Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

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Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

Post by capnnerefir » Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:09 pm

Imagine a picture of Al turning into a squirrel.

71: The Lesson

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Some clarification is definitely important here. If you've been following the series, you probably know that John3Sobieski was ghostwriting book 71 for me. We've had a slight change in lineup here. While John was writing The Price, I was doing some work of my own on this book, the Lesson. I realized last night that I was almost done with this one, and that releasing it before The Price wouldn't really throw off the series. So, to avoid you readers having to wait longer, I'm releasing it now. The book written by John will be the next one.

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.

Chapter 1

My name is Alloran-Sirinial-Fangor. I believe that at this point, it would be redundant of me to inform you that I am an Andalite aristh serving on Earth under my Prince and half-brother, Tobias. I am also relatively certain that you are aware that the Yeerks have returned to Earth and are once again attempting a covert takeover of the planet. So I shall instead begin by informing you of one thing that I am fairly certain you do not know: I suffer from rather severe insomnia.
In my childhood, it was never much of an issue. The automatons who cared for me and taught me had no concept of night and day. When I was awake, it was day and when I slept, it was night. After I no longer was required to live in hiding, it was still only a small issue, as it was very easy for me to obtain certain medications to counteract the effects.
Here on Earth, it is considerably more difficult. I decided to forgo my medications and simply live with my insomnia. It was, after all, only a minor inconvenience. And I have learned that there are a great deal of very entertaining programs on television that only come on at hours when sensible beings would be comfortably asleep.
So, on this night, like so many other nights, I could not sleep and instead amused myself by watching the Late Late show on television. In order to maximize my pleasure, I had morphed to my human form so that I could sit upon the sofa. I had the volume turned down very low so that Prince Tobias, Rachel, James, and David would not be awakened by the noise. And knowing how thin the walls of our tiny apartment were, I was especially careful.
I was laughing quietly at a joke the man on the television told me. My laughter cut off abruptly when the door swung open. Prince Tobias walked in. Where had he been at this hour? “Prin-”
I cut off again when I realized he was not alone. Two men followed him into the apartment. The first one, directly behind Prince Tobias, had blond hair and was wearing mirrored sunglasses and a trench coat that was a shade of yellow so revolting that it made my eyes water. Behind him was a man who was approximately six and a half feet tall. There were numerous scars on his face, and there were probably more hidden behind his neatly trimmed beard. Like the other man, he was wearing a trench coat, but his was black like his hair. It matched the coats Prince Tobias and James had been issued as part of their occupation; the sunglasses were also identical.
“Al?” Prince Tobias asked, walking towards the kitchen through the dark living room. “What're you doing up?”
“Hey, Toby! You didn't tell me you had kid!” the blond man said, rather loudly.
“Younger brother,” Prince Tobias answered evenly. The large man closed the door and stood with his back to it. “Al, this is my boss, Sergio, and his...friend...Nicolai.”
Nicolai nodded once, slowly, but that was it. Sergio flopped down on the couch next to me. He looked from me to the television and back again. “Good choice. If you're up at this hour, there is no excuse not to watch that Scotsman, eh Nicolai? Toby?”
Again, Nicolai nodded slowly. “If I disagree, do I get fired?” Prince Tobias asked; I assume he was joking. I am not especially adept at discerning what is humor, so I have decided to assume that most things are attempts at it. Prince Tobias had turned on the water and was washing his hands with a lot of soap. I wondered why but decided it was best not to question my Prince in the presence of his superior.
“Toby, Toby, Toby, you don't fire friend. You just make sure you never see him again, da? Maybe accident happens to him...”
“Are you saying you'll kill me if I don't like Craig Ferguson's comedy?”
“Kill? What is this kill? Nicolai, did I say kill?”
Slowly, Nicolai shook his head.
“There! You see? No killing!”
“You mind keeping it down? If you wake up Rach, no one will ever see any of us again,” Prince Tobias warned.
“Oh, da, she lives here, doesn't she?”
“Yeah; I know I told you that before. So would you -”
“Wouldn't that be rude of me? To come all this way and not pay visit to famous Rachel? No, no, no, no! I am many things, but never rude!” Then he did perhaps one of the craziest things I have ever seen; and I'm an Animorph! Sergio leaned his head back and yelled, “RAAAAACHEEEEEL!!!!”
The effect was almost instantaneous. Prince Tobias dove halfway across the apartment, seeming to appear in front of us in an instant. His hand was over Sergio's mouth. The soap coating it was pink. Why...?
My mind was drawn to something far more important, though; and dangerous. Rachel stormed out of the bedroom she shared with Prince Tobias. She wore only a night gown. Her hair was a mess, and her stomach, due to the pregnancy, was several sizes larger than it should have been. Her face was a contorted mask of terrifying rage.
For a moment, no one moved. Rachel managed to glare at all four of us simultaneously. Prince Tobias, ever the fearless leader, broke the silence. “....'Mornin', Rach.”
“Tobias...” she began softly. But I suppose she could not maintain that tone for more than one word, because her next few sentences came out in a shout. “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!?” A Howler would have been hard pressed to match her volume.
“Um... I had to work tonight. Sergio and Nicolai drove me home. And Segio wanted to meet you...”
“So he decided it was sensible to bellow my name in the middle of the night!?”
“You'll have to trust me when I say that this is his idea of polite,” Prince Tobias answered. I remained perfectly motionless, hoping that perhaps if I remained still, she would not see me and decide that I was in some way responsible for this.
She turned to glare fully at Nicolai. “And what do you have to say for yourself?”
Slowly, Nicolai shrugged. That seemed to upset her even more. She turned the full power of her glare on Sergio. “And what about you?”
Then Sergio said something that will perhaps go down in the annals of history as one of the ten most foolish things any human being has ever said. “You were prettier in my head.”

