KOF 2019 - KoF '19 - All But Thrown Together

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Description: In which someone whose recent sins weigh heavy, a young man marked for death (with a good dog!), and a washed-up fool all sign up for King of Fighters at the urging of the lattermost among them. Isn't this how they all form together, these days? I mean they're even pulling in a Darkstalker from the far north like it was a random decision. Come on. Does every King of Fighters team start like this? Where's the cohesion? Will any of it last after their exit from the tournament?! Find out...

It's Southtown! What further introduction does it need? What world events does it need to acknowledge? Southtown is tough, it does what it will, and if anyone gets in the way, it gets booted in the south and tossed some other direction... probably into another part of Southtown which will do the same, making you into a city-wide game of kickball, because it's Southtown. In a league of its own, n-time human kickball champion, every year #1.
Okay. That's enough of that. We all know what Southtown is. Do we all know what's going on in Southtown, right now? Do we want, or need, to know?
Too bad.


Rust Jr. is here, in Southtown, and...
...nothing more needs to be said.


Nothing more WANTS to be said. There. Done. Go away.


...Fine. Fine.
Howard Rust, Jr., is here in Southtown. The heavy-set, kind of egg-shaped fellow with far better hair than a man his age ever deserves to have is standing near the top of a tree, balancing at the tip of a sandal in a precarious balance as he is making weird signs with his hands like he might be playing rock-paper-scissors with himself, watching the sun set over a well-kept park. The reason why should be... well, it's not obvious, because this is Rust Jr., so the narrative needs to clarify.
He is training his balance, and... the narrative must concede this is a really good job of doing so, at the tip of a branch that doesn't look like it should support his weight. It's all very strange and should probably attract attention.
Like if a ninja claimed this particular tree recently. Or a dog. Or a ninja dog. Either or.
The look on his face is puzzlingly tranquil but also incomprehensibly excited at once, and this sentence regrets existing.


It always has to be Southtown.

If there was one city that a certain blonde ninja could ever do without having to step foot in again it would be Cincinatti. Yet, Southtown comes in a distant third. Maybe fourth. But it most certainly would never be as bad as Cincinatti to Michael G. Weller.

The Eggman may have it right as this tree has been previously claimed by a ninja-dog, but she is quite happy to share. So long as the proper tributes have been paid. At the base of the tree a certain husky pads around, wondering when The Eggman at the top will come down and give her payment for the use of her tree.

Eggman up so high

You come down now please for me

Give me pay for tree.
~Doggy Haiku by Pity~

A thundering bark comes from the dog now, as she starts to claw heavily at the tree. It doesn't take long for the voice of her owner to chime in, "Pity! Stop that!"

The man's, um, meditative posturing is interrupted by a dog's protest. He has to swap between another foot - then back to the original - then back to the alternate as he tips ever closer to falling right down. Given the physique and distribution of his weight, his continued balance on this branch is total nonsense.
"Oh, whoops, looks like there's been another here there," he narrates aloud, looking down to Pity's protests. "Yep. There's a law about that." An unspoken understanding between ninja- and ninja-dog. He decides to hop on dow, springing off as he takes into the air with all the grace and strength of a leaping frog, a silhouette before the present reigning celestial body of the day overhead--
--just as a hawk swoops by out of nowhere and slams into him, because he looks like a delicious frog. There is a surprised yell of a comical degree as he tumbles a great height back down the tree, hitting every branch, and coming to a stop deposited upside down.
"Ow." An understated 'ow.' That looks like that /hurt/. Their luxurious hair is undone in the impac--
Nope, one gloved hand goes up and re-does some of their hair into a bun. Okay? That's... their priority, sure. Then that arm goes back limp.

As The Eggman lives up to the tale of Humpty Dumpty, the dog stops pawing at the tree long enough to move just enough out of the way to allow the rotund human to freely faceplant into the ground. Yet once he starts to fix his hair, all bets are off with allowing The Eggman a chance to regain his composure.

A loud bark is issued, before the large mass of fur and shinobi leaps upon Rust Jr., her tongue leaving long wet trails as she mauls him in the best way a dog can. The rotund man will find it rather difficult to extract himself from the dog's care, even with an extra pair of hands in the form of her owner that now wrap themselves around her to try and pull her back.

