Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book 29: The Sickness


The Summary
Ax is sick. His Tria gland is going to explode, and if Cassie doesn't take it out, he will die. Where is Ax's Tria gland? In his brain. Hooray.

Also, Aftran (remember her?) has been arrested for treason and Visser Three is going to interrogate her and possibly find out all about the Animorphs. Keep in mind that Cassie once put Aftran inside her own head, so she knows basically everything ever.

The Animorphs try to rescue Aftran, but they don't even make it to the Yeerk Pool before Jake gets sick. Ax's illness is somehow causing everyone else to get the flu. Except Cassie, because she is the narrator. So Cassie has to do the rescue alone. She does it by morphing a Yeerk from the Yeerk Peace Movement and taking his host down to the Pool. It works, and Aftran is rescued.

Now it is time for surgery. Using her parents' tools, Cassie removes the Tria gland from Ax's brain in what is easily one of the top ten most epic scenes in the entire series. Ax is saved, but Aftran is going to die of Kandrona starvation if they don't figure something out.

The Animorphs decide to give her the morphing power. From there, Aftran traps herself in whale form and goes on to live what I'm sure is a very fulfilling life in the Pacific Ocean.

The Review
Adam: I rather liked this one.
Ifi: I adore this book.
Ifi: I really do.
Adam: Likewise.
Adam: It's pretty much the best out of all the ghostwritten ones, as far as I can recall.
Ifi: This is up there with the Leera one and the Iskoort one.
Adam: Indeed.
Adam: This book also has the honor of having my favorite cover out of all of the main Animorphs books.
Ifi: Yes, this is excellent!
Ifi: She's turning into a Yeerk!
Ifi: That is awesome!
Adam: I really love that eerie grey-green color.
Adam: It matches the morph perfectly, and goes very nicely with the light gold of the title.
Adam: Plus, it is our first alien cover morph!
Adam: Unless you count Ax morphing a human.
Adam: Which I do not.
Ifi: They should ALL be alien covers gwah
Ifi: whine whine whine
Adam: Yes.
Adam: Exactly.
Adam: The inside cover is delightfully horrifying as well.


Ifi: D:

Adam: Just to let everyone know, no, we are not going to talk about that watermelon thing.
Adam: It is profoundly stupid.

Ifi: So
Ifi: THERE IS A DANCE
Ifi: :O
Adam: Well, this can lead nowhere good.
Adam: Some girls want to ask Jake to the dance.

"Do it," Brittany urged. "Jake has gotten so cute."
Wait. Did she say Jake? The Jake? Or some other Jake?
I shot a glance at Brittany and Allison. They both stared over at Jake. As in Jake, the leader of the Animorphs. As in my Jake.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: OH NOES
Adam: This is a science fiction series, right?
Ifi: Luckily, Rachel solves the problem by being far more straightforward than any middle schooler has ever been in the history of ever.

"You and my cousin make me want to hurl," she said over her shoulder. "Jake can face death every day, but he can't manage to ask a girl to a dance. And you're no better."
"Me? What am I supposed to do?" I protested.
"Duh. Even Allison the Airhead knows," Rachel said.
Rachel sat down next to Marco. She put my yogurt down next to Jake. I took the hint and sat next to him.
"We are all going to the dance Thursday night," Rachel informed Jake. "And you are taking Cassie."
Jake choked on his macaroni and beef. Marco started banging him on the back.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: It's like right now they're just compiling all the worst possible aspects of my experience at middle school.
Ifi: Ugh. Middle school dances. I went to one once, just to see what it was like.
Ifi: It was like standing in the cafeteria with the lights off with terrible music.
Adam: I lived in an area where there were a lot of bar mitzvahs, so we had a dance-type-thing practically every other week.
Adam: It was miserable.
Adam: You just sit in the corner, trying to block out the music and wishing that they would come around with some more of the mini hotdogs.

Adam: So, they go to the dance. It is loud and Cassie is in a dress, and girls are drooling over Ax, and Tobias thinks he is Austin Powers.

"Checking me out? What does that mean?" Ax asked.
"It means that girl over there is warm for your form," Marco told him. "It means she wants your body."
Ax started to look a little nervous. "My bod-deee? Body, body, bawd-eee?"
Ax normally does not have a mouth. In human morph, with a mouth, Ax can be...unusual.
"She's making her move," Marco told Ax. "Although if you want to get rid of her just try saying 'bod-eee' like that a few times."
"Bun-dee. B-dee," Ax said, continuing to play with the sound.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: Marco that is literally the WORST possible euphemism you could have used, given the circumstances.
Adam: Somehow I feel that was intentional on his part.
Adam: Although, "warm for your form"?
Adam: Really?
Ifi: x_X
Ifi: Yeahhh
Adam: Anywho, I get the impression that Ax was quite the lady's man back on his home planet.
Ifi: From Ax's diary: <The entire Yeerk Empire, and one human girl, want my body. I do not know what to make of this.>

Ifi: Anyway Ax is awesome some more. Pretty much everything Ax says or does in this book is awesome, even though he is tripping out for 90% of it.
Adam: He is Ax.

Allison stopped in front of Ax. She smiled and tossed her red hair around.
"Hi. I wanted to know if you, you know, want to dance?" Allison said.
Ax nodded. "I would like to shuffle my artificial hooves to the music with you. But you cannot have my body. My bod. Dee. My bo. Dee."
Allison backed away. "Ah. Oh. You know what? I hear my friend calling me," she said. Then bolted.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: Allison, where are you going?
Adam: He sounded like quite a catch!
Ifi: Poor Ax.
Adam: We will be saying that quite a lot throughout this book.
Ifi: So Cassie and Jake get to have a romantical moment of dancing and whatever. But only for a moment.
Adam: It is very saccharine.

But Rachel's gaze was locked on Ax. As I watched, an expression of amazed horror crossed her face.
What was wrong? I jerked my eyes to Ax, and felt my own face twist into an expression that mirrored Rachel's.
Ax's head! A lump on the top of Ax's head was throbbing to the music.
"We have a problem," I whispered to Jake.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: Agh
Adam: Agh agh agh
Adam: When did this turn into a David Cronenberg movie?
Ifi: Ax is demorphing in a room full of people!
Ifi: And it's middle school, so it's unlikely that someone spiked the punch.
Adam: Fortunately, they seem to be generally effected by the Shirley Temples enough that they are able to get Ax out of the room.

