capnnerefir's Rewrite

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capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby capnnerefir » Mon Apr 13, 2009 9:15 am

WARNING

This is probably the worst bit of fanfiction I ever wrote. I post this here mainly because I think that my fans will find it interesting. Do not read this expecting it to be up to my usual standard. There's a reason I scrapped this. I post this purely as an academic curiosity piece.



This was the first full-length fanfiction book I ever wrote. I did all of it in one sitting after 14 consecutive hours of writing. This is a re-write of book 54. Basically, this is how it could have ended with one minor change. I won't give my usual admonition to enjoy it or go to hell, as I myself am not a great fan of it. Anyhow, those of you who are a fan of my series might find this interesting. And later, we can all celebrate that I'm just a slightly better writer now.
b :mrgreen: d



Chapter 1
My name is Rachel.
Rachel Berenson. I’m sixteen now and to be honest, I didn’t think I’d live this long. I started fighting in this war when I was thirteen and it’s a miracle I’m still alive. I live in a town near Santa Barbara; it isn’t a place you’d have heard of.
It was our final battle. We had infiltrated the Yeerk Pool ship and taken it over. But someone needed to take out the Blade ship or we could still end up dead. That someone was me, of course.
I heard Jake give the order. <Rachel…Go.>
Visser One looked on into the holographic viewer, gazing with all four eyes upon Tom and his selected group of loyalists. They were engaged in the banter of betrayer versus betrayed.
Jake, too watched the screen. He expected to see me grow from the floor, morph into a bear and…do what had to be done to Tom.
Behind Jake stood an Andalite, Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. Ax began to shrink. Soon, Jake stood before not an Andalite but a human girl. Me.
<Rachel? What’s going on? Where’s Ax?>
I looked to the screen, where the Andalite had just grown from a flea.
Ax leapt forward, past startled Yeerks. They gaped at him for a moment. By that time, he had scythed his tailblade down and taken out the Blade ship’s weapons’ controls. Now they couldn’t fire on us. Of course, thanks to Erek, we couldn’t fire on them, either.
The flat of the Andalite’s tail hit Tom in the side of the head. Jake’s brother fell to the ground. Ax stepped away from him, toward a rapidly morphing Yeerk. He took out something that could have been half-cheetah. He also killed a half-morphed wolf.
By that time, though, he was faced with a polar bear, two lionesses, and a buffalo. Ax knew better than most the power of these animals. But he took his stance, raised his tail above his head, and met them without fear.
The polar bear came first. It lunged forward and raised a huge arm. Only to see the arm severed at the shoulder. Its wounded bulk came on, but Ax sidestepped it in time to avoid being crushed. A quick backwards dart of his tail stabbed the bear in the spine, probably paralyzing it.
The bear fell to the floor and began to shrink. I didn’t need to tell Ax that, of course. He saw it happening but he had bigger problems on his hands at the moment.
The two lionesses lunged at him. Ax dodged the first one and took the other with a snap of his tailblade. The wounded animal gave a cry like…well, like a wounded animal. Then, the buffalo charged.
Ax was fast, but not fast enough. The buffalo clipped his leg and sent him to the ground, spinning. His tail was pinned under him. The lionesses closed in around him along with the buffalo, and the other Controller was rapidly morphing back into a polar bear.
Ax could have tried to morph to something else, but he would have been killed before he was done. He wanted to die on his own body. And that is what he did. I watched as the buffalo plowed into him, bashing him up against the wall, breaking all of his ribs and probably puncturing a heart.
The lionesses closed in next. One stood on his tail so that Ax couldn’t raise it in his own defense. The other lioness tore at his slender chest with sharp claws. I don’t know when Ax died except that it was some time during that attack.
I turned away from the hologram then. There was nothing more to watch, nothing more for me to do. I was helpless as the Blade Ship turned and flew away into space with us unable to give chase.
Visser One turned to me with all four eyes. <I suppose it is done now,> he sighed. <Congratulations, Animorphs. It seems that you have done what three generations of Andalite warriors could not: you stooped the Yeerks.>
“Shut up,” Jake, now human, snapped. “Get out of Alloran’s head right now or I’ll blow you out. Got it?” Realizing that Jake meant it and that he would carry out on his threat without any hesitation, Visser One shut up and complied real fast. Soon, our greatest foe was only a slug in a suitcase. Alloran was just an unconscious Andalite on the floor.
Jake turned to me. “What happened, Rachel? Why did you run from your duty like that?
I could feel the tears in my eyes. “I didn’t run, Jake. I didn’t have a choice. After you told me what I had to do, I went to Ax. There were some things I needed to tell Tobias, but if I told him, he’d know that I wouldn’t be coming back and he’d have stopped me. So I told Ax instead because I figured that if anyone could tell Tobias what I wanted him to hear, it was Ax.”
I looked at Tobias. He had morphed to his human form. He was crying silently. Understandable. Ax was his best friend, his brother. I held on to Tobias, as much for his sake as my own.
“I didn’t tell Ax what I had to do. He realized that, whatever it was, I probably wouldn’t be coming back. He said he couldn’t let me do it. He threatened to knock me unconscious and leave me in the woods so I’d miss the mission. He wouldn’t let me go.”
“Why?” Tobias asked. It surprised me that he was speaking. “To do something like that… It’s severely damaging to his honor. It’s hard to believe…”
“He did it for you,” I almost shouted at him. “He said he didn’t care about his honor. He’d rather die than be dishonored, and he’d rather be dishonored than see you hurt.”
Jake spoke. “But I need him to make sure the Andalites don’t fry Earth. He knew that. Why—”
“I asked him that, too. His words were, ‘I would rather destroy both our worlds than my shorm.’” I turned to Tobias. “He knew what my death would do to you. He couldn’t go through with it. He sacrificed himself for us.”
Tobias nodded. “Why the deception, though?”
I shook my head. “My idea. I didn’t know what you all would do if you knew. We didn’t want to risk the mission.”
“The two of you might have damned all of Earth,” Jake said. He shook his head. “I can’t be angry you’re alive, Rachel, but this…why didn’t you just tell me?”
“I didn’t know what you’d do,” I answered. “I thought you might try to stop us. You’ve been cold with this last strike. I understand that and respect it. You did what you had to do to save the world. So did I.”
“This is all very touching,” Marco said, “But we’ve got a problem, here. The Andalites will fry us.”
Tobias shook his head. “No. I’m an Andalite.” We all just looked at him. He shrugged. “I mean, I acquired Ax. I can pass for him. At least long enough to get the Andalites on the ship. When they get here, the jig’ll be up.”
Jake nodded. I could see the plan forming in his eyes. “Okay. Yeah, morph Ax. There’s still a way out of this. It’ll all be over soon, guys. Just one last thing to do.”

Chapter 2

<This is Captain-Prince Asculan-Semitur-Langor, of the Dome Ship Elfangor,> came a sudden thought-speak voice. It was a broadcast from the Andalite fleet. We could see them in the viewscreens; we hadn’t been looking very hard, though. <Surrender now.>
I wanted to ask “Or what?” but didn’t. They thought we were the Yeerks, of course. Tobias disengaged form me and morphed. A time ago, he had acquired Ax.
Tobias stepped before the viewscreen. <This is Tobias-Sirinial-Fangor, son of Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul. I am very pleased you have come, Captain-Prince, though I wish you had been here several minutes earlier. You would have been able to watch the end of the Yeerk threat to the planet Earth.>
<What are you talking about? Do you think us foolish enough to fall for this trick? You are obviously Yeerks. Elfangor had no son.>
<You are wrong there, Captain-Prince.>
<This is a Yeerk trick. You are a Controller.>
<There are no longer any Andalite Controllers in the galaxy,> Tobias answered. <But this is more of a discussion we should have in person. Would you like to come aboard or would you rather we come to you?>
<What is this? Do you think me a fool?>
<Not at the moment, but I soon will if you don’t decide. We are not Yeerks, Captain. The Yeerks have been defeated. We have captured their pool ship and destroyed their only ground-based Yeerk Pool. All the Yeerks will be dead within three days. If you would only come here, we would be more than happy to turn this ship over to you.>
We could see the captain weakening. Tobias added, <When you come near, all the Bug Fighters will self destruct. We have no power to our shields, weapons, or engines. We will be totally helpless. Even if this was a trap, we could never defeat the Andalites.>
That did it. Not only did it make sense, it played to their sense of arrogance. We had them. Jake turned to Tobias. “Tobias, I’ll need you to pretend to be the leader. They’ll never agree to commands from a human. They just might listen to an Andalite. Erek?”
The Chee appeared. “More blackmail, Jake?”
“No. I just want you to open a channel to whatever passes on the Andalite world for T.V. I want the civilians to see this. Then disappear. I don’t think we’ll be needing you again.”
Erek turned to go. Jake spoke again. “Erek? I’m sorry about what I had to do.”
“I hope so,” Erek answered as he left.
The Andalites arrived shortly after that. They were surprised that the free Hork-Bajir led them to us. They were shocked to find four humans with Tobias. They were appalled to find my hand in his.
<What is the meaning of this!?> Asculan demanded.
Tobias shrugged. Not an Andalite gesture. <What it looks like. We are not Yeerks, Captain-Prince Asculan. You know that Yeerks do not have hearts. You have no doubt received information about the situation on Earth. You know about the humans who have fought with us against the invaders.>
<I have. I was also told there was only one Andalite on Earth. An Andalite by the name of Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill.>
Tobias nodded. <He was among us. He…> his stalk eye drooped. I wondered just how much of his reactions were subconscious. <He has passed on.>
<And yet here is another Andalite. A suspicious occurrence.>
<Allow me to explain,> Tobias began. None of us had a lie ready. I hoped it would be a good one. <We feared that our communication would be monitored by the Yeerks. Aximili feared to tell them that I was on this planet. All know of the great hatred between my father and the Abomination. If the Abomination knew I lived, he would stop at nothing to kill me. So we lied.>
Asculan bobbed his tailblade. I think it was an Andalite nod. The lie made sense. I noticed that Asculan’s only stalk eye kept glancing at our hands. <I see you have become quite attached to these humans. I understand that the holding of hands is a sign of affection amongst humans.>
Tobias lifted our entwined hands. <This is hardly a military concern, Captain-Prince.>
Asculan sighed. <No, I suppose not. Why do you speak, Tobias? I was told the leader of your band was a human named Jake.>
Tobias nodded. <That is what we said. Again, we feared the Yeerks would overhear our communication, so we lied once more,> he answered, lying once more. Things were going well.
<I imagine there is much we need to discuss,> Asculan said. It was the perfect cue.
Tobias nodded once again. <Several things. Firstly, I will need access to the morphing technology.>
<For what purpose?> Asculan demanded. <You know the law of Seerow’s Kindness.>
<Things end at the beginning, Captain-Prince. Seerow’s Kindness began this war and it is only his kindness that can end it. We promised to make the morphing technology available to the Yeerks and Taxxons.>
<YOU WHAT!?> Asculan roared. His tailblade quivered.
<It is the only way to peace, Captain-Prince. The Yeerks we have imprisoned have agreed to become nothlits in their natural forms. They will be Yeerks no longer. The Taxxons, as well, wish to be free of themselves.>
<Out of the question.>
<You would throw away peace?> Tobias asked. His tone was coy. Sly. He was baiting the captain.
<Peace? If we give them the morphing power, what then, aristh? What happens next?>
<They cease to be Yeerks. The Taxxons cease to be Taxxons. Our enemies cease to be themselves.>
<Mark my words, Tobias. The Yeerks will change from slavers to conquerors.>
<Some would try, true. But many want peace as much as we do. Those in this ship, at least.>
<How can you be so sure?>
<Because those who did not were in the Blade Ship. These Yeerks surrendered, trusting to the honor of the Andalite people. Would you throw away the honor of the entire race?>
<The Andalite people will not know what you have promised, aristh. These Yeerks will be killed. And we shall never speak of this again. Is that clear?>
<All too clear, Captain-Prince Asculan-Semitur-Langor, of the Dome Ship Elfangor. You have made your feelings clear to the Andalite people, too.>
<What are you babbling about?>
<Did I forget to tell you? All Andalites on the homeworld are watching our meeting right now. Watching you throw away the honor of their race. Perhaps you would wish to reconsider your answer?>
Asculan looked around, afraid. <I will convene in my Dome Ship. You will be given your answer soon.>

