“This is your last chance, Tarsand,” Shieldrock says. “Stand down. ”
Tarsand, perched on top of the curved roof of the CN Tower’s observation deck, laughs until his misshapen, tarry, only-vaguely-human body shakes. He clenches his fist, and viscous black goo oozes from him in every direction, coating the surface of first the roof, then the observation deck, then the entire tower. The tourists, inside and out, scream in panic as the noxious residue coats the windows and the building shudders in response to Tarsand’s whims.
Shieldrock shakes his head. Tactically, this isn’t optimal. His massive granite form has the proportions of the statue of a Greek god, yes. And he’s strong and impervious to the danger posed by mobile hydrocarbons. But he lacks the speed and agility to get to Tarsand — just as the villain planned. Centennial has been diverted to stop the flocks of oil-coated birds Tarsand sent to attack the provincial legislature at Queen’s Park, and below, their teammates Boreal, Caribou and Voyageur are battling the tides of oil that threaten to pour into the lake and over downtown.
“You stand down, Shieldrock,” Tarsand sneers, “and watch while I make these innocents you cherish pay for what was done to me!”
At the moment, Shieldrock can’t remember what exactly was done to Tarsand. Is he angry at or on behalf of the oil industry, and how does attacking the CN Tower help either way?
It’s time to try a different approach.
“Look around,” Shieldrock says, and crouches to lower his centre of balance, “you’ve turned the entire tower into a death trap. Last I heard, you don’t have super-human resistance to damage and I know for a fact you can’t fly.”
That shot lands, he can see. Tarsand hasn’t lost his balance, but he’s thinking about it, and that’s the worst thing he could do. No, second worst.
“It’s a long way down,” Shieldrock adds.
Tarsand looks. And that really is the worst thing he could do. The villain gasps, gets weak in what passes for his knees, and his arms windmill.
“Careful,” Shieldrock says, “we wouldn’t want you to fall.”
He smiles, his teeth gleaming white as marble in contrast to the grey granite of his skin.
It ends very quickly after that.
Shieldrock is in the gym, at Headquarters, his form that of a normal man for once instead of his rocky combat mode. He doesn’t much care for it. People who’ve never seen it assume that Shieldrock is a living statue version of the ordinary mortal he was before. Not so much. Only what was strong in him comes through the change. The rest is left to the side, but still there.
His human form, that is to say, is kind of a schlub.
So Shieldrock works out. You never know when the timeline will be retroactively changed, or you’ll get hit with a ray that takes away your powers, or someone, somewhere, will make an ill-thought-out wish. Next thing you know, you have to fight Lord Threat with nothing but your wits and whatever Mother Nature gave you.
If and when that happens, Shieldrock plans to be ready.
Boreal walks in to the gym. She doesn’t look like a superhero is supposed to. Neither does he, of course. The difference is, civilians never see him when he’s not animate granite, and if they did, they wouldn’t care about his appearance anyway. Boreal always looks like herself, sometimes in costume, sometimes in jeans and a t-shirt, like she is today.
It seems to bother people that she doesn’t dress or look like the big-time American heroines. Many of those people are on Twitter. And they don’t shut up about her broad shoulders, her freckles, the gap between her teeth, her short hair, and God forbid that a woman go out and save the world with breasts of less than pornographic amplitude. The trolls online say a lot of things about her, and lesbian is about the nicest.
Shieldrock doesn’t know if Boreal is a lesbian, that being her business. He would kind of like to know.
“Shieldrock! Have you heard…” she says, but stops herself.
She sits down on the bench across from him and waits as he finishes his set. He sits up and wipes his face with his towel.
“It’s so different, seeing you like this,” she says, “I can’t decide if it’s like seeing you naked or seeing your soul.”
For an instant he wonders about the direction she wants to take this conversation.
“So what’s up?” he asks, with a smile.
“Centennial,” she replies. “He’s leaving the team.”
It feels like a punch from a Sasquatch — which is no fun at all, but that was a misunderstanding and they’re on good terms now.
“Has he been mind-controlled? Have they checked it’s not a clone? Alternate self from a parallel evil universe?”
She looks confused.
“Centennial,” he says, “wouldn’t quit.”
“He didn’t,” she says.
The media’s asking questions before the news is officially announced, after some junior bureaucrat in DND leaks the word on Twitter. The PMO is collectively apoplectic at the headlines.
