|I Moderate (i_moderate) wrote in we_archive,|
@ 2006-07-26 19:18:00
|Entry tags:||baron mordo, door portico, papa midnite, stephen strange|
i_conjure The Back Room (Midnite's) [OPEN]
The room waited in reptilian darkness. Grotesque figurines on particle board shelves and laserjet demons coiled patiently in preparation for attack, and the circle drawn in charcoal on the grimy linoleum floor in the center of the room welcomed arrivals with open arms. Little wax candles, frozen to their cracked plastic holders with their own blood, suddenly popped to life in expectaion of the return of the sorceror. Hanging censers began to sway and book pages turned, and in a brief flash of daylight, Two robed men appeared in the room.
The larger man clapped twice and cheap desk lamps around the room turned on, revealing the scene in all its bizarre, anachronistic splendor. He was helping to prop up the thinner man, but now let him slide to the floor in exhaustion.
"I mean you no harm at this time, Doctor Strange," spoke the large man, striding to a corner. "I believe you will concur that the defeat of the recent arrival to this plane requires more power or strategy than either of us posesses seperately, or perhaps even combined." He leaned into an ornate mirror draped with silks and painted on the surface with arcane, yellow symbols, and began grooming his beard. "This room is a part of the business establishment of a man by the name of Midnite. Beyond that door we will likely find some mortal or demon or other variety of being who will gladly rally to our cause. When you are ready, you may join me without and mingle with these folk."
He walked over to this door and opened it. Infernal cackling, strange music, and more than ten varieties of smoke wafted through the crack. He turned back to the other man. "Oh, and Stephen," he smiled darkly, "I believe this rescue constitutes a favor."
From: i_dovoodoo Date: 07/26/2006 20:34:05
Midnite stared at the door of the back room darkly. He'd given Mordo the use of it, and talked of magicks in all their varieties with the old man many a night. The club was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Mordo seemed to enjoy coming by for a drink and a conversation on occasion. Never too often, and never for too long, but with the obscene amount of money he paid for the back room Midnite never asked any questions. The cackling, issuing forth from a pair of filthy, trench-coat covered men, constituted the only business in his bar at this hour. They were buying drinks every few minutes, and whispering in hushed tones with the occasional laugh. As long as they continued to buy, he might not throw them out. He needed the customers, unfortunately.
Midnite himself was, as usual, turned out in his finest. A pressed white suit that seemed to bear none of the smoke wafting through the room. A black shirt underneath, with collar starched and undone to the second button. His cuffs showed from beneath the jacket, and the fedora atop his head - complete with black band - was tilted jauntily to one side. He didn't look as though he'd been up all night, and certainly not as though he was tired in any way.
The king of voodoo yanked his cigar from his mouth, the soft white plastic bearing marks from his teeth, and spoke aloud. The charms about his neck clattered from the sudden movement, but it was a soft sound.
"Baron!" he said loudly, and the two men at the bar turned for that split second before returning to their quiet conversation. "Up early this morning, aren't we?"
That ever-present cigar went back to his mouth, and smoke billowed from his mouth after a moment. Hopefully, the old man wasn't here to talk about the price of that room. He didn't seem one to care about money.
From: i_open Date: 07/26/2006 21:08:38
There'd been no hope for it.
Midnite had been kind enough to offer her his room for the night. Normally, even beyond the questionable propriety of sleeping in a strange man's bed, simple courtesy would have prevented her from accepting the offer. But she'd been bone tired after becoming acquainted with the club, introduced to some of the staff, and of course, trying to open a few doors home, just in case something had changed.
The end result was that Door had been exhausted, and had fallen into the bed with only the presence of mind to remove her boots and socks.
The problem was that the nightmares had revisited her. The memory of Arch, face down in the swimming pool, a cloud of red surrounding her brother's body and spreading to the rest of the water... her mother, throat torn open, gasping for breath with her arms around her little sister... And her father... her father, gutted and brutalized.
In her dreams, even though they were already dead, they still screamed.
And so, there was nothing for it. Once she'd awakened, mumbling to herself, tears in her eyes, she had not the slightest inclination to return to sleep, even if she could.
Neatly, she made the bed, bathed, and did the best she could with the clothes she had; black tights, a red skirt whose flounce had seen better days, and a black tank top over which she wore an oversized Army jacket of unknown origin.