Chapter 3

The answer was that we would be given a morphing cube to use as we willed. It would cost us the ship, which we had already agreed to give them. Sooner or later, we’d tell the Andalites they’d been duped. Tobias was no Andalite and wasn’t our leader. We’d tell them soon. Right after we got the cube.
Once we go the cube, we called the President and told him that the war was over. We called the governor and told her the same thing. Since our homes had been destroyed by the Yeerks, she offered us the use of her mansion. She’s a cool lady, the governor.
We landed outside of the governor’s mansion. The Andalites would take the ship. Our families met us there. We positioned ourselves carefully when we went to leave the ship. Marco pointed out that there would be a lot of pictures, and one of us would probably be the symbol of the end of the war.
Jake stood a little in front of us. Tobias and I stood behind him. Next to Tobias was Marco. Cassie was next to me. The five Animorphs, the ones who had walked through the construction site that night. I couldn’t believe we were all together at the end, just like we were at the beginning.
I still held Tobias’s hand. After what had happened, I was almost afraid that he’d disappear if I let go of him. Cameras flashed as we walked down the ramp. It felt like slow motion. Finally, the war was over.
But what was I going to do now?
I didn’t care at the moment. I saw our families there. Jake broke rank and ran into his parents’ arms. They were despondent that Tom was gone, but overjoyed that Jake was safe. Jake felt the same way. Taking their cue form Jake, Marco and Cassie ran to their parents.
I scanned the crowd. My mother and sisters were in the front. And with them was my father. I couldn’t help myself. I threw myself into his arms and hugged him close. I had assumed he was dead. We hadn’t been able to save him when we went into hiding.
I lost myself for a moment in the happiness. I turned and looked for Tobias. I saw his back, walking away form us. Walking alone. I turned to my mother. “Where’s Loren?” I asked her. Loren was Tobias’ mother.
“Loren…she said you needed a diversion. The Yeerks wouldn’t buy the attack unless they saw some things. Like a red tailed hawk in the sky.”
“What are you saying, mom?” I demanded. I new what she was saying. I didn’t want to believe it.
“She morphed Tobias and kept air cover. The ship saw her. They thought she was her son. They….”
No. I couldn’t believe it. Loren was dead. Ax was dead. They were all the family Tobias had. Both taken away from him by the Yeerks in less than an hour.
I looked around frantically. I couldn’t see him anywhere. I was torn. Should I go and look for him or stay with my family? Both needed me.
I saw Tobias come down the ramp with the Hork-Bajir. They carried several of their dead. One I recognized. Jara Hamee, the first free Hork-Bajir. Tobias’ friend. Another person close to him who was now dead at Yeerk hands.
The Hork-Bajir formed a circle around their dead. Tobias and Toby were reciting something. I couldn’t hear the words but I guessed it was some sort of funeral rite.
Once the rite was done, he turned towards the mansion. I his hand was a briefcase. The briefcase we had put Visser One in. I didn’t know what he’d do with the visser. None of us did. I’m pretty sure we all hoped two things. First, that he wouldn’t kill the Yeerk. It would be murder, a revenge killing. Our second hope was that he would do it. I know that even Cassie wished that, even if it was just a whisper in her heart.
I couldn’t stop looking at Tobias as the Hork-Bajir left to go to their valley and bury their dead. He stood there, alone against a night-black alien ship. I realized then that, in some ways, he was no different form the kid he was when this all started.
He was still lost, alone, looking for a place to belong. I wanted to run to him. I was going to. But he turned and walked for the governor’s mansion. Maybe he just needed to be alone. He was used to it; needed it, sometimes.
I turned back to my family. My dad had a weird smile on his face. “What?” I asked him.
“What’s his name?” he answered, looking at Tobias.
“Now Dan, it’s nothing like that,” my mom said. “He’s a red tailed hawk. She’s got more sense than that.”
My mom was overestimating my lack of sense. Again. It was almost like the war never happened.

Chapter 4
TOBIAS

I was alone in my room of the governor’s mansion. No, not completely. At my feet was the case with Visser One. Should I do it? I wondered. No, probably not. It was a terrible idea. But it was something I had to do.
I unlatched the case. I picked the Yeerk up in my hands. Such a small thing to have caused so much death. It would be so easy to end his life here. I could just twist my hands and break him in two.
Instead, I raised the Yeerk to my ear. I don’t know what was going through his mind as he felt my ear, but I knew he wouldn’t let the opportunity pass. Within moments, Visser One was inside of me. I had enslaved myself to the monster who had killed my family.
He was silent in my head for a long time. No doubt he was shocked at what I had done. He was already reading the reasons behind it in my memory.
<I want you to understand,> I said to him. I knew he knew that. Just like he knew it wouldn’t stop me from telling him with my own words.
<I want you to understand me. I am the end result of your destruction, Yeerk. I am where all the fear and pain and death have led you. I am your creation. But I want to understand you, too.>
<Tobias…what are you? I…I cannot access your memories. Something is blocking me.>
<Elfangor,> I answered. <Utzum.>
<Ah. That might have something to do with it. Alloran often spoke of such things.>
<Interesting, that you cannot access my memories,> I said to him. So I showed him my life, from my earliest memories. I don’t know how long it took. I didn’t try to move; neither did he. We sat on the edge of the bed until he knew my whole life.
He was speechless. <You have led a very hard life, son of Elfangor,> he finally answered me. <But why show me such things? Do you expect my sympathy?>
<In a way, yes. I was reading your mind, too, Esplin. I know all about you, now. I understand. You and I were so much alike, before this all began.>
<Once, yes, that was true. And now, we are more alike than you would care to admit.>
<We are predators, you and I. And I was the superior.>
<Why do you show me these things, hawk?>
He had learned enough not to call me human. <Because the burden falls to me. By Andalite honor, I must avenge my father. You will die in my head, Yeerk. But I need to know once and for all whether I am like you or not.>
<And do you know?>
I nodded. Of my own free will. So he wasn’t controlling my body. He wasn’t even trying. He had learned better. <Yes, I know.>
<And are you?>
< In many ways, yes. But in other ways, I am different.>
<In what ways, Tobias?>
I began to morph to human. I had demorphed while I showed Esplin my memories so as not to be stuck in morph. “In the ways that count.”
<Will you let me die?> he asked. <If you asked it, you could get a Kandrona for me. I could survive. You could have mercy. I have seen how much you value mercy. It is a human concept and you hold on to those whenever you can. What would Elfangor do?>
I laughed. “I have no idea, Esplin. You knew him better than I. And I knew you better than I know him. When did you last feed, Esplin?”
<Shortly before the Pool Ship took off. I have a little over two days to live.>
I nodded. “Then I have two days to decide.”

Chapter 5
TOBIAS

I walked out into the hallway. On my way out, I almost ran straight into some guy. He looked vaguely familiar. Blonde hair, tall, athletic build…Rachel’s father, I realized.
<Ah, Rachel. You care deeply for her, I sense,> Esplin said. <Which one was she?>
<The grizzly,> I answered.
He was floored. <A female? But she was so fierce!>
<Hell hath no fury…> I began. I stopped because Dan was speaking to me.
“Tobias, right?” he asked.
I nodded. “Yeah. You’re Rachel’s father?”
It was his turn to nod. “Hey,” he said, “could you do me a small favor?”
“What?”
“You know my daughter Sara? Could you tell her a bedtime story for me?”
“Why me?” I asked.
He shrugged. “I just want to see how you handle children.”
Okay, that’s odd, I thought.
Esplin laughed in my head. <Don’t you see it? He knows how you feel for his daughter and wishes to see if you could raise your own young. Tell this story well and you’ll certainly have his aid in any future plans.>
Love advice from a Yeerk? I’d have to be crazy to take it. <You’re crazy by putting me in your head, son of Elfangor. But I don’t think of this as love. It is a struggle, a battle. And I want to help you win.>
“Sure, I’ll do it,” I said to Dan. I must have been nuts. He pointed to Sara’s room. I opened the door to find Sara, Jordan, and Rachel all sitting there together.
Rachel raised an eyebrow. “Came to hear a bedtime story?” she asked.
I shook my head. “Came to tell one. Your father had something to do, I guess.”
Rachel snuggled herself beneath the covers. “Go on, then.”
For a moment, I just starred at them. I didn’t know any bedtime stories. No one had ever told me any.
<There was once a young prince,> Esplin began in my head.
If he wasn’t inside of me, I would have given him the strangest look he ever got. <Yeerks have bedtime stories?>
<Just this one. I have changed the ending; you will understand why when you get to it.>
I sighed in my head and said what Esplin told me to say. Of course, I adapted it for humans. “There was once a young prince. His kingdom was large and rich. He had everything he could ever want. More, even. He never ran out of food or friendship. His people were healthy and strong.
“The prince and his people traveled across great distances and visited many lands. They met many different people in distant villages. One day, the prince came across a group of villagers.
“They lived in mud huts. They had no books, no music, no art. They were all sickly. Very few could walk or speak or even see. They had very little food, so even those who could leave the village couldn’t get far. They would starve and die very quickly.
“The prince’s people passed this village by. They ignored the villagers because the villagers were different form themselves. They thought they were better than the villagers because they were healthy and strong.
“The prince knew better. He saw that the villagers were intelligent. They were eager to learn. They wanted to travel the world and see the distant lands. They wanted to have food. Above all, they wanted to be able to see and walk and play.
“The prince helped the villagers, even though his people raged against him for doing it. The prince was a kind hearted man. He helped to raise them out of their mud huts. He made them strong and proud.
“The villagers soon spread to other villages. They captured the peoples of these lands and forced them to work for the villagers or they would be killed.
“The prince’s people were greatly angered at the villagers. They began a great and terrible war that spread all across the land. The villagers and the prince’s people fought one another and many innocent people died.
“The villagers hated the prince’s people for wanting them to be crippled, starving, and ignorant forever. The prince’s people hated the villagers for using their gifts to enslave others.
“In the end, their war reached a small, unimportant land of primitive people almost as ignorant as the villagers had been when they began their war.
“For a long time, the villagers fought these primitives. In the end, the primitives triumphed over the villagers. The villagers were forced back into their mud huts and left to starve if they ever left. Their slaves were freed and sent home. By the end, both sides had forgotten the generosity that had caused this to begin in the first place. They had forgotten that they were once friends.”
I was silent. Sara looked like she was almost asleep. Still, she asked, “What happened to the prince?”
I gave Esplin’s answer. “He was killed by the villagers. They did not realize it was him when they killed him or they would never have done it. They considered him a friend; the only good man in his whole kingdom.”
“What was the prince’s name?” she asked.
I didn’t need Esplin to tell me the answer. “Seerow.”

