, dropping off her feet and landing on her open palm. She rotates on her arm, swinging her legs back around to hop back up a little further out of the staff's reach.
"Oh, I didn't even have to ask for a trial lesson. Thanks!" she says excitedly. "I'm happy to see what you have to teach!" Hayley says, shifting into a bouncy stance with her arms up in a boxer's guard and her footwork frequently shifting from one foot to the other as she practically hops in place.
But then she powers forward, pivoting on her heel to shift into a chi gathering spin toward the old man. When she comes out of the spin she snaps up into a short hop, launching herself with a forward knee that's springy and short enough to let her bounce back into a defensive posture to move again afterward.
COMBATSYS: Hayley has joined the fight here.
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Raiden 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Hayley
COMBATSYS: Raiden dodges Hayley's Devil Spin.
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Raiden 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Hayley
Hayley's sudden shift from lip-biting concern to dodging, hopping excitement brings a little twist of a smile to the old man's lips. He certainly has the poise of a master. Balanced, measured. Comfortable in his skin. And the way he watches her come in, launching herself into a spin that gathers green energy around her knee... That's somehow familiar.
Sliding smoothly to the side, the master kicks up little puffs of dirt as he allows Hayley's strike to carry her passed, twisting to aim a quick, reproachful jab of his staff toward her ribs while she is still airborne. However, by the time she has landed she will find that the slippery man has fallen back into his neutral stance, their positions now swapped, and is still smiling.
"I trained another who liked to jump around. But he is so much more serious. Destiny weighs heavily on the shoulders of most men." He is, oddly chatty and relaxed for a man in the midst of a martial arts battle.
COMBATSYS: Hayley blocks Raiden's Small Random Weapon.
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Raiden 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Hayley
As Hayley's knee cuts through open air, her eyes shift to try and follow the old man. His staff swings for her ribs, so her elbow rushes to meet it with a crash in the middle that resounds with a heavy thwap. Even the block impact knocks her slightly off balance. The Aussie hops on one foot once before spinning into a second hop and landing with both feet on the ground. Afterward she rubs her elbow with bit of a grimace.
"Do you have a lot of students?" she asks. "I was surprised when no one was around. Thought maybe I'd come at a bad time. Gotta have good sparring partners if you're gonna train. Seems rude to challenge the teacher head-on." Hayley is a bit of a chatterbox herself from the sounds of it.
But then she bends at her knees, surging forward in a low leap to close the gap with the old man once more. She stops short of crashing into him and snaps out with a quick, short kick toward the knees. After all, the staff is right there at his waist to guard.
COMBATSYS: Raiden blocks Hayley's Light Kick.
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Raiden 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Hayley
"Students?" the old man muses, still seeming amused for some unexplained reason. Dark eyes track Hayley's bounding approach, calm and relaxed, quietly measuring.
The butt of his staff snaps forward at the last minute, burying itself in the ground to brace upright between his left hand and the soft earth. it is this that her foot strikes, the wood vibrating from the sudden impact, but holding.
"Perhaps one." he murmurs, still more thoughtfully amused than anything else. almost casually he snaps his now empty right hand forward, swinging passed his staff in an attempt to bop Hayley square on the tip of her chin before kicking backward in a short hop, long white hair flowing forward and grey robe rustling. Whirling his staff up into a cross-body guard, he grips it with both hands palm-down, spaced equidistantly from the center.
COMBATSYS: Raiden successfully hits Hayley with High Punch.
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Raiden 0/-------/------=|===----\-------\0 Hayley
Hayley quirks a brow slightly when the old man repeats her question back to her. Her foot impacts the staff heavily, showing that the girl can certainly kick. Even so, hitting the staff rather than a person seems to put her off balance slightly, but Hayley practically grips the staff like a monkey to reposition. Before she can pull herself out of the way the palm catches her under the chin, rattling her jaw with enough force to send her staggering backwards in a back pedal.
When she stops stumbling backwards, Hayley shakes her head a bit and wipes her mouth with forearm to clear a bit of blood and spittle. For a moment? She smiles. "This reminds of th' time my dad and I went t'one of the Shaolin temples in China. It's been a while since these styles. It's makin' me excited!"
