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Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Animorphs-Book 19-The Departure, Chapter 17

quote:

“There! There you have it!” Karen cried, pointing triumphantly at Marco. “Kill! Kill, he cries. Kill the parasite! Kill the Yeerk. Now where is your human morality? Now tell me again, Cassie, how you humans and your Andalite friends are better than we are!”

<We don’t crawl into people’s brains and make them slaves,> Marco said. He flapped down from the tree to the ground and began to demorph.

“Of course not. You’re predators. So you think being a predator is fine. Well, we think being parasites is fine,” Karen said, smirking. “Your morality is real simple. Anything humans do is okay, anything Yeerks do is wrong.”

Marco was mostly human now. Human enough to speak and to jab his finger angrily at Karen.

“Hey, Slug-girl, we didn’t start this fight, you did. We didn’t go to the Yeerk planet and start killing Yeerks. You started this war.”

“Who started the war between humans and cows? Or humans and pigs? Or humans and chickens?” Karen demanded, laughing derisively. “Cows weren’t eating humans, were they?”

“Hey, we’re not cows,” Marco snapped. “You can’t compare what you do to humans with what we do to cows.”

“Sure I can. You’re our meat!” Karen said.

It was a harsh, spitting, evil statement. It seemed even more so coming from a little girl’s mouth.

She and Marco stood face-to-face, glaring. I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. Like I couldn’t make my mind work.

“Cassie, we have no choice,” Marco said. “She knows too much. We can’t let her walk out of these woods alive.”

“She’s not just a Yeerk,” I begged. “She’s also a little girl.”

“The little girl is gone,” Marco said. “She’s not in charge anymore. That Yeerk piece of crap is.”

“That’s a funny thing for you to say, Marco. You, of all people,” I said.

I was talking, talking like I knew what I was saying. But inside me was a storm. I felt like I was going to explode. I didn’t know what to do!

His eyes flickered. “What are you talking about?”

“You know what I’m talking about, Marco. There’s someone you know … someone close to you who is just like Karen.”

Marco’s mother is a Controller. Everyone, even Marco’s dad, thinks she’s dead. But we know that she is controlled by the Yeerk, Visser One.

“And she’s not the only one. You and I have a close friend, Marco, whose brother is one of them.” Tom, Jake’s brother, is also a Controller.

“So what are you telling me? We can’t fight the Yeerks because they hide behind humans? What do we do, just give up? Look, Cassie, you’re so worried about this Controller here, why don’t you worry about all of us - you know who I mean. You think she and her fellow Yeerks will hesitate to
destroy us?”

I felt the edge of panic rise a little higher. He was right. It was either Karen or the Animorphs. One or the other. Both could not survive. I couldn’t go on pretending. I couldn’t find an answer.

“I don’t know,” I muttered desperately. “I don’t know.”

Marco rolled his eyes. His opinion of me was obvious. It was okay: I agreed with him. I was a muddled, confused, foolish girl. I was sacrificing my friends … for what? I was selling out the entire human race … for what?

So I wouldn’t have to see one lost little girl destroyed? So I wouldn’t have to know that a Yeerk - yes, a Yeerk, with her own life and feelings and thoughts - was going to perish?

“I’ll make it simple for you, Yeerk,” Marco said. “You’re going to die, that much we know. Now, you can leave that little girl and at least not take anyone else down with you, or … well, nothing personal, but you’re not leaving this forest alive.”

“No,” Karen said simply. “You want to kill me? You have the power. But I’m not making it easy for you.”

“Okay,” Marco said. He said it casually, like it was all no big deal to him. I knew better. I knew he was feeling the awful violence-sickness inside of him. But I also knew he would do it.

The three of us seemed frozen in time, no one ready to make the first move. The three of us just stood and stared and waited … no! Not the three of us.

“Wait!” I cried. “There’s another person here who should have a chance to speak.”

Marco raised an eyebrow.

I looked at Karen. “I want to hear from the real Karen. The human little girl.”

Karen laughed. “Don’t be an idiot. You should know I can sound exactly like Karen if I want to. You’d never know for sure.”

“I would if you weren’t in her,” I said. I began to morph, as fast as I could, back into the wolf.

“Yeah, that’s what I’ll do,” the Controller jeered. “I’ll just leave my host body and lie on the ground so your murderous predator friend here can -”

“Cassie, what are you doing?” Marco demanded. He’d noticed that I was morphing.

<I’m giving this Controller a place to go, so we can hear from Karen.>

With my half-hands, half-paws, I grabbed Karen’s head and pulled it to me. I pressed her ear against mine.

“Nooooo!” Marco screamed.

But there was nothing he could do to stop me. I was a wolf. He was a human. Already I could feel the tingling touch in my ear.

“What are you doing?!” Marco yelled. “Are you insane? What are you doing?”

I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t know the answer. I was beyond logic and reason now. I just didn’t want to have to hurt anyone or anything.
That was all: I just didn’t want to hurt …

Marco began to morph back to osprey. He’d understood instantly what I hadn’t even thought about : The Yeerk that was entering my brain would be able to use my morphing power. If he stayed in human form, the Yeerk, using my morphing power, might attack him.

“I’m going to get the others,” Marco said, seething with fury. “You’re a fool, Cassie. Now it’s not the little girl who may have to die. It’s you.”

