Author Topic: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth  (Read 8826 times)

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Offline DinosaurNothlit

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Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« on: January 28, 2009, 08:29:57 PM »
Note: Before reading this, you might want to read The Difference

-----------------------------------

Chapter 1 (Shaliph 443)

My name is Shaliph-four-four-three.

And I am a Yeerk.

You've probably heard of Yeerks before. The fact of our existence is no longer a secret, now that the great war against the Yeerks is over. Everyone on earth now knows about the evil, little grey slugs that could crawl in your ear and take over your mind, enslave you completely and totally, take away your free will. Everyone knows about the race of parasites that used to spread from world to world, like a virus, conquering and enslaving one innocent race after another.

Well, you can forget that image now. That isn't what we are anymore.

With only a few exceptions, none of us still live as parasites, thanks to morphing technology. After the war, the Andalites, meddling hypocrites that they are, forced most of us to become what they call nothlits, trapped forever in a body not our own.

It seemed like a good idea at first, even to me. But, as time went on, and the Yeerk-nothlit Act was enforced more and more, I saw what it really was we were giving up. We were gaining the freedom that came with having our own bodies, but we were losing freedom, too. The freedom to be who we are. The freedom of choice.

I'm sure I sound like a hypocrite, a Yeerk talking about 'freedom' and 'choice.' But then again, if I'm a hypocrite for wanting my race to have the freedom to choose our own lives, then the Andalites are far worse hypocrites for taking that freedom from us.

If I had to do it over again, I would have stayed a Yeerk. I would have fought to the death against the Yeerk-nothlit Act. I would have refused to give up my people, my culture. My self. Not for all the host bodies in the world.

Turning away from the path of parasitism was a terrible mistake for us. I saw that now. Letting another race tell you your kind is evil, letting them tell you what you are and what you should be, that was a mistake. The entire Yeerk peace movement was just a terrible, misguided mistake.

Don't get me wrong. I understand why the peace movement came into being. Sure, I'd started out all gung-ho about conquest and enslavement, like most Yeerks. But upon coming to earth, and being assigned a human host, I began to look at things differently. There's something about infesting a human being that just . . . changes you. With Gedds, and Hork-Bajir, and even Taxxons, it's merely an entertaining challenge to conquer the mind. I can't really describe it to a non-Yeerk, but it really is an amazing feeling. Knowing that you can be so powerful, with only your thoughts! Oh, the power, and the intoxicating feeling of pride!

Humans . . . aren't quite like that. Humans are the first species that we've infested that really make you feel like you're doing something wrong. They plead for freedom more convincingly than any Hork-Bajir ever could. They try to reason with you, they hate you, they plot against you. They fight you. They force you to think about what you're doing to them. That is why so many Yeerks have 'gone human,' when almost none have ever 'gone Hork-Bajir,' or (heaven forbid) 'gone Gedd.'

I can't deny that my first human host changed me, too. She was a lawyer. Gail was her name. She was very opinionated, very argumentative. She didn't like what I was doing, and she never let me forget it. At first, I would just fight back, still in the general Yeerk frame of mind that my host was just a challenge to be overcome.

Then, it gradually began to dawn on me that we weren't really all that different, Gail and I. She saw my resolve weakening, and changed her tactics. Instead of fighting me openly, she began to engage me in almost-friendly mental discussions. It was through those conversations that my frame of mind really began to shift. I began to realize that my host, my 'slave' was, in many ways, my equal.

That was a fairly world-shattering revelation to me. To almost any Yeerk. And that is, I think, why so many Yeerks hide from that realization. Why they are so determined to deny that their slaves are anything like them. Because it would turn their lives upside down, make them question everything. And, in the end, it would be this single, simple truth that would destroy us.

Because of this one moral qualm, we were now losing whatever broken fragments of our own culture that the Andalites had left us with. In the easily foreseeable future, the entire Yeerk people would be only a distant memory.

Our nothlit descendants would be brought up in a world where their Yeerk ancestry was shameful. They would be taught to hide what they were, to try to forget and erase our culture. The next generations of Yeerks would simply dissolve into the very cultures that their ancestors were once trapped as. Human. Hork-bajir. Taxxon. Gedd. Andalite.

But we would not disappear peacefully. We were not about to fade away without a fight.
I was not going to be forgotten.

My sleep was interrupted by the piercing note of my alarm clock. I shut it off without looking at it, just as I do every morning. After a moment, struggling to rouse myself from my rest, I sat up, and glanced at the clock. Seven oh five. Not bad, considering my usual tendency to stay in bed for at least a good ten minutes after the alarm goes off. Human bodies have such a hard time of transitioning between sleep and consciousness. But, of course, I was used to that by now.

I yawned, stretched, and checked my reflection in the mirror. The human form I had chosen was young, barely even a teenager. I had wanted to start my life as a human fairly close to the beginning. Start with a fresh slate, as it were.

I checked my hair in the mirror, reaching for a hairbrush to smooth out the tangles. I had sort of orange-blond hair, a mix between red and blond, reaching down just a bit past my shoulders. Not perfectly straight, but not really all that curly, either. Just a little bit uneven in texture. My eyes were somewhere between brown and green.

I'm a mixed morph. I worked pretty hard to make my appearance unique. I decided to be female, just because that was how I thought of myself. Yeerks don't have sexes, of course.

I got dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and slacks, the outfit I'd picked out the night before. I wanted to look my best today.

I am a member of the New Resistance. We were holding a meeting today.

