This is my continuation of the Animorphs series. Yeah, I know, it's been done to death. Still, I've received positive feedback from others and am more than happy to share.
I, like most readers, was sorely disappointed by book #54. It didn’t feel like an ending (in fact, it was entitled The Beginning). It seemed to invite fanfics. So I started writing my own. Basically, this book is Animorphs #55. It picks up where #54 left off and works its way from there. It is the first of many more to come until I reach an ending I’m satisfied with.
Because #53 was a Jake book, #54 should have been Rachel. That means #55 should be either Tobias or Ax. Since Ax is busy being possessed, I went with Tobias.
I made these as much like the original Animorphs books as I could. That includes adding a chapter from the next book in the series at the end as well as a summary of the next book.
Enjoy or go to hell.
Imagine a picture of a hawk turning into a kind of sketchy looking guy.
55: The Prologue
My name is Tobias. You might have heard of me. For three years, five friends and I fought alone against an alien force that sought to enslave humanity: the Yeerk Empire. Yeerks, in their natural state, are just little grey slugs. But these slugs can crawl inside your head and take over your body completely.
The six of us were, me, our leader Jake, his best friend Marco, Jake’s girlfriend Cassie, and an Andalite kid named Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. And there was Rachel. Rachel was Jake’s cousin and Cassie’s best friend. She was also the only person I ever loved. In our final battle, she…well, you know what happened then.
We called ourselves the Animorphs because of our only weapon: the power to morph. We could transform our bodies into any animal we could touch. Once we touched a creature and acquired its DNA, we could become that creature. One of my first morphs was a red tailed hawk. I never really got out of that morph. You see, there is a time limit on morphing. If you stay in one form for more than two hours, you stay like that forever.
A vastly powerful alien called the Ellimist gave me back my power to morph a while ago. Still, every two hours, I have to go back to hawk or I’m in whatever body I was in forever.
That was the old days. We had a few allies, but I won’t go into that here. For the most part, it was just the six of us. For three years, we waged a terrible, bloody war against our unseen enemies. Attack after guerilla attack against any tiny weakness we could find in the Yeerks. It started out as a delaying action. Then, it turned into a victory.
But none of that matters now. Because that war ended three years ago. Fast forward to the beginning of this story. After our final battle, the last of the Yeerks escaped in a ship and flew out into space. Aximili, we always called him Ax, chased after them for years. Finally, they outsmarted him and ambushed him. They captured him. That was when Ax’s second in command, Menderash, came to Earth. He contacted Jake and told him everything. So Jake got Marco and me. I never wanted to see anyone again after the war, but I couldn’t turn my back on Ax. He called me his shorm. It’s Andalite for “best friend.” Jake also recruited some special agents he had been training to morph, an American named Santorelli and a French girl named Jeanne. Menderash morphed permanently to human to avoid some legal complications, so he’s stuck like that.
So here we are again. Jake, Marco, Santorelli, Jeanne, Menderash, and me, Tobias. We’re deep in an unknown, unfriendly sector of the galaxy on a deadly, secret mission against forces we don’t understand. If anyone were to find out about us, it would start an intergalactic war that our own sector of the galaxy did not think it could win.
Does any of this seem a little familiar? If you were with me for the first ride, it should. But just remember: this is a new world with new rules, new dangers, and whole new morphs. You might recognize me, but that’s about all you’ll recognize. Ready? Then hang on, because this starts out fast…
My name is Tobias. I can’t tell you my last name or where I live. I don’t know what my last name would be anymore. As for where I live, right now it’s somewhere in a foreign sector of the galaxy. I’m writing this because, when this is all over, there I want the survivors to be able to understand who we were and why we did what we had to do. And I’m writing this because maybe, just maybe, someone will read this and have the strength to go on when they might fall without it.
Let me set the scene for you. We came out of Z-space and found the Blade ship, the ship with the last Yeerks in the world, waiting for us. Ax, my friend, had been taken over by some being called The One. I just heard Jake, my old ‘friend,’ give the order to our pilot, Menderash. “Ram the Blade Ship.” I saw Menderash reach for the controls. Then, I saw him freeze. I looked around. Nobody moved. Not an inch. No breathing, no blinking, and no wavering of the grotesque hologram of Ax that even now smiled at us with arrogance etched into his mutated face.
I knew this game. <Ellimist,> I muttered. <Come to not help us once again?> Then I heard a voice I wasn’t expecting.
