Six Days the Animorphs Were Idiots
The Day Ax Was Awesome: Part Four
“What happened?” she muttered, raising a hand to her aching head. Only then did she realize her hand was still human.
“Visser, you must demorph now,” said one of the medics. “You have been in that human shape for over an hour.”
<If you get us trapped in human form, I’ll be so angry at you,> said Sia Ren. <They can’t even fly.>
Visser Five demorphed slowly—she was a bit new at it, having only gained access to an Escafil device (actually, a whole box of them, but nobody needed to know that) in the past month or so. Luckily, the pain went away with the human body.
“What happened?” she asked when she could speak again.
“The young Andalite must have realized you were in morph,” said Sovi/Lannit, appearing in her line of vision. “He attacked you, as well as Siforond and Idess.”
“Are they alive?” asked Visser Five. Damn it. She should have known that trying to pass for Cassie was a stupid idea.
“They’re both fine,” said Sovi/Lannit. “But we haven’t captured the Andalite yet. He’s here, in the base somewhere. I have every free Controller looking for him, but—”
“Nevermind that. We’ll have to try to pass the Hork-Bajir off as the sixth bandit after all. Hopefully Visser Three will just eat them without asking questions first. Just keep him away from Edriss and Esplin in the meantime.” Visser Five took a moment to collect her thoughts. “Edriss and Esplin—where are they?”
“Oh! They’re waiting in your office,” said Sovi/Lannit.
“WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT FIRST?” screeched Visser Five, falling off the cot.
* * *
Despite the long wait, Visser Three appeared to be in a good mood. Visser One was still skeptical—she’d been promised the Andalite Bandits once before already. Still, she withheld her (and Eva’s) comments and followed the other two to what looked like a normal control room, minus the force field that was blocking the door.
“They’re in here,” said Visser Five. Visser One glanced over the Nahara’s shoulder. The Andalites—if this truly was them—were in some rather fearsome Earth animal morphs. Plus a Hork-Bajir. That was a little odd, she thought. Also, an elephant was determinedly banging its head against the far wall. She wondered if it knew the base was built into solid rock.
Visser Five rapped her hand on the force field. “Demorph. Playtime is over.”
<SCREW YOU, LADY!> yelled the elephant.
<Was that a human?> said Eva.
<Be defiant. It will not save you,> said Visser Three gleefully, rubbings his hands together. <Who shall I eat first?>
<COME IN HERE AND WE’LL SEE WHO EATS WHO!>
<I’m pretty sure that’s a human,> insisted Eva.
“Now, Esplin, before you eat them, we should formalize our agreement,” said Visser Five. “I think we’re all eager to put this unpleasantness behind us.”
<You are a filthy traitor, Emiki,> said Visser Three distractedly. <But I will defer to the Council. Now let me eat them.>
“Very well,” said Visser Five, completely unoffended. “Though surely you would prefer them to be sedated before you go in there?”
<YOU THINK I CAN’T HANDLE SOME PRISONERS?>
“I know for a fact that you can’t,” said Visser One darkly.
<Nobody will be eating anybody!> declared a new voice. Everyone turned around to see a very young Andalite standing behind them.
And his bladed tail was wrapped around Madra and Darwin.
“Hi Mommy!” said Madra, waving. “I think we’re kidnapped!”
* * *
<I’m willing to trade,> said the Andalite. <Two humans for six gullible idiots.>
<Thanks, Ax,> said the hawk, which was, for some reason, perched on the elephant’s tusk.
Well. There was only one solution to this. Visser One looked at Visser Five.
“Let them go,” she said.
<WHAT?> Visser Three roared.
“LET! THEM! GO!” she shrieked at a volume to rival his.
<But I want to eat them!> whined Visser Three.
“THIS IS NOT OPEN FOR DISCUSSION!”
<We can get you new humans!> said Visser Three. <There are billions—literally billions—>
“ESPLIN!” Visser One was very, very close to pulling out her host’s hair.
Visser Three crossed his arms. <They’re mine. The Council said so. They’re mine and I don’t have to share and you can’t make me.>
“Yes I can!” said Visser One. “Because if you don’t, I will show the entire Homeworld the security footage I have of you getting drunk and shooting at your own soldiers from the bridge of the Blade ship while ranting about how Elfangor was the only worthy foe you ever had and the only one who understood you and now that he’s dead your life is without purpose.”
<WHAT?> Visser Three rose up on his back hooves in shock. <WHEN DID YOU GET THAT?>
“Last Saturday, actually.” Visser One said with a brittle smile. “In return for pulling you out of your snit. Your staff was happy to oblige.”
Visser Three looked more than a little bit lost.
“This is how it’s going to go,” said Visser One, being careful to speak slowly and clearly. “I will purge the footage from my computer in return for these h—these Andalite Bandits. Then I will give them to that Andalite in return for my children. And then we are all going to go home because I have a headache.”
Visser Three looked like he was going to argue. But then his shoulders slumped. <Fine,> he grumbled. <But you owe me. You owe me dinner.>
“Good. Then it’s settled. Emiki?” said Visser One, turning back to the Nahara.
“Does this mean they’re not going to die?” Visser Five looked interested. “I’m glad. I like them. They are very funny.”
<I’M STILL GONNA RIP YOUR WINGS OUT, BITCH!> said the elephant.
