- "Power is everything. That is the only law of the Undernet."
- —"S" speaking to MegaMan.EXE and The Reckless Ten.
The Undernet, known as the Ura Internet (ウラインターネット "Reverse/Backwards" Internet) or UraNet in Japan, sometimes called the "underground world" (ウラの世界 Ura no Sekai), is a vast and twisted network area located in the depths of Cyberspace of the Mega Man Battle Network games.
The Undernet is home to an undefined number of criminal NetNavis and serves as the primary location of the Mega Man Battle Network universe’s black market and underground, with dealers in “wares” who will sell both power-ups and powerful battle chips for already exorbitant prices which only rise. The subject of the Undernet is a social taboo among Civilian Navis, who are referred to as “Topsiders” (and other less-complimentary terms) by its denizens. There has been at least one incident where this taboo was broken – in the lead up to Wily's Cybergedden (Mega Man Battle Network 3), a BBS poster boasts about receiving event tickets through the Undernet; despite the fact that such an acquisition is implied to be illegal, the content of the character's next post is totally empty – following posts on this and other boards heavily suggest that the character was dealt with by the members of the Undernet. However, the exuberant poster returns in the next game.
The Undernet seems to, depending on the incarnation, exist on an entirely different plane of the Cyberworld that has access points to different areas on the Internet, located in the Global, Kotobuki, Netopia (Mega Man Battle Network 2), Beach, Town, Park, Sharo, End, and Sky Areas, undoubtedly in other areas, too. For example, in Battle Network 3, DrillMan.EXE forces his way into a deep sector of the Undernet by drilling into the underlying structure of the Cyberworld after stealing Alpha's capsule – Takamiski's manga, whose version of the Undernet is literally under the main Internet, may coincide with this. Curiously, the Space Center in Sharo has a hidden direct link to the inner Undernet, though to make proper use of the path, MegaMan has to take the long way around, traveling to a hidden sector of the Sharo Network through the NetFrica Network, of all places, and find the representative from Sharo in the Undernet. In Battle Network 5, the UnderNet is accessible through a Message Board in Nebula's hideout.
Worthy of consideration is that the Undernet may be constant in its design throughout the series, as compared to the regular Cyberworld, which evolves between every Battle Network game; the Undernet seems to exist as a more or less massive space that has no regular maintenance or upkeep schedule – it may very well be that MegaMan and Lan never visit the same part of the Undernet twice between games (the one possible exception is in Mega Man Battle Network 4, in which the sixth area of the Undernet is highly reminiscent of an early area of the Undernet from Battle Network 2).
No detailed in-game history was given to the Undernet until the third Battle Network installment.
Surprisingly, the Network was a creation of SciLab (some have called it a weapon), a massive, empty space designed to house the powerful Giga Freeze program – which was to be the last-resort method of defense against Alpha, the embodiment of the prototype Internet that malfunctioned and was sealed into the Guardian program, over which powerful coding was written to form a personal prison for the monster (all three programs, Alpha, Giga Freeze, and Guardian, were designed by none other than Tadashi Hikari). The program, which had the power of shutting down the activity of the whole Internet, was placed in the custody of Serenade.EXE, an immensely powerful NetNavi titled the Lord of the Undernet (or Underking), to grant to the individual who proved “worthy” of bearing it, and it remained in his possession until the Officials (represented by Eugene Chaud) commissioned Lan Hikari and MegaMan.EXE to infiltrate the Undernet's society to approach a Navi called 'S' (Serenade's alias), a Navi who their records identified as the guardian of the Giga Freeze. In the process, they discovered the existence of the Undernet’s server, a room-filling machine located in a secret chamber beneath the Ura Inn in Yoka, maintained by none other than Mamoru Urakawa, a friend of Lan's and MegaMan's who had recently been treated for HBD heart cancer (Mamoru's father, whose current circumstances are unknown, is credited as designing the Undernet, while his mother runs the Ura Inn, and his bellicose aunt and mother's sister, Tamako, runs the gift shop).
