|Animorphs 69: The Division
Author: capnnerefir PM
The was is spiraling out of control. The Yeerks are in two different fronts, on different sides of the country. Things get even more complicated when someone new wants to join the team. But that is nothing compared to the Animorphs' newest problem: Tri-IRated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Jake & Melissa - Chapters: 4 - Words: 24,542 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 05-22-09 - Published: 05-02-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5034932
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Imagine a picture of Jake turning into an owl.
69: The Division
For those of you who didn't read MM5: A New Foe, I hope you're not too confused. To those of you who enjoyed it, rest assured that there is more to come. For those of you who wanted to see an open war, sorry I had to cut it short. But I do promie you this: you will have your wish in the forseeable future. Until then, I hope you can wait just a little longer. I'll even do a countdown if you want. :'D
As for tihs book, this is something that occurred to me a long time ago, while reading the original series. I'm pleased that I can finally put it into play after so many years.
Enjoy or go to hell.
If I owned the Animorphs, you wouldn't be reading this for free.
And if I owned Streetlight Manifesto, I'd have better things to do than write fan fiction.
My name is Jake. You already know the last name. You know my age, the name of my hometown, and all of that. You probably even know that I spent a few months on vacation from the whole being alive thing. Now, thanks to some messy work that I still don't really understand, I'm back.
A good thing, too, because things are getting kind of hot in here. Mersa 528's rebellion has been crushed; by us. His life was the price we had to pay for mine. He didn't make it easy, but with a little help from the Yeerks, long story there, we pulled it off.
The problem is that Mersa's death left a vacuum of power around our home. There is no doubt that the Visser will move in on it, if he hasn't taken it all already, especially now that he has full control of his new forces. Maybe I should back up and explain that.
During our mission to assassinate Mersa, we found out he had been working for the Pythagi Conglomerate, a powerful alien organization that once controlled our sector of the galaxy. Their power diminished as other races rose to challenge them, most notably the Andalites. But they learned that the Yeerks were back and concocted a plan. That one failed, though, when we killed Mersa.
Enter the Visser. He talked his way into a deal with them. Now, the Pythagi Conglomerate supplies him with ships, weapons, and even hosts and morphs. Needless to say, this is a major setback. There are a few good things, though. The Pythagi Conglomerate declared open war against the Andalites and most of our sector of the galaxy opposes them. That keeps the Pythagi distracted, and it keeps the Andalites from breathing down our necks about what's going on here on Earth.
So basically we're a little stuck. We where we didn't want to be: fighting a war on two fronts. It's a good thing there are more Animorphs than ever before; excluding the Axillary Animorphs. I'm talking about full members.
Soon, we'd need to decide who would go where, who would fight on what front. Tobias and I already decided that he would lead one and I'd take the other. I wasn't happy about it, I was done with the leader thing. But there really wasn't any way I could get out of it. Back to basics, I guess.
At the moment, though, the war was the last thing on my mind. I got the feeling that I wouldn't have many chances to totally ignore it, especially once we thought of something to do about these fronts, so I took what time I could now. Living your life in a state of constant fear and paranoia really gives you an appreciation for the times when you can relax.
I was at the Chapmans' house. Mr. Chapman had been Mersa's host. I had gone to great lengths not to kill him when I was killing the Yeerk. He was really grateful to me for that. He never expected to be free again, or to survive it once he found out we were hunting him.
It was a small dinner, just the four of us. Mr. and Mrs. Chapman, Melissa, and me. "Did you hear the news from Leera?" Chapman asked me. "It seems the Pythagi Conglomerate removed their blockade. They needed the reinforcements to deal with the Anati."
"Good," I replied. "Serves them right for underestimating the big crabs in pink ships. Any word from the Garatrons?"
"Nothing that I've heard. I bet it's covert operations. They're probably working with Andalite commando forces, aiding worlds already claimed by the Pythagi." All his time as a host to powerful Yeerks had given Chapman a pretty good grasp of the military. I was impressed by it.
I nodded. That made sense. We were referring to the ongoing galactic war with the Yeerks and Pythagi. We had played a bit of a role in it in the very beginning. Another long story.
