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Parts 1~4 - Assasination - Warfront - Settling Differences - Gods amongst Men - Conclusion - What once was - Now and again

"Settling Differences"

The sound of shattering glass reverberated around the room.
The young man slammed his fist into another window, breaking it and sending shards further out.
His tantrum had gone on long enough.
"I understand your frustration, but you must learn to control your rage." Deetex commented.

The youth turned to him, then grabbed a cup and threw it at his mentor.
He caught the cup with one hand and placed it on a stand.

"This needless aggression isn't going to help."

"What do you know about aggression?!" the young man hissed through gritted teeth.
"You don't know rage, or fury, or anger, you're always calm, you always have to be in control, of everything!"
He grabbed a chair and tossed it against a wall.
The chair, a classic wooden framework, must have weighed a ton yet he flung it like a pillow.
As it struck the wall it broke to pieces, leaving a large hole in the fake wall revealing a metal layer underneath.

"Well you don't control me, you won't, ever."

"I'm not trying to control you Hazarith, I'm trying to teach you..."
He sidestepped out of the way of a small table that was heading his way.
At this rate the young man wouldn't have anything left to break before the session was over.

In less then a week's time the boy had grown from a fresh newborn into a teenager, given another month his accelerated growth would complete it's cycle and he would be a young adult.
His mind was trying to catch up, the artificially implanted knowledge still settling in.

"You have a great destiny ahead of you, but if you can't learn to control yourself, I can't allow you to leave this facility, you understand that, don't you?"

Hazarith lunged towards his mentor, throwing punches and kicks that his mentor easily dodged and parried.

Deetex decided this was enough for today.
With a sharp and sudden right hook, he punched Hazarith against his temple, breaking the boy's equilibrium and sending him tumbling to the floor.
The punch would have instantly killed any other man, yet Hazarith, being more than that, fell to the ground holding his hands out to catch his fall.
"Enough, I have prepared a curriculum for you, I expect these assignments completed by the time I'm back."
The boy glared at his mentor, but accessed the computer files anyway through his neural link.

"Don't disappoint me Hazarith, please... Too much hangs in the balance."

The man and woman were picked up by one of the Baron's aids in a luxurious shuttle, both dressed in their finest clothing.
Tonight was the night, a fancy party at the Baron's estate and they were personally invited.
Neither had any idea why they were welcome, both had unique skillsets that at times were useful to the small settlement, she had some medical experience and he was a true miracle worker with electronics and machinery, but there were others in the settlement with twice the experience and knowledge.

The little shuttle made the flight in an hour, settling down on the courtyard and allowing the passagers to disembark to the vista of the expansive mansion.
Impressed, he whistled, taking her by the hand as another aid came to collect them.
"Welcome" he had said.
"The Baron eagerly awaits to make your aquintance."

Before dinner, all the guests mingled at the terrace.
There were high profile figures from all across the minor solar system present, one more extravagantly dressed than the other.

Central to them all was the Baron, a self-appointed leader who had made a fiefdom here and was trying his best to manage all affairs.
Not many believed he was actual royalty or even nobleborn, but they respected him and he was in charge of things.

His bolsterous laugh cut through the crowd's chatter, drawing attention then quickly losing it again.
"Sounds like our Baron heard a funny story, shall we mingle?" the man asked the woman.
Just then the Baron noticed the pair, and waved his other entertainers off.
"AAahh, there you are, I was expecting you, how are things?"

"Well your highness, thank you for having us." He replied.
"Nonesense, nonesense, I wouldn't have a shindig without you two, utter hubris, come!"
He gestured towards a table with several glasses and plates of appetizers.
Suddenly conscious of the attention they were given, She blushed and stayed behind, letting Him and the Baron take the lead.

"The director of a local construction company was just entertaining me with something that transpired recently, one of his employees was trying to operate a crane and managed to get cables tied around not only his own crane, but his load as well!"
The Baron let out another chuckle, as he handed his two guests a glass filled with champaign.

"A Toast!" He began, his voice carrying over the entire terrace.
All the attending guests turned and raised their glasses.
'oh boy' the man thought to himself.
She must've realized the same thing, taking a hold of his hand and squeezing it slightly.

