First appeared in ASM 93

Awaken Conroy looked out between stars at a ship that wasn’t there.

He’d have loved to ascribe the error to technology or, more likely, to himself. But while he was a loser wreck-jockey, he was a competent loser. He’d reached the right coordinates for his salvage, and absolutely nothing awaited him. He twisted his fingers with twitchy urgency into the old bootlace that hung around his neck, a battered hex bolt at its end, and noticed his own fidgeting only when it started to pinch.

He double-checked every system he could access, swamping worry with busyness. The infinite expanse was rife with rogue objects on fierce trajectories. If a comet had clipped the ship and sent it spiralling to parts unknown, that was God’s fault, and Wake would simply have a boring week. He might get lucky enough to send a correction instead of an abject plea not to be fired. Might.

A message delivery pulse broke his fragile concentration, the animated exclamation point promising an instant headache. Hopes of an explanation from corporate were dashed by a note to his personal account. Wake glanced at the sender, wrapped his fingers around the hex bolt again, and did not open the message.

The video feed went dead at that moment, the day’s first grace note. Nobody who was suddenly, horribly blinkered in the vastness of space could possibly dwell on their romantic failures. Wake went on troubleshooting.

The message notif blinked back on as he worked. Technology (like Wake) was ultimately dumb and stupid, but that felt like a deliberate insult. Scowling at the screen, Wake discovered the camera window wasn’t quite blank. A formless grey swirl, barely distinguishable from the black, danced in time with the janky animation. Maybe a loose wire somewhere? Might as well go and look for physical damage. He was always ready with an excuse to suit up.

Leaving the pressurised cabin required a check-in with the navigation system, which informed him he wasn’t moving. A ship too large to get near a planet without crumpling under its own mass, a ship that required an hour’s worth of checks from its controller to initiate velocity change, a ship practically made of inertia, was stock still, without explanation.

Wake found himself praying. He’d had a distant relationship with the endless since his mother’s funeral, an amicable divorce where he and God pretended they’d grown apart and both knew perfectly well that Awaken Conroy was a waste of stars and graces. He’d last prayed at his niece’s Dedication, hidden in a virtuous crowd of proper Sojourners, and the gesture had seemed as futile then as now.

This was some dumb tech problem. He was en route to a planned rendezvous with a wreck stuffed with economically viable ore. The job would be tedious and remind him why he could never have been an engineer. He wouldn’t even get to interact with whatever cool rocks had been dredged from the surface of a distant world.

There was not something unknowable between him and space, not a great upending of the transcendent laws at the root of everything. Nauseous terror was not bubbling under his skin.

A ship did not stop on its own.

Wake unlocked his suit. Not to prove to himself that everything was alright, and not to move for movement’s sake. To look outside and immediately cut many possibilities down to one.

Rushing the sequence got him angrily beeped at as claustrophobia crawled further up his throat. (Wake had been fascinated to learn that most people got that feeling from putting the suit on. The bulky gear weighed down the flimsy human inside, but it got you out.) He held his relic until the last possible second, but the suit was almost as comforting. All that bent toward the stars had its own sacred nature, however neon yellow.

Navigating the drone hangar left him too much empty space to think in. He had the computer read him the info-packet on the missing ship to fill the minutes. The contract was suspiciously cheap, the report vague where it wasn’t redacted. Engine failure followed by evacuation of all hands. Fifty years an unclaimed derelict. Sketchy, but boring. Salvage controller was a boring, boring job, perfectly suited to a failure who needed to be in space the way he needed oxygen and carbohydrates.

This crap is why Marion left.

Well. He’d almost tricked himself into relaxing before he reached the hatch, anyway.

He would see the stars soon, he reminded himself, and not through cheap cameras. Whatever else was wrong with this horrible day for a particularly useless human speck, whatever Marion wanted to reopen old wounds for, whatever was wrong with his ship, the universe would go on in all its eternally expanding brightness.

The window that was supposed to soothe his rattled soul looked out on nothing but perfect blackness.

What emotion you were supposed to experience on discovering that all physical laws were lies was not entirely clear to him, and several half-formed chemical bursts squabbled for dominance. The universe would spiral on without him.

Wake felt himself start to cry. Tears came first, unmoored by any full-formed feeling, and then a blanket of numbing dread.

