This chapter has been revised
Chapter 20: Help From Unexpected Places
Alistair stood her ground as they came under attack. This time it wasn't just one monster, it was three and abiorugu knew how to work together. There were two smaller males and one large female who must be the pack leader. One of the male abiorugu ran off towards Seiva who was glowing with electricity and ready to fight. The other male hissed and peeled off to stalk Amai who had both her blades up. That left the largest female who was currently running straight towards Alistair.
Instead of running, Alistair stood her ground and kept her weapon in axe form. She had to get her timing just right.
Roaring in challenge the female abiorugu bared down on Alistair and her steps slowed for just a moment as she opened her jaws to bite her. Bracing her feet and setting her shoulders, Alistair swung the weapon up in a sharp arc and straight into the female's lower jaw with a sharp crack. She felt it slam into the bony spikes on its lower jaw and break several of them off. Alistair immediately dove to the side as the female screeched in fury and swung her head back down and swept it back and forth trying to get at her in revenge.
Alistair blocked one bite with her weapon and then knocked the monster back with another sharp uppercut. This time the female took several steps back and Alistair could see her starting to inhale deeply. Taking a quick glance back she saw the male that was chasing Amai quickly dart in and drive her back towards Alistair.
"They're trying to pin us down! They can breathe fire in a continuous stream from side to side," Alistair said as Amai backed up and stood beside her.
"So what do we do?" Amai asked as both abiorugu started to inhale.
"Charge them dead on and then dodge to the side as soon as they let loose," Alistair said as she looked past and saw Seiva firing sharp blasts of electricity at the male abiorugu to keep it away. So far it was working and the monster didn't seem eager to take on the Ivory Lagiacrus directly and instead kept roaring and hissing from a safe distance away.
"Now!" Alistair ordered and both of them charged forward at the same time towards their targets. The female abiorugu opened her mouth to let loose her fire blast but Jasper shot down from the sky tearing at her eyes with his feet. This threw her off balance and she grunted in surprise and backed up as Jasper retreated to a safe distance.
A furious and clearly frustrated scream from behind made Alistair smile. Apparently Amai was taking care of herself just fine which enabled her to keep her mind focused on the matter at hand. Even with Seiva here it was highly unlikely that the abiorugu would actually decide to run. This female was big and if she got into trouble and had to back off then the two males would come in and team up to keep both hunters occupied while she got her second wind.
Alistair knew she wasn't good enough take an abiorugu down but she was skilled enough to make one think twice. Problem was they had more than one to deal with. Seiva was strong enough and intelligent enough that he could probably kill one on his own, but Alistair also knew that he wasn't going to move too far away from Rain or the hatchlings. He wouldn't leave Aureus in the open either even if he didn't like him and the abiorugu would take advantage of that. Seiva was strong enough, but his area of attack was limited. Alistair and Amai could move around, but they weren't strong enough to handle these monsters directly for very long. Thankfully a plan was already forming in her head. Maybe two hunters and a lagiacrus weren't enough to take them down but they weren't exactly alone.
"Seiva I need you to go after that monster directly!" Alistair said as she dropped to the ground to avoid a tail sweep from the large female. From the corner of her eye she saw the male sweep his head down to bite Amai only to yelp and jerk back when she sliced up and left a large cut over his eye. That was definitely going to scar if he lived long enough for it. Still it proved that Amai could take care of herself. As long as she keep moving and didn't stay still for very long then she should be okay.
Seiva snorted in surprise at the words and Alistair didn't need Rain to translate the look of blatant disbelief that was on his face right now.
"Jasper! You protect the humans and little ones!" Alistair continued and Jasper, who was now behind Seiva, popped his head up.
"Will do mighty hunter!" Jasper squawked as he puffed his chest out proudly.
"Then I need you to call Big Blue and his mate Scarlet. I need them here as soon as possible," Alistair shouted as she whipped her blade around aiming for the large female's feet. The abiorugu jumped backwards and spun around throwing a wave of tail spikes at her. Raising her switch axe she blocked them with the largest part of the blade but one spike bounced off and slammed into her helmet snapping her head back. Stumbling backwards, Alistair had to stab her weapon into the ground and lean on it for support as the road and forest around her tilted and wavered. Closing her eyes, Alistair grimaced and struggled past the wave of dizziness. She couldn't afford to stand still and distracted like that for very long. Taking a deep breath, Alistair rubbed her eyes and looked back over to see both monsters staring at her now as if she had lost her mind.