Chapter 6
TOBIAS

Rachel slid out of bed and followed me into the hall. “Was that the story of the Yeerk war?” she asked quietly.
“Do you know another Prince Seerow?” I answered.
She shook her head. “It almost sounded like you felt sorry for the Yeerks.”
“In a way, I do. I feel sorry for everyone. Long ago, all the Yeerks wanted, some of them at least, was to be just like everyone else. They wanted to walk, to see, to be whole. All the Andalites wanted was a friend. I guess I can sympathize with both sides.”
She nodded. “Are you going to be okay?” she asked quietly. “With Loren and Ax and all, I mean.” An odd change of topic.
I shook my head. “Are any of us going to be okay? Maybe Marco. He got his family back. And maybe Cassie, since she didn’t do too much. But you, Jake, and me? I doubt we’ll ever be fixed.”
She was quiet for a few moments. Then, “Tobias, do you want me to stay with you tonight?”
I raised an eyebrow. “I’m still a hawk, Rachel. Unless you intend to sleep on a perch, it won’t work that well.”
“Why be a hawk?” she answered. “The war’s over, Tobias. You don’t have to fight anymore. You can be human and we can be…”
I nodded. “Soon,” I promised.
She seemed suddenly angry. “Don’t tell me soon, Tobias. Tell me a day. I’ve put up with the excuses because of the war, but there’s no excuse now. You’re either hawk or human. Either you’re with me or you’re alone. I can’t keep living like this. Not any more. Not now that we don’t have to. You’re a hawk or a human, and I can’t have a life with a hawk.”
She turned to go. “Tomorrow,” I promised. “You’re right. You deserve a human. I’ll take my final flight tomorrow and then I’ll be human forever.”
She smiled at me. “I knew that would get you.” Then she was off to bed. It was hard for me not to follow her.
Esplin sighed in my head. <Ah… I remember when I fell in love.>
<WHAT!?!?!?>
<With the Andalite race, of course,> he added. I calmed down a bit. That made a lot more sense. <They were so strong, so powerful, so healthy. I swore that one day, they would be mine. I got what I loved, Tobias. I hope you do the same.>
It was weird to go to sleep with Esplin in my head. I sank my talons into the wood at the foot of the bed. It was old, soft, and good for my talons. The last bed I’d have as a bird. I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
I was dreaming. I could feel the night air on my face. It was like I stood in space. There were sounds…car horns. What? I opened my eyes.
I was standing on the roof of the governor’s mansion. I was about forty feet up. In my human form. My arms were spread wide, my feet halfway over the edge. I almost sleepwalked right off the building! I could have been killed.
I stepped back. I tried to. My body didn’t obey me. What? It couldn’t be, could it?
Esplin laughed in my head. <So easy. So very, very easy. You are your father’s son, Tobias, the son of all Andalites. You wanted a friend, someone who understood you. Your family is dead and you had no one. You thought I could be that person, at least for a day or two. Fool!
<You truly believed that your father’s memories shielded your own. You thought I could not control you. In your idiocy, you believed I was your friend.>
<What are you doing, Esplin?> I demanded.
<My name is Visser One. I lied about when I last fed, Tobias. It was two days ago. I will die very soon, of Kandrona starvation. We both know the Andalites would never give you a Kandrona; they’d probably kill you just for asking.>
<But why are we up here?>
<Because I have unfinished business. I killed Elfangor. I killed his wife and brother. And now I’ll kill his son. I will die but not without the blood of Elfangor on my tailblade.>
<You’re making a mistake, Esplin.> A lame thing to say. He knew I had nothing planned. How could I have been so stupid!?
<Because in the end, Tobias, you are nothing more than a lost, stupid, scared child. I know that because this is the end, and it is such because you are a lost, stupid child. But you are your father’s son. You won’t break your promise. Time for your final flight, Tobias.>
He stepped out into the air.

Chapter 7
RACHEL

Jake pulled me out of bed. I glanced at the clock. 3:28 a.m. What was going on? “What?” I demanded. I get grumpy when my jerk cousin drags me out of bed in the middle of the night.
And I do mean drag. He pulled me out by my arms and started pulling me down the hall. “What?” I demanded again.
“It’s Tobias.” That woke me up.
We raced down the stairs. Out into the front lawn. Then, “Oh God! NO!” Tobias lay in the grass, blood everywhere, his face to the sky.
I held his head in my arms. He was still breathing, still alive. “Morph,” I pleaded. “Please, morph out. You’ll be okay if you morph. Please morph. Please…” I babbled.
I was dimly aware of the others. Jake saying, “It almost looks like he jumped.”
Marco saying, “I found the case. No Visser One. Do you think he’s in Tobias?”
“Maybe. But how?”
Cassie’s voice. “I called an ambulance. They’re coming, but the Andalites want to help if they can. They don’t know much about human physiology.”
All the while, I held him and pleaded. I prayed to anyone who would listen. Ellimist, Crayak, God, Satan, Buddha, Allah, Sheba, Jesus, Vishnu, Yoda, Gandalf…anyone who I thought might listen. Anyone who I thought might save him.
Eventually, the paramedics came. They loaded him into the back of an ambulance. It took Marco in gorilla morph to pry me away.
I morphed to eagle and followed the ambulance. I flapped and flapped and flapped. That wasn’t how I was supposed to fly, it was the slower, stupid way. I didn’t care. Anything to make me not think that Tobias might… I couldn’t even think about it.
I landed on the steps and ran inside, demorphing as I went. Most people screamed and got out of the way. I didn’t care. I had to find him. There! I saw the doctors wheeling him down a hallway on a stretcher.
They shoved him into the emergency room. I followed. A guy got in my way. “I’m sorry man, but you can’t to in there.”
“You can’t stop me,” I growled, already half grizzly bear.
“It isn’t safe for him,” the guy said again. He was standing his ground. “Miss, I don’t know who we have in that room except that he’s an Animorph. He was one of the ones who saved Earth. I would rather you kill me here than risk his life.”
I had to give the guy some credit. I backed down. “I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s just…”
He nodded. “You’ve been through a lot together. It isn’t right that one of you should die after it’s all over. We’ll do all we can. I swear it.”
I sat against the wall outside of the operating room for what felt like days. Years. It was probably only a few hours. The others were in the waiting room, I knew.
The door opened. I leapt to my feet. The doctor handed me a glass jar with a Yeerk in it. “This came out of his head,” he explained. “I…it’s out of my league.”
I knew. I KNEW which Yeerk this was. I rushed out into the waiting room. I saw a nurse lighting a scented candle with a lighter. I took the lighter and walked into the parking lot. The others followed.
My hand turned into a grizzly bear paw. I slashed at the gas tank of a car. Gasoline started spilling out of it. I broke open the jar and threw Visser One into the gas. He started twitching. “Does it burn, Yeerk?” I hissed. “Consider it a preview for what you’ll get in hell.” I put the flame to the puddle of gas.
We stood there and watched as Visser One burned to death. I was shaking. From rage, from fear, from exhaustion. I think I passed out, because the next thing I remember, I was sitting next to Tobias.
He was in a hospital bed in a room on the ground floor. My dad was standing next to me. “The doctors say he’ll live,” he said to me when I snapped out of my funk.
I nodded. “Good.” There was something he wasn’t telling me. “What is it?”
“He’s…he’s paralyzed, Rachel. His spine’s broken. He’ll probably never walk again. Of course, he could just demorph when he regains consciousness.”
I shook my head. It had to have been more than two hours by now. He was human forever. That was what I had wanted, but not like this. “Can’t anyone do something? The Andalites?”
He shook his head slowly. “They gave up medicine once they started spreading the morphing technology. They only work to cure genetic diseases now. Anyone else just morphs out of their injuries.”
I closed my eyes. Paralyzed. I didn’t care, but I knew he would. For him to lose his wings and his legs…
“Rachel?” a voice said from behind me. I turned. Erek.
“What is it?” I asked.
“We might be able to help.”
I looked at my dad. “Could you give us a minute?” He nodded and left. “How can you help, Erek?”
“We could replace his spine with one of our own design. We’d have to build in some systems, of course, to make sure he never hurt anyone. We couldn’t give him back his mobility if he used it to harm others. He wouldn’t be able to do much more than walk or run.”
“He’d be like the Chee.”
“Yes.”
“And would these programs force him to do things like we blackmailed you?”
“Yes. They would have to.”
“No deal.”
“Are you sure about this Rachel?”
I nodded. “I’m sure.”

Chapter 8
RACHEL

“I’m sorry, but only family members may—” The doctor’s voice cut out. I turned to see what was happening. A Hork-Bajir was holding him by the throat, holding him at eye level.
“He is family,” Toby hissed, dropping the doctor. She stood next to me. “I am told he will not be able to walk.”
I nodded. “No one can do anything about it,” I said to her.
Toby glanced at the X-rays on the wall. “It does not look so different from a gralfarch.”
“A what?”
Toby explained. “It is our word for when a tree breaks. It takes a very long time to grow a new tree, so we usually just salvage the old one. If done right, the part of the tree that broke will grow back together with what was broken. Perhaps…perhaps the same would work here.”
I didn’t dare to believe it. “Toby, are you sure?”
She shrugged. An oddly human gesture. “It has always worked with the trees.”
I nodded. It was worth a shot. “I’ll tell the doctors.”
“They will insist on approval from a family member,” Toby warned me.
“He doesn’t have any. They’ll listen to me.”
Turns out, I underestimated the stupidity of the human race. I went to see the head doctor, who refused to even listen to me. “You aren’t his family,” he had the nerve to tell me.
“I’m all the family he has.”
“There are his grandparents.”
That stopped me. “What?”
“The Andalites told me his grandparents were alive. He also has a human uncle and aunt. Now, I am willing to make some allowances for his special case, but I can’t even listen to suggestions from a non relative.”
“His ant and uncle don’t give a damn what happens to him!” I exploded. Shaggy grizzly bear fur was starting to sprout form my head.
“Then perhaps you should try his grandparents.” He pushed a communicator across the table at me.
I demorphed and took the communicator. And realized I had no idea how to work it. Neither did the doctor. I had to fight down the urge to ask Ax, since he was dead. I’d have to go to the other Andalites.
It took more than an hour for me to get onto the Dome Ship. Most of the Andalites were less than wiling to help me or Tobias. They were still angry that we had tricked them. Still, there were some who would forgive Elfangor’s son. Finally, I got through to the captain.
Asculan wasn’t happy with us either, but he was one of those who would help Elfangor’s son. He put me through to the Andalite homeworld.
“This is Noorlin-Sirinial-Cooraf. You…you are a human.”
I nodded. I could see a hologram of Noorlin. Most Andalites looked alike to me, but I guess that is what Ax would have looked like if he had survived. The same with Elfangor.
“My name is Rachel. I’m one of the humans who fought the Yeerks.”
He bobbed his tail. “I have been told. What is this about?”
“Elfangor’s son.”
He was silent for a moment. “Go on.”
“Something happened; we’re not sure what. He’s been badly injured. Paralyzed, actually.”
“There is nothing I can do.”
“There is, actually. The Hork-Bajir think they can save him, but the doctors won’t even listen to me. They need to be told by a relative.”
“Do you know how we Andalites treat the crippled?” he asked me.
I nodded. “Ax made it pretty clear. Aximili, I mean.”
Noorlin was quiet. “Elfangor is dead. Aximili is dead. This human, Tobias, is all we have left. Do what must be done.”
“I was going to. But you need to tell the doctors that.”
“I will do that. I wish you luck, but I find it hard to believe that the Hork-Bajir would succeed where we Andalites failed.”
I bit back my remark about the frequent failures of Andalites and instead said, “Thank you.”