"We'll meet up in the parking lot," Jake said when we reached the locker room. He, Marco, and Tobias let go of Ax and turned toward the main exit.
I jerked open the door. And Brittany and Allison walked out in a cloud of Love's Baby Soft perfume.
"She wants my body! BDEEE! BDEEE!" Ax screeched in terror. He broke away from me and Rachel and bolted for the main exit.
"He's heading toward Chapman and Mr. Tidwell," Rachel cried.
Vice Principal Chapman. A known Controller.
And Mr. Tidwell. The strictest teacher in the school.
We all tore after Ax. We caught up to him just as Chapman grabbed him by the arm.
Ax's flannel-shirt turban had gotten loose during his dash across the gym. One shake of his head could send the shirt fluttering to the floor. Giving Chapman a good look at Ax's eye stalk. A fatal look.
"He's obviously been drinking," Mr. Tidwell said. "I know this boy. I'll call his parents."

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: Mr. Tidwell, you are a weird old dude, but I like you a lot.
Adam: And apparently he had been one of those really mean teachers that nobody likes, before this.
Adam: At least, that is what we are told, considering that this is the first time he has ever appeared.
Ifi: Yeah idk just go with it.

Adam: Marco tries to make excuses.
Adam: It doesn't really work.
Ifi: Oh Marco.

"Mr. Tidwell! Some guys in the bathroom have cherry bombs. They're going to blow the lids off all the toilets!" Marco yelled. "It'll be a toilet massacre!"
Tidwell still hadn't taken a step back toward the gym. But Rachel and Marco had kept him from moving toward us. So far.
Two legs shot out of Ax's chest.
KA-BANG. KA-BANG. The hooves slammed against the tile wall over the drinking fountain.
Chinkle, plop, chinkle. Tile and plaster rained down onto the metal fountain. Tidwell might not have seen that. But he had to have heard it.
"See?" Marco yelled. "Cherry bombs everywhere!"

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: The only issue with this is that Marco would never rat on his fellow pranksters.
Adam: Nah, if Marco were in prison, he would totally end up as the one who snitches.
Ifi: Mr. Tidwell isn't having any of this.

"We should get him home," Jake said loudly. Then he lowered his voice. "Now we walk him past Tidwell and hope Ax can keep it together until we get outside."
Jake started down the hall first. Tobias and I each took one of Ax's arms and fell in behind.
It was going to work. Ax wasn't babbling or demorphing. Mr. Tidwell wasn't yelling for our parents' phone numbers. In another three steps, we'd reach him. Then in two more steps we'd be past him.
One. Two.
Riiiip.
I did not like that sound. I did not like it at all.
I looked over my shoulder just in time to see Ax's giant scorpion tail tear through his pants, swing to the left—and knock Mr. Tidwell on his butt.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: Well.
Ifi: Fuck.
Ifi: Luckily, Mr. T is one of the good guys.

"I am Illim. I control Mr. Tidwell. We are both part of the Yeerk peace movement. We have a message for you from Aftran Nine Four Two," he continued.
I turned and gave Jake an I'm-okay-give-me-a-minute signal. I needed to hear what Mr. Tidwell had to say.
He knew Aftran. Maybe that meant Mr. Tidwell was a friend, too. Make that Illim, the Yeerk inside Mr. Tidwell's head, because that's really who I was talking to. I felt the muscles in my shoulders relax the tiniest bit.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: So here we have the official introduction of the Yeerk Peace Movement.
Adam: I feel I should play some thematically appropriate music or somesuch.
Ifi: They will do some awesome stuff and then go on to drop off the face of the planet.

Ifi: Anyway, Aftran has gone and gotten herself arrested for doing her thing.
Adam: She really hadn't thought her plan from book 19 out that thoroughly.
Ifi: Yeah I don't know how one could spend their whole life in the pool just not doing anything. Surely someone would notice she was gone.
Ifi: But I digress.

Adam: So, they get Ax back to Cassie's barn.
Adam: Turns out, he has the Andalite equivalent of a lymph node infection.
Adam: Which is inexplicably not cured by morphing.
Adam: And will make his head explode after a certain period of time.

"Can you tell me what's wrong with you, Ax?" I asked. "Have you ever felt like this before?"
<Yamphut,> he mumbled.
"What's that?" I asked.
[...]
<Disease,> Ax answered. <Disease organisms collecting in my Tria gland.>
[...]
"Tell us more about the Tria gland," I said.
<Tria gland keeps disease organisms away from rest of body,> Ax answered.
<That's good, right?> Tobias asked.
It sounded good. Maybe Ax's body would heal itself.
<But if it bursts. Bad. Disease organisms get loose,> Ax choked out.
"How can we stop it from bursting?" Jake demanded.
Ax locked all four of his eyes on me. He took my hand and gave my fingers a weak squeeze. His skin felt cold and slick with perspiration.
<You must take it out. Or I will die,> he whispered.
His main eyes closed. His stalk eyes drooped. <When temperature goes back to normal…Tria gland out. Or disease organisms kill.>
"Okay. Okay, yeah. Where is the Tria gland?" I asked.
<Tired.>
"I know you're tired. And you can go to sleep soon. But first you have to tell me where the Tria gland is," I insisted. "Now, Ax!"
<My head,> Ax answered.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: He has an appendix in his brain.
Ifi: Or something
Ifi: I'm sort of confused. If they take this gland out, how will his body regulate diseases from now on?
Adam: It will regrow the next time he morphs.
Adam: That was what I assumed, anyway.
Ifi: It is never addressed. Actually, no aspect of this illness makes any sense at all, but it does make a great story, so I am letting this one slide.

Adam: Erek is nice enough to babysit for the time being, so they can try to sneak into the Yeerk pool through one of the most inane plans yet.

