Team Atlantis and all related characters and concepts are the property of the Walt Disney Company. Everything else in this tale is drawn from history both real and imaginary.


"That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?"

~Ecclesiastes 7:24

Bantry Bay, Co. Cork, Ireland, 1920 A.D.

The sun slowly dipped beneath the waves, not that anyone could tell. It did not set the horizon ablaze with a blood red glow or turn the blue heavens to a deep twilight purple, nor was the oncoming night heralded by the shimmering Evening Star. The uniform grey of the sky merely turned a progressively darker shade of grey.

Muireann O'Malley couldn't care less as she ran along the sandy beach, her friends Aisling and Coibhe keeping pace as they kicked a gnarled leather ball back and forth between them.

"Me ma' says the Black an' Tans burned down Galway," Aisling spoke matter-of-factly, kicking the ball to Muireann.

Muireann intercepted the ball, casually hopping it from one knee to the other. "Well me da' says if they try any o' that 'round here, he'll shove his harpoon up their-"

"Yer da' is full of shite, Muireann!"

Muireann responded by aiming the ball directly as Aisling's face, pouring all her fury into the kick.

"OI!" Aisling yelled, barely ducking as the projectile went shooting over her head with all the speed and force of a cannonball.

"TAKE THAT BACK!" Muireann bellowed, stomping right up to her friend.

"Shan't!" Aisling pouted. "Yer da' is a drunken liar."

Muireann balled her fists. "You take that back or-"

Something like thunder seemed to rumble from deep below, causing the sand to vibrate beneath their feet.

"What was that..." Aisling asked.

"I dinne know... maybe..." Muireann spoke glancing around before falling dead silent.

Far out in the bay, the dark grey waters churned. An eldritch greenish-blue glow, like the eye of some massive serpent, seemed to move just below the waves before sinking back into the depths.

The three girls huddled in dazed silence for a long moment, eyes agog.

"M-Maybe we should go home?" Coibhe finally piped up, shyly.

"Yeah..." Muireann whispered. "Wait... What about me ball?"

"You kicked it away, you go get it!" Aisling snipped.

"Fine!" Muireann huffed as she began clambering over the granite rocks that marked the beach's sandy borders. She hopped from one boulder to the other while muttering a hushed prayer.

"Oh, Saint Anthony, please help me find me ball and I promise not to cuss at Aisling... as much."

She stopped short, noticing the ball floating on the placid waters. Her eyes rolled Heavenwards.

"Very funny," she grumbled before kicking off her shoes and cannonballing into the sea.

The cold waters numbed her skin as the salt stung her eyes. As they adjusted to the gloom, she noticed something made her forget completely about her ball.

Before her, loomed a great stone frame, at least ten feet high from threshold to lintel. From somewhere deep within, a pale blue light shimmered enticingly.

She swam back up to the surface, drinking in the cool air. It would be stupid to go poking about some underwater magic cave, the very height of inane foolhardiness...

She sucked in enough air to burst her lungs... and dived.

[-]

"It's been a while," Coibhe muttered as she drew horses in the sand. "Maybe we should go look fer her?"

"She's fine," Aisling snipped, skipping stones along the water's surface. "I say we give her five minutes then-"

A piercing scream erupted from somewhere beyond the granite rocks, only to be drowned out by a bestial howl.

Aisling and Coibhe broke into a panicked dash, fleeing the empty beach as rain began drizzling from the grey sky.

[-]

Whitmore Manor, Washington D.C.

Queen Kidagakash Nedakh of Atlantis sat alone by the bedroom window, staring out as raindrops pattered against the glass like a thousand bored drumming fingers.

Water did not fall from above in the world she knew. The first time she beheld rain, shortly after being stranded on the surface world, she had thought the sky itself had cracked open. It had seemed both a terror and a wonder at the time.

Now… she barely noticed it.

Knock knock.

"Enter."

"Hey, Kida," Milo Thatch poked his head in the door. "Dinner'll be ready in about half an hour. Cookie's making his famous One-Pepper-Seven-Pots of Chili! At least, he says it's chili."

"I'm not hungry."

"Me neither," Milo admitted, sitting himself down beside her. "I was actually hoping we could hide in the closet until he loses interest and moves on?"

Kida smiled weakly, she couldn't help but appreciate her consort's sense of humor even at the worst of times.

