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ANOTHER SCORCHER
Aug 12, 2018


This is all one big thing.


freebooter posted:

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

That is a separate and later Cassie idealistic-but-stupid decision, which is giving Tom (and thus the Yeerk Empire) the morphing cube. Possibly due to that Tom becomes willing and/or capable of betraying the Empire for his own self-interest and helps the Animorphs. Also there are a few Yeerks the kids encounter who give up or run away since they can now morph, and Cassie tells Ax she thinks that effect will be further-flung and ultimately destabilize the Empire and end the war.

However the Yeerk Peace Movement started in this book is a major part of another Cassie book, #29, but then is mentioned little after that. I think in an ideal rewritten Animorphs that focused more clearly on the themes it is establishing, Aftran should have just become part of the team. A lot of drama (with Ax especially!) could have been wrung out of that and it would make clear that not all Yeerks are evil.

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Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Animorphs-Book 19-The Departure, Chapter 23
Jake

quote:

We flew toward the osprey, but it soon went below the trees and out of sight. It was quite a distance away, and we’d been in morph for a long time.

<We need to land and demorph,> I said.

<We can’t! She’ll get away!> Marco said.

<Ax? How’s our time?>

<We must demorph, Prince Jake. Unless we wish to become trapped in these morphs.>

Down we went, spiraling down through warm updrafts, to land on the shady forest floor. We quickly demorphed, all but Tobias, of course. He stayed aloft, keeping an eye out.

Then, after a few minutes’ rest, we morphed again and took to the air once more. Now we had a solid two hours.

But we had also given Cassie, or the Yeerk inside her, plenty of time to hide or escape.

We flew toward where we’d last seen her. Through the trees, we began to catch glimpses of a search force up ahead.

<Those are state police uniforms,> Tobias observed.

<We have to find Cassie and that girl Karen before they do,> I said. But I wasn’t thinking anything more about it than that. We flew above the dozen or so cops.

Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam!

<What the …>

BamBamBamBamBamBamBamBamBam!

<They’re shooting at us!>

Pistols, rifles, and even automatic weapons were firing up at us.

Flit! Flit! Flit!

The bullets whizzed past me, one so close the wind from it ruffled my feathers.

<They’re Controllers!> Rachel yelled. <She warned them!>

<Just keep flying!> I said. <We’ll be past them in a few ->

<Aaahhh!>

I looked left and saw Rachel fall from the sky. With peregrine eyes I could see the blood coming from her tail. She’d been hit! Hit too badly to keep flying. She’d have to demorph and remorph.

But the woods below were full of Controllers.

<Fine,> Marco said. <They want a fight, we’ll give them a fight.>

<No,> I said. <It’s what they want. Or at least it’s what that Yeerk wants. Tobias! Keep flying, find Cassie! Everyone else, with me!>

Rachel dropped down toward the treetops. I could hear the human-Controllers yelling in savage glee.

I dropped like a rock. Nothing on Earth is faster in a dive than a peregrine falcon. I aimed straight for Rachel.

The air blew past me like I was in a hurricane. Faster, faster, the ground rushing up to hit me!

Rachel was five feet from hitting the ground.

And just below her, a human-Controller waited, grinning, holding an automatic rifle.

Full speed! I raked my talons forward.

Shwooooooop!

I hit Rachel hard. It could almost have killed her, except that I absorbed some of the shock into my legs. I grabbed and opened my wings, hoping to save some momentum.

“Hey!” the Controller yelped, sounding very human.

Now, let me put this in perspective. Rachel was in bald eagle morph. I was in falcon morph. They are both birds of prey. But they’re similar, like a cocker spaniel is similar to a Great Dane.

The eagle was huge. The big white head alone would have been too much for me to carry. The odds of me flying away holding her were zero. All I could do was hope to get her a few feet away from the Controller.

But even that wasn’t happening. I took the limp weight of the eagle on my talons, spread my wings, flapped like mad, and fell like a rock.

“Tseeeeeeeeeer!”

From the sky there fell a gray and white missile. Ax flared his harrier wings, swooped neatly, and sank both talons into Rachel’s bloody tail.

We were still falling, but now at least we were gliding away from the nearest Controller.

He stomped toward us. We hustled and dragged Rachel’s unconscious body over sticks and rocks and through bushes. But the human-Controller was plenty fast enough to keep up.

<We have to fight!> I said. <Demorph, Ax!>

Ax released his grip on Rachel, fluttered a distance away behind some trees, and began to demorph.