Environment and society
Because it was so removed from regular society, the Undernet quickly became a popular hideout and a home for criminal Navis seeking to evade the Cyberworld’s authority – apparently, only select SciLab personnel have appropriate jurisdiction to walk about in the Undernet (such as the NetNavi who is seen wandering the Undernet in Battle Network 3, hunting for Bass.EXE); neither local law enforcement nor military have the authority to enter as such, though they have acted through both Lan and Chaud on various occasions (in addition to figures such as Laika and Baryl, as regards their respective countries). Regardless, it still provides a fairly stable environment for criminal activity, even to the point where, only several months after the WWW's first major failure at the hands of Lan and MegaMan, an old disciple of Wily's, who went by the moniker "Professor," used the vast empty space of the Undernet to house the creation of a reconstructed Life Virus, a monstrous improvement on the beast MegaMan and Lan had defeated earlier. As the authorities have the apparent inability to act there, the Undernet provides the perfect environment for criminals and hackers of all kinds, who create and use powerful viruses for battle and sport (sometimes, the Undernet Navis will enter into battle themselves, often utilizing wide-range bombs and swords), in addition to letting them run wild. These viruses increase in power and ferocity the farther into the Undernet one travels – one's standing in the Undernet depends in part on one's ability to handle the viruses as a measure of his power, which is held in very high regard among the lurkers.
The Undernet residents have also developed loose forms of society and recognition – unless they prefer a lack of company, the criminal residents have been known to associate with each other in gangs without necessarily centralized leadership, which have a strong resemblance to the Yakuza – while not all of them are perhaps organized into a major crime organization (WWW, Gospel, and Nebula notwithstanding), a number of the residents deal in gambling and the black market (as mentioned above).
The denizens of the Undernet give a great deal of weight to power, and as such, organize themselves loosely according to their own strength – the most important of all these systems is called the "Ranking", a name given both to group of Navis who hold specific items of recognition called "Ranks" and the competition into which one enters to earn them. For example, Lan and MegaMan.EXE, while under the aforementioned commission of the Officials, are allowed access into the Ranking upon the defeat of ten other would-be entrants, later dubbed as “the reckless ten.”
The Ranking consists of up to ten NetNavis, each of whom hold a Rank. Each Rank is marked with a number, and they increase in value the closer one gets to Rank 1, with the lowest Rank being Rank 10. Entrants into the ranking must start by attempting to earn Rank 10 and work their way up. A quick note must be observed: the Ranks in and of themselves do not grant power, but measure it – those with higher Ranks are naturally stronger than those below them. Lesser-rank holders have been known to subordinate themselves to higher Rank holders (as in the case of Rank-Owners 4, 5, and 6 working under Rank-Owner 3 to kill MegaMan), and the Rank-Owner is free to dispense with his Rank in any way he sees fit (for example, in order to obtain an early Rank, Lan and MegaMan are sent to find a piece of Origami instead of combat), and may choose to hand it over freely, grant it to one who has passed a test (as in the Origami case described above, though, admittedly, many of these tests are battles), or, in certain cases, to leave with the rank intact even when bested – this last reason has led to the prevailing mentality that a Rank must be obtained and maintained with force.
- Serenade.EXE – Rank-Owner 1 and Underking, known more commonly as 'S'; Serenade has an unranked subordinate, JapanMan.EXE (a warrior Navi who chose to follow Serenade.EXE instead of his original occupation as a SciLab Elite Corps. soldier), and resides in the Secret Area accessible through the Undernet Server.
- MistMan.EXE and BowlMan.EXE, though only one is available to fight depending on the version of the game played - possibly they share Rank 2.
- CopyMan.EXE, a NetNavi with the power to assume the form and power of any NetNavi he sees, and has Ranks 4, 5, and 6 as subordinates. He assumes the form of GutsMan.EXE while interacting with MegaMan (his true form is unknown), and attempts to leave even after his defeat with Rank 3, though he relinquishes it when MegaMan confronts him.
- BeastMan.EXE, reconstructed by Lord Wily to enter the Ranking in his bid to obtain the Giga Freeze program and thus prevent its use – Rank 8.
- MegaMan.EXE, who ends up obtaining all of the Ranks except 4, 5, and 6, which are lost in GutsMan's attack on their owners. It is unknown what happened to the Ranks after Battle Network 3.
The criminal society of the Undernet nurses a festering hatred of the world outside the Undernet and has, in some places, set up guards against "Topside" intruders; for example, MegaMan is refused passage into the UnderNet until he obtains the Tally item to gain access to the Undernet in Battle Network 3 and the Compression program to cross through a compact, hidden section of the Hades Isle Network to enter the Undernet. Even then, he is held in contempt (recognizable as a Topsider) until he gains the "Black Mind" program from Chaud, which generates a disguise sufficient enough to convince the Undernet residents that he is "one of them".
