From Discovery Wiki
Kal Joel Lugo
Origin Flag-liberty.png Republic of Liberty
Gender Male
Affiliation The Core, Faze Mercenaries
Status Active
Born 16.11.794 A.S., Planet Houston, Texas (Age: 27)
Died Still alive

J. Lugo is an active Faze Mercenary and a Core Soldier born in the Texas system, lived his youth in the misery and shadow of Planet Houston.


LSF Archive and Information on individual Joel Lugo

Name: Kal Joel Lugo

Age: 27

Race: Caucasian

Gernder: Male

Heigh: 1.89 meters / 6.2 feet

Weight: 83 kg / 182 lb

Eyes Color: Gray

Hair Color: Brown

Birthplace: Planet Houston

Birthdate: 16.11.794 A.S.

Nationality: Libertonian

Augmentations: Visual Adaptors

Current Status: Alive

Criminal Records: 17

Liberty Criminal Records: 4

Current Residence(s): None

Occupation: Mercenary

Wanted for: Assault, Theft, Homicide

Wanted by: Malthese Government, Corsair Empire, Rheinland Federal Republic, Kingdom of Gallia

Known Languages: English, Kusarian(Japanese)

Secondary Languages: German, Russian

Accessing LSF records on equipment used by individual Joel Lugo


Various knife collections

0.44 Magnum with a blaster and plasma fire modes

Various types of granades


Sabre class Very Heavy Fighter,

Cutlass class Bomber,

Bayonet class Heavy Fighter

Manta class Very Heavy Fighter

Moray class Bomber

Bottlenose class Gunship

Liberator class Light Fighter

Guardian class Very Heavy Fighter

Templar class Very Heavy Fighter

Early Life

Planet Houston's Starport.

I was born presumably on Planet Houston in the late 794 A.S. and was left in an orphanage as a kid. Between work and sleep I had little time which I invested in visits to the nearby Houston Starport, watching the ships fly away from the the planet slums. Until on the year of 805 A.S. the orphanage was set of fire by local bandits that had a taking off of one of its owners. Luckfully there were no casualties but unfortunately the orphanage owners didn't have any funds to rebuild it and left the kids wandering on the streets, looking for a job. Most of us found jobs and shelters at local markets, ship dealers, mechanics. I, with a couple of other orphans, found ourselves with a band of local Bounty Hunters who took us of.... pity under their shelter. The Hunters eventually found potential in some of us, me included, and started training us in various skills. Shooting, gun engineering, mechanics, tracking, some of which we found quite useful later.

Life with the Hunters

Eventually some of us were allowed to join their gang in some of the local bandit hunts. Some of us did quite well. So months, years have passed, doing regular jobs with the hunters, taking apart fragments of ships in the scrapyard, working as a mechanic in the local vehicle and ship vendors. I didn't think that I will even get off the planet and I grew with the thought of that. But I didn't mind, despite the hard life on Planet Houston I had found a family with the Bounty Hunters and didn't care about anything else, but hunting, fixing and basically working. All the money I had, I've spent either on ammunition, parts for my self made star fighter, Betty, or in the flight and combat simulators.

Some of the Hunters.

The Spire, the bandits' hideout.

Life sucks and chances are always against you

One day in the year of 814 A.S. In another regular job deep in the desert. Some of the larger local bandit gangs had just pillaged a settlement and our group was contacted to deal with this matter. Most of our veteran hunters were unfortunately were on a hunt in the nearby Bering system for some more organized group of pirates, who were terrorizing the passing convoys. So Colonel Hartford, one of the remaining veterans in our gang, gathered four of the inexperienced hunters me included, along with some law enforcers and mercenaries hired back in the city, we've formed a twenty six person gang for the job. With a couple of vehicles, two light sand runners and an APC. We've reached the coordinates, to which some of the bandits were tracked, in a couple of days with our equipment. The sight however wasn't pleasing. We've witnessed a large spire coming out of the sand, definitely not the hideout of some lowlife bandits. Shortly after that we've heard a blast and one of the sand runners was blown to pieces along with its driver and gunner. Blasts and gunshots started coming from every direction, mercs, enforcers, some of my fellow hunters were gunned down. Our Hunter Squad was assigned under the alias Bravo Squad and I was under the call sign Bravo Two. We were heavily under fire, when we decided to retreat and use an upcoming sand storm as a cover in order to survive. Everything that could have gone wrong happened that day. We were lucky that barely a third of our party survived. These bandits were better organized than the ones we were used to hunt, and they got out the best of us all.

Sound File Attached:


Bravo Two: .... This is Bravo Two..... Sergeant Lugo, calling for..... rendezvous at a hill..... 300 meters east of our last position.....

Kappa Three: ....Kappa Three here we are taking a lot of fire... DAMN IT WATCH OUT CLEAR THE BLA.... *static*...

Kappa Five: ...Kappa Five... we lost....Kappa Three, most of the Charlie Merc Squad... and the APC... pull back!... PULL BACK!... This is Kappa Five we are reading a sand storm approaching.... rendezvous.... at Bravo One's location.... 270 meters south-east.... we'll have.... better.... chances with the.... storm there....

Lambda One: ....This is Lambda Squad Leader we copy ETA three minutes....

Charlie Two: ....This ain't what I was paid for... *blast*... we surrender, SURREND...*gunshot*

Kappa Five: ....Damn mercs... This is Kappa Five with whats left.... *blast* of Kappa squad.... we are nearing the rendezvous point.... provide cover fire....

Bravo Four: .... This is Bravo Four.... I lost contact with my squad.... Colonel... need instructions...

Bravo Two: ....This is Bravo Two speaking.... negative, the Colonel is dead.... follow my instructions rookie....

Bravo Four: ....Hh god we are dead...

Bravo Two: .... Head to the coordinates.... we are.... sending.... ASAP if you want to live Bravo Four....

Kappa Five: .... Where did they... get so.... much firepower from....

Bravo Two: .... To all bravo units near the hill, provide.... cover fire for Kappa and Lambda squads....

Bravo Four: .... Hh sh... *blast*....*static*

Bravo Two : .... Damn marauders....

Kappa Five: ... To all units this is Kappa Five, we've got Sand Storm incoming, ETA 1 minute. We will use the storm ...*gunshot*... cover...*sigh*....

Bravo Two: ... Oh shit we lost Kappa Five... to all units, gather... and stay low... we will use the Storm for cover and regroup....

