Joint Story

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Last update 10/29/09




The rhythmic clip-clop of her shoes pounding the ground resonated throughout the hallways of the mountain compound as Konoko dashed for the exit. She had overridden some crucial executables in the programs used to maintain the activities of all the major atmospheric processors in this sector, and she knew this would cause the systems to overload. Assuming this could entail anything from a fading hum to a violent explosion, Konoko didn't care to stick around and witness the outcome firsthand.

She began to worry; this compound was huge.

Eventually she'd put what she considered to be a safe distance between her and the failing facility. She stopped to catch her breath, leaning on her knees and crouching slightly. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been breathing this heavily or rapidly. After a few minutes she checked her pulse and found that her heart rate was holding steady at this elevated pace. She also realized that, despite the physical signs, she was not in the least bit tired.

"Great," she said aloud to herself and realizing as she heard her own voice speak that she was finally acknowledging just how truly alone she now was. "The chrysalis..." she trailed off. Her body had been altered so severely that her heart now needed to pump harder and faster to support the new growth and strength. Undoubtedly her heart itself had grown and become stronger as well. She'd have to get used to breathing this way; at this thought she furrowed her brow, imagining the air she'd soon be gasping down once the failure of the atmospheric processors began to take effect. This also brought her back to the matter at hand. Sighing, she continued her expository monologue.

"What do I do now?" she asked the dying air. "Everyone I know with intimate information regarding this daodan project is dead. Kerr, Griffin, Muro, my father..." she paused, her eyes lighting up with a distant and fleeting hope. "My father..." she repeated. "Kerr said..." At this, she dropped her one-sided conversation and began dashing once more. She had to learn the truth and find out if there really was still hope.


(I hope it makes sense to you.)

Coming down from the mountains, Mai reached a lone dusty street and roamed along its side waiting for a car. Finally a truck stopped and a door was opening. She jumped in and thanked. The driver punched the dashboard. "Shut up." He quickly turned to Mai. "Err... Not you. He's just complaining again."

"That's wrong?"

The truck started to move again. "The board computer noticed my unplanned stop."

"Does that mean trouble?"

The man typed something on a data pad. "No, we are still in schedule. There's my usual 15 min buffer..."

"Sometimes I have the feeling my boss worries more about this machine than about me. But you can't do this job for long if you don't like it."

"I wonder... How's it in this can ?"

"A comfortable can. It looks worse than it is. With time you're getting used to it. -- These seats are extra-backbone-friendly. Right behind is the coffee machine."

"We are allowed to customize truck's habitation area for some degree so I brought my own."

"You're really a long time on tracks."

"Yes. In a few years we'll come replaced by fully autonomic board computers. Our kind is also dying species."

"I hope it won't happen too soon..."

"It can't be stopped. Only long-experienced drivers are still employed. I think we are the last generation."

"Don't remind me. Better tell me more about your customized truck." A wry smile passed Mai's lips.

"There's not much left. I can listen to radio, and watch TV during wastelands routs. Thousands of kilometers are just a bit too boring. My bunk is also in the back zone."

"Do you really stop in the wasteland to sleep?"

"Hm... No, but don't tell everyone. Okay?"

"Do you actually drive?"

"Only when it is necessary .. or when I'm bored. Like I said before: the comp will drive in future. I guess I justify my payment with also doing maintaince of electronics, engine and other stuff in here."

Mai leant against her headrest pad.



"You can rest in the bunk if you want. The next town is still 300 km away.

"I only need to reach next ACC's sphere of action. -- Thanks again."

Some shakes made her wake up again.

Mai was staggering into the driver's cabin, rubbed her eyes. "Ah, the city lights. We're almost there."

"Don't slept good or why you're up so soon again?"

"Yes, time lately was hard. I must some real rest."

"We are always forced to do things we would actually not do..."

"Yea, no way 'round."

"Well then, how about a coffee? The thermos bottle is at the right, just open the green fold-out compartment."

Mai took off the metallic head and poured in a good shot.

She looked out of the window. They were passing the mountains, last rain fall had washed off much soil and made it flow onto the street, thus the shakes.

"Yea... So what was you doing here outside? You know, the air is poison and stuff..."

Mai took another nip. "Good question."

"Can't tell me?"

Mai lowered her eyes. He hit the nail.

