Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ifi's Fanfiction - Chapter Six, Part One

Still no cease and desist letter.

Six Days the Animorphs Were Idiots
The Day Ax Was Awesome: Part One

The Animorphs were sent to Ax’s parents’ scoop, but nobody got much sleep that night. The floor was cold and made of dirt and apparently the Andalites hadn’t invented pillows yet. Andalites preferred to sleep outside during warm weather, and so the Animorphs had the whole place to themselves.

Ax’s parents had been nice, even though Rachel had frightened them a little when she’d asked to acquire their DNA. But she’d made it up to them by telling some battle stories, which they had enjoyed immensely. Warriors were apparently thought of highly on the Homeworld.

But that had been hours ago.

“Is anyone asleep?” asked Marco from somewhere in the darkness.

“I was,” grumbled Rachel.

“I’m not,” said Cassie. “I’m too busy worrying. Maybe we should try to find Shruta and Lissit. Or something. Or anything.”

<I’ve been thinking,> said Tobias from somewhere above their heads. <Do you think we could find our way back to the Yeerk Pool from here?>

“Maybe,” said Cassie dubiously. “If we morphed bats, or owls, or something local…”

“And then what?” asked Rachel. “Tell Visser Five to go ahead with Operation: Crazy?”

“Maybe,” said Cassie again, staring up at the ceiling. “Damn it, I don’t know. What’s the alternative? Go back to Earth and try to warn the president? Even if we managed to convince everyone we’re not nuts, it would only make the fighting happen sooner. I wish Jake was…sober. He’d know what to do.” In the darkness, Cassie glanced over at the sleeping form of their leader.

<Maybe we should go home,> said Tobias. <I mean, can we do anything else here?>

“If we stay, Earth gets trashed by the Andalites. If we go…Earth gets trashed by the Andalites. I mean, I don’t think there’s a third option here,” said Cassie.

“We could take all the engines out of every ship in the Andalite fleet,” said Marco.

“I don’t think we should do that, but we’ll keep it as a backup plan,” said Rachel.

“Toby? Any thoughts?” asked Marco.

Toby lifted her head—Hork Bajir slept in very unusual positions. “I believe you must ask yourselves this: have you become so accustomed to war that you have closed your mind to any alternatives?”

“What?” said Cassie. “That’s crazy—you think we like having to fight?”

“No. But I believe you can no longer imagine life as normal humans,” said Toby. “Are you afraid of what will happen if a peaceful solution is found? No more secrets or lies.”

“Is that what you think of us?” demanded Marco. “That we’re…that we like this?”

“I like it,” said Rachel cheerfully. “The parts where I’m holding my organs in with my hands, or running away, those sort of suck. But it has its moments. Like, overall. I’d do it again.”

“All of it?” asked Cassie, turning to look at the dark blob that was Rachel lying on the floor.

“Sure,” said Rachel. “You can’t have the good stuff without the bad, can you? It’s all tied up together in a big…a big thing. A knot.”

“A big knot of psychological trauma and life-threatening injuries,” said Marco.

“And aliens, and being an eagle, and outer space, and our own Bug fighter,” countered Rachel.

“I’m not sad that we got to see all the things we’ve seen,” said Cassie. “But how much longer until we stop getting lucky? We’re not warriors. We’re just us. The more I think about it, the more I don’t want to fight anymore, and it’s not because I think fighting is a bad way to solve problems. I don’t want to fight anymore because I don’t want to lose you guys. I guess that’s selfish but, you know, I don’t even care. It’s the truth.”

“We are not going to die,” said Rachel. “That’s crazy talk.”

“You can say that, but it doesn’t make it true.” Cassie was starting to get worked up. “Any one of us could die, literally whenever. And then what? We just go on living and fighting and lying and doing what we’ve always done, with five instead of six? And even if we don’t die, what kind of adults are we going to grow up to be?”

“Where the hell is this coming from?” demanded Marco.

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been thinking too much tonight.” Cassie abruptly fell silent and rolled over to face the wall. “It’s been a weird week.”

“Well,” said Rachel, “I think we all left Earth knowing that something needed to change. Isn’t that the reason we didn’t leave the Chee to cover for us? So we couldn’t go back again, and have it all be the same?”

“Well, yeah,” said Cassie.

“Come on, even I could see that we were going nowhere fast, winning our little battles and freeing a grand total of two human hosts.” Rachel spread her arms wide. “And I wouldn’t give it up, not for anything. But it’s been over a year and I think it’s time to get serious about ending the invasion, however we can. And so, so I say we tell Visser Five that she can do whatever she wants and we’ll help. She can declare herself Emperor if she thinks that would solve the problem.”

“I do not think that is how it works,” said Toby.

