Space: Above and Beyond is property of Twentieth Century Fox, Hard Eight Productions, James Wong, and Glen Morgan, and all the other important people that I have forgotten to mention. All the characters, settings and situations from the series itself have been borrowed - no copyright infringement intended. All other characters who were not created by the people at S:AAB, were created by me, and may not be used without my explicit permission. On a side note, I'm sorry that it's taken me practically two years to write this chapter, but I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had written it. I will be posting bits and pieces as I write so stay tuned! Enjoy!
This chapter takes place after "The Day He Decided" and "…and From the Sidelines Watch Me Fall." Rated Pg 13 for mild language and situations.
Chapter 3: Obsession
Nathan slowly opened his eyes and instantly began to feel the excruciating pain that circulated throughout his body. He tried to move, but he couldn't. He tried to see where he was, but there was nothing but darkness. In fact, all he knew that where he was, no one could find him, or hear him cry out.
2 and a half weeks earlier…
Sickbay Section 36-40
June 20 2065
"…You fly I'll fight"… "It'll double our chances of getting home"… "Semper Fi, my friend"…"Neil it's me!"… "No!"… "Take her home"… "Take them home"… "I'm scared"…"I'm so scared"…Nathan West slowly opened his eyes, and stared up at the sickbay ceiling. Realizing that he was still alive from his near death experience, he tried to move but couldn't. Slightly turning his head to one side to see if there was anyone around, he saw that whoever was sleeping by his side was beginning to wake up. West saw who it was and began to breathe sharply… " You went out for her, and you couldn't do that for us could you? Could you!"…. "Shane stop…this isn't you, please…" For a second which seemed forever, all Vansen and West could do was stare at one another; unable to say a word. Vansen, who was still recovering from her injuries, had spent most of her time in sickbay with West. She knew that within the past year she had put West through hell, and although it wasn't her fault, she still felt badly about it inside. She also knew that at this point, things would never be the same again between her and West, but she needed to tell him everything that had happened that night on 2063 Yankee. She also knew that she didn't deserve forgiveness from West, but she was willing to risk everything of what she had left, so that Nathan would at least understand what had happened. Just as she went to hold West's hand, his heart monitor started making rapid intervals, and West's face began to show signs of panic. Shane immediately stepped back, surprised at Nathan's reaction towards her. Just then, a medical team entered, pulling her aside:
"It's okay, calm down now son, get her out of here nurse." Dr. Brown said while trying to calm Nathan down.
"Captain, I'm going to have to ask you leave sickbay." The nurse said while pulling Shane's arm to get her to move.
With a bit of hesitation, Shane looked at West once more, and then left the room. As soon as Vansen left, West still remained restless forcing Dr. Brown to inject a relaxant into his arm. Just as West fell back into unconsciousness, Colonel McQueen walked in wanting to know what had happened.
"Colonel McQueen, Captain West has just suffered a near panic attack. I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask Captain Vansen to stay out of sickbay until he's ready to deal with everything that's happened." Dr. Brown ordered.
"I understand Doctor; I'll inform Captain Vansen right away. McQueen answered.
58th Squadron Quarters
June 20 2065
Shane walked sombrely into the room, as the other squadron members stared at her. Sitting down, with her eyes fixed on her squad mates, she quietly sat down on her bunk.
"He's awake." Shane stated while staring at empty space.
"How is he?" Hawkes asked.
"I don't know, they threw me out before I could ask him." Shane said while continuously staring into empty space.
"What exactly happened in sickbay, Captain?" Lt. Brown asked.
"I fell asleep by his bedside, and then I felt him waking up…The way he looked at me… It was so unforgiving…" Vansen said while looking remorseful, yet she didn't feel the urge to cry.
"Can you honestly blame him Shane?" Hawkes retorted, as Shane looked up.
"Look, I didn't even know what was happening inside my head for the past year, and I know West didn't know either, but all that matters right now is that I need to make things right." Shane replied.
"Yeah, that's great Shane that YOU want to make things right with West, but did you think for a second about what he wants? For the past two weeks, all I've seen you do is go to sickbay! Look Shane, I'm not saying that you shouldn't care right now; what I'm saying is you should stop forcing things, and let West come to you when he's ready." Hawkes said while getting up and then he left the room.