“Not Ellimist.” I turned to see the Drode. The Drode looked sort of like a purple dinosaur, but his flesh was very wrinkled and his face was way too close to a human face.
The Drode served a being known as Crayak. At first, I thought of the Ellimist as good and Crayak as evil. But I haven’t been sure what those words meant for years.
<Crayak, then. As if it matters. What does your master want?> I demanded. I guess most people would be a little thrown by a creature that could stop and start time on a dime. Not me. The whole ‘time freeze’ gag is old news.
“I remember when you were respectful and shy,” the Drode sighed. “I might like this version better. But that is neither here nor there.”
<What do you want?> I repeated.
“Come now, Tobias. Surely you don’t think that the Ellimist would let his little friends the Animorphs kill themselves like this.”
<If the Ellimist cares, why are you here?>
The Drode didn’t answer me. Instead, he said, “I’m about to tell you a story. Don’t say anything until you hear it. I’m sure the Ellimist has told you a thing or two about my master, but I’m going to tell you the whole story. Then, you need to decide something. Are you ready?”
I tried to answer in thought speak, but I heard nothing. So I just nodded. Yes, I was ready. Then, just as I had expected, I was no longer in our dimension. When I looked around, I could see into and through things at once and form every angle. I saw the core as easily as the surface. I could see Jake’s unbeating heart as easily as easily as I could see the Yeerk slugs in the brains of the humans, Hork-Bajir and Taxxons in the Blade ship commanded by my shorm. I noticed something else. Small threads of light came from every Yeerk and Taxxon in that ship. They all converged at Ax. One great strand, a braid of every other thread, extended from him into a world I could not see even here. I turned to the Drode, who looked ‘normal’ even in this place.
“As you may know,” he said, “my master, the great and glorious Crayak, did not come from your galaxy. In his own galaxy, he had great power. He could control most anything he put his mind to. But there was a greater power than he. My master despised this one. He began a war against him. He turned the races of the galaxy against the other one. My master’s rival did the same. A long war ensued. In the end, my master lost and was banished from his home galaxy. So he went to yours.
“There, as you know, he met the Ellimist and now they play the same game for the stakes Crayak always wanted. Can you guess what comes next? The being who drove him out is The One, the very creature who has seized your Andalite friend. My master did not immediately engage the Ellimist. That would have been foolish. He built himself a base of power in a sector of the galaxy that the Ellimist rarely visited. That was this sector of the galaxy, Kelbrid space. My master’s home. At least, it used to be. A millennia ago, the people rose up and challenged his power. The One gave them the ability to succeed, so my master abandoned this place.”
I could feel that my thought speak was working again. So I said, <So now you want our help. We beat you in our own home so you think we just might be able to take on The One.>
“Don’t be ridiculous. You don’t have even a fraction of Crayak’s power. You are nothing to The One. But you can harm his servants.”
<Go on,> I told him. <Tell me more about The One.>
“Oh, but that would hardly be fair. You’ll have to learn about The One and his servants on your own. I’m sure you can find a suitable source of information if you think about it.”
<And what makes you think we’re going to help Crayak?> I asked. <He hasn’t exactly been our friend.>
“Believe me, Tobias, we are on the same side now. You humans proved yourselves stronger than the Yeerks. Crayak has no need of a weak species. We are done with the Yeerks. The One can have them. But humans…you present interesting possibilities. You’ll find that Crayak isn’t so bad once you get to know him.”
<Did you stop to think that maybe I don’t care?> I asked. <I don’t want any part of your war. I just want to get Ax and go home.>
The Drode laughed. “Do you really think it’s that easy? You can’t break The One’s power simply by taking dear Aximili beyond this sector of the galaxy. You have to sever him at the source. And to do that, you’ll need my master’s help.”
<So maybe we just leave Ax here. Better that than help Crayak.>
“You still think of my master as your enemy. Very well. Then take this little gift as a sign that my master is on your side. And that, unlike the Ellimist, he doesn’t lie to you.”
I felt the change the instant it happened. One moment, I was in my hawk body. The next, I was human. “What game are you playing?” I demanded of the Drode. My voice was raspy; I hadn’t used it in years.
“The games are over, Tobias. The game between Crayak and the Ellimist has collided with the war between Crayak and The One.”
“You said that the Ellimist, and apparently you too, wouldn’t let us die like this. But what can you do? You can’t interfere directly, according to the rules of your game. What’s your plan?”
“What did I just say? The game is over. Or, rather, postponed. The Ellimist and Crayak have all the time in the universe, plus a little extra. They can rest for a few eons while Crayak settles his old score. Crayak can use his full power here.”
