Enter the Insane: the rise of Esplin 9466

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Salad Shooter
Aristh
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Enter the Insane: the rise of Esplin 9466

Post by Salad Shooter » Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:42 pm

[A/N: Since the Animorphs section of Fanfiction.net is sparsely populated, I'm going to try posting this over here. Feedback is appreciated. :) ]

***

CHAPTER 1

The Yeerk was aware.

Aware of motion, currents, ripples, of the waves that buoyed and buffeted him. Aware of the rich panorama of smells that reached his palps.

Instinct drove him to emit a series of high-pitched squeaked, sounds that ricocheted off the hundreds of bodies in his vicinity before traveling back to him with their wealth of information. Instinct also told him that each of the endless multitude of shapes was a member of his own kind.

And instinct drove him to connect, stretching out his palps toward the nearest echolocated silhouette, the nearest source of organic scent.

They touched, warm slippery palp to palp, and the neural signals began to transmit.

It was the Yeerk's own reflection, an extension of himself, familiar in every way, and yet still a different being entirely. The absorbent, questing newborn mind was similar to his own. Instinct again informed him of the other Yeerk's significance, for this was his own twin, his complementary half, they had come into the world together, one grub split in two. For a moment the twins lingered, basking in joyful recognition of one another.

Then, having satisfied their curiosities for now, they broke the connection. Driven to explore once more, they each set off in a different direction.

The newborn Yeerk quickly found another to associate with. Familiar with the process now, he eagerly stretched forth his palps. This Yeerk was different. Smelled different. Not as familiar as the last one. Not a genetic relation. But young also, almost as young as the newborn himself.

The other Yeerk emitted a series of squeaks, not echolocation squeaks, these were new sounds, much more varied in rhythm and pitch. The newborn Yeerk was startled, confused.

Through the palp connection a vague thought transferred, an idea, an intimation of something about to happen, something important and inevitable.

Then the connection was again broken, and new palps joined with the newborn's. Larger palps. Rougher palps. And, the newborn began to realize, older palps. Then the thoughts came pouring through the connection, rapidly filling the newborn's mind as he struggled to make sense of all the new information.

Knowledge. So much knowledge. About his species. Their biology, their history, their culture, their politics. A context for when and where he was in the universe. For his was no ordinary generation of Yeerks. They were the first to be born aboard ship, away from the homeworld, in artificial pools.

The first to be born into war.

But most importantly … the older Yeerk told him who he was.

Esplin 9466 the primary twin.

***

After what seemed like ages, the older Yeerk broke the palp connection, and Esplin turned back to the Yeerk with whom he had been communing before, the one near his own age.

That Yeerk now squeaked again. "Are you able to understand me now? I am Tarak-Nine-Three-Seven-Five."

And Esplin realized that he did indeed understand. Speech! Not an instinct like his sonar, but something he had needed to learn from another Yeerk. But learned it he had—the knowledge of language itself had rushed into his mind along with everything else.

"I am Esplin-Nine-Four-Double-Six," he tried to say, but the squeaks came out all wrong, they were gibberish. He knew what they were supposed to sound like, but getting his voice to cooperate was another matter entirely.

It was Tarak's turn to be confused. "What?"

"Your speech will improve with practice," the older Yeerk reassured Esplin. "So will your ability to send clearly defined thoughts via palp-to-palp communication. Now where did that twin of yours get off to—oh, there he is—" and with that, he swam away.

***

"Brother!" Esplin exclaimed. He had practiced talking with Tarak until his speech had become mostly intelligible. But after all that time, he had begun to miss his twin, the one with whom he shared everything ... even a name.

"My brother," replied Esplin the secondary twin. "I have met another sibling of ours. This is Hekliss-Eight-Two-Seven-Five." He pointed with a palp to the Yeerk accompanying him, holding the gesture long enough to be picked up by his twin's next echolocation blast.

"I too have met another Yeerk. Not our sibling," said Esplin primary. "This is my friend Tarak-Nine-Three-Seven-Five."

Esplin and Hekliss touched palps. Yes, she was a sibling. The familial connection was strong, albeit not as strong as the twins'. Hekliss seemed to have a different temperament: she was calmer, more peaceful, more deeply aware than the twins. Esplin sensed that quality in her, and appreciated it—she would definitely be an asset to the group.

"Shall we seek out more companions?" Hekliss queried.

Esplin surveyed the other three Yeerks briefly. "I think four is a good number," he said. "Let us get to know one another more fully. We can always change our minds if we end up feeling incomplete as a quartet."

