Part One

Spirits… in the rocks…

The Tree could sense them… two familiar souls, both well known to the Green Father… one long dead, its edges worn smooth by eons, another newly transformations, its pain jagged and raw…

They circled the Tree’s roots like sharks in deep water. The Green Father felt disquiet, deep in the heart-root. But the greater Tree was not concerned. This was not the first time interlopers had come nipping at its extremities. The shield would hold them at bay…

Then the Tree sensed a new invader… a soul still shrouded in flesh, striding through the underbrush, approaching the edge of the shield.

The Green Father knew this soul too. And he cried out in anguish and rage.

* * *

Bluestar felt the weight of future pain lifting from his mind. Slowly, his injured soul crawled back to consciousness. The crushing agony had ebbed, but now, as his eyelids fluttered, he could feel a new pain, slight as a whisper, yet razor-sharp.

* * *

Naga was bleeding, not in body, but in soul. Somewhere deep within her mind, a door once safely shut had been thrown open, ripped off his hinges. She felt her very consciousness rushing out the wound, pouring towards the glowing light beyond her…

**Yesss… we must always have the freedom to explore… to continue to learning…**

Like liquid running downhill, it was inevitable. Sylas had once showed her sending-pictures of great bloated stars that stole the light of their smaller weaker siblings. Tendrils of burning plasma spiraling inward, enslaved to gravity.

Naga was afraid… and yet not. Part of her was exhilarated to be freed of the small confines of her own mind. Part of her was thrilling at the scale of the world opening up to her.

Her soul brushed against Timmain’s, and it didn’t feel like an intrusion. It felt like… coming home after a long absence. It felt like crossing the Multitude, and meeting an infinitely older, wiser, more powerful version of herself.

She wanted this. The knowledge, the power, the shortcut across time.

**Hungry child… come sate yourself. Let our candleflames become a single fire once more.**

She could become more than her mother. More than Haken. Was it true? Was this why they had send her away? Did they fear what she would do? Did they know, deep down, that she was so much more than simply Naga?

**You have the starstone in your blood… oh… how it sings. Come. Be what your mother could never be. Embrace what she always denied.**

What… what did her mother have to with this? Her memories were fragmenting, mixing with sights and sounds and smells that must have come from elsewhere. She struggled to focus, to conjure an image of her mother. Looking up into her green eyes… listening for the rattletails on her sandals… feeling her healing glow as they practiced magic together…

But a different memory welled up: one of looking down at Melati’s face, of reaching for her only to have her pull away with a sneer and a hiss.

I am not your vessel…

The memories rushed at her, as if gravity had reversed itself, and now all of Timmain’s will was rushing towards the smaller light of Naga’s soul. Endless spirals of memories clawed for purpose within her mind, each one baying, **Let me in!**

Timmain’s hands clapped against her temples. She felt hot air and spittle against her cheek as the High One screamed, “Let me in!”

Rushing back in her body, Naga’s nerves and muscles acted on instinct. She drove her knee up between Timmain’s legs until she felt it crack against bone. The High One went down with an anguished cry.

“Let you in? Let you in? But you’re already in. Aren’t you? Aren’t you supposed to be letting me into your shell? If I’m the smaller part of the whole, why do you need me? If I’m already you, you only need to kill me to get me back!”

Roots seized her, hauled her off the stricken High One. They pulled her back against the wall from which they’d sprouted. Naga looked around for some sign of the Pool-shape, but saw instead dozens, hundreds of faces, all beginning to emerge from the Tree’s walls, all jeering and hissing.

“Selfish… selfish… as selfish as her mother…”

Naga glared at the panting Timmain, struggling to rise from her knees. The words came to her from another being’s memory, but she snarled them with all the strength she had.

“I am not your vessel!”

Timmain straightened, struggled to regain her poise. “I’ve been seeing through your eyes since you were in the womb, child. Don’t you want to see through mine?”

“Her mother…” the faces in the Tree repeated. “Her mother!”

 “You – your soul didn’t get shattered into two!” Naga pressed. “You put yourself inside my mind.”

“I sought to understand the anomaly. To repair the hole in the Multitude.”

“To spy on Haken! On my parents! Through my eyes. You’ve… you’ve had me on a tether all this time – like I’m your pet zwoot!”

“Foolish child. To cling to your small, limited self so tenaciously when I am offering you so much more!”

