Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

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Blueberry Chicken
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Re: Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by Blueberry Chicken » Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:12 pm

*Looks for update*

Beat up Yeerks...Beat up Guide...Beat up Yeerks...Beat up Guide... Ah what the heck! Eat them both!

I swear I don't need a psychiatrist.

I wonder what Yeerks taste like...

I apologize for an extremely random post. I'm just here to ask about updates. When's the next part going to be uploaded?
"Sass, back before you, me, Blu, Vulf and BB used to roll together.We were tighter than emo jeans."
-Dest

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capnnerefir
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Re: Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by capnnerefir » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:10 pm

When I've finished writing it. I've been extremely busy as of late, especially this weekend. There are only about two or three chapters to go, so it'll be done soon.

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Re: Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by capnnerefir » Tue Feb 09, 2010 10:07 am

CHAPTER 16

The Executive led us to the Iskoort ship without any argument. Apparently, the Undervisser backed by several Hork-bajir and Kelbrid gained the respect we expected. The ship itself was shaped like Pac-Man swallowing one of those little pellets he is always trying to eat up. It was a large sphere, about the size of the dome on an Andalite capital ship, with a smaller sphere at what I assume must have been the front, serving as the bridge. I later learned that the whole thing was blindingly white and reflective, like fresh snow.

The Pyathagi were hovering around the ship. Some were trying to break through the side with Oda cannons, some were searching for entrances, and some were just observing. There were several large, ground-based Oda batteries aimed at the ship, but no one was firing those.

“As you can see,” the Executive explained, “the problem is as I explained earlier. We cannot enter this vessel.”

“It will not be a problem. Have all your people back away from the ship,” Ax answered.

The Executive shouted something in his native language and the workmen abandoned the ship. <Prince Jake, how are we going to get in? Will it not be suspicious if they open the door for us?>

<What if we find one on our own and ‘force’ our way in?> Jake suggested. <Guide, where’s the nearest entrance?>

<The underside of the ship, on the side facing the sun. I will illuminate it for you.>

<Not too brightly,> Marco warned.

We followed Ax around to the other side of the ship as he tapped against it, pretending to be searching for an entrance. We could not see the glowing portion of the ship, but I assume Aximili found it without too much difficulty, since he led us inside the ship. “Remain outside on guard,” he instructed the Pythagi. “I will investigate with my soldiers.”

The door sealed behind us and we demorphed. “Would you guard this door for us?” Jake asked the Hork-bajir. “It’s the only entrance the Pythagi know about and we don’t want them trying to walk in here.”

“We guard,” the Hork-bajir agreed.

The outside of the Iskoort ship appeared sensible and reasonable. This inside looked like they transplanted a section of their homeworld and put it into this bubble. There were platforms colored in ways that seemed specially designed to harm the human eye, all stacked on top of each other at seemingly random heights, with the least possible number of support structures. Compared to the stark sterility of the walls of the ship, the effect was jarring.

Just as bad, if not worse, was the noise. There were Iskoort everywhere. Thought-speak cries assailed us constantly, as did the incessant whining of their diaphragms. The effect of being in this space with them was like living in a migraine headache.

“Jake, do these things ever stop making noise?” Melissa demanded. “Or do I need to learn to morph ear plugs?”

“Can’t plug out the thought-speak,” Marco answered.

A gaggle of Iskoort emerged from a lift next to us. <Friends! Oh, my dear, dear friends it has been far too long since I last saw you! Oh, you must sell me what happened to you during all this time.> Presumably, that was Guide.

<No, sell the memories to me!> someone else shouted. <I will pay you in grachak fur!>

<I will pay you in weapons!> a third one shouted. That was the point at which all of the cries assaulting us stopped making sense. One just flowed into another in a mess of thought-speech and whining diaphragms.

“No one is selling anyone anything right now!” Jake shouted over the noise. “We’re trying to rescue you, remember?”

<Rescue me from bankruptcy!> someone answered.

“No, from death and genocide,” Marco answered.

“Jake,” I began, “we cannot stay here too long. Sooner or later, the Executive will send a communication about this to Earth, or the Yeerks on Earth will tell the Pythagi here about the ship we stole. Either way, they will realize that we are not who we appear to be. We do not have a lot of time. We need to figure out a way to get the Iskoort from here to the ship without anyone seeing what they are.”

<All in good time, Jeanne,> Guide answered. <First, refreshments!>

“What do Iskoort eat?” Melissa asked.

“I don’t know,” Jake admitted as the crowd of Iskoort swept us into the lift. “But they have blue tongues. I can’t help but think it’s related to that…”

The lift deposited us at a middle level of the ship. From the way the walls curved inwards and then outwards again, I could tell we were entering the smaller sphere that seemed to be attached to the larger one. <This is the command bridge,> Guide said proudly. <Also emergency escape vessel.>

<Why did you not just use this to escape, then?> Aximili asked. <You are in an emergency.

<The Pythagi would just shoot it down if we tried to fly away,> Guide answered. <That and to abandon this ship would be a massive financial blow. I cannot quite bring myself to part with it.>

“You might have to,” Jake informed him. “I can’t think of any way we can get this ship out of here.”

<You expect us to abandon our ship?> one of the Iskoorts demanded.
“It’s either that or your race is going to die,” Melissa answered. “Which is worth more, the lives of all your people or the ship?”

<There are also many expensive things in the ship,> a different Iskoort put in.

“And you think that is worth more than your lives?” I asked.

They were silent for a moment. Then, someone shouted, <ACCOUNTANT! WE NEED A MEMBER OF THE ACCOUNTANT AND CALCULATIONS GUILD!> A moment later, all the Iskoort took up the cry until one answered.

<I’m an accountant!>

<Which is worth more, this ship and its cargo or our lives?> Guide asked him. The accountant Iskoort rushed off somewhere, presumably to do his calculations. <While he performs his task, what say we eat? You must be starving! Oh, Ax - do you mind if I call you Ax? - you will want to morph to human, you will need a mouth for this.>

<Only one mouth?> someone asked.