When she arrived downstairs, she refrained from rubbing her eyes, and moved as unobtrusively into the bar area of the club as possible. She would have greeted Midnite immediately, but he seemed to be talking to someone, so she hung back (so as not to intrude) instead.
From: i_estrange Date: 07/27/2006 09:29:33
Confusion. Disorientation. Senses that were a little slow for his liking. The past few minutes of definite 'shock and awe' combined with the sudden teleportation he wasn't entirely prepared for, had given Doctor Strange something of a mind-numbing experience.
And Mordo? He could hardly believe that he was the one to come to his rescue. Not that he wasn't grateful on some level, but he didn't think it bode well for the future.
He watched from a semi doubled over position as the man left, the door latch clicking behind him and the peculiar wafting of smoke seeping in through the cracks. Eyes clenched shut for a moment, a deep breath taken in, and he slowly drew himself to a standing position. The long Cloak of Levitation rumpled behind him on that unfamiliar floor.
A few quiet incantations were muttered, soothing some of his physical scrapes and bruises. And once he felt himself more fully composed, he took a chance at stepping out of the room in the same direction that Mordo had gone.
From: i_conjure Date: 07/27/2006 12:26:39
Mordo produced from the folds of his robe a cigar identical to the one Midnite bore and, eschewing his usual flair in using magic, he lit it on a candle sitting on a table nearby.
"There is a matter which demanded my attention," Mordo puffed to his landlord, pulling up a seat at the bar. "Someone has just arrived on this plane, and she threatens the existance of all magic users. A scotch, if you please."
Turning to the door as Doctor Strange walked in, he gestured in intruduction, "I must humbly admit that this man may have more insight into the matter than I. After all," he said, his voice becoming immersed in thinly-veiled envy, "he is the Sorceror Supreme."
From: i_dovoodoo Date: 07/27/2006 17:54:50
"Sorceror Supreme?" Midnite snorted another cloud of smoke into the air, his hand reaching smoothly for his glass. "He sounds like a cartoon. Mordo, I've never known you to panic. But if you want to tell me what's happening, maybe Papa Midnite can handle it for you."
He whistled through his teeth, and the two patrons at the bar immediately stood up, depositing wadded bills on the counter as they strode to the door. They'd waited before, waited for an explanation behind the whistle, and if he only just remembered that they had been aware of it from the moment they'd entered his club.
"We keep a hard discipline here," Midnite explained, with a gentle smile. "Oh, yes, very rude of me - Mordo, Mr. Supreme, this is my associate Door."
His eyes found her, and his smile was genuine, for the briefest of moments - but the thought that he would use her soured it just as quickly. The charms were firmly in place around his neck, but it seemed sometimes that his sister's thoughts would invade his mind regardless. They were weakening, or she was becoming stronger - Midnite didn't want to know which one it might be. Neither was good news.
From: i_open Date: 07/27/2006 18:27:15
The smile Midnite gave her was returned almost as briefly as it was sent, if only because she noted the rapid change in his expression with watchful eyes. But there was no time to ask him about that just now - no time to ask him about anything, unfortunately. For now, she was just grateful for the familiarity of the club, and of him - even if they weren't from home, they easily could have been.
But he'd introduced her, and so she walked forward, moving to stand next to him as she offered a polite smile to the magi before her. It was difficult, trying to understand everything in the context of the Underside, perhaps magic especially - but the etiquette here, at least, seemed consistent with the kind she was familiar with.
"Hello," she spoke quietly, though an undercurrent of confidence and poise ran through her voice that made her completely audible. She enunciated with crystal clarity in a precise English accent. "It's a pleasure to meet you both."
Her eyes went back to Midnite, wondering about this threat - who she was, and what she was on about.
"Pardon me for asking," she said, her eyes remaining on Midnite for a moment before turning back to Mordo and - Mr. Supreme? - "But how is it that she's threatening the existence of all magic users? What is it that she wants?"
From: i_estrange Date: 07/28/2006 06:53:58
"Doctor Strange," he offered. An instinctive correction. Perhaps it would make him appear less cartoon-ish. Not that it was quite a discouraging thing for him. He was accustomed to disbelief and suspicion. It came with the territory.
Strange looked at them all. Part of him idly wandering what roles in one of Baron Mordo's schemes they were playing. It was all highly suspect in the sorceror's mind.