Instead of fighting against parasitism, like the old peace movement did, the New Resistance consists of Yeerks who fight for the right to be what we are. Almost a complete reversal, but then, the popular attitudes among Yeerks have reversed, too. So many of them are happy to be nothlits. They don't understand why we would want to hold onto our past. Our past is a disgrace to civilized races, they say.

That's exactly what the Andalites have always told us, I say. And since when have we ever let them tell us what to think?

Today would be a very important meeting of the New Resistance. The top secret Project Legacy would finally be revealed to the next tier of our organization. And that tier just happened to include me.

All I knew at this point were the rumors. That Project Legacy would rebuild the Yeerk Empire, bigger and more grand than it was before. That it would keep us alive, keep us Yeerk. That it would let us take back what the Andalites took from us.

And I knew one other thing.

The Andalites were wrong to think that making us nothlits would change anything. That the Act would make us harmless. That it would make us anything but Yeerks.

My name is Shaliph-four-four-three. I am a Yeerk. A Yeerk is what I will always be. And no one, human or Andalite, can ever take that away from me.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2009, 08:06:23 PM by DinosaurNothlit »

Offline DinosaurNothlit

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2009, 08:30:32 PM »
Chapter 2 (Cassie)

"Cass?"

"Yeah, Ronnie?"

"I think you should see this."

I put down my book and looked at the TV, which was running a news program. I turned the sound up.

"Late last night, four of the Animorphs returned home from a top-secret rescue mission. As you all know, almost a year ago Prince Aximili's ship the Intrepid went missing, and soon thereafter, renowned former Animorphs Jake Berenson and Marco Esteban followed suit and disappeared. Just last night, Jake, Marco, and Prince Aximili, as well as the so-called 'forgotten Animorph' Tobias Fangor, landed a bizarre craft on a landing strip in L.A. airport. On the scene, Nathan Hunt reports."

The camera switched to showing an alien craft, unlike any I had ever seen before, resting on the tarmac, with Jake, Tobias, Marco, and Ax standing in front of it, talking to a reporter.

I think I nearly fainted when I saw Jake there, looking at me through the screen. He looked battle-worn, and hardened. It was the Jake I had known during the war looking back at me, not the Jake I had watched deteriorate into a shell over the years since.

No, it couldn't be. That was just wishful thinking on my part. Lord, why could I still not let the past go, after it had been so long? Why was there that part of me that simply refused to move on?

Or . . . maybe it wasn't my imagination. There was something there . . . some tiny spark in Jake's eyes that I hadn't seen since . . .

I think Ronnie noticed, too. Maybe he didn't notice the difference in Jake, but he definitely noticed the difference in me. I caught him giving me his 'concerned' look.

"What?" I asked defensively.

"Nothing," he said. "I just noticed the way you were looking at Jake. And I wondered . . well, I wondered whether you still miss him."

I shut the TV off, right as they were moving to the next story. Something about an 'increase in reported Arn sightings.' The Arn were the new Bigfoot, these days. There were quite a few nutcases out there who still thought that the Arn weren't actually extinct, and tourists on the Hork-Bajir planet sometimes claim to have seen one. I paid the report no mind.

"I do," I answered Ronnie. "I miss the Jake I used to know. I think maybe I always will, deep down. But I need to accept that that Jake isn't coming back." I shook my head, telling myself to move on. Jake and I were over. Ancient history.

So then . . . why had I felt so elated to see him again? Why was I so relieved to know he was alive, when I had decided long ago that he must surely be dead?

Deeper down . . . that relief just barely masked the feelings of guilt and dread that haunted me whenever I thought about the war. Seeing Jake like that, whether it had been my imagination or not . . . that sight brought it all back. I shivered.

Why couldn't these feelings just let me go? Why couldn't my own memories just leave me alone? It had been four years. Four years since it had all ended. They say time heals all wounds. But I guess they're wrong.

Ronnie put his arm around my shoulders, trying to comfort me. "I'm sorry," I apologized. "I can imagine how awkward you must feel when I start talking about Jake like that."

"It's okay, honey," he said, holding me closer. "I know I'm not Jake, but-"

"But you know what?" I interrupted him, finishing his sentence for him. "I think I'm okay with that." With that, I pulled him close, and I kissed him.

Offline DinosaurNothlit

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2009, 08:31:05 PM »
Chapter 3 (Jake)

We were at the mall. All four of us. Ax was hanging around on earth for a little while before going off on another mission, Tobias had suddenly realized how much he missed human food after surviving for months on meat paste and rhinoceros steaks (long story, don't ask), and we had all come to see just how far apart we'd grown in those three years after the war. And Marco had taken it upon himself to decide he couldn't let the Animorphs drift apart like that, so, there we were.

I shifted a little in my seat at the food court. Somehow, just going out for a normal outing to the mall, didn't feel right anymore.

Okay, so maybe 'normal' wasn't quite the right word, what with Marco and my guards fending off the paparazzi while Marco's adoring fans screamed "Oh my GOD!!! It's him!!"

To tell the truth, the buzz did die down after a while, when everyone realized we weren't doing anything more interesting than sitting and eating, and we weren't going to talk to them no matter how much they pestered us. Still, we got plenty of attention from the odd passerby, that's for sure. Much more attention than I tended to like.

"Marco, why did we come here again?" I groaned.

"Come on, lighten up!" Marco said encouragingly, which only made me want to punch him. "Who knows, maybe you'll have a good time if you try."

"I ahm hafvim a guh hime!" Ax added, his voice muffled by the wad of food in his mouth.

"Of course you're having a good time, you've got a face full of cinnamon buns," Tobias said.

