Saturday, 24 March 2018

10 Chapter Ten: A Pirate’s Life

My mother started the Pirate Broadcasts?” Cora was gobsmacked. “And my father didn’t know?”
Your mom wasn’t Aquan, but…” Tai sighed, lowering his eyes. “She was the one person who both sides respected. Don, your father… They both knew there was no path that was going to lead to compromise and cooperation. Your mom… She was the one person they both listened to.” He let out a breath. “Everyone liked her, Cora. And when my mom died, she… Meyrna taught me everything about everything. You’ve seen where Nix lives in Grey Sector? If it wasn’t for your mom, I’d be in worse shape than that.”
Cora nodded, feeling a catch in her throat. “I remember.”
So when people had problems, when Stingray was coming down too hard, or the rationing was too tight, they would go to your mom…” Tai rubbed his eyes. “So when your mom got something… juicy? Something she couldn’t make official, she had to find another way to tell people.”
Mom was married to The Director. What couldn’t she tell him about?”
Her sources.” Tai told her. “My mother was one of them. My mom found out about the Stingray who rigged picks for the Population Control Lotteries, and took what she knew to your mother. She went to her husband. He went to Morgan, who wanted to know who the source was, and my mom was never heard from again.”
Cora shut her eyes. “There it is. The one thing I couldn’t figure out is why mom took you on as her Apprentice so young. It was…”
Guilt?” Tai nodded. “She swore to me it would never happen again. She made her first broadcast a week later. She showed me how she did it, and when she died…”
You took over the business.” Cora nodded. “You listened to me pour my heart out about how mom died at the Memorial and you didn’t tell me?”
Cora, I had no idea Meyrna's death wasn’t an accident.” Tai swore. “Your mom had the transmitter installed, and I won’t tell you where. One day, I get an email from her, marked ‘Urgent’. Instructions on how to broadcast a Pirate Broadcast to the whole ocean. It was over a day later than I heard that her sub had gone down, and… Well, I was twelve. I hadn’t worked it out.” He took both her hands in his. “When you told me your mom was killed by Morgan, for investigating his side business, it fit with what I knew. My guess is, she was getting a hack ready.”
Don didn’t tell you?”
I don’t think Don knew about Meyrna’s Broadcasts, which meant it had nothing to do with our ‘little club’.”
Tai, we need an understanding.” She said firmly. “No more secrets. Not about anything. I’ve got something I’m keeping from Don and my father, so do you. From each other? Never again.”
Never, ever again.” Tai agreed and they came together for a tight embrace. Once they broke, Tai leaned back. “So, now that I’m in on the other secret, what do you plan to do?”
I don’t know.” Cora admitted. “I can’t let my father send everyone to the surface… Not without warning them. But if I- if you put the word out, there’ll be a full on war!”
What choice do we have?” Tai countered. “People need to know about this! All our plans involved leaving the Ark-Hive and not looking back, and doing it before Landfall. What are we supposed to do? Leave a note?”
Cora shivered hard and pulled in close again. “If we could just buy some time, cool things down a bit…”
Tall order these days. The Ark-Hive is filling up with hungry people, and it’s not going to get any better.” Tai told her. “It’s a powderkeg; and all in the name of Landfall. How do you plan to slow it down?”
I’m… afraid I can only think of one way.” Cora whispered. “And it’s going to involve breaking a few rules. You with me?”
I’m with you.” Tai promised. “But people still need to know, Shells.”
They’ll find out.” She vowed. “But you’re right about how a Cell Network is supposed to work. Don was informed of this, so for now, I have to assume The Chief is working a plan of his own.”
They returned to work, and Cora met Nix in the DJ Locker. “How are things at Grey Sector?”
We’re packed in tighter than the preserved sardines.” Nix shook her head. “We thought it was bad before, but… Six guys, fighting for a place to sleep on the same bench, Cora.”
I know.” Cora shuddered.
Do you, Gold Sector?” Nix sneered, and then her face crumpled. “I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Cora shook her head. “It’s a fair charge, I just…” She bit her lip. “Look, anytime you want to get out of there, you can. Me and Tai are the only two people who know about the… quiet place.”
Ben’s already made the same offer with his dad’s old cot.” Nix snorted. “And if I’m honest, I’m almost ready to take him up on it. I get why people put their names down for arranged matchings.” She glanced back down the tunnel. “And speaking of that, I have news.”