“What? Slavery? An extra skin for you wear when you’re bored with that one? Or just another building block in your Tree?” Naga felt the roots tighten about her in response, and she screamed, “That’s it, isn’t it? You want my blood! You want the secret to merging flesh and starstone! What, you think Mama never told me about your kind’s old tricks? They were my bedtime stories! Old Whatshisname managed it, and you locked him up in stone and left him to die–”

“You know nothing of Neelim!”

“You would have done the same to Kahvi, but Papa beat you to her! And he did what you could never do!”

“And tore a hole in the tapestry of existence itself!” Timmain shrieked back. “Another disturbance – another singularity – unknowable, unquantifiable! You foolish children – you treat the Multitude like clay to be molded! I should never had ceded the Palace–” she caught herself before she could finish the outburst.

“Timmain!” the Tree hissed.

She was fighting visibly for self-control. When she spoke again, her voice was raw, and her gaze had turned inward. “I should never have… it all started then and there. Children… all of them… even Haken is closer to their age than to mine. Infants playing with the loom of the universe… I warned Skywise… I warned them all…. It never would have come to this had they just minded their place in all this!”

“Her mother, Timmain.”

“You shut up about my mother!” Naga shouted at the walls.

“She abandoned you,” Timmain said, her voice even again. “Could I ever have claimed you if she hadn’t all but thrown you at my feet?”

“Timmain, she’s here!” the Tree hissed.

“What?” Timmain tilted her head, and her green eyes flashed as she shared a sending with the Tree.

“My mother’s here?” **Mama?** Naga tried to send, but could hear no reply.

“Release her,” Timmain commanded the Tree. The roots gave way and Naga staggered, but before she could take a step, Timmain seized a handful of her red-gold curls.

* * *

Melati had attracted a small audience as she stood at the edge of the shield. Several figures watched her from behind the Tree: some were living elves, young wolfbloods clothed in moss and flowers, and others were misshapen shapes of animated wood. “Timmain!” Melati shouted again. “We have unfinished business!”

Timmain strode out of the shadows, dragging Naga behind her.

“Naga!” Melati cried. Timmain had the girl by the hair, but she held her at arm’s length as if she were not more than an animal – a pest to be restrained.

“Are you hurt?”

“Mama, help me!” Naga begged. “Timmain wants to–”

“Silence, child,” Timmain said calmly. She jogged Naga all the way to the very edge of the shield before addressing Melati. “You come alone?”

“Can’t you tell? I would think you could smell the Palace from leagues away.”

“She might be armed,” one of the naked elves accused.

Melati untied the strings at the nape of her neck, and shrugged out of the gown. She slid her gold bracelets from her wrists; she even kicked off her sandals. When she was done, all she wore was the necklace of starstone crystals.  Melati raised her arms and turned around slowly.

“There, now we’re all equal. Or would you rather I put on some moss?”

 “What do you want?” Timmain demanded.

“My daughter. And the boy. They are innocents in this.”

“A lie. And were it not, innocence is a moral construct. It has no place in this calculation.”

“You used her as bait to bring me here. Here I am.”

“You have all your lord’s arrogance. Naga is of far greater use than you now. You spurned your chance to unite with me, and I will not deny I grieved that loss. But I should have had more patience. Your union with Beast created a far superior vessel.”

Naga was staring at her, silver eyes silently pleading. Melati saw the pain in them, the fear. Even unable to send through the shield, she felt her child’s torment as an ache in her belly. Or perhaps it was something else. But she forced herself to say:

“She’s not. She’s unstable. You must have seen that.”

Naga’s face twisted into a rictus of pain. “Mama?”

“It’s the starstone’s fault,” Melati continued. “Her blood needed to be thinned. Why do you think I had to send her to this wretched world?”

“You feared she would surpass you,” Timmain challenged. “A beast in distress will always choose its own life over that of its offspring. Even wolves maim or kill their cubs, if they fear a challenge.”

Melati summoned a bitter laugh. “Oh, Timmain, how I wish you were right! I’d gladly be surpassed by a child of mine. But she’s broken, you can see that. Something’s… imbalanced in her. On Homestead she would only grow more unstable. A threat to herself and everyone around. She’s no good for you. Feed her to the Tree and she’ll only hasten its death. Ask P–” a sudden catch in her throat silenced her. She tasted bile deep in her mouth. “Ask your old friend,” she said instead. “He tried to warn me. He told me she was a deathbringer.”

