Krel leans up against a tree to catch his breath and glances at the sky through the leaves. It's a clearer night than he's ever seen in Arcadia. Even this deep in the woods, the light pollution is usually bad enough that he can't see half the stars in the sky. Akiridion-5 is like that too, if not worse. As much as Krel loves technology and all its advancements, he does regret how the stars get obscured by the lights of the planet.
A faint glow catches his eyes, a few feet away from him. Finally! He scrambles towards it, kneeling to brush away the leaves and dirt. Just as he's finally revealing it, whatever it his he's been searching for in this stupid forest–
He wakes up.
He's not in the forest anymore, but rather in his bed, sitting up and regaining his breath control. He has the distinct feeling something important has slipped from his grasp.
"Rise and shine, Krelito!" Krel yelps as Ricky barges into the room, complete with a bright smile and a newspaper. "Time to start your day right with a hearty breakfast!"
Krel groans and flops over to hide his face in his pillow. "It's the summer. Let me sleep in."
"Lucy's making pancakes!"
Krel groans again, but there's no winning against the Blanks, especially if Lucy has already started making pancakes. He hopes she doesn't make too many. He'll have to take leftovers to Toby's house. Without Aja and Varvatos and Luug around to eat breakfast, there'll be way too much.
Sure enough, there are already pancakes stuck to the ceiling. Krel spots one about to fall and holds his plate under it, just in time to catch it. He's pleased to note Lucy is still using the chips of chocolate to make them.
"How'd you sleep, champ?" asks Ricky.
Krel is used to his weird turns of phrase by now, so he doesn't question the nickname. "Fine. I had a weird dream."
"Oh, that's too bad," says Lucy, flipping another pancake onto the ceiling.
Krel sighs and rests his head on his hand. Maybe Toby has a point about the Blanks. At least Aja might have asked what his dream was about, or maybe Varvatos would have told him to go kill something. The Blanks are great, and they've got a whole lot of sentience for a couple of robots, but they are still just robots. The loneliness of the almost-empty mothership is already starting to get to his head; he regrets every time he ever wished to be an only child during a hot-headed fight with Aja.
He finishes his pancake and pushes his plate back. "I'm going to head over to Toby's house."
"Alright, sweetie!" chirps Lucy. "Take some pancakes for the road!"
Krel glances around the kitchen and winces at the pancakes everywhere, but he does grab some of the more salvageable ones and stuff them into a plastic container. He waves to the Blanks on his way out, leaving through what used to be the door because he might as well act as if everything is normal and they still have a front door. And a front window. He still doesn't know how they'll be able to fix the house decoy without Mother, but he pushes the thought away. He doesn't want to dwell on Mother right now.
It's such a short walk to Toby's house that Krel is sure nothing can possibly go wrong. Unfortunately, Krel also has the worst luck in the universe, because as he rounds the corner to take him to Toby's neighbourhood, he comes face-to-face with the knight from before.
"Oh, kleb," he manages before she runs at him, sword drawn. The way Krel sees it, he has two options: fight back or run away. Because he's not a soolian, he chooses the second, screaming for good measure. He grabs his serrator and undoes the transduction. The last time he faced her as a human, and that went really badly. At least his Akiridion form is a little more durable.
As he goes to turn into the bushes and maybe evade her, he's grabbed by the arm. The knight slams him into the asphalt. Before he can push himself to his feet, she kicks him in the side and he's sent rolling into the middle of the street. He coughs, lower hand going to the side of his chest.
"What did I ever do to you?" he forces out. He struggles to his feet and raises his serrator shield. Just in time – the knight's sword comes down on the shield and sparks fly. Krel stumbles backwards. She runs at him again, and he switches to blaster mode and tries to shoot at her, but he misses. Before he knows it, she's grabbed his arm and twisted it sideways. Pain sparks and he drops the serrator. The knight kicks his legs out from under him. He finds himself defenceless on the ground with a foot on his chest and a sword aimed at his throat. He swallows.
The knight stares at him. He doesn't dare move. Then, she moves her foot and sword off him and walks away.
Krel watches her go, still half holding his breath. Then he gasps in air and pats his chest, as if maybe he was injured there and didn't know it. His right wrists throbs from being twisted so roughly, and he's sure he's got bruises all over, but he's not dead. He's not even badly hurt.