Honestly, I get why Cassie is doing what she's doing, but all the same, Marco is right and this is real stupid.

Chapter 18

quote:

I felt the start of an awful pain in my ear. But the Yeerk secreted a chemical that made my ear go numb. And then I felt it pushing its way through my ear canal the way you still kind of feel the dentist’s drill even after the Novocain shot.

I felt the first touch of the Yeerk on my mind. There was no pain now. There was just a feeling of … I don’t know how to describe it. A feeling that I was being paralyzed, a little at a time.

It touched my brain, and all at once I realized I could no longer move my right leg.

It reached further, and my hands were no longer mine.

It reached further, and the hunger I’d felt was now someone else’s hunger.

It reached further and further, sliding into the crevices. Slithering between the cauliflower contours of the gelatinous gray mass that was my brain.

I looked at Karen. The simple, human Karen. She was crying.

“I want to go home,” she sobbed.

And then my eyes moved and looked away. They focused on Marco as he flapped his gray and white wings and rose from the ground.

I hadn’t moved my eyes.

It was all over so quickly. So quickly I lost all control of my own body.

And then the Yeerk opened my memory. It was easy as any person reading a book. I felt my secrets, all my little shames and embarrassments, lying open for the Yeerk to inspect, to laugh at.

But at the same time, parts of her mind seemed to soak into my consciousness. I could see her.

Not as well as she could see me, because I could not control which of her memories I looked at. But just the same, the Yeerk’s mind seemed to blur into mine.

I was there, in the Yeerk pool, blind, swimming. I had a name and a designation: I was Aftran- Nine-Four-Two of the Hett Simplat pool.

I was there, in Aftran’s memories, opening Gedd eyes for the first time and seeing color! Oh, the shock! Oh, the glory of it! Even secondhand, even from so long ago, the beauty of color seen for the first time was overwhelming.

I was there when the Yeerk first felt its Hork-Bajir host. Felt the grace and power that the Gedd would never have.

I was there when the new Hork-Bajir-Controller was in its first blade fight. The fear it had felt! And after the battle, after the next battle, and the next, and the next, some other memory grew and grew. A memory of sadness. A memory of regret.

Aftran was saddened by the battles.

Then the human host. Karen.

Aftran had volunteered for the duty. She had wanted out of the Hork-Bajir body. She wanted out of the war. What could be a safer, more peaceful host than a little, human girl?

The assignment was to watch her father. He was the billionaire owner of UniBank. Being close to him gave Aftran access to all sorts of information and vast amounts of useful cash. The Yeerks wanted to make the father a Controller, but hadn’t been able to yet. So Karen had been taken, and made into a Controller to watch the true target: her father.

Aftran had taken on the job to avoid having to kill. But her pool-brother, Estril, had stayed on as a Hork-Bajir. Estril had been acting as backup security to a meeting of The Sharing. A nothing job. No problem. Stay aboard a shielded ship, just in case …

The “just in case” had been the battle. And I saw, with Aftran’s memory, the image of a wolf, teeth bared in a vicious snarl …

Me.

And now Aftran opened that very memory. I could feel her absorbing my crystal clear images:

The moment when I lunged for the Hork-Bajir’s throat and heard Jake yell, <Okay, they’ve had it, back away! Back away!>

<His name was Estril-Seven-Three-One, of the Hett Simplat pool,> Aftran said to me.

<Yes,> I said. And as the guilt welled up inside me, I could tell that Aftran was watching the emotion, solemnly curious.

Now the Yeerk opened the secret I had guarded for months. She yelped in surprise. <Just five human children and an Andalite aristh?!> She laughed. <The entire Yeerk invasion force is in an uproar because of five human children and an Andalite cadet?>

One by one she looked inside the memories I had formed since becoming an Animorph.

She saw the construction site where Elfangor’s fighter had crash-landed.

She saw the moment when I learned that Tobias was trapped forever in hawk morph.

She saw the first time I ever morphed a dolphin, the amazing, giddy joy of it, and I swear she laughed inside my head, enjoying the memory, too.

She saw that Jake’s brother Tom was a Controller, that the leader of the Animorphs lived under the same roof with a Yeerk.

She saw that Marco’s mother was Visser One and the fact that it was Visser One who had freed us from Visser Three’s clutches for her own evil reasons.

<Politics and power,> Aftran sneered. <The Vissers spend more time attacking each other than they spend attacking our enemies. All they care about is their own power.>

She saw the hidden, underground park where the Chee care for the stray dogs that remind them of their long-dead masters.

She saw, as I had seen, through the eyes of the wolf, the dolphin, the skunk, the horse, the osprey, even the Tyrannosaurus. She experienced the distorted, eerie universe of the fly, the cockroach, the flea, the ant.

And she dwelled at length on the termite. As she opened that memory, it was like being back there again, deep in the tiny tunnels within rotted wood. A lightless, sightless, scent-defined world of mindless automatons.

She saw me destroy the termite queen.

<You felt guilty for killing an insect?> she marveled.

She discovered, through me, the secret of Zone 91 and laughed and laughed at that. <An Andalite portable toilet! Hah-hah-hah! Visser Three is obsessed with discovering the secret of Zone Ninety-one.>

And she came, at last, back again to the last few days. Back to now. Back to where she could watch herself through my eyes. To feel my own complicated mix of emotions.

Then there was silence, and no more memories opened. Not for a long time. And Aftran’s mind went away, closed off by itself.

