(A/N: Here's chapter twenty six! The conclusion of the fight in this chapter, the real identity of Ritsuko, and what's the person of stealing souls would all be revealed in this chapter. Enjoy!
Drake G. Reaper: Thanks for reviewing. There's no way Ed and Al would survive against an Arrancar. They are going to get their asses killed. Besides, they wouldn't be able to see one...yet.
SunniKing: Thanks for the review! Actually Ritsuko's weapon isn't really a zanpakuto, if that's what you're thinking. It's merely a weapon that transforms when she applies her spirit energy into it similar to Inuyasha's Tessaiga, except it isn't a useless sword when not transformed.
sacke110: Thanks for the review! Yep, they are fucked! Yeah, I tried to make a battle crazed villain for Ed and Al to beat [or at least try to]. At first, Ritsuko was originally supposed to be male, but then I made her a female because we don't get a lot of battle hungry, psychotic female villains. The only one I know is Esdeath from Akame ga Kill. The brothers would soon find out the reason her and Scar hunt alchemists are vastly different. Scar only hunts State Alchemists out of revenge because of what they did to his friends and family. Ritsuko hunts alchemists because she's merely looking for a decent fight, like she's stated over and over. And in this world, alchemists are only ones who can fight back [mostly]. She's not actively going around killing alchemists, like Scar. She's just a battle hungry, axe crazed, maniac who simply enjoys fighting and the thrill of the battlefield. But yeah, I can definitely see her in Kenpachi's squad.
I see people don't like the way the story is going. Hmph! That's fine. I like to thank those that remain loyal to the story. You guys are the best!)
A Nightmarish Terror
"Drip in blood, Shinachou!"
A flash of reddish-purple erupted, knocking Edward and Alphonse off their feet, and sending their alchemically made cage flying in pieces.
"What the hell is going on?" Ed cried out, shielding his eyes from the blinding flash of light. He lifted his arm down slowly once the light faded away.
The Elric brothers stared at the new weapon in Ritsuko's hands. It was a simple butterfly shaped battle axe. But what their attentions the most was the gauge meter going from the hilt of the axe to the tip.
Edward tsked, unimpressed. "So, you transmuted your sword. Is that supposed to scare us?"
The red haired girl didn't seem fazed at the taunt. She gave a vicious smile. "This is more than just an axe, and you'll find out soon enough about what it could really do. And just a heads up, it isn't pleasant."
She lifted the axe above her head. Edward and Alphonse got into a fighting stance in response.
"Ready for round two, boys?"
Orihime was beginning to feel a little worried and anxious. Ed and Al were taking quite a while to see whether the rumors were true or not.
"Are you still worried about Ed and Al?" Winry asked, as she came from the kitchen to sit next to the ginger haired girl.
"Yeah," she answered, honestly. "It's taking them a long time. I'm starting to get worried.
The blonde mechanic could understand the healer's feelings very well. Ever since Ed joined the military, she constantly fretted over him and Al's safety. When he always came back with his automail, yeah she was scream and yell and hit him over the head with her wrench, but that's only because she fears the kind of danger those two boys just returned from to be beaten that badly. One day, she fears that they would never come back just like her parents, and that's what truly terrifies her.
But Winry also knew that their goals of returning their bodies to the way it was before their botched up attempt at Human Transmutation. It's the reason why Ed joined the military in the first place, to find answers. It's what pushes them through difficult trials, pain, and suffering. It's their drive, their motivation to keep going on, no matter what obstacles stand in their way. And she wants to see them returned to normal just as much as they do. They're her family, after all.
"As much as those two worry, and no matter how much Ed annoys me, those two boys are strong," Winry stated, proudly. "They always managed to overcome anything that gets thrown at them."
Orihime smiled at that. "Yeah… You're right, Winry."
Gray eyes widened when she felt a strange sensation flooded through the area. It was coming from the direction not far from here. The same direction that...Ed and Al went!
"Oh, no…!" she inwardly gasped, fear gripping at her heart.
She definitely felt someone's strong, overwhelming spiritual pressure. It wasn't crumbled up, so it being a homunculus was out of the question. She could feel the spikes of spirit energy that means, whoever it was, was fighting with the two brothers, which rules out it being a rogue Soul Reaper since the two boys obviously couldn't see spirits as far as she's known them.
