by R. Frink
An epic tale of 5 soldiers involved in a war between humanity and a powerful alien race.
Chapter VII: Kedalion's Flight
Imperial Victoria – Senator Hillstrom’s Office
“So, what did you want to talk to us in private, Senator?” General Alverdine asked as she and General Kyros followed Senator Hillstrom into his office. The senator sat down behind a desk and gestured for the two to sit down in the available seats.
“I wanted to address this charade that you’re playing,” the senator began, looking them both in the eye.
“Charade? I don’t know what –” Alverdine started.
“I might be old in your eyes, but I’m no fool. You two are the legendary Aphrodite and Adonis of the First War.” Hillstrom paused and a moment of silence befell the room. “Who put you up to this? General Connal?”
“General Heisler, he didn’t want…certain secrets to surface,” Alverdine replied reluctantly, eyes narrowing.
“Senator Hillstrom, what do you want from us?” the dark skinned woman asked as she rose from her seat.
“Nothing, just wanted to satisfy my curiosity,” Hillstrom answered. “I’m relieved to know that you two are fighting once more.”
“This conversation can’t leave this room.”
“I know the protocol all too well.”
Kyros stood up and the two prepared to leave. “If that’s all then –”
“Tell me one last thing. Have you thought of regrouping the Four Stars?”
Alverdine smiled with a hint of nostalgia in her features. “It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that name.”
“That’s what you called yourselves isn’t it? The four greatest soldiers of the First War.”
“There are only three of us, Adonis, Amethyst, and myself. There technically wasn’t a time when all four of us were together and there never will be.”
Suddenly, a loud beeping noise erupted in the room. Alverdine reached down to her side and pulled a slim silver cell phone out from its clip. She answered the phone and after a string of “Yes, sir” the conversation ended with “I understand.”
“Looks like we’ll be spending some more time together, senator.”
Purgatory – Briefing Room
0649 – May 17, 2107
Ice stood in front of a small group of Taetren soldiers. Behind him stood Elteo readied with the controls to the hologram screen that appeared behind them. Ice nodded in Elteo’s general direction and the screen showed a schematic of the Dragoon model.
“This is the diagram for the UEF’s new model. The standard issue is equipped with one mid range sword, a medium powered rifle and a shield. It is several times more powerful than their Komodo unit, as well as faster and more agile. However, these new features come at a price. Because of the high amount of energy needed to power these mechs, the Dragoon model has a shorter amount of time they can be on the battle field than the previous models. In addition, the joint areas are not as well protected due to the added mobility,” Ice explained. He paused for a moment to allow Elteo to single out all the weakened areas. “When facing the Dragoon models, are strategy is to remain defensive as long as possible and then strike when the Dragoons become low on energy.”
Elteo stepped forward to add to Ice’s presentation. “As powerful as they are, we still outnumber them, and with this new information, we will take victory.”
The Taetren lieutenant grinned at the confident expressions of the soldiers; a positive morale flowed through the room.
Hero’s Legend – Briefing Room
“Alright, listen up,” Alverdine began. “We have a new mission from General Connal. This mission has two stages. In the first stage we are to escort the Imperial Victoria to the research colony Vinci 1. Once we've completed that, we move to stage 2, where we will protect Senator Hillstrom during his stay there. Any questions?”
A short span of silence passed until Uri raised his hand.
“Why are we playing bodyguard to this senator guy?” The young man asked.
“It seems he is overseeing some important military projects stationed at Vinci 1. In addition, Imperial Victoria is going to get updated to make it more Dragoon compatible,” Alverdine explained. She looked around the room and asked, “Any other questions?”
Everyone's bored looks were her answer.
“Well, since no one else has a question this briefing is over. The Imperial Victoria needs to make some repairs which will take some time. Until then, you may have the rest of the day to yourselves, but stay alert in case of an enemy attack.” As everyone began to get up and leave the room the general added, “Except you, Phoenix.”
Fiammetta gave the young blonde a sympathetic look as she and the other pilots exited the room. Phoenix approached General Alverdine awaiting his directions.
“Phoenix, you and Kyros will use this opportunity to train together. Give him your best,” Alverdine instructed.
“Yes, ma'am,” Phoenix replied with a determined look.
“And Kyros,” Alverdine began as she shifted her mahogany gaze to her partner. “Don't coddle him. He needs to learn.”