“Then why does he need us?” I demanded.
“Why use a sword where a scalpel would do? Subtlety is so much more elegant.”
“I see. So what are you going to do?”
“Aximili seems to have you in quite the tight spot, doesn’t he? Of course, that spot wouldn’t be so very tight if, say, his Z-space engines suddenly engaged and left him thirty trillion light years away from you.”
“I see. So you save our lives and in return we go after The One. And what do you think we can do? It’s as feeble as attacking Crayak himself.”
“The six of you, alone, against a force far more powerful and advanced than you could ever be? I’m sure you’ll figure something out. Or you’ll fail, in which case Crayak simply delays his attack until he finds another, more suitable species with which to make his war.”
“Meanwhile, you buy me off by giving me back my humanity. But Crayak can’t give me back what I really want, can he?”
The Drode sighed. “Very little is beyond Crayak’s capabilities.”
“But he can’t raise the dead,” I concluded. “Fine. I’ll talk to the others. I can’t see Jake going for it. Or Marco. Santorelli and Jeanne maybe, but only because they don’t know what they’re getting into. Menderash will go along with anything to save Ax.”
“You’ll have to convince the others. But know, Tobias, that if Crayak wins, his power will be limitless. Nothing will be beyond his grasp. Nothing.” That final bribe left in the open, the Drode brought me back to my own world.
“Hey! Where’d the Blade ship go?” Marco asked. Then he looked at me. “And when did you morph?”
“An old friend of ours just paid me a visit,” I told him.
“The Ellimist?” Jake asked.
“Not exactly. The Drode. He told me that Crayak used to have a strong base of power in this part of space. And that The One kicked him out of here and out of his own galaxy. Now he wants us to help him take The One down. If we succeed, we get Ax back.”
“So it was Crayak who moved the Blade ship” Jake realized. “Now he wants our help. He does us a favor, so we do him one. What do you all think?”
Santorelli shrugged. “I don’t really know anything about any of this. I think it’s best if I leave it up to someone who knows what’s going on.”
“I am going to agree,” Jeanne said. “This is for our commanders to decide.”
Menderash added, “I am no expert on this Crayak, but if he offers us a way to save Prince Aximili, I am inclined to seize the chance. But I will obey my commanders.”
Marco looked at me. “Tobias, is there something you’re leaving out? Like why you’re human right now?”
I sighed. Marco was quick to see through subterfuge. “Crayak gave me back my human body. He wanted to prove to me that he’s trustworthier than the Ellimist. He means what he says. And he wants me to trust him.”
“So are you on his side?” Marco asked me.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “If Crayak wins here, the Drode says he’ll have unlimited power. We’d be condemning an entire sector of the galaxy to his rule. But he wouldn’t be that powerful in our own sector of the galaxy because the rules of his game still limit him there.”
“Sacrifice half the galaxy to Crayak in order to save Ax?” Jake wondered. “I can’t condone that. I’m voting against helping the big eye.”
I said, “The fact is that whatever happens in this part of the galaxy probably doesn’t harm us back home. Our goal has always been to take care of humans first, everyone else second. I think we can make a deal with Crayak. We help him. In return, he leaves Earth alone in his game.”
I looked at Marco. It was me against Jake. Marco’s vote would decide. He looked from Jake to me and back again. Finally, he said, “For me, my first goal has always been to protect my family. That’s why I was against fighting back in the beginning of the war with the Yeerks. When I found out about my mother, it became about saving her. If I can make a deal with Crayak to protect my family, then I don’t really care what happens to this galaxy.”
IT IS SETTLED THEN, a voice said in our heads. It was great and terrible, like a flood about to shatter a dam into a thousand pieces. We all knew that it was the voice of Crayak. YOUR EARTH IS SAFE IF YOU ASSIST ME AGAINST THE ONE. DO NOT FAIL. He didn’t have to add that, if we failed, Earth would pay the price.
“So what do we do now?” Marco asked. “I mean, how do we get at a guy who kicked Crayak’s butt? This isn’t like going after the Yeerks or Visser Three or something. We don’t have the slightest clue how to start.”
I answered. “The Drode told me we’d think of something. So I guess we start thinking.”
Jake turned to Menderash. “What do you know of Kelbrid space? Where’s the nearest planet?”
Menderash answered, “As we have traveled through Z-space, I have been compiling a map of the star systems. There is one only a few thousand light-years away. If we were to fly through it, the ship’s scanners would detect any signs of intelligent life.”