I tried moving my eyes, but they were still beyond my control. I wanted to scream. It was like being paralyzed. I was completely powerless. Completely.

I sat there, waiting. Unable to move, unable even to control my own memory. All that was left to me were my own emotions.

And those … I couldn’t make sense of those. All I knew for sure was that I had betrayed everyone I cared about. Jake. Rachel. Tobias. Ax. Marco.

And then, I felt Aftran opening a specific memory. I felt her causing me to focus and concentrate.

As she herself aimed my eyes, I saw the gray, feather patterns begin to appear on my skin, like drawings that slowly came to life.

The Yeerk spread my wings. And she flew.

And there you go. You now know the story of Afran 942. Aftran the Cassie-Controller.

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Fritzler
Sep 5, 2007




Obviously this doesn’t end here, but this is such a bad idea. I can’t believe Cassie did this. Really, if no one is looking for this girl yet (or even if they are) they should just hold her in the woods till the yeerk starves.

Do we ever get the opinions of any Yeerks who take over non-sentient beings? Or more specifically, what those non-sentient beings think/feel about it? Do they seem as psychologically damaged by the process? I do think enslaving sentient beings to have more experiences is very different than eating a pig. I don’t think Yeerks have to be condemned to being blind in a pool - they can just as easily take over non sentient species. They might have to communicate a different way, or invent a new language, but that seems as valid a solution as the one they decide later.

Mazerunner
Apr 22, 2010

Good Hunter, what... what is this post?


Fritzler posted:

Do we ever get the opinions of any Yeerks who take over non-sentient beings? Or more specifically, what those non-sentient beings think/feel about it? Do they seem as psychologically damaged by the process? I do think enslaving sentient beings to have more experiences is very different than eating a pig. I don’t think Yeerks have to be condemned to being blind in a pool - they can just as easily take over non sentient species. They might have to communicate a different way, or invent a new language, but that seems as valid a solution as the one they decide later.

well, they couldn't take over the hammerheads without modifying them first

on the other hand, they have the capability to modify them

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Fritzler posted:

They might have to communicate a different way, or invent a new language, but that seems as valid a solution as the one they decide later.

In the book where they take over horses, the horses have voice synthesizers that speak Gallard, the interstellar trade language, IIRC.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


Cassie, you absolute moron.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


HK-47 says it far better than I ever could.

OctaviusBeaver
Apr 30, 2009

Say what now?

Fritzler posted:

I don’t think Yeerks have to be condemned to being blind in a pool - they can just as easily take over non sentient species. They might have to communicate a different way, or invent a new language, but that seems as valid a solution as the one they decide later.

They want bodies that can use tools and weapons, which are mostly going to be intelligent species. They might be able to live happily as horses but they wouldn't be able to challenge the Andalites and form an empire.

nine-gear crow
Aug 10, 2013

low vis




Comrade Blyatlov posted:

Cassie, you absolute moron.

And this is still not the stupidest thing that Cassie does in this book. Just wait.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


Wait, it isn't?

gently caress me, I don't remember whatever you're talking about. I shall wait.

Unless you mean her becoming a caterpillar? Because yeah, that's dumb as poo poo though true to her character.

E-P
Apr 21, 2016


Interesting chapter in that that Marco finds Cassie, given that Katherine identifies most with Cassie and Michael with Marco.

e X
Feb 23, 2013

cool but crude


The part where Cassie gets infected is really well written and gives a much needed perspective to the Yeerks, but there is also a lot of dumb poo poo here.

Rochallor
Apr 22, 2010


Yeah, there is maybe a good way to do this and this ain't it.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



E-P posted:

Interesting chapter in that that Marco finds Cassie, given that Katherine identifies most with Cassie and Michael with Marco.

Yeah, I wondered if there was anything more to it than that. Like how Marco's decision was to go get the others, while say Rachel might not have thought twice about killing even her best friend right then and there.

rollick
Mar 20, 2009


This is so dumb and makes no sense -- why do we even need to hear from the real Karen? In case she loves being a host?? And "oh I forgot the Yeerk would be able to morph" is maybe the worst plot point so far.

I can understand Cassie standing for a kind of pacifism that's in conflict with the positions of the others, especially Rachel. That's a good dramatic hook. But there's a clever way to show that dialectic and then there's whatever this book is. (Although I agree that some of the descriptive writing has been stronger than ever).

Is this when the rot starts to set in with the series?

SirSamVimes
Jul 21, 2008

~* Challenge *~




Cassie is a teenager who is weary of the war and has learned of the existence of Yeerks who are against the war and now desperately wants to prove that some common ground can be found. She's not making sound logical decisions.

Tree Bucket
Apr 1, 2016


It's frustrating and dumb, but also, I wouldn't trust a twelve year old with grocery shopping, let alone interplanetary war.

rollick
Mar 20, 2009


Fair points! I should defer judgment until the book actually ends anyway.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


There is a certain kind of nobility in being willing to completely martyr yourself for your beliefs, as Cassie is doing. I can respect it, even as I completely condemn it for being spectacularly, planet-destroyingly stupid.

Jazerus
May 24, 2011



rollick posted:

Is this when the rot starts to set in with the series?

no, but i do think it's a moment that the ghostwriters will misunderstand over and over again as a fundamental part of cassie instead of essentially temporary psychosis due to PTSD, and which over-informs their depiction of cassie once we get deep into the ghostwritten stuff.