Chapter 2

Sergio was insane. There could not possibly be any argument about that. He was also very nearly dead. Only the fact that Prince Tobias managed to get between him and Rachel saved his life. He gripped her forearms to keep her form smacking Sergio to death.
I halfway expected her to morph to her grizzly bear and maul Sergio, but apparently she was not so blinded by rage that she forgot the danger morphing might pose to her unborn child. She contented herself with cursing.
She stopped abruptly when she got a good look at the hands that were holding her. “Tobias, why are your hands red?”
“Sergio wanted one of the walls of his office painted,” Prince Tobias answered. “He's got a thing for red.”
I could not see Prince Tobias's eyes because of his glasses; nor could I see the eyes of the other two. “Take those glasses off and say that,” Rachel commanded him sharply.
“What for? You'd know if I was lying to you.”
“Take off the glasses and tell me this isn't blood on your hands, Tobias.”
“You're being ridiculous, Rachel.”
“You expect me to believe your boss dragged you out of bed in the middle of the night to paint his office?”
“You expect me to tell you that he dragged me out of bed in the middle of the night to kill someone?” Prince Tobias responded evenly.
“There's that word again,” Sergio muttered. “Such unpleasant word, that 'kill.'”
Rachel glared at him over Prince Tobias's shoulder. “I think I'm going to have to teach you just how unpleasant it is.”
“She-bear growls, but does she have claws?” Sergio mused. Then, with absolutely no connection between the two thoughts, he said, “Hey, Toby, James lives here too, da?”
“Yeah; but knowing him, he's either hiding in his room or he's jumped out the window by now...”
“I'd send Nicolai outside to look for him, but I think I like having him where I can hide behind him if you let she-bear go.” Then, just as before, Sergio leaned his head back and shouted, “JAAAAAAMES!”
Slowly, Jame's bedroom door eased open. David was perched on his shoulder. James took a long look at Rachel. Once he was satisfied that Tobias had her in a tight grip, he stepped into the living room. “Hi, Mister Sergio.”
Sergio spat on the floor. “Bah! That word, 'Mister!' Do you call friend 'Mister?' Eh? Hey! That might be fun! What do you think, Mister Nicolai?”
Nicolai leaned his head from one side to the other in a noncommittal gesture. Sergio turned to James. “You have rat on shoulder, Mister James.”
“Oh...that. It's -”
“I did not know you were one for pet! Me, I like cat. Quiet, unobtrusive. Cat never asked me question. I like rat, too. Quiet, unobtrusive. Never asked me question either.”
<Rat fan?> David asked in thought speak that Sergio and Nicolai couldn't hear. <He must not be all bad, then.>
“Yeah, David and I-”
Sergio seemed to materialize in front of James. I am not sure when he left the couch. The next thing I knew, though, he had David in both hands and was holding my shorm at eye-level with his sunglasses. “Hello, Mister David.”
<Hi, Mister Nutjob,> David responded, again in private.
“Hey, maybe I need pet. What do you think, Nicolai?”
Nicolai shrugged.
“What do you think I should get?” He looked at Nicolai for a few moments. Nicolai made neither sound nor gesture, but Sergio suddenly exclaimed, “Perfect! I get rat! Just like Mister David! Hey, maybe Mister David knows rat looking for new place to stay, da?”
<I could put an add in our local newspaper,> David answered privately. James failed to hide a smile.
“Wouldn't that be a little dangerous with your cat?” Prince Tobias asked.
“Cat? What cat? Who says I have cat?”
“You just said you like cats...” James pointed out.
“Of course! I love cat. But I don't have one. I love one million dollars, too, but I don't have that either.”
“You don't have a million dollars?” Prince Tobias questioned. His face, as usual, was expressionless, but the surprise was evident in his voice.
“Of course not!” then Sergio gave him a big smile smile with unnaturally white teeth. “I have nine million. Speaking of which...” He pulled a stack of money from inside of his coat and tossed it onto the coffee table in front of him. “You did good work tonight, Toby. You get bonus.”
“I'm...good with a paint brush,” Prince Tobias said slowly.
“Hey...paint brush. I think we call it that from now on. Mister Nicolai, what say you?” Nicolai nodded slowly. “All right! Now we're getting somewhere!”
Rachel had gone quiet, but none of us were foolish enough to think she stopped being upset. Her face was still livid, and every now and then she tried to jerk free of Prince Tobias's grasp. I suspected she was angry beyond words.
Sergio reached into his coat again and took out a silver flask. Leaning back in the couch and putting his feet up on the table, he took a long drink from it. Then he glanced over at me. “You drink?'
“No,” I said quietly, still hoping not to attract Rachel's attention.
“No? Me, I drink every day of my life. Even before! My mother, she drank while I was in womb.”
<That explains soooooo much,> David said in our heads. This time, James hid his smile behind a cough.
Sergio pulled something new out of his coat. A large cigar. As he fumbled around for a lighter, though, Tobias shook his head. “Not in here, Sergio.”
“Huh? Why not?”
“Have you forgotten entirely about the angry pregnant woman I'm holding back?”
Sergio probably looked startle, though it was difficult for me to tell. Between the glasses and my unfamiliarity with human facial expressions, I could not be sure. He may have simply had a stroke.
“Oh yeah! I forgot she was here. What happened to growling, she-bear?”
“I'm thinking of skipping that and just going to biting,” Rachel answered through clenched teeth.
“Hey, now that's something! But wouldn't Toby get jealous if he found out?”
Rachel stared at Sergio for a moment. Then, flatly, she said, “This is the part where you leave.”

Chapter 3

Sergio did, in fact, leave after that. But on the way out the door, he turned back and said, “Mister James, I need you early tomorrow morning at fourteen hundred, da?”
James nodded. “I'll be there.”
“Good, good. I need some things moved. Nicolai, say goodbye to nice people.” As an afterthought, he added, “And she-bear.”
Nicolai waved one hand and closed the door behind him as he and his boss left. Only after we heard a car start up did Prince Tobias decide it was safe to release Rachel. He walked back over to the sink and resumed washing his hands.
“Tobias?” Rachel began, her voice sounding very much like her younger sister, Sara's.
“Yeah Rach?”
“If he ever sets foot in my home again, I'm going to do that thing he doesn't like to talk about.”
“Oh, yeah; he's not a fan of that, either.”
“I'll probably have to kill Nicolai, too... Make sure we always have some spare garbage bags around, I plan to put him in several different dumpsters throughout the town.”
“Duly noted.”
James slowly began backing into his room, but Rachel stopped him. “Not yet, James. First, we all need to have a little talk.”
“What about?” James asked carefully. “Sergio said I have to get up early tomorrow, you know.”
“He said be there at fourteen hundred. That's two p.m. How is that early?”
“Early for him,” James answered carefully. “What do we need to talk about?”
“We need to talk about why Tobias is sneaking out in the middle of the night and coming back with blood on his hands. You were right, Tobias. I do know when you're lying to me.”
Tobias did not turn around from the sink. “ have to understand that under normal circumstances, I would never have done it.”
“So you admit it?”
“It's not what you think.”
“I don't think you have any clue what I'm thinking right now,” Rachel said sharply.
“Just listen. A lot of money runs through Sergio's hands. And he's pretty paranoid, so he hates keeping it around where anyone can trace it to him. So he spreads it around. A little here, a little there. That way, there's no record that he has the money, no trace of it going anywhere, and most importantly, no hard evidence if things go south.
“He's got a lot of...friends...who hold money for him. Sometimes, they decide that their friendship is over and make the decision to keep it. After all, it's not like Sergio could go to the police or anything... But he's got other options.”
“So you just agreed to go out and kill someone for his money!?” Rachel demanded. I was sure there had to be more to it, though. My Prince has no compunction about killing his enemies; he is a great warrior. But I just could not see him killing an innocent man over ill-gotten money. I am sure, had Rachel been in a reasonable frame of mind, she would have felt the same way.
“Just listen,” Prince Tobias repeated. “At first, I wasn't going to do it. But then I saw the picture of the man who had his money.”
“I don't care how ugly he is, that doesn't make it okay to-”
“It was Kalroth.”
That silenced Rachel. “So Kalroth is -”
“No, he's alive. He has a compound outside of town, not just inside the mountains. We went there, but after seeing the security, Sergio actually had a rare bout of good judgment and decided not to chance it. We waited until we saw Kalroth leave in a limo and then we followed him. When he got out, we attacked him. He got away, but Nicolai put at least one bullet in his arm. I shot one of his bodyguards and ended up in a fistfight with the other. Sergio destroyed the limo. For all his oddities, maybe because of them, that man is a wizard with a grenade.”
Rachel sat down on the couch. James did the same. “What does all of this tell us?” she asked.
“I don't want to make any conclusions yet,” Prince Tobias answered. “I'm going to call Cassie tomorrow and get her over here to talk about things. Maybe we can piece some things together. This night was very helpful, though.”
“How so?” James asked.
<For one thing, now we know where Kalroth holes up,> David answered. <And we've got some idea of the security around it. It may have been tough for a few mafia thugs->
“Let's not use that word,” Prince Tobias interrupted.
<Sorry. Mafia goons->
“The other word.”
<It might have been too much for a few...friends...but with a little poking around, I'm sure we can think of something. And who knows? Maybe we don't even have to do the deed ourselves,> he added.
“You lost me at the end there, Bolts,” James told him.
Prince Tobias was the one who answered, though. “Kalroth has apparently been taking money from...friends. Probably to help fund Guraff's war effort. Taking Kalroth out will be a major blow to the Yeerks. He's not dangerous like Guraff, but I think he's sort of a symbol to them. If we can get rid of that, it'll cripple their morale.”
“I get that. But why did David say we might not have to do it ourselves?”
“'Friends' get upset when you don't give them their money. I'm willing to bet this is not the only time Kalroth's done this. We don't have to siege his compound. If we can just get him out in the open, get rid of his bodyguards, and make sure some of the other people he's angered are in the area...things will take care of themselves from there.”
<Kalroth getting killed by Animorphs in battle is one thing,> David agreed. <Getting gunned down by thugs is just sort of embarrassing. That might hurt them even more than us killing him would.>
Tobias nodded. “We can all talk more about it later. But I'm exhausted. And I'm sure Rachel wants to get back to bed. You and David need to get to sleep anyway, Al.”
“Why is that?”
“Don't play that game. I know you forget almost nothing. You've got your first day of school tomorrow.”
I winced. I had been hoping he would forget.

