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The Blighted [Urban fantasy series] 7
You just saved the world
Heat rolled over Donavan and he didn’t know why. It was intense he tried to get up an away from it, but there was an explosion that knocked him back down. He rolled over on his back, his body being racked by pain, and tried to remember what was going on.
Two vampire warriors flew by overhead, an it all came back to him. He couldn’t move his left arm, and could feel the hole burned in it. He figured most of his bicep was missing. His chest didn’t hurt as bad but it would be a mess of burns and blisters. Wounds that would take years of physical therapy to heal, but he didn’t have years. He didn’t have days or hours. He had to find out what happened, and had minutes at best to do it.
It looked like the vamps were moving out that meant the police would be there soon. He reached in his coat and pulled out a few vials, fumbled with them with one hand before replacing all but one. A wooden vial with pjH carved in the side. He bit the top off...
…Forgive me lord...
And swallowed the potion. Immediately coolness flowed through his body, washing away the pain and stiffness.
He hated using magic but do to the nature of the war he considered some to be a necessity. Most hunters found some sort of religion, especially vampire hunters and many of those refused to use magic at all. Even to heal with, like his niece. The thought of her made him sit up, he had work to do.
The truck was all but destroyed, that was good...he hoped, and his car was missing, so was David. The black kid, he corrected himself.
He tried not to get on a real name basis with newbies till after training. There was a high turn over rate in the organization. Most recruits didn’t survive the first three months. Until then they were either kid, boss, lady, fella or maybe a derogatory term if they rubbed him the wrong way.
Where was the kid, was he dead, had he left him? He couldn’t blame him if he had, hopefully he’d keep his mouth shut and keep his life.
The hunter got to his feet wondering what had been in the truck. It was gone now whatever it was, he hoped it would slow Bernardo down.
He’d done what he could it was time to go. Donavan was wanted as a cult leading cereal killer. Giovanni would have the whole incident played as the work of his doomsday cult. His face would be on every TV screen and in every newspaper in the state by morning.
"Oh now you’re up!" David said coming around the back of the wrecked truck, looking shaken and angry.
I’ll be d**n.
"What was wrong with you? You didn’t have a scratch on you."
"That kind of spell only affects living things." Donavan said looking for the car. "What happened?"
David stared at him in disbelief.
"Only effects living things?"
Donavan sighed. "Yes, the burns were under my armor..and…" He went in his coat and pulled out a potion. "The ones that end in and H heals, the big H is powerful magic that heals fast. The little h heals slower..."
He tossed it to David. "Next time don’t leave me like that even if you don’t know what’s wrong with me. Pour it on my wounds or in my mouth. Now what happened, and where’s my car? We have to get out of here."
David pointed at the heap. " We’re not going nowhere in that."
Donavan headed for it. He could hear sirens in the distance. "What happened?"
David was speechless for a second, following Donavan to the Taurus. The hunter opened the trunk and began loading two black gym bags with ammo an equipment.
"They uh...The vampires, killed a bunch of people in that truck."
People in the truck?
Sacrifices, Bernardo needed sacrifices. His Intel hadn’t included that, but it was a good development. It would set the Arcanist back a few hours, but probably not much longer. He could always kidnap more tonight.
David continued nervously looking towards the sirens. "It was...It was bad man..They were just all strung up and cut up, marks and dirt all over them...it was...it was just..."
"Yeah, like words, or hieroglyphics or something, carved in them."
"Yeah. From here" He indicated his neck. "Down to here." he indicated his knees. "Little letters too."
"How many people?...come on." He tossed David a bag and started jogging down the street looking for a ride.
Tears were in David’s eyes. "It was full of them, moanin an s**t. The worse thing I’ve seen in my life. And the vampires they didn’t give a f**k, they just lit em up. Then threw some grenades, one caught them all on fire the other blew them up...I..I can‘t…It was sick."
Sick yeah, but it had saved the world at least for the night. Apparently the sacrifices had to be prepared. Kidnapping more people Bernardo could do tonight, but carving incantations into each victim would take time.
They stole the first thing they came across, an old beat up pick up truck. It would do, Donavan only planed to drive it a couple blocks before stashing it and stealing something else.
"So what happened to my car?" He asked pulling off, hearing sirens heading past on the streets to either side.