Chapter 9
TOBIAS

I woke up in the hospital. This was the third time. The first, they told me I might die. The second, they said I was paralyzed. This third…
“The operation was a success,” the doctor announced. “I for one am astounded. I used to be a Controller, and we thought he Hork-Bajir were fools.”
“I will choose not to be offended,” Toby answered him.
They were all there. Rachel, Toby, Jake, Marco, Cassie, their families, some Andalites, and Erek.
“Esplin?” I asked.
“Dead,” Rachel told me. “I burnt him alive. Tobias, how did he get in your head?”
I sighed. It hurt to do that. “I put him there.”
There was a stunned silence. Until Marco burst out, “Are you INSANE!?”
“Apparently. I wanted to know him before he died. We’ve known him as evil incarnate for so long. I wanted to know if there was any good in him at all.”
“Was there?” Cassie, of course. No one else would even bother to ask.
“Once, yes,” I answered. “But not any more. I offered him friendship. He answered by throwing me off the roof. He meant to kill us both. He’s…a bit vindictive.”
I realized then that I couldn’t feel my legs. “Hey, I still can’t feel my lower half.”
Toby sighed. “It takes time to grow a tree, Tobias.”
I nodded. I could still do that, at least. “I know, I know. Still, I’d like to have my legs back soon. How much time, do you think?”
She shrugged. “It takes many years to repair a tree. For a human spine…I cannot say. Less than a year, I am sure, unless you damage it.”
“I don’t plan to.”
“You didn’t plan to break it in the first place,” she pointed out. It was good to have her here. As weird as it seemed, Toby was like family to me, almost like a younger sister. I had watched her grow up. It had been fast, since Hork-Bajir had short lives.
“I’m sorry about your father,” I blurted.
She nodded. “I know you are. He…he would have wanted to die like that, fighting for freedom, for the Hork-Bajir, for you. He’d do it again if he could. We all would. Nothing we do can ever repay you for what you’ve given us.”
I glanced around. “Because of the Hork-Bajir, I’ll be able to walk out of here. That’s gift enough.”
Marco butted in. “Maybe for him, but the rest of us helped. Got anything for me, Toby?”
She turned to him. “What do you want, a kiss?” We just starred at them.
Marco faked a smile. “You wouldn’t be that nice, now would you?”
“I can be very nice.” Her face neared his. We all watched, too horrified to look away. Neither of them wanted this. We watched to see who would back off first.
Marco turned his head away at the last second. “I’ll settle for a thank you,” he said while we laughed. And yet, there was something about Toby’s face when Marco turned away…impossible, wasn’t it? She was a Hork-Bajir and he was a human.
And my father was an Andalite, I reminded myself. I also took a moment to remind myself about Aldrea and Dak Hamee. I reminded myself that just yesterday, I was a hawk dating a human.
Marco’s parents worked very closely with the Hork-Bajir. Marco had lived with them longer than we had. Maybe something was going on there. Maybe I’d ask Toby later. And maybe it was none of my business.
A smirk on Cassie’s face caught my eye. She was amused by the two of them. That confirmed it. As if on cue, she said, “You know, Toby, Marco was pointing out some trees outside that he said looked pretty tasty. Maybe he could show you.”
“Uh…yeah, they looked real tasty,” Marco sputtered. “I’ll show you.” The two of them left.
The parents left shortly after that. Jake and Cassie disappeared quickly, too. They wanted to be sure I was alive, but they had their own lives to attend to.
Soon, it was just me, Rachel, and Rachel’s dad. Dan, if I recalled his name. I could tell he wanted to talk to me about something. “Rachel, could you give me a minute with your father? It looks like he’s got something on his mind.”
Rachel left. It was just Dan and I. “Go on,” I said.
“My daughter nearly died because of you.” That was an odd opening. “I’m not talking about the war. I’m talking about the last week. She hasn’t eaten anything that wasn’t force-fed to her. She hasn’t slept at all, only passed out beside you. She’s barely alive right now.”
“I’m sorry,” I apologized.
“Don’t be. I wasn’t blaming you. It’s a compliment, actually,” he smiled. “Naomi said there was nothing going on between the two of you, but not even she can ignore what she’s seen this past week. If you’re someone Rach cares about, then I’m betting you’re someone I’d like, so I want you to know that if you need anything, you can always come to me.”
No one had said that to me before. “Thanks.”

Chapter 10
TOBIAS

I could walk out of the hospital about a week later. I still didn’t have a full range of movement, of course. Just enough to get me out of the hospital. That was enough for me.
Help from all over the world had arrived to rebuild our home. It had been destroyed by the Yeerks after we had destroyed their Yeerk Pool. Now, in only a few weeks, it had been completely rebuilt.
I wasn’t sure where I was going to go. I was used to living in a tree in a meadow; I couldn’t really go and live there anymore. And I refused to go back to live with my uncle. Maybe I could go live where my mother used to. Rachel took the decision away form me.
“You’re staying with us,” she insisted as she led me out of the hospital. “I won’t take no for an answer.”
“Your mother isn’t exactly my biggest fan,” I reminded her. It took a bit of effort to walk and talk at the same time. I felt like Ax in human morph.
“She’ll get over it,” Rachel insisted. “You have to go somewhere, Tobias. What choice do you have?”
“Well, there’s always Jake and Marco,” I pointed out. “And the Hork-Bajir. The Andalites, too, for that matter. And I’m willing to bet there are a lot of people willing to let me crash on their couch. We did save the world, after all.”
She knew I was joking. Still, she punched me in the arm. I almost fell over. Her dad caught me. “Go easy on him, Rach,” he said. He turned to me. “You’ll really want to take her up, though. Otherwise, you’ll end up back in that hospital by the end of the day.”
I smiled. But inside, I was suspicious. Dan was too nice to me. I didn’t know what was going on, but I didn’t trust it. Maybe that was just the way I was. Trust hadn’t worked out well for me.
We got into a minivan. It was weird for me because a minivan was a family car and I never had much of a family. Dan drove; Naomi was in the front seat. Jordan and Sara sat in the middle, with Rachel and me in the back. I felt as out of place as a Hork-Bajir in a bookstore.
We drove back to her house and she helped me walk in through the front door. Weird; I had never used the door before. I was much more accustomed to her bedroom window. That wasn’t something I thought I should say to her parents or sisters. Still, form the look Rachel gave me, she was thinking the same thing.
I was told to make myself at home. For the first day, I just lay there on the couch. It was kind of hard for me to walk, though I was getting stronger. Dan and Rachel did a good job of keeping her mother and sisters away from me. Rachel knew how I felt about people, and I guess Dan figured it out.
It was odd for me, living with Rachel’s family. Seeing a normally family functioning made me uncomfortable. I felt so out of place and awkward.
After a typical family dinner, perhaps the most uncomfortable experience of my life, Rachel took me aside. “Tobias, we need to talk about what we’re going to do now that the war’s over.”
“By we, you mean…?”
“You and me.”
“Ah, that we.”
“Yeah, them. Remember those two?”
“Well,” I began, “I’m one of the most famous men in the galaxy. I could have any woman I wanted. But there is only one I want. And only one who can handle me.”
“I’ll kill her,” Rachel vowed with a laugh. Then, she hugged me close. “And there’s only one guy for me.”
“It’s Marco, isn’t it?” I joked.
“Yeah. You know how much I love annoying, whimpy shrimps.”
“So what do we do now?”
“That was sort of my question.”
“Well, we could…”
“Could what?”
I had been about to suggest marriage, but that might have sounded like a proposal and, as much as I loved Rachel, I didn’t feel like that was the best idea right now.
I guess she read my mind, though, including the reasons for my not saying the word. “We should wait before taking that step.”
I smiled and agreed wholeheartedly.
Then, she made another suggestion. “You could move in with me. For more than just until you find your own place, I mean. You could stay here.”
That took me a little by surprise, but not too much. I had suspected that was her intent. “Sure, why not? I don’t have anywhere else to go. And I’m not sure where I’d rather be.”
Later, at about ten o’clock, since we had had a very tiring past three years, we went to bed. It was so weird. Rachel led me up the stairs to the room that we now shared. That made Naomi’s face go white. She was about to protest it, but Dan stopped her.
“Do you really think,” he told her, “that there is anything you can say or do to stop them? Besides, they’re older than we are.” I finally decided that I liked that guy.
We crawled into our bed. That feels so strange to write. I lay there with her next to me, each of us trying to find a comfortable position. It was a really strange for me. I was used to being a hawk and before that, I had always been alone.
For the first time in my life, I fell asleep with another human being and didn’t fear whether or not I would wake up the next morning. For the first time ever, I was finally being a human.
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capnnerefir
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Re: capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby Elfangor » Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:11 pm

Finally We've(I've) been waiting for this for ages :) Thanks.

Now for comments.
As much as you say that was horrible it was actually pretty good.

Also Rachel praying to Yoda and Gandalf? She must have been really desperate... :lol: :lol:
You all have guns
And you never put the safety on
And you all have plans,
To take it



Don't Take It
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Elfangor
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Re: capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby capnnerefir » Mon Apr 13, 2009 7:23 pm

Well, Elfangor, I'm glad you think more highly of it than I do. But that's only about a third of it. There's still more to come.

Wait; is it unusual to pray to Yoda?
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Guraff image made by my fiancé, Gina, who I love more than anything.

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capnnerefir
The Drode
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Re: capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby Elfangor » Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:11 am

No, it's not unusual.
You all have guns
And you never put the safety on
And you all have plans,
To take it



Don't Take It
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Re: capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby capnnerefir » Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:29 am

Oh; I remembered that there's some bad language near the end of this part. I'm sure you can handle it.

Chapter 11
1 YEAR LATER

JAKE

Life was starting to get weird again. I, for one, welcomed the change. I had tried normal. It didn’t work. We had all tried it and just couldn’t quite pull it off.
Marco used his powers in the way he claims Elfangor always intended us to: for profit. He was the primary stuntman for some TV show about a cop who turned into animals. He was also our unofficial spokesman, since he didn’t want to forget everything like Cassie and me and he didn’t tend to yell, throw things, or slam the door like Tobias and Rachel.
Tobias and Rachel were living with Rachel’s dad across the country, in Chicago. They had tried staying with her mother here in California, but Naomi thought their relationship set a bad example for her sisters.
The two of them became sort of crazy, always looking for thrills. Rachel needed something to do; she was addicted to adrenaline. Tobias, too. He needed something to replace what he lost; the thrill of the hunt, the joy of flight.
Cassie tells me it worked out better for the two of them, in the end. It was better for their relationship that Tobias didn’t voluntarily give up his wings. If he had, he might have started resenting Rachel after a while. This way, it was all Visser One’s fault. Problem solved.
Cassie and I tried to go back to normal. We still went to school. She still cared for animals. I still played mediocre basketball. But we weren’t really happy anymore. Life wasn’t working out so well.
For a few months, I had been really out of it. I wouldn’t leave the house. I barely ate or drank. The guilt over what we had done was eating me up inside. Cassie never left my side. I think she was inspired by how Rachel never left Tobias during his near death experience.
Eventually, she pulled me out of it and we went back to our old lives as much as we could. She lived with her parents, I lived with mine. Normal.
Funny thing about that. Back during the war, I thought that what I wanted most in the world was for everything to go back to normal. But things were never exactly normal again, and when they were closest, they were really boring.
So, Cassie and I were pretty bored. Until Rachel called and told us that David was pressing charges over what we did to him. I was at Cassie’s house at the time. “At least he’s not trying to kill us again,” I answered.
“I wish. If he was trying to kill us, things would be a lot easier. We could just cut him up and call it a day. I still say we should have done that in the first place,” Rachel had answered from the other end of the phone.
“I though you killed him the first time he returned,” I said. “That’s what he wanted you to do.”
“I would have, but I got to thinking. Maybe he could still make some sort of life as a rat. Tobias made it as a hawk, after all.”
“With our help,” I reminded her. Cassie butted in from the other line. “No wonder David’s biter. We just left him there to die as a rat. Maybe we could have done something to help…”
“No, Cassie. We’ve been through this. He could not be trusted,” Rachel insisted. “It was only a matter of time before he turned on us again if we kept him around.”
“Still…he’s not entirely in the wrong, Jake,” Cassie said to me. “We did do what he said we did. We trapped him as a rat. We made him a nothlit. The Andalites have a very strict law about that and congress is pushing to have it here, too. We ourselves publicly supported it.”
“What are you saying?” I asked.
“I can understand why David’s angry. What we did was wrong. We all know it. I think…I think we should say we’re guilty. They’ll go easy on us because of who we are and we can still support the law.”
I was hesitant. Cassie was not. “Jake, morphing regulations are more important now than ever. Morphs are the new guns. There’s already a huge debate over whether the second amendment covers the right to morphing. We need these laws, Jake, and we can’t support them and then break them. Right now, they’re almost guaranteed. If we fight against David…”
“And he knows it,” I grumbled. “He always was smart. Still…we had our reasons.”
“Reasons which we’ll ask the court to hear, but that doesn’t make us any less guilty,” Cassie insisted. She took my hands. “People are dying, Jake, because there are morph capable people out there who don’t hold back their power. We need laws to stop them. To protect the rest of the world. Morphing laws are more important than we are, now. We’re just symbols, Jake, a nd we need to stand for what is right.”
Rachel’s voice came from over the phone. “How about standing up for yourselves? David was nuts. He was a traitor. What he did to us was treason. You’ve got to stand up for us, Jake. If our own leader doesn’t support what we did…”
I looked from Cassie to the phone and back again. I knew what I had to do. “We’ll plead guilty,” I said. “We are guilty.”
Rachel made a disgusted sound over the phone. “You two are nuts. I’ll fly down there if I have to.”
“Might as well,” I answered.
“Then I will. I already sent Tobias to speak to Marco. Maybe I’ll have him come by your place, too. He’ll argue with you for days on end. Trust me. He and I are still fighting over the couch my dad bought.”
“I thought you set that on fire because you hated it?” I said to her. “That was six months ago.”
“Now you know who you’re dealing with.”

