Animorphs #55: Rebirth

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Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by Cyberhamon » Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:30 pm

Book #55: Rebirth

Chapter 1: Collision

Space is believed to be infinite. In that case, there would be an equally infinite number of galaxies, stars, and planets. Against all that, a space ship would be as significant to the greater universe as a virus is to the daily life of living beings. A ship would have great difficulty locating any object of unknown location in one quadrant of one galaxy, let alone the entire universe. With those odds, finding another ship among thousands upon thousands of celestial bodies would be nearly impossible.

Unless they knew you were coming.



If a person with no knowledge of the parties involved viewed the standoff currently in progress, they likely would have assumed that the winner would be the larger of the two ships: a Yeerk Blade-ship. However, that wasn't taking into account the crew of the smaller cruiser-class ship. This crew, plus or minus a few people, had already beaten the odds and defeated an entire empire, with little outside help. Taking that into account, the odds on their survival would likely go up.

On the bridge of the cruiser Rachel, the mismatched crew of ex-Animorphs and new recruits stared at the monstrous visage at the front of the bridge. The face shown there was no hologram, viewscreen image, or any other artificial projection. There was a power behind it greater than any the crew would have imagined possible, considering the fact that the Blade Ship was only supposed to contain Yeerks and their hosts.

The face could only be appropriately described as evil. At first, it almost appeared Andalite. After all, it had originally belonged to an Andalite named Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. But there were several differences. The most noticeable was the mouth. Andalites had no mouths in their natural forms. Whatever controlled Aximili now had seen fit to make an addition. A blood-red mouth full of blood-red teeth. Along the being's face, several scars radiated outward from the mouth, likely caused by however the mouth had been formed. The scars added to the effect of the mouth: viewed from one direction, they appeared to be a smile, while viewed from another, it appeared to be a scowl.

Viewed from where Jake, Marco, Tobias, Menderash, Jeanne, and Santorelli were standing, The One appeared to be smiling, but its smile was filled with pure hatred.

“Can we shoot?” Jake asked the Andalite Nothlit. If the being known as The One heard Jake, it took no notice.

“His Dracon cannon have longer range and greater power,” replied Menderash. “And his defensive fields have been enhanced. I doubt our cannon can penetrate them.

This was not the kind of report Jake Berenson wanted to hear. Yeerk weapons and shields were already incredibly powerful. Nobody on the bridge wanted to go up against an already powerful ship which had since been augmented. Jake realized there was only one option left to them, and he was fairly sure the others had as well. And unless it was incredibly unintelligent, The One had too.

“Thought so,” Jake said, in a very calm voice belying their situation. “But we're faster.”

“Yes.”

“Okay.” Jake took a long look around at the bridge at each of his friends. It was as if he was a dying man who just wanted to take one last look at his family before passing on. “What was it, Marco? 'Crazy, reckless, ruthless decisions'?”

Marco nodded, grimacing slightly, and clearly wishing he had never provoked Jake into such actions.

Jake began to smile. Unlike The One's gaze, this was a nice smile. While The One's leer was one to inspire terror in its enemies, Jake's grin was one to inspire courage in his followers.

“Full emergency power to the engines,” Jake said. “Ram the Blade Ship.” Menderash hesitated for just one second, but then hurried to execute the command. Though The One hadn't changed position in the slightest, it now seemed to be frowning.

As the Rachel accelerated towards the Blade Ship, the image of The One disappeared from the front of the bridge. As soon as it did, the Blade Ship began to turn away from the incoming cruiser. Unfortunately for the crew of that ship, they turned about three seconds too late to stop the impact.



It turned out that Jake's suicidal charge towards the enemy wasn't so suicidal after all. Given the physics of space travel, it was not unreasonable for Jake to assume that the impact would destroy both ships. However, physics is often complicated, and a slight change in the vector, speed, angle, or position of the ships involved could prevent total destruction, as in this case. Or perhaps it was simply the great powers of the universe, conspiring to preserve the occupants of both ships.

Regardless, the impact was sufficient enough to tear a huge hole in the side of the Blade Ship. The Rachel was lodged in that hole, the forward sections containing the Dracon cannons and crew quarters completely caved in. But the rear portions of the cruiser, including the bridge, remained relatively intact.

On the bridge of the Rachel, the crew had been knocked off their feet from the concussive force of the impact. Marco and Santorelli had managed to grab onto some of the consoles to keep from falling, but the rest hadn't been so lucky. Menderash was the first off the floor, rushing over to his station to call up a damage report. Jake was next up, followed by Tobias and Jeanne.

“Well, at least we don't have to pay for air conditioning now,” said Marco, gesturing to the holes in both ships.

“Not the time,” Tobias hissed.

“What's the damage report, Menderash?” Jake asked.

“We've lost weapons, engines, and...” Menderash broke off, staring at his screen in alarm.

“What?”

“We need to evacuate this ship right now!” he shouted. “The shield generator has been critically damaged. We only have enough power for another five minutes of shielding.”

Santorelli stared at him, confused. “So we lose our shields. So what?”

Jake stared at him wearily. “If our shields go down, we lose all of our air.”

Santorelli paled. “Oh. That's not good.”

“That's the biggest understatement since the film critics called Batman and Robin a flop,” Marco retorted.

Tobias sighed. “Only you would understand that reference Marco.”

Ignoring the three, Jake remained focused on Menderash. “What about damage to the Blade Ship?” he inquired.

Menderash shook his head, a habit he had acquired from the humans. “We inflicted heavy damage to them, but they have backup power generators, and we don't. Their shields are already coming back online.”

Jake sank down into the captain's chair. “So that's it. We can't beat them.”

“No,” Menderash replied, “but we may be able to escape. This ship contains two Yeerk shuttlecraft we may be able to use to escape.”

“Can we reach the shuttles in time?” Jeanne asked.

“The hangar bay is directly below the bridge, three decks down,” Menderash replied, not answering the question.

“Even if we escaped on the shuttles, what would we do then?” Jake asked with no hope in his voice.

Before anyone else could respond, Marco cut in. “There'll be plenty of time for you to moan and groan about the right thing to do after we escape on the shuttles. In the meantime, I'm not looking forward to dying from explosive decompression. I've heard it's bad for your health.”

Jake glared angrily at Marco, but didn't argue. Nobody did. The six quickly shuffled out of the bridge into the lift tube at the back.



The Shuttlecraft were pod-shaped craft about the size of a Bug Fighter. This meant that the crew would have to split their number between the two ships. Marco hadn't been expecting the shuttles to be awesome fighters, but they looked even worse than he had invisioned. They reminded him of the weak ships from space-based video games that were only there for target practice. It was not an encouraging thought.

The three Animorphs entered one of the shuttles, while Menderash, Jeanne, and Santorelli entered the other. If the clock hadn't been ticking down from two minutes, Marco suspected that Menderash would have insisted on naming these two ships as well. It was decided that Menderash, a former Andalite pilot, would fly his shuttle, while Marco, who had had the most experience with Yeerk ships of any of the Animorphs would fly the other.

“All systems check out. Ready for takeoff,” Menderash reported.

“Uh-Huh,” Marco said. He was starting to wish he had actually slept the night before.

<Marco?> Tobias had demorphed to his “natural” Red-Tailed Hawk form. Now he glared at Marco with his eternally fierce hawk's glare.

“Yeah, yeah. All takeoffs check out. Ready for system.” Marco saw Jake roll his eyes, and got the feeling that if he didn't cut the crap, Jake was going to to start bashing his head against the wall. Or Marco's.

“Okay, igniting engines...now!” Menderash did the same. The two shuttles flew out of the hangar bay, and into the great black beyond.

“So now what?” Marco asked.

“We need to get back to Andalite space and report what we've found to the High Command. I don't know what they can do about it, but they still must be informed.” Menderash said over the comm.

“You're probably right,” Jake said wearily.

<You guy's aren't going to forget about Ax, are you?!> Tobias exploded. Marco was taken aback by the vehemence in Tobias's “voice.” Tobias wasn't usually the kind of person who exploded on a regular basis. But Tobias was, through an alternate timeline, Aximili's nephew; as well as being his Shorm, the Andalite equivalent of a best friend.

“No one's forgetting about Ax,” Jake replied. “But we're gonna need a plan if we're gonna get Ax free. You saw that thing. You saw how powerful it was. I'm not sending anyone else into danger until we know what we're up against.”

<Yeah, cause you're really good at not sending people into danger,> Tobias snapped. Marco knew what Tobias was referring to. The death of Rachel, the only person who had ever loved Tobias. A death directly caused by Jake's orders in the last war. Clearly Tobias had not yet forgiven Jake. Marco knew he had to intervene before a shouting match began.

“Menderash, what's the best destination for getting back to Andalite space?” he asked.

“The Z-space drives in these craft aren't very efficient,” came the reply. “With the power we have on hand, we can't make it too far. We can however make it to Magabia. It's a desert planet over the border of Andalite territory. From there, we can contact the Andalite homeworld, and have a Dome Ship pick us up.”

Marco and Tobias looked at Jake. The occupants of the other shuttle likewise waited for the answer.

“Do it,” Jake said after a moment.

The two shuttles accelerated forward, as space twisted and yawned open around them, and entered the stark whiteness of Z-space.

Here's where the fun begins, Marco thought to himself.



From the wreck of the Blade Ship Triumphant, The One watched as the two small shuttles escaped into Z-space. The bridge was not heavily damaged, although two Hork-Bajir had been killed by the explosion of a console. A nervous looking Human-Controller, the one called Efflit 1318, walked up to the entity, and bowed low before it.

“I am sorry my lord, we could not stop their escape,” Effilt stated fearfully.

“Do not concern yourself with this turn of events. In fact, it is much better this way. Are communications on line?” asked The One.

“Yes, my lord.”

“Good. Contact your agent in Andalite space, and tell him we may require his services. In the meantime, open a line to the Kelbrid homeworld.”

Efflit flinched slightly at the sound of the word “Kelbrid,” but hurried to do his master's bidding. Almost immediately, a full-size holographic projection of another alien appeared at the center of the room.

This alien was very different from any of the others in the room. This alien was clearly insectoid, but still a humanoid as well. Approximately two meters tall, it was very muscular, and wore pitch-black fiber armor over much of its body. It wore an accompanying hard, black, plastic-like helmet and black cloak. What stood out the most were its weapons. The alien, the Kelbrid, carried weapons all over its body. Several Knives, two swords, a spear, two pistols, a wrist-mounted rocket-launcher, and a rifle slung around its shoulder. As soon as it saw The One, it dropped to one knee and bowed low before it.

“You summoned me, my lord?” asked the Kelbrid in a low voice.

“Yes, indeed.” The One broke into another smile. “I have a new assignment for you, Supreme Commander.”
Image

Excuses are like buttholes. Everyone has them, and they all stink.

Image

Credit for the above graphics goes to Ellimist.

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Re: Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by capnnerefir » Thu Oct 02, 2008 6:48 pm

I think you deserve my honesty. When I first saw this I thought (somewhat hypocritically, I'll admit) Oh, yet another Animorphs #55. Yeehaa. Now, I wish to amend that thought to one much simpler. Yeehaa.

The language took a bit of getting used to, at first. It was far more elevate than the typical Animorphs style. To be honest, it reminded me of nothing so much as what my 'professional' writing sounds like (professional as opposed to what I write here).

The only thing I will say bad about this (and this is something I notice only because I am a professional) is that the Kelbrid's weaponry isn't...realistic. Lots of sharp, primitive blades makes perfect sense for a ferocious warrior. So does several pieces of high-tech weaponry; but not at the same time. Advanced species would not bother carrying around a myriad of primitive weapons when they already have powerful modern ones; at most, it makes sense for such a creature to carry maybe two or three primitive weapons. This could easily be rectified, of course, by saying that most of the Supreme Commander's weapons were cermonial or ranks of status and not meant to be used in combat. But, this is your fic, not mine.

Other than that, I have nothing but praise for this. The text is appropriately descriptive without going into Hawthorne-like detail or Paolini-esque lack of realism. I certainly look forward to the updates.

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Re: Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by Ellimist » Thu Oct 02, 2008 6:55 pm

Excellent!

The description of the Kelbrids was kind of similar to the Howlers; although it's not the way I had imagined them. As capnnerefir pointed out, it really seems out of place for an advanced species to carry primitive weapons.

Overall, the fiction made for a good read. :)
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Re: Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by Cyberhamon » Thu Oct 09, 2008 5:33 pm

Alright, time for an update. I'll start by replying to your comments. For your your comments about the Kelbrid's weaponry; well, carrying knives isn't unusual. Many armies today still issue knives despite having flashy guns, as knives are good if you get disarmed; they are good in close quarters, they can be hidden easily, and they can be used for utility purposes as well. Having a couple knives isn't unusual.

The swords the Kelbrid carry are partially for ceremonial purposes. They are a symbol of honor among them. They are typically only used for settling personal disputes or for dueling an enemy they consider to be honorable and worthy.

Um...spear is supposed to be staff. I had it as staff in a later chapter. Basically, the staffs the Kelbrid use generate an electrical current that can be used to incapacitate enemies.

Alright, now here's the next couple chapters.



Ch. 2: Magabia

The Kelbrid Homeworld was a naturally lush planet. The terrain consisted primarily of rainforests and rivers. Long ago, however, the insectoid Kelbrid species had evolved to the point of sentience. As they evolved, they began to build towns. Towns became cities, and eventually the cities of the planet became one large city. This city was quite massive, taking up a large amount of the planet's surface. However, in order to preserve the gas ratio required for the Kelbrid to survive, they had left as much of the rainforests intact as possible. Consequently, when they could no longer expand the city out, they began building up. The buildings the Kelbrid had erected were much taller than almost any other in the rest of this galaxy. These buildings were connected together by a maze of elevated walkways, hovertrains, and magnetic ziplines. And at the center of it all stood the tallest building: the “Invus Alanus Central Command Tower.”



Supreme Commander Kir Omel stood on the observation balcony of Level 1068 of the Central Command Tower. This was one of the highest reaches of the massive building, and the highest easily accessible vantage point over the city. This was Kir's favorite spot to come before embarking on a new mission. The solitude of the upper reaches gave him the opportunity to plan out his famous strategies which had allowed him to lead dozens of missions to a successful conclusion, and earn him the highest rank in the Kelbrid military.

Since he had been contacted by The One several planetary hours ago, he had been out on this terrace, trying to figure out the best way to pursue the humans. The humans were a statistical improbability. They had almost single-handedly defeated an empire that the most advanced species of the galaxy could barely fight to a standstill. And it had only taken 5 adolescents, plus one Andalite adolescent to do it. And yet their technology was incredibly primitive by Kelbrid standards, and very inefficient. Granted, they had had access to Andalite morphing technology, but even that couldn't allow them to defeat the Yeerk Empire by itself. Kir could only think of one possible explanation.

Ingenuity. The humans, despite their limited practical applications, were incredibly intelligent, and able to adapt to almost any situation they were presented with. These humans were smart. So Kir would have to be smarter.

“Are you going to sit there all day? Or did you just fall asleep?” Kir didn't even startle at the voice from behind him. He recognized the voice. He should have chided the Commander for his insolence, but he had grown to expect it of him.

Kir turned around as Commander Jeke Hano stepped into view. Half a head shorter than his superior officer, Jeke was still powerfully built. He wore the same armor Kir wore, although he carried none of the weapons.

Jeke's appearance was welcome to Kir. The two warriors had trained together as Initiates upon joining the military. Later they had served together in the Outer Territory Defense Force, where both had their first commands. While Kir was the overall commander of the Kelbrid military, Jeke still had high seniority among the other Commanders; in part because of Jeke's successful command of the Battle of Terazoa, and partly because of his friendship with the current Supreme Commander. Jeke currently captained the flagship of the Kelbrid Navy, the kilometers-long command cruiser Fate's Dagger. This granted him a seat on the Kelbrid High Council, and essentially made him Kir's second-in-command.

“That's right,” Jeke continued, “I forgot. You don't sleep. You know, you really ought to try it sometime.”

Kir stood. “I do sleep. But as the Supreme Commander, I can't afford to do it on the job, unlike some.

Jeke grinned under his helmet at the thinly veiled insult. “Are you expecting a fight?” he asked, gesturing to the arsenal of weapons Kir carried. Jeke was one of the few officers who could pester the Supreme Commander in this way without getting killed, and he intended to make the most of that privilege.

“Oh well, you never know these days. You can't be too careful,” Kir replied casually.

“There is such a thing as being overprepared,” Jeke shot back. After a moment, he shrugged his shoulders. “In any event, that's not why I'm here. The briefing is about to start. We're just waiting on you.”

“Well, then we'd better get going, no?”

The officers' briefing room was twelve floors down from the observation platform where the two officers were standing. It was a very short ride by lift tube, and an even shorter walk from the lift tube to the briefing room. Once inside, Kir found the rest of his circle of senior officers already seated.

Kir sat at the head of the table, with Jeke to his right. Next to Jeke sat Lieutenant Rodi Hano, Jeke's younger brother, the most inexperienced member of the Council, who had earned fame by pacifying a rebellion by Iornian workers. Next to him sat Captain Pani Deral, famous for his efforts against pirates and smugglers in the outer territories of the Kelbrid Empire. Next to him was Commander Jaral Tlam. Tlam had a shaky reputation with the military, but had served as an instructor at the Academy for many years. To Tlam's right was Captain Laron Selt, an aged veteran who had served in many wars over the years. Next to him was Nal Geod, the provincial governor of the Kelbrid homeworld. Completing the circle was Commander Osod Gentral, a high-ranking Kelbrid, but a loose cannon of sorts.

“Let's get started then,” Kir announced to the room. “About ten standard hours ago, our lord, The One, was on board the Yeerk Blade Ship that defected to our cause a year ago. Our lord saw it fit to journey with the Yeerks to discover a group of humans intruding on our territory. Clearly our lord was correct. Ten standard hours ago, our lord and the Yeerk crew discovered a Yeerk cruiser class vessel containing six humans. Upon discovery, the humans rammed the Blade Ship with their own cruiser, and escaped in a pair of shuttles. Given their last known trajectory, we believe we know where they would have emerged from Zero-space. Our objective is to locate and capture these humans, and bring them back here to be held as sacrifices to The One.”