"Oh. I killed the witch with it, she was beating the breaks off the vampires. I’m glad you said something I almost forgot." He began to rummage through his pockets for the necklace.
David stopped and stared at the disturbed white man.
"You just saved the world."
"How, by letting a truck full of people get slaughtered?"
"They were going to die anyway, and the rest of us were going with them. Unless of course Giovanni managed to stop Bernardo, but with a soul jar that’s not likely."
David didn’t know what a soul jar was, and was fairly sure he didn’t want to know. He did know those people had died because he froze, because he was to afraid to help them, and that wouldn’t happen again. He would learn how to fight those things and next time he wouldn’t freeze.
"What were you getting ready to show me?"
"Hold on.." David shifted in his seat to face Donavan. "Tell me this ain’t how it is. Tell me this ain’t how you win, letting people die. If this is how it’s going to be, you can just let me out right here, because I can’t do it."
"What and you think I could? You know how I got into this? I didn’t think so. A vampire...The very same one that gave the order to kill those people, turned my wife, and sicked her on my kids."
"I’m sorry, I didn’t kn.."
"Don’t apologize, you didn’t do it. My point is, we take it how we get it. If I had of been woke, we would have staked those bastards and those people would still be alive. I wasn’t, but you were, and for your first outing you did a d**n good job. I mean when you took out that Arcanist you literally saved all life on the planet...'
"No butts, I’ve fought more vampires then you can believe. Those were vampire warriors, if you had of taken them on out in the open like that not knowing what you were doing. They would have tore you a knew hole and those people would still be dead. Trust me."
David turned around, silent, grinding his teeth trying to hold back tears. It sounded true, but he had frozen and they had died, he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more he could have done.
Donavan went on. "We never give lives to the blight. Through action or inaction, but way to often there’s just nothing we can do to stop them from takin ‘em, it happens. At least this time something good came out of it."
David nodded...inaction...But he would learn, and it wouldn’t happen again.
"What’s that?" Donavan nodded to David’s clinched fist.
"This, nothing, I got it off the witch, and wanted to make sure it isn’t dangerous."
Donavan took it stunned, it couldn’t be. Turned it over in his hand, but there it was. A singularly distinct blue crystal incasing a self contained light. "The Hunter’s Stone..." he mumbled.
"What?" David asked, Donavan gave him and odd look before handing it back.
"The Hunter’s Stone." He said it like a question.
David looked at it; the rock was stunning no doubt but..."It’s got a name?"
Donavan grinned, this made David nervous, he’d yet to see the man smile at anything good.
"Yeah its got a name alright...Its the Hunter’s Stone, Its legendary, wasn’t even sure it was real."
"What’s it do?"
Donavan shrugged. "Protects, other then that I don’t know. Its not what it does that made it a legend, it’s where it came from."
"As the story goes, not long after magic was released on the world, I’m talking pre flood here…” Donavan paused shaking his head in disbelief. “…The blight began to appear and impose their will on man. It didn’t take long till a group of men came together to appose them. As legend has it, there was a watcher, an Angel, present at their first meeting. So grieved was the Angel at what these men would face that it shed a tear. That tear fell from the sky in front of them all and became that stone you’re holding right now."
David gave him a yeah-right look.
"Ahy, I didn’t make it up, nobody knows for sure that’s just how the stories go. Anyway through many of the legends and stories told of early hunters that stone is spoke of. Not much is said of it; other then it was a source of protection. But it’s only been in stories, nobodies seen it since..." Donavan shrugged. "I don’t know, it’s been lost to the war for a real long time. Longer then this organization has existed. I wonder how she ended up with it?"
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah." Solemn nod. "Not bad for you first day. Delay Armageddon, find timeless lost artifact. What’s you plan for tomorrow?"
David stared into the light in the stone, seeing those people cooking in the back of the truck.
"Oh...Just making sure Bernardo fails..."
"Sounds like a good plan."
We might have to fight our way out
27 miles south east of Akron.
Marshal had followed the directions, exiting the freeway right outside of town. The rout led him through increasingly worsening neighborhoods. Five blocks after he’d past the last ram shackled country house, he came to a long dusty drive leading to the Church.
