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About Phoenix

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  • Birthday 12/31/88

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    Personal Growth, writing, fighter jets, women, philosophy, explosions, anime, etc.
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  1. Inspection Amon decided to leave the Fizza matter to Malik, since he seemed intent on seeing that through, anyway, and followed after Norbert. Shadrak wasn't far behind. Along the way, and not long after leaving the dining area, Shadrak asked, "You got that thing with a letter, you said? Does anything else stand out besides the 'X' shape?" "We'll see it soon enough," Amon murmured. Search Once the group began to disperse more completely, Malik made his way over to Joanna. "So you'll help me search for her, then?" he asked her. She nodded. "Alright, where can we go where you'll be comfortable and able to focus?" That was a good question, and Joanna honestly didn't know. With a crew of nearly three hundred, all of whom were still awake and full of either energy, awe, or resentment, a quiet place was a tall order. Perhaps it'd be best to settle for someplace with a more acceptable level of noise. To that end, Joanna was considering somewhere around the helm. Looking outward from the ship would also reduce her chances--if only slightly--of bumping into the wrong people. "Let's head back up to the main deck." Malik cocked an eyebrow. "I doubt it's quiet up there ... but I guess there won't be so many people all packed in a small space up there."
  2. If any of the Alkaev pilots thought for even an instant that they were safe, the exercise likely wouldn't have had the desired effect. More importantly, not everyone survived those ambushes in the end. Brant could have indeed been killed, severely upsetting some and merely disappointing others as a result, but he hadn't. "Yeah you'd be surprised what they've gotten away with while whipping me and everyone else into shape. As for the old man, he's the former head of the company, now retired, Dima Alkaev." Admittedly, so long as they weren't on the topic of Rosa, Brant was comfortable enough to explain most things. Still, he was curious about Jessica's situation, too. Between her shock at what was just 'life' to Brant, and her unusual skill and placement, the Alkaev pilot could think of a variety of questions. He settled on the most appropriate one for the time being. "Well since you offered, what is it like training in a 'normal' setting? I honestly have no idea."
  3. Questions & Answers Well, they weren't getting anywhere on some of the other fronts, so they might as well take a look, Amon thought. Nodding at the pegasus rider, he said, "Yeah let's take a look." "Yeah, let's," Shadrak gave the words more emphasis, "I've got a feeling we've seen something like it before." "And since," Malik spoke up, looking at Joanna, "we need to look for Fizza before we get too far from Urquium anyway, how about we get started on that and call this meeting finished?" As far as the sancturan could tell, any issues they could agree on right this moment, they already agreed on ... and any that they didn't were stuck at an impasse for the time being. "If that's alright with everyone else," Joanna nearly shrugged. She had more to say but with some people missing and others barely getting along, now really wasn't the best time.
  4. Questions & Answers Amon hoped they did indeed do the right thing, but on his end, the result for Haythem still wasn't acceptable. If he'd just done a couple of things differently, maybe they could have still ended the battle without Haythem and Isis winding up the way they had. Amon didn't see how, exactly, but he felt confident enough that he could have done far better leading his own team during that battle if he'd just not been so caught up in the moment. At least explaining it to Norbert had calmed him again, if nothing else. What Norbert went into next concerned Fizza and whatever shenanigans she'd pulled during the escape from the bandit fort, as well as the message that was relayed to Joanna. When he mentioned the little metallic symbol, Amon opened his mouth to speak but was again beaten to the punch. "An 'X'?" Shadrak asked, his tone grave, "Like two sets of wings?"
  5. Right, Brant hadn't been shot down since joining the ANF. He hadn't even taken any meaningful damage since that exercise gone wild over at Dry Lake. The telekinetic had to admit that his prior training had thus far paid off; knowing how easily a well coordinated team could down him in any plane or suit kept him from getting a big head, and having been subjected to such unrealistic conditions so woefully often, Brant was able to keep a cool head in the face of almost certain death. His training hadn't done anything to get him through unusual social situations, though. That he had to learn from personal experience and a modest amount of research. Glancing at his scars when they came up, he nodded. "I actually had more than these, much worse too, but those were removed. These are ... newer, and I know how to protect myself, now." Since standing around was going to start feeling awkward sooner or later, Brant carefully made his way into the hot tub. "But yeah, I got shot down a lot in training. That ornery old bastard wanted the fear of death and our egos crushed, so he randomly put us in impossible scenarios. One day you're going into the field for a weapons exercise, next thing you know, the weapon you're testing shuts down, along with your radar and comms, and then you're taking heavy fire from sixteen directions. All you can really do is deal back as much fire as you can, don't panic, and don't get hit in the cockpit. That was it, really; you were still going down no matter what." Even Tonya, the best pilot the Alkaevs had ever created, wasn't able to win in the end, though she'd certainly made them question just how perfect their methods were.