"Yes, because it's so much fun to watch Ax eat," I said, letting my annoyance be known. "Can we go now?"

"Not yet," Marco said, trying to keep his voice even, although I knew he was getting annoyed too. "Just wait."

"Wait? Wait for what?" I asked suspiciously.

That's when I saw . . . her. She was weaving her way through the crowds towards us. Marco waved. She waved back, then saw me and looked down, pretending she hadn't.

"Marco, you invited Cassie?! What were you thinking?!" I hissed, trying to keep my voice low despite how angry I was.

"Calm down, dude," Marco hissed back. Then he grinned coyly. "What, don't you-"

"No, I don't," I snapped, before he could even finish.

Perhaps it was stupid that I was making such a big deal about this. It wasn't that I was angry at Marco. Or at Cassie. It was that, try as I might to deny it, even to myself, there was a part of me that had never quite let go of the dream that Cassie and I would one day be together.

And I hated that part of me.

Why was I being so stupid? Cassie didn't want me. She was with Ronnie, now. Why couldn't I just let the past go?

Cassie arrived at our table, looking fairly awkward. "Marco told me he wanted to meet with me," she explained. "He never said that the rest of you would, um, be here." She never looked at me, but I knew that I was the one she was referring to.

"What, no 'welcome back'?" Marco asked, pretending to be hurt. "No 'I'm glad you made it home from a totally impossible mission, somehow miraculously still alive'?"

"I am glad you made it back, Marco," Cassie said, then added, in a tone that was as close as I'd ever heard her come to sarcasm, "Whatever would we do without you?"

"It would be a miserable existence," Marco replied. "The world would be a humorless place."

Tobias got up. "Nachos, anyone?" he asked. Obviously eager to get away before things got any more awkward.

He ended up agreeing to get enough nachos for everyone. As soon as he was gone, Cassie pulled up a chair and sat down. I fidgeted, feeling trapped.

"Come on," Cassie said, sensing my discomfort, but still refusing to acknowledge me. "I know we haven't all been together as a group since . . . wow, since the end of the war." She seemed a little surprised, as though she hadn't thought it had really been that long ago. "But we can stay friends, right? What's wrong with hanging out now and then?"

Something told me she was just trying to hide how she really felt. That she didn't want to be there any more than I did.

"Nothing," I lied. "You just took some of us by surprise, that's all."

"Good," she said. There was a beat of awkward silence, before Cassie tried again to start a conversation. "So, I hear you guys just got back from some big rescue mission. Uh, care to fill me in?"

"Afraid I can't do that, miss," Marco said. "It's top-secret. Very hush-hush."

I rolled my eyes. "What Marco means is that nobody was supposed to know about any of it. Which means, of course, that it's been all over the news for the past year now."

Cassie was about to reply when Tobias came back with the nachos. "Trust me, I know. I've been following the news," she said as she reached for a chip. "But they haven't said everything. What happened to you guys out there?"

"It was truly an epic tale of heroism, danger, psychotic bladed space Nazis, and daring feats of wit," Marco announced with a flourish as he began the story. "Just another day in the life of an Animorph."

Offline DinosaurNothlit

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2009, 08:31:36 PM »
Chapter 4 (Cassie)

It was just like the old days. Here we were, talking and joking and laughing, just like all these years had never passed. We were the Animorphs again. An inseparable team, ready to do anything for each other.

It made me feel absolutely awful about not going with them to help Ax.

After Marco finished his "epic tale," we started talking about other things. Random, small talk. But it brought back everything, seeing us talking like this, even if it was just about politics, or the latest crop of movies that the others had missed.

"No way, they made another Animorphs movie?" Marco exclaimed excitedly. Then he looked confused. "Don't they even need our approval for that anymore?"

Slowly, ever so slowly, the conversation seemed to shift to more serious topics. We began to acknowledge our past. It had been four years, and somehow it still hurt to talk about it. But I guess we all realized that we had to talk about it, that it wouldn't go away on its own. That talking was a form of healing.

I think the latest mission had somehow prepared the others for this moment. As if their own adventure had suddenly made it all real again, and at the same time had made the truth of the war somehow less painful.

We talked about that first meeting with Elfangor, marveled at the fact that it was only seven years ago, when it felt like another lifetime. We talked about our early missions, about how we had no idea what we were doing or what we were up against, but we fought anyway.

We talked for a long time about things that could have been. What if Elfangor had picked a different group of kids to fight, and we'd led normal lives? What would that have been like? It seemed so strange to think about, and strange that it should seem so strange. Like we couldn't even imagine what it would mean to be normal anymore.

We talked for even longer about Rachel. The incredible person that she had been. We remembered the the bad times. Like when David revealed that Rachel had threatened his family, and none of us had known what to say. All the times it had become clear how much the war had affected her, changed her. All the times we were almost afraid of her, but afraid for her, too.

We remembered the good times. Like the dozens of times when we were facing impossible odds, and her courage seemed like the only thing keeping us going. Shopping at the mall. We remembered all the little, meaningless moments, that even after this many years, meant so very much.

I think I was crying. Jake, too. I knew Tobias would have been, but I wasn't sure he even remembered how anymore. We were all completely oblivious to the mall patrons who were still passing by, still stopping to gawk at us when they realized who we were. None of that existed right now. All that existed were our memories, the battles we'd won, the battles we'd lost. The friends we'd lost.

Rachel had been my best friend, long before the war. I'd known her longer than any of the others had, except Jake. We'd been best friends, despite our differences, since forever, it seemed. She'd always been there for me, and I for her.