"Agreed," seconded his twin.

Tarak felt unsure—it seemed rather unbalanced, a group of three siblings plus one. He began to feel very much the outsider. But the Yeerk called Esplin had welcomed him without hesitation. Maybe this would work out.

And if not, well, they were young, having newly emerged into what was a wonderfully huge pool of possibility to them. There was plenty of time to figure out who they were and with whom they wanted to associate.

Yes, Tarak thought, there is no rush, and he swam to catch up with his ready-made group of friends.

Salad Shooter
Aristh
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Re: Enter the Insane: the rise of Esplin 9466

Post by Salad Shooter » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:09 pm

***

CHAPTER 2

Game #1

Esplin skimmed along the surface of the pool. Every so often his back would crest above the rippling liquid, and he would briefly marvel at the alien sensation of cool, dry air.

He navigated a sea of floating gelatinous globules, almost but not entirely submerged in the pool. He knew what these were, of course. Yeerk pools on the homeworld were naturally stocked with all kinds of decaying organic matter, which filled the pool with nutrients essential to the Yeerks' long-term health. Esplin's artificial pool, however, required supplements in the form of these odd-looking globules. They slowly dissolved in the sludge and had to be replenished periodically by Gedds.

Esplin touched a globule experimentally with his palps. It was smooth and firm, with a strong but not unpleasant odor. He noted the way it hung just below the surface of the pool, and on impulse he tried to submerge it further using his entire body. It was not an easy task, as the globule slipped out easily from beneath his own slippery form, but Esplin enjoyed a challenge. He gradually learned how to curve his body around it to form a sort of upside-down bowl, keeping the globule in place as his own weight overcame the relentless buoyant force.

Having successfully contained the globule, he wondered how deep he could swim while holding on to it. He did not make it very far, but once again, he improved with practice: he learned how to wriggle himself downward, using only the tiniest movements so as to maintain his curved shape.

Tarak swam up to him. "What are you doing, friend?"

"Trying to see how far down I can swim with this thing."

Tarak regarded him skeptically, something that Esplin could not see but could still sense, for by now he knew Tarak and his mannerisms well.

"It's harder than it looks!" Esplin protested. "You try it."

Tarak threw his body over the globule, submerging it only momentarily before it popped to the surface again. It disrupted his sense of equilibrium so badly that he was flipped upside down.

Esplin laughed a Yeerkish laugh, a high, chittering sound beyond the hearing range of most other creatures. "What did I tell you? Now watch how far I can go with it!"

He formed himself around the globule again — by this time he was doing it with ease — and inched down, down into the depths of the pool. Tarak swam after him partway, then stopped to watch.

Inevitably, though, Esplin finally lost control of the globule. It shot up toward the surface. Tarak decided to see if he could stop its ascent, throwing himself down on it from above. He failed, of course. But Tarak too was not one to shy away from a challenge. "Do it again!" he called to Esplin.

They repeated the routine a few times, switching roles frequently, until both had achieved a modicum of skill at the activity.

"We could make this a game!" Esplin realized. "I mean, a game that all four of us could play. One of us swims with the globule down as far as they can go, and then when the globule is released, the others try to catch it, to stop it from reaching the surface. And whoever catches it gets to be the next person to take it down."

"And if nobody succeeds, then the first person gets to go again!" Tarak added.

"Yes! That's good! Let's go tell the others."

It soon became one of their favorite games. Esplin was the best at it, of course; he tended to be the best at whatever they did, but that was mainly because he was simply the one who cared about being the best, more than any of the others.

His friends found it easier to simply enjoy recreation for its own sake. It didn't bother them that Esplin tended to win most of time. It was Esplin himself who was occasionally bothered that the other three didn't seem to provide strong enough competition …

***

Game #2

Esplin was ready. He was beyond ready. The instant Tarak's palp touched his, he was gone.

"Go, Esplin!" Tarak squeaked excitedly.

It was a sort of relay race. Hekliss and Tarak had completed the first two legs; it was up to the Esplin twins to finish it out. They were competing against a different group of Yeerks, a group who happened to have six members; thus the extra two had been assigned to designate the starting and ending points.

Esplin shot through the pool, focused on nothing except his twin brother's palp ahead of him. So many times he had raced his three friends, building his strength and perfecting his swimming technique, that he had become the fastest of them all by far. Now he was acutely aware that his entire team's success primarily depended on him.

Wham!