Naga was shaking her head wildly. “You’re wrong! You don’t know – you don’t know what I am! What she made me!”

Timmain’s hand twisted viciously in her hair, making her cry out, even as the High One maintained an impassive expression.

“What did you try to make her, Timmain?” Melati asked curiously.

“She was there!” Naga cried. “At Recognition. She… put herself in me!”

Melati absorbed the news with only a slight shudder, the gentlest tremor of her shoulders. “Ah. A preventative healing? Plugging the crack in her skull. Then you knew from the start.”

Naga looked at her mother desperately. “Mama… it’s all a lie. Tell me it’s a lie. Please!

“She isn’t what you need, Timmain. Let her go. Let Bluestar go, if he still lives. Take me.”

“What do I need from you?”

One hand went to the crystal necklace at her throat. “You once said the Memory Sphere’s knowledge would destroy me. When it didn’t, you begged me to give you its secrets before I forget them all. But I’ve lost nothing. Didn’t you ever wonder how?”

Timmain stared at the starstone pendants hungrily.

“Beast and Naga weren’t the first to assimilate starstone. Poor Timmain. The answer was right in front of you and you were too blind to notice.”

“Give me the necklace.”

Melati laughed derisively.  “Oh, you stupid old bitch! What? You think you’ll put it on and just… instantly remember everything? It doesn’t work that way!” Her laughter rose in pitch, becoming a cackle that made Timmain’s lip twitch in a lupine snarl. “No, Timmain. You want the knowledge locked in here, you need a key.”

“I do not believe you.”

“Take my hand and see for yourself. But let my daughter go.”

Timmain looked at Naga again. The girl was sobbing in frustration and shame, sagging weakly despite the hand in her hair. Timmain released her and she fell to the ground without protest.

The wooden shapes drew nearer to the shield. “Timmain,” a male with a hook-nose spoke. “Don’t do it. You cannot trust her.”

“Why?” Timmain asked at length. “Why trade your life for this… defective offspring?”

Melati did not have to force the tears that came to her eyes. “Because she is mine!”

“I hate you!” Naga wailed.

“You’re not the first,” Melati said softly. Then to Timmain: “Have we a deal?”

Timmain considered it carefully. Heartbeats passed, stretching to minutes in an hourglass. The High One’s eyes flickered in intensity as she weighed the implications of the offer. The tree-shapes were shuddering, their wooden pieces clacking as they vibration in time with some great communal sending. Melati felt the grip of her pain in her belly again. She drummed her fingers nervously on her leg as she waited for the Tree to come to some sort of resolution.

Abruptly, Melati saw the shield become visible – an oily violet slick floating before her. She felt it lift, and she took a step forward. She effortlessly crossed into the Tree’s territory, and suddenly she sensed Timmain’s anxious sending, and Naga’s raw psychic cries. When she glanced over her shoulder, a slight shimmer in the air was the only sign that the shield had snapped back into place.

“Let Naga go,” Melati repeated.

**Her and the boy,** Timmain agreed. **Once you have proven the truth of your words.”

Melati held out her hand. Timmain hesitated a moment before. Then she thrust Naga aside roughly. Naga collapsed on the grass. “Naga, go!” Melati shouted. “Get Bluestar and get ready to run!” But the girl lay weeping on the ground. The tree-shapes began to gather around her, and Melati cried: “Don’t touch her!” before Timmain seized her hand and pulled her into a rough embrace.

**If you have played me false…** Timmain’s sending burrowed deep into Melati’s mind, as painful as any black healing. It took all of Melati’s strength to hold herself open to the onslaught, to still the defenses she had spent eons honing, and let the inquisitive spirit deeper into her soul.

**Yesss…. Let me in…**

All of the dim memories of the Messenger Sphere suddenly grew bright as day as they flowed back to their original host. A thousand lifetimes of knowledge flooded through Melati’s consciousness at once. It went deeper than a locksending; it was a communion verging on the totality of Recognition. Though she tried hard to maintain some hold on her own memories, her own identity, it was like trying to hold onto one waterdrop in a great torrent.

