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Imagine a picture of Alloran turning into a human.62: The Prodigal
This next book was supposed to be a Marco book. But since Ax and Tobias used to share space, I figure Marco can, too. I want to write it from the POV of one of the non-original Animorphs. The question was whether it should be a book from Jeanne’s point of view, Alloran’s, or David’s.
To be honest, I haven’t developed Jeanne far enough yet. I don’t think she had even one line in the previous fic. Aside from an interesting backstory, I’ve got nothing. She’ll probably take over as the moral compass now that Cassie’s gone; someone needs to be the voice of ‘reason’.
So I had to choose between David and Alloran. I went with Alloran because he’s got seniority. (Yes, I know that, technically, David has been around longer, but not in these fanfics.)
I should warn you that this one starts out with some (wink, wink; sleazy music; red lights; no money changed hands) so if that creeps you out (no, it isn’t Andalites having [wink, wink; sleazy music; red lights; no money changed hands]) you should probably skip Chapter 1. But there is a prologue, so don’t get confused.
Enjoy or go to hell.
If I owned the Animorphs, you wouldn’t be reading this for free.
And if I owned Streetlight Manifesto, I’d have better things to do than write fan fiction.
Oh, and now, I do have better things to do than write fan fiction ('blame' my girlfriend
), so I can't guarantee the frequency of these things. I seem to have already abandoned Drode and Archaic...Prologue
I was a small child. I was barely old enough to understand that my life had to be a secret. If his enemies, the Yeerks, knew that he had a son, they would use me to bring him harm.
I lived, hidden in a place only my father knew of. I never protested this. I knew that what he did was important. That the war was important. So I did my part to help the war and I stayed hidden.
My father would come to visit me sometimes. He came whenever he got the chance. One day, he took me away from the place where I was hidden. We went into the only city on our planet.
It was the most incredible thing I had ever experienced. There were Andalites everywhere. My father was disguised so no one would recognize him and wonder who I was. I did not mind.
We watched a parade. The soldiers who had just returned from a battle were marching down the street. There was music, flowers, and cries of joy. My father had been in that battle but he never marched in the parades. He said he would have his parade when the Yeerks were defeated.
He turned to me with all four eyes. <My son, do you know why Andalites hate war?>
He laughed. <It’s the death, of course. So much death. It catches up with you eventually. In the end, we all die, be it on the battlefield, in a ship at space, or in our fields. No one lives forever.>
<No, father. No one lives forever,> I agreed as a dutiful son must.
<Not even me?> he asked.
I thought about it. I did not know what he wanted me to answer. So I said what I thought was the truth. <Not even you, my father.>
He smiled. <It is good that you understand this. Knowing the inevitability of death is what makes me appreciate life all the more.
<Knowing the inevitability of death is what makes me appreciate life all the more. I spend my life destroying. I do it for a good cause, but I am a killer. I take the lives of innocents so that the guilty may be punished. I sacrifice the innocent to save the innocent. It is a terrible existence. But it is one that I can not ignore.
<What I have to do was terrible. But it is necessary. We must all do what is necessary, be it right or wrong, good or evil. It is our burden, the curse of our family. It is a curse I wish I could remove, and yet one that I never would.
<When I am gone, you must see for yourself what is in the universe. You must decide what is necessary. And once you have decided, you must always, always do what must be done, no matter how wrong it may seem at the time.>
<Father, why do you speak this way?>
He put his hand on my shoulder. <I am going to be off to another planet, soon. I was there once before, when I tried to run away from what I had to do. I can feel in my bones that my war will end there, for good or for ill. The time may come very soon when you must stand for what is necessary and I will not be there to help you.
<Know, my son, that you do not stand alone. There are unnumbered people in this galaxy. And there will always be one who will stand with you. When the time comes, you will know him. When you meet him, do not hesitate to do what you must do.
<It will not be quick and it will not be easy. It will be slow and terrifying, painful and difficult. It will torment your soul and haunt your dreams for the rest of your life. You will suffer, but you will never suffer alone. This is all I can promise.>
<It is all I can ask.> That was the last time I ever saw my father.
My name is Alloran-Sirinial-Fangor. I am, as you may have guessed, and Andalite. You may have guessed incorrectly, of course, because my name is not common among Andalites.