Rosalie_A
Oct 30, 2011


SirSamVimes posted:

Cassie is a teenager who is weary of the war and has learned of the existence of Yeerks who are against the war and now desperately wants to prove that some common ground can be found. She's not making sound logical decisions.

It honestly wasn't until I was revisiting the series with this thread that I realized how much this series presents everything as completely awful. All this fighting and struggling isn't fun and exciting: it's awful and terrifying and stressful and all sorts of other negative things, and you can see it wearing on everyone. There's two teenagers here arguing over whether they should kill a little girl to kill the parasite inside to keep their secrets safe, and none of this is presented as a good thing, or there being an obvious right answer: just two very bad options in a sea of worse options after a long road of other bad options. Even the point of view character, who you'd expect to be the "right" one, isn't desperately trying to convince everyone of her obviously correct moral position but is just tired and struggling to find another solution even as she knows and has known one doesn't exist.

like it's obvious right now that these kids are forever scarred and traumatized for life, and this isn't even the halfway point. No wonder other books I read around that time (e.g. Harry Potter) seemed stupidly optimistic.

"Oh, Harry, you got all the way to fifteen before you realized authorities couldn't be trusted and everything was on your shoulders and you started having nightmares? Let me tell you about Yeerks..."

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Animorphs-Book 19-The Departure, Chapter 19

quote:

Up we flew, up from the pine-needle-covered floor of the forest. Up, up through the treetops. Up into brilliant sunlight.

The osprey’s eyes scanned the horizon, from the distant mountains, to the sea, now less than a mile away, down to the farms and roads and gas stations and Dairy Queens no more than three miles distant.

It would be child’s play for the Yeerk to fly to the nearest gas station, demorph, and call his superiors. Then it would all be over.

Jake would be seized, probably by Tom himself. Rachel would be taken on her way to the mall. Marco, Ax, Tobias, one by one. They would each be dragged, unwilling, crying, screaming, begging, or perhaps with whatever dignity they could hold on to. Down, down into the Yeerk pool. And there, stunned unconscious to keep them from morphing, they would have their heads shoved down into the sludge of the Yeerk pool.

And at that moment, their freedom would die. And perhaps the last, best hope of humanity would die as well.

My fault.

All my fault.

I was a fool. I was a coward. I’d been unwilling to do the hard, brutal, necessary thing. Instead I’d followed … what? A wish? An instinct? A pathetic hope?

<To be like this,> the Yeerk said dreamily in my head. <Oh, to be like this. To fly. All alone, up here in the sky! To have these eyes. I can see everything! Everything down to the tiniest blade of grass.>

I waited for Aftran to head toward civilization. But she didn’t. She circled. Unsure. I could hear and feel her doubts.

But then, down below, threading their way through the trees, a dozen men in state police uniforms. They were moving along the river. Glancing left, the osprey’s eyes saw Karen, still sitting hunched on a rock.

Several thousand yards of dense forest separated the men from the girl.

<A rescue party,> I thought. <Of course. I’m missing. Karen is missing. There will be a massive search under way.>

<Yes, there probably is,> Aftran agreed. <But those aren’t normal rescuers. They are Controllers. I know some of them. They aren’t looking for you, they’re looking for me. They will expect me to be in Karen. If they find her, they’ll know I’ve made you my host. They’ll ask why.>

Was Aftran anxious? Afraid? Why?

She moved the osprey’s head and swept the horizon anxiously. And that’s when I saw the birds. They were far off, even for osprey vision, but one, the largest, was definitely a bald eagle. And the other birds flying with it were not eagles.

I could guess what the other birds were: a peregrine falcon, a northern harrier, another osprey, and, of course, a red-tailed hawk.

I tried to shut the knowledge off from Aftran, but she knew as soon as I knew.

<So. Your friends are coming. To rescue you? Or to kill you?>

<To kill you,> I told the Yeerk. <They’ll hold me until you starve from lack of Kandrona rays.>

I could tell Aftran was shocked. <You know about Kandrona rays! Of course, I see it now. I haven’t had time to open all your memories.>

<Your people will find Karen,> I said. <When they find she’s no longer a Controller, they’ll kill her, won’t they? They can’t allow her to go around telling what she knows. They’ll kill that little girl.>

<And your friends will kill me!> Aftran said. <Do you know what it’s like to die of Kandrona starvation? Do you know what kind of agony it causes?>

<Then let’s put an end to the killing!> I cried. <Your side, my side. The Animorphs will be here soon. They’ve seen me. There will be a battle. Some of those Controllers down there on the ground will die! Some of my friends may die! Karen may die! You may die! For what? For what?>

She laughed bitterly. <You think we can make peace between human and Yeerk and Andalite? Don’t be stupid.>

<No, I don’t think we can make peace between all humans and all Yeerks and all Andalites. But you and I can have peace. One Yeerk, one human.>

Aftran said nothing. But I could hear echoes of her thought. Back to the Yeerk pool. To hide among the other Yeerks. To try and disappear in the mass of slugs. To leave her host and never return.

Never to see again. Never to see blue, green, red. Never again to see the sun. Any sun. Why? So some little human girl with green eyes could be free?

<Do you know what you’re asking me to do?> Aftran demanded.

<Yes,> I said.