CENTENNIAL OUT OF CANFORCE. WHO WILL LEAD CANADA’S NATIONAL SUPER-TEAM?
It’s a good question. How do they plan to replace a hero, an inspiration, a mentor and a friend? Shieldrock tells himself he can bear it. He’s the man of stone, and stone endures.
Besides, decisions made by the political leadership are to be respected and worked with. That’s his job as a hero and a public servant. Centennial taught him that.
The next day, he learns the answer to his questions, at the same time the rest of Canada does.
IRONHAND COMES HOME. EXPAT HERO RETURNS TO LEAD CANFORCE.
Ironhand arrives at Headquarters within hours, an anxious ADM in tow. He seems larger than life in that American way — not fake, but like he’s used to an environment that’s more exciting, more ‘on’ than this one, and hasn’t acclimated yet.
“Shieldrock, Boreal,” Ironhand greets them. He smiles like a news anchor and extends a massively-muscled hand to shake. “Heard a lot about you. Some fine work you’ve done up here.”
“Thanks,” Shieldrock says. Ironhand’s wearing a suit and tie, which just seems odd. But maybe he’s trying to be professional.
“Team meeting in twenty, okay?”
“Sure. We’re all looking forward to hearing what you’ve got planned.”
Ironhand claps him on the shoulder, and he actually feels it. “Good things, friend. Good things.”
Boreal stares after Ironhand as he bustles off on his tour / inspection / triumphal procession.
“I can’t believe they brought an American in to lead the team,” she says.
“He’s still Canadian,” Shieldrock shrugs. “Maintained his citizenship and everything. And he’s done a lot of good work,”
“In the U.S. It’s different there. I heard some things about him and the crackdown on the Occupy protests…”
“We’re public servants,” he says. “We follow the directives of the government of the day, whether we agree in private or not.”
She looks around, deflated, and seems to think better of saying more.
The meeting is a blur in PowerPoint. Ironhand talks about strategic objectives, benchmarks and what seems to be his favourite word, innovation. What those innovations are to be, Shieldrock can’t quite tell.
Boreal seems to have followed the thread a bit more closely. “You mentioned joint training exercises?” she asks. “What are we now, JTF-2?”
Ironhand gives her his Hollywood smile, but before he can answer, their handhelds all chirp and buzz, and the big screen switches from PowerPoint to the situation alert. Ironhand picks up the phone that sits on the desk in front of his chair, the leader’s chair, and listens. He frowns.
“Where the hell is Iqaluit?” he asks.
In the Arctic, it’s winter already, and even Shieldrock feels the cold. But that’s not what worries him.
The Pole People are in another one of their moods, and Polar King is leading one of the attacks on the ‘thawed world’ that are his stock in trade when he’s wearing his villain’s hat — which seems to alternate with his hero’s hat about fifty-fifty, as far as Shieldrock can tell.
The living Snowmen of the Polarmy are closing in on Iqaluit when CanForce arrives, which isn’t so bad, because they’re never much of a challenge. Mooks are mooks, even when made of snow given life by the power of the Arctic’s animus mundi, or whatever it is.
Ironhand’s tactical plan isn’t complicated, but it doesn’t have to be, not for the first wave. Shieldrock gets air-dropped along with Voyageur into the midst of the Polarmy to disrupt their order of battle, while Boreal uses her control over plant life to form the local lichens into fortifications that Ironhand and Caribou defend.
“Polar King made a serious mistake, attacking Canadian soil,” Ironhand declaims, brushing ice shards from his shoulders and hair as Shieldrock and Voyageur join the others.
Shieldrock’s pretty sure he’s the only one who hears Caribou chuckle under his breath.
“Not really,” Boreal shrugs. “It’s not like this is a real invasion. It’s an attention-getting tactic.”
“Attention-getting.” Ironhand says flatly.
“Like North Korea,” Voyageur says, “You know?”
“I know all about North Korea, yes,” Ironhand answers, “It’s a nuclear power run by sociopaths that starves its own citizens and…”
“Threatens the neighbours when it need another food shipment,” Boreal finishes. “Exactly. You know how worried the Polarians are about climate change.”
“Global warming,” Ironhand says, “For God’s sake, that’s what this is about?”