Most of the Navis in the Undernet are of the HeelNavi model, which seems to be favored for its intimidating appearance, though there are some NormalNavi-models who have been known to frequent the area. Most of the Navis in the Undernet are mean-spirited, if not downright cruel or vicious, and they pride themselves on it. Some will outright refuse to talk to anyone they consider unworthy, or even to move out of their way. However, this is not always directly out of malice: some Navis will establish themselves as guards in order to prevent the weak or unwelcome from passing, perhaps out of understanding that the further in one travels, the more dangerous it becomes.
Many of the NetNavis in the Undernet, however, are looking to gain something, and will be much more responsive if they think they can earn it. There are a number of Netshops in the Undernet, which will sell very powerful items like Battle Chips or even HP upgrades, though admittedly for exorbitant prices, or they will engage in trades for items they find valuable; a common artifact is Bug Fragments. A small number of them deal in information or could provide some skill, and can be reached through some form of payment or a demonstration of knowledge.
In both Battle Network 2 and 3, Undernet Navis have been known to gather in a place called the Under Square, the Undernet's rendition of the "Topside's" Squares, and it even contains a BBS, with information pertaining specifically to the Undernet (it is unknown whether or not the Under Square that MegaMan and Lan visit in Battle Network 2 is the same as the one they frequent in Battle Network 3, however – there are several large differences in between games, such as the statue in 3). In later games, it appears the Squares have fallen out of favor (or, at least, MegaMan and Lan's adventures no longer overlap with them), and BBSes begin to pop up in corners of the Undernet that show few signs of life besides viruses.
The Undernet, being so vast and remote, has been found to hold many mysteries; indeed, to Lan and MegaMan, during their earlier adventures, the UnderNet itself was the secret – in Mega Man Battle Network, the Undernet was only fully explorable following the completion of the main storyline. The area has been used as a holdout of various crime organizations – notable are the terrorist organization WWW, the Netmafia Gospel, and the Dark Chip Syndicate Nebula, who have each allotted sectors of the Undernet for their own private use.
Mega Man Battle Network 2
The Undernet hosts the WWW Area, accessible only after the fall of Gospel, where Wily had stationed several lieutenants as guards while he worked to rebuild his organization (which successfully resurfaces in Battle Network 3), PharaohMan.EXE (who has appeared twice before, though his only necessarily canon appearance would be as a storyline boss of Mega Man Network Transmission), NapalmMan.EXE (who would later become an ally in Battle Network 5), and PlanetMan.EXE, the second-in-command. Upon discovering the area, Lan and MegaMan set to work bringing down the organization's holdout, successfully defeating the three Navis within, only to inadvertently discover another presence: lurking about was Bass.EXE, who was hunting down failed clones of himself (which Wily had planned to use to break open Alpha's Guardian program and had convinced Shun Obihiro to create, as he did not have the true Bass' power at his disposal). Bass found himself intrigued by the display of power by the Hikari brothers, and challenged them to a duel near the entrance to the WWW's area. Upon losing, he acknowledged them as "the strong" and gracefully bowed out in an act of distinct contrast to his later appearances.
Mega Man Battle Network 3
In the aftermath of Mega Man Battle Network 3, Lan and MegaMan earn access into the bromidically-named Secret Area, which, among other things, had become home to the viral spawn of the WWW Life Virus and its reconstructed form, the Scuttlest series. They progress through a number of trials to finally discover Serenade, being drawn into battles with DarkMan.EXE, an assassin to whom Serenade has promised an encounter if he can kill 10,000 opponents (MegaMan is the 9,634th, or would have been), and JapanMan.EXE along the way. After MegaMan and Lan encounter and defeat Serenade, who grants them the title of Underking, they discover a Bug Frag trader, which grants them powerful Battle Chips in exchange for deposits of ten Bug Frags at a time; a payment which they think little about, as upon depositing a total of 300, the machine emits the roar of a wolf, and the Hikari Brothers find themselves drawn into a battle with a revived Bass.EXE, who had fused with the Gospel Multibug Organism. Following this, the Hikari Brothers are christened the "Strongest" warriors of all. Following this, the Secret Area was used to host Serenade's Time Trials and housed several Omega-level Navis. Following the defeat of Serenade and Bass, the Hikari brothers gained access to treasures hidden in the depths of the Undernet which could only be accessed with the titles Serenade had bestowed upon them: Underking and Strongest.