My given name, Alloran, is also the name of War Prince Alloran-Semitur-Corass, who eventually became the Abomination. Even before that, he became Alloran the Disgraced. Alloran is a notorious name amongst our people.
Nevertheless, my father named me Alloran. More than anyone else, my father was the enemy of the Abomination. He named me Alloran to remind himself that, no matter how long he fought the Abomination, it was the Yeerk who was his foe, not the Andalite.
My second name, my family name, I share with my father, the great Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul. Rightfully, though, the name of Sirinial should belong to my older brother. But he is not an Andalite, so the name became mine.
My final name, Fangor, is not a name any other Andalite has. It was the family name that my father used during his time on Earth when he called himself Al Fangor. During that time, he married a human woman named Loren, who gave birth to my older brother, Tobias.
For many years, the fact that I lived was kept a secret, lest the Yeerks use me to harm my father. I was raised by automatons. They saw to my education and my survival.
I became quite talented with computers of all kinds and began to reprogram them. When my skill at this was learned, I was referred to as a prodigy. Even by the standards of my race, I am considered a technological genius.
That time, when I no longer had to hide, was the greatest time of my life. I worked with the scientists perfecting anything they threw at me. It was quite enjoyable.
And I was loved by everyone. My father, Prince Elfangor, was a great hero. He had died on his mission to Earth, but everyone remarked how much I looked and acted like he did at my age.
I lived with my uncle, Prince Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. Aximili of Earth, he is called. He and five humans defeated the entire Yeerk Empire on the planet of earth. Uncle Aximili was my hero. When I was old enough to become an Aristh in the military, he would become my Prince.
But one day, something happened. Prince Aximili disappeared. We did not know what happened. Life went on as usual, but there was an unsettling feeling about everything I did.
One day, I was sent down to the Hork-Bajir world on a reconnaissance mission. I was captured and almost tortured. Before the Yeerks could torture me, though, someone arrived to help: Tobias, my half-brother. Tobias the Animorph. Tobias, one of the heroes of Earth. The one our people called Sectalan
; the Martyr.
He rescued me. Then, the other Animorphs arrived and told me that the Yeerks had returned to Earth. They wanted me to help fight them. I could not refuse, of course. Especially now when I learned that Prince Aximili had been captured and turned into the host of Esplin 9466, the very Yeerk who murdered my father.
The Andalite Electorate made Tobias my Prince and allowed me to come to Earth, thought even the Electorate did not know that the Yeerks were back.
Now, I live with my brother and Prince aboard his ship, the Reliquary. With us lives one of the Animorphs, Rachel. She had apparently returned from the dead with the aid of the Crayak, a creature of nearly infinite power.
I preferred to sleep outside, under the ship. It was designed so that the area beneath the cockpit created a scoop large enough for an Andalite or two. It was there that I slept. And waited for the fighting to die down.
Prince Tobias and Rachel had been fighting for the last hour. This tended to happen rather often. I knew they were fighting because Prince Tobias had instructed me to ‘go for a snack.’ He wanted me out of the ship so that I would not have to hear him fight with Rachel.
I was in peregrine falcon morph. It is an Earth bird of prey with excellent hearing. I was attempting to discern the nature of the argument. I should perhaps not have been doing it, but one of the Animorphs, Marco, had offered me one thousand human dollars if I would report my findings to him.
He assured me that one thousand dollars was a great deal of money.
Unfortunately, the Reliquary was well sound-proofed. Even my falcon ears could not discern any words. I merely felt vibrations as I pressed my ears against the ship.
Then, I heard a distinct THUD, followed by several more in rapid succession.
What had happened? Had one attacked the other!? It seemed unlikely, but both of them had been very on edge lately and their arguments were more frequent.
I raced to the hatch of the ship, demorphing as I went. If I was needed to break up a fight or assist my Prince, I wanted my tail.
I pulled open the hatch and climbed inside. I used the hatch in the floor of the ship since it was in the roof of my scoop. Perhaps that is why they did not hear me entering…
I walked inside. Rather carelessly, I suppose. I was attempting to be stealthy so as not to alert them to my presence. My lack of caution was why I saw it with all four of my eyes.
I knew exactly what they were doing. We had discussed it in school and I had seen some videos of it on Marco’s computer. I did not want to see it here.
I have decapitated fearsome enemies. I have seen my friends lose limbs. I have even seen an entire room of warriors be dropped in a second. But I have never seen a more terrifying sight than what I saw in that ship.