"We morph into something small, something that can swim. Climb in one of our toilets, have Erek give us a flush, swim a little, and come out in one of the Yeerk sinks or toilets."
"Oh, yeah, that should work," Rachel said. "What are you, nuts?"
<The water pressure would be pretty hard to swim against,> Tobias commented.
Jake lifted his head. "Not if we started from the water tower. Then we'd go with the pressure all the way." He started to sound a little excited. His eyes glittered. "Erek, can you tap into the city water department computers? Combine it with…" Jake sighed and wiped his mouth. "Combine it, with, um, with all you know about the Yeerk pool and…you know…"
"And give you a map? Directions?" Erek nodded. "I can give you directions to any sink or toilet in the place."

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: So they go to the water tower and morph eels to pull of this brilliant plan.

I caught a flash of movement to my right. Food. Live food! Zip! Chomp!
<Hey! That would be my tail! Whoever just bit me, get a grip,> Tobias complained.
Man, for a scrawny little thing with a pencil body, eels are aggressive. The eel's instincts were telling me to bite anything that moved and ask questions later.
And eat. I wanted live food.
Then…Chomp! Sharp teeth bit into my midsection.
<Okay, everyone stop biting!> I yelled, <including me!>
I clamped down on the eel brain, pushing the simple, screaming instincts away. No biting, I told myself. No biting.
But then, something moved and...
No! I stopped myself in the nick of time.
<I am one mad little worm,> Rachel said with a laugh. <This eel has serious attitude.>

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: The Animorphs attempt to cannibalize each other
Adam: Mmmmm, Unagi Nigiri


Ifi: Also, this is the third time Cassie has tried to eat someone else in morph.
Adam: You were keeping track?
Ifi: And I think the second for Marco.
Adam: So, they get in the pipes.
Adam: Which basically leads to them replaying the endgame from the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.


Ifi: They start out okay, but it quickly goes bad.

<Okay, which way now?> Tobias asked.
<Um…I…> Jake hesitated. He sounded woozy. Really out of it. Had he been that scared?
Maybe so, but Jake had never failed to cope.
I got a flash of him sitting in the barn with his head in his hands. Then another flash of the way his eyes looked when Marco came up with his plan to get into the Yeerk pool. I'd thought his eyes glittered with excitement.
I would have slapped myself if I'd had hands.
Jake was sick.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: Ax, what have you done?
Adam: You've unleashed a horrible alien plague upon us all!
Adam: We're doomed! DOOMED!
Ifi: Humankind was wiped out, Visser Three was probably blamed, and all the aliens left to conquer another planet with better taste in music.
Adam: And thus the Ongachics were enslaved, and nobody lived happily ever after.

Ifi: So the mission is aborted.
Ifi: Jake throws up all over the place.
Ifi: And we all go home

Jake's mom handed me the phone.
"Rachel? It's me," I said.
"Jake's lucky," Rachel told me. "Our other friend has a much, much worse case of the flu. Our other friend says he thinks Jake will just get the usual flu. You know, fever, throwing up, headache. Our friend has some long, partially delirious explanation that you don't want to hear."
"Great. That's a relief at least," I said wearily.
"The bad news is that we're probably all going to get sick, too. This strain of the flu is extremely contagious," Rachel continued. "Got to go. I think I just heard your parents' car."

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: 1) I really, really, really want to hear the long, partially delirious explanation.
Ifi: 2) THAT IS NOT HOW ILLNESSES WORK.
Adam: Alien Illness.
Adam: Illness from an alien.
Ifi: Yeah so one time my friend's appendix burst which, naturally, caused the rest of us to come down with the flu. Because that is how science works.
Adam: Though
Adam: How on earth does he know how an Andalite disease would affect human immune systems?
Ifi: I'm gonna say that Jake got the regular flu in school or something, and the entire explanation was actually Ax's delirious babbling that the Animorphs didn't know was impossible because they're still doing eighth grade Earth Science.
Adam: It makes as much sense as anything else.
Adam: Alternatively!
Adam: Ax contracted Yamphut from exposure to the human flu virus.
Ifi: Oooh that's a good one.
Adam: It is possible that there are several things that can induce that sort of reaction in his tria gland.
Adam: I am just making this up off the top of my head, though.
Ifi: Anyway, all the other Animorphs except Cassie (who has narrator immunity) start to get sick.
Ifi: Cassie also has an interesting talk with Illim/Tidwell.

"When I first entered Mr. Tidwell, I was not part of the peace movement," Illim admitted. "He was an involuntary host. No. That is too nice a way to say it. He was my host, my slave."
His eyes looked a little more watery than usual. Could the Yeerks control functions that were involuntary for humans? Could the Yeerk just push a neuron or something and stimulate a host's tear ducts?
"It was partly experiencing Mr. Tidwell's distress that led me to join the movement," Illim continued. "His howls of fury and agony forced me to accept what I had done to him. At the same time I began to hear about a group of Yeerks who thought it was wrong to take an unwilling host."
[…]
"Cassie, I invited Illim to stay in my body," Mr. Tidwell explained. "I thought together we could do more for peace than he could do alone. He is within me now with my permission."
There was no change in his voice or manner. But there wouldn't be.
Tidwell swallowed hard. "My wife died a few years ago. For a long time, I didn't care about anything. I stumbled through my life. Getting myself to school. Getting home again." He leaned forward, his eyes locked on my face. "When Illim gave me my freedom back, I realized I wanted to do something with it. So I decided to join the fight. What could be more important?" he said. "And Illim and I, we've become friends. He's actually very good company."

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: (╥︿╥)
Adam: I am certainly not tearing up.
Adam: Nosir.
Adam: Not at all.
Ifi: I think the psychology of anyone who would become a voluntary host has always interested me.
Ifi: If the Yeerks flew their spaceship over the White House and said, "YES HELLO UM WE ARE RECRUITING HOST BODIES. IF ANYONE IS RIDICULOUSLY LONELY, STOP BY AND GRAB AN INFORMATIONAL PAMPHLET" the line would be out the door.
Ifi: "ALSO OUTER SPACE IS RAD AS HELL."
Adam: They could make infomercials.
Adam: I'm sure they would get people lining up around the block.
Ifi: "FIGHT THE ANDALITE OPPRESSORS! TRUST ME THEY ARE TOTAL DICKS."
Adam: Well, that's not all that far off, honestly.
Ifi: It is a fact.

