Disclaimer: I don't own anything, but the plot. All the characters belong to the wise and powerful K.A. Applegate. I also do not own the song "No More." It belongs to Steven Sondheim.
A/N ~ Well, this is my Book 55. It picks up right where 54 left off. It's Tobias' point of view, as 55 would have been had the series continued. The PG-13 rating is for some blood and gore in the first chapter. Song lyrics are in italics. Enjoy!
"Full emergency power to the engines," Jake said. "Ram the Blade ship."
With four little words, Jake proclaimed all of our deaths. His own, yes, but Santorelli's, Jeanne's, and Mendarash's as well. Marco's. And mine. My first reaction was one of anger. What right did he have to do such a thing without our consent?
But I knew even as I thought that, that he did have our consent. We had gone on this mission knowing we would most likely not be coming back. We had agreed to follow him, even to our deaths.
I admired Santorelli and Jeanne for their bravery in volunteering for this mission. They were giving up everything to follow Jake on a suicidal attempt to save a friend they hadn't even met. And Marco – he was giving up his life too. Maybe it wasn't much of one compared to the old days, but it was more than what I had.
What I had couldn't really be called a life. I had lost everything. Not that I'd ever really had much, but everything I did have was taken from me. My father died only moments after I met him. When I finally found my mother after so many years, she didn't even remember who I was.
And Rachel. She'd always been frustrated by the fact that I wouldn't stay human. It was a constant pull for me – become a human permanently so we could be together, or remain a hawk so I could fight. I well remembered the days when I couldn't morph at all, and the frustration it caused when I couldn't fight with my friends. That was all I had. What was I if I couldn't fight that war? My father's war.
I always thought that when it was over, I would become human, for Rachel. But in the end, I didn't get to make that choice. With Rachel dead, what reason did I have to be human? At least as a hawk I could retreat from my problems, and forget. And maybe then death would come faster.
I couldn't just kill myself and get it over with, because, see, Rachel wouldn't approve of that. She wouldn't have approved of me giving up on life like that. With the hawk's shorter lifespan, and the many natural dangers for hawks, maybe my death would come sooner. And that was why I couldn't be mad at Jake, because going down in battle for a friend wasn't the same thing as giving up.
And at least this way, I could almost have that day back. The day she died. I'd always wished I'd known when Jake sent her to the Blade ship alone. Because then, I could have followed her. I could have been there. I could have helped her fight, and even if that didn't make a difference, I could have at least died with her. And now, going down on this ship, the Rachel, I could almost have that.
No more questions, please.
No more tests.
Comes the day you say, what for?
Please, no more.
So, as we readied the ship for its final mission, I did one final thing for her. For Rachel. I morphed human one last time.
Jake looked around at all of us. At Jeanne and Santorelli standing side by side. Santorelli lifted one arm and saluted to Jake, who did the same back in one final defiant gesture of humanity.
Jake turned to look at me. He smiled sadly, and said, simply, "I'm sorry." I knew what he meant. He wasn't sorry about now. About asking me to go with him on this mission. He was sorry for all those years ago, when he'd made the decision that tore my life apart, but the one that helped us win the war. I nodded and gave him a small smile, letting him know I'd forgiven him. I wasn't mad at him anymore. The truth was it wasn't him I'd been mad at for all those years. It was myself. Myself and the Yeerks. The Yeerks that had killed both my father and the girl I loved.
They die, but they don't.
In turn I fear.
Forgive, though, they won't.
Finally, Jake turned to Marco, and looked him expectantly. Marco was silent for a moment, then he looked up at the ceiling of the ship. He looked back down and shrugged. "Well," he said, "since she can't speak, I guess I'll say it for her." He grinned. "Let's do it."
Jake grinned, and nodded to Mendarash. Mendarash nodded back, and turned to the computer. "Computer," he said. "Maximum Burn."
No more riddles.
No more jests.
No more curses you can't undo
Left by fathers you never knew.
No more quests.
A rush of chaos followed. The ship shot forward. I flew backward, hitting the back of the ship. Hard. I fell to the floor as the Rachel hit the Blade Ship, resulting in an unbearable scraping and crushing noise. The Blade Ship spun away, damaged and out-of-control.
I should have died then. I didn't.
I don't know how long I was unconscious, but I woke to a silence so deafening, so real, it was almost tangible. My head hurt, and I soon discovered I was lying in a pool of blood. It was everywhere. And I wondered how I could possibly be alive. The impact alone should have killed me, and no one could live after loosing that much blood. But as soon as I sat up, I understood.
It wasn't my blood. I wasn't bleeding. I was alive, but I was the only one. Jeanne was sprawled on the floor a couple feet away, in the same huge pool of blood. But I don't think it was hers either. Like me, she'd been thrown against the wall and floor. Unlike me, the impact killed her. The fate of the others was far more horrific.
