The Rescue
By The Steel Angel









Authors Notes - I know what you're all saying. "Isn't this supposed to be Wc101?" Well, yes and no. Yes, in the fact that I am the same person. No, in the fact that I've decided to retire the avatar of Wc101. I guess I just needed a change, you know? Besides, I really like the name Steel Angel. This will be The Steel Angel's maiden fic, so be kind and rewind! Oh... that's Blockbuster... whatever. Enjoy!

PS. This fic utilizes three of the characters from my "Death of Friends" saga, namely, Ross and Alyssa It's also a romance, Rachel/Ross. Don't flame me!

"That one." I said, pointing to a small diamond ring behind the glass counter. The clerk nodded, and pulled out the ring. She placed it in a small, crushed velvet, red box. I handed the woman my credit card, and waited for her to complete the transaction.
My name is Ross, by the way. I was in the mall, finally buying the object that I'd been saving for, for the last six months, and which was probably going to put me into debt to my parents for another six months. My one year anniversary with Alyssa was in three days, and I didn't want to give her the generic boquet of roses, or predictable box of chocolate. I wanted it to be special.
But who am I, you ask? Just some ordinary teenage boy, trying to do something special for his girlfriend. Nothing special.... to about ninety nine point nine percent on the Earth. To the other point one percent... I'm a thousand times more than normal. I'm a warrior. A strategist. A friend deeper than any other on the planet. There's a special bond that forms between people when you save their lives on a daily basis, and when they save yours.
That point one percent are my friends and fellow Animorphs.. Jake, Alyssa, Rachel, Marco, Cassie, Tobias, and Ax. But just what are Animorphs? We're mankind's last resort. If we lose, Earth loses. Depressed yet? Welcome to my world. Our enemy can't even be seen with the naked eye, unless you know what to look for. The Yeerks aren't aliens out of Independance Day, or Mars Attacks. They're much more subtle than that.
It's us they want. Not our land, not out resources, but our physical bodies. See, the Yeerks are parasites. In reality, they're just tiny, gray-green slugs. But, they've evolved the ability to enter a host body through the ear canal, and tie themselves into the brain of that creature. Once that happens, the Yeerk assumes complete and utter control of you. The Yeek controls where you walk, who you talk to, when you breathe, and when you blink. You become the dummy, and the Yeerk is the ventriloquist.
Needless to say, our lives can get pretty hectic. It all started a long time ago, when Alyssa, Kim, Kevin, and I were walking home on a foggy Friday night. It was then, when the damaged Andalite fighter landed, and the Andalite Warp Prince Samilia... Sam for short... told us about the Yeerk invasion, and gave us our one great power. The power to morph. To literally become any animal that we can touch. A gift and a curse. Later on, we met up with Jake and the others, and have become one group of eight, fighting the Yeerks until the Andalites show up.
I know you're counting Eleven, but we're only eight strong. Some time ago, Kevin, Kim, and Sam contracted a virus. A quantum virus, as Ax calls it. None of them made it.
"A male in a jewelry store looks so... unsettling." A voice said. I turned and looked toward the exit of the store. Standing there, was a tall blond carrying two bags from The Limited.
Rachel.
Rachel was a blond goddess. Bolder than bold. More reckless than the most reckless person in recorded history. She was an amazon warrior trapped in the body of a mall rat. I guess you could say that she's the driving force of our group. If Rachel wasn't so bold as to rush into every stupid mission, none of us would have the courage to go through with it. I saw the same ferocity in her eyes as I so often see in Jake's. Probably because of the fact that they're cousins. "Hey Rachel," I said, stuffing the ring box in my pocket.
"What's that?" Rachel asked, peering over at my hand, which was still lodged in my pocket.
"Just a present for Alyssa." I said, walking past her and into the traffic of the mall. It wasn't as if I didn't like Rachel, but she tended to grate on my nerves, especially about my relationship with Alyssa.
"Oooh, did Romeo buy a diamond for his Juliet?" She goaded.