Ifi: So Cassie has to do the rescue by herself, and get back before Ax needs the tria gland removed.
Ifi: SUSPENSE!

"How are you guys doing?" I asked them.
<Erek has been teaching me how to play Rock, Scissor, Paper. Rock smashing scissor I understand> Ax said. <And scissor cutting paper. But not paper wrapping rock. Rocks do not breathe, correct? So how would this hurt them?>
"Paper beating rock. It is sort of weird," I answered.
<Weird, yes. That is why I now owe Erek one million and seven dollars,> Ax told me.
I raised my eyebrows at Erek. He shrugged.
<One million and seven dollars. Is that a great deal of money?> Ax asked.
"It's up there," I answered, giving his arm a quick pat.
Ax pointed his stalk eyes toward the barn roof. <I don't see it up there,> he said.
"I mean it's a lot. A lot of money," I explained.
Ax kept his eyes focused upward. <Wait. Now I think I see it. I'll go get it.> He took a step forward and a spasm raced through his body.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: ilu Ax
Adam: I feel like we are missing out on half of the book, not seeing these things.
Ifi: I know, right?
Ifi: I want to read this book from Ax's POV.
Ifi: I would pay money
Ifi: to read that.
Adam: Same

Ifi: Anyway, then Tobias gets sick and flies into a wall. Thunk.

I slowly climbed to my feet, careful to keep from jarring him, and started toward the row of cages. "I'm going to have to put you next to a golden eagle. I know you hate them, but it's the only room available right now."
Tobias gave a weak flutter in my hands. <What are you doing?> he demanded.
"I'm going to get my dad to take care of you," I answered. I slid him into the empty cage and latched the door.
<You're locking me up? No way!> Tobias cried. <I want out of here!> He struggled to his feet and puffed his feathers.
I grabbed a chart and noted that the red-tailed hawk appeared disoriented. I added that I thought it had stunned itself flying into one of the rafters.
If there were other symptoms, my dad would know how to handle them. At least I didn't have to worry about Tobias. I had to worry about Ax more. If he went into crisis while I was at the Yeerk pool, there would be no one to operate.
Tobias gnawed on one of the cage's metal bars with his beak. "Oh, just stop it," I snapped. "You're in the best place you can possibly be. I have no time, no time, NO TIME for any crap, okay?!"
<Okay,> he said meekly.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: Cassie
Ifi: You are a total fucking bitch.
Adam: She is under stress.
Adam: And we are working on a countdown


Ifi: I, too, lock my friends in cages when I am under stress.
Adam: Yes, see?
Adam: You understand.

Ifi: So Cassie goes to Mr. Tidwell's house to do the daring rescue plan.

Mr. Tidwell tilted his right ear toward the table. I leaned down. My eyes locked themselves on the hole at the ear's center. I couldn't look away.
The opening to the hole began to glisten. Then a pencil-thin wand of wet gray flesh slid out. It wiggled this way and that. Almost as if it were tasting the air.
Shh-lop. Shh-lop. Shh-lop.
More of the gray flesh squeezed itself out of Mr. Tidwell's ear.
Plop!
The Yeerk fell the few inches to the table. Its body had been stretched and flattened by crawling out the ear canal.
As I watched, the Yeerk's gray flesh contracted, like a hand closing into a fist. Forming its slug-like body.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: Ew

I didn't answer. I wanted to move. I didn't want to have too much time to think about what I was about to do.
I reached out and gently rested my fingertips on Illim's squishy flesh.
I closed my eyes. Focused. And the DNA of the Yeerk became a part of me.
The Yeerk. The Yeerk became part of me.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: So this is how Cassie is going to get past the biofilter.
Ifi: She's going to take Mr. Tidwell's body down to the pool while Illim, like, hangs out in the bathroom sink or something.
Adam: I'm not sure what is going to happen if someone accidentally bumps into Tidwell, and squishes the bag in his front pocket.

I wasn't sure how to use the connections between me and Mr. Tidwell to control him. But the Yeerk knew.
I allowed it to open sections of Mr. Tidwell's brain. Some sections controlled physical functions like moving muscles. But some held memories.
As I tapped into these areas I was flooded with images from Mr. Tidwell's life.
Mr. Tidwell sitting in this kitchen, the sink overflowing with dirty dishes. The counters spattered with food stains. The smell of garbage heavy in the air.
A younger, thinner Mr. Tidwell in this same kitchen, but now sparkling clean and cheerful, standing next to his wife, flicking soapsuds at her.
Mr. Tidwell walking into a classroom on his first day as a teacher. Feeling proud and nervous as he wrote his name on the board and turned to face the class.
Mr. Tidwell climbing into his bed last night, and carefully placing his wife's picture on the pillow beside him.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: Yay for horrid invasions of privacy!
Adam: She really does not seem to feel at all guilty for this, at least for more then two seconds or so.
Ifi: Really nice going Cassie.
Ifi: She is so terrible at being a Yeerk. Is she even trying?
Adam: She is non-evil Visser Three, it makes sense that she would have a knack for this.

The first thing I did was release Illim. Then I slithered over to Mr. Tidwell's ear canal, breaking my connections to his brain. I scrunched my body down as I wiggled my way through the tiny tunnel.
Then I was free. Out in the Yeerk pool.
I was blind, almost deaf, and mute. But here's the strange part. I didn't care. I was with my brothers and sisters, soaking in the Kandrona rays my body craved. If I'd had a mouth, I would have let out a long ahhh of satisfaction. I was home.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness



Adam: Nice and cozy.
Ifi: It is nice to see a different POV on the Yeerk Pool
Adam: Agreed!
Adam: One of this series strongpoints is when we get to see the setting through a properly alien perspective.