"Forget it, just tell me story."

"A story?"

"Seriously, I've a young daughter and at these rare days when I'm home she likes listening stories before sleep." He bent over to the right, took a photo.


Mai saw at it for a moment. "Looks like a nice little girl."

"Yea, I hope she won't get into puberty too soon." He laughed again. Mai gave back the photo.

"Uhm, well, I could tell you one my uncle told me."


"In ancient time, there were powerful ghosts. They were fallen soldiers, punished to spend time between the worlds of human and dead. They had been actual good-minded people, had family, loved their children, lived usually in civil manner, but as soldiers they thought to have injure and kill others when been commanded to war. In their final judgment they were ordered to becomes hell's hunters and gate keepers. Their skin color changed between red and blue. Their tasks were eternal. Only remorse for their doings could free them. Some seemed to had lost their minds in endless hunting and guarding, and transformed into darker shadows of themselves. Those misused their power, terrorized and slaughtered innocent people. That marked them all as demon and devils."

"Hey, that's a quite short story."

"I'm sorry. I don't know how it continues. At that point my uncle became interrupted. -- But I guess they want regaining their old status. Because in our time there are still Oni leading parades to fight back misfortune, greater evils, you know."

They passed a sign saying "You entered ACC save zone".

"Well, okay, over there is a service station. I let you out there. -- Hopefully we meet again. Maybe you can get the second part and tell me."

"Oh, that could became difficult."

"You never know..."

He shut the door again and waved hand with a smiling. Then he drove down the street.

"No, I meant..." She sighed. "Oh well, let's go on."


as she walked through this safe zone she realized that hope for humanity hasn't all gone yet ... people were walking around with their kids ... the street lights shone down on her face ... and since a long time she felt calm and peaceful ... she saw a little motel down the street ... and rented a little room with what money she had left ... she wasn't tired however she was still feeling energized ... in her mind she kept playing the fight with muro ... million thoughts rushed into her head ... shinitama, griffin ... but one big question remained : Now what ? ... what will become of her ... what will become of the world ...

she laid her head on the pillow and closed her eyes ... and surrendered to sleep ...

"she's in there" a loud voice said which woke her up suddenly ... the door was being unlocked ... immediately she stood up ready for battle ... the door opened was still very dark outside ... 2 black ops came in followed by a man she left for dead hours ago ... she couldn't believe her eyes ... Griffin had survived !

"We need to talk" ...

"You're .... You're alive !!! ... how ?! "

"That is irrelevant at this moment ...we need to go somewhere else ...we are not safe here ... "

"I'm not going anywhere with u !! not before i get some answers !

" fine but make it quick we are in great danger "

"I think I can handle myself ... how did u survive ... the explosion ... the battle ..."

" I did what I had to do " he said looking down

"what ?" ... suddenly it hit her ... this man wasn't bruised, he didn't even have a scar ... "Oh my God ! you have implanted a crysallis in yourself haven't you ! "

"You didn't think I'd go to fight muro unprepared ... I had to be prepared for failure ... it was the only way ... the TCTF scientists managed to create a crysallis ..."

now please Mai we have to move ! as he said that screams and bullets were heard outside ... one of TCTF officers said " sir sir they're her ... we have 2 agents down ... we need to move ! "now would u listen to me Mai ! is there another way out !" Griffin said

"Yes ... yes the window who are they !! the syndicate !? " she said as the were fleeing for the window and the sound of bullets was getting closer ...

"no ... much worse ... they're The BGI "

out of the window and into the back alley they ran ...

2 men in black intercepted their path .. they were carrying guns konoko have never seen before ! ... HIDE !! yelled Griffin ... as the man in black shot a rocket towards them ! griffin and konoko both jumped out of the way at the right time ... unfortunately the tctff officers weren't as lucky ! ... konoko ran towards the armed man jump flipped and knocked his weapon out as griffin took down the other with his pistol ...

follow me ... griffin said we have a tctf truck near ... they ran thru the night ... as the BGI chased them furiously ... finally they reached the well hid truck ... "Now what ?" konoko said ... " now we hide" he answered ...

they drove away ... no one was following them .... konoko sighed a sigh of relief ... as she looked at griffin ... now are u going to tell me what's GOING ON !!

these are the BGI they are responsible for everything ... they've forced me to implant the chrysallis in u ... I had no choice

"Oh please there's always a choice !"