"At least I'm in love with a human." I snapped. Rachel stopped cold, and grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, and pulled me so that her face was even with mine.
"Mind repeating that?" She asked. I gulped.
"With your knee so close to the general? I'll decline." I said. She smirked, and released me. I sighed, and took the box out of my pocket. I opened it, showing Rachel the ring. "Here." I said. She took the box carefully, inspecting the ring.
"Jesus Christ," she muttered, and handed me back the box. "How much did that cost? A grand?" She asked.
"Thirteen hundred, actually." I said nonchalantly. "So what are you doing here anyway? Jake send you to get me?" I asked suspiciously.
"Actually, yeah. He called your house, but your mom said that you were at the mall." She said, then, much more quietly, "Meeting at five. Usual place." I pretended not to hear this, for all intensive purposes, but gave a slight nod.
"So why, praytell, did you volunteer to come get me?" I asked, eyeing the two bags she was carrying. She held them up.
"They're having this killer sale at The Limited. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone." I rolled my eyes. Rachel was a complete bupolar case.
"Good meeting, or bad meeting?" I asked quietly, as we started walking toward the exit of the mall.
"What do you think, Romeo?" She asked. I sighed. Recently, the Yeerks had managed to create a new Yeerk Prototype that didn't need Kandrona Rays to survive. We'd invaded the compound to try and halt the production, but we'd failed. We barely escaped with our lives. The three day feeding cycle was the great weakness of the Yeerk Empire. If they eliminated that weakness, Earth stood no chance.
"Bad meeting," I said with a grumble, and looked down at my watch. Four fifty. "Christ, I gotta check in the the 'rents before I go. Tell Jake I'll be a little late." I said. Rachel nodded, and I took off toward the exit.



***






Luckily, my house was only a block and a half from the mall. I walked inside, to find my mom vacuuming the living room. "Hey Mom." I said, and started toward the stairs.
"Alyssa called." Mom said. I turned my head. "She told me to tell you to meet her at five. She said you'd know where." She informed me. This was perfect. I already had the perfect excuse.
"Thanks Mom." I said, and walked into my room and closed the door. I took the ring box out of my pocket, and placed it in my dresser drawer. I stripped off my outer clothing, which left me in only my skin tight morphing suit. I closed my eyes, and began the morph.
I, like Tobias, had acquired a Red Tailed Hawk morph. The same hawk as him, actually. My skin turned from pinkish tan, to golden brown and rust red in places. My eyes seemed to explode in their sockets, taking up much more of my head then my normal human eyes. I was shrinking all this time, as tiny hollow tubes shot out of my skin, and were covered by feathers a few seconds later. I could hear my bones cracking and grinding as they changed from the dense bones of a human, to the light weight, hollow bones of a bird of prey. The feathers shot down my body like a wave, even covering my still human feet. My toes melted together, and three soft, pink talons emerged. They stayed pink for a few seconds, then turned deep yellow. My vision changed from dull human vision, to the razor sharp super vision of a raptor. My nose a lips melded, and expanded put, forming my hooked beak.
When the physical transformation was complete, I felt the Hawk's mind rise to join my own. I had long since learned how to control the Hawk's basic instincts of hunger, so that wasn't a problem. I backed up a few steps, and began flapping my wings until I had lift. I flapped out of my window, and almost instantly caught a thermal, which lifted my high above the clouds.
The usual place that Alyssa and Rachel were hinting about, was Cassie's barn. Or, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic. Now you know why we call it the barn. At any given time, there were at least fifty different species of animal inside, all squawking, chirping, growling, or roaring... all at once. It was aenough to make a bird nervous. That's exactly what the Hawk felt as I glided into the barn doors, and spotted two wolves in the corner of the barn. Now, a Hawk is a pretty tough bird. But nothing can be tough for very long when a wolf is the opponent.