A wavelet took me in a half turn. My sonar detected the two steel piers.
Under the farthest one there was a chain with a box on the end. The box was just about the size to hold a Yeerk.
Aftran. She was in there. I knew it.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: Well, it could be an air freshener.
Ifi: How do they plan on interrogating an unhosted Yeerk?
Adam: Stick it in a box that's hooked up to speakers?
Ifi: If you don't have any ideas, you can just say so.


Adam: Think of it like a pseudo-brain in a jar type scenario.

Ifi: Anyway

<I am ready to interrogate the prisoner.>
That voice. It was the voice of evil. It ripped through me, sending spikes of terror though my small, soft body.
Visser Three! He was back!
And I hadn't even found a way to open Aftran's cage!
<Bring Aftran Nine Four Two to me,> Visser Three commanded. Aftran's cage immediately began to move through the pool. Someone was pulling the chain up. Pulling Aftran away from me.
And I had no hands to stop it.
But I had to do something. Now!
[…]
I powered over to the girl whose head was in the water. A Yeerk was just about to enter her ear. I shoved it out of the way and slithered in myself. I gave a squirt of painkiller and wriggled through the ear canal. I spread myself out over the brain. The microvolts of electricity set my body tingling. And I was connected.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: I am sure that is the best course of action right there.
Adam: Spontaneously take over someone's body.
Adam: Seems like a moral choice of action.
Ifi: I have nothing to say that the Drode has not already said.

My feet slammed against the metal pier as I launched myself at him. The only thing my host girl was going to get from me was commands like <Run. Now. Fast. Go.>
I rammed into Visser Three as hard as I could.
He spun toward me, tail blade raised. But he was too shocked and amazed to react. I snatched at Aftran. The Visser closed his fist. But Andalite hands are weak. I bit his wrist.
Aftran dropped. I snatched her out of midair and ran. Ran with nowhere to run. I did the only thing I could do. I dove back into the Yeerk pool.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: Great idea Cassie.
Adam: Indeed.
Adam: It isn't like he has a sharp tail or anything.

TSEEEWWWW! TSEEEWWWW! TSEEEWWWW!
Spears of light streaked through the water. Great. Someone was shooting Dracon beams at me from the pier.
I propelled myself deeper into the water. The beams might still be able to reach me down here, but the shooter wouldn't be able to see me to aim.
TSEEEEEEW!
I saw a dozen Yeerks twist and burn.
The Visser was killing his own people to get at me.
I felt a claw pinch my ankle. A Taxxon, out of nowhere! It had me with one of its lobster hands.
Time to bail. I pulled myself away from the girl's brain, squirmed through her ear canal, then slid into the pool.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Adam: And the innocent girl gets eaten.
Ifi: She doesn't, actually, but still.
Adam: It seems like the sort of thing that would happen.
Ifi: Cassie morphs back to human. Inside the Yeerk Pool.

<No one touch her,> Visser Three ordered. <I want the pleasure of killing her myself. After I find out everything that's in her pitiful excuse for a mind.>
I swam. I swam hard. Then…
<This creature has no Yeerk!> the Visser cried.
He wasn't talking to me! He was talking to the girl whose body I'd used to attack him.
Any second now he would figure it out. Any second now…
<A second traitor! Some Yeerk used this host to…No! The Andalites! They're here!>
I took another long breath. Then pushed myself deeper into the pool. The Yeerks brushed against my arms, my legs, my face. The feel of their jellyfish-soft bodies repulsed me. I flicked them away. As fast as I did, new ones took their place.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

I made this for you.

Ifi: How the hell can he tell she has no Yeerk?
Adam: The Yeerk burrowing in seems to cause some sort of temporary ear damage.
Ifi: Makin' shit up FTW
Adam: It's what I do best.

Ifi: Cassie manages to escape by morphing an osprey, which can fly underwater or whatever.


Adam: Apparently they can.
TSEEEWWWW! TSEEEWWWW! TSEEEWWWW!
I zigzagged as well as I could with my injured wings, Aftran still clutched in my talons. Hork-Bajir-Controllers fired at me from the pier.
<Would it be asking too much for one of you to actually hit something?!!> I heard Visser Three roar.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: ilu2, v3
Adam: Seriously, when exactly was the point that he got so darn snarky
Ifi: He is starting to get burned out.
Ifi: The first few times it was funny. Then he was pissed off for a while. And now he's just resigned himself to the fact that this is just the way his life is.
Adam: He ought to just retire, live on a little farm for rabbits that shoot acid from their eyes.
Ifi: Cassie manages to get out of there and apparently back into the McDonalds she came in through?

"Dad, look, a bird!" I heard a little girl yell.
"What is that thing it's carrying?" someone else cried.
A little of my vision was coming back. Enough that I could just make out the front door.
Of course it was shut. You don't realize how much you need your hands until you don't have them.
But you know what's cool? Humans. Nine out of ten humans are pretty decent creatures.
One of those nice humans, concerned for a bird obviously panicked by being trapped, opened the door.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: :)
Ifi: I liked this part.
Adam: What if the girl went "Oh! The bird looks hurt! Somebody better call animal control!"
Adam: And then Cassie's mom would show up again and complicate things.

Ifi: She gets back in time to see Ax go into crisis. So she has to operate on him. But she still has no idea where the Tria gland is.
Ifi: Her solution? Stick Aftran in his head and have her figure it out.
Adam: This could in no way go wrong.

Adam: So, now the 14 year old daughter of a pair of veterinarians is going to perform brain surgery on an alien life form.
Ifi: Assisting her are an ancient robot and a sentient parasite.
Ifi: And it is actually pretty badass.
Adam: I love this series.