I dove out of the hatch though which I entered. I was morphing to owl before I even hit the ground. The owl was the best morph for flying at night and I wanted to fly. Far away and very, very quickly.
I flew to the motel where Marco and the other Animorphs lived. It was several miles from the Reliquary. Not far enough, but it would have to do. I had nowhere else to go.
Marco left the window of his motel room open. I could see into the room. Marco was sitting on his bed, looking at the television set. In one hand, he held a wedge of what appeared to be cheese.
Marco is short as humans go, and is apparently of Hispanic descent. His hair was in what is known as a faux-hawk and it was blue. Human hair is not naturally blue, but Marco had dyed his.
Next to Marco sat a small, white rat. David. He was our newest member and yet an older one as well. He became an Animorph many years ago. He turned against them and was trapped in the body of a rat. A powerful being known as The One gave back his ability to morph and he had been convinced to return to our side.
I consider David to be my shorm, my best friend. He and I forged a powerful fond when we morphed the different parts of a symbiotic creature. I hardly know him, but I would do anything to help him.
David was also nibbling on a wedge of cheese. My owl ears were very good. I could hear Marco speaking to David. “I just don’t get it. What’s so appetizing about this? I mean, put it on a cracker, sure. Smother broccoli with it and I might eat that. Put a hamburger under it and I’m set. But just straight cheese? I’m not seeing it.”
<Come on, you’re saying it isn’t the most delicious food in the world?> David answered.
“Yes. That is exactly what I am saying. It is part of the greatest food in the world. A double-bacon-cheeseburger. Now that is the most delicious food in the world. Are you as hungry as I am?”
<I’m a rat. I’m always hungry.>
I swooped in through the open window. David shrieked and dove under the bed. Marco climbed down to retrieve him. “David, dude, calm down. It’s just Alloran. Oww! You just bit me! Alloran, the rat bit me!”
<Sorry,> David said, climbing back up on top of the bed. He was quivering. <Would you mind NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN? You might as well have been the Blade ship!>
<I am sorry,> I mumbled. I had forgotten that owls often ate rats. David had all of a rat’s instincts. He is a nothlit, a person trapped in a morph. Tobias used to be one, but Crayak, the same creature who resurrected Rachel, gave him back his human body.
I was fully Andalite when the door opened. Jeanne entered. She is tall for a female, with green eyes and long, dark hair. She is from the human country of France, so her speech is different from that of the humans I know. It can be difficult for me to understand at times.
“Is everything alright in here? What was all that screaming?” is what I think she said.
“I think Tobias is rubbing off on Alloran. He tried to eat David,” Marco answered.
<I made no attempt to consume him,> I protested. <I simply entered the room.>
“Perhaps he should morph to human,” Jeanne suggested. “It may be suspicious if we are sitting around with an Andalite.”
Marco nodded, so I began to morph. My human morph is a combination of DNA from the humans that were available at the time. In this case, it was Prince Tobias, Rachel, Marco, Jeanne, and Jake. My morph looked very much like Tobias did. I thought it was a good choice because, as my brother, Tobias should look a lot like me.
David had morphed to a human as well. He was shorter than I was, with blonde hair and brown eyes. This had been his human body before he was trapped as a rat. Although he was, in reality, the same age as the other Animorphs, his human morph was the same age as mine.
“Al, you alright?” Marco asked. He often calls me Al when I am in human morph. I do not know if it is short for Alloran or he is aware that my father called himself Al.
“My morph seems to have gone correctly. Core. Rect. Lee.” I enjoy using my human mouth. As an Andalite, it is not something to which I am accustomed.
“Oh, he’s doing the mouth thing,” Marco moaned. “That stopped being funny six years ago.”
“I am sorry. Sore. Re.”
Jeanne cocked her head to the side. “You know, Marco is right. You do not look very good.”
David looked at me too. “I saw that look on someone’s face once. It was my face. I was about five. There was a storm and I got scared, so I wanted to see if my parents would let me sleep with them. I opened the door and…”
“Oh,” Marco replied. Then, his eyes got wide. “OH!” he practically shouted. “Al, did you walk in on Tobias and Rachel having—”
“I am sure that the two of them would know better with a child running about,” Jeanne interrupted.
“I think you severely overestimate them,” Marco told her.
“Marco is correct,” I said. “I saw.”