The officers in the room stared at Kir for a few moments. Then:

“Begging your pardon, sir,” This was Laron Selt speaking. “But the planet we are speaking of is in Andalite territory. We cannot go to that planet without breaking the treaty and starting a war.”

“The Andalites broke the treaty first,” Kir snapped. “They sent these humans into our territory, and one of the humans was an Andalite nothlit.”

“How do you know this?!” Osod Gentral demanded.

Kir smiled, despite his growing annoyance. It was time to play his winning hand.

“We have a source in the Andalite military,” Kir announced proudly.

Everyone except Jeke stared at him, dumbstruck for a while. Jeke had been in on this scheme from the beginning.

“What?” Rodi Hano coughed out, finally.

“We have a high-ranking source in the Andalite military,” Kir repeated. “An Andalite Prince to do our bidding.”

“How?” Jaral Tlam asked.

“And more importantly, why weren't we informed?!” the arrogant Nal Geod asked.

“We didn't want to cause this kind of uproar before we were certain he would answer to us,” Jeke replied. “In the meantime, it is enough that we know. The Andalites have directly and indirectly violated our treaty, and must be met with force. And now, thanks to our lord's taking of one of their own, we now know their weaknesses!”

“Send a picket ship to the Andalite homeworld,” Kir ordered. “We will use it to test their defenses. Then, prepare three Assault Cruisers from my squadron, and gather a platoon of the best warriors. We will travel to Magabia, and apprehend these interlopers. And to ensure success, I will be going myself.”



After a whole day of traveling in the shuttles, Marco decided he was right about their ability. The shuttles handled like weighed down shopping carts, and it was all he could do to keep them going in a straight line. What irritated him even more was the fact that Menderash seemed to have no trouble controlling his shuttle. Marco felt like giving Menderash a good swift kick in the ass as soon as they landed, but he wasn't sure the others would approve. More importantly, he wasn't sure if Jeanne would approve. Marco loved the French.

Okay, he loved their accents, and their fries, and their onion soup. He hated their attitudes, egos, and their inability to win any wars whatsoever. But he and Jeanne could work past that. Maybe.

In the rear of the shuttle were the other two passengers. Jake was asleep. Tobias was awake, but quite silent. He was silent a lot these days. No doubt he was still mourning the loss of Rachel. Marco still felt bad about her death too, but he had mostly moved past it. Sometimes he felt like going up to Tobias, shaking him around, and yelling at him to move on with his life. He'd probably just get his eyes gouged out for his trouble.



Tobias stood perched on one of the beds in the rear passenger section of the shuttle. He regarded Marco and Jake quite frequently. He wondered how Marco could stay so jovial in life with all that had happened to him. Marco was still his same old self, even after all these years. How could Marco still make his stupid jokes after all the horrors of the war. After losing Rachel. After losing Ax. After almost being killed yet again. He wondered if Marco wasn't just spiraling out of control until he hit rock bottom. Like himself.

Tobias had held Jake responsible for the death of Rachel, for the four years since her death. It was Jake who had sent Rachel on that stupid suicidal mission to kill his own brother. Tobias had spent years cursing Jake, and thinking of all the nasty things he would say to Jake if he ever met him again. But that was before he had met Jake again. That was before he had seen firsthand how much Jake himself had suffered. Try as he might, Tobias now found it hard to hate Jake the way he had in the past. Jake was like Tobias, he would never get over it. Maybe someday, when this was all over, Tobias could sit down with Jake and forgive him.

Maybe.



Jake woke up to the sound of voices. It took him a minute to focus on what the voices were saying. It turned out to be Marco and Menderash talking over the comms about “proper landing procedure.” He looked out the viewport at the front of the shuttle to see atmosphere streaking past them. The atmosphere was blue, like Earth's, but contained a lot of brown, presumably because as Menderash had explained, the entire planet was one big desert.

“Welcome to Magabia!” Marco exclaimed when he saw Jake sitting up. “Please remain seated until the shuttle has come to a full and complete stop!”

Jake suppressed a chuckle. He looked around to see Tobias staring at him. Jake got the feeling that the nothlit wanted to say something to him, but couldn't find the right words for it. Jake knew the feeling. He had wanted to talk to Tobias for the whole trip, but didn't actually know what he would say to him. He didn't even know if Tobias would talk to him. It seemed so far that Tobias only spoke to anyone when it was absolutely necessary.

All of a sudden, the shuttle craft began shaking horribly. Jake and Tobias were knocked off their beds.

“What the-?” Marco enthused. “Menderash?”

“It's weapons fire!”

Jake shot to his feet. “Were we followed?”

“No,” came the reply. “The fire came from the surface.”

/I thought this was a friendly planet! Why are they shooting at us?/ Tobias grumbled.

“Hold on,” said Menderash. A few seconds later: “It's from automatic Dracon Cannons on the surface. The Magabians hate the Yeerks, and we're flying Yeerk shuttlecraft.”

“Quick, tell them we're friendly!” Jake shouted frantically.

“Too late!”

Another barrage of Dracon fire came up from the surface. The already damaged shuttles didn't stand a chance. The fire blew off the Animorphs' shuttle's starboard engine, sending them spinning down towards the desert floor. Menderash was able to avoid the brunt of the Dracon fire, but his shuttle was still hit in the fuselage, destroying their vertical thrusters.

Jake saw Menderash's shuttle hit the ground and slide across the sand. The his own shuttle hit the ground very hard, and everything went black.



Chapter Three: Daniel Miller

It seems strange that the planet Earth would get the kind of attention it does. Earth is a small planet in one of the outer spiral arms of the galaxy, the Orion Arm as humans call it. It is a fairly out of the way planet, and most beings not native to it would not even give it a second glance. But the Yeerks did. They were interested in the almost 7 billion human inhabitants of the planet. So they invaded. But their invasion headquarters turned out to be directly under the one city where the only people capable of defeating them would eventually be found.

There are no coincidences.



There was something about the warehouse. No one had been seen going into it or out of it. There was nothing to make it look out of the ordinary. It seemed to just be a typical abandoned warehouse. But to Colonel Daniel Miller of the United States Air Force, there was something very wrong with this warehouse.

It was too quiet.

A female Captain slid up next to him. He still didn't know her name yet. Without a second glance, Daniel tossed her the infrared binoculars he was using.

“There's something in there all right. No way to tell if its what we're after from this distance.”

“We're not charging in there until we can get a positive ID,” Daniel replied gruffly. “I'm not putting lives at risk for something we don't even know is there. For all we know, it could be an illegal shipment of porno DVD's.”

Daniel saw the Captain scowl out of the corner of his eye. Behind him were several troops of various military divisions, as well as a handful of FBI agents.

“I'll try and get closer to see if I can confirm the target,” he stated finally. “Don't move until I give the OK.”

“Save some of the porn for me,” the Captain joked.

It was Daniel's turn to scowl. The Captain didn't look a thing like her, but they had similar personalities. He pushed the thought from his mind. He needed his mind on the present now. He could worry about the past later. Daniel started to creep closer to the warehouse.

In the years since the Yeerk war, a certain amount of xenophobia had grown among some of the people of Earth. This time, however, instead of directing it towards people of different skin colors and ethnic groups, they directed it towards the “real” aliens: the Andalites and Hork-Bajir. It didn't seem to matter to them that members of those species had fought and died to protect them. As xenophobia grew, two things happened. First, a number of anti-alien terrorist groups began to form. They acquired weapons from the black market to carry out their attacks. And second, because of the rise in arms trading, the various mafia families around the world went through a revival. They began to muscle out the various gangs that had ruled the streets for years prior. Some people viewed this as a welcome change, since the mafia's power was less about terror and violence and more about politics and economics. These mafia groups were only dangerous to aliens – and those who crossed them.

Once casualties began, the world governments were contacted by the leaders of the Hork-Bajir and Andalites. They had demanded they intervene to stop the attacks. As such, an international task force was quickly assembled to combat these terrorists and mafia. The elite soldiers from several countries were quickly brought together to begin immediately. The countries of the world were still trying to get along together, but no one wanted to lose ties to the Andalites.

The task force consisted of the best soldiers from the US, UK, France, Japan, Germany, Norway, Russia, China, Portugal, Canada, and Israel. So far, the task force had been making progress. But they still had a long way to go.

So, Daniel Miller had been assigned to lead this task force this task force. A career officer, he had joined the military as soon as he turned eighteen. That had been thirty years ago.

The finer details of his life, the details Daniel never liked to go over, had made him the ideal candidate for the job. He appealed to all, because rather than representing the US alone, he represented the tragedies that had befallen mankind as a whole.

And tonight, he and his assigned team were supposed to break up a meeting between the Darkfire terrorist group and the mobsters of Giovanni Coppola's mafia to discuss buying a number of Stinger missile launchers and missiles the mafia had “happened” to come across.

If this was even the right warehouse.

Through the binoculars, Daniel could see about 18 people in the warehouse. All but 3 appeared to be armed.

“Well?” came the Captain's voice over the radio.

“Eighteen red blobs. Fifteen red blobs carrying black, blobby weapons. Ten blobs that could be our missile launchers in the center of the room. Blob's the word.”

“...If you say so. Do we go?”

Daniel took one last look through the binoculars, and prepared to make one of his famous snap judgment calls.

“Move in.”

His team was probably turned off by his attempts at humor. Daniel was normally very witty, but he hadn't gotten any sleep in the last 48 hours, so they would have to suffer through his terrible jokes. He'd have to revert back to sarcasm.

The team slowly crept up behind him. Two soldiers, an American Sergeant and a French Corporal, went up to the large door of the warehouse, with the rest of the team waiting close by. Nobody on the team wanted to get too close. The two soldiers affixed small objects to the door of the warehouse.

“We could try knocking,” Daniel said sarcastically.

“Fine. You knock, then,” the Captain replied.

The two door soldiers retreated to a safe distance. One of them pulled out what Daniel knew to be a detonator. The American activated it, and the two frag mines exploded. The mixed group of soldiers and agents wasted no time in rushing through the space where the door used to be.

One of the FBI agents yelled out a warning for the thugs inside to freeze. The thugs replied by opening fire with various weapons, including pistols, rifles, automatic weapons, and shotguns. The soldiers and agents had high-capacity automatic rifles and bulletproof kevlar vests. The soldiers and agents had the advantage of technology, but the thugs had greater numbers.

Daniel, the Captain, and the head FBI agent ignored the crossfire, and sprinted around to the back of the warehouse. The thugs weren't important, it was the leaders that they were after. Daniel quickly spotted their targets. Escorted by two more henchmen were one terrorist wearing the uniform of a higher-up officer of the Darkfire group; one distinguished-looking mobster that Daniel recognized as one of Coppola's top lieutenants. And one...

No! Daniel couldn't believe it; it was impossible. And yet, there it was. A fully grown male Hork-Bajir. All of the Hork-Bajir were supposed to have been confined to Yellowstone for the time being. Somehow, they had missed this one.

Daniel's two partners opened fire on the thugs escorting them, careful not to hit any of the leaders. They were needed alive. The two thugs went down easily. The three turned their attention to the leaders. The terrorist and the mobster were backing away. The Hork-Bajir remained where he was, shouting at the other two. Daniel could make out some of the words.

“ - don't worry about these fools! They are not the real danger.” The words were obviously not a “normal” Hork-Bajir's words. They were much too articulate for the mostly dim-witted aliens Daniel had met. So either there was a rogue seer, the genetically different intellectual Hork-Bajir, like that one named Toby, or...

One thing at a time, Daniel told himself. It would be easy enough to determine if this alien was a Controller once he was in custody. This was going to be complicated, as Hork-Bajir were far superior to humans in melee combat, due in large part to their many blades. And now, Daniel saw what he had missed before. The Hork-Bajir held a powered-down Yeerk Dracon Beam by his side. His body had blocked the view of it up until this point.

This was going to get ugly.

The two soldiers and one agent pointed their guns at the alien. The Hork-Bajir pointed its Dracon Beam straight at Daniel, its legs tensed for action.

And then, the entire wall to their left exploded.



War-Prince Caysath-Winwall-Esgarrouth was known among the humans for his last-minute rescues, some of which were deemed unnecessary. He had been assigned as the current liaison between the Andalites and humans after the previous liaison, Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill, had gone missing in action. That loss had been as devastating to his people as the disappearance of most the Animorphs a few weeks later.

Caysath was one of the few beings alive who knew the truth behind both disappearances.

Lately, Caysath had been working closely with Daniel Miller and Toby Hamee on the “crackdown,” as humans put it, on the rogue terrorist groups and the mafia families. They had a plan, and so far it was working. They had struck at and disrupted several meetings between the mafia and terrorists, fomenting distrust between both groups. The two groups were starting to fall apart at the seams, and Caysath was determined to finish the job.

Caysath was the one who had initially approved of making morphing technology available to a small group of humans on the task force. The group chosen to receive the technology was very elite, and had been deemed trustworthy by Col. Miller. Strangely, Miller himself had absolutely refused to take the morphing technology. It was curious, but Caysath though he knew why.

Naturally, Captain Asculan had been fairly livid when he had learned about this, but this wasn't Asculan's jurisdiction. Asculan may have outranked Caysath, but it was Caysath who would have the final say in such matters. And the Electorate had already given Caysath permission to do “whatever is necessary to stop these childish attacks” as Councilor Lirem had put it.

To Caysath, breaking the law of Seerow's Kindness counted under “whatever is necessary.” After all, it had worked once before.

So Caysath had begun to assist on the task force's missions. Lately, he had taken to flying interference in his custom fighter, the Luminous, as he was tonight. Caysath had made several modifications to this fighter, including sacrificing shield and weapon power for additional speed and maneuverability. He was parked high above the warehouse, ready to intercept any being that tried to escape.

All of a sudden, the Luminous was tossed around by an explosion directly underneath it. At first Caysath was confused about the source of the explosion. He quickly identified it as coming from the ground, where he saw a human armed with a rocket launcher, presumably one of the ones they were here to take possession of.

Caysath went into a dive to try and take out the threat, but was hit by another missile. The primitive human weapon was able to strike a lucky hit, and took out his maneuvering thrusters, despite the shields being raised. The explosion was just that powerful.

Unable to pull out of the dive, Caysath's fighter crashed into the side of the warehouse.



As Daniel got to his feet, he realized that the blast had come from Prince Caysath's fighter crashing through the wall of the warehouse. The fighter didn't appear to be seriously damaged, although Daniel doubted it would be flying again anytime soon. Debris was scattered all over the area, and Daniel felt a throbbing pain in his right side.

The hatch of the fighter opened, and Caysath came tumbling out, smoke billowing from behind him. The Andalite looked to be hurt, although it was hard to tell with aliens. Daniel couldn't help but smile a bit.

“Nice entrance,” Daniel sneered.

/I decided to...er...crash this party./ came the though-speak reply. Clearly, Caysath had learned a great deal about human humor.

A scuffling from behind him made Daniel turn around. The Hork-Bajir, momentarily forgotten, had dived for a spot in the far corner of the warehouse. After fumbling for a moment, the Hork-Bajir hopped onto a vehicle as it decloaked. It was like none Daniel had seen before. It resembled a human motorcycle in some ways, but with a flat bottom instead of wheels, and typical Yeerk engines at the rear

Most motorcycles didn't have Dracon cannons either.

Daniel looked around for help. The Captain was struggling with what looked like a broken arm. The head FBI agent was pinned under debris, and the rest were too far away to do any good. Daniel wasn't feeling great himself, and looking down he saw why. A small piece of shrapnel was lodged in his right side. That explained the pain.

The Hork-Bajir locked eyes with Caysath's main eyes for a moment. Recognition flooded the Andalite's face. Then, the Hork-Bajir grinned, started the craft's engines, and accelerated forward, nearly bowling over Caysath in the process. The craft flew out of the warehouse and into the night, with several of the soldiers still standing taking shots at it. It was no good, however. All of the bullets glanced off of the Yeerk craft's armor. As the flyer flew off into the night sky, Daniel watched it go with a look of regret on his face. The Hork-Bajir had been their biggest lead so far, and Daniel had let it escape.

Daniel Miller was tired of failing.



Chapter Four: Doubts

Every leader needs to have doubts about their actions at some point in their career. Doubts force you to rethink all that you have done. When you rethink your actions in such detail, you can see the mistakes that you have made. By recognizing your mistakes, you can make sure that they are never repeated.

Every leader makes mistakes. No matter what they may tell you.



The orbital shuttle took Kir Omel up to the Judiciator, a Renaki-class Assault Cruiser. Kir hated the shuttles; they were about as fast as the lava slugs that inhabited Orianam, one of only a handful of volcanoes on the Kelbrid homeworld, and the largest at that. Kir would have preferred to fly out in his own flagship, Fate's Dagger, but it was currently being retrofitted with the latest in Kelbrid technology. So instead Kir would have to settle for a portion of his personal cruiser squadron, a more inefficient use of ships.

Kir had decided on bringing just 6 capital ships to Magabia, enough to blockade the system, and certainly enough to capture two lightly armed shuttles. The three Assault Cruisers would be the primary combat ships, with the Light Cruiser, Escort Carrier, and antiquated Strike Cruiser providing support. With all of the power of those 6 ships as well as their full compliment of assorted fighters, landing craft, and other vehicles, and all the elite warriors being transferred to those ships, Kir could not even think of a situation where the Kelbrid would fail.

As soon as Kir Omel's shuttle docked, the Kelbrid craft entered subspace. The Kelbrid technology had evolved past using Zero-space technology centuries ago. They had figured out that, rather than going outside of space to reach their destination, they could create a stable temporary wormhole through subspace. This created a much faster and more consistent way of traveling. The limitation was obvious, however. The subspace drives were always in a state of controlled overload, meaning that no other major ship systems could be used at the same time as the drive. The subspace drives also burned out much more quickly than other systems. Still, every current Kelbrid craft was equipped with subspace drives.

As Kir looked out at the twisting and turning blue tunnel that was subspace, he wondered how much of a fight the Animorphs would put up. He wondered if they would be able to fell one of his warriors.



The sun was just starting to rise over Washington DC when Cassie Dawson arrived at the Pentagon. Late last night she had been woken by an urgent message telling her to get down to the Pentagon as soon as possible. The message hadn't been very specific, but she could tell something was wrong with this one. As Special Assistant to the President for Resident Aliens, she was used to getting paged at all hours of the day, but this one was much more frantic than any other she had ever received.