"Is this about what happened in Paris?" Milo asked, extending an arm.

Kida leaned into him, allowing her head to sink into his shoulder as he wrapped his arm around her. "My people created the Praying Gargoyle to save lives, to protect those who could not protect themselves… yet the Gorlois almost turned it into a weapon of mass murder."

"Yeah, but we stopped her and destroyed the Praying Gargoyle. That thing is never falling into the wrong talons again!"

"That's not the point, Milo. We may have stopped the Gorlois from destroying humanity, and Erik Hellstrom from bringing about Ragnarok, but this world is filled with fanatics just as bad; if not worse. If another lost Atlantean weapon were to fall into the wrong hands…"

"Kida," Milo spoke softly, drawing her closer. "You're not guilty of the crimes others commit using Atlantean technology."

"No… but I am responsible."

They sat in silence until…

Knock knock.

"Hey, You two lovebirds decent in there?" the muffled voice of Vincenzo 'Vinny' Santorini spoke from the hall.

"Yes, Vinny," Milo sighed.

"'Cuz I can come back later if you're… you know…"

"It's fine, Vinny."

"Uh… Exploring the depths of Atlantis, playing with your dynamite, doing the Leviathan with two-"

"VINNY!"

"Anyway, boss man wants to see you downstairs when you're done but… like… don't rush yourselves, okay?"

"Thanks, Vinny," Milo answered icily, as Kida shook with barely contained laughter.

[-]

Vinny sat at the long dining table, tinkering absently with a tangle of wires. Beside him sat Audrey Ramirez, Team Atlantis' resident mechanic, leaning back on her chair as she chewed a piece of gum. While across, sat the chiseled form of Dr. Joshua Sweet. All the while, Obby the lava-dog snoozed contentedly in the roaring fireplace.

"Vincenzo, now what have I told you about playing with explosives at the dinner table?" Dr. Sweet scolded playfully.

"Technically, it's just the detonator. I left the actual explosives in the pantry."

The argument was cut short by Milo and Kida slipping through the oak panel doors.

Vinny poked his head up for a moment. "Wow! That was fast."

Audrey had to bite down on her cap to keep from breaking into a fit of snickering.

"That's enough out of you two!" Sweet interjected. "Milo, Kida, pay them no mind, now! There ain't no shame in it, no siree! It's a beautiful and natural thing, as God intended!"

"We weren't… Nevermind," Milo conceded, slumping into his chair.

"Ah, there you all are!" Preston B. Whitmore proclaimed grandly, emerging from the elevator connecting the main house with his subterranean sanctum. "Where's Mole?"

"We left him in Paris," Milo answered. "He said he wanted to 'let ze moist caress of his native soil heal his wounded soul'… or something."

"Okay, that's disgusting," Audrey piped up

"We all gotta deal with heartache somehow…" Sweet sighed. "But yes, it is disgusting."

"Crying shame, one of my old mason buddies turned me on to something right down his burrow," Whitmore observed, unfurling a copy of the Irish Independent and slapping it down on the table, one small article on the front page circled in red ink.

GIRL MISSING IN BAY, FATHER BLAMES SEA MONSTER

Muireann O'Malley, age 12, missing since last Sunday. Last seen near a beach in Bantry Bay, Co. Cork. Father and harpooner Ned O'Malley, age 41, blames sea-beast for girl's disappearance, though authorities suspect misadventure among treacherous rocks and tides.

"Sea-beast…" Kida whispered fearfully.

Milo squeezed her hand. "Kida, that doesn't mean anything. People see 'sea-monsters' all the time."

"Yeah, like us." Vinny began counting off on his fingers. "We saw the Leviathan, the Kraken, that big tentacle thing back in Paris. Though, technically that was more of a fresh-water monster. I guess that would make this thing like a… like a bay-monster?"

"Wait…" Milo paused. "Bantry Bay?"

"Is that significant?" asked Kida.

"It's probably nothing. But according to Irish mythology, Bantry Bay is where Cessair first landed."

Audrey leaned back in her chair. "Yeah, Milo, let's pretend you're in a room full of people who don't know anything 'bout Irish mythology?"