"PITY! Come on! We talked about this! You don't have to lick everyone to death! Not everyone is going to have a treat for you!"

The sheer exhaustion of the event is obvious in Michael's voice, especially as he struggles in what appears to be a futile attempt to pull the dog back. It's quite obvious who is the dominant one in their relationship.







They are complete strangers, but there are few things more fundamental in the world of man than that of the companionship that seems to exist at a primal level between man and dog, as the tumbled man has a bit of a pained laugh. He turns his head only to stop Pity from licking at the side of his head.
"Aww, it's fine... it's fine!" The man gets himself up, Pity lickin' and all. Around his waistline, an old toolbelt stocked to the brim with tools. They're metal. They should jingle, they should jangle, they should make all sorts of noise. They do sway.
They make no such thing. It's a sort of eerie missing piece of the audiovisual picture, but nothing about the man conveys threatening intent as he gets his left hand in one of those pockets and gets out - of all things - a dog treat. Perfectly fine, tasty dog treat.
"Yep, I was in their tree! Thaaaaaat's kind of the fee, eh?" He says, jerking his head back to once again stop friendly lickin' from getting too far up the side of his head, but he's all smiles about it.

This, all of this, had been witnessed by a third person who had most definitely also wanted to avoid Southtown like the plague. It has, however, a crossroads of sorts in this island nation. Zach Glenn and the ninja were heading to Yokohama to acquire some supplies. Actually, Michael was here to acquire the materials needed to repair his sword. Zach was here to play bodyguard to the young man.

A couple of hours after the odd duo had arrived, Zach had opened the envelope with the list of goods. His gaze flicked over the short list, and then he got angry. There was a very angry conversation over the phone. Okay, it was more like Zach was yelling at the phone in Scottish Gaelic for a moment. Most of the surrounding crowd had reacted in shock more at the volume than anything, but one man had chided the former monster hunter on his language before walking away. Zach then left Micheal to his own devices while heading off to a bar.

Zach had caught up to the ninja and apparently Howard Rust Junior, and he looks at the pair with something akin to frustration crossing his face. He approaches without word.

As the treat is pulled out from the belt of mystery, the Eggman will notice that it vanishes from his hand faster then one can blink their eyes. Pity's tongue is already running over her muzzle, bits of what once could have been a dog treat remaining upon her nose.

Backing away now from Rust Jr. The dog then catches the scent of another person. One who may or may not have more treats. Or pettings. Or the need for a mobile pile of fur to help him with his obvious anger issues. Slowly the dog turns, and starts to eyeball the mighty Psion.

~Target Locked~

In a single swift movement, the dog breaks free entirely from Michael's grip, and rapidly bounds towards Zach, causing her owner to tumble to the ground in front of Rust Jr.

"...I swear.. one of these days I'm going to put a shock collar on her...."

The oddball of a man - at least a happy oddball of a man - claps his hands together twice as Pity takes the treat with an amazing speed and grace befitting of... well... you know. He stands up as the dog has her fill of establishing Tree Ownership, to see them run off towards...
Huh. There are many things that maybe 'should' be said after a few years have passed. The approaching troubled psion looks worn, weathered, and eroded by what directions life has taken him... and what others have done to him in life. Their anger is justified, in many ways.
Then there's this oddball of a man. For a quick recap, one Zach Glenn was the man who (previously, under another identity possibly unrecognized) defeated this man's dream of a King of Fighters tournament run, and who would later decisively take away a prestigious title that this very man /right here/ scarce had any right to ever have.
Absolutely zero sign of anger, frustration, fear, or woe shows on the Canadian Do-It-Yourself ninja's face - or from his very soul, for that matter. Is it because he doesn't recogniz--
"Oh, would you look at that!" He laughs. Oh, so he does recognize him. This continues to remain weird, then. "Is that you, Zach? Awww, hey, it's been years," almost like he's... happy to see him? Why? He rubs the side of his head, turning aside to Michael.
"D'aww," he throws an arm down, "that's just how dogs are! She's a sweetheart." On observation, he doesn't look like he's been worn down as much. Like a part of him might well just not /age/ like the rest of him has. (He'll be 49 this year, and all things considered aside from the imperfect physique, he looks good considering.)
"Heyyyy, I bet you got yourself an invite to about, too, eh?" Add that confusing trend where it sometimes sounds like he's ending two completely different sentences, struggling only to let /one/ surface out of his mouth like his mind's always running. That's still distinctly him.
Invite to /what/, though.