Cassie had been in DC to brief the President on the state of affairs in the Hork-Bajir Colony at Yellowstone. The population of the aliens was booming, and she had been planning on asking the President for additional land to be added to their territory.

Something told her that she was going to need to skip that meeting in favor of the one she had been called to. Her assistant/boyfriend Ronnie Chambers would have to fill in for her. She was sure he'd do just fine. He was no Jake, though.

No, she thought to herself. She had to stop comparing him to Jake. Jake was gone, dead probably. So were the rest of them, in all likelihood. Marco, Tobias, Ax. And Rachel, of course. It was time for her to move on.

Cassie had a suspicion that this meeting was related to the increasing number of terrorist attacks on the Hork-Bajir and Andalite civillians. Why they would need her for an obviously military meeting escaped her though.

As she passed the guard at the entrance of the Pentagon, he didn't even question her. An advantage of being world-famous. In the lobby, she was met by a pair of MP's. who took her back to the areas the public never saw. After a walk of what seemed like forever, they arrived at one of the larger conference rooms of the building. What she saw when she entered immediately put a smile on her face.

Cassie recognized several of the occupants of the room. Seated at the head of the table was General Samuel Doubleday, an ally of the Animorphs from the Yeerk War, and the current head of the Department of Homeworld Security. Standing against the wall was Toby Hamee, the governor of the Free Hork-Bajir Colony. Standing at one end of the table were two Andalites. One, Cassie recognized as the current liaison with Earth, Prince Caysath. Cassie noticed that the Andalite looked injured, and there were burn marks around his chest. The other Andalite was also familiar to Cassie. With a hint of displeasure, she recognized Captain Asculan-Semitur-Langor, the Andalite who had been originally sent to destroy all life on Earth, and now was the Captain of the Dome Ship in orbit.

The final person in the room was unknown to her, though she had learned enough about the military to recognize his rank as a colonel. He looked to be in his mid-40's, with sandy-blond hair. The next thing that Cassie noticed was that there was a flicker of hatred in his eyes as he looked at her. The colonel quickly got it under control, but the look disturbed Cassie. She had never met anyone on Earth who felt any hatred towards the Animorphs. She also couldn't help but notice the bandage around the officer's side.

Shrugging this off, Cassie took the remaining seat reserved for her. General Doubleday smiled at her, but didn't say anything as Asculan began to speak.

((Thank you all for assembling on such short notice,)) the Andalite began, ((I recognize that this is an early hour for humans, but we have matters of great importance to discuss. Three, in fact.))

When Cassie had first seen Asculan, she had wondered why the Andalite didn't simply morph to repair the damage that had taken away one of his stalk eyes and left a burn scar across his scalp. After hearing the arrogance and pompousness with which he spoke, Cassie assumed that he simply used the injuries as a way for others to recognize him among every other being. Asculan was the stereotypical arrogant Andalite officer.

((First on the agenda is a situation that arose yesterday,)) Asculan continued. ((Prince Caysath will fill you in on the details.))

Caysath nodded. ((Yesterday night, we stormed a meeting between Giovanni Coppola's mafia group and the Darkfire terrorist cell. It was supposed to be a routine operation. We were to go in, capture or eliminate any humans involved, and recover the stolen missile launchers. However a complication arose.))

“What sort of complication?” Toby asked, her eyes narrowing.

((A Hork-Bajir was also present at the meeting place,)) came the reply.

This announcement nearly stopped Cassie's heart. From the look on Toby's face, it seemed to have a similar effect on her.

“All of the Hork-Bajir at the valley are accounted for,” Toby said finally, “And I can assure you, none of the free Hork-Bajir would assist a terrorist group.”

((I'm sure,)) Asculan snorted derisively. Toby stiffened at this remark. Asculan's implied insult about the average Hork-Bajir's limited intelligence had not gone unnoticed by her. ((In fact, we have already confirmed the identity of this Hork-Bajir. It is Visser Nine.))

Cassie remembered the designation vaguely. If she was remembering correctly, Visser Nine had participated in one of the former Visser Three's schemes to take control of Earth.

((I was able to get a good look at him. I am almost positive that the Hork-Bajir was Visser Nine's host body. Also, Visser Nine was the only known Yeerk to regularly use the kind of vehicle he escaped in.)) Caysath enthused.

((Visser Nine is the highest ranking Yeerk to escape from the war, aside from the Council of Thirteen.)) Asculan explained.

“Question,” said the colonel. “If this guy is so important, then what's he doing dealing with terrorists and mobsters who hate the Yeerks anyway?”

((A good question indeed,)) Asculan replied. ((Obviously, he still wants to exercise some amount of control on the beings of Earth. But why these humans? Well, we may have an answer, but you'll have to wait a little while to find out.))

“Are you saying we have Yeerks on Earth?!” Doubleday asked, his voice rising with every word.

((We have found no evidence of any other Yeerks on Earth.)) Asculan said simply.

“You didn't even find any evidence of THIS Yeerk on Earth!” Doubleday shouted.

Cassie cringed. The meeting had barely begun, and it was already going to turn into a shouting match. Cassie looked around the room. Toby and Caysath looked worried by their leaders' behavior. The colonel, on the other hand, sat back in his chair as if relaxing at home. Cassie made a mental note to speak with him after the meeting. Something was different about this one, and it somehow related to the Animorphs and/or the Yeerks.

Caysath, seeming to sense an impending fight, interrupted the growing tension. ((To be fair, we weren't actually looking for any Yeerks before now. We didn't believe they had regrouped enough to send any agents to any planets yet. Visser Nine came alone in one small Scout ship. The Elfangor attempted to catch up with the craft, but the engines were still under repair from damage incurred several days prior.))

“Sabotage?” asked the colonel.

((No. The type of damage typically results from putting too much strain on a ship's engines, and the Elfangor has been maintaining geosynchronous orbit non-stop for several months now. It appears to be just normal wear. And besides, there was no possible way a Yeerk could have gotten on board in order to cause the damage intentionally. Only an Andalite could have caused this damage.)) Caysath laughed, as if the idea that an Andalite would have caused this damage was ludicrous.

Cassie could have commented on the fact that Andalites could be made into Controllers, as Alloran had been, or simply turn traitor, as Samilin had. She decided not too, however. It sounded as if it really were a simple engine problem. And yet the timing of it still just seemed a little too perfect...

((After Visser Nine left the system, we ran a detailed surface scan of the planet. There was no other evidence of Yeerks. No Yeerk Pools, no Kandronas, and no Yeerk life signs period.))

“Still, Visser Nine coming here can't be a good thing,” replied the colonel.

((No. We've informed the High Command, and they are sending a second Dome Ship.))

((And that's all we can do for the moment,)) Asculan broke in. ((In the meantime, there are still other matters that need discussing. The second and third items for discussion are likely related, and possibly related to the appearance of Visser Nine as well. Several hours ago, a small ship appeared over the Andalite Homeworld. When hailed, it opened fire on a Dome Ship, heavily damaging it, until it was destroyed by another Dome Ship.))

“Yeerks?” Cassie asked, realizing it was the first time she had actually spoken at the meeting. It made her wonder why she was really here. The two problems were problems, but they disn't seem to have anything to do with her, aside from the fact that she was an Animorph.

((No,)) Asculan answered slowly. ((It was of a type and configuration we have never seen before, equipped with weapons and technology that are not used by any documented species.))

“How about the undocumented ones?” the colonel asked impatiently.

((After going through the archives, there is one species we believe might have done this,)) Asculan paused before finishing his sentence. ((The Kelbrid.))

Cassie's insides went cold. She had heard of the Kelbrid in passing once before, when Jake had come to say goodbye. And unless Toby was suffering from amnesia, she recognized the name too. After a moment, Cassie realized that Asculan was studying her reaction to the name.

((The Kelbrid are a war-like species that occupies a massive empire near Andalite territory.)) Asculan placed an Andalite holoprojector on the table and called up a map of the galaxy. Highlighted in blue was the territory currently occupied by the Andalites and the other free species in the area. Highlighted in red near the Andalite territory was a much larger expanse of space; presumably the Kelbrid Empire.

((Over a millennia ago, a space probe appeared in Andalite territory, broadcasting a simple text message. Once the message had been received by an Andalite ship, the probe self-destructed. From what I understand, the message read, 'The dominion of the Kelbrid is inviolable. Do not enter, and you will not be harmed.' It also contained a rough outline of Kelbrid territory. The Andalites of the time period took this to be a treaty of sorts, and stayed well away from Kelbrid territory. True to their word, the Kelbrid have never entered our territory either.))

“Until now,” Doubleday said.

((We do not know for certain that this ship was Kelbrid. We have never actually seen a Kelbrid ship. It is possible it is Kelbrid, or it could simply be a completely undiscovered race testing our defenses.))

“Assuming it was Kelbrid,” the colonel said, “why would they violate a treaty that's lasted for this long?”

Asculan and Caysath stared at each other for a few long moments, then at Toby and Cassie in turn. Finally:

((This is where the third problem comes up,)) Asculan said finally, and Cassie had a sudden foreboding feeling. She knew Asculan would discuss next.

((What I am about to tell you is strictly confidential. Do not inform anyone else of this without telling us first.))

“Captain, you don't get to tell us how to do our jobs, especially when you're not doing all that well at your's.,” Doubleday replied sternly. “You don't give the orders around here. I do.”

With this announcement, Asculan began to turn a darker shade of blue. Before Asculan could have another temper tantrum, Caysath once again stepped in.

((We understand that we cannot control what you say or do with this information. However, should word of this reach either of our culture's general public...))

“We'll try to keep it as low-key as possible,” Doubleday said, nodding.

((Very well. Do you remember the disappearance of the remaining three Animorphs a year ago?))

“Yeah,” said the colonel. “They went crazy and stole a Yeerk cruiser.”

The two Andalites and Cassie stared at him dumbfounded.

((Wh..What?)) Caysath managed finally.

“Oh come on. You think I'm an idiot? The Animorphs disappear at the exact same time as a Yeerk prototype ship, and you think people don't put two and two together? Everyone knows that they stole that ship. There's a betting pool on it. I have money on them going on a rescue mission. Colonel Devereaux thinks they're just joyriding. Now Maj. Kepler on the other hand-”

“Alright, we get it,” Doubleday grimaced. “I had suspicions myself. So what really happened?”

((Two weeks prior to their departure, Captain Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill was on patrol very close to the border of Kelbrid space, but distinctly on our side. His ship, the Intrepid diverted from their course to investigate a foreign ship of another type never seen before, and not similar in design to the ship that attacked us today. At first glance it appeared to be a dead ship, so Captain Aximili led a boarding party over to the ship. While investigating the ship, Captain Aximili were taken captive by the Yeerks, who had hidden their Blade Ship within the alien ship. The Blade Ship emerged, and both ships fired on the Intrepid. The two ships then entered Kelbrid territory, leaving the Intrepid crippled beyond repair. Only the first officer survived the attack.))

“What's the punchline?” the colonel asked sarcastically.

((Because of the treaty, Andalite ships could not mount a rescue operation, whether the Yeerks are allied with the Kelbrid or not. Therefore, with the Electorate's permission, First Officer Menderash and I came to Earth to recruit the former Animorphs to fly a Yeerk ship into Kelbrid space to rescue Aximili. Menderash went with them as a nothlit, and Jake Berenson also recruited two soldiers from Col. Miller's counter-terrorism unit to accompany them. They brought along several weapons in case of combat, and all except Menderash are morph capable.))

The colonel, presumably the Col. Miller Caysath had mentioned, raised his fist triumphantly in the air. “Yes!” he enthused. “Kepler owes me a hundred bucks.”

General Doubleday stared at Col. Miller bemusedly, then gestured for Caysath to continue.

((We allowed them to take a prototype Yeerk cruiser from orbit, and attempted to make it look like terrorists from the Darkfire cell had stolen it for their own goals. Clearly we were unsuccessful in that regard.))

“So, why wasn't I “officially” informed about this until now?” Miller asked.

“They didn't tell me, Colonel,” Doubleday said gruffly. “They better damn well have kept you in the dark!”

“How about we get to the problem you mentioned?” Toby suggested. Hearing her surprised Cassie. She had almost forgotten the Hork-Bajir seer was there.

Asculan took charge again. ((Two days ago, we picked up a Z-Space signal from within Kelbrid space. Before the Animorphs had departed Earth we had affixed a special transponder to the cruiser. This transponder would only activate in the event that the shields on the cruiser failed.))

Cassie's heart felt ready to break. She knew of only one reason the cruiser's shields would fail.

((Before you jump to conclusions,)) Asculan continued, ((there's more. Yesterday, around the same time Prince Caysath and Col. Miller were raiding the terrorist warehouse, we picked up two more transponder signals. We had also affixed these transponders to the two shuttlecraft aboard the cruiser. This presumably means that survivors escaped from the cruiser after it was attacked, but were later attacked at a new location.))

“What location?” Col. Miller inquired.

((Magabia,)) Asculan replied. ((A desert planet near the border with Kelbrid space, but within our own territory. And that is where all of you come in. It is possible there could be survivors on Magabia. We need to find out. But with the attack on our homeworld, the Electorate is hesitant to send one of our ships anywhere near Kelbrid territory.))

“And?” Doubleday said, frowning.

((We know you removed a Blade Ship from orbit two years ago. We know you've been making modifications to it since then. A Yeerk ship with a cloaking device might be able to avoid detection. Crewed with humans and Andalites, along with a strike force of soldiers, you might be able to succeed in a recovery operation.))

Doubleday and Col. Miller talked to each other quietly for a few minutes. Cassie didn't really like being left out of the loop, but there was nothing she could do about it.

She wondered what had really happened out in Kelbrid space. Something had happened out there to force Jake and the others to abandon their ship. But had all of them escaped? They had fled to Andalite space, but were shot down again by some unknown enemy. Were they even still alive?

The only thing Cassie knew for sure was that if a rescue mission launched, she was going to be on it.

No matter what.



The hangar was a non-descript white building close by the Pentagon. No one viewing it would ever guess that, 6 levels below the retractable main floor, a powerful battlecruiser was in storage.

This ship had been slightly modified from its original form, however. The humans had seen fit to augment its already impressive offensive capabilities by adding human armaments as secondary weapons, including six railguns and 4 missile launchers. The railguns utilized electric currents to propel magnetic projectiles at a very high velocity, capable of damaging even the most hardened of ships, although they performed best against fighters. The missile launchers were more standard, containing several nuclear weapons each.

And as the ship's primary technician, and former Human-Controller, explained, they had integrated these weapons without reducing the ship's performance at all.

Daniel Miller waited patiently through the speech, which was very difficult, as he had already suffered through it twice before. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore, and quietly slipped out the back of the ship's bridge. It was all he could do to keep himself from running away screaming when Caysath engaged the female technician on “flux capacitors.” Or something like that.

“Col. Miller!”

The voice from behind him stopped his jog through the corridors. Turning around he saw Cassie Dawson, the Animorph standing not far down the corridor. Daniel gritted his teeth. He had been waiting four years for this conversation, and he wasn't going to back out now.

“Hi,” Cassie said. “We haven't been properly introduced. I'm Cassie. I kinda wanted to talk to you.”

Daniel sighed, “Yeah, me too. You're probably wondering why I have a problem with you.”

“So you do have a problem with me?”

Daniel wondered why he even bothered; she would never understand. “Not with you in particular. With your whole group. The Animorphs.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, have you ever lost someone close to you? Has someone you loved ever been killed?”

Cassie was silent a moment, her eyes closed. “Yes,” she said finally.

“What would you do if you came face-to-face with their murderer?”

“I don't know,” Cassie said very quietly, “I really don't.”

“Well, I can't do anything. Because you're the murderer. Your whole damn team is the murderer!”

Cassie was speechless, her mouth hanging open. Daniel hadn't meant for the revelation to come out that harshly. He tried to calm himself, and began again.

“My wife...Laura...she was...she was one of them. A Controller. I didn't find out until later. She was one of the executives of Sheridan Industries, so she had to travel the country a lot. It made her a target...cause she was in a position of power...and she could go away for a while without anyone noticing. So one day she says she has to go to California. Only it was the Yeerk who said that. So she's away for three days. I guess the Yeerk had to go feed. It...she...was at the Yeerk Pool...when you blew it up.”

Cassie seemed to be at a loss for words, and Daniel realized there were tears in her eyes. He knew why she was tearing up. It wasn't the fact that he was confronting her. Or the fact that he had called her a murderer. Or even the simple fact that his wife had died because of their actions. It was the fact that, at one point in the war, it had come down to mass-murdering innocent civilians in order to save everyone else. Come to think of it, Daniel remembered hearing that Cassie hadn't even supported the decision to begin with.

“Look, I don't really blame you. I know that it was the only thing you could do. I know it pretty much saved Earth. And I know it was better off for her that way; better dead than living one more hour like that. But the simple fact is that she's dead and it's your group that killed her. I'm not gonna let this get in the way of the mission. But I can't forgive you. Maybe someday, but not yet.”

Daniel walked off, almost in tears himself, leaving Cassie standing alone in the hallway.
Image

Excuses are like buttholes. Everyone has them, and they all stink.

Image

Credit for the above graphics goes to Ellimist.

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Elfangor
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Re: Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by Elfangor » Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:37 pm

Cool fic :)
Last edited by Elfangor on Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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And you never put the safety on
And you all have plans,
To take it



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Re: Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by Cyberhamon » Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Elfangor wrote:This is a pretty cool fic but i find it a bit hard to read (mianly cayuse when youve read about 10 different #55 fanfictions you start to think one is right and then all the reast dont make sense) but apart from that the fic is awsxome !!!!!!!!!!!!1

one more think im not sure if it was intended but the animorphs landing on a desert planet after losing energy while on the way to some important planet sounds a lot like Star-Wars The Phantom Menace
Star Wars was an inspiration for this fic, although I never actually realized the parallel in this scene until you mentioned it. That's interesting; my subconscious must have seen what I had planned for the scene, and turned it into a similar scene without me realizing it. But yeah, Star Wars is my all-time favorite movie series.