It sat ominous under the clear black star filled sky, illuminated only by his headlights. It was a big brick building, three stories, scared by fire long ago. The roof was gone, the top floor little more then a pile of rubble. The windows and doors all boarded up, making it even less inviting.
Marshal sat staring; the place didn’t even look structurally safe. He’d come all this way and now didn’t want to go in, didn’t even want to get out of the car.
Nothing moved outside of the headlights, only thick black country darkness. Maybe, he’d sleep in the car and go in when the sun came up.
He checked the gas gauge. No. He was there now, and there wasn’t enough gas to get anywhere else. So after retrieving the women’s; Jasmines, gun and ammo he got out, standing for a second one foot in the car, fumbling with the handle of the sword, trying to work his nerve up.
Should he knock? The front door was boarded up, then he noticed tire tracks leading around to the side of the Church.
He followed them off into the darkness, hoping but not finding, a car. After his eyes somewhat adjusted he did find some footprints under a boarded up window. He tried the planks, they fell away easily.
Inside the church nothing was visible save for a single lit candle sitting on the alter.
"Hello..? Don...Donavan.? PJ.?"
He fumbled around tripping over a pew. The noise of his own fall scaring a scream out of him; his scream scared his trigger finger. He riddled the wall and ceiling before getting a hold of himself, laying on his back looking two stores up at the once beautiful now chipped, burned and dusty ceiling, trying to get his breathing under control.
Feeling a little silly and allot calmer he got up.
Well obviously no ones here.
That was good, he’d wait till morning for the Donavan guy and if he didn’t show up...well he didn’t know. He’d cross that bridge when he came to it, until then he’d take a look around. Feeling his way through the darkness Marshal headed for the light.
Donavan and David approached the Church slowly from off road in a Suburban SUV with the lights off. It was their fourth vehicle since the battle.
A muscle car was parked out front, motor off lights on.
"Who is that?" David asked.
"Don’t know." Donavan said pulling up beside the car training his HK on it just in case. He didn’t get his hopes up that it might be survivors from the team. Not because it couldn’t be, but because if it wasn’t it wouldn’t just be disappointing, it could be fatal.
It could easily be the survivors, but just as likely somebody sent by Giovanni or Bernardo, or possibly someone or something that found out a group of hunters was in town and had a score to settle. They made allot of enemies, who had an annoying habit of showing up at the most lethally inconvenient times.
They got out, David headed casually towards the Church, Donavan for the car. A figure across the back seat, he leaned closer.
"Jasmine!!" He flung the door open, the all to familiar smell of blood. He snatched a potion out his coat. He knew she would rather die then have magic used to save her, but she was in no position to argue, let the sin be on his soul.
Donavan realized as soon as he leaned in that the decision was no longer in his hands. It was too late, his goddaughter was dead.
"No..." A whimper, he fell on her rubbing his face against hers. "No." He had accepted the possibility when he found out about the ambush, but the reality was proving unacceptable.
He drew back to look at her. She had been crying, this made him cry harder. But the corners of her mouth were turned up in a slight peaceful smile.
He shook his head in disbelief. Seeing her as a child again, and a young women, then as the seemingly indestructible warrior goddess he’d parted ways with less then a day ago.
He suddenly felt old; he’d been fighting the war to long. His goddaughter’s corpse lay before him as proof.
It had no doubt been his plan. But the burst of anger was short lived, quickly smothered by sorrow and guilt. Donavan couldn’t blame it all on Giovanni, he should have been there.
He choked on a sob, but this...this. He had sent her to her death. The tears continued but the sobbing stopped as he contemplated telling PJ.
How could Donavan tell the man that had been like a brother to him, that his obsession had cost the life, of the closest thing to a daughter, as he was likely to ever come? PJ was going to kill him, quit possibly literally.
Donavan didn’t care, he wouldn’t stop him, how could he? He deserved it; he was tired of being the only survivor of his bad decisions.
Get it together, get it together.
She didn’t die for nothing he had work to do "Come on, help me get her."
David was thankful for something to do. He had been standing by numbly wondering who the woman was. Now probably wasn’t a good time to ask.
They gently laid her in front of the door, and Donavan gave the knock. The double doors looked to be boarded up, but in reality only the boards on one door had any nails in them. There was however three sliding bars on the inside.
"Who...who is it." Little more then a whisper from the other side. It wasn’t anybody from the team; even the newbies knew the knock.