But then, Hayley spreads her feet further apart, assuming a different stance. She pivots into a spin again, chi gathering up around her as she focuses her aura. This time, instead of spinning toward the old man she turns in place while her energy focuses. As she finishes the rotation she snaps forward with a wide left hook that cuts through the air and leaves a lingering, boomerang-shaped trail of green chi in its wake. The thrown chi arcs toward the old man, spinning toward him with the momentum Hayley imparted on it.
COMBATSYS: Hayley successfully hits Raiden with Emu Shoot.
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Raiden 0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0 Hayley
"I have always enjoyed the artistry that martial arts brought into combat." the old man agrees, his bright blue eyes staring off into the middle distance, briefly lost in a world of contemplation. "It helped to temper the savagery. Men have always been clever in that way."
Wait, weren't his eyes black just a moment ago?
It is not until Hayley has finished her spin and sent the glowing green whirl of energy toward him that the aging master seems to remember he is in a fight. Taking two quick steps forward, he spins his staff through a whistling loop and lodges one end into the ground, using it to vault himself into a high, forward flip over the oncoming boomerang.
Once, twice, three times the old man tumbles through the air in a tight ball, staff whipping around and around. He is a mess of flapping grey robe and tangled white hair as he descends, uncoiling at the last minute and bringing his weapon swishing down in an attempt to bonk Hayley square atop the head. His bare feet impact the earth a fraction of a second later, and he appears pleased with himself.
Then, his dark (again) eyes widen.
The returning boomerang of chi impacts the kung fu master's back, spreading across him in a splash of brilliant green energy. For just a moment, a fraction of a second, it appears as if the energy has impacted something else. Something crackling and blue between master and attack, but then the odd effect is gone, and the attack flickers out. It wasn't' enough to knock the old man over, or even really stagger him, but it certainly caught him by surprise!
he looks impressed, and a bit distracted, muttering so softly that it might be missed, "Heh, I love mortals."
COMBATSYS: Hayley blocks Raiden's Weakened Random Weapon.
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Raiden 0/-------/------=|=====--\-------\0 Hayley
Hayley has broken into a wide grin by the time the old man comments on the artistry of martial arts. "Oh definitely!" she says, but her expression changes. She blinks, focusing on the old man's face for a moment when some color changing occurs. Perhaps Hayley is wondering if he hit her harder in the jaw than she realized. Even so, she can't dwell on it. The man vaults through the air with surprising acrobatics, repositioning himself well over her chi blast. Hayley shifts her footing again, raising up her fists to guard and then opting for a crossblock against the staff. She softens some of the impact, but the tip of the bo still taps her on the head.
But then, Hayley's shot makes its way back around to catch the old man in the back. Even if it doesn't floor or stagger him, Hayley sees an opening and moves in from the front. She powers forward, lunging at the old man to try and grab him by the robes, plant her foot against his midsection, then fall backward into a traditional judo throw as she rolls onto her back.
COMBATSYS: Raiden dodges Hayley's Medium Throw.
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Raiden 0/-------/------=|=====--\-------\0 Hayley
Surprised, amused, talking to himself. Whatever else the old man is, he is still a martial arts master. Eyes not quite focused on Hayley, he drops his staff through his hands, recovering from the heavy overhead and bringing it down just in time to catch her approaching foot squarely on the shaft. Accepting her thrusting weight with a tensing of his arms, he allows his robe to be grabbed, then, the rest of his body goes limp.
Fluid and unresisting, the kung fu master is rolled neatly over Hayley's head and flung, pushing off of her foot with his braced staff.
In mid air he regains rigidity, twisting neatly around like a cat to touch the far wall with one foot, ground with the other. Ending poised on his toes, he glances back over his shoulder and bobs his snowy brows up and down, expression seeming to say, 'Wow, did I just do that?'
"You have studied many styles." the ageless master observes, dropping down to both feet and turning relaxedly about to face her. His staff is held loosely in the crook of his arm, eyes amused, "But you must do more than copy. I see your spirit in many of these techniques, but you have not yet forged them into a whole."
Wandering forward across the dirt floor, giving her plenty of time to prepare, the white-haired man closes the distance at a casual pace, then suddenly throws himself forward, Lashing out with three quick, slashing swipes of his staff as it flows from hand to hand, then is bounced off of his knee and into the air so that he can perform three quick, jabbing punches. Two aimed for Hayley's chest, one for her cheek, and finally, a twisting, heavy blast of a sidekick meant to knock the young woman tumbling backward across the floor.