And now, without her, there was a hole in my life.

Why hadn't I appreciated her more? I'd always just taken it for granted that she'd always be there. She was Rachel. She had to be immortal, because surely nothing could ever kill her.

But something had.

I blinked, slowly pulled out of my memories by an odd feeling. Even as distracted with my own thoughts as I was, I had noticed when all of a sudden something seemed off. Something about my body felt different, somehow. I blinked again, wiping the tears out of my eyes, trying to place the feeling, because I had the vague sense that it felt familiar. I didn't think I'd morphed . . . had I? I happened to look down at my hand, and got a shock. My hand was fair-skinned, with perfectly manicured nails. And it was strangely familiar. Oh, my God, it was . . .

Offline DinosaurNothlit

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2009, 08:32:28 PM »
Chapter 5 (Tobias)

Rachel.

It was Rachel, sitting there where Cassie had been. She was right there! That long blonde hair, those fierce, reckless blue eyes . . . oh my God, it was really her! The shock of seeing someone so long dead, and my own deep desire to see Rachel again, kept me from immediately seeing the obvious explanation. Of course, once the shock finally wore off, I realized that it was too good to be true, and so of course it wasn't. No, of course Rachel wasn't somehow magically alive again. Cassie had only morphed by accident. Stupid, stupid Tobias, don't you know by now not to wish for things you can't have?

Everyone was silent for a while, as they each slowly realized the same obvious explanation that I had come to. We were all staring at Rachel/Cassie, which I'm sure must have made her uncomfortable. But I guess she was still too shaken up to try to demorph.

Jake finally broke the silence. "Cassie, you . . . you morphed Rachel? When did you acquire her?" He was trying to keep his expression and tone grave, but I could see the excitement in his eyes. They lit up with an energy I hadn't seen in him since . . . at least since Rachel died. I kept looking at him, trying to figure him out. What was he up to?

Cassie was still a little upset, I guess about all the memories of Rachel we had been reliving. And having everyone staring at her probably wasn't helping. I felt sorry for her. But she breathed a few sighs, getting a hold of herself enough to speak. "I don't really remember," she admitted, answering Jake's question in a voice that was so painfully familiar to all of us.

We all waited as Cassie paused for a moment, looking up at the ceiling as she tried to remember, closing her eyes every now and then. Then her face lit up as it came to her. "Wait! I remember now! Remember when Rachel was allergic to the crocodile morph . . . and then she had to go on that TV show? I morphed her as backup in case something went wrong."

Jake gasped, then tried to pretend he hadn't. But it was obvious that he'd realized something important. Marco looked over at him, having heard his gasp, and said, "Well, Jake? Do you have something to add? Why don't you share what you have to say with the rest of the class?"

Jake looked around, realizing he wasn't going to get out of this without telling everyone what he'd thought of, so he conceded with a sigh. He looked up, with that excitement in his eyes again, and said, "I was just thinking, you know, what if we could use Rachel's DNA to bring her back, somehow? Not through an allergic reaction, obviously, since that wouldn't . . . " He trailed off, looking uneasy. Because, suddenly, everyone wasn't staring at Cassie anymore. Everyone was now staring at Jake.

Cassie literally jumped out of her seat with excitement. "We could, we could! There's got to be a way! We have to try!"

Marco looked shocked, then his expression changed to a disapproving one. "Do you people even hear yourselves? We're talking about cloning, here! Nuh-uh. Best case scenario, we wind up with some freaky doppelganger of Rachel. We can't get the real Rachel back. It just isn't possible. I want Rachel back again as much as anyone, but we've got to be realistic."

Jake piped up again. "We should at least try! Won't it be worth the risk, if we really can get her back again somehow?" He looked distant for a second, and then added, "She deserves to see the end of the war. She deserves to see a world without Yeerks! A world for which she fought harder than any of us!" He pumped his fist for emphasis as he spoke.

Marco countered, "I'm not saying you're wrong. But don't you get it? Jake, you're talking about playing God! People live, and then they die. That's the way life is! You can't fight it, at least not without serious consequences. Rachel gave her life doing what she loved. For God's sake, let her be!"

Ax, who had been mostly silent throughout this conversation, spoke up. "I am afraid I must agree with Marco. It is not our place to deny Rachel her noble death. Not to mention that we would be in danger of approaching the Ellimist's caliber of meddling. And, unless I am quite mistaken, none of us wishes to emulate the Ellimist."

Cassie, having demorphed while the others were talking, looked thoughtful for a second, as if she might change her mind. But then she said, almost pleadingly, "It's not like this is the first time one of us has died. What about when Jake died, and we used the Time Matrix to bring him back? Marco, Ax, neither of you protested against that, did you?"

"That was different," Marco insisted. "That time, we were simply undoing his death. Making it as if he'd never died. We weren't creating an entirely new Jake from scratch." He turned to Cassie, his tone and expression accusing. "Cassie, I can't believe you could approve of this. Don't you see why this is wrong? Why it's stupid to deny death? A long time ago, I think you would have. Once upon a time, you were so clear about right and wrong. Don't you remember? Back when you were the conscience of the Animorphs? And now . . . I, Marco the heartless, ruthless cunning Marco, am more sensitive than you."

I could tell that Marco's words had hit home. Cassie said nothing. She looked like she'd been slapped.

Jake rested his forehead in his hand, thinking. It was two for, and two against. He looked up, looked almost pleadingly at me, and said, "Tobias, what do you think?"

