Aaron ran his fingers up through his blonde hair as his body sailed over the desert floor below. The path of sand beneath seemed to stretch out almost eternally. He had no idea where he was or what was going on. It was another one of those dreams. Is it the fifteenth already? Along the floor of the desert happened to be an Air Force base. He wasn't too sure what it was-but after piecing it together he almost had to guess Area 51. There wasn't any bases like it from his research. This dream had happened so much that he had to dig in. Whatever was causing this still remained a mystery. Any second now. How far are you going to go this time?

Just as he predicted, one of the hangars below had quickly imploded on itself. Vehicles and personnel caught nearby were carried away with the debris. A powerful gust of wind over took him quickly. After experiencing it this many times, he'd gotten used to it. The powerful force just swept past him, leaving the base below empty. The hangar had lead it's way into an underground lair. The lair itself was filled with the scattered remains of DoD personnel that had fallen at his hands-the child with the "one" tattoo. Aaron lowered himself to the ground to get another good look at the kid. It looked like him, but he knew well enough it wasn't him. He remembered growing up with his mother too well. Is it dad? I don't know.

The child in this dream was very much like him. As he continued forwards, Aaron hovered backwards to observe. In the distance, soldiers who had survived the blast rose from their barracks already fully loaded. The child began to glow with a white aura as they came closer. Once the bullets started to fly, the chaos ensumed. Aaron watched bullets come to a screaming halt in front of the child's face without warning. He wasn't too sure he could do the same-but he'd known his whole life there was something about him that made him gifted. The soldiers firing upon him were lifted up into the air by an invisible force. Aaron knew he could do this. A bloodbath quickly ensued as the men were torn apart by the powerful energy lying dormant in the child.

Is this going to happen to me? Aaron could only wonder. The child in his dream laid waste to his opposition before turning to face him. The two stared each other down. There wasn't a word spoken between them. Aaron decided this time to change up his dream and approach him. The child remained un-fazed as he drew closer. Just before Aaron could even touch him, a bright light quickly consmed his eyes. Just as his sight started to gain it's focus once more, he found himself still inside the hull of the oil barge. This time he was hovering over his bed he'd made of greasy pillows. The sun light peeking into the portholes to his right had awoken him. He stretched out in mid air to get some motivation to start his day. After rubbing his eyes, he took a look down at the empty storage area below him.

"I've got a big day today-I'm almost to my final stop." Aaron said to himself to keep sane. It was time to get his breakfast in before breaking out again.

Dimension Hopper

By JT Keebaugh

Episode One

"I am the Hunter"

The riff of time and space is an enigma-Ensign Revon was never going to hope to under stand it. His years of research all the way through college seemed to only lead him in circles. Four years of studying of Quantum Physics was enough to drive any mortal insane. He'd been into the subject ever since the tail end of high school. After getting his degree just a tear ago, everything started to come together. It seemed like yesterday when he recieved the call from the the DoD to enlist into Officers Candidate School. The few months there almost flew by. He was amazed that it took just a little bit of heart to get through it yet retain his knowledge. Thinking harder, it felt like this morning when he was attached to Project RU. He was still considered the "boot" out of his peers-but his knowledge of the theory of Quantum Physics was able to exert him to levels beyond theirs.

"Get this one to work, and I'll see to it that you'll reach Lieutenant." Admiral Biggs' words still echoed in his head. He looked down at the panel beneath him to see all of the diagnostics tests. If everything went according to plans-the US Navy would officially be the first military branch on the face of the Earth to create a wormhole. The project had been in development for nearly forty years. It'd been pulled out of the development stages and into preparation after the failure of the recent Project Zoe-something he still was yet to gain clearance too.

"Ensign, do what information have you gathered on the diagnostic scan?" Lieutenant Kaufman asked aloud as he stepped towards him.

"If we can apply about sixty percent of power then we should be able to punch hole. The machine isn't stong enough to withstand the full power of the reactor. We'll need to result to a stronger build-but with what we could open up a one sided hole into another world." Ensign Revon said as he tried to stop shaking. He couldn't believe the day was almost here-he'd thought it would be another year or so until they could punch a hole. Given it's only half way to what they would need to do in order to succeed their goal of a gateway, it would be enough.