The human-Controller saw me helpless with Rachel. “Hah-hah-hah! I have you now! Hah-hahhah!”

What are you, the Joker? I thought.

Suddenly, something blew past, leaving trails of blood on the man’s face.

“Aaarrgghh!” he cried and clutched at his eyes.

Marco sailed past. <They’re coming!> he yelled. <It’s fight or flee time.>

I looked to see Ax halfway into Andalite morph. Marco and I were still one-hundred-percent bird. Rachel was out cold. Marco and I would have to pass through human morph before we could get into anything dangerous.

<Ax! Finish demorphing, grab Rachel, and run!> I said. <Marco, you and I are outta here!>

I could hear voices, even over the yelling and cursing of the injured Controller. Footsteps and large bodies shoving through bushes.

<Ax?> I said.

<I can carry her,> he answered.

Still not totally Andalite, Ax ran over, scooped up Rachel in his weak Andalite arms, and turned tail to run like a deer.

I flapped my wings, praying for a breeze, and skimmed across the ground. Marco was right behind me.

Four men appeared! We were flying straight at them.

They raised their guns, we flapped like lunatics and skimmed inches above their heads.

Blam! Blam! Blam! They began blazing away.

Flit! Flit! Flit! The bullets blew past us. But then we found that breeze, filled our sail-like wings, and rose up, up, up above the trees and out of sight.

Of course, while all this is happening, Cassie/Aftran are getting further away from them. And while we know what happened, at this point, they don't.

Chapter 24
Jake

quote:

We met up a few minutes later, out of the paths of the human-Controllers. Ax easily outran the humans, even carrying the big eagle. It only became difficult when Rachel suddenly woke up.

<What are you doing? Put me down! I’m going back and find the guy who shot me and ->

<Rachel! Glad you’re awake. Now, shut up and demorph!> I said.

I was frantic. The battle had cost us time. Too much time. And now Rachel demorphing and remorphing would cost us more time. <Marco, go after Tobias. See if you can help. Keep track of the Yeerk - whatever body it’s in.>

<You have some kind of instructions for me, oh, fearless leader?>

<Yeah. I do. The Yeerk does not make contact with anyone. I don’t care if it’s in Cassie or that girl Karen. Neither of them gets away. No matter what.>

Marco hesitated for a moment. <You mean … ?>

<I mean, one way or the other, neither Cassie nor that girl gets away.>

Marco muttered a curse. <How did it come to this?> he wondered. But he flew away at top speed.

I felt sick inside. It was right that I make the decision. And it was probably the right decision to make. But oh, man, I felt like I’d swallowed broken glass.

<Hurry up!> I yelled at Rachel. I wanted someone to be mad at and she was the first person I saw.

Rachel quickly demorphed back to human. Because the eagle morph is merely DNA, when she remorphed it, the bullet wound was gone.

Ax decided to stay on the ground and I agreed. We were close enough that he could run. And we might need his blade. Rachel and I took off again.

I instantly spotted Tobias circling over a small meadow just a few thousand feet away. We sped toward him. Marco was not in sight.

<Tobias! What’s happening?> Rachel demanded.

<You really don’t want to know,> Tobias said harshly.

We caught up to him and looked down at the scene below. There, a little girl, Karen, squatted in the grass, looking intently at a leaf.

I focused my falcon eyes and saw tears running down the little girl’s face. Then, I saw what she was looking at. It was a caterpillar. It hung, squirming, from the bottom of the leaf.

I don’t know how I knew. But somehow I did.

I landed a few feet away. Rachel landed beside me. Karen looked at us without surprise.

“It’s too late,” she said simply.

<What’s too late?> Rachel demanded.

“She did it,” Karen said. “She gave her life. I watched her for almost two hours. I kept expecting her to change her mind. But she did it. She gave her life for this little human girl. And because she thought she could make peace with one enemy at least.”

Rachel and I stared in horror at the caterpillar. It was hanging straight down. It was shedding its outer skin, pushing the skin up its body. And even now it was carefully, cautiously, stepping out of its old skin.

“Right at the end, right before the two hours were up, I told her to stop. I told her she’d proven herself to me. I begged her to stop, to demorph.” Karen raised her green eyes to me. “But I’d forgotten. I don’t think the caterpillar could hear. At least not speech. She didn’t know that I had seen
enough. And now …”

<Cassie!> I screamed. <Cassie! Demorph! Demorph!>

“Too late,” Karen said again, and slowly rose to her feet.

<Cassie!> Rachel cried. <Oh, God, no! Cassie!>

There was the sound of hooves and Ax arrived at a run. Karen looked at him and sneered. “Ah, of course, the Andalite aristh.”