Politeness and courtesy showed through any scars of his previous distress and he nodded to Door.
"For all exterior purposes she appears to want death and destruction. But I believe there's more to that. Young women don't just become wildly powerful wiccas for no reason. Something must have happened to her. Something great enough to bring this pain into her life."
"And she is young. Her power is great but it's uncontrolled, which is what makes her such a formidable opponent. But I don't think she's entirely bad..."
And coming from the man who almost died at her hands only moments ago, that was a long drive from home.
He turned his attentions to Mordo, his expression perplexed and partly suspicious.
"By the Wings of the Walloping Wendor I don't know why you did it ... But thank you."
From: i_conjure Date: 07/28/2006 10:47:37
The Baron took a drag on the cigar and continued inhaling as he removed it from his lips. He turned the bar stool toward Strange.
"I suppose I could say something utterly banal and cliche like, 'when you die, it will be by my hands,' but the honest truth," he said in a way not likely to contain the honest truth, "is that I couldn't bear to see that fine Cloak of Levitation destroyed." His sentence now finished, he smiled and expelled the smoke in his lungs through his nostrils, looking like nothing so much as an obese dragon sitting at the bar. "And, as I mentioned, there is the matter of you now owing me a favor," he said, turning back.
"But as for this young woman, I am at a loss. We have not the power to send anyone to or from this plane, let alone ourselves. Any spell cast at her she seems to absorb. Do we know anything about her, personally? And if not, can we find out?"
From: i_dovoodoo Date: 07/28/2006 21:54:59
"Mordo, you're not making any sense," Midnite protested, removing the cigar from his lips long enough to take a sip of his drink. The pause was very brief. "Start at the beginning, if you're going to crowd a businessman's bar at this time of the morning. What girl? What is this talk of absorbing spells?"
He had his own charm for repelling magicks that he was not fast enough to counter on his own, but it was a limited thing, and it did have those flaws. The last creature he'd seen that had been as powerful as Mordo seemed to suggest had been a demon, and that... well. A sudden flash of memory came to him. Constantine. The cigar was clamped firmly between his lips, smoke streaming from it as he listened half-heartedly to Mordo's words.
Constantine was here, as impossible as it seemed. Oh, he had a great deal to repay that particular magus for, didn't he? Constantine was always one to hunt down ... the idea was taking seed, but it needed time to grow. In the main he was interested in learning about this newcomer, so he paid full attention now to the answer to his question.
This might even be fun.
From: i_open Date: 07/30/2006 07:45:54
The fact was that Door was not a magic user. Magic was something that had permeated her entirely life since birth - in fact, it was likely that there were those who might posit that Door's very existence was magical. Her powers came as naturally to her as breathing. Ritual and study had little to do with it. That magic was simply what she was - it was her purpose for being. But this girl - it sounded as though something had changed her.
That made a significant difference. Creatures were what creatures were - and there were, indeed, creatures that were meant only for death and destruction, such as Mssrs. Croup and Vandemar. However, if a being suffered deeply enough, it could cause him or her to change, to do things differently than he or she might have otherwise... and when that was a case, there was something that could be healed there.
It was a long leap, though.
Her eyes went to Midnite, and she hid a smile when he spoke. Though it wasn't surprising that Mordo and Doctor Strange could see her, given their powers, Midnite was the one who was familiar in all the ways of home, and his direct way of speaking made her grin and put her at her ease.
Looking at all three men, Door said,
"If she's a girl, someone could talk to her, couldn't they?"
From: i_estrange Date: 07/30/2006 09:26:01
Mordo and his cigar-smoking friend were being too analytical. Strange remembered those days in his life. The days before seeing the world through a different pair of eyes was granted to him. Mouth opened to speak, but words never came. Not until the woman spoke.
He paused and looked to her, his expression a little less strained and more pleasant.
"Yes ... I think that is some of the misconception here. She is a girl. A young girl. She's not ready for this kind of power. And someone to talk to may be exactly what she needs."
Fingers rubbed at the hair on his chin.
"But it is all a matter of locating the right person to speak with her. I believe she is under an uncontrollable amount of pain and diress from her abilities and whatever it was that caused her to become this way. Perhaps if we could find someone who knows her, that would help to alleviate some of her anguish. Someone who understands her on a deeper level as a friend."