"To the happy couple, our most valued citizens!"
The two smiled politely as they joined the toast, but felt very uncomfortable indeed.
Several of the attending guests raized their glasses higher, toasting them.
Some others merely gave a muffled 'head hear' then turned back to their conversations.

"Come" the Baron said again.
"I'll introduce you."
"Oh there's really no need for..." He began
"Nonesense, I insist."

The formalities were brief as introductions were made, the director greeted Him and shook his hand.
There was a very faint glimmer of appreciation in his eyes as he told Him how his construction company had risen to the top of the list in only a few months.
"It's all about the people you see, the personal touch, every one of my employees an intricate part, we lose one, we lose all coherence and the project just can't carry on anymore."
"I would imagine losing a piece of machinery can have similar reprecusions then." He replied.

"Oh sure enough" the director replied.
"But machines can be replaced, broken parts repaired, a broken leg or cut fingers, not so easily mended."
"Unless you have the right tools." She added

"True, true..." The director started, his expression suddenly turning gloomy.
"But finding the right tools can be difficult in these parts."

"Is that why you still use traditional cables for your lifting machines, instead of energy tethers or antigrav buoys? He asked, the conversation was getting interesting and leaning towards his area of expertise.
"Roughly put, yes... I've placed an order for such machines but this region of space is just... "

"Just too far out of reach for most shipping companies to bother with, it's sad." The Baron added.
"Well..." He started, putting down his glass.
"If I could get some spare parts, I could probably build you an Antigrav buoy, if you'd like?"

The Director's eyes lid up with joy.
"Oh I would, that could really help us out a lot."

"Didn't I say it all along? Valuable, handsdown priceless and irreplacable this one!" The Baron proclaimed as he gave Him a hard slap on His shoulder.
He didn't flinch, his body barely registering the blow at all.
The Baron didn't seem to notice, but the Director did, his eyes peeling open even wider than they were before.
"Well, if you'll excuse me, I have someone else I need to talk to, business never rests I'm sure you know, it's been a pleasure meeting you, both of you."
The Director shook His hand again, kissed Her hand, and left for a different crowd.

"SO..." The Baron started, taking another long sip from his own glass.
"So..." He replied.
The Baron finished his entire drink, taking a few bites from an appitizer he was passed by an aid, and turned back to the two.
"So when's the wedding?"
She nearly chocked on her own drink, coughing a few times while keeping her eyes on the Baron.
He too took a long stare at his host.
"We haven't discussed this yet."

The Baron's expression turned to one of disappointment.
"A shame..." he started, but was interupted by another aid that rang a bell.
"Your attention please, Dinner is served in the main hall."

"Bah hah, Finally." The baron said, rubbing his stomach.
"I'm starving, come!".

When the Decleration of war was officially filed, the Colonies were in an uproar.
Never before had two corporations taken their rivalry to such unprecedented levels.

The Colonial governments decided there would be rules to this conflict, effectively turning the war into a game for them.
All participating forces must leave collonial space and assets unharmed.
No faction shall team up with another, should they do so regardless the financially weaker part will be considered to have forfeited their assets and declared defeated and bankrupted.
Finally, they were limited to a timespan of only one year, after which the strongest remaining contestant would be declared victorious and given all the assets of the opposing factions.

Azriel read the official document over and over, finally cursing out load as he slammed the datapad down.

"Can you believe this crap?!" He shouted.

"Infinity already signed and agreed, and now even Aegis Technologies wants in!"

Deetex sat down next to him, placing his mug of coffee on the table and picking up the padd.
"I know, but Aegis will fall quickly, I'm more concerned about the plethora of minor forces scattered around."

"It'll be a bloodbath..." Azriel muttered.
"Worse, it will be a war of attrition, Infinity is by far the strongest adversary and in all likelyhood they will simply ignore the others."

Both men remained silent as Azriel took the pad and read the document one more time, scolding.
Deetex drank some of his coffee.
They waited in silence, looking out the windows of the APOS' canteen.

Today was to be a glorious day, the launch of a brand new vessel, the largest ever build, a super carrier they aptly named the Juggernought class.
One of the APOS' births had to be considerably expanded to facilitate this gigantic vessel, measuring at more then 13 kilometers from bow to stern, close to five kilometers wide and unimaginably heavy in both tonnage and weapons.
It was armed with countless turrets for point defense, batteries of particle cannons along the two enormous wings, but most important were the truly gargantual hangar bays that made up a large portion of the main hull and wings.
Inside the ship was nothing short of a capitol city in space, complete with industry and aggriculture, a massive hydroponics bay sat in the middle, a refinery at the left and assembly plant at the right.
Housing over 500.000 souls, a hundred bombers, thousands of fighters and enough ordenance to crush a sizable fleet, this mostrous contraption was unique.