<What have you done, Yeerk?> Ax demanded. His tail twitched. <I’ll destroy you for this!>

<NO!> Rachel yelled in a blinding rage. <NO! This Yeerk is mine!>

She began to demorph at top speed, flesh and face emerging from feathers and beak.

“You fools! Don’t you see?” Karen cried. “She gave her life to make some small fragment of peace! We have a deal! Cassie and I made a deal!”

She looked from one of us to the other. I guess she found no pity or understanding in our weird, demorphing faces.

Karen turned and ran. She ran as fast as little girl legs could move on a swollen, bruised, and bloody ankle.

<Shall I get her?> Ax asked calmly.

“No,” Rachel said. She was human for the moment. “Let her run. Let her feel what it’s like to be helpless. I’ll deal with her soon enough.”

And with that, Rachel began to morph from human into the African elephant whose DNA was a part of her.

Karen staggered and ran and fell. She reached the edge of the meadow and crawled into the trees.

And that’s when we saw the flash of black and tan. It fell, silent, from a tree branch.

It dropped straight down on Karen.

It opened its mighty jaws, bared its railroad spike teeth, and prepared to sink those fangs into her unprotected neck.

“Aaaaahhhhh!” Karen screamed.

I froze. I was in mid-demorph. Rachel was in mid-morph. Maybe Ax could save the girl from the leopard, but he wouldn’t move unless I gave the order.

And I just froze. Did I think Good, let the leopard do our dirty work for us? Maybe. I don’t know if I thought anything very clearly.

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” Karen wailed as the leopard crouched over her, aiming for the perfect bite.

And then …

A hand! A huge, black, hairy hand came out from behind the tree.

Fingers the size of bratwursts closed on the scruff of the leopard’s neck. Huge arms flexed, massive shoulders lifted, and the leopard was suddenly hanging in midair.

<I don’t think so, kitty,> Marco said.

He spun halfway around and flung the leopard about twenty feet.

You know, that's probably not going to kill the leopard.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


Huh. Chekhov's Leopard.

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Comrade Blyatlov posted:

Huh. Chekhov's Leopard.

Every time you forget about it, it shows up again,

<Deep philosophical conversation about the nature of war>
<Leopard attack!>

ANOTHER SCORCHER
Aug 12, 2018


This is all one big thing.


That leopard must be mighty hungry to keep pursuing Karen even when she’s surrounded by strange-smelling people including an alien.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


I guess it really meant it when it said next time she's mine???

Jazerus
May 24, 2011



ANOTHER SCORCHER posted:

That leopard must be mighty hungry to keep pursuing Karen even when she’s surrounded by strange-smelling people including an alien.

leopards can always identify members of the "leopards eating people's faces" party and frankly that fits the yeerk empire pretty well

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



ANOTHER SCORCHER posted:

That leopard must be mighty hungry to keep pursuing Karen even when she’s surrounded by strange-smelling people including an alien.

To be fair, they were all birds just a minute ago.

Grammarchist
Jan 28, 2013



I hope the Leopard digs up the morphing cube and becomes a recurring wild-card antagonist.

Mazerunner
Apr 22, 2010

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


the yeerk should go in the leopard

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


The leopard is a more effective and frightening antagonist than Visser Three

rollick
Mar 20, 2009


This book is plotted like a farce, and I'm warming to it. Can't wait for Cassie's identical twin to show up.

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

rollick posted:

This book is plotted like a farce, and I'm warming to it. Can't wait for Cassie's identical twin to show up.

Karen tears off her obviously obviously fake mustache. "It was I, Visser Three, all along!"

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


The leopard tears off Karen's face.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


*laugh track*
Oh, that leopard!

Zoom to black centered on leopard's face

Strategic Tea
Sep 1, 2012

It's not the red form anymore.
Incidental bones can file under the greens.


The leopard poses dramatically

<FOOLS! Your earth creatures do indeed make for the most fascinating of morphs>

Tree Bucket
Apr 1, 2016


I often wonder what insults V3 would use other than FOOLS! if the authors were allowed free rein. I guess more than one scene would end with "FFFFF-"

WrightOfWay
Jul 24, 2010




Strategic Tea posted:

The leopard poses dramatically

<FOOLS! Your earth creatures do indeed make for the most fascinating of morphs>

Visser 3 is a known cat-lover so it fits.

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Animorphs-Book 19-The Departure, Chapter 25
Jake

quote:

We made a strange little group, there at the edge of the meadow. An Andalite. An elephant. A gorilla. A hawk. And me. I was human again.