Santorelli was sprawled across the computers, a long gash torn in his stomach, leaking blood. Mendarash had been crushed between the computers and part of the compressed front of the ship. His mangled, bloody body was too gruesome for words. Jake had been impaled by a piece of the crushed ship. He was the source of much of the blood. But the biggest contributor to the pool covering the floor was Marco. One whole side of his body, from head to toe, had been slit open by crushed metal.
I couldn't look at any of them for long. It was too painful. Why? I thought. Oh God, why? What have I done to deserve this? Not only had I been denied merciful death, but now I had to be here, alive, while all my friends were dead. I had to sit there with their dead, mangled bodies all around me.
No more feelings.
Time to shut the door.
Just no more.
There was no way the ship would work now, but maybe there was some sort of escape pod or something somewhere. Maybe, if I found it, I could just fly it somewhere far away. Anywhere but here. Anywhere but Earth.
Running away, let's do it.
Free from the ties that bind.
No more despair,
Or burdens to bear out there in the yonder.
I had found the escape pod. I sat in front of the computers for a long time, staring out at the stars and planets, and the black of space. Finally, I started the engines and started out into the vast expanse of nothingness, taking one last look at the Rachel. "Goodbye," I whispered, and then I turned and flew the ship away, heading for nowhere.
Running away, go to it.
Where did you have in mind?
Have to take care,
Unless there's a where, you'll only be wandering blind.
Just more questions, different kinds.
Where are we to go?
Where are we ever to go?
Staring into that void called space, something strange started to happen to me. I started seeing images, and hearing voices. They were memories, but they didn't belong to me. It was as if some age-old story was being reenacted in my mind. Being played out for me to see. And as the story played itself out around me, I began to understand.
It was the story of an Andalite aristh, thrown into a great war. The young alien and his fellow cadet were sent on a small, insignificant mission that soon became a major piece of a much larger story.
It was the story of Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul, and the mission that resulted in his friend Arbron becoming trapped in the body of a Taxxon, a horrible cannibalistic creature like a giant centipede. The mission that marked the beginning of the Abomination, Visser Three – the only Yeerk to inhabit the body of an Andalite. I watched as Elfangor, the human girl, Loren, and the Visser attempted to use the Time Matrix, the most destructive weapon imaginable, and ended up creating a strange new universe. I watched as Elfangor and Loren fought the Visser for control of the Time Matrix, and I watched as Elfangor ran away from the war.
Running away, we'll do it.
Why sit around, resigned?
He ran to Earth, and became a human permanently. He married Loren, and then, one day it all ended. The Ellimist, that inexplicable creature who created the Time Matrix, came and took Elfangor away. He erased the time-line, bringing Elfangor back to his people, and to the war that made him a war-hero. Erased all memory of him on Earth. Not even Loren would remember. He erased everything. Except. Except for one thing. Except for the son Loren had been pregnant with. I saw the battle Elfangor was thrown back into. I watched as he shot toward the Blade Ship on a suicidal attack, a mirror of our final attack on the same ship. And he, like me, lived when he should have died.
Trouble is, son,
The farther you run, the more you feel undefined.
For what you have left undone,
And more, what you've left behind.
And I was already crying when I saw the last scene. The end of his story. The day Elfangor came back to Earth, with one thing in mind. To save humanity from the Yeerks. He was looking for the Time Matrix he'd buried there so many years ago, but instead he found five human teenagers. Us. The Animorphs. And I saw through his eyes, as he gave us the morphing power. And I saw myself, and I felt the recognition in Elfangor's mind as he saw, at last, the son he'd left behind.
I didn't want to see the rest, but I couldn't close my eyes to it. So I watched, again, as Visser Three came to destroy his old nemesis. And I heard the last message of Elfangor's hirac delest. Hope…
We leave a mess,
We die, but we don't.
And then it was over, and I was flying through the blackness again. And I could feel the sobs wrenching my throat. Now I knew the whole story. And I knew that my father had known who I was that night. He had known as he lay dying, and as he asked me about my family, and my mother. This war had torn them apart, just as it had me and Rachel. But at least I could remember her. At least I had that much.
In turn, I guess,
Forget, though, we won't.
Like father, like son.
I stared out at the space ahead of me, and wondered why my life, and his, held so much pain. I wondered where I was going, and what good it was going to do me. At least when Elfangor ran away, he had something to run to. He had Loren. And me? I was running away from everything. From every memory of Rachel. The one thing I had left of her.
No more giants,
Can't we just pursue our lives,
With our children and our wives?
'Till that happy day arrives
How do you ignore,
All the witches,
All the curses.
All the wolves, all the lies,
The false hopes, the goodbyes, the reverses.
All the wondering, what even worse
Is still in store?
All the children.
All the giants.
I sat up, and turned the ship around with new determination, and demorphed to hawk. I might need my morphing powers before this was done. I realized what else my father's story had shown me. I saw what I could do now. I had a goal, and one last mission to take.
A/N ~ Alright! I'll try and put up chapter 2 as soon as possible. I hope you like it so far. Don't worry, it won't continue to be so depressing. In case anyone wants to know, the song is called "No More," and it's from the Broadway musical Into the Woods.