Chapter 4

I understand, intellectually, why Prince Tobias decided to have David and myself attend a human school. Currently, the war consumed our entire lives. Prince Tobias did not want to see it consume who we are the way it had him. It was a noble sentiment; but I still did not want to go to school. Something deep within my soul rebelled against it.
Rachel woke me up by throwing some clothes on top of me. She still seemed to be a bit angry from the previous night's...festivities. Silently, I morphed to human and dressed myself. I have gotten rather good at it; I usually get the clothing on the proper appendage on the second try.
It was not my usual human morph. We knew that Alpha Front was heavily infiltrated by the Yeerks, and that important Yeerks might recognize my human morph. So I had tweaked the DNA a bit to produce a morph that looked suitably different from my usual one.
At first, David and I had been extremely apprehensive about attending school. We feared that we would be virtually surrounded by Controllers. But some data we had retrieved from the Yeerks revealed that much of the younger population of the town was uninfested. Although the Visser had infested numerous people of my approximate age, Guraff had added few more. The Visser, having been defeated by children before, was somewhat obsessed with making sure that did not happen again. Guraff had no such obsession. While we would still need to exercise caution, it would not be the minefield I had feared.
David and I...I am going to use the word 'ate' though I do not think it is precisely accurate...ate the objects Rachel prepared for breakfast. During that time, she dragged James out of bed. He was supposed to walk us to school. While I would have preferred for Prince Tobias to walk us there, there was not a Yeerk on Earth who did not know him by sight.
“The new kid yet again,” David muttered as we walked. “Let's hope this goes better than it did the last time.”
“What happened last time?” James asked.
“I got cravings for cheese and a fear of cats.”
“Oh; that.”
James abandoned us a block away from the school. Although he was less easily recognized than Prince Tobias, they had been seen together a few times and it was entirely possible that he would be recognized as well.
Ronnie met us outside of the school and then led us inside. He spoke briefly to the principal, got directions to our first class, and then took us there. “Cassie or I will be back at the end of the day to pick you up,” he told us.
I nodded. Ronnie left us and we entered the classroom. We were introduced by the teacher and directed to seats near the back of the room. Then we sat through perhaps the most boring experience of our lives. It was a history class. Which would not have been so bad, except that that it was the history of the Yeerk War. Although it is a subject that I am understandably fascinated in, the teacher could not possibly provide a single fact that I did not already know.
My eyelids felt heavy. I sat there with my elbow on the desk and my cheek resting on my fist. I was not paying complete attention, but something the teacher said caught my interest. “Let's see who did the required reading. Does anyone know what Captain Nerefir's nickname was and why they called him that?”
Without thinking, I answered, “They called him 'Old Hoof and Tail' because his tail was eight inches longer than that of the average Andalite and his left hoof was replaced with a steel prosthetic due to an injury he sustained before the invention of morphing technology.” It was common knowledge on the Homeworld.
A few people turned to stare at me. The teacher nodded. “Correct, Alan. But next time, try to raise your hand first.” I answered a few more childishly easy questions during the class. Then it was dismissed. Since we had been in morph for a bit, David and I were headed towards the bathroom to demorph. It was perhaps a little dangerous, but if we were caught, we had had a story prepared. We would simply say that we were Andalites but were posing as humans because we feared the reaction of our peers if they learned the truth.
“Hey, Al,” David began, “I know you're a genius and all, but you're going to need to keep it down. We don't want to attract attention. So try not to answer too many questions; especially not in science.”
“That sounds logical.”
“And please, oh please, don't start correcting teachers.”
“If you insist.”
We went through a few more classes. I was, predictably, extremely bored. Science was a waste of my time, as were human mathematics. One class did seem to be extremely useful for me, however: physical education.
If there was one thing humans could teach me, it was how to use their bodies more effectively. Although I was somewhat clumsy with my human body, I managed to make it through physical education class without making a complete fool of myself. I was fairly certain that, in a few weeks, I would learn a great deal there.
After that, it was time for perhaps the best moment of the day: it was time for lunch.