Was it a Hollow? No, Edward and Alphonse couldn't see spirits or ghosts or any type of spiritual being, so there's no way they could get into a fight with a Hollow either.
The ginger haired girl knew this unique type of spiritual energy felt familiar somehow. It was distinctively foreign, yet vaguely familiar.
Either way, she has to go help Edward and Alphonse! They were in danger!
She abruptly stood up from her seat, almost startling Winry.
"Wh-where are you going, Orihime?" Winry asked, confused as she watched her friend heading towards the door.
"I'm going after Edward and Alphonse," she replied, her voice dripping with extreme worry and fear. "They may be in danger."
"I'm sure your friends are doing just fine."
Both girls stared up in surprise at Morgan. He must have returned from his study room.
Orihime shook her head. "No, I have to go out and help them!"
The middle age man was persistent. "I'm sure they are doing just fine. I've seen the look in the boy's eyes. Such fearsome and determined eyes."
Unfortunately for him, the healer was stubborn. A look of subtle annoyance etched across his face as her hand made its way towards the doorknob. Just as she was twisted the door open, she was instantly stopped.
Orihime glanced up at their host, confusion spread across her facial expression. "Morgan? What are you doing?"
Morgan glared darkly at the ginger haired girl. "You are one stubborn bitch, aren't you?" he snarled.
Orihime noted how his voice was slightly higher in pitch. It didn't sound like a man that was past his prime, but of one that was past his teen years. Maybe early or mid twenties.
She felt a spike in his spiritual pressure as he tightened his hand painfully around her wrist. She flinched in pain. Yep, she's definitely going to have bruises.
"What are you doing to Orihime?!" Winry shouted, running up to them, only to be subsequently backhanded. A few drops of blood sprayed from her mouth.
"Winry!" the auburn haired girl cried out her friend's name in horror. Her eyes hardened at the man in front of her. "Who are you?" she asked with a clipped tone.
The man smirked, darkly at her. "There's no reason for me to answer that to a dead corpse."
Before the ginger haired girl could reply, he quickly and painfully twisted her arm behind her back, causing her to let out a small yelp in pain. He brought his other hand to her chin, forcing her to face a little girl holding a strange mirror.
Orihime's gray eyes widened. How long has she been there? Why didn't she notice her earlier?
The strange, little girl looked like one of those ghost girls from horror ghost movies. She looked no older than nine or ten with pure white dress that reached all the down to her ankles, white mary jane shoes, and white headband with a white lily for decoration to match her overall theme of white. She had long black hair and emotionless black eyes to eerily complimented her choice of clothing along with very pale skin. If this girl wasn't a ghost, she sure dresses and has the presence of one.
A flash bright light shone across the mirror, which caught the healer's attention. What was this girl trying to do? Whatever it was, she'll be ready for it.
Orihime was shone a reflection of herself. And after that… After that… Everything just went blank.
Edward barely managed to dodge another huge attack from Ritsuko's axe.
"What the hell is up with this girl?" he shouted, incredulously. "Why is her weapon so damn powerful? There's no way a simple transmutation could cause this much fluctuation in power!"
"I don't know, brother," Alphonse responded, coming up beside his older brother. "This ridiculous! We can't even get close to her!"
"Running away, are we? What happened to all your previous bravado, pipsqueak?" Ritsuko mocked, twirling the axe above her head.
Edward clicked his tongue, trying to suppress his anger and keep himself from recklessly lashing out, knowing that was what his enemy wants. He learned that mistake from fighting with Mustang a year back. He wasn't going to repeat it, especially with a much more dangerous and psychotic foe.
He clapped his hands together and slammed. Alchemic energy surged through the ground, building a wall between the brothers and the crazy redhead. Continuously keeping some distance from her was all the Elric brothers could do at the moment.
This was pure insanity! How were they supposed to fight her?
The wall that Ed made was instantly destroyed. "Dammit," he cursed under his breath.
"C'mon," Ritsuko egged on, holding her battle axe at her side. "You have to do better than that boys. Come at me and fight!"
The Fullmetal Alchemist was becoming increasingly frustrated. "Who are you?! What are you after?!" he shouted, angrily.
The red haired girl offered a cryptic smile in response. "You'll find out soon enough. That is...if you live long enough."