David rubbed his stomach. “You know what, Marco? I am hungry. Let’s go get some food.”
Marco shrugged. “Sounds good. Come on, Al; Jeanne. We’ll grab a burger. Al needs some junk food. And then maybe we can have a little discussion about what he saw.”
We took Marco’s car to the mall. A car is a human vehicle that…well, I suppose that by now, even Andalites are familiar with such common human technology. And I certainly do not need to explain what the mall is. Any Andalite who has ever visited Earth has been to the mall.
We stopped to eat at an establishment known as McDonald’s. I was slightly confused because I had seen the same establishment in other places such as the Animorphs’ home town and on the Andalite homeworld. “Marco, how can Mr. McDonald be everywhere at once?”
“What?” He was clearly as confused as I was.
“I have seen places operated by Mr. McDonald before. How can he maintain all of them?”
Marco seemed to be thinking. Then, he smiled. I think it was a sign of amusement. “Al, McDonald isn’t a person. He’s more of a symbol. He owned the first McDonald’s and a few of the ones that came after that. He’s dead now. Someone else owns all of this.”
“Then why are the restaurants still named after McDonald? They are no longer his.”
“That’s just the way things go,” Marco shrugged.
“Humans are very confusing.”
“You bet we are. Now what do you want to eat?”
Another human peculiarity: food. Other races eat, of course; even we Andalites absorb nutrients through our hooves. But no other races have the sheer variety of consumables that the human race has.
And yet they have deemed it wrong to eat some of their most delicious foods. Motor oil, for example, is not a viable option for food at a McDonald’s. Chicken, however, is completely acceptable. Perhaps it is because there are many more chickens than there is oil.
Jeanne shook her head. “Marco, he and David will eat everything if we do not stop them. Just order for them. David, Al, and I will find a table.”
Marco sighed. “Since when do I
do the grunt work?” Jeanne whispered something in his ear. I did not know what she said, but it seemed to have an odd effect on Marco. His face reddened and then he smiled. “Well, when you put it like that…”
We sat in a booth near the rear of the establishment. David darted his head around nervously. I do not know if he was really nervous or if it was just his rat instincts. “We shouldn’t be here. Didn’t I tell you it was a Yeerk pool entrance?”
Jeanne shrugged. “We cannot avoid every entrance. Just act natural. We are safe in a public place.”
Marco returned and obviously noticed David’s uneasiness. I myself was a bit uneasy. I was not afraid of doing battle here, unlike I believe David was. These were Human-Controllers; no match for us. I was only worried about what would happen without our Prince to give us directions.
“What’s with him?” Marco asked, nodding his head to David.
“Slugs,” David sighed.
We ate in silence after that. I tried very hard to concentrate on my food. It was difficult to eat as a human. I attempted to eat at a stately pace like the others so as not to attract attention. Still Marco said to Jeanne, “Look at Al rip into that. What he saw must have really freaked him out.”
“He is as bad as David.”
I glanced at David. His face was covered in condiments and trace amounts of food. In the reflection of the window, I saw that I looked no better.
Pretending to be human is hard.
“Hey,” David hissed, “listen to those two guys at the table next to us.”
David still had all the instincts of a rat, so he was constantly looking and listening to everything. Any sound could be a predator. I do not know what it is like to live with that kind of fear.
That is not to say that I have no fear, of course. But we Andalites have learned to ignore our fear. It is a weapon that the Yeerks have used to terrible effect before and it is not one that we could allow to work against us.
Now that I was trying, I could hear the two men. “…miss Guraff’s briefing?”
“I was in the pool and couldn’t hear. I didn’t come to you to get a hard time about it. So, was there anything important or not?”
“Oh, you have no idea. Do you know how he started it? Guraff stood up in front of the entire pool, in his big Hork-Bajir body and said, very calmly, ‘Jake is dead.’”
“Guraff wouldn’t lie to us. He’s no Visser, just another soldier. He tells us what we need to know.”
The second man was silent for a few moments. Then, “I can’t believe it. That devil is finally gone. Any idea how he died?”
“Remember that explosion we heard about that wiped out our fleet on the Hork-Bajir world?”
“That was him?”
“Yeah. He took twenty thousand of us down with him, not to mention the entire fleet.”
“Well, at least we don’t have to deal with him anymore. Taking Earth should be a piece of cake now.”