“It’s a serious concern up here. Shrinking icecaps, mass extinctions…”
Ironhand laughs. “My nephew is worried about the Tooth Fairy, too, but he doesn’t attack Iqaluit.”
The silence that follows is superhumanly awkward.
“Are you comparing climate change to the tooth fairy?” Boreal asks.
When the next attack wave hits, Shieldrock is almost grateful.
The Polarian soldiers in their Snow Suits are the real threat; the giant half-living powered armour suits may be forged from snow and ice, but they’re decidedly not fragile.
Despite his efforts, as Shieldrock struggles against the invaders, he can still hear Ironhand and Boreal arguing.
“…Not a theory, it’s a reality we’re dealing with!”
“I’m not a scientist, but… impacts …. grossly exaggerated.”
Shieldrock wonders if Boreal is attracted to Ironhand. Theirs is shaping up to be the kind of mutual antagonism that usually leads to falling in love.
He dismisses the thought, and returns to tearing the legs off a giant ice-hewn war machine.
Eventually it’s over. Polar King gets a chance to make a big speech, Ironhand gets to do the same, and enough posturing is accomplished for both sides to declare victory and go home.
As their transport lumbers through the sky towards Toronto, Boreal stares out the window at the Arctic landscape below as it gives way to scrub, then trees, then civilization. Shieldrock wonders what she’s thinking, and doesn’t ask.
He’s in the gym when she finds him there again. It seems, he thinks, with a flash of silly hope, to be their thing. But no, whatever’s on her mind, it isn’t that.
“It’s a gag order,” she says, tensing up her shoulders and fists. He imagines the trees outside, for miles around, twitching in sympathy.
He sits forward, thinking carefully. “Do you think you’re being fair?”
“Yes, I’m being fair,” she glares at him, “Ironhand and the government are attacking my freedom of speech because I don’t agree with their agenda. What else would you call it?”
“A professional obligation to be impartial?”
She sits down. It looks like she genuinely thinks about that.
“I’m not trying to influence the outcome of an election. They’re ordering me to,” she glances at the sheet of paper in her hand, “refrain from comment about any subjects relating to government policies or public issues.”
“They could,” he says, “just be applying the same rules other government employees follow.”
“Yes, they’re legal orders from a democratically-elected government,” she says. “To not tell the truth to the Canadian people. How can that be right? Which one of us is turning evil? Who are the bad guys?”
“Nobody,” he replies. “But we all have a duty and a role to play.”
She turns away, and he imagines, for miles around, leaves dying, falling from suddenly wilting trees.
Ironhand made a mistake in holding daily meetings, Shieldrock thinks. There’s no time for tensions to dissipate. It casts a pall over the unveiling of the new team uniforms — field green, with a military flavour.
“Kind of an old school, WASPy, Ontario thing, eh?” Boreal asks.
She’s right. The shoulder patch looks more like a coat of arms than anything else.
“It’s the Red Ensign. That should please the Old Man,” Ironhand says.
Boreal taps the patch on her shoulder. “I think we can reach people better when we don’t celebrate stuff that implicitly excludes them.”
“Not just implicitly,” Voyageur says quietly. “The Red Ensign is not a Quebec-friendly image.”
“God, is there anything you people won’t bitch about?” Ironhand asks.
“Well,” Boreal says, “since we’re on the subject, why exactly are we doing an exercise with the Guardians of America?”
Ironhand leans forward, in full talking points mode. “Why? Access to top-flight simulation gear. We… they have a sentient computer running those exercises. How about enhancing operational preparedness for dealing with cross-border crime? Or readiness for future joint operations.”
“Joint operations,” Boreal says, “The Guardians were in Iraq before the optics got too bad.”
“Come on!” Ironhand throws up his huge hands, “Does everything have to be analyzed to death? Do we have to obsess with politics all the time, or can we just do some damn good for a change?”
Boreal stands up. “Excuse me, I need to take a minute.”
Voyageur joins her. “Moi aussi.”
Ironhand waves them away. “Take a minute. Take ten. Then get back here, because we’re going on a training exercise and we need to be at full strength. Understood?”
Shieldrock punches his way through the last of the writhing robotic tentacles. The doorway behind them begins to iris shut, but superhuman strength and impervious stone hands put a stop to that. He steps through into the room beyond.
