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32


I was such a fool! I was the biggest damn fool in the whole world! I was the king of all fools! I knew he was going to ambush me here! I knew she was setting a trap for me again! And yet, I came! What devastated me the most, however, was the fact that he got me in the same fucking way as he had done back in Greenland. I was really such a fool!

Still lying on the floor, I slowly turned around and looked up. Cork was grinning above me and waving a positron gun in the air like some orchestra leader. He was obviously happy. And why wouldn’t he be?

“I really didn’t think you’d be so stupid to make the same mistake again,” he beamed.

“Me neither!” I answered curtly because at this moment, I couldn’t share his high spirits and talkativeness.

“You don’t know how bored I was waiting here for so long,” he went on. “I wasn’t sure if you had already paid a visit but Sharon said you hadn’t. She was right!”

I said nothing and only shrugged, which felt really weird while I was still lying down on the floor. The bitch had scored again! She wanted to get rid of her idiot and me and now one of these things was surely going to happen.

“You can stand up now!” Marty jerked up the nose of his gun. “I hate shooting at helpless people.”

I got up and smiled sourly because he was true to his style and starting to blabber instead of shooting. It gave me a little bit of hope, although not much. I suddenly regretted the moment when I had shaken off Chavez’s people down in Pago Pago.

Marty came closer, made me turn around, and quickly searched me for weapons with his gun on my neck. Obviously, he hadn’t seen the Beretta rolling down under the sofa because he had been behind my back when that happened. Nevertheless, he could’ve been at least surprised I was clear. He wasn’t though.

“Well, where’s the camera?” he asked me after finishing the search. “I looked everywhere!”

I turned around slightly with my hands spread so as he could see them. He took a step back and I faced him.

“There is no fucking camera here, you fool!” I said. “Sharon’s sent you on a wild goose chase! Can’t you see that?”

“Yeah?” The jerk threatened me with his weapon. “You sure about that?”

“I’m pretty sure!” I nodded and glanced around to check the situation. There was simply no way for me to get the Beretta unless the idiot had a heart attack or a sudden fit of narcolepsy. My gun was well under the sofa.

“You know what? I don’t care about your theories!” Marty stepped closer again and put his piece under my chin. “You tell me where the fucking camera is or I kill you right here, right now!”

“Look,” I spread my hands still further. “I can tell you nothing because I simply don’t know the answer! If I were you, I would have focused on much more important things like saving my ass, for instance. Even if you kill me here, you won’t live much longer unless Chavez forgets about your tricks but that’s very unlikely, you know!”

Marty suddenly froze and fixed his eyes on me, trying to decide whether I was bluffing. By teasing him like that, I was actually walking on thin ice but I knew the guy well. I knew he wouldn’t shoot me right away—first, he was going to have a little chat with me and then come up with some extravagant idea about my death.

“What the fuck do you mean?” he asked a few seconds later, when his thinking ended with no result. He was within my reach but his finger was ready on the trigger and my chances were less than nothing. I didn’t even consider the idea of hitting him.

“You know what I mean!” I said. “Reaction between iodine and ammonia leads to explosion—you’ve probably heard the thunder last night. It’s good to know, however, that Chavez knows you did it!”

“And how the hell does he know? How the hell do you know?”

“Bobby told me you’d do it,” I lied to him, “before you wasted her. She probably told him too!”

“No, she did not!” he looked tensely at me again.

“Yes, she did! She snatched the memory stick with the schematics from your car. Don’t you remember? And she had a degree in pharmacy—it was a piece of cake for her to do the math!”

Marty squinted at me, surprised, and swallowed.

“That’s it. I got him now!” I thought, satisfied. “I just have to stay alive now until I have the chance to get the Beretta.” Yet I knew it was not going to be easy. It was deep under the sofa and I had to persuade the jerk to play a game of peek-a-boo with me in order to get it!

“What did Sharon tell you, huh?” I kept working him before he had gotten himself together. “You were going to snatch Menelaus’ company? Drive Greenspace out of business and take their place?”

He didn’t answer.

“Well, guess what!” I went on. “It’s not happening! Menelaus was broken well before you started making plans about killing him. His finances were sucked dry by the project on Olosega. Did you actually know that? Did Sharon tell you?”