Only then does his staff begin to fall...
COMBATSYS: Raiden knocks away Hayley with Rapid Jabs.
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Raiden 0/-------/-----==|=======\==-----\1 Hayley
Hayley struggles to work around the staff and execute her throw, but by the time it's finished she seems to have realized it's not having quite the effect she hoped. The old man lands upright, which turns Hayley's expression downtrodden.
For a brief moment, however, she seems proud that the old master has noticed her collection of styles. Unfortunately for her, it swiftly turns to critique. "I'm working on that part," she says, the wind knocked out of her sails. Before she can explain any further, however, the old man has moved like lightning into melee range with her once more. The Aussie is in the process of adjusting her guard when the staff strikes catch her across the thigh, ribs, and cheek. She's trying to recover when the three jabs catch her, first in the chest then in the cheek. Lastly, the side kick catches the dazzled young fighter straight in the side and tumbles her across the dirt floor. She rolls on her shoulders first, then onto her back. For several moments she lays there and breathes heavily.
"What," she asks between labored breaths. "Did you mean by mortals earlier?" Another heavy breath follows. "I did hear that right, roight?" Hayley climbs to hear feet, rubbing her ribs as she hooks her arm up under her bust. "Oww...okay!" Hayley rolls her neck, spreading her feet further apart as she assumes a stiffer stance like karate or taekwondo.
And then, Hayley leaps backward into a full flip, curling up as she does to better change direction. When the flat of her foot connects with a beam on the wall behind her she unfurls, springin forward off the wall at high-speed in a dramatic, flying kick.
COMBATSYS: Raiden endures Hayley's Swooping Season!!
>>> Punitive Hit!!! <<<
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Raiden 0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0 Hayley
And as the kick connects, Hayley rides the impact out, letting her leg bend into what's basically a crouch against the old man. Planting her other foot, she launches up into a jump. With the low ceiling she has to rebound off it, but descends back into a follow-up knee drop. This drop is followed by another leap, Hayley's final descent punctuated by a seated drop that puts the Aussie's dense hindquarters to use in her best imitation of the "noble" (that is, fictional) dropbear.
The old man's staff descends toward his hands as Hayley takes to the air, but rather than catching it, he gives it a light flick of his fingers. The wooden stave tumbles away to the dirty floor a short ways off, and he tilts his head back, watching Hayley rebound off of the rickety ceiling. The entire rough shack quakes as she pushes off, but it remains sturdy enough to give her excellent leverage.
The opening kick strikes her elderly opponent square in the chest, hurling him backward off of his feet. Landing crouched atop his prone form, she launches off, only to repeat the dive with a knee that lands solidly in his muscle-dense stomach, seeming to drive the air from him. And finally, she ascends once more, only to bring her quite well-developed backside down from on high, landing heavily on his chest.
Eyes closed and head thrown back, the old master shakes and shudders, mouth open and...
A soft, appreciative chuckle works its way from between the old man's lips as he lies there, white hair fanned out around him and arms spread wide. Not seeming to mind overmuch that he has a pretty young girl sitting on him, the kung-fu master slides his hands up, lacing them behind his head, and stretches out his feet.
"Heh heh." he chortles good-naturedly, showing his gleaming white teeth in a rueful grin, "That was impressive. You have done well for yourself. But tell me."
Lids flicking open, the old man gazes up into Hayley's face with eyes that shift and burn a horrible glowing white, shot through with odd flashes of electric blue. Nothing about his eyes are natural, and when combined with his ageless, weathered exterior, and long white hair, serve to shift him from quirky old man to something very different.
"What use do you intend for your growing skill?"
Perhaps she didn't hear wrong. Just who, or what, is she currently sitting on?
COMBATSYS: Raiden is a merciful god.
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Raiden 0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0 Hayley
For a moment, Hayley sits almost smugly. The old man's laughter changes her expression, however. "What's so funny? I thought that was a good hit." Hayley says, her tone drifted toward "offended". But what happens next when the old man's eyes shifts? Hayley springs backward and lands to sit on the dirt.