I turned Ax's head so I could easily reach that spot. "Okay, I'm going to make the first incision," I told her. "Stay out of the way."
<The gland is about as big as a human thumb. Well, Karen's thumb, at least.>
"Thanks." I picked up the scalpel and positioned it to one side of the spot Aftran had described. Then I made a straight cut about four inches long. I could feel the metal blade scraping the bone of Ax's skull.
But that was good. That's how deep I needed to go. I needed to peel back a flap of skin so I could work on the bone.
A line of blue-black blood appeared. My stomach did a flip-flop. I swallowed hard and made a cut that was perpendicular to the first, again about four inches long.
"Hemostat!" I snapped.
The instrument was in my hand a split second later.
"Another. Okay. Retractor. No, it's that other thing!"
I pulled back a flap of skin.
"Tape," I said.
"How much do you want?" Erek asked.
"Three inches."
He passed the piece of cloth tape to me. I used it to hold the flap of skin away from the bone.
[…]
Erek handed me the hole saw. I positioned the circle of saw teeth around where I hoped the Tria gland was. I turned the saw's handle a few times.
I pulled the saw back, and the circle of bone came with it. Now I was looking at Ax's brain.
Sweat popped out all over my forehead and started to run down my cheeks and nose. Erek dabbed it away with another gauze pad before it could start dripping onto Ax's brain.
I didn't have to ask Aftran for more help finding the Tria gland. It was easy to spot. Deep purple. Bulging.
"Retractor," I told Erek. "Scalpel."
My fingers shook when he handed them to me. The gland looked ready to blow. I was afraid if I touched it, it would start spewing.
"Hold this. My left eye! Sweat!"
He swabbed my eye with a cotton ball.
"Okay. Let's do it," I whispered.
I slid the scalpel blade beneath the gland with trembling care.
I cut.
The Tria gland was out. I tossed it into a metal pan.

----LIKE A BOSS


Ifi: Badass.
Adam: …Holy crap.
Adam: Excuse my language.
Ifi: Bad. Ass.
Adam: So, we get some gooey details.

<His heart rates are slowing down. His blood pressure is going down, too,> Aftran reported.
"That was one of the coolest things I've ever seen," Erek said with a laugh. "And I've seen a lot."
<Cassie, he's coming to,> Aftran announced. <And he's starting to scream!>
What's wrong?" I cried. "Am I hurting him?"
<No,> Aftran said, her voice suddenly flat. <He's screaming because there's a Yeerk in his head.>

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: lol whoops.
Adam: Wait.
Adam: So he wakes up immediately after the surgery is complete.
Adam: And his vitals return to normal within seconds of Cassie finishing?
Ifi: Cassie is that good.
Adam: I don't even...
Ifi: Cassie is the time lord brain surgeon child of Jesus Whale
Adam: She'll go around curing leprosy next.

Adam: So, Ax wakes up from his horrifying exploding brain disease.
Adam: And is a bit disgruntled to find that he has a Yeerk in his head.

<Filthy Yeerk,> he spat.
I made the last stitch. "That filthy Yeerk helped save your life. And she very nearly gave her life for peace between human and Yeerk. And now, unless I can think of some way to save her, she will die a slow death of Kandrona starvation."
Ax didn't say anything. Maybe when he'd gotten some rest, he'd think it over.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: Oh yeah
Ifi: Forgot about this part
Ifi: WHAT IS AFTRAN GOING TO EAT OH NOES
Adam: Medical oatmeal?
Ifi: Yeah there's that.
Adam: Nope, they are going to let her be a nothlit.
Ifi: The fact that the Chee know how to replicate kandrona rays is completely disregarded/forgotten about/written out/retracted
Adam: I think they retconned it out, considering that all of the chee holding dozens of yeerks captive without their knowledge just seems remarkably out of character for them.

"My mom didn't let me eat any solid food until today," Rachel complained. "And it's been four days since I got sick."
All the way to the beach, Jake, Rachel, Marco, Tobias, and Ax had been trying to top each other with stories about who felt worse when they were sick.
<That's the worst thing that happened to you while you were sick?> Tobias demanded as he soared overhead. <l'm not even sure Cassie's dad is a real vet. He tried to stick a pill up—>
"Yeah, well, my dad brought me baby aspirin from the store. Baby aspirin!" Marco groused. "Like for a baby."
"A Yeerk was in my head," Ax said, still amazed. He was in human morph, naturally. "In my head. Head-duh."
[...] 
"Is this where we're supposed to meet Aftran?" Jake asked.
"Uh-huh. When I morphed to dolphin and visited her this morning, she said it's time for her to move on. But she wanted to say good-bye," I answered. "Just look out there." I pointed out at the blue-green water.
"I don't see anything," Marco said.
<I do,> Tobias answered. <Turn a little to the left.>
We turned. I scanned the ocean and spotted a foamy spot. The water broke over a massive fin.
Then a humpback whale leaped. All the way out of the water. Droplets of water flew off her in a sparking comet.

----Book Twenty-Nine, The Sickness

Ifi: AFTRAN IS A JESUS-WHALE
Adam: Mind=Blown.

Adam: Now, I have a very important question.
Adam: How on earth were they able to track down a humpback whale?
Adam: And how did they manage to bring Aftran to it?
Ifi: Cassie obviously is able to summon them telepathically
Adam: Of course!
Ifi: Though I am actually kind of annoyed that this is what Aftran chose. I mean, a whale?
Ifi: That's not really useful to anyone.
Adam: So Aftran sets out into the sunset, to live her life free, only to eventually go mad from crippling lonliness, and eventually die alone and unloved.
Ifi: Exactly
Adam: Well, I guess they are both swimming creatures that are capable of echolocation.
Adam: That has a very passive method of feeding.
Adam: So the body won't be too alien, relatively speaking.
Ifi: She should have picked a bird so she could do the Tobias thing.
Ifi: And actually been useful.
Adam: Short lifespans.
Adam: And I think she would rather stay out of the war at this point.
Adam: I can't terribly say I blame her.

Ifi: Well, in any case, that is pretty much the end of it.
Adam: This book was great.
Adam: Again, really surprising, considering that it was ghostwritten.
Ifi: I still want The Delirious Adventures of Ax and Erek
Adam: Fanfic
Ifi: ...
Ifi: Fine.

31 comments:

  1. What watermelon thing?

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    1. It is a racist and really stupid semi-meme that is floating around on tumblr, where they edit the yeerk on the cover into looking like a watermelon. I think it has pretty much died off at this point. Please do not revive it.