I know what you mean about the fics, though. I've seen so many out there, that it's hard to keep track of all of them. My favorite (aside from my fic of course) was one called The Kelbrid Chronicles on FFN. It was a very well-written fic, it seemed like it was written by KAA herself when she was in her prime. Unfortunately, that one was never finished; the author lost interest, which sometimes happens.

Capn's fic is also pretty good, although it was a bit hard to get into at first.

Unfortunately, a whole bunch of the ones out there are simple wish-fulfillment through Deus ex Machina. For example, there's one on FFN that's ongoing right now like that. Basically, it brought Rachel back, and transported the Animorphs back to Earth, and set them on a quest to destroy The One, and is making no sense while doing so. The plot is unrealistic, there are numerous grammatical errors, everyone is out of character. Basically, I'd hold that one up as an example of what not to do when writing a fanfic.

I've generally been happy with mine, although there were a couple scenes that are in the next three chapters that I wasn't crazy about. But they were necessary, and what's done is done. The reviewers can judge for themselves.

Thanks for the good review. I'll try to update with the next three chapters soon.
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Credit for the above graphics goes to Ellimist.

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Re: Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by Cyberhamon » Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:38 pm

Alright, I was gonna bump this up anyway, so I may as well post up the next block of story.



Chapter Five: The Search

There are many types of climates found on planets throughout the galaxy. Arboreal, such as the Hork-Bajir world. Grassland, like the Andalite homeworld. Volcanic, like the Kelbrid-controlled planet Iornia. Aquatic, like Leera. Tundra, like the archaeological treasure trove of Jedgodia. Barren, like the Taxxon homeworld. Swampland, like the Yeerk homeworld. And mixed, like Earth and the Kelbrid homeworld.

And then there were desert worlds, like Magabia. A desert world is the single worst planetary type to try and flee from pursuers. The intense heat tires out anyone not physically adapted for it. There are no terrain features to use to hide. Just lots of sand. And sand is not the best terrain to be running on. And if the pursuers are adapted for sand, or otherwise equipped for the terrain, then escaping becomes almost impossible.

Sometimes, it would seem that the entire planet is out to get you.



Kir Omel's fleet emerged from subspace above Magabia in a tight formation. The cruisers quickly spread out to cover all possible avenues of escape. With this taken care of, Kir exited the bridge for the Judiciator's hangar. The almost 2-kilometer long Assault Cruiser was armed to the teeth with over a hundred Pulse Cannons and warhead launchers. Some Kelbrid thought that the sheer size and power of these large ships was overkill for this task, and a large waste of resources. Kir, on the other hand, did not want to underestimate these six humans who had brought down an empire, and escaped the clutches of The One. Kir decided not to cloak the fleet, as it would keep those on the planet from even attempting to escape. Plus, he hoped that the Animorphs would see the fleet from the surface of the planet, and be cowed by its presence, making them easier to capture.

When Kir emerged in the hangar he was greeted by the sight of thirty or so warriors, drafted from the ranks of the best in the military, were standing at attention in front of him. Jeke Hano was standing off to the side. Jeke would be the official Commander of this mission, but Kir would be going along, allegedly in an “observer role, but in reality, he just didn't want to miss out on the excitement.” He hadn't stepped foot on a battlefield in ages, except in his flagship or other cruiser.

Kir circled the assembled warriors once, then came to a stop in front of them. Now was the time for him to give an inspiring speech to spur his warriors on.

“Fellow warriors,” Kir announced to the assembled throng. “We now go into battle against a group of foes who in the past, have accomplished the impossible. Some would say the odds are stacked against us. But I know that they are not. We are the Kelbrid, and we cannot be defeated by mere interlopers such as these. For our honor, our people, and our lord, The One, we must prevail.”

This brought a cheer from the warriors, as Kir dismissed them. They turned and began to head for the dropship transports that would take them down to the surface. As they left, Kir pulled Jeke aside.

“Make sure the warriors understand that we need the targets alive,” he told Jeke. “But feel free to kill the Andalite nothlit.”



When Daniel reentered the bridge a half an hour after his fight with Cassie, he immediately wished he hadn't. Now, four Andalites were arguing with the female technician, who he had learned was named Sarah Larter and about half his age. Two of the Andalites were Asculan and Caysath. A third male Andalite was not as powerfully built as the other two. The fourth Andalite, Daniel realized, was female.

The two newcomers seemed to disagree with the modifications that had been made to the Blade Ship.

The male was speaking currently. ((Nuclear weapons, though perhaps powerful for ground bombings, would do little against any ship with modern shields. The blast is simply not powerful enough, and any radiation would be absorbed by the shields without much damage. And these railguns of yours. They might work against typical starfighters, but they would do nothing against battlecruisers. I understand that you were a Controller. In that case, I would have thought that you would already have known this.))

“Oh, I understand that. They're basically there as backup weapons in case of a system failure in the Dracon cannons. Same with the backup power generator for the engines. Maybe if you Andalites had learned to incorporate redundant systems on your ships, you wouldn't have been completely crippled after just a couple hits. But then, you're the superior race, so you're probably above doing your job right.”

Daniel liked this woman. She didn't take crap from moronic aliens. Unfortunately, it was now his responsibility to break up this fight before someone lost an arm. Or a head.

“Alright, this has gone far enough,” Daniel interjected. “We've got enough problems without a fight breaking out here and now. Let it go.”

((I'm not part of your military,)) the obviously young Andalite snapped back. ((I don't have to follow your orders.))

((Listen to him,)) said Asculan. ((This is their ship. We were invited aboard. You should follow their rules of decorum. Unless some responsibility and respect is too much to ask from you, Arsith Ashia-Beshine-Latum.))

The Arsith visibly deflated at the reprimand. Almost literally deflated, in Daniel's opinion. The Captain's harsh words actually seemed to have made the Arsith physically sick.

((No sir,)) the Arsith said, his stalk eyes downcast.

“We were going to try and create quantum bombs for use on this ship, but we couldn't harvest the raw materials necessary for them, and we couldn't obtain them from your government. Something about, 'immature aliens should not be trying to create weapons clearly beyond your capabilities.'”

((Probably for the best,)) the female Andalite broke in. ((I'm not entirely sure the quantum warheads would be completely compatible with the launchers on this ship. The bomb could lodge in the tube, and detonate within the ship.))

“Who's she?” Daniel whispered to Caysath.

((Esom-Shani-Dason. One of our more skilled exo-datologists,)) Caysath replied in what was hopefully private thought-speak.

((Very well, I've heard enough,)) Asculan said imperiously. ((The mission will proceed as planned. Prince Caysath, Arsith Ashia, Technician Esom, and a squad of my warriors will comprise the Andalite contingent on the ship. For the human contingent, we have a few requests.))

“Requests? We haven't even gotten the final okay from General Doubleday yet!” Daniel asked suspiciously.

((I'm sure he will agree. I've been informed that the so-called Animorphs are very important to your people,)) Asculan said slyly. ((Miss Larter will be going along, since she seems to be the only one who knows how the ship in its present state works.))

“I tried to explain-” Sarah began.

((Not now,)) Asclan broke in. ((Representative Toby Hamee will be going as well. We might as well send all members of your little triumvirate along.))

“I'm not even sure I'll be going!” Daniel exclaimed

((Nonsense,)) Asculan chided. ((I want you to command the mission.))

This brought Daniel's brain to a screeching, abrupt halt. “Me?” was about all he could manage.

((Yes, you,)) Asculan responded. He attempted the Andalite version of a smile, although with one stalk eye it was rather weak. ((Can you think of anyone better? Your heroics against the terrorist have proven your leadership abilities beyond any doubt.))

“No,” Daniel shook his head. “I'm not a hero.”

((Most would disagree with that self-assessment. And with your handling of the terrorist situation, attacks have significantly fallen. I don't think there would be any problem while you are away. Unless there is something else you would like to tell me? Something relating to the mission?)) he inquired.

Daniel swore inwardly. He had already had this conversation one too many times today, and he doubted Asculan would understand anyway.

“No,” he said aloud, “No problem.”

((Well, in that case, I will go talk to General Doubleday about the mission. Feel free to assemble any human crew, but restrict it to trustworthy people with a high clearance level. We wouldn't want the details of this mission getting out to the general public now, would we?))

“No,” Daniel said once again. “Strictly confidential.”

“In fact, most of the crew members and supplies necessary for the ship are already on board. Just in case this mission went forward after all,” Sarah added. “We just need to get a couple others to round out the crew and we'll be ready.”

“And let me be the first to volunteer,” came a voice from behind the group. Whirling around, Daniel saw Cassie standing by the entrance to the bridge. They had been so engrossed in their conversation that they had missed her approach.

Asculan regarded Cassie a moment before replying. ((Yes, that would be a good idea.)) Daniel almost did a double-take at Asculan's words. All of the Andalite's arrogance, temper, and perpetual coldness had disappeared from his voice. ((Yes, that would be helpful.))

Daniel half expected Cassie to bring up what had happened between them to the group, but she merely nodded and left the bridge.



When the two Andalites met in a deserted hallway in the bowels of the Blade Ship, neither suspected anything was amiss. They had their conversation and quickly left, one heading to the bridge, and one slipping into the rear section of the Blade Ship, towards the debarkation ramp. Neither of them saw the cockroach through the gloom of the hallway, despite their excellent eyesight. Neither could have guessed that their thought-speak conversation, which had been left somewhat open to outsiders through arrogance, had been overheard.

Several minutes after both Andalites had left, Cassie demorphed back to her human self, and headed for the lift tube. She took the lift up to the bridge, then headed for a second door to the right of the bridge. She pressed the button next to the door that alerted the occupants to the presence of a visitor. A second later, she was admitted, and stepped into the Captain's quarters. Already present were Toby, Prince Caysath, and Col. Miller.

Toby and Caysath were almost definitely trustworthy. Col. Miller was harder to read, but he was the one who had sent her to follow the Andalites on a hunch. She hadn't mentioned the...disagreement to the other two. She knew Miller had just been venting the emotions he had kept bottled up for the last four years. She knew who he really hated.

“What've you got?” Miller asked from his chair behind the desk.

“You were right,” Cassie answered. “Asculan is leaving Ashia on board as a spy. Esom seems to be genuine though.”

Miller did not appear to be happy with his hunch being proven correct. He swore and sat up straight.

((Dishonorable conduct!)) Caysath enthused.

“But not unexpected,” Toby interjected. “Asculan wants to maintain some level of control over this mission.”

“Anyone else in favor of shoving him out the airlock?” Miller asked gruffly.

((There is no need to resort to such gruesome measures,)) Caysath replied. ((In fact, this may even work to our advantage.))

Cassie had already seen the possibilities herself. “We can use Ashia as a direct line to Asculan,” she explained. “If we can carefully shut him out of some of the operations, so that he doesn't suspect anything, we can use Ashia to make sure he only tells Asculan what we want him to hear.”

“It's a good idea, but-” Miller began, but was interrupted by chiming from a communication console on the desk. Pressing the switch to activate the comm, he said, “Yes?”

“Bridge here,” came a voice. “We have clearance to launch. Also, General Doubleday would like to speak with you, sir.”

Daniel sighed, “Put him on.”

“Colonel?” came the familiar voice. “Do you copy?”

“Yes, sir. Go ahead.”

“Make sure you bring them back alive. We need them. Oh, and make sure you tell them that the money for this whole damned operation is coming out of their own pockets.”

“I'll do that sir,” Miller smiled as he closed the connection. “We'd better get to the bridge. We can worry about our little blue friend later.”

Cassie nodded with the others, but inwardly her mind was filled with other misgivings. If the others were even still alive. And what would she say to Jake when she found him. If she found him.

The Blade Ship departed through the retractable roof of the secret hangar, engaging its cloaking device so it wouldn't be seen as it departed into the night sky over Washington DC.



There was something wrong with the scene in front of Jake Berenson. Jake couldn't remember the last things he had done, and he got the feeling that it hadn't led up to this moment, where he was sitting around a table with all of the Animorphs.

Marco was clowning around as usual. Rachel was taunting him like always. Wait, Rachel was... Tobias was holding her hand in human morph. Cassie was sitting next to Jake, more reserved than the rest of them. Cassie? But she wasn't... And finally, Ax was pigging out on food in his human morph, as he always seemed to do. But when I saw Ax...

All of a sudden, Ax doubled over in pain and fell to the floor as if he had a very bad stomachache. The other Animorphs and Jake all rushed over to his side to try and help. And then...a giant mechanical monstrosity exploded from Ax's gut as the Animorphs watched in horror, and blood rained all over.

Suddenly, the whole scene disappeared, except for the mechanical being, and Jake suddenly remembered everything that had happened since the Yeerk War ended. He had killed Rachel...and Tom...

Suddenly, the mechanical being was replaced by the scarred visage of the being that called itself The One, as it had appeared in Ax's body.

“Interesting,” The One mused, not actually talking to Jake. “This one's goal is to have his allies back together as a team. And yet, he fears for their lives. The way to stop this fear is to remove them from danger, and yet he continues to lead them into action, where there is always a strong chance of being killed. Such contradictions cloud his judgment, making it almost a certainty he will fail against a calm and centered opponent. And yet, he continually beats the odds, and destroys enemies much more powerful than he could ever be. But is it him alone, or the actions of the team? Is this human the greatest leader in the history of the universe, or is he merely lucky?

The One's gaze snapped back to Jake. “Oh, I'm so sorry Jake, I forgot you were here. It's a bit drab here in this void, isn't it? Shall we go someplace else?”

The black void shimmered around Jake, and suddenly he was someplace different. It was someplace completely new to him. No planet he had ever seen had towers like this. The towers were massive; very wide, and immensely tall. He couldn't even see the ground from where he was sitting, which appeared to be the roof of the tallest tower in the cityscape.

The towers around him were all different sizes, although all appeared to be topped with a spear-point rooftop. Off in the distance, Jake could see what looked like a vast and dense jungle.

“Welcome to the Kelbrid homeworld,” The One pronounced. The being was standing beside Jake. “You are not physically here, but I have brought your consciousness here. We stand on top of the Central Command Tower, the main base of military operations.”

“What are you?” Jake demanded.

“All in good time, my dear Jake,” said The One affectionately. “But now we are here to talk about you.”

Jake would not deterred so easily. “You're one of Crayak's creatures, aren't you?”

The One smiled. “I do not serve Crayak. But he did have a hand in my creation. As did the being that expelled him from our original galaxy.”

“Then who do you serve?!” Jake was getting frustrated.

“I serve Myself. Jake, you have to understand that there are many enemies in the universe more powerful than any you hav ever faced. More powerful than the Yeerks, the Helmacron, the Howlers, or the Kelbrid. More powerful than Crayak. More powerful than Me. I once served others, to battle one of these powerful enemies.”

“And what happened?” Jake asked.

“No, no. No, enough about Me, I brought you here to talk about you and your future.”

“What about me?!” Jake exploded.

“Now, now. Don't let your temper get the best of you,” The One responded mockingly. “That's what killed your cousin, you know.”

Jake flew to his feet, and swung into a punch to The One's chest that should have winded him. But Jake's fist simply went through The One as though it wasn't there. Or Jake wasn't.

“Ow? You know, I did mention that you're not physically here. You might have payed attention,” The One said shaking its head. “Now please be more civilized. You're a guest here, after all.”

Jake took several deep breaths to calm himself. Strangely, he wasn't here, but found he could still breathe.

“What do you want with me and my team?” Jake asked calmly.

“Ah, now we can get to the conversation. Well, its you I want more than your team. Have you ever wondered why they follow you?”

“What do you mean?” Jake demanded. He didn't like where this was going.

“Your group of Animorphs has never left your side, despite all of your mistakes. They have questioned your judgment at times, but never truly gone against it. They have followed you always, despite their own better judgment about such things. Tobias followed you despite the fact that he still holds you responsible for the death of Rachel. Marco followed you despite doubting your capability to lead the mission to success. Cassie attempted to follow you despite having vital work to do on Earth, and the fact that you had ignored her since the war. Aximili refused to stop considering you as his Prince after the Yeerk War, despite becoming a Prince himself. And Rachel, she followed your orders to kill your brother, despite knowing it would lead to her death. Why?”

“We're a team,” Jake replied, though inwardly he was disconcerted by The One's revelations. He was right, he'd made deadly mistakes during the war, and they had never stopped...

No, he thought. He's playing a mind game. Jake realized that he couldn't show weakness in front of this alien menace, or it would pounce on that weakness and use it against him. This creature was trying to mess with Jake's head for his own dark purposes.

“No matter how badly any one of us screws up, or gets into trouble, the others are always there to help them,” Jake concluded.

The One appeared dubious, although it was hard to tell with that face. He seemed genuinely disappointed with Jake's pronouncement.

“Perhaps that is the truth, but that doesn't mean he's not one of them,” The One mused, once again appearing as if Jake wasn't there. Then, The One let loose a sigh that sounded like the hiss of death itself.

“One of who?” Jake inquired. He was beginning to suspect that The One was trying to test him, to gage his reactions to various situations, and Jake didn't like it.

“Alright, enough of the small talk,” The One announced, completely ignoring Jake's question. “Let's get down to business, shall we?”

Without taking a step, The One suddenly appeared at Jake's side. The One settled down into the Andalite equivalent of a sitting position beside Jake.

“Anyway,” The One went on, “two days ago, I ordered some of My followers-Kelbrid from this planet-to find you and bring you to me alive. At the time, I believed they could do so. But now, I have seen your mind and your resolve and your power. Further complicating matters is interference from an......unexpected source.”

“Who the source is is unimportant,” The One said, interrupting Jake before he could even begin. “But to put it simply, matters are now complicated to the point where My Kelbrid may in fact fail in their mission. In fact, I fully anticipate them failing. So, now I have to do things the hard way. I want to absorb your essence and your power. But I can't unless I have you in person. So I'll make you a deal: surrender to Me and I will not harm your friends, or anyone else for that matter. I'll even order My Kelbrid to leave all your kinds alone. You're the only one who matters to Me in the grand scheme of things at the moment.”

“Why am I so important?”

“Oh, you can't expect me to tell you that,” The One smiled his hideous smile. “Just know that you are vital to My plan to protect the galaxy from a grave threat.”