Tell me.”
Ben saw a copy of a memo, sent by ULF. Praxis Outpost has announced that they will not obey the Recall order.”
Cora paled. “Are you kidding me?!”
Morgan has already given Randall the order. Identify whoever’s making trouble and Bag them. Your friends there have two days to live.”
Don switched on the jammers as soon as Tai came into his lab. "Did she ask?"
"No." Tai sighed. "Part of me is relieved." He looked at Don. "Why didn't you tell me Morgan killed Meyrna?"
"Meyrna was family to you, Tai. I know you loved her. Almost as much as you love her daughter. If I had told you, you would have taken it out of somebody's hide, and I need you alive and clear. Dealing with Morgan was always part of the Exodus. It's a very patient goal. We're committed to the plan now." Don sighed. "I'm amazed she didn't ask you to splash the truth about her mother's death to every Screen in the Ark-Hive, now that she knows."
"If she'd found out sooner, she might have. Cora knows it’s way too dangerous to start a war between Morgan and her father right now." Tai said darkly. "She trusts you to handle it. Enough that it never even occurs to her that she could handle it herself."
"You don't approve of loyalty?"
Tai glanced at him. "You need her to stay loyal to you for reasons far beyond keeping everything status quo. Cora could be running the Ark-Hive inside a week if she had your kind of ambition." He smirked. "And I'm not entirely sure that you aren't counting on that."
"Let's be honest here, Tai." Don countered. "If Cora ever did show she had the 'killer instinct', she'd be Director very quickly, and she'd lose you soon after. A Green Sector Sub Driver and the Director's Daughter is bad enough, but if she actually ascended?"
"I know." Tai said softly. “If Cora becomes Director, I lose her forever.”
68 Days To Landfall
Cora had spent days putting the pieces of her plan together. People had kept trickling into the Ark-Hive. The rationing grew tighter with every new mouth to feed, and the tension grew higher and higher. Stingray guards at the kitchens and storage bays were doubled, which only made it easier for thieves to steal rations from the living quarters.
You’re not serious!” Lisa raged.
You got your ration. Out of line.” The Stingray guard beside the cafeteria line dismissed her instantly.
This is not a ration. This is less than we feed the-”
Out. Of. Line.”
Lisa was about to fight him on it, when she heard the entire line of people catcalling and shouting her down. The line was out the door, and probably halfway down the corridor; every one of them with hungry eyes. There were more people in line every day, more guards behind the counter to match.
Cowed, Lisa put her head down and looked for a place to sit. There wasn’t one. The Mess was packed out completely, wall to wall people, most of them hunched over their trays like someone was going to attack them for crumbs any second.
Three days of portions getting smaller with each meal. Lisa reflected. I might be willing to do exactly that soon.
The pinch in her stomach was getting harder to ignore. She was fighting the urge to inhale the ration on her tray. She chewed each carefully sliced portion until it was tasteless mush in her mouth, looking around for someone in particular.
If you’re looking for Tony, you won’t find him.” Alison said in her ear, her own tray in hand.
What? He change shifts?” Lisa was surprised that Alison had come so close without her noticing. “He didn’t say anything.”
He’s not on shift. He’s… confined to Quarters.” Alison told her gently. “He tried to steal a ration from Blue Sector. Got five lashes, and was sent to his room without supper.”
Lisa winced hard. “He won’t heal without food.” She looked at the laughably small bites on her tray. “In his quarters, you say?” She picked up the few scraps that remained and hid them in her hand. “Well, I wasn’t really hungry anyway.”
Yeah.” Alison said dryly as she licked her own tray clean of every smear. “Me neither.”
67 Days To Landfall
The Director was keeping a firm grip on things, personally marching the corridors, keeping the Stingrays in line. He had the schedules memorized enough to know when every sub was due to arrive, and noted with some dismay that two submarines were leaving, when one should be arriving, and he strode through the Observation Dome.
He went over to the nearest comm line and picked up the handset. “Control Room.” He called. “Status?”
We’ve put your latest Directive into effect, sir. Recall order has been rescinded.”
The Director almost climbed through the handset. “WHAT?!”
