Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
This page Copyright (c) 2016, Karl Leffler
Aurora, Part LVII: Crown
Continued from the previous excerpt
8 Secondmonth 560JR
The Agnieszkan fleet burst out of hyperspace at 0.7 light seconds from Illyria, on a course to skim the atmosphere just as the planet's rotation brought Novy Warszawa below them.
Ralph Vatelius had offered medications to reduce Transition Effects, but the troops turned them down - they were going into battle and needed their wits. It would be many minutes, though, before they had to board the shuttles. Many chose to make the Transition naked, hosing themselves off after the Effects passed, then quickly dressing and gearing up. That would make great drinking stories later... for the survivors.
The ships were coming in hot and burning with all they had for braking, to slow enough relative to the planet so their troops could be safely landed. The Kingdom depended on its now-absent Navy for planetary defense, and there were no significant ground-to-space defenses. The freighters led the way, the warships trailing to give cover. Khameleon was elsewhere. Her landers, with tanks and troops from Lublin and Radom, had been transferred to the lead ships instead.
Venture and Sabrina and one of the Navy freighters were shaping their courses to make planetfall just outside the city. They would be abandoned as soon as they touched down, troops disembarking immediately for their objectives, crews fleeing for cover in case of enemy fire. The ships would be recovered later if possible.
Eridani Trader, and the other Navy freighter, were not capable of landing, but as they approached atmosphere and their speed dropped enough, they started launching their boats. Once those were clear, the ships flipped over and burned again to escape. They would make Close Transits out, just as they had in, hopefully before the Stefanists were in range.
The Illyrian Navy took pride in their gunnery, but they couldn't match Jeffersonian standards. The Agnieskan forces were too far down the gravity well for the Stefanist fleet to engage, from their positions at the "safe" hyper limit. The Stefanist gunners weren't good enough to hit fast-moving ships from most of a light second, and they knew it. Their beams would hit the surface instead, risking destruction of what they were supposed to defend.
The Agnieszkan warships had a different vector from the freighters, toward a position above Novy Warszawa, where they would hover on their fusion torches some distance out of the atmosphere - a variation of the Deitrich Maneuver from the Liberation of New Israel in the Republic-Empire War. From there, they could provide fire support to their ground forces, while the city below would be de facto hostage against return fire - from the Stefanist positions at the hyper limit, the same problem existed, risking damage to the surface if they fired on the Agnieszkans. Without Jenny Blain, Sarah Heusner, or Prrg, the Stefanists wouldn't dare Transition close enough to make up the difference in accuracy. It was a good plan, or at least the best that could be conceived.
The five civilian ships were strung out singly in a fast, low orbit, less than 200 kilometers, just as the Stefanist warships were spaced evenly at the hyper limit. As the freighters and their landers began making atmospheric entry, the two civilian ships nearest Novy Warszawa opened fire.
Their targets were the ships and shuttles landing the Agnieszkan troops. Venture took the first hits, 8MW laser pulses, unbalancing her just as she was about to touch down. Most of the Radom Battalion was aboard. Her captain desperately fired thrusters for correction but she slipped sideways, her landing legs dragging on the grain field selected for the Agnieszkan beachhead, in sight of the Royal Palace in Novy Warszawa, only four kilometers to the northeast. Overcorrecting, Venture tipped over and slammed into the planet, nineteen kilotons sending a seismic ripple outward, felling trees and ripping up turf.
"Abandon ship!" the captain called over the intercom, and the Radom troops fought their way out, using their weapons to blast open hatches jammed shut by the ship's twisted frame. The APCs captured at Radom were aboard but there was no getting them out now. Many of the troops were injured, some killed in the crash, but nearly two hundred escaped and started marching for the palace.
HIMS Dragon returned fire, sending Class-9 Marsten beams into and through the bulk freighter Kerveros, the beams' angle continuing away from the surface - though their passage knocked out power grids and burned out electronic devices in three towns below their paths. From the opposite horizon, Orcinius threw her own laser pulses into the mass of Radom troops, slaughtering two platoons of C Company. Hawk returned fire with her Class-6 beams just as the impressed tanker dropped below the planet's curvature. The next civilian ship, the small liner Antiparos, wouldn't be over the horizon for another twenty minutes. Gryf was in position to engage it first, before it could get an angle on the ground battle.