"Well what are you waiting for? Do you want to get rid of these things or stand around getting your scales and feathers bitten off?" Alistair asked even as the smaller male darted in and tried to get past Seiva. Roaring loudly, Seiva sank his teeth into the monsters tail and physically dragged him backwards even while he pumped the other monster's body full of electricity. That was enough to make the male back off, but not for long. Seiva needed to engage the abiorugu directly and draw his attention away or it would just keep trying to go around the lagiacrus. Also with Rain, Aureus and the babies so close, Seiva was limited in the types of moves he could use to fight since they were close enough to get caught in the crossfire.
Jasper may not be quite as big, but he could still blind or paralyze larger monsters if he hit them directly. In fact he seemed ready to do so right now. His blue wing flints were glowing and he made two large hops forward before slamming both wing flints into the abiorugu's right leg. Immediately the monster screeched in surprise as its leg went limp and it started to slide to the ground. Struggling to maintain balance he swung his head around and tried to shoot a blast of fire at Jasper, but the crimson qurupeco was already running back behind Seiva who was now stalking forward quickly thus forcing the other monster to make a hasty retreat.
Alistair tried to lift her weapon but was forced to stop when another wave of dizziness washed over her so strongly she nearly threw up. What she needed was to lay down for a few minutes with her eyes closed but that wasn't going to happen in a situation like this. With a slow shake of her head, Alistair saw Rain and Aureus crouched down and they both put their hands over their ears as Jasper's vocal sac expanded and he let out a loud summoning roar. First for a rathalos and then for a rathian. He did both of them twice before shaking his tail feathers back and forth.
"Big flame wings come soon. Fly fast! Hope have good plan mighty hunter," Jasper called out to her as Alistair focused her attention on the large female abiorugu who was still standing there in front of her. Only now she was starting to shift back and forth uncertainly. She had heard Jasper's call and knew that she needed to get this over with. Alistair knew this plan was risky but if it worked then it would pay off big.
They were technically outside of Big Blue's territory which extended farther north then it did in any other direction, but rathalos would frequently stray outside their boundaries if it meant keeping other dangerous predators from coming in. Abiorugu tended to wander around and they would eat just about anything they could find. It may not be mating season right now, but rathalos hatchlings stayed with their parents for quite a while so it was entirely likely that Big Blue and Scarlet could still have young ones they were protecting. If that was the case—and Alistair dearly hoped that it was—then they would be furious at the sight of not just one but three of the large predators so close to their territory border. At their age both of them would be more than aware of how dangerous abiorugu were and would hopefully head straight for them instead of the tiny humans.
Until then, however, it was up to her, Amai, and Seiva to keep these monsters occupied and now that Jasper was protecting the others Seiva was not holding back. Already he had side-slammed the male abiorugu he was fighting and knocked him back so hard with his tail that the other male staggered backwards dizzily. Amai's quick speed and footwork was obviously frustrating the monster that she was fighting and it was now simply biting and stomping its feet around everywhere in an attempt to get at her.
"Bring it on big girl," Alistair said backing up slowly as the female abiorugu hissed and slowly stalked forward eyes blazing. She switched her weapon to blade form and stared right back at the monster. Hopefully she wouldn't have another dizzy spell while she was being attacked. Slamming her tail into the ground the monster roared and charged forward mouth open and ready to attack.
Alistair pulled her weapon back and was ready to swing it around when another very familiar roar shattered the air and a shadow loomed over the both of them. The female abiorugu looked up as a massive azure rathalos swooped down from the sky, wings and feet talons extended. Big Blue was here and he was furious. He slammed into her side so hard it knocked her clean over and sent her skidding away. Big Blue stayed on top of her and took a step back only to dip his head down and grab the abiorugu's neck just behind her large bony head crests. With a savage twist of his head he killed her before she could even look to see who her attackers were.
Alistair quickly turned around and saw Amai quickly running away as Scarlet, the pink rathian swooped down and killed the male abiorugu in the same manner. Stepping back Scarlet circled around the fallen monster to make sure it was really dead. Then she and Big Blue both looked up at the last remaining abiorugu who immediately froze under the attention of both flying wyverns. He turned and tried to run, but his leg was still partially paralyzed from Jasper's attack so there was little chance of him making a smooth escape. Scarlet jumped into the air and with a few flaps of her wings landed in front of the monster. The male skidded to a stop and tripped over his feet trying to back up only to have Big Blue land right behind him.