The first man shook his head. “You didn’t hear what he said next. He told us that the guy in charge of the Animorphs now is even worse.”
“Worse? How could it get worse?”
“It’s Tobias, the Beast’s son.”
Again, the second man was silent for a few moments. “Is he as bad as his father was?”
“Guraff thinks so. He might be worse. Haven’t you heard the rumors? He’s insane. The Visser’s host keeps telling all of the other hosts he can reach. Jake held back. He had limits, morals. Tobias doesn’t.”
“You believe it?”
The first man nodded. “Yeah. My host is usually in a cage next to the Visser’s. The things he’s told me…they’re either pure fiction or completely true. And I’m leaning towards true. I was there when the young beast took out that Truck ship all by himself. Thank the Kandrona I was in a chopper. I think only five or six people survived that.”
“The young beast, huh?”
“Yeah. That’s what Guraff says. And to make things even worse, David turned on us.”
“Well, I never liked him anyway.”
“He’s still dangerous. The Visser gave us orders to capture any Animorphs we can. But Guraff wants David’s head on his desk. About the only thing he hates is a traitor.”
“Was that it?”
“Nope. More bad news. Rachel’s back from the dead.”
“No. That just isn’t possible, even for her.”
“It’s true. Guraff had a nice long conversation with her during that little disappearing act he, the Visser, and David pulled a few days ago.”
The second man sighed loudly. “Anything else?”
“Uh…yeah. Tobias isn’t the beast’s only son. An Andalite, Alloran-Sirinial-Fangor, is with them now.”
“So, let me make sure I’ve got this right. Jake’s gone. That’s good. Rachel’s back. That’s bad. The beast’s sons are fighting us now. That’s very bad. David turned against us. That’s bad, too. All in all, this is a very bad situation, you know that?”
“Yeah. Guraff, though…he seems happy about it. He’s obsessed with Tobias. The young beast, he calls him. Says he’s a worthy foe.”
“Now I’m getting scared. Didn’t Guraff once try to take on that Dome ship outside of the Taxxon world in a Bug fighter?”
“And he came out to tell the tale.”
“Yeah. I’m scared.”
We left the McDonald’s shortly after that. As Marco said, “It’s not a good idea to hang around too long when we know Controllers are walking around.”
When we got back to the motel, Prince Tobias was waiting for us in the parking lot. Marco greeted him. “Hey. What—”
Prince Tobias grabbed me by the shoulders. “Where. Have. You. Been?”
Marco put a hand on Prince Tobias’ shoulder. “Dude, chill. He was just out with us, getting something to eat.”
Prince Tobias shook his head. “You should have told me where you were. You can’t just go running off like that.”
Prince Tobias stood up straight. Jeanne was speaking to him now. “From what we understand, you were a bit…preoccupied.”
I saw a look pass across Marco’s face. I do not know what that look entailed. “Oh, isn’t that sweet? He was worried about you, Al.”
“You’re damn right I was worried! He goes running off in the middle of the night without any word where he’s going or when he’ll be back! And when I called the motel, no one answered and no one had any clue where you were! You could have been dead for all I knew!”
“I am unharmed,” I tried to say.
Prince Tobias wasn’t done. “Rachel and I searched the woods for an hour looking for you! She’s still
out there!” He grabbed me by the arm and started pulling me away. “Come on, we’re going home. Right now.”
“My Prince,” I began.
“Not another word,” he interrupted. “Morph to owl. We’re going. Now.”
I was confused. I was clearly unharmed. I had only been with Marco and the others. There had been no reason for Prince Tobias to worry. Certainly no reason for him to go searching for me.
We flew in silence for about half an hour. It felt like several days. I am no expert on human emotions, so I decided to assume that Marco had been correct. My Prince had been worried about me.
On one level, I was pleased. A Prince seldom worried about his warriors outside of battle. I did not fool myself into thinking that he cared about me only because we shared a father. He had human relatives and could not have cared less whether they lived or died. He cared about me because I had earned it from him.
On the other hand, I did not like him worrying over me. It made me feel good now, but it could be a problem in battle. If he was afraid to risk my life, I could not serve him effectively.