I was the deciding vote. But I had no idea what to think. I wanted so much to see Rachel again, and even the slimmest hope of bringing her back was enough to make me almost sick with eagerness. But Marco was right. What right did we have to play God? To take the risk of creating a warped doppelganger of Rachel? And what would we do if we did? Kill it? Who would take the horrible responsibility of dealing with such a creature?

Jake. Jake would, I realized. And then he would have another stain on his hands to add to all the lives he was responsible for already. That thought almost made me say no, right then and there. But then I suddenly understood why Jake was voting yes. Of course! He was trying to make up for Rachel's death, a mistake he had never forgiven himself for. He wanted to erase that horrible black stain on his conscience. Why else would he be so enthusiastic about the possibility of bringing her back, at any cost?

I think I understood Marco, too. He'd seen firsthand, with his mother as Visser One, how messy and complicated the issue of life and death could become. And he didn't want to go through that again with Rachel. He wanted to mourn, and then move on. He didn't want to get trapped in the uncertainty of whether or not she's really dead, just as he had with his mother.

Cassie and Ax's reactions, I probably could have predicted. On the one hand, there was Cassie, still trying to live by her belief that all life is sacred, even though her innate sense of right and wrong had been destroyed by the war. Not to mention that she was Rachel's best friend, and had taken her death almost as hard as I had. On the other hand, there was Ax, who, even after living so long with humans, was still an Andalite at heart. He was still guided by the Andalite ideals of honor and morality. Of course he'd be against any sort of manipulation of life on this scale. The notion of 'cheating death' like this must seem shamefully dishonorable to him.

But Jake had asked me what I thought. And that was something I couldn't make sense of so easily.

As I tried to work out my own thoughts and feelings, I remembered something the Ellimist had asked me, a long time ago. 'Do you know what you want, Tobias? And if you get it, will you still know?' And, just like before, I didn't know the answer. Did I really want Rachel alive again? Did I want to make her live in a world without war, a world in which she would never be able to fit in the way she had when she was fighting the Yeerks? But . . . that wasn't really fair, was it? Just because someone has nothing to live for, doesn't give them any less right to live. She would find something to live for. And what about me? Didn't I need something, someone to live for, too?

Then, a more important question struck me.

Shouldn't this decision be Rachel's?

"I . . . I vote yes," I said after what felt like a long time. "Rachel . . . Rachel would want us to try, I think. She would think it was worth the risk. Life is always worth the risk, isn't it?"

Marco looked angry at me. "She would want?! You want, Tobias. You're the one who wants her back. Do you all realize what you're agreeing to, here? We're playing God! This is wrong! Rachel would never go along with this!"

Jake raised a hand to silence him. The decision had been made. Jake stood up, beginning to pace, thinking to himself. Then he stopped his pacing for a second to say out loud, "Now the question is, what do we do?"

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2009, 08:33:05 PM »
Chapter 6 (Marco)

I couldn't believe this. I felt like hitting Jake. And Cassie. Hell, even Tobias. How were they being this stupid? This naive? We couldn't get Rachel back. We'd been through this. Hadn't we?

Or, maybe we hadn't. Come to think of it, we really hadn't ever discussed the possibility of bringing Rachel back before now. That struck me as odd, for some reason. It wasn't like us, as Animorphs, to just take anything lying down. Ever. When Jake had died, we hadn't been about to stand for it. What was different now?

It was the end of the war, I realized. Those last few months of the war had taken all the fight out of us. We were done, after that. Done with everything. Done with war, done with Yeerks, done with fighting. Done with hoping against ridiculous hope. Just done.

Now, after we'd had three years to recover, our latest mission to save Ax had brought something back. An old spark. Our long lost sense of hope, the can-do attitude, the never-say-die stubborness that had kept us going through the war.

Unfortunately, justifying it to myself didn't make me any happier. I still wanted to kill Jake.

Fortunately, however, none of them could figure out a way to even try to bring Rachel back.

"Okay, well, we know that living DNA is fundamentally different from dead DNA. As evidenced by the fact that you can't acquire a corpse. Right?" Jake was saying, talking fast the way he does when his mind is working. "So, there's something about living DNA, something that's different. And living DNA is the kind that Cassie has. I mean, Rachel's DNA, in Cassie, must still be alive, somehow, right?"

"That is correct, Prince Jake," Ax began, unable to resist giving a science lesson. "Actually, because cellular processes and the genetic material are both so integral to one another, the DNA must be preserved in such a way that-"

"Yeah, Ax, that's great," I interrupted. "Whose side are you on, anyway? You're helping them now?"

Jake slammed his fist down on the table in front of me and growled, "Marco. We're doing this. We put it to a vote. Deal with it. Let Ax talk."

"The DNA must be preserved in such a way that it is completely static," Ax continued. "Frozen in micro-biostasis. Otherwise, if it is not allowed to replicate and behave naturally as it would within a living cell, it will degrade. When we morph, the morph DNA then takes over our cells, while our own DNA is temporarily inhibited."

Jake rubbed his temples, trying to interpret Ax-speak and at the same time trying to figure out how to use this new information. "Well, okay then. That means that, in a way, Rachel is still alive, sort of. At least her DNA is. But we need more than that. Ax, does DNA preserve the mind? We know that basic instincts are included, because when we morph, that's what we get. But are memories somewhere, anywhere in that DNA?"

"No," Ax said flatly. "Certain biological impulses have a genetic basis, but memories do not."

The discussion kept going for a little longer after that, but it was pretty pointless. The fact of the matter was, nobody knew where we might get a copy of Rachel's mind. I guess Jake had sort of assumed that, since DNA could retain the difference between 'dead' and 'alive,' it could also remember a person's thoughts and memories, somehow.