Shane knew he was right. Besides, there were more important things going on right now. She had been cleared by psych analysis, and she had a war to fight along with the 58th. She knew that West would have to talk to her eventually, which was something that was worth waiting for.
Sickbay Section 36-40
June 20 2065
Hawkes sat in sickbay and thought about what had happened in the quarters. Even though he knew that he was right about Vansen, he wasn't mad at her. In fact, the person that he was mad of was himself. He knew that he should have been there for his best friend, and even though he saw that something was wrong, he realized that he had really done nothing to help in the first place. But then again, he knew that he wasn't really the type to pry.
After sitting with Nathan for a while, Hawkes was about leave, but saw a person walking towards them and sat back down.
"Hi?" Hawkes said while looking at the stranger who had come to visit West.
"Hi." Ben Mitchell said while looking at Hawkes inquisitive face.
"Are you going to tell me who you are?" Hawkes asked while smiling mockingly at Ben.
"Oh, sorry, Lieutenant Ben Mitchell, nice to meet you, I'm actually an old high school friend of the Captain's. We just saw each other again a couple of weeks ago." Ben said while extending his hand to shake Hawkes' hand.
"Small world, isn't it?" Hawkes answered.
"So how's he doing? Last I heard, he woke up from his mini-coma" Mitchell responded.
"I don't know, I just got here myself, but if you ask me personally, I don't think he's not going to be okay for a long while." Hawkes solemnly replied.
Sickbay Section 36-40
June 21 2065
"How are you feeling Nathan?" Vanessa asked while she walked closer to West and then pulled up a chair and sat down. West didn't say a word. Vanessa continued: "The squad's been temporarily grounded again. Commodore Ross said that because of the recent events and because we're down two people that we should wait until you and Shane has fully recovered." After saying this, Damphousse realized that she had hit a nerve when she mentioned Vansen's name.
"Nathan, I think that you should know that while we were on planet, Shane..." Vanessa began.
"It's okay, I know everything." West interrupted.
"Could you do me a favour and get Colonel McQueen to come down here? I need to tell him what happened on 2063 Yankee." West replied emotionlessly.
"Sure. West, are you okay?" Damphousse asked worriedly. West looked up at 'Phousse, but didn't answer. "Stupid question" Vanessa thought in her head.
June 21 2065
An hour later, McQueen was on his way down to sickbay to file Nathan's after mission report. Although it had been weeks since the mission, McQueen was surprised at West's sudden desire to do this. He expected West to make a full recovery before talking to him about anything at all, especially what had happened on planet. However, he sensed that there was something more than what had happened that night, which had West worried. The only positive side that McQueen saw in all of this, was the fact that Vansen's actions were due to the microchip that was inserted into her brain. He only hoped that it was enough to help propel his kids back into the squadron they once were.
Sickbay Section 36-40
June 21 2065
"Sir" Nathan said as he tried to sit up. McQueen rushed over to help him. He then pulled up a chair and sat down beside Nathan's bed.
"I assumed that you finally wanted to file your after mission report?" McQueen paused and then said: "Look West, I know it's been tough, so I want you to know that if you feel that you're not ready to talk about any of this, you don't have to right now." McQueen finished and Nathan looked up.
"…Unless there's something more that the other's don't know about." McQueen then added.
"There is," Nathan answered and then continued. "While on planet - when we were in that room, there was an A.I. that confronted Vansen and I."
"You're going to have to give me more than that West, what about the A.I.?" McQueen answered.
"It's one I've never seen before – in fact, I know that there's no other A.I. model that looks like the one we encountered that night." West responded.
"The point is I believe that there's a new breed of A.I. out there. I know I don't have much to go on about this Sir." West then added.
"West, this sounds like highly classified information, are you absolutely certain about it? I mean you've been through a lot and with the severe injuries that you sustained it could be that…" McQueen began to say
"I'm sure, Sir. Being injured didn't impair my judgment. West intercepted
"Okay, I'll put it in your report and let the commodore know about this. And if all goes well, it'll be because of you that we now know that there's a new breed of A.I. out there and that either the Chigs or the A.I.'s themselves are capable of creating more of their own." McQueen responded.
West closed his eyes for a minute "There's more." He said afterwards.
"While I was in that room, I noticed something on the bottom of a piece of machinery. In fact, I don't think that I would have noticed it if Shane had not knock me down." West then looked up and said: "Sir, it was an Aerotech Label."