When we were in sight of the Reliquary, he finally spoke to me. <Alloran, why did you run off like that?>
<I was in the scoop beneath the Reliquary and I heard what sounded like a fight. I thought you might need my assistance. And when I entered…I saw what I believe you would rather I not have seen. I did not want to embarrass you. I am sorry.>
<Embarrass me? Alloran, that’s something we human males tend to be proud of.> There was a trace of a smile in his voice. <You’re the one who was embarrassed.>
<It is my fault. I should have obeyed you and remained outside of the ship.>
<Don’t go blaming yourself. We should have been more responsible. I’m sorry, too. I’m kind of new at this whole parenting thing. I guess that’s why I overreacted.>
<Is it common for humans to worry like that when one of their young goes missing?>
<I don’t know. When I went missing, no one tried to find me. I guess…I guess I’m just worried you’ll end up like me.>
<Our father…he did what he had to do. I can never blame him for that. And my mother didn’t have a choice but to leave me. I can’t hold that against her. But my uncle and my aunt…they didn’t care. I used to not blame them, either, but now… When someone gives you responsibility, like a child, you step up whether you want to or not.>
<But things have worked out now,> I reminded him.
<In a sense. Better than I ever thought they would go, I guess. But getting here…it isn’t something I’d wish on anyone. Not even Esplin. And especially not you.>
We landed in front of the ship and demorphed. Prince Tobias put a hand to my head, between my stalk eyes. My fur was unusually long there. “You need a haircut.”
I looked at him. His own hair almost reached his shoulders. He had not cut it since he had been returned to his human form.
He realized what I was thinking and laughed. It was always strange when he laughed because he never smiled. The laugh felt real, but it looked fake.
“If I was you, I’d be asleep before I found Rachel. She’ll want to yell at you a lot more than I did.”
I nodded my head, a habit I had acquired from the humans. <I will do that, Prince Tobias.>
“Yeah. Get some sleep, kid. We’ll meet with the others tomorrow and try to plan our next move. I need you at your best.”
I pretended to sleep, although it was difficult. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw them again. It was not that they were unattractive; it just disturbs me when I see my Prince in such a context. And, to be fare, only the severely disturbed would wish to see two members of an alien race engaged in such activities.
It was good that I was feigning sleep because it was not long before Prince Tobias and Rachel returned. I heard my Prince speak. “See, Rachel? Safe and sound.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” There was a moment of silence. Then, “Tobias, what’s gotten into us? He was only gone for a few hours and we were worried sick! What have we become?”
Rachel laughed. “Yeah, I guess so.”
Another silence. Then, I felt a hand softly brushing my fur. It stroked from my shoulder down to my hand. I risked cracking my eyelids. Rachel was standing only a foot away from me, her hand on mine. I tried not to move.
Prince Tobias shook his head. “Rachel, this isn’t right. We’re the last people who should be raising a kid.”
“Nah. We’re great parents. We’re better than the others would be, I think.”
“Yeah. I mean, my mom wasn’t around much since she worked so much, so I practically raised Sara and Jordan. I’ve got experience. And you…well, you raised yourself. And did a very good job, I might add. We’ll be good parents.”
She laughed. “Of course. Do you know where he was, what he was doing?”
“Yeah. He was just at the mall, eating.”
“Exactly. When that’s the worse your kid does, you’re succeeding as a parent.”
I felt oddly refreshed the next morning. Perhaps it was because I went to sleep directly after feeding. If so, it was a tip I would want to remember.
I ate breakfast in the forest. Andalites, as you likely know, feed by absorbing nutrients through their hooves. The grass in this area of the forest was particularly sweet.
<Hey, Al,> I heard a thought speak call. I looked up with one stalk eye. An osprey landed on a tree branch near me. Marco. In the sky, I could see a red-tailed hawk and a golden eagle. Jeanne and David.
<Good morning, Marco. What brings you out here so early?> I asked.
<Rachel invited us to breakfast. David accidentally accepted. We didn’t have time to warn him.>
I nodded. Rachel’s cooking was perhaps the only thing I would not eat if given the choice. I do not know what she does to food, but I believe that once she is finished, it is no longer safe for human consumption.
Of course, Prince Tobias has ordered me to eat it and pretend that I enjoy it. I believe these instructions are more for his safety than for mine, but I am not going to disobey a direct order from my Prince.
Marco continued speaking. <Tobias always wants to talk strategy at these things so Rachel doesn’t realize we aren’t eating. Got any ideas?>
<None,> I admitted.