Director Bridger swept into the Conference Room like an angry shark, and his eyes went right to Cora. “Cora, I am-”
Oh good, the Director is here.” Cora cut him off, not even looking at him, and speaking quickly. “We can now start the meeting.”
The Director blinked, and suddenly noticed the other people in the room. Cora had summoned the entire Board of Directors. “What’s going on?”
I know you were in a rush, dad; but I thought it was important that we include the rest of the Ark-Hive Leadership in this.” Cora turned to the Board. “Gentlemen, we’ve found a new food supply. One that can cover everyone with minimal processing.”
It was proof of how tight things had been getting that the usually implacable, unreadable leaders of the Ark-Hive burst into relieved applause, almost weeping at the news.
While the Director fought to find the words, Cora took advantage and filled him in. “On orders from The Director, I conducted an exhaustive search of all the records we had, concerning underwater resources. Specifically, edible ones. I found a passing reference to some records made by a prospector who was looking for good Outpost Locations over a century ago. I made a note of several coordinates he made in his log, and dispatched Dolphin Teams to explore those areas.”
Cora had worked around the words ‘ocean solutions’, and everyone knew it, but she was hoping they were hungry enough not to care.
What did they find?” Don asked, and only Cora detected the note of warning in his voice.
Dwarf Kelp.” Cora declared. “In seven different locations. Acres of the stuff.”
What in the world is Dwarf Kelp?” Amos asked.
It’s a gene-spliced version of regular sea kelp that we experimented with back when the Ark-Hive was newly established.” Don reported. “We were planting everything we could think of in every place we could find back then.” He looked to Cora. “I was under the impression that they didn’t survive for long.”
Well, apparently some of it did.” Cora reported. “And what’s more, because it’s a hacked species, it doesn’t take nearly as much processing to make edible. I’ve checked the maps, it’ll be faster to have everyone collect their own food supply out at the Outposts than to keep them all here. The relevant stats have been sent to each of you.” There was a pause as everyone checked their TABBs, looking for the information on quantity, harvest yields... Cora let them look and gestured to her father. “Apologies for not informing you sooner, but with the situation so dire, we thought it best to send people home as quickly as possible.”
The Director plastered a smile on his face. “Well, it was a good dress rehearsal for the future. This sudden bounty means we’re back on schedule again. The temporary recall order, thankfully unnecessary now, has given us plenty of information on how to organize and execute the Landfall operation.” He looked to his daughter. “But you shouldn’t be so modest, dear. Cora has worked tirelessly in two different jobs during this whole affair, scouring every record; and managing the dreaded Resource Freeze at the same time. She’s no doubt had to turn away more requests for help than she could accept; and I want everyone in this room to know that it’s only thanks to her hard work that we’ve rescued thousands of people from starvation.”
Cora received a standing ovation from the entire Board. She couldn’t help but glance at Don, who’s eyes were blazing at her, no matter how hard he clapped. She looked back at her father, who was watching Morgan.
The Stingray Commander was the only one not clapping.
You didn’t have to give me the credit.” Cora said later, when she and her father were alone. “I know I pulled a fast one on you with this.”
I’m not pleased, but you needed the credit.” Her father told her. “I need political capital with those people for one thing only; and that’s to make sure your transition to power is a done deal.” He glared. “I would have appreciated a heads up that my orders had been changed.”
Dad, every hour that passed-”
I know.” The Director sighed. “Listen, if you’re any judge of character you’ll know that Morgan didn’t buy your story about finding edible plants in the old records. He’s going to have his eye on you now. Morgan is a well trained shark. He’ll bite who you tell him to, but if you don’t keep him on a tight leash, he’ll turn on you.”
Cora knew she shouldn’t ask, but she couldn’t help herself. “And you, dad? Did you believe me?”
Poring over the files? Please.” The Director scoffed. “I know you, Cora. You have more sub time than any two other pilots your age. I’m sure you ran across all sorts of things out there in your travels. That, plus your unnaturally close bond with the Dolphins, and I’m sure you have a better grasp of the Dark Water than our Sonar posts ever will.”
Cora wasn’t sure if the answer should make her feel safer or more scared. At least he isn’t suspicious… Which is almost worse.
Cora waited as long as she could, and went down to see Don. She had blatantly disobeyed him for the first time in her life, and gotten a standing ovation for it, from the people that were the greatest risk.