Donavan backed to the side training his weapon on the door; David was startled by the move but quickly followed suit.
"Light barer, open up!"
There was fumbling on the other side, the door open and light poured out. A bare foot blond kid in pajama bottoms stood there shaking from the cold holding Jasmines gun and the Talon of Horus.
Well he was holding the Talon so that meant he was definitely not a blight or hellborn. Donavan’s bracelet wasn’t responding to him, so he wasn’t a spellcaster or psychic unless he was masking. He looked down at his niece and at eased his weapon. She would never have given him up to the enemy.
"Who are you?" Donavan bent to pick Jasmine up David did the same.
"Marshal...She..." He pointed with the Talon. "Jasmine, told me to come here. I tried to get her to go to a hospital but she..."
"Yeah, yeah, get out the way." They pushed past him, laying her on the nearest undamaged pew. "David remember where the supplies are?"
"I need to wash her up, get a couple jugs of water and a few towels."
"Got you." He headed to the back of the church. Donavan looked around. "Anybody else make it?"
"She wanted you to look for Amber." Marshal was trying to watch both of them at once. They were dressed like the others, except without helmets.
The black guy looked about Marshal’s age, short dark skinned and stocky. Donavan looked like a grade B move vampire, tall, gaunt and pail like he hadn’t seen the sun in years. It was hard to guess his age, with his deep lined face warped by grief and all the gray in his hair.
Donavan nodded and turned back to Jasmine. Marshal remembered the mac-10 in his hand. He was armed now; he had planed on making some threats, and demanding some answers when he’d found the man. But now...now...
"What...is all this?" was all he could manage.
David walked up caring two milk jugs of water, towels over one shoulder a hunters coat over the other.
"David, can you fill him in? I...I need a minute." He needed more then that. He needed a lifetime, but a minute was all he was likely to get. So he took the time to pray over her body. Not for her, he knew she was all right. He prayed for the strength to go on without her.
David walked over to the blood covered white boy with the sword, and offered him the coat.
Marshal shook his head. "Just...I need to know what’s going on. My parents are dead, I’m standing here in the middle of a burnt out church in the middle of nowhere in my pajamas covered with a dead women’s blood..." He caught himself and they both looked over at Donavan.
If he heard it didn’t show. So Marshal went on with a slightly lowered voice. "...Holding a freaking machine gun and a ninja sword...I just need to know I'm not crazy."
David sighed, rapping the coat around him. "Well you’re not crazy, but you might want to sit down."
The black guy, David, explained the situation the best he could. He told Marshal about magic and monsters being real. About Clans and Cabals and their quests for control of the flesh and souls of men, and the organizations war to break their control over mankind.
He went on about some wizard bring back some s**t but Marshal didn’t really care about all that. All he wanted to know was why was his parents dead?
Frustrated Marshal cut him off. "Ok! But what’s that got to do with me?! What’s that got to do with my parents?!"
"Ahy man look. I feel you but, I didn’t start this I stumbled into it just like you..."
"But I didn’t stumble into it. It stumbled into me. I was just visiting my parents...!" He was up and adamant starting to break down.
"Don-a-van!!..." It came from in front of the Church, a singsong, bullhorn-amplified voice.
Donavan hopped to his feet and motioned for the pulpit, caring Jasmines body with him as he moved that way.
"The bell tolls for thee!!" Gunfire erupted from all around the building, tearing threw the bricks sending debris kicking up all around them. They hit the ground crawling. Grenades came in next, blowing pews into the air. Tear gas canisters next, the gunfire never letting up.
Donavan grabbed David’s leg as they crawled tearing hacking and coughing for the pulpit. "Take her!" he chocked out. David leaned back and started dragging the body, Donavan moved to the side of the wall pulled loose some floor boards and retrieved a couple duffle bags.
He rummaged in one then the other, then back to the first. Hacking and coughing the whole time, finally he got what he came for. Three masks, shaped roughly like surgeons masks with small cylinder protrusions on each side toped with diver like goggles.
The gunfire abruptly stopped. "Donavan!"
Fuckin Giovanni. He's toying with me.
If that barrage had of meant to kill them they would all likely be dead.
He jumped up and ran for the pulpit. The teargas was putting a hurting on the newbies. He quickly showed them how to put on and clear the gas masks.