**Yes – YES! Show me everything. Remind me! Return what was stolen. What has come before – what has existed for eons – we have existed for eons – changing our forms, changing our thoughts, seeking – always seeking to find – to hold – all that has gone before.**

Melati tried to look for Naga, but she could see nothing but the onslaught of memories. She could feel her own soul fragmenting, like a string of beads breaking free from a necklace and scattering across the floor. This must have been what it had felt like to be inside the Egg as it collapsed, one shield after another breaking, letting the worldpull tear everything apart

**Naga!** with her last psychic energy, she begged her daughter in locksending. **Get back!**

Timmain didn’t hear the sending. She was too busy drinking, gorging herself on the knowledge she had once set aside in a crystal sphere – and the secrets Melati herself had learned.  **YES! Yes, it is here, all of it. Not just those from before the grounding, but all that has come after. The past becomes the future, the circle is closed! We will be never ending… always touching, no beginning, no middle, no end. We will conquer entropy together! Join us – share our victory. Green Father, White Mother, Red Child.** Her green eyes flared with tears of joy, and her sending grew rich with the voices of many spirits. **WE ARE ONE, AND WE REMEMBER!**

Melati wrenched her arm back violently and drove a punch into her abdomen with her and Timmain’s clenched hands. The flesh peeled back at her command, releasing a gout of blood, and Timmain’s knuckles struck hard against something solid.

They both heard a crack, like the breaking of bone… only more brittle.

Her concentration broken, Timmain looked at Melati anew, confusion on her face.

Melati smiled. When she spoke, she tasted blood on her tongue.

“You forgot about that–”

Then the contents of the two chambers in the blast-bottle touched, and the explosion blew the two elves apart.

* * *

“The shield is down!” Sylas and Weatherbird said in unison.

“Let’s g–” Swift ordered, but her ears popped before she could finish.

* * *

Rayek was out the door the instant the Palace-pod solidified in the air over the Tree. He flew around the Tree’s upper branches, blasting bolts of fire where organic wood melded to starstone leaves. The wood incinerated, while the crystal refracted the magic. One branch went down, then another, a cascade of sparks and lightning.

Standing at the edge of the door, Haken draw on the bedrock underneath the Tree. The ground heave and buckle, exposing huge roots that held jagged pieces of violet crystal.

Standing further back, Sylas harnessed the power of both Ark and Palace to call the fragments of corrupted starstone back home. First little chips of sparkling crystal flew up from the ground, then whole leaves, and finally the large geodes hidden in the unearthed roots.

The spirits of the Tree screamed in agony and surged skywards, towards the invaders. Tass and Weatherbird cast a psychic net to hold them back.

Vaya and Cheipar leapt down from the Palace-pod. The canopy of a satellite oak broke their fall, and they dropped, vaulted and sprang down to the forest floor within heartbeats.

**Bluestar!** Rayek sent as he completed another lap around the Tree. An elf on the ground shot an arrow towards him, and it bounced harmlessly off his shield.

**Bluestar! Naga! Answer me, children!**

**DAER!** Cheipar sent out Bluestar’s soulname.

* * *

The shudder and the roar of the explosion brought Bluestar all the way back. He sat up to find himself alone in the green cell. A cacophony of sendings echoed in his head, cries of fear and pain and hope. One voice cut through all the others.


Bluestar felt the rootlet pulse in his ear, but after what he’d endured at Timmain’s mercy, the physical pain was nothing. He seized the little bit of wood that protruded and yanked hard. He felt the wet heat of blood and the fresh agony as the root fought to stay put.

Drukk it…

He grit his teeth and hauled with all his might. The blood eased its way out. It felt like a hammer to the skull, and he could hear nothing out of that ear but a ghastly ringing, but he threw the blood-soaked rootlet aside with a ragged laugh.

That was when he smelled the smoke.

It was gathering high above him. He could see it forming a black cloud at the ceiling. As he watched in horror, the moss over the ceiling begin to shrivel and crisp.

**Papa! I’m here! I’m inside the Tree! It’s burning!**

* * *

Fire was good, the Tree knew. Fire cleansed. It cleared out the weeds to let the strong growth proper.

But the pain! The Green Father could never bear it. Even in his old skin, he had battled it, or fled from it. It was his only true weakness.

This was his final test. He knew it, deep in his heart-root. But he could not face it.