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  2. Why would anyone want to be a handless nothlit? That was my annoyance with the Final Solution for the Taxxons, whose primary strength was their manual dexterity. Of course, now Aftran gets to swallow helpless little blind swimming photosynthetic critters by the truckload, so she's working out some old self-esteem issues.

    Aftran liked being human, though, so why not just do a frolis maneuver and go into Chee witness protection? They have to have some way of creating new identities. Between Erek & Ax, they should be able to hack the systems to get her a driver's license and social security number.

    BTW, next time they go to a school dance, note the radically different behavior/characterization of Rachel & Tobias, and their attitude towards Marco. Tobias has done a complete 180 on the socializing thing as well.

    The real problem with this book is it seems like a whole series of plot contrivances designed to make Cassie look good. Note that for Cassie to step up and shine, she has to be literally the last Animorph functioning. They always need to force events for her books to apply her particular specialties or she comes out looking stupid. When she's with the group, she has to be possessed by a special alien or it has to be a throwaway filler book, like the Helmacrons or horse poop. Aside from that, she mostly has to go solo to keep the not-hypocritical, possessing-combat-relevant-skills Animorphs from embarrassing her. Really, all she brings to the table is her animal knowledge, which the others could compensate for with a few minutes research or some National Geographic issues.

    Note too, Jake's sudden characterization from unremarkable kid to the school stud - Cassie gets the best guy! Yay, Cassie! And of course, we have to highlight the peace movement in this book so her incredibly selfish decision to risk her friends' lives and the safety of the world for her own arbitrary moral code can be retroactively justified. The series would be so much better if they applied Rachel's moral code and everyone felt ashamed and embarrassed when they failed to live up to Rachel's standards.

    I think Aftran might have made an interesting addition to the team in a useful morph, because she really came across as childlike in the last book, even aside from the age of her host. The stupid decision to follow the Animorphs home from a fight is right up their alley, so she could have hung around without adding an oppressive adult presence.

    Loved the surgeon Cassie picture. And the yeerk pool. However, that one just reminds me of the Facebook stuff. What happened to "You guys have no idea how much fun this is"?

    In addition to the adventures of tripped out Ax, I would have liked a scene of Walter trying to administer a suppository to a sentient but delirious hawk. Also, WTF, Walter? He just wanders into the barn, sees a new hawk and tries cramming pills up its ass? What kind of patient tracking and admissions system does he have going on here? “Oh, there’s a hawk in my clinic I’ve never seen before! Ass-pill time!” Does he ever mention to his daughter the fact that she went out and discovered a feverish hawk and carried it home to check in to the clinic? Because that sounds a bit unsafe, and also, how does one locate and diagnose an uninjured but feverish raptor? Are the animals familiar enough with their work to just show up at the barn when they are sick and injured? And most important, do the wealthy corporate donors know what a half-assed operation he’s running?

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    1. Your position on Cassie is pretty much justified in canon, where the Ellimist picks his team because of the important relationships or skills they bring to the table that make them vital to humanity's success in the war, and then he includes Cassie because she is the universal anchor. The only reason the Ellimist recruited her is make sure the useful Animorphs don't get erased from existence.

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    2. Cannoli, it specifies that Cassie wrote a note and left it on T.'s cage that sId he flew into the barn wall. Under some tests, he realizes the hawk is ill, applies medicine.

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    3. ...It's supposed to be a comment. Not an essay

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  3. Can Aftran-Whale make a cameo in your fanfic?
    You could have her play the Mary Magdawhale to JesusWhale.

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  4. Oh and I thought the disease became communicable through the morphing power or something, like how only the Animorphs could hear Ax's distress call from underwater, and Cassie more because of her estreen thing. The estreen issue might also explain her immunity, because her better conscious control of the morphs also means she can better fight off negative side effects. I thought they might have mentioned it, but it's a Cassie book, which I only paid minimal attention to when I read the series, so it might have just been my impression. Anyway, her immunity would fit because every weird morph-related thing affects her differently - she pops back from Leera out of sequence, which otherwise is determined by the body mass of the individual animorphs, she picked up first on the Ax distress call, and now she has more resistance to Andalite flu (I am assuming that the Tria inflammation is a side effect of the disease he has, and not the source of his illness).

    As far as the communicable Andalite flu, people have discussed helpful bacteria and so on on this site before - maybe there are loopholes in Escafil technology to account for stuff like that, and retaining your original form's immune system, and that allows the occasional infection to slip through the protections. How else would Ax have been able to predict their coming down with it, unless this is a known phenomenon?

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  5. Was I the only one who really, really, wanted to see Aftran become a slightly more useful to the animorphs nothlit - I was thinking maybe a wolf that one of the animorphs could take home as a dog,- and become the seventh animorph? because that would have been awesome.
    also, I love your Surgeon!Cassie picture. sooo much.
    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6011576/1/Rock_Paper_Tailblade
    That ^, is a link to an awesome Delirious!Ax and Erek fic. read it.

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    Replies
    1. I

      I thought that it was going to be funny.

      That was not funny at all.

      :(

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    2. sorry. I actually haven't read it in ages. I was just "a fic about Ax and Erek while he's sick? I know Ive read one of those!" and so i found a link and posted it without actually re-reading the fic.

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    3. I'm fine... I just have a Tria gland in my eye, that's all.

      ç_________ç

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  6. Guys, guys! We're thinking of Aftran's choice too much like humans, not like somebody who's essentially been a tiny sightless blob of neurons her whole life. She had her own reasons for turning into a whale and we should respect them.

    (Of course, they had a big badass Golden Eagle right there...)

    Anyway, "warm for your form". I'd like to think that's as close as this series gets to maybe kinda addressing the Shapeshifting Squick issue and I'm tragically wrong aren't I?

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  7. I am obviously super-sentimental, but this book always made me squee a little because it showed how much they'd all come to love Ax. I mean, yes, he is their weird alien friend who quotes random facts about cream separators and eats gum off the floor of the movie theater, but when push comes to shove they're all willing to do whatever it takes to save him. It was very awwww.

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    1. Who will go on to repay them by telling tales to the Andalite commanders behind their backs and set up Earth for the sequel to the Hork-Bajir Chronicles! Even if he does finally balk at genocide...