She lowered her weapon, a bored expression adorning her features. "Look… If you're not going to fight me seriously, then just run away with your tails between your legs. I'm not interested in weaklings."
Edward growled lowly. "If that's the way you want to have it, fine!" He clapped his hands together and transmuted his automail arm into his signature blade.
He knew it was downright foolish of him to take on the psychotic redhead and her destructive battle axe, but he also knew that Al's got his back. After all, it's still two against one.
He signalled Al with his eyes before charging at Ritsuko. He collided his steel arm blade against the redhead's axe. The shockwave sound of steel clashing resonated through the area.
"I see you finally starting to fight like a real man," Ritsuko said, sultry, laughing gleefully. She twisted her battle axe around to aim for the blond alchemist's torso. Anticipating this, Ed blocked the attack with his automail arm, and grabbed the girl's forearm, successfully flipping her over. However, much to his disdain, she gracefully landed on her feet.
She grinned wildly as she rushed at him once again, axe raised, laughing madly. Oh god, she was enjoying herself! These two brothers were putting up a better fight than all the other alchemists. Granted, they weren't the best by far, but the desperation and determination they both held was something to admire. It's probably the reason they are able to last this long. Most opponents would be crumbling at her feet, withering in pain.
The red haired girl grinned in excitement and anticipation as the familiar lightening of alchemy surged from the ground around. A large hands of earth sprang to life.
"Hahaha! Now, this is fun!" she laughed, gleefully, hacking away at the offending hands. Because of their huge size, it was easy to maneuver around them. She sprang past the numerous raising hands of dirt until she came upon the blond alchemist.
Edward barely had time to react as he was nicked across his left cheek. He growled as he swung his blade at his opponent, who did a quick backflip to dodge the attempt.
"Brother!" Alphonse shouted, worriedly, racing up to Ed. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, Al," Edward answered, glaring at their female enemy standing a few feet away, wiping the blood trickling down his face. "It's just a scratch."
"Oh, I wouldn't call it 'just a scratch'."
The Elric brothers hardened their gazes at the redhead as she nonchalantly twirled her battle axe above her head.
"I might as well tell you about Shinachou's special ability."
Ed's eye narrowed at her. "Ability?"
"Yeah…" A maniacal smirk spread across her face. "Wounds created by my axe can never be healed." She charged at the two boys. This time it was Alphonse who met her head on, willing to protect his brother from any further damage. "In other words, any injury you receive from me would be there for the rest of your life!" She ducked under Al's fist. "No sort of medication would be able to treat the damage I did to you." She lifted her battle axe up to block another one of the metallic boy's attacks. "You can try getting medical help, using alchemy, or any other means, but nothing would ever work. The best you could…" She duck underneath one of Alphonse's wayward fist. "...Is stop the bleeding." She swung her axe at Al's feet. The weapon embedding itself at his thigh, creating a large cut. "You'll be aching in pain for the rest of your life!" she finished, laughing insanely as she put extra spirit energy into her battle axe and easily hacked away Al's left arm like it was butter.
"Alphonse!" Edward shouted out in anger and worry. Golden eyes glared hatefully at the red haired girl. Nobody hurts his little brother! He alchemically charged the ground, creating a row of deadly sharp spikes that hurled at the girl. He raced towards his younger brother, extreme worry etched across his face. "Al, you okay?"
"Yeah, Ed, I'm fine," Al responded, flexing his remaining arm.
They both glared at their enemy many questions raising in their thoughts. Who is she? How does she possess such inhuman reflexes? And her weapon… A weapon that leaves incurable wounds? Or so she claims. There's no proof that it does. It shouldn't be possible.
But still… Just who the hell is Ritsuko?
Winry could only watch in horror at what these two...freaks were doing to Orihime. The little girl held up her mirror which was doing something to her ginger haired friend. It was sucking some sort of yellowish-orange colored energy from her body.
"How long does it take to suck out the girl's soul, Kyuko?" Morgan asked, voice dripping with imitation. "With or without a soul, I wouldn't mind having her," he spoke with a lust filled tone, his gazing along their victim's limp body, lingering on her large bust far longer than he should. "Just amazing."
His partner in crime remained silent, concentrating on finishing their goal.
Sucking out her soul?! Their sucking out Orihime's soul?!
From what Ed and Al told her about alchemy, the soul is one of most vital parts the human body needs to live. She needed to do something before they kill her!