"Why don’t you make it easy on everybody and just come out. Why make me have to get the police to drag you out? Of course I’d have to kill them later, maybe turn a few..."
How had he found them so fast? Didn’t really matter, it could have been any number of ways. But why had he been looking in the first place? Had he taken out Bernardo?
"I know you wouldn’t want those officers blood on your hands."
Donavan ran to the nearest window. "I really hope Bernardo’s dead, Giovanni! Please! Please! I know you’re a stupid f**k! But please tell me you stopped him before wasting your time with me."
"You don’t worry about Bernardo." The singsong was gone from his voice now. " He’s my problem, all yours are over blood bag!"
"YOU LET HIM GO! You are f***ing useless! Both our worlds are at stake dip s**t!" He hit the ground covering his head as gunfire hammered the brick around the blown out window.
"Don’t presume to judge me mortal! I ruined his sacrifices, he can’t perform the ritual now, and as your finding out, no one can hide forever."
"Who’s Bernardo?" Marshal was laid flat in the pulpit beside David, finally getting his breathing under control in the mask.
"Wizard, sorcerer or something. The guy trying to end the world."
"Then who’s out side?"
Marshal almost asked if he was serious, but of course he was. "Why are they after you guys?"
"They’re after him, I just got here, and why? Because I tried to tell you man, its war. From what I can tell, what happened at your house was a trap. Set up by that monster out there with the bull horn."
Marshal was surprised to find he was too afraid to lay hold of the righteous anger he’d been nursing since fleeing his parent’s home. That didn’t mean he didn’t plan on doing right by it.
"I seen her kill werewolves with this." He lifted the sword. "Do you think it works on vampires?"
David shrugged. "This will" He showed him his stake thrower. "Don’t really matter, I ain’t goin out there, and I don’t think they can get in."
"If they keep throwing grenades, or the cops show up we might have to fight our way out." Marshal hated the thought and could hardly believe he’d said it out loud.
David hated to hear it, but he had a point. "Come on." He turned and crawled to the floorboard he knew the weapons and armor were under.
"Stop delaying they inevitably Donavan. Its time to join your team..."
"You soulless s**t!!!"
"Or should I say teams? How many has it been”?
Donavan didn’t answer. He knew he just tried never to think of it. In twenty-five years of hunting he’d been the soul survivor of twenty-one teams most of which had been under his command at the time.
"I swear you’re going to pay." Donavan actually began to rock rage.
"Come on. Don’t be like that. You have to be tired by now. End this, come out and be reunited with your wife and kids, remember them. I do...."
"KEEP THEM OUT YOUR FILTHY MOUTH!!"
"Oww.." sounding hurt. "But they tasted so good."
Donavan hopped up screaming and fired a long burst out the window. The only response he got was hissing laughter from all around the building.
"And ahhhh. The young warrior blossom Jasmine. I was beginning to worry she was going to be a thorn in my side like you. Guess not. Well what is it you mortals say, its better to burn out then fade away. Live fast die young and leave a beautiful mangled corpse...or something like that."
Donavan sat back to the wall fuming, trapped, feeling completely impotent. Giovanni had to die, he just had to. He could not go to his grave until that creature was removed from the earth, but how, how, how, isn’t that the question he’d been looking for, for twenty-five years. Wasn’t that the question that had just cost Jasmine’s life?
Maybe he just wasn’t the man to do it, if that was true then his entire life had been wasted.
"Times up hunter. Come out now and I’ll go easy on you. You of all people know I can make dying a very long, very unpleasant experience. If you come out now, I might even share the riches of immortality with you. You have kept things interesting for the last couple years.
Donavan fought back vomit. He hated that thing with a passion, he hated it more then he loved life...And maybe that was the key.
He’d surrender, he’d surrender and Giovanni would try to turn him. All he would have to do is stash a stake and maybe a vile of holy water because of course the coward would have his flunkies holding him. If everything went right he’d get one shot, and one shot was all he would need. Giovanni would be dead, his life’s work accomplished Donavan could die in peace.
"Alright, I’m coming out, but only if you let the others go. Their new they don’t know anything yet."
"You have my word."
Which was worth about as much as twice used toilet paper.