Marty was looking at me gloomily, still with his gun under my chin. I was sure he wouldn’t pull the trigger at such a close distance but maybe I was going too far with my teasing after all. I was not giving him much reason not to!

“Even so,” he said after a few moments and took a step back, adjusting the gun in his hand. He seemed ready now. “That doesn’t change a thing! Camera exists and we both know it. So I want it!”

“I’m not saying it doesn’t exist!” I smiled sourly. “I’m just saying it’s not here! How do you think we met in this room in the first place? What do you think Sharon told me?”

Marty secured his grip on the weapon without answering. He was nervous and he clearly didn’t know what to do.

“She foisted the same lie on me.” I gave him a push to realize the truth. “She told me the camera was here and you were going to get it. She told you just the same thing, right? Now think about it; why would she do so if she wasn’t trying to make us fight?”

“What are you even talking about?” the guy exclaimed, stupefied. It was clear that he didn’t want to believe me but he also couldn’t stop listening to me. “What would she gain from my death?”

“You should ask her that!” I suggested. “Maybe now, when the hub is destroyed, she’s done with you. Your role is over and she doesn’t need you anymore!”

Marty shook his head, still hesitating.

“Naah!” he said. “You’re just trying to buy time with this bullshit. I have a solid deal with her and she needs me for what’s next!”

“Does she really need you?” I looked at him with pity. The fool didn’t even have the slightest idea how useless he was to her. “And what’s next, anyway? Selling ammonia to the aliens? You have no resources to enter that business, Cork! But Sengupta has! Why would Sharon need you after she has switched to the Indian?”

The jerk literally flinched when I mentioned Sengupta. He obviously hadn’t really thought she had ditched him. He was an even bigger fool than I was!

“Haven’t you asked yourself why Sengupta is helping you?” I nailed him quickly. “He hates Chavez but not so much to start a war with Greenspace. Sharon is selling Menelaus’s idea to him and she’s literally replacing you, you fool! They fucked! Did the bitch tell you about that?”

Cork seemed knocked off balance now and he stood still for almost half a minute. I had bluffed him a little about the fucking but who knows—maybe it was not a bluff at all. Besides, somewhere deep inside his mind, he knew it was possible. After I stopped talking, he tried to say something but since he couldn’t find the proper words, the heavy silence between us stretched on. We were looking nervously at each other and I expected to receive a positron charge in my forehead at any minute!

The situation was too weird. The atmosphere in the room was so heavy it felt as if time had thickened and slowed down. It was like in a dramatic scene of a movie thriller and all the sounds hung meaningless around us, unable to reach our minds. We heard tires screeching down below on the street, and car doors opening and shutting, but neither of us reacted. It went on like this for ten more seconds.

I was first to shake off my loss of sensation and briefly nodded to the window. The area around the motel was too quiet and the tire screeches definitely meant something.

“I think you might want to check that out,” I said nervously.

Marty slowly came out of his stupor and clumsily moved around me to get to the window. I turned around with him. He was not going to take that gun off me even for a moment. He arrived at the window, looked out at the street, and then he froze. Something was definitely wrong!

“So what is it? Who’s that?” I whispered hopefully, thinking that Chavez’s thugs had found my trace.

“People with guns,” Marty hissed.

“Are they white?”

He looked back at me surprised. “No, they’re brown! Why? Are you a racist?”

“Dammit!” I thought desperately. These were Sengupta’s thugs! I was not a racist but Chavez was. He wouldn’t hire Indians—they were only fit to be subjects in his “kingdom”!

“You know what?” I said anxiously. “In any other situation I would’ve been gloating now and saying, ‘You see? I told you!’ Unfortunately, this is not the right moment so instead I’m going to say, ‘Let’s get the fuck out of here, and do it quickly! They’ll kill us both!’”

Marty looked at me, still uncertain, and shook his head.

“No, you just want to use this situation to get away,” he mumbled. “It’s a coincidence, I guess. They’ve come for something else.”

“Are you nuts?” I cried out, almost losing my temper. “She’s set us both up here and that’s the proof! That’s why she needed us to come! I bet they’ll know the number of the room and they’ll come straight away.”

He said nothing and went to the door, still keeping an eye on me. Then he listened with his ear pressed against the wood. Soon, trotting feet echoed from the lower floors, growing louder with every second. No sounds of doors opening or shutting were heard; no ransacking of rooms. The trotting was coming straight to us!

