Six Days The Animorphs Were Idiots
The Day Cassie Started a Cult: Part Two
The Day Cassie Started a Cult: Part Two
Rachel continued to explore Visser Three's personal quarters. He didn't have much stuff, but she supposed that was to be expected from a guy that didn't wear clothing or eat regular food.
What did someone do if they didn't need clothes or food? Rachel wondered. How did Visser Three spend his free time? Maybe he had an exercise machine. Like a treadmill. Or maybe one of the computers in his office was actually a video game console. But those things seemed unlikely.
It was sort of sad, she supposed. He had nothing to shop for.
No wonder he was so angry all the time.
<I AM HOME MY LOVES!>
Rachel went out to the main area of the suite, where Visser Three had just entered. He had some ugly looking scratches across his chest—some of them were even dripping dark bluish blood. He picked up one of the other cats.
<Hello my beautiful love! Did you miss me? I missed you soooo much. You're so much nicer than those tigers. They're not cuddly at all! I am very disappointed!> Visser Three set the cat back down and went to examine himself in a mirror. <On the bright side, I now have these awesome scars! The medics wanted to treat them but I said NO YOU FOOLS DON'T YOU KNOW HOW IMPRESSED EDRISS WILL BE WHEN SHE SEES THEM?>
Rachel was sort of starting to think that maybe this mission was sort of pointless.
<The only disadvantage is that I'll lose them if I ever morph. STUPID ANDALITE TECHNOLOGY. I AM GOING TO WRITE AN ANGRY LETTER TO THE COMPANY THAT MAKES THE ESCAFIL DEVICES. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO SHOW EVERYONE I AM A GREAT WARRIOR IF I HAVE NO BATTLE SCARS?>
Rachel could sort of relate. She was glad that no battle damage would ever mar her beauty, but at the same time it would be sort of cool to have everyone know how badass she was just by looking at her.
She decided to leave Visser Three to his letter-writing and start figuring out a way to get home.
* * *
Jake had called an emergency meeting, but nobody had been able to find Rachel, so it was just himself, Marco, Tobias and Ax. It felt sort of weird to be meeting at Cassie's barn when Cassie herself was the problem, but they'd been doing it for so long that nobody had thought to change the location.
"She's gone over the edge," reported Jake. "I don't know what's going on in her head, but it's scaring me."
<Do we think the Yeerks got her?> asked Tobias.
<Impossible. If Cassie was a Controller, we would all be in Yeerk custody by now," said Ax. <I find it far more likely that she has simply gone insane.>
"Axxxxx," growled Jake.
<You humans have a wide variety of mental illnesses,> said Ax defensively. <She could have developed any one of them.>
"Mental illness isn't like the flu! It's not something that just pops up one day!"
"He's right, Ax," said Marco. "If she was crazy, like really crazy, we'd have known a long time ago. Jake, man, are you sure she's not just messing with you?"
"I don't think so. She seemed really serious about the whole thing. Plus she's Cassie—she doesn't do dumb pranks."
<The stresses of war could have triggered this break from reality.>
"Okay, maybe," said Jake. "Okay. Yeah. That sort of makes sense. She did mind-meld with that whale, too, which could explain the whole ocean thing."
"If Cassie's lost it, do you think she'll tell people about us?" asked Marco. "I mean, you never know what crazy people will do."
"I don't think she will," said Jake. "She seemed to care about not letting anyone know she could morph. And she definitely wants to save Earth, so siding with the Yeerks is out."
<Okay,> said Tobias. <The first thing we need to do is get her away from the beach. I think we all agree there, right?>
"Right," said Jake. "Then what?"
"Then we make it up as we go," said Marco. "Same as always."
* * *
Getting out of Visser Three's quarters was easy enough—the door opened with the push of a button that was well within Rachel's jumping range. She sauntered out like nothing was wrong. None of the guards stopped her, though she could hear them muttering to each other in the Hork-Bajir language, probably trying to decide whether they were supposed to keep the Visser's pets from escaping or let them do whatever they wanted.