A sudden impact disoriented Esplin and threw him off course. Confused, he fired a burst of echolocation, which revealed to him the silhouette of Carger 7901. One of his rivals.

He just ran into me! Esplin realized.

Gathering his wits, he hurried toward his brother again, but already too much time had been lost. In the end, Carger's final teammate reached the finish point well ahead of Esplin the secondary twin.

"And that would be a win for us," Carger smirked.

"Let's do another race right now, Carger," Esplin challenged him. "Just you and me this time. We'll see who's the better swimmer. And just so you don't pull a stunt like what you just did, I am going to have my own friends line up with yours. My path will start at Hekliss and end at Tarak—so go get into position, you two—and this way you shouldn't be going anywhere near me during the race." He turned to his twin. "And you, brother—watch Carger and his team and make sure they don't try anything. This should be a simple test of raw swimming speed. We don't want any other factors to play into the outcome."

"Consider it done," Esplin the secondary said icily. "I have no patience for those who would ruin a fair competition."

"Do you really have to be so boring?" complained Korliss 7764, one of Carger's companions. "Why can't you appreciate the more … creative ways of achieving victory?"

"If running headlong into other Yeerks is the extent of Carger's creativity, I am not impressed," Esplin countered. "He's only trying to conceal his pathetic lack of skill. Isn't that right, Carger?"

"You would like to think so," Carger shot back. "But I can still win without ramming into you. It just isn't as much fun for me."

"Then quit talking and prove it," retorted Esplin. "Brother, I'm ready. Give us the start signal."

loosonghan
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Re: Enter the Insane: the rise of Esplin 9466

Post by loosonghan » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:40 am

I read it on facebook
When life throws you lemons...
Keep them, cause they are free

A journey of a thousand miles begin with a step...
On a gas pedal.

He who laugh last...
Is the slowest!

Salad Shooter
Aristh
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Re: Enter the Insane: the rise of Esplin 9466

Post by Salad Shooter » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:11 pm

Oh, so you're a member of the facebook group? Cool :)

Salad Shooter
Aristh
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Re: Enter the Insane: the rise of Esplin 9466

Post by Salad Shooter » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:28 pm

***

CHAPTER 3

~Some Months Later~

He gingerly stretched his palps into the tiny opening ahead. He had been given a detailed briefing about what was ahead, and of course he had heard the stories from those who had gone before, but this was it, this was the moment of truth.

He squeezed and squelched his way into the Gedd's ear. Slowly, bit by bit, he wriggled down the ear canal, compressed into a pencil-thin snake of slippery flesh. Never had he felt so confined, so restricted. The other Yeerks had said that taking over a Gedd's brain would open up a whole new world to him, but right now his world had contracted to this tiny, stifling tunnel. It was not pleasant.

The journey through the ear canal gave him too much time to wonder anxiously about what was ahead. As if he hadn't had enough opportunity to do that while he'd been in line with the others. Esplin did not take kindly to waiting even at the best of times, but now, combined with the potentially disturbing experience looming ahead of him, the long wait had severely jangled his nerves.

He slithered and slipped along, and just when he thought the Gedd's ear canal would never end—

Sudden electric sparks!

This was it!

Simultaneously relieved and terrified, Esplin stretched himself into nearly a flat membrane, sliding across the wrinkled surface of the Gedd's brain, settling down into the folds, possessing the brain, becoming the brain.

And becoming, in turn, an awkwardly hunched, asymmetrical simian creature.

But to Esplin, this creature represented power. A firm bone structure, powerful muscles and sinews. Not as strong as those of a younger Gedd would be, but Esplin did not care. This creature, old and feeble to experienced Gedd-Controllers, was to him the epitome of physical potential. Arms! Legs! Hands with manipulative fingers!

And he was no longer worried. No longer afraid.

He was ecstatic.

He was joyful.

This was the best thing that had ever happened to him. None of his experiences as a lowly hostless Yeerk, little more than a slimy blob of goo, could ever compare. For now he was huge, he was strong, he could—he could do things. He could impact his environment.

The Gedd's body—his body—was bent over the edge of the pier. Esplin lifted his head out of the pool, then dipped one of his new three-fingered hands back into the sludge. The viscous wetness, which was completely natural to him as a Yeerk, felt strange and oily to his Gedd fingers. Slick Yeerk bodies brushed by his skin.