Mega Man Battle Network 4
In this game, the Undernet houses at least two of several bases for the Dark Chip Syndicate Nebula, one of which held a DarkChip-infested ProtoMan.EXE in the Blue Moon version of the game and the other that SearchMan.EXE and MegaMan.EXE were commissioned to infiltrate and sabotage in the Red Sun version. Also in the game, Solar Boy Django had crossed dimensions into the Undernet in pursuit of the "Immortal", ShadeMan.EXE, whom he had trapped in a coffin. With the help of MegaMan, who tracked down the Solar Sensor that Django had lost in his encounter with the vampire, and Lan, who provided the sunlight necessary, Django was able to summon and unleash the Pile Driver (a concentrated blast of pure sunlight) upon ShadeMan; in return he bestowed the final version of the Gun del Sol Battle Chip, an ingredient necessary for the Hikari Brothers to summon their own Pile Driver. Also, this section of the Undernet contained a portal to a "Network" called Black Earth, which could only be accessed through the defeat of Bass, who had sealed himself away after imbibing prodigious amounts of Dark Power, and the further presentation of the five "Dark Chips" (as distinct from the chips that would follow in Battle Network 5 and the chip that dragged him into the Dark Power in the first place): Element Dark, Muramasa, Anubis, Black Wing, and either Bug Charge or Bug Curse, depending on the version of the game.
Upon completing those two tasks, MegaMan would be allowed access into the realm of Black Earth, a dark and ominous zone with incredibly powerful enemies, some of whom were Navi-Shadows and Navi-Blacks, the end results of Navis who had succumbed to and been consumed by Dark Power. Curiously, available for discovery is the Life Aura chip, which suggests how Bass had discarded his iconic shield after his discovery of Dark Power. Upon demonstrating the power of many Navis (by having earned their SP-level Battle Chips), MegaMan and Lan were allowed to enter into the innermost area, a massive spiral with a series of mirrors, each of which would release the Dark Soul version of a Navi from whom MegaMan drew the power of a Soul Unison. At the center of the spiral was a warp that transported MegaMan before the "Mirror of Truth", before which the truth of everything was revealed, even the Dark Soul MegaMan had been repressing; upon its revelation, the Mirror ordained that MegaMan battle his Dark Soul, which was now free of his conscience. In the aftermath, MegaMan discovered a being made of light in his own image who, if MegaMan had vanquished his Dark Soul, would grant him the Soul Cleanser Navi Customizer program; if MegaMan had failed to conquer his Dark Soul (i.e. he used a Dark Chip in the battle), the being of light would only demonstrate sorrow.
Mega Man Battle Network 5
The Undernet connects to the Nebula Area, which is home to the "Lord of Chaos". Again, Nebula Area is a network of questionable nature – it is unspecified whether it had grafted to the Undernet or was created by Dr. Regal. The latter option is the most unlikely, as the area, despite the name, is explicitly referred to as Murkland by its primary guardian, a golden program (Mr. Prog-type), who refuses to let MegaMan and Lan access until they have both collected one hundred standard Battle Chips and had vanquished the Nebula Syndicate. The Nebula Area, Murkland (which is also referred to as the "Land of Chaos" by the same guardian), has been known of at least since Battle Network 3, where it was revealed that both Serenade and Bass (declared to both be “denizens of the Dark” by the former) drew power from Murkland, though it is unknown how much of this was related to Regal's Dark Chips, as Serenade professed to be incredibly strong through his capacity for mercy and love, abilities decidedly not among the repertoire of Dark Navis.
Lan proceeded to operate MegaMan and the various members of the Liberation Team they were apart of further into the depths of the Nebula Area, waging war on the risen Darkloids who were now subjects of the Lord of Chaos. Lan and MegaMan would go on to battle the Lord of Chaos, armed with the full power of their allies (again in the form of their SP chips), first doing battle against the Dark Soul variations. The Lord of Chaos would first assume the form of an empowered Nebula Grey, who in later encounters assumed an even more powerful likeness of Nebula Grey, Bass, or even MegaMan Dark Soul. Once MegaMan and Lan defeated the Lord of Chaos in his Bass form, the real Bass would quietly wait in his XX form for MegaMan to engage in battle with him. Bass would also appear if MegaMan had assumed Bass Cross form, seeking to establish his superiority as he had failed to do in Oran.