Devised by a hyper-intelligent AI or not, so far the exercise has been the standard set-up: establishing a scenario, splitting them up, partnering them with members of the other team, and giving them overlapping tasks that contribute to a common victory. Or loss.
To evaluate that, there are cameras everywhere, the flying and crawling drone eyes of the simulator’s computer core.
The small space beyond the door is marked with blue stripes on the walls, behind the climbing ivy. That means it’s one of the simulation’s rare safe spaces. He can’t afford to stay long, but nothing will attack him while he’s here.
And it’s a sign of how much he needs the break, he thinks, that it took him so long to see the obvious. Climbing ivy?
“Hi,” Boreal says, stepping into view. “Are you okay? Where’s Dynamo?”
His stone shoulders shrug. “We got separated.”
To be strictly accurate, the American hero stormed off a huff, a trail of sparks in his wake, when they couldn’t agree which path to take through the maze. But no need to get into that now. The ever-present cameras have surely recorded it for posterity anyway.
“What about Firewind?”
Boreal answers with a shrug of her own. “We got separated.”
But there’s a hint of a lopsided smile playing at the corner of her mouth.
“I was hoping to see you,” she adds. “We should talk.”
“Here? Now?” he looks around the room, and his eyes land on a cluster of drone cameras lying at Boreal’s feet. Shattered, inoperative. And encased in vines.
Her smile is wider now, but tense. Nervous. “It was an accident. You know how unpredictable my powers can be outside of Canada. Whoops.”
He’s seen this before, and eyes her warily. “If you think you might be turning evil…”
“I’m not turning evil. I just want to talk to you. Without anyone spying on us, for once!”
“Okay,” he says, and makes a placating gesture that’s probably undermined by his hands being massive and stony. “Let’s talk.”
She takes a deep breath. “Isn’t this exercise kind of weird?”
He nods. “I think so.”
“I’m just saying — you do?”
“We’re fighting an evil hive mind whose mindless minions are ‘occupying’ a pipeline. It’s not too subtle.”
“They’re trying to normalize the idea of using CanForce against Canadian citizens engaged in peaceful protest,” she says. “That’s what Ironhand is here to do.”
People who are about to turn evil don’t usually worry about the rights of peaceful protesters. “Sometimes,” he says, “people make up odd scenarios just because they’ve already used the obvious ones.”
She bites her lip. “If it was just that… I’m worried. We need to do something.”
“We can talk to the Minister…”
“We can quit,” she says quietly. “All of us.”
He reaches for a response, finding nothing.
“I talked to Voyageur,” she continues. “He doesn’t like the way things are going either.”
“Caribou?” he asks.
She grimaces. “You know him. He just wants to put the beatdown on the bad guys.”
He looks into her eyes. They’re very green. “The professionalism of the civil service…”
Every vine in the room shudders, as though in barely-held-back anger. She points at him. “I don’t understand you. I used to think you were so enlightened and above the fray. But now it seems like you’ll just put up with anything. You have a voice. You have to take a stand.”
“You’re not being neutral. Do you really think that it’s better not to speak out when the government does wrong? ‘Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’ I had to look that up, but at least I bothered.”
“Boreal,” he says. She raises a hand, and the vines all around him twitch and writhe. He falls silent.
“Stone endures. That’s what you always say. Does stone let the politicians destroy this team… our country… and call it being professional?”
Then she’s gone, her face a mask of anger and sadness and disappointment.
He can handle it. Stone endures.
There’s another empty seat around the table, and it was empty enough to start with. The Maple Leaf Table was designed to accommodate twelve heroes — one for each province and territory at the time — but the team hasn’t fielded that many since the budget cuts of the Nineties. Getting CanForce up to full strength was a campaign plank for the government. Shieldrock doesn’t understand how firing Centennial helps achieve that goal, but…
No. Professionalism. Professionalism. Think of a stone, a rock in the wall, serving, playing its part, supporting without ego.
Voyageur keeps glancing, looking guilty, at the seat where Boreal should be. Caribou is oblivious.
“So our budget increase for this fiscal year will give us key resources to innovate while aligning with the government’s strategic goals,” Ironhand says.
His handheld buzzes. He glances at it. Frowns. The screen flickers from PowerPoint to one of the cable news channels.
Shieldrock sits forward. It’s Boreal. In Montreal. Giving a press conference.