In the middle of the circle we formed was Karen. Or Aftran, depending on how you wanted to look at it.


“What are you going to do with me, Jake?” she asked.

It shocked me, hearing my own name come from her. I mean, it shouldn’t have surprised me, because I knew she’d been inside Cassie’s head. But it made it all so terribly clear: Nothing had changed. Our lives were still in this Controller’s hands.

“I don’t know what to do with you,” I admitted.

<Sure you do,> Rachel said coldly. <Marco just saved her for me. Isn’t that right, Marco?>

But Marco didn’t answer. Instead he began to demorph back to human, shrinking within the gorilla.

Rachel moved her Miata-sized head and looked at Ax. <You’re with me, aren’t you?>

“Of course he is,” Karen snapped. “Humans may be capable of wanting peace, but not the almighty Andalites. Go ahead, Andalite. You have that tail of yours. Go ahead, use it.”

Ax looked at Rachel with his stalk eyes. He kept his main eyes on Karen. And he said, <I will do as Prince Jake says.>

I saw the shock in Karen’s eyes as she looked back at me to learn her fate.

“You said you had a deal with Cassie. Tell me about it.”

“If she would suffer the same fate that awaits me - a life without sight, without pleasure, without freedom - then I would do what she asked me to do,” Karen said simply.

“And what did Cassie ask you to do?”

“To make what small peace I could,” Karen said. “To let this host body go free. And never to take another human host.”

“You’ll do this?” I asked.

Karen nodded. “Yes.”

<Yeah, that’s real likely,> Rachel said derisively.

I took a deep breath. “Why will you do it? Why?”

Karen smiled a small smile. “We are not all like Visser Three,” she said. “Some of us are just little Yeerks, unimportant nobodies who are caught in this war. Some of us also want peace. Some of us want to find a better way. But how can we give up everything and leave the universe to …” She jerked her head toward Ax. “To them? They’ll never feel anything but hatred and contempt for us. Cassie … Cassie did not hate.”

<Jake, stop listening to her! She wants to destroy us. She’ll say anything she has to!> Rachel cried. <She’ll tell any lie she has to! You can’t let her walk away. She can’t be trusted.>

<Cassie trusted her,> Tobias said quietly.

<This is insane! Ridiculous!> Rachel yelled.

She was right. What Cassie had done was insane. But it wasn’t wrong. And I just kept thinking, as idealistic and naive and even dumb as Cassie’s actions might have seemed, did I want to undo them all now? Did I want to destroy the meaning of her sacrifice?

Cassie had given her life, making an absurd, hopeful bet on peace. If I gave one order … her bet would be wasted. If I gave the other order, we might all die.

“I guess sometimes you have to choose between smart, sane, ruthlessness, and totally stupid, insane hope,” I said, not even realizing I was speaking out loud. “You can’t just pick one and stick with it, either. Each time it comes up, you have to try and make your best decision. Most of the time, I guess I have to go with being smart and sane. But I don’t want to live in a world where people don’t try the stupid, crazy, hopeful thing sometimes.”

I looked at Rachel, towering above us all. “Rachel, I’m not going to give any orders. Each of us has to decide for ourselves right now.”

I looked at Karen again and then turned away. I walked back to the caterpillar. I plucked up the stalk of the plant, and carried it carefully away into the forest.

Tobias joined me a few minutes later. And then Ax. And Marco.

Rachel didn’t come, not at first.

But after a while there she was, human again.

We looked at her, wondering.

“Cassie was my best friend,” she said, gritting her teeth to control the tears. “I’m not going to be the one to call her a fool.”

Rachel reached out her hands to take the stiffening, drying chrysalis.

“I’ll carry her,” she said. “I’ll keep her safe.”

I guess sometimes you just have to trust.

Chapter 26
Cassie

quote:

For a long time, I was gone.

Unconscious.

Unaware.

A worm in hibernation. The limited caterpillar mind not even functioning at its very limited level.

It was like I was dead, only there were still these faint, far-off dreams. Wisps of dreams, really. Nothing to hold on to.

Faint images of people and places. My parents, most of all. Not that I knew what those vague faces meant.

I was changing, but I didn’t know that I was changing. I didn’t even know that I existed.

I was inside a hardened shell. Hanging from the bottom of a leaf. I was becoming one of the miracles of nature. I was living through nature’s own morphing.