Bravo Three: .... Here we go!!!.....

Kappa Six: .... I hate sand stor....*static*...



The Crashed Shuttle.

After the ambush the sand storm covered us and kept going for like half an hour. When the storm passed we gathered whats left of our equipment, one of the sand runners was completely destroyed along with the APC which was severely damaged. The survivors from our party were exactly twelve, less than half of what we were at the start of the mission. We've started searching for shelter and water, wandering in the desert. Our long range comms were down, due to the static storm and we couldn't have called for any help. For three days we wandered in the desert, water supplies were running low, as well as the fuel for the sand runner, and each night we were freezing. Until on the fourth day we've found some kind of a crashed shuttle in the middle of the desert. We knew this was our chance, the ship was badly damaged, but we've managed to find a half-damaged antenna and to get it working to call for help. The Planet Houston Security department sent the Navy with a Naval shuttle to rescue us. And that was when our luck had ended. Few blasts came from out in the open... they had tracked us. The Blasts came from afar, some kind of long range ground to ground artillery, but the crashed shuttle was protecting us. We knew our chances of fighting were minimal, but we had to hold on until the shuttle arrive. We've set our defense perimeter, we turned the sand runner into a driver-less bomb, and waited. they were coming closer and when they were close enough they opened fire at the openings of the ship. Gunshots, grenades, they threw everything at us. We've lost some of our own, but managed to make some damage as well until the shuttle came to pick us up.

Sound File Attached:


Bravo Two: .... Okay folks, this is Bravo Two speaking, hold on your positions until help arrives. Don't play heroes and don't take unnecessary risks...

Kappa Six: .... Ready with the Kamikadze thing....

Bravo Three: .... Right behind you....

Lambda One: .... My boys are ready.....

Kappa Two: .... If I die... dip me in whiskey....

Bravo Two: .... Negative Kappa Two, nobody is dying today....

Lambda One: .... All units ready to fire on my command!..... wait for it.... wait.....All units fire at the first wave of attackers!

Bravo Two: .... Bravo and Kappa Squads fire at will....

Lambda Five: .... This is just too easy... come on.... oh dam....*blast*...

Lambda One: .... Damn, I lost one of my own....Less chatters boys, that's an order....

Bravo Two: .... Launch that sand runner Bravo Three, target where the enemy is most concentrated....

Bravo Three: .... Copy that, fireworks incoming....

Lambda One: .... This is Lambda Lead I lost Lambda Six....

LNT-Talleyrand: This is Captain Talleyrand of the Liberty Naval "Bison" class Armored Transport here for extraction. Whats your status down there?

Lambda One: .... We are pined down and taking heavy fire.... I lost some of my men and we've sustained heavy casualties.... But we are very happy to hear from you Captain Talleyrand.

LNT-Talleyrand: Understood. All guns target the bandits! Target the ones firing at our squads and leave the stranglers to run!

Bravo Three: .... They are retreating....

Kappa Six: .... Run you pigs....

Bravo Two: .... Great job there....

LNT-Talleyrand: We have landed and ready to begin with the extraction boys, hop in when you're ready.

Lambda One: .... Most appreciated Talleryrand, we are boarding the ship now....


After the event in the desert

I have no idea how we survived that, but I must consider myself lucky. After the arrival of my superiors from Bering, me and the Rookie were commended, both from our veterans and from the local law enforcers. I was allowed to fly alongside with the veterans now. I was a given a ship, a Sea Serpent class BHG fighter and ever since hunt for the Guild. Work has brought me to many different places, but none as brutal as Planet Houston itself. Later that year I decided to enlist into the Liberty Navy. Like every young fool I wanted to save the world. It didnt last long though, two years in and I was out , looking for a decent job again.

Space over Houston.

Moving to Planet Manhattan and a New Contract

Manhattan planetside.

In 816 A.S. I've decided that pointless space flights and fuel wastes in attempts to find a well paid job, other than escorts, had to end. I was contacted by some suspicious businessman, claimed to work in cooperation with Ageira, who had offered me and a couple of other mercenaries and hunters for a job on hunting some Hackers gang who were trying to hit some of the main Ageira buildings. So, just an year after I've flown away from Houston I had moved to another lowlife misery of a planet... Manhattan, except for that this hole was shining and its most hardened criminals were wearing suits. Flying through the city to my appointment destination, where I saw most of the city's... glamor. Light shining from every direction, strip clubs on every corner. On the highways there were some really luxury ships celebrating a new boom in the market, followed by a speeding LPI patrols going for the next case. On the docks I saw some libertonian, civilian ships alongside some kusarian, bratonian trade vessels and even reinlanderish looking ones. The more I was closing to the coordinates I was given the bitter the city was becoming though. In the lower parts of the city I saw people getting beat up on the streets, some local bandits had robbed an old lady for the few possessions she had, a local street boss congratulating his gang for their last successful job, beggars, drunkards, dock workers coming back home. Apparently that's what the city was trying to hide with all those shining lights and glamor.

The Contract

There was no pretty in the city slums, just dirt, lowlifes, criminal supremacy and the uncaring behavior of the LPI patrols passing by. Ironic, I jumped from a smaller darker slum to another, but this one was shining and organized. Closing to the coordinates I saw a small landing pad and a bar just beside it. The whole pad was full so I had to land on some of the lower sectors. When I found a place I jumped off the ship and took a deep breath. The air on Manhattan was not like the one on Houston. Houston's air smelled of burnt fuel, cooked food and dust. Here the air smelled of puke, spilled booze and waste. In the elevator to the bar's sector I was thinking, why do I always end up in the slums, dealing with the city's lowlifes. I ran from one miserable place to another and yet this was my choice. I just hoped that the contract will be paid in full. With the money I could have even bought a bigger ship, a transport maybe. Could have become a respectable trader, a honest merchant. The moment of thinking was over as the elevator arrived at the barside. I didn't have much time even to look around as I heard my name. A guy is a suit shouted my name over the land pad:

-Nice to meet you Mr. Lugo, my name is Mr.Sheppard, but you, you may call me boss.

I disliked his attitude...

-K. J. Lugo, nice to meet you... Sheppard.

-You've got guts to speak to me like that boy, I am quite important here, and to the company I work for so you better show some respect.

-With all... due respect, not my company. I was contacted for a reason and I suspect that reason wasn't my "extraordinary" skills, or some kind of "super" abilities, as I am in no possession of neither.