CHAPTER 17

“Just remind yourselves it can’t be worse than Rachel’s cooking,” Jake advised.

“What if it is?” Marco asked.

“Then we will die,” I answered.

We were seated around a table in the middle of the Iskoort command deck. The accountant was nearby, putting information into the computer to determine if the ship was, in fact, worth more than their lives.

“Prince Jake, I am frightened,” Ax admitted. “I do not want to die due to ingesting substances incompatible with my current morph.”

Several Iskoort put trays in front of us. The were covered by lids, so I could not see what was on mine. I could detect no scent from it either. <We hope you enjoy it, the chef spent months trying to perfect the recipes. Four good Iskoort of the Culinary Arts and Waste Management Guild died in the process.>

“Those two work together, do they?” Marco asked.

<One leads to the other,> Guide answered. <Enjoy.>

One by one, we all turned to Jake. Someone had to go first. “Okay,” Jake said, taking a deep breath. Then he pulled the lid off of his tray.

Sitting on the tray was a bacon cheeseburger, French fries, potato chips, and a large cup of what appeared to be some sort of cola. The rest of us had identical foods, except for Aximili. He just had the largest cinnamon bun I have ever seen. We stared at the food for a few moments.

<What were you expecting?> Guide asked. <We know what humans eat. We love watching your memories. From those, we learned that you would enjoy a meal of hamburgers, french fries, and RC Cola. Duplicating that particular brand was very difficult. We had to look at the nutritional information on a can of the beverage and, using the information it gave from that, attempt to extrapolate the proper chemical combination. I believe we succeeded.>

“For once, I’m glad we sold those, then,” Jake answered. “I always felt really weird with my memories floating around somewhere on your planet.”

<Speaking of which, I see that a great deal has happened to you since the last time we met,> Guide responded. <I’m sure we can work out some sort of arrangement…>

“Prince Jake, I feel I should remind you that we do not have an overabundance of time, as Jeanne pointed out earlier. Also, we should begin thinking of ways to get the Iskoort from here to the ship we stole.”

“If I remember correctly,” I answered, “The Rachel had two transport craft. We could put some of the Iskoort in those and use them to transfer the Iskoort to the ship we stole without the Pythagi seeing them. If questioned about that procedure, we could perhaps claim that we do not want them to see any of Mars.”

“With Guraff’s authority to back us, I think that would work,” Jake agreed. “Now it’s a matter of-”

<I have finished my calculations!> the accountant announced. <I first calculated the cost of this ship, as well as the cost of the equipment in it, as well as your wares and the loss that abandoning and destroying them would incur. Then, I calculated expected profit of the average Iskoort over the period of one lifetime, and multiplied that by the population of our race, acting on the generally accepted assumption that war with the Yeerks and Pythagi would mean the effective destruction of our culture. To that effect, I also calculated the estimated loss in profit that would result form such destruction and have arrived at a mathematical conclusion about the worth of this ship versus our lives.>

<What did you find?> Guide asked.

<The results were staggering. Next to the estimated potential loss associated with the obliteration of our race, the value of this ship is negligible. The long-term profit yielded by our escape is almost immeasurably greater than the cost of this ship.>

“You needed math to tell you that?” Melissa asked.

<It is always good to be certain,> the accountant answered.

“Okay,” Jake began. “We need to get those two transports up and running. Ax, is the ship we stole still primed for travel?”

“Unfortunately, no, Prince Jake. I had to give the appearance that we planned to take a while to investigate this matter. It can easily be re-initialized by someone who knows how to do it.”

“Marco learned how to do that sort of thing from Menderash during our initial voyage,” I informed Jake.

“I did?” Marco asked.

<You did,> Guide answered. <You sold the memories of it soon afterwards.> Two ideas occurred to me then. One was one I would have to investigate when we had more time. The other was something that could help us right now.

“Guide, do you have those memories here?” I asked.

<Oh yes, I have copies of all your memories. Why?>

“Marco needs things to jog his memory. Perhaps if he saw himself learning, it would stimulate his memory to the point where he would be capable of initializing the ship’s systems. Is there a quick way to do it?”

<Absolutely. It is a short enough stream of memory that we can play it very quickly without the risk of neural damage to him. I can have it ready in a matter of moments.>

“Go do that,” Jake ordered. “Ax, morph to Guraff. Jeanne and Marco morph to Kelbrid and go with him. Mel and I will prepare the Iskoort here. Marco, ready the ship for departure. Jeanne and Ax will pilot the transports. We should be able to squeeze everyone into the ship with two trips by each of you.

Our preparations took ten minutes, approximately seven of which consisted of Guide beaming Marco’s own memories into his brain so that he would know how to start up the ship. The Iskoort might have held the key to restoring Marco’s memory entirely. Perhaps, if the entirety of his life was forced into his brain, he would be able to remember the rest of it. It might be a permanent improvement, or failing at that a process Marco could repeat every morning. In any case, it could be a solution.

Marco looked exhausted when the Iskoort removed a headband-type device from his head. <He is ready,> Guide answered. <He seems to be showing some decreased neurological functions, but he was exhibiting those prior to the memory transfer.>

“I’m just tired,” Marco answered. “Too much morphing today.”

“We only need one more from you,” Jake answered. “Just morph to Kelbrid, get to the ship, turn it on, and you can relax.”

“One more morph,” Marco agreed. “I can do that.” He glanced at me as if to ask ‘Right, Jeanne?’

I nodded. He could. I was sure of it.

But as I’ve said before, I know a lot less about morphing than some of the other Animorphs.

CHAPTER 18

<I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired,> Marco complained once we were done morphing and Ax had again reigned us in with the power of Guraff’s voice. <I mean, I’ve forgotten a lot, but I can’t imagine I’ve ever been this tired in my life.>

<I am sure you have,> I assured him.

<I don’t think so. Jeanne, you can feel how strong these bodies are. And I feel like I’m going to fall over. If I had eyes, I’d have a hard time keeping them open.>

<As you do not have eyes, you do not need to worry about that,> I answered.

Aximili led us out of the ship, where a crowd of Pythagi was waiting for us. “Undervisser. What have you learned?”