"Thought of a name for her yet?" Azriel asked finally.

Deetex pondered the question for a second, then snapped his fingers with a broadening grin growing.
"Imperial Sword."
He tapped into the APOS' computer systems, and at the speed of thought all the nessesary records were ammended with the new ship's name.
Several drones detached from the gangtree above and equipped cutting and painting tools.
They quickly sat to work, carving and afixing the name to the side of the main hull, then painted it over in pale white lettering.
It was now official.

An ensign entered the canteen.
"Sirs, they're ready."

The two men flanked the ensign as they headed for the hatchway that would lead directly to the Bridge of the enormous ship.
Along the way several others joined up, a journalist, a photographer, several more bridge officers and finally, just before the ywere about to enter the boarding ramp, Commodore Kayami himself joined them.
"Sifon, glad you could make it." Deetex greeted him.
"Did you get lost?"

"Bite me." He replied, straightening his uniform before the reporters could get him in focus.

Marching along the incredibly long gantry, they saw the ship was still far from finished.
There were still exposed sections of the superstructure, dozens of turret emplacements waiting to be installed, and an entire wing section engines and all floating by ready to be connected and secured.
A Behemoth class cruiser, fitted with fuel tanks, was idling by, two large armatures dangling from behind ready to transfer it's contents to the Juggernought's reserves.

They reached the doorway.
The journalist and her photographer took a position and were recording every detail.
"Commodore Kayami, to you the honors." Deetex remarked.
The commodore swallowed hard, then entered his authorization code in a keypad and the airlock slid open with a hiss.

The bridge was befittingly gigantic, matching the scale of the ship.
It had to be as large, with that many people on board, than much logistical requirements and more important the sheer devestating amount of weapons and fighter-bomber craft on board.
It spanned three decks in total, the top platform was suspended in the middle and connected at the aft via a catwalk.
Deck two had the outer walls covered in consoles meant for gunnery and flight command, and at deck three, another ring with central diagrams took care of the ship's interior.

They made their way to the top platform, Deetex gestured for the Commodore to take his seat, a large comfortable looking chair with amble displays left and right for immediate situational awareness.

"Helm." Sifon started.
The bridge officers turned their attention to him.
"Status on the reactors and engines please?"

The second in command gave the report.
"They've just finished securing the last pylon, we're good to go.

Sifon swallowed again, then gave his orders.

"Release mooring clamps, and take us out."

A resonating surge of power was felt throughout the ship, as all three main reactors powered up.
Gradually the ship came to life, lights flickered on, exposed shield matrices grew radiant with energy and after a long moment the engines fired up one by one.

Slowly creeping forwards, the ship left the safety of the construction birth and headed out, construction drones and assemblies finishing what they could as the assembly armatures retracted.

"All systems nominal, shields online, engines operational, core integrity holding."
"Perhaps you should also check for leaks?" Azriel joked.
"Maybe take some stickytape and putty with you while you are out there." Deetex added.

Sifon glanced at both men dismissively, but didn't respond.

Many reports, condensed and summarized started filling the Commodore's screens, most of which giving green status reports, while some, munitions and equipment related ones were indicating still missing several shipments.

As the ship crept along, a wing of fighters and several bombers flew past it's main wings, slowing down deliberately to give attending viewers a good look at the sheer scale of it all.
They passed the bow, then turned and headed for the landing ramps between the wings, guided by the flight directors inside the bridge.

"That's the last of them Sir." one of the operators proclaimed.

"Lay a course for the jumpgate, ahead two-third."
"Two third ahead, aye sir"

"Take us beyond the orbital lanes, then fire up cruise engines."