58th Squadron Quarters
June 30, 2065.
Almost a week and a half had passed until West was allowed to leave sickbay. Although, his injuries had not completely healed, he was grounded until further notice. No matter what the circumstances were, West could not stand being in sickbay for very long. The doctors had agreed that as long as he took things easy and didn't participate in too many physical activities, he was free to spend the rest of his grounded status back at the 58th's quarters. Back at the barracks, the 58th were glad that West was getting better from the ordeal that he'd faced in the earlier weeks, but noticed that his behaviour was odd ever since he had woken up and unlike him, despite his changes within the last year.
West walked over to his locker after a long hot shower. Knowing that the rest of the squad wasn't in the room, he felt more comfortable being undressed. With some skilful, but painful manoeuvring, West managed to slip on his off duty garments over the scars and bruises which now covered his once flawless skin. West winced at the after dressing and reached for the bottle of pain-killers that his doctors had prescribed for him. For West, seeing his scars were a painful reminder of what had happened that night. He wanted to talk to Shane, to tell her that everything was alright and none of them were to blame. However, seeing his scars brought back violent flashbacks each and every time: … "You went out for her, and you couldn't do that for us could you? Could you!"… "Shane stop…this isn't you, please…" West suddenly snapped back into reality when he heard a noise and turned around, it was Shane. Vansen had just happened to walk in and had watched West getting dressed. It was the first time she had seen the physical marks that she had given him. Vansen and West remained silent for a moment, both unable to speak to one another. They knew that this was the moment that they had been both wanting and dreading at the same time.
"Nathan I -" Shane began to say, while walking closer to West.
…"You went out for her, and you couldn't do that for us could you? Could you!"…. "Shane stop…this isn't you, please!" West had another flashback, but quickly responded: "Please, just stay where you are" West answered while looking down. Shane noticed that his hands were shaking, despite West's quick attempt to shove them in his pockets. Shane did as she was asked.
"I-I didn't mean to um…" West began.
"It's alright, I understand." Shane began
"It's not you, I mean it is, and it isn't…" West was babbling, and realized that he wasn't making any sense, even to himself.
"I know, it's ok, really." Shane replied concerned.
"No, it's not." West answered.
"Nathan, I don't know what to do - I don't know what you want me to do, so just tell me -" Shane tried answering.
"I don't know if it's that simple anymore." West responded and then added. "Please, all I want right now is time and space." At this moment West realized that the A.I. model had gotten what he wanted from the both of them in the first place.
"Okay." Shane answered defeated. Shane understood that West needed time, but thought it was odd that West would be so vague.
Cargo Bay 86473S-854735P
July 1, 2065.
"Are you on a secure frequency?" said the man who sat in the dark corner of his office.
"Yes sir." The man on the other line replied.
"This better be important then." The man in the corner said again.
"It is. We have a problem, they're about to find out. We shouldn't have trusted them with this technology, they've proven that they're unreliable and now because of a kid everything is going to be blown open." The man in the Cargo Bay replied worriedly.
"I'm aware of the situation. How do you intend to do to fix this problem?" The man replied calmly.
"What other choice do we have, how many times have we tried to get him to tell us what he knows, yet he hasn't - until now that is. He's become a threat to us." The man in the cargo bay replied.
"That was only because they were stupid enough not to have removed ALL of the labels. I want this done quickly and with as little connection to us as possible." The man ordered.
"Everything's already in motion, Sir. If everything doesn't go accordingly, I'll take out Captain West myself." The man in the cargo bay replied.
"See that you don't have to" The man in the cornered retorted and then severed the connection.
July 1, 2065.
The 58th squadron sat at their usual table. However, instead of their usual poker game, an intense conversation took place. At this point, everyone was concerned about West - it was as though they no longer knew who he was - in fact, they were sure that West didn't know who he was anymore either.
"I don't get it, I mean, I know he's been under a lot of stress, but now he's just scaring the crap out of everybody." Jordon said, while everyone gave him an inquisitive stare. Usually, Jordon kept his mouth shut and found that it worked best since he was then never singled out in the squad, but in this case he just couldn't stand to be silent anymore. However, he was about to find out that he wasn't going to be singled out today as well.