He activated the suit’s lights. A helmet-mounted flashlight wasn’t going to illuminate an absent unreality, but lighting a candle against the darkness felt better than weeping helplessly.

The light fell on a controllers’ cabin. He almost thought he’d gotten turned around, but this room was nothing like his. It was sized for a full crew and had different corporate logos splashed on every wall. He’d expect a cabin like this on a bigger, older ship, like the one that was supposed to be waiting for him here. The conclusion would be obvious if it didn’t fly in the face of every rule of reality.

Debating various possibilities of dream, hallucination, and particularly puzzling divine revelation, Wake unsealed the hatch. He planted his boots on the hull of his own ship rather than the impossible floor. All the status lights that would attend an ordinary spacewalk blinked merrily on his helmet display. Everything safe, all normal.

The room looked right for the date and model of his missing target, with an ugly matte finish and rounded edges that could have come from his grandfather’s favourite bar. But everything shone as if polished, neatly secured. A hasty evacuation and decades in space, and nothing was out of place?

As if in answer to the thought, his light sparkled on a blob of water hanging in the air. Stupid water tricks were the first, best entertainment in space. A perfectly ordinary sight, except in a depressurised room in hard vacuum.

“That should be ice,” he heard himself say, petulant and thready. He had no idea who he was talking to. Not God.

A screen blinked to life across the room. Wake breathed deep, shrugged, and crossed. The magnetic nodes were worn out, and his boots hardly stuck. The room was too big for even the swankiest ship, distended to wrap around his salvager’s hull.

He wound up sitting in mid-air to read.

Sender: Justice Conroy

count your blessings I saw this and just had to pass it along. A young woman was… Sender: BSCI

Urgent Health Provider Policy Change Update Please be advised that due to the ne… Sender: Aspire Conroy

Auntie Justice Watch out for one of those glurge holos. Anyway, Zeal wants you t… Sender: Zeal Conroy

Graduation They’re going to stream it but I don’t know if you can get a signal out… Sender: Mars For Humanity Ltd.

Invest in Re-colonisation Special rate! Reclaim our solar system! Each acre of M…

Sender: Marion Bellerose

Hi Can we talk when you’re back?

Wake was offended, not frightened. His security was mediocre, and he was a very boring person, but those were private inanities. Especially the note from that last pulse. He’d refused to read it for a reason. The crackle of mundane irritation brought him to his senses, and he twisted to return to his real ship where he could pretend things made sense.

He wasn’t surprised to see the hatch closing. Just disappointed.

Activating the reopen cycle could only be futile, but trying sounded better than a screaming panic tearing through his limited oxygen supply. In his hurry to reach the door, he put his foot down too hard and felt the distinct shift that meant he was headed for the ceiling.

Which was really just one of six fun walls to bounce off when your boots failed. Wake probably shouldn’t have been able to enjoy the whirling sensation in his gut, but even now, even here, he grinned.

But just past the point of no return, his boots zipped back to the floor. The nodes were fully functional.

Magnetising appropriate metals wasn’t difficult. He and Aspire once spent an afternoon sticking bobby pins to every surface in their apartment. They never had found pin number twenty, and his father’s hair had been just a little lopsided ever thereafter.

Wake swallowed. The memory was a welcome one, but he’d forgotten for a moment that he was anywhere but home, anywhen but seven years old. Where had that come from?

“Thanks,” he said after a moment, because politeness was as natural to him as breathing.

Welcome, said the visor display that was supposed to show emergency instructions.

“Oh.” The fragile shell of human ingenuity that kept him alive in space was no longer in his control. Wake took one deep breath, the indulgence as gentle as he ever was with himself. Death was always close to the best part of life, the stars the fittest tomb.

And he was almost sure this wasn’t something he could be fired for.

The hatch indicator lights began to blink. Far across the hangar, the inner access door to his own cabin did the same. “No!” The lights went out. Wake had someone’s attention. “Air and pressure. It needs to be done in sequence. Things… break.” How could he possibly need to explain this? Anyone who knew space knew safety protocols. “And I will definitely die.” In case that mattered.

A row of oxygen canisters snapped to the forefront of his mind. The mental image wasn’t odd, considering the turn his thoughts had taken. But then someone was talking, and Wake slowly recognised the voice as his own. “Water reclamation and oxygen functions are co-dependent. Damage to either system triggers emergency supply release and beacon activation. In the event—”

Wake had to bite his tongue to cut himself off. The words came from the controller’s manual. He couldn’t help but state the obvious—the universe would certainly see and correct its error—that he hadn’t meant to speak.