Chapter 12
MARCO

It was weird to get a phone call from one of the Animorphs. We didn’t do much to keep in touch after the war. Too many memories. I still saw Jake every now and then, at promos and what not, but I never just called him. Getting a call from Jake was strange. Getting a call from Tobias was terrifying.
Tobias and I were never close, even after all we had been through. In the end, we were just two entirely different people. He would never call me without a good reason. So I did what anyone else would do. I ignored the call.
I was busy, see, and didn’t want to rush out and get myself murdered by whatever he had run across. I just wanted to spend a quiet evening at home. With my girlfriend.
She was tall. Very tall. I’m usually considered short, but she would make anyone look like a shrimp. Was she beautiful? Sometimes.
“Who was that?” she asked.
“No one, Toby,” I answered.
Before you fly off the handle, give a guy a chance to speak. Yes, I’m dating Toby Hamee, the Hork-Bajir. Before you get freaked out, remember a few things. When Elfangor married a human, it was sweet. When Rachel dated a bird, it was romantic. Those two set the precedent; I’m just carrying on the tradition.
Besides, Toby wasn’t like other Hork-Bajir. She was smart; smarter than me, maybe. Funny, too. And that beak… Just kidding. Her natural form kind of freaks me out. I’ve spent too much time dodging Hork-Bajir blades.
But I’ve got friends. In this case, Tobias. He still had the morphing cube the Andalites gave him, so we used it on Toby. She acquired Rachel, Cassie, Jake, and me, kind of like Ax did. I’ll be honest; she was beautiful, which was sort of important to me.
She was tall, like Rachel. Her skin was a nice blend between the four of us. Green eyes, black hair, streaked with gold, and with just a bit of curl… Beautiful.
That night, she was human. We were doing the dishes after a romantic dinner. Usually, I had people to do that sort of thing for me, but it was something I enjoyed doing when Toby was around.
It turns out Hork-Bajir have a sense of taste, but they don’t eat much other than tree bark. Toby in human morph was almost as geared up about food as Ax was. It made me smile, watching her try new foods. I know, I know, I got it bad.
Of all the people I expected to fall for an alien, I was probably at the bottom of my list. I hadn’t told any of the others yet, but I assumed Cassie knew. She always knows stuff like that. Tobias figured it out, too, I think.
“Hey, Toby, I got a quick question for you.”
“What?”
I opened my mouth. The phone went off again. Rachel this time. The two of them in one night? Couldn’t be good news. On any other night, I’d deal with it. Not tonight.
Rachel, unlike Tobias, was kind enough to leave a message. “Hey, this is Rachel. Um…I’m not sure if you’re home, Marco, but I think you should know that Tobias is probably sitting on your couch. He’s a ninja now. Good luck.”
I raised an eyebrow at Toby. “What did she mean Tobias is a ninja?”
She shrugged her beautiful shoulders. “Beats me.” She glanced over her shoulder. “He’s not on the couch, though.”
“Good, then we still have time. Just answer one question for me, Toby.”
“What?”
I dropped down on one knee. “Want to get married?”
She dropped the dish she was drying. “I didn’t think you’d ask. We’re both such public figures…the media… What will everyone think?”
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
A new voice came from behind us. “Oh, no, no, no. This is not good. Not good at all.”
“Tobias?” Toby asked. “What’s wrong?”
I was very close to throwing a glass at his head. He shrugged. “I mean, it’s great for the two of you, but what am I going to do? Do you know how much more Rachel’s going to bug me now that you two are tying the knot?”
I laughed. “Still holding out on her, bird-boy?” It was just a habit of calling him now. Ever since Esplin tried to kill him, he had been trapped in human form.
He was so different from the kid he used to be I barely recognized him. His hair was longer and darker than it used to be, but still a dirty blonde. His face still had some of its old hawkish intensity.
He nodded in answer to my question. “I keep telling her I’ll ask her when she’s not expecting it.”
“When will that be?” Toby asked. She and Rachel were pretty close. They had a lot in common. The two of them probably kept in touch better than Rachel and Cassie did. Better than Jake and I, certainly.
Tobias shrugged and pulled a small black box out of his pocket. “Not sure. I’ll be ready when the time comes, though.”
“Why are you here, Tobias?” I asked. I didn’t want to be rude…oh, wait, yes I did. “And what’s this I hear about ninjas?”
“Oh, that. I’m not really a ninja; we just started training. Rachel and I got this old ninja master from Japan. We flew him over here. He lives with us now and teaches us ninjitsu. It’s good for the both of us.”
He and Rachel had the strangest hobbies. “That still doesn’t tell me why you’re here.”
“David.”
My blood froze. I’m assuming that you’re not just tuning in and know who David was. We tried to keep it quiet, and succeeded for the most part, but some people still knew. Like David, for instance.
“What’s going on?” I asked. I immediately snapped into my intelligence mode. “Where is he and what’s he up to?”
“He’s going to the police about what we did to him,” Tobias answered. “He wants us put on trial.”
“That’s…that’s ridiculous, Tobias,” I answered. “Could this even to go court?”
“It’s already on its way. They got past summary judgment; judge was probably a voluntary. We weren’t going to mention it, but now it’s important. You’ll be called to testify at some point, so start getting the defense prepared.”
A voluntary meant a voluntary Controller, someone who had surrendered their freedom to the Yeerks. They were still among us, since it was hard to prove who really supported the Yeerks and who had no choice. They were a problem, but we didn’t have much of a way to deal with them.
“Did you already warn Jake and Cassie?”
He shook his head. “Yeah, but they refuse to defend themselves.”
“What? What is it with those two?”
“Jake says that he’ll plead guilty. Same with Cassie. Rach and Naomi are trying to talk them out of it. The way they see it, they’re guilty. They planned the whole thing and let it go down. They’re nuts.”
“This coming from the guy who was for years a talking bird,” I answered. “But yeah, they’re nuts. Looks like we’ll have to save them from themselves.”
“We’ll go in the morning,” he answered. He looked from me to Toby. “I think you have some unfinished business here.”
He left and I turned to Toby. “So?”
“Well, I guess you hire a good lawyer. You are pretty guilty, you know.”
I laughed. “Not about that.”
“Oh, the other thing. Could you repeat the question?”
I put my arm around her back and dipped her until her head was resting on the table. “Toby Hamee, will you marry me?”
She smiled; somehow, there was something of the Hork-Bajir ferocity mixed with innocence in that look. “Yes.”

Chapter 13
JAKE

I was amazed at the media coverage we were getting. It was ridiculous. I knew that part of it was curiosity, but the rest of it was the typical media vulture thing. They wanted to catch us celebrities doing something wrong. People never cease to amaze me.
Cassie and I drove to the courthouse in her dad’s truck. No need to draw extra attention to ourselves. Of course, that didn’t stop the photographers at the courthouse.
Tobias and Rachel were already there, glaring at interviewers. They had been the most involved because Rachel was David’s main target. He still held a grudge against her. Oh yeah, and Rachel’s mom was a lawyer, so we were relying heavily on her.
She wasn’t our lawyer, though. She was good, but not that good. Cassie and I had our own, Marco had one, and Tobias and Rachel shared one of Naomi’s friends. They had had different lawyers but, after a week of each telling their client to incriminate the other, both had been fired.
Marco arrived in a massive limo. He got out, followed by Toby Hamee. I wasn’t expecting that. I mean, I figured she’d show up at some point if only to wish us luck, but I didn’t think she’d arrive with Marco.
We hurried inside. There was no press allowed in the courthouse, which was good. Then I realized: this was the first time we were all together since the end of the war. We hadn’t even been at Ax’s funeral; Marco, Cassie, and I were, but Tobias couldn’t go because he was still unconscious in the hospital and Rachel wouldn’t leave him. They couldn’t wait for him to be conscious because of some Andalite custom or something, so we hadn’t even been together there.
Now, here we were, together at last. I turned to Marco. “So, what’s new?” I asked.
I was interrupted when I heard Rachel let out a startled yelp. I turned, half expecting a fight. She grabbed Toby’s hand. Only then did I notice the ring on it. “No way! Who…” Slowly, her head turned to Marco.
“Rachel, there’s no way that…” I stopped when I saw the matching ring on Marco’s hand. Cassie and Tobias just nodded. Either the two of them already knew or they had been expecting it.
We were all silent for a moment. Cassie broke it. “I’m sure Jake didn’t mean to insult either of you, he was just surprised. We didn’t know you two were together at all.”
“Yeah, well, we’ve been keeping it quiet,” Marco answered. “She’s the official leader of the Hork-Bajir nation, so we weren’t sure what the press would make of it. We’re hoping this trial will cover it up a bit. You know: Rogue Animorph executed. We’ll be a side headline. I hope.”
“But Toby…you could do so much better,” Rachel insisted. “Probably within a three mile radius. Maybe one of the Chee…”
I knew she was joking. Hoped she was at least. Suddenly, she whirled to face Tobias. “Why is she getting married and I’m not!?” Rachel demanded.
Tobias took a step back and then glared at Marco and Toby. “I told you this would happen.”
“Wait, you knew?” I asked him.
He shrugged. “I overheard Marco proposing.” He turned back to Rachel. “And I told you, I’ll ask you when you’re not expecting it. Just be patient.”
“You know I can’t do that!”
He smiled a little. “I know. Soon, I promise.”
“Don’t tell me soon. I want a time.”
“Fine, fine. I’ll do it after the trial. Happy?”
She smiled. “Works every time.”
I laughed. Then I realized something that made me want to sit down. Of all of us, Marco was going to be the first one to get married. Marco, of all people.
I half expected the Ellimist to show up and tell me we were trapped in some alternate universe. It would have explained a lot of things.
Rachel’s mom cleared her throat. “Yes, well…this is all very touching, but there is a trial about to start. Perhaps we should be on our way…?”
We filed into the courtroom. There, at the prosecution’s bench, was David. A rat in a cage. At least they hadn’t been stupid enough to let him loose. There was an awed looking jury, too. They were all judges, since the lawyers didn’t think anyone else could be objective.
We took our seats. Toby sat in the back somewhere, watching. Worrying. I was the first one called to the witness stand.
Immediately, they asked me the question I had been dreading. “Jake Berenson. You are charged with knowingly and intentionally trapping David Corleone as a nothlit in rat form. How do you plead?”
I looked at my friends. I looked at Cassie. “Guilty.” That caused quite a stir. “But,” I added, “I believe that what I did was justified. We all know that we trapped David. But you need to know why.”
The judge motioned for me to continue, so I did. “David turned on us. And on the entire human race. He wanted to sell us out to the Yeerks. It’s that simple. We couldn’t trust him or convince him to come back to us, so we had two choices. We could do what we did, or we could have killed him. I still think that we did the right thing.”
David’s lawyer questioned that point. “You think it is more preferable to live as a rat than to die?”
“Personally? I’d take any life at all over death. And I’ve seen people live as nothlits,” I added, looking pointedly at Tobias. “Life isn’t all bad as an animal.”