  6. Questions & Answers Thinking back on that mission, things had certainly gone south in a hurry--or west, more accurately. The arrival of that spear wielder and Sonya had all but doomed the mission, and given the lack of both a command structure and morale, the subsequent scramble seemed almost inevitable in hindsight. Amon himself had nearly been taken out, and if not for Jamilla, likely would have been. The sancturan wondered if Shadrak, and to a greater extent, Pete, didn't have a point earlier. How were they supposed to dismantle a siege gate if they couldn't even deal with one spearman, a dragon, and a small number of wyvern riders? Granted, Kozel was a very dangerous combatant, and Sonya probably more so, but if they were truly too much for the group to ever handle, then their number one priority right now shouldn't be heading to Kigen--not just yet, but first recruiting Kozel and Sonya for the mission. Amon doubted any explanation in existence could fully satisfy Norbert, so he decided to put that concern out of mind and simply clarify a few points of interest. "We didn't actually plan on leaving anyone behind in Urquium. We just took precautions in some of the wrong areas and that just made things worse when the battle started." One decision Amon felt had been particularly bad in hindsight was staying away from the group while they prepared the ship. Haythem didn't need help looking after Isis and Malik was smart enough to come up with a workable plan on his feet, certainly better than what Amon had thought of in the heat of the moment. Another mistake was taking to the sky in the hopes of flying over the battle rather than being beneath it and slightly off to the side. If they should have gone anywhere, it was further inland. There hadn't been any need to reach the Darklighter Idolus, formerly the Deadly Dandelion, right away, and in the end, it'd taken them until nearly the end of the battle to reunite with the majority of the group. Amon felt that in his absence, communication between the group and Lexi may have been minimal, which more likely than not contributed to them leaving the port as quickly as they did. Whether setting out so quickly was truly a mistake was up for debate, and not one Amon was willing to pick up here and now. "We split up when we reached the city so the Ursians wouldn't harass us over the wyverns and the wrathites wouldn't find Joanna. I wasn't here when they had their talks with the captain so I don't know exactly what happened or what we agreed to. The important thing is the battle. We were split into three groups when the battle started, Joanna and Liam; Malik, Haythem and me; and then everyone else. We weren't trying to leave anyone behind, but nearly everyone that wasn't with the main group had a flying mount, so it wasn't the worst decision." "I'd also like to point out," Shadrak chimed in out of nowhere, "that we barely even made it to this ship in the first place. The docks were already under attack by the time we were ready, so we had to drive through a battle just to get aboard. This wasn't some whimsical thing we unanimously decided on." That was news to Amon, though not in the least bit surprising. It actually wasn't far off from what he'd envisioned in his mind. Hoping to cut down on the abrasiveness some, the wary sancturan continued. "To make a long story short, we took some measures to protect ourselves, the situation spiraled out of control, and we're all lucky to even still be alive." "You just know that siege gate's going to be easy compared to the Neviskotians," Shadrak said sarcastically, "oh wait ... there's millions more of them." "Spirit springs. Good. Death. Bad," Malik retorted, "we get it." "Lastly ..." Amon pressed on, dreading this next part, "the situation with Kozel and Sonya ... was a disaster. I'm glad you managed to save the pegasus knights, anyway. Also I'm sorry about what happened. I know what it's like to feel like you've been betrayed, even if that's not exactly what happened." He felt his eyes, despite their newfound weight, drifting toward Shadrak. The sancturan refocused on Norbert before the druid could spot the tell. "Going forward ..." assuming they could continue to function as a group, "we're going to have to be more than just careful." It seemed like their precautions tended to blow up in their faces in some way or another. "We're going to have to be smarter."