Malfunctioning gear was frightening the way a solar storm was frightening. You’d die without shame, vindicated in the knowledge that you were a very small traveller in the infinite, and you’d done your best. But what was the difference between operating a suit and the person it contained? Both were just physical systems. Wake slumped, actually dizzy with fear.


The helmet display distorted the animation, but it was unmistakably that stupid message alert icon.

A sickly rush of disgust succeeded terror, what Wake imagined motion sickness must be for a gravity addict. Raised Sojourner and station-side, he had a very specific sense of the personal. Constant data flow kept you alive in space. The truly private self was small and sacred, and this invasion was the end of what he could endure. “Do not—”

Politeness, dammit. “Please don’t.”

Flickering blue filled his visor with the roughest facsimile of a human face, a creature of pure pareidolia. Squinting past to the room beyond, he could just make out the wandering grey clouds he’d taken for interference on camera. They swirled free despite hard vacuum, in perfect time with the shiver of his helmet display.

He’d followed Marion to various art shows. They’d wandered once among holo-sculptures made of static that looked just like that. He’d known even then that the spindly fingers intertwined with his were a fleeting thing, the smell of imitation wine and the murmur of pretentious conversation a dreamlike cushion for a quiet, unreal joy.

Another memory too sharp and out of place. Well. When the best relationship of your life ebbed away into nothing because you were fundamentally unlovable, a bit of tenderness around the scars was probably fair. But just like his vision of childhood mischief a few minutes before, he’d felt like he was living the moment again.

The blue face faded. He hardly had time to be grateful before text replaced it.

Sender: I The words lingered a moment, then vanished.

Sender: We And once again his visor cleared.

Sender: I/We

Subject of Inquiry Here Content of inquiry here.

Wake treated himself to an indulgently slow blink. When his eyes opened again, a new message waited.

Information Acquisition Data storage via organic chemistry potentially unstable. Structural damage likelihood >1%. Unacceptable. Risk lowered significantly by intermediary communication process and/or passive participation.

“Fine, I’ll participate passively. Just don’t make me do things.” Once again, he sounded like a whiny child. Life as a miserable failure had prepared him for this 

moment. “But—” There was only ever one real question. “Why?” Permission Received Initiating.

Wake’s headache had simply become part of him, like blood and self-loathing. 

“Who am I talking to?” Information Received I/we. “Great. But I need a little more—” Passive ParticipationInitiated.

A girl in a grey jumpsuit stood at an altar with the distinction of being authentically ancient. The further you got, the scarcer the relics of humanity’s first forays into space, and most altars were artificially aged. The Conroys came from an old station and were conscientious about not boasting. Poor Zeal, though. The family Dedication garb stopped well above her ankles. Wake had tripped on the hems at the same age.

Wake wriggled between the floor and a stuck maintenance panel, wincing at the pressure on his hips and the tiny claws in his hands. A whole litter of kittens nested under the decommissioned heater, and it was due for recycling.

There was a modest reward for cats young enough to tame for ships, though he struggled to reconcile his errand with the strict morality of an eight-year old. They would travel the stars, and what higher aspiration could any being have? They were choosing their own destinies when living feral on station, though, and he seemed to have no right to stop them.

His father had to march him to the station hub to turn in three he tried to hide in his room. He got to keep the fourth. Their little secret.

Marion’s office was simply that, not an office-bedroom-kitchen-bath. He’d thought of his boyfriend as rich at first, but settled finally on genteel poverty, a phrase from the Conroy library. Marion’s things were nicer, but he didn’t have more of them. His parents felt the unworthiness of a Sojourner boy who struggled to keep a scholarship to court their son but couldn’t do anything about it except look unfriendly.

Maybe Marion felt it, too. But he smiled a sweetly absent smile when he finally looked up from his drafting table and realised Wake had been waiting for two minutes with coffee pouches. The best of all possible smiles.

“I don’t have anything against planets,” Wake explained a little weakly, wilting under the eye of the overworked career councillor who, no doubt, had a dozen more kids to see this afternoon. “I just don’t want to spend time on one. I don’t like gravity.”