"It's too bad Leera's basically useless," I sighed. "They don't have the facilities for building ships and the planet was useless to the Pythagi anyway. An air race on a water world? I can't see that going over well."
"Nothing's going well," Chapman sighed back. "The Taxxon blockade is down, and I'd wager anything that they're going to use that world as a staging area for another invasion of Hork-bajir. If they open that up, the Yeerks will be as powerful as they were before..."
I shook my head. "There's not much we can do about it. I'll talk to Tobias later. The Andalites will listen to him now. The only problem is that they might want him to deal with it himself. We just don't have the time for that nowadays."
"He'd go," Chapman insisted. "He'd rather lose the battle for Earth than let the Yeerks loose on the galaxy again."
"If they take Earth, it'll be just as bad," I reminded him.
The two female Chapmans kept their eyes down on their plates. I guess talk of a new Yeerk scourge in the galaxy wasn't what they'd call dinner conversation. Funny thing was, I knew they'd be talking about it back at Rachel's place. Tobias and Ax hardly thought of anything else nowadays.
It seems that all we think about now is war. It's in our homes and it's out where we go to work. Tobias and Ax were professionals at it now. At home or abroad, there was no escape from the war. Now you see why I liked eating with the Chapmans.
Mr. Chapman's phone went off. He answered it quickly. "Yes?... What?... Okay, close it up and don't tell anyone about it. I'm on my way. We'll see you soon." He turned to me. "They need me down at the school. The maintenance staff thinks they found a doorway to the old Yeerk pool. This probably leads to the rebuilt one and I can't let them wander into it."
"Maybe I should come, too," his wife suggested. "I was always better at remembering the entrances than you were. You'd have missed a lot of feedings if it wasn't for me."
"Thanks a lot," Chapman muttered sarcastically. "I'll see you around, Jake. Stop by the school some time. You could give a lecture or something. I'm sure the kids would actually listen to a war hero."
"High school kids?" I asked. "They wouldn't listen if George Washington himself told them about the Revolutionary War. And trust me, he's a cool guy."
"You did not meet George Washington," Melissa said, speaking up for the first time.
"Well," I defended as her parents left, "I didn't exactly meet him. But I saw him and heard him speak. And Marco stole a pair of his boots."
"No, seriously. It wasn't a good trip, though. I ended up... well it's a really, really, really long story. Let's just summarize by saying that the meeting of two random hippies can be a very important thing."
Melissa gawked at me. "What the hell are you talking about?" she asked slowly, shaking her head.
"Animorph life," I answered, taking a bite of whatever was in front of me. "It's a little out there."
"I'll say. Didn't I hear you say something about Bolts the Talking Rat earlier?"
I nodded. "Like I said: out there."
Neither of us spoke for a while. Melissa's a quiet girl. She's...tiny, really. Just a little over five feet tall and maybe a hundred pounds. It's not that she's got some sort of eating disorder; she's just always been light. Rachel always said she'd have made a great gymnast, and I agreed. She used to do that sort of thing but gave it up during the First War; she just stopped caring about it.
It's a shame that happened to her. She could have had a great life. Smart, kind of bold, blond, pale...beautiful, really. It's kind of weird, actually. She was one of Rachel's best friends when we were young. I knew her a little bit; as much as I knew Cassie before the war. But I had never really noticed her before. Maybe it was because she was so quiet. Or because she was Chapman's daughter. Most likely, it was because I was too busy noticing Cassie.
Something occurred to me then. "Hey...the staff didn't really find anything, did they?" I asked her, referring to her parents' excuse.
She shook her head. "Took you long enough. I don't come to these dinners just to hang out with my parents, Jake. I need to talk to you about something. Something important."
I waited, silently. When she didn't speak, I prompted her, "Go on..."
"It's just... The Yeerks are back. That...that bastard, Esplin, is back. He's the one who took my family from me. Do you know what it was like, Jake? To watch my parents suddenly stop loving me? I-"
"They didn't stop loving you," I interrupted. "Rachel told me-"
"Yeah, I know. But that's how it felt. But was just as bad was that my two best friends left me, too. Rachel and Cassie were suddenly too busy for me. They stopped caring. I can't blame them, they had a lot more important things to do than worry about me. But during that war, Jake, everyone I cared about, everyone I loved, left me alone. When the Yeerks finally came out into the open and took me, I was almost relieved. At least I thought it was over then."