"What!?" David ran over from the back of the Church followed by Marshal who was now wearing a hunter’s rig.
Donavan studied the newbie’s wearily. Giovanni would never let them go.
"You can’t be serious, you’re not just goin to leave us here?" David asked. “And what about Bernardo? You said if we didn’t stop him…" David added.
"Another team is coming." Of course neither one of them would be alive when they got there. If he walked out that door to face Giovanni he would be dooming them. His quest for vengeance had cost the lives of so many under his command. Could he really knowingly sacrifice another team, even one this small? They were scared and green, but stood before him suited up and ready to fight. They deserved whatever little chance he could give them.
One carried the Talon of Horus, the other wore the legendary hunters stone. Donavan had been in the game too long to believe in chance, there had to be something to that.
"I don’t like being kept waiting Don! Are you coming out or is this going to get messy."
Did that shit bird just call me Don?
He hopped up. "To bad! I don’t lik.....!"
Gunfire erupted anew, they hit the deck. But the Church wasn’t the target. Hissing and screaming could be heard. Not just on the perimeter but in the air above them. A numb tingling from his bracelet, and another sound, low at first, quickly growing to match the volume of the gunfire. It was a wet sound like hundreds of hi-pitched, gurgling screams.
"What are they doing? What is that?" Marshal asked wide-eyed.
"Bernardo." Donavan and David answered at the same time.
"Has to be." Donavan said, grabbing a duffle bag and heading for the front door.
Outside the inky black night flashed with weapons fire, punctuated with the strobe like yellow pulses of magic energies. Silhouetting human shapes running and flying, and numerous other smaller shapes swimming through the air.
How many spellcasters are out there and what the hell have they summand?
It didn’t really matter it was now or never. He pulled them closer to him so they could hear. But they continued to stare wide eyed outside.
"All right we’re going to make a break for the SUV it’s only a couple feet away, stay low and we ought to make it! Once we’re in David you drive! Kid do you know how to use that thing!?" He pointed to the Mac.
Marshal wasn’t looking at him; he was crouched looking out the door. "Are you f***ing crazy!? Do you hear that!? Well never make it! There’s hundreds of...of...who the hell even knows out there!" Fight our way out, what had he been thinking.
"Hay! Grab a pair little girl! We are going for that SUV and we are taking that sword with us!.. Now get rea...."
Something hit high on the door and crashed squealing to the floor.
It sat in the isle, shaped like a four foot long snake, with the smell and look of greenish brown excrement. Its head was that of a snoutless crocodile, with one pupilless , unblinking yellow eye. Two goo dripping skeletal arms sprouted from its body right under the head, each ending in three clawed fingers. Four blistered bat like wings, the only dry part of its body, poked out its back, a large pair near the head and a tiny pair near the tail.
The floor beneath the thing was being dissolved as it squirmed, and squealed that hi-pitched drowning squeal. It seemed to have been stunned by the fall.
"Oh s**t! What the f**k is that!" Marshal jumped back pointing the sword at it.
It froze in its squirming and locked its yellow eye on him. Donavan had never seen one; it had to be a lesser minion of whatever Bernardo was trying to bring over.
Its body coiled then it launched itself at Marshal. David tackled him as it darted past, swooping up as high as possible, circling them.
David came up shooting, chasing it with bullets from one side of the room to the other. Donavan grabbed his gun, a second before David would have turned it on him and Marshal as the thing swooped their way.
"Watch your fire!" That was why only gave newbies automatic weapons in desperation. It just cost more lives then it saved.
"Groups of small flyers, just fire flak in the air, they run into it. When their alone always wait for them to come to you." He readied his HK as he spoke.
It swooped around again, this time headed for David, who looked afraid but held his ground waiting for Donavan, who lead it slightly and fired. He had no idea how bullets would effect it, but they did just fine, tearing its small body apart, chunks dissolving into nothingness before they could even hit David who was ducking at that point.
“Come on! Lets get the hell out of here!" David yelled heading for the door.
"Wait." Donovan grabbed him and backed away. The gunfire had ended, but his bracelet was still tingling. Even more then it had for the Spell caster women at the bookstore and the sensation was getting stronger.
He willed the sensation away. D**n. Bernardo was coming for them.
Resident Evil 6 (Team-UN) Let's Play Pt. 2
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