Marty cautiously stepped away from the door and looked around, confused. It was too late though—we were already doomed! I nervously asked myself how the thugs knew when exactly to come in order to get us both in this room, and the idea that they had actually waited for me flashed across my mind. Cork had been here before I came and Sharon must have instructed them to wait because she wanted two birds in the cage, not just one! It was right in the moment when I thought this, when the trotting suddenly stopped. A very short pause followed and the silence crackled with tension, after which the door was launched inside with a hideous thunder. The guys outside didn’t even bother to try it and see if it was open—they just kicked it off of its hinges!

I instantly threw myself to my left and desperately jumped over the side of the sofa. Then I pulled it to form a v-shaped shield between my enemies and me and dug myself between the back of the furniture and the wall. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Marty shooting at the thugs a couple of times before hiding behind the side of the wardrobe, near the window. The thugs, for their part, drew back into the corridor beside the doorframe and thus, we all took our positions for the upcoming battle. The only problem was that our positions were disturbingly close to each other!

I looked around feverishly. My heart was booming like hell and my lungs were gasping for air. With a trembling hand, I reached beneath the sofa and frantically felt for the Beretta. Then I pulled it out and quickly checked if it was okay and loaded. It all happened just as the thugs started breaking in again and I raised my hand over my barricade to shoot blindly at the door a couple of times and enforce Marty’s fiery statement from seconds ago.

Me joining in the party seemed a little humorous in spite of the seriousness of the situation. All my opponents had positron guns, which produced almost no sound when they were shot so the entire battle had seemed like a gangster’s dumb show so far. My loud-mouthed Beretta was suddenly so thunderous that I felt uneasy about breaking the polite hissing around me. Everybody instantly stopped shooting.

“Hey you, son of a bitch, where are you?” I heard Marty whisper after my outrage ended. He was utterly surprised.

“Behind the sofa,” I said quietly. “And you?”

He stayed silent for a while.

“I’m not telling! Where the hell did you get that fucking animal from?”

“You fool! You’re behind the wardrobe!” I ignored his question. “I can make it rain splinters upon your head!”

That was entirely true, by the way, and it was another funny thing. The wardrobe was no match for my Beretta and I was well barricaded. Ironically, and just because I was hiding behind the sofa, my old-fashioned piece turned out to be the heaviest weapon in the room. Positron guns are actually very efficient in almost any other way and their charges could even penetrate through thin walls, but they have extreme difficulties with soft materials like cushions and pillows: positrons tend to get trapped inside.

The situation was very desperate nevertheless. I carefully took out my cellphone and tried to contact Peularia, still keeping an eye on my surroundings. The doorframe was clear for the moment but I had to be careful about Marty too. I didn’t trust the bastard even though we were supposed to be allies in this fight. I initiated the connection but unfortunately, the line remained closed and nobody picked up.

“They must be making love in their big seaside house with too many rooms and no fucking doors!” I thought, irritated and envious at the same time. I wished I were there now, not here!

“Hey, who are you calling?” Marty suddenly whispered again from beside the wardrobe.

“My funeral agent! Why?” I whispered back. “I just remembered I didn’t pay her the last time I was dying!”

“Don’t call the cops!” he grunted angrily. “They’ll kill us both and then they’ll say we were trying to escape.”

I cautiously peeked from behind the sofa.

“What do you even mean by that?” I asked, surprised. “You think those in the corridor are here to treat us with a glass of whiskey and some peanuts?”

He didn’t answer. In his hiding place, he was checking his gun. The window near him was actually the only alternative way out and I could try climbing down the wooden trellis on the outside wall, but it was in the bastard’s shooting perimeter. I really doubted he would want to negotiate about it.

I carefully raised my cellphone and took a picture through the window. It was a beautiful summer day in hell outside but compared to the situation here, inside the room, it looked like heaven! I attached the picture to Peularia’s account address, adding a few words. I was just hitting the send button when I saw Marty peeking from behind the edge of the wardrobe. When he saw me out of cover, he showed up a little more, and after a quick hesitation, he raised his gun. I promptly drew back behind the cushions and shot a lonely bullet into the wood above his head.