“I am afraid that due to the sensitive nature of this information, it is best that I discuss it with my leader before answering questions,” Ax responded. He was being clever, not actually lying. Pythagi could literally taste deception.

“In all fairness, Undervisser, this is a Pythagi base. We have a right to know who and what we are detaining.”

“I agree,” Aximili answered. “And if I was at liberty to tell you, I would do so, but that is not an option.”

“Undervisser, I must insist-”

“And I must refuse.”

“I am the Executive of this colony. With the exception of the areas ‘controlled’ by the Skrit Na, this planet belongs to me, as do all things on it. That ship is the property of the Pythagi Conglomerate. As such, it is my right to know what is in it and where it came from.”

“I agree, Executive, but I am not in a position to divulge that information.”

“Let us try this a different way, then,” the Executive answered, his tone changing. “I understand that you cannot, for reasons I must assume are good ones, tell me who or what is on that ship. But perhaps you could tell me what is not on that ship.”

“I am not sure I understand.”

“Let us say that it was a Skrit Na vessel but you could not tell us that. You could, perhaps, tell us something to the effect of ‘I cannot say that it is a Skrit Na vessel.’”

“I believe I understand now. To that effect, I could not tell you that this is a Ssri’Kai vessel.” This was good. The Executive had opened the door for Aximili to explain things without lying. I hoped the chemistry of his body would understand. Presumably, as long as Aximili did not think he was lying, his body would not receive the proper signals to alter its chemistry accordingly.

“Ssri’Kai?”

“I could not tell you that,” Aximili answered. “But if it was a Ssri’Kai ship, it would be extremely dangerous for your men to enter it. I can virtually guarantee that they would all be killed.”

“What can we do about it?” the Executive asked.

“I have reached an understanding with the occupants of the ship,” Aximili explained. “They wish to be taken to a place chosen by my leader. We will use the transport craft in my ship to transport them from their ship to mine so that no one sees anything they cannot be allowed to see.”

“Of course, of course.”

“Once I have them all on my ship, you may do what you like with theirs,” Aximili finished.

“That sounds acceptable, Undervisser. I assume I will be kept informed of everything you learn from them?”

“We will share all information with you that we can,” Aximili agreed. I knew that meant he would be sharing nothing.

“Your reputation for honesty is exceeded only by your reputation as a warrior,” the Executive responded. “If you say that you will keep me informed, I will accept it as strong as any contract.”

“Then we will have no problems.” Aximili turned and began led us back to the ship. <I will take the first transport,> he explained. <Jeanne, I believe it will be safe enough for you to follow soon after, but I think it would be best if you remained with Marco during the initial stages of his task, just in case there is a problem.>

<Understood,> I agreed.

We entered the ship and Aximili immediately started off for the small hangar that held the two transports. <We should demorph now, Marco,> I prodded when we entered the lounge of the ship.

<Yeah, I know,> he answered, settling his chin on his larger arm. <Just let me get up the energy. It’ll take a moment.>

I waited patiently for a few moments while Marco sat there. And then I noticed that his heartbeat had slowed. So did his breathing. It took me a moment to realize what had happened. He was tired that he fell asleep.

<MARCO!> I shouted. <WAKE UP!> I nudged him with my stinger.

The reaction was instantaneous. He snapped into a standing position and before I realized what was happening, my body was dodging as his stinger scraped across my flank. Why was he attacking me?

Of course. He woke up in a Kelbrid morph, with only 13 years worth of memories. He would have no idea what was happening and was probably in the grip of the Kelbrid’s instincts. <Marco, you need to calm down.>

He lunged at me, his maw wide open. I swept my weaker arm in front of me to block him. His jaws clamped down on my forearm and I heard the bone snap. I had little choice but to counter attack, so I stabbed my stinger into his leg, hoping I wasn’t severing an artery.

Marco jerked his head back and forth sharply. Kelbrid can take a great deal of pain before they notice it, but it felt that. I screamed at the top of my ‘lungs’ but Marco didn’t stop. I stabbed my stinger into his leg and side again and again, but he didn’t feel it.

Then, he jerked away from me one last time, taking my whole forearm with him. My arm was hacked off at the elbow by his teeth. Now, even the Kelbrid was screaming. Blood was gushing out of my wound like I had rarely seen before. Perhaps if I had really been fighting, I would not have suffered so badly, but I was holding back. That is not an option with Kelbrid.

I held my arm to my chest in an attempt to slow the bleeding with little effect. I could not concentrate on the wound anyway. Marco slammed his full weight into me and I rolled over on my back. I could hear extremely faint thought-speak, too faint to make out. It had to be coming from him.

<Marco, listen to me!> I cried. He struck down at me with his stinger, but I parried it with my own. <This is not a bad dream, Marco. This is real!>

Again he struck, and again I parried him. He tried to hold down my working arm with his weak one, but I shrugged that off and scratched him across the chest. <You are not in control of yourself, Marco. You are a human being. You are not a Kelbrid. This is not your body.>

He paused. <Marco. My name is Marco.>

<Yes, it is. And you are a human being.>

<But…no, I can’t be. If I was then I wouldn’t…>

<You have temporarily assumed the body of a Kelbrid. An alien.>

<Kelbird. Kelbrid…right…Kelbrid. I’m not a Kelbrid. I’m human. My name is Marco.>

<Yes, you are right. You need to become human again, Marco. Right now. I cannot remain in this body much longer, it is dying.>

<How can I do that?>

<Think about yourself as a human,> I explained. <Close your eyes and think about Marco the human. Just keep your eyes closed and concentrate.>

While Marco demorphed, I did the same. For once, I finished before he did. Several minutes later, we were two humans in the blood-soaked lounge. Marco sat on the floor, his arms wrapped around himself. “I don’t want to do that again.”

“You won’t have to,” I answered. At least he wouldn’t have to remember any of this. I pointed towards a chair. “Go and rest. You need it.”

“I’m not going to sleep if I can wake up like that again.”

“You won’t, I promise,” I told him. Then I said something I really should not have. “This is all a dream, Marco. Just a bad dream. Go to sleep and when you wake up, you won’t even remember it.”