-Your sarcasm doesn't appeal to me. You are here on my call to do the job I have for you. So lets go inside to meet your partners, mates or comrades I don't know how do you call your cooperatives back on Houston.

The Bar.

We walked inside where I saw a group of people, that had nothing in common with the environment of the city. They were nor shining nor glamorous. They looked hard, and humorless, tick and like they've seen a lot of the brutal life on planets similar to Houston. I walked further and he started the introductions... I wasn't listening to him as much as the shouts from the other table. Hearing my name took my attention:

-...and this is Mr. Lugo, your cooperative for this next mission me and the company I work for have for you. Mr. Wade will fill you all on the details.

-We will work in three teams of three in different sectors of the city filling different roles. The teams will be designated Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and you have to be available 24/7 for this job. You will receive private quarters and you will be paid half now and half with the completion of the job. The whole operation will be funded by Mr. Sheppard here, guns, ammunition, fuel and every piece of equipment. You will have to pay only for your drinks. Don't get sloppy as we are dealing with...

I was filled on the details about my daily schedule and everything and was assigned to Charlie team as Charlie One. It seemed that these Hackers were not a typical planetside bandit organization, they were a part of some kind of well organized pirate group that had two goals: To hurt the economy of Ageira and to plunder what they could get their hands to, using high-tech equipment. After that I was told that I will be taken to my private quarters.

Life in the Metropolis

The Private Quarters.

Private quarters... that couldn't be bad, I could have used some sleep back then. When I was brought to my quarters they were nothing special, in fact they weren't bad. I had a bed a large screen and a safe. Along with a fridge full of food and two bottles of whiskey and half bottle of vodka. The only thing was the noise coming from outside and the sunblinds that weren't working and didn't cover the light coming from the blazing city. I locked my guns in the safe and opened the bottle of whiskey. After the second glass I fell to sleep on the coach. I was like in a comma, 48 hours without a good night sleep and now I had my 6 hours when around 5 AM I got radioed.

Midnight Hunt

"Criminal Rooftop"

By the time I got dressed up, they were already here. I heard ship engines coming from outside. I went to see what was was this all about. The big guy Wade told me that we are going to cut one of the Hackers' cells and that we have limited time to do so. He told me we are taking their dropship Grizzly class combat freighter and that there is no time for anything else. As we were flying through the city I was briefed on the situation. One of the cells was indeed tracked, but there was a limited amount of time until they realize this and shut the connection down. The sun was already rising and the chance of being spotted was greater. As we reached a small flat building somewhere far from the city center, we started the dropout on the building's roof, thus we were fired upon landing with light pulse weaponry one of our guys whose name I've never heard was shot. Three bandits were firing at us on that roof, we shot two down, wounded another and stunned the third. Another bandit came from behind the roof door and shot another one of the mercs. When we entered the building we shot one more of them and we captured a second. We found and destroyed all the hardware we could find and saved the date for potential lead to other cells.

Another Clue

The Club entrance.

One week after we broke the cell and captured the data, I got contacted again in regards of another hunt. Sheppard's specialists had decrypted the code from the data disc we've found on the last hunt. This could have been our only chance to capture their leader Bradley Fisher. The clue was uncertain but we had to pursue it. We had evidence that he was going on some private party somewhere in the city center. Unfortunately the party was off the LPI jurisdiction, that's where we came in hand. As mercs and hunters we were expendable and off the law. We took two luxury looking freighters given to us by Mr. Sheppard and flied to the club's landing pad.

The Capture

The Club.

I've never been in a club like this one. There were many colors blending together and most of the girls were actually companions. or strippers. The lights were blazing everywhere except for the private tables. We looked like cave men compared with the "gentlemen" inside. After five minutes of intense search and immense distraction on most of the mercs we found him, standing on a balcony with seven well dressed bandits, talking with his companion I presume. We were slightly outnumbered by eight to seven but we had the element of surprise. We closed to him and took out our guns. Their reaction was swift and as soon as they saw us we started shooting. No one paid attention what was happening to the balcony, almost everyone was still dancing and drinking. Even if someone had seen us, he either started screaming or looked with disgust and focused his attention elsewhere. No one took action against the skirmish on the balcony, and no one heard anything due to the loud music. Fisher and the bandits had automatic weapons and started shooting in rapid fire at us, killing three civilians and one of us. We shot five of them and captured three bandits and Fisher. Despite losing three of our own we completed our main objective... Fisher. On the landing pad we received additional instruction from Mr. Sheppard to remove Fisher. Quite unexpected, but we followed that order. Wade and one of the mercs took the captured bandits to claim the bounty for them. Me and two of the others took Fisher to a abandoned building's rooftop where we shot him. I can remember the conversation...

The "Removal"

Fisher: I don't know what are you intending with this execution, you will get much more from me if you deliver me alive.

Merc 1: So you could escape? No Don't think so.

Fisher: What are you staring at, we are not much different, we are both killers. The difference is that I get what I want and you are getting told what you want.

Merc 2: Shut your mouth, or open it for the gun it doesn't matter to me.

Lugo: You killed a couple of civilians back there. Don't you have any regrets?

Fisher: For those degenerates? No, why should I? All they do is eat sleep and go to parties like this one, they didn't matter.

Lugo: So do you...

Fisher: No wai.... *gunshot*


After the job was done I was payed in full by Mr. Sheppard. He even let me keep the apartment as a sign of good will I guess. With the money I bought in 815 A.S. a Bottlenose class BHG Gunship with enhanced plating and made it my home. I then started exploring some of the more dangerous parts of the Border Worlds. Eventually selling some of the star charts and coordinates to freelancers and merchants. Doing regular escort and hunting jobs, in both Liberty and Bretonia, I've made my living and and even something to set apart for unexpected events.

Another job another day

Planet New Tokyo's main city.