Sabrina touched down unmolested, delivering all five tanks captured at Lublin, while the navy freighter capable of landing, Rolnik, threw open her hatches and spewed out both battalions Cates had raised on Lublin, their fabbed helmets and body armor protecting them from the dust and heat the landing rockets had thrown up. They were commanded by one of their own now - Cates had another job. Shuttles from Eridani Trader and the other Navy freighter, Kupiec, touched down all around them, delivering more troops and a few light vehicles.
The Royal Illyrian Navy aerospace carrier, Huragan, was still en route to Lublin, with two squadrons of old Komara aerospace fighters. A third squadron was based on the opposite side of Novy Warszawa and scrambled to strike the advancing Agnieszkan forces. The Agnieszkan destroyers and frigates burned them from above with lasers, causing minimal surface damage. Of the fifteen craft launched, four survivors turned and ran.
The brigade of Stefanist ground troops, also based near Novy Warszawa, mobilized to defend the city. It would be a race, to reach useful positions before the Agnieszkan troops arrived. The hovering warships, 340 kilometers above, targeted them with pulse-lasers and kinetic weapons... and held their fire.
From Dragon, Lipinski commanded the Agnieszkan fleet. Now that the landings had been made, from the flag deck he transmitted in clear, by laser through his ship's Marsten Field to a communications satellite the Resistance had hacked. With help from Khameleon's one secret visit, the Illyrian Resistance had taken over the whole Net and was now broadcasting to anyone with a receiver.
"This is wiceadmiral Sir Stanislaw Lipinski of the Royal Illyrian Navy calling wiceadmiral Michal Judycki of the same. I have come with the rightful Queen, Agnieszka, to put down the Usurper and restore justice to this kingdom. Sir Michal, I beg you to stand down and prevent the waste of the good men under our commands."
The reply soon came, in video by laser. The Resistance technicians patched it into their broadcast for all to see. "Sir Stanislaw, your supposed queen is an impostor. Stefan is the rightful king by blood and by law. It is you and your forces who must stand down or face death for treason." The Stefanist fleet had made their Short Transits, as close as they dared, to a point above Novy Warszawa, but offset to get a clean line of fire on the Agnieszkan ships. They were closing to firing range.
"Michal, I know you're not so naive. Stefan is a murderer and the so-called royal family around him are the impostors."
"All the duly constituted authorities of the Kingdom have determined otherwise. Stach, my friend, please give over this folly."
"Sir Michal!" A new voice entered the conversation, and the Resistance split the screen of the signal being broadcast. "If you cannot believe your best student, can you believe me?"
It was Agnieszka, her image coming through a helmet camera from one of the troops raised on the colonies. She was in the same battle-dress herself, pistol and midsword at her hips, helmet removed, copper hair flying, one hand clutching a protrusion on the turret of one of the tanks taken from Lublin. Her other hand held high the Aldritch Eye, glowing blue-white even in daylight as her army marched on her capitol. Beside her Sir Bogdan clung to the same tank, plasma rifle at the ready in his free hand, the sword she had knighted him with slung across his back.
"I am Agnieszka Elaine Caroline Lorentz Kordylewski Aldritch, by right of blood heir to the throne of Illyria and Novy Krakow. By deceit and murder my uncle, Stefan, has forfeited his lawful claim and is a usurper. Behold, the Aldritch Eye, confirming my bloodline! Stolen on my orders from the vaults of Novy Krakow, whose secrets are known only to those of the Royal Blood!
"Sir Michal, we have met and spoken. Once we danced at a palace ball, when I was but eight years old, my feet standing upon yours. You tucked a white flower into my red hair and I kissed your cheek. You know me, admiral! Open your eyes to the truth! You serve a monster who has murdered my family and is leading our kingdom to ruin!"
Judycki paused, but replied, "My lady, whoever you are, your plan cannot succeed. Overwhelming naval forces are en route to the colony worlds as I speak, and loyal ground forces are even now moving to block your path here. My own ships will be in firing range of yours in minutes. You are outnumbered and outmaneuvered. I beg you to surrender before you are annihilated."
"I cannot! My blood calls for justice and my people call for freedom! Admiral Judycki, if you love our kingdom, let us pass!"
