Six Days The Animorphs Were Idiots
The Day Jake Got So Wasted: Part Three
The Day Jake Got So Wasted: Part Three
The Andalite Homeworld did not have cities, only spaceports separated by hundreds of miles worth of meadows and forests. Cassie, Marco, Toby, and Tobias (perched on one of Toby’s head-blades) were handed off to a male Andalite named Siforond with a Yeerk named Idess. He was (they were?) a pilot for the Andalite public transit system and would be able to fly the group to the Yeerk Pool without arousing suspicion.
Cassie was not quite sure what sort of vehicle she’d been expecting to serve as public transport—a bus, maybe, or a super-powered train. Instead, Siforond/Idess brought them to what he called a shuttle, which was about the size of a minivan and encased in a bubble of glass that gave a complete panoramic view of the world outside. The fact that it was completely flat on the bottom suggested antigravity technology.
<You only have two legs. Perhaps you should sit.> This could only be Siforond speaking.
“There’s no chairs,” said Marco.
<What’s a chair?>
“Just sit down, Marco,” said Cassie, who didn’t mind being on the floor because it did not obstruct her view at all. Once Siforond/Idess was satisfied that the wobbly two-legged humans wouldn’t be falling over, he went to the controls.
There were no roads to follow, but Siforond/Idess seemed to know where he was going. The shuttle skimmed above tall blue and violet grass, blowing it flat but not crushing it. When Cassie ran to the back of the shuttle (her resolution to stay seated had lasted exactly two and a half minutes), she could see that the plants had already sprung back to their original positions.
The Andalite sky was red and gold, and Cassie counted at least three suns. As they flew onward, the blue fields eventually became thick clusters of asparagus-shaped Derrishoul trees and pink Therants. Cassie tilted her head upwards to see strange, small animals that Siforond/Idess called djabala leaping through the branches.
“What’s Visser Five like?” asked Marco, who was not as impressed by all this as Cassie was.
<She’s friendly,> said Idess. <Don’t be nervous. You’d never guess she was a Visser at all. She is a bit mad, but that’s the Yeerk army for you.>
<She’s charismatic,> contributed Siforond. It was getting easy to tell them apart just from the way they spoke, and there was always a slight delay when the speaker switched. <Great speeches. Very compelling.>
<Talking to her is like talking to one of your own poolmates.> That was definitely Idess.
<But don’t let that fool you,> Siforond said. <She’s cunning. She likes to play it like she’s not, like she’s just the sweet girl from the next meadow—>
<Just keep in mind that you don’t become a Visser in the Yeerk army by being nice,> interrupted Idess. <She’s the best thing that ever happened to the Peace Movement, present company excepted, but she’s still Visser Five.>
“What makes you so sure she’s really into the Peace Movement?” pressed Marco. “She could be, I dunno, gathering up names of traitors to give to the Emperor for his birthday!”
A flock of birds that appeared to have been painted by a class of kindergarteners flew right up alongside the shuttle, making Cassie screech with happiness. Tobias ruffled his feathers, but Cassie was entranced, her fingers pressed to the window until the flock eventually peeled off in another direction.
“I am curious to know how aware the Andalites are to your presence,” said Toby. “Surely they know you are here by now.”
<Oh, they know.> Siforond’s stalk-eyes turned to look at Toby while his main eyes stayed focused on the fields in front of him. <The Council knows. The general public doesn’t, though. The Council feels that it would provoke hysteria.>
<They know we’re here, but that’s all they know,> contributed Idess. <They haven’t been able to do any better than that. We’re safe, for now at least.>
As promised, the journey was not long. And like the Yeerk Pool in the Animorphs’ hometown, this one was underground, the entrance cleverly hidden in a hillside that Cassie would not have thought at all suspicious.
With only the lights of the shuttle to see by, they flew through a tunnel that opened up into a large, wide room. There was no pool, though. Cassie supposed that it must be deeper down for safety reasons.
<I need to check in at the next spaceport, but I’ll be back very soon,> promised Siforond, bringing the shuttle to a stop. A segment of the glass lifted upwards to provide an exit, and Cassie peered down the dark tunnel nervously. <Lannit and Sovi will see you in. Good luck to you.>
“Thanks,” said Cassie as she stepped onto the ground. The shuttle closed up again and zoomed back up the tunnel, gone in an instant.
“Hey. Is that a Klingon?” said Marco, pointing.