The year was 819 A.S. and I was broke again. Escort jobs didn't pay good enough. The Liberty-Rheinland and Bretonia-Gallia conflicts were tearing the economy of the houses apart. Less and less people were willing to pay up bounties or hire escorts. And escorting corporation shipments into the war zones isn't in my greatest interests. So I've decided to move in to Kusari for a while. Knowing what the Kusarian republic had for Bounty Hunters, and for foreigners if that matters, I had to stay low, until I had found a suitable job or a contract which will fill my pockets for a while. The kusarians were a very cold breed, cold, but only to outsiders, people that didn't look, talk or live like them. It was very hard to even find a suitable place to stay, even harder to order food or go in a bar. They didn't like foreigners and they didn't want them in Kusari, I found a low paid job as a driver of a passenger tram. It wasn't the best job in Sirius but it paid for my temporal living in Kusari. I heard the Kusarian speech often back on Planet Houston, mainly merchants, I even learned some of it while trying to sell equipment to the kusarian traders. Despite the anticipation of the kusarians towards me, in two months period of insane work hours and attempts to figure out the Kusarian language I found something, something that might get me settled for the next few years. I finally had what I came for and despite that it was idiotic and insane, it paid well.

Against the legal criminals

The Kusarian downtown.

A friend of mine, Jesse Martinez, who I met and hunt alongside with back on Houston, had contacted me about some job. One of his cooperatives, a member of the Kishiro Technologies. I didn't know much about his business contacts or about the kusarian corporal alliances, but the job paid too good for such a chance to be missed. I met Martinez on a bar somewhere in the downtown to brief me in the details around the corporal situation in Kusari. Sadly he didn't know what was the job about, he only knew that someone within Kishiro needed outsiders or low profiled mercenaries willing to take a contract against corporal officials, most particularly... assassination. We were not the only ones asked for the job, so a quick answer was needed. I had some doubts about the job at first, but after half an hour, three whiskeys and some long talks about our hunts back on Houston, I said yes. On the next day he met me with this Kishiro associate. In 8 P.M. we were taken and escorted in some kind of an armored transport to a place in the city center. The transport itself was isolated with blackened windows both from the in and outside, so we couldn't see where were we going. When the ship docked and we got out, we saw some small hanger, probably in some private building. There were a couple of other shuttles like ours docked there as well. We headed through a narrow corridor to a medium sized decorated hall. That's where we met by our contractor.

The Kishiro Agent and the new job

The Kishiro Coplex Hall.

We were in the hall with three other tough looking guys, two of which not looking like kusarians to me. The Kishiro official introduced himself as Hashimoto...

-I would like to welcome you to one of Kashiro's business compounds. My name is Takuma Hashimoto. I would like to give my apologize for the rude transportation methods, one can never be sure these days. Also excuse my rude behavior... here have some sake.... Now to business. I hope you know the danger of this mission and the chance of an eventual government hostility towards you all if anything would fail here.

Martinez was never a patient breed...

-I think we were all had a short brief on what type of mission is this.

-Typical libertonian speaking without even introducing himself. The mission or the job as someone as simple as you would describe it has its dangers yes.

-So as I understand this, it is assassination we are talking about.

-Yes it is Mr...


-Yes... this is an assassination, for reasons far beyond your understandings, so my chief of security Mr. Haru will... put some light on the... mission.

The Kusarian tough guy then stood up from his seat and started explaining...

-Mr Izumu Takeda from Samura Industries is the main target for this mission. He has recently been trading industrial materials and ship parts for artifacts with The Corsair Empire. We have got information on his next movement. For corporal reasons he needs to be eliminated. You are not to ask questions for which you do not have to know the answer. You will be given the information you need and then you are gone. Takeda has an appointment in in four days time. An appointment with another target, a Corsair embassy whom you need to take down as well. The meeting will be in one of Samura's secondary trade complex here. You are to place explosives in the main hall where the meeting will take part. For that we will grant you access to the building as technical maintenance of that particular floor.

Mr. Hashimoto started speaking...

-So gentlemen I think this dinner is over, and so is our business conversation. I wish you all well in the next four days for our deal to be flawlessly finished.

He then sent us back to our shuttles and than straight to our living places.

The Assassination

The Samura Comples(the big tower on the right) .

We've done our job in three days time. Explosives set, escape plan well thought, we only had to wait. I always hated waiting, like you have time to think of all the things that could have gone wrong, and we are speaking about an assassination of a corporate official... Nevertheless the day came. Everything was ready, we just had to make sure we cause enough chaos to kill Takeda if he did not die in the blast. We saw them entering the hall, Takeda, the Corsair embassy and six bodyguards on both sides. The guards' number was a little bit higher than we were told they will be, but that didn't matter. The explosion would have taken care of most of them. Everyone entered the hall, only two of the Corsair guards were left on the entrance. And there it came, five, four, three, two, one. The explosive was probably heard in the whole building. We drew our guns and shot the guards. Kicking the door in and shooting the remaining body guards. We lost one of our own but continued. The embassy died in the blase, but Takeda had survived. He screamed and shouted at us some things on his language, but nobody cared. He had to die, Martinez pulled out his handgun and shot him in the head. Takeda was lying dead on the ground, but we were hearing the security coming from the corridors... the time came for our escape plan. The blast had made an opening in the building and a moment later our escape plan arrived at the broken wall of the hall. A Bumblebee Transport arrived just in time to pick us up. We had all boarded, only Martinez was still swearing and shooting at the security personal. I shouted at him to speed it up and extract already. He started running just as he turned towards the ship, he had no more than one step to get aboard when the unthinkable happened... Martinez stared at me with some kind of a gaze of incomprehension and fell on his back. Those dogs had shot him in the back. The poor bastard. The ship took off and we weren't followed due to the chaos. While we were flying I was thinking. Living as Bounty Hunters we are aware that our lives will end earlier, but no one is fully aware of what death is until his last moments on this world...

The Payment

After another phantom visit to Mr. Hashimoto and a small conversations on the details and complications of the mission. Me and the other surviving mercenary were paid our shares and Mr. Hashimoto told us that Kusarians never cross their deals and that the shares of the those who died, Martinez and the other mercenary, will be sent to their relatives. It was hard to believe that someone who could organize an assassination is capable of any noble actions, but different culture, different customs I guess. It was nice to know that no one died in vein. They knew the risks however.

The Omicrons

In the late 820 A.S. the Guild was going through a crisis and despite not flying under official tags for the Guild, I was strongly dependent of it to find contracts, to use its good name and be contacted for private jobs. The last one year I had little to no job in most of the Sirius Core sector, until one day I received a message from some high members of some shadowy part of the Guild I've only heard rumors for. The Guild Core. The message said all Hunters willing to make huge profits in the far omicrons should fly to a system named Omicron Delta to a Zoner station named Freeport 11. The instructions were not to go alone, either find a place on a Zoner transport or a convoy or fly with other Hunters. And so I packed my things and paid a Zoner ZBT-100Z_2 Captain, part of a large Zoner convoy, Whale class transport. It wasn't hard persuading him into getting me, my Bottlenose and my Sea Serpent on board when I told him what the price will be. The only things important for these people are credits and cargo. I took only things I would need, medicaments, weapons, both my ships and the credits I had.


