|This character exists primarily or exclusively within the Post-Super Genesis Wave continuity.|
Information in this article may not be canonical to the storyline of the games or any other Sonic continuity.
Nicole the Holo-Lynx is one of the main characters in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by Archie Comics. She is an artificial intelligence created by Dr. Ellidy which was entrusted to Sally Acorn as a portable hand-held computer, and has since become both Sally's loyal friend and a trusted member of the Freedom Fighters. She is incredibly versatile and able to interact with and manipulate most machinery and computer systems due to her advanced technology and is capable of mental and emotional growth. Due to the latter, she has gradually become more and more lifelike in demeanor during her time interacting with the Freedom Fighters. With the help of a Power Ring, she is able to create a complex holographically simulated body-based on that of a Mobian lynx projected from her hand-held.
As a computer unit, Nicole’s design is slightly inconsistent. In general terms, her hand-held is relatively compact, grey in color, and features a flip-top, a screen, two buttons and a small keypad. However, the number of keys, size and general positioning of the unit varies from artist to artist. The unit also has an attachable hook on the top screen where a Power Ring can be inserted.
Nicole’s simulated body takes the form of a brown Mobian lynx; the ends of her ears are black, and her face features a stripe along the bridge of her nose as well as one under each eye. Her eyes are green and she has medium-long black hair with splits at the ends that she wears down. For attire, she wears a shoulder-less, sleeveless and purple dress with split tails, decorated with a small broach. She has black pants, white gloves, and shoes, the gloves featuring round gold cuffs while the shoes had silver cuffs and toes.
Nicole was created by Dr. Ellidy, a top scientist of the Kingdom of Acorn, who hoped to digitize the consciousness of his dying daughter Nikki. Upon Nicole's activation, Ellidy hoped for a reaction of some sort from her; he was disappointed when she responded with no emotion and noted that she had no designation. Despite this, he chose not to delete her, and he later gave her handheld form to Sally Acorn. Sally quickly identified her by gender and asked Dr. Ellidy what "her" name was. Ellidy started to respond but hesitated, struggling over his loss of his daughter, which prompted King Acorn to suggest the name Nicole after a past queen of the House of Acorn. Sally became quite fond of her new device, though she quickly learned-with some help from Rosie Woodchuck-that Nicole responded to all situations with logic rather than emotions.
Though Nicole would retain memories of these events, it would be with a different perspective than after she gained sentience, which took place some time after Sally fled to Knothole, taking Nicole with her. Eventually she manifested her holographic form to Sally, and demonstrated her first signs of real emotion by expressing a desire to see the stars. For the early part of her existence Nicole spent time with the Freedom Fighters without being able to see the world as they saw it. However, after discovering how to manifest her holographic form and developing sentience, she made the most of her new found lease on life. She shared in many of their experiences, from helping Tails build T-Pup to informing Antoine D'Coolette of the death of his parents.
Countdown to Chaos
- Note: From the readers point of view, this picks up from where Nicole's original history ended.
Sally became suspicious of her father's behavior in Mobotropolis and sent Nicole to keep an eye on him. Unknown to the both of them, Walter Naugus was once again impersonating Nigel after he had lost his powers as a result of the first Genesis Wave. Holding King Acorn captive, he attempted to force Nicole to create a Super Ring that would restore his lost magic, though Nicole informed him several times that she was unsure that she could pull the task off. When the Tails Doll arrived in Mobotropolis and became engaged in battle with Sonic the Hedgehog and Tails, Nicole mocked Naugus, referring to him as "Wally" and claiming he deserved his misfortune. An enraged Naugus grabbed her computer body, the contact had the unexpected effect of reawakening Naugus' memories from the original reality. Terrified by the experience, Naugus threw Nicole's computer through a nearby window, where it was discovered by Tails. Nicole attempted to warn him off, apparently fearing that he would be affected just as Naugus was, but damage incurred from the treatment of her computer form made it so that Tails could not understand her. His old memories were restored, and Tails later reluctantly plugged Nicole into Tails Doll, allowing them to shut the monstrous machine down. After assuring her friends that her programming was undamaged, Nicole-her ability to speak somewhat repaired by her contact with Tails-suggested that the confused pair go looking for the missing Freedom Fighters. After rescuing a rejuvenated King Acorn, who blamed himself for Nicole's captivity, the trio set out to do just that.