Kyros looked almost surprised by her words but nodded.
“He's all yours then,” the young woman said as she patted Phoenix shoulder and with that she left the room.
Hero's Legend – Training Room
Upon stepping into the training room, Kyros discarded his uniform jacket revealing a well defined chest underneath a black T-shirt. Phoenix followed suit, then stood to face Kyros a few feet away. Kyros eased into a fighting stance and with a flick of the wrist, beckoned Phoenix to come at him. The young blonde hesitated at first, but quickly closed the distance. Phoenix threw a fist towards Kyros’ face, but the older man’s arm swiftly moved into place to block it. After the failed punch, Phoenix lifted his knee towards Kyros’ abdomen. The general caught the knee with his right hand and used the other to shove Phoenix away with enough force to cause Phoenix to stumble back.
Kyros’ violet eyes bored into his student’s causing the younger man to blush under the intense gaze. The green haired man returned to his fighting stance and beckoned Phoenix once again. Phoenix approached him again. This time, he crouched down and swept a leg underneath Kyros’. He managed to knock his teacher off balance but the older man recovered with a flip and landed a high kick to Phoenix’s chest. The force of the blow knocked Phoenix completely to the ground and flat on his back. When his vision refocused, his green eyes found Kyros standing over him with an outstretched hand. Phoenix graciously took the hand and Kyros pulled him to his feet.
Once standing, Phoenix ran a hand through his blonde locks and smiled sheepishly. “I have a long ways to go, don’t I?”
Kyros returned the smile and nodded.
Purgatory – Bridge
“Commander Ice, you have arrived rather timely. Thank you,” Princess Saeri commented, her face on the main holographic screen of the Purgatory.
“The Elders spoke very urgently of your situation. What is your status?” Ice questioned
“My attack on the Imperial Victoria proved disastrous. A UEF vessel quipped with Dragoon models crippled my forces. Another attack like that the Slaerin II will be finished,” the Taetren princess explained.
“I understand. The Elders are beginning to put into place a plan to counter the emergence of the Dragoons. I suggest you fall back to Kozar to resupply,” Ice replied.
“Are you sure your ship is enough to handle the Dragoons?” she asked with a hint of concern.
“Yes, I’m confident that the Purgatory should be able to at least hold her own.”
“Well then, the Slaerin II is falling back. Good luck, Commander Ice.” Princess Saeri saluted and the screen went blank.
Hero’s Legend – Training Room
A heavily breathing Phoenix sighed in relief upon seeing Kyros making the “time out” signal with his hands. He slowly walked his way to the wall and slumped against it with a huff. Kyros sat down next to him and placed a comforting hand on Phoenix’s shoulder. The blonde pilot turned his head to face Kyros and noticed for the first time the general’s hair had become disarrayed during the training. The dark green hair now formed longish curls around the man’s pale face. Kyros tilted his head in confusion and Phoenix realized he had been caught staring. The younger man quickly turned his head away in embarrassment.
A moment passed between them until Phoenix faced Kyros once more, his green eyes shifting nervously towards the ground. “Um, can I ask you a question?”
Kyros nodded with a curious look in his eyes.
“Why do you never speak?”
Kyros’ eyes widened and looked away with a painful expression. The reaction caused Phoenix’s heart to feel heavy. “Something bad happened to you, didn’t it?”
Kyros nodded after a moment.
The general looked at Phoenix for a moment before leaning forward. He traced a heart on the ground and then swiped his finger through it.
“Heartbreak?” Phoenix asked.
Kyros nodded. He leaned forward again and traced a word on the ground.
Phoenix received another nod and Kyros traced a second word.
Kyros turned away and nodded. Phoenix felt the heaviness in his heart grow even further.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked,” Phoenix told him as he rested his chin on his knees. He felt a hand gently pat the top of his head. Phoenix looked up to see Kyros gaze at him with a small smile. Those kind eyes reminded Phoenix of his own brother again, and the young pilot suddenly felt homesick.
“I’ve…lost someone close to me too,” Phoenix began. “When I was 10, my parents were killed because of the war. I was never really close to them, but…I loved them all the same.”
As Kyros listened to his story his fingers began to stroke Phoenix’s hair.
“After that my brother took care of me and Sis too, er…I mean Fawn. So…I’m really sorry.”