She could have killed him easily.
Why didn't she?
Krel shakes his head and pulls himself to his feet. He picks up his discarded serrator and replaces the transduction. His human wrist is red and swollen, which can't be good, but Krel also doesn't know enough about the human body to know how bad it is. Toby's probably going to freak out.
He's glad it's such a short walk to Toby's, because he's sore all over and on edge that the knight will be back to finish what she started. He glances behind him before knocking on Toby's door. It opens almost immediately.
"DJ Kleb!" Toby shouts. His eyebrows furrow as he takes in Krel's appearance. "Oh, shoot, man, what happened to you?"
"I got attacked by the Green Knight," says Krel. "Again."
Toby's eyes widen. "Come inside."
Steve is in the living room when they walk in. He shoots out of his seat when he sees Krel come in with Toby hovering worriedly beside him. Aaarrrgghh!'s face falls in concern.
"Sit down," says Toby. "Where are you hurt?"
"I'm fine," Krel says.
"Yeah, right," says Steve. He lifts Krel's wrist with a gentleness Krel wouldn't have expected from him. "This looks pretty bad. Sprained at best."
"What is sprained?"
"If Akiridions don't get injuries like humans, how come you keep getting injuries like humans?" Steve demands.
"It's because of the transduction," says Krel. "Same reason Aja and I cry like humans. The transduction has had the effect of making us more like biological humans and less like Akiridions."
"Well, it's definitely sprained," says Steve. He notices Toby giving him a weird look and gets defensive. "What? I play football! I know injuries!"
"I still don't know what sprained means."
"Don't worry about it," says Toby. "Now what else is wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong!" Krel protests. "Just bruises."
Steve starts prodding him to search for injuries, much the same way Mama would after a training match gone wrong. When Krel winces, Steve pulls up his t-shirt to inspect the damage. Krel tries to bat his hands away.
"Hey, hey, stop it!"
"Stop being a baby, I'm trying to make sure nothing's broken!"
"What would be broken? You humans have too many unnecessary parts inside."
"Would turning off the transduction make things any better?" Toby asks.
Krel sinks into his seat. "No."
"Then stop complaining and let Steve make sure you're okay," Toby says.
"Domzalski, get me your first aid kit," orders Steve. "Better yet, go next door and ask Dr. L if she has bandages and stuff. Actually, just tell Dr. L that Krel's hurt and see if she'll come over."
"On it!" exclaims Toby.
"I'm really fine, Steve," Krel says as Toby races out of the room. "I've had worse than this."
"That doesn't make me feel any better," Steve snaps. Then he sighs. "Look, I'm just really stressed about this whole end of the world thing. It doesn't help if you're getting yourself beat up all the time."
If he didn't know Steve, Krel probably would be offended by that, but Steve means well. Maybe worrying over people is the way he shows he cares. Krel's even seen him do it to Aja before, so that must be it. Krel offers him a smile.
"More careful," says Aaarrrgghh!.
Krel laughs. "I'll try."
"Good," huffs Steve.
Krel hears the door open. A few seconds later, Toby enters the room with a woman Krel doesn't recognise. She smiles kindly at them and sets down what looks like a white suitcase on the couch next to him.
"Hi, Krel, right?" she says. Krel nods. "I'm Jim's mom, Barbara. Toby said you guys were roughhousing and you got a bit beat up?"
Krel glances at Toby, who nods vigorously, and back to Barbara. "Uh, yes. That is what happened. Just us… roughhousing."
She quirks an eyebrow but doesn't question it. "Alright. Let's see that wrist of yours first."
Krel holds it out. Barbara makes a sympathetic noise.
"Sprained, right?" Steve says.
"Definitely," says Barbara. "You'll need to rest and ice it for a few days. Try to keep in elevated. I have Jim's old brace from when he sprained his wrist a couple years back. It should fit you. Let me just wrap it and then you can put it on, okay, sweetie?"
Krel isn't entirely clear on what she means, but he nods anyway. She pulls a roll of bandages out of her suitcase – those, at least, Krel recognises – and starts wrapping the cloth around Krel's wrist. He winces but doesn't protest.
"If you have any questions, feel free to ask," Barbara says. "I know you're kind of new to all this human stuff."
Krel smiles sheepishly. "Yeah, a little bit."