Chapter 5

I got to the cafeteria before David did. We did not have mathematics and physical education together, so I had lost track of him earlier in the day. Also, I knew that he had to stop and demorph after whatever class he had. After our first class, we had gotten onto different morphing schedules so that we were not repeatedly going to the bathroom together.
Because of this, I was alone when I entered the cafeteria. Rachel had explained the lunch procedure to me, so I knew more or less what to do. I managed to obtain my rations without any sort of difficulty. Certainly not the sort of scene I was told my uncle Aximili would have made.
I stood alone for a few moments, gazing around the cafeteria and looking for a place to sit. I was unsure what to do. Should I attempt to locate some place that was currently unoccupied or try to insert myself into a preexisting grouping of humans? It was a conundrum.
Then a human male met my eyes and waved at me. “Over here, Jim.”
Although I had never been introduced to someone as 'Jim', the eye contact made me reasonably certain that the individual meant me. I quickly searched my memory for this boy's face. He had been in my physical education class. Raphael was his name. I sat down next to him. “Hello.” I was not sure what to say next. So I asked, “Why did you call me 'Jim'?”
“Short for Jim Morrison. Because you're so trippy,” Raphael answered. Then he turned back to his friends and jerked his thumb at me. “He fell over seven times today during gym.”
They all laughed a little. I was not sure if they were laughing with me or at me. I responded, “It is physical education, after all. If I had already mastered the physics of the human body, attending the class would be redundant.”
There was a moment of silence. Then a few of them laughed. “Funny guy,” one I did not recognize said of me. Apparently, he thought I was joking. I was content to allow him to believe that. “I'm Tim.”
“Al,” I introduced myself. We all spoke for a bit, mostly about me. I stuck to the story we we Animorphs had agreed upon earlier and kept the details as vague as possible. They seemed more or less content to accept that.
After twenty minutes, though, I was beginning to get concerned. David was nowhere in sight. Had something happened to him? It was possible; perhaps someone had caught him morphing. That would be a serious problem; especially if that person was a Controller.
I excused myself to search for David and began wandering the hallways, searching for him. The hallways seemed oddly deserted; perhaps the teachers were eating lunch as well. “Hey!” someone called from behind me.
I turned around to see three large human males approaching. They appeared to be two or three Earth years older than my own morph. “You're that new kid, Al, aren't you?”
“I am he,” I told them. I recognized the one who seemed to be their leader. He was in the same mathematics class that I attended. Troy was his name, if I was not mistaken. I am not sure why someone several years older than I am was in the same class.
“Great! We've been looking for you.” In an odd gesture of companionship, he put his arm over my shoulders and began steering me down the hallway.
“Yeah, you. See, I was kinda hoping you could do us a little favor.”
“What favor?” I asked, surprised. What could they want from me.
“My friend Brad here gets a little forgetful sometimes.” He jerked one thumb at one of the two males following us. “Seems like he forgot his lunch money back home, and he gets real hungry, see?”
“That sounds like quite the predicament.”
“You getting' wise with me?”
I turned to him, not understanding. “I was not aware that we were acquiring wisdom together.”
“You think you're funny?”
I thought about it. Raphael, Tim, and the others seemed amused by me. I supposed that qualified as me being funny, though it was unintentional. “Yes, I believe so.”
“Hear that, guys? The wise guy here thinks he's funny,” Troy said to Brad and the as-yet-unnamed other one. Why was he repeating what we had just established? Surely his friends had heard our conversation.
“You mentioned a favor?” I prompted, hoping to spare Troy further embarrassment lest he repeat something else needlessly.
“Oh, so now you want to talk favors?”
“You were the one who mentioned it,” I reminded him. He gave me a look that struck me as oddly similar to the one Rachel had been wearing this morning.
“Yeah, see, Brad needs money for lunch.”
He seemed to have a habit of repeating what was already common knowledge. He must have been remedial; that would explain why he was in the same class as me.
“Yes, we have established that,” I responded. I was growing slightly annoyed.
“Well, we were thinking he could have yours.”
That surprised me. What an unusual request to make of a stranger! I was aware of how much humans prized their money. Prince Tobias had certainly spent enough time worrying about it. “While I would like to be so altruistic as to aid you, I fear I have already spent mine and consumed the meal that I purchased therewith.”
“Oh, that's no problem,” Troy said quietly. “You just bring us the money tomorrow and there won't be any problems.”
“Why would you need it tomorrow? Surely Brad will be able to remember to bring the requisite funds then.”
The three of them stared at me for a moment. Then Troy said, in a soft voice, “Maybe you're not getting how this works. You're going to give Brad that money tomorrow before lunch, got it?”
“Why should I?” I asked. Troy's reaction to my honest question caught me off guard because it was so unexpected. He struck me in the face with his fist. I have been wounded many times before, in battle with monsters that Troy could not conceive of in his darkest nightmares. But this still hurt. I could taste my own blood.
I stumbled back and before I had time to recover, Brad kicked my legs out from under me. That was rather unnecessary, of course; the way my balance was, a slight shove would have been sufficient to knock me over. The third male kicked me hard in the ribs. I lay there, gasping for air and tasting my own blood.
Troy stood over me and shook his head. “I didn't want to have to do that. But I've got to make sure Brad gets fed. He gets violent when he's hungry. So unless you want this to be a daily thing, you'd be best off making sure brad doesn't get hungry again any time soon.”
I rolled onto my stomach and then lurched to my feet. By the time I was erect, they were gone. I leaned against the all and looked around. There were too many emotions to sort through in my mind. Surprise was a large quantity of it. But mostly, it was shame. I was an aristh! A warrior! I have held my own against Kelbrid! But I was no match for three large humans; not in this body, at least. This sort of thing would never have happened to Prince Tobias; I could not imagine it. I was a complete failure as a warrior.
That was why I was crying. It was not the pain; I have grown accustomed to that. It was the knowledge that I had been soundly defeated by perhaps the three weakest enemies I have ever fought.
“Hey, are you alright?” a feminine voice asked. I looked up and my heart stopped.
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Re: Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

Post by fdragon010 » Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:55 pm

Great, bullies...

Maybe their "friends" can take care of them...

No, that would be to easy and quick for bullies...
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Re: Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nu

Post by capnnerefir » Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:02 pm

fdragon? Now ow did you read this so soon after it was posted? Elfangor was on it almost as soon as I clicked "Submit". Admit it: you're spying on me, aren't you? ;)

Don't worry, I'm sure they'll get what;s coming to them.


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Re: Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

Post by Elfangor » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:03 pm

Great chapters post more later!
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: Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

Post by fdragon010 » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:58 pm

capnnerefir wrote:fdragon? Now ow did you read this so soon after it was posted? Elfangor was on it almost as soon as I clicked "Submit". Admit it: you're spying on me, aren't you? ;)

Careful; you might make Ember jealous.

Don't worry, I'm sure they'll get what;s coming to them.
lol...would I tell you if I was?

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Re: Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

Post by Beckyno1 » Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:04 am

This is a masterpecie! I was waiting for the price, but I got this! I love it! Get part two up now! I'm begging! It's totally brilliant! :D When's the next part up?
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Re: Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

Post by BeyondtheEllimist » Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:29 am

I absolutely loved this!!! I was wondering how long I would have to wait before I got my next dosage of capnnerefir writing. I think that Al should simply sic Rachel on the bullies. Of course, he'd have to make sure she didn't kill them so that they would live to regret picking on Al. Or he could do what fdragon said and have Tobias's 'friends' deal with them.
There is much that is beyond the Ellimist . . . he just won't admit it.
Check out my fanfic series, Novamorphs. It has the Animorphs' children fighting a second Yeerk invasion. First book: The Infestation.Second book: The Search.

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Re: Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

Post by capnnerefir » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:41 pm

Glad ya'll liked it so far. Here's some more for you.