Chapter 14
MARCO

I was called to the stand next. It was pretty simple for me. “Why did we do it? Because he tried to kill us! Do I think we did the right thing? No. I would have liked to kill him, but that wasn’t the best moral choice. That would be murder, something we were against.”
David seemed shaken up by what I said. I guess he didn’t realize that I had advocated his murder. His lawyer jumped on me, though. “My client tells me that the two of you had a history of antagonism.”
“I never liked him, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Enough to want him dead?”
“I didn’t hate him enough to want to kill him,” I insisted. “I wanted to kill him because it was the best way to keep us safe. It was the smart decision. If I had killed him, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
David spoke for the first time. <Is that it, Marco? Or was it because you could see yourself in me?>
“What are you talking about?”
<I think that when you looked at me, it was all too easy for you to see what you could become. You had already lost your mother to the Yeerks. Your father could have gone at any time. And then how would you be different from me?>
“That had nothing to do with it.”
<And you also saw what you could never be. You’re not a leader, Marco, you’re a follower. You’d follow Jake blindly into your own death. You saw that I wouldn’t and you hated me for it. You hated me because I was what you could so easily become and yet could never be.>
“That’s ridiculous,” I insisted. But suddenly, I wasn’t so sure. I never liked David even before he turned on us, but I never really knew the reason why. I had put it down to a feeling in my gut. But now…
<You wanted an excuse to have me gone,> David continued. <You couldn’t stand to look at me and see yourself. You wanted me out of the picture. That’s why you did what you did. It wasn’t about Earth or mankind. It was about your own fear and self loathing.>
“Stop it,” I said quietly. I couldn’t believe no one was stopping him.
<No one hates you more than you do, Marco. Behind all the jokes, all the humor, all the wit, cynicism, and sarcasm, you’re just a scared little boy. Just like I was. We were the same and you couldn’t handle it. That’s why you wanted me trapped. The smart decision? No.>
“Cut it out,” I said, louder. Still no one objected. I don’t know why.
<The smart decision would be to turn me back. I was smarter than all of you. I could have been the death of the Yeerks long ago. But you didn’t even try to bring me back. None of you did. You wanted me gone. You were so blinded by your hatred and anger and fear that you did the only thing you could do, the only thing the Animorphs ever did. You destroyed me.>
“SHUT UP!”
“Objection!” my lawyer yelled, but not nearly as loud as I had shouted.
I was shaking. I was furious at David. He and I were nothing alike. Not in the least bit. Or were we? David was ruthless, too. He wouldn’t hesitate to do what he needed to do to get what he wanted. Even if it meant the end of the human race. Maybe we were more alike than I wanted to think.
The judge agreed to a brief recess. I was done for the day. I went into the bathroom and leaned over the sink. My eyes looked back at me form the mirror. To my shock, there were tears in them.
Someone came in and put their hand on my shoulder. Toby in her human morph. “It’s okay,” she said to me.
“What is?” I asked. “Do you think he was right, Toby?”
She shook her head. “You’re nothing like him, Marco. He was wrong about everything he said. He just wanted to hurt you. He hates you more than he hates Cassie, Tobias, and Jake.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because you were the first one to see what he really was. You saw what was in him and he hates you for it. And he hates you because, when it was all over, you got your family back and he never did. You’ll see. The only one he’ll be as hard on is Rachel.”
She was right. Cassie didn’t testify. She just entered he plea of guilty and didn’t say anything more. I guess she thought that anything she said would just make things worse for us since she didn’t want to defend herself.
Then came the time for Rachel to be on the stand. I knew this was what David was waiting for. He hated her worse than anyone else. And she was guiltier, too.
She was the one who had actually trapped him. She sat with him for two hours until he was trapped as a rat. She and Ax, that is. If anyone would get taken down in this, it would be her. I braced myself. I didn’t entirely trust her not to morph to grizzly bear and rip out David’s throat if he did to her what he had done to me. This could get ugly.

Chapter 15
CASSIE

I didn’t testify. Nothing I said could justify what we did. At the time, it sounded like it was a better idea than murder. Now, I wasn’t sure. Maybe it would have been kinder to kill him. Only he and Tobias knew what it was like to live as an animal for so long.
I wondered about Tobias. The David situation should have affected him more than anyone else. David and Tobias had so much in common that, honestly, I was amazed they didn’t become friends. That might have saved David.
That thought hit me hard. We hadn’t even tried to save him. We saw the path he was headed down and instead of trying to turn him off of it, we decided to take away his life. Maybe there had been hope for him. The worst part was that we had never wondered that before.
Rachel took the stand. The whole thing had hit her hardest, I think. Once, David had returned with Crayak’s help. Crayak had tempted Rachel with power, enough to destroy the Yeerks and save the world, but she would become just another of Crayak’s twisted creations.
Rachel had managed to refuse the power. I was proud of her for it. But as for David…I thought she had killed him. In guess I was wrong. Maybe Rachel was never as far over the edge as I had thought she was near the end.
“Not guilty.” That caught everyone off guard. Only Tobias didn’t seem surprised by her plea. Either he already knew or he still hadn’t quite gotten around to re-learning facial expressions. It was probably both.
“There’s no law against what we did, for starters,” Rachel continued. “And even if one was passed today, you can’t apply a law ex post facto. This whole trial is a sham. It’s ridiculous. We were saving the world. We had to make hard, ruthless decisions. It was that or kill him and we were dong him a kindness.”
<You think what you did wasn’t wrong?> David demanded. <You know better than most people the hell a nothlit has to go through. You’ve seen what happens to someone as his identity slowly slips away. As he becomes more animal than man.>
“Stop that,” Rachel snapped.
I was surprised. I didn’t think David would take this route. He was praying on her emotions, trying to make a connection in her mind between Tobias and himself. It was ingenious. And bad for her.
<You knew exactly what you were condemning me to when you trapped me. You knew that you were sentencing me to the slowest, most painful execution of all. You sat there for two hours and counted the seconds until you could run from me. Run away from what you did.>
“Shut the hell up!” she snapped. “You were a traitor, David, pure and simple.”
<Yes, we’ve heard that line before. But like I’ve heard you all say countless times, it was war. We all had to make hard decisions. I made mine. And when you didn’t like it, you decided to kill me. No, you decided to torture me.>
“That’s enough out of you.” It was Tobias. He stood up. “You think you know something about hard decisions? Bullshit.”
David’s lawyer objected. “I would like to remind your Honor that this man is not on the stand, nor is his language appropriate in any context.”
The judge decided to put Tobias on the stand, since he wouldn’t agree to control himself under any other circumstances. Rachel was dismissed. That was probably his plan, to save her from getting hurt any more.
“How do I plead? The guiltiest of them all. I more than anyone else knew what we were doing. I knew exactly the hell I was putting him in. And I did it anyway.”
He turned to David. “You think you know tough decisions? f*** you.”
<Objection!>
“Mr. Fangor,” the judge said, “If you do not contain yourself, you will be held in contempt.”
“Never more contemptible than David here,” Tobias answered. “You don’t know anything about hard choices, David. You don’t know anything about loss, either.
“Your parents were taken by the Yeerks? Well, so were mind. But I still fought them. They offered you a way out of the war? Well, I had one, too. For years, I had to wake up every day and decide just what the hell I was.
“I could become a human and get out of it all. That was the easy choice, the one you would have taken. Or I could stay a hawk. Live in the hell we were trapped in and continue the nightmare battles until they finally brought me down. Every day, I made the hardest choice anyone has ever had to make.
“Everything you suffered through, David? It wasn’t anything next to what I endured. And never once did I even consider turning against the human race. Mankind was never good to me, but I still defended it, especially when I was no longer a part of it.
“You didn’t make a tough decision. You took the easy way out. Because in the end, you are a rat. You’re a coward, scurrying through the shadows, always afraid, always hungry for more.”
<And if I’m a rat, what does that make you?>
“Me? I made the hard choice. Every single day. I understood exactly what necessity was and I did it. Only humans can do that.”
He rose and started to walk back to where we sat. Then he paused. “And by the way...” He spun around to Rachel and dropped to one knew, pulling out a small black box. “Will you marry me?”
“What!? You’re proposing now? In the middle of the trial?” Rachel hated surprises.
“I told you I’d do it when you weren’t expecting it.”

Chapter 16
JAKE

The trial was over. No jury would be willing to convict us, after all. The whole thing was a sham, I guess. David must have known it, too. All he wanted all along was probably to give us some negative press.
In the end, the whole thing backfired on him. Now, everyone was sympathetic to Tobias instead of David. David wanted to come off as an innocent victim. Instead, he just came off as a whiny little b****. And Tobias got to be the tragic hero.
And of course, his surprise proposal had gotten the media in a frenzy. Rachel had accepted, of course, which just made them even more excited. With all of the attention they were getting, the news almost forgot the trial completely.
I was in the parking lot after the trial when I saw Tobias disappear behind the building. And I swear he had a cage in his hands. Could it be?
I ran around after him. Sure enough, he had David. I don’t know how, but he managed it. Marco had mentioned something about him being a ninja.
Of course, he could have been training for only a few months, which wasn’t nearly long enough to master ninjitsu. Still, he had probably gotten enough of the stealth training to snag David. No one paid much attention to him anyway.
<Tobias?> David asked. <What now?>
“Now, David, I kill you.”
<What? But that’s murder.>
“Like you said, it’s kinder than leaving you like this. Rachel told me that you once begged for her to kill you. Why so scared?”
<The Yeerks are gone now. My parents are free. I can try to make a life with them now. I have a reason to live.>
“And I have a reason to kill. You hurt her, David. What kind of person would I be if I let you get away with that?”
<Look, Tobias, we’re all still alive, right? No harm done, right?> David was pleading.
“You think that just being alive makes it all alright? Then you really haven’t experienced loss, David. You don’t understand just how easy death is, how comforting. And I would find your death extremely comforting.”
<If you kill me, you’re nothing but a murderer,> David taunted. He was going to go with that track now.
“So? I’ve always thought of myself as a murderer, David. I know the Hork-Bajir, the peaceful, kind people. I still killed them when they fought me. I am a murderer. And you? You’re just another corpse.”
<Tobias…>
“Do you know it’s been almost a year since I’ve killed something? And to be honest, David, I’m getting itchy. I see people and I want to kill them. There is nothing like it, really. The thrill, the excitement…you can’t replace it.”
<You’re insane!>
“Is that any surprise? You know better than anyone what I’ve been through. I’m going to make sure you don’t hurt us again, David.”
<Do you really think you can kill me without remorse? That isn’t you, Tobias. I remember hearing about how gentle you are, how kind. This isn’t you.>
“This isn’t who I was, David. And you’re right. I’m not remorseless. This will hurt me as long as I live.”
<They why do it?>
“Because it’s better that I hurt myself than that you hurt those that I love.”
I watched. I know I should have done something, but I was frozen in place. I should have stopped him, but it was so much easier just to watch.
Tobias reached into the cage. David fought him, but it didn’t help. He bit Tobias a couple times, but Tobias didn’t flinch. He grabbed David and, with one twist, broke his neck.
I don’t know when the others go there, but the next thing I knew, Tobias was wiping the blood on his shirt and the others were standing next to me.
Tobias turned to us. “It’s done,” he said. And I knew it was. Our last enemy was dead now. We could finally close that chapter of our lives. Now, for the first time in four years, the Animorphs were truly safe.