The massive vessel accelerated slowly and made it's way past various other ships.
A group of construction drones approached from behind, carrying with them the last of the missing armor plates.
Gently they secured it in place, bolting and welding the rivets and seals.
Another drone skimmed the edges, a series of high resolution scanners and probes testing the integrity, finally marking the final piece with a green light.
The ship, a massive super carrier, was finally deemed finished and combat ready.
Just in time all the drones and crew cleared away, as the ship itself cleared the Almere Prime orbital perimeter.
The glowing hue of the ships plethora of exhaust nuzzles grew brighter as the engines started spinning up and charging.
It took a full minute and a half for them to reach critical volume, marking the completion of the charge up with a blinding series of flashes and enormous trails of fire.
The Imperial Sword surged forward, accelerating rapidly to cruising speed.
Not quite superluminal, cruise velocity was nevertheless incredibly fast, enough to quickly traverse the long distances between planets, moons and stations.
For destinations beyond a solar system the colonies resorted to jump gates, massive gateways that generate an artificial wormhole between them in sequence.
A network of such jump gates had been established truthought the colonies enabling limited interstellar transport.
Only a few factions and companies had ever dabbled with actual lightspeed transit, all ending in failure... Only the Mercury Foundries had another way of moving across the vast gulf of empty space, and they kept that secret even closer than anything else.
The Singularity drive. 
Instantaneous dislocation from one point to anywhere else, impossible to guide without a beacon to lock on to, used only as absolute critical last-minute rescue of escape.
Several vessels had already disappeared on the depths of space because a reckless captain tried his luck.
Who knew how many more would be lost.

One man knew, smiling softly as he watched his newly appointed commodore guiding his freshly christened monstrosity for a run around the block.

Commodore Kayami did not disappoint, he was brash, brilliant and brave, never holding back to tell others exactly how he felt.
Much to the scorn of his peers this included even his superiors, a feat for which both the president and VP had given him their admiration and respect.
He'd be the perfect soldier if only his knee hadn't been utterly destroyed in a freak accident.
'And the perfect subject...' Deetex absently pondered, still maintaining his faux smile as he watched the bridge crew perform their duties.

It took the Imperial Sword only a couple of minutes to reach the inner edge of the surrounding Darkmatter cloud, it's cruise engines cut off and reversed thrust, grinding the ship to a halt.
Sifon had a concerned look on his face.
"Deetex, how wide is this thing again?" He asked.
Deetex' expression straightened.
"In total about 6 kilometers, measured laterally from top down perspective, why?"
Just as he finished they saw the jump gate appear in range.
Deetex glanced at it, then realized what his friend was hinting at.

The internal Almere Prime jump gate had been build to colonial standard specifications, nobody had ever anticipated a ship this big.
The Juggernought class Supercarrier couldn't fit through the aperture! 

"Hmm, damn..." Azriel muttered.
"Well, time to head back and turn the ship to scrap, unless you'd like a weapon with some assembly required painted on it's bow?" Sifon joked.

"Not quite..." Deetex replied, as he headed for the front of the top platform.
In a smooth leap he jumped over the railing and landed on the bottom floor, a few meters short of the lead helm station.
A unique ship in its size, it had an equally unique three-fold helm setup, three individual stations, one thrust control, one for angular guidance and one for navigational control.

Standing at the navigational control, he placed both his hands on the dials.
His eyes flashed their infamous holographic patterns as he interfaced with the ship's computers and machinery.
Lines like circuitry glowed along his fingers and the control panel as he took a deep breath, gazing out at the gateway ahead.

Far away, the Midnight Falls suddenly sprang to life, it's engines fired up and shields raised.
Clearing the berth, it quickly made it's way out, then in a flash it folded space around itself and disappeared.

After a long pause one of the navigation officers exclaimed.
"Picking up a resonance beacon, edgespace near the Liberty border!"

Deetex' infuriating smile grew, as he leaned in further against the console.
"Lock on and fire up the singularity drive." He ordered.

The crew scrambled as they worked to follow the order, a shipwide announcement was made, ending with the sound of the ship's multiple reactors reaching maximum output.
Another drawback in a long list of minor nitpicks, for a vessel this enormous the charging cicle for the singularity drive was several seconds and required more then one emitter array, which in turn had to be carefully synchronised and calibrated.

Glowing panels revealed themselves across the hull, two at the front of the wings, two more along the sides in the middle, and one last one at the very back between the engine wings.
"Calibration complete, ready for jump sir." an officer reported.

Deetex released his hold of the console and severed the connection with the ship.
Looking up at the Commodore, he nodded.