Nicole provided some guidance to Sonic and Tails as they tried to find Rotor the Walrus in the vicinity of the Mystic Ruins, though her ability to communicate remained impaired. With some help from Big the Cat, the trio managed to locate Rotor just in time to save him from a group of Spinner Badniks and their commander, Silver Sonic. Afterwards, the group were taken aboard Sky Patrol, and aircraft that Tails and Rotor had built in this reality as a counter to the Death Egg and other aerial threats. Tails handed Nicole to Rotor, which restored Rotor's memories of the original timeline as well as improving Nicole's condition, though not completely restoring her. After being updated by Rotor on the last known whereabouts of the other Freedom Fighters, the group set out again, leaving Big behind to assist Rotor.
Nicole continued to have impaired speech until they restored Antoine's memories outside Knothole. At that point, she found the lingering energy she possessed from the second Genesis Wave was waning. Her condition further improved when she restored the memories of Bunnie D'Coolette after recovering her from her mission in Metropolis Zone. Although her speech was restored, and she could partially project her lynx body again, Nicole's database was still scrambled, limiting her usefulness for the time being. Seeing in particular Bunnie's reaction to the restoration, Nicole expressed regret at what it was doing to the mental well-being of her friends. She also revealed she likely only had enough Genesis Wave energy for one more memory restoration, meaning Sonic would probably have to choose between restoring the memories of Sally Acorn or Amy Rose.
Fortunately, by having Sally and Amy touch her at the same time, Nicole was able to restore the memories of both Freedom Fighters. While they were recovering, however, Nicole reappeared in her holographic form and demanded Sky Patrol be launched immediately. She revealed that the Super Genesis Wave had altered the entire multiverse, and had caused it to collapse upon itself. Horrified, she told the Freedom Fighters it was already too late to save the world, as it began to break apart underneath them. The Shattered World Crisis had begun.
Shattered World Crisis
The Freedom Fighters quickly traveled to Station Square, which had suffered heavily as a result of the planet breaking apart. While most of the group split into Team Freedom and Team Fighters to help with the rescue effort, Nicole remained aboard the Sky Patrol with Sally and Cream the Rabbit in order to coordinate their comrades. When Sally suffered a breakdown as a result of the pressure of the situation and her difficulty in processing her conflicting memories, Nicole brought her out of it by reminding her of what she had accomplished, notably with Lupe and Dulcy the Dragon. Fortunately, help soon arrived in the form of the G.U.N. Air Force vessel Letter of Gabriel. Unfortunately, the Freedom Fighters were then forced to contend with another problem: the abduction of Uncle Chuck and Professor Dillon Pickle by a Badnik Horde.
The group soon intercepted the Bullet Train carrying the captured scientists and their research, and endeavored to stop it and free the hostages. After reaching the engine compartment, Sally attempted to access it through the best available means: dropping Nicole's computer form into it. After briefly complaining about the risk of damage to her unique components, Nicole manifested her hologram form and attempted to access the train's computer systems. However, her presence activated Badnik Horde Commander E-106 Eta, who attempted to destroy the intruder and took out the train's controls in the process. Nicole, who threw her computer self back up to Sally and dissipated her hologram to escape Eta, reported that the train was accelerating uncontrollably as a result. However, the Freedom Fighters managed to rescue the captured scientists, and soon found themselves with a new mission: locating the Chaos Emeralds and Gaia Temples in order to restore their broken planet. While traveling on this objective, Nicole kept her friends in shape by running a training simulation for Team Freedom, Team Fighters, and Team Rose, and while observing them began pondering her history with them. The group soon accomplished their assigned tasks, and Nicole congratulated them on their success.