CHAPTER 19

With Marco unable to help us, transferring the Iskoort over to our ship took a little longer. Aximili had to make three trips while I made the final one after I prepared the ship for departure. The ship was crowed with the full Iskoort delegation and our new Hork-bajir friends, but we made some room just before we left. We released the captured Kelbrid and Yeerks onto Mars, keeping our promise.

<As soon as the Kelbrid and Yeerks explain that we are Animorphs, the Pythagi will begin shooting at us,> Aximili warned us.

“Then fly fast,” Jake advised.

<I think that they will be otherwise occupied,> Guide said calmly. <You see, we could not allow them to get the information or merchandise on our ship, so we left a little surprise for them.>

“A surprise?” I asked.

<Yes. There is a certain gas contained in the ship that has the unfortunate side effect of exploding when exposed to oxygen and carbon. We set the ship to vent all of its other gasses except for that one, and then to seal itself up completely. The instant someone enters that ship and exhales carbon dioxide, the resulting explosion will completely destroy the ship and everything in it. And just in case that does not succeed, we have also set the ship on a self-destruct timer. The Pythagi will get nothing from us.>

“I’m starting to warm up to these guys,” Melissa admitted. “How is Marco feeling?”

I had explained the situation to them when they first arrived, since they had, quite naturally, asked me where all of that blood came from. Marco had refused to sleep at all, and when the Iskoort came, Marco put himself in with them so that the noise would keep him awake. He was too cynical and paranoid to accept my explanation that it was all a dream, especially because so much of it felt so familiar.

“This experience might mentally cripple him if we do not somehow address it,” I admitted. “I think we must take steps to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. An idea has come to mind that might resolve his difficulties permanently.”

“You think you have a cure?” Jake asked.

“We must keep in mind that Marco’s disorder is not a physical one. His memories left him because his mind could not reconcile the fact that you returned from the dead, Jake. It is a psychological problem. However, when he has things explained to him, he remembers them fairly well. This suggests that his mind has now prepared itself for the shock that caused him to lose his memories in the first place. The problem is that those memories are only there in a vestigial sense. I believe that if we could give them back, he might be able to retain them.”

“We’ve tried explaining things to him,” Melissa argued. “He always forgets it the next morning.”

“We are giving him definitions and stories, not memories,” I answered. “But the Iskoort can actually give him his memories back. They have them recorded and we can use their technology to insert his own memories back into his mind.”

The Iskoort had salvaged some things from their ship that they were not willing to part with. One of those things was the machine they used to project memories, as well as Guide’s extensive collection of memories. We had the capabilities to carry out this plan.

<It is risky,> Guide answered. <When we show memories, we edit them, since no one wants to watch every single moment of someone’s life. They are edited for both time and content. There is a finite number of memories a brain can process. This tends to vary from species to species, but I would estimate Marco to be at the low end of the spectrum to be safe. We would have to take it slowly, but we could have it done over the course of a few days, if we did nothing but that, allowing for necessary biological functions.>

“You know a lot about this,” Jake commented.

<I made a fortune in the memory business, Jake. I should know all there is to know about it. I would like to begin as soon as possible, and preferably while Marco is asleep. His brain will be more suggestible to outside influences then.>

<What are the possible risks?> Aximili asked.

<There are a few. He might lose touch with reality, unable to distinguish between past and present, or dreams and reality. He might go completely insane. He might forget everything he knows. If we take things slow enough, though, we should be fine.>

“Anything else?” Jake asked. I could see he was thinking about it, but I knew what his answer would be. He would not agree to anything that might make Marco lose touch with himself or reality, but he would let Marco decide that for himself. I was of the same opinion.

<I would recommend performing the procedure in complete isolation. For something like this, I think having as little external input as possible would be preferable. I would also like to keep him unconscious during the whole thing, preferably with sedatives as blows to the head might have an adverse effect. I must confess that this has never been done before.>

“I’m not sure about this, but it’s Marco’s brain,” Jake answered. “I’ll go get him so we can see how he feels about this.”

Jake returned a few minutes later with Marco. “Jake explained the whole thing to me,” he greeted us. “I’m going for it. I just…I can’t keep going on like that. Knowing that I might wake up like that again and hurt someone else…I can’t live that way. If there’s a way to fix this, then I want to take it.”

I took his hand in mine. “Are you-”

“Sure? God no. But I’m going to do it anyway.”

“Marco,” Jake began, “if things don’t-”

“Jake, man, don’t say goodbye or anything. I need a positive attitude for this sort of thing. If I go into this depressed and thinking that I’m not going to come back from it, it might totally screw up my whole personality. So no goodbyes, okay? I’ll see you in a couple of days.”

Marco turned to go with Guide to a room we had forced the Iskoort out of so that Guide could begin right away. We wanted to know one way or the other before the wedding. I knew Marco didn’t want goodbyes, but I couldn’t let him go like that, knowing that he might not come back. After so long, I had started to forget that we Animorphs were mortals and that sometimes, things just didn’t work out for us. Cassie’s death reminded us all of that. Before, I would have known that Marco might not be coming back from this, but it wouldn’t have felt real. Now, it was all too real.

I grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around to face me. He didn’t want me to say goodbye, but I had other ways of telling him. I pulled him close to me and kissed him like I am sure I have done in his dreams a thousand times. “You owe me one,” I told him, turning him back around to go with Guide. “Pay me back when you remember.”

CHAPTER 20

The next eight days were spent waiting by everyone. We Animorphs were all waiting to see if Guide and the other Iskoort could heal Marco. We were also waiting the day of Tobias and Rachel’s wedding. At least we knew how the second one would play out. Tobias and Rachel would be married and literally no force on Earth could stand in the way of that. What would become of Marco was another story.

It was the eighth day of his treatment and, according to Guide, it would be the last day. Marco had been kept sedated in his mansion the entire time, so no one had any idea how things were progressing. Not even I had been allowed to see him. At least the Iskoort were taking the matter seriously.