Chapter 6

She was beautiful. No, no, that word does not describe it accurately. I think, if given the choice between gazing at her face and cutting out the Visser's throat with a rusty chainsaw, I would not have been able to decide. I had wondered for many, many years how my father could have fallen for a female who was not of his race. Now, I understood.
She was a few years older than I was; maybe as old as Rachel's sister, Jordan. Her red-blond hair was braided and reached nearly to her waist. There was concern in her green eyes. I could not look away from those eyes. It was not even an option.
“Are you alright?” she repeated.
I continued to stare.
“I think you might have a concussion... Can you blink? Maybe I should go fin-”
The thought of her going anywhere shook me out of my daze. “No, I am fine,” I said quickly, remembering to blink. I could not look away from her, though... “I am just...rather shaken up.”
“Yeah, I guess I'd be, too. It's not very often you get into a fight, is it?”
“You might be surprised,” I said, attempting to give her a small smile. It ended up being a very large smile instead.
“Do you want to sit down somewhere? You look a little unsteady...” she prompted.
“I am fine,” I assured her. “Just a bit disoriented. I do not understand why they did that.”
The girl shrugged. “You probably told them something they didn't want to hear. That sort of behavior confuses them, and when big guys get confused, they get violent.”
“I have noticed that,” I admitted. Perhaps that was why the Visser was such a violent individual...
“Are you sure you'll be alright? I don't like the look of that lump on your head.”
“It will heal,” I promised. Faster than she thought. I would need to demorph in about a bit and when I remorphed, my injuries would be gone.
“Sure, eventually. You should probably tell a teacher what happened,” she suggested. “You're sure you don't need any help?”
“I am positive.”
“If you're sure...” Then she started to walk away. I had to stop her! I could not just let her get away!
“Wait!” I called.
“What is your name?” I asked quickly.
“Kristina.” And then she was gone, vanished around a corner. I could have gone after her, but I decided it was probably more important to find David. It was easier to ignore her spell when I was not looking right at her.
I spent the next ten minutes and forty seven seconds searching for David without result. I demorphed and remorphed in the bathroom, and then I went to my next class. I was relieved to see David calmly seated in a desk there. I sat down next to him. “Where have you been?”
David shrugged. “I've gone through this sort of thing before, Al. We're new here. And I've got the feeling that we won't be here too long. Sooner or later, something big's going to happen and the Bossman isn't going to care very much about school anymore. No need to put down any roots. So I ate lunch outside.”
“Where did you get food?” I asked, curious.
“I'm a rat,” he whispered. “I'll eat just about anything, given half the chance.”
I was paying even less attention than usual in that class. There were a lot of things on my mind. Whether or not I would have to endure additional abuses from Troy and his allies. What did David eat? How would Rachel decide to kill Sergio? Mostly, though, I was thinking about Kristina. Thankfully, this particular instructor decided it was nicer not to demand answers from new students, so I was free to allow my mind to wander.
The rest of the day passed in a blur similar to that class. Although I would think about a few other things, my mind would always meander back to thoughts of Kristina. Had it not been for David's helpful reminder, I may have gotten myself stuck in human morph. That is how distracted I was.
Ronnie picked us up after school. I was not entirely certain why it was he who did the task instead of Cassie. I was not wondering about that, of course; my mind was still on the girl I had met earlier. I was distracted enough that I did not realize that we were in an area of town that I did not recognize until several minutes into the car ride. <Ronnie, where are we going?> I asked. Since I was no longer in public, I deemed it safe to switch to thought-speech.
“I just explained it,” he said, a trace of exasperation in his voice. “Weren't you listening?”
<I was thinking about something.>
He gave a little sigh. “Well, James is at work. And Cassie and I were talking and we figured it would be nice of us to give Tobias and Rachel some alone time, so we're going back to my place for a bit. Cassie wanted to talk to the two of you anyway.”
“What about?” David asked.
Ronnie shrugged. “Nothing in particular, I guess. She just felt like seeing you.”
<I look forward to it.>

Chapter 7

David, Cassie, and I have a peculiar attachment to one another. Some months ago, the three of us were involved in an incident involving the Anati, Helmacrons, and Garatrons. Cassie, David, and I had gone to speak with the Anati and in the process ended up morphing one.
Anati are symbiotic beings made up of three different parts. Each of us morphed one part of the Anati and what we felt when we were combined is something that I know I can never hope to describe. I am a scientist, not a poet or clergyman, and one would need to be both to adequately convey what we felt.
It was so powerful that I believe the experience, more than anything, is what brought David back to us. It seems odd to me to think that he was once an enemy. In that brief period of time when we were connected, David and I became closer than I have ever been to anyone. Perhaps the only one to whom I feel more connected is Prince Tobias.
Cassie was also a part of that experience, so David and I both care for her in a unique way. We love her, and I do not think anything could change that. Even when she abandoned the Animorphs for a life with Ronnie, we loved her.
She and Ronnie had purchased a small, ranch-style house a mile or so outside of town. Much like Cassie's old house, this one was at the edge of the woods, though it lacked a barn. It was only a single story high, though it had a subterranean level that was as large as the rest of the structure. There was a large field out front, and behind it were the woods in which we had lived during our first stay here at Alpha Front. All things considered, I rather liked the place.
Cassie was waiting in the driveway for us. That should not have surprised me. She, David, and I had not seen much of each other lately. Outside of the few meetings we have had, she and Ronnie had been too busy to simply stop by the apartment. There was apparently a great deal to do when obtaining a new habitation. Unlike most Andalites, I do not automatically assume that every aspect of Human culture is inferior to Andalite, but when it comes to living arrangements, I believe my own race's are much more practical.
“You three have fun,” Ronnie said as we got out of the vehicle. “I need to go back into town and grab some of that furniture we bought. I'll see you in a few hours, Cass.”
Cassie nodded. “Have fun.” Then she turned to the two of us. “Well, come on in. You're both probably dying to demorph anyway. Although don't get too comfortable in your normal bodies because I've taken up baking when I can.”
Cassie is not an especially talented baker, but compared to Rachel she is a master, or mistress, of the art. I must admit that David and I shamelessly gorged ourselves on anything she was brave enough to set in front of us. We had reverted to our normal human morphs and I must admit that I was very comfortable at the moment.
The three of us sat at the table in her kitchen. Unpacked boxes were stacked neatly in one corner. The three of us were enjoying some seemingly-delicious edibles when Cassie decided it was time for me to choke. “So, Al, what's her name?”
That was when the aforementioned choking commenced. David smacked me on the back a few times, which was of no aid whatsoever. I eventually dislodged the food myself. Cassie simply sat there with an amused expression on her face, though there was a tinge of worry to it as well. When I had finally composed myself, I responded, “Who?”
Cassie smiled at me. “Oh, come on, Al. I know you better than that. You've got 'the look.'”
“What look?”
The look, Al.”
“I do not know about what you are talking.”
David looked from me to Cassie. “Now that you mention it, he kinda does have a look... I'm not sure what look it is, though.”
“Oh, I know,” she answered, still smiling. I was beginning to become somewhat concerned. “I'm usually very good at spotting it.”
“What look is it of which you speak?”
“It's that look boys get when they meet pretty girls,” Cassie answered. “It works both ways, but I'm more used to seeing it on boys your age. Spending a lot of time with Rachel guaranteed that I saw some new guy with that look at least five times a day.”
“You met a hot chick?” David asked. <And didn't tell me!? Al, that goes against the code!> he added privately.
“You must be guessing,” I said to her. <What code?> I demanded of David, also privately.
<The Guy Code,> David answered, as though it should have been obvious.
“Call it an educated guess, then,” Cassie responded. “I think it's cute. So what's her name, Al?”
“Kristina.” <There is no such code.>
<Is too!>
“Pretty name. What does she look like?”
<I have never heard of it,> I answered David. Then I began describing Kristina to Cassie. I decided not to go into every detail that I remembered. I have a very good memory and I did not want Cassie to think I had been observing Kristina more closely than propriety allowed.
<It's genetic, Al. You should just know it,> David began while I was describing Kristina. <There are certain rules that guys must follow when interacting with other guys. It's also known as Manlaw or 'the Brode', Brode being short for 'Bro Code'. It's sacred to us and is necessary for the continuing function of society.>
“And how did you meet her? Is she in one of your classes?” Cassie asked me.
<You must be exaggerating,> I admonished David. And then I decided to do something I rarely do of my own volition. I lied. I did not want Cassie to know I had been assaulted at school and came out the worse for it. It was humiliating and shaming. So I told her, “She is in one of my classes, yes.”
<I'm serious, Al. Men are aggressive, that's just a nearly universal fact. We compete with each other. And if there aren't rules for this sort of thing, every interaction between two men would end in a fight. And while that may sound like fun, One: I'm not very good in a fight unless I'm in my lion suit. And Two: we wouldn't get very much done if we were constantly fighting each other. So we have to follow the Brode. Society as we know it hinges upon it!>
Cassie gave me a teasing smile. “So, when do we get to meet her?”
<Why would you want to?> “Did you recently sustain a severe blow to the head?”
Cassie looked a little hurt. That was when I realized I had switched up the conversations. David started laughing in my head. <I knew that would work. David: one. Alloran: zero.>