Zach's face softens ever so slightly at the charging dog as he catches the playful pounce. There might even be a hint of a smile there as he ruffles Pity's ears a bit. He glances up at Michael and Rust. Then Rust announces recognition, and his eyes narrow.

A cap to hide the hair somewhat, sunglasses to mask the scar a bit, and Rust still manages to put a name to the face. His attention goes back to the dog for a moment before Rust mentions an invitation. There is a slight frown as a buzzing is heard from the psion's belt. Glenn sets the dog done playfully before pulling his phone free. Then there is an actual frown.

He had /retired/. He was supposed to be /done/ with this crap.

"Apparently," he says by way of answer, showing the screen of his phone, and a picture of a sealed envelope with that distinct seal on it.

A King of Fighters invitation.

As Rust Jr. mentions the dog being a dog, Michael gives the older man a rather dejected look. "I'm really sorry about her.. She likes doing her own thing no matter what I do..." Yet, once the Eggman addresses the Psion, Michael feels a buzzing on his chest.

Reaching into his gi, Michael pulls out an extremely battered and possibly non-functional cell phone. Idly running his fingers across the severely broken screen, the blonde ninja is unsure of what he could be looking at. It could be a death threat from Ayane, or it could be a spam text message.

Either way, the youngest male of the group can't be sure about it. His fingers zoom the screen out, until in the upper left corner of the screen a miniscule envelope can be seen as well.

"...Hey, Zach? What in the heck is this? Did Takehiro send us a new list of things to get?"

"Ahh, don't worry about it," Jr. waves a hand. Once Pity's done with Zach, he reaches into his pockets for another dog treat of indeterminate features other than 'it is a treat,' which is really the only important thing. He twirls it between his fingers, in and out of reach, with incredible dexterity for wearing gloves - slightly teasing but with no cruelty behind it. If Pity can reach it, he's sporting about letting her have it. Why would he keep it from her? She's a good girl.
'Apparently,' the grumpy, worn-down Psion reaffirms as he shows his phone.
Michael looks into his beaten-up old phone, and sees it too. It must mean, then, that this strange man's about to--
"Ta daaaaaah!" He produces /a physical envelope/. It's addressed to a 'Lu,' but his thumb is covering the rest of it. "Yep! Thought so!" He laughs. The way he holds it, they can see the backside of the envelope... and yes, that exact seal too. This man has a /physical/ invitation. In this day and age, that's crazy.
They can both see the age (he's not far from fifty) and physical conditioning (clearly overweight, even if the distribution of said weight is a bit cartoonish) of this man. He probably should be /retired/. He should be /done/ with this sort of thing, no matter how spry and lively he comes off as.
"Sure had problems finding teammates about in," he blends sentence endings again with one that's unspoken but thought, whatever it might be it is probably for the best it doesn't come out, "but the invite came in the mail for me!" He smiles and sighs contentedly, free hand rubbing at the side of his head. The same side he hadn't allowed Pity to lick.
"Awww... after all that, it's... really great they'd give it to me. Ha ha! So Howard Rust, Jr., is looking about ready to be the King of Fighters, eh?"
It's not completely impossible, for the level of production values of such a prestigious tournament, that whoever they got to sign names on the envelope was not a native English speaker. Maybe this sort of thing was outsourced to the Japanese, and it got addressed to 'Lust,' but... that seems weird.
He remains utterly convinced, with no hint of deception or thought otherwise, that it's for him.
"Soooooooo," he claps his hands together, the envelope disappearing before anyone can get a better look. Somehow. Because ninja. "I've been training out and about, and wouldn't ya know it! We're not far from where we can register!"
That's convenient. A bit too convenient, but okay, King of Fighters tournaments are infamous for making it a bit too easy to ensnare oneself in the pomp and circumstance.
The name Howard Rust, Jr., belongs to a man - before them - who over ten years ago was a famous if eccentric adventurer. That man would be... far more capable than what they've got right here...
...even if he is enthusiastic about it.

Zach's physical invitation is at his cousin's house, on the other side of the globe. He's fairly certain there is a databank or something and besides, he was the captain of last year's third place team.