Chapter 17
MARCO

It was a week after David’s trial. Everyone was over at my place, just hanging out like we never really did. We hadn’t been a group before the war, and during the war, we never really got together just to have fun.
So this was really a first. No fear, no death, no pain. Just us, together, as friends. Of course, Tobias wouldn’t just let me have my fun.
He pulled me away from the others for a moment. “Marco, there’s something we need to talk about.”
“Oh God. Please, don’t let this be about more Yeerks or something,” I pleaded.
“Not that. It’s about you and Toby.”
“Oh. That. What about us?”
“Marco, do you realize that Hork-Bajir live for a maximum of fifteen years?”
That stopped me. Then I realized what he was saying. “Wait, are you saying that I shouldn’t be with Toby because she’s a Hork-Bajir? You, of all people?”
“Of course that isn’t what I’m saying. I guess…the two of you have to decide just what you are. Are you two Hork-Bajir or two humans?”
“Who says we can’t be a Hork-Bajir and a human?”
“I do. Trust me, Marco, that doesn’t work. I’ve tried it. You’ll have to make a choice about just what you are, and I want to remind you that if you choose to be Hork-Bajir, you won’t last too long.”
“So I’ll talk her into being human.”
“It isn’t that simple,” Tobias said to me. Yeah, I knew that already. Toby and I had had a lot of conversations about it. “The Hork-Bajir need Toby. They need their Seer.”
“Well, it’s a simple choice, then, isn’t it? The Hork-Bajir need Toby a lot more than the humans need me. I’ll be a Hork-Bajir forever,” I said to him.
He smiled. That was weird, since I almost never saw him smile. I’m pretty sure he didn’t even smile when Rachel agreed to marry him. “I was hoping you’d say that. There’s something you need to know about Toby, Marco.”
“What?”
“I’m her father.”
“WHAT!?”
“By Hork-Bajir law,” he explained after the echo of my shouting died down. “According to their law, after Jara died, Toby became my responsibility. If you marry her, you’ll be my son-in-law.”
I just gaped at him. Tobias was going to be my father? What the f***!? Wasn’t my life weird enough? He just smiled wider. “This is the sort of weird s*** you get into when you start falling in love with aliens,” he said to me.
There are two ways you can look at life. You can be sad, or you can make fun of it. I choose the latter. I put my arm around Tobias’ shoulders. “Well, come on, Dad. Let’s go tell the others the good news.”
After the others got over the shock (and Rachel and I made peace with the fact that she would be my mother-in-law), we got back to more mundane conversation.
“What are the rest of you going to be doing with your lives?” I asked them.
Jake shrugged. “Cassie and I were thinking of going into politics. Not to run for offices, of course. But Earth is, like, the only Z-space capable planet that isn’t unified. We’ll try to get world peace. We have the best chance of anyone else.”
Cassie nodded. “Or, rather, Jake will go into politics. Someone has to take care of the environment.”
“Great,” I said. “So before we know it, we’ll have President Berenson and Cassie: Captain Planet. At least I’ll be dead by then.” I turned to Tobias and Rachel. “Mom? Dad? What about you two?”
Tobias shook his head. “We can’t stay on Earth. It just isn’t…right for us anymore. We’ve both been changed too much by what we’ve been through.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“The Yeerks still hold some planets. The Andalites don’t have the will to take them, and the humans don’t have the resources. We’re going to do it for them.”
“Just the two of you liberating planets?”
“Of course not,” Rachel snapped. “We’ve already got a Dome ship full of Andalites to help us, and a bunch of humans. It’ll be long, hard, bloody work. My favorite kind.”
Suddenly, she snapped her head towards Jake and Cassie. “But you two. You have to get married before we leave. I mean it. I’ll knock you both our and drag you to the alter myself if I have to.”
“She means it,” Tobias warned them. “Every time she reaches for a frying pan, I get nervous. Of course,” he added, “that might be because I’m worried she’s going to start cooking again.”
That erupted in a whole new fight between the two of them. I took Tobias’s side. Got to support my dad, right? Jake joined me. The three of us argued with Rachel while Cassie tried to calm us all down. That killed a couple hours.
I went to sleep that night almost as happy as I’ve ever been. I finally knew just where this would all end. All my fear and danger were past. Same with Jake and Cassie. As for Tobias and Rachel…they couldn’t live without fear and danger. I knew they’d be happy, no matter how their story ended.
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Guraff image made by my fiancé, Gina, who I love more than anything.

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capnnerefir
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Re: capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby Elfangor » Wed Apr 15, 2009 5:26 pm

This is great :) I can't believe how much more I like this then the real ending.
You all have guns
And you never put the safety on
And you all have plans,
To take it



Don't Take It
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Elfangor
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Re: capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby capnnerefir » Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:41 pm

Some of this might sound familiar. ;)

Chapter 18
13 YEARS LATER

TOBIAS

I paced across the bridge of my ship. It wasn’t exactly a Dome ship, but it was similar enough. The bridge was cramped and occupied mostly by humans, since the Andalites didn’t like working there.
Rachel came in. “They’re here,” she told me. Rachel, my wife and second in command. For the last thirteen years, she and I had marauded across the galaxy, freeing the planets the Yeerks still controlled.
I had acquired quite the reputation amongst the Yeerks. They called me the Devil Prince; it was a name I liked. They called Rachel something I couldn’t pronounce, but it was the Yeerk equivalent of the Grim Reaper.
She led me to the dome, where the last of the Yeerk leaders were lined up, kneeling on the grass. These were the final Yeerks who resisted us. Their leader, Guraff 427, was maybe the greatest foe I ever encountered. We had quite the rivalry. He had fought me all across the galaxy, from our beginning attack on the Hork-Bajir world to our final conquest here, the Taxxon homeworld.
“Guraff,” I greeted him warmly. “I haven’t seen you face to face in a long time.”
“Devil Prince,” Guraff greeted me. Our rivalry had become as legendary as had the one between Elfangor and Esplin. To be honest, I was impressed with Guraff. I hoped this could end without my killing him.
Guraff was one of the Yeerks from the Blade ship. He had shadowed my life longer than I realized. He was there in the Yeerk pool the day I had been trapped. He had been one of the few survivors when I blew up the Truck ship so long ago.
I had fought Guraff several times, never realizing it was him. In almost every major battle of our Animorph days, I fought him and never realized it.
Guraff once even infested my mother, Loren. Elfangor convinced him to leave her head. My father froze him and ejected him towards a star. It was a death sentence. But Guraff had been picked up by a Yeerk ship and, many years later, he was thawed out.
Guraff went to work with his old comrade, Visser Three. The two joined up just in time to head out for Earth. Guraff was the Hork-Bajir who had stood only feet away from us when we watched Elfangor die. He was the first Yeerk we knowingly saw. Now, he was the last.
Guraff had gone off with the Blade ship; he had been the polar bear who had fought Ax and maybe killed him. His Hork-Bajir host was old, now. Ancient, really.
I had fought Guraff more times than I could count. He was as deadly in combat as Esplin had been, but so was I. He, Rachel, and I possessed the widest variety of deadly morph of anyone alive.
Did that sound like I was still morphing? Well, I was. We had come across a lot of alien races the Andalites didn’t know about and, between all of them, they had been able to fix the whole time limit thing. I could morph again. I hadn’t been able to send the technology home yet, and I wasn’t sure if I would when I could. Making Yeerks nothlits had been our way to peace. If they could morph, we’d have a real problem.
Guraff and Esplin were tied in morphing ability, and Guraff had a major advantage over Esplin: Guraff was brilliant. He was the reason this had taken thirteen years. He had clawed his way up the ranks to become the last of the Vissers. He was a man I respected immensely.
Unlike most other Yeerks, Guraff was never one of the slave drivers. He wasn’t about conquest or power. He was about honor and duty to his empire. He didn’t condone a lot of what his people did, but he would never turn against the Yeerks. He had vowed to fight until the very end.
“It’s over now, Guraff,” I told him. “I’ll give you a choice. Every time I’ve captured you, I asked you to surrender and I agreed to release you if you didn’t.”
“I recall making the same offer to you numerous times,” Guraff responded. That was true.
“Yeah. So here’s the deal. I’ll give you the morphing power. You can stop being a Yeerk and you’ll get to live. If you refuse, than this is the end. You’ll have to die this time. Know, however, that your decision goes for everyone. What you decide, they will live or die with as well.”
Guraff shook his head. “You know me, Devil Prince. I’d rather die as a Yeerk than live as anything else.”
I smiled sadly. “I know. Goodbye, Guraff.” I thought of the nicest thing I could say to him. “You were a worthy foe.”
I put my Shredder to his head and pulled the trigger. I would have felt bad about killing his host but I learned something the hard way a long time ago. His host was a Seer, and a voluntary Controller.
I learned this when I captured Guraff several years ago. I had released his host. The Hork-Bajir had fought his way though my guards and rescued Guraff. I was never sure who my true enemy was, to be honest, but I didn’t care. Now, they were both gone.
I turned to the man in charge of guarding the Yeerks. “Starve the slugs. I’ll be in my chambers.”
Rachel followed me. When we were alone, she held me close. “It’s finally over. Kind of disappointing, really. I’ll miss Guraff. He kept life interesting.”
I nodded. “But what do we do now?”
“Go back to earth? Ecthelion should see his homeworld, after all; he’s seen everywhere else. We could get there in time for his birthday.”
As if on cue, Ecthelion walked thought he door. He was tall for his age. His hair was blonde, and kind of wild. His were a steely blue that I envied. My son; Rachel’s, too.
I found it hard to believe he was almost the same age we had been when we started our war. What was it, seventeen years ago? The time really flew by.
It was about time we took Ecthelion home. He was reaching that teenage rebellion stage. Too bad for him, there was only so much he could do on the ship. And, of course, Rachel and I had been the ultimate rebels. She and I stayed up all night, lied about where we were, broke in to places, and even killed some people. And that was just the stuff the other Animorphs knew about…
Still, though, I think we had a pretty good relationship. I didn’t leave him behind when I went off to fight the way my father had been forced to do with me. Whenever we went to a planet, I took him with me to visit it. He had even seen combat a few times. I hadn’t wanted him to, but we had been ambushed a couple times by Guraff.
Ecthelion looked from Rachel to me. “What about my birthday? It’s hard to keep track of the date out here. I still don’t know why you insist on running things on Earth time, dad. Kelbrid time’s so much more sensible.”
I shook my head. “So you won’t be disoriented when we get back to Earth,” I answered.
“You’ve been saying that for the last ten years,” he argued.
“Yeah, and now we’re finally going,” I told him. He looked excited. To him, Earth was a myth, some place Rachel and I spoke about when we didn’t think he was listening.
“So, we’re actually going to Earth?”
“Sure, why not? The war is officially over,” I told him. “You’ll get to see your nephew, Dak.” Dak was Marco and Toby’s son. He was Ecthelion’s age. Toby and Marco had decided to have a human son.
The two of them lived as humans, actually. The Hork-Bajir didn’t mind that Toby had a human body; to them, she was still a Hork-Bajir. Truth be told, I was glad they decided to be humans instead of Hork-Bajir. I hadn’t gotten to spend time with Toby and I missed that.
“Isn’t it a little weird to be the same age as my nephew?” Ecthelion said to us.
“A little,” Rachel answered at the same time I said, “No.”
She looked at me. “No?”
“Well, Ax and I were about the same age,” I reminded her.
“You don’t talk much about Uncle Ax,” Ecthelion pointed out. “Were you close?”
“He was my brother,” I answered.
“All I know about him is that he died during the last Animorphs mission.”
I nodded. “It as always hard to speak about. But now, it isn’t as difficult. Alright, Ecthelion, I’ll tell you all about your uncle Ax. When I’m done, you’ll understand why I don’t allow the Andalites to sample native foods.”