"Oh right, sorry. Well… according to the Lebor Gabála Érenn, the Irish Book of Invasions, Cessair was the granddaughter of Noah and leader of the first human settlers of Ireland. Supposedly, Noah told her to lead her people there to escape the Great Flood."

"Did it work?" Audrey asked.

"Eh… not exactly. They were all wiped out anyway, except for one guy who survived by turning himself into a fish."

Dr. Sweet slowly arched a skeptical eyebrow. "Yeah... I'm pretty sure exactly none of that is in the book of Genesis."

"Well, Irish mythographers did have a habit of mixing and matching Biblical and pagan sources," Milo admitted.

"But Cessair and her people could have been Atlantean colonists fleeing Mabelmok," Kida interjected. "And this 'monster' could be another creation of Atlantean science!"

"That's certainly possible," Milo conceded. "But-"

"Then we leave for Ireland, at once!" Kida pronounced imperiously before sweeping out of the room.

"You know… I always wanted to see Ireland," Vinny admitted.

[-]

Bantry Bay, Co. Cork, Ireland

Vinny stood on the prow of the Atlantean, rain soaking into every fiber of clothing on his body. Before him, sprawled a crumbling mold-ridden fishing village under on oppressive black-grey sky.

"Okay, I've seen it. Can we go home now?"

"Aww come on, Vinny," Dr. Sweet beamed, throwing his arm around the Italian. "Just breathe in that salty air!" The doctor's nose scrunched slightly. "Lord, I hope that's salt."

Kida stepped up to the prow, clad in a lavender woolen jumper, dark blue trousers, and grey raincoat. She gripped an Atlantean spear tight in hand.

"Milo and I will track down the girl's father. The three of you, see what you can learn in the local tavern. We will meet you later." Kida commanded before sweeping down the gangplank.

"Uh… what she said," Milo added as he hurried to catch up.

"Did she just order us down to the pub?" Dr. Sweet asked, slightly incredulous.

"Eh," Vinny shrugged. "Works for me."

"Last one there buys the first round!" Audrey yelled, practically leaping over the gangplank.

[-]

Kida strode along the ramshackle wooden dock, spear slung over her shoulders, heedless of the incessant drizzle as Milo huffed behind.

"Uh… Kida, maybe you shouldn't be waving that spear around?" Milo suggested. "Technically, the whole island's in a state of a civil war right now. Someone might get the wrong idea."

Kida stopped, tilting her head. "Is that why the people are so ireful?"

"Yes! I'm mean… wait, what?"

"It is the Land of Ire, is it not?"

"Uh… Kida, that's not why they call it-"

"Hail, Woman of Ire!" Kida strode up to a crooked old woman who was gutting fish by the peer. "We seek father and harpooner, Ned O'Malley, age 41!"

The old woman gazed up at the two wordlessly for a moment, before pointing out an old fishing boat tied at the end of the dock with her knife.

"Thank you, good mother!" Kida sprinted off in the appointed direction, Milo hot on her heels.

The old boat almost seemed to age the closer they got to it, the few remaining flecks of white paint peeling from the bare wood. Carved upon the prow was a single word...

Tigress

Within sat a veritable giant of a man with a wild mane of dusk red hair, running a whetstone along the edge of a harpoon that must have been at least six-foot in length.

"Ned O'Malley?" Kida inquired.

"What of it?" the giant whispered, a hint of whiskey on his breath.

"We were wondering if we could ask a few questions about what happened to your daughter?" Milo asked sheepishly.

"More reporters, eh? Come again to make a laughingstock of daft ol' Ned, thinking his child was spirited away by the merrows?"

"No… we…"

"WELL, I'LL NOT HAVE IT!" the harpooner leaped to his feet, weapon in hand. "YE HAVEN'T SEEN THE THINGS I'VE SEEN! YE HAVEN'T SEEN THAT SEA-DEVIL'S GREAT YELLOW EYES WATCHING YER EVERY MOVE FROM THE MIST! YE HAVEN'T HEARD IT CLAWING AT YER DOOR IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT! YE HAVEN'T…"

Kida and Milo leaped back, expecting the drunk to try and skewer them on his harpoon. Instead, he fell into a quiet whisper.

"The beast took my baby girl… the only flesh and blood I had left on this Earth. I've nothing left to live for…" His fingers clenched about the harpoon. "Save for making that monster suffer!"