We also took the next eight days to deal with Cassie’s death, something that we had been forcing ourselves to avoid before. We all had our own ways of dealing with it. Jake was withdrawn, talking almost entirely to Melissa. Aximili was similarly withdrawn, doing whatever it was proper for an Andalite to do for the death of a friend and comrade.

David and Al seemed particularly pained by Cassie’s loss. At first they spoke little, but after four days of that, Sara started dragging the two of them all around town, forcing them to have a good time. They seemed a little happier after that. My step-sister was remarkably good at cheering them up.

James did not seem particularly broken up about Cassie’s loss, though I do not know him well. It is possible, perhaps probable, that he did his mourning on his own, where the rest of us could not see. Ronnie attempted to do the same, with no success whatsoever.

We rarely saw Ronnie over the next eight days, which as unfortunate. We had been hoping to take that time to get to know him better. He remained in the room he and Cassie had shared during their stay at my father’s house. His activities consisted of drinking and crying, usually at the same time. He would drink until he passed out, and when he woke up he would continue doing so.

I do know that there were at least two days when he was not drinking. On the first of those days, Tobias took him to the Gardens to get some morphs. I know that on the other day, the two of them were sparring, though I do not know where. As I understand it, Tobias spent some time drinking with Ronnie as well, and I understood why.

Tobias knew exactly what Ronnie was going through. Tobias was someone Ronnie could trust, someone he could relate to. Someone who had suffered the same pain and come out stronger for it. Tobias was carefully building Ronnie’s loyalty, which would prove to be very important when Ronnie went on active Alphamorph duty. It was a good plan, and one that I chose not to interfere with.

I spent a good deal of time with Rachel and the rest of my family, making certain everything was ready for the wedding. It was a slightly confusing service for several reasons. Rachel’s family was Jewish, though not very devout, so there were some customs that were simply going to be ignored, like the tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other for a week before the wedding. Also, Rachel refused to fast on the day of the wedding, and I am not going to try telling a pregnant woman not to eat.

To make things more complicated, there were some Andalite traditions that Tobias and Rachel insisted be adapted for humans. That was a bit complicated as well. While I helped with all I could, though, I was still focused on two problems: Marco and Melissa.

I finally came to the conclusion of both those problems on the same day. I was in Marco‘s comic book gallery, waiting for the final verdict on his condition from the Iskoort. I heard the door open and Jake announce himself and Melissa. All of the Animorphs would be arriving today.

Melissa sought me out. “How are you feeling, Jeanne?” she asked me.

“More nervous than I have ever been,” I answered. This was the first time I had a chance to talk to Melissa alone in a while. I decided to use that time to get to the bottom of her problem with Aximili. “But let’s talk about something else. Last week, we were talking about your problems with Aximimili.”

“Do you really want to bring that up?”

“Yes, I do. I would like to try and resolve all of my problems today. I consider this one of them. I understand that you feel betrayed by the Andalites, and by Aximili in particular. But there is more to it than that.”

“Yeah, there is. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, trying to figure out why the murder of a relative stranger bothers me so much.”

“Did you think of anything?”

She nodded. “Yeah. It isn’t just what happened to Carl, or how I feel about what Ax did. It’s also about all the rest of you. About how you don’t even seem to care when someone dies. Ax murdered Carl, and did he have any sort of punishment from it? A few dirty looks and some harsh words, but that’s it. And when Cassie died, it was like you’d all feel sorry when you had the time for it, but not when there were more important things to do. Stuff like this just doesn’t seem to bother you anymore.”

“It still bothers all of us, Melissa,” I answered her.

“But not like it should. I’m not saying we should feel bad for killing Yeerks or Kelbrid or Pythagi or Ssri’Kai or even Hork-bajir. But when humans die, it’s like you don’t care anymore. Jake told me about how hard you all tried back during the First War to keep humans from dying. Now it’s like you barely even notice. And maybe you do still feel bad, but not as bad as you should.”

“And that upsets you? That we have accepted our roles as soldiers?” I pressed.

“No, it’s not that! It’s that….we’re supposed to be the good guys. But look at the things we do, the people we kill, and how little remorse we show for it. We’re supposed to be heroes, but….”

“But we aren’t heroes, are we?” I answered. “At least, not all the time. I know what you’re feeling, Melissa. I had a hard time dealing with it, too. Before I became an Animorph, I read every book on them that I could find. I watched every interview, I learned all I could. I thought that I was going to be a hero, too. I didn’t understand what being an Animorph really meant.

“For months, I really couldn’t deal with that. I would find places to be alone and I would cry. It felt like the things we had to do kept getting more and more wrong. First invading Tri-I’s headquarters, then the deaths of Santorelli and Jake, then the deals we made with Mersa…I couldn’t feel like a hero, after seeing all the bad things we did. I can see now why you direct your anger and frustration at Ax. With everyone else you’ve seen killed, you can argue that they deserved it, that they were in some way bad or evil and that we were still good. But Carl…there wasn’t an ounce of evil that we could see in him, and he got killed just like any Kelbrid, in the end. Another casualty we caused. Whatever beliefs you had about us being heroes, Aximili shattered them.”

“So how do we do it?” Melissa asked. “We’re not the good guys. Not with all of the tings we do. What does that make us?”

“There are many types of heroes in this world,” I answered. “And I will not claim to know what kind we are. But I do know this. The Yeerks want to take every last sentient being in the galaxy and turn them all into complete and abject slaves. I know that Azmaveth is testing humanity and that if we do not pass his test, our entire race will be exterminated more completely than we can imagine. We have to fight this war, and we have to win, because the consequences if we lose are unacceptable. It isn’t how we fight that makes us good or evil, it’s what we fight against.”

“Do you really believe that?” Melissa responded. “Yeah, maybe that makes sense, but when we get right down to it, do you really think that’s true?”

“Sometimes,” I admitted. “Other times it just seems like something I’m telling myself so I can feel a little better.”