“Well, it sounds like you're the threat this galaxy needs to be worrying about,” The One's smile faltered at this remark. “You go around stealing people's souls and their power for your own ends, and you expect me to go along with it? You're worse than the Yeerks!”

The One looked up defensively. “No, I'm not! Really, I'm not! No! You see, the Yeerks are little more than petty thugs by the standards of the wider universe. They're just parasites looking for a good time. To them, you're the evil one! But the Yeerks misuse their power. They should use what power they have to fight the true evils of the universe, rather than just acting as brigands in a small corner of a small galaxy. When you fight to destroy something, the universe doesn't care. But when you fight to preserve, like you and I, the universe does notice.”

“So you're fighting to preserve life? By destroying it?”

“If necessary, yes. But the beings I absorb aren't destroyed, per se. It's a complicated process. I could never simply explain it to you in words.”

“Let me get this straight. You want me to kill these followers of yours' that you sent after me. Then you want me to risk my life and the lives of my friends to come to this Kelbrid homeworld. Then, you'll “absorb” me on the vague promise that you'll let the rest of my friends leave, and stop the attacks that I don't even know anything about. You're a damned liar!” Jake exclaimed.

“Of course I'm lying,” The One chuckled. “There are very few beings in the galaxy who are completely truthful. But I'm not completely lying. If you come to Me, I will honor my promise. Your friends mean nothing to Me, and everything to you.”

A sequence of six symbols appeared in the air between the two. Jake recognized it as the Andalite language. He had first seen the language inside of Prince Elfangor's Tailfighter. After the Yeerk War, Jake had spent some amount of time trying to learn the Andalite written alphabet in order to better communicate with them if necessary. He was far from an expert at the language, but the sequence in front of him didn't make any sense. It seemed to be composed of six random letters.

“It is the coordinates to the Kelbrid homeworld,” The One said, noticing Jake's confusion. “Why don't you come by if you want to walk into a trap?”

Jake knew The One was trying to mislead him; it had said so itself. Unfortunately, it was hard to tell which parts were true.

“What are you?” Jake asked again.

As the scene slowly faded to black, he heard The One's malicious laughter.

“I am Myself,” The One replied simply.



Jake awoke on a hard bed in a strange building. The building was dome-shaped, and made of some brown-colored metal. It was heavily lit with bright blue lights arrayed across the sloping ceiling. Around him were several other metal-framed beds, and several advanced-looking pieces of equipment. The room he was in reminded Jake of the hospitals he had been in on Earth, only much more sophisticated.

All of a sudden, Jake's field of vision was blocked out by an enormous head.

“Hey, sleepyhead!” Marco exclaimed.

“AHHHH!” Jake yelled, and accidentally rolled off the bed trying to escape from the apparition. He hit the metallic floor hard.

“Sorry,” Marco called down to Jake, and helped him to his feet. As Jake got up, a creature came running over in their direction, making strange chittering noises excitedly. The alien, which Jake assumed was a Magabian, appeared to be avian in nature, with brown feathers across its body, and wing-like flaps along its arms. The creature stood approximately 4 ft. tall and was very thin, giving it great agility as it hopped across the floor.

The alien began to speak, not from the curved beak on its face, but by using thought-speak.

((I apologize, Master Jake. I did instruct Master Marco not to disturb you while you recovered, but he does not seem to have heeded my advice,)) the Magabian glared at Marco.

“Who are you,” Jake asked of the Magabian.

((Forgive me, I have yet to properly introduce myself. I am Doctor La'orsa of the Magabian Medical Corps. I was responsible for restoring you and your companions to full health after the crash two days ago. We are terribly sorry about the incident. We assumed that it was Yeerks flying those craft, not the Animorphs.))

Jake did a double-take at this. “You've heard of us?”

((Oh yes, we have dealt with the Andalites before. We have great hatred of the Yeerks, and the Andalites were kind enough to inform us about the details of their defeat. The cannons that shot down your ships were originally placed there by the Andalites to protect a mine they controlled on this planet.))

“I thought Andalites weren't allowed to give technology to other species,” Jake said suspiciously.

((To lesser species,)) La'orsa corrected. ((We are not a lesser species. We may not have giant space battlecruisers or flashy energy weapons, but our construction and medical technologies are in some ways superior to the Andalites'. In part because of the Aratone ore present beneath the surface of our planet. So we made a deal with the Andalites: if they would protect us from the Yeerks, which we had heard about from travelers passing through the area, we would allow the Andalites to harvest some amount of the ore for use on their Dome Ships.))

“That still doesn't explain how exactly you recognized us,” Jake countered.

((After the crash, all of you were unconscious. The sentinels who found you brought you here for medical treatment. It was immediately apparent that you were not controlled by Yeerks. Upon regaining consciousness, Master Marco and Master Menderash gave testimony as to the series of events that led to your arrival on Magabia, which was deemed to be truthful. Plus, our scans confirmed that all except Master Menderash were capable of using the Andalite Morphing Technology.))

This got Jake's brain working in full speed. “How long was I out?” he inquired, noticing discrepancies in the timeframe.

((How long were you unconscious? Two local days.))

Two days?! Jake couldn't figure out how he could have been unconscious for a substantially longer period of time than the others. All of a sudden, it came back in a flash, the dream, and his conversation with The One. At the exact moment he remembered the details of the conversation, an alarm began to chime insistently overhead.

((That's a proximity alarm!)) La'orsa gaped. ((There are unauthorized starships in the system!))

Jake began to feel an uneasy sensation in his stomach. He had a feeling he knew who the occupants of the unauthorized starships were.

“Marco, get the others and meet me...somewhere. I have to go check this out,” Jake ordered, back in his old drill sergeant mode.

“Where are you-”

“No time to argue. I need to try and check out the incoming ships.” As Jake was saying this, he began to morph for the first time in three years. This morph was very familiar to Jake: the Peregrine Falcon, his standard aerial morph.

“What the hell?! You're even crazier than I thought! You're gonna get yourself killed! Do you think these ships are just coming by to party? There's bad guys on those ships!”

((I know,)) Jake replied in thought-speech. ((I know who they are.))

Jake took off without another word, flying down the corridors of the facility at breakneck speed. He soon came upon an exit to the outside, through a transparent membrane. Flying through it, he aimed for the brown-blue sky of Magabia and flew up as fast as he could, flying towards the smaller ships descending through the atmosphere.



The pilots of the dropships were very experienced, and were able to rapidly descend through the atmosphere of Magabia without even shaking the warrior passengers at all. They were even able to dodge the Dracon cannon fire from the surface quite easily.

Kir Omel stood in the rear of the lead dropship. The dropships contained three retractable panels on each side for quick dropping off of the troops within. The dropships also had three pulse cannons on the front of the ship, though the ships were rarely used in combat. The dropships were useful only in dropping and recovering troops.

Currently, the trio of dropships was on course for the only major settlement on the planet; a city consisting of many domed structures made out of Aratone alloys. Kir suspected that the Animorphs would have taken shelter there, with the native species.

Soon you will be mine.



The Blade Ship, which had been unofficially named as the Valiant, had barely been in Z-space for an hour when it happened. Daniel Miller had been on his way down to the mess hall of the ship when a great shuddering came over the ship. Looking out the viewport, Daniel immediately noticed that the ship had reverted to real space. Deciding that this was not a normal occurrence, Daniel turned back and headed for the bridge.

As Daniel arrived on the bridge, the bridge crew was in a flurry trying to figure out what had happened.

“What's the situation?” Daniel called out.

Sarah answered first. “We're not sure. The Z-space drive seems to have disengaged prematurely.”

Ashia snorted, ((It's probably some glitch caused by the integration of sub-standard human technologies which were never designed to be used with this ship's systems.))

((I don't think so,)) Esom replied. ((According to the Astrogation charts, we have arrived at Magabia.))

((That's impossible!)) Ashia thundered. ((Zero-space technology could never allow a journey this quickly. It is against the laws of n-dimensional physics!))

“Look out the viewscreen!” Sarah exclaimed. “It is Magabia!” Sure enough, Daniel turned to see the brownish sphere of the desert planet Caysath had told him about.

((This is impossible!)) Ashia bellowed.

“He's right, though,” Sarah said. “Given the laws of Zero-space...” she trailed off suddenly, and Daniel saw why. Coming into view was a small fleet of ships orbiting the planet. Ships that were larger than any others Daniel had seen or heard of. The ships were roughly oval shaped with engine pods extending from the back. And even from this distance, Daniel could see the numerous weapons bristling from every corner of the ship. The ships gave off a distinct aura of danger.

((Sensor confirmation,)) came Esom's voice. ((The ships are very similar in design to the smaller ship that attacked the Andalite homeworld. Ninety-five percent chance they were created by the same species.))

“So that would make them hostile then,” Daniel said rhetorically. It was his call. This was his ship and his mission. “Alright. Arm weapons but cloak the ship. We are to avoid fights if at all possible. Take us in.”



Chapter Six: Hunters

Most races capable of spaceflight believe that their's was the first species to do so, especially if they have never encountered another advanced sentient species. Once they do discover an older species, they should immediately accept this fact. However, some species are simply not receptive to such drastic change. For example, the Andalites have long known they were not the first space travelers. They encountered many other species with more advanced technology early in their interstellar history. And yet, they have always thought of themselves as the most advanced species in existence.

A rather arrogant assumption when existence is infinite.



Jake didn't like what he saw. The three ships on their way to the ground looked remarkably like the troop carriers he had seen in the old documentaries about D-Day, or Iwo Jima, or some other old American battle. The ships were heavily armored, but not heavily armed. And the three retractable hatches on each side could only be for the unloading of troops. Jake estimated that each ship could hold ten to fifteen people, plus the pilots. In other words, as many as fifty heavily armed enemies were about ten minutes away from landing, and moving on the settlement.

With his incredible Falcon's eyes, Jake was able to see clearly inside the lead vehicle. Against the gloom of the interior, it was still a bit hard to see the occupants, but he managed it. The beings within were very large; muscular and extremely tall. They were smaller than the average Hork-Bajir.

But not by a whole lot.

Suddenly, one of the tallest beings within happened to look out the viewport at the same time Jake was looking in. The two locked eyes for just over a second. The creature wore black armor woven out of coarse fibers over most of its body, as well as a black silk-like cloak across its back. Its head was covered by a large plastic helmet that gave it an insectoid appearance; given how the rest of its body was built, it likely was an insect-like creature. As the two stared into the other's face, Jake got the strange feeling that this was the aliens' leader, and that he would become a great enemy.

Jake shook off the premonition, and broke eye contact with the creature who was probably a Kelbrid. Jake dove towards the Magabian city. The ships were faster than his morph, but they couldn't turn well, nor could they land directly in the settlement. This gave Jake enough time to find his team and hopefully rally them against this new enemy.



Kir Omel was getting restless waiting for the dropships to land. The lumbering craft were equipped with terrible engines, and it took 20 minutes to head from the hangar of the orbiting Judiciator to the landing site. A trip that would have taken a matter of minutes by Fighter, continued to drag on.

At one point, Kir happened to look out the side viewport and caught a glimpse of something flying beside the dropship. Turning to look at it, he found himself staring fully into the face of a large predatory bird. Kir knew Magabia did not possess such birds, and Kir made the assumption that this was one of the Animorphs they were supposed to be trying to capture. But there was nothing he could do from inside the dropship, and the next second the bird was gone. In any event, the Animorphs would be his soon enough.

When the dropships arrived at the designated drop-off point, they did not fully land. Instead, they hovered not far off the ground, while the hatches opened and the warriors jumped out. The second dropship did the same. Twenty-nine of the thirty warriors were now on the ground. The final warrior, Commander Jeke Hano was alone in the final dropship, but for good reason. As the final dropship reached the ground, the significantly larger rear hatch opened, and out rocketed a large black armored vehicle.

“Systems check out perfectly,” came Jeke Hano's voice over the communicator gauntlets. “Ready to smash our way into the city at your command.”

“Don't get too enthusiastic,” Kir said scornfully. “We want them alive.”

“Relax! There's a big difference between shooting buildings and shooting humans in animal morph. I think I'll be fine. You're just upset because you didn't get to drive this thing.”

“Very well. Lead the way.” Kir switched off the communicator as the tank began thundering across the desert, with Kir and the warriors not far behind. To the warriors, Kir said, “Set your energy weapons and staffs to the heavy stun setting. Draw other weapons only if necessary.”

As the Kelbrid advanced swiftly toward the city, they encountered several airborne Magabians armed with handheld Dracon Beams, which were easily dispatched by the elite warriors. Three out of four were easily shot out of the air with pulse pistols before they ever became a threat. One was able to slip through, however and fired a kill shot at close range at one warrior. The warrior's fiber armor absorbed a portion of the blast, although the warrior was still heavily injured by the close range blast. Another warrior clubbed the avian from behind with a staff, a long metal pole with energy emitters on both ends. None of the Magabians would be permanently injured, though they would be knocked out for many hours.

Surprisingly, they encountered no more resistance on their way to the city. Soon enough, the tank was smashing through buildings instead of dunes, clearing the way for the warrior contingent. The bird-folk offered no further resistance, although Kir assumed the Magabians had set up some sort of organized defense deeper into the city, likely centering around the defense of, and aid of, the Animorphs. Kir was especially looking forward to seeing those famous heroes in action.



At the same time Kir was advancing on the city, Jake was frantically conducting an aerial search for the others. He would have to demorph soon; not because of the time limit on morphing (which Menderash had previously explained as an adjunct to Zero-space physics, as the particles shifted to the phase spectrum of the...blah, blah, blah), but because the Falcon's body was ill-suited for the desert climate he was in.

As Jake began to head towards a random spot on the ground to demorph, he caught sight of Sgt. Santorelli waving him over. Clearly, Marco or Tobias sent him out to search for Jake. Jake wondered if he had really done the right thing by bringing Santorelli and Jeanne along for this trip. They were likely to get killed by the end of the mission. But that was exactly why he had brought them, wasn't it? He had brought them to aid in the mission, but also to die instead of the Animorphs if necessary. Jeanne, Santorelli, even Menderash to a certain extent. And Jake was likewise certain that they themselves knew this. None of them were idiots.

Maybe Marco was right. Maybe he was in over his head on this mission. His leadership had led them to this point: alone, cut off from any contact with Earth or the Andalites, outnumbered and outgunned. Maybe it would be best to take The One up on his offer of surrender.

And yet, somehow, The One had thought that he and his group would escape this situation alive. The One was most definitely crazy, but it did have great power. Maybe that great being had seen something with his god-like abilities that would enable Jake to even the odds. Or maybe he was just being played.

Jake landed as quickly and gracefully as he could, which led to him being sprawled in a heap as he began to demorph. Santorelli stood over him for the duration, and offered him a hand as he finished. Jake accepted it, and pulled himself to his feet.

As Jake got to his feet, the other members of his team came rushing into the small plaza where he was currently located. He hadn't seen most of them since he had first awoken in the medical building. Though it was really only less than a half-hour ago, it felt like days to Jake.

All were in their natural forms, five humans and one Red-tailed Hawk. They stood (or perched) before him, waiting for his instructions. No, his orders. He was in complete control of what actions they took against these Kelbrid.

“Alright, I got a look at them. They look like they're heavily armed, but nothing we haven't seen before. They're wearing some kind of body armor. It's gonna make them hard to beat, but probably not that much harder than a Hork-Bajir warrior. We should be able to beat them if we use our most powerful morphs.”

“Cockroach? They can't be killed,” Marco joked.

Ignoring him, Jake pressed on. “Jeanne and Santorelli, I know this is your first time morphing in a real combat situation, so don't panic while you're morphing. That will only slow you down, and we're short on time.” Turning to Menderash, he continued, “I know you can no longer morph, so...”

“I anticipated this eventuality in advance,” Menderash replied, and pulled a shredder out from the waistband of the human clothes he wore. Jake hadn't learned Menderash had brought a shredder until several days after they had originally left Earth. It had annoyed Jake to learn that he hadn't been told all of the necessary information for the mission at first, but Andalites tended to be secretive with their plans, especially when humans were involved.

“The armor they have may block energy blasts, so if necessary, you may have to get out of the way in a hurry. Alright, we've wasted enough time talking about this already. Get morphed and get ready for battle.”

Jake focused on the DNA he had acquired so long ago. Morphing the tiger was now almost second nature to him and the changes occurred without a hitch. Around him he saw four others morphing: Marco to his old gorilla morph, Tobias to his more physically fit Hork-Bajir morph, Santorelli to the lion morph he had acquired as part of the morph training class Jake had drafted him from, and Jeanne to the lynx morph she had acquired in the same place.

With everyone's morphs completed, the team spread out to try and catch a glimpse of the enemy. Jake estimated that the Kelbrid would enter the city at any moment, if they had not already. They all stayed well within thought-speak range of one another, so as to keep all lines of communication open between them. Menderash likewise was able to use thought-speak in his nothlit body. The lull in action also gave Tobias a chance to ambush Jake with his opinion on the matter.

((What's up with you?)) Tobias asked in a private thought-speak channel.

((What do you mean?) Jake asked, already having some idea what Tobias was talking about.

((You're charging back and forth like a lunatic, pulling information you shouldn't know out of your butt, and generally acting crazy, and you just expect us to go along with it like nothing's wrong? You're acting impulsively, and you're leaving us out of the loop. And the last time you did that, you got Rachel killed. You're losing your touch, and I'm not just gonna let you kill someone else with your actions.))

A fresh pang of guilt shot through Jake. He got the feeling that Tobias had been waiting quite a while to say something like this to Jake. Jake had known there was a rift growing between he and Tobias, but he hadn't realized just how far apart they had drifted. Jake and Tobias had never been the closest among the Animorphs, and he knew that Tobias blamed him for Rachel's death. But to hear what he had just heard from Tobias; that if he screwed up again, he would end up as the nothlit's next target...that was almost unthinkable.

Before the disagreement could proceed any further, they were interrupted by a deep rumbling noise, and a sickening crunching noise from not far away. Suddenly, the quiet solitude of the alien city was broken by the sound of many energy weapons firing rapidly.

The Animorphs' time was up.



It was pathetically easy to breach the walls of the Magabian city. The city was protected by a force-field over the city, but by a thick metal wall and gate closer to the ground. The wall would be very hard to breach, for species such as the Yeerks. The Kelbrid were not the Yeerks.