<And if you were me?>

I hesitated. <I can’t answer that. I’m not you.>

But Aftran opened my brain again, flipping through pages of memory, listening to my instincts, absorbing my beliefs.

<You believe you would sacrifice anything to save Karen,> Aftran said. <That’s what youbelieve. You believe if you were me, you would make the sacrifices.>

<But I’m not you,> I said again.

<Maybe you are,> she said coldly. <More than you think.>

Aftran turned in the warm, morning air and began flapping back toward Karen.

And that’s when an echo of Aftran’s thoughts bubbled up inside my own consciousness, and I felt the heart-freezing dread.

A lot of this is Cassie realizing how stupid she just acted, really.

Chapter 20

quote:

We flew first over the heads of the Controllers. The human-Controllers disguised as state police.

<On the ground, there. Yaheen-Seven-Four-Seven, this is Aftran-Nine-Four-Two of the Hett Simplat pool. I know you don’t see me. But listen to my warning: A group of five birds of prey is coming this way. They are the Andalite bandits in morph!>

I saw the human-Controllers looking around, puzzled at the sudden thought-speak, but also looking worried. They began to unlimber their guns.

<So much for peace,> I said bitterly. But then, I realized: She had said “Andalite bandits.”

Aftran had lied to her fellow Yeerks.

We landed beside Karen. She had managed to hobble and crawl into the meadow. She didn’t realize it, but it had taken her a little farther from the searching Controllers.

It could take them hours to find her now. And possibly my own friends would be delayed, too, as the human-Controllers tried to attack them.

More battle. More violence. Pointless.

<Not pointless,> Aftran said, reading my thoughts as if they were her own.

The osprey came to rest within a few feet of Karen. Karen had stopped crying. Now she gazed in wonder and confusion, as I … as Aftran … as we began to demorph.

The feathers melted away and flesh reappeared. My eyes grew dim and human again. My hearing was clouded. My wings became arms and my talons grew to become legs.


Karen’s face took on a look of defeat. She realized now who I was. And what was inside my head.

Karen tried to turn away, tried to run. But her ankle failed her instantly and down she went in the grass. Her hand clutched at a bundle of yellow wildflowers.

<Don’t do this, Aftran,> I cried. <Stay in me, let her go!>

But as I watched, helpless inside my own body, I saw my own hands reach out and take Karen roughly.

She cried and beat at me with small fists, but my hands blocked her blows. My hands grabbed her head and held her ear against my own.

I wanted to cry, but I didn’t control my own tears. I wanted to comfort, but my voice was not mine.

I pressed Karen against me and held her tight, and the Yeerk named Aftran extended a slithering extrusion from my ear into Karen’s.

It took a few minutes. Slowly, gradually, bit by bit, I felt myself regain control.

I could turn my eyes. I could move my legs. But Aftran retained control of my hands till she was almost entirely across, back inside Karen’s head.

My hands! I controlled them. I pushed away, shoving Karen from me.

I saw the last of the Yeerk. The last of the slithering, gray slug shloop into Karen’s head.

I sat down, suddenly too exhausted and dispirited to run or morph or even think. I just wanted to cry. I guess maybe I did. I don’t know.
Karen’s voice said, “Your friends or mine will find us soon, but not very soon, I think.”

“What does it matter?” I asked.

“It matters that they not find us for two hours.”

“What are you planning on doing?” I asked. I looked up and realized that Karen’s green eyes were filled with tears. Karen’s tears. But they only flowed because Aftran, the Yeerk, was crying.

“You tell me what you think I should do,” Karen said harshly, despite the tears. “Andalites, humans, there’s no difference: You’re both smug, moralizing, superior races. You both live in beautiful worlds. You have hands and eyes and the freedom to move about wherever you like. And you hate us for wanting all those same things.”

“We can’t help what we are, any more than you can. We’re born with eyes and hands and legs. You’re born as … as what you are.”

“Slugs!” Karen cried. “That’s what you call us, isn’t it? Slugs! Like some wet, slimy thing crawling across the sidewalk after it rains. Something you step on and say ‘Eewww, gross!’”

“You’re a Yeerk. I can’t change that. You can’t change it, either. All you can do is make other creatures into slaves so you can be more free. How can you justify making Karen a slave so you can be free? It’s wrong. I don’t care if you’re human or Andalite or Yeerk, it’s wrong.”

Karen looked at me and nodded. “Yes. I know.” She shrugged her shoulders and looked down at the ground. She bent down and raised a leaf so I could see it. Hanging from the bottom of the leaf was a caterpillar. It was maybe an inch and a half long. It hung from the bottom of the leaf and was busy writhing out of its old skin. The old skin was gathered around the caterpillar like a sock that has fallen down your leg.

“This is what I am,” Karen said. “A slug. A worm. What this little creature experiences is what I would experience if I didn’t have a host body.”

“I … I’m sorry,” I said. It was all I could think of to say.

“You ask me to become this worm again. You ask a lot of me, Cassie the Animorph. You say we can make peace between us, just you and me and Karen. You say we can make a start. And then you ask me to give up everything, while you go on about your life, living amidst splendor and magnificence.”

All I could do was to shake my head. I didn’t even know what it meant. Was I denying what she said? No. It was the truth.

“So I ask you, Cassie,” Karen said in a silky voice. “What will you give up, if I give up everything?”