  7. Diner A small amused snort escaped her as Tonya downed her cup of water. Sirius seemed overjoyed with this game Lane was playing with her, laughing and trying to do something or other with her own hands. She was completely oblivious to everything else happening around her. Second Kitchen Ernesta considered the new information for a moment. "Well then it's probably not an architect, but someone with a similar level of skill, at least if they can figure out something like that." It was really a shame the demon or the voice, or both, had to pick the food storage room of all places. Now the staff and guests would have to share the main dining hall, tonight ... and they'd be coming for food soon. "It's too late to get dinner back on track so we won't rush things, here. Do you expect I'll be attacked if I try to have a word with this ... voice?" "We could protect you," Suzume offered. More like, Suzume would protect her and Gar would just be distracting enough to keep some attention off Ernesta.
  8. Megumi supposed she could just keep pestering Abigail if she wanted. That might even be somewhat fun if it didn't cause too much stress or cast a shadow over her visits. "Expect me to keep insisting if I feel it's important ... but you're welcome, and thank you for sharing, Abigail." No ... she couldn't quite manage a smile yet, not without forcing it. But she'd gotten close. Very close. Maybe next time. It certainly wouldn't do to stonewall Jessica after such an earnest effort on her part, and there were plenty of topics that weren't too touchy for Brant's taste. The trouble was picking one without having thought about it ahead of time. With the recent call from Rosa, only the worst of the worst were standing out in the Alkaev pilot's mind so far. Thinking back on the initial question, Brant tried to zero in on his general impressions rather than specific events, and on the positives, rather than the negatives. "Well planes weren't the only thing I piloted, but that'll always be my preference. It's just so liberating to be airborne, moving that fast, that high up. Sure, I've got to come back eventually, but it never feels like it in the middle of a steep climb or turn. That's not to say every live flight was a joyride. I've been shot down over a dozen times."
  9. Questions & Answers "Messenger?" Malik echoed, not sure what Norbert was on about. He shook his head a half second later. "It's just reasoning. If she's got any intention of staying with us, she's going to try to find a way to catch up. Even if she can't find a way onto this ship, she still knows we're headed to Kigen, and that's no desert, so she won't have any trouble tracking us down. Especially not a group this diverse." Plenty of assumptions, but Amon agreed with all of them. Having first hand experience in Kigen and the desert, there was almost no comparison between the two; they had a far easier time navigating around the former. Furthermore, the reputation of the Tide's assassins weren't nearly over inflated enough for anyone's liking, so there was little point worrying about Fizza.
  10. Too stubborn to give up ... though confronting her parents again seemed to be close to her limits, Megumi noted. It was a start, at least, and without a clearly defined reason, something Megumi almost never lacked in her own dealings, Abigail's uncertainty was understandable. Equally understandable was the Riese prisoner's inability to fully utilize what she was learning from the book Megumi had loaned her. There were tidbits the doctor had a hard time following, as well ... like smiling at the right times, or smiling at all. It happened once in a while, but full moons were a more common occurrence. Still, just about anyone could get enough out of that and many other books to considerably improve their standing in any given situation and life in general, so that alone warranted their use. One of Abigail's big concerns seemed to be having someone there that was on her side, willing to see this through with her to whatever conclusion was coming down the pike. Megumi had plenty vested in Abigail's situation, already, and was even starting to view the woman as a friend. The doctor would certainly oblige her in her time of need. "I'll be here," Megumi assured Abigail, "but that also means I'm going to keep insisting on certain things," she added pointedly. She was teasing Abigail, but like always her doll like expression blurred interpretation slightly. Getting to know the crew better? Right. A good idea, in fact. It was just too bad Brant didn't have a lot of topics to work with that wouldn't upset one or both of them, at least none that came to mind immediately. The thought of Rosa and her gently worded demands were still fresh in the Alkaev pilot's mind. Brant gave a worried grin, a subtle warning before saying, "Are you sure you want to know about all that? It honestly might bring down the mood. I almost hate to admit it, but my best adventures are happening, right now."