She finishes wrapping his wrist and pulls out what must be the brace. She helps him put it on. It's stiff and uncomfortable, but she's a doctor so she must know best. He grabs his serrator and switches off the transduction. Barbara blinks rapidly in surprise. The brace is still there, and seems to have adjusted to fit. Krel isn't sure if that's the transduction technology or the human brace, but either way, it's probably a good thing. He turns the transduction back on.
Barbara wears the same mixed expression of concerned and amused that Mama always got when he and Aja would do something stupid. Krel wonders if that's a mother thing that exists in all life-forms.
"Alright, then," says Barbara. "Let's make sure it's just a bit of bruising."
By the time Barbara has given him the relatively clean bill of health and assured Steve that no bones were broken – which, by the way, it's kind of annoying to have to deal with all these breakable parts – it's almost lunchtime. Barbara offers to make them lunch, but Toby shakes his head forcefully in the background, so they politely decline. Toby orders pizza instead.
"You know this means we can't go anywhere alone," Toby says as he tosses the empty pizza box to Aaarrrgghh! to eat.
"What?" blurts Steve. "How does this mean we can't go anywhere alone?"
"Krel lives a block over, and the Green Knight still managed to corner him on his way here," Toby says. "It's too risky."
"Toby's right," says Krel. "She could have killed me! At least I had my serrator. If I hadn't, who knows what would have happened! We need to stick together until we figure this out."
"Look, it's not that you guys aren't great," says Steve, "but I do have other friends."
Krel crosses his arms, which is incredibly awkward to do with the brace. "And what happens if you're with your other friends and the Green Knight shows up? Then they could die."
Steve falters, then he buries his face in his hands. "Have I mentioned I hate this summer?"
"Hey, it'll be kinda fun!" Toby opens his arms as enthusiastically as possible. "We can have sleepovers!"
"Sleep… overs?" Krel repeats.
"Yeah! We can rotate houses! You guys can stay over at mine, and then me and Steve can stay over at yours, and then me and you can stay over at Steve's."
"That sounds fantastic!" In Krel's opinion, it works out perfectly. Not only is it less likely that one of them will be killed on their own, but now Krel won't be so lonely and he doesn't even have to admit he was lonely in the first place.
Steve softens at their enthusiasm. "Yeah, I guess it'll be alright."
"Don't worry," says Toby. He jerks his thumb towards his chest. "The Trollhunters have dealt with this before."
"Stalkling," rumbles Aaarrrgghh!.
"Yep," says Toby. "We couldn't leave Jimbo alone or else this thing called a stalkling would come and kill him."
"Failed," adds Aaarrrgghh!. "Stalkling got Jim."
"But Jim was okay because he shocked it with lightning!"
"And himself, but he was okay because Aaarrrgghh! caught him!"
"Kind of burnt."
"I'm trying to reassure them," Toby finally hisses to the troll.
"Oh," says Aaarrrgghh!. "Sorry."
"That's real reassuring," says Steve.
Toby throws his hands up. "The point is, we just gotta stick together! We're a team now."
"A team…" Krel mumbles. He gives his friends a wide grin. Toby returns it immediately, and Steve does so after a few moments.
"We need a team name!" exclaims Toby. "We could be… Creephunterz! Wait, no, what about Krel? Royal Creephunterz!"
"No," says Steve.
"Knights of the Vaguely Oval-Shaped Table!"
"What does that even mean?" Krel asks.
"It's an Arthurian reference, dude!"
"I don't know what that means either," says Krel.
"I mean, it makes sense," says Steve, as if he hates what he's saying but has to say it. "But won't that get confusing with the evil knight?"
"Not if we just call her the Green Knight," says Toby. "And I haven't heard a no."
"Why do we need a team name?" Krel asks.
Toby rolls his eyes like this should be obvious. "Trollhunters have one, Creepslayerz have one, we gotta have one!"
Krel shrugs. "Well, I am fine with anything."
"Shouldn't we get help with this?" says Steve. "Maybe we should call Aja–"
"No!" Krel blurts. Steve and Toby both stare at him. He shrinks back. "Aja has a lot to worry about on Akiridion-5. We – they just dealt with a coup, and she's just become queen. We shouldn't bother her."
Also, if Aja knows about this, she'll freak out and might ask him to come back to Akiridion-5. And Krel and his friends can handle this. They don't need Aja's help. Maybe some help, but not Aja's. Krel can do things without his sister.