"It's not a list," Zach says evenly as he clips the phone back on his belt, "It's an invitation to the King of Fighters tournament." He smirks a bit. "Congratulations, kid, you're officially Big Time." He scowls a bit, looking away from both men, a somewhat distracted look on his face. This is not a situation he wants to be in. He's retired and Southtown, with all its people and all its emotion, is exactly as loud for him as it ever was. The psion does not want to be here.

"Joke's on them," he says as he glances around, "I'm retired. I just want to get this job done and get the hell back to my shop."

"King of Fighters?"

The mighty Psion Zach Glenn is given a rather confused glance from the younger blonde ninja. It's obvious that what should be a bit of common knowledge for pretty much everyone in the world, is something brand new for Michael.

"...So you're saying we're now royalty?" A rather intriguing look crosses Michael's face for a moment, only to be replaced by a look of pure dread. "Yeah. Uh. I don't think being royalty is going to be all that great. I mean, it would be nice to have someone else brush Pity for me, but. It sounds like too much work. I also didn't even know that there was Fighting Royalty..."

Over here, with the idio-- with one Junior, he is all smiles and eagerness and everything. As though the disasters that surrounded and followed the very name of King of Fighters didn't amount to much of a deterrence. Like the last two years or so of life for some reason didn't exist, for him. (For all the weird things that happen/follow about this man, this may not be that far out of the way of plausability!!)
On one side, Zach dismisses the notion.
On the other, Michael expresses confusion.
"...Say what?!" Jr. seems aghast by this, jaw dropped, and everything. But who is he saying that /to?/
"The King of Fighters! The greatest team fighting tournament in the world! They don't just hand these invites out to anyone in! Nope, nope!" He shakes his head, laughing, and throwing up his gloved hands like he might be doing jazz hands. Jazz hands.
Jazz hands is serious business.
"I got to compete in one year, too!" ...By getting knocked out in the preliminaries... "Aww. I gotta go ring up my friends back over in those mountains back in Canada, yep!" ...Which friends, which mountains? "It's gonna be great!" He's laughing as he looks away. "Nobody's retired if they got an invite to be part of the King of Fighters, eh? After all..."
He brings a hand up against the side of his head. "All the better reason to be out and about from the house! Ha ha ha! What're we waiting for above? Us three! King of Fighters!"

As the Eggman himself explains just what the King of Fighters really is, Michael's face starts to burn a light red from obvious embaressment. He should have known that. It should have been obvious that his thought process was way off.

Of course, when you spend most of your formative years where taking intrest in the outside world in the middle of the mountains of Japan, big events like that tend to get missed. It's also perfect for allowing one to make a complete and utter ass of themselves. Especially in situations like this.

However, the idea of it being a team tournament doesn't quite instill any confidence in Michael, even after Zach's prior mentioning of him having made the big times now. Turning now towards the Psion, the blonde ninja seems to be a bit nervous now instead of being confused. "So.. does that mean we're doing this Zach?"

Zach regards Michael with a raised brow. "I don't know who you mean by 'we,' hotshot," he says with a bit of irritation. "Like I said, I'm retired," he finally says. "Done. Finished with fighting." He turns away from Rust; what the hell is this guy's deal? Is he just joyously oblivious?

"But you're a free man, in theory. You can do what you want," he says to Michael. "Everything we can order over the phone's already ordered. I can make the last couple of stops on my own."