“Well, it’s what I would do,” said Rachel.

“Well, if it’s what Rachel would do,” muttered Marco.

“Shut up, Marco,” said Rachel, not unkindly, and everyone went back to sleep after that.


*    *    *

Visser Three was busy brushing Doka (she was a longhaired cat, and needed to be brushed once a week at the least) when he noticed that something was going on outside his office. Something very loud.

Were the Andalite bandits attacking? Visser Three set the brush down. Doka bumped her head against his hand, indicating that she didn’t feel they were finished. He petted her reassuringly. Then he went to go see what the problem was and if he could eat it.

Nobody was at their desks. Everyone was standing around, babbling incoherently. Visser Three caught a few snippets of conversation.

“Did you see? Did you see?”

“Is this a joke?”

“Can’t be. Andalites don’t know what jokes are.”

“There’s no way they’ll find enough voluntary hosts for everyone…”

“Do you think they’d really give us a morphing cube?”

“They’re just saying that, I bet…”

“You’d have to be nuts to trap yourself in morph. But I’d take a robot body! With…lasers. And stuff.”

“Party in Conference Room E!”

“Did you see?”

<WHAT IS GOING ON OUT HERE?> Visser Three demanded. All of the Controllers—human, Hork-Bajir, and Taxxons—came to a screeching halt. Some of them looked nervous. A couple actually ran out of the room. <WELL?>

“Intelligence just received a transmission from the Homeworld,” volunteered someone at last. “The Andalites are offering a treaty.”

<WHAT.>

“That’s what I said,” called someone from the back of the crowd.

“The whole Homeworld saw it!” said someone else. “You can watch a recording—”

<AND NOBODY THOUGHT TO INFORM ME?>

The room went silent again.

<IDIOTS!> roared Visser Three, and stormed back into his office. He went to his communications console and dialed in a frequency to Leera.

Visser One was quick to answer. She didn’t look like herself. Her hair wasn’t done and she might have been wearing pajamas.

“What?” she barked at the viewscreen.

<Hello,> said Visser Three awkwardly.

“I take it you saw the Andalite transmission, then,” said Visser One, slumping back into her chair.

<I haven’t actually seen it yet,> admitted Visser Three. <Apparently nobody tells me anything anymore.>

“Well, take a look at it. It’s…interesting.” Then Visser One lowered her voice. “Are you alone?”

<Yes…> Visser Three could not help but wonder where this was going. He leaned in closer to the screen.

“Good. Listen. I think…I think the footage might be fake, or at least edited.”

<What?>

“I don’t know, it’s just a theory. I’m having some of my technicians look at it as we speak. It definitely came from the Andalite Homeworld, but there’s still something not quite right.” Visser One looked worried, which was unusual for her. “I haven’t told anyone else yet, because everyone’s too excited to listen. People are already throwing ‘end of the war’ parties! So much for the manifest destiny of the Empire!”

<I wasn’t invited to any parties,> said Visser Three, wounded.

“That is not the point, Epslin,” growled Viser One, clenching her fists. “Look, I’m having trouble getting any information from the Andalite Homeworld. Emiki’s intelligence department keeps giving me the runaround, and I can’t get ahold of her personally.”

<You think she’s in league with them?> Visser Three brightened immediately. He’d never eaten a Nahara before, but he was pretty sure the Council would let him if she turned out to be a traitor.

“Yes. No. Maybe. I’m not sure.” Visser One rested her head in her palms. “I do not believe she would do anything to harm her subordinates. But she hasn’t been the same since her old host died.”

<That was years ago,> said Visser Three.

Visser One waved a hand dismissively. “My point is, it is possible that she has taken leave of her senses, and there is no logic to what she has done. After all, what does she stand to gain from forcing the Andalites to offer a treaty?”

<What is the Council saying?>

“They’ve been sealed in the amphitheater since the transmission arrived and they won’t come out. Typical, really.” Visser One rolled her eyes. “But I actually don't have time to talk. I’m coming to Earth today.”

<What? Why?>

“I left something behind,” said Visser One. “Two somethings, actually. Don’t worry about it. Let me know if anything changes on Earth.”

She cut the transmission, leaving a very confused Visser Three staring at a blank screen.

to be continued


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26 comments:

  1. This was incredibly difficult to write. I scrapped three different versions before coming up with something I was even slightly happy with.

    On the plus side, I should be updating regularly from now on. :D

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  2. This chapter was kinda less with the funny and more with the plot-advancement. But I'm cool with that. I especially liked the Animorphs argument in the scoop. It seemed really in-character for all of them.

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  3. Aw, Esplin is coming back for her two children... I mean, her two 'somethings'. Did I say children? You must have heard wrong.