"He's got a point," says Toby. "We probably shouldn't tell Eli, either. That guy cannot keep a secret."
Steve looks crestfallen. "But Pepperjack would be stoked to hear about this."
"If Aja can't know, Eli can't know," says Toby. "He found out about aliens and immediately sent me, like, a bazillion texts! He'd have to tell someone, so he'd tell Aja."
Steve crosses his arms and scowls. "Fine. But just so you know, if either of them get mad at me later, I'm blaming you two."
They're going to be mad. Aja is going to be especially mad. But Krel doesn't need her to protect him from everything.
"That's fine," he says. "I've faced my sister's wrath before. And I don't think Eli can hold very much anger, anyway."
"You'd be surprised," Steve muttered.
"Now," says Toby. "I, for one, vote we spend the rest of our day not thinking about all this and acting like normal teenagers for once. Who's up for a video game tournament?"
Krel lights up. "You're on, Domzalski!"
Ultimately, they opt to spend the first night at Krel's. Both Steve and Krel will need to get their things, and Krel's house is the furthest walk, so it's the logical decision. As Toby and Steve set up sleeping bags in Krel's lab, he muses that it already feels less lonely.
"You should really fix up the house," says Toby. "Anyone could just, like, walk in!"
"I know," says Krel. "Why do you think we're sleeping down here, with the entrance to the ship locked?"
"Do you normally sleep down here?"
Toby tuts disapprovingly. "That's how you get kidnapped."
"I'm not going to get kidnapped," scoffs Krel.
"That's what they all say," says Toby.
Krel laughs and sits down on his sleeping bag. Steve lays down in his with a yawn. "Man, I'm wiped."
"How do you think I feel?" says Krel. "At least you didn't have to fight the Green Knight."
Steve points at him accusingly. "No, but I had to deal with the aftermath, and it was stressful, okay?"
"I think I am the one dealing with the aftermath," says Krel, waving his braced wrist in the air. "I can barely move my hand in this! I am not keeping it on for two weeks."
Toby and Steve both glare at him disapprovingly.
"I'm not!" he protests. "I'll take it off when it stops hurting. Stop giving me those looks. For all you know, Akiridions heal faster than humans, anyway."
"Do they?" asks Steve.
Krel winces. "I don't know. But I bet they – uh, we do!"
"We'll believe it when we see it," says Toby. "Trust me, I've gotten all this from Jimbo before. The armour does not, no matter what he says, make him heal faster."
Steve holds his fingers to his eyes, then turns them towards Krel. "I'm watching you."
Krel is somewhat perturbed, but he repeats the gesture anyway. "Well, I am watching you, too."
Steve snorts, then full on laughs. Krel isn't sure whether to be insulted or laugh with him.
"Ah, never change," says Steve.
Krel stands to dim the lights so they can sleep. It makes him sad to do it manually, reminds him once more that Mother is gone and the ship isn't much more than an empty husk. He crawls into his sleeping bag. The brace is uncomfortable, but with Toby and Steve ready to pounce the moment he makes one wrong move, he doesn't dare take it off.
"Night, guys," says Toby.
Steve mumbles something that might be a goodnight. Krel covers his mouth to hide his smile, before adding his own, "Goodnight!"
He's out almost immediately.
He's back in the forest. It's still night-time, and the stars are still unusually bright. Something is chirping around him, putting him on edge, but he's pretty sure it's just Earth insects he still doesn't know the name for. He doesn't like Earth insects, but at least they're smaller than skeltegs.
The fallen leaves and twigs crunch under his feet. Some nearby animal lets out a mournful hoo sound and Krel shivers. He hates being out here, but he still hasn't found it. He needs to find it.
He wishes he knew what it was.
He takes a few more steps before catching sight of the glow again. He leans down to pick it up and discover its secrets, when something starts shaking him violently.
He gasps awake to the concerned faces of Steve and Toby hovering over him. Krel blinks tiredly at him.
"Guys?" he says. "What's the matter?"
They exchange uneasy glances.
"You were, uh, glowing," says Steve.
Krel's brow furrows. "So? I always glow."
"More than usual," says Toby. "Like, a lot more. You went from nightlight to, I dunno, stadium light."
Okay. That is a little weird.