I wasn't sure what to say. I wasn't good at making people feel better. She wasn't finished, though. "And now they're back. And they took my daddy again. The war is back. And I'm not going to just sit around this time, Jake. I can't go through that again."
"What...what are you going to do?" I asked carefully.
"Whatever I have to. If I have to go to Tri-I with what I know, I will. I'll tell them everything. But I know what you said about this staying secret, so I really don't want to do that. What I want to do," she said, "is join you. I want to fight the Yeerks with the rest of you. With Cassie and Rachel...with you. They took everything from me. Now I want to make them pay for it."
I didn't know how to respond. This wasn't what I expected. Not at all. But my instincts are notoriously bad, I guess. If my gut says left, we should always go right. "I don't know, Melissa. Are you sure you know what you're getting into?"
"I'm sure, Jake. It can't be worse than what I lived through the first time."
I nodded. It had to have been tough on her. I know I couldn't have gotten by without my friends. It was a wonder she didn't turn into some kind of drug addict or something. "I'll have to ask the others," I decided.
"We'll have to ask them," she corrected. "If it's up to them, I want to make my case in front of them. Do I have to have an appointment or something or can I just show up?"
I laughed. "I'm sure I can get our resident War-Prince to clear his busy schedule. Why don't you show up for breakfast tomorrow? We're having a meeting then to decide what to do about these new problems. And we might need a new Animorph. Ax and Tobias could get pulled off of Earth and put into service at any time."
"You think I could replace them?" she asked. I could tell she didn't believe it.
"No. None of us can. But it's better than nothing."
She nodded. "Then I'll be there. And Jake, there's one more thing I wanted to talk about..."
"What is it?" Our eyes met. For a long moment, she didn't speak. Then she shook her head.
"Uh...sure. No problem." As much as what she said was making me think, I couldn't stop wondering what she didn't say.
I, along with the rest of the house, woke up to the sound of Tobias and Naomi arguing. No, that's not the right word. They were fighting. Again. I didn't want to get involved, but I felt like it was my job. Someone had to calm them down, and Cassie had given up on it. With a sigh, I pulled on some clothes and headed downstairs.
"-prince you are," Naomi spat. "Why are you even on Earth anyway? Shouldn't you be off getting yourself killed by a Piebag or slug?"
"Pythag," Tobias corrected. "It's a good thing you have Jacques' money to live off of because with a mind like that, you're career's going to be over by the end of the month."
"Then I can make a career in the Andalite military. Clearly, intelligence is not a factor."
"Too bad age is."
"You're calling me old now?"
"I'm just saying that it's a good thing you're going to be a grandmother because you already look the part."
"Some people wait to have children. Some of us don't hop into bed with the first alien that wanders past."
"And maybe if you had actually been around to raise your children you wouldn't be having this argument. You know, Naomi, there's a reason you're on husband number two."
"I guess that ties me with your mother. Of course, both of mine were humans."
This was going too far. I mean... Tobias didn't even get like this with the Visser! Tobias and Naomi were inches apart now and it looked to me like each was ready to hit the other. Honestly, I'm not sure which one worried me more.
I pulled Tobias away from her. "Tobias, chill man. Get ahold of yourself." He shook himself out of my grasp and stormed off towards the front door. "Where are you going?" I asked.
"Anywhere but here!" I decided it was important to go after him. I caught up with Tobias at the hangar.
"Hey!" I called.
He spun around. "What?"
For a moment, I wasn't sure what to say. "You can't let her get to you like that, man."
"The hell I can't. Forget it. She doesn't want me here? Fine. I'm leaving. I'm going back to the other front. I cannot stand another day with her."
"You can't go yet," I insisted. "We've got a meeting in, like, five minutes."
"So hold it without me. You don't need me to hold your hand, Jake."
"Yeah, but we need everyone there for this one."
"It'll run fine without me." He paused. Then, "Unless there's something you're not telling me."
"Yeah, there is. Melissa Chapman... She wants to join the fight. She wants to become one of us."
"No. Any other issues?"
My jaw hung open. I was stunned for a moment. "You're saying no, just like that?"