Corwin saw her coming and smiled, rubbing his belly discreetly. Cora winced. He already knew. Word was getting out. She was waved into Don’s Lab, and shut the door behind her. “Don?”
Don was facing his terminal, and came to attention at the sound of her voice, not turning to look at her. Cora glanced at the control on his panel that would mute the microphones. He always pushed the button as soon as she came in; even if it was just for chit-chat.
This time, Don didn’t even look at the button. “Miss Bridger. What can I do for you today?”
He’s mad. Cora let out a breath. “Always on duty.” She said casually, mindful of the omnipresent ears of Stringray. “Um… I was hoping we could figure out how cancelling the Recall Order changes things for the schedule.”
Well, I have good news for The Director. Much of the space I was going to need for culturing the surface ecosystems was being taken over for Outpost Refugees. I can get back on schedule inside two weeks now.” He finally looked at her. “You’ve won a huge victory in the march for Landfall, Miss Bridger.”
Cora translated in her head: You helped them, and you know their ultimate goal is to wipe us out.
Cora felt her heart crack a little. “Well, it’s made things better for all concerned. Beyond that, what do I know?” She tried to make it sound like she was waving off the compliment.
Translation: I had to. People were getting sick, and I didn’t know what you were doing.
Well, I’ll let the Director know what kind of ecosystem we can conjure from nothing once we get back to the Surface, but it will depend largely on what we find when we get up there.” Don said. “Our surface probes say that plant and insect life has returned, but animal life is still debatable.” He turned back to his console. “Fortunately, the bacterial and amino acid samples have given us enough to adapt the crops we have in the Repositories. Animals will have to come next, but we’ll get there.” He didn’t look back at her. “I hate to say it, but with the Recall filling up every spare room, there was less that I could do. It was almost a vacation on my end.”
Translation: I was able to prepare for the Exodus until you put Landfall back on schedule.
You know, the only reason we got this far was because of you and the ones before you.” Cora said kindly. “I read somewhere that the majority of the atmosphere comes from plant life that lives in the ocean. Centuries of work restoring the oceans was the only way to restore the surface too. I get that we all wrestle over every last scrap down here, but I promise, I’ll never let them forget the work you guys do.”
Translation: We can both declare victory here.
Nice of you to say, but that’s the sort of thing history decides, Ma’am.” Don said coolly. “Anyway, quit fussing over an old man. Get out there, sign some autographs, shake some hands. I would have thought you have many people eager for your attentions right now.”
Translation: You’re the only winner today, traitor.
65 Days To Landfall
Word had leaked out quickly, and Cora was a hero again. The rumors that she was being groomed for leadership grew, as well as the realization that they weren’t just rumors. Cora did her best not to get sidetracked. Most of the Board of Directors had resented her at first, but quickly read the situation and began being very friendly to The Director’s Daughter. The math had changed, and those that had their own plans for leadership were quickly realizing that they didn’t have a chance.
Don had avoided Cora and retreated to his lab. He had to prepare surface species in time for Exodus without risking anyone that went to the surface. The Land Colonies would likely be living off their greenhouse crops for a few months at least, until they had a better idea of what was up there.
The Recall was over, at least for a time. Most people were grateful to leave, suddenly aware of what Landfall would be like, if only for a little while. There was a feeling of having dodged disaster only barely, and only because of Cora Bridger.
But not everyone was so willing to declare victory and move on so quickly.
So when do we tell people?” Tai asked immediately as Cora came into their hiding place.
How did it go with Don?” Cora blew past that.
I nearly had to hit him with one of those Stingray Shock-Sticks, but I got him calmed down.” Tai promised. “When are we going to tell people the truth about Landfall?”
Tai, we just got a whole lot more breathing room, relax.”
It’s a stop-gap measure, and you know it. The Director has taken all this scheming and maneuvering and decided that it makes no difference to his schedule, so we have to tell people what their options really are.”
And we will.”
When?” He flat out demanded.
Cora jumped at his vehemence, and then suddenly put it together. It was less than a week since he’d admitted that his mother had been killed in a similar circumstance: A few people near the top knew a terrible secret, and other people were going to die as a result. Tai had taken it upon himself to shine a spotlight on the dirty secrets, and now he was holding back, because of her, just as his mom had done for Meyrna Bridger.