"Sorry," he says. He must've woken them up.
"Are you okay?" says Steve. "Is this some kind of – weird Akiridion sickness? Are you dying?"
"No, I am not dying." Krel pauses. "I think."
"I doubt it," says Krel.
"But the glowing thing isn't normal?" says Toby.
"Well, no." Krel awkwardly sinks into his sleeping bag. It's suddenly cold in the room, and Toby and Steve look worried and tired and it's his fault. "It's fine, guys. Go back to sleep."
"And you won't, like, explode?" checks Steve.
"No," says Krel. "I won't explode."
"We'll be talking about this," says Toby.
"Yeah, yeah," says Krel. "After getting some more sleep."
The two glare at him, but they concede and go back to their sleeping bags. Krel turns away from them to hide his expression. He doesn't know why he was glowing so bright, but he has a bad feeling it has to do with these dreams.
The next morning, Lucy tries to make bacon and eggs. In Krel's opinion, it's going pretty badly, but he's glad for the change of pace. Steve and Toby don't complain either, maybe because they don't want to hurt Lucy's feelings. Either way, breakfast is going fine.
"So," says Toby. "The glowing thing."
Breakfast was going fine. Krel winces. "The glowing thing."
"Yeah, man, that was super weird," says Steve.
"Tell me about it," mutters Krel. "I'm sorry I woke you up."
"That's not what we're worried about, dude," says Toby. "Is it – bad? Dangerous? Should we get you to an Akiridion doctor?"
"If it helps, I didn't even notice it," says Krel. "I don't think it's bad, just weird."
"We don't need more weird stuff," groans Steve. "So, great. We have a knight stalking us, the world is ending, and Krel might be dying!"
"I'm not dying!"
"I said might be!"
"Look, I had a weird dream, and I think that might have been it," says Krel.
"A weird dream made you light up like a frickin' fourth of July sparkler?" says Steve.
Toby leans forward. "We're stumbling into some freaky high fantasy stuff here. Prophetic dreams?"
"Prophetic – where on Earth do you get prophetic?" splutters Krel. "They're just weird."
"Aha, they!" shouts Toby. "So multiple dreams!"
"Yes," says Krel exasperatedly. "Two. I'm looking for something, but I always wake up when I find it so I don't know what it is."
Steve lets out a prolonged, annoyed moan. Toby kicks his legs under the table eagerly and makes a high-pitched noise. "Do I sense a super awesome quest?"
"No," Krel says.
"Please, no," adds Steve.
"We don't have time for a quest," says Krel. "In case you forgot, the end of the world is coming up."
"Maybe this is related!"
"Prophetic dreams aren't real, Toby," Krel retorts. "And if they were, I'd be the last one to have them."
Toby gives him an unimpressed look. Even Steve looks sceptical.
"Really!" Krel insists.
"Alien prince," says Toby, holding up a hand to start ticking off fingers. "Living in a world that's not your own. A world that's ending. Dreams about some mysterious something. Randomly glowing."
"Sounds like the plot of a magical girl anime," says Steve. "You even have a transformation! Sorta."
Toby pauses to give Steve a weird look. "Okay. We'll be coming back to that comment in a minute. Also, Jim's the magical girl. Krel is more… hm…"
"I have a little cousin!" Steve defends himself.
"Fantasy chosen one!" Toby exclaims. "Or sci-fi."
"Aaghh, can we not discuss this?" Krel complains.
"I'm mostly joking," says Toby. "But, seriously. Don't just dismiss weird dreams. Especially if they make you glow all weird."
"I'll take that into consideration," says Krel.
Steve laughs, but his expression drops immediately into horror. He gestures wordlessly towards the window, only able to make weird noises at first before finally yelling, "She's following us!"
Krel turns and his eyes widen. The Green Knight is standing outside on the sidewalk, watching them. Krel had no idea how long she's been there. Without Mother, the ship's security is almost completely down. She could have been there all morning.
"Okay, stay calm," says Toby. "Maybe if we act like we haven't notice her, she won't move."
The Green Knight starts walking towards the house. Toby shrinks in his seat.
"Or not," he mumbles.
Krel grabs his serrator, then – glad he'd had the foresight to consider it this morning – he grabs the extra one he'd brought out with him and shoves it into Steve's hands.
"Here," he says. "You know how to use it?"