"No you're right, he's acting WAY above abnormal. I mean, we know that he's quiet. In fact, he's been even quieter than usual - but it's different, like he's hiding something." Damphousse added. At that instant Brown had the biggest urge to tell the others what she'd known all along, but couldn't because she knew that she couldn't betray West's trust. She wanted to tell the others so that they wouldn't be as oblivious as they've been for the last year, but she knew for a fact that in some way the person that everyone relied on most for a shoulder to lean on, needed one of his own.
Psych Analysis Room C3187
July 1, 2065.
"How are you today Captain?" Dr. Christine Chen asked while turning on her notepad.
"Okay I guess." West answered while stood in the doorway.
"Please, come in and have a seat." Dr. Chen said and then motioned around her office.
"I don't have to lie down do I?" West asked.
"You can sit anywhere you want, just as long as you're comfortable." Dr. Chen said and smiled at West.
"Let's start shall we?" Dr. Chen declared as West sat down across from her on a sofa. "Tell me what you did today, Captain." She then started.
"Well, I woke up in my quarters, took a shower, dressed, ate and then came here." West answered.
"Did you talk to anyone?" Dr. Chen asked.
"Just a member from my squad - briefly" West answered again.
"Who?" Dr. Chen continued.
"Captain Vansen, ma'am." West answered beginning to feel slightly agitated.
Dr. Chen stopped what she was writing on her electronic notepad and looked up at West.
"I'm to believe that she was the one who caused your injuries, is that correct?" Dr. Chen asked.
"Yes she was." West answered while looking down.
"Was this the first encounter with Captain Vansen since the incident?" Dr. Chen continued.
"Yes it was." West answered vaguely again, but dread what he knew was going to be asked next.
"How did you feel?" Dr. Chen inevitably asked.
"It was awkward, obviously and I felt uneasy around her, but I think that's expected." West answered nervously.
"How do you mean?" Dr. Chen asked.
"Well she almost killed me, how do you expect me feel about it?" West retorted.
"You tell me. Look, Captain I'm going to be frank with you – I can't help you, if you don't talk." Dr. Chen replied and then added: "What is it that you can't seem to talk about?"
"If I do, then I might lose the last thing I have left in my life." West said.
"If you don't then you're going to lose it regardless. You need to tell me what's going on so that I can help you. All I want is to clear you for duty; we can deal with the other things that are bothering you. It's not like you're going to get into trouble for this - I have hundreds of patients that have personal problems - we're in a war, who doesn't?"
"Ok. Let's talk then." West said and nodded approvingly.
Strategic/Briefing Room 432789
July 1, 2065.
McQueen and Ross sat silently for what seemed to be a long time even though only five minutes had passed by. Placed in front of Ross' desk was the after mission report which Nathan West had filed more than a week ago. Ross informed McQueen that Admiral Ratner from intelligence had read West's report and was on his way to the ship. Suddenly, Ross looked up and said:
"What do you think, Ty?"
"About this whole A.I. thing, or West, Glen?" McQueen answered.
"Both" Ross answered back.
"I think West has been through a lot of stress - truth is Glen he's been through a lot, hell, I think he's been through more than he's letting anyone know at this point, but this whole thing with Vansen and the A.I…just haunts him." McQueen said.
"Look Ty, I'm going to be honest with you, the kid's a mess. Along with those injuries that he sustained on the planet, I doubt that this new breed of A.I. will even be investigated further by the brass." Ross answered.
"So you think West is just delusional?" McQueen answered back.
"He's an excellent Marine, Ty - we both know that, but frankly he's had a lot happen to him that maybe he's been pushed over the edge." Glen answered.
"I don't know, West is too level-headed to make anything up. Besides, psych analysis hasn't deemed him of any problems yet. In fact, brass wouldn't send Admiral Ratner out here if West's report didn't mean anything to them." McQueen answered back.
"Yet." Glen answered back.
Recreation Room C-4
July 25, 2065.