But what could she do? Her body stayed glued to the spot, frozen in fear. Horror stretched out through her body as she watched her auburn haired friend's life force being drained right before her very eyes, but her legs wouldn't move due to the immense amount of terror she was feeling.
Winry wanted to save her friend. She desperately wanted to save Orihime! She had to save her! But her body just wouldn't move. It remained rooted to the spot witnessing the petrifying scene right before her innocent blue eyes.
The blond mechanic has never been in this kind of situation. Never experienced this type of danger where it's a matter of life or death, whether it was for herself or someone she cares about. Yeah, she always heard stories from Edward and Alphonse about the dangers they face because of Ed's status as a State Alchemist. However, she's always taken it in stride because they always return alive and well despite the so and so trouble they face, so she thought the 'dangers' were just petty thieves and robbers and the like at best.
Nothing could ever prepare her for the truth. Nothing could ever prepare her for this heartstopping, fear inducing moment. Now, Winry has first hand experience of just what kind of dangers Ed and Al face at a constant basis.
Tears poured down her face in rapid streams. What should she do?! What should she do?! What could she do?! Her body wouldn't stop shaking in horror as terror constricted around her heart, leaving her unable to breath properly.
Even so, the blond mechanic had to do something, anything to save Orihime!
She did the one thing she could think of. She grabbed her trusty wrench and threw it with all her might.
The wrench managed to knock the mirror out of the girl's grasp, freeing Orihime from its spell.
"You little bitch!" Morgan hissed. "Stay out of our way!" He angrily stalked over to an even more terrified Winry and proceeded to kick her across the room.
The poor girl let out a small cry of pain as landed on the living room table, causing it to break under her weight. Morgan's lips twisted into a sadistic smirk as he heard the sound of bones cracking when the annoying blonde girl landed painfully and uncomfortably on her arm. He definitely broke something. One of her rips or her arm, perhaps? Pfft. Not like he cares. He's just glad the nuisance was unconscious.
Maybe he should just kill her. Naw, waste of time and energy. His brown eyes roamed across Winry's unconscious form. She may not be as hot or sexy as her friend, but she does have a fine body.
Kyuko went to inspect the mirror that flew out of her hands, not fazed by the events that transpired. As she was reaching for the fallen mirror, she came to an abrupt stop. Something didn't feel right. What was this abnormal sensation she was getting? She has sucked hundred of human souls before, but she never had sense of danger she was feeling?
Just then the mirror glowed a bright flash of yellowish-orange light.
"W-Winry…!" a female's voice groaned.
Both Kyuko and Morgan were stunned to see Orihime not only conscious but also able to move, if barely. Well, it was hard tell if Kyuko was just as shocked as her comrade, but still… Why is this girl conscious? Is it because part of her soul still rest within her? Even so, most people would pass out and be half dead by now. Is it because, unlike those ordinary humans, she actually possess spiritual powers?
Come to think of it, she's actually the first person with control over her spirit energy that she stole the soul of.
"Why?! How are you still moving?!" Morgan growled, feeling frustrated by all these...interruptions and setbacks. This was supposed to be an easy mission. Seperate the ginger haired girl from her alchemist friends, and steal her soul. Plain and simple.
Orihime's legs wobbled as tried remaining on her feet, sweat pouring down her face as her breathing became labored. It particular took all her willpower to not faint.
"You…," her voice came out in a hoarse whisper as her gray eyes glared at Morgan and Kyuko. "Give...me...back my soul...and my powers… RIGHT NOW!"
The mirror flash once again as if something was viciously bouncing inside it before it was engulfed in a orange glow and everything exploded.
Edward panted, clenching on to his injured flesh arm. There was a huge gash running across it as it was bleeding profusely. He glared at Ritsuko who didn't seem the least bit tired. How could they be? How much stamina does she have?
He watched as his younger brother engaged into another close range combat against their female enemy. She effortlessly dodged Al's attacks.
In all his life as the dog of the military, Ed hasn't never faced an opponent this strong and dangerous before, aside from Scar. He won't admit that this girl was way out of his league. There must be someway to beat her. There has to be!
It was hard to think, however, when his vision was starting to become fuzzy. Damn! He was losing too much blood. They really had to end this now.