" No there wasn't ... not for me ... it was either u .... or ... him"

"him ?"

"Casey .... my son "

"You have a son !" I never knew that !

"no one did i was trying to keep him safe .. I failed, they kidnapped him ... I was forced to ... I couldn't let them do that to my son ... I'm sorry that doesn't justify what I did to you ...but but ...he's my son !" he said with a chocked up voice and teary eyes ...

Konoko was startled by the sight of her foe this strong man being emotional a side of him she never realized existed ...

"where is he now" she said

" I don't know ...they still have him ... they had him for years ... i was allowed to see him every once and a while to make sure he's still safe ... and they promised he would remain safe as long as I do their bidding ...

"poisoning the atmosphere ... did they have anything to do with it ?"

"I'm not sure ... but they could benefit from it ... by selling chrysallis .. creating their own army of mutants ... so no one could stand in their way ... "

"so we are all doomed ..." konoko said

" not necessarily ... there is a way still ... a person who can help us ... u've met him actually"

"I've met him ? " yes ... u know him by the name ... MUKADE

konoko's jaw dropped "U must be kidding me ! he's a murderer !"

" he wasn't always ... mukade was a colleague of ur father and uncle ... while their research focused on using the chrysalis to be implanted in a host .. his research was to use the chrysalis as an absorbent ... the same way it is able to absorb damage and regenerate the host's cells ... he hoped to be able to absorb toxins from air or water by using the chrysalis ... "

"You lost me ! and how did he become the super bad ass ninja "

"The BGI didn't like his work ... they kidnapped him and used him for early experiments of the chrysalis ... he changed ... he lost his family he lost himself and became a soulless slave for them ... " it will all come become clearer ... once we find him "

"mm ok one little problem though, I killed him !"

Griffin smiled and said "that's what u think ... funny thing about us chrysalis symbiotes ...we don't stay dead for long ..."


Mai lay on the cold stone floor. She couldn't sleep, the events of the past few weeks bore on her mind, now that she had lost her momentum in the aftermath. There were too many things crowding her mind. Griffen's son, her ex-boss with a chrysalis. The BGI. The disaster she had caused with the destruction of the atmosphere processers. Mukade alive, and the realization struck her that, if Mukade were alive then so must Barabas, after all, Mukade's chrysalis was an earlier prototype of Barabas'. And the biggest mystery of all... Kerr's words ringing in her head. (Sry Leus, don't know where your headed with this big_smile )

The conditions of their surrondings didn't help matters either. They had found a cave a fair distance out of the ACC zone, trusting their chrysali to keep them safe. Here, Mai and Griffen figured, they wouldbe safe from most any personel sent out after them, and any with equipment enough to survive the conditons would still have trouble tracking them, the cave was fairly remote.

Griffen lay about 5 yards away from her. Judging by his breathing, she figured that he was still awake. She assumed the same things on her mind weighed also on his. Yeta nother sign of his other side, the human side, and not the stiff official, disciplined side that would be able to control his thoughts and allow him sleep. Through the mouth of the cave, the sky had begun to turn a soft shade of grey. Dawn. They weren't going to accomplish much by lying there, especially rest. Anyways, a little activity might even take her mind off things.

Rising, she picked up a grape sized pebble and toss it at Griffen's head. It found t's mark, but Griffen didn't even flinch.

"A tap on the shoulder would've sufficed"

He got up as well, Mai just smiled at him. As Griffen bent down to tie his shoes, Mai landed a precise kick that should have taken the older man off his feet. Instead, he used the momentum to propel him into a roll and came up facing her.

"You really want to do this?"

"I need to know that you won't slow me down"

Griffen merley grunted and sank into a ready stance. Mai didn't even wait for an opening to present itself, she charged in, intending to teach him a lesson or two with a couple of tricks she'd picked up along her way over the past couple weeks. None of the opponents she had faced, with the exception of chrysalis infused opponents had mereted thought on how to best them. Several pace away, Konoko lept into the air, an impossible jump for any normal human being. At the climax of her leap, she did a mid air flip, intending to come down feet first onto Griffen. At the last moment he side-stepped, wrapped an arm around her legs, and pulled. This unexpected move almost made Mais face best friend with the solid floor, but she brought her arms up at the last second and averted the impact, but it still jarred he body and scraped her palms up.