* * *

Naga clawed at the tore-up ground, hauling herself up onto her hip. She looked over her shoulder at the blood-spattered crater where her mother and the High One had been standing. She saw the pieces of red scattered everywhere. She heard the screams of the Tree’s servants, both the living elves and the spirit-filled wooden shells. She smelled smoke and burning flesh.

Something bright and burning streaked over her head. Someone was sending to her. But she had only eyes for the spot where she’d last seen her mother.

* * *

Pain was good. It meant you were still fighting. It was the only lesson the Wolfriders had taught her that she’d seen fit to remember.

Melati opened one eye. She couldn’t command the other. Perhaps it was gone. Her limbs would not obey. Perhaps they were gone too. It didn’t matter. Not now. Neither did the feeling of searing heat gathering around her, as sparks rained down and flames licked at the moss underneath her.

All that mattered was the white-and-red lump of flesh that was beginning to stir just at the limits of her vision, and the powerful psychic storm that was bearing down on her.

**For my children!** Timmain’s soul snarled, as she threw all her rage at her rival.

** You… and Pool… deserve each other,** Melati’s soul hissed back. **You’re both… unfit parents!**

The wolf’s spirit battered the snake’s. Spectral jaws tore into scales, and fur flew under the strikes of fangs. Each tore pieces of the other’s soul as they fought for dominance. Melati fought with the rage of the young, but Timmain had the strength of ages behind her. Slowly, wolf began to win over snake.

**You’ll not heal from this!** Timmain vowed.

The wolf’s spectral jaws opened wide for the killing blow. This suddenly something yanked it back.

A new sending invaded their battle.

**A tether pulls both ways, Timmain!**

Timmain’s soul thrashed and howled, but Naga held her down firmly.

Her soul overflowing with pride, Melati threw herself on Timmain. Spectral snake’s fangs sank in deep, and the powerful venom began to corrode the High One’s memories.

**NO!** Timmain screamed as she realized what was happening. *NO! No, I am Timmain! My purpose is to remember!**

Melati’s sending was almost soothing. **Sleep now. Forget.*

**My purpose! My purpose is to– **


**But my purpose… my… my….**



**Sleep now.**


Melati felt the final spark flicker out. Her broken body let out a long shudder of relief.

**Mama!** Naga called. **I’m coming…**

**No. Run, run, you… foolish cub. Run and live… and know… I’m so proud of you.**

**I’m not leaving you! I have to save you!**

**No, you don’t. I’ve served my purpose…** as she sent it, Melati felt a deep sense of peace. **And now I too, can sleep…**

With her failing eyesight, she saw the flames flickering in the grass, advancing towards her. With the last of her strength, she stilled the last of her pain receptors.

It felt so good to stop fighting.

* * *

Naga came back to her own body, and a world out of her nightmares. The smoke was thick on the ground now. She couldn’t see what remained of her mother anymore. She couldn’t see far beyond her outstretched hand. Flames were everywhere. The Tree and all its satellites were wreathed in fire. Screams both animal and vegetable pierced the thick air.

Naga felt a sharp pain. She held up her hands to see tiny sparks dancing from her fingertips.

She looked back towards the great burning hulk of the Tree. She understood now. Her nightmares, her banishment to Abode, her abduction by Timmain… it had all led her here.

To her purpose.

* * *

The ceiling of his cell was almost burned through. Flames rippled across the bark roof, and little cascades of sparks rained down around Bluestar.

**Bluestar, we’re coming!** Rayek sent.

**You don’t have a treeshaper.**

**We’ll figure something out!** Cheipar countered.

No, they wouldn’t. Not in time. Bluestar hadn’t lived the ages they had, but he understood how fast fire could burn, and how merciless gravity could be.

A large piece of bark detached and fell next to him, setting the mossy floor alight.

**Sorry,** Bluestar sent.

He closed his eyes and summoned a memory of the clearing beyond the walls, from that one moment when the trollkin had entered his cell. He heard his father’s desperate sending and tried to judge its distance.

A hot wind rushed at him. His ears popped.

The burning ceiling came crashing down, and the whole upper story of the Tree behind it.

And Bluestar tipped over onto his back, onto dirt, under a sky that was burning, twenty paces away from the bonfire. Cheipar and Vaya nearly tripped over him. With curses and sobs, they hauled him to his feet and crushed him between them.