  11. Questions & Answers Malik frowned at Nadya. "I'm sure we could use a lot of healers given what happened in Sanctuary, but you really should stay with them," he indicated just about everyone else present, "even if Amon and I do leave. We wouldn't be taking a route back you'd be comfortable with." That was one hell of an understatement, Amon knew, but explaining the details here and now would just complicate matters. There was enough squabbling over the dangers of the emblem. Now Norbert, to Malik's surprise, seemed interested in the whole Fizza issue. Maybe it was because he'd gotten left behind, too and sympathized with her. If that was all it was, then he needn't worry. As far as the sancturans were concerned, the only real problem with Fizza being unaccounted for was that she now had the element of surprise if she decided to renew old loyalties ... if they could really be called loyalties in the first place. "Don't worry about her," Malik said, "Joanna agreed to help find her. Wherever she is, I'm sure she can still find some way to meet up with us in Kigen, even if it takes her a little longer." Shadrak listened intently during the next few passes in the discussion turned debate, noting Pete's take on the possible necessity of looking into their less popular options, in particular. While it wasn't fully in line with what the druid was saying, it was close enough to warrant reevaluating where he seemed to stand on the issue. In the end, he probably wouldn't be able to convince the Ursian to 'embrace' either option until it was necessary, but at least he was considering them in the face of the overwhelming opposition. The spirit spring approach would never gain any traction until Shadrak knew enough about them to adequately argue down the rampant speculation and paranoia surrounding them, which left the emblem. In many ways, the emblem was an even more contentious topic, because rather than fear of the unknown dominating the discourse, the avians simply weren't budging on the issue, Liam especially, though Joanna wasn't hiding the fact that she didn't approve, either. "Okay," Shadrak chimed in again as Norbert made some more clarifications, "I don't think anyone has a problem with figuring out more before doing anything potentially dangerous, I certainly don't. The problem is that we've only got one option for learning more about the emblem and the spirit springs right now ... and that one option is studying the emblem piece Joanna has. In theory, we could try to find a vasilus and ask them about it, but there's no reason to assume we'll run into one before we find the gate. There's also no reason to assume the vasilus we find won't be Obelisk, himself." That said ... "So, if you two," his eyes darted between Joanna and Liam expectantly, "aren't going to let us figure out how any of this would work, you should at least look into it, yourselves. During the trip. I don't mean any offense, but new light magic techniques aren't going to be enough to beat the fallen, and even if they were, it's not going to be any comfort if half or more of us die anyway because you ignored our best options and forced us to do the same."
  12. The doctor listened intently, even more so once she learned that Abigail had a religious background. Far too often this sort of tragedy occurred; the young seeking guidance, or at the very least a familiar, comforting presence, and then the expectations of both parties were shattered irreparably. Megumi doubted Abigail's parents would be proud of their daughter, all things considered. That was just too bad, really. While a person ought to be held to account for their own actions, it should never be forgotten that those actions were heavily influenced by their parents, caretakers, and their mentors. As much as the doctor had taken her life into her own hands, it merely amounted to being a reaction to what her own mother--or template, Michelle, had put her through. Not just her, but the staff at the facility she and her two sisters spent much of their childhood in. If Abigail's parents couldn't look past the surface, and see what Abigail was trying to do, then it simply couldn't be helped. "I see," Megumi started slowly, "Then that's ..." she paused, trying not to let her anger, this time from a different source, creep up; Abigail likely wouldn't understand without an explanation, and it wasn't her fault, besides. "That's one more reason for you to not give up, here." Megumi saw Michelle Amparo in her mind, her head hung, eyes fixed on the ground, taking whatever 'punishment' Sarah, the oldest of her living clones, felt like dishing out. She was a woman that was worn out, full of regret and self pity, and she was one of Megumi's greatest sources of frustration in this life. Yes, Michelle was an insufferable person, but to see her so ready to throw in the towel and let her dream die with her was unacceptable. What did Michelle's incredible weakness say of Sarah, Ellen, and Megumi herself? If she would give up during the final stretch, what did that say of her clones, whom all had the same predispositions? This had very little to do with Abigail, but Megumi's time with her 'mother' had filled her with a longing for completion, if not outright success. Giving up halfway or worse still, near the end, wasn't something she could easily tolerate in others. "I don't like to make demands, but ... don't give up, no matter what happens. If you can survive this, being a prisoner of the ANF, I mean, then survive it. If you need a little optimism, embrace it, whatever it takes to get through. Then, if it's possible, confront your parents. Don't let them off so easily." Far too often, Megumi had seen and heard of parents getting all the credit for what their children accomplished in life, while said children got all the blame for any failures that accrued. As ridiculous as that was, it was still more or less the norm. Only the shrinks seemed to care about that most curious of double standards, and Megumi, given her own mess of a home life. If Abigail's parents were even remotely like those, they needed a rude awakening. "Finish the book I gave you, and don't forget a word of it." A rude awakening delivered by a silver tongue was usually preferable ... "As long as you're alive, there's still a lot you can change for the better. Even the colonies might still be saved." The doctor let out the remainder of her breath in a relieved sigh. "... okay, that's better," Megumi concluded, clearly better off for the effort. "Hey," Brant waved back. It looked like it was time to get out for a moment and see what was up. Heading back to where he'd first gotten into the water, and where his bag and towel were, Brant hauled himself out of the water, grabbed his towel, put on his sandals, and made his way over while contending with his hair. By the time he reached Jessica, he'd gotten it to a step down from damp, and it was no longer an immediate bother. The towel rested on his shoulders from that point. "Sorry for the wait. Were you getting bored over here?"