    And I sense a plot point in the mention of the old host of Emiki.

    Can we have more Ax in the next update? The contents of this part were a bit disappointing in that respect considering the title. (But rest assured, it was still awesome.)

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    1. Edriss needs to save her babies from the big mean Andalite military that could show up on Earth any minute now!

      She has to put up with ten cats, so she feels that it is entirely reasonable to ask Esplin to deal with a pair of kids.

      Emiki has turned into a very interesting character for me. I'm having fun. And she's not done scheming yet.

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  4. I hate to bring this up, because this thing is hilarious, but the Rachel stuff is starting to bug me. Not so much for the comedic license you're taking with her here, but because it seems like you're buying into the Jake-Cassie slander about her.
    Increasingly in this fic, Rachel resembles her evil half in the starfish book, only with a pleasant demeanor.

    Seriously, does anyone remember that she's actually pretty smart, and her PoV of battles (when she isn't using a morph for the first time ever) generally includes thoughts and insights and plans? That was a specific point Jake (her harshest critic in the books) made when he was pointing out the necessity to reintegrate the two Rachels. The real Rachel, unlike Mean-Rachel & 6Days-Rachel, IS capable of plans a lot better than "morph elephant, smash restaurant" (although in that particular scenario, there really wasn't any more of a plan needed). Although Mean-Rachel was a lot more articulate than 6Days-Rachel. She had a kind of poetic and descriptive narrative voice and was not the type to get stuck on trying to come up with "knot" as a metaphor for her feelings.

    Again, I would not change a word of this thing, which is marvelous, and exaggeration for the sake of parody is a lot more fun than staying true to the character. The only problem is that as the mischaracterization increases, it seems to lend weight to the bullshit Jake and Cassie spew about her in future books. Or maybe the better way to put it, is that Jake and Cassie are so self-righteous and clueless, that their vision of Rachel is a sketchy parody of the real character, who worries more than anyone else about the morals and costs of their violent lives.

    One thing this chapter nailed was her "bright side" outlook, where she recognizes the good that comes along with the costs they have to pay, and enjoys that aspect as long as she has to endure the bad parts. And it was also nice to see the other characters engaging her in genuine back and forth discussion. They tend to blow her off or roll their eyes an awful lot when Rachel offers her perspective, especially considering that she IS the most quantifiably intelligent member of the group.

    There is a reason why Rachel is the awesomest character in Animorphs (and probably the greatest teenage female character in all the genre), and it's really annoying to read the extent to which she is willing to sacrifice herself for people who think so little of her. For all the thuggish portrayal (book Rachel would not be remotely interested in butterfly knives, for one thing), Ifi does a superb job of articulating a defense of her positions, which Applegate could never be bothered to do (much less the hack who ghost-wrote the book where she's in charge).

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    1. Are you completely insane.

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    2. I meant that in a very loving way.

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    3. How so (insane I mean)? Is this going to be another thing? Everytime I get involved in book discussions on the internet, I find a lot of my perspectives on characters is about 90 degrees off from the mainstream. I meant every word in the post though, and sincerely. Maybe it was a bit much for the place I posted it, what with it being a parody and all, but I still think the other Animorphs are mostly assholes to her, and it just kind of came out in my reply.

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    4. Nonono, I didn't mean it in a bad way, I honestly didn't. xD I love your observations. I was just surprised to get an essay on a crackfic. I mean, you've put about ten times more thought into it than I ever will.

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    5. Thinking about stuff too much is my specialty. Also, diarrhea of the keyboard being another. Ask beetnemesis about that (he was the one who alerted me to this site, so blame him). Honestly, the ability of people to make visual images mystifies me as much as my ability to pop off multiple paragraphs on minor little issues astonishes others. And as I may have failed to make clear, it was not so much about the crackfic, as the way that parodic perspective touched on a seriously promulgated concept which annoyed the piss out of me. While reading a series of children's books. In my early 20s. So yeah. You may be right. I may be crazy.

      And I have not take offense at one thing you have written in response to any of my posts. In case I haven't made it clear, this blog is one of the funniest current things I follow on the internet and I love it. The degree to which I am engaged is an indicator of that, however crazy the form of my involvement may appear.

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    6. Heh, for the record, Cannoli likes writing long, in-depth posts that seize details wherever he can find them to support his thesis.

      For any Wheel of Time fans out there, he once wrote an approximately 30-part series describing why the character of Egwene was incredibly horrible, selfish, and evil.

      He's not a fanatic, just... thorough.

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    7. Approximately, nothing. It was 35 parts, though only covering her behavior up through the first 12 books. If this was a real discussion site, I could TL;DNR the living daylights out of all five human characters.