“Son of a bitch!” I thought furiously. “He deserves one right between his eyes!” The thunder from my gun hadn’t even died out yet when everything sharply changed again. The room filled with smoke and I looked around, surprised. Unfortunately, I had no time to wonder what was going on because I saw thin, bluish trails hissing everywhere and piercing every surface they met. Someone had obviously brought a positron machinegun to the battle! I instantly dropped down on the floor and pushed the sofa further away from the wall in order to peek from behind its other end. Then I looked at the door horrified.

I was right! Someone had really started a war. Even more than that, it was an offensive! I saw two pairs of legs cautiously stepping inside the room, keeping away from the trajectory of the machinegun charges. One was beyond at Marty’s side and the other one—at mine. They were silently taking our “ship” now!

Desperately, I pointed my gun and gave a few shots, after which I quickly drew back. The sofa almost immediately blew up. It started shaking hideously and raising smoke. Most of the charges were trapped inside but I wasn’t safe at all despite the flaw of the positron technology. Soon the cushions were going to burst into flames and then, I would be really fucked!

Since I had no other option, I thrust my arm beneath the sofa up to my elbow and initiated a frantic cannonade of blind shooting. After a few seconds, someone shrieked near the door and I heard someone dragging on the floor. There was a short kerfuffle and then the raid ceased. I used the moment to peek from behind the edge and produce a more convincing effect. There was a blood puddle a few meters away from me. Then I quickly drew back to the other side of the sofa to see if Marty had started an attack from west.

“Hey, you’re alive?” I whispered.

“I’m fine,” I heard his voice. “You know what? I have an idea!”

“You do? You want me to call the cops now?”

“No, you jerk! I want you to throw me a cushion and then we can go together for the door. We have armor, they don’t. We can push them away!”

“Yeah, of course!” I hissed. “You’ll probably want to watch my back, right? Do I have to put a cushion on my ass too?”

“You, idiot!” I heard his disappointed voice. “At least start violently shooting at them for a minute. I’ll try to edge behind the doorframe and push them away by myself!”

“Yeah, Rambo! You can also conquer the town and the island afterwards!” I laughed. The guy obviously thought I had an ammunition factory here. I was already short of bullets after pushing the last offensive away by myself! I just hadn’t thought I would have a whole regiment of thugs to fight against when I was preparing for this war.

“Okay, let me hear your ideas then,” Marty growled, clearly upset. “You know what? Since you got us into this, I think you should be the one to get us out too.”

I got us into this?” I cried, not so quietly. “Your Martian whore got us into this!”

Another violent batch of frying positron charges broke up our argument. I sprawled on the floor and started shooting beneath the sofa in an attempt to stop the thugs from getting in. This time Marty was kind enough to pitch in with a few hisses from his humble gun. I think he had realized at last that we were doomed. Unfortunately, he only had stupid ideas about how to solve our problem. By the way, I really doubted that any bright ideas existed in this damn situation!

“Hey, Cork,” I whispered again after the thugs drew back behind the doorframe.

“I’m fine, thank you,” he mumbled.

“I don’t care whether you’re fine or not! Can I ask you a question?”

He didn’t answer.

“Back in Greenland,” I went on, “when you killed those guys in Menelaus’ house, why the hell did you pull the bodyguard’s pants down?”

Marty showed his face from behind the wardrobe, surprised.

“You think this is the damn right moment?”

I shrugged. “We may die here,” I said. “If we do, I’ll never know!”

“You’re a very weird dick, Mellrow,” he grumbled after a second. “And you’re very annoying. You brought me so many troubles in that house!”

“So?” I insisted.

“When the housemaid came into her room, she got undressed and lay in her bed right away,” Marty explained after a short pause. “She was getting ready for the bodyguard. And then he came with his pants already pulled down—I really didn’t have to worry about that!”

I quickly counted my ammunition while listening to him. I was surprised. Because of his imagination, I had thought he was the one who had pulled the guy’s pants down and wondered what his idea might have been. His explanation really disappointed me. When I finished counting, I looked around worried. The situation was not good at all. If we didn’t come up with a plan soon, we were going to die. The thugs were obviously regrouping behind the doorframe because I could hear sounds of agitation coming from that direction.

“Hey, do you have a lighter?” I whispered to Marty after a brief scan of the room.