MegaMan and Lan discover another unexplored zone - Undernet Zero - where they encountered a large obelisk, which broke apart as a reaction to their presence, revealing none other than Bass. After another battle, Bass departs, leaving behind the Bat Key, which the brothers use at a door they found in another sector of the Undernet. Through the door, they discover the Immortal Area, where they encountered a very threatening presence, The Count of Groundsoaking Blood, who immediately attacks them. When the battle turns in the Count's favor, MegaMan was saved by the timely appearance of Django, who runs down the Count in his Coffin Bike, sending him running. As Django needed to remain present to hold off the Count in the event of his return, he asked the Hikari Brothers to go rescue Master Otenko, who the Count imprisoned in a sector of Undernet Zero. Quickly freeing the sun spirit, MegaMan returned to find Django and Otenko facing down the Count – in order to buy them the proper time to summon a proper Pile Driver, MegaMan engaged the weakened Count, and shared the finishing blow with Django, destroying the Immortal. Grateful, MegaMan, Lan, Django, and Otenko all exchanged farewells, and the latter pair left - in the place where they vanished was Chip Data for none other than the Count himself.
Further exploration led the brothers into the Graveyard zone, where they encountered what appeared to be tombstones – and each one was marked with the name of a Navi from their past. Further in, they discovered even more tombstones, though these were marked not only with the names of their most recent enemies, but their most recent allies (later, the tombs of these enemies would begin to glow, summoning their Revived – RV– versions).
Near the end, they encountered a ramp, at the top of which they found another obelisk which they again disturb. Bass appears a second time, though in the aftermath of the ensuing battle, he couldn't help but notice the power of the Cyber-Beast MegaMan had imbibed. Musing to himself, Bass left; his plans would eventually come to fruition in the world of the Underground, a zone distinct, though not entirely different, from the Undernet, where the two Cyber Beasts had once been sealed. MegaMan would later encounter him and be drawn into battle against not only the image of the beast within him, but the full power of Bass complemented by the opposite beast.
The Undernet, one of the largest networks known to exist, with usually 5 or more areas connected sometimes like a maze with exits and entrances to several areas at same time besides the main entrance, the undernet contains many dark and macabre elements in its appearance, possibly due to a lack of upkeep (though, as a pet project of SciLab, this is unlikely), or perhaps as an attempt to ward off the faint of heart.
The design of known areas of the Undernet varies wildly between games, though it is generally notable for its ominous design and the presence of higher-leveled monsters, along with the "TV-snow" background, possibly to represent the lack of communication with the adjacent areas, the near chaotic anarchy the Undernet is infamous for, and possibly to highlight its exclusive underground nature and cyber renegade feel. Undernet Area 2 from Mega Man Battle Network 2 and Area 6 from Mega Man Battle Network 4 have almost identical layouts, but with a couple of platforms added or changed and different tile sets.
- Mega Man Battle Network: Unique to this installment, the Undernet falls into the same design pattern as the rest of the Cyberworld, its bright colors beguiling its dangerous nature, highly powerful viruses and the possibility of becoming lost in its depths. Interestingly, the Undernet is noticeably unexplorable until after vanquishing the Life Virus.
- Mega Man Network Transmission: Technically situated between Battle Network and its sequel, this instance/area of the Undernet consists of a super-structure of towers and ladders dark in color scheme, though lacking the particularly macabre elements of later installations. The tower and wall-structures are rimmed with a series of neon lines, and in the background, giant purple rings cycle about on an invisible axis. This particular section of the Undernet seems dedicated solely to the location of the Life Virus R, and as such is guarded by Scuttle-family viruses and other defenses instituted by the Professor.
- Mega Man Battle Network 2: The Undernet is given its own unique distinction in this game, which would later serve as the template for the rest of the franchise. The Undernet is predominantly dark in this game, its pitch-black panels lined with an intense neon glow that varies between areas. This is the first Undernet showing the "TV-snow" background that will repeat through the next sequels's.