"Perhaps... we can help with that?" Kida offered.

The giant eyed her suspiciously, as though seeing her for the very first time. "And what would be in it for ye?"

Milo rubbed his neck. "Well… you could tell us exactly what you saw?"

[-]

The Hungry Seadog Inn

Audrey, Sweet, and a breathless Vinny gazed up at the painted sign hanging over the pub door. It depicted something that looked like a cross between a wolf and a giant fish devouring a hapless sailor; the unlucky soul's legs flailing comically in the air.

"You know…" Vinny panted. "That seems in bad taste?"

"Well… Kida said to check the place out," Dr. Sweet shrugged. "Might as well enjoy some o' that famous Irish hospitality."

The sound of fiddle playing rang out from the pub's door, only to be instantly silenced as the three stepped over the threshold. Several dozen wary eyes locked on them from the smoky interior.

"Infamous is more like it," Audrey mumbled as they sidled up to the bar.

"Ah don't mind them, luv," the portly barmaid beamed warmly before turning to her regulars. "AIN'T NONE O' YE GOBSHITES SEEN TIRED TRAVELERS BEFORE!? EYES BACK IN YER SKULLS!"

The rest of the pub's patrons turned back to their drinks wordlessly.

Sweet nodded "Thanks, Ms…?"

The barmaid shifted seamlessly back into a sugary smile. "Oh, they just call me Molly around here. What's yer pleasure?"

"Three pints of your finest larger, please." Sweet slapped Vinny on the shoulder. "Our friend here will cover the cost."

"Coming right up," Molly began drawing the pumps.

"Sure, why not?" Vinny glanced about. "You know, is it just me or do the locals seem a little… tense?"

"Oh don't take it personally, luv." Molly served up three foaming pints. "They're just a little on edge 'cuz o' the Black n' Tans."

"Excuse me?!" Audrey snapped indignantly.

Molly covered her mouth."Oh, forgive me, luv! That's not what I meant! I meant the 'Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve'. Buncha murdering, raping blackguards that devil Churchill sent over to keep us in our place!"

"I take it that's why no one's called in the police about that missing girl?" Sweet asked.

"Young Muireann? Heavens no! God forgive me for saying it but the poor dear's probably safer with the Dobhar-chú."

Vinny cocked an eyebrow. "The dober what?"

[-]

The Tigress

"Dobhar-chú? That's Gaelic for 'Hound of the Deep' isn't it?" Asked Milo.

"Aye," Ned nodded. "A beast like a great wolf that moves as well on land as in water, with a ravenous hunger for human flesh! Me na' used to tell stories 'bout it but I never believed her until…"

Milo was suddenly thankful they'd left Obby back in the States.

Kida was silent a long time. "How do we kill it?"

"We? This isn't a fishing cruise, lass! The Hound is a killer!"

Kida glanced about. Her eyes landed upon a seagull perched atop a barrel, a half-eaten maceral dangling from its beak.

Kida let her spear fly, pinning the maceral to a stone wall as the panicked gull took to the sky.

Ned tilted his head appreciatively. "Hop aboard."

"Kida, are you sure this is a good idea?" Milo asked. "We don't know anything about this creature."

"It took a child's life, Milo. That is enough." Kida intoned coldly before turning to board.

Milo rubbed the back of his neck anxiously as he followed. "I just hope the others are having better luck than we are."

[-]

"At Fiddler's Green, where seamen true!

When here they've done their duty!

The bowl of grog shall still renew!

And pledge to love and beauty!"

The dulcet tones of Dr. Sweet rang throughout the pub in harmony with at least half a dozen patrons, each with a cold frothy pint in hand.

"Amazing what buying the whole bar a round can do?" Audrey observed wryly.

"Alchohol is a beautiful thing, Audrey. It brings people together, you know? Plus it's very flammable." Vinny sniffled. "I think I got something in my eye."

"Yeah, well, I'm gonna ask around now that the locals are a little more... lubricated."

It only took Audrey a moment to spot a knot of spectators huddled about a small table in the corner.

At it sat a girl, not more than nineteen, with short-cropped hair that might have been blonde if not for a liberal layer of soot and grime. She was clad in an engineer's overalls. On the table before her lay a pocket-watch, screwdriver, toothpick and a half a pint.