"Let's go!" Alistair shouted and Seiva quickly turned back to the others and ushered them down the road. Rain paused long enough to put the hatchlings up on Seiva's back. Then both she and Aureus hurried down the road as the lagiacrus stayed between them and other fighting monsters behind them.
Thankfully Big Blue and Scarlet were too busy with the last male abiorugu to pay attention to them. After all they were likely familiar with who Seiva was and would know that he was no threat to their hatchlings. Ivory Lagiacrus may come pretty far inland, but flying wyvern hatchlings just weren't on the menu. Hunters like Alistair and Amai could be a threat, but not nearly as big a danger as a pack of abiorugu were. Plus the mine they were heading towards was in a direction heading away from their territory. A territory they were already outside of. If they could manage to get a fair distance away while the angry couple was distracted then they should hopefully be in the clear.
Jasper darted back and forth nervously as he ran alongside them. The way he opened and closed his wings suggested that he wanted to fly away, but the glances he kept giving Alistair showed that he was not about to get on the wrong side of the "mighty hunter" as he apparently had started calling her.
"Amai you stay in front and lead the way. I'll stay in back just in case either of those two decide to come back and check us out," Alistair said as she motioned for Amai to keep going. Thankfully the young hunter didn't object. Seiva followed behind her as they rounded the bend. Hanging back Alistair kept her weapon out as he trailed behind the group just in case they needed protection. It was probably more of a risk since she was still dizzy and a bit unsteady on her feet, but thankfully Amai hadn't noticed that yet.
A few seconds later a few loud roars and twin explosions shook the ground. Looking back Alistair saw a thin trail of smoke starting to curl up from somewhere in the trees. Thankfully it didn't last long and the faint smoke soon faded away as she watched. The last thing they needed was to start a forest fire.
However, the sound of wings flapping told Alistair that it was too soon to relax just yet. As she suspected a few short moments later both Big Blue and Scarlet appeared over the trees and circled around before heading right towards her. Alistair had already stopped and let the other get ahead, now she took her weapon back out and switched it to blade form in case she needed to attack faster. A confused and questioning growl came from behind her and she knew that Seiva had looked back and realized that she wasn't following.
Rain. Even from this distance she could hear the panic in her friend's voice.
Alistair closed her eyes as she felt the guilt gnawing away at her gut. While Rain tried her best not to say anything she still worried about a lot about Alistair's safety as a hunter. After that plesioth and the resulting trip to the hospital she had been more anxious than ever. Plus she was unquestionably going to be more sensitive with Storm just dying a couple days ago. Rain must be going crazy with worry.
Taking a deep breath, Alistair forced herself to concentrate. Deal with that later. Deal with the angry wyvern couple now. Unfortunately the earth tilted beneath her again and Alistair stumbled and once again was forced to close her eyes until the dizziness passed. She had taken a much harder hit then she first thought.
Big Blue and Scarlet got to her in seconds and swooped down to land. Big Blue pulled up at the last minute and touched down on the road like a feather dropping to the ground. Scarlet however landed with a crash and a fierce rumble. Alistair heard the pink rathian make a step but her mate rumbled and she stopped with a curious gurgle.
"You remember me don't you?" Alistair said as Big Blue stared right at her, his gaze meeting hers with unwavering recognition. Scarlet had been ready to attack and kill her, but Big Blue still remembered their first encounter.
He knows what a hunter is and what they can do. He also knows that I didn't go after him before and I didn't go into his territory. Not then and not since that happened either, Alistair thought as she kept a firm grip on her weapon, but instead of keeping it up she held it with the tip pointed down at the ground. While rathalos were very territorial and those with hatchlings even more so, they tended to calm down as they got older. The more years they lived the smarter they became and Big Blue had been around for a long time. He was at least 30 or 40 years old. Maybe older. Still that was barely middle aged for an adult rathalos since they were known to live up to 200 years when undisturbed.
Big Blue had pushed her before and she had pushed back, but hadn't attacked him. Now he wanted to test her again. Alistair just hoped that she was up to it. If she showed a moment of weakness than that could easily change everything.