- Mega Man Battle Network 3: This variation of the Undernet distinguishes it from it contemporaries by generating a feeling of decay. This Undernet in particular is notable for its paths being pale panels linked in a kind of chain by some strange protrusions lining the pathway. These pathways were notable for ending suddenly, their panels just dropping into oblivion below. Also notable is the background of this installation, which consists primarily of TV "snow". In the fourth area of this Undernet exists a tower with no known function or purpose.
- Mega Man Battle Network 4: This game extended a certain aura of "evil" to the Undernet. Instead of an ambiance of darkness or decay, this incarnation of the Undernet looked demonic. The entrance from Sharo have Navis pass through a bizarre, monstrous gate, and the pathways, colored predominantly red and orange in contrast with the dark background, are even lined with fangs.
- Mega Man Battle Network 5: This version was a development on the ideas expressed in the fourth game, developed almost into a kind of Cyber-Hell. The iron-edged panels were often cracked, and a blood like liquid would leak across the floor. Notably, this section of the Undernet contained strange Cyber-Ghosts, agitated by Nebula's activities in the area - when they came across MegaMan, they would harry and haunt him, making Operation difficult.
- Mega Man Battle Network 6: This variation of the Undernet, while as dark as its predecessors, abandoned the hellish imagery of 4 and 5, instead opting for something far more occult and cabalistic. The walkways are lined with torches and decorated with what look to be pairs of fangs. The panels tend to be red with strange white lines across them that may attempt to invoke a play of muscle and bone upon one another. This Undernet is unique in that it is accessible as early as Green Town (though entrance is heavily discouraged to anyone who is not an expert), and also in that it has the only area known as Undernet Zero. Undernet Zero consists of two halves of a single area that was torn asunder at some unspecified time, perhaps during the fight of the Cybeasts.Much to some player's contradictions, this area is only 2 areas in length, being one of the smallest areas, 3 areas-long if counting the Zero-area, making it the shortest Undernet in the whole serie.
- Graveyard area: Later in the sixth game and with a certain number of Battle Chips in the library, the player gains access to the Graveyard area, what seems similar to the undernet before, bears an extreme ominous and tragic theme, with the panels changing from red to a sick greenish color, the soundtrack changes to a sad tune while some kind of fog is seen suspended in the air, scattered through this area, there is several Japanese tombstones with the name of each Navi in the game (including MegaMan himself), this area holds the second fight against Bass and a dealer selling a Giga Chip.
The Undernet is rarely seen and mentioned in the anime. Unlike the game version, the Undernet resembles a void-like zone rather than a network proper. Forte (Bass) describes it as an "electronic graveyard", as data remnants can be seen floating around.
The Undernet also contains the Wily Program, which contains a beast known as Nebula Grey. It is revealed that Dr. Regal discovered the program after he and LaserMan were thrown in after being destroyed by R-Rockman.
The Undernet, while originally mentioned to be a massive network space, seems to have severely exceeded the original limits of its programming. At some point following Wily's Cybergeddon ambitions, the nature of the Undernet experienced a fundamental change - apparently allowing it to form some sort of inter-dimensional nexus. This can be demonstrated in a number of events in the latter half of the series, notably in the appearances of Solar Boy Django, Master Otenko, and even The Count of Groundsoaking Blood.
Likewise, ShadeMan.EXE has used this quality of the Undernet to escape the Battle Network Cyberworld into the world of Boktai - MegaMan followed him, though was unable to materialize as ShadeMan had by using the Dark Power. Django and Otenko eventually drove ShadeMan back and eventually saw MegaMan return as well, along with his PET.
When The Count fled into the Undernet in Mega Man Battle Network 6 (this event was removed from Western releases), he trapped Otenko deep within it, only to be defeated when MegaMan and Django joined forces a third time.
No known mention of the Undernet occurs in the Mega Man Star Force series, though the Noise Wave bears extreme resemblance to the undernet in Battle Network 2, and bears the same role in the storyline.
- The Undernet seems to be similar to the real-world deep web or Darknet, being unreachable or extremely obscure places on the internet by various factors, including being phased out from search engines or hosted on private networks and proxies. Though such a level of accessibility allows privacy and concealment to only those interested, the term has gained association with sites and social hubs notorious for taking advantage of this trait to engage freely in underground or illegal activities.