Nicole joined Sally, Antoine, and Tails on a mission to recover a Chaos Emerald from Crystal Cave. With Nicole's help they easily reached the Emerald; much to her surprise, however, Sally insisted upon activating the security system to make sure Dr. Eggman knew they had taken it. At first considering this a foolhardy move, Nicole was made aware of the stakes when Sally activated her hologram and showed her the beauty of the cave. Realizing that Eggman's forces would strip mine the beautiful cave if they believed the Emerald to still be there, Nicole agreed to reactivate the security in order to spare the location. While making their way out, the group ran into an E-1000 robot, who dissipated Nicole's hologram with a laser. Unharmed, Nicole was later reactivated by Sally after they returned to the Sky Patrol, and thanked her friend for helping her think more like a living being. Later, she informed her teammates of the Chaos Emerald Championship being held by Breezie the Hedgehog in Casino Park. She was rather amused when Sonic questioned Sally regarding her requests to King Acorn for use of the kingdom's funds, and later watched with the other Freedom Fighters as their friends took part in the tournament.
Some time later, the Sky Patrol was attacked by several Dark Gaia Creatures of, forcing several of the Freedom Fighters to do battle with them. Despite Nicole's noting that the creatures would disappear at sunrise, Sally dove off the aircraft to aid a beleaguered Tails, who later saved her from falling. Nicole later berated her for this action, but was soon distracted by a more urgent matter: a distress call from Dr. Ellidy, her creator. Transporting herself into the Digital World, she found the aged Lynx at the mercy of several strange creatures, and quickly rescued him. Ellidy was stunned by her arrival and appearance, having not seen her since leaving her with Sally, and informed her that he had been cut off from returning to the real world by a firewall. Nicole swiftly brought down the barrier, and the two traveled to Ellidy's home of Isolated Island-he back to his body and she to his computer system. Sally, Big the Cat, and Tails entered Ellidy's home at roughly the same time, and Nicole surprised Ellidy yet again by manifesting her hologram form. Ellidy questioned what had prompted Nicole's form, and became distant after learning that she had "chosen" it. His distance disturbed Nicole, who was comforted by Sally, which prompted Nicole to reveal her fear that some power had attempted to ensnare Ellidy in the Digital World and may have followed them.
After being told about the Red Star Ring and several issues that had cropped up since the Shattered World Crisis had begun, Nicole expressed her fears to Dr. Ellidy that someone or something was trying to take over his systems. Reluctantly acknowledging the theory, Ellidy agreed to let Nicole and Tails look over his systems, with Nicole locking down her handheld form and downloading herself into Ellidy's computers. As she worked, Phage and the creatures from before kept appearing just beyond her perception, and she and Tails decided to partition the system to make it more difficult for any foreign invaders to move freely about the system. Ellidy also questioned when she had gained her sentience, and Nicole confessed that she had difficulty identifying the moment, and also that she recalled things from before that time with a different perspective than she now possessed.
Later on she was confronted by Phage, who identified herself as the perpetrator of the attack on Ellidy and a later attack on Sally and Big. She attempted to contain the evil A.I., but found Phage's power greater than her own, and was attacked in turn. Phage briefly held her captive in an effort to force Sally and Ellidy to cooperate with her, but when Phage toyed with the notion of destroying Nicole and impersonating her she broke free and fled into the system. Phage was quick to pursue her, and Nicole desperately took refuge in a curious digital structure, where she found images of Ellidy's daughter Nikki. Her curiosity over the identity of the strange girl was put on hold as Phage found her and attempted to absorb her into herself. However, Sally then arrived via the Digitizer to aid her beleaguered friend, allowing Nicole an opening to strike Phage.
Sally confronted Phage and instructed Nicole to leave, unaware that Phage was keeping Nicole from escaping. Refusing to leave her friend, Nicole attacked Phage and actually managed to injure her. The pair of friends then fled, and Nicole revealed her reasons for not leaving her friend. She also explained why Sally was unable to move about the Digital World like she did, before the princess came up with a plan. Despite Nicole's reservations, Sally lured Nicole outside of Ellidy's systems, but was tethered to Nicole by a digital version of one of Ellidy's Sling Rings. Nicole used this to pull Sally back into Ellidy's network, which she then attempted to seal Phage out of. Despite Phage's injuries, Nicole proved no match for her until Ellidy inserted one of the Red Star Rings into her handheld computer form. This caused her to become Overclocked Nicole, and her new power allowed her to force Phage out of the system. She then embraced her friend following their victory, but looked at her hand behind Sally's back. The Freedom Fighters soon prepared to leave to join their friends in Apotos, and Nicole revealed to Sally that she had learned about Nikki while in Ellidy's systems. She understood Ellidy's reluctance to interact with her as a result, given that her ability to think and feel had come at the cost of Nikki's life. Much to her surprise, Ellidy then gave her his other Red Star Ring and asked her to analyze it and send him her findings. She then chose to remain in hologram form on the flight home, in order to feel the wind.