Unlike other species in the galaxy, the Kelbrid had designed ground assault craft to give them the edge in ground battles. One of the most powerful, as well as the most commonly used, was the “Raptor” Assault Tank, the same kind of vehicle Jeke Hano was currently piloting. At first glance, the tank was reminiscent of human vehicles; a wheeled contraption powered by a single engine. The similarities ended there, however. The Raptor was heavily armored, with only its undercarriage exposed, and armed with dual pulse cannons and one rocket launcher.

Currently, Jeke Hano was taking advantage of all those abilities to enter the city. Kir Omel watched from a dangerously close distance as the Raptor opened fire on the wall with one rocket and a swift volley of pulse bursts. The Raptor then accelerated forward, smashing right through the severely weakened wall. Kir Omel wasted no time in entering the city, charging forward from the very second the Raptor hit the wall, with other warriors not far behind. As Kir entered the city, he immediately spotted a group of Magabian security officers rushing to defend the wall. Raising his pulse rifle, Kir fired into the crowd, felling several officers. He then moved out of the way as his warriors followed his lead, taking down the remaining officers.

This was no fight, Kir fumed to himself. The security personnel were very poorly equipped, armed with only outdated Dracon beams, and no body armor. There was no honor in felling these desert rats. He wanted to fight...

His silent call for a better battle was apparently answered when a large black primate dropped down in front of him from the top of a nearby domed building. The primate was approximately 180 kilograms, 1.7 meters tall, and very angry. The primate, undoubtedly an Animorph in combat morph, punched at Kir with an extraordinarily large fist. Kir was caught momentarily off-guard, and took the punch directly in his chest. Had he not been armored, the punch may have killed him. As it was, he was sent sprawling on the ground. The Animorph pressed the attack, preparing to smash his helmeted head, but Kir was prepared, and rolled to the side, and rose in one fluid motion, drawing a sword and holding it in the guard position.

Around Kir, other warriors engaged other morphed Animorphs, including several felines, and one Hork-Bajir. The smallest feline would cause no trouble for the trained warriors, but the other two, the primate, and the Hork-Bajir were much more powerful. And the Andalite nothlit was still unaccounted for.

The primate lunged at him with fists forward to slam Kir to the ground again, but Kir dodged to the side, and launched a spinning slash against the primate. The sword connected at least twice, and the primate bellowed in pain.

As Kir whirled around to prepare for another flurry of strikes, a blast of energy hit the sand nearby, knocking Kir to the ground once again. Scanning for the assailant, Kir noticed a human standing on a nearby building aiming a shredder down at the battle scene. Judging by the force of the blast, the shredder was on full power. Even the armor the Kelbrid warriors wore couldn't block a direct hit by a full power shredder burst.

Fortunately, none of the warriors were forced to divert attention from their respective targets, thanks to the quick thinking of Jeke Hano. Opening fire with both pulse cannons, Jeke layed waste to the building the nothlit stood on. The building collapsed under him, and the nothlit disappeared from sight. The nothlit may have escaped, but more likely he was crushed under the collapsing building, and either dead or mortally wounded.

Kir surveyed the battle in progress. The smallest feline had been subdued via stun staff. The mid-size feline had been stunned by a pulse rifle. The primate had also been stunned via rifle, leaving just the largest feline and the Hork-Bajir to subdue. As he watched, the largest feline was stunned by a pair of staff-wielding warriors. That just left the Hork-Bajir.

The Hork-Bajir engaged a warrior with its arm blades. The warrior parried several blows by the Animorph and countered with his staff, but the staff seemed to have little effect on the bladed alien. After several seconds of such combat, another warrior shot the Hork-Bajir with his rifle, stunning it.

One warrior lay on the ground, unmoving. The warrior's fiber armor had been shredded by the incisors of a feline; probably the mid-size feline from the look of the wounds. Two other warriors took hold of their fallen comrade and lifted him between them. He would be given the standard funeral befitting any Kelbrid warrior who had died in battle.

The other warriors would take the beaten Animorphs back to the landing craft, and force them to demorph upon awakening. Then, the Animorphs would be brought before The One, and they would be cast down. Kir had really been hoping for a better fight from these supposedly great warriors, but in the long run, it was better this way.

As Kir left the smashed gate of the Magabian city, he turned around to take a last look at it. He was surprised by what he saw. The damage to the city was actually rather severe. Between the handheld weapons crossfire, the heavy fire of the tank, and the simple maneuvering of the tank, this section of the city was now a ghost town. Kir turned and walked away again, indifferent to the damage that had been caused. But he remembered a time, not long ago by Kelbrid standards, when he would have been shocked by such a casual loss of innocent life.



Marco didn't want to wake up. He liked the dark place he was in. It was kind of like taking a shower and never wanting to get out. But he had to wake up eventually, so he soon opened his eyes. Or rather, the eyes of his gorilla morph. He was once again out in the desert, but this time it was much darker out. He lay next to a pod shaped craft, presumably one of the Kelbrid's ships. Around him stood many of the heavily armed warriors. Off to one side were the rest of the Animorphs, all in natural forms.

((Oh, I'm always the last person to wake up,)) Marco grumbled to the other team members. ((That's gonna be on my tombstone you know. 'Always Asleep.' Just like that guy in that story.))

Something wasn't right.

((Where's Menderash?)) he asked, although he already knew the answer.

“Demorph, Animorph,” came a voice that was simultaneously both threatening and eloquent.

((Alright, alright.)) Marco started the changes he had focused on so many times in the past seven years. He would have said he could do it in his sleep, but he clearly couldn't.

Once the changes had finished, a warrior grabbed Marco and shoved him aboard one of the transport ships. Marco got the impression that Jake had a plan, and that the battle had just been a ruse. They had lost too easily, and there had been no real strategy to it; that just wasn't like Jake. He wondered if Menderash had escaped the building collapse and dodged capture. There was a slight chance of it, but it was unlikely.

As the transports took off into the desert sky, Marco settled back in the corner he had been forced to sit in. He knew they would escape. They always had in the past. But Tobias was gonna kill Jake.

Here we go again, he thought.



The Blade Ship streaked toward the planet, with the cloaking device engaged. Daniel Miller wanted them to move swiftly, but silently, so most of the power had been channeled to the engines and cloaking device. As he was contemplating the next move they would make once they reached the surface, a proximity alarm began blaring in the bridge.

“We've got three small ships coming up from the surface,” came Sarah Larter's voice. “Sensors confirm they are of the same general design as the battleships in orbit.”

Daniel restrained himself from saying 'Well, duh!'

“He's on there,” came Cassie's voice.

“Huh?”

“Those ships are carrying the Animorphs as prisoners,” Cassie shouted to the entire bridge.

((How can you be sure?)) came Ashia's skeptical voice.

“Because if those are enemies, they would never have left that planet without the Animorphs. I don't know who they are, but I've seen their type.”

It was ironic to Daniel that his only way to get revenge on the party responsible for his wife's death was to rescue the other responsible group. On the other hand, he had the mission, as well as the lives of the crew to consider. The advantage of flying a cloaked ship was that he could actually do both.

“Follow those ships.”

After ten minutes, the smaller ships entered the hangar of one of the larger ships. As soon as they docked, the cruisers began accelerating very rapidly. And when Daniel stopped to think about it, the Blade Ship was accelerating very rapidly too.

“Uh, what's going on?” Daniel asked.

Ashia stared in confusion at his panels for a moment, then answered, ((We're caught in the slipstream of one of the cruisers. In essence, we are being pulled along with them to another destination. Aside from putting a tremendous strain on the ship, it is also negating several vital systems, including helm control. I am working to try and make sure the cloaking device does not fail as well.))

A moment later, they had accelerated to a very high speed, and suddenly were gushed into a tunnel through space. But not the customary white tunnel of zero-space. This was a blue tunnel.

((I am unsure what is happening,)) Ashia said. ((They appear to use a different method of interstellar transport than zero-space technology. It will take some time to interpret the data.))

Daniel settled back in his seat. This mission was going from strange to stranger.
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Re: Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by Cyberhamon » Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:38 pm

Chapter Seven: Villains

Every species has warriors. The humans maintain vast standing armies even after peace was declared among its nations. The Andalites try to limit military personnel to times of war, though they are a people with a strong military tradition.. The Yeerks utilize almost all of their brethren with hosts in a military role. The Hork-Bajir, though initially a peaceful species, fashioned themselves as warriors in order to fight the Yeerks.

The Kelbrid, on the other hand, do not have an army. They are an army. The government of that species is controlled by powerful figures in the military. All citizens fulfill some role in the military, be they warriors, technicians, weapons designers and manufacturers, or physicians. For reasons they can no longer remember, they feel it is their duty to bring all other planets under their banner. Their loyalty to their warrior ways is amusing, but that of course is what makes them easy to control.

The Nandro, of course, had a military too. But the Nandro are dead, and have been for millions of years. Your failure to realize that merely exaggerates the problems in the galaxy. Everything I do, you oppose me. I hate you, yet I see the necessity in having you here to counterbalance my actions. Good and evil must coexist at all times. Every good deed I do, you undo by committing a crime against the people of this galaxy, as was the case when we last dueled. And of course, the inverse is also true. For every deed you consider to be evil, you help the people of this galaxy.

The difference between us is that I have learned to see beyond the consequences of my actions. I can see the greater good in my actions. They are still out there. So while my actions may help him at first, in the long run, the loss of them will greatly hurt his plans, and possibly even diminish him to the point where he can be destroyed.

Something for you to consider. And I strongly suggest that you don't interfere again.

What's the matter?



Visser Nine strode down the halls of the great space station. This space station served as both the residence and convening hall of the Council of Thirteen. The location of this space station was known only to a very small group of trustworthy Yeerks. Ever since the assassination of Telan 9337, at that time the speaker of the Council, twenty-eight years ago, the Council felt the need for secrecy. Visser Nine had not been part of that select group, and he highly doubted that any of the more ambitious Vissers, like Esplin and Edriss, were among that group either.

But with his new allies, he had been able to trace the Council back to this derelict space station. Using this knowledge, he had coerced a face-to-face meeting with the Council. After all, the Andalites would follow up on any lead involving the Council of Thirteen, and the Council was poorly defended at this point. As far as the Council knew, Visser Nine was just here to broker a deal between the Yeerks and an unknown party to help rebuild the crumbling empire.

Accompanying the Visser were two humans. One was a female human-controller who Visser Nine was employing as a bodyguard. To borrow a human expression, he wouldn't trust her as far as he could throw her, but she would serve him well...at least for now.

The other human was not infested by a Yeerk, and unfortunately probably never would be. This was one of the mob boss Giovanni Coppola's henchmen. Actually, he was the henchmen of one of Coppola's lieutenants, a man named Salvatore DiTondo, but that was mere semantics. All that really mattered was the thug's fighting skills, which were allegedly unmatched. Judging by what Visser Nine had heard of him, this human could take down an entire squad of Hork-Bajir before they could even draw their weapons.

The Council had taken no chances, and had confiscated all of their weapons. Or at least all the ones they needed to to make it look convincing. The search wasn't all that thorough. Just as had been planned.

Their two Hork-Bajir escorts waited by the doors of the Council as the trio entered. Most of the other guards on the station were in the room as well, numbering close to thirty. Compared to the drab corridors of the space station, this chamber was much more garish. Filled with the red light used at almost all Yeerk installations, it gave the impression of being at home. In the center of the room sat a holographic control table, that gave updates of troop movements and positions throughout Yeerk space. Around the chamber sat the thirteen members that made up the Council. None looked happy.

Nine of the Councilors possessed Hork-Bajir hosts. Unsurprising as Hork-Bajir were still quite common, especially among the older controllers. Two possessed Taxxons. Truthfully, Taxxons disgusted Visser Nine. As a Sub-Visser, he had done work on the Taxxon homeworld. During that time, he had researched Taxxons thoroughly, and had come to the conclusion that they were, in reality, useless as hosts. One Councilor possessed a human host. Despite the loss of Earth, there were still a great many human host bodies under Yeerk control. The final Councilor possessed a more unusual host. At first glance it looked similar to an Andalite. However, there were many anatomical differences, such as the bladeless tail, and the lack of stalk eyes. What was it...Yes! A Garatron. A hard species to catch, due to its extreme speed. Very few were possessed as hosts.

“Why have you come?” came the voice of one of the Hork-Bajir Councilors. Visser Nine recognized him as Garoff 168, the current speaker of the Council. “You come here, after having been absent for four years, demanding that we listen to you, issuing threats, and you expect us to tolerate such actions. And your companions, an exile, and one who is not even one of us! You are a fool, and a stupid one at that.”

“Councilor, I am many things, but a fool is not one of them,” Visser Nine replied casually. This was his show, whether they would admit it or not. “Am I so foolish as to not see how few troops there are left on this station? Your 'token force' couldn't even defend against a few drunken humans, much less the Andalite military. Am I so stupid that I would ignore the status of your armies, displayed on that table? Your 'armies' are not. They are small strike forces deployed on many of the planets we once controlled. The only planets we fully control as of now are the Yeerk homeworld, the Taxxon homeworld, the Sstram homeworld, and Hork-Bajir. And all four are heavily blockaded. The Empire as you know it is lost.”

“On the other hand, I have made significant progress in creating a new empire. There are parties out there that would wish us to succeed. I have made alliances with several of them, and have made headway in retaking some of our old territory, as well as searching for new species to claim as our own. All that remains for you to do is declare this alliance official, and The One will lend his considerable power to helping us. Already, He has provided me with the power to reestablish small bases on formerly occupied worlds...including Earth. Thanks to Him, there are now agents under our control, be they Yeerks or otherwise, among many species. Even among the Andalites! And He has done all this with only a fraction of His powers! Think what He could do for us! The Yeerk Empire will be reborn, and stronger than ever!”

Garoff's eyes narrowed. “Who is this...One?”

“He is a being of great power. He styles Himself a god, and some of our brethren seem to think so. Regardless of His true nature, His power cannot be denied.”

“You are a fool Visser,” Garoff said reproachfully. Visser Nine attempted the Hork-Bajir smile. So the Council wouldn't go along with the proposal after all. Visser Nine was reasonably certain that Garoff was in fact the Emperor of the Yeerk Empire. If he said no, the rest of the Council would too. So much the better. This way, he could remain in control of the alliance without the interference of others.

“No being that powerful would ever give His power away freely. This One is playing on your desire to gain an empire with you as the leader. And when He comes to collect, all Yeerks will suffer. The Council votes no.” The rest of the Council nodded in affirmation.

Before Visser Nine could even think to respond, the female human-controller stepped forward and slowly walked towards Garoff.

“Councilor,” she began in a musical voice. “I don't believe we've ever met before. But I do know of you. I know that you hold considerable sway among the Council. I know that however you vote on matters, the Council votes with you. Some might even believe you to be the Emperor.” With that sentence she stepped all the way up to the seated Hork-Bajir-controller and carefully caressed his cheeks with both hands.

“All that power...so many people would kill to have it. Or more specifically, kill you to get it. The constant fear of death...the responsibility of managing an Empire..it must be very difficult. It must take a lot of effort, and all of your self control...just to make sure you don't snap.” With the last word, she brutally slammed the Councilor's head to one side, snapping his neck. No ordinary human could have done it, but this was no ordinary human. This human-controller had the augmented strength of a lightweight artificial arm.

This didn't kill Garoff of course; the host died, but the Yeerk controlling him lived on. However, the precisely aimed thrust of a knife she had pulled from her jeans did kill him. The thrust to the back of his head neatly impaled the spot where the Yeerk lay in the Hork-Bajir's brain.

The Councilors looked on in horror, and some even tried to reach their weapons, but were stopped by other weapons: those of the security force who were supposed to protect the Council.

“Don't be amazed,” Visser Nine sneered. “Even the most trusted officers can be bought with the promise of advancement. Especially when the alternative is remaining here with you, and likely getting killed when the Andalites come. So will you be accepting our proposal? Or should I say: you will be accepting our proposal. The latter was a statement, not a question.”

“If I were you, I'd accept the offer,” the human-controller said matter-of-factly. “But should you choose to decline, we have plenty of ways to persuade you otherwise. I'm known for them.” She tossed her hair and giggled a bit.

But one Councilor would not be deterred. The Garatron Councilor was fast enough to bolt upright from his resting position and bowl over the guards in front of him. Other guards responded, but they were distracted by trying to keep the other Councilors docile. The Garatron darted around the room, lashing out at guards with lightning fast strikes. Several guards collapsed, but most remained standing.

The mafia henchman Visser Nine had obtained (at great cost too, relatively speaking) moved into action. Rather than attempting to engage the Councilor directly, he reached down to his belt and grabbed a silver disc. Pressing a button on it, he flipped it into the air. It landed several feet away, and a red light on top began flashing. The Councilor, seemingly oblivious, changed course to intercept the henchman, who dove out of the way as the Councilor charged past the disc, which exploded as he passed, incinerating most of the alien's rear half and setting the front half ablaze.

The station's fire suppression system automatically kicked in, dousing the room, and everyone in it, with fire-stifling gas. The gas was thick, but not toxic. That had been proven by tests conducted on low level Gedd-controllers. When they no longer died from its effects, the gas was deemed ready for service.

When the fire had been extinguished, the gas was quickly vented from the room. It quickly cleared away to reveal the charred husk of what had once been the number thirteen member of the Council. Visser Nine turned to the remaining members of the Council, forced to remain seated by the Hork-Bajir guards who were supposed to have protected them.

“Any other objections?” Visser Nine asked ominously.

Naturally there were none.



With the remaining Council safely onboard in their “guest” quarters, Visser Nine ordered his Pool Ship to leave the system. He would be leaving the station intact for now; he planned to plant a trail that would lead the Andalites to the station as part of their search for the Council of Thirteen. Once they arrived, the proton-shift explosives he had planted all over the station would detonate, beginning a chain-reaction that would destroy the Andalites as well as all of their ships. But that was just a pet project, something he would do for fun. But for now, he had real business to attend to.

He, with the controller called Taylor and the henchman named Silus Darby, stood in the primary communications room of the Pool Ship. Visser Nine stood at the holographic comm table, punching in the private comm code he had been told to use. Alpha-8-4-3-J-A-6-6-3. At once, a holographic image crackled to life above the table.