Hayley seems to stutter for a moment, then swallows. She takes a deep breath. "I'm looking for my father. He means a lot to me, but he left...or he was taken, years ago. If I get strong enough, maybe I'll be able to find him again. Help him too, if he needs it." Hayley shifts, moving up to her knees instead of sitting back on the dirt. "...I don't know besides that. I want to be the best that I can be."
Hayley's sudden backward bounce brings another of those amused twists to the master's lips, the storm-eyed man seeming to flow upright with effortless grace. A light wind stirs the dirty floor, causing the old man's robe to flap and his white hair to billow up oddly. But wait, no...
it isn't the wind that is causing his hair to move. As whatever he was doing to suppress his power falls away, the old man is suddenly wreathed in violent arcs of shimmering bleu electricity. Snapping, sizzling, and popping, the chaotic energy jumps and pulses randomly across his body, sometimes dancing down an arm, other times rolling over a shoulder or jumping to his torso. As sparks pass through his hair they cause it to flicker and dance as well, giving him a wind-blown look.
Even at a distance Hayley can feel the power now generated by this, thing. It's enough to cause all of her small hairs to stand on end.
"Excellent." Raiden murmurs, the young girl's answer seeming to please him in a distracted sort of way. For the briefest of moments it is as if he is looking elsewhere, seeing some other place or time. But then he is back, stormy gaze focused on his young opponent.
"Searching for your father is a worthy goal." he responds, voice just as soft and wry as before, "But you will need more than training to find him. Try and make friends throughout your travels, Hayley. They are infinitely more useful."
For a moment, it seems as if that will be it, but then, as if remembering some half-understood human custom, the God's head tilts and a brow half quirks as he queries, just a touch dryly, "OK?"
Hayley crawls backward slightly as Raiden's power swells, the old man revealing himself to be far more than any mortal. She slides back several feet, eventually bumping the back wall. She rubs the back of her head.
"I--err, thank you?" she says, unsure. "I'll--keep that in mind, sir." Hayley seems to consider for a moment.
"Can--can I ask a question?"
Abandoning his wooden staff on the dirt floor, Raiden wanders his way across the sparsely appointed room, passing Hayley's shoes and backpack on his way toward the coat wrack.
"Most people address me as Lord," he points out, though something about his quiet, crackling tone suggests it is more of a joke than anything. Not looking toward the crawling, clearly frightened girl, he lifts his broad-brimmed hat down from the rack and settles it upon his head. With the brim pushed low, most of his face is cast into deep shadow, lit only by the light of his eyes, and the odd snap of electricity. "But sure. Ask away..."
He is still almost, but not quite smirking. It doesn't seem as if he's trying to taunt Hayley with it, though. So what could possibly be so funny?
"Err, Lord," Hayley corrects herself for good measure. "Are you some kind of supernatural..." she trails off looking for the right word. God? Angel? Demon? "...person, or is this the result of years of training?" she asks, gesturing at the lightning. "Or um, maybe it's both?" Hayley purses her lips.
"Err, I have another question too. You said you trained people before?"
"Good question." Lord Raiden praises, turning to cast a final, spark-eyed look over his shoulder. "And the answer? Well. It is something like that." That faint half smirk of his grows into a genuine smile, fierce but warm, as he regards her.
"I have taught many warriors how to fight in the defense of Earth. I have a fondness for mortals. At times, I feel I know you so well. But at others," his smile grows a touch brighter and he shakes his head, looking away with a soft, pleased little laugh, "Hah. You can be utterly unpredictable."
Facing the curtain door, Lord Raiden tips his head back, gazing toward the distant sky, hidden though it is through the roof. He remains that way for only a short stretch, the only sound from him that of the buzz and pulse of living lightning. Then, with a deafening 'BOOOM!' and a near blinding flash, he is gone.
Outside, the sky rumbles, and inside, Hayley is left alone, to reflect upon what she has experienced.
And with the boom of thunder, Hayley sits there in shock for a little bit. She sticks a finger her ear, trying to clear it and get her hearing back in full. After a moment she looks around, climbs to her feet, and then idly rubs the back of her head.
"Well, that was something," she says, placing her other hand on her hip. In doing so she overstretches, causing herself to wince and rub her side from the earlier kick. "I uh....huh. Never saw anything like /that/ on the show." Hayley sighs. "This trip is gonna be something."
Log created on 17:21:05 08/18/2017 by Raiden, and last modified on 18:04:19 08/19/2017.