“Don’t be an idiot—” but then Cassie turned around. The alien that was hurrying towards them was bipedal, humanoid, and had distinct forehead ridges and lots of dark hair.
<Huh,> said Tobias. <Weird.>
“Toby, do you have any idea what she is?” asked Marco.
“Oh, just because I’m the alien, I’m supposed to know what she is? Do you think we’re all in some sort of alien club together? I was born on Earth. Three months ago.”
Marco’s sarcastic reply was cut off by the probably-not-actually-a-Klingon coming within earshot.
“Hello!” she called. Her voice was unexpectedly melodic. “You are the humans? We are Lannit 882 and T’lia Sovi—Visser Five’s personal assistant. We will escort you to her office, if you’ll just follow.” As she came nearer, Cassie could see that she was dressed in an odd, flowing robe dyed many colors, and around her neck were giant, shiny black beads, each one the size of an egg. She was carrying something that looked a lot like a giant clipboard, and she was wearing an earpiece.
“Uh, hi,” said Cassie. “Nice to—”
“Wait.” Sovi/Lannit held up a hand. “I was promised six humans. Instead I have two humans, a Hork-Bajir, and a bird of some sort.”
“Uh, we’re actually four humans, an Andalite, and a bird of some sort,” said Marco. “But half of us stayed behind due to reasons of stupidity.”
Sovi/Lannit blinked. “Please tell me one of you is Cassie.” There was a twinge of desperation in her voice.
“That’s me,” said Cassie, raising her hand.
Sovi/Lannit seemed to relax. “I apologize if I seem flustered. We had no idea that you were coming to the Homeworld until the moment you arrived, but the Visser was insistent that we arrange a meeting today.”
“Or else what?” asked Marco as Sovi/Lannit began to guide them down hallways carved from the earth. It was obvious that the Yeerks were not able to do as much construction here as they were on Earth without risking giving away their position, but it was still pretty impressive, considering.
“I forgot—you’re from Earth, aren’t you?” said Sovi/Lannit. “You’ve met Visser Three.”
<Unfortunately,> said Tobias.
“Well, you’ll be pleased to know that Visser Five does not share his methods for keeping the troops in line. She also does not have a penchant for adopting deadly carnivores and bringing them into the base, or dating her superiors…” the rock-and-dirt hallways had turned into metal floors and walls as Lannit/Sovi led the group further and further underground. “In fact, if you want to be stationed anywhere that’s not the Homeworld, it’s under Visser Five. She hasn’t lost a single soldier since this invasion began. Visser One thinks she knows how to do a stealthy invasion? That’s nothing compared to what we have here.”
“Well, I cannot take all the credit.” The new voice came from the end of the hallway. “The Andalites fiercely deny that there is any Yeerk activity on their planet. It’s convenient, but I wouldn’t mind a bit of recognition for my efforts every once in a while.”
Visser Five, for this could only be her, had a host of a species that none of the Animorphs had ever seen before. She was about Marco’s height, and strongly resembled a giant praying mantis. She had a triangular head and two huge compound eyes. Her body was long and narrow, and she stood on six delicate legs. The first and last two legs ended in dangerous-looking claws, while the middle pair looked like they could be used like a pair of hands. She was completely colorless, save for her eyes, which were an intensely bright blue.
“Aaaaagh!” yelled Marco, intergalactic diplomat.
<You idiot,> said Tobias.
The alien lowered her head and made a soft, irregular sound that took Cassie a moment to identify as laughter.
“Do not worry,” she said. “I know you are not completely accustomed to seeing alien species. My host is a Nahara female. Carnivorous, but not towards sentient creatures. I am Emiki 255 and she is Sia Ren.”
“We were expecting you to be an Andalite,” said Marco bluntly. “Seeing as you’re running the invasion of the Andalite Homeworld.”
“That would make sense, wouldn’t it?” Visser Five was apparently impossible to offend. “But Sia Ren and I work together so well, and I like to leave the Andalite hosts for my subordinates. They need them far more than I do. Come.” Visser Five turned around and waved them into the office that she had just emerged from.
“Are you really Visser Five?” said Cassie suspiciously as the office door closed behind them.
“I am…” Visser Five’s voice trailed off as she turned around to see that Marco was now conducting a thorough examination of her office and Tobias had perched himself on a light fixture. Only Toby was behaving herself. “…um. I assume you are Cassie?”