He swished his hand around, and felt—was that?—yes, it was one of the nutrient globules he used to play with! To the Gedd, it was nothing more than a tiny bead. He fumbled at it for a moment, then managed to pick it up in a pincer grip, marveling at the relative dexterity of his fingers. He rolled it between his fingers experimentally, then dropped it. It made a tiny "plip" in the water. He picked it up again, this time setting it in the water more gently. So many things you could do with hands! If he wanted to, he could even wrap his fingers around one of his own people and lift them up out of the pool, into the air. And they would be unable to do anything about it!

He had no way of knowing which of the Yeerks in the pool was Tarak, or else he would definitely have tried it. But Gedds could not echolocate. Nor could they locate individual Yeerks by smell and feel.

But wait—

What—

What was this—

Oh. OH!

Here was a new sense entirely!

His body suddenly shot straight up (well, as straight as a Gedd can stand) as images assaulted his brain. Visual images. With color and shadow and depth!

He forgot all about Tarak as he struggled to interpret the data. For the first time in his life, he was seeing! With eyes!

Most species would call Gedds rather ugly creatures, but to Esplin, the other Gedd-Controllers were an amazingly captivating sight. Their beady yellow eyes … their short, matted fur … their webbed toes … all of it was a visual feast.

And then there was the ship itself! The light shining off its contoured walls created a stunningly beautiful effect. The rough mesh floor with sparse patches of dead grass was absolutely fascinating.

He looked back down at the pool. It was so … so nondescript, so unremarkable compared to the rest of the scenery. Dull gray sludge in a round, featureless container.

But wait! Movement!

A Yeerk, appearing and disappearing so swiftly Esplin had almost missed it. He marveled. So that was what he used to look like! For now he felt entirely unlike the small slick creatures in the pool. He could see! And he could pick up objects. And he could even walk with the Gedd's limping stride. And he could—

"Yourrrr time is rrr-up," said a nearby Gedd-Controller. "Rrr-please leave the trrraining host and rrreturrn to the pool."

—he could even speak Galard, if he wanted. Esplin moved the Gedd's jaw experimentally.

"Rrr. Rrr-yes. I will." Mouth-speech! One last marvel before he had to return to the pool.

Oh, but he did not want to leave the Gedd. Not then. Not ever.

The other Gedd was staring at him expectantly, however. So Esplin reluctantly knelt down and dipped the Gedd's ear into the liquid, then released his own Yeerk body's hold on the brain. He slithered out into the pool, his once-comfortable home, which now seemed dark and oppressive.

***

He fired a sonar blast. It was interesting to have this sense back after temporarily being without it. It had a similar function to sight—the ability to sense the shape and location of objects not in immediate contact with one's person—but it was nothing like the sheer pleasure of seeing things in all their color and vibrancy. Sonar images were dull and uninteresting in comparison.

A familiar silhouette was showing up.

"Tarak!" cried Esplin. "That was the most incredible, the most amazing experience of my life!"

"What? Are you serious?" came the reply.

"Of course I'm serious, you ninny," Esplin said impatiently. "We just have to find a way to get hosts! All of us!"

"Are you insane?" asked Tarak, aghast. "It was frightening, it was wrong, it was not … Esplin, it's not where we belong. We belong here, in the pool. What could the world out there possibly hold for us?"

"Only everything!" Esplin protested. "Did you not see with the Gedd's eyes—see the light and shadow, the colors, the patterns? So much splendor, and we have been missing out!"

"I just thought it was disorienting and strange," Tarak admitted. "I'm glad it's over."

"Tarak-Nine-Three-Seven-Five. Sometimes I do not understand you," said Esplin, exasperated. There was nothing left to do but wait for his siblings to join them. Surely his genetic relatives' feelings would be more akin to his own.

***

To Esplin's great disappointment, however, Hekliss and Esplin the secondary were inclined to agree with Tarak. No one had relished the training experience like he had.

The other three sensed his frustration, and tried to reassure him. "I am not entirely opposed to taking a host body someday. I am sure I could learn to like it," Tarak said sensibly.

"We probably only found it unpleasant because it was so strange to us," Esplin the secondary pointed out. "Once we get used to having Gedd bodies, it will feel just as natural to us as swimming in our pool."

Esplin felt better. Of course. His friends simply took longer than he did to acclimate to new experiences. They always had. This was not a problem.

Now he just needed to figure out how to obtain a host of his own. The Yeerk who had briefed them had warned that only the most useful Yeerks would get hosts, and Esplin was determined to be the most useful. After all, wasn't he already the best at everything else?

He made up his mind to scour every last file in the Andalite computer, using the interface that had been built directly into the pool. The answer had to be in there somewhere.