"Understandable. Do you believe it's possible we could see this thing in action before the week is out?" Kaufman asked again. He was just as anxious to see the past few years of work on his part come through. With this project completed he might be able to see Lieutenant Commander or Commander by the end of this enlistment. All of the power and money would be at his finger tips. Ensign Revon was already on the same level as him. He stared back down at the control panel once again.

"We could actually have this thing able to punch it's first hole in about ten hours. This would be the best test of our equipment and a perfect oppurtunity to stare into the next dimension!" He was about ready to bust into tears. Ten hours would have been more than enough time. Opening up a wormhole meant considering hundreds of other possibilities and precautions. However at the moment, he didn't even want to think about it. The next dimension could be a vast nothingness that boiled the insides out of every living being for all he cared. The fact he'd be able to be one of the first humans to prove Einstein's theory would put him in the books. Kaufman was happy to hear the news and awaited this as bad as he did. He could only hope that the years worth of work would be able to finally suffice this once. Just this once...

Nago Harbor, Okinawa...

Aaron poked his head out from beneath the floor of the ship's front deck. He glanced around quickly like usual. This hadn't been the first time he'd snuck aboard a ship and it most certainly wouldn't be his last. There were no crew members nearby, so it was time to move. With a simple push, the massive metal bulkhead over him sailed into the open position. The momentum from Aaron's simple nudge had snapped the hinges off the door. It let out a loud clank that was heard by the crew aboard the ship.

"Shit, I put too much effort in!" Aaron laughed. He scratched his head in disbelief while trying to keep a grin off his face.

"Hey kid, where did you come from?" a voice in the distance shouted out. Aaron's cover was finally blown, but it wouldn't be the end of his journey. He'd been through way worse.

"What the hell did you do to the bulk head?" Another voice screamed. Aaron quickly took off towards the front of the ship the second he noticed sailors onboard coming towards him. There were about three of them quick on his trail. Suprisingly enough they were in good enough shape to keep up with him. As they got closer, Aaron quickly turned towards a massive collection of crates to hide. They were tall enough to mask over him and the other men in pursuit. Just when they got near the opening, they all split up to try and branch out. Each twist and turn drove Aaron deeper into the labrynth aboard the front deck. As he reached his way through, he could get a better picture of where the exit was. The maze finally lead him further out and towards the railing on the edge of the ship. Now all there was left was the ocean beneath to escape into.

"You've got nowhere to go!" one final voice shouted. The three men had known the front deck better than him. In the short thirty second period he'd managed to scope out every hiding place on deck. As they all regrouped at the end, Aaron quickly ran out of options of going through them. The first sailor was in shock seeing the young teenager jump up on the rails.

"Hey kid, don't!" the man screamed. He quickly rushed over to the edge of the ship to stop him, but it was too late. Aaron quickly plunged over the edge of the ship. The barge itself was about fifty feet tall when sailing over the ocean. When peering down, the sailor was struck clueless to see no trace of Aaron's body. The only logical thing he could think of was that he'd been taken under the ship's hull. "He went over board! That kid's through!"

The three regrouped to stare over the edge. It was a mystery at this point whatever had happened to him.

"That kid's a goner." the first sailor said as he backed away. "If he'd survived that fall, he's probably on his way to the propellers. Poor guy, we weren't gonna hurt him or nothing."

"He broke our door, I'd get him to pay for that!" the second nudged in.

"How though? That thing gets slammed open so much-there's no way a little kid like that could've broken it."

The three left the edge in shock. At this point they'd have to take it up with the captain and start the paper work over the death they'd just encountered. This wasn't the first time somebody went overboard-so it wasn' that much of a shock. Down below the front of the ship, there was a ledge over the front blocking Aaron from being spotted by the men. He was tight against the edge of the ship trying to keep airborne.

"That was a close one!" Aaron said to himself. He hovered away from the ship carefree-not worrying about anything. The ship contined to sail past him while he floated on his back. He propped his hands behind his back and crossed his legs to get comfortable while thinking. "I almost forgot why I was here. Where exactly are you?"

Aaron had been on the same quest most his life. He knew he had powers and that there were a few like him. In his life, he'd encountered three-two of the fighters like him were taken out. He could remember it well. The first was a few years older than him. She wasn't much of anything. Once he spotted her out, he made quick work of her. As for the next, he took him out just months later after a battle that nearly took his life. His final target was Xehil, another just like him. It'd been a few months since he'd run into him, but at this moment he was almost certain he'd fled here to the Ryukyu islands. Aaron turned to see the beautiful island chain. The biggest one in his eyes was Okinawa itself. He started to use his senses to locate another energy signal like his-however it wouldn't be as easy as he would've hoped.