Hissing, Big Blue stepped forward and stopped but Alistair held her ground. So he took another step forward and stopped putting him about fifteen feet away from her. He took another step forward and this time Alistair snapped her weapon up and growled right back at him as deeply as she could manage. It sounded rather pathetic next to his, but Big Blue did tilt his head slightly which showed that he was listening.
"Back off," Alistair warned as she leveled the weapon at him. Big Blue's eyes narrowed slightly and he continued to hold her gaze even as he took a slow, long, and very deliberate step back. Once he did so, Alistair took a step back and to the side away from Scarlet who was still hovering there behind her back. When the azure rathalos took another step backwards she did the same thing again moving a little farther away from both wyverns.
When Big Blue suddenly charged forward, Alistair raised her weapon again and closed the distance so they could meet halfway. Now they were less than three feet apart and she could both see and smell the faint smoke wafting out from his mouth. Standing firm, Alistair raised her weapon until the tip was pressing into the bottom of his neck. One swift motion and he would be dead before he could breathe out a single spark of fire. She knew that and Big Blue knew that as well, that's exactly why he had come this close. A sharp wave of nausea rose up in her throat, but she forced it down and kept her gaze even.
Feeling me out are you? Alistair thought as she kept her weapon in place. Meanwhile she could hear Scarlet hissing and throwing a fit but whenever she tried to jump in and attack, Big Blue would growl and warn her off. This was just between him and her.
"If you don't attack me then I won't attack you either," Alistair whispered as Big Blue slowly lifted his head up off her weapon and backed off. For every step he took away from her she took a step back and slowly lowered her weapon as well. She suspected the azure rathalos already knew she wouldn't attack, but just wanted to confirm it by testing her. Alistair watched as Big Blue rose his body up higher and looked down the road towards Seiva who immediately growled and snapped his jaws warningly and curled his tail tighter around Rain, Aureus and the babies.
Big Blue snorted at the display and turned back to look down on Alistair who glared right back at him. After a moment he rumbled and growled something to Scarlet who stared at him and then at Alistair in an expression so full of shock it was unmistakable. When she narrowed her eyes, Big Blue barked sharply at her and she sniffed and jumped up into the air and circled around over Alistair before flying away. Moments later the azure rathalos followed after her and both of them soon faded into the distance as they headed back towards their own territory line.
Sighing in relief, Alistair relaxed and folded her weapon and strapped it to her back again, but not before she got dizzy enough that she had to double over and force down a strong wave of nausea. Never a dull moment around here that's for sure. Big Blue shouldn't be that much of a problem in the future as long as they showed the proper amount of respect and stayed away from his territory. Scarlet however seemed more like the "kill first, ask later" type. They would have to be careful whenever she was in the area. For now though they could get back to their reason for being out here in the first place which was to get to the nearby mine.
"Big flame wings finish big pack eater. Make her dead. Not bother their little flame's any more. Mighty hunter not want to fight more. Just protect her own little flame wings. Big blue flame understand and fly away," Jasper's voice was so close in her ear that Alistair jumped and turned to glared up at him as he hovered over her left shoulder. "What?" Jasper asked with a flutter of his wings when he saw her accusing look. "Want help? Bring help. Do good thing? Not eat pretty peco now?" he asked lowered his head and looking at her hopefully. As much as she tried to fight it, Alistair couldn't help the smile that spread across her face at that question.
"No, I'm not going to eat you. You did very well," Alistair said and Jasper chirped and wiggled with happiness.
"Pretty peco stay now. Mighty hunters might need Jasper's help again," he added puffing his chest out with pride as he lifted his head and looked over to where Amai was standing. Alistair merely hummed at that declaration. After all he had been all ready to abandon them and fly away before this fight began, but evidently he was feeling braver now that he had seen Alistair and Amai flex their muscles.
"Of course. I don't know what we'd ever do without you," Alistair said as Ginouji and Akairo came running back over to her wings spread as they scampered down the road. Crouching down she opened her arms as they ran up to her and snuggled into her chest. Ginouji in particular was keening and buried his head into her neck.
"Don't worry I'm just fine," Alistair said reassuringly as she ran her hands up and down their sides to soothe them. Akairo's blue eyes were lit up with excitement but Ginouji stared at her with worry and concern. Likely remembering what had happened the last time she had faced off against a monster. Taking his head in her hands, Alistair looked into his eyes.