"Yeah, I am. A girl like her is the absolute last thing we need right now. We don't have time for that."
"Time for what? You don't even know her!"
"I know enough. Did she ask you to let her join, Jake?"
"Yeah. So what?"
"So think about this for a minute or two or however the hell long it takes you. Would you ever, ever, choose to fight this war? If you weren't being poked and prodded and pushed and pulled by all the pandimensional powers that play with people like us, would you do it?"
I shook my head. I had asked myself that question a lot and usually ended up with the same answer. "Not if I had any real choice, no."
"Exactly. So think about this one: what kind of person would go out of their way to join this fight? What sort of person, knowing exactly what they were getting into, knowing the effects of this, knowing all the pain, fear, and paranoia that comes with it, would not only choose to do it, but seek it out?"
I did take a moment to think about that. He had a point. But I trusted Melissa. My gut told me that she wouldn't be a problem. "I still think-"
"No, Jake, you're not thinking. That's the problem. At least, you're not thinking about the right things. I get that Melissa's suffered from this war, even more than most people. Probably more than anyone but us. You want to help her and you think this will do it. I get all that. I really do. But this war isn't about helping people."
"It's not?" I asked. "To me, that's all it's about. Why else should we fight, if not to help people?"
"We have to fight so that there will still be people to help," Tobias answered. "And if helping one lost girl gets in the way of that, then there is no way I could ever condone it. And there's no way that I can not oppose it. Think about it, Jake. Can you really take that risk?"
"She won't be a problem," I insisted. "I've got to go with my gut on this one, Tobias."
"Your gut, Jake, is famous for being very, very wrong."
"And if I'm wrong again, I'll be the one to pay the price."
Tobias shook his head. "No, Jake. If the commander makes a bad call, it's the soldiers who always pay for it."
Tobias refused to come to breakfast until he saw Naomi leave for work. Tobias is one of the strongest people I know, and probably one of the wisest. But he can be really immature about some things. Apparently, he refused to talk to Cassie for months after she quit the team to be with Ronnie. Even now that she was back, he still ignored her sometimes out of habit.
Usually, no one ate until Tobias arrived. Mostly because we were all afraid of Rachel's cooking. Rachel is smart, brave, and I'm told she's beautiful. Being her cousin, I can't really judge that last one. None of those things equate to being a good cook. In fact, they seem to combine to form a pretty bad one. Not that we'd ever tell her that. I'm not allowed to come back from the dead a third time.
How bad is her cooking? Guraff can eat it. And in case you forgot, Guraff is in a Hork-bajir body. Hork-bajir, of course, eat tree bark. They can't digest anything else. So, either her cooking is extremely close to tree bark or Guraff is officially superhuman; or superhork-bajir, so to speak. Or maybe superyeerk.
Tobias was the only one with the stones to eat her food consistently, but with him gone for the moment, the task fell to me. It's times like this that I really hate being the leader.
We did what we could to munch through it. Thankfully, someone knocked on the door not long after we started. Assuming it was Melissa, I jumped up to answer it. She was as happy to see me as I was to see her. "Oh, good. I was afraid this was the wrong house. It's changed so much."
Making sure Rachel couldn't see, I spat my food out into the bushes next to the front stairs. "Yeah, it's a recent edition," I told her.
She looked from me to the bushes. "Was that some sort of secret Animorph code? Signaling that it's safe?"
I shook my head. "Nah. Just Rachel's cooking. It's...not the most fun part of the job."
"I was joking. Geez, if you guys really do have codes like that, maybe I'm in over my head."
"We're not that paranoid," I assured her. "Well, Marco and David are, but not the rest of us."
I led her inside. She paused as soon as she entered the dining room, though. It was probably the shock of seeing all of us. Rachel, Cassie, Marco, me, Ax, Jeanne, David, Al, James... A lot more Animorphs than she had probably been expecting.
After a few moments, she recovered enough to say, "There's a rat on your table."
((There are two big blue aliens standing here watching us eat, one of whom is missing an eye. There are two people here who used to be dead. Three if you count people we thought were dead. And let's not forget the random French chick. Yet of all the weird things in this room, what gets pointed out first? An ordinary everyday rat trying to have a normal breakfast.)) David sighed in our heads. ((Why me?))