High above them was General Alverdine leaning against the railing of a catwalk. A wide grin grew on her face as she watched the sweet scene below her.
“So this is where you’ve been,” a familiar voice spoke. Alverdine turned around to see Tech approaching her.
“Hello, Tech. Is there something you need?” Alverdine asked.
“Just wanted to inform you that Dragoon Units 1 through 5 are ready for sortie,” Tech explained as she joined the general next to the railing. She, too, smiled when she noticed Kyros and Phoenix. “They’re quite cute together. Looks like General Kyros has taken a liking to Phoenix.”
“Yes, he has. I’m glad he’s connecting with someone,” Alverdine replied, her eyes drifting back to the two men.
“I’m surprised, I thought you’d be jealous,” the red head responded honestly.
Alverdine faced her comrade with a sly smile on her lips. “What makes you think I’d be jealous?”
“I hope I’m not being too forward here, but I assumed you and Kyros were lovers,” Tech answered with a small shrug.
Alverdine raised an eyebrow, but the smile never left her face. “Oh, what gave you that impression?”
“Well, the two of you are rarely apart from each other and there’s something in your eyes, it’s like you’re always holding back around each other.” Tech shrugged again with a sheepish smile. “Hey, I might be more comfortable with machines, but I’m a still a woman. I can tell these things.”
The dark haired woman let out a small chuckle, but neither denied or confirmed Tech’s claims. Alverdine returned to watching Kyros and Phoenix, whom had resumed sparring, and a brief silence passed.
“Kyros and I have been together for a very long time,” Alverdine began. “I can’t even remember how we met; we’ve just always been together.”
“I see, childhood friends, huh?”
“Yes. But several years ago, during the First War, a mutual close friend of ours died and Kyros hasn’t been the same since. That’s why I’m glad Kyros and Phoenix are growing close. He needs someone like Phoenix to heal.”
Purgatory – Bridge
Elteo tapped Ice’s shoulder, causing the young commander to look up. “Commander, both the Hero’s Legend and the Imperial Victoria are within our sights. We are ready for your orders,” Elteo informed.
“Good, lead the first wave with your Wraith. Remember, focus your attack on the Imperial Victoria,” Ice instructed.
“Yes, sir,” the lieutenant replied as he made his way to the pushed a button on the armrest of his seat.
“Everyone, get to your battle stations, we are about to engage the enemy,” Ice’s voice boomed throughout the entire ship.
Hero’s Legend – Bridge
“General Alverdine, we have 7 enemy units approaching us!” a woman on the front panel exclaimed.
“What?! I didn’t expect an attack so soon,” Alverdine yelled, nearly choking on her drink. Her first slammed into the intercom button on her armrest. “Enemy assailants have been sighted. Everyone return to your stations immediately.”
“Ensign Meller, upload the video of the enemy!” Alverdine commanded.
“Yes, ma’am!” replied the woman in the front panel. The video showed three Wraith models, 3 Specter models, and a custom Wraith model leading the group in a V formation.
A small swooshing noise came behind Alverdine. She turned around to see Kyros rushing to his seat.
“I hope you had a nice rest, this could get ugly,” Alverdine told him. She pressed a blue button on her armrest and a view of the Dragoon pilots getting ready appeared in a small hologram screen. “Fiammetta, Uri, and Lucius, you three are to protect the Imperial Victoria.”
“Meri and Karna, stay close to the Hero’s Legend, but if the other three start having problems, do not hesitate to assist.”
“Phoenix,” Alverdine began. Phoenix’s green eyes looked back with hopefulness. “Remain on standby.”
“Yes, ma’am,” the blonde replied, feeling dejected once again.
Sector 3 – Zone 1
Lieutenant Elteo wasn’t surprised at the quickness of the Hero’s Legend was able send out the Dragoon units. He quickly spotted the one that had bested him in the previous battle. As he moved his Wraith to confront it, he remembered Ice’s words and detoured to the Imperial Victoria, who had yet to send out any mechs. The faster Dragoon units beat him and his subordinates.
“Remember to practice mainly evasive maneuvers, let them use up all their energy before you switch to the offensive,” Elteo told the other six soldiers. The six soldiers confirmed the plan and spread out, forming into pairs.