Slowly, so slowly, I became aware. I stirred and shifted and my own movement woke me up. My dried, stiff sack of skin began to crack open like an egg. It split, and I felt a new, strange sensation. The first new thing I had felt for a long time.

Air!

Now things seemed to be happening very quickly. I was pushing, squirming, trying to get out. Impatient.

I pushed and suddenly …

I could see!

In an explosion of awareness, I knew who I was. I was Cassie! And I could see again!

Colors! Like some lunatic artist run nuts, spraying everything in brilliant, iridescent, glowing, insane colors!

Compound eyes, I told myself. Then I laughed, because I still knew the term. I was back. I was me again.
But not the human me.

Compound eyes. And now, antennae that unfolded from the stickiness of the chrysalis and smelled all the delicious smells of the world.

I pushed further, harder. And little by little, I emerged from the chrysalis.

Then, at last, I unfolded my wings. They were limp and damp at first, but I held them out to dry and harden.

They were made up of millions of tiny scales, almost like the skin of a reptile. But these scales glittered with color.

It was funny, I suppose, because I was seeing color the way a butterfly does, which is very different from human sight. To my fractured, compound eyes, I seemed to be a dazzling ultraviolet and red. But human eyes would see me quite differently.

Where my mouth should have been, there was a long, coiled proboscis. My life’s work would be to flit from one beautiful, glowing flower to the next. To uncoil my proboscis and drink nectar from the heart of the flower. And, as if by accident, carry grains of pollen to the next flower.

I had been a caterpillar. Now I was a butterfly. I had eyes. I had wings. I would not live out my life as a slug.

Had I cheated Aftran the Yeerk? Had Karen known about caterpillars and butterflies? Maybe not. In which case Aftran would not have known, either.

I could almost have been happy. But now, awake again, alert, aware, all my human memories came rushing back.

How long had I been this way? What awful agony would my parents have endured? And my friends, did they even know?

I tested my wings. Sunlight had dried them.

I was what I was. A butterfly. I would live a short life in a world of flowers.

I wanted to cry, but my butterfly instincts told me I had work to do. Flowers, loaded with pollen, waited for me to help them live.

So I just want to talk for a second about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. You might think, like I did, that you know, the caterpillar sits in there, and then, I dunno, wings grow on it and other things. That's not what happens at all.

So caterpillars have this hormone that stops maturity, so as it grows, it molts its outer skin and grows bigger. Eventually, though, the hormone stops being produced, The caterpillar molts it skin, and attaches itself to a plant, and then the new skin gets hard. Meanwhile, inside there, the caterpillar starts dissolving. It just breaks down. The caterpillar has these cells colonies in it, for wings and all the stuff that a butterfly has, that normally the hormone stops from growing. Now that it's gone, these cells grow, feeing off the slurry that was the caterpillar, and a butterfly forms out of it. It breaks itself out of the chrysalis (which, remember, is the hardened skin of the caterpillar, and then goes off to do its butterfly things, which is basically eating and having sex. It's a total transformation though. It's almost like the caterpillar and the butterfly are completely different animals.

freebooter
Jul 7, 2009

AUSTRALIA
NEEDS
TURNBULL


I was withholding judgement on what I remember happening in this chapter until I read it again, but I have to say it's probably the most unrealistic part of the whole book (including what comes next, which considering they once got timeblasted back to the Cretaceous, is hardly the most egregious handwavey science in the series). I admire the point KA is trying to make here and I believe every single one of the characters would be tempted to honour Cassie's sacrifice and let Karen/Aftran live - but not actually do it. KA's thumb is on the scale pretty heavily here.

(Also, we know this works out fine because the series doesn't end, but plot hole: wouldn't the cop controllers ask how it was Aftran spoke to them in thought-speak?)

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



freebooter posted:

I was withholding judgement on what I remember happening in this chapter until I read it again, but I have to say it's probably the most unrealistic part of the whole book (including what comes next, which considering they once got timeblasted back to the Cretaceous, is hardly the most egregious handwavey science in the series).
Yeah, like I said.

quote:

(Also, we know this works out fine because the series doesn't end, but plot hole: wouldn't the cop controllers ask how it was Aftran spoke to them in thought-speak?)
It's pretty well established at this point that people don't really have recognizable thought-speech "voices", at least not like in speech, considering how often it gets passed off as half-heard speech or attributed to someone else. As far as they know, the only one on the planet who could thought-speak at them (and would help them fight the Andalite Bandits) is Visser Three, so it must have been him.