West and Brown talked quietly amongst themselves in the Rec. Room while the others went about doing their own thing. West had informed Brown that he had been cleared by psych analysis; however he would have to attend therapy every week until Dr. Chen felt he wouldn't need to see a psychiatrist anymore. Brown, noticed that he seemed a bit more relaxed, and daresay happier since he woke up. West continued to tell Brown his progress informing her that his injuries were healing well, but slowly due to their severity, and that Shane and him had agreed to an unspoken truce between them, just as long Shane didn't push to hard to get him to talk to her. West still felt uncomfortable around Shane, and tried to avoid her as much as he could, but he knew he had to suck it up in front of the others whenever they hung out after duty. West also wanted to talk to Brown about what he saw on planet, but was on strict orders not to inform anyone of his discovery. Brown also kept West updated on what the squad was doing these days. The 58th had officially been placed on active duty, minus West who was still grounded and needed to a clean bill of heath from physiotherapy before returning to active duty.
"You seem better sir, err…West" Brown replied.
"Well, I thought to myself that there's really no point to feeling sorry for myself, it gets you no where. Besides, I can't really do anything about the past anymore, so I might as well deal with it and get over it, there's a war to fight out there and that's what I should be concentrating on." West responded.
"Spoken like a true marine." Brown joked.
"Well at least I'm not anywhere near as pro-marine corps as McQueen; I could never be that anal." West joked back, while Brown laughed. Across the room, Vansen observed the two closely, and thought back when she and West use to talk like that. She really missed the friendship she had with West, but knew that she needed to give him time and space. It was frustrating having to live with Nathan like this she thought. West seemed to get along with the other members of the 58th fine, just not her, and sometimes she thought West was just punishing her. One thing was for sure, she was ready to move on, but obviously West wasn't.
After a bit, Mitchell came into the Rec. Room and joined West and Brown at their table. They talked for a bit - rehashing West and Mitchell's high school years.
"Honestly, Nathan I never took you for the military type. I mean you could've done anything, you pretty much had it all." Ben stated.
"I never took you for the military type either, you were pretty quiet back then. What changed?" West asked back.
"Well, I figure the Marines were a good place to build character, so I joined up. But if I had known that I was going to be fighting in a war, I would have passed up on that idea." Ben joked.
"No kidding." West answered back.
"Anyways, I've got to get going, I've got a mission briefing in 10 mikes. You're still off duty right?" Ben asked.
"Yea, unfortunately." West answered.
"Great, you up for a drink at the Tun later? Ben asked.
"Yeah, sure." West answered and then Ben left afterwards.
"He seemed excited to see you; he's not gay is he?" Brown asked.
"Who, Ben? No, well at least I don't think he is. Look, he's harmless; I use to feel sorry for him that's all."
"Why's that?" Brown asked.
"Well, he was kind of a nerd, and my friends use to pick on him. I felt bad, so once and a while I'd talk to him." West said awkwardly.
"Social suicide don't you think?" Brown answered.
"Not really, I was just always the "nice" one out of the bunch I guess. Besides Ben looks like he's doing well for himself, don't you think?" West answered.
"Yea, I suppose so, but in all honesty I would have never guessed he was a geek in high-school, he's kind of cute." Brown answered jokingly.
"Do you want to have drinks with him then? Or should I just introduce you two?" West asked sarcastically.
"Quiet." Brown answered while blushing.
"Seriously though, he's a bit…..clingy." West responded awkwardly again.
"What do you mean?" Brown asked.
"Ok fine - the guy got on my nerves 'cause he used to follow me around - kind of creepy, come to think of it." West answered.
"Ok, so "no" right?" Brown asked.
"Trust me, no." West replied. Suddenly a messenger entered the room and gave West a written letter. West read through it briefly and stood up.
"I've got to go Brown, see you in a while." West said casually.
July 25, 2065.
West thought it was weird to be walking towards Commodore Ross's Ready-Room, simply because it was a rarity that he would ever find himself there. However, once he knocked and entered he found himself confronted by an entire table of men. "Brass" West thought to himself, and even felt out of place in his off duty garments when entering the room.
"Have a seat, Captain." Admiral Steiner said and pointed to the empty seat in front of West.
"Captain West, I'm sure you're aware of the reason why you're here, but what you're not aware of is why we are" Admiral Ratner said.
"Captain West, as you know, you're discovery while on planet 2063 Yankee has lead to some controversy amongst the brass members in this war, but there is an explanation to your findings. Our top secret intelligence unit discovered over a year ago (about the time the enemy's prototype flyer Chiggy Von Richtovan emerged) that the enemy, in collaboration with the Artificial Intelligence, had managed to infiltrate an Aerotech space station in the Glaucon sector stealing prototype research on new A.I. models. We have since discovered that Chigs in along with the A.I. have built a new model; code name Snider 9634 – the same one you and Captain Vansen have had contact with.