Of course, this was The City. Chances were she was alone. But there was always hope. Something that Strange liked to cling to.
From: i_conjure Date: 07/30/2006 12:44:08
"An excellent idea, Doctor Strange," Mordo said, immediately seizing the idea like a cat would a mouse. "A friend. There is in my repertoire a glamour that will entirely convince a person that the wearer of the spell is her most trusted friend. If we can get someone to distract the girl with this spell, we may be able to use our combined might to utterly destroy her." He rubbed his hands, eager to prepare.
From: i_estrange Date: 07/30/2006 13:20:20
"Utterly destroy her?!"
His shock was immense, both brows raising upward, jaw dropped open for a moment.
"But she is just a child! I will not sanction an act that will destroy her. Not when I believe that she can be helped by other means! Your proposition is too extreme! Not to mention unethical."
But that was the difference between the two sorcerors. Strange still believed in the good of people, whereas Mordo's ideals ran a different course.
From: i_dovoodoo Date: 07/30/2006 15:30:49
Destruction. Extreme. Unethical. Midnite approved of the plan almost immediately. But since they obviously weren't going to tell him everything he wanted to know, he would have to make up for it by guessing. A new arrival. A girl - young, perhaps, child to teen - and wildly powerful. Unreasonable. Absorbing spells. A mad mage, who was a teenage girl, and extremely powerful. If Mordo had been forced to save Strange's life, then she must not be willing to talk. And yet he clung to the idea? If a force of nature or life itself didn't want to deal, then you cut them loose. He never would have survived in the business world.
"I'm forced to agree with Mordo," Midnite said, blowing smoke rings in Strange's direction. "If he saved your life, that means your particular brand of foolishness wasn't working. What was this talk of absorbing spells? Can she actually absorb magical energy?"
Midnite looked to Door first, urging her to stay silent just this once, because the answer to that question was of the utmost importance. No, she wouldn't deal with Strange, this newcomer. But maybe she would deal with Midnite. And if she wouldn't, then he was going to slit her throat and leave her to die.
His eyes moved from Mordo to Strange, demanding an explanation silently.
From: i_conjure Date: 07/30/2006 16:42:36
"Based upon what I observed," Mordo said, trying to sound like he knew exactly what he was talking about, "this girl is able to absorb and recast spells. I would venture that she is able to manipulate magical energy as easily as a child would a ball of clay. She very nearly leeched all the power from Doctor Strange.
"However, she seems to be confused, erratic. She was only recently brought here by the same powers that brought us all. In that, we have an advantage. She is also unfamiliar with the specifics of magic, it would seem. I was able to distract her with a simulacrum of myself and a useless piece of stone imbued with an aura of magic, which I claimed was a seal for a portal to the Abyss. Rather ingenious, if I do say so myself."
From: i_estrange Date: 07/30/2006 19:38:18
Doctor Strange should have been appalled, but then the reality hit him. This was Mordo. And anyone associating with him couldn't be trusted. The man didn't save his life because he cared. He did it for this so-called future 'favor' he kept insinuating he would receive.
But to discuss this young girl's demise as though it were the results of a sports game?
That was not something he could play witness to.
Posture straightened and he wrapped the cloak around his figure, the Eye of Agamotto brightly glowing in preparation of his departure.
"I'm sorry, gentlemen. But I will not play part in the death of a child. I do not believe in there only being one means of confronting a problem. I will seek out a different way of helping the girl. One that does not end in pain."
Strange looked to the woman and gave her a pleasant nod.
And in a swirl of purple mist he disappeared. Back to his Sanctum to mull over this new dilemma, and hopefully find a solution before his less humane companions did.
From: i_dovoodoo Date: 07/31/2006 12:57:07
Midnite was of the opinion that Strange hadn't taken to heart the first lesson a magician needed to learn - it was a cold world, with most fearing your talents and the rest despising them, coveting them or outright seeking their destruction. You had to be equally cold to survive. That made him think of Constantine - Constantine, who was languishing in a jail. Now there was a mage that would be of use, and without the petty moral qualms of Strange and his utopia that was nothing more than a fantasy.
As for Mordo, well, if the sorcerer seemed to enjoy singing his own praises, at least there were praises to be sung. His skill was not miniscule. Together with Constantine, they should be able to handle any sorceress, no matter how crazed or powerful. Midnite would have bet his life on it.