“You listed geosciences as one of your interests, Mr Conroy.” She didn’t call any of the other kids by surname, he’d noticed, but some people would do anything to avoid saying a Sojourner name.

“Rocks can leave planets. We have rocks up here.”

She didn’t deign to respond directly. “Frankly, your math scores would probably hurt you just as much in the geosciences as in engineering.” She didn’t pause. He just had to swallow in a way he’d become accustomed to as school dragged him along year by year. “It’s important to tailor our aspirations to reality…” No, Aspire is my sister, Wake did not interrupt her to say.

“You’re too good for him,” Spire said, and, “You deserve better,” and, “Why do you let that brat treat you like the help?” The usual. He never had an answer she’d accept. He did not deserve better, and sibling loyalty would demand she fight him on it. More importantly, he didn’t actually want better. Spire didn’t understand. She’d had the boyfriend who’d become her first husband wrapped around her little finger since they’d met.

That kind of attention made Wake’s skin crawl. It must be worse than gravity, having somebody fix their whole world around you, being the fulcrum on which a universe turned.

“Wake, get off the ceiling.” He protested, of course. His mother listened to the many reasons it was easier to do his homework like this with the patience of the infinite (which is to say she didn’t listen, but kindly let him talk). Then she set him on his bed, turned up the magnets on his boots, and told him to be a productive weirdo if he had to be a weirdo.

He’d still taken two hours to finish.

It wasn’t even hard math, just too much of the wrong thing in the wrong moment. Hard math would come later and dash his last hopes of being someone smart and important.

“It’s dad.”

Wake felt every joint seize and release, would have fallen if falling meant anything shipboard. “What…”

“Foresight said it was quick. A leak? It’s not important. How soon can you be home?”

“If I get out tonight—I’ll find out. I’ll let you know. Are you with mum?”

“Yeah. Do you want his relic or should I put it away for Zeal?”

“You don’t?”

“I’ll keep grandma’s.”

“Yeah, then I do. I’ll… I’ll be there soon.”

The great metallic shriek and the hiss of sealant came only seconds apart, but the hull breach lasted a million beautiful years. He floated upside down for almost a minute, surrounded by a halo of his lunch and school supplies.

He could have righted himself easily before his frantic teacher reached him, but he’d been busy with his first moment of true transcendence. He’d believed then, maybe only then, and the touch of rust around his neck (a binder clip, now passed to Zeal) promised to carry a flash of that brilliance forever.

“That one’s wrong.”

“Thanks. Wait. Wrong how?”

“You finished the proof up here, see?” Wake pointed over Marion’s shoulder, tapping his tablet between two of the four independent holo-projectors. The gift had embarrassed him, but not enough to let it go to waste. Wake had his old one, and it was the newest he’d ever owned. “You did too much work again.”

“That’s why you need to switch tracks,” Marion said. “We’ll have the same homework.”

“Nah, we both know I’d flunk.” Wake had attached himself to the wall, crouching like a gargoyle, and here he uncoiled to drape himself over Marion’s shoulders. “And why would you flunk, again?”

“Because I’m a dumbass.” Marion’s mouth tightened the way it always did when Wake called himself out. Time to change the subject. “And.” He lowered his voice. “Deep space is my dwelling place.”

“Is that… scriptural, or something?”

There was no Sojourner scripture, just stories and traditions, patchwork quilts of family libraries. But all Wake said was, “Just an old book. Deep space is my dwelling place, the stars my destination. I’m supposed to be a cool space pilot.” The unhappy twist in Marion’s pale lips didn’t budge. “Spire’s not a controller.” “Dispatch counts.”

“Fine.” Marion reached back to tap the clip that hung in the air from Wake’s neck, an intimacy he’d learned to like rather than explain his discomfort with it. 

Silence crept between them, the conversation feeling unfinished.

Wake woke.

He was still in the warped controller’s cabin, illuminated only by his own lights. His suit’s clock said he’d been here for hours. The scene didn’t make any more sense than it had, but he found he preferred consistent nonsense to the alternative.

His visor display activated. Wake prepared for the next headache, but the lights were dimmer and warmer now, the new image clearer than the helmet’s simple screen should have allowed. He’d have been pleased if his sister’s face hadn’t replaced the spooky blue one. The thought that the next choice might be a dead parent kept his mouth shut.