"I'm fine. No need to worry. Okay little man?" she said and then kissed the top of his head and then Akairo's as well when he started to fuss. Ginouji let out a small cheep and licked her nose. However, he wasn't the only one who was worried about her. Looking up, Alistair tried to get a good look at Rain but Seiva had his head lowered and she had her arms around him. If there was one thing Alistair know about her best friend it was that she preferred to show her feelings in private or one on one if possible. While there were always exceptions more often than not she preferred some measure of privacy before she would open up about how she felt. Alistair knew that and tried her best to respect that. After all she felt the same way.
Standing up, Alistair waited as Amai ran over and grinned at her followed by Aureus behind her.
"Wow! Now that's what I call a good fight! That was so..." Amai stopped and her excited expression dropped down into a frown as Alistair closed her eyes and swayed slightly. "Whoa you need to sit down!" she said reaching out and grabbing her arm to steady her. Seiva, Rain, and Aureus had come over now as well and the large lagiacrus lowered his head and stared at Alistair with his bright red eyes.
"What? Stop looking at me like that!" Alistair's words might have had more emphasis if she didn't have to trail off and grab her helmet again. Her head was really starting to pound now with a headache. Then Jasper, who was still strutting around with his chest out decided to put in his two zenni.
"Big hungry monster send big spikes flying. Mighty hunter get hit bad, bad. Heard big SNAP from helmet crunch," Jasper stated with a bob of his head. He just looked so proud of himself for being helpful and speaking up too. Alistair however, twitched angrily and wanted to smack him with her weapon. He just had to go and open his big beak didn't he?
Ginouji and Akairo looked back and forth between Jasper and their mother curiously. Aureus was giving her a strange look as well.
"Maybe you could ride on Seiva's back or something for the rest of the way. It's only a few minutes now to the mine. We certainly don't want to aggravate your head injury," Aureus said as Rain walked closer and carefully took the helmet off Alistair's head. When she lowered the helmet she could see a long jagged groove in the top left side dangerously close to her eye. One of the abiorugu's tail spikes must have sliced through the side of her helmet after bouncing off her switch-axe when she brought it up to block the attack.
"Big spike come close! Mighty hunter very fast! Use weapon and WOOSH!" Jasper clapped his jaws loudly making everyone jump as he bounced and whirled around in excitement. "Knock big spikes far away! Not get eyes taken out and go blind forever," he added without a second thought as he lowered his head and hovered over Rain's shoulder to take a closer look at Alistair's helmet. The words however immediately made Rain's face turn pale and she ran her fingers ran across the groove in the helmet and the hole it had made through the metal and the tough monster hide.
Still silent, Rain reached up and gently felt the left side of Alistair's head. Alistair could distinctly feel a rather sizable knot starting to form where Rain's gently probing fingers were.
"Ohhh that looks so nasty!" Amai said with a grimace of disgust as Rain pulled her hand away and quietly stared at the light coating of blood on her fingers.
"Nasty hit leave nasty bruise," Jasper hesitated for a moment and tilted his head so he could get a better look at Alistair's head. "Ewwww, head hit bleed lots and lots. If get dizzy and fall then no bleed nasty stuff on pretty peco feathers," he added with a hesitant step away from her.
"You do realize you're not helping, right?" Alistair snapped and for the first time Jasper blinked and looked down at Rain whose face was pale and her fingers were gripping the helmet to her chest so tightly her fingers were white.
"Jasper go watch for danger now," he stated and whirled around to run away down the road where he made a big show of scanning the sky and surrounding forest for danger. Aureus had been standing there but had backed up once Jasper crowded back in. He also looked rather uncomfortable as if he were unsure of whether he should back come over or keep his nose out of it. Plus Seiva was still giving him some rather suspicious looks so the young researcher looked all too happy when Jasper went running past.
"I'll make sure he doesn't bring any more monsters down on our heads," Aureus said with undisguised relief before hurrying after the crimson qurupeco.
Grimacing again, Alistair rubbed her head and closed her eyes as a headache pounded. Rain had always worried about Alistair's safety but now after Storm's death?
Alistair reached out ready to try and reassure her when another dizzy spell hit and the world tilted around her again.