Judycki severed his part of the link and the Resistance broadcast switched to a prerecorded appeal by Agnieszka to the people of her kingdom, detailing and presenting evidence of Stefan's crimes, promising reforms.
The Stefanist Home Fleet entered synchronous orbit near Novy Warszawa, offset enough to get a clear line of fire on the Agnieszkan ships without endangering the surface.
Aboard Poznan, Sir Michal Judycki remembered a sweet young princess... viewed the evidence, and the testimony from Sir Bogdan, whom he also knew... contemplated his interactions with what he was assured was the rightful King, Stefan....
"Sir," an officer called. "Enemy now in firing range."
Wiceadmiral Sir Michal Judycki ordered... "Hold."
Kontradmiral Symon Pilsudski drew a pistol and shot him in the back.
Lipinski had been praying to God that his mentor Sir Michal would not open fire. For a few seconds, as the Stefanist ships entered firing range, he felt his prayers had been answered.
Then the beams lanced out and the light cruiser Hawk burst open in a dozen places, venting atmosphere and crew.
"NO!" Lipinski cried... and sent a signal he hoped he would not have to use.
Khameleon had been waiting four light seconds out, crew at battle stations, her Marsten Field at full strength, Drive fully charged, a Close Transit plotted and constantly updated by the ship's powerful computer. When Lipinski's signal came, the crew was given a one second warning, then the Transition was automatically Initiated.
Less than two seconds after Lipinski pushed the button, Khameleon made her own Close Transit, even closer than the Agnieszkan fleet had at the start of the battle. Her two Class-6 and dozen Class-5 Marsten Guns immediately raked the Stefanist warships. Holly Cates was on the weapons' controls, backed up by a handful of handpicked subordinates from Radom and Lublin. Those gunners engaged the rest of the fleet but Holly took on Poznan herself, as she had the pirates at RAS1441, attempting to cripple the ship without destroying it.
Backwards, the Illyrian people may have been in some ways, but in others they were on the ball. Both fleets reacted. The Stefanists split their fire between the Agnieszkan fleet hovering over the capitol and the new threat now above them. Khameleon began taking hits and losing weapons.
The Agnieszkan fleet split too, with the frigates Jaskolka and Mewa cutting their torches and falling into the atmosphere. These two small warships could land, and would have to, since switching from the fusion torches to hydrogen/oxygen rockets would use up their fuel even faster. Torches could work in atmosphere, the Founders' secret starship Aldrin had used them on the day of Escape, but the lower they got the more destructive they became, and the plan was to free the kingdom, not incinerate it. The frigates would not be able to escape to orbit, but if they landed in the right spots, their hundred-meter height would allow their forward weapons to command a lot of terrain. Lipinski and Danner had planned as much.
The rest of the Agnieszkan ships, unable to land, boosted away from the planet to close with the Stefanist fleet, exchanging Marsten beams as they went. As the Agnieszkan fire support weakened, the four Komara fighters from earlier returned, strafing with railguns and dropping cluster bombs. The Agnieszkan troops' armor saved a lot of lives, but a hundred or more were rendered combat-ineffective. They'd only brought about 1,300, and had already lost a hundred in Venture's crash, and another hundred from Orcinius' fire. The strafing run had broken a track on one of the tanks too.
Agnieszka had put her helmet back on, and so was not deafened when the tank she clung to returned fire with its 32mm hypervelocity railgun. At Mach 9, and at four rounds per second under computer control, the weapon easily knocked one of the fighters out of the sky. Another fell in a crossfire from two other tanks. The remaining two, ordnance spent, retreated to rearm. They wouldn't be back in time.
The landings had been a few kilometers southwest of the Palace, on the edge of the built-up area of Novy Warszawa. Now the Agnieszkan troops were entering the city. Lacking widespread personal air transport, the city was designed for ground traffic, just as Krakow City had been by Agnieszka's ancestors. With a grid of streets and city blocks, this necessarily funnelled the troops into predictable paths.
The Stefanist brigade took advantage of this to set up roadblocks and barricades. They had a few tanks of their own, which opened fire as the Agnieszkan troops entered an intersection. The Queen's tanks advanced and returned fire, along with more rockets carried by the infantry.