The news crawl brings them up to speed.
BOREAL LEAVES CANFORCE — SAYS GOVERNMENT’S IDEOLOGY IS “REAL THREAT TO CANADA”. BOREAL TO PM: I WILL NOT BE SILENT.
Ironhand turns up the sound so they can hear Boreal’s voice.
“…Important to remember, I’m not unique,” she says. “Dedicated public servants across this country are being silenced. I can’t be part of that, not and call myself a hero.”
The news conference looks impromptu. Boreal’s sitting at a plain table, with a woman Shieldrock doesn’t know to one side of her and an empty seat on the other. There’s no fancy backdrop like the one in the media centre downstairs. No bells or whistles.
Just a woman telling the truth, Shieldrock thinks. That’s all. He wonders if, in this age of bells and whistles and online comments, it’ll even matter.
“What about your team-mates on CanForce?” a reporter calls.
“I will…” Shieldrock watches as Boreal pauses, glances at the empty seat next to her. He hears Voyageur takes a breath. “I have great respect for the heroes I worked with for so long. We can disagree about how best to do good in the world but…”
She’s tearing up. “I made my choice,” she finally says. “Others have to make theirs. I can’t allow myself to be silenced, not in the face of a government that wants to muzzle scientists, target charities, politicize the civil service, and blindly follow a right-wing ideology that would be more at home in the Tea Party.”
“Oh, $%$@” Ironhand says.
The little house just outside Ottawa is as unassuming as ever. Shieldrock knocks on the door, gently so as not to smash it to splinters. He only has to wait a moment before the Old Man opens the door.
“Ah, Shieldrock. Come on in. I’ll put up some tea, eh?”
The Red Ensign. Canada’s first and most storied hero. Veteran, founder of CanForce, with a record of service to inspire gratitude and awe. He’s out of costume, an old man serving tea and cookies to a guest, yet still the biggest, most colourful thing in the room.
Shieldrock reverts to his human form — it’s much easier to sit on the couch, and it’s not like the Ensign doesn’t know his secret identity.
“I saw Boreal’s scrum,” the Red Ensign says, “That girl has spirit. Of course, in my day they’d have called her a Commie.”
“They are calling her a Commie. You should read the comments online.”
“Ha. Everything comes around again, doesn’t it? I don’t know, son. It’s gotten ugly out there. I worked with Dief and with Trudeau, and they worked with me. It wasn’t politics all the time.”
Shieldrock thinks of saying how sick he is of politics. But no, not to the Leader Emeritus.
“We talked,” the Ensign says, as they sip mugs of tea, “Centennial and me. He could tell the government wasn’t a fan of his.”
“Why didn’t he tell us?”
“Because it would have been unprofessional, I suppose. But he talked to me. He hoped he still had enough influence to name his successor, see? Put a word in the right ear, trade that for going quietly.” The Ensign takes another sip from the mug. “He wanted it to be you.”
Shieldrock stops himself from spluttering into the tea. “Me?”
The Ensign nods. “He said you, more than anyone, understood how to be both part of a national hero team and a public servant.” He makes a face. “Public servant. Mike Pearson was a civil servant. I always felt that I had a higher calling.”
Shieldrock sits back. “Me. The leader.”
“I said no.”
“They listen to me, you know. They want the Old Man to stay on his pedestal, nice and quiet. It gives me some pull. I vetoed it.”
Shieldrock puts the mug down. “May I ask why?”
“Because a public servant can be a hero, but a hero can’t always only be a public servant. Someday, a hero’s going to have to look those politicians and bureaucrats in the eye and tell them no,” he says, and sets down his own tea. “And I don’t think you’ll ever do that, son.”
The meeting is like a dinner party nobody showed up for. Ironhand, Voyageur, Caribou and Shieldrock each have a quarter of the Maple Leaf Table. If they were going to change anything, Shieldrock thinks, it should be this oversized relic of a team that will never be big enough to need it again. The time of the big hero teams is over, they say. Now it’s all about flexibility and right-sizing. It was in a PowerPoint presentation, so it must be true.
But it’s also true that the roster has gone from being thin, to seeming a bit pathetic.
“We’ve lost people from key positions recently,” Ironhand says, as if in response to what Shieldrock is thinking, although that probably isn’t one of his powers.