Ritsuko seemed to have the exact same sentiment as with a quick succession of swings of her battle, Alphonse was broken down into several pieces. "A lack of spiritual pressure means a lack of defense," she mumbled coldly as she watched the armor clatter on the ground around her in scattered fragments. "Sorry to cut this fight short, but I'm getting bored."
"Alphonse!" Edward roared in horror when he saw that his little brother's weak spot, his blood seal, the Transmutation Circle that was keeping his soul bounded to the suit of armor, was exposed to Ritsuko's very own eyes,, he rushed forward, all thoughts of his own safety in the back of his mind. He had to protect Al, no matter what! He's his little brother, dammit! He's all he has! They are all they have!
"Oh, how noble," Ritsuko mocked. "Putting yourself in danger to protect your brother." She parred one of Ed's reckless attacks. "As I keep saying, a person with no spirit energy has no chance at beating me."
To emphasis her point, she sliced through the blond alchemist's automail arm, completely hacking it off. Edward didn't have time to register what happened as he was he was slashed across his back.
Golden eyes widened in pain as he slowly fell onto the ground in a heap. Is he going to die? No, he couldn't! Al still needed him! Al's counting him to get his body back! He can't die until he achieves that goal!
"Oh, you're still alive?" the red haired girl mused as she stared at Ed's limp and bloody form. "You're a stubborn one, aren't you? Granted, if I really wanted to kill you, I could've sliced you in half. Just be glad I'm being generous and leaving you with a minor injury. Although, the pain of it would ache for the rest of your life."
She seemed to ponder this for moment, tapping her axe against the ground. "Maybe I should kill you to save you from the pain." She gave Ed a crazed smile. "Aren't I generous?"
Edward mustered all the strength he could to glare at the girl. "Just… Who are you?"
"Me? I'm just a girl that likes to fight!"
Ritsuko swing down her battle axe on Ed. The blond boy closed his eyes, waiting for the pain followed by death to overtake him. He heard the axe hit something, but it wasn't his flesh.
When cracked up his golden eyes, relief washed over him. He recognized that orange glowing shield anywhere.
"Edward…!" Orihime was so glad she made it in time. She was happy she saved Ed's life.
"Tch, Morgan couldn't even do a simple job right," Ritsuko tsked in annoyance.
The auburn haired girl wobbled over to Edward's broken form. She ignored the questioning look along with the look of anger and fear for her wellbeing, and just smiled at him.
"Don't worry...Edward. I'll heal you," she gasped out. She didn't have enough power to fully summon her Soten Kisshun. Her hands simply glowed with an orange light of what remained of her spirit energy. It wasn't much, but at least it was enough to stop Ed's bleeding. She placed them upon Edward's wounded back and began healing him slowly but surely.
The aforementioned girl turned to see Kyuko carrying a badly injured Morgan. Despite her small stature, the little girl was effortlessly able to carry the much larger man.
"Why didn't you suck out that girl's soul, Kyuko?" Ritsuko asked, annoyance etched across her face, ignoring her dying partner.
The dark haired child didn't say anything, merely gesturing to the slightly cracked mirror in her hands.
Ed let out a small grasp. Orihime's soul? He weakly glanced at his ginger haired friend to get a good look at her. The sight was pleasant at all. Beads of sweat was smeared against the skin of her face, causing her hair to stick to several places. Her breathing was labored, coming out in short breaths, band her body trembled with fatigue.
"Orihime…?" he gasped as he stared at the girl with such intense panic and fear. They were after Orihime all this time? They were trying to kill her?
Anger began swelling inside of Edward. He knew that Morgan guy wasn't to be trusted.
"Cough it up."
He turned his attention back at the three to see his surprise Ritsuko stomping on her comrade's chest, rather violently.
"I said, cough it up." She kept planted her foot against Morgan's chest, coldly ignoring his short yelps and gasps of pain.
Why was she hurting her friend? Aren't they all on the same side? And she showed no signs of remorse while doing it, just kicking her foot harder and harder against Morgan's chest.
Ed's question was answered when something spurted out of Morgan's mouth. It looked like...a green pill?
He felt Orihime's shake slightly against the skin of his back. Whether from fear or anticipation, he couldn't tell.
"I knew it… You guys are mod souls."
The blond alchemist eye widened. What the hell was a mod soul? By the sound of Orihime's voice, it couldn't be anything good.