"Uh, no," says Steve. "But I'm a quick learner."
The three of them stand. Krel activates his serrator. Steve mimics him. Toby activates his war-hammer as well. Krel still has no idea how it works, but he'll have the chance to ask later. The Green Knight steps in through the shattered window. Maybe staying at Krel's was a bad choice.
"Look, lady," says Toby. "We don't mean you any harm, so can you stop attacking us? Please?"
She runs at them. Krel and Steve dive one way and Toby the other. The Knight turns on Toby. He swings his hammer at her, but she ducks. She grabs him and throws him into Krel and Steve, bowling them over. Steve pushes Krel and Toby away and lets loose a battle-cry. He runs at the Knight with serrator sword drawn. She dodges again.
"Oh, no, you don't!" Lucy yells. She grabs a bunch of plates from the cabinet – half of them already broken from the fight against Morando and Kubritz – and starts chucking them at the Knight. She bats them away and advances on Lucy. Ricky steps in the way with a cutting board. He tries to hit her with it, but she hits him instead with an uppercut to the jaw. Lucy tries to stab her with a fork. The armour protects her from that. The Knight grabs her arm and twists it. It comes clean off, leaving wires and sparks. Both Lucy and the Knight look surprised.
"Leave them alone!" Krel cries. He yells as he runs at the Knight with his serrator, but she catches him with a kick to the core. Krel hits the counter and blinks stars out of his vision. Oh, that hurt.
"Hey!" shouts Steve. He shoots several rapid blasts at the Knight, who holds up her arms to block them. She's sent flying across the room. It's the best hit any of them have managed. Steve pulls Krel to his feet. "You good?"
"I'm good," Krel manages.
Toby roars and runs at the Knight with his hammer again. She parries his attack, then kicks him right between the legs. Toby wheezes and collapses. The Knight looks unimpressed. She side-steps him and advances on Steve and Krel.
"Together?" says Krel.
"Together," agrees Steve.
They both shoot at her. It doesn't work this time. She dodges the poorly aimed blasts with ease. She grabs Steve by the neck, Steve panics and starts kicking out, trying to break her grip. Krel takes another shot. This one hits her – she drops Steve. He scrambles back and struggles to regain his breath control. Krel gulps.
Toby, recovered now, runs at her from behind. The Knight grabs Krel and spins around, placing him between her and Toby. Toby freezes in horror. Krel doesn't dare struggle too much against the cold blade against his neck.
"No, no, no," gasps Steve. He grasps the couch and pulls himself to his feet. "Don't."
The blade presses harder. He can feel it breaking skin. Krel squeezes his eyes shut. Seklos and Gaylen, is this the end?
Then, the cold metal disappears. Krel is released. He falls to his knees, not daring to open his eyes. He feels hands on him – Toby and Steve, he can recognise them. When he opens his eyes, the Green Knight is already to the road. She glances back at them, unemotionally, and then walks away.
"Krel?" says Steve. There's a note of panic shaking his voice. Warm liquid trickles, slowly, down Krel's neck, seeping into the collar of his clothing. Krel gingerly brings his fingers up to the wound. It's tiny. Bad enough to draw blood but not bad enough to be considered much worse than a papercut.
It could have been so much worse.
His friends steady him as he sits back on his legs.
"I think," he says, "I would like to go a day without almost dying. Is that too much to ask?"
Toby laughs weakly. "I feel you there, man."
Krel observes the damage and grimaces. So much for what little clean-up they had done. Ricky is fussing over Lucy's detached and sparking arm. Krel will need to fix that. The living room and kitchen is in shambles – well, more so than before. The floor is littered with furniture and broken plates and now tiny drops of bright blue blood on the hardwood. That stain will be fun to explain to Aja if she ever visits.
"Here," says Steve, handing Krel a wad of paper towels. "We'll get you a band-aid in a minute."
Toby's hands are shaking. Actually, Krel and Steve's are too, now that he takes the time to notice. The adrenaline is beginning to fade.
"She almost killed you," says Toby.
"Again," mumbles Krel, pressing the paper towels to his cut. "But she didn't. Again."
"Why didn't she?" says Steve hesitantly. "It wouldn't have been very hard, if Akiridions are anything like humans."
"It wouldn't have been." Krel shakes his head. "I think we need to go talk to Douxie again. This needs to stop."