  13. Questions & Answers Amon couldn't help but feel some unease as Nadya insisted on coming with them if they left. Did she have any idea what that entailed? No, of course not. She'd be in Norbert's camp, otherwise, albeit somewhat grudgingly thanks to her missing gold. Again, Malik got in the first response. "The Tide aren't just thugs, Nadya," he said, scowling, "they're assassins. They're the people that trained Fizza." Amon's eyebrows perked up. "Where is Fizza, anyway?" "I wouldn't worry about her," Malik soothed, "if she was that easy to lose, we--" He stopped himself short, the question suddenly taking on a lot more meaning. "Never mind, Joanna, you should help us try and find her once this meeting is over," he said, trying not to let any urgency show. A simple nod from the avian satisfied the sancturan. Everything had changed, today. Aisha was thought to be nigh invincible, but then she was defeated by Obelisk and captured by the Tide. That couldn't be a meaningless turn of events for Fizza, a woman who had left the Tide merely because Aisha seemed an impossible target. There were only three questions left to answer with regard to their assassin helper. One: Did this turn of events mean anything to her. Two: Did she know about them in the first place? Three: Where was she right at this moment? "I've been considering all of this," Shadrak said, not even trying to hide how irritated he was becoming from the pegasus rider, "since it first came up. I even kept my own notes. The reason I'm not just letting this go is because up until now I'm the only one that's given spirit springs any real thought." Was that true? Shadrak really didn't care; let whomever correct him if they really felt the need to. "Look at the situation we're in, right now. Yes, we might be able to do this without the emblem or spirit springs, though I'm starting to doubt that since we couldn't even handle this battle without the emblem. The problem is that without some kind of agreement with our avian 'friends' over here, we can't even look into either of those options. You already heard it straight from Liam, he doesn't want any extra emblem wielders, so that means we can't even get too close to the thing, since that's how emblem wielders come about as far as we can tell. That means if we need to do anything in a hurry later, it'll be too late, and we still won't know any more about them than we do, right now. I don't expect everyone to huddle together and start trying to absorb powers right here and now, but we at least need to figure out how that would work, even if we have to start with some 'assumptions' here and there. If we don't, then the emblem isn't going to be an option, and neither are the spirit springs. We won't have put in enough research and preparation to get either to work when the time comes." "If it's possible," Joanna spoke up, again, "please try to find a way to do this without using this piece of the emblem." Malik took special note of the avian's wording. "Things aren't as grim as you might think. It's true we can't challenge a vasilus, ourselves, but that's not why you left Ursium in the first place. Furthermore, Liam and I aren't just here to heal and advise you. Before the Goddess instructed me how to end the battle, she restored my connection to her. That means I'm a true avian, again." Shadrak's eyes widened, along with some others, at the revelation. The druid didn't know it was possible for a dark avian to regain their connection to the Goddess of Mercy, especially so quickly. "That wasn't all she did, though. She's given me a gift, a new power that light mages can all learn to use. I'm going to be instructing Liam during the voyage, and I'll accept anyone else who wants to learn it, as well." She wasn't certain she should get into the details about the Goddess' other purpose for her just yet, if only because she didn't know how to properly explain it.