This isn’t history repeating.” She promised him softly. “But I have to buy some time. Morgan is already looking my way after last week. Maybe five people on the Ark-Hive have access to this information, and you aren’t one of them.”
So establish an alibi.” Tai told her. “I can do something to the data that gives a specific time or place, and then you just have to be elsewhere, and have everyone know it.”
I will, but not just yet.” He wasn’t happy, and she made sure he was listening. “There will be plenty of time for people to make a decision, love. I don’t want anyone to die.” She moved on. “Now, how bad was it with Don, really?”
He’s hot enough to boil seawater.” Tai sighed. “How did you think he’d be? He gave you an order to do the exact opposite of what you did.”
I couldn’t let it go the way it was.”
He wondered what other orders of his you’d overruled.”
That’s easy. None of them.” Cora snapped. “I’ve always known that I wasn’t in the loop on everything, and sometimes I just had to trust Don’s judgement. And that’s fine… But I had a conversation with Don during the shortages… I didn’t like what he was implying, Tai.”
Do you really think Don would let all those people suffer?”
I think he’s as determined to see ‘the enemy’ as my father is. I think he’s looking out for his own team to the exclusion of everyone else.”
There is a reason for that.” Tai reminded her. “If we thought anyone would be okay with the idea that we were Aquans, we wouldn’t worry so much about anyone finding out.”
I know, but that doesn’t make them ‘The Enemy’ and it doesn’t mean we want them to starve.” Cora told him.
Look at it this way: If Don had planned to tell people where to find food after we left, then it meant there would be nobody to chase us.” Tai said. “Keeping them healthy now means we’ve just lost our headstart for the Exodus.”
Was that Don’s plan?” Cora dared. “Because I don’t know, do you?”
No, I don’t; and what’s done is done; so I don’t care. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.” He pressed on. “What about the Landfall Trap? Don knows just as much as your father does, and he hasn’t made a peep about telling anyone. So when do we do it?”
I’m not entirely sure that Don is even against the idea of everyone who isn’t on the team being left up there to…” Cora couldn’t finish the sentence. “This is Don. We know him. We love him. We trust him… mostly. The things I don’t trust I can make allowances for, and I just overruled him once. I have to believe that Don will do the right thing.”
Tai scowled. “Is that why you’re hesitating? Because you want to believe that Don will announce it himself? Or for that matter, than your father will?”
Cora bit her lip. “I have faith, Tai. I know you don’t, but I have to. At least, for a while yet. This isn’t what happened with your mom. I promise, we’ll break the news in time.” She rested a hand over his heart. “And while I’m on the subject, I want you to know that I still trust you implicitly. More than anyone else. Because you could have told the world what I told you about my mom, and you didn’t. You could have told everyone about the Kelp Farms, and you didn’t. I do trust you with my secrets.”
This isn’t like any other secret I’ve outed before, Shells.” Tai said quietly.
Tai, that’s why we can’t just tell everyone.” Cora insisted. “What happens when word gets out? It’s a hull breach waiting to happen.” She was about to say more when there was a tap at the end of the section. “That’ll be Nix. I asked her to cozy up to Ben for me.”
No more secrets.” Tai said. It was a plea.
No more secrets.” Cora promised, and called Nix in.
Nix observed them both, read the room quickly. “Are we all still speaking?”
Don’t worry, kid. Mom and dad are fine.” Tai teased, trying to lighten the mood. “What’s up on your end?”
Cora asked me to investigate where Don was in the leadup to the Cousteau Sinking.” Nix reported. “I’ve been talking with Ben, and it looks like he has an alibi. The Cousteau was only in dock for four hours, from the time it finished its cargo run, to the time it left with me and the rest of the class. Those four hours, Don was in session with Amos. They were discussing overlap between their departments for Landfall.”
Cora and Tai traded a look. “That’s bad.” Tai said. “Don hates private conferences with Amos. The two of them can’t be in the same room without someone having to pull the fire alarm. Don usually sends someone to fill in for him.”
He usually sends Corwin.” Cora thought aloud. “He’s been the old man’s second for as long as I’ve been alive. He runs most of the department’s day-to-day when Don is busy Synthing and Inventing and doing whatever geniuses do.”
So where was Corwin during this time?” Tai finished.
They both looked to Nix, who sighed and shrank into herself a bit. “Fine. I’ll go be nice to Ben again.” She walked out. “Just remember, you owe me.”