What the hell is this guy's deal? A question the entire universe finds itself asking, more often than not. A part of him feels almost entirely out of synch with everything. Well, maybe the laws of physics, mostly, are being adhered to. He's not phasing through walls or the ground or anything like that, but that is not high praise!! That's just basic etiquette.
"You bet! Sure mean's we're doing thi--"
'I don't know who you mean by 'we,' hotshot,' Zach interjects, and the older man with the strange hair more suited to a younger woman stands with one leg raised and one arm thrown up as if ready to sidestep a nasty punch, an exaggerated grimace on his face.
Like Zach's declaration that he won't have anything to do with this /were/ as heavy a blow as that.
"...Aww, gee." Jr. relaxes his posture as he walks on up next to Michael. "You really sure about that?" Zach is a fighter whose power is defined as an extension of himself, and generally speaking can be counted on to be sure of what he is saying - Jr. has no idea what all Zach's been through.
"Look at this guy, hey," he gestures to Michael with an open hand. (The open hand has another treat for Pity.) "Getting an opportunity to really drop the gloves with some of the best of the best... that's not something you get to do every life with."
His expression goes a bit milder than it usually does, drawing his hand back as he rubs at the side of his head. "...Hey, you know, stop me if I'm wrong," Rust Jr. is in a land of very many traffic law-abiding citizens so he must have been stopped like almost all of the time every time he'd say something like this, as he sizes up Michael, "...don't get out all that much, eh? Hmmmm... yep, yep. Life of training, got that right?" One eye is squeezed shut. That single eye doesn't look any more focused as he says that, opening both eyes back up as a pinky digs into one of his ears, leaning back and lifting a foot up to balance on one leg.
"Ahhh... the world's gotta be experienced at least once! All of it, and what better than the King of Fighters for that in!" He laughs. That... tends to be the case for those who make it out of the preliminary rounds. Which he didn't. At all.
"...Hey." He says to Zach. "How can ya be retired at your age...? Looks to me this guy's all ready to go two minutes that way," he gestures with a thumb in the direction of Convenient Registration Place, "and he sure looks like he trusts in you... y'know. I mean... sure... weird things come up and about with," UNDERSTATEMENT, "but... what're you going to do with the rest of your time if not this? Ahh, come on. It'll be great..."
He puts on another smile as he stretches, leaning back while still on that one arm as if eager to walk over there while stretching on one leg at the same time which will not work. At all. Human anatomy just doesn't allow for that.
"I mean, you'll have me, eh?" This may have been a reassurance a bit over ten years ago, maybe. Now, well, he sure seems to think that'll be a good deciding factor.


Once more the confusion of the situation is plain for all to see upon Michael's face. He doesn't know Rust Howard Jr. from a hole in the ground, and the excitement the Eggman seems to be giving off from the whole ordeal is enough to actually make the blonde ninja rather uncomfortable. So naturally he's going to rely on Zach for guidance, even though he doesn't quite know the Psion much better then the Eggman.

"Zach, I think you should do it. I mean, we're supposed to be workin' together so I can get my sword fixed. Takehiro did say that it would take some time even after he had the stuff.. Plus.. I really could use your help kind of stayin' alive.."

The last few words are somewhat muttered, as the blonde ninja has somewhat failed to mention just why he showed back up to Takehiro's shop looking like a cross between the Toxic Avenger and ground beef.

"Retired from fighting," Zach says simply. "It ain't like I'm laying about." Zach appears to be as solidly built as he has always been; smithing is no joke from a purely physical standpoint which is something Michael could probably attest to. Michael thinks *Zach* should do it. That is almost laughable coming from the young man. There are only five years seperating the psion and the ninja.

But a lot happened in those five years, to be certain. It was a very busy, very *productive* five years depending on who you talked to. Those five years saw life, and death, and love, and betrayal.

And a whole lot of bodies. Some of which Zach was immediately, directly, responsible for... regardless of what anyone tried to tell him.

And Michael could use some toughening up. Whoever assaulted him did one hell of a number on the ninja. And it was definitely more than just assault, judging from some of the damage. Zach had not offered to help the young man heal; he didn't know the how or why of the incident. He growls, then comes to a decision.

"Fine," he says in a tone that all but screams that he really wants nothing to do with this. "But I'm not in charge. I'm just hired muscle. Are we clear on that?"

Rust and Michael had *better* be clear on that. Zach does not want to have to make clear why.

Whoever this guy was, or is now, he may or may not be the Walrus, but a part of him does seem more than a little goo goo goo joob as Michael (very rightfully!!) shows discomfort with being in the presence of this... guy. This is a guy, all right. This is a guy who had a decisive contribution towards the end of a pitched battle for the entirety of Earth's existence by tying the shoelaces of the undead.
Among other weird feats of nonsense.
That said, his bizarre posturing slows as Zach just gets to the point with no nonsense. He's retired from fighting, and the oddball near-fifty-year-old man straightens out, rubbing at his chin as if he were compelled to actually consider what he were looking at.
Like he might, somehow, grapple with a difficult reality o--
'Fine,' yadda yadda, '--just hired muscle. Are we clear on tha--'
"Aw, great!" The strange ninja(?) claps his gloved hands together once with the biggest freakin' smile. "Yep! All right, Iiii don't know about any of you two at, but sometimes, it feels like I stand around and an entire week passes just like tha--"