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    2. YMMV. I tend to excuse him (at least partially) for that for three reasons:
      1. We never do find out just how accurate the information he was giving them was
      2. He didn't wind up obeying any of the orders they gave him except the one not to tell the others (and he doesn't seem to make much of an effort to, for example, keep Tobias from finding out)
      3. If he *hadn't* convinced the Andalites to trust him, the Animorphs wouldn't have had any idea that they were planning Hork Bajir II: Electric Boogaloo and would have looked pretty silly when their brains started melting.

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  8. This book is one of my favorites. Mr Tidwell being a good guy, the claustrophobic scenes in the drainpipes, the surgery scene. I also enjoyed your references to Majora's Mask, most certainly a classic.

    Happy Easter! :)

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  9. This was the first book of the series I actually read in English ('cause I was in Ireland when this came out there). It's also one of my favorite books of the series, and the description of Cassie morphing into a Yeerk still squicks me out today (especially when she says she feels her heartbeat stopping).

    Surgeon!Cassie is freaking badass, Adam! Kudos to you.
    Well, to be honest, I think each and every Animorph is badass in his/her own way, even Cassie. I mean, she was my second favorite character of the series (first was Marco), even if you two guys made me revaluate Ax, that ranked pretty low on my top ten.XD

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  10. "Luckily, Rachel solves the problem by being far more ________________ than any middle schooler has ever been in the history of ever."

    Do want to make a list of all descriptions that you could fill in the blank with, and still accurately describe Rachel, with no hyperbole?

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  11. In the re-release, I'm sure Cassie will practice the surgery by playing Trauma Center on her Nintendo DS, then screw up the actual operation because she tries to use Healing Touch.

    I can't recall, but does V3 use the same pool that all the other Yeerks use, or does he have some sort of VIP pool? You'd think he'd be paranoid about someone hijacking his ride, so to speak.

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  12. I loved this book when it first came out and despite a few gripes (plumbing pipes really?)it's still a fave. Cassie is at her best when she's actively doing/planning rather than re-hashing the same moral arguments ad nauseum. And in retrospect it makes me irate that the YPM didn't play a bigger part in her future books (because we all know the buffahuman and kangaroos were way too vital to the plot and non-existent character development to leave out amirite.)

    BTW your illustration of Surgeon!Cassie is stellar.

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    1. Cassie is all about the side trips. Some of those are better than others (Hork-Bajir homeworld), but Cassie is so useless that they have to twist around the overall story to create situations where she can excell or even justify her selection as narrator (the trip to rescuse Ax from the ocean will feature communication with a whale - ignore that bit, and there is no point to making it a Cassie book). Honestly, I'd rather have David on the team

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    2. Well I certainly agree that her side trips are either great or suck horribly but I don't think that means she's a useless character. The ghostwriters just overused her slot in the rotation for the crackier, ultimately inconsequential storylines (Australia, Helmacrons, buffahuman, Area 51 etc) instead of delving into her characteristics aside from the moralizing - like her more manipulative side, which was apparent from the beginning, came to a head during the David books but hardly ever explored afterward. Out of all the Anis Rachel and Cassie suffered the worst @ the hands of the ghostwriters IMO.

      They had an excellent opportunity with Cassie's ties to Tidwell to flesh out the YPM so that they could play a bigger role in the last arc of the books. Plus, it might have given more justification to her awful (IMO) decision to give the blue box to Tom if there'd been solid evidence that most Yeerks would reject infesting if they had the power to morph.

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    3. Probably. Rachel for certain, but since my point of view on those two characters and their heroism is diametrically opposite, I am probably overlooking Cassie's potential. Even so, when the ghostwriter books were being hard on Rachel, the cheetah book still had a lot of great action, just with a writer who had a poor grasp of the characters unfairly blaming her for stuff, like in the squid book, too. They can give her stuff to do, because Rachel is competent, even if they don't get her, morally speaking. Cassie is moral because the author says so, and so the ghostwriters are like "Hmm. That's kind of a lame story hook. Lets separate her from the others, so she's FORCED to do something."

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    4. "the trip to rescuse Ax from the ocean will feature communication with a whale - ignore that bit, and there is no point to making it a Cassie book"

      I think you forgot about the titular message, which only Tobias and Cassie could hear.

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  13. Did Mr. Tidwell hump that pillow with his wife's picture or something? Because that would be kind of crossing the line from "sad/missing her" to "rather disgusting obsession". I can't think of any other reason to put her picture on a pillow, as I am sure it would be just as comfortable on a wall somewhere.

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    Replies
    1. Its symbolic. Its like she's there. Tidwell probably woke up every morning and saw her, and the pictures their to continue that. Some widows or widowers never use the ehole bed, still instinctually making room for the dead spouse.

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  14. This book was great. I think they set it up too dramatically from the last book in my opinion. I thought it was going to be this doom and gloom, Andromeda Strain-esque book or something. But I just may have been a retarded nut. It was still neat. And the brain surgery thing was incredible. I love when Tobias gets yelled at by jerko Cassie and Erek replies "Yes maam," from the other stall. Hehe. Good stuff. Oh and by the way, your line about Aftran going mad from crippling loneliness made me fall over! I was thinking the same thing! Anyways, again, I know I'm a year late but thanks for these!

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  15. Aww, you didn't mention how they aborted their ridiculous eel plan. IIRC, they missed their stop in the pipes, got lost, and used a random exit... which ended up being a fire hose pointed at a freakin' burning building!

    Also I was always bothered by the description of the Yeerk morph. The book seemed to be simultaneously trying to say "Remember, Yeerks aren't all bad! They're just like humans." and "Eww Yeerks are so icky!". When Cassie morphed, there was a vivid description of mucus or something covering her body and going down her throat, making her gag, among other things. I always thought that was silly.

    But apart from that this book was amazing. When Cassie's books are good, they're REALLY freakin' good. When I read these books as a kid, I found Cassie annoying like so many others. Now I appreciate her a lot more. She was the one who saw farther than the others, even if it didn't always make sense at the time.

    Anyways thank you so much for the blog!

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