“Go for it. If The One is more powerful than Crayak, there must be some local legends about him. We need all the information we can get.”
So Menderash set out into space. I retired to my quarters. And quickly realized that I’d need to do some redecorating. They were furnished for a hawk. Fake trees, a few other places to perch. Nowhere for a human being.
I guess the trip wasn’t that long, but it was uncomfortable for me both physically and emotionally. I sat in a corner of my room and thought about what this war meant. Crayak wanted me on his side. That much was certain. But why me? Jake was our leader. Why not bribe him instead? Okay, so maybe that wouldn’t have worked. The war jaded Jake, but he would never sell out to Crayak. That just wasn’t his style.
But what about Marco? He had more influence than I did and he was cold enough to cut a deal. Then again, Marco had millions of dollars back home, a mansion, a T.V. show, and his family in perfect order. What could Crayak offer him? So it was down to me. There was only one thing I wanted and Crayak promised to give it to me. Long ago, I had done a service for the Ellimist. He had promised to give me what I most wanted. I wanted him to make me human again. Instead, he gave me back my power to morph. That was why Crayak gave me my human body.
I wondered, not for the first time, why these beings had taken such an interest in me. If it hadn’t been for the Ellimist, I wouldn’t even have existed. My father was an Andalite warrior named Prince Elfangor. He came to earth and assumed a human form. One day, the Ellimist called him back to his own planet to fight the Yeerks. The Ellimist erased all evidence of Elfangor’s time on earth. Except for his son. The Ellimist helped us Animorphs out a few times after that. And got us involved in his game with Crayak. He seemed to have some special interest in me and that freaked me out.
I remember the first time we went against Crayak. The six of us Animorphs and a friend of ours were transported to a weird planet so many light-years away from out own home that the Yeerks would never reach it without consuming most of the known universe. The planet was occupied by the Iskoort, intergalactic merchants and traders. We were supposed to fight Crayak’s champions for the fate of their race. Crayak sent seven warriors against us. They were all Howlers, genetically engineered killing machines, products of Crayak himself. We couldn’t outfight them, so we outsmarted them. We forced Crayak to destroy them himself.
Now Crayak wanted me for his pawn. I knew he was using me. But the thing was, he said he could bring Rachel back. Didn’t he? Then I remembered. Both of them, Ellimist and Crayak, have a way of lying without lying. They speak the truth, but it isn’t the truth you think it is. My thoughts were interrupted when my door slid open. Jake stood there. “We’re there. And you won’t believe where ‘there’ is.”
I went to the bridge and looked over the screens. At first glance, I recognized the place. It looked like Lego land if it were designed by Dr. Seuss. Towers miles high pierced the sky. They seemed to be made of bricks of every color imaginable and some that I don’t have words to describe.
There were no railings to keep you form falling over the edge. And it was a long fall. There were staircases that led from one level to the next. There was no pattern or shape to the towers. Just platforms stuck in wherever they would fit. Aliens moved across every platform. There were many species I had never seen before, native to this sector of the galaxy. But there was one type that was very common. They had triangular heads with crab-like eyes and little gasping mouths. Their torso was veined and scrunched together, like a living accordion. Their arms had too many joints. The hands ended in two tentacles and a claw. Their legs were oddly shaped so that it looked like they were crawling backwards on their knees even when they were moving forward.
I couldn’t see all of this from the ship, of course. I was just remembering it from the last time I had been here. Here being the planet of the Iskoort. It didn’t surprise me as much as it might have. I knew something about Crayak by now: he loved circles.
We met on the bridge. Jake addressed our group. “Tobias, Marco, and I know this planet. It is full of different alien life forms. We shouldn’t stick out much here.”
“Not so, big Jake,” Marco said. “The One will have access to Ax’s memories, or so we need to assume. Which means that he’ll know that humans don’t belong here.”
“How do we know he’s watching the Iskoort?” Jake wondered.
I answered. “It’s a safe bet. We’ve been here before. We have friends here. If we were to come to this sector of the galaxy in search of Ax, we’d probably stop here.”
“Exactly,” Marco agreed. “That means that we should only go if we have morphs that are from this part of the galaxy. Or at least one that isn’t associated with us.”
“Why does it matter if he’s watching us?” Jeanne asked.
“We don’t want him to know we’re walking around here asking questions about him,” Marco answered. “The less he knows about us, the better. But what morphs do we have that can walk around here and not seem out of place?”