“Well, which is it?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I answered. “How I feel about it doesn’t change the reality of it, and that is perhaps the most important thing to understand about being an Animorph. Whether we like it or hate it, it is who and what we are and we all have to find a way to live with it or it will destroy you. Look at what happened to David. The first time, he couldn’t find a way to live with being an Animorph and the result was a series of actions that nearly destroyed him and threatened all of Earth. Marco could not deal with it and he los this mind.

“I hope, Melissa, that you can find some way to cope with the life you now have. I would hate to see something happen to you. But I also hope that you do not try and cope by blaming Ax.”

“Lovely words of advice, Jeanne,” I heard Marco say from behind me. I turned around, ready to ask him how things had worked. Before I could speak, he kissed me. “I owed you that one.”

CHAPTER 21

“Wake up, Jeanne,” Marco said, shaking me awake. “We have to get ready for Bird Boy and Xena’s wedding.” The full impact of what he said hit me almost instantly. Marco remembered his nicknames for them. He remembered it was their wedding day. He remembered me.

Marco remembered.

“So it worked,” I said happily.

“Extremely well,” he answered. “Things after when I lost my memory are a little hazy, but I can remember the important things.”

“I am very glad to hear that,” I replied, moving to get out of bed. Before I could, Marco took my hand.

“Like, I remember how you sat with me every single morning and told me my own life story over and over again. I remember you putting up with the exact same jokes every day. I remember that you never gave up on me for even a moment, Jeanne, and I don’t know what I can say other than thanks.”

“I can think of one thing you might say,” I answered.

“The thought had occurred to me. But I just don’t know if I’m ready for that. I always thought it was just a word, but now…now it really means something to me, and I don’t want to say that to you just because of the situation. It would feel…less honest or something.”

I nodded. “I suppose I’ll accept that answer for now. There is something I want to give you,” I added.

“Oh yeah?”

“But not until after the wedding. Get dressed.”

We did not have far to go, since the wedding was being held on Marco’s lawn Since not many people knew that Rachel was alive, it was a small ceremony. We had told a few that she had actually been captured by the Yeerks and that we had rescued her, but we did not tell the world at large. There would have been a media frenzy and questions we were not prepared to answer.

Some people knew she was alive, though, and with the exception of most of our enemies, all of them were here. There were chairs set up on the lawn where the guests would sit. Rachel’s half was populated mostly by humans. Tobias’s half held a large collection of aliens. There were multiple Andalites, a large collection of Hork-bajir, and even one Yeerk. That Yeerk was, of course, Guraff 427.

I was not sure if he would still be invited to the wedding after killing Rachel’s best friend. I guess his friendship with Tobias and Rachel was deeper than I suspected, and that worried me. But this was not the day for that.

Oddly enough, Guraff was wearing a tuxedo, specially tailored to accommodate a Hork-bajir body, complete with sheathes over most of his blades. And he seemed to be chatting very animatedly with a Hork-bajir female. “Marco, who is that female Guraff is talking to?”

“I think that’s Toby,” Marco answered .“We haven’t spoken to her in a while. We should really get back in touch with her.”

I saw some people I recognized as Chee, but no Erek King. As I understood it, no one had heard from him in a while and that was starting to worry me too.

In accordance with one of the Jewish wedding traditions they had decided to follow, Rachel was seated on a throne, receiving guests. Tobias was being surrounded by well-wishers. Traditionally, they were supposed to sing songs and make toasts, but Tobias does not know many people who are in the habit of singing. One person he did know who was in that habit was a Russian man whose name I did not catch. He sang very, very loudly.

Eventually, the ceremony itself started. Tobias put a veil over Rachel’s face, and then he was escorted to the canopy. Ordinarily, his parents would have escorted him, but that was not an option. There was a similar custom among the Andalites, so in accordance with that, Tobias was escorted by the two people responsible for his safety, his shorm and his commanding officer. Aximili and Captain-Prince Glorfindel.

Dan and Naomi escorted Rachel to the canopy. She circled around Tobias seven times, finally stopping at his right side. Then a rabbi said the appropriate blessings in Hebrew, so I cannot provide a translation.

Then came the most Andalite part of the service. Guraff came forward and handed something to Tobias, then left. Tobias held it up so we could all see it. It appeared to be about a foot of a Hork-bajir’s blade. He lowered it and turned to Rachel. “This was given to me as a gift, from a very good friend. It has the power to take my life. Since I do not have a tail blade, I offer this to you instead. My life is yours now, and should you choose that it is unworthy of you, then you may take it from me.”

Rachel took the blade and raised it to Tobias’s throat. “Commander-Prince Tobias-Sirinial-Santorelli. You have offered your life to me. I find it worthy.” She lowered the blade and handed it to Tobias, who stabbed it into the ground between them. If this was an Andalite wedding, that would have been the conclusion, but there was one more thing to do.

Tobias took her hand and held a ring so it could be seen. “Behold, you are betrothed unto me with this ring, according to the law of Moses and Israel.” He slid the ring on her finger. By all the laws of the Jewish people, they were now husband and wife.

There were some more blessings, and Tobias and Rachel had to sign a marriage contract, but at this point, that was really just formality. I understand that there was supposed to be a little wine involved, but they chose to forgo that due to Rachel’s pregnancy.

After that came the moment that every human recognized. They placed a glass on the ground wrapped in a cloth and Tobias smashed it with his foot. We all shouted “Mazel Tov” and gave them an enthusiastic reception as they went from the canopy to a room in Marco’s mansion. I do not know what it was they were doing in there, but I will say that when they came out, Tobias was missing his tie and Rachel was lacking lipstick.

I won’t go into detail about the celebration we had afterwards. It lasted for hours, with lots of singing, dancing, and drinking. The last one of those usually led to more and more of the first two, which put people in the mood for even more drinking.

I was doing a bit of drinking myself, so my memory slightly cloudy on some points, but unless I was badly mistaken, I thought I saw Guraff and Toby leave together. I also thought I saw Naomi and Tobias shake hands, but that had to have been the alcohol.

“So,” Marco said to me when people were beginning to leave, “Tobias is now your brother.”

“It is a very strange thought,” I admitted.

“Your family now contains two secret agents, a girl who came back form the dead, a girl who seems to have a crush on a rat, an alien who was raised by robots, even more aliens, and, of course, Tobias, who I no longer know how to describe.”