We arrived to Omicron Delta finally. I saw a large asteroid field, maybe a part of a belt. We proceeded to our coordinates when suddenly we were attacked. The attackers didn't look like ships at all, more like purple ocean creatures. I've heard stories about the Nomads before, but I never thought they were real, nor have I ever seen one. They were not many of them and the convoy's escort managed to fight them off. Guess they were expecting a smaller convoy... First thing I did after my arrival at Freeport 11 was to get myself to the bar and buy a couple of drinks. I hadn't even started my drink yet when two shadowy persons, decorated with some talismans and some other voodoo stuff, came to me and asked if I was one of the Hunters in the convoy. They stated that they were a part of the The Core. The same reason I was here for. So that made them my new contractors. I answered yes and they told me I need to go with them. They took me to a BHG Orca Gunboat, I've seen a couple of these before, slow and clumsy, but effective. We boarded the ship alongside seven other Hunters and mercenaries, freelancers, apparently signed for the same job. During the flight one of the Core members briefed us on the situation in the Edge worlds. He told us about the Nomads, about a terrorist organization The Order, about the Zoners, pirates and some things about the The Core itself. We were told also of our goal and that The Core was recently freshly funded by an unknown contractor. We were paid to acquire alien technology, artifacts, samples and remains of all kinds, the money were good so almost no one asked stupid questions. We reached a station which name I was told is Dabadoru, where we were officially recruited into the Core itself. My ships were then moved to Dabadoru Station, but I took most of my stationary time on Freeport 11, despite pirates and all kinds of lowlifes I used to hunt were visiting the station, it felt more comfortable.

Living on the Edge

Ever since I arrived in the Omicrons I work, kill, salvage and explore for The Core. I was assigned as a recon, exploring and scouting the more dangerous parts of the omicrons in my Serpent. Despite it was quite hard, the money were good and I've learned things I never even thought had existed before, seen beautiful untouched by industry systems and met many different freelancers and zoners with tales and stories about the edge worlds of all kinds. Some of them helped me a lot to adapt in the dangerous Edge Worlds.

Recon in Omicron Iota

Unknown Tendencies

Recon to The Mysterious Ship

Shortly after joining the Core an event occurred in Omicron Delta system, an event that would change my whole perspective on both the capabilities of the Nomads and the sick minds that the human race could produce. About a week after my recruitment I was sent on various of dangerous missions with some of the other recruits. Be it protecting convoys, dealing with nomads or dismembering some corsair Praefect. However one of the assignments took me and several other recruits to the Tokelau Ice Cloud. As we were told the danger was minimal so a veteran wasn't needed. We manned our ships after having our breakfast and flied to the coordinates given to us. We were to investigate some weak distress signal, nothing important. I was once involved in a hunt to the Badlands in New York and this Could looked kind of similar, only this cloud looked lighter and bitter. We were chatting in the radio until we reached the location, where we saw a ship. Quite looking like some of the Yachts I've seen in Liberty, transporting VIPs and all sorts of government officials. But this looked kind of older, maybe even modified. We got no readings out of it so we decided to investigate. Since the ship wasn't big enough for an interior dock, we attached to some of the docking hatches and boarded the ship the rough way.

Unknown Threat

The ship's trench

Boarding the ship we grouped up and proceeded deeper into the ship. Life support systems seemed to be working... barely. Outside we saw minimal damage, and the damages looked like came from the inside. And apparently they did. The ship was a mess inside. That could have done such a mess? We proceeded deeper when we saw someone on the floor. He was doing something... we closed by, closer... the man was there kneeling to something... something that looked like a HUMAN! He was scratching the eyes out of that other crew member, who would do such a thing? He then turned to us and his eyes... his eyes were purple glowing. Then he looked at us and charged at the first one his eye could meet. We had to shoot him... it down. Two of ours raised their hand guns... two shots in the head did put it down for good. We knew not what was happening on that ship, but we had to find out immediately. Our destination has changed from the ship's bridge to the medical center, we had to find some answers. I've seen nomad infested people in the Core's detentions and they were... they talked and acted like normal persons but with different motives. This was nothing like them.

Though the Horror


We moved cautiously, steady and some of us with great caution and others with bitter fear. This ship didn't look like a Luxury Yacht, it had it's luxuries, but some parts of the ship were old and modified for long flights. Now it looked like a normal passenger transport, with some strange modifications, probably for long travels. Walking through the dark corridor, some of the others started making jokes of the situation. One of the guys didn't even stop talking... didn't stop, he just kept talking and talking. If he knew what were we in he might have even been scared, or he knew, but was afraid to admit... suddenly in one of his jokes he made an unwary move, too fast rookie... too fast. He moved earlier towards a corner, one of those fiends was waiting right behind it, it attacked and grabbed him by the neck and stated chewing through it... "Shoot!" I heard someone shouting, and so we did, but it was too late. The rookie was dead. Damn idiot, couldn't have kept his mouth shut... he should have stayed at home, maybe he would have been alive. We knew not what was coming from the next corner, the jokes had ended, in fact the whole speaking part had ended as well. Everyone was either stone cold and fearless or scared to death, personally I was scared in measures beyond I've been before.

Man is his own arch enemy

Medical Center

We found the medical center, finally, it was time to find out what happened on this damned ship. Medical logs... we found none of those. Like there were no earlier casualties or someone deleted them all. Before I had the chance to report on the big nothing I've found, some of the other recruits shouted "I found something!". It looked like a backdoor to some kind of laboratory, a madman's work. There was a table with a human body on it, it was split open. There was blood everywhere, and in the corner there was someone lying. We weren't taking any chances, we proceeded with caution. He turned out to be some kind of a doctor or a scientist, he was with his throat ripped, like with human teeth, small bites. How cruel could this place get? In his hand we found a data driver. We plugged the device in which we found a voice record...

Sound File Attached:

Voice Record: Dr. Samuel Dumont:

...This is... this is Dr. Dumont... I... I've finally done it. I've found... a way to manipulate the nomad incubus... it took me some time... but it is done! Sadly no one on this ship... will be alive to tell that story.