“Lucius, Uri, split up! Don’t let anyone near Victoria!” Fiammetta ordered.
“Rodger that!” the twins replied as they broke away from the group.
Fiammetta approached the customized Wraith and the two Specter models that remained. Arming herself with the mid range sword, she charged towards the custom Wraith, deciding to take out the toughest opponent first. Elteo dodged the attack and kept his distance, flying backwards towards the Imperial Victoria. The auburn haired pilot noticed the two Specter models also making their way to the virtually defenseless ship.
“Oh no you don’t,” she muttered herself as she used her mech’s free hand to aim her rifle at one of the Specters. She fired, but the enemy managed to move enough away, damaging only the right leg. Cursing under her breath, she pushed the thrusters even harder to catch up with the enemies.
Hero’s Legend – Bridge
Alverdine watched the battle closely, her eyebrows lowered and lips pursed. Her eyes tore away from the screen to face her companion. “Kyros, the enemy is moving around oddly, aren’t they?”
Kyros watched the battle for a moment more before nodding. He turned to face her and mouthed the word “trap”.
“I’m not sure yet, but they certainly have something up their sleeve.”
Abruptly, a large force shook the Hero’s Legend. Alverdine nearly fell out of her seat, but Kyros’ strong arms kept her from doing so. The other crew members screamed as their bodies violently slammed against the ship’s equipment.
“What was that?!” Alverdine questioned, after recovering from the sudden shock.
“The backside of the ship has sustained major damage by some kind of energy weapon!” cried Ensign Meller.
“I…don’t know, ma’am, the sensors aren’t picking up anything!”
The small holographic screen on Alverdine’s armrest suddenly popped up with the face of Meri. “General! We’ve spotted an enemy mech, but it’s not registered with any of our databases. We – ARGH!”
“Meri! Come in!” Alverdine cried but no response came from Unit 3.
“General Alverdine! Meri’s Dragoon is heavily damaged. We’re being attacked by an unknown Taetren model!” Karna explained, his face appearing on screen in Meri’s stead.
“Hold on a little while longer, I’m sending reinforcements,” Alverdine replied as she pushed a button on her armrest. Karna’s image switched to Phoenix, who was sitting restlessly with his pilot helmet in his lap. “Phoenix.”
“Yes, General? What’s going on?” He asked hastily.
“Phoenix, launch with Kedalion, Meri and Karna are being overwhelmed by an unknown enemy model,” Alverdine explained. Phoenix shot up from his seat, nearly dropping his helmet in the process.
“Yes, ma’am!” The young pilot saluted and rushed to his mech.
Sector 3 – Zone 1
The element of surprised has aided me well, Ice mused, staring down his remaining opponent. He passed the useless remains of Unit 3 to finish off Unit 5, but a bright yellow and red blur pushed Unit 5 out of the way.
“What’s this?” Ice murmured to himself, a small grin forming on his lips.
Never in his life had Phoenix experienced such power and speed before. Kedalion’s controls underneath his fingers brought an immeasurable level of thrill to his senses. “Karna, take Meri back to the ship!”
The older man opened his mouth to protest, but held his tongue. “Right, kid.”
Without anymore hesitation, Karna quickly reached Meri’s Unit 3 and carried it back to the Hero’s Legend. “Damn it,” he cursed.
Once he confirmed Karna and Meri were out of harm’s way, Phoenix focused his attention toward his enemy. His green eyes widened when he noticed the familiar scaly exterior and crystal blue armor.
“Ice?” he whispered to himself. In his moment shock, his opponent had closed in, brandishing a bazooka-like weapon, the same that was used on the Hero’s Legend and Meri’s Dragoon. The scaly mech fired the weapon, but the powerful shot missed as Phoenix quickly escaped its path. A loud beeping noise erupting in Ice’s ear and the silver haired pilot released his gun had run out of energy. He tossed the now worthless weapon aside and equipped a short metal rod that poured energy from the tip.
“Not that again,” Phoenix muttered as he equipped each hand of Kedalion with a dagger. He moved Kedalion forward quickly, one dagger pointed towards the energy whip. In the last moment, Ice moved his mech to the side and upwards, but made no effort to counterattack.
“Phoenix, good to see you in a model that suits your skill,” Ice commented after opening a communication link.
“So it is you, Ice,” Phoenix replied, lowering the daggers.