One second Alistair was reaching out to Rain and the next thing Amai knew the woman was on the ground and her switch axe was falling down with her.
"Alistair!" Amai hurried to her side and crouched down next to the fallen hunter. Behind her she heard something drop and then Rain was right beside her. Gently she cradled Alistair's head with one hand and then slapped her rather hard with the other. A split second later, Alistair's eyes popped open and stared out unfocused for a moment before she blinked rapidly and then frowned slightly.
Rain let out a nervous laugh and helped Alistair sit up. Leaning closer Amai watched as she grimaced and grabbed the left side of her head.
"Wait... why am I on the ground?" Alistair asked as Rain pulled her hand away and checked her head wound again. It had started bleeding again. It looked like Rain wanted to examine it more closely but her efforts were hampered when Akairo and Ginouji came running over and shoved themselves into Alistair's face crying and nuzzling her with worry. Even Raiden walked over and butted Alistair's foot with his head.
"Okay, okay give your momma some breathing room," Amai said as she grabbed both rathalos babies and dragged them backwards, one under each arm. Both of them whined and complained about the separation but they stopped struggling when Rain helped Alistair back up to her feet. Still she kept her arm around the hunter's waist in case she had another dizzy spell.
"That's it. I was trying to keep my mouth shut since hunting is your job and all but this is the last straw. You are riding on Seiva's back for the rest of the trip. To the mine and back home where you will lay down while I make sure it doesn't get worse," Rain insisted pointing her finger at the lagiacrus who was still watching them quietly. Amai saw Alistair's eyes slide over her way in a silent plea for help.
"Oh no you don't. Don't look at me. You should know how dangerous head injuries can be," Amai responded as she reached down and picked up Raiden who thumped his tail on the ground happily. Ginouji and Akairo took the opportunity to run back and crowd back around Alistair's legs.
"Back up both of you. You'll get your chance to curl up with her soon enough," Rain said and both of them reluctantly took a step back. "Now you are going to relax on Seiva's back, Amai is going to watch for danger like the hunter that she is, and Aureus is going to make sure Jasper doesn't do anything else stupid and bring a new horde of monsters down on our heads," Rain added and Alistair sighed lightly but didn't object as she was lead over to Seiva who curled his head back and helped Alistair up onto his back. Once that was done Rain picked up Akairo and then Ginouji and put them both up on Seiva's back before climbing up herself.
Amai looked down at Raiden and the zinogre puppy stared back up at her before whining and stretching his head out towards the Ivory Lagiacrus.
"Fine you can go too, just wait a sec," Amai said as the puppy pulled even more. "I said wait!" she cried out as Raiden nearly fell out of her arms. Hurrying over she ran up to Seiva's side and the lagiacrus tilted his head and nodded to his back. "Thanks, Seiva. You're the best!" she said gratefully as she stretched up. Rain reached down and grabbed the puppy. When she put him down he immediately ran up to the base of Seiva's neck and sat down there with his eyes glowing in excitement.
"I'll hold onto Alistair's weapon for now," Amai shouted as she ran back and picked it up. As soon as she did so she wished she hadn't. How anyone managed to swing this thing around was beyond her.
"You okay down there? You had better not damage it," Alistair sternly demanded but quickly received a sharp look from Rain who forced her to lay back down again in her lap.
"Let's just hurry up and get there already. We've had more than enough excitement for one day," Rain said as she scanned the skies above them. Seiva snorted in agreement and started walking.
Jasper noticed and hopped around in excitement.
"Leaving now? Where we going? Mighty hunter need me watch over tiny flame wings and little sparky fuzz?" Jasper asked with a shake of his tail feathers. Amai couldn't help but grin when she saw Aureus sigh and rub his forehead wearily.
"Why don't you fly above us and keep watch? We don't want anything to sneak up on us..." Aureus suggested and Jasper perked up at that.
"Mighty peco keep sharp eye out for big toothy things!" he squawked before spreading his wings and jumping up into the air to take off.
"Now that we have that taken care of let's try and salvage what's left of this trip shall we?" Aureus suggested as the crimson qurupeco circled them from above singing and whistling a happy tune all the while. He looked tired and Amai didn't blame him now maybe they could finally get back to their whole reason for being out here in the first place.
Shifting the giant switch axe slightly, Amai started walking down the road after the others.