<Good. We’ll spend more time talking that way.>
I nodded and then morphed to a peregrine flacon. It is the fastest bird on Earth, though small for a bird of prey. We often used bird of prey morphs because they have excellent eyesight and hearing. They were also very amusing.
<Oh man, I had forgotten how much fun this was,> David cried as we swooped through the sky. There is nothing quite like the freedom of flying on your own wings. No matter how many times I fly, it will never lose its value to me.
<And now, it’s even cooler,> David added. <I mean, right now, I’m the kind of creature that would be eating me if it ever saw me!>
Thanks to our vision, we could see Prince Tobias before he saw us. He was standing on one of the Reliquary’s wings, leaning against the cockpit, drinking a cup of coffee. When he saw us, he glared hard at David, then shook his head. “Sorry. Force of habit. You all know how I feel about golden eagles.”
<What’s for breakfast?> Marco asked, demorphing.
“With any luck? Arsenic.”
“Since when do we have any luck?” Marco replied darkly.
“That’s what I was thinking.”
We entered the Reliquary through the hatch in the roof. It was impossible to find if you did not know where to look. Fortunately, Prince Tobias and I had more than enough practice to locate it.
As usual, Rachel had the cockpit prepared for our guests. Tables were set up so that everyone could eat. Even me. Although I did not need food since I ate in my Andalite form, Rachel insisted that I join the others for meals.
We gathered around the tables and waited. Prince Tobias was always the first to eat. I believe the others wished to make sure that nothing was poisoned, although that makes little sense to me. If one of us was to die, our Prince was not the one we should choose.
But Prince Tobias did not perish after eating his first bite of…I was unable to identify what was on my plate. We all assumed that it was safe to eat after that. We were wrong.
After a few minutes of struggling with what I honestly believe may have been part of a Hork-Bajir, Prince Tobias began his usual discussion of tactics. “Okay, we need to think of some way to get at the Yeerks. So far, we’ve done nothing.”
“Yeah, and now we can’t even surprise them,” Marco sighed. “They know everything thanks to that little escapade the Ellimist sent us on. How did that help us? He promised it would.”
“No he didn’t,” Prince Tobias snapped. “And even if he did promise, it wouldn’t mean anything. He can’t be trusted.”
“Unlike Crayak, the pinnacle of morality,” Marco shot back.
“At least Crayak keeps his promises,” Prince Tobias responded.
<When it suites him,> David grumbled.
“Not unlike a rat we know.”
? Can we stay on track, s’il vous plait
?” Jeanne interrupted. She seemed to be reverting to her native language. I believe it was a sign of irritation.
Prince Tobias shook his head. “Okay, we need to think. How can we hurt them?”
“We could try the Kandrona,” Rachel suggested. “Or we could attack the Yeerk pool.”
Marco shook his head. “The Kandrona is pretty much out of reach, I think. It’ll be far too guarded. Six Kelbrid almost took us down last time. I don’t want to deal with sixty.”
“What about attacking the pool?” Jeanne asked.
This time, David answered. <To what end? What would we accomplish? We’d probably just end up getting innocent people killed.>
“That’s never stopped you before,” Rachel shot back darkly. “I say we raid the pool.”
Prince Tobias looked at David. “David, you were one of Esplin’s top men. Don’t you know of any projects he has going on right now? Something we could tear up?”
<I’m afraid not. The Visser keeps us all in different departments. He’s the one man who knows everything. And maybe Guraff. I was just in charge of finding you people. Aside from a few Yeerk pool entrances, I don’t know anything.>
“Any ideas, Alloran?”
<I am sorry, my Prince. The sad truth is that we know nothing about the Yeerks, their movements, or their plans.>
“Yeah,” Marco sighed. “All we know is that Guraff’s getting everyone worried.”
“You, mostly. Last night, we overheard two Controllers talking about a briefing he gave. He warned them pretty strongly about you.”
A look passed across Prince Tobias’ face. Then, he smiled. “I might have an idea. Some of them are scared? We’ll make them all scared. The Visser used to callus terrorists. We’ll show him what the word ‘terror’ really means.”
“Oh, I don’t like that look,” Marco moaned. “That’s Rachel’s smile.”
Prince Tobias nodded. “And it’s her kind of plan. We attack. We attack everything we can find. Anything Yeerk related, we destroy. We show them that it’s time to be afraid. Nowhere is safe. Nothing can stop us. We’ll remind them just why they got off of Earth four years ago.”
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