“I … what can I …”

Karen carefully, gently placed the half-cocooned caterpillar in my hand. “Let its DNA flow into you, Cassie.”

“No,” I whispered.

“You ask me to pay a terrible price to make Karen free again. Will you pay the same price? Will you become this little creature? Will you stay in that morph for two hours while I stand guard?”

“But … I would be trapped permanently!” I cried.

“Yes. Just as I will be trapped permanently.”

I couldn’t breathe. My heart kept pounding really fast, then seemed to stop. I couldn’t even see anything - just Karen’s face and the caterpillar.

“It’s a lot easier to tell someone else what they must do than to do it yourself, eh, Cassie?” Karen mocked.

“It’s a trick,” I whispered. “You’d trap me, then you’d just laugh and take off.”

Karen shook her head. “You know better than that. You have morphing power. As a host body, you would be incredibly valuable. Visser Three is the only morph-capable Yeerk. Your body, along with the bodies of your friends? Unbelievably valuable. I would be the Yeerk who captured the Animorphs. They’d make me a sub-visser at the very least. I’d have it all: a great assignment, my choice of host bodies. Do you think I would deliberately trap a morph-capable body as a bug if I weren’t sincere? I’m giving up everything! Will you give up nothing?”

I looked down at the caterpillar, squirming in my trembling hand.

I raised my eyes and looked around at the world. The trees. The grass. The sky. The flowers.

I had cared about nature all my life. And still I had not understood how magnificent it was until that moment.

To lose my parents. My friends. The entire world.

To save my parents. My friends. Maybe even the entire world.

I closed my eyes and began to focus. And the DNA of the caterpillar entered my blood.

Man, this book. I mean, honestly, this book is just about two traumatized soldiers on opposite sides of a war having a debate about war and morality. This is your lighthearted edutainment series about kids who have wacky animal adventures.

FlocksOfMice
Feb 3, 2009




This loving book, why do I not remember this.

I can't... even FAULT Cassie here, considering all the context. She just got called out HARD.

Homora Gaykemi
Apr 30, 2020

"We live together in her Skull Cave. We cook each other dinner all the time. She gifted me this beautiful horse. Do you think I should ask her out?"*

*Ancient lesbo saying


man, this is heavy

SirSamVimes
Jul 21, 2008

~* Challenge *~




I strongly disagree with anyone who says Cassie is stupid here. She's incredibly war-weary and desperate to find a way to find common ground with the enemy.

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

SirSamVimes posted:

I strongly disagree with anyone who says Cassie is stupid here. She's incredibly war-weary and desperate to find a way to find common ground with the enemy.

She's....acting foolishly. I understand why she's acting foolishly, mainly for the reasons you said, but it doesn't make her actions any wiser.

SirSamVimes
Jul 21, 2008

~* Challenge *~




Oh yeah it's absolutely a terrible foolish decision.

disaster pastor
May 1, 2007



Epicurius posted:

She's....acting foolishly. I understand why she's acting foolishly, mainly for the reasons you said, but it doesn't make her actions any wiser.

As maybe the thread's foremost Cassie critic... yeah, I don't fault her here. The poor girl is broken. Sure, there are many, many better decisions in this situation, but she's flat incapable of making them, because they're all more complicated than yes/no and her brain just does not have capacity for that right now.

Ravenfood
Nov 4, 2011


SirSamVimes posted:

I strongly disagree with anyone who says Cassie is stupid here. She's incredibly war-weary and desperate to find a way to find common ground with the enemy.

You can have very understandable reasons for being stupid.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


SirSamVimes posted:

I strongly disagree with anyone who says Cassie is stupid here. She's incredibly war-weary and desperate to find a way to find common ground with the enemy.

She exposed her soft, meatbag-like underbelly to Aftran. The fact that Aftran chose not to shoot here there until she died is almost immaterial.

In some ways this reminds me a little of the Christmas Truce. Just people who absolutely did not want to be there wanting to stop the killing.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



It is interesting that, for all the literal mind-reading that goes on between Yeerks and their hosts, Yeerks are still opaque to one another, giving them plenty of opportunity to lie and scheme against each other. The only exception is in sequential infestation; just as Jake learned about Tom's experiences from Temrash, his replacement would learn at least as much about him upon infesting Tom as Jake did on being infested by him.

SSJ_naruto_2003
Oct 12, 2012





Epicurius posted:

I don't know. It seems to be a very teenage thing to do. Your teenage years are when you start working out your own beliefs, and realize that your friends don't always share yours, and the whole "I can't be your friend anymore if you believe that" seems very adolescent.

I know this is a few pages ago but lol she's literally saying she's fine condemning the whole human race to slavery and death as long as she personally doesn't have to pull the trigger. That does actually make her complicit.

Of course it would be difficult to be friends with someone who, with their actions at least, are judging you to be of lesser moral character.

SSJ_naruto_2003 fucked around with this message at 12:10 on Apr 4, 2021

HIJK
Nov 25, 2012

People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.