“Why? You wanna smoke one last cigarette before you die?” he asked.

“Do you have one or not?” I snarled.

Nothing happened for a few seconds—no answer. Then I heard a rustling sound and he said, “I have only two butts. I’m not sure I want to give you one!”

“Keep your stinky cigarettes for yourself, you moron. I just asked for the lighter! There is a fire alarm device on the ceiling, just above the wardrobe!”

Another few seconds of silence passed.

“So?”

I sighed desperately. The guy was really bright—as bright as an ameba!

“So try triggering it, Einstein! What do you think’ll happen? The fire brigade will come and save our asses!”

As I spoke, I immediately thought about a major flaw in my plan, which I had overlooked. I remembered the numerous burning houses I had seen here so far. Actually, it was very doubtful that anyone would come at all. Nevertheless, my idea remained our only chance and it was worth a try.

“How am I going to trigger it?” I heard Marty whisper after a while. “I have nothing to set on fire.”

I thought for a second and grabbed a cushion from the sofa, throwing it to him. After trapping so many positron charges, it was almost on the verge of bursting into flames. It needed just a few more!

“Here, take this!”

Marty knelt and spread his hand to reach the cushion, after which he examined it carefully. He stood up to try it on his body and when he found it satisfying, he put it aside. The jerk obviously wanted to use it as body armor. Then he looked around for something else and grabbed the night lamp from its stand near the window. He took the shade off and took out his precious lighter at last.

I shook my head in despair and prepared to be very patient. What followed next was an epic battle to obtain fire. I was quite sure ancient people had needed less time to invent it than he needed to light the shade! Five minutes of struggling passed before he realized the material was probably incombustible. During that time, I had to keep the doorframe clear and push the thugs away twice, which made me almost run out of bullets. In the end, I got really pissed. I couldn’t stand to watch him anymore.

“Damnit, Cork!” I shouted. “Would you do something, at last? There’s no fucking use in triggering the alarm device after we’ve died!”

He peeked out and looked at me, somehow angry and dissatisfied at the same time, and threw the lamp shade away. He took off his shirt instead, twisted it, made a loop, and set it on fire in no time.

“Where?” he asked. “I can’t see.”

“It’s just above the wardrobe. The opposite side from you; two or three spans above the upper edge,” I guided him.

Marty took a step toward the window and tiptoed to see the fire alarm. After that, he carefully concentrated as if he was going for an Olympic record in javelin throw. His burning shirt almost burned away! Then he hurled it at last. At the peak of its trajectory, it brushed the device for a brief moment but then, when it started going down, it fell across the edge of the wardrobe, down onto the floor. My idea had been that it stayed up and burned there!

Strangely enough, the result of this stupid attempt suddenly seemed like a very threatening act to the thugs at the door. As soon as the shirt landed, they started violently shooting at it as if it were some kind of incendiary bomb or something, ready to explode any minute. I just didn’t know why they thought they were going to neutralize it like that! All the while, I remained passive and simply watched them because I didn’t care about Marty’s shirt and I wanted to save my last bullets.

“Damn it!” I heard Cork swear after the cannonade paused for recharging. He stood on tiptoe again and raised his weapon, aiming for the device.

“Don’t hit it directly,” I whispered. “Just burn a few holes near it in order to raise the temperature of the coating.”

He didn’t look at me. I didn’t even think he heard what I had said. He just fired once and hit a couple of centimeters to the right; then he burned a hole a little bit to the left; and his third shot was right in the middle. The device bloomed open like a tulip! All its electronics hung down from the ceiling on burning hot wires and it didn’t produce a single cough.

I sighed, anguished. We were dead now for sure! The thugs immediately started another cannonade from the door, and from beneath the sofa, I saw legs again. I answered their fire but it was rather a pose. After a few rounds of thunder, I heard the anticipated, unpleasant click from my gun. Then I clicked a couple of times more and that was all. I was out of the battle. Blind shooting is actually well known for its resource inefficiency and I had just proved it!

“Ha, ha, out of bullets, huh?” I heard Marty sneer happily beside the wardrobe, while pushing the offensive away with his gun. I looked at him dismally and wanted to throw something heavy at him but I had only cushions and I didn’t want to give him more body armor. Just then, the sound of more screeching tires came in through the window. I jumped up hopeful and looked out, excited.