"Helm, takes us through." Sifon replied.

The lights dimmed slightly as the jumpdrive drained massive amounts of energy from the Imperial Sword's powergrid.
All four reactors, the countless capacitors and reserves, everything the ship had was poured into the emitters, making space around them shiver, then contort, engulving the wings and hull.
Several seconds passed as parts of the ship vanished in the folds, finally leaving a gash along in it's wake as it disappeared in a flash.

Revealing itself on the far end of space, the Midnight Falls sat idly by as the vibrant probe it fired moments earlier suddenly incinerated.
An anomaly formed around the blaze, expanding and exposing portions of a massive hull.
Larger and larger the anomaly grew revealing more and more.

A minute had passed before the Imperial Sword was fully materialized, but there it was.
The largest, most powerful vessel known to man to date was free to deliver it's care and achieve it's goals.

The bridge crew started clapping, a standing ovation to both the man who build the impossible and the man who was in command of it.

Sifon took it in, while Deetex merely stood, a gleam of pride in his eyes.
Finally they both had enough, Deetex headed for the doorway at the rear and motioned to Azriel to follow him.
"Alright, enough of this now, lets get to work!" Sifon barked.

The figureheads left him to his command, as they marched down the endless corridors towards one of the launch bays.
The interior of the ship was every bit as spacios as you would expect, an entire platoon could theoretically march down these halls in standard formation, a Tank could roll down and bring it's weapons to bare if needed, as indeed one did during the earlier testing phase.

Azriel looked around, glancing at various details as they passed corners, bulkheads, lifts and crew.
There were still some minor touchups to perform on the inside, only one armory was fully stocked, the rest was still in storage crates of which some, ironically, were stored in plain sight in the hallways.

"Thinking about building another?" Azriel finally asked, breaking the silence between them.
"Not quiet yet, maybe if this one ever gets destroyed."
"That's a very grim outlook, something we should maybe know and worry about?"
"Now you know I can't reveal too much of what is about to happen..."
He signed, then continued.
"No, the Imperial Sword will last for a very long time and will show it's strength soon, but my plans do not call for another to be build. Frankly I am doubtfull we'll find enough pilots and sailors to fully crew another if we did."

"So what's next in the grand scheme of things?"

"We'll continue as planned, I'll take the Midnight Falls back to Almere, you can hitch a ride with me but I want you back on the Black Knight keeping an eye on The Artifact."

"What if we encounter any of Benningfield's crownies?"

"Ignore them unless they threaten the operation, destroy them otherwise."

There was already a shuttle waiting for them as they reached the hangar.
Without another word they boarded the small ship and with all due haste headed for the ship opposite the cold empty space.

Later that night the two of them sat at the fireplace, leaning against one another, watching the warm blaze in front of them.
He had his arm draped around her, resting his head on hers as she on his shoulder.
He took a deep breath.
"I have something to tell you." He told her quietly.
"I love you."
She let out a quiet sign of relief, and bundled up closer to him.
Resting her head and hands on his chest, she whispered in reply.
"I love you too..."

He grabbed her hand and used his free hand to pull something from a fold in his clothing.
"Now I have something to ask you."
Her eyes went wide.
He felt her heart racing, swallowing hard as he prepared himself mentally.
Slipping something around her finger, he looked her straight in her beautiful lavender eyes.
"Will you be mine forever, will you Marry me?"
She gasped as she saw the ring he had given her, a beautiful slip of silver perfectly round with a two thin slithers of Star Crystal perfectly straight and side by side.
A very old fashioned gesture, but the message struck true.
Lunging in an embrace, she hugged him tightly, sobbing with joy before turning to kiss him forcefully and repeatedly.
"Yes!" she exclaimed.
"Forever yours..."

They passionately kissed and hugged, gradually peeling away eachother's clothing in the throws of love.
Little did they know they were being watched from out the window, and from beyond the stars.

6 Months later.

"This is UNACCEPTABLE!" Deetex yelled.

Marching down a row of officers he was clearly infuriated.
"You are Captains within the Mercury Foundries, you are the tip and blade of the navy, the best of the best."

He waved a data pad in front of them.
"And now I hear this, six captains violating orders and engaging civilian targets!"

He stopped in front of the group, looking them all down as they stood like statues in front of him.
"Unacceptable" he repeated.