Nicole, Sally, Tails and Big returned to the Sky Patrol where they learned that GUN had acquired a Chaos Emerald in the Crystal Desert Zone. However, the camp was attacked by Metal Sonic and Nicole let Sally communicate with Rouge the Bat through the handheld. After Sonic's brief disappearance, Nicole's handheld projected the plans for the Freedom Fighters to find Sonic and look after the wounded soldiers.
Sonic had disappeared once again and the Freedom Fighters searched for him. Nicole had projected an urgent message from Nigel Acorn regarding an assault from M'egga Man. Later when the Unified Army united aboard the Sky Patrol, Nicole advised Quake Woman to trust in her friends when trying to understand her feelings. Soon after, Nicole navigated the battle against the Mechaniloids, the Deadly Six and the Mavericks alongside Sally, Roll, Cream and Cheese. She was also able to keep an eye on Dr. Eggman and Dr. Wily to make sure they did not try anything shifty.
When Ryu, Chun-Li, Ken Masters and Guile came to the Sky Patrol with Sticks, Sally got the idea to have everyone recruit people from other worlds in order to counter Sigma, so she had Nicole's handheld gathered along with the Chaos Emeralds to be kept secure aboard the Sky Patrol. However, Sigma later destroyed the Sky Patrol, forcing Flash Man, Cream, Cheese, Fastidious Beaver, Comedy Chimp and Metal Sonic to escape with Nicole in hand. The Unified Army later regrouped and began their attack on Sigma. Shortly after Sonic and Mega Man transformed into Super Sonic and Super Armor Mega Man, Nicole had scanned the background radiation spectrum, finding out that Sigma was tearing reality apart, without any signs of repair. Luckily, Xander Payne opened a Genesis Portal to the past and shot Sigma down before he enacted his plan, completely resetting everyone's worlds and memories. After the reset, Sonic had Nicole contact Shadow for him.
Nicole continued to aid the Freedom Fighters on their adventures. Nicole went with Sonic, Chip, Sally and Bunnie on a mission in the Thunder Plains Zone where she compared Sonic and Sally's tactic when Sonic had defeated E-118 Tau. They later discovered that the Chaos Emerald that had been lost to Eggman previously was missing, leaving Sally, Bunnie and Nicole to find it at the nearby Northamer Egg Army base. Sally was confronted by Egg Boss Clove the Pronghorn and Nicole told her not to mention anything about the emerald. After promising to leave Clove's people alone, Sally and Nicole joined up with Bunnie once again, the latter of which found the Emerald.
Nicole later helps Sonic and Sally present a broadcast to their allies, discussing the plan to stage a worldwide attack on the Eggman Empire as a distraction. However, Nicole soon discovered an interruption in the Sky Patrol's systems and found Tails Doll linked up to it. Out from this data link emerged Phage who fought Nicole. Most systems on the Sky Patrol were shut down but after Rotor removed Tails Doll's link and Tails gave Nicole a Red Star Ring, Overclocked Nicole was able to turn some on again. She tried to catch Phage but she escaped as the Sky Patrol's engines were blown up. As Overclocked Nicole began to feel the strain from her transformation, she asked Tails to remove the Red Star Ring, but failed when the ring became too hot to touch.