He knew Xehil was on these islands, but which one was a mystery to him. A few days earlier he'd picked up an energy spike here that was identical to Xehil's, so if he'd left the island he hid very well. It would've taken a bit of his energy to fly away, and that alone would've given him away. Aaron leveled out to take a good look at the city below.

"It's about time I get moving." Aaron muttered before blasting off towards the city. Xehil wouldn't dare to come after him. He knew that at his current level it would take a mircale to stop him. After the past few battles, Aaron was able to increase his power beyond levels that Xehil could comprehend. In all honesty there was no need to worry about killing him. However there was an instinct in him telling him to kill the ones just like him. It would make the world a safer place and secure a nice safe future for himself.

Nago High...

Oki stepped towards the front lawn with her books cradled in her arms. The day's lesson had been pretty dry. With the majority of her classes already finished this year she had to expect it. In a few weeks summer break would finally be rolling in-and that would be a load off her mind. She walked over to the fountain to take a seat in the open. It was still humid out-but 15 years living in Okinawa made her used to it. Real soon it'd be getting a little cooler out, but at that time it'd be near night fall. She sat her books to her right before taking off her glasses to wipe the fog off the lenses.

"Oki!" a voice called out. Oki put her glasses back on before spotting her friend coming closer. She waved to Yuri with a smile on her face.

"Hey!" Oki said back. It'd been a while. She'd gone through with dying her hair again. It never really was a surprise seeing it pink because before that it was green, and before that orange. Oki couldn't really remember anytime she never dyed it.

"I didn't see you at all today! I was hoping we could've had lunch or something," Yuri exclaimed as she took a seat next to her. "I wanted to tell you all about the other school! I'm so glad I don't have to go there anymore."

"It sounds like you really had a bad time! I thought you seemed happy with it when I read your posts online."

"Yeah, but it's not that great. All the guys there are assholes and all of those American boys always crowded up the bars every weekend," Yuri moved her hair back while shaking her head dismissively. She crossed her legs and stared over to Oki. "It's a drag. Soldiers and Marines get way too stupid half the time when they're drunk."

"I heard there's a lot of Air Force boys over by Gate 2, I'd like to go flying with one of them!"

"You're do lame Oki! You don't want to be a dependent, trust me!"

"Like you know everything!" Oki laughed. The two stood up and grabbed their books from off the fountain. "Let's go get some ice cream or something!"

"I was waiting for you to say something like that!" Yuri exclaimed as she started to make her way towards the district. "Like my new hair?"

Name: Oki (Pronounced Oh-key)

Sex: Female

Height: 160 cm

Weight: 50.6 Kilograms

Eyes: Green

Hair: Brown

Bio: Born in Haiwaii. At age 2, her father relocated her and her mother to Okinawa where they've lived ever since. Extremely intelligent and highest ranked in academics amongst her peers. Dreams of becoming a pilot and wants to fly.

Name: Yuri

Sex: Female

Height: 162 cm

Weight: 53.4 Kilograms

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Unknown

Bio: Born in Naha. All through growing up, she had faced being sent to multiple schools which is rather uncommon in Okinawa. She and Oki have been through much together. She wishes to become a performer one day so she can continue to dye her hair.

Aaron found himself floating over the top of the buildings in Nago trying to keep incognito. The heat and humidity from the island was getting to be a lot for him. After wiping what felt like a river of sweat from his face, he took a stop on top of a car factory to catch his breath.

"Now I know why Xehil hid here," Aaron gasped as he took his shirt off. It was already drenched after being outside for only an hour. The sun was a few hours away from setting already. "if he hid here, he'd probably think I'm suicidal to deal with this heat and get him!"

Aaron hung over the edge of the building to see all of the high school students mobbing their way through the streets to get home. He was a little shocked almost. This country wasn't that much different form his home-or atleast the home he once had-back in the United States. After letting some of the sweat dry, he started to feel his gut rumbling.