I recall this book, and I feel the same way I did back then. Aftran is pissing into the wind, like a little girl is sitting there crying and punching Cassie trying to get away from her attacker, and Aftran is whinging about how hard it is to be a Yeerk? Give me a break, what a self serving lie. Yeerks can snivel about smug moralizing species when they stop enslaving children in the name of being a smug moralizing species.

e: realized this may have come off as too aggressive, so I want to add that I'm not angry at anyone here, I'm just disgusted by Aftran's arguments because they're the arguments of exploiters everywhere. "I deserve this because" etc

HIJK fucked around with this message at 21:31 on Apr 4, 2021

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



I just picked up one of the Alternamorphs recently. You guys weren't kidding about it being bad—not the writing, but the interactive design of it. I'm not sure the author had ever read a CYOA book

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Fuschia tude posted:

I just picked up one of the Alternamorphs recently. You guys weren't kidding about it being bad—not the writing, but the interactive design of it. I'm not sure the author had ever read a CYOA book

They're the most linear CYOA books I've ever read.

HIJK posted:

e: realized this may have come off as too aggressive, so I want to add that I'm not angry at anyone here, I'm just disgusted by Aftran's arguments because they're the arguments of exploiters everywhere. "I deserve this because" etc

There's a quote from Applegate about the book i plan to share when we're done that you might find interesting.

Epicurius fucked around with this message at 21:58 on Apr 4, 2021

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Animorphs-Book 19-The Departure, Chapter 21

quote:

The caterpillar grew still. It stopped writhing. Most animals become calm and quiet while being acquired.

“Now do it,” Karen said.

I wanted to argue. I wanted to say, “Forget it!” I could morph to the wolf instead and kill her. It would save my friends. It would save me.

But it wouldn’t free the little girl named Karen from the Yeerk in her head. And it would just be more of the same: violence and brute force and another innocent victim.

I looked around me at all I was losing. And I focused my mind as I had done a hundred times before.

Slowly, the changes began. I am a fast morpher normally. Even Ax says so. But I was not hurrying now. I wanted to hold onto every last second of my life as a human.

But still the changes came.

My legs began to shrink. I was falling, falling toward the ground. Karen’s face, which had been lower than mine, became level with mine, then higher than mine.

The ground rushed up toward me, pine needles thickening to become twigs, blades of grass looking like saplings. Karen’s swollen, splinted ankle looked as thick as a redwood tree.

As my legs shrank, so did my arms. I stared down at them as they withered, twisting and curling like a paper that’s been thrown on the edge of a fire. The fingers curled and disappeared.

My body was thickening, elongating. The trunk of my body was now huge compared to my arms and legs. And my head was getting smaller as well. My field of vision was distorted by the fact that my eyes were moving closer together.

Suddenly, all along my back, tiny sharp daggers sprouted - the spines of the caterpillar.

And all along my front, sets of minuscule legs began to emerge. It was beyond creepy. I looked like a Taxxon! Three pairs of little, sharp legs grew out of my chest. Four more sets of somewhat different-looking legs grew from my stomach. My own two legs melted together, and quite suddenly I was in the body of a worm.

I wanted to cry. Morphing is always terrifying. Morphing a new creature is the most terrifying thing. But morphing a hideous bug and knowing that you will spend the rest of your life in that body!

I felt a cinching, like someone was tightening series of belts all up and down my body. I looked down and saw the puffy yellow and green flesh become a dozen segments. It was like those little snap-together plastic blocks babies play with.

I fell forward, helpless. It seemed like a long fall, but I was now no more than six inches long and still shrinking.

I saw pine needles as big as telephone poles rush up at me. I saw a beetle walking by, looking as large as a dog. I saw a flash of color - flowers all around, the sky, and Karen’s green eyes. And then I saw nothing more.

I landed with a soft poof!

My rows of legs absorbed the slight shock, I could still sense vibration. I could feel my mouthparts moving. I knew that the caterpillar’s extremely simple, basic mind was rising up within my own. It was urgent. In a hurry. Hunger? No, something else. Something it had to do.

I could fight the caterpillar mind. I could resist. But what would be the point?

Demorph! Demorph! I cried. Don’t do it! I begged myself.

But now it was already too late. If I de-morphed, Karen would know our deal was off. And I would be totally vulnerable as I slowly returned to human form.

I cried out silently, pleading, begging, screaming.

But there was no answer.

I was alone. I was more alone than any human being has ever been.

I abandoned myself to the caterpillar, and it began to climb the stalk of a flower it could not see.

Well, Cassie is a caterpiller.

Chapter 22
Jake

quote:

My name is Jake.

I was in my peregrine falcon morph searching for Cassie when Marco came rushing up, flapping at full speed.

<I found her,> he said. But his thought-speak voice was grim.

<What’s happened?> I demanded.

<The short version? She’s a Controller now. And if we don’t haul butt we’re dog food.>

I absorbed the sudden shock. No time for feeling scared for Cassie. I had to act. But we would need everyone together, and that would take time. We were spread out over twenty miles of forest.

Cassie’s parents had started worrying when she didn’t come back from supposedly fixing the water trough. Her mom had started calling all her friends, starting with Rachel. Her dad had gone out to where the trough was and found Cassie’s favorite mare wandering around outside the fence, scratched up, wet, with its saddle over on one side.

Her dad knows wild animals. He found the bear tracks. He followed the horse and bear tracks until it got too dark to see.

They called the cops and the park service. A search was organized. But it’s almost impossible for people to find a single person in a hundred square miles of forest.

Rachel called me. I called the others. Marco said something he didn’t really mean about Cassie not being an Animorph anymore, so she wasn’t our problem. Rachel knocked him on his butt.

Marco is my best friend, but there are times I admire Rachel’s directness.