"Well, Mordo, we'll have to replace Doctor Strange with someone a bit more... flexible," Midnite said lazily. "Fortunately, I have just the man in mind."
From: i_open Date: 07/31/2006 14:27:54
Somewhere, not far from the surface of her mind, Door thought with regret about how nice it would have been if she were shocked by the way these men were discussing this topic. If the idea of plotting the death of such a girl, who might well be confused out of her wits, were purely inconceivable to the young Undersider. The fact was, however, that Door had learned only to well firsthand how easily expendable beings of great power found people to be, no matter what their guise... and those thoughts didn't only run to Midnite and Mordo. If they were describing her correctly, this teenaged girl, as they described her, was bent on destruction and death... and so something in Door closed herself off in part from sympathy. Door had seen angels, true angels, fall prey to the lure of the power of chaos. It seemed a certainty that girl could fall far more easily.
But then... angels were singular creatures, weren't they? They didn't change easily, no matter the direction. Humans were different. No one could swing more easily between the darkness and the light than a man or woman.
Door kept these thoughts to herself. It wasn't at all certain that this was something she needed to involve herself in - or that Midnite would want her involved. But that part of herself that wanted to believe that people were good, that hidden away bit of her that still desperately wanted to have faith, was difficult to ignore at that moment.
But these men didn't want to hear that.
"What if she can be talked to, though? What if someone approached her - could convince her to refocus her efforts. She could be a valuable asset as far as trying to find a way to leave here goes, don't you think?"
From: i_conjure Date: 07/31/2006 15:17:35
Mordo raised an eyebrow, intrigued by the idea. He considered it briefly, then with his usual darkness responded, "if there were a way to leave this plane - even a way outside my ability to access - I'm certain I would have learned of it in my studies here."
He turned to face Door directly, and added, "if you are still interested in attempting to reason with this child, I'm sure that Doctor Strange is at this very moment devising a plan to do just that. But he will fare no better this time, and you're too smart to join him," he smiled vaguely.
"By the way, I don't believe we've been formally introduced. Baron Karl Amadeus Mordo," he greeted, extending a hand. "To the public, Carl Crowler."
From: i_dovoodoo Date: 08/01/2006 14:58:31
Midnite didn't speak to Mordo's apparent lack of faith in a way. The voodoo master hadn't yet given up hope, and now was no time to start. His fist pounded on the table, and he waited until the Baron's gaze fell to him to speak.
"Mordo, if you don't stop ignoring me, I'm going to leave you to your own devices," Midnite said, his voice tight. "After the girl has picked over Strange's carcass, and yours, I should know everything I need to put a stop to her myself."
It was not quite an empty threat, but it was very unlikely he'd leave the Baron to that fate. As long as Mordo continued paying for the spare room, and as long as this girl was as large a threat as Mordo seemed to believe, Midnite couldn't do anything but try and put a stop to her. Preferably without Strange interfering. People who weren't willing to do all that was necessary should have died out long ago.
They were, in short, infuriating.
From: i_open Date: 08/01/2006 17:31:17
The resignation with which everyone seemed to treat departure from this plane was highly discouraging. If no one was willing to try, clearly it would never happen. When Mordo suggested that she was 'too smart' to work with Doctor Strange on reasoning with this girl/witch/monster, she couldn't quite agree... however, she and Midnite had an arrangement, which meant that she was bound to him until that arrangement ended. The discovery that Mordo was a Baron wasn't surprising - she had been about to take his hand and introduce herself when Midnite slammed his fist onto the table.
The breath that Door released was inaudible but not short. Her attention was immediately focused on Midnite, who appeared to be rather put out by the current flow of the conversation. Pursing her lips, Door held her tongue for the time being. Clearly Midnite had a plan in mind, and the men thought it best to work this out 'the hard way.' Pushing a hand through her hair, she looked at her employer, and simply awaited instruction.
From: i_conjure Date: 08/03/2006 14:00:42
Mordo was a little annoyed at Midnite's lack of patience, but he gave the man the respect due to a fellow magic-user of his level of power. He replied genially, "my apologies, sir. Who is this replacement for Doctor Strange of whom you speak?