“Yes,” the older man confirmed. “Now, show me what you can really do.”
Ice pulled back on the whip and swung it near Phoenix’s Kedalion, intentionally missing. In mere seconds, the Kedalion arrived in front of Ice’s Leviathan. Phoenix pulled back an arm, preparing to deliver a diagonal slice.
“I don’t want to hurt you, but I can’t lose again,” Phoenix stated. Before the dagger could harm his machine, Ice swung the whip towards Kedalion’s hand, the tip slicing the blade in half.
“Then don’t hold back,” Ice responded. Phoenix quickly reserved the direction of Kedalion’s thrust, moving away to get the time he needed to take out another dagger.
Ice watched as Kedalion approached him again and readied himself to block the blow, but a split second before the Dragoon was in striking distance it disappeared to the right. Quickly, Ice twirled Leviathan around and managed to the catch one of Kedalion’s arms before the dagger in its hand could cause damage. However, the other hand swung in and managed to destroy the Leviathan’s whip. Leviathan kicked the Dragoon away and from a compartment in its back, produced a medium length sword.
“Now, Elteo, start the offensive!” Ice ordered as he blocked another strike from Phoenix. “Launch the second wave!”
Hero’s Legend – Bridge
General Alverdine stood from her chair when she observed the enemy’s odd evasiveness transform into a full out offensive.
“General, we're detecting a second group of enemy units approaching fast!” a man from the front panel announced. “There are five of them!”
“I understand now and we fell right into their hands,” she muttered to herself. Kyros looked up with a bewildered look on his face. The dark haired woman sat down and turned to face her partner. “The enemy is trying to exploit the Dragoon’s energy limits with a prolonged battle.”
Kyros stared at her for a moment, and then placed a hand over her own.
“You have a plan?”
Kyros nodded and mouthed the word “unit.”
“I understand you want them to fight closer together,” Alverdine replied as she opened a communication link with the pilots. “Fiammetta, Lucius, Uri, stick close! The enemy is trying to exploit the energy limits of the Dragoons.”
“Yes, ma'am!” the three pilots responded. Alverdine and Kyros watched as the Dragoons moved into a tighter formation.
Sector 3 – Zone 1
Phoenix successfully blocked each of Ice's blows, the daggers holding up well to Leviathan’s sword. Although, the blue mech's strikes were more powerful, they were slower to execute. Finally, Phoenix saw an opening and Kedalion lunged forward, both blades posed to strike. However, Leviathan shot upward and the blades tore through empty space. The scaled mech returned down, kicking Kedalion's head in the process. The force of blow sent the Dragoon backward and caused Phoenix to lurch forward, nearly smashing his head against the mech's console. Ice used to the opportunity to slice one of Kedalion's arms clean off.
“Shit!” Phoenix cursed as he used Kedalion's remaining arm to block Leviathan’s incoming sword. The dagger stopped the sword, but the remaining arm began to shake with strain as Ice pushed Leviathan forward. Sweat trickled from Phoenix's brow as he noticed the sword coming closer and closer to his machine.
“It seems you still have much to learn,” Ice commented to his opponent.
“I won't lose! Not yet!” Phoenix yelled back with determination. Using the full speed of Kedalion, Phoenix shifted his mech to the side causing Leviathan to fall forward a little with its own momentum. Phoenix took advantage of Ice's short moment of surprise and Kedalion kicked Leviathan’s back. However, the force of the kick wasn't enough and Ice managed to fly towards Kedalion and grab the mech's head.
Hero's Legend – Bridge
Without any signal, Kyros quickly stood up and began to make his way towards the exit. Before he could leave, Alverdine caught his arm and turned him around so that their eyes met. The young woman almost took a step back when she saw the worried and distressed look on her partner's face.
“It's too early to reveal the other Dragoon models,” she told him gently.
Kyros narrowed his violet eyes and ripped his arm away from her grasp.
“What did I tell you about coddling Phoenix?” Alverdine asked, raising her voice. Kyros looked away as if he was trying to ignore her question. “Phoenix will be okay. If that pilot had any intention of killing him, Phoenix would be dead 5 times by now.”
Kyros returned her gaze with a confused look in his eyes.
“That pilot he's fighting doesn't want to kill him. I don't know why but I can sense it,” Alverdine explained. She placed a firm hand on Kyros' shoulder. “Trust me.”