...These new incubuses grow faster... reproduce faster... with a limited brain activity... they are mindless beasts!

..Cannot be controlled, not by me... nor by their creators.

...They are... dangerous, this ship and this crew is lost... but if there is a chance that someone has survived, please if someone even found this recording, I've made a new compound, a mixture... I've plugged it to the life support systems, it is harmless to humans, but deadly to this new... breed.

...If someone really found this message please go to the bridge and spray this mixture through the vents. If anyone has survived this.... accident. It is the least I can do.

...I am trapped, and they are coming, i don't think... I don't think I will make it out of this alive, but if there is a chance someone... else to, search the ship... oh god they are coming...*static*...

Voice Record Ended.

Action Needed

The Bridge

The message was clear, even if there were no survivors, this would kill all those abominations. We could have some use of this ship and it's data. I turned around and by the time I had to suggest leaving to the bridge, one more of the recruits was missing. These things were not only faster, but silent as well. Our numbers were getting thin. Only 5 of us remained and we had to reach the bridge. The corridors were getting wider as we were closing to the bridge, the only good news today other than that coffee I had earlier. There was no place for a mistake here, if we were overwhelmed without switching the vents on, we would have been dead, as the hatches to which our ships were attached were too far from our position and the bridge itself. After a few minutes, the halls were getting bigger and more prank looking, not like the medical center or the lower parts of the ship. Finally we reached the bridge. All the information we needed would have been here... and we heard a noise. Two of those freaks was chewing onto one of our guys'... his eyes... dead... we shot them out as soon as possible, but he was already dead. Damn, we can keep losing people like that, this madness need to end. We hacked into the logs and the ships database, as well as the life support and the vents. Reading the database I found... some quite interesting things. Apparently no one knew what was the doctor doing behind the scenes. The data store said that this was a Yacht, named LLY-Dolphin, hired by some businessmen for a trip deep into the Omicrons to see the wonders of the Edge Worlds. It seems their vacation didn't went well. We checked for life readings in the ship. Other than us there was no one human. All of the readings were either from some strange creatures, the incubuses, or from humans from which there was some strange energy, probably the incubus' readings. There was no one else. As much as I dislike these greedy, fat bastards, no one deserves to die this way. After opening the vents we saw all of those abominations died in a throe. Not a single one was left alive.

The Acquire


It seemed that the ship's navigation as well as engines were barely working. It was our best shot I think. And it could have served some purpose. Engines lighted up, navigation operational, coordinates set to Dabadoru Station and we took off with our trophy ASAP. Despite it was operational it needed heavy work and repairs on it. We did however found a good use of it. It looks like it had some operational science facilities aboard, as well as most of the personal quarters were lined on straight corridors... it was perfect. We put cells on those, security cameras and auto-turrets, in case of some of it's new inhabitants decided to escape. We've made it into a prison ship. A bit smaller than the usual ones, but effective and with the capacity of up to 300 prisoners and hostages, maybe more if we put more than three of them in a cell. It served a good purpose as a science vessel as well. With these Yachts being designed in this way, that the living quarters, now prison cells, to be isolated from the bridge and the science facilities, it was easy to keep prisoners as well as valuable artifacts aboard and to break riots when they occurred. The ship was ours, but due to it's bad reputation, and rumors travel faster than light as we all know, the ship didn't have many volunteers, but despite that fact we found enough to keep the ship safe and flying. We hired some scientists to keep an open research on the Nomad artifacts and tissue we've acquired on our later missions. Such research could have changed our position in the Omicrons.

The Edge

After that day I realized, that despite the fact the Edge Worlds looked tranquil and safe from afar, they were not. The stories I've heard back in Liberty couldn't describe the horror and brutality of the Omicrons. Simple words couldn't describe it. This part of space wasn't for the weak minded. Even though it was worth it, the money, the experience. The Edge Worlds teach a man how to survive and I appreciate that. I was reminded as well of the job I was here for and with every passing day, we were getting closer. With each artifact acquired and with each nomad slain, we were getting closer and closer. I just hope I will be there to see the end.

Planet Tuvalu and Planet Nauru recorded on the Dolphin

Strange Signal

Capetown Station communications, navigation and sensor center.

In the early 821 A.S. we detected a strange signal on the Capetown Station's sensors. Some kind of a power source or something buzzing with our equipment. The scientists aboard the Dolphin and those on Capetown presumed that was Nomad energy. The source however had an unexpected location. Deep within the Outcasts systems, on a planet called Carinea. A place we know only from intel that is hostile to all out-world life forms, humans on the top of it. Additionally there was a toxin raging on the planet that kills humans for less than an hour. So we had to avoid breathing as well as wounds and bites from the local wildlife. Big profit would be laying there we thought. There was no way we miss that chance. And so we gathered a team of 17 experts in xenoarcheology, medics, survival veterans, trackers and requested an expedition to the planet surface. The request received a positive answer quickly due to the contract we had only any alien tech. Our only flaw was the lack of a proper vessel to transport us to the planet itself. We had most of our warships occupied in Delta skirmishes and even if we did, a warship would have drown too much attention to our... expedition. We had no other choice but to use the Dolphin as a transport vessel. All the preparations weren't that easy. Weapons, equipment and supplies, sent by the Core, were to be all we had down on the planet, so we had to make the distribution flawless. And so a week has passed, we've made the preparations needed and finally boarded the ship. We were told the journey wouldn't be long so we made sure we didn't feel too comfy in that dreaded ship.

Welcome to the Jungle

Planet Carinea landside.

After five days we arrived at the planet. It looked like... a wasteland from above. A little green planet in the green nebula with a green atmosphere... and we were expected to find something useful down there. Well time to get to work. We gather all we needed and launched the two Voyagers to the surface. We couldn't have landed near to the energy source's location for it was on the side of the planet facing Malta and we didn't want to get detected. Due to the thick atmosphere there were some slight problems with the landing maneuver. After all we were landing without a Docking Ring, that was dangerous enough. Slight turbulence, a few fried electronics, a few bashed heads and were on the planetside. The first moments were stunning, it was utterly... beautiful. I haven't seen anything like it. The jungles, even the air looked thick. I've seen some photos of Planet Gaia, maybe this is it's grumpy cosine who knows. We found a perfect place to land on the far side of the planet, only six days away from the energy source. This place looked tranquil, but we were told about the dangers. The landing procedure was finished, docks opened, weapons loaded, masks on. This place was wild, no sign of civilization and no reasons for it, that place had it's toxin in every specie of flora and wildlife here, apparently not lacking in the number of ways to kill you, eat you or poison you. But still, had to clear my mind, we were here on a mission. A mission involving quite the amount of money for my empty pockets. Despite that I was getting distracted from every direction, those space nerds talking and discussing the planet and the energy source, some of the soldiers joking about how one can die on this planet. It seemed that only the veterans and the trackers were silent. From personal experience I know as well that talking too much gets you killed. On this planet probably even taking the piss would get you killed so we had to be extra careful. One of the veterans gave an order for silence, thus we had that silence for barely two minutes when those scientists started talking again. They didn't know a think about military hierarchy or discipline... whelps.