SSJ_naruto_2003
Oct 12, 2012





If afran just never went back into Karen, the yeerks would re infest her and see from her memories who the 'andalite bandits' were lol

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


SSJ_naruto_2003 posted:

If afran just never went back into Karen, the yeerks would re infest her and see from her memories who the 'andalite bandits' were lol

Yeah I actually don't remember how this is resolved. I'm certain they won't waste Karen, but I don't know how she could escape either.

Crespolini
Mar 9, 2014



Fuschia tude posted:



It's pretty well established at this point that people don't really have recognizable thought-speech "voices", at least not like in speech, considering how often it gets passed off as half-heard speech or attributed to someone else. As far as they know, the only one on the planet who could thought-speak at them (and would help them fight the Andalite Bandits) is Visser Three, so it must have been him.

It told them who it was, though? Name, rank and everything.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



Crespolini posted:

It told them who it was, though? Name, rank and everything.

lol disregard everything I said then

Jazerus
May 24, 2011



obviously it was just the andalite bandits tricking them into being eaten by a leopard

as far as karen's memory goes...i've got nothing. we know yeerks can replay memories, maybe they can erase them? but you'd think they would just turn people into voids if they could do that, at least for hosts that don't need to maintain cover like hork-bajir.

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Animorphs-Book 19-The Departure, Chapter 27
Jake

quote:

I was sitting in science class, listening to some hopelessly complicated lecture about fungus when I saw the familiar flash of brown and tan shoot past the window.

<Jake! Jake! She’s coming out!> Tobias said.

“I thought it was supposed to take at least ten days!” I said. The teacher stared at me. So did most of the class, those that were awake.

“Sorry,” I said. “I … um … I’m not feeling too well. Permission to go to the nurse?”

“Wait till the end of class.”

“But I have to hurl!” I cried, and ran for the door. No one argues when you say you have to hurl. They just get out of your way.

Seconds later, Rachel got sick, too. She also had to hurl. Then Marco left the classroom he was in. Marco, being Marco, told his teacher he had to rush out to put on one of those Nicoderm patches.

“I’m trying to break the smoking habit!” he yelled. “Don’t stop me!”

Twenty minutes later, we were all assembled around the little flower garden behind Cassie’s house. That’s where we’d moved the chrysalis. It had been hanging from its transplanted plant, amid the flowers, with Tobias staying nearby, day and night, to protect it from predators.

Cassie’s parents didn’t know, of course. Three days had gone by. They were still hopeful that she’d be found. I didn’t know what to tell them. Or when. Or whether I should just let them go on hoping. We gathered around the chrysalis, which was split wide open. The butterfly emerged, little by little. Then, at last, it spread its beautiful wings.

“It was supposed to take a couple of weeks,” I said.

<Cassie always was the fastest morpher,> Tobias pointed out.

Rachel was crying, which is a disturbing sight because Rachel doesn’t cry. I guess I was, too.

“She’s a butterfly,” Rachel said. “She made it. At least now she’ll …”

She broke down. It was nice that Cassie was a butterfly instead of a caterpillar. But it wasn’t anything to celebrate. Not to us. Not to her parents.

Ax arrived in human morph, trotting a little erratically on his two legs. He bent over and looked closely at the butterfly, just testing its wings. “What is that?”

“It’s Cassie,” I said. “Emerging from the chrysalis.”

Ax looked puzzled. “But this is not at all the body she had.”

“No, that’s what happens,” Marco explained. “The caterpillar becomes the butterfly.”

Suddenly, the butterfly simply took off. It fluttered away, off across the flowers, like it was shopping for just the right one.

“Naturally-occurring morphing?” Ax asked quizzically. “You didn’t tell me.”

“I guess it is natural morphing,” I said. “And I guess it’s better to live your life as a butterfly than as a caterpillar.”

“Would Cassie prefer being this creature to being human again?” Ax asked. “Creee-cher. Cuhree- ture.”

Rachel sighed. “No, Ax, of course not. We’re just saying that this is better than her only other choice. Better to be a butterfly than a caterpillar.”

“Ah. I see,” Ax said. “But maybe she would like to demorph now.”

“I’m sure she would,” Marco said grimly.

“Then she should,” Ax said.

Slowly, one by one, we all turned our eyes to stare at him. Rachel did a little more. She jumped up, grabbed him by the collar and said, “Are you jerking my chain, or do you have something to say?”

Ax seemed a little surprised, to put it mildly. But he said, “Oh, I see. You didn’t realize. Zuh. Re-uh-liiii-zuh. A very complicated word, ‘realize.’ And the ‘z’ sound makes my human mouth-parts tickle.”