They're at the Convenient Registration Center. That is, as it turns out, the actual name of this not at all shady front company for all sorts of fighting tournaments. Convenient! If anyone's done any serious fighting here in Southtown, they might have been here once for registration purposes. It really is convenient. Also a front. But convenient.
"All right, yep!" The man heads on ahead of the two of them just as the line clears. "Registering for the King of Fighters--"
"You?" Asks the clerk, incredulous, at Rust Jr., as he produces his physical invite.
"You bet! The one and only Howard Rust... well, uh. There's another out there, I guess I oughtta specify, sorry. Heh, Howard Rust, Junior!" He slaps the envelope down, addressed to 'Lu--' and all. The clerk takes it, looks at the name on it... opens it, looks at the document, squints at the damaged name printed on there, looks up to the self-identified Howard Rust, Jr...
"...King of Fighters regulations state any invitation entitles you to participation... yes." Convenient! "So... registering... paperwork... you know."
The only part that's not so CONVENIENT, but as soon as everyone fills it out with relevant medical histories and disclaimers and what have you, they can all register as a team and everyth--
"Wait. Wait." Rust Jr. says. "Sorry!" He laughs, as he takes back his forms, "Just remembered I got one wrong, it's been a few years, eh?"
"...Okay. Is it the na--"
"Nope! Name's right," Jr. says as he licks a gloved finger. Now, one norma lway to correct a mistake - 'get a new sheet.'
What he does is bizarre. He dexterously nudges at the ink-written answer and massages the applied ink until it resembles the answer he intended to put down. What it was before and what it is now doesn't matter - it's a hell of a feat. Hardly even a trace that it had been, er, 'fixed' like that too, as he hands it back.
An odd talent, but okay? If it gets them registered and takes them one step closer to getting this /over with/.

As Michael starts to sign his own paperwork, he pauses. Would they have to register Pity as a member of the team as well? Would she even be allowed to participate alongside Michael? These are questions he has no idea about the answer to, or if he should be speaking up right about now.

So he just does the obvious thing, and starts filling out the paperwork as well for the dog just in case, which of course gets him some very strange and curious looks from the clerk. First super happy guy magically fixes a mistake on his own paperwork, and now another is trying to register a /dog/ as well. What next? Someone has to declare mind bullets?

"Uh... so. After this is all said and done, what do we do next?"

Zach will not declare mind bullets; everyone knows he makes swords forged of his own will. Or some kind of energy anyway. The psion fills out the paperwork quickly, and shoves the paperwork across the table in silence. He glances at Michael and picks up things, as he does.

"Nakoruru registered Mamahaha when she was doing this," Zach asides to the ninja, "I'm pretty sure you can do the same with Pity."

Everything seems to be in order, as though it were... convenient. Yes. Conveniently this is the last time this word will be used.
"What do we do next?" Rust Jr. asks aloud as he faces the rest. "I'm thinking... traning outings, traveling about, taking in the elements, you know, usual stuff you do when you go out, eh?" He seems /really enthusiastic/ about things that are pretty much trivial and can be assumed as preparation for a major tournament.
Zach is in peak condition.
Michael is young and inexperienced but full of potential.
Pity is a good girl.
This man is... um... an insurance hazard. At best.
He taps a hand on the table. "Tell you guys what, I know how to get in touch with the other one inside," he says, "they got this neat mail system they got going... quicker than you'd think, it's kind of a marvel... I met 'em over giving 'em back mail that got delivered to me once!" Nostalgic, weird, and harrowing!


A short but very stout hairy creature scratches at their head as they get a stone tablet in record time.
"(Again?)" They ask, exhaling cold air with a snort. "(...Okay, cool, why not...)"


A door opens to a house that is 'famed' for having three bathrooms. In the living room, a very young girl gleefully further destroys a twisted wreck of a metal workbench. A heavy-set somewhat older boy is holding onto a big stack of papers while a french fry dangles out of their mouth.
A Thai teenager looks to the opening door, quiet... and takes a step back.

(SUDDEN BGM INTERRUPT: https://youtu.be/NkOzgP3UfNU )


Log created on 21:40:18 05/21/2019 by Rust, and last modified on 02:35:10 05/27/2019.