Wild Night

Wild Night.

We wandered through the jungles a couple of days now, sleeping 5 hours tops and eating those Synth Paste garbage, the scientists started to complain, about rests and the regime. The were ignored as we had a mission to be finished in the time given to us. We didn't want any Outcasts to track us here... or worse Nomads. The nights were quite a thing on that planet. Like everything turned from thick green to dark blue. It felt like most of the wildlife was waking up at night as well, or was it just our senses. We couldn't see more than half a meter in front of us. One the third day we made a camp... and this time for longer. Damn nerds, they were warned about the conditions on this planet. We had to finish fast with this mission. The camp was small, but secured. We thought nothing can enter without being shot... we thought. Getting yourself to sleep on that planet wasn't that easy, but once you managed, you feel like you will sleep forever. My first watch had ended, one of the other soldiers was about to take the second. Dreaming wasn't hard either, it is like something on the planet that makes you calm... some kind of tranquility. Dreaming of things like big rain forests, massive waterfalls... or maybe not just dreaming, maybe there were some of those waterfalls nearby and I was just hearing them... I was hearing... shouts... screams... GUNSHOTS!!! I woke up and grabbed my gun by the time of an eye blink. What was this, something... I started shooting at it. The local flora... it had caught two of the soldiers... it was chocking them. I shot once... twice... these things just kept chocking the life out of them... I saw their looks, like they knew they were going to die, but would do anything to avoid it. The flora started dragging them up the trees, we kept shooting at the trees, we were shooting at the damn trees! And they were gone. Silence... no screams heard, no gunshots fired... That planet was a nightmare, the kind of which you want to escape as fast as possible. We couldn't have stayed longer... we had to move or we'd risk getting killed by some of those things. We had to find a meadow large enough for a defense perimeter if we wanted to sleep form now on. We had some kind of Cryer... pills that wouldn't let us sleep for a couple of days. I would say that was life saving back on that wicked planet.

Deeper into the Wild

The clustered artifacts.

Four days we traveled through thick jungles, wild rivers, deep lakes... we were getting closer and closer. Just a couple of hours separated us from the energy source, there was no room for failure. We were getting more cautious and even more nervous closing to the given coordinates. A hour and a half we were two clicks away from the source when we detected some activity on the radars... activity, human activity. Outcasts! Maybe they detected the energy streaming from this planet as well. They seem to be unaware of our presence. There were 15 of them but they were closer to the source. We had 12 armed personal, but we had to leave one of the combat medics to guard the space nerds, they would have only given away our position. We still had the element of surprise though. We had the two veterans Jacks and that rheinlander Hochberg.

Sound File Attached:


Jacks: ....Don't attract any unwanted attention, we will take them swiftly and silently... follow my lead Lugo and Hochberg... the others stay behind and don't make any senseless moves...

Lugo: ...Copy that, I got this one... *knife slice* ... one down...

Hochberg: ...This one is mine... *knife slice* ... another one bites the ground...

Jacks: ... *knife slice* ... proceed forward, don't get distracted...

Hochberg: ... Hey look this one is too easy... *knife slice*...

Rookie 1: ... Got one behind me I will take care of... *gunshot* ... *cough*

Outcast: Ho ucciso uno! We got hostiles around us!!!

Jacks: ... Damn rookie... Attack engage all targets!

Rookie 2: ... Medic!... *cough* ...

Lugo: ... put them all down!!!...

Jacks: ... keep the pressure solders!...

Medic 1: ... Granade clear ou... *static* ...

Rookie 3: ... They are retreating...

Hochberg: ... Don't let them escape...

Rookie 4: ... Die Bit... *gunshot* ... *cough*

Medic: 3: ... I need some help over here...

Jacks: ... To all units I read no more targets on the scanner, the area is clear...

Hochberg: ... Lets take what we came for and get out of there, I bet the radioed for help...

Lugo: ... It should be dead ahead...

Hochberg: ... Proceeding to the coordinates...

Jacks: ... Dolphin, we have been detected. Send in extraction teams at once...

AP-Dolphin: Copy that, we are sending the two shuttles for the extraction, wait... we are detecting hostile forces... few Sabres. Prepare all guns, you need to extract faster down there, we are outgunned here.

Shuttle 1: this is Shuttle One ETA fifteen minutes. You better find what we came for by that time.

Lugo: ... I think we found it... what is this?...

Hochberg: ... It looks like a cluster, cluster of artifacts...

Jacks: ... Damn you are right, okay take it...

Lugo: ... It is glowing, like my night lamp...

Jacks: ... Okay here we go...

Lugo: ... Shuttle one we are ready for extraction...

Shuttle 1: Copy that ETA two minutes.


The Artifacts

Durban Station laboratory.

Despite losing 7 of our own and barely escaping the Outcasts chasing us, we acquired the artifacts and completed out mission. I felt somehow relieved while leaving the planet. I get now why the Outcasts haven't colonized it yet, the damn planet was a tropical hellhole. Flying back to Delta, I went to the laboratory. I wanted to see what did we risked our necks for. Those space nerds told us nothing important. Only that these were some kind of Derelict Nomad Artifacts which just needed to be reactivated, and that they hold a significant power inside them. Science stuff, I never understood those. All I needed to know is that we got our hands on three rare pieces of alien tech that paid well, nothing more, nothing less.

Entering the Omicron Delta system, we were instructed by Core operatives to fly to the Omicron Rho. I've only heard of Rho before. As far as I know it is the center of our influence in the Edge Worlds. Nevertheless we complied with that order. Upon entering Rho an escort wing instructed us to flying towards Durban Station. If it was the same station I am thinking of, it is the Core HQ. Looks like what we found back on that planet was worth it after all. Upon docking we were met by armed personal and a group of Kusarian scientists. Maybe some of those Kempeitai we escorted some time back. Anyway, didn't matter a thing to me. I wasn't in the Edge Worlds to ask questions, but to make money.