As a result of the power overload, Nicole's handheld overheated and broke apart. When Sally had returned from her battle with two Battle Bird Armada grunts, she was notified on Nicole's handheld and the situation of the Holo-Lynx. Sally and Tails mourned, shortly before being alarmed that Nicole was still functioning within the Sky Patrol's systems, and communicating through the Miles Electric device. She also was able to reactivate the engines to keep the Sky Patrol floating. Soon, the heroes came up with a new plan to stop Eggman's Death Egg from absorbing the Dark Gaia energy from his Summoning Spire, in which Rotor was in charge of. Asking Nicole to be with him one last time while the Sky Patrol was on its last leg, Rotor and Nicole headed straight towards the Death Egg, preparing to battle the flying fortress. Nicole gave Rotor a very low status on the ship while he fought the Death Egg. Eventually, the Death Egg shot the Sky Patrol out of the sky, forcing Nicole's servers to be put on reserve power. Luckily, the Death Egg did not make it to the spire in time due to Perfect Dark Gaia and once Super Sonic and Chip defeated it, the latter asked Sally to say goodbye to Nicole for him.
Originally, Nicole's behavior was completely logic-orientated, with logic being the only motivation behind any decision, and she seemed lacking in autonomy.
As time went on though, Nicole became more lifelike, and currently possesses many of the traits of a living being which she is fully regarded as by her friends. She is friendly, helpful and a loyal member of the Freedom Fighters, having helped her friends at her own risk more than once. She is also able to express concern and support for others, and feeling guilty at risking the mental stability of her friends when restoring their old memories, and is not without the ability to mock or express defiance.
Despite her experiences, Nicole is at times out of touch with the life-like side of herself, reverting to the more logical thought processes of a machine as she dismisses the illogical nature of magic and wishful thinking, and initially seeing the beautiful Crystal Cave as little more than a mineral deposit. Despite this, she is capable of appreciating beauty as she experiences the wonders of having an actual body, and of helping others in times of difficulty. In addition, Nicole has become somewhat philosophical, realizing how important it is to preserve the wonders of the world they are fighting for.
Nicole also seems to resent her previous emotionless self as she states to Dr. Ellidy that while she can recall past memories, she does not like looking back to them as she now sees them in a whole new perspective.
Powers and abilities
As a computer, Nicole possesses a variety of abilities. In her handheld form, she can interface with other mechanical systems, allowing her to access and download information or even provide the Freedom Fighters with control over various unfriendly technologies. She also possesses a genius-level intellect, as she can process information and possess knowledge far beyond the average person.
Nicole can project a small hologram of her lynx form from her hand-held. When fitted with a Power Ring, she can fully assume her lynx form, though it dissipates if the Power Ring runs out. In her holographic form, she has fully functional limbs and the use of several senses. While her hologram form is vulnerable to attack, no damage is incurred to Nicole so long as her handheld form remains unharmed. Nicole also is able to create barriers of an unknown greenish energy, which are strong enough to block laser fire. In the Digital World Nicole's abilities are expanded remarkably to the point she is capable of virtually anything she wishes, making her a fierce opponent. In the Digital World Nicole's powers are incredible, ranging from modifying and controlling existing virtual structures to creating new material, such as weapons-she seems to favor a pitchfork-like implement. She is also capable of producing digital energy blasts and creating firewalls, though her strength is not unlimited.
When reality was reshaped, Nicole somehow absorbed residual energy from the Super Genesis Wave, which severely compromised her systems. However, contact with her computer body allowed inhabitants of the altered reality to regain their memories of the unaltered world (sans Sonic), though the process would be mentally overwhelming and even threaten other's mental stability. Once all the leftover Genesis Wave energy had been spent, she lost this ability.
With a Red Star Ring hooked up to Nicole's handheld, Nicole can become Overclocked Nicole. In this form, Nicole's powers in the Digital World is greatly enhanced, reaching the point where she can easily overpower Phage.
- Fans question whether Nicole's Mobian lynx form was a bit of a joke, since Nicole is a handheld computer, and the Atari "Lynx" was a handheld game system.
- In Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, there is a device called the Med Emitter which bares a striking resemblance to Nicole's computer form.
- Nicole's name can be spelled in all capitals or like a normal name, as Ian Flynn has stated "I suppose if you wanted to make the distinction between the computer and the soul, you could say the computer was all-caps. But at this point I consider her a "normal" part of the cast, so it'd be "Nicole.""