Agnieszka had learned a lot about military tactics and strategy in the last few years. She knew she had to keep her momentum. Getting bogged down in street fighting would lose the civil war. She signaled Mewa and Jaskolka for fire support. It came in moments, laser pulses and kinetic weapons blasting the Stefanist tanks and troops as the ships continued to descend. Their mass drivers could be adjusted for velocity, to launch explosives on arcing trajectories for indirect fire, just like pre-Escape artillery, so they could still be of some use even if they landed well outside the city.
Meanwhile, high above, the naval battle continued. Poznan was crippled, the hits giving her a push that would eventually lead to an orbit even higher than synchronous, but in several days would plummet back into Illyria. The civil war would be over, and a rescue ship sent by the winner, before then.
Warszawa was proving to be a tougher nut, hurling beam after Class-9 Marsten beam back at Khameleon. The latter's forward Class-6 was knocked out, and all but three of the Class-5s. A Class-6 beam from one of the Stefanist light cruisers cut open one of the cargoliner's torches, costing her control and speed.
Just as she seemed on the brink of destruction, Khameleon, at last, revealed her secret.
When purchased from Cohen's Shipyard in the asteroids of Epsilon Indi, the New Israel system, she had not been a whole ship, but a mere shell, from which all useful equipment had been stripped. She had been marked for scrapping, her hulk to be reforged as ingots to build new ships or habitats.
Instead she had been cored like an apple, her outer compartments refurbished just enough to maintain the illusion of a functioning starship. A trio of used fusion torches were installed, taking their power and fuel from a very different source.
As the enemy fire continued to strike empty compartments, some filled with atmosphere to give the illusion of critical damage, Khameleon began to break up. Huge segments of her hull separated and tumbled away, scattering debris. Seeing the ship in its death throes, the Stefanist fire shifted to other Agnieszkan targets, nearer the surface.
Seconds later, the Stefanist cruiser Lew exploded under a quartet of Class-10 Marsten beams.
After nearly two Terran years, Aurora had emerged from her cocoon.
She was untouched as she threw aside the armored cloak she had worn, suddenly boosting on the strongest engines in the system, jinking that way and this, throwing out electronic countermeasures to break enemy targeting locks, her own Marsten Detectors overwhelming those of the enemy ships. When the capacitors recharged she fired another half-broadside, all four of her battle-prize Class-10 guns, and Warszawa was cut in half, her stern exploding, bow tumbling horribly. While those guns recharged again, the other half of her primary broadside, four Class-6s, converged on the frigate Dzik, burning through the CIC and erupting from the other side of the hull.
Class-4 beams from the destroyer Kurp struck Aurora's Marsten Field, were decelerated to mere lightspeed and became conventional particle beams which scarred, but could not pierce her armor. A single Class-10 in return laid open half the destroyer's side and she spun away, out of control and out of the fight.
In barely a minute more, Aurora disabled or killed every Stefanist warship in the system, and the next impressed civilian ship coming over the horizon as well. As her captain gently caressed her console, she boosted to join the surviving Agnieszkan warships, now making for synchronous orbit over the capitol.
The two frigates touched down in a park and a field on opposite sides of the city, and what their lasers could not see directly, their mass drivers could lob shells into. The Stefanist troops started taking heavy casualties - twenty percent, thirty, forty. They broke and scattered, some throwing away their weapons and uniforms.
About eight hundred Agnieszkan troops remained to storm the palace. Stefan's Royal Guard resisted, but they were structured against assassination attempts, and to some extent against unarmed rioters - not against trained and blooded fighters with modern weapons. Not against tanks. Many died admirably at their posts, but as waves of plasma bolts, punctuated by rockets and hypersonic tank gun slugs, started shattering their gilded pink marble cover, they too turned and ran.
Sir Bogdan took the lead through the Grand Entrance, Agnieszka mere steps behind him, her pistol in her hand. As a Stefanist loosed a long burst from his karabinek, the Queen snapped a 10.4mm slug into his center of mass. He fell, his spasming hand emptying the magazine into the vaulted ceiling. More of the Royal Guard resisted and the Queen's Army, pouring into the palace at her heels, cut through them. Others of the Guard threw down their weapons, dropped to their knees and raised their hands, shouting Agnieszka's name. An Agnieskan captain, his task assigned before landing, detailed his company to round them up and escort them out of the palace to a holding area, while the remainder of the troops continued toward the Throne Room, details splitting off to secure this corridor, that chamber.