"If it makes you feel better," James told him, "you can have the cheese from my...eggs?" It's a good thing Rachel didn't realize he was unsure what he was eating.
((At the expense of my pride, yes, that would make me feel better. Cheese me, lion twin.))
"Comin' at you, Bolts."
"Oh, right," Marco added. "He's Bolts, I'm Nuts. Jeanne, why didn't you remind me?"
"It hardly seemed important."
"Besides," Rachel joked, "who could forget Marco's Nuts?"
"Nobody forgets my-" Marco cut off as Jeanne and Rachel both hit him, one in the arm, the other in the back of the head. "Al!" he whined. "Your mom hit me!"
((I am very certain that Rachel is not my mother, Marco. Both of my parents were Andalites, as is evidenced by my natural physical form.))
"Yeah, I know that, Al. I was making a joke."
((I was attempting to do so as well.))
"Oh, great," I put in. "He's going through that phase now. Remember when Ax tried to be funny?"
((Prince Jake, with all due respect to both parties, I believe my grasp of human humor was superior to Alloran's at this point in my own stay on Earth.))
"Superior?" Cassie questioned. "Ax, you still don't get why knock knock jokes are funny."
((They are entirely ridiculous!))
"That's the point," Marco argued.
Melissa turned to me. "And you're saving the world?"
"Uh...yeah," I answered.
"Can't you tell by our tight military discipline?" Marco added sarcastically.
"Our our uniforms," James added.
((The crew-cuts,)) David put in.
((Our policy of do not ask, do not tell,)) Ax said. We all turned to stare at him. ((What? I assumed that you were attempting to be humorous by stating aspects of the military that we do not possess. Your military has a policy called "Do not ask, do not tell." We do not. It falls in line with the jokes...))
"Well... I guess it does," Cassie admitted.
"Someone call Tobias; Ax finally gets human humor," Rachel joked.
"Aww, not Captain Bringdown," Marco whined.
"Commander Bringdown," I corrected. "Let's not promote him. It might go to his head."
"Well, there's plenty of room up there," Marco muttered. "You know, with him being brainless and all."
Again, Melissa turned to me. "You're sure you're saving the world?"
"Either that or we're totally insane," I assured her. Then I looked at Marco. "Or, you know, both."
Tobias came in then. He walked right past us without seeming to notice that we were there. Or that we had one extra member. "Tobias," I began.
"In a minute," he interrupted. On his way past the table, he snatched up a...well, a brick... of...let's call it eggs... and made his way into the kitchen. What was he doing? I knew he saw Melissa here; he knew she was coming, and he didn't miss much.
I realized why Marco had called him Captain Bringdown. Somehow, the joyful mood we had just enjoyed seemed to have been sucked out of the room when he came in. We all stood or sat a little straighter; Al practically had a steel rod for a spine. Even Melissa tensed up.
"Al," he called from the kitchen, "we need to work on the Reliquary's translation program. It still confuses the Anati and Pythagi pronouns and prepositions."
((Of course, my Prince.))
Melissa leaned over towards me, almost like she was afraid to move. "Who's that?" she whispered.
"That," I answered, "is Tobias."
"You mean...the same guy who went to school with us for, like, a month? The guy who got Rachel pregnant?"
"Holy damn. I'd never have guessed..."
About a minute of silence later, Tobias came out of the kitchen. This time, instead of a brick of eggs, he had a bowl of oatmeal. What the heck was he getting at?
"Eat this," he said, handing the bowl to Melissa.
"Ow! It's hot."
"I know. I carried it here."
"But why do I have to eat it?" She looked around helplessly. No one answered her. Honestly, Tobias has started scaring us all lately. Not too long ago, he had tortured and then killed a Controller for information. He was getting further and further down a dark road. And the fact that he was probably still mad from his fight with Naomi didn't help matters any.
"Fine," Melissa sighed, taking a spoonful of the steaming hot bowl of oatmeal. Tobias stood there and watched for several minutes while she ate. We all stood or sat in silence, looking away. I could tell Melissa was getting freaked out. This would be creepy coming from a normal group of people. Here, surrounded by us, with Tobias's expressionless face watching her every move, she was probably terrified.