“Yeah.” Cassie glanced back at the others. “The idiot who yelled was Marco. The bird is Tobias. The Hork-Bajir is Toby.”
Visser Five tilted her triangular head to one side. “I was told there would be six of you.”
“Ax, Rachel, and Jake had to stay behind,” said Cassie. “Toby’s from the free Hork-Bajir colony we have on Earth.”
“Well, I cannot tell you how pleased I was to hear that you’d been spotted on-planet,” Now Visser Five was all business. “I understand that your time is limited, so I will be quick. You are in a rather precarious position, as you may or may not already know. On this planet, it is public knowledge that morphing technology was given to a few humans by an arsith. If the Empire were to send an Inspector here, I might not be able to keep the identities of Visser Three’s ‘Andalite Bandits’ a secret.” Visser Five’s eyes looked darker in color than they’d been a minute ago.
“Well, what’s stopping any one of your people from running off to the Council of Thirteen and getting himself a big promotion?” demanded Marco, who was now slouched in a chair, his legs dangling over the armrest. Cassie made a face at him, but Visser Five simply radiated amusement.
“As citizens of Earth, I imagine that you have seen Visser Three’s methods firsthand. But I run things a little differently here. I do not eat my subordinates, for one thing. It does wonders for morale.” Visser Five turned her attention to a holographic computer screen, appeared to check her emails, and then switched it off.
“That doesn’t answer the question,” said Marco.
“Yes it does,” said Toby. “She’s saying that her soldiers are loyal. Have you ever seen a Yeerk display exceptional loyalty to Visser Three?”
<No way,> said Tobias. <Remember the time we almost freed Alloran? The Hork-Bajir just left him there! And they’re always talking about him behind his back.>
“Thanks to the small scale of the invasion here, I have been able to hand-pick my soldiers,” said Visser Five. “Those who are not official members of the Peace Movement have been selected for their loyalty to me in the past. Many of them have served with me or under me long before I had this rank.”
“How many Andalite hosts do you have?” asked Toby.
“Almost one hundred.” Visser Five seemed to be watching for their reactions. “I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I do not believe that we can afford to take large risks. If we were to be discovered, we would all be dead before I could even get a distress call out.”
“Wouldn’t the Council of Thirteen want as many Andalites infested as possible?” asked Marco.
“Yes. Luckily, Visser Three’s antics have been keeping them too busy to monitor me as closely as they ought. As long as I continue send them satisfactory reports, they are content to devote their attentions towards the incredibly amusing events on taking place on Earth.” Visser Five’s expression changed and her mandibles tilted upwards into something that was unquestioningly a smile.
“So are you infesting Andalites slowly because you think it shouldn’t be done, or because you’ll all get blown up if you’re caught?” Cassie looked annoyed.
“Both. Do not misunderstand me. I am not a traitor to the Empire. I gather intelligence and forward it to the Homeworld regularly. You’ve seen our ships? Impressive, perhaps, to the Hork-Bajir or your own race, but they’re nothing compared to what the Andalites have. The majority of our battles are not won through brute force, but cunning.”
“But by winning battles for the Yeerks, more free people are made into hosts.” Cassie still looked annoyed. “How exactly are you helping the Peace Movement?”
“If I threw myself down and refused to aid the Empire, I would be executed as a traitor. Dead, I am of no use to anyone.” Visser Five leaned forward. “I was led to believe you sought an end to this war?”
“Well, obviously, but—”
“What would you say if I told you we could have peace between my species and yours by this time tomorrow?”
There was a crashing sound as Marco fell out of his chair.
“That’s impossible,” said Cassie flatly. “The Andalites hate you. The Hork-Bajir hate you. If the humans knew about you, they’d hate you too.”
“You are correct. My species has made a terrible first impression upon the galaxy, and we may never redeem ourselves.” Visser Five tapped her strange, serrated fingers on her desktop. “But I know the Andalites. I have taken quite a few as hosts temporarily to speak with them, to ask them questions and to answer theirs. And what I found was quite interesting. They hate the Yeerks. But they hate this war more.”
“What do you mean?” asked Cassie.
“Have you ever known open warfare?” asked Visser Five. “On your home planet, have you ever experienced such a thing?”