I just couldn't stop thinking that it was a good thing we'd had Rachel cremated, or these jerks might have been playing Frankenstein on her brain. Come to think of it, that was exactly what this entire situation reminded me of. Frankenstein. We were talking about making Franken-Rachel.

It was horrifying to me just to listen to them talking about it. And more horrifying that they actually thought they were being serious. But I took some solace in the knowledge that none of what they were talking about could possibly ever come to be.

The discussion of how to resurrect Rachel was thankfully cut off when Tobias and Ax realized they were both running dangerously low on their time in morph. So they peeled off to look for somewhere to demorph without attracting too much attention, and the rest of us, realizing that we had reached a dead end a while ago, decided that we might as well be going our separate ways, too. I had reporters to talk to, Cassie had her Hork-Bajir to attend to, and Jake probably just wanted to be alone for a while to think about everything.

We said our goodbyes, not really expecting to see each other again for at least a solid year or two. These little get-togethers, while fun, weren't really practical for us anymore. We had separate lives, now.

With nothing left to fight, and nothing left to fight for, there was nothing left tying us together. I wasn't necessarily happy to admit it, but the Animorphs were as finished as the war that had necessitated us.

At least, that was what we all thought. Little did we know.

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2009, 08:33:43 PM »
Chapter 7 (Shaliph 443)

I walked down a set of concrete stairs into the New Resistance's briefing room. It was a run-down basement in an abandoned building, the last place anyone would expect the Yeerk Empire to be making a comeback. But, of course, we had to hide our intentions. At least for now.

In the darkened room, packed with former Yeerks, I spotted Yenlin seven-hundred-and-five and Korash thirty-six. They were both long-time members of the New Resistance, and higher ranking than me. But we'd been friends forever, having known each other since our pool days.

Actually, we were somewhat more than just friends. Yeerks don't simply pair off in couples like humans. We reproduce in threes, and our romantic lives naturally follow the same pattern. Yenlin and Korash were my desani. Literally translated, my 'life-mates.'

If it weren't for the Yeerk-nothlit act, I think that Yenlin, Korash and I would have one day given our lives together for the next generation.

But of course now that can never happen.

Korash's human morph was male, a late teenager, several years older than mine. He was tall and rugged-looking, with short black hair and a modest beard. His eyes were a soft hazel color, and even though we Yeerks rarely judge appearances, I knew he looked handsome.

Yenlin, on the other hand, had picked a very unconventional nothlit form for a Yeerk. Outwardly, he was an Andalite. It had taken him a long time, but he had found the few unscrupulous Andalites that would be willing to let him acquire them (almost always at a steep price), and had created a mixed morph. He actually despised Andalites, and had trapped himself as one for no reason other than to provoke them, because he knew it would make so many of them furious. His Andalite form was male, but he looked fairly androgynous. His build was tall but slender, almost delicate. He had light blue-grey fur with a slight purple tint, spring-green eyes, and a long, thin tail.

I made my way over to the two of them, standing between them as we waited for the briefing to begin. Korash subtly hugged me, resting his arm around my shoulders, and Yenlin greeted me in private thought-speak, <Welcome to the party, Shal.>

A Hork-Bajir soon appeared at the front of the room and began speaking to the crowd, briefing us about Project Legacy. The room immediately quieted, all of us listening carefully to what he had to say.

Actually, he only told us very little. We were simply informed that the first phase of Project Legacy was in progress, and we were to be sent to the Hork-Bajir home world to test a new technology that was being developed. The scientists working on the Project would also need protection in the event that their operation was discovered, so we would be armed with some of the best weaponry the Resistance had, in order to serve as guards. We would be given some of the latest model Dracon beams, bought on the black market.

"You will receive a more detailed briefing en route to your destination," the Hork-Bajir said gruffly. "We cannot give you more information at this time, due to the secrecy of this operation. Dissemination of any of this information is punishable by death," the Hork-Bajir continued, then glared around the room and added ominously, "Or worse."

He gave us a moment for the import of his threat to sink in, then opened a hidden door in the back wall of the basement. Motioning us to follow, he led us down a long flight of stairs. I didn't know how far underground we were, but, by the time we reached the bottom of the stairway, I guessed it must have been close to how deep the Yeerk pool had been buried.

Finally, we emerged into a larger room, where a single ship was housed. It was an Andalite passenger ship, big enough to hold at least a hundred plus crew. We boarded, filing two at a time through the ship's hatch, and finding seats among rows of chairs that had obviously been added on after the ship was built. Korash and I sat towards the back, near where there was an open area for Yenlin to stand.

We didn't have to wait long before the ship took off. We were able to watch out of side windows as the ship piloted through a long tunnel, and finally burst to the surface through a sliding door that had been hidden in an open field.

After we left the atmosphere and escaped into Zero-space, another superior officer, human this time, called for our attention. It was time for the second, more detailed briefing.

The technology that the Hork-Bajir had so vaguely referred to earlier was explained to be a mind-control device, designed after salvaged Arn technology and Yeerk physiology. The devices, code-named 'Nets' (which was actually an acronym for Neural Energy Transmitters), were nearly complete after three years of development, and would soon be ready for testing. It was estimated that each Net would allow control of up to a hundred subjects at once, depending on the mental strength of the user.

If these devices worked, the New Resistance could take back everything we had lost in one fell swoop.

The next stage of the Project would be to spread our forces, recruiting more Yeerks to use the Nets. Because of the nature of the technology, if there were any Yeerks left in their natural bodies, they could have an innate advantage in dealing with the mind-to-mind interface, theoretically being able to control thousands.