Chapter 8

<You are making this up,> I insisted. Cassie, David, and I were walking up the stairs to the apartment. I was in human morph, and David was in his own body, perched on my shoulder. As you may have surmised,we were still arguing about this ridiculous notion of a 'Brode'.
<Am not. I need to talk to Tobias about this. He should have taught you about the Brode a long time ago. It's, like, his sacred duty or something.> David and I were keeping our conversation a secret from Cassie, since David assured me that she would never understand it. There are some things, I am told, that are the domain solely of males.
The door to the apartment was locked in multiple places. Thankfully, Prince Tobias had seen fit to entrust me with the keys. We entered and found him and Rachel seated on the couch. Sitting on the table in front of them was a small holographic communicator. Oddly, it displayed an image of Former-War-Prince Alloran-Semitur-Corass, my namesake.
(Wow...that's a lot of hyphens...)
Due to the limited capabilities of this particular device, his voice came out of a speaker rather than being broadcasted into our heads. “-extremely troubling. On the one hand, I am pleased that we do not have to fight them. But the fact that they seem to have disappeared completely is far more disturbing.”
“That worries me too, Alloran,” Prince Tobias nodded. “You're sure no one knows where the Visser, Guraff, and Salheer are, then?”
“I fear not, Commander. We had several sightings and received various reports that they were leading attacks, but we recently captured a high-ranking officer, the Sub-Visser in charge of resuming what Salheer started on Leera. We starved the slug out, and his host told us that the commanders we have been seeing are decoys. They get instructions from the real Visser on a regular basis, but no one seems to know where they actually are. An enemy you cannot see is far more fearsome than one in front of you.”
“I'll always take an enemy in front of me,” Rachel agreed. “What does the Electorate plan to do about this?”
“They have not seen fit to tell me,” Alloran admitted. “I was instructed to contact you with this information, but that was all. Although I cannot help but wonder why they did not do it themselves...”
Prince Tobias shrugged. “Probably because I had Al block their communication's channel. I was getting tired of Lirem's calls. It's like he has no idea what time it is over here...”
“Should I relay that to him?” Alloran asked. He almost smiled with his eyes. But War-Prince Alloran forgot how to do that a long time ago.
“No, no. I think I'll just unblock them and let them deal with Rachel the next time they wake her up at three in the morning to demand I start leading armies for them.”
“They will find a way to circumvent that block eventually, you know,” Alloran reminded him.
Prince Tobias looked thoughtful for a moment. Then he nodded. “Tell the Electorate I have a deal for them. If they find the Visser, I'll go off to fight him as soon as they can give me his location. He and I have a score to settle anyway.”
“As you say, Commander. I think I might just join you in that little escapade.”
“I thought you were retired, Alloran,” my Prince responded, a hint of a smile in his voice.
“It would not be a business venture,” Alloran replied, his 'voice' at once cold and slightly humorous. “You both have my best wishes. Alloran, out.”
Prince Tobias severed the communication and then turned to us. “Looks like they finally found out that our old friends aren't exactly where they're supposed to be.”
<They had to figure it out sooner or later,> David mused, making his way towards the kitchen. <I wondered what the Yeerks were up to. I mean, we knew the Visser and his friends were still here on Earth. I couldn't figure out who'd be leading their army.>
“With modern communications, it would be entirely possible to lead a fairly effective campaign from a remote location,” I answered as I began to demorph.
Rachel shook her head. “Calling the shots from the war room is one thing, but everything changes in the field. Esplin and Guraff lose about half their power when they aren't in the thick of it all.”
Prince Tobias nodded. “That's definitely a good thing. The Visser has never really struck me as a master strategist, so his effectiveness is pretty limited right now. Guraff's, too, though he's still dangerous. Salheer's got me worried, though. I just hope Jake and the Omegamorphs can keep him distracted enough here that he isn't focused on the other war.”
“All this talk of war...” Cassie trailed off. “Remember the days when we used to talk about stuff like clothes and super heroes before the meeting started? What happened to all that?”
“You know what happened,” Prince Tobias answered calmly. “We grew up.”
Some of us,” Rachel added. Then she turned to me. “Did you have fun at school, Al?”
<It was...eventful,> I answered.
“Oh? What happened.”
I then realized that I could not tell Rachel and Prince Tobias that I had been assaulted. And for some reason, I did not want them to know about Kristina. <Nothing,> I replied.
“Hmm...Al seems to be turning into a normal teenager,” Cassie mused. “How did that happen?”