"You're faster then you look"

"You don't think i made it to director of the TCTF by being weak did you girl?"

"Well, those days of sitting behind a desk would tend to soften a man, when i saw you climb from that copter with armor on, I thought you were dead meat"

"I didn't start out as director, and now with this chrysalis inside me, i feel like a supercharged teenager"

He grinned, a cold, sarcastic grin, but a grin nonetheless. She hadn't seen him smile since... ever?

"Cmon, we've got to move, we may be in a remote place, but there are ways to track us."

"Agreed. I can't wait to find another cold stone floor to sleep on."

Griffen said nothing. Together they walked out of the cave and began to continue their treck. How long would they be on the run, Mai wondered.


so Griffin do u have any idea where we might find Mukade ?

"yes ... just before we went to fight against muro ... our intelligence received info that he was seen alive again ... the thing is that data remained confidential in the TCTF head quarters ...

u mean the head quarters that is now some ruins -_-

the vault would have survived the explosion ... that's where i kept the data ...

the vault as in the vault where u used shinitama against me ?

yeah ...sorry about that ...

so we're going to the headquarters ... great !

except for the fact it will be crawling with BGI agents ...

come on old man ... I'll protect u wink

they're tougher than u think Mai ... we'll have to be very careful ...

ok how we're gonna get there ? we can't exactly drive the tctf truck nor just walk in !

we'll hitchhike of course "Griffin said with a smile ...

as they stood on the road close to the safe zone ...

a truck pulled over ! hey we meet again the driver said talking to Mia !

"OH hi ! it's u ... "it was the same driver who picked her up to the safe zone ... listen we need a lift ...

"Sure ... Sure ! come in I can use the company !" I'm just watching some Tv

"Do u know this guy ?" said Griffin

"kinda yeah he's sweet ... " said mai as she climbed to the front seat

how has ur daughter been she asked ...

Oh she's such a little devil tongue ! . I just wish I could be with her more ... instead of being useless on this stupid truck

hey u're not being useless u're being our driver tongue said mia jokingly ...

heh i guess so, is this ur uncle that u were telling me about ? asked the driver ...

mm no said mai with sadness as she remembered how kerr's death was caused by griffin ...

Griffin interrupted "No ... I'm just ... a"

"an old family friend ... said mia smiling gently to Griffin ... these few days she's spent with griffin have taught her to forgive or at least to start to ...

"so where r u going guys ? "

"do u know where the TCTF building used to be ? answered mia ...

"Oh no, u're kidding me that area is not safe anymore ! ... "

"It's absolutely necessary that we go there !! "

"I'm afraid that's impossible sweet heart :S I can get u close enough though "

ok that will have to do said griffin ...

an hour or so later ... they came close to a familiar street ... at least it would have been more familiar if it weren't for the fog the ruined buildings and the lack of liveliness .... that's as close as i get said the driver

It's ok smile thanks for everything ... said konoko ...

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM FOR AN URGENT NEWS FLASH said the reporter on the tv the driver was watching ...

OH I hate when they do that !! complained the driver .

konoko's picture showed up on the screen !


what the he... !!! the driver said frightened ! u're "please please don't hurt me ... I have a family" (sounds familiar guys tongue ?)

"we are not going to hurt anyone" said konoko "look at me ... do i look like a murderer to u ? "

"mmm no no i guess not but they never do :\ "

look we are the good guys and if we don't go and do what we have to do .. ur little girl will be growing up in a poison atmosphere all her short lived life ... is that what u want ?

mm no no I don't know :S


easy there "no need for violence" trembled the driver ... yes griffin there is no need for violence said konoko ... let's go ...thanks for the lift again ... and I'm trusting u to not report us ... just trust ur heart smile said mia as she came down from the truck followed by Griffin ...

"we could have taken him out " said Griffin ...

"that's ur answer to everything, isn't it "

" I just hope this won't come back to bite us" he said

" GUYS WAIT UP " the driver yelled ... I think u need to take this with u ... as he threw down some uniforms to them like his own

"Oh thank u !! Mia said ... this should come in handy ...

good luck the driver said as he drove away ...

they changed into the uniforms

ok the building or what's left of it is right there said griffin .. let's move

"u look cute by the way" said konoko mockingly tongue

uhuh -_- so if we run into agents we'll be saying " I'm just here to replace the equipment ?"