Once we had a sizeable force of these 'super-controllers,' as they were being called, we would declare war and take back all the planets the Andalites had taken from us, starting with the Hork-bajir, spreading to our own home world, the Taxxon world, and earth. Even the Andalite home world might one day be within our reach!

Once we had control of the galaxy once more, we would force the Andalite scientists to find a way to reverse the nothlit condition. Then we could be Yeerks again! Free to live our own lives, free from Andalite oppression!

And, best of all, because of our new technology, we would be more feared than ever before! We would be lords of the universe! The mighty Andalites would cower before us!

Nobody would dare to tell us that our way of life was wrong, ever again.

Yenlin smiled, the way Andalites do, with just his eyes. <Well, well,> he said smugly. <Looks like the war isn't quite over, after all.>

Korash grinned back. Then he jumped out of his seat, too excited to sit still, and pumped his fist into the air, a gesture of triumph. Yenlin and I joined him, raising our fists in proud exultation.

"For freedom!" Korash proclaimed.

"For freedom!" I answered. <For freedom!>

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2009, 08:34:13 PM »
Chapter 8 (Jake)

Life went back to normal for a while. I went back to teaching classes at Twenty-nine Palms. It was familiar, and that familiarity was comforting.

But at the same time, it was hard to go back there without thinking about Santorelli and Jeanne. None of the students ever asked me directly what had happened to them, but I could hear them talking about it when they thought I wasn't listening.

"-and he just left them there."

"He did what? Well, you know there must have been a reason. He had to have had a good reason to leave them behind."

I guess I didn't know for certain that they were talking about me, but they would always fall mysteriously silent when I looked at them.

A few months after the get-together at the mall, I was certain that all the excitement of the past year was finally over. I was settling right back into old routines, moving on with my life. And life was fine.

On one particular evening, I was watching TV. Relaxing, after a long day of classes. Just an average evening, exactly like any other. It had been months now since we'd gotten back from Kelbri, and even the media had gotten tired of the story at this point. My life was, right then, about as normal as it got. Boring, even. But I welcomed the monotony. It was better than the alternative.

Then the doorbell rang.

I got up to answer it, wondering who it could be at this hour. I opened the door, and standing there was a man about my age. He looked familiar, but it took me a second or two to remember his face. When I did, I took a step back in disbelief.

"Erek?!" I exclaimed. "I haven't seen you in four years! You look so different!"

And he did look different, too. So much so that I'd barely recognized him. His hair was dramatically shorter, and he looked much older. Both just illusions of his hologram, of course.

He gave me a serious look, letting me know he wasn't here for chitchat. I guess he was still ticked at me for how I'd blackmailed him at the end of the war. With an android's perfect memory, I supposed it made sense that he would carry grudges for a long time.

"We have a problem," he said, immediately getting right down to business. "I don't have much information, but we know that, well, something is happening on the Hork-bajir home world. We think that the Yeerks are involved, but there's so much secrecy around the whole project that we can't even be sure."

"Okay. So?" I said, confused, and wondering how this concerned me. The Yeerks weren't my problem anymore, after all.

"So, the Andalites can't get involved. If this does involve Yeerks, any Andalite involvement will be interpreted as an act of aggression, and might provoke another war."

"Wait a minute," I said, ignoring the twinge of apprehension I was starting to feel. "I thought all the Yeerks were nothlits, now. Didn't they pass some law about that? What are you even worried about?"

"Just because they're nothlits, doesn't make them harmless. They may even be more dangerous now than before, with their dependence on Kandrona gone," Erek pointed out. "And the level of secrecy around this project of theirs is worrisome. They wouldn't be putting up this many firewalls if they were just trading spices. They might be up to something."

I rubbed my temples, already beginning to feel the weight of responsibility settling onto my shoulders. Great. I should have known that nothing good could ever last. I'd just begun to think everything was fine and normal again, and suddenly another problem lands on my doorstep.

Erek saw my dismay and said, "Look, Jake, I'm sorry for dumping this on you right now. Don't believe me if you want, but I really am sorry about this. You were the only one I could go to." He sighed, and continued, "I realize you probably don't like me, and, to tell the truth, I don't like you much either. But this may just go beyond either of us."

I sighed. "You're right, I don't like you much right now. But you're right about the last part, too. If the Yeerks are making some sort of comeback . . . " I let the thought hang. If the Yeerks were making a comeback, it was bad news for everybody.

But there was no reason to jump to conclusions. We only knew that the Yeerks were doing something, and that they were being extremely secretive about it.

Then again, they must be really paranoid, if they'd set up enough security to stump Erek. The fact that the Chee couldn't hack it was far more worrisome than anything else Erek had told me.

"Do the Andalites know?" I asked.

"No," Erek answered. "Not unless they found out on their own."

I sighed again. I really didn't want to deal with this, but like Erek had said, there was nobody else to go to.

"Okay," I finally said. "Here's the plan."

Offline Mr. Guy36

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2009, 08:50:35 PM »
Gotta read more! Love it so far. I actually thought that exact same thing about Rachel. And lol, spice trading.

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Offline DinosaurNothlit

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2009, 08:58:07 PM »
Sorry, but that's it for now, until I write more (well, I've got the next chapter mostly written, I just need to proofread some more).  Glad you like it, though!

Well, where did you think cinnamon came from?

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2009, 03:52:51 PM »
I just thought of something this morning.
If I'm right,
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Dun Dun DUN!