She emptied her glass with a single gulp, cracked her knuckles then sat to work rapidly disassembling and reassembling the watch with blinding speed. Her fingers moved with spider-like dexterity, manipulating gears with almost unconscious ease until...

"Nine minutes and thirty seconds!" spoke one of the patrons, gawking at his own pocket watch.

"Not bad," Audrey conceded. "Bet I can do it in eight."

The dirty blonde merely smirked, gesturing for Audrey to pull up a seat.

[-]

"It was a monster, all right. A cable's length long from beak to tail. And it came a-bellerin' out of the night, with one big eye like a lighthouse." the old sailor whispered, chewing anxiously on the stem of his pipe.

"That's great and all, pops," Vinny drawled. "But where exactly did you see this monster, huh?"

"Off on the far-side of Whiddy Island, out in the bay!" The old man gesticulating with his pipe in a general north-westerly direction.

[-]

"Seven minutes and eighteen seconds!?" the timekeeper crowed as Audrey snapped the pocket watch's casing shut.

"Nice, you even got rid of that scratching sound it kept making?" the dirty-blonde engineer purred, holding the reassembled watch up to her ear.

"One of the gears had a malformed tooth, just filed it down a little." Audrey shrugged.

The dirty-blonde extended a greasy hand. "Name's Axel."

"Audrey," the mechanic took the offered hand. "You don't exactly sound like you're from around here... Brooklyn?"

"Sorta, my mom was actually from here originally, but we had to leave back in sixteen." Axel tilted her head. "And you... The Bronx?"

"Born and raised. So what brings ya back to the old country?"

"Got an engineering job on a ship. It's good work even if the Captain's a tad... intense."

Audrey frowned. "I didn't notice any other ships in dock?"

"Oh... they're around. Buy you a drink?"

Audrey smirked. "I thought you'd never ask."

[-]

"At Fiddler's Green, where seamen true!

When here they've done their duty!

The bowl of grog shall still renew!

And pledge to love and beauty!"

"SHUT THAT RACKET, THIS INSTANT!"

The entire pub went dead silent as every eye swiveled towards the source of the barked order. At the entrance stood three burly looking British policemen in paramilitary gear. Their uniforms were a mismatched hodge-podge of khaki and deep dark-green that looked almost pitch black in the dim light.

"Black and Tans?" Dr. Sweet whispered to one of the locals, who merely nodded in response.

The three swaggered up to the bar, led by a mustachioed sergeant. "Oi, three brandies, you fat cow! You can put 'em on our tabs."

His two constables chuckled as a flint-eyed Molly brought them their drinks without as much as a word.

Before they'd managed to take their first sip, an old half-drunk sailor stumbled backward, tripping over the long scarf about his neck and spilling his pint all over the sergeant.

"Begging yuir pardon, sair," the old sailor pleaded, fretfully attempting to mop up the spillage with his scarf before a heavy hand fell on his shoulders.

"Not at all, my good man." The mustachioed sergeant smiled serenely as he winked at his men. "In fact, why don't we buy you another drink?"

"R-Really?" the old sailor asked incredulously.

"Certainly! In fact," The sergeant's serene smile twisted into a cruel sneer as he grabbed the old sailor by the collar. "Why don't we buy you the whole bloody pub!?"

Before the old sailor could react, the three had dragged him behind the bar and pinned him under the pumps.

"Open wide, me old sod!" the sergeant cackled as his constables forcibly pried open the old man's jaws. He drew down hard on the pumps, forcing a jet of stale larger down the old sailor's throat as his men laughed uproariously.

"Hey, asshole!" Audrey roared, fist balled

The sergeant looked up, eyes narrowed dangerously. "Bit far from home, aren't ya, girlie?"

"Yeah, well... Que te folle un pez!"

The sergeant dropped his victim without a word before leaping over the bar with a single-bound, followed closely by his constables.

"It's bad enough I'm stuck on this God-forsaken rock, beating some respect into these drunken Papist muck-savages..." The sergeant advanced on Audrey. "But I won't be talked to like that by some filthy... Buck-toothed... WO-AAAAARGHH!"

The sergeant was sent whirling as Audrey's wrench connected with his jaw, collapsing to the ground in a half-conscious heap.

One of the constables reached for his revolver, only for his face to be intercepted by Dr. Sweet's fist.