"Sir, what's so special about this model?" West asked.
"The model was designed to reverse the Strataham Virus. However, with that technology imbedded into it, this prototype model is also able to hack into any computer mainframe and manipulate any program it desires." Admiral Ratner answered.
"So that's why the enemy stole the blueprints, with the Snider model, they'll be able to hack into Intel reports, battle plans….How many models have they built, sir?" West asked.
"Intel reports one model has been built and we've been informed by Aerotech that they never actually built a model because it was considered an unstable unit – it has no sense of right or wrong and has the will power to do as it pleases." Ratner responded.
"Sir that sounds like any other A.I. model that doesn't know the difference between right or wrong" West answered sceptically.
"You're wrong Captain, the A.I.'s that we've been fighting against DO know the difference, the Strataham Virus was only a command which gave the A.I.'s the choice of the actions they took, it didn't take away their ability to understand these concepts, although they don't feel them. However, the Snider model is the human equivalent of a sociopath. It knows nothing of right or wrong, hence making it an unstable model, which is why there has only been one made." Ratner answered
"Take the Alvin model on the Bacchus Pleasure Ship for example" McQueen added.
"Well, what about the blueprints? Is there a risk in the Snider model steeling it and replicating more of it own kind?"
"No, because the Snyder model is unique, it has a mind of its own which is separate than the collective minds of the other A.I.'s. Again with this type of technology embedded into his programming it is impossible for any A.I. to figure out what he's doing." Ratner began
"That doesn't answer my question, sir." West responded.
"We also have reversed engineered several A.I. models which have been captured and have discovered that the blueprints were never on any computer system. In fact they were actually written out blueprints to avoid theft from hackers. We have also found out that it's the Chigs who hold the blueprints not the A.I.'s – they did it as a security measure. Because the A.I memories are linked, the Snider model would have access to the files and could possibly build more of it's own, therefore the A.I.'s made an arrangement to avoid that. Anyways, it would be a power struggle between the two types of A.I.'s if more of the prototype models were built, hence the one. We've also learned from Intel that, the Chigs have no desire at the present time to build anymore models until they've worked out the kinks on this one and no one knows where the blueprints are at this point, but we're guessing on one of the Chig's home planets." Steiner concluded.
"Captain, we're only telling you this because you're technically the only one who knows what the Snider model looks like and has had contact with him." Ratner added.
"Captain Vansen, had contact with it too, sir" West added.
"West, Vansen doesn't remember anything according to psych analysis, you're it." McQueen concluded.
"I'm still confused as to what you want me to do, sirs" West said.
"We've come across some disturbing information that has to do with you. This model apparently has not only been studying human behaviour like he has for the past year with you, it's also developed a connection with you, Captain." Ratner responded.
"I don't understand sir." West said confusingly.
"The Snider model has been studying you through Vansen and the microchip inside of her. It's obsessed with you for some reason, and we don't know why." Ratner explained.
"How do you know all this, sirs?" West asked.
"The Microchip inside Captain Vansen's head – Aerotech analyzed it, it's essentially a type of window which allowed the A.I. model to see and experience what Captain Vansen experienced – and in essence developed a bond with you." Ratner explained.
"You're Snider 9634's connection to humanity. It was built and programmed by the Chigs to understand us better. In turn, it's now obsessed with it or you and how you represent it. Captain you're its target. We don't know what it wants from you, but it knows where you are and it's coming for you. This is highly classified information so you know the protocol. You're a danger to the entire Saratoga crew. Right now, there's an ISSAPC waiting for you and a mission briefing. Several MP's are waiting outside this office and will accompany you and Colonel McQueen to the shuttle bay, your squadron will know nothing of your whereabouts or until this unit is either captured or destroyed. I'm sorry to have to do this to you Captain especially when you're not fully recovered, but right now, you're our only chance of rectifying this situation" Ratner concluded.
To Be Continued….
Next Chapter: Obsession: Part 2
Author's Note: Hey Everyone, I want to let you all know that I have created a page for the 2nd part; therefore subsequent chapters will not be added to this story anymore. Plus, I've cleaned the story up a little bit so that it's easier to read.