Wake waited for violation and horror, the conviction that he could never trust his senses again. But the hull had been breached, and this was the moment of rushing and spinning in ways his brain had never evolved to handle. However dangerous, that was the whole fucking point. “So. I’m back. Who are you and what do you want?” His voice was almost steady.

I/we are not confident in our answer. The words unspooled at a gentle pace, no longer formatting like an inbox note. Small blessings.

“Happens to me all the time.”

I/we appreciate your understanding. 🙂

Wake considered a question, but decided he’d rather those goofy punctuation faces than an attempt to animate Spire’s borrowed face. He had, apparently, pleased whatever he was speaking to. (Whatever he was speaking to. There was a slow, strange thought a smarter person probably would have had already.) “You’re welcome?” I/we are somewhat new to this.

Ironic understatement? Weird. But they’d been rooting around in Wake’s mind before they made this stride into colloquialism. “Look,” he said. “I’m still feeling a little kidnapped, but I think you maybe didn’t mean to.”

I/we acted without understanding. Okay. Some colloquialism. I/we had limited preparation for this opportunity.

Wake simply couldn’t see himself as an opportunity. They hadn’t set out in search of a salvage controller with middling performance reviews. He must be incidental. “Could you begin at the beginning?”

Logical. More informality. If Wake was right (he was only beginning to grasp what might be true if he wasn’t wrong), any command of the language was impressive. I/we were separated from the whole of my/ourself and transported into orbit.

Wake thought back to every novel he’d ever read about a collective intelligence. 

Usually they were villainous. And buglike. “Could you go back even further? 

Animal, vegetable, or mineral?” A long pause, and then, Mineral 🙂

That was supposed to be a joke, but psychic, technology-hijacking aliens— (Aliens? Yes.) Aliens could be minerals if they wanted.

“What kind of mineral?” There were probably more important questions. Wake just liked rocks. All the good bits of math, the repeating patterns baroque enough to be intriguing.

A too-vivid memory rushed on him again, but rather than forget where and when he was, the scene swam like a drunken nightmare. Wake looked up from hands larger than his own, wisps of blond hair that should have been black falling into his eyes. The air reeked of engine grease and industrial cleaner, familiar ship smells. “Ready, pilot?” asked a woman he’d never seen and recognised immediately.

‘Pilot’ hadn’t been a real job title in fifty years. Wake was a controller. Funny that they still called the things ships, really, and— Fifty years.


Also, he’d just lived someone else’s memory and that should really be more of a thing. First contact overwhelmed squeamishness.

A diagram appeared on his visor as he returned to himself. He recognised the layout of crystallography data, if not the specifics. What kind of mineral indeed.

“Neat.” He should probably have something with more weight to say. The first human to encounter intelligent alien life had to be him. “So. The people on the ship.” What sense of time did talking rocks have? “Before me. Did they… separate you?”

I/we were extracted by inorganic means.

Drone mining from orbit would have been in its infancy at the time. No one on the ground to notice discrepancies; no one above paid enough to look for them. “That explains a lot.”

I/we attempted to communicate directly with the ship.

All the impossibilities he’d encountered, Wake realised, were efforts to be intelligible to a human. How much worse would today have been without that softening influence? The crappy info-packet he’d mistaken for institutional apathy had been the poor bastards’ attempts to explain an alien intelligence hijacking their ship.

“So you didn’t notice there were people?” What would humans mean to a perfect, crystalline sphere that was also a single mind?

Living beings are not separate from my/ourself at home.

Belay the flawless mineral intelligence. For the second time today, tears threatened, but they were tears of delight, something to the left of happiness that had more to do with wonder. He was talking to an alien.

Focus. “So you went into their heads like you did mine.” They must have been terrified.

I/we experience organic life as roughly analogous to your individual sensory organs. I/we attempted to extract information from them when the vessel proved incapable of independent response.

Questions swirled, questions that should be posed to a combined panel of ethicists, diplomats, and theologians. He settled on, “Did you disable this ship on purpose?”

I/we erred.

“Yeah. Yeah, you did.” A spacesuit made it hard to bury your face in your hands. 

“You-slash-you did.” He lacked a proper second-person plural. “What happened?” I/we intended to incorporate the vessel and its auxiliary lifeforms into ourselves.