Visser Nine bowed low before the figure. He didn't really believe The One was a god, but he found that bowing got It in a better mood.

“Rise, and inform Me of your progress, Visser,” came the cold voice.

Visser Nine did so. “We have secured the Council of Thirteen, and have eliminated all opposition. There are now two seats open on the Council. The Yeerks will follow our command now.”

After a moment of silence came the reply. “Well done Visser. This will ensure that My plan does not fail, and that your Empire will be reborn. You have earned the right to lead it to glory. In the meantime, I must go now. I'm expecting a...very special guest.”

Visser Nine bowed low, and the image flickered out. He now had control of the Yeerks that had escaped Earth, and would soon have control of all of the others on blockaded worlds throughout the galaxy. He happened a glance at his second-in-command. When he had found her, it had been by chance. Visser Nine had been visiting Earth at that time. While seeking an out of the way place to conduct business with another high-ranking Yeerk outside of Visser One's scrutiny, he had happened upon her hanging from a ledge, severely wounded. After considering for a moment, he helped her up and had her taken to his ship for medical treatment. To have someone with her talents and rank in debt to you was a rare thing, and Visser Nine had intended to make the most of it.

And now, he would control the entire Empire. Everything was going so well.



The One stood in the gloom of his personal living quarters. It didn't matter that there was very little light. He could see just fine without it, and he preferred the dark anyway. It really was beneficial to Him that the Yeerks rose to power again. Their rise would distract the Andalites, and they would be split between trying to fight the Yeerks, and trying to fight the Kelbrid, once they began their attacks. He had never really intended to honor that part of His promise. In fact, He had already written the loophole into the promise. Humanity would be protected, at least for now. But the other species, the Andalites and Hork-Bajir? They were not of Jake's kind. The promise didn't apply. He doubted Jake would agree, but that's just the way it was. And a major war breaking out would allow him to accomplish His true goals in peace. The only lives that were not expendable were His and Jake's

Speaking of Jake, there was still the question of what He should do with him. He had originally intended to simply absorb his essence. Unfortunately, if The One's hypothesis was correct, that may not even be possible. Luckily, there was still another way He could use Jake. A bit harder, but likely still effective. Yes, with a little manipulation, it just might work. Jake would be arriving any minute. He could sense Jake somewhere nearby. Returning to the communications console, He opened an audio channel to his lieutenants.

“Bring Jake directly to me,” he directed. “Put the others in a holding cell.”

“As you wish my lord,” came the reply.

It would be a couple minutes before Jake would arrive. The One decided to take that time to meditate. It was a luxury, but a necessary one. It gave Him time to solve problems and develop plans, but also to hone His powers and to try to pierce the veil of shadows that separated Him from the answers He sought.



He walked down a garden path on Arkali, his metallic legs pounding against the metal walkway. The throne world of one of the most influential Nandro houses was full of such extravagances. But the android knew that it would all come to an end very soon. The enemy had not reached this fortress world yet, but another enemy was much, much closer. The android knew what he had to do now. He didn't feel a single shred of remorse for what he had done, and what he would have to do. He wasn't programmed for remorse, and technically, he wasn't even killing them. He was just doing his duty, as he had interpreted it.

An elder Nandro stepped out of the gate to the ancient castle of House Arkali, its pale skin almost gleaming in the sunlight. He wasn't familiar with this particular Nandro, but it made no difference either way.

“JA-1,” the Nandro began enthusiastically. “We were not expecting you to return so soon! Especially after-”

The android cut him off by reaching out and grabbing the Nandro's face with one robotic hand, making sure not to injure him too much. If he killed this one, even by accident, that would be one less to steal the power of. Staying focused on the Nandro's face, JA-1 began the extraction process. As he did, the Nandro began to scream very loudly, though most of it was muffled by JA-1's unrelenting hand. As the Nandro began to scream louder and louder, JA-1 uttered the line that he had spoken to every one of his victims thus far. The line that would stay associated with him for many million years.

“What's the matter?” he asked of the Nandro, injecting a sneer into his voice.

The Nandro didn't have time to answer, as his molecules and essence were drawn into the expanding being of JA-1. With every Nandro he absorbed, he grew steadily more powerful. When all were absorbed, he would be the most powerful being in the universe, powerful enough to destroy the enemy forever.

JA-1 looked up at the fortress, and saw an ice sculpture on its roof. The ice was kept permanently frozen by a stasis field around it, a marvel of technology.

Ice!




The One awoke from the flashback. In the grand scheme of things, the memory hadn't been that important, but it had allowed Him to see an important clue to find his answer. Now He knew where to look, if not to find it, at least to find more clues about where to find it.

“You're mine,” He said, and began to smile a wicked grin.

His thoughts were interrupted by the signal indicating that someone was at the door to His quarters. He opened the door, not by pressing the release button, but with a simple wave of His hand. It opened to reveal a trio of Kelbrid warriors holding Jake Berenson. They shoved him into the room, then immediately left. They were not permitted to remain, and The One was in no danger.

“I suppose you'll want a little light,” The One said. He waved His hand again and the lights around the chamber flew on. Jake was relatively unharmed, except for a long gash on his face. The gash was not consistent with any Kelbrid melee weapon. It looked more like the cut of a bird of prey's talons.

“Well Jake, where to begin,” he started. “How was your trip over here? I suppose it was as good as any trip in a Kelbrid brig can be. I must say though, I'm a bit disappointed in you. The fight you were in was very transparent. You can become any animal you want to be, and yet you choose to engage thirty heavily armed combatants in a head-to-head engagement. That practically screams a staged battle; you wanted to surrender, but couldn't in front of your friends. Your strategy led to the believed death of one of your own. Of course he probably would have been killed anyway. The Kelbrid don't like Andalites. Unless I'm in them, of course.” He gestured to the body he had acquired from Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill.

Jake remained silent through all of this. Only after The One was finished did he reply. “Are you going to honor our agreement or not?”

The One smiled “What's the matter, Jake? Don't you trust me? I keep my word. However, there is one thing we need to alter.”

“What thing?” Jake demanded. “If you're trying to get out of releasing my friends-”

“Relax Jake. I will honor that part of the deal. But I have changed my mind about you. I have been impressed by you, despite your questionable actions. You have great power within you that has not yet been harnessed. If I can't have that power for myself, then we must work together.”

“Work together? With you?” Despite the serious aura that had surrounded Jake since the Yeerk War, Jake burst out laughing. “I'm not gonna help you conquer the galaxy, if that's what you mean.”

The One had expected this reaction, and had come up with the appropriate thing to say. But if this didn't work, He'd have to improvise.

“The last time we spoke, you repeatedly asked me who I was. Now, I will answer that question.”

That immediately piqued Jake's interest, as The One knew it would. “I'm listening,” he said warily.

“Many millions of years of years ago, there was a race called the Nandro. The Nandro were the most advanced race I have ever encountered. They looked similar to humans, actually, but Nandro were slightly taller, and had pale skin. They lived in a nearby galaxy...I believe you humans call it Andromeda. Anyway, the Nandro forged alliances with many other advanced species, creating a vast interstellar republic of sorts. However, they grew overconfident; their technology was so great that they couldn't imagine any species greater than they. And that assumption led to their downfall. An enemy arrived from a distant galaxy. They seemed to want only one thing, the utter destruction of all life in our galaxy. We never knew who they were or why they attacked; perhaps for resources, perhaps for territory, or perhaps just for fun. We never even saw one in person, they attacked from ships only, engaging in space battles with our forces, and unleashing biological agents on the surfaces of worlds. They seemed to be unstoppable.”

“Because of this two brilliant scientists, one Nandro and one Alani, a smaller ground-dwelling species, came together to devise a way to fight this enemy. To that end they created Me. In My original form, I was an android of unique design, composed of special nanotechnology. My purpose was to study the tactics of the enemy and determine a way to defeat them. Unfortunately, I was too late to save the Nandro or any other species in the alliance. My creators were among the few to survive. One went insane, and the other blamed me for the loss of the people.”

Jake inhaled sharply. “The two that survived...They're...?”

“Yes, Crayak and the one being more powerful than him. Crayak was an opportunist. He had taken advantage of the war for his own ends. And of course, I was blamed for the loss of the people. So all three left the galaxy, and Crayak and I were barred from ever returning. But I alone knew that the enemy was still out there, so I sought a way to destroy them. At some point between My creation and the present day, I discovered something interesting about My body's composition. To put it simply, it was not static; subject to change. When I figured that out, I was able to take greater control of this fluidity, and alter My programming to allow the absorption of foreign material. To allow Myself to absorb an entire being, and take all of its power for Myself; even take on its form. With each new being I absorbed, I grew stronger. I soon decided that this would be the best way to combat the enemy should it ever decide to reveal itself again. I have spent most of My time in the universe journeying between planets and galaxies, looking for powerful beings to absorb. And so, I eventually arrived here, only to find that both My creators had beaten Me here. But by now, I was far too powerful for them to simply affect Me with their powers. I settled on the Kelbrid world to continue my preparations. And now I find myself standing before you.”

“What's so special about me anyway?” Jake scoffed. “It sounds like you're just making things up as you go.”

“I am not,” The One scolded. “And as for you...well, it's hard to explain in simple enough terms. But suffice to say that you are...different from other humans. Capable of doing great things. My first inclination was to absorb you, but I see now that that is impossible. I could not absorb you even if I wanted to.”

“You're not making any sense.”

“Yes, I am!” The One exclaimed. “You're just being obtuse about it!”

“Then how about we skip ahead to the part where you tell me what you really want?” The One could tell that Jake was running out of patience. Patience was a hard thing to come by, but Jake would need to learn patience if they were to succeed. But there was hope. Jake had yet to point out the obvious inconsistency in His story, and The One assumed that Jake had overlooked it. This was good. And now it was time for the masterstroke.

“What I really want...is for you to aid Me in destroying the enemy once and for all.”

Jake stood in surprised silence for many minutes. Finally he managed to say, “I beg your pardon?”

“It's simple. There's a Nandro weapon that may be able to destroy the enemy. It was never put into mass production because they felt it was too destructive. They feared their own creation. But it's necessary now. The enemy is here!”

“Here?” Jake asked, eyes narrowing.

“They've entered this galaxy. One probe consistent with the technology the enemy was known to use was discovered in the Ravat system two weeks ago. If that probe was here, the enemy will follow. I know where the weapon is, but I will need your particular help to find it and operate it. Do this with Me. Fight the enemy with Me until they are destroyed, and I will consider our agreement fulfilled.”

Jake thought about it for a while. “I'll do whatever you want me to. I don't care what you say, but my life is pretty worthless. It has been since the end of the War, maybe even before then. I can't trust you, and I certainly don't like you. But if you release my friends, and spare my people, I will help you. But if I do this, you have to release Ax too.”

“Fair enough. At any rate, the Andalite's only purpose was to lure you here. When our mission is complete I will release him. I accept your conditions.”

“Thank you,” Jake said wearily. “You may not understand this, but I'm grateful for that.”

The One opened his Andalite arms wide. “I want nothing but to terminate all hostilities. While My methods may be considered...amoral, but I mean well.”

“Get prepared to go,” The One ordered. “Pack lightly, and bring only essential items. Make sure you dress warmly. In a half hour, we will be departing for Jedgodia.”



The ride through subspace had not been gentle, especially with the Andalites fighting to keep the cloaking device functioning. When the Blade Ship exited, still trapped in the cruiser's engine wash, it was to everyone else's relief. The ship was able to emerge still cloaked, although it had put a real strain on the ship's power reserves. With that taken care of, the scientists and technicians moved to the ship's data lab to try and make some kind of sense of the data taken from the flight over.

That left what Daniel called the Fantastic Four (himself, Cassie, Toby, and Caysath) on the bridge with the helmsman, Lt. Earle, the Tactical officer, Lt. Boone, and the mission's First officer, Maj. Danté Mackenzie.

Currently, the Blade Ship was navigating through a maze of installations and starships above their destination planet. The many objects in orbit didn't seem to be able to detect the Blade Ship through its cloak, but Daniel didn't want to push it. The planet they were headed towards was half covered by a massive city, with most of the other half being covered by a tropical rainforest. Daniel had selected a landing point close to the city, in the rainforest. While landed, they would keep the cloak up while teams were dispatched to explore the gargantuan city to find any trace of the Animorphs. This would have to be done quietly. If these aliens found any trace of intruders, the whole mission would be in jeopardy.

Upon landing, the soldier contingent of the crew split into groups, with each of the Fantastic Four heading a group. The groups were kept small, as they would need to move quickly and quietly. Daniel's group consisted of him and three other soldiers. They departed the Blade Ship and followed their own respective search paths. Daniel was leading his group east towards the city, when suddenly he lost his footing on a loose formation of rocks, and went sliding down an embankment he didn't even know was there. After rolling the long distance all the way to the bottom, he turned over painfully to see a huge insectoid biped towering above him, pointing a sword at his throat. Daniel raised his hands in surrender, but the creature sheathed its sword and offered a hand to help him up.

“Well, well,” said the alien. “You are not what I was expecting. My name is Raveen. I believe we have a lot to discuss.”
Image

Excuses are like buttholes. Everyone has them, and they all stink.

Image

Credit for the above graphics goes to Ellimist.

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Re: Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by Cyberhamon » Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:36 pm

Author's Note: I am terribly sorry about the long hiatus. I was suffering from severe writer's block. But I got my ideas together, and I'm back in the game now. I like this chapter, and I hope you do too. I am posting only one chapter, as it's pretty long and very important.



Chapter Eight: Where Do the Dead Go?

In my travels of the galaxies, I've come to realize that philosophy is solely what you yourself make of it. Most tenets of most philosophies are vague and completely open to interpretation. And that is where the trouble is. You see, when different philosophies clash, chaos ensues. A good outcome from such a situation would be two parties walking away, having expressed their feelings of how the other is ignorant, and simply practicing their different philosophies separately. And a bad outcome...well, I've seen it lead to total destruction of civilizations.

Then again, without different philosophies, there would be no differing opinions. And no one wants that. Well, maybe they do. And Crayak, I suppose he does as well. But I digress.

I mean, suppose a British lord like Ambrosius Aurelianus (known to some as King Arthur, but good luck proving that) met a Chinese lord like Cao Cao. Do you think they would agree on most things? Having met both, I know they would not.

Oh, yes. I've been to Earth. Many times, in fact. Does it disturb you to know that your little testing ground for biological experimentation isn't secret to me? I've known about it for over 10,000 years.

But my point is this: when two people don't agree, they either work it out, or one dies. And since we can't work things out, I'm going to have to kill you now. And how ironic it is that I'll be using your augmented humans to do it. Even more ironic is that I will kill you and the Enemy simultaneously. Look into my mind, you always could tell when people were lying. Am I lying about that? But don't worry. I doubt it will hurt.




“Alright, you've got my attention,” came a voice.

The One was not surprised at all. Even ascendant beings got annoyed. And the news that all of his work had been for nothing was very likely to annoy Jento.

They stood in a black void, facing each other from a few meters apart. This void was a well-known meeting place for powerful beings. It was essentially an antechamber, from which one could access the halls of the most powerful beings in existence.

“Jento! I haven't seen you in-”

“Shut up. You think I care about how infinite space is? Or how much you hate desert planets? The only useful thing you've ever said in your little obsessed stalker monologues is that you've been to Earth. Oh, and the fact that you're going to Jedgodia to activate the device there.”

“I said that?” The One asked.

“No. But you tipped your hand when you talked about killing me. There's only one device with the power to do that and kill the Enemy, and the only way you would ever get it is through indirect means, such as the portal at Jedgodia.”

“Oh damn. This is why you should never threaten anyone. If they're not having you arrested, th-”

“SHUT UP!” Jento roared. “You think that I'm just going to let you take it? If so you're insane. And if I don't stop you, Rionus will.”

“Fool. Rionus has been on my side ever since I became powerful. He knows what has to be done.”

“Really? Because I talked to an avatar just recently, and she told me to stop you.”

“She? Sounds like we've been speaking to the same avatar. Seems to be that Rionus is playing both sides.”

“Or maybe one of us is being deceived?”

“One of us? Is that a pun?”

“No. Now, how about telling me what you meant by visiting Earth.”

“Uh...I visited Earth. What else would I mean?”

“When and for what purpose?”

“All throughout history, for the purposes of finding special people to serve me. I've tested many people, though most often recently. In fact, I've made quite a number of visits in recent years...”




Eight years ago...

The One stood in an office in the city of Los Angeles on the planet Earth. It had been easy enough to acquire this office on such short notice, thanks to the hard work of his agents. Making people believe that it was a well-known and respected law office that had always been there was significantly more difficult. Luring his current “clients” there was even harder.

The One was using the form of a human body he had absorbed a long time ago. This form stood a little under six feet tall, with short, light brown hair and blue eyes. He was middle-aged; wearing a business suit, and carried a briefcase. The briefcase, which humans usually used to carry important paperwork, actually carried four Kelbrid Pulse Pistols, and a small retractable baton made of a powerful Aratone ore. He didn't think the weapons would be necessary, but The One liked to prepare for the worst.

The baton actually belonged to the other person in the room. This person also appeared to be human, though this was merely a holographic projection. He was really Raveen Omel, the current Supreme Commander of the Kelbrid. The One liked Raveen; he was an effective leader. However, Raveen lacked the fanatical devotion to The One that other Kelbrid, such as his own brother Kir, possessed. It was a bit refreshing, but it made Raveen very dangerous. Someday, Raveen would probably have to be eliminated. Fortunately, his brother Kir would make quite a formidable replacement.

Even the hologram could not conceal the Kelbrid's massive height. There weren't many two-meter tall lawyers, but it would have to do for now. Raveen's presence probably wouldn't be necessary, but it was another precaution, in case he was found out.

The door to “his” office opened and in walked five people. An adult male, an adult female, and three younger females of varying ages. There was an air of hostility around the group.

“Are you Jacob Astor?” asked the adult female rather snarkily. The One was taken aback by the viciousness of the question, but chose not to retort. It would only hurt his chances of reaching his goals.

“Yes, I am,” he said simply. “Nice to meet you.”

“Forgive her,” said the male. “She forgets that people outside of courtrooms aren't prosecutors. She's a defense attorney at a firm.”