Ritsuko glared at the auburn haired girl with something akin to anger and hatred. "So, you know about us? Then you must be affiliated with them." She was her axe high. "You know, I was going to let you live, but knowing that you're in league with those bastards, I think I might kill you now."
Ritsuko charged at the half dead girl, planning to finish her off. However, her axe crashed into Orihime's Shiten Koshun. The red haired girl let out a knowing smirk. With most of her soul sucked out, there's no way the girl could successfully defend herself from her assault. She was instantly proven wrong when her blade was immediately repelled and a strong beam of spirit energy hurled towards her. However, it was so fast and strong, she didn't have time to dodge it.
A loud explosion could be heard across the area as dust and debris scattered all over the place.
Seconds later, brilliant flashes of light soared through the sky. One light in particular was a yellowish-orange color and hurled itself towards Orihime. The auburn haired girl could slowly feel her energy being restored. These lights must be the souls of the people they stole.
The dust cloud finally unraveled itself to see Kyuko holding up her shattered mirror. She must have used it to protect Ritsuko, and the resulting impact caused it to become even more broken, allowing the souls to escape its confinement.
"Kyuko, why did you do that?" Ritsuko asked the little girl, clenching her bleeding arm. It seems that she didn't escape completely unscathed. "Now, the whole mission is a complete failure."
"No, it's not," Kyuko replied. "There's still a tiny piece of the girl's soul trapped in here. That's more than enough." Now that she said more than just a simple word, one could get more of a feel about the sound her voice. It sounded feminine and childlike, but it in a creepy manner and lacked any form of emotion just like her facial expression and the rest of her.
Ritsuko stared at the girl healing her now unconscious friend and the helmet of the suit of armor. Her battle axe returned to a simple short sword and she sheathed it. "Let's just get the hell out of here before the military catches wind of the destruction. I wouldn't be surprised if someone was their way by now."
Orihime watched the two of them walk away, disappearing into the night. A feeling of dread filled her.
Just how many spirit entities are in this world? And being only who has spiritual powers, how would she fight them all by herself?
She turned her attention back towards Edward, recreating her Soten Kisshun. No matter what though, she had to protect her friends!
(A/N: That's the end of chapter twenty six! Hoped you enjoyed it! There you go! Ritsuko, along with Morgan and Kyuko, are all mod souls. Too bad nobody got that. I figured mod souls would be best because they are the easiest for alchemists to defeat. They would need a lot of strategy and teamwork though, and it'll be tough (for them). Yeah, rogue Soul Reapers or Arrancars would kill Edward, Alphonse, Mustang, any other character with the way they are now. Try to start off with something easier.
The mod souls are simply arc one (if you want to kill it that) villains. They are a stepping stones for Edward and Alphonse into the world of spirits. For the most part, they would be replacing the homunculi as the main villains for now. Don't worry, the homunculi are still a threat. The mod souls are simply first (main) arc villains. And I don't know if I ever get the chance to so all just say are the mod souls name in full. They're Ritsuko Yumara, Morgan Crez, and Kyuko Hikari. And I also tried to make their abilities theme based, if you couldn't tell. Kyuko has the power to suck souls and Ritsuko can create wounds that would never heal. Wounds only Orihime has the methods to heal. Doctors and medications are useless.
I would say though, that out of the three of them [Ritsuko, Morgan, and Kyuko], Ritsuko's abilities were the hardest to come up with. Like I said, I wanted to have a theme going one between the three mod souls, but also wanted Ritsuko's powers to fit her battle crazed personality along with that. I just hope I didn't mess it up. I also wanted her to be the most 'normal' out of the three of them. You'll soon find out that, out of three of them, Ritsuko's powers are the less...flashy I should say. Despite Kyuko's soul sucking powers and Morgan's power [which you would find out later], Ritsuko's is the most...mundane, relying solo on melee. Yes, she has the power to dish out incurable injuries, but still has the rely on simple sword [or axe] skills, reflexes, and years of battle experience to do it.
The reason I used mod souls was because of this one filler arc of Bleach. The concept was pretty good, but the execution was poor. But out of all the filler arcs, I think it was the best, and that's not saying much. The Bount Arc comes second.
Anyway, tell me what you think, and leave any questions, comments, or suggestions in a review! Thanks for reading!)