"I am, in all fact, quite curious about whether a match for the Doctor exists (besides myself, of course), but I must admit I was temporarily distracted," he said, turning briefly to Door, "by your lovely acquaintance."
From: i_dovoodoo Date: 08/03/2006 17:51:01
"She," Midnite said, fixing Door with a flat stare. "Has not quite learned her place yet."
The truth was that he wasn't angry with Door for speaking her mind - but she needed to learn not to air such opinions in front of Mordo. Mordo was a client, not an employee, and Midnite knew that Mordo was of the same mind as he was. Take whatever advantage you can get, and use it. There are no friends, only useful associates. For a girl that seemed to have so much experience with the underworld, that she was so unsurprised by so many things, Midnite was rapidly realizing that she had been inexperienced in many things. He would have to instruct her on how to let Midnite negotiate a situation.
"An equal, I don't know," Midnite said, almost fondly remember Constantine. It would be sad to kill the magus, but if he could manage it, Midnite would. "But John Constantine has managed many a supernatural situation. I think we'll find his skills useful."
Midnite paused for effect, and then went on, his smile grandfatherly in appearance but not in tone.
"We will, of course," he mused. "Have to liberate him from jail. But I think my ... lovely acquaintance ... can be of some use, there."
Now his smile was vicious, almost predatory.
From: i_open Date: 08/04/2006 07:05:56
Mordo earned himself a small, if slightly wry, smile at his use of the term 'lovely acquaintence.' It was a nice touch, that, though it didn't quite take her off her guard.
Something in Door bristled, however, at the idea of 'learning her place,' but there was no room here for the sting of pride at the back of her neck. Her gaze didn't falter from Midnite's when he looked at her, but she didn't rebut; instead she sat in silence as he described this potential replacement for Doctor Strange who had seemed at least willing to entertain other possibilities beside the destruction of this girl. It wasn't clear whether Doctor Strange was entirely wise in that judgment, however, and Door had no real means for determining it. Her conscience fought against the idea of simply condemning the girl to destruction without exhausting other methods, but then again, if she posed enough of a threat, sometimes, you had to go with the path of least resistance.
It gave door a bit of a headache.
But then Midnite was talking about breaking someone out of prison, and before she could stop herself, she looked at him with a look that crossed between dubious and alarmed. It wasn't so much that Door was concerned with the legalities of the situation - Upworlder law was for the most part a mystery to her, and mattered little to her in any case. It seemed as though Upworlders were so concerned with technicalities and red tape that they lost sight of what was really important, most of the time. However, generally speaking, when people were imprisoned, it was for more than a technicality.
Midnite's quelling look from before hadn't been lost on her, but she couldn't feel comfortable biting her tongue for this.
"Probably so," she admitted. After a pause, she asked, "Do we know what he's imprisoned for, by any chance?"
It was a reasonable question. The severity of his crime would most likely directly affect the level of security that kept him locked up.
From: i_conjure Date: 08/04/2006 14:43:35
"Oh, he's likely been incarcerated for the usual types of things for which the little people of the world tend to prosecute sorcerors. Breach of the peace ... mistreatment of animals ... homicide ... you know," he gave Door a half-smile, raising the question of whether or not he was making a joke.
"What is your plan for abstraction and abscondence, Mister Midnite?"
From: i_dovoodoo Date: 08/06/2006 16:56:27
"Papa," Midnite corrected Mordo, with something approaching a smile. "Papa Midnite."
He stood up slowly, his arms stretching out to either side. Midnite didn't think Mordo would be of any particular use in their visit to the City's facilities - not because he was useless, but because Mordo's strength was redundant. A group of policemen had no chance against one magician, let alone two. Midnite just didn't want to leave Mordo alone, didn't want to give him time to form an idea or a plan of his own.
One was already taking shape in Midnite's mind. If he could use the girl to eliminate Mordo and Constantine, but walk away with even one lock of her hair. The reason a doll was so feared and legendary, among all of voodoo's practices, was that it was the ultimate control. The ultimate insurance.
If it worked. But there was no other play to be made, now, not really.
"We are going to pay a visit to the City jail," Midnite said, with a grin that displayed his even white teeth. "My acquaintance here has a talent for locks. And no killing - understand? That's a business decision, not compassion. If we leave a trail of dead bodies in our wake we'll have every tight-wearing idiot in the City setting up camp in our innards."