"that's the plan commander smile !"

I thought this place would be crawling with agents ... konoko wondered

"yes they try to avoid being in the toxic atmosphere as much as possible ... but it is strange that there aren't any agents" Griffin said "or maybe we're walking into a trap" he continued

"or maybe we are just being lucky ! let's get a move on said konoko ...

ok listen there is a secret passage that leads into the vault follow me ...

mm that building had more secrets than i knew, konoko said.

they walked thru a dark tunnel relying only on Grifin's memory ... ok we're here the vault should be behind the door ...

they pushed on a secret door and were into the vault just to the right of Griffin's desk ...

"OK THAT WAS EASY ! konoko exclaimed way easy !!! the vault was almost pitch dark except for the damaged electrical wires giving a spark every now and then ...

"I agree ... Oh no look ! "to the far corner there were 5 agents ... dead and brutally beaten up !!

Oh my God ! who could have done that ! said Mai

no no no ! i think i know who !! said Griffin I thought he would have perished by the explosion !

what are u talking about ! konoko yelled !

remember when the syndicate attacked our building and kidnapped shinitama

of course how could i forget ! i killed Barabus

"not exactly !! u weakened him greatly and he was starting to recover so we just kept him in a secure prison upstairs, but we didn't anticipate the explosion it might have ... "

"freed him ... u're kidding me ! "

"NO NO ... HE'S NOT" a familiar disturbing voice said from the dark ... "I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR U ! KONOKO ... U CAN'T DEFEAT ME I ONLY GROW ...STRONGER AND STRONGER !!"

"hello Barabas" ...



"We don't have time for this," Mai said. "Just give it up. Your boss is dead."

"Ha. Unlikely," Barabas scoffed.

"I felt his spine shatter beneath my heel," Griffin chimed in, sharing a satisfied glance with his purple-haired partner. "A little move I picked up from a friend."

"I never got a chance to thank you for that, by the way," Mai said. Griffin responded only with a small nod, and a smile which Mai returned.

"Well," said Barabas, his tone slightly more agitated. "If this IS true, why shouldn't I be killing you both twice as hard?"

"Because his plan, although not fully executed, has been set in motion," Griffin explained. "The atmosphere is dying as we speak."

"Hahaha!" Barabas chortled. "Perfect!"

"Why?" Mai inquired.

Barabas paused. "What?" was the only word he could find.

"Why is that perfect? What do you gain from that?" Mai shot back.

"The poisoned air can't hurt me," Barabas began. "I'm all powerful. I'll live on while the others die." The expression on his face clearly indicated the doubt in his words.

"And what does that get you?" Mai prodded, saying what barely needed to be said.

"I mean, not EVERYONE will die. Some will buy the chrysalis--"

"And will be JUST as powerful as you!" Mai interrupted.

"But the money they'll pay..." Barabas trailed off.

"Will be useless as the world's economy collapses," Mai retorted. Barabas looked left and right. He clenched his eyes shut and clutched his head with both hands.

"I can't believe this blithering buffoon never even thought--" Griffin was interrupted.

"That's enough," Mai said. "What's past is past. You've got to realize that, both of you. All we can do now is fight for what's right for the future."

Barabas emitted a sudden roar. "My whole life!" he growled. His breathing was heavy and rapid.

"Barabas," Mai snapped sternly. "I realize how hard this must be. The further you've climbed up a certain ladder, the harder it is to let go. But you've got to let go now. The longer you hold on, the more time you waste."

Barabas let out a final sigh. "That bastard," he stated simply, angrily.

"Griffin. The computer," Mai ordered. Griffin nodded and headed to the monitor. He began to type rapidly. Mai and Barabas walked up behind him.

"Oh God," Barabas muttered. "If all I've ever fought for has been meaningless, then all those things I did..." he trailed off. Mai looked into his eyes and his gaze met hers. "All those people..."

Mai was wordless as she stared into Barabas. Tears began to roll slowly down his nearly shimmering-white cheeks. "Why?" he asked, looking at Mai but speaking to no one. "Why did you do this to me? Why did you put this pain in me? Why now?"