Chapter 19
CASSIE

I was pretty excited. I hadn’t seen Rachel in a long time and she was finally coming home. We had spoken a few times over the years but never on a regular basis. I knew that she had a son, Ecthelion, but not much else.
It seemed like a miracle she and Tobias were finally coming back to Earth. When they left so long ago, I was terrified that they’d end up dead. I used to stay up late at night worrying. So did Jake. I even had to keep him from running off to join them a couple times. I only failed once.
Having kids helped with that. Being a father had settled him down somewhat; apparently, the same couldn’t be said for Tobias and Rachel.
Jake and I stood in the crowd that had gathered at the landing field. It was packed with press, people from our home town, politicians, military personnel, and anyone who could make it there.
I held Jake’s hand in mine. My other hand held that of our son, Tom. He looked a lot like Jake’s brother did at that age, which made it hard for Jake sometimes. When he looked at Tom, he saw his brother. I had asked him not to name our son after anyone we had known, but he hadn’t listened.
“Big turnout, huh?” I heard a voice say from behind me. I turned around to see Marco and Toby. Toby had been a Hork-Bajir almost since she married Marco; she had become a nothlit.
“Where’s Dak?” Tom asked. Dak was his best friend; the pair of them were almost exactly like Jake and Marco had been. It worried me a little; Dak had a tendency to get Jake into trouble.
“He’s off with some girls he just met,” Toby sighed. Tom took off to find his friend. “What are we going to do about those two?” she asked, shaking her head.
“Have them fight off aliens?” Marco suggested. “That straightened me out.”
“What aliens? Tobias killed them all,” Toby answered.
Then the Dome ship landed. I read the name on the side of the ship and was surprised. It said Azmaveth; I knew that it was a Hebrew name that meant strong as death. I was just a little surprised that it wasn’t named Elfangor or something. But maybe Tobias chose the name for the same reason he decided it would be a good idea to name his son Ecthelion; the name wouldn’t remind him of anyone who had died.
A ramp extended and humans filed out, followed by Andalites. They stood stiffly at attention. I could see that they wanted to rush into the crowd and find their families, but they waited for an order. Tobias trained them well.
Then a boy about Tom’s age came down the ramp. He looked at the soldiers standing stiffly. “Well, go on,” he said to them. “Your families are waiting.”
That had to be Ecthelion. He looked a lot like Tobias had, but not nearly as…well, dorky. He had Rachel’s natural good looks; Dak would have some competition soon.
Then, Rachel and Tobias came down the ramp. The applause that erupted really might have deafened Tobias if he had still been a hawk. I don’t think that, until they saw the massive cheering crowd, they realized just how big they were.
These were the two who exterminated the Yeerk threat once and for all. They liberated countless worlds and fought all across space for more than a decade. Earth had received a lot of visitors from those worlds who improved our own in countless ways.
They had reached an almost mythical status on Earth. They were a story we were told without any proof. For the first couple years of his life, Dak didn’t think they were real.
The three of them, Tobias, Rachel, and Ecthelion, stood there for a few minutes, smiling and waving. Then, they shared a look and I felt a sudden chill. I knew that look. I almost could hear Rachel say, “Let’s do it.”
Then, they started to morph. I was shocked because Tobias had been trapped as a human long ago. And I didn’t think he would share that power with Ecthelion, since Tobias more than anyone else knew the risks.
But soon, a bald eagle and two red tailed hawks took off into the sky. I could hear them laughing at the stunned reporters. Then, I heard Rachel’s voice in my head. <You guys coming or not?>
<We’re getting some killer thermals from our ship,> Tobias added. He hadn’t changed much.
Jake and I morphed. Jake was the peregrine falcon he hadn’t been in more than a decade. I was an osprey. Jake and I didn’t morph anymore; we had always seen it as a weapon and now that the war was over, our part at least, we didn’t need to do it anymore.
A few minutes later, another osprey came soaring into the sky. Marco. A few moments later, Ecthelion peeled off to look for Tom and Dak, probably as an excuse to leave us alone. First time in more than ten years, we, the five Animorphs, flew off together again.

Chapter 20
JAKE

We landed in the mall. Some people were shocked to see people demorphing in the middle of the mall, but some weren’t. They recognized us and let it go. I was grateful for that.
I had been acting as sort of the president for a few years. Whenever Earth’s new coalition government (new in relation to the fact that the planet had never been united before in its billion plus years of history) had to make an important decision, they called me for my input.
Over the past few years, the calls trickled down. And this year, I hadn’t been consulted on anything. For me, it was finally over and that was good. I was sick of politics anyway. Now, it was definitely time to spend time with my son. Maybe have another kid. Cassie and I had been talking about that lately and it sounded like a good idea. I knew how good it could be to have an older brother.
I noticed Tobias had a faraway look in his eyes. “What is it?” I asked him.
“I was thinking about Guraff. Whether I should give him a human funeral or a Yeerk one. The Yeerks just toss their dead into a pool and forget about them.”
Rachel took his arm in hers. “You know Guraff would have waned a Yeerk sendoff.”
“Yeah. But what people want and what they deserve are usually two different things,” he answered.
We were starting to get weird looks now. I guess five thirty year olds standing around talking about dead slugs attracts a bit of attention. Especially when we were wearing spandex. And because, despite all their traveling, experience, and hard work, Tobias and Rachel still hadn’t found a way to morph shoes.
Rachel was eyeing Cassie. “What?” Cassie asked her.
“It’s just…all this time and you never learned to dress yourself,” Rachel sighed. Then, she grabbed Cassie’s arm and started dragging her off to do some shopping.
I looked around the mall, marveling at how it had changed. There were a lot of aliens, for one thing. I saw several humans losing their minds over food. They must have been some of Tobias’ Andalites in human morph.
I also saw some things that hadn’t changed. Like an old video game that no one had dared to touch. It was the game Marco and I kept losing (the one he says I kept losing) that made us leave the mall, wander though the construction site, and get involved in the Yeerk war.
I looked from the machine to Marco. He looked back and understood. “You know, we never did get past the nether fjord,” I said to him.
“Because you kept forgetting that’s when the Sleaze Troll shows up,” he answered.
“Well, I remember now,” I argued.
“Well, let’s go then. Does anyone have a quarter?” Helpful passers-by practically pelted us with change, eager to help.
Marco and I played video games for the next few hours. We hadn’t gotten any better than we had been when we were thirteen. Only this time, we didn’t run out of quarters.
Several hours later, we finally called it quits. I looked around. “Hey, Marco, where’d Tobias get to?”
He shrugged. “You know my dad. One moment he’s here, the next, he’s off fighting some nightmare beast you wish you’d never even heard of.”
Rachel and Cassie linked up with a few minutes later and then we found Tobias. He was in the food court, munching on a cinnamon bun, staring out the window at the construction site. It hadn’t changed a bit since we had walked though it so long ago. I knew Tobias was remembering all he had lost; and everything he had gained.
When we got nearer, I saw him raise the cinnamon bun almost like he was giving a toast. Then, he turned to us. “Well, it’s getting late. We should probably get home.”
“Oh, I forgot all about that,” Rachel exclaimed. “We were supposed to have dinner with my mother.”
Tobias leaned his head back and groaned. “I hoped you’d forget. When do we have to be there?”
“In, like, ten minutes,” Rachel gasped. “We’ll never make it on time.”
“Well,” Tobias suggested with a faint trace of a smile, “we cold take a shortcut.”
“No!” Marco shouted. “Never again.”
Cassie and I nodded. “Never,” I agreed. “Once was more than enough.”
“Oh, come on. Don’t be such a baby,” Rachel taunted.
“Maybe he’s just scared of the dark,” Tobias suggested. I think he was joking.
“Hey, just because the two of you are nuts doesn’t mean the rest of us are,” Marco said to them.
“And just because you’re a gutless shrimp doesn’t mean we have to be,” Rachel responded.
“Better a gutless shrimp than a brainless Amazon,” Marco retorted.
“Better a brainless Amazon than a…”

Chapter 21
TOBIAS

I watched Jake and Marco go off to play video games and felt like I had so long ago. In spite of everything that had happened, I wasn’t really a part of this. I’d just never have the closeness Jake and Marco had. Or that Rachel shared with Cassie. Or that I had with Ax.
I went to the food court. I wanted to remember him and some of my greatest memories were of him and food. When he was with food, he let the mask drop. He and I both wore masks, even with each other. We never showed our fear or pain or loneliness; we didn’t need to.
I sat at a table, remembering, when a man sat down across from me. I didn’t recognize him, yet I knew who he was. “Hello. It’s been a while, Ellimist.”
He nodded. “Too long. Do you know why I’m here?”
I nodded. “To offer me a choice that is no choice at all.”
“More or less,” he agreed. He waved a hand around the mall. “This, Tobias; you don’t feel like a part of it, do you?”
“No, but you already knew that. Why ask?”
“The reason you feel that way is because you were never meant to be part of it. Part of Earth or anything on it. When are you happiest, Tobias?”
“When I’m just stepping out of my ship, setting foot on new soil with Rachel and Ecthelion. When I know that, on this new world, I’ll meet another great battle and save a new world.”
The Ellimist nodded. “Not when you’re just hanging out at the mall. That was never your destiny, Tobias. Honestly, I’m shocked. You were supposed to be the one to lead the Animorphs. I never imagined Jake could do it.”
“Would things have been different if I had led?”
He nodded. “The war would have been over in half the time. Ax would have survived. Yes, it would have been different. But that does not matter anymore. You’ll never be happy here on earth, Tobias. Nor will Rachel or Ecthelion. It just isn’t who you are.”
“But we’ve got no choice now. With the Yeerks gone, there’s no one left to fight. No one who deserves it anyway.”
“Not in this galaxy, no. Crayak’s plans are shot to hell here. But he has other machinations in other galaxies. Other races that need a hero.”
“Other places that need me. New worlds and new battles,” I finished. “More happiness.”
He nodded. “The Devil Prince can ride again.”
“So here’s my choice, then. I can stay here and be…less than content. Or I can go with you, do your dirty work, and be happy again.”
“No choice at all, really,” the Ellimist replied.
I shook my head. “No, not really. I can’t go.”
For the first time in probably all of eternity, I caught him off guard. “Why not?”
“My father left me to go fight a war. He had to do it, but I can’t do that to Ecthelion or Rachel. I won’t do it.”
“Ecthelion and Rachel will come with you, of course,” the Ellimist answered.
“But Ecthelion deserves a life here on Earth.”
“I assure you, Tobias, that in a few days, he will decide Earth is incredibly boring and ask you when you are moving on. Rachel, too.”
I nodded. “Alright. Once they ask me to go, we’ll go off and fight Crayak once more. The Devil Prince will ride again.”
When I met up with the others again, I pretended nothing had happened. Once they asked me, I’d tell Rachel and Ecthelion about the Ellimist’s offer. And then we’d go off to a new galaxy and fight again.
I didn’t feel bad about leaving Earth. I had never really felt like a part of anything here. Even with the other Animorphs, I still felt like an outsider sometimes. Earth wasn’t for me.
But for now, I’d pretend. We walked to the door of the mall, we five Animorphs. I put my arm around Rachel’s waist. I might not have belonged with the others, but I belonged with her. Finally, I knew where I belonged.

The End
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Guraff image made by my fiancé, Gina, who I love more than anything.

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Re: capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby Fizban » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:53 am

I'm not up for a whole book at the moment so I've only read the first chapter, but it's a plausible enough alternate "rachel lives" ending that I hadn't thought of with allowances for awkward dialogue and such: I like. Nice to see some more of your work, even if it's an old scrapped piece.
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Re: capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby Elfangor » Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:55 am

capnnerefir, I can't see why you don't like this in my rating book 54 would be 4/10 and this would be 8/10 Its really good.
You all have guns
And you never put the safety on
And you all have plans,
To take it



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Re: capnnerefir's Rewrite

Postby capnnerefir » Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:45 am

Well, I'm glad you've liked it so far, Fizban. And Elfangor, I'm pleased you think so. One of my own problems with it (aside from the spelling and what not) is that it focuses far too much on Tobias and Rachel (I mean hell; does anyone else even get a chapter in the first part?
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