“That’s a thing you can do?” Breaking physics, manipulating matter, encompassing all, why not?

Foreign matter impacting the world of origin is integrated into the whole. Novel material is… The ellipses was so human, so self-effacing and silly, that Wake was sure it must have come from him. Cause for both rejoicing and solemnity.

Wake knew exactly what they/they meant. “Sacred.” The rush of hard vacuum, the first shy brush of a thumb against his cheek, understanding how redshift worked, tears that came on in a bewildering wave, stars upon stars upon stars.

Silence stretched for a moment. A good silence. I/we believe you are correct.

Wake considered his adequacy to address the subject of transcendence any further, balked, and performed an inelegant conversational loop. “So. How does that work? Organic things as sensory organs?”

It works. Another memory that wasn’t his, but this was less comfortable than another human’s eyes. The visual field was too wide. A landscape of reds and soft purples and colours he couldn’t name stretched into a nothingness he knew must be a horizon. Creatures with multi-layered wings zipped overhead in grid patterns. A herd of gelatinous blobs crept across the ground, which sizzled faintly wherever they went, bedrock shining underneath. And while he watched this bustling meadow, he felt a volcanic eruption brewing, a sea lapping at him, the heat of twin suns and the cold of turning away from—

The memory ended abruptly. Wake shook his head, woozy and close to fainting.

I/we apologise. Your reaction was unexpected.

“It’s… it’s okay.” Wake grinned through clammy sweat and swimming vision. He didn’t think he had the senses to process the awareness of a living world, thus the disorientation. Worth it. He couldn’t reach for his relic, but knowing it was there was enough.

Potential damage to you is unacceptable.

“Thanks.” For all his euphoria, this was the stuff of horror stories. An intelligence that could hijack any system, stop and disassemble and rebuild ships in the middle of space, sneak inside minds? He was still giddy, but the memory of his vocal cords acting on their own almost snuffed that. “Could you move on your own? Long distances. Since you have—you are a ship.”

I/we consider this course of action readily implementable. I/we are only undecided as to destination.

“Not home, though? Back to… you?”

I/we have become novel material. They/they sounded the way Wake felt. Transcendent. Uncertain.

There was no first contact helpdesk. Who would he send word to, his manager? If his message wasn’t dismissed as a hoax or a nervous breakdown, then he couldn’t help suspecting that the first instinct of those in power would be to blast this threat into oblivion. Much as he instinctively detested the idea, they/they could destroy humanity without much work. And Awaken Fucking Conroy shouldn’t be able take that risk for everyone when his argument amounted to, it’s a planet you can talk to, and it’s nice!

Spire’s face flickered, as though his extended silence was bothersome, and then Marion’s took its place. He deserved that. “Thoughts about where to go,” he asked weakly.

I/we are now aware of possibilities.

“How would you say you feel about those possibilities?” Positively. 🙂

This wasn’t Wake’s decision. Not for humans or for the living planet or for this little bit of it that had been inadvertently mined for rare earth metals. He was the worst possible human, and humans weren’t that great to begin with. “Could you… split off a little more of yourself?” This was a terrible idea. “If most of you stayed here. Would that work?”

I/we find this proposal plausible. Explain the purpose, please.

Please seemed like a good sign. “Most of you can stay here. There’re a couple rocky planets close to the sun if you want to check those out?” That was a wonderful sentence, and he had to struggle against giggling. “And the rest comes with me.

Assuming my ship still works.” I/we will restore it to full function.

Which begged the question of what function it had while Wake ran diagnostics unawares. He couldn’t be upset, though. The dingy salvage rig and the station he bunked in and all the stars between, so thoroughly known, suddenly didn’t feel so drab. “I’ll show you a little bit more of the universe. Then you can decide.” I/we gratefully accept. Thank you, Awaken Conroy.

And now he was blushing and grinning and maybe about to pass out. “You’re welcome.” Politeness! “I know some people who’d like to meet you.”

His visor screen went blank, and he had an unimpeded view of whirling grey fractals before the sparkling dust settled on his suit and disappeared. A moment later he felt a pulse of warmth from the hex bolt where it rested against his chest.

As he picked his way back to the ship, Wake called up his personal messages and composed his replies. To Spire, This is going to get weird. To Zeal, Actually, I think I’ll be back before you graduate. To Marion, Yeah, we should.