Rachel did not know her way around the Blade ship at all, and she couldn't read any of the signs, which were all written in the Yeerk language. But the housecat morph was fast, and she covered a lot of ground in a very small amount of time. Soon enough, she found herself in an area that looked sort of familiar.
"Hey, one of the Visser's cats got out!"
The reaction was instantaneous. Someone screamed. Someone else leapt up onto a computer console. A stack of papers hit the ground and scattered.
"A tiger!?" cried a woman's voice.
"OH APATHETIC GODS!"
"GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD."
"No! Calm down everyone! It's just a regular cat!"
"Idiot, why didn't you say that first?"
"My host wants you to know that you just took ten years off her life."
"Yeah? Well, my host wants your host to know that you can both stick it right—"
Rachel sniffed the ground. It was hard to tell with all the alien scents that swirled around her, but she was pretty sure she could smell fuel coming from that direction. Fuel meant Bug fighters, and Bug fighters meant a way home. She could hitch a ride with the next group heading back to the Yeerk pool. That would be a safe, easy way to get back. Nobody would ever know she was here.
Or she could just steal a Bug fighter and fly it home.
No. No. Bad Rachel. Very bad. Very dangerous. Everyone would be so impressed. Angry. Everyone would be so angry. And maybe a little impressed.
* * *
<I see her,> reported Tobias. <Down in the water. By the pizza stand.>
"Right where I left her," said Jake, even though he knew Tobias couldn't hear him. He, Marco, and Ax in human morph walked down to the shoreline. True to Tobias' word, she was still there, staring at the horizon. Luckily, the rest of her cult seemed to have gone home.
"Hey, Cassie," said Marco. Cassie turned around to look at everyone. The look on her face was weird, as if she was just waking up from a dream.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"We just wanted to talk to you," said Jake. "You're sort of, um. Sort of. Um."
"Being really creepy," said Marco.
"Don't you see?" asked Cassie. "I am going to become one with the ocean."
"Impossible," said Ax. "Your body would rot before it could be entirely dissolved."
Cassie huffed. "I don't mean I'm going to turn into water. That would be stupid."
"Yeah, wouldn't want to do something stupid," muttered Marco.
"I'm going to become a whale."
"You've already morphed a whale," said Jake.
"I know that! But I've reached the next stage. I am ready to be a whale forever."
"Forever?" Jake boggled.
"Are you saying you intend to trap yourself in a morph?" asked Ax.
"It's this human body that's the trap!"
"Cassie, you can't trap yourself as a whale!" cried Jake. "You just can't!"
"Sure I can! Tobias trapped himself as a hawk."
<That was completely different! It was an accident! Sort of! Definitely! It was sort of definitely an accident! I REGRET IT NOW, OKAY?> cried Tobias, from his perch on top of an abandoned deckchair.
"Besides," said Jake, "if you're a whale, you can't come on any missions with us."
"Missions." Cassie still looked sort of dreamy. "But I have a bigger mission now."
"Bigger than protecting the whole planet against a secret alien invasion?" asked Jake.
"I am not worried about your petty wars," said Cassie.
"You can't stop coming on missions, Cassie!" said Marco. "We need you! Right now someone is…someone is mistreating a whale!"
Cassie seemed to snap back to reality. "What!"
"Yeah! It's like a billion years old and all wise and has healing powers and someone is being mean to it!"
"Where!? Where is it!?"
"It's, um. At…at your barn!"
"I'LL KILL THEM!" Before anyone could say anything, Cassie had already morphed into her osprey morph and taken off towards home.
* * *
On the Blade ship, the Controllers were still discussing the lost housecat.
"Should we bring it back to Visser Three? He might be happy with us…"
"Nah, he'll probably yell at us for not letting his precious pet do whatever it wants."
"Or he could grant us promotions."
"Or he could eat us alive."