“I have a Howler morph,” Jake said. “I can use that. The rest of you can hide on me in fly morph.” Jeanne, Santorelli, and the other special agents who had been given the morphing power back home had acquired a few of our standard morphs to use in training. Fly, our most common surveillance morph, was the first one they got.
“I have another morph I can use,” I said. “Remember the Nartec?” The Nartec were a race of mutated humans living beneath the ocean. During one mission, I had acquired one of them. “They’re not native to this galaxy, but I doubt The One will be on the lookout for them.”
“Are you sure you can still morph?” Marco asked. I just looked at him. “I mean, we know Crayak made you human. But did he let you keep your power?”
That surprised me. “I don’t know,” I admitted. “I didn’t think to try.” I focused my mind on the Nartec. And I felt the changes begin.
Morphing isn’t painful. If it was, you’d die long before you morphed. Your bones stretch or shrink, your organs rearrange, grow, or disappear altogether. Even your brain alters.
My body stayed pretty much the same. My arms grew a little bit so they were as long as my legs. My skin turned blue. I looked at my hand and saw webbing grow between the fingers. The same thing happened to my feet. I felt my eyes grow larger. They grew unfocused and the ship seemed entirely too bright. My sense of smell enhanced. I felt the gill slits grow in my neck. It became harder to breathe. Not impossible, but not as easy as it had been. I felt an odd sensation as fins slid out of my spine, forearms, and legs. I got a queasy feeling in my stomach as my organs subtly altered for the Nartec’s more fishy diet. Finally, I felt the Nartec mind. When you morph an animal, you get their instincts, not their memories. Still, we had a rule about morphing sentient creatures like Nartec or Howlers. We didn’t do it without permission or without necessity. In this case, the Nartec mind was almost like the human mind. Aside from a strong desire to be in water, it was calm enough. Human enough that it wasn’t totally disorienting.
Of course, the desire for water conflicted sharply with my own mind. I had spent the last six or so years of my life as a red tailed hawk. That still felt like my true self.
It was my father, Prince Elfangor, who gave us our morphing power. His ship had just been shot down by the Yeerks in a battle over Earth. He crash-landed in an abandoned construction site in our home town. Jake, Marco, Cassie, Rachel, and I had been taking a shortcut home from the mall. We found him and he told us about the Yeerks. Then he gave us our power. Jake got a small blue cube from his ship. We each put a hand on it. Ever since, there was no turning back. Not for me at least. Marco wanted to give up the whole thing for a while. I thought he was a coward.
At the time, Marco’s father was the only family he had. His mother had been taken by a Yeerk leader Visser One. She had left earth and faked her host’s death. She was eventually freed and Marco’s family was reunited. But for a long time, all Marco had was his father. And his best friend Jake. Jake’s brother, Tom, was a Controller, someone controlled by a Yeerk, from the beginning of the war. At one point, Jake’s parents were captured, too. In the end, they were freed but Tom was killed.
It was Rachel who killed Tom. In that final battle, Jake sent her on a secret mission onto the Blade Ship. She killed Tom. And she was skilled by the Yeerks. Then the Blade Ship got away. Ax spent years searching for it. Then the Yeerks captured him and here we are.
As for me, I never had a family. My father, Elfangor, was taken away by the Ellimist. My stepfather was killed when I was very young. My mother disappeared shortly after that. I was shunted back and forth between my aunt and uncle, both of whom hated me.
In the end, I was reunited with my mother. She didn’t remember my father or me. After the war, she went to the Andalite homeworld. I never heard anything about her after that.
I guess I kind of zoned out. I remember Marco saying, <Well look at that. Looks like Crayak is trustworthier than the Ellimist. Who knew?> He was using thought-speech. It’s a form of telepathy that we use in morphs. It is also the standard Andalite method of communication.
I looked down at my newly webbed hands. “Weird,” I said with a Nartec’s voice. I looked up to see that Jake had already morphed to Howler. Marco was a fly. Jeanne and Santorelli were still working on it. Morphing takes practice and they were rookies.
I looked away. Turning into a Nartec may be a little disorienting, but it is nothing compared to the horror show of watching someone become a fly.
Menderash couldn’t morph. He has trapped himself as a human to avoid the legal complications of having an Andalite in Kelbrid space. That was one of the reasons we had to get Ax. Menderash would have to wait in the ship.
Jake turned to me. <Ready?> he asked.
I tried to fake a Nartec smile. <Ready.>