“Ax! Are you saying Cassie can morph?!” I demanded.

“I believe so,” he said. “This naturally-occurring morph should reset the morphing clock. She has two hours to demorph.”

“GET! THAT! BUTTERFLY!” I yelled.

GET! THAT! BUTTERFLY! should be the Animorph motto.

Chapter 28
Cassie

quote:

I had to lie to my parents. I stuck to the truth as much as I could. I mean, I told them about falling in the river. I just left out Karen. And I told them I’d survived for three days eating mushrooms.\

I was on the news. And in the newspaper. The headline was “Girl Survives Ordeal Eating Mushrooms.”

I thought that was kind of funny. Like the ordeal was mushrooms.

I was interviewed a lot. And I was hugged a lot. For a couple of days my parents wouldn’t let go of me. Which was fine with me.

But finally, at last, my life started to get back to normal. Normal, except for the fact that each day I woke up wondering: Would this be the day the Yeerks would take me? Would this be the day my friends and I would be made into Controllers?

But days went by and there were no sudden attacks. At school, Chapman, the assistant principal and a major Controller, ignored me like he always did. Jake’s brother, Tom, just made some crack about me and mushrooms, but that was it.

No attack.

And then, my dad came home, snapping his fingers and giggling. He lifted me up and twirled me around into a really bad dance. Probably the Frug or the Twist or whatever.

“We’re saved!” he said.

“Ooookay,” I said.

“No, we got funding! We got funding! The Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic is open for business again, and back better than ever.”

“No way!” I screamed.

“Yeah. It was weird. Suddenly this guy from UniBank calls up and says his daughter had heard about the clinic. He says she’s been bugging him to contribute enough money to keep us open. The man actually said, ‘So, tell me what you need so my little girl will be happy.’ So I did. And he’s sending the check over.”

He laughed. “A good week, huh?” Then he hugged me like he’d been doing every eight minutes since I’d come back. “Wonder who that little girl is? We owe her big.”

I knew the little girl’s name, of course. Karen. Karen, who had been made into a Controller to keep tabs on her father, the president of UniBank.

But I, too, wondered who she was. All I knew for sure was that she had not given us up to her fellow Yeerks.

Another week went by before I was sure. I was in the mall - with Rachel, of course. Since being a butterfly, I’d become more interested in colors. Rachel decided this meant I should have all new clothes. So she was dragging me from store to store, attempting to get me to understand the concept of
accessorizing.

And that’s when I saw her, standing off by herself, just a little distance from the woman who must have been her mother.

I went over to her, leaving Rachel in the midst of some sweaters.

“Hi, Karen,” I said.

“Hi, Cassie,” she said.

“How are you?”

She looked at me with those familiar green eyes and said, “I’m free, Cassie. She kept her promise. I’m free.”

I couldn’t say anything. Words wouldn’t come out. I just knelt down and gave the little girl a hug.

One small victory. One girl free. One connection made with one of our enemies.

A very small peace.

“She would be glad you escaped,” Karen said. “She tried to stop you at the very end.”

I nodded, wordless still.

Her mother came and got her then. Karen disappeared, a little girl carrying a huge secret, her mind filled with things no little kid should know.

Kind of like me, I realized. Kind of like all the Animorphs.

Was I still an Animorph?

Yes.

It meant I would have to fight sometimes. But being an Animorph might also let me find other small victories for peace. Amid all the conflict and fear and rage, I could still look for the enemy who might become a friend.

It wasn’t a perfect answer, but it was the best I could do.

“So?” Rachel demanded, holding up two sweaters. “Which one do you like? The green or the red?”

I thought of Aftran, the enemy. I thought of her swimming blind in the Yeerk pool, with only her memories of a brighter world. She’d told me that humans live in paradise. She’d turned her back on paradise to make a small peace.

“Both, Rachel. And I like the blue. And the yellow. And that gross color there. And the stripes. We live in paradise, Rachel, and we don’t even know it. And we don’t know when it might end. We’d have to be fools not to enjoy it while we can. So, whip out your credit card, girl, we’re adding some
color!”