“Who is it?” I cried to Marty, praying that it was the police.

“Two black Comatsus and some more people with guns,” he roared angrily after glancing through the window.

“These are Chavez’s,” I thought disappointed. “They’ve tracked me down after all.” Even though their coming was better than no change in the situation, I really doubted that any good was going to come out of it. Chavez only needed me to take him to Marty. After that, I was just an undesirable witness for him.

I sadly put my useless gun into my pocket and prepared to die. Marty, however, woke up to another fight instead. To my surprise, he started shooting at Chavez’s thugs through the window and calling them fagots. The idiot really pissed them off! They answered the fire and soon his plan worked—we heard more shooting from old-fashioned guns like mine downstairs.

The coming of a new party to the battle changed everything significantly. It rearranged the positions and suddenly took the fire away from us, allowing us to take a breath. At some point, it even became relatively peaceful by the door and I toyed with the idea of hitting the roof. Marty was going to be behind my back, however, and he wouldn’t let me go. On the other hand, it was no good for me to stay here either because he knew I had no bullets now.

“Hey, don’t shoot for a moment,” his voice came after a while, taking me by surprise. In the commotion, he had obviously forgotten my magazine was empty or maybe he thought I had a spare. “I’m saving our asses now!”

He cautiously reached his hand out of the shadow of the wardrobe, and when he felt no burning charges in his flesh, he crept out. The jerk was holding the cushion in front of his bare chest as if hiding his tits. He looked ridiculous, and if I’d had at least a single bullet left, I would’ve laughed my ass off making fun of him. Unfortunately, I had none and I swallowed my jokes. Soon, I saw my chance in this unexpected situation. After a few seconds, I quietly sneaked behind his back.

Marty was cautiously advancing to the door without turning around. Downstairs, the shooting had intensified but it seemed distant now. I carefully slipped toward the window, still keeping an eye on the bastard, and when I reached it, I tried to open it very slowly. The entire pane of glass was punctured by positron charges and it looked like fine lace. I turned the handle and pulled it watchfully, expecting hell to crash down upon my head any minute. Nothing happened, however.

I nervously turned around and looked at the door but everything was alright there. Marty was still on the watch at the doorway without looking back. I opened the window and slowly raised my left leg and thrust it outside, trying to feel the bars of the trellis. I did this successfully, and when I pulled my right leg off the floor and started thinking that my plan might work in the end, the things suddenly changed dramatically. My luck abandoned me unscrupulously and in the very next moment, all hell really opened up for me!

I had actually felt something was wrong a few seconds before that. At some point during my performance, I sensed a flow of air gently brushing my wet cheeks, and somewhere in the depths of my mind, I knew I had to watch for the window. Unfortunately, my hands were already on the sill. Before the idea had fully formed in my mind, the window slowly swiveled on its hinges and I realized I could do nothing about it. The handle just barely touched the wall on my left but it was more than enough as it turned out. The punctured glass instantly broke into thousands of tiny pieces that loudly showered upon the floor, rolling everywhere like little, shiny bugs.

Marty turned around, startled, and looked at me in surprise. His nerves were already too tense even without my acrobatics. I looked at him too, still hanging in the air like a ballerina with my left leg outside and the other one inside. It was a very delicate moment and I knew it wouldn’t last for too long. It didn’t! Marty slowly raised his gun and pointed it at me, and behind his back, one of the thugs unexpectedly appeared in the doorway too. He also had a gun in his hand. I was the only one in this stupid situation without options—I had just started my performance of a ballet scene from “Swan Lake” with an empty weapon in my pocket!

What happened next was really, really quick. I only had enough time to try to duck in order to evade their charges. In my delicate dancing position on the wooden trellis, my move was too risky, and as a result, I suddenly lost my unsteady grip, and began the last and most spectacular act in my life, long before I was ready for it! Very ungraciously, I tumbled back and headed for the ground, leaving my humble audience of two totally surprised and breathless. They were so shocked to see what I did that they didn’t even produce a single shot. They just stood beside each other and watched me, bewildered!


©2016 S.T. Fargo
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED!
(www.stfargo.com)

Eurasian Gambit—Chapter 32 | a science-fiction crime novel by S.T. Fargo

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