Sir Bogdan and the Queen reached the massive, gilded doors of the Throne Room. Sappers ran forward, planted charges, lit fuses, and retreated. Ringing like gongs, the doors swung wide.
Fire from Stefanist weapons poured out, but the Agnieszkans had taken cover first. Now they threw grenades, fragmentation, concussion and smoke. Their powered helmets looked through the result and the troops began picking off the enemy.
Through their own visors, Agnieszka and Sir Bogdan saw the Usurper, in full dress uniform as Commander in Chief of the Illyrian military, the Crown on his head, a pistol in his hand, firing blindly through the smoke in their direction.
Then, as his pistol locked empty, they saw him turn, duck behind the Throne, and disappear.
Priceless seconds flew as the Stefanists surrendered or were killed. Sir Bogdan gave one of them the point of his bayonet in passing as he charged after the Usurper- after his torturer. Agnieszka was a step behind, reloading and holstering her pistol, grabbing a rifle and a spare power pack from a wounded Lubliner who held them out to her as she passed.
The princess and her armsman, now the Queen and her Champion, knew of the secret passage, designed into the palace a century ago, much like the one they had used to rob the Royal Vault of Novy Krakow. They knew it led down, below the palace, to an underground garage - an orbit-capable aircar - a concealed launch tube. As Queen and Champion pursued, deadfall doors fell from the passage's ceiling, blocking any Agnieszkan troops from joining them. Massing tons, there was no way to raise them in a usefully short time. They knew there were three, and they barely dove and rolled under the last as it crashed down behind them.
Sir Bogdan pressed a button on his wrist 'puter. Three hundred meters away, a handpicked demolition squad rolled their charges down the hidden launch tube, where they detonated against the Usurper's escape vehicle moments before he entered the chamber. The wreckage blocked the tube, now the only exit since the doors fell in the passage from the Throne Room.
Enraged, Stefan turned back the way he had come - to find his niece and her protector waiting.
Stefan was a tall man, broad and muscular, quite in contrast to petite Agnieszka, but sharing the fair skin, red hair and blue eyes of the Aldritch line - which sometimes had to be adjusted back in, using imported Jeffersonian or Asgardian gengineering techniques. Having reloaded his pistol on the way down the secret passage, he opened fire on the pair. Fancying himself a warrior, he was one of the few in his kingdom to actually practice skill-at-arms. His pistol was a close derivative of the famous Casetti M169, a 10x20mm caseless slugthrower which was standard Jeffersonian issue during the Republic-Empire War.
Bogdan returned fire with his MkLIX plasma rifle, but Stefan had already dived into cover behind a storage locker. Agnieszka...
...sat bleeding on the garage floor, leaning against a stack of bins, gut-shot.
Sir Bogdan rushed to her side, keeping an eye out and his rifle ready for Stefan. "Majesty!" he cried, his job, his one job since her very birth, a failure. Bogdan was stunned - how could such an old pistol design have pierced his Queen's armor-?
On the floor nearby he saw the answer, a discarded polymer sabot for a subcaliber, high-velocity penetrator, probably tungsten or the like. That meant Stefan's weapon could pierce Bogdan's armor too. How many rounds does he have left? he wondered.
"Bogdan," the Queen gasped through her pain, already stuffing a field dressing beneath her armor. "I'll live. Bring me the head of my uncle," she snarled, baring teeth.
Sir Bogdan nodded grimly. "Yes, Your Majesty!"
Still lagging in technology, Illyria imported nearly all their modern ships and weapons. The Usurper's pistol was Illyrian made, using mostly pre-Escape technology, but plasma small arms were beyond native industrial capacity. Most of the Royal Navy was foreign-built. This chamber held Caledonian copies of Jeffersonian light and medium shuttles. The aircar Stefan had planned to use had been made in, and bought from, the Russian Star Empire.
"Garage" was an inadequate word for the underground chamber, in which several air- and spacecraft were kept - it was at least a hundred meters across, the ceiling ten or more meters high. Parts and equipment provided many places for Stefan to hide. If he could kill Bogdan and finish off Agnieska quickly, he could use one of the other vehicles to shove the wrecked aircar out of the way and make his escape before more troops could raise the deadfall doors or come down through the launch tube.
"Usurper!" Bogdan called. "Murderer! Torturer! I owe you pain!" Stefan had personally tortured Bogdan during the armsman's captivity. It was the false king himself who had broken him.