"Man, I haven't had a bite to eat all day!" Aaron exclaimed. He quickly lunged away from the edge before thinking about how to handle dinner. "It's about time I put on a little show!"


This was the moment. Revon thought the day mankind would see a new frontier would never come in his lifetime up until this morning. Just in front of him was the device that would send Project RU away from being a dream. Kaufman stood across the railing with his arms crossed while behind him all of the young enlisted members continued to prepare the project.

"Lieutenant Kaufman, I think it's about time!" Revon exclaimed.

"If I weren't so happy now," Kaufman said after hearing him addressed wrong. "I'd chew you out for not calling me sir! But I know you'll be getting promoted soon if this works. It's been a hell of a ride Ensign!"

Revon smiled. He turned back towards the machine. His heart was fluttering wildly as the thoughts of progressing his research continued to cloud his thoughts. At this point he'd need to remain calm and focused to make sure nothing went wrong.

"Preparing stage one," one of the operators said over the microphone as he began to power the machine. The lights around the device began to spark with life while the circuits started to come to life. Revon was breathless. "Stage one complete. Power up completed. Stage two, gaining signal."

"It's going to take a minute." Kaufman said aloud. Revon nodded back to him. He was willing to wait. The machine was slowly starting to program co-ordinates to be able and punch a hole into the very fabric of time and space.

"Stage two complete," the operator said finally. "commencing final stages."

Iriomote island...

The young Iriomote cub began to scratch away at the massive tree. Waking up took a little bit of effort, but the young kitten had finally managed to start walking. It's mother was over near the bushes with the rest of her offspring. Under her protective eye she could keep her kittens safe as they played. Overhead, Xehil watched closely at the family of endangered cats as they graced the land. It was a little relaxing seeing them all interact with each other. He'd been running for so long that he forgot what it was like to relax. After an entire day without food, he was about ready to try and find something to eat. It was not the right time to unmask his powers and start to fly around. Just as he lunged from the tree, he started to feel another power source like his.

"Aaron, you've got a lot of nerve to chase me here!" Xehil said to himself. He landed a few feet away from the young cub before walking away. In the distance he could feel Aaron's power surging from a demonstration or something. It was a source of energy he'd felt so many times before. Each time it was just as frightening as the last time he'd detected it. "You just wont give up will you? I don't even want to kill anybody, but if I gotta put an end to you to do it I wont give up on that."

Xehil stepped through a tall patch of grass to find some berries protruding from a couple plants on the ground. He was dying for it. The hunger in his stomach clouded out the fear in his mind. There was no need for emphasizing any of it-he was going to have to find some way to double his power to even hold a candle against Aaron. As he started to dig in, he began to brainstorm possibilities on how to handle this threat. I could sneak up on him and get a cheap shot. If he got one shot in that could faze Aaron then he would be able to follow up with another attack and finally take him out. The only flaw was that Aaron would detect his approach and would put an end to him.

The last time he fought him, he barely managed to deal enough damage to escape-and even that was by chance. Xehil took a bite of the first berry. He started to zone out while chomping away. Maybe I could take somebody dear to him and lure him in? That'd make him worse than the both of them. He could make note that niether he or Aaron had killed an innocent person yet or even planned on it. Also there was no bargaining with this kid-he wasn't going to stop until Xehil was dead. That much he was certain of. Maybe it would just be better if he spent his life running. Aaron might give up eventually.

Xehil took a deep breath after eating the final bite. It was a little rough going down and it certainly didn't taste good. He began to grind his teeth together after getting the food into him. Just trying to even think about anything was getting to hard. What if I just give up? Maybe if I let him kill me I can just drift for a while in another plain of existence. He was silent. In the distance, he could sense something else besides Aaron's power-something un-worldly. What is this?


Aaron walked through the huge pavillion with his arms wide open. He was starting to feel the hunger beginning to get the best of him. As much as he wanted to go find Xehil and get this over with, he just wanted to eat first. Xehil was nowhere near his level as far as he knew-so he could wait until he was an old geezer and it'd still be easy for him. He tried to brainstorm as best as he could a plan to get some money.

"Step right up! See my street magic at work! I can show you tricks beyond human comprehension!" Aaron shouted. He lifted his arms in hopes that somebody would take notice, but in this country nobody really cared. The rest of the people in the area didn't pay any attention to him. "Ok, thank you all! For my first trick, I shall levitate before your very eyes!"