  14. Dinner At a Diner Tonya didn't have to be told twice, and wandered over ahead of Lane and the infant vasilus. From what she could tell, the customers were all locals, plainly dressed and lightly armed, if at all. Pretty much everyone looked like they owned a piece of the place. Ignoring them for the most part, she made her way between the outdoor tables and into the main building. Once she was beneath its low hanging roof, she caught sight of a waitress doing her rounds. The bodyguard was noticed before she could decide whether to speak to that particular waitress or look for someone less busy. "Oh hello," the waitress greeted, "please have a seat anywhere you'd like. I'll be with you in one moment." Merz, she was perky as all get out. Tonya was glad to not have that kind of job after all her hard work. Taking the woman's advice, she found a nearby table toward the right side of the establishment and waved Lane over. Fortunately for the out and about pair and infant, the food was cheap--they'd paid in mere coppers, but delicious--Tonya suspected someone else in the city could convince people to pay in silver easily enough. It also hadn't taken long to get their orders. While Sirius negotiated as only an infant could, trying to get a share of the food for herself, Tonya ate her chicken soup as gracefully as she could manage while still keeping up a hurried pace. With nothing left to finish off on her end but a cup of water, Tonya started on that while carefully eyeing the surrounding patrons. With her stomach busied with the soup, the bodyguard had quickly taken an indirect interest in them.
  15. Did the situation really call for that? Maybe, but Megumi reserved names like 'stupid' and 'idiot' for people that couldn't see their own failures for what they were. Megumi nodded softly, more or less confirming Abigail's suspicion that the doctor already had her name. That didn't mean actual introductions weren't preferable. This wasn't an interrogation, after all. "Still better if I hear it from you at least once," Megumi said, so close yet so far from a smile of her own. The doctor was almost relieved when she heard her name said back to her normally, and not shortened to something silly like her sisters would always do, but there was more to Abigail's response than just that. There was that acknowledgement of her mistake that was so rare in Megumi's line of work ... both current and prior. Abigail then alluded to what seemed like past blunders, big ones, if her tone was any indication. Megumi felt her eyes watering ever so slightly. She was getting pulled back to places she didn't want to go, watching a true idiot 'blind luck' his way through every mission one could imagine. Meanwhile, people with an ounce of sense and greater, people like Abigail and herself, were dying all around him. That was one of the doctor's greatest pet peeves--nay, existential crises. Why did so many fools get to slip by unscathed, while everyone else collected scars like old postage stamps and lost everything else they had? It wasn't an easy question to fully address, which was why Megumi tried to keep it out of mind as much as possible. After everything she'd gone through in her brief time in this life, Megumi's concept of justice was admittedly flawed. It was a slew of double standards, but she could forgive just about anything under the right circumstances. Circumstances like these. Knowing that Abigail was in this cell, while the other prisoners were all but free, fighting alongside the Riese's crew, was impossible to ignore. Knowing that Abigail would likely remain in this cell because she was smarter than Nikolai and made of far sterner stuff than Christina, was at once baffling and typical. Knowing that it was because of Abigail's disposition and her place within the opposing force that she might be executed by the ANF, rather than recruited, was infuriating. It made sense. It made so much sense ... but it made absolutely no sense, and that just made Megumi sick inside. "I just hope it's not the last time, in a sense," Megumi murmured, alluding to one of the darkest possible outcomes of this incident. She could do nothing to hide her sadness, but she'd stomped her growing anger down far below Abigail's radar. "Would you mind telling me about that? The last time your good intentions were punished." The doctor didn't think the universe was actively punishing anyone, but an abstraction like that wouldn't need clearing up. The next time Brant surfaced, he'd done so at his lower limits, taking a deep breath and letting it out in a boisterous, "Whew!" Leaning back, the telekinetic started to drift aimlessly on his back. This was just what he needed, a new perspective on the water, some semblance of a break from the violence, and a few minutes without thinking about Rosa. And scratch that last one. Brant's body sunk back into the water, leaving only his nose and up still on the surface. Why did I have to let my thoughts go back there ... he thought, knowing full well the reason. Rosa wanted to speak with the captain, who was right over yonder. Yeah that's not happening, Brant decided, not right now. Maybe once it's time to head back. Once all the fun's over ...