"It's about time," Marco said. He was lounging calmly on a hay bale in one corner of the room. Marco is Jake's best friend, even though they're total opposites. He has brown hair, and a great shade of olive skin that I'd love to have myself. His way of looking at the world, is to joke about it. When Marco isn't making jokes, you know something is wrong. But there's another side to Marco. He's probably the smartest out of all of us, except for Ax. He's ruthless to a point, but knows when he crosses the line.
I was busy. > I said, and landed on the ground, already beginning to demorph.
"We've been here for like, a half hour already." Marco said, folding his arms across his chest.
"Marco, YOU'VE been here for three minutes." Cassie reminded him cooly. Cassie is a person whom I really admire. She's very in tune to nature, and reminds all of us when we're doing something immoral. She has the ability to see people. And not just physically see them... she can... I don't know how to say it. She can see inside people. See what makes them tick. She can tell if someone is being honest or not.
"Well, it FELT like a half hour." Marco said. Jake rolled his eyes, and looked up at Tobias.
"Are we clear?" He asked. Jake is the one in the group I admire most. He's our sort of leader, though he doesn't walk around and impose his will on the rest of us. He has the sense of responsibility that we all lack. He has the ability to make split second decisions that get us out of a bad situation alive. He's the only one of us who hasn't broken down in fear or in anger at one point or another, which I guess, is expected of a leader. I didn't want his job.
Cassie's parents are a few miles out into the woods releasing a couple of foxes. We should be good for a while. > Tobias said. Tobias is a living reminder of the downside of morphing. See, we can indeed, become any animal we can touch, but if we stay in animal form for more than two hours, we stay forever. That's what happened to Tobias. He's a Red Tail, as his natural form, and a human, only as a morph. He was able to re-acquire his morphing power with the help of a being called the Ellimist, who could probably end this whole war right now, if he wanted to.
"Ax? Can you morph to human? We don't want to take any more risks here than necessary." Jake asked, turning toward the Andalite. Ax's full name is Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. He's an Andalite aristh, which I gather, means a cadet. He's the younger brother of Prince Elfangor, the Andalite who gave Jake and the others their morphing power.
Yes, Prince Jake. > Ax said, and began to morph. His human morph is a combination of DNA from Jake, Marco, Rachel, and Cassie. All in all, Ax, in human morph, is one strangely beautiful boy.
"Now then," Jake began. "I talked to Erek this morning, and-" Marco groaned, which interrupted Jake.
"Why is it, that whenever you say 'I talked to Erek', my stomach does a somersault?" He asked.
"Because you're a weenie." Alyssa said. Alyssa, who I already mentioned earlier, is my girlfriend. Her and I are the only ones left of our origional group, and I intend to make sure that it stays that way. She had long, dark red hair, and a perfect set of emerald green eyes. I kind of felt sorry for Marco. He was the only one in the group who wasn't paired off.
"As I was saying," Jake resumed. "I was talking to Erek this morning, and said that the Yeerks are keeping this project under high security. The bulk of the Yeerk Empire doesn't even know that it's still going on." Jake said.
"Peachy." I grumbled.
"But, he gave us the name of the controller who's in charge of the project." Jake said, and tossed a piece of paper onto a medicine table. I couldn't see the name, but Rachel and Marco could. They looked up, their faces pale. Jake nodded at me. What was going on?
"Read it, Romeo." Rachel said, and picked up the paper. I grabbed it and read the name out loud.
"Scott Hester. So wha... Matt Hester?!" I exclaimed. It was some kind of mistake! Hester was MY last name!
"Someone in your family?" Jake asked.
"My.... my father..." I said, blinking. It was impossible. No way was MY father a controller! My hands were gripping the medicine table so tightly, that my knuckles were turning white. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked to my right. To my surprise, it wasn't Alyssa trying to comfort me. It was Marco. Then, I understood. Marco's mother was a controller as well.
"Don't worry about it... it'll be fine." He said. I blinked furiously, not wanting to let any tears come out. I wiped my eyes on my sleeve, then stared at Jake.