This was the money maker. Everytime he'd do this, they'd be drawn. He prepared to focus on levitating for the show. Just as his body started to raise up off of the ground there was a great disturbance. It wasn't no more but a few miles away too. He started to feel another source of power similar to his-but this wasn't Xehil. If it was, there was no way Xehil cold have gotten that powerful in such a short time. After peering towards it, he cold feel more of them. What the hell is going on here?

"Excuse me mister, I wanted to see you float!" Oki exclaimed. She was captivated. Aaron still seemed to be in shock, but her voice brought him out of it. After looking at her innocent face he seemed swept away like she was. He was speechless. Suddenly the thought of the other energy readings started to go away. The three were silent.

"Who, me?" Aaron asked. Oki and Yuri were still quiet. They seemed a little embarrased by his act, so he started to improvise. "Of course you wanted to see me! I'm am the amazing flying boy! My act is renowned world wide! Every hear of David Blaine? He stole his act from me."

"But David Blaine is old! You're like my age," Yuri muttered before grabbing Oki's hand. "Come on, let's go get that ice cream already."

"No wait, how about I buy that ice cream?" Aaron asked her. Oki looked back at him with Yuri close.

"I bet you're another one of those homeless guys you see out in the streets. Get lost!" Yuri shouted.

"Stop it, I wanna see him float!" Oki exclaimed. Yuri quickly face palmed herself after hearing the response.

"No you don't," Yuri said. "he's fake!"

"Not as fake as that hair of yours! You're just a hater!" Aaron said to her. The two were already neck and neck. As soon as they began to face off, Oki started to laugh. It was rather humorous to see somebody have the audacity to point out Yuri's flaws.

"That's ok, you can show me later big guy. Wanna get some ice cream?" Oki asked as she started to blush. "With me and my friend too? I'll pay!"

Aaron backed away from Yuri. He turned to Oki before giving her a thumbs up. The smile on his face made her blush-which was almost rare to her.

"Let's go get some!" Aaron exclaimed. He'd managed to get some food without having to waste any unneccessary energy. Oki smiled.

"No way Oki, don't buy that jerk anything!" Yuri said quickly. Oki quickly lifted her hands.

"No, it's fine! She wont have to! I'll buy the ice cream." Aaron said to her. It was probably the best bluff he'd ever pulled. Yuri was already getting her doubts about him, but Oki seemed to grow fond of him.


Revon was blown away by the power of the machine. It had already deployed a bright beam of light that shot towards the edge of the hangar.

"Now reaching 60 percent! Preparing to stabilize!" the operate said quickly. He was starting to get excited too. Kaufman was in awe as the laser started to expand and open up.

"Is this it? It has to be," Kaufman exclaimed as he got closer. "This is the key to the next dimension!"

"We did it!" Revon screamed in joy. He peered down the end of the light to see a tiny hole. Inside of it he could barely make out a blue void-but he wasn't sure. It was too small to really see anything. The whole room lit up with cheers, applause, and excitement. Revon was ready to break into tears.

"It's not big enough to transport anything, but that's it-that is the next world." Kaufman gasped. He couldn't think of anything else to say.

"We can make it bigger," Revon said to him. He quickly turned to the operators up on the balcony. "quickly, raise the power to 80 percent!"

"80 percent? Will that do anything?" Kaufman asked him. The operators in the booth were quiet.

"It will work," Revon said to him before facing the booth once more. "I said turn it up to 80! We have to make the hole bigger to send something in!"

"Roger that sir, increasing the power output to eighty percent now." the operator replied. He started to punch in a few commands on his computer as fast a he could. "Transferring power now."

Revon turned back to the wormhole. The entire room began to light up as the energy beam coming out of the machine started to light up. Slowly, the width of the beam began to increase along with the hole.

"It makes so much sense now! We need to build a second machine to deploy the other end, it's the only way!" Revon exclaimed.

"That seems to be most logical. But either way, this here is enough. Admiral Biggs will have no problem letting us build that. We'll get the funding for it once we send him this." Kaufman replied. The wormhole stretched to about double it's size this time. It was a good six inches in circumference-but still too small to fit any of their test equipment in.