“When you put it that way, it does seem exceedingly odd,” I agreed. Tobias was now my brother-in-law, and b extension, so was Al, and to some extent the rest of their Andalite relatives. Strange indeed.

“Now, Marco, I believe I promised to give you something,” I began.

“Oh right, you did. What was that?”

“I would rather show you then tell you. This was something I have wanted to give you for months now, but I would not do it unless I was sure you could remember. I think it will be worth the wait,” I answered, taking his hand and leading him to our bedroom.

Mazel Tov.

And now for some words of wisdom from Streetlight Manifesto:

“The day will come as sure as the ever-setting sun
All of those that self-imposed will find themselves so indisposed
And we know not what we do (Can you hear their call?)
Will we ever make it through?

As they watch us fall from the sky to the ground to the sea
Woe is me, woe is me, no one will save you now
We can only look away (away!), away-way-way-way-way
We will not be victims there`ll be no victims of to speak
And only then will we be free

And up will rise the meek
And when we fall we will fall together
No one will catch us so we`ll catch ourselves
And where we roam we will roam forever
No one will understand what we meant

Now, with the line drawn in the wet sand
You need to tell us where you stand
Sitting, waiting, watching, rotting, everything they warned us of is true
Now tell me what we`re all supposed to do
They`re coming after all of us with everything they`ve got
With the fury of a soldier who will answer to his God
So how will we fight? When all we have is logic and love on our side

And when we fall we will fall together
No one will catch us so we`ll catch ourselves
And where we roam we will roam forever
No one will understand what we meant”


- We Will Fall Together

Don’t miss the next installment of the Animorphs series:
MEGAMORPHS 6:
Survivors of the Kelbrid
Spoiler:
“Erek? What about Erek?” I asked. “We haven’t seen or heard anything from him in months. Some of us were getting worried.” Mark nodded. “There’s a reason for that. Months ago, the Yeerks sent a diplomatic detachment into a sector of space beyond what used to be called Kelbrid space, looking for some new allies.” <That could be a problem,> David admitted. “You don’t know the half of it. The species they’re trying to ally with is one you’ve met before.” “Who?” Jeanne asked. Mark took a deep breath. I have no idea why the android felt the need to do that, but he did. “The Ssri’Kai.” We were silent for a moment. Finally, Al broke the silence by saying, with typical Andalite understatement, <That could have an extremely adverse effect on our current war.> “That is one way of putting it,” Mark agreed. “Erek has been doing what he can to sabotage the meetings to keep this from going through, but according to his last transmission to us, the Yeerks are tired of waiting. They want their new allies now and infestation is much quicker than negotiation. Erek is trying to stall that, but he needs help. Someone who can shut down the Yeerk operations there. And that isn’t something he can think of to do without hurting anyone.” “So we’re what, Erek’s hit-men?” I asked. “In a sense, yes,” Jeanne answered. “We cannot allow this plan to succeed, James. You must see that.” “I’m not arguing,” I responded. “I was just making sure we all knew that we were being called from the other side other galaxy to do someone else’s dirty work.” <Yeah, I know that’s what we’re doing,> David responded. <And if it stops the Yeerks from getting more Ssri’Kai, I’m all in. Two Ssri’Kai beat James, Cassie, Al, and me without much of a fight. We can’t let them get an army of them. For that, I don’t mind being an android’s hired gun.> “Hired gun?” Ronnie commented. “If we’re smashing Yeerks, I’ll do it for free. I need the practice.” <I would like to have Prince Tobias’s permission but as he is currently unavailable and has advised me to act on my own judgment, I support the idea of putting a stop to this.> “Just so long as we all know that we’re basically assassins, I’m in,” I answered. “Being an assassin is not as bad as it may sound,” Jeanne replied. “I am in as well. Melissa?” “You have to ask? I’m with Ronnie. I’d do this even if there wasn’t any sort of advantage in it.” <Do you have any idea how to get us there, Mark?> David asked. <Tobias and Rachel took the Reliquary, and Marco, Jake, and Ax are off in the ship we stole when we had to rescue the Iskoort.> “In order to get that far in time to be of any help, you would need a ship faster than any built by Andalite, human, Yeerk, or Anati. There is only one ship that can move fast enough to get you there in time. It was built by those who built me: the Pemalites.” <I remember Prince Tobias mentioning the Pemalite ship, but he said it was at the bottom of the ocean,> Al responded. <How could we get it?> “Unfortunately, the ship has been moved. Did the other Animorphs ever tell you about the Nartec?” “Fish people who collect boats and do in appropriate things with them,” I summarized. <I thought they built cities with them,> David argued. “That’s not an appropriate use for a boat.” <Fair enough.> “They collected the Pemalite ship,” Mark continued. “We aren’t sure where they’re keeping it, but you need to get it. They could do a lot of damage with it if they figure out its secrets, and you need it for transportation.” “What harm could a bunch of mermen do? I thought that ship was harmless,” Ronnie muttered. “For one thing, they could set all of us Chee from converse to kill,” Mark answered. “I am sure none of us want that.” <Probably even less than we want an army of Ssri’Kai fighting against us,> David answered. <How do we get to the Nartec city?> “According to the details we received from the other time the Animorphs went there,” Mark answered, “orca or dolphin morphs should dive to the appropriate depth to reach the city. Alloran, do you think you can memorize the appropriate coordinates?” <I believe so, with a little study of the appropriate underwater area.> “Alright. Be careful. They weren’t very happy with the other Animorphs the last time they went there. I believe it involved lots of stabbing and some attempts to extract DNA in a very primitive manner.” “Let me make sure I’m summarizing this right,” I began. “We have to dive deep under the water into a hidden aquatic city, where we will probably end up being impaled by fish people, so that we can steal a spaceship built by ancient dogs so that we can fly it to the other side of the galaxy to stop the brain-stealing aliens from stealing the brains of the most dangerous species we’ve ever met, all without the help of the most experienced members of this team because they are all busy elsewhere. Right?” <You have objections?> David asked. “No, no. Let’s go get some flippers.”
Preview Summary

After months of no contact, the Animorphs have finally gotten word from Erek King about an alliance the Yeerks are trying to form with the Ssri’Kai. But with Tobias and Rachel on their honymoon and Jake, Marco, and Ax away on official military business, it falls to David, James, Jeanne, Al, Melissa, and Ronnie to stop the Yeerks from infesting the Ssri’Kai leaders.