"Fine, let it run free, but it'll be his own fault when a Taxxon—"
Rachel ran off down the hallway, leaving the conversation behind. Her nose did not fail her. In a few minutes, she was in the gigantic hangar that housed all the Blade ship's bug fighters. People were hurrying all over the place, pilots and technicians and random Controllers just waiting for a ride. Nobody noticed her in all the confusion. Moving quickly, Rachel found herself an empty bug fighter and went inside.
Demorphing quickly, Rachel looked around. The buttons and levers meant nothing to her, plus they were too big to be of any use. Obviously this fighter had Hork-Bajir controls. Whatever, she could work with that. At least it wasn't Taxxon controls, or she'd be out of luck.
Rachel began to morph again, this time to the Hork-Bajir DNA that she'd acquired from Jara a little while back. Rachel liked Hork-Bajir. They fought well and tended to do what she said.
<Okay,> she said to herself. <Now what?>
The buttons were as meaningless as they'd been when she was a human. Rachel decided to do it the human way, and pressed every button with one wide sweep of her arm. Then she pulled all the levers because she is Rachel.
The lights got brighter. Cold air blasted. Warm air blasted. Windshield-wipers turned on. The radio blared weird alien music. Something began beeping. An electronic voice said something in Alien.
And the Bug fighter began to move.
Rachel gave a whoop of triumph and grabbed the thing that she was like 90% certain was the steering thingy. Outside, she could hear people starting to yell. A dracon beam bounced off the hull.
Too bad Ax wasn't here. She would have liked to have someone to be her gunner. No, wait. She would have liked to have someone be her pilot while she worked the guns. Oh well, maybe next time.
Rachel leaned forward on the controls—okay, that seemed to be how to accelerate. She pulled back. Reverse. Okay. Got it. This was like super easy!
The shouting had turned into screams of pain.
<Sorry!> said Rachel. She managed to get the little fighter up into the air.
Now, where was the exit?
<Which way to outer space?> she asked herself. She peered out the glass plating that she's been thinking of as the windshield. There were some Bug fighters going down a narrow-looking tunnel thing. She decided to follow them.
<STOP SHOOTING AT ME!> yelled Rachel, and flew off after the other Bug fighters.
* * *
They didn't catch up with Cassie until she had made it all the way back to her barn. She demorphed and looked around frantically.
"WHERE IS IT?" she demanded.
"Hey, woah, calm down," said Jake, once he was almost completely human. "It's all gonna be okay."
"IT IS NOT! WE NEED TO SAVE THE WHALE!"
"There is no whale, you lunatic!" said Marco.
"What? You lied to me? I HATE YOU!" Cassie began crying. "Why are you being so mean to me?"
The four teenage boys, faced with a crying girl, edged back a few steps.
"I don't know why you're doing this!" she cried. "The whale gave me a mission! He showed me the whole ocean! I need to be a part of it! I need to!"
The boys still looked uncertain. After a moment, Jake was shoved forward by the others.
"Cassie," said Jake. "We need you too."
Cassie blinked. She wiped her face on her sleeve.
"You need me like the group needs me or you need me like you need me?" she asked.
"Uh. The uh." Jake scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. "The second one."
"Oh." Cassie sniffed. "Are we going to kiss now?"
"Yeah I guess so," said Jake, and after an awkward moment of figuring out how it was supposed to go, they did.
It wasn't that much of a surprise that Marco was the one to interrupt. But it was a surprise that it wasn't to make fun of them.
"Hey!" he cried. He was pointing skyward. "What the heck is that?"
Everyone turned to look. That was a Bug fighter, falling fast and smoking heavily. A moment later, it hit the ground with a slam that rattled the trees.
The little fighter tumbled over itself a few times before skidding a few hundred feet and finally coming to a halt.
The Animorphs all stared, uncertain. After about two minutes, the doors opened up as far as they could (about halfway) and Rachel emerged, stumbling dizzily and shielding her eyes from the sun. She spotted the others and smiled brightly.
"Hi everyone," said Rachel. "What's going on?"
end of day two
Next Week: The Day Rachel Went to Therapy
Previous Part Next Part