Mai held his gaze, remaining stoic. Barabas' lip quivvered, his weeping picking up.

"Oh, calm down, you big ba--"

"SHUT!" Mai interrupted Griffin. "Up. If anyone should be breaking down right now, it's YOU. YOU committed your vile acts under the guise of fighting for justice. Barabas only ever did what he BELIEVED was right."

"I ALWAYS fought for justice!" Griffin shot back. "But everything's not as cut and dry, black and white as people like YOU like to think. Corners must be cut, sacrifices must be made..."

"We don't have time for this," Mai cut him off. "Although I should have known you believed it too. Even in my line of work, it's impossible to wrap my head around how warped some perceptions can be. But people always do what they feel is right. Always."

"This is all happening so fast," Barabas spoke up.

"But we've got to be faster," Mai replied. "You can take the time to absorb this all once we've saved the world."

"Got it!" Griffin declared. Mai and Barabas turned to face the screen...


(here im going to assume that Leus doesnt know what was on the screen, so im hoping im not going to take this into a completely different direction smile )

On the screen was displayed a map with one point flashing red. Konoko groaned.

"You're kidding me right?"

"If only i were"

The red dot was poised just above the warehouse where the whole thing had started.

"Are you sure? That seems to obvious for..."

Then she felt it.... faint, but definately there. A feeling, as if someone wre calling out to her in a dream, she couldn't describe it. She felt compelled to follow it, and it led to the warehouse. It's like he wants me to find him....

"Yes, he's there all right."

"Why the sudden change of mind? How can you be sure? He could have moved on by now. I'll be honest, I wasn't planning on finding him flat out, i WAS planning on going there to find a trail."

"I just know..."



Griffen frowned at her, but didn't say anything. The feeling still disturbed Mai, the same way it disturbed her on that rooftop chase. The way he'd goaded her, and the worst part is, every word he had said was true. Why was she connected to him and not Muro, Barabas or Griffen? She needed answers.

"Alright, I'll trust you on this one."

Mai thought of a snappy retort, but she bit it back. Griffen was no longer her boss, but her equal. He had clearly changed himself, and he had come to help her when she needed him. It was now time for her to start forgiving him. She turned to Barabas.

"Were these all of them?" She asked, gesturing to the mangled BGI agents.

"These are the ones that either froze in terror when they saw me or decided they were invincible. Some of the smarter ones turned tail to cry to their mommies and bring back some heavier guns."

At his mention of havy guns, his eyes glazed over for a second and she saw his fingers twitch, and Mai realized he missed his own heavy gun. She didn't sympathize. He was probably brooding over the factthat he couldn't shoot down the runaways. The world is a better place without him and that beast of a weapon together she concluded.

"In that case we'd better get moving."

"I'm staying." said Barabas "I may no longer want th world destroyed, but I'm still not going with you. (sorry Leus, i just can't see Barabas becoming good, maybe make him sorta a neutral party?) I have my own life to sort out, and I think I'm going to enjoy a little challenge when they get back."

"Suit yourself." Mai couldn't say she wasn't relieved he was going. She could never feel safe with him around.


FREEZE ALL OF YOU !!! a voice said coming from the vault's entrance

"Heh they're back " Barabas laughed ...

"Mai Hasegawa isn't it ?" such an honor to finally meet u ... a lady from the dark said ... "Unfortunately our meeting is gonna be very very short ... Take them down " she ordered the dozen of heavy armed BGI ...

"I'll hold them down ! u go !" Barabas said

"No we're in this together " konoko said

"I can handle them u saw to that" Barabas said as he made one of his earthquakers knocking everyone down including konoko and griffin ...

"We have u surrounded" the lady who was still standing in the dark said ..u're not going anywhere !

"HEY you take this it doesn't have much energy left in it but it will get u far enough"Barbas said as he took off his jet pack and put it on konoko ... and this u'll need it in time as he gave her a little data disc

"Let's move ! Griffin said dodging the bullets that were shot at him ...

"ok Barabas ... good luck ... " konoko said as she and griffin ran back into the tunnel once they got out ... BGI agents were waiting outside with rocket launchers

"Hold on old man" konoko said as she grabbed Griffin and flew before anyone could move a muscle

the jet pack ran out of fuel soon enough and they found themselves on foot again