Chapter 9

James emerged from the bathroom a few minutes later, his hair dripping wet. Apparently, he had just gotten off of work. He leaned against the kitchen sink. “So, what do we have on our plates for tonight?”
<I do not think Rachel has started cooking yet,> I answered.
“Expression, Al. I mean what are we doing?”
<We are speaking.>
“I meant later tonight.”
<How would I know the answer to that?>
“Because your brother's about to tell us.”
“Exactly,” Prince Tobias nodded. “It's time for us to get down to business here in Alpha Front.”
<What have we been doing?> David posed.
“That was all fun and games,” Rachel answered.
“And most of it was undone during the whole incident with Mersa,” Prince Tobias added. “If Guraff keeps records of every Controller and host here, our spyware isn't turning it up, so I can't say exactly how heavily this place is infiltrated, but we do know that it was in very bad shape before Mersa. And I can't imagine it hasn't gone even more downhill while we were gone. This place is probably tightly in their grip, and I'm worried that pretty soon, Guraff will be able to make a big move and seize this place completely.”
“How could he do that without attracting attention?” Cassie asked. “Kelbrid in the streets would be more than a little noticeable.”
“I don't know how he'd go about doing it,” Tobias admitted. “But we need to be ready for it. It'd be nice to have a few people to call in if things get too hairy.”
<What sort of allies could we call on in this area?> David asked. <Tri-I, maybe?>
Rachel shook her head. “The closest Tri-I office is a few towns over, where my dad lives. And I'm sure telling them what's going on is breaking the rules...”
“There's something,” Cassie mused. “I wonder why we can't have an army.”
“Because that'd break the rules,” James answered. “It has to stay a secret.”
“Esplin didn't keep it a secret from the Yeerks here,” Cassie reminded him. “If he's allowed to tell all of them, why can't we call up Tri-I?”
We all chewed on that for a while. <She might be right,> David admitted. <Man...if we could get an army of our own...>
Prince Tobias shook his head, though. “Many of Esplin's soldiers knew about the invasion before Crayak and Azmaveth made that secrecy agreement. Not very many humans did. We've been very careful about that.”
“What about the Kelbrid he's importing?” Cassie returned.
We all looked at each other, then. Slowly, our eyes fell on our Prince. We knew this would be his call. Rachel had a greedy look on her face. I was not surprised that the idea of an army appealed to her.
“Not yet,” Prince Tobias decided after several minutes of silent debate. “You make a very good argument, Cassie, and I think you just might be right. If we could call up an army and still managed keep this war a secret... But I think we should keep that in our sleeve until we're out of other options. If it looks like we're going to be out of the running very soon, we'll go for it. But it might break those rules, so I can't condone it until we've got no other choice. Which brings me back to David's question: who can we trust?”
<No one,> David said flatly. <In a place this heavily infested, we can't know who is and who is not a Controller.>
“Sergio isn't,” James answered confidently. “He tried to kill Kalroth. Nicolai, too. I know Yeerks don't hesitate to kill their commanders, but it seems to me that Guraff wouldn't let that go on under his reign.”
<It could have been a ploy,> David countered. <If Sergio's a Yeerk, I think it's safe to say he knows who Tobias is, and probably you, too.>
Prince Tobias shook his head. “He's had way too many chances to kill me. No Yeerk would pass that up, even if he'd been given a direct order not to pull the trigger.”
<Some of his men might be Controllers,> I reminded him as I realized a new danger. <Any one of them could begin shooting at you at any time.>
“It's possible. However, they might not know who I am.”
“You work with these people every day,” Cassie answered. “How could they not know who you are?”
Rachel sighed. “He and I have had this discussion on a daily basis, Cassie. He refuses to listen to reason.”
“I'm actually fairly disguised,” Prince Tobias explained. “Between the glasses and the coat, it's not all that easy to tell who I am, especially if you don't spend a lot of time with me. I try to avoid talking at work, and Sergio doesn't particularly like us socializing with each other anyway. None of us are exactly the 'making friends' type. The less everyone knows, the better. If there are any Yeerks working with us, they probably don't know who I am.”
“You should still be careful,” Rachel muttered. It sounded like something she had said many times before and was tired of repeating.
“This is coming from you, Rach?” Prince Tobias responded. Again, it felt like an automatic response, something he was accustomed to saying.
<Where does this leave us?> I asked.
My Prince shrugged. “We can probably trust Sergio in an emergency.” Rachel snorted at that. “At the very least, he's got guns and ammo, and that never hurts. Some of his people might be Yeerks, but I doubt that the majority are. They're not the sort of people Yeerks would go out of their way to infest. I'm doing everything I can to get close to Sergio so that, if and when the time comes, I can talk him into using his 'friends' as an army for us. Oh; and I'm trying to get him to tell me how he and Dan know each other.”
<This is all contingent, though,> David reminded us all. <That doesn't solve the problem of what we're going to do now. Anyone got a master plan? This is your area, Tobias.>
“Rachel had a suggestion earlier. Rach?”
Rachel nodded. “Okay, we know where Kalroth's living. Maybe Sergio, Tobias, and Nicolai couldn't get in there, but we're Animorphs. I think we can manage it. So we attack the place, kill Sergio, and get out of there. That'll get the Yeerks more than a little bit afraid.”
“And now for the part where we take Rachel's idea and change it until it sounds less like suicide,” James whispered. I was fairly certain only I could hear him, and possibly David. Andalite ears are somewhat better than human ones, after all.
<Attacking would probably just get us killed,> David objected. <But maybe...>
“Go on,” Prince Tobias promoted.
<Maybe we can sneak in there. And...well, Kalroth has to sleep some time. But there's no rule saying he has to wake up as well...> He left that hanging there.
<I must protest this,> I said quickly. <I understand that we must win, but this is highly dishonorable. I will, of course, obey my orders, but I feel that I must make my objections known.> I was surprised with the heat with which I said that. I knew that Kalroth was a Yeerk, and that assassinating him would aid us. But there is a line where ruthlessness becomes dishonor. While I was not entirely convinced that this lay on the unacceptable side of that line, it was dangerously close.
Cassie put a hand on my shoulder. “I'm with Al. I'm not convinced Kalroth is even all that dangerous. It's Guraff who calls the shots anyway. I know we can't win by being the good guys, Tobias, so don't start in on me with that yet again. But I won't condone assassinating a man who we don't really need to kill.”
<I'm sure you all know where I stand on this,> David said. <But I think I should just say one thing to you, Cassie. Kalroth might not be the one making the decisions, but he's a symbol. The Yeerks look to him. That's why he was given this job in the first place. If we can cut him down in the middle of his sanctuary, we'll hurt them more than you realize.>
James nodded. “I'm not a big fan of assassinations either, but I'll go where the rest of you go. If you want him killed, I'll help you do it. If you decide not to go for it, I'm just as glad not to.”
<What about your idea last night?> I promised Prince Tobias. <About having Sergio or some other criminal kill him instead of it being us?>
“I'm sort of conflicted over that,” he admitted. “I think that, in the end, it's better if we do it. One of a guerrilla force's strongest weapons is fear. And I think that showing them that we can just walk in and kill one of their top men whenever we want to will definitely help us. But I think Sergio could still be of some use here...”
<How so?> David asked.
“I've seen the security outside of Kalroth's compound. It's tight, but it's also limited to stuff that wouldn't seem too outrageous. Armed guards, a Dracon turret, and a very thick wall. A little suspicious, but nothing that would scream Yeerk. I'm betting that the inside is a different matter, though. I'm sure there are going to be at least a few Kelbrid in there, and probably a bunch of morph-capable humans and Hork-bajir. It'd be nice if there was something important that called those guards away from their posts.”
<Something like Sergio and his 'friends' trying to blow in the front door,> David finished.
Rachel nodded. “A drunk Russian with a fistful of grenades would probably be a little more than a distraction.”
<It makes sense,> I agreed. <While there are undoubtedly some very sophisticated defenses within the compound, I am certain there is nothing I cannot handle. With the guards distracted, it should not be too difficult to infiltrate the compound and locate the Subvisser.>
“What if it's Pythagi tech?” James asked me. “I seem to recall that it gives you a little bit of trouble.”
<It can be tricky,> I admitted. <The Pythagi do not think as Andalites do, which is a problem. It makes it difficult to navigate their programs with any degree of certainty. I suspect that, had the Yeerks actually developed their own technologies, we Andalites would have found them far more difficult to manipulate. I have devoted what time I am able to the study of Pythagi technology, so I believe that I will be able to overcome at least rudimentary security measures.>
“And if you can't?” Cassie asked.
I shrugged. <Then I believe we shall rely on the fact that very little stands in the way of our small army.>