Damn, now I want to read it even more.

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2009, 05:42:57 PM »
SO DO I.  I must read more!  Rachel must come back
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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2009, 05:46:08 PM »
Chapter 9 (Cassie)

I was at home, cooking dinner in the kitchen, when the phone rang. Ronnie picked up, listened for a second or two, then said it was for me. I turned down the burner and put the phone to my ear.

It was Jake. He said that Erek had contacted him yesterday, but he refused to tell me anything more than that over the phone. He told me to meet him in person as soon as I could. And to bring Tobias.

"How's two 'o clock tomorrow?" I asked.

"Can't. I'm teaching then. How about four?"

"Perfect," I said, and hung up the phone.

"What did he want?" Ronnie asked.

I shrugged, and said, "I guess I'll find out tomorrow."

The next day, at four 'o clock, I was at Jake's house, with Tobias in human morph standing awkwardly behind me. Jake invited us inside. We took seats in his living room while he stood in front of us, as if to deliver a speech.

Jake quickly summarized everything Erek had told him. Which wasn't a whole lot. Only that there was some sort of shady situation on the Hork-Bajir home world, and that the Yeerks were probably involved.

The catch was, that Jake didn't really want to go there in person. The leader of the Animorphs suddenly whisking away to the Hork-Bajir home world without an explanation would draw attention. Which would be particularly awkward if the whole thing turned out to be nothing.

But I could go. I was the liason for the Hork-Bajir anyway, so I could easily say that it was just part of my job. I could say I was doing research on the native population of Hork-Bajir. And Tobias could say he was using my trip as an excuse to pay a visit to Toby, who also happened to be visiting the Hork-Bajir home world.

"It would just be a spy mission, anyway," Jake pointed out. "You would just be checking things out. Infiltrate whatever the Yeerks are up to, and then, if it's something we should be worried about, Marco and I will come. I'm sure you two can handle it."

He made eye-contact with me, giving me a look that clearly said that he trusted me. That he understood that I knew what I was doing. I returned him a subtle smile, letting him know that I could handle this, that I would be fine.

I wondered, though, why he was acting like he trusted me now, when apparently he hadn't trusted me to come on the mission to rescue Ax. Was he really being sincere? Or was he only trying to inspire confidence in me, simply because he knew this mission needed to be me?

"I'll have to talk to Ronnie," I said. "He'd freak out if he knew what I was getting into, but I at least have to let him know I'll be gone."

"I'll go," Tobias said. "If there are Yeerks to be stopped, I'm there."

Jake nodded approvingly. "Okay. There's a civilian transport leaving for the Hork-Bajir home world tomorrow at noon. Marco agreed to pay for your tickets. He'll meet you at the Sacremento Interplanetary Airport at eleven thirty. Good luck, both of you."

We left. I headed home, while Tobias demorphed right there on Jake's porch and flew away.

I got back home to find Ronnie waiting for me.

"Well?" he asked.

Try as I might, I couldn't bring myself to lie to him. "Jake found out that something is happening on the Hork-Bajir home world, and he thinks Yeerks are involved. He wants Tobias and me to check it out, since we're the only ones who would have a good alibi if we're caught."

"And I take it you said yes," he said, looking almost disappointed.

"Of course," I answered.

"I don't suppose you'd let me come with you?" he asked hopefully, even though he knew what the answer would be.

I sighed, and gave him a hug. "No, dear. It's too dangerous for you. Trust me, I know what I'm doing." I pulled back a little, and wagged a finger in his face. "And don't even try to stop me. You know I have to do this."

He sighed, and pulled me back towards him. "I know. I'm just worried for you, Cass."
I should have been flattered that he was worried for me, but I wasn't. I felt hurt. Like he thought I couldn't take care of myself. There was the difference between Ronnie and Jake, I realized. Jake had known better than to worry.

"I know what I'm doing," I told Ronnie, trying not to sound offended. "I've done stuff like this a hundred times."

"Not while I've known you," he pointed out.

"Just trust me, then. Do you trust me?" I asked.

"Of course," he said. But he had paused for a second. Just long enough to let me know he had doubts about letting me go into danger.

He'd never known me as an Animorph before. To him, I was just a normal person. Well, as normal as you can be when you're famous for fighting in a war against alien invaders. But still, that was before. He hadn't known me back then.

Ronnie didn't know the real me. Jake did.

I suddenly recoiled from that train of thought. What was wrong with me? I was the real me. Ronnie and I were together because we belonged together, because we were happy together, not because we knew everything about each other. I needed him, and he needed me, and that should have been all that mattered.

So why, then, was I fondly picturing that trusting, confident look in Jake's eyes?

"Cassie, are you alright?" Ronnie asked, sensing that something was wrong.

I tried to shake myself out of my thoughts. I couldn't go back to Jake. Why did I suddenly want to? I was over Jake, Jake was over me, but then suddenly the old spark returns and we're both the awkward lovers we always used to be? Why? What had happened?

Why was I risking ruining my perfect life for a dream that was long gone?

"I'm fine," I answered, careful not to look Ronnie in the eye, so that he wouldn't be able to tell that I was lying.

----------------------

I don't want to say too much, but Mr. Guy, you're pretty close.  A few hints have actually been dropped in the story so far, if you're keen enough to pick them up.  And I'm so glad you guys like my story so much!

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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2009, 05:54:48 PM »
That was a fast response.  I wanted more, you gave me more!
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Re: Animorphs Book 56: The Rebirth
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2009, 05:57:55 PM »
You just had good timing.  If you do a rain-dance at the right time, it works!