- NICOLE's present holographic form is comparable to the holograms seen in the Star Trek television series, which would fit with the comics' tendency to make references and parodies of various science-fiction genres. Her computer form is also reminiscent of the tricorders used in that series.
- Nicole is the first non-game Sonic female character to undergo a transformation, namely into Overclocked Nicole, and the second overall; the first is Blaze the Cat.
- Ben Hurst, the late creator of the Sonic the Hedgehog animated series, apparently intended to reveal in the series' cancelled third season that Nicole's animated series counterpart had been a living girl who was turned into a computer by Dr. Robotnik. It is possible that this loosely inspired her in-comic backstory of being created after the late Nikki.
- On his podcast the BumbleKast, Ian Flynn stated, "I would dare say that if you go through the book since the reboot, you could probably make a case for [Sally and Nicole being in a romantic relationship]." Shortly after the Archie series' cancellation, he confirmed on Twitter that he and Aleah Baker had subtly written this romance into the book.
- ↑ Aleah Baker (25 January 2016). Lea's Unimportant Farewell to BK Q&A!. BumbleKing Comics. Archived from the original on 8 February 2016.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Sonic Universe #73, "Spark of Life Part Three"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Sonic Universe #71, "Spark of Life Part One"
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Sonic Universe #72, "Spark of Life Part Two"
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Sonic Super-Sized Comics Digest #11, "Sonic Comic Origins - Nicole"
- ↑ Sonic Universe #89, "Shattered Part 3: Lost & Found"
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Sonic the Hedgehog #252, "At All Costs Part 2: A New Lease on Life"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #253, "Countdown to Chaos Part One: The Builder"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #254, "Countdown to Chaos Part Two: The Soldier"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #255, "Countdown to Chaos Part Three: The Rabbot"
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Sonic the Hedgehog #256, "Countdown to Chaos Finale: The Princess and the Hammer"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #257, "Damage Control"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #258, "The Chase: Part One"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #259, "The Chase: Part Two"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #260, "The Light in the Dark: Part One"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #261, "The Light in the Dark: Part Two"
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Sonic the Hedgehog #262, "The Light in the Dark: Part Three"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #267, "Ambushed! Part Two"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #268, "Champions Part One: The Gang's All Here"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #269, "Champions Part Two: Climbing the Brackets"
- ↑ Sonic Universe #74, "Spark of Life Part Four"
- ↑ Sonic Universe #75, "Fury"
- ↑ Sonic Boom #8, "Worlds Unite Part Two: Broken Heroes"
- ↑ Sonic Universe #77, "Worlds Unite! Part Five: Everybody in the Same Boat"
- ↑ Sonic Boom #9, "Worlds Unite! Part Six: Fire in the Sky"
- ↑ Mega Man #51, "Worlds Unite! Part Eight: Holes in Reality"
- ↑ Sonic Universe #78, "Worlds Unite Part Nine: Infinite Possibilities"
- ↑ Sonic Boom #10, "Worlds Unite Part Ten: Justice Across Worlds"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #275, "Worlds Unite Part Eleven: Killing the Giant"
- ↑ Mega Man #52, "Worlds Unite Part Twelve: Last Rights"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #277, "Thunder, Rain, and Lightning"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #277, "Hidden Costs Part One"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #278, "Hidden Costs Part Two"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #279, "Hidden Costs Part Three"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #283, "The Mission"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #284, "Panic In The Sky Part One: The Best Laid Plans"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #285, "Panic In The Sky Part Two: Falling into Place"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #286, "Panic In The Sky Part Three: Colossal Crash"
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #287, "Panic In The Sky Part Four: As Was Foretold"
- ↑ Ian Flynn (5 October 2015). BumbleKast - Episode 001.
- ↑ Ian Flynn on Twitter (25 July 2017). Retrieved on 28 July 2017. “Jennifer Hernandez: I did not know there was so much love for Sally and Nicole. >.> I really thought I was alone on that ship. / Ian Flynn: Aleah & I were amazed we got away with it being so blatant.”