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  5. Oh, and aside from the Rachel-stuff, Visser Three is at his best here, with the subtle acknowledgement of his proclivity to eat people and the exchange with Visser One as a couple of coworkers, rather than posturing rivals. At some point, you have to figure they have to actually work together without all the bombast and whatnot, and this was a delightful look at how that might go, along with the immature BTS behavior of the Controllers throughout this whole fic.

    Smooth recovery on the Chee, too.

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    1. Smooth recovery on the Chee, too

      I KNOW RIGHT?

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  6. I wish we could have seen the conversation with Noorlin & Forlay and the animorphs. I mean, these are the people who shared the last moments of their favorite son's life, and these are the parents of the alien who made them what they are. Maybe being Ax's parents cheapens it, since he's just one of the gang, and the hero-worship of Elfangor has diminished since Ax came around. In the book where they go to meet Ax, they can barely mention Elfangor without choking up. Even if this is just for fun, it might be a nice piece of fanwank to have the animorphs and the family of their Andalite friends share their observations experiences.

    Do the animorphs at this point know that Tobias is Elfangor's son yet?

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    1. Don't worry. This is Ax's day after all, so we'll see more of him and his family.

      I have figured out that this book takes place between books 28 and 29. So I am pretty sure they know, though I wouldn't mind if someone could confirm this.

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    2. *lol "book", I meant fic. My brain.

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    3. If it takes place that late, than they know. You guys DID review the book where he gets the letter, but we haven't caught up to those numbers yet...

      And fuck it. Call it a book if you want. It's as much a "book" as a Kindle file is.

      And it might be too sappy to include an impromptu Elfangor memorial/repast in this. On the other hand, I'd trust Ifi with that scene more than I'd trust Elise Smith or the ghostwriter for the Atlantis book.

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  7. Has anyone noticed that the title character of each portion seems to have the least narration or relevance? I mean, Cassie's part was mostly Jake & Rachel, Rachel's part focussed more on the Visser date, which she missed, Jake was unconscious for 3/4 of his part, and now Ax doesn't even appear in his. Marco & Tobias are the only ones who were really the stars of their portions, and Marco gave up a lot to Visser Three. And those parts were about children doing drugs and vandalizing a restaurant on a rather age-inappropriate date.

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    1. *Applies smack upside the back of your head*
      It's a fic based on a series sold as children exploring the wonders of the animal kingdom, using the aliens as an excuse for the kids to have their powers, and snuck in lessons about horror and PTSD. It featured books with a smiling kid turning into a cute bug or a happy golden retriever, and inside commits acts of genocide or ends the book falling to his presumed death from lion claws, or bright cheerful primary colors and a big-eyed girl turning into a cute white rodent, which contained many pages of murderous-fury in the narrator's stream of conscious, and sentencing a child to a fate worse than death.

      It's like the cuteness of the animals on the covers are inversely appropriate to the trauma or angst to be encountered within.
      Awww, cute little lizard - kindly visitor from the stars gets EATEN ALIVE, and a child gets trapped as a bird.
      Whoosa nice wittle house cat? - lonely little girl with no one to turn to because her parents have been replaced by aliens who obviously don't love her, and she never realizes she's a hair away from being taken into alien slavery herself throughout the book.
      Fuzzy bunny rabbit - Child must EAT the cover animal to survive, and has the prospect of a loving family dangled aluringly in front of his eyes, only to be snatched away and then learn that his long-lost father was actually someone who meant a lot to him, but he never knew the truth before his fake family member ate his actual dad.
      Busy little beaver - interspersed civil war battle scenes, arguments over race issues, and narrator death.

      Or a simple crackfic initiated on an in-joke explaining the cloudy cover backgrounds turning into a sincere exploration of the characters and some legitimate portrayals of their points of view.

      Misleading advertising is entirely thematic of the Animorphs series.

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    2. who are you and what have you done with cannoli

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    3. And here we go. I also get THIS at least once on any site I hang around for too long. I am not insane and have not been replaced.

      But I don't care about the formulas. One of the weaknesses of the series, I felt, was the perceived need to stick to a rigorous rotation of narrators, which led to stupid filler books, because the next big story wasn't due until another PoV character. And Tobias and Ax got shorted on narration books. Sticking to a pre-determined structure at the expense of a story annoys me, and regardless of who the chapters are supposed to be about, this is working out great. This had some really good character stuff, and if it means Ax doesn't appear just yet, too bad

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  8. “A big knot of psychological trauma and life-threatening injuries.” Pretty much Animorphs summed up in a sentence.

    Also, woo discussions on this part got intense.

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  9. 0-0 I ALWAYS THOUGHT CANNOLI WAS FEMALE. 0-0 WHAT JUST WHAT

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