So, the ending was maybe eh, with how Karen could get away, the "butterflies are natural morphers", etc. But I still think it was a good book over all, and hopeful in the sense that enemies don't have to be enemies....that there can be peace. Applegate explained why she included the Yeerk point of view.

quote:

"Sometimes the bad guys of the world come at you guns blazing. Sometimes they come at you wearing a mask, hiding their intentions, deceiving and manipulating, turning one person against another without giving you a fair chance to fight back. Life would be easier all around if evil people would simply announce that they are evil so we could all reject them. But in many cases evil creeps in, hiding behind politics, philosophy, patriotism, law, religion, science, art. Sometimes evil can be very plausible, logical. That's why I've gradually fleshed out the history of the Yeerks. I hope that readers will, on occasion, find themselves thinking, 'You know what, the Yeerks are making sense. They kind of have a point.' It's easy to figure out right and wrong when it's clear as black and white." But the challenge in our lives is "to be able to figure out right and wrong even when the bad guys 'kind of have a point'."

So, good book, I think, even though some people might not think so. Next book is book 20, the Discovery, and trust me, we're in for a journey these next few books. No leopard, though, even though he's still out there, hunting.

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


i really liked what they were doing with this, even if it was a bit hamfisted and the logistics don't entirely work

really looking forward to these next ones. i haven't read them since i was still reading the books the first time as a kid, but i remember them being good stuff

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



Epicurius posted:

So, the ending was maybe eh, with how Karen could get away, the "butterflies are natural morphers", etc. But I still think it was a good book over all, and hopeful in the sense that enemies don't have to be enemies....that there can be peace. Applegate explained why she included the Yeerk point of view.
Yeah, I liked it up until the ending. The whole "metamorphosis resets your morph timer!" thing feels like yet another post-hoc rationalization to reset everything back to the status quo, without even a Sario Rip this time to blame it all on fantasy physics, and it negates her whole sacrifice. Plus the aforementioned OPSEC problem; and nobody notices this globally-important child host stops showing up to feed? How would she even be able to get out of the Yeerk pool again?

Maybe Aftran lied, and is still hiding behind those eyes, keeping quiet but claiming with Karen's voice that she actually did the thing.

quote:

So, good book, I think, even though some people might not think so. Next book is book 20, the Discovery, and trust me, we're in for a journey these next few books. No leopard, though, even though he's still out there, hunting.

"If you took the city of Tokyo and turned it upside down and shook it, you would be amazed at the animals that would fall out."

Terror Sweat
Mar 15, 2009



Uh how do the yeerks not realize that this little girl stopped coming to meetings

Edna Mode
Sep 24, 2005

Bullshit, that's last year's Fall collection!



Hm, that's not the ending I remember for Aftran. Don't they give it the morphing power and it becomes a whale?

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


To be honest when I read this way back when the whole morphing thing seemed like a cheap cop out, but after reading your explanation of how it actually happens... it honestly seems like, yes, natural morphing.
I'll allow it.

I won't allow Karen, though. There is no way that girl should be alive and free. Free and dead, or alive and enslaved, but not both.

Fritzler
Sep 5, 2007




Terror Sweat posted:

Uh how do the yeerks not realize that this little girl stopped coming to meetings
How did the yeerk get to the pool without Karen being captured?

Epicurius
Apr 10, 2010


College Slice

Edna Mode posted:

Hm, that's not the ending I remember for Aftran. Don't they give it the morphing power and it becomes a whale?

All im going to say is be patient and we'll see Aftran again

Rochallor
Apr 22, 2010


Comrade Blyatlov posted:

To be honest when I read this way back when the whole morphing thing seemed like a cheap cop out, but after reading your explanation of how it actually happens... it honestly seems like, yes, natural morphing.
I'll allow it.

I'll grant that the metamorphosis seems a great deal more intense that you might think, but isn't the two hour limit just how long all the matter can exist in Z-space before it loses cohesion? Tobias couldn't unmorph because there was no human body for him to morph back into.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


shush

WrightOfWay
Jul 24, 2010




The ending was definitely dumb and obviously a cop out to maintain the status quo and I don't think Aftran (and the Yeerks as a whole) come off as sympathetically as KAA probably intended but I'm glad she tried, even if it kind of fell flat.

Comrade Blyatlov
Aug 4, 2007


should have picked four fingers


The whole "you're predators we're parasites" would work a lot better if they weren't actively invading, but, she gave it a good try and definitely made clear it's not as simple as all that.

WrightOfWay
Jul 24, 2010




For me the revelation that Yeerks are blind, but not deaf and can communicate with each other within the pool is a big thing. I was under the impression before that that Yeerks were completely isolated outside of a host body, which made them a bit more understandable. IDK, maybe this is all Seerow's fault for giving them guns and spaceships instead of hoverchairs or something that would allow Yeerks to be ambulatory in their natural bodies.

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SSJ_naruto_2003
Oct 12, 2012





Wait, so they never addressed that Karen was a controller and thus known to the yeerks

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