“And charming,” said Visser Five, unabashed. Visser One looked at the prisoners and for the first time, she smiled.
“Alright,” she said. “Which one of you is Marco?”
The bandits all looked at each other and, after a few minutes of deliberating in private thought-speak, they seemed to come to some sort of agreement. And then the gorilla slowly morphed into a human boy.
<WHAT?> bellowed Visser Three.
<Ohhhh,> said Eva. <That makes sense,>
“So he is one of your agents, Edriss?” asked Visser Five. “I thought there was a resemblance.”
“He is my host’s son. He is certainly not one of my agents,” said Visser One. “Your ‘Andalite Bandits’ are five human teenagers and an Andalite cadet. And if Esplin had any sort of critical reasoning skills, he would know that. I don’t know who the seventh one is, though.”
“My name is Toby,” said the Hork-Bajir, waving.
“There you go,” said Visser One, rubbing her forehead. “Her name is Toby. I would like to go now.”
<You expect us to believe that?> demanded Visser Three. <One of the bandits just happens to be your host’s son? Furthermore, how many children do you have?>
“I have less children than you have cats,” said Visser One icily. “Emiki, release them, please. Do not make me ask again.”
Visser Five gave the command, and the force field evaporated. The tiger was the next to demorph. Visser One raised her eyebrows.
“Jake Berenson?” she said.
“Hi,” said Jake. “Uh. This is sort of awkward, isn’t it?”
After some negotiation and more demorphing and a full-blown temper tantrum courtesy of Visser Three, Ax released the twins, who went running to their mother.
Then Marco asked the obvious question.
“How the hell do you have children?”
“Mommy changes bodies,” said Madra blithely, as if this explained everything. “Can you turn into a gorilla again?”
“Everyone under the age of fourteen to the hangar,” ordered Visser One, ignoring this. “I’ll take you back to Earth. Your parents must be frantic.”
“Turn back into a wolf! Please?” Darwin pulled on Cassie’s arm.
“Can you turn into a pony?” asked Madra.
“Jake, I don’t think they’re Yeerks,” Cassie said, amazed. “I think they’re actual kids.”
“What’s a Yeerk?” asked Madra.
“Can we all focus?” said Visser One. “I mean it. Hangar. Ship. Now. Before I start firing randomly.”
“You’re…letting us go?” said Marco suspiciously.
“At this point, it would be less trouble than keeping you locked up,” said Visser One. “Besides, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s a peace treaty in the works and I’d rather not compromise it.”
“That message was fake,” said Jake. “She—both sides got a fake—”
“I know that. And you know that, and the Council knows that. But the combined billions of Andalites and Yeerks who saw the transmission don’t, and I see no reason to disappoint them. Besides,” Visser One’s lips moved in Eva’s crooked smile, “what can I say, I like kids.”
* * *
It was nice to be back in the familiar setting of Cassie’s barn. Soon, Cassie’s parents would find them and realize they were back and then there would be a lot of explaining to do, but for now, the Animorphs enjoyed the last few moments of peace they’d have before the Andalites landed. They were anticipating a lot of shouting. And then, once the Andalites realized they’d given Elfangor’s escafil device to Visser One, even more shouting.
“What do you think will happen next?” asked Cassie, twirling a piece of hay between her fingertips.
“To the world, or to us?” said Jake.
“Whichever,” said Cassie. “Both.”
“Well, I think we’re going to have a lot of ex-hosts coming forward,” said Marco. “Minus the voluntary ones, anyway. And then the tourism industry is going to explode, with the Andalites.”
“And us?” asked Cassie.
“I dunno,” admitted Jake. “Maybe we should try to be normal for a while. Finish school and…I dunno. College. Get married. Have babies. Grown-up stuff.”
“Babies? Gross.” Rachel made a distasteful face. She was sitting on top of Tobias in human morph. “You can’t fight a war with a baby. It’d get stepped on.”
“The war is ending,” said Cassie.
“Okay, but still, there’s got to be stuff we can do other than being boring suburban parents. Adventures! Lots of adventures. There’s still all of outer space to explore. Or we could…” Rachel fished around for ideas, “we could start a band.”
“A band?” repeated Jake.
“Yeah. We could do concerts. Tours. Write our own music. I call vocals. No need to ruin it with babies.”
“Question,” said Tobias. “Speaking of babies. What would happen if a woman was pregnant and she morphed something?”
“Gross,” said Marco. “Gross would happen.”
“Ax?” asked Jake.
<I do not know,> said Ax. <I do not believe anything like that has ever happened, and I would advise against it. However, I would guess that zygote would be incorporated into the morph, and the birthing process is put on hold until she demorphs.>
“Baby goes to Z-space,” translated Cassie.
“That’s going to be the name of our band,” said Rachel.
end of day six
Like a week later or something
The sun was going down by the time Eva unlocked the front door with the key that someone had hidden under the doormat.
She stepped inside and glanced around the unfamiliar foyer, though some of the furniture was familiar. To one side was the dining room, to the other was a study. It looked like the kitchen was straight ahead.
She looked up, and only then did she spot the man standing at the top of the steps. His mouth was hanging open.
“Oh, there you are,” she said.
Peter proceeded to lose his balance and fall down the stairs, breaking seventeen bones in the process.
the freaking end
|A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.|