"Sir, we're having problems now! The machine is starting to overheat! If we don't shut it off then it might melt down!" The operator up above shouted. Revon was angry. He wanted to see more-he wanted to go in and see it. At the same time, he had to remember all of the money that had gone into the project and how much wold go down the drain if it had been destroyed.

"Cut the power now!" Kaufman shouted.

"Aye aye, sir!" the operator shouted back. He quickly touched the emergency switch the second he recieved the word. Almost instantly, the machine let out a loud whistle as it started to die down. Revon watched the beam of light fade away while the wormhole started to close. He'd finally seen another dimension, but it came and went so fast-he almost didn't feel it.

"Revon," Kaufman shouted to him. He was happy to see everything work the way he wanted. After the first time shouting, he couldn't get his attention. "Ensign Revon!"

"Yes sir!" Revon shouted after popping to the position of attention. He felt like he was back in OCS again.

"Good job today kid, you may be getting a set of railroad tracks on your collar like me!" Revon smiled. He was extremely over joyed by that news, but even that was minuscule to the fact he'd punched open a hole between worlds. The second he turned to face Kaufman, the hole released a massive bolt of lightning. The force of energy arced through the air and tore straight into the ground as if it wasn't there. The whole crew turned to see it. Oddly enough the lightning formed a ball and remained stationary on the center of the floor.

"What the hell is that thing?" one of the operators near the center of the floor shouted. The ball of energy almost seemed sentient-soon sprouting what appeared to be limbs along with a head. The lone operator started to back away after seeing what he thought to be two glowing red eyes. "Get it away!"

"Tell me somebody's getting this!" Revon shouted. The ball of lightning quickly shot towards the operator, entering his body. A scream of pain filled the room as the young man was filled with an incredible surge of power. The second it struck him, the energy quickly left the room at blazing speeds without even leaving a trace. After disappearing, the operator fell to the ground in flames from recieving the deadly shock.

"Somebody get a Corpsman!" A voice shouted. Revon had no idea what exactly had just happened not what the precautions would be. He'd never seen anybody die until this moment. Today was more than what he could handle.

Iriomote Island...

"I know Aaron felt that one!" Xehil gasped. The massive power source seemed to appear and dissapear rapidly without any sort of warning. He tried to trace it, but it continued to bounce around. "Where is it?"

Immediately the energy signal started to pop up even closer to his location. Xehil could only brace himself as the source began to come up on him. He immediatelly ignored the chances of drawing Aaron closer by triggering his energy to defend himself from whatever was near. All at once a massive amount of power exploded out of his body, shielding him with light. The animals nearby started to scurry away as the aura around Xehil started to swell up. He started to push it further and further up to it's peak to at least try and draw the new power source towards him. This island was too beautiful to watch something destroy it.

"Come and get me Aaron! I'm right here!" Xehil screamed finally as his power reached it's peak. Beneath him, he could feel the ground starting to shake from the foreign energy source. The patch of grass beneath his feet started to glow bright yellow as a huge force of power started to swell beneath him. Xehil jumped away as a beam of light shot from out of the center of it. The massive beam caused the whole island to shake violently as it spiraled upwards into the sky. This definitelly isn't Aaron. As the light began to clear, a strange figure started to take shape in the center of the newly formed crater. Xehil had never seen anything like it.

In the middle, he could see a spiky looking creature that seemed to be constantly conducting bolts of lightning from it's body. It appeared to be metallic with it's shiny skin, but the way it moved almost made it have an organic texture. The being was hovering off the ground as it's aura began to swell. Both of it's glowing red eyes struck fear into the boy's heart, but he had to muster up against it. As the arms and leg's of the metallic creature finally took shape, it lowered to the ground. Around it's head, a mane began to grow rapidly. What exactly is this thing? Xehil couldn't comprehend it.

"Where am I?" the being asked as he lifted his arms. Xehil lowered himself to the ground as the debris from the blast started to clear.

"You tried to kill me," Xehil muttered. "I'm not gonna tell you anything!"

"You seem to have the same powers I do. I can sense something inside of you," the creature gasped as it started to approach Xehil. "And believe me, I really want it!"

Next Episode!

"I expected Okinawa would be a nice peaceful chunk of land, but maybe I thought wrong. The second I get here, I sense Xehil's power and the energy of some creature name Karn. I don't know where this guy came from or what he knows, but what I do know is he's got powers much like my own and he could prove dangerous. I'll see you there."