Stefan was also more comfortable than average with the technology he denied to his people. He switched on the speakers in the underground hangar, speaking into his wrist 'puter, his voice coming from everywhere, not giving away his true position.
"I see you've been repaired," Stefan taunted. "Did they replace all the parts I took from you? Have you tried them out? Perhaps on my niece?"
"Come out, monster, and I'll show you how well I've been repaired!"
"Truly, I wish to know! That Republican starship captain, does he share her with you? Pass her back and forth, take turns? Or do you use her together? Perhaps with that lizard-man also? Did you make recordings? I'd like to add them to my collection!"
Bogdan bit down on a reply - he knew Stefan was trying to enrage him, cause him to make a mistake. Memories of the torture sessions flooded his mind.
"Come, Bogdan, my dear friend, we've shared so much! You know I still have mementos of our time together! I've made a walking-stick of your leg bones, and the handle... I think you can guess!"
Bogdan used the sensors and computer in his helmet to process the sound waves from the overhead speakers, filtering them out one by one, eliminating reflections and reverberations-
Stefan was wearing a sword, and its scabbard clanked against something as he crept up behind Bogdan. The armsman threw himself aside just as Stefan fired, and the penetrator struck the side of his helmet, destroying its electronics.
The visor defaulted to clear as Bogdan rolled on the hangar floor, bringing his plasma rifle to bear. Stefan fired again, and this round smashed Bogdan's weapon, fragments scarring his helmet's visor. Grinning triumphantly, Stefan aimed right between Bogdan's eyes-
-and noticed his pistol was locked empty again. He had only carried one spare magazine. Throwing it aside, he drew his sword, a sabre in ancient cavalry style.
Calmly, Bogdan stood, removed his helmet and tossed it away. His own pistol not forgotten but ignored, he reached over his shoulder and drew his own sword, the blade made by Aurora's crew from a scrap of her battle-torn armor, the blade his Queen had knighted him with, the blade on which he had resworn his fealty to her. He backed slowly away from Stefan, into a clear area of the hangar, from which his Queen could observe the duel. Though weakened and dizzy from her wound, she had removed her helmet and set it to record and transmit video of the scene. The Illyrian Resistance picked up the signal and added it to their broadcast, live.
"Ah, my little niece!" Stefan caroled. "A bit damaged, I see, but still useful. You were always such a decorative thing, perhaps I'll bring you along after I gut this dog of yours!"
Bogdan chose that moment to strike, thrusting with his sword at Stefan's heart. The Usurper parried, the blades ringing musically, a single spark flying. Then the fight was truly on.
Stefan, more than a little paranoid and quite narcissistic, could not tolerate another person as a combatives instructor. Instead he had spent the Illyrian people's taxes on Jeffersonian sparring robots, which he often blasted to expensive pieces with his pistol in frustration. Still, he had learned much of the way of the sword. Once he had gained what the robots told him was some real skill, he used prisoners as playthings, finally having the confidence to test himself against another sentient being... who had been weakened by months in a cage, malnourishment, and beatings.
Bogdan had been instructed in the ways of the sword by kenshi Daisuke Taniyama, Sergeant Major Retired Holly Cates, and the rather famous duellist Prrg. In moments, Stefan knew he was in real trouble.
Forward and back they went, torturer and victim... but this time it was Bogdan in control, toying with his opponent, prolonging the suffering. Not a sadist, Bogdan soon had his fill. He flicked Stefan's sword aside, brought his own down in a sweeping slash, and opened the Usurper's belly.
Stefan screamed in pain, perhaps the first he had ever known in his sheltered palace life. Blood and other things spilled from the hands he clutched to his abdomen as he fell to his knees before his niece, the rightful Queen. Bogdan raised his sword again. Agnieszka, weakening, could only meet her armsman's eyes and nod.
"By order of Queen Agnieszka and by my authority as her Champion," Bogdan announced, "I execute you, Stefan Jakob Tadeusz Komorowski Kordylewski Aldritch, for high treason and murder. May God have mercy on your soul!"
Commander Sir Bogdan Plebanek's sword descended and the Usurper's head rolled across the floor, the Crown falling from it. Both came to rest, as he had promised her, at Agnieszka's feet.
Continued in the next excerpt....