“And you forget that not everyone is your next big story,” retorted the adult female. She sighed. “I'm Naomi. This idiot is Dan.”

“Mom!” exclaimed the oldest child.

“Uh...I'm going to assume that you're getting a divorce?” The One said awkwardly.

“You assume correctly,” said Naomi. “Who's the basketball player?” she inquired.

“This is Raveen Omel, an associate of mine,” said The One, not really lying.

“Is he foreign or something?” the annoying adult female asked.

“You could say that,” The One said, still not lying. “But now, onto business. I believe you wanted my opinion on the intelligence of representing yourself at your divorce proceeding, yes?”

“Yeah,” said Dan. “She wants me to pay for a lawyer, and get out of it herself. It's how she rolls.”

“Yes, well...I believe that it was once said that the man...or woman, I suppose...who is his or her own lawyer has a fool as his or her client. So, even though you have a law degree from a presumably impressive school, I would not recommend representing yourself. I suppose I could represent you. I guess it depends on the answer to one question.”

“What question?” Naomi asked, frowning.

The One turned his eyes directly on the oldest daughter. “Rachel...where do the dead go?”

The parents and children all looked confused, and both parents looked disturbed. The One reached out with his mind and looked at Rachel's thoughts. He sensed great intelligence there, but he also sensed that she did not know the answer. Sighing, he reached out his hand towards the family, and focused his power. The expressions on the faces of the family changed, as if they suddenly understood something important. Or had had their memories of the previous minute or so erased.

“I'm sorry that I couldn't help you,” The One said, almost truthfully. “If you'd like, I could have Mr. Omel fax you over a list of names of lawyers that might be able to help you. Maybe you can find one off that list too, Dan.”

The family said their farewells to The One and left. Shutting the door behind them, he turned to Raveen.

“Well, it looks like she wasn't special after all,” said The One.

“I told you she wouldn't be,” Raveen smirked.

“Yes, well...I'll owe you a meal of your choice,” The One sighed. “It's a shame, but it's by no means a detriment to my plans. Looks like she was a random pick after all.”

“And yet, there was a sizable portion of The Rules devoted to her,” Raveen pointed out.

“Well, Rionus has something planned for her. We just need to find out what. Although it is irrelevant at the moment. Now, we can begin...”




Eight years, six months ago...

The One was well aware that this was to be Edriss 562's last night on Earth masquerading as Eva Estavez. The One chose this night to infiltrate her son, Marco's, dreams. While negative emotions were usually a valuable tool, pleasant dreams were actually the easiest to infiltrate. Or so Kxo Ka'iix's memories indicated. In any event, the sooner he found out, the better.

((Marco,)) he telepathically called. He was really standing next to Marco's bed. Edriss shouldn't be waking up to return to the Yeerks for a while yet. He had plenty of time, and he was careful to leave no trace.

((Mom?)) he asked in his dream.

((Yes honey,)) The One answered. ((I'm...well, I have a question. It's gonna seem weird now, but it'll be important tomorrow. Where do the dead go?))

“HEY!” came a voice from behind where The One was standing. Disconnecting himself from Marco's mind, he whirled around and found him face-to-face with Eva...or Edriss, depending on your point of view.

“What are you doing with my son?!” Eva/Edriss roared.

“Your son?” The One asked sardonically. “He's not your son, Edriss 562. Yeerks don't live to see their progeny.”

The human-controller narrowed her eyes at The One. “Who are you?” she asked sharply.

“Who am I? Who are you? You're a Yeerk. A member of a species designed to take complete control over any other sentient creature. You have advanced so much in only thirty years. But all of that advancement is artificial. You would be nowhere without Prince Seerow. These humans, on the other hand...they are the race that everyone will be looking to for leadership. Maybe in a hundred years, or a thousand, or a million. But it will happen. Your race? Your race is worthless. You are the pawns in a great Chess game. You are expendable, beyond notice, worthwhile only as distractions. I have uses for Yeerks, but I doubt you would appreciate any of them.”

Edriss inhaled sharply. “I know who you are! I know who you must be!”

“Yes, I can sense that in your mind. You once met Ryna Golan, my old, insane apprentice. And you killed him. I congratulate you. Unfortunately, I cannot have that. I would kill you, but the Rules will not allow that. For the time being, I must wipe your memory. Don't worry, it's only of the knowledge of my existence and presence here.”

The One instantly appeared beside her and placed his hand over her face. A bright glow appeared there, and her eyes grew unfocused. The One took the opportunity to teleport away.

Edriss had ruined his plan. He would be unable to touch Marco for the time being. He would have to devise a new plan-.

No. No plan would be necessary. Marco was a fool. There was no chance that he was special. A powerful opponent, perhaps, but not special. The One decided that it would be best to return to Kelbrid. There, he would decide how to proceed with his main plan.




Nine years, six months ago...

The trauma center of the Los Angeles Mercy General Hospital was very noisy. There were two Code Blues in the time it took for The One to find the room he was looking for. He was using the guise of Jacob Astor, portraying him as an accident attorney.

The room he was looking for was currently empty, save for the sole patient inside. The patient's parents had been called away to talk to an up-and-coming “Resident Physician” named Raveen Omel. This left the patient free for The One to talk to.

As The One entered the room, he noted extensive damage to the patient. She appeared to have suffered third-degree burns to most of her body. The One estimated that these burns covered 85% of her body. Then again, after having somehow lost her left arm and right leg, she pretty much had only 85% of her body.

“Hi, my name is Jacob Astor,” The One began. “I'm with a firm called “Astor, Omel, and Hano.” I'm just here-”

“Get out,” the young woman rasped weakly.

“Uh...you are Taylor Gordon, yes? I just wanted to-”

“Get out,” Taylor repeated.

“Okay, okay. But I just want you to consider one question for me. Where do the dead go? Don't say anything if it hurts; just think it.”

The One listened to her thoughts for a moment, and then smiled. He had his answer. She was indeed special. He turned to leave, but paused and turned back.

“Taylor, once you're out of here, you may want to consider joining a group called The Sharing. I think they could help you.”

The One left the room, and headed out to an area by the nurse station. Here, he would rendezvous with Raveen, and they could move on with other plans.

But when Raveen still hadn't arrived after twenty minutes, The One grew concerned. There were those who would not want his plan to move forward, and it was entirely possible that they had taken out Raveen. This was a potentially dangerous situation.

Finally, after thirty minutes Raveen arrived, rushing down the hall.

“We need to leave now, One,” Raveen said frantically.

“Why? What happened?” The One asked, concerned.

“After I had finished talking to the invalid's parents, I was intercepted, and told to come in to help resuscitate a patient that had suffered heart failure. I attempted to revive him with the defibrillator the nurse directed me to, but I must have misused it.”

“What happened?” The One repeated.

“He...caught fire.”

The One smirked and chuckled under his breath. “Must be going around.”




Ten years ago...

The One was wary enough of the Andalites that he didn't want to risk showing up on their homeworld. So, entering a meditative trance, he reached his mind out, across time and space, to the mind of the one Andalite he wanted to speak with. The Andalite was currently sleeping, which was a very good thing.

Many years ago, The One had absorbed an Anati named Kxo Ka'iix, and gained the power to influence dreams. This would come in very handy right now.

((Arsith Aximili,)) The One mentally whispered.

((Guh...what...Elfangor?)) the groggy Andalite thought back. Indeed, The One was casting a mental image of one of the few Andalite warriors the Yeerks truly feared.

((Yes, Aximili. It is I. But I am not here. You are dreaming.))

((I...am?))

((Yes, I just have a question for you. Where do the dead go?))

((Uh...they return to nature, and feed the cycle of life,)) Aximili answered, in a textbook-style definition.

((True. But what about their souls?)) The One countered.

((They...die. They are nothing, and go into non-existence.))

Disappointed, The One began to retreat from Aximili's mind.

((Good night, brother,)) The One said emotionlessly.

Aximili was already asleep.




Ten years, four months ago...

“You will do whatever I tell you?” asked The One, as Jacob Astor.

“Yes, One. I will,” Raveen replied from inside his human hologram.

“Good. Now, start beating me up. He'll be walking by soon.”

Raveen looked at The One like he was crazy. “You're crazy.”

The One smiled. “No, not yet. It's the best way to get him to talk to me.”

Raveen scowled, and started punching and kicking The One. It seemed that Raveen had gone for realism, as the blows actually hurt a bit.

“Hey!” came a voice from behind them.

((Run,)) The One thought at Raveen.

Raveen followed the command and ran the opposite direction down the alley, leaving The One lying on the ground. The person who had yelled came running down to where The One lay.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“...I've been better,” The One replied slowly.

“Here, let me help you up,” the person asked, extending a hand. The One grabbed it, and made a show of false difficulty in getting up. The person helping him was a young man, probably twelve years old or so.

“Man, I thought that guy was gonna kill you or something,” said the young man.

“He attacked me. I think he wanted my money. But I didn't have any, I was just on my way to the bank.”

“Yeah, some people are real scum,” agreed the adolescent. “My name's Tom by the way.”

“Well, thanks Tom. I'll remember this.”

The One started walking down the alley. Standing near the end of it was a smaller boy. This was his real objective. He locked eyes with the boy, and sent out a telepathic command. The command was a simple one. It would compel the boy to answer one question: Where do the dead go?

The One was surprised by the response. It was the correct answer, yet it came telepathically. And he wasn't reading the boy's thoughts. That meant that the boy had subconsciously used thought-speak. This boy wasn't just special, he was a crucial piece of the puzzle.

The One kept walking. He turned the corner to head in the opposite direction from the boy. He would have time to train him later.

The One heard Tom calling from behind him. “See you, mister,” he said. Then Tom followed by saying “Come on, Jake.”

The One kept going down the street. A few blocks later, he went down another alley, where he found Raveen.

“So,” said The One, “did you enjoy beating the metaphorical excrement out of me?”

Raveen grinned. “A bit.”

The One smiled too. “Well, don't get used to it.”




Eleven years ago...

“So, what's the plan,?” asked Raveen.

Raveen and The One, masquerading as humans, stood in a park in a medium-sized city near Santa Barbara, California. They were surveying a group of children engaged in some kind of game that seemed to involve one student chasing other children down and tapping them with their hands. Only one child interested The One; an eight or nine year old dark-skinned female.

“Humans are very protective of their young,” The One answered. “Perhaps overly so. They would not appreciate older adult males randomly walking up to children and talking to them. So...I suppose I will have to make mental contact from out here. It's less efficient, but in this case, necessary.

The One focused his mental energies on the young girl. He filtered out all other sensory information; the only important things were she and him.

But something was wrong. He sensed nothing from her. No, not nothing. There was something, but that something was nothing. It was as though the girl was a black hole which sucked in all mental energy around her. He could have telekinetically crushed her, or electrocuted her, or immolated her; but any telepathic technique he could think of was being blocked.

The question was: how? He doubted that she was doing it consciously. And this wasn't a typical characteristic of those who were special.

“You're right, it is not,” came a voice, answering his thought.

The One whirled around to find what appeared to be a human standing there. Like him, this human was clad in a business suit. However, this man was elderly. The One had never seen this man before, but he still knew who he was.

“Ellimist,” The One said cordially.

“The One,” the Ellimist said in the same cordial tone.

Ellimist gestured The One over to a bench. The One followed, interested in the explanation he was undoubtedly about to hear. Raveen stood where The One had left him, eying the newcomer suspiciously, and ready to intervene at a moment's notice.

“This time, you bit off more than you could chew,” began the Ellimist.

“How's that?” asked The One casually.

“The girl is sub-temporally grounded. Basically, it binds her to the reality she knows to be true. Your mind-affecting powers are useless against her, because she knows that they are not the true reality. It is subconscious, of course. Anything that is not real to her is eliminated from her nervous system. She exists outside your Rules.”

“They aren't my Rules,” The One protested.

“Really?” the Ellimist scoffed. “And yet, you have no evidence otherwise.”

“Really?” The One mocked. “Where do you think I'm getting these names?”

“Truthfully? Crayak.”

“You ignorant fool!” The One shouted, loud enough for other people to turn their heads. “You don't know who you're dealing with! Rionus is what's keeping Crayak from destroying you! He knows how to do it! It's only me, Jento and Rionus in his way, and if you really think Jento is in it to save you, guess again! Jento wants revenge, against me and Crayak! And while I am in Crayak's way, he knows my weaknesses. In a battle between Crayak and I, I'd say he has the advantage! No, Ellimist. It is Rionus, and his Rules, that are keeping you alive.

“As you say,” Ellimist said dismissively. He rose from the bench, and walked away, disappearing after a bit. The One soon realized that everyone in the immediate area was staring at him.

“WHAT?!” he thundered.




Seventeen years ago...

The One knocked on the door to an exceptionally humble abode. When the door opened, there was an extremely homely and grumpy looking woman was in the door frame.

“Can I help you?” the woman asked.

“Yes, I believe so,” replied The One. “My name is Jacob Astor. I'm an attorney currently representing your sister Loren Dawson. I was just wondering if I could ask your nephew a few questions.”

“What kind of questions?” the woman asked suspiciously.

“Doesn't really matter,” The One shrugged. “I've got a court order signed by Judge Omel himself.”

The woman scowled. “Fine,” she said. “BOY!” she called over her shoulder. “Get down here!”

The One followed her inside. Surveying the interior of the house, he noted that the abode was extremely humble, indeed. The woman took him to a larger, relatively open room, where a young boy was playing with some kind of set of dinosaur toys on the floor.

“Yeah, here's Tobias,” the woman said. “Knock yourself out.”

The woman left the room. The One walked over to where Tobias was sitting, and sat down cross-legged next to him. Tobias didn't look up from where he was playing.

“Hello, Tobias,” said The One. “I have a question I need to ask you.” There was no response. The One waited for a moment before continuing. “Where do the dead go?” There was still no response. The One waited for over a minute, then sighed disappointedly and got up. He was almost to the door of the living room when the boy finally answered.

“They don't die,” he said simply.

This stopped The One dead in his tracks. He smiled slightly. Then, he continued walking out of the room. The woman met him outside of the room.

“Did you get what you needed?” she asked.

The One turned to her slightly. “Yes, I did,” he said slightly. “Keep the boy safe,” he added. Then, he left the house without looking back. The One found himself hoping that the rest of the people on the list would be as easy to test, and as successful.




Five hundred and eighty-eight years ago...

The Battle of Agincourt was raging. The One, interested in the outcome, had joined the battle as a British mounted knight. Obviously, The One was the deadliest weapon on the field. But not even he could take on 30,000 French soldiers by himself. There was much confusion for both sides. Footsoldiers running everywhere. Cavalry charging back and forth, crushing everything in their way. British longbowmen creating an impenetrable storm of arrows. Even The One was taken aback by the ferocity of the melee.

The One spared a glance at King Henry V, the current English monarch. Everywhere, French soldiers and knights were trying to break through to reach the king. However, any who tried were either captured or killed. The One estimated that the French would take 50% casualties by the end of the day, leading to a rout of the French and a decisive English victory.

All of a sudden, The One had a flash of a similar, yet different scene. It was the same Battle of Agincourt, with the same armies, and the same bloodshed. However there was a difference. Unless The One hadn't been paying attention, there weren't any sentient birds, Andalites, or Hork-Bajir at his version of the battle.

The One realized that he must have been seeing an anomaly; a viewport into another universe. Something that was happening in that universe, but played a vital role in this one as well. And then he saw how.

There, in front of his eyes, was the Time Matrix. A device created by a race known as the Ketrans long before he ever arrived in this galaxy. So this was the answer. Someone from the future of this universe had tried to change its past, and the ragtag group of animals and aliens was trying to stop him. And they seemed to have succeeded, as The One was merely viewing an echo of this alteration that had remained there. The alteration to the past had never happened. And yet it had.

The One made a mental note to go to an avatar after the battle, and inquire more about these heroes from the future. Such enterprising people would make great additions to his team. And if they were special, all the better.

The One's thoughts were interrupted when a French cavalry knight chose that moment to charge at him, screaming horribly the whole time. It wasn't so much the attempt to kill The One that made him annoyed, it was the screaming. The One hefted a spear, and hurled it at the knight with enough force to shatter his breastplate and impale him in the chest. The knight died instantly, and fell off his horse.

“Taissez-vous,” The One said cynically.





“Well, that's about it. At least in terms of the events you'd be interested in. Unless you'd like to hear about the Battle of Mons Badonicus? That one's always fun to tell.”

Jento shook his head. “No, I heard what I needed to hear. You've been messing with my little group for almost as long as they've been alive.”

“While we're on the subject of messing with people's minds, I am curious. How did you even get Ellimist to go along with your augmented midgets anyway?”

Jento smiled. “He owed me a favor. And, I think he wanted to see if I had really produced what I'd promised.”

“Well, I'm afraid it was only four out of seven. Three, if you don't count the sub-temporally grounded girl. Then again, I possess all of the three, so I guess I shouldn't complain. There is one thing, though. I couldn't help but notice your little interference with the human rescue team. You sped up their ship so it reached Magabia quickly, you planted the idea in Jake's head to surrender by throwing the battle, and you trapped the Blade ship in the Kelbrid cruiser's slipstream. Did you think I wouldn't notice?”

Jento laughed loudly. “Oh, I knew you would notice. But you missed something. I made four tweaks. You missed one.”

The One suddenly looked nervous. “What did you do?” he demanded.

Jento grinned. “Oh, I can't tell you that. Let's just say that it will spell doom for you if it works.”

“If it works. Neither of us truly knows the shape of things to come. I guess we'll just see who can defeat the other first.”

“Death, JA-1, is a small setback on the road to power. But you already know that.”

“We shall see.”

The creator and the creation walked away from each other, and vanished from the void. Neither noticed the dark-robed figure that had been watching them the whole time.




Well, there you have it. Mysterious, huh? Things are heating up. In the next chapter, we will find out more about this Raveen guy. Review please.
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Excuses are like buttholes. Everyone has them, and they all stink.

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Credit for the above graphics goes to Ellimist.

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Elfangor
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Re: Animorphs #55: Rebirth

Post by Elfangor » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:16 pm

Wow well that was um amazing i cant believe ive never read this:) i cant wait for more
You all have guns
And you never put the safety on
And you all have plans,
To take it



Don't Take It