Caribou nods, Voyageur shakes his head, both of which are probably meant to indicate agreement.
Lost people, Shieldrock thinks, is a funny way to describe Centennial being fired from the team he used to lead. Or Boreal, driven out by her conscience and policies she couldn’t support.
“Fortunately,” Ironhand goes on, “The government has a plan to engage and retain a new cadre of heroes who will really speak to Canadians. In fact…”
He waves his hand with a flourish, and the doors slide open.
Tarsand oozes into the conference room.
Shieldrock leaps forward. Lands in front of Tarsand, fists raised and ready to deliver a beating that’s been coming for a long, long time.
“Whoa, Shieldrock, stand down!”
He drops his fist. Turns and stares at Ironhand.
“Wouldn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with our new teammate,” the leader says with his made-for-TV smile.
The conversation has picked up from before the disruption, but the scene is very different. They’re in Ironhand’s office. The guest chairs haven’t been delivered yet, so Shieldrock stands in front of the desk. Ironhand sits, leaning forward with an expression of earnest concern.
Behind him stands Tarsand.
“We need to rebuild this team,” Ironhand says. “To do that, we’re going to allow individuals who have erred in the past to redeem themselves through service.”
“Erred? Tarsand is a criminal. He has no regard for human life. He’s a menace to the entire world.”
“Oilsand,” Ironhand replies.
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding about the resource sector and the jobs it creates,” Ironhand says. “Addressing that is a key strategic objective for the government. Hence, our new, re-branded team-mate, the hero of the oilpatch: Oilsand.”
Shieldrock shakes his head. “You’re recruiting a villain to the team because he symbolizes Alberta oil?”
“No! No, no,” Ironhand says. “No. But we need more people. We lost the capability for long-distance environmental manipulation. We need to focus on key strategic priorities in our messaging. This solves all those problems at once.”
Shieldrock closes his eyes. Thinks of the terrified faces of the men, women and children at the CN Tower. “I don’t think the Canadian people would agree,” he says.
“The public loves a good redemption narrative. They’ll eat this up. Anyway, Oilsand has changed, right buddy?”
“Oh yes. I want to do good in the world, to atone,” says Oilsand, flatly.
“This is the directive, Shieldrock,” Ironhand adds. “It’s our job to make it work, right?”
People do change, from hero to villain and back again. Polar King has done it. And there was that time Dr. Chicago became a grim avenger of the night called Blacksocks.
And Ironhand, for all his game-playing and politicking, is right. Shieldrock has registered his objections. Now his duty is to accept the decision and support the government of the day. It’s the role of a professional public servant, and Shieldrock has always tried to be professional.
But people change.
“You’re a human oil slick,” he says.
Ironhand shrugs. “You’re animated stone. Let’s not judge Oilsand for his physical form.”
“I wasn’t speaking to him.”
He turns and walks away. The only sound that breaks the stunned silence behind him is the drip-drip-drip of oil splattering onto Ironhand’s new carpet.
North of Lake Superior, Shieldrock stands among the stones that gave him his name. To one side, on the rocky shore of the lake whose name he doesn’t know, is the canoe that brought him here. The guide, Tom, pushes off and leaves him, as instructed. He didn’t bat an eye when the quiet man with no gear or supplies asked to be abandoned on the shores of this tiny glacial lake — or when that man’s body changed into living stone. Tom just smiles and waves the paddle as he turns the canoe and sets off for home.
The communicator beeps again, he’s lost count of how many times. He feels the need to glance at it, but stops himself. Canada could be in peril, but it’s more likely Ironhand again, demanding that he report in. He sets the device down by the side of the lake. It’ll lead others here eventually, and he doesn’t plan to be nearby when they arrive.
He walks north, up the hill, and thinks about stone. Stone, in the end, has no say in the role it plays. Stone is apolitical. You can use it to build a wall, or smash a skull.
At the top of the hill, he strides among the trees that cover this land — trees he suspects will help and hide him, if he asks. After all, they have a mutual friend.
He puts his hand on the trunk of a tree. “Tell her I’m sorry, but press conferences aren’t my style. My protest was silent, but I hope it’s eloquent enough. And please, tell her she knows where to find me, if she wants to talk.”
Maybe he’s being unprofessional.
But in the end, it seems that after all, he’s not made of stone.