"What's the plan?" I asked. I saw Jake look over at Cassie. She looked at me, and then looked back at Jake. Instantly, I knew what she was doing. Jake had asked her, without speaking, if I could be trusted to not do something stupid.
She said no.
"Come on, guys! This doesn't change anything. A mission is a mission. Do you all really have that little faith in me?" I demanded. No one said anything for a while, until Ax broke the silence.
"Obviously, we'll need to capture this controller. Either way, the man will not make it out alive. Eyve. Al-Ive." Ax said. I exploded, jumping up.
"What do you mean?! We can starve the yeerk out of his head, and he'll be fine!" I explained. What was Ax talking about?
But he'll be a man on the run from the Yeerks. Chances are, if he goes free, the Yeerks will recapture him. If that happens, he'll know all about us. > Tobias said.
"The best thing would be for the Yeerk to voluntarily tell us where the compound is. We'll let him go if he does, then no harm will come to your father." Cassie said. Cassie was against me to?
"And how, exactly, are we going to make the Yeerk tell us voluntarily?" Alyssa asked. Jake turned to Ax.
"How good is your Visser Three impression?" He asked.



***





Are you insane? Have you all gone insane? > Marco asked as we were flying. Truth is, I was wondering the same thing. It was two days since the meeting, and we'd been doing constant, 24 hour surveillance on my Dad. It had confirmed my worst fears. He was, indeed, a controller.
And today, was his day to go to the Yeerk Pool.
So, we were flying. Ax had helped bug my telephones at home, so we could figure out anything we could on the Yeerk's project. We got nothing. Except, of course, his feeding schedule. Marco, Tobias, Rachel, and I were following him to see which entrance he'd use. Jake, Cassie, Ax, and Alyssa were each stationed at a seperate, well known Yeerk Pool entrance. Whichever one he used, two of us in the air would round up the other three on the ground, and follow him in. The one near the entrance he used, would be ready to ride with him in roach morph.
And that was only phase one of the stupidest plan ever thought of.
After he fed, and had a fresh three days under his belt, we'd snag him as he left the pool. That means Ax in his natural body, and the rest of us as Hork-Bajir. We had to make it look like it was Visser Three and his enterage of Hork-Bajir. We'd take him to a secluded location, most likely, the woods, and literally scare the pants off of him. In the midst of all of this, Ax would ask him about the Yeerk Project, and where it was located. Then we'd let him go. Nothing to it.
We HAD gone insane.
Looks like he's pulling into the mall, > I said, watching his car.
Who's stationed inside? > Rachel asked.
I think it's Cassie. > Tobias said.
All right, it's now or never. Marco and I will go down and go with Cassie, Rachel and Tobias? You go get the others. > I said. Jake wasn't here, so SOMEONE had to call the shots. Right?
Aye aye, Romeo. > Rachel said, and veered off. Marco and I landed on the roof of the mall, and quickly demorphed. It was a Tuesday, so the mall wouldn't be that crowded. Especially not when everyone was in school.
"Ready?" I asked Marco, as I opened the door to lead us inside.
"No. Let's just go." Marco said with a smirk, and started down the narrow staircase. I followed, and quickly ran to the Gap, where the entrance was. Marco and I piled into two dressing rooms, and began the morph.
The shrinking came first this time. It wasn't until I was about the size of a squirrel, that the other changes began. My skin turned hard and brown, forming my exoskeleton. I heard my bones dissolving and my organs squishing, reconfiguring themselves into the organs of a roach. My vision dulled. Probably for the best, since now, I didn't have to see the insanely long mouth parts jut out of my face. I did, however, have to feel them. A set of extra legs burst from my midsection. I was now as long as the diameter of a quarter.
Cassie? Where are you? > I heard Marco ask.
Marco? Who's with you? > Cassie responded.
Me. > I said, and scampered over to the dressing room which led to the pool. There, I saw two other roaches huddled together under a pile of coat hangers. Cassie, I think you might be the cutest roach I've ever seen. > I said, jokingly.