Chapter 10

School the next day was almost entirely uneventful. I halfway dozed through my first few classes. Lunchtime made me just a bit wary. As I had halfway expected, Troy and his associates accosted me en route to the cafeteria.
“Hey, Al,” Troy greeted me as though we were friends. Like the previous time, he put his arm around my shoulders. “Glad I managed to get a hold of you. See, were' in a bit of a jam. Brad forgot his money again and we were really hoping you could help us out.”
I realized by now what he had in mind. “I am sorry, Brad, but I am unable to aid you in this. I myself require my money in order to eat.”
Troy sighed. “We going to have to go through this again? Usually, kids like you learn quicker. Then again, you usually heal up slower, too. That must have something to do with it.”
“There is no need to go through this deception again,” I answered. “I cannot aid you. And should you attempt to force me to do so, you will find my retribution most unpleasant.”
“What're you gunna do, gnome?” Troy asked, shoving me over. Brad and his other companion whose name I still did not know amused themselves by kicking at my ribs a few times. Considering some of the pain that I have endured, it was not very bad. Certainly preferable to having my tail burned off by Kelbrid blood.
They were satisfied and left after a few minutes; and after they searched my body and took my money anyway. Briefly, I wondered why no one saw them and stopped them, but then I decided to focus my thoughts on revenge. A simple solution came to mind. Since battle was out of the question, I would have to rely on my other skills. To that end, I went to the library.
It did not take long to carry out my plan. In approximately ten minutes and twenty-nine seconds, every electronic screen within one hundred yards of the school displayed the same image. Cellular phones, personal holographic emitters, televisions, et cetera, all bore an image I had just created on the computer using somewhat-manipulated images the school had stored on their computers. It was, quite naturally, an image of Troy and Brad sharing a rather...special...moment.
I was more or less content for the rest of the day. The only part that marred my happiness was the fact that I had not come across Kristina that day. Like the previous day, Ronnie drove David and myself to Cassie's house, where we ate food and helped her move in. After that, David and I spent a few hours hiding in various forms near Kalroth's compound, attempting to get an idea of the defenses.
It sat in the shadow of the mountains and reminded me of an ancient castle. The rear end of the estate was walled off by a mountain. Undoubtedly, Kalroth had direct access to the Yeerk pool. The other sides of the compound were defended by a thick, concrete wall that rose about ten feet high. The front of the compound was denoted by a sturdy gate between two fifteen-foot tall towers. The only way for a conventional vehicle to approach the compound was by a narrow, winding road that was interspersed with small guard booths.
Within the walls were several buildings, including a large mansion that was undoubtedly where Kalroth personally resided. Everything was routinely patrolled by armed guards. Most of them were humans, but a few were Hork-bajir.
<Surely anyone who sees this knows that something untoward is going on here,> I called to David, who was somewhere above me in a morph. I was hiding in some trees outside of the compound in squirrel morph.
<I doubt anyone ever has the chance to report back, Al,> my shorm replied grimly. <Besides, I'm starting to think Alpha Front isn't as normal as it appears on the surface. Tobias said Kalroth was taking money from the mafia, and he probably meant more than just Sergio. It occurs to me that we actually don't know much about this town. Maybe we should do some research when we get home and see what turns up.>
<That sounds advisable,> I agreed.
That trip was uneventful. We were not seen, but we learned nothing new. The true defenses would be inside of the compound, and we could not see those. The next day was almost as uneventful as the previous one. Troy and Brad did not bother me at school. Perhaps they learned their lesson.
I did, however, run into Kristina. She was walking to a class, I believe. “Hello!” I called to her, waving.
She looked at me with those beautiful eyes. Then, she said something that still echoes in my head. “Do I know you?”
I froze in mid wave. “It is I, Al,” I reminded her. Had I used the wrong morph!? No, I was sure I did not. Why did she not recognize me?
“I'm sorry, I don't think we've met.”
“We...we met two days ago, after lunch,” I reminded her. Why did she not remember me?
“Sorry, kid, but I just don't remember you. What did you say your name was?”
“Al. Right. See you around, Al.” Then she left.
I am ashamed to admit that I wanted to weep. I managed to avoid doing so, even when I returned to Cassie's home. It was becoming a routine, now. Go to school. Go to Cassie's. Survey Kalorth's compound. Return home.
When I got to the return home part, I was pleased to find that no one was there. James, as I knew, was working. Prince Tobias left a note saying that he and Rachel were 'out' and would be back in a few hours. David was using the computer in James' room to research Alpha front. That left me alone in the living room.
I sat there in my human morph, staring at the television for a while, unsure what show was on. I sighed, resting my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands. “Why does she not remember me?” I asked myself.
And then I heard a chillingly familiar voice from the television. “Aaaaand we're back. Our next guest is little aristh Allie, who seems to be having a little trouble with the ladies. How can I help, Allie?” I looked at the television. Whatever show was supposed to be on had been replaced by something else.
The set looked like that of the Late Late Show. However, everything was painted in sickening shades of green and yellow. And behind the desk was not Craig Ferguson. It was the Drode.
I suddenly found myself in the guest chair, next to the Drode's desk. Out in the studio, where there should have been an audience, there were just copies of the Drode wearing different clothing. I turned to the Drode at the desk. “Why have you brought me here?”
“Do I really need a reason, Allie?”
“I find it unlikely that you would act without one. Your reasoning is usually warped and twisted, but present.”
“Fair enough.” The Drode sighed. “I'm here to help you with this little bit of lady trouble you're having all of a sudden. Gotta say, I didn't think it would happen to you.”
I shook my head. “You would not care about something like that. Why am I really here?”
“You don't understand, Allie,” the Drode insisted. “It's a question of morale. Happier soldiers fight better, and that increases my odds of winning this thing. So I plan to do everything in my power to keep you Animorphs happy.”
“I do not need your help,” I insisted.
“Allie, if that was true, I wouldn't be here. It's not like I'm a big fan of yours. You're too...what's the word...good...for me. With your skills you could set out on your own and make a killing. Imagine what the Pythagi would do if they could get your help! But I bet that never even crossed your mind.”
“Not until this moment, and I disregarded it just as quickly,” I admitted.
“Exactly. So you see, you're really not my favorite. And in case you were wondering, they are, in order of most favored to least: Rach, Toby, Dav-o, Marco, and Ax...then you, James, Melissa, and Jeanne are tied for apathy...then there's Cassie and Jakey, who I just can't stand. If I didn't think you needed help, I wouldn't even bother talking to you.”
The entire situation was just wrong. I was sure of it. I knew that the Drode did not want to help, even for the reasons he said he did.
“Oh, come on Allie. I'm the good guy now,” the Drode smiled.
“ do remember that I am precisely the opposite of stupid, do you not?”
“Fine, fine. But I am on your side in this one, kid. I keep my end of a deal. And if you don't believe that, ask yourself why Prince Toby isn't still all feathery. The last thing I can afford is you Animorphs turning against me. We're in too deep for that. I need your help, Allie, and you need mine. So just accept it so we can both go back to sleep.”
“You sleep?”
“Me? Don't be ridiculous. I just like to watch other people do it. So whadda ya say?”
Deep in my soul, I knew it was stupid. But my mind could not find any real reason against it, other than the voice in my head that kept shouting DO NOT TRUST THE DRODE. I believe it is called common sense. But I am a scientist; common sense has little place in my thinking when it contradicts logic. As hard as I tried, I could not find a reason not to trust him other than the obvious.
So I made perhaps the biggest mistake of my life. I said, “Deal.”

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The Chee
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Re: Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

Post by Elfangor » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:49 am

Cool chapters! POST PART 3 SOON!
From Chapter 8.
Due to the limited capabilities of this particular device, his voice came out of a speaker rather than being broadcasted into our heads. “-extremely troubling. One the one hand, I am pleased that we do not have to fight them. But the fact that they seem to have disappeared completely is far more disturbing.”
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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Hork-Bajir seer
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Re: Animorphs #71: The Lesson (This one's more than a bit nutty)

Post by Beckyno1 » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:47 am

Brilliant! I'm begging, please upload part 3! I loved it how the girl didn't remember him. And the Drode wanting to help him out...genius! :D
Inactivness has hit me! Oh no! If you want to remind me to come on, just PM me!

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