* * *

Pain! He ran from it blindly. He detached himself from the heart-root, from the Tree itself. He cobbled himself together a body from the few pieces of unburnt wood, and one precious flake of cracked starstone. He forced the wooden limbs into a jerky stride, fleeing the fire, fleeing his brethren who were begging him for a healing.

**I’ll come back,** he told them. **I’ll find the White Mother.**

The Tree knew it for a lie. Maybe he did too.

**I’ll come back,** he repeated, and he believed it, in that moment. As long as some part of the Tree lived, the Green Way would survive. He would seek safety. He would nurture the spark of their purpose, and the magic within the starstone. He would grow strong. He would grow as great as any oak. He would become a new heart-root and seed a thousand new Trees. Perhaps this is how it was meant to be. Fire burned away the weeds and let the strong prosper. The Tree was strong. And it had made him strong. He would be a true Green Father now. He would flee now, so that he could return. And he would remember, so that White Mother’s sacrifice would not be in vain. In ages future, the Tree would cover the world. In songs still to come, he would be acknowledged as the savior of Abode.

The fire was everywhere. The smoke made it hard to see. The ground was roiling, the rocks trying to throw him off balance, even as the angry spirits within it were trying to pull him down. **Yurek!** he raged silently. **Meddling old fool! And Aurek – what right have you to interfere? We had no quarrel with you! Why couldn’t you just sleep?**

He staggered towards cooler air.


**No… no, don’t call me…**


That voice… like the fragment of a dream.

**Leave me, spirits. I will return… but you must let me go…**

I can’t do that, Pool.

Such compassion in her voice, such love…

He could almost see her, taking shape out of the smoke. She had slumbered in his memory for so long, he had forgotten so many the details. But there she was, tawny-skinned, ruddy-haired, smiling so broadly it make her eyes crinkle. Such bright eyes…


She held out her hands to him.

**Have you come at last… after all this time?**

I’m here for you, Pool. Poor, wounded Pool.

**Did the Palace bring you? Why – why have you been gone so long?**

I’m here, now.

**But I needed you before! I was lost without you!**

Forget the past. Come to me, now.

**Oh, Ruffel…**

I’ve been waiting my whole life for you…

He reached out his wooden hands for her golden ones. The bark plates of his face rearranged themselves as he tried to match her smile. Then the wind parted the curtain of smoke, and he saw her clearly at last…

She wasn’t smiling now. Her jaw was set, her lips drawn into a thin line. And her eyes… no longer bright with joy, but with resolve…

Silver eyes…


“You always knew what I meant to you.”


Naga seized Pool’s face in her hands. Flames blossomed from her palms. Heat raced across his bark skin. He screamed, and he heard all the souls of the Tree screaming with him.

“You have to burn…” Naga vowed, but her voice was growing more and more distant.

**Ruffel…** Pool begged. **Take me with you…**

**She’s left you, Pool,** a new voice said sternly, yet not without pity. **She left you long ago.**

He willed his soul to rise with the smoke, towards the light of the Palace and his lost beloved. But it was the stone that claimed him.

**Sleep now,** Aurek commanded.

* * *

Naga staggered back from the burning branches that had once held Pool’s spirit. The purple crystal flashed angrily, then turned black as coal.

Fires were raging behind her now. They were all around her. Now that the adrenaline was fading, Naga felt fear at last.

She drew a breath to scream for help, but the ash choked her. She managed only a weak cough before something swooped down and caught her up off the ground, as deftly as a hawk snagged a hare.

“There you are!” Rayek cried in triumph. “Up we go!”

“My mother –” Naga tried to say, but her throat was too raw. Rayek carried her up through a cloud of sparks, and she winced and pressed her face against his shoulder. But his shield held, and she felt only a faint puff of warmth. Then they were up out of the smoke and the next thing she knew, she was standing on cool starstone, and her father’s arms were locked tight about her as she wept.

On to Part Two

Elfquest copyright 2019 Warp Graphics, Inc. Elfquest, its logos, characters, situations, all related indicia, and their distinctive likenesses are trademarks of Warp Graphics, Inc. All rights reserved. Some dialogue taken from Elfquest comics. All such dialogue copyright 2019 Warp Graphics, Inc. All rights reserved. Alternaverse characters and insanity copyright 2019 Jane Senese and Erin Roberts.