She left them, and Cora turned to Tai with a sigh. “I hate it when we fight.”
So do I. But this is one of the few times we’ve fought while we actually agree with each other.”
I suppose so.” Cora chuckled ruefully. “Love you, Stripes.”
Love you, Shells.”
63 Days To Landfall
Choosing a moment when they wouldn’t be observed and an auxiliary docking port was relatively easy. They’d done it a thousand times when taking prisoners out. Using the same entrance to have a quiet word with a pilot wasn’t unusual either, or so Morgan hoped.
Randall, his prized Black Bag Man stepped out of his Manta, and saluted.
Welcome back, Agent.” Morgan nodded to him, the only one there. “I’d offer you something to eat, but as it happens, our own larder is bare at the moment. But that will change.”
So I heard.” Randall nodded. “Word got out just as I was reaching Praxis Outpost. They were back to work before I even docked.”
Morgan was not smiling. “And why? Because, at the last minute, like a miracle, the Director’s Daughter managed to find enough food to go around.” He gave Randall a significant look. “Just... found it, in the records. Hundreds of years, and she found some obscure file that nobody had heard of? Cora Bridger manages to find a perfect solution to an impossible problem.”
Randall notably said nothing to that.
Morgan pulled him to his feet. “None of our people see anything wrong with this. They are not concerned with where the solution came from, they’re only glad that it came. So it is with most of the Ark-Hive, in fact. What do you think?” He saw Randall’s look. “And speak plainly; it’s just us here.”
Randall hesitated a moment longer. “I think that coincidence seems to follow The Director’s Daughter around, sir.”
I agree.” Morgan nodded.
With that much permission, Randall dove in. “What I can’t see, is what the angle is. Was she making a play for something? Did she want the credit? Was it a bargaining chip in some deal we don’t know about? Did someone else set it up?”
Morgan glanced around. “Use your discretion with this information.” He said quietly. “The Director has Weir’s Syndrome. He’s keeping it a secret, obviously. But he won’t reach the surface.”
Randall froze. “Cora’s making a grab for his job?”
I do not think so.” Morgan said quietly. “I’m quite convinced that the food riots and shortages were not engineered. And unless she’s a far better actor than I thought, Cora Bridger finds the idea of becoming Director a fate worse than death.”
Then why?” Randall asked.
That’s what I need you to find out.” Morgan directed his man. “There’s something about Cora Bridger that doesn’t add up. Find out what it is. Start with the transmissions from her Dark Water Expeditions.”
Why there?”
The last two or three Pirate Hacks have involved information that she was privy to. Others were too, but it’s not a long list.”
Well, I’m sure that’s true, but it’s not like anyone can keep a secret in the Ark-Hive.”
62 Days To Landfall
Every Screen lit up with the same image. A rotating water droplet curved on a black background, which rotated into a perfect sphere. The sphere changed shape to show an undersea map of the earth, with the landmasses drawn in black.
"Attention Members of the Ark-Hive, and all her Outposts." A heavily modulated voice reported. “You have been deceived.”
Images of the Landfall broadcast scrolled by, giving quick fleeting shots of the show The Director had shown everyone when he announced Landfall was coming.
With less than two months left until Landfall, not one statement has been made to warn you of the truth. Weir Syndrome is a malady that affects roughly fifteen percent of the population. All of them are put into immediate forced retirement, their names added to the Lottery. It is merciful.”
Another series of quick shots, showing medical files, flashes of sickly people in Medbay...
What the Board of Directors doesn’t want you to know, is that the cause of Weir’s Syndrome is environmental, and not limited to pilots who work Dark Water Routes. What you have not been told is that The Ark-Hive Director and the Life Sciences Director have determined that Weir Syndrome is carried by almost everyone over the age of twentyfive. It hasn’t been noticed, as all Habitats are limited to within two hundred vertical meters of the Euphotic Zone.”
Another series of images flashed by, of submarines, cell doors…
This report has been classified, with all copies destroyed, save the one in The Director’s Office. They know, and they have chosen not to tell you: Anyone over the age of twentyfive that returns to the surface will suffer from Weir’s Syndrome. A disease that is always fatal within eight to ten years of symptoms appearing.
Now you know the truth.
Make your choice.”