Kyros stared at her for a moment before nodding and the two returned to their seats.
Sector 3 – Zone 1
Elteo grimaced when another comrade fell at the hands of one of the Dragoons. His eyes shifted from side to side, noticing his forces were thinning out. Swiftly, he dodged enemy fire from the left and aimed his own rifle towards the one of the Dragoons. The three mechs all moved out of the way, but quickly returned to each other's side. One of Specter models rushed towards the Dragoon armed with an energy laced sword, but was shot down by the Unit 2. With less than half of their forces left, Elteo opened a communication link with his commander.
“Commander, we're being overwhelmed. What's your status?” When the Taetren lieutenant only received silence he called again. “Ice?”
“I badly damaged one of the units, but it seems they had a customized Dragoon model as an ace in the hole. It's giving me a hard time,” Ice finally replied.
Elteo opened his mouth to reply but a strong force hit the back of his Wraith. He turned around to see the gun turrets on the Imperial Victoria functional as well as a few Komodo models entering the fight.
“I suggest a retreat, Commander.”
Ice contemplated his lieutenant's words and decided he could accept this loss. His focus returned to his battle with Phoenix. He smiled as the younger pilot still put up a decent fight, almost oblivious to his dire position. Wasting no time, he broke through Phoenix's defenses and severed Kedalion's remaining hand, leaving the Dragoon defenseless. He pointed his sword towards the Kedalion's cockpit, but didn't move in for the killing blow.
“Become stronger, Phoenix,” was all Ice said before making his departure.
Hero's Legend – Bridge
Alverdine breathed a sigh of relief after watching the Taetren retreat signal shine brightly in space. After calling back all the pilots, she accepted a video feed from the Imperial Victoria. The image of Captain Ertman appeared in the center holographic screen.
“It seems we owe you our lives once again,” Captain Ertman stated sheepishly.
“Think nothing of it; this is our duty after all. Besides, your appearance at the end saved us an even longer battle.”
“I suppose, as the saying goes, better late than never.”
“How long before you're able to leave this area?” Alverdine questioned.
“Several more hours, unfortunately, but we at least managed to become a little more battle ready,” the captain answered.
“I see. Well, I highly doubt they'll be back anytime soon. Alert me as soon as your repairs are made.”
“Yes, General,” Ertman responded with a salute. With that the video feed ended. Alverdine turned around to say something to Kyros, but he had already left the bridge. She stared at the empty seat and smiled to herself, letting out a soft chuckle.
Hero's Legend – Hangar
As he lowered himself to ground, Phoenix's brain worked overtime going over his battle with Ice. He let me live again, the blonde pilot thought to himself. Why? What kind of man is he?
“He's just playing with me!” Phoenix blurted out loud, causing everyone in earshot to stare at him. He quickly covered his mouth and lowered his head to hide the embarrassed look on his face and began to make his way back to his room. He came to a stop when he accidentally bumped into someone.
“Hey, watch...oh it's you,” said a familiar deep voice. Phoenix looked up to see Karna's annoyed features. He took a step back and began to walk around him, muttering an apology.
“Nice work out there, maybe next time you'll come back with more than half a mech,” Karna sneered. Phoenix turned around glaring at the older man, as he was about to make a retort a feminine voice interrupted.
“Don't listen to Mr. Grouchy over there. The way I see it, you did a pretty good job today,” Fiammetta commented, as she finished getting down from Unit 1. Karna mumbled something under his breath and left the hangar, passing General Kyros on the way out. Kyros watched the disgruntled middle aged man for a moment, before making his way to Phoenix. With a worried look on his face, his looked the younger man up and down, searching for any injuries. When he didn't find any, he smiled and patted Phoenix's shoulder. The blonde returned the smile, felling a little better about the outcome of the battle.
“Oh God! What did you do?!” A shrill voice erupted throughout the hangar. Phoenix turned around to see Tech standing before Kedalion with her hands on her head. She let out another frustrated scream when she noticed the shape of the Unit 3. “All this in one battle...”
“See ya, Phoenix,” Fiammetta said as she and the twins made a hasty exit. Before Phoenix could reply he felt a strong hand grip his wrist and pull him towards the door. Silently, he thanked Kyros as they quickly slipped out of the raging mechanic's sight.