We spent the night in owl morphs, floating silently above the forest. Owls see blackest night like noon with a cloudless sky. But all we were seeing were the many little forest animals, and, occasionally, the search parties and their flashlights.

It was Marco who figured out that we were making a mistake. Looking with eyes wasn’t the only way. He morphed to wolf and used his incredible sense of smell to follow the scent of the mare to the edge of the river. We found a torn strip of fabric hanging from a bramble bush.

Cassie had gone into the river.

Then we overheard some of the searchers talking. It wasn’t just Cassie who was missing now. There was a little girl named Karen.

When the sun came up we switched to bird-of-prey morphs. And we focused on following the course of the river. To tell you the truth, we were mostly looking for a body lying in the water. I mean,of course we still hoped she was alive. But we knew Cassie had all the powers of morphing
available. Surely, if she were alive and okay, she would morph and fly home.

We spread out, far and wide, looking for any clue. And I guess Marco had finally found it.

Now, with all of us gathered together, Marco told everything he knew. He told how Cassie had revealed herself to the Controller, Karen. He told how she had saved Karen from the leopard with Marco’s unwitting help. And he told how Cassie had allowed herself to be made into a Controller in a desperate ploy to save the human girl, Karen.

<She’s an idiot!> Marco concluded savagely. <Right now that Yeerk in her head knows everything. Everything!>
<Why would Cassie do this?> Ax wondered. <It is obvious that this Controller must be eliminated.>

<Cassie must have had a reason,> Rachel said.

<Of course she had a reason,> I said.

<Yeah? What?> Marco demanded. <What reason could she have for giving us all up to the Yeerks?>

<You really don’t know, Marco?> I asked him. <You really don’t know why someone would not want to kill? Or even stand by and let someone else kill?>
<She has no choice!> Marco said.

<There’s always a choice,> Tobias said. <I can’t get mad at someone not wanting to take a life. I can’t get mad at someone for thinking life is sacred. I just can’t.>

It surprised me, him coming to Cassie’s defense. Tobias lives as a pure predator. For him, killing is something he has to do for breakfast.

<This is a war,> Rachel said coldly. <We’re fighting for our lives. We have a right to do whatever it takes to win.>

<Maybe we’ll lose, maybe we’ll win,> I said. <But if we win and someday it’s all over, you’d better hope there are still plenty of Cassies in the world. You’d better hope that not everyone has decided it’s okay to do whatever it takes to win.>

Everyone fell silent for a while, and we just flew hard. It was strange, the silence. I’m supposedto be the leader, although every day that goes by I wish a little more that I wasn’t. But one thing a leader does is try to understand his people. I understood them.

I understood Ax’s near-silence. This was a matter between humans. Not his business.

I understood Rachel’s anger. She felt like she was being accused of being immoral, compared with Cassie.

I understood Tobias, after thinking about it for a minute. Tobias is a human being living inside a hawk. Holding onto human ideas and human virtues is important to him. He values pity and kindness, because he lives in a world where there is no pity.

I understood Marco. Marco is one of those people who jumps right to the conclusion, without a lot of wondering and guessing. You could say he’s smart. Or efficient. Or I guess you could say he’s ruthless. He’s not mean or cruel. He just gets from point A to point Z faster than most people.

<So what are we going to do when we get there?> Rachel asked after a while.

<I don’t know,> I admitted. <Let’s see if we find her first.>

<I just found her,> Rachel said. <There’s an osprey just breaking out of the trees. It’s her.>

<I see it,> Tobias said.

We all saw it. And we knew that the osprey saw us.

So that's the summary of what the other Animorphs were doing while Cassie, Karen, and Aftran were on their Hatchet adventure.

Jazerus
May 24, 2011



not to distract from the chapters but i just found this great panel from the graphic novel for book 2:



rachel went a little more elephant than i thought

Jazerus fucked around with this message at 04:41 on Apr 5, 2021

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



Epicurius posted:

So that's the summary of what the other Animorphs were doing while Cassie, Karen, and Aftran were on their Hatchet adventure.

This is the first (only?) main series book to cut away from the main narrator, huh? I didn't remember that bit.

freebooter
Jul 7, 2009

AUSTRALIA
NEEDS
TURNBULL


I understand why everyone is so rough on Cassie for the (dumb, traumatised) decisions she makes here. But Jake makes a good point. It's obviously KA's point, and it doesn't quite map onto what's happening in the here and now in a book series that's mostly teaching kids to see things in terms of ruthless utilitarianism, but... I can admire what she's trying to do here.

Am I remembering correctly: Cassie is setting in train a chain of events here that ends up saving all of them?

Fuschia tude posted:

This is the first (only?) main series book to cut away from the main narrator, huh? I didn't remember that bit.

There is at least one more down the track, a Rachel book that cuts to Marco sometimes while the others go on, shall we say, a fantastic voyage

e X
Feb 23, 2013

cool but crude


I am not hard on Cassie, I am hard in the writing.

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Pwnstar
Dec 9, 2007

Who wants some waffles?



Even assuming that Cassie turns Aftran and she promises to never ever take over another sentient being, that 5 year old child has got to go. They could maybe force her to live with the Chee and never see her family again but otherwise they gotta kill her. The Yeerks know who she is and will 100% want to reinfest her, she has dangerous information and theres no way she can maintain OPSEC.

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