“No,” said Cassie. “No, we haven’t…not in a while…”
“Then I will do my best to explain. The Andalites have a draft, and it is not voluntary. Now, on this planet, they only draft the males for some cultural reasons. For over two generations, their husbands and sons and brothers have been dying in droves. Tens of thousands were lost on Leera alone, just recently—”
“That was one of your people who sabotaged it!” said Marco suddenly. “On the Ascalin, the captain, he worked for you!”
Visser Five went still. “How do you know about that?”
<Loooong story,> said Tobias.
“Samilin was a traitor, to his own people and to us,” said Visser Five. “He would have sold us all out to Visser Four if he’d been successful. But the point I’m trying to make is that the Andalite public understands that the war cannot end until the Yeerk Empire is destroyed, for the good of the galaxy. But if a peaceful solution was offered, the public would demand their leaders accept it to prevent any more of their own kind from dying.”
“A peace treaty would have to be offered by the Council of Thirteen,” said Cassie. “Which they would never do. They want to control every planet everywhere.”
“Quite right,” said Visser Five. “But what if the Andalites were led to believe that they were being offered peace by the Yeerks and, at the same moment, the Yeerks were led to believe they were being offered peace by the Andalites?”
Cassie felt her eyelid twitch. “You can’t do that.”
“How badly do you want to end this war, Cassie?” asked Visser Five, and now she wasn’t just smiling, she was grinning.
“I want to end it the right way!” Cassie cried. “Not by tricking everyone into thinking the other side wants peace! That’s wrong!”
Visser Five looked taken aback. “Wrong? Wrong would be letting this war drag on for ten more years while I am in a position to stop it.”
“You can’t play both sides!” cried Cassie.
“Oh, I think I can,” said Visser Five in a sing-song voice. “Here is the unusual situation I have found myself in. I control some of the most powerful Andalites on this planet. If I set my mind to it, I could have half their Council before the third sun sets. But I am also a Visser in the Yeerk army and the highest ranking member of the Yeerk Peace Movement. As such, I have no small amount of influence in the Empire. And my technicians have told me that, with sufficient determination, they can break into the public broadcast network for this planet.”
Toby gave a soft gasp.
“You’ll never pull it off,” said Marco. “Even if you had all the right hosts, both sides are too proud to say yes. And even if you somehow do make that happen, you’ll be caught eventually. The first time the Andalites and Yeerks sit down to talk things over, it’ll be five minutes before they realize—”
“Oh, certainly,” said Visser Five. “I am not operating under the delusion that my deception will go uncovered. But here is something else I have learned about during my career in politics: public opinion. If the Andalites and my own people have been told that peace talks are underway, they will not be satisfied until peace is declared. Oh, both Councils will be enraged, but their hands will be tied.” She looked incredibly pleased with herself.
“Let me think about it,” said Cassie. “Give me…give me time.”
“Oh, of course! Give it some thought,” said Visser Five brightly. “Now, my assistant is making irritated faces at me, which means I have kept you too long.” She gestured to the door, where Sovi/Lannit was waiting. Cassie turned to say something, probably a goodbye, and then...
...and then Visser Five moved so quickly that Cassie didn’t even see it. All she knew was that one moment the Nahara had been behind the desk, and the next she stood in front of Marco, one of her long fingers under his chin, tilting his head from side to side so that she could examine his face, his eyes.
“Interesting,” she murmured. “You are…?”
“Yep,” said Marco, jerking out of her grasp.
“My apologies.” But then Visser Five was all smiles again. “We’ll be in touch.”
* * *
“Well?” hissed Rachel as they were hurried along a garden pathway by a frantic Shruta/Lissit. “How was it? What was she like?”
“She was…different,” said Cassie.
“She was nuts,” said Marco, struggling under the weight of a now-unconscious Jake.
<She was polite,> said Tobias from his usual spot on Toby’s head.
“She was a gifted actress,” said Toby, her face unreadable.
“Is she gonna help us? Is she gonna kill us?” pressed Rachel.
<No doubt she has already given your identities to Visser Three.>
“Ax, shut up,” said Rachel.
“Actually, Ax, our Fearless Leader is getting sort of heavy,” said Marco, jostling Jake with his shoulder. “Can we put him on your back?”
<You can try,> said Ax, waving his tail-blade threateningly.
“Just leave him on the grass. He’ll be fine, probably,” said Rachel.
“Rachel!” cried Cassie. “You’re unbelievable, you know that?”
“Excuse me, I’m unbelievable?” Rachel tossed her hair back. “I’m not the ones who wore overalls to outer space.”