But there is more to this plan than meets the eye, and the Animorphs will find themselves embroiled in a furious battle for the future of all Ssri’Kai space. Farther away from home than any human has ever been, and without the experience of the original Animorphs to help them, these Animorphs are in for the biggest fight they’ve ever had.

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Re: Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by Blu » Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:53 pm

how many more chapters left to go? cos im lovin this :)

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Re: Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by capnnerefir » Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:18 pm

Just added the end of it onto the previous bit, Blu.

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Re: Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by BeyondtheEllimist » Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:24 pm

Cool. I figured that the Iskoort had some way of repaying the Animorphs. In this case, they fixed Marco's nervous-breakdown-induced amnesia. Keep it up!
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 #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by Blueberry Chicken » Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:19 pm

Note to self: Never stay in a spaceship filled with Iskoort for more than 15 minutes. It will cause ANYONE to go insane.

Guraff? A tux? I must be misreading something. Same wth Tobias and Naiomi shaking hands. I must be going crazy.

*Hopes for Toby/Seer relationship rise*
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Re: Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by TwistyWristy » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:51 am

capnnerefir
This was absolutely fantastic!

The Iskoort were infinitely hilarious, I loved every minute of it.
I especially enjoyed when the accountant calculated the value of the ship versus their lives and the Iskoort shouting <Save me from bankruptcy!> that was just too funny.
You did an excellent job capturing and emphasizing just how much is is that the Iskoort value wealth and did it in an highly entertaining way; they may whine and be annoying but they are such endearing characters.

The old Marco (to an extent) is back!
I was hoping they Iskoort would be able to help and they didn't fail to deliver.
I did think it would be Aximili who thought of the idea rather than Jeanne but it's just good that someone came up with it and if not Ax, she would definitely be the second choice to think of the solution.
I'm sure Jeanne is happy too, especially after that bit that transpired aboard the ship, which was a very interesting twist to add.

It's good to finally see what was the driving force behind Melissa's anger towards Ax.
It would have been even better if my theory had been correct but it was a bit off base =p

Finally, I loved Guraff being at the wedding.
While it was funny to hear about him in his tuxedo the thing I love about him the most is the fact that he transcends the usual status quo of enemies being straight up evil for evil's sake.
I'm sure you know what I mean, so I won't go into great lengths but there is something really cool about a foe being respectable and honorable enough that he is invited to his archnemesis' wedding.

Great writing I really enjoyed reading this and am looking forward to the next book!

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Re: Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by Alanfangor » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:20 am

SO you finally decided about the Seer/Toby relationship. And were Naomi and Tobias
Spoiler:
shaking hands
? They must be really drunk! So when are you going to realease MM6? By the way what are you going to call book 75?

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Re: Animorphs #74: The Union (Hey look! Iskoort! WTF?)

Post by capnnerefir » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:50 am

BeyondtheEllimist wrote:Cool. I figured that the Iskoort had some way of repaying the Animorphs. In this case, they fixed Marco's nervous-breakdown-induced amnesia. Keep it up!
Who knew the Iskoort would come in handy some day? They're really turning out to be a very convenient plot device for me. First the exposition about The One, now this. Go Iskoort!

Remember, fanfic writers: never underestimate the value of extremely minor and obscure characters.
Blueberry Chicken wrote:Guraff? A tux? I must be misreading something. Same wth Tobias and Naiomi shaking hands. I must be going crazy.

*Hopes for Toby/Seer relationship rise*
I don't know if Hork-bajir in tuxedos are stylish or just funny, but you read that right. You know what makes me smile, though? People seem more surprised at Naomi and Tobias shaking hands than they do with a Yeerk being at the wedding. Fun times.

Twisty, glad you loved the Iskoort. Nothing like a chance to be ridiculous, and I'm glad you think I captured their cultural ethos well.

And yep, Marco is (more or less) back in full force. I considered having Ax be the one to think of the solution, since it's the sort of thing he might think of, but I figured that Jeanne had a right to it, too. And since it was her book, I decided to toss it to her. I'm glad you liked what happened between Marco and Jeanne on the ship. An interesting note about that:
While we were writing the Price, John3Sobieski suggested that it'd be really neat if Marco fell asleep in a morph. While we decided that it wouldn't really fit into that book, I was definitely resolved to add it into a future one. So you can thank him for that interesting plot point.
TwistyWristy wrote:It's good to finally see what was the driving force behind Melissa's anger towards Ax.
I had a lot of fun delving into that part of it. I hope it was satisfactory.
TwistyWristy wrote:Finally, I loved Guraff being at the wedding.
While it was funny to hear about him in his tuxedo the thing I love about him the most is the fact that he transcends the usual status quo of enemies being straight up evil for evil's sake.
*nods* That's one of the essential things that makes Guraff who he is. In a way, he's evil because he's good. He believes that enslaving other races is wrong; but he believes that being disloyal to his friends, his superiors, and his own race would be even more wrong. If he was less loyal, he could probably be turned against the Yeerks. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Guraff is what I term the 'Antivillain', and is, by nature, the appropriate counterpart for Tobias, who I consider an Antihero. For more information on that, see this blog post.
Alanfangor wrote:SO you finally decided about the Seer/Toby relationship.
Not exactly....I'm not sure if I'll have the time or the opportunity to explore that, but I decided that, in the event that I did have the chance, this would be the perfect time to set the appropriate seeds in place.
Alanfangor wrote:o when are you going to realease MM6? By the way what are you going to call book 75?
MM6 will be out when it's ready. I can't say any more than that at this point. As for book 75...I haven't decided on a title for that one yet, but it's going to kick off Neomorphs: Season 3, and I think everyone will love it.