"Whoops! Sorry! Involuntary reaction! Like it has a mind of its own!" Sweet apologized, before delivering a gut-punch to the still-reeling constable. "Uh-oh, there goes the other one! Bad fists! Stop it now, ya hear?"

The second constable was about to leap into the fray when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder.

"Hey, pal. You might wanna take care of that?" Vinny pointed out the lit stick of dynamite entangled in the constable's belt.

The constable let out a panicked scream as he burst from the pub doors, racing down the peer before leaping into the cold sea. He was quickly followed by his compatriots, the half-conscious sergeant shrieking incoherently as the remaining constable carried him out.

The locals gawked at the three strangers in almost reverent awe for one long moment before...

"DRINKS ON THE HOUSE!" Molly proclaimed, followed by ecstatic cheers from the crowd.

"You enjoyed that a little too much?" Sweet teased Audrey as he attended to the old sailor who thankfully didn't seem worse for wear.

"Eh...Maybe a lil'," Audrey snorted.

"Not that I don't enjoy a good bar-brawl but I think I gotta lead on our monster?" Vinny drawled.

"Sure, lemme just say goodbye to..." Audrey turned towards where she had left Axel, only to find the dirty blonde's table empty.

[-]

Sgt. Harding cranked the engine of the old jeep furiously with his bare hands, as though he could fuel the vehicle with sheer indignant fury. His rage kept him warm in the endless cold drizzle.

"What are we gonna do now, Sarg?" a soaking wet Constable Perkins sniffled.

Constable Clives moaned something unintelligible through his swollen jaw.

"I'll tell you what we're going to do, lads," Harding puffed, face reddening. "We're going back to the barracks, bring back enough boys to burn this entire filth-ridden sty to the ground, and then… THEN I'm gonna find that buck-tooth doxie and-"

Harding's rant was cut short by an ugly wet thud as Perkins abruptly fell face-down in the mud, quickly followed by Clives.

"PERKINS, CLIVES, GET UP THIS INSTANT! I COULD HAVE YOU SHOT FOR-"

For the first time in Harding's life, his voice failed him as he noticed the needle-like darts protruding from the back of each of his subordinates' necks.

Something rustled in the bushes behind him. Then…

Everything went black.

[-]

The Tigress

"Carrots… Why is it always carrots?" Milo moaned, leaning over the boat's side as the former contents of his stomach were washed away by the waves.

Ned shot a glance over his shoulder as he manned the wheel. "Yuir sure he'll be able to handle himself?"

"Milo has great reserves of hidden strength," Kida assured as her consort retched again.

"Aye… Well hidden."

The Tigress patrolled the shallows, hugging the coastline. Kida scanned the sea, trying to peer through the light, almost-misty, rain. "Would it not make more sense to hunt the Dobhar-chú in deeper seas?"

Ned shook his head. "The Hound fears the open waters… it never strays far from the coast."

"What could a man-eating sea-monster possibly be afraid of?" Milo wondered aloud.

"It should fear me," Ned hissed. "After what it did to my blessed Muireann?"

Milo stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Has anyone else in the village gone missing lately, or been attacked by the Dobhar-chú?"

"Not that I know of," Ned shrugged. "What does it matter?"

"It's just that most predators avoid humans unless they're desperate or insane. And those that do almost never stop at just-"

"ENOUGH!" Ned bellowed, eyes blazing. "The Hound is no mortal animal! It's a demon from the pits of Hell, and I intend to send it ba-"

The three hunters lost their footing as the boat suddenly lurched to one side, almost capsizing.

Kida staggered to her feet. "What happened?"

"Did we hit a rock?" Milo suggested.

"No…" Ned whispered darkly.

Something burst from the water's surface, landing with liquid grace upon the boat's prow. Its overall body shape was like a cross between a giant wolf and a shark, all smooth contours and over seven feet long. Its greenish skin was scaled like a pike's. Its webbed, almost prehensile, toes ended in barbed hooks. Gills along the side of its otter-like neck fluttered in the night air. Shimmering yellow eyes peered out from under the mop of oil-slick black hair clinging wetly from its scalp.

"Ancient Kings preserve us," Kida whispered.

The Dobhar-chú's lips peeled back to reveal a crocodile's toothy grin.

Then it pounced.

To Be Continued...