"With due respect Sir..."one of the captains started.
Deetex flashed a furious glance in her direction, and the captain fell silent, lowering her head.

"I don't want excuses, I want answers and results."
In a fit of anger he threw the pad down with enough force to shatter it's casing.
"Who issued the order?"

The attending captains didn't reply, maintaining their stony silence.

Deetex took a slow exasperated breath.
Clutching his fist, he waved the attending security officer off.
Now the captains looked genuinely worried.

"It is a matter of record that I have no qualms about killing my own men, and I will do so unless the one responsible steps forward this very second."He said with a deceptively calm tone. 
The captains didn't flinch, until one of them took a hesitant step forward.
"They were my orders, sir."

"Captain Melissa Vlissing of the Honorbound, you will remain at attention."
He turned to the rest of his guests.
"The rest of you will return to your ships and will remain there in drydock until I issue orders otherwise. Dismissed."

The five officers gave the remaining captain meaningful glances, silently hoping for the best for their comrad, but assuring her that, were she to be killed now, they would not forget her.

As they left and the door closed, Deetex turned his back to captain Vlissing.
Minutes of silence passed before she dared speak up.
"Sir, they were clearly..."
"Sit down!" Deetex barked, interupting his prized officer.

There was a single chair present in the room, right in the middle.
The bland metal chair felt uncomfortably cold as the captain took her seat.
She watched on as Deetex shrugged, finally turning to her after a long unbearable pause.

"So tell me, why."

"Sir, they weren't civilians, they were Xeno's, known terrorists, moreover they were in clearly marked disputed territory between us and Infinity, ignoring them would have been a mistake."

"Moreso a mistake than ignoring my orders never to engage targets outside those approved by the colonies?" Deetex inquired sharply and without pause.

"... no sir."

"No sir..." Deetex repeated.
"Now I have to perform even more damage control, we're fast running out of favors amongst the colonies and now, thanks to you, I have start preparing my fleet for retaliatory action from the Xenos as well."


"While convenient in the long run, right now it's the opposite entirely."
He sighed.
"When I issue such explicit orders I expect them to be followed to the letter, not interprited on the whim... you really hamstrung us there Melissa..."

"But sir, with respect...." She stopped before she said anything more.

Deetex stared at the captain, waiting for her to continue.
Melissa regained her confidence.
"With due respect sir, some of the standing orders we had to memorize suggest rather extreme measures, I was acting based on that knowledge."

"Carefull captain, don't assume you have all the pieces to this puzzle, there's a lot more going on than even the highest ranking officers are privy to."

"Then why not fill us in?"

"Because what I have planned will change everything." Deetex replied.
"For now, I'm relieving you of your task, return to the Honorbound and await instructions... When the time comes you'll be at the forefront."

He left the room, glancing back only briefly.
"I promise you, it will be glorious."

One of Deetex' assistants was waiting for him outside the briefing room.
"That's your interpretation of enforcing discipline, stern words and a slap on the wrists?" He asked.
Deetex smiled at the brash comment, he cherished and treasured those who would dare speak up so boldly to him.

"No, discipline would be revoking their command. I want you to establish a new group, these six wayward captains and their men will staff it. Find suitable replacement officers for their ships.
Also, have you received any news on the cloaking devices we recently developed?"

"Sir?" the assistant replied, shocked.
"Cloaking devices? As in actual Cloaks? Invisibility screens?"
"Yes Daniel, Cloaks... we have a few pending deployment now, do we not?"

"I wasn't aware of that sir, I thought only house Liberty had mastered that technology."

"Mastered, bah, those primitive trinkets of theirs are hardly suited to feature in a magic show, no... ours are far more militarily feasable."

The two had been walking down the corridor alone, but at the definitive order the assistant broke off and ran the other way.

"Right away sir."

Deetex entertained the thought of a special purpose group, thinking of different names for this special project.
'The Wayward Wing... The undiciplined few... no.'

Then it struck him.
'Special six...'
He smiled again, a genuine grin this time.
The Special Six is what they would be known as henceforth, and they would be given the best men, the most advanced equipment, everything they would need to complete whatever assignment they were given.
Six of them.. Six captains willing to go the extra lightyear, six new ships and six brand new cloaks.
All the pieces were falling together... here... and over there...