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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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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