After she ate about half of the bowl, Tobias held up a hand. "That's enough. Here in the Animorphs, Melissa, we are friends. We are a family. But we are, first and foremost, an army. And in an army, you have to take orders. If you're one of us, I might give you an order you don't understand, for reasons you don't understand or reasons that I won't explain. You'll have to get over your hesitation of that."
"So this was what...some sort of test?"
"Yes, but not in the sense that you mean it. This," he pointed to the bowl, "was instant maple and ginger oatmeal. If a Yeerk eats it, he'll go insane. Any Controller who ate it would be detected very quickly Before we even think about adding you to the team, we had to clear up that, first."
((We're adding her?)) David asked.
"You didn't already discuss this? What do you people do when I'm not around?" Tobias wondered.
"Have fun," Marco answered him. "Not that dodging Kelbrid isn't a party, but it's not exactly what I'd call relaxing."
"Right. Well..." Tobias trailed off. "Melissa has asked to become one of us. I have the morphing cube from when we stole the Blade ship. We have the power. The question is, should we give it to her? For my part, I say no. Quite frankly, Melissa, I don't think you can be trusted."
"Can't be trusted? I ate your oatmeal, didn't I?"
"A test that proves little about your character. Tell me, Melissa, tell us all: why do you want to fight?"
"Because the Yeerks took everything from me. My friends, my family... And now they're back again. I'm going to do whatever I can to make them pay for it. You don't take anything for free."
Tobias shook his head. "That is exactly why I'm against this. Revenge is one of the few wrong reasons I see to fight a war. If you get your revenge, what then? What motivation is left? How much will you sacrifice to get what you want? What risks will you take? You don't know. And more importantly, I don't know. You aren't a risk I'm willing to take.."
"Well, I say yes," I argued. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I think we can trust her. Yeah, it's about revenge. But it's more than that, too. We've all got our personal reasons for fighting this war. Even you, Tobias. No one ever does anything without a personal motivation. But we're about more than that, too. All of us, even Melissa."
((I know a little something about people,)) David said. ((I think I'm the resident expert on untrustworthy Animorphs. Now, I don't know Melissa, but I know how she feels. Everyone pays for their crimes, the good and the evil alike. I can't fault anyone who wants to see someone pay for what they've done; especially not someone who is against the Yeerks. I say yes.))
Jeanne nodded. "Jake thought he could trust me. He thought he could trust Santorelli. And James. If Jake thinks we can trust Melissa, then I will side with him."
"I just can't agree," Cassie said. "I'm with Tobias. To join a war for revenge... I can't help someone do that. I'm sorry, Mel, but I just can't. I don't believe in revenge."
((No?)) Ax questioned. ((So I suppose, if Ronnie died, you would not want some sort of retribution? I find that hard to believe, Cassie. I say yes. I have fought for revenge for a long time. It is a better motivation than most.))
((I must side with my Prince,)) Al said in response.
"Al," Tobias said, "you know how there are times when I really want you to make your own decision? This is one of those."
((I see. In that case, I will still side with you, Prince Tobias. I do not know much about Prince Jake's instincts, but I have seen the power of your mind. I trust yours over his. If you are against her joining, then I am as well.))
James shook his head. "It's kind of a hard question to ask, you know? Should I put my life in the hands of a stranger or not? But like Jeanne said: your instincts have been good before. I'll trust them again. I say yes."
"No," Marco said, surprising me. I was sure he'd vote with me. "Yeah, Jake, you chose Jeanne, Santorelli, and James. You also chose David. No offense, Bolts, but we all know what you did. Even I remember some of it. And I just can't ever take the chance of that happening again. If we really need some help, Tobias has the Andalites on speed-dial."
We all turned to Rachel. This was a tough one. She almost always sided with Tobias, but there was still a chance that she'd be on our side. Even though she couldn't fight, we still let her vote. I don't think we could have stopped her even if we had tried to.
Rachel turned to her friend. "You're in this for revenge and payback? Then what do you expect me to tell you? Welcome to the club, sister."
If you're a fan of the Neomorphs series, you are encouraged to check out Neopedia, at http://neopedia[.]wikidot[.]com