Break Off

After those events I was sure I needed a break off for a while. Not a long one either. I needed some of the old house hunting where you don't have to deal with aliens and all kinds of things that can have you for their evening meal. I've taken my ship and went to the core systems again. Thus I ended on Barrier Gate Station where I was recruited by a man named Toru Sato into the group known as Faze Mercenaries. Seemed like a decent job, it paid well at least. Hunting and escorting, contracts with company I never thought would be working for like the Samura. They seemed to be unaware of my past actions against them... and I better keep my mouth shut in interest of my new job.

Solar Flare in Omicron Rho.

Old Friends

Planet Leeds cityscape.

Coming back to the House systems, it felt like the old times. Scratching hulls with guns and doing the dirty work of the military as always. I received a message with an unknown sender, it said "Come to Planet Leeds, -From an Old friend". Who could have that been? However as one of the Faze I had the freedom to do whatever I want, that included going wherever I want. But Planet Leeds... this was kind of disturbing. As far as I know the whole system was occupied by Gallia, and gauls weren't famous for their warm attitude towards anyone else, but themselves. Even though I was sceptical, my curiosity prevailed and I went to where I was pointed at on Planet Leeds. One wrong move and one could have been arrested on the planet. The gallic occupation was nothing more than an act of terror, but it was none of my business.

On the occupied Planet Leeds

Bar on Leeds.

I went to the coordinates given to me. They led me to a bar somewhere in the downtown. Nothing too fancy, a couple of tables, a bar full of drunkards. I went to the bar and ordered a drink. Damn that whiskey was bad, but what could someone except from an occupied planet? After a couple of drinks the bartender came to me:

-Hey are you Lugo?

-I might be, whats your business with me?

-Some guys came here earlier and told me to ask for you.

-So you found me, what do you need to tell me?

-You are being waited in the back hall.

-By whom?

-How should I know, they told me to point you the door and that's all.

-Ookay, if you say so. Were they armed?

-This is Planet Leeds boy, everybody's armed.

He pointed me to the back door and a small dark room. I had to be cautious though. Entering the room with a gun in my hand I saw a couple of shadowy figures. The moment I stopped, the lights turned on. I couldn't believe what I'm seeing. My old friends from back in the orphanage, well at least some of them. How did they find me? It didn't matter, but if they called me here, there was sure to be some job coming as well.

Another day, another job

Houston Hunters

We talked a lot about past and new assignments, we drank over to stories and tales, and then came the question about the reason why I'm here. I wanted to know firstly, how did they tracked me? Guess I wasn't that invisible anymore. Guess they found out about my recent job as the security of a base in Manchester. Seemed like it was something hard to miss. They told me that I was called the minute they found out I was in Bretonia as they needed all the guns they can get for a job. A job that could have risked my whole anonymous status with Gallia, but hearing of the money offered, I just couldn't resist. It was about a sabotage on some old factory. Clearly the bretonians wanted it shut down for some reasons. They wanted this particular factory sabotaged instead of any other. My guess is that they had something into development there, something that they didn't want the Gallic Royal Navy to get their hands on. But it wasn't my job to ask questions again. I had an assignment and it paid well, that was all I needed to know. In our line of work there is always this factor and there is a code amongst mercenaries and bounty hunters alike. We were lucky that the factory was in a low populated region, which means no civilian casualties.

The Infiltration

The Office

For a team that experienced it was a quick preparation. Just a week later we managed to gather enough info and access to the factory. It wasn't that easy, but with little help and a couple of bribes, we managed to get what we want. We passed though the factory's office and decided to make a little research of our own. It wasn't that hard to gain access to the factory office. Curiosity prevailed again, we gained access to his computer and found something very interesting. What we found were the blueprints, schematics, weak spots, weapon hard points on that new Bretonian Carrier. I've heard only rumors about it. The computer was connected to the whole factory network and we couldn't have deleted it. Of course the bretonians knew about that, that's why we were sent to blow this thing up.If the gallics get their hands on that info, it could have compromised the entire bretonian navy. Seemed that they didn't even know about the existence of the information in this factory. There were no guards, no marines, just workers. But it was a matter of time and I was getting paid fat for this sabotage.

The Sabotage

The Factory

Getting a bomb inside the building proved a challenge as there were scans everywhere on the planet. Seemed that bomb attacks were something usual in addition to the riots. Somehow we managed to get the bomb inside. Setting the timer I heard something coming from the outside... the Gallic Navy was coming. It looked like out mistake, maybe they had detected the bomb somehow. It didn't matter, we had to finish the job. Bomb planet, timer set, now only our escape plan B. The gauls were coming from everywhere, there was no point of running through the front door. Luckfully we had some past experience and we knew that a second escape plan was always needed, and this one was waiting for us on the rooftop. But the gauls were too fast, they reached our position swiftly and opened fire without a warning. We tried to flee but one of ours were shot. Reaching the rooftop we were waiting for a Voyager atmospheric shuttle to come pick us up. Damn that rookie was late anyway. I don't know where they found him, but they told me he was reliable. Another one of us was shot. With each man down we were losing a friend. We had to hold on until he arrived. Shooting and being shot at wasn't something we weren't used to, but this time we had no chances of survival without that shuttle. And then there he was. More and more gauls were coming from the elevators and stairs, we saw even a couple of Lynx fighters coming from afar. There was no room for mistake and delays. We boarded the Voyager and took off the factory rooftop. Being chased by those gallic fighters wasn't a joke. We were fleeing not from some bandits and cutthroats, but from trained pilots. We were getting shot at constantly and at the point where almost blow the factory blew off. There was no timing like that one. The fighters got distracted and we managed to lose them in the traffic.

Another job accomplished and back to The Edge

The job was done and we got paid in full. Sadly the bretonians were nothing like the kusarians I've met. They didn't pay for the dead ones and we had to pay their funerals from our pockets. It is strange how fast can things go wrong. It was something like a reminder of my time back on Houston. After the funerals we took our leave from each other. I kept hunting until after two months I got called by The Core to the Omicrons again. Somehow their offers seemed the most tempting I've ever received. And since I was hunted by the gauls now, the house systems seemed a little tighter for me. I took my leave as fast as possible and this time for much longer.