You're insane. Rachel is a much cuter roach than me. > She said. We laughed. A few minutes later, we felt the vibration of someone entering the dressing room. Now or never. > Cassie said. We agreed, and dashed up my father's shoe as he walked by. I heard him mutter something, then felt the cool air of the Yeerk Pool Cavern. I was glad I didn't have ears, then I'd have to hear the screams. A sound I'd never forget.
How long have you been in morph, Cassie? > I asked.
About forty five minutes. > She answered.
Better hope this takes less than an hour and fifteen, > Marco said.
Turns out, it took about an hour and five minutes just for Dad to get to the pier to let the Yeerk disengage.
Get a grip Cassie. We'll find somewhere for you to demorph...> I said, and then...
"Gnarfash Andalite!!!" A grunt voice yelled. Hork-Bajir.
Oh no! > Cassie yelped. They must have found the others! > She yelled.
We've gotta get to a safe place to demorph, > Marco said. We both agreed, and left my Dad's leg. We crept along the wall of the cavern, until we were in a shaded area. It's now or never for Cassie. > Marco warned.
I'm NOT getting trapped as a roach! > She screamed, and began to demorph. As did Marco and I.
Cassie? Marco? Ross? It's us. If you can here us, answer. > It was Jake's thought speak voice.
Jake! How did you guys get spotted?! > I yelled.
Spotted? What are you talking about? > Jake asked. Then, it hit me.
It was a trap.
It's a trap! Morph to- > Then, I passed the halfway point between roach and human, and lost the ability to thought speak. When the three of us were human, I looked around. We were in a slight indent of the pool. They couldn't see us inside, but we couldn't see them either.
"We need to get out of here. Too much has gone wrong already." Marco hissed.
"No! We need to do what we came here to do. You two morph back to roach, and I'll follow him out as a human. They don't know I'm not a controller, right?" I asked.
"But..." Cassie began.
"No buts, Cassie. Do it." I said. I knew I had the right plan. I knew it.
Once they were fully roach again, I calmy stepped out of the indent, and walked over to the voluntary controller section of the pool. Where was my dad? I scanned the area. There! He was in one of the cages. Hah, I knew that he'd resist, I thought to myself.
Ross, what are you doing?! > Rachel cried. She had spotted me from some unknown location.
He's going to follow his father out as a human. We've got no other choice. > Cassie said.
If his dad spots him, he'll know that Ross isn't a controller! > Tobias chimed in. Uh oh. I had over looked that
Okay, guys. New plan. We've got to make a scene here. Knock out his dad, then have Ax drag him to safety. We;ll say that he had been followed in by the Andalite bandits, and that it was his fault the attack happened at all. It's the only chance we've got. > Jake said. Right. Battle morphs. I carried Marco and Cassie into a restroom. It was remarkably clean, really. I went into one stall, and waited for the others to demorph.
"This has to be the most insane thing we've ever done," Marco whispered.
"I second that." Cassie said.
"Shut up and morph." I said. I wasn't looking forward to this. I began the morph.
"Wait, how are we going to fit a Gorilla, a Wolf, and a Leopard in this stall?" Cassie asked. I thought about this for a minute.
"We're not." I said simply, and continued the morph. Orange and black fur sprouted all over my body in patches, followed by a quadrupling of my muscle capacity. I had POWER! My spine shifted, and I fell forward, unable to stand on my hind legs. My toes and fingers became tough paws, and razor sharp nails jutted from the tips. My teeth trippled in number, and changed shape, forming the crushing teeth of a leopard.
I saw Marco's face turn grey, as his human skin changed into the tough leather like skin of a gorilla. Cassie was undergoing a similar change that I was, except she was becoming a wolf. We were all growing, and it was getting tight inside the bathroom stall. Marco raised a fully formed gorilla fist a few moments later.
I'll do the honors. > He said, and punched the wall of the stall. It folded, revealing us to three human controllers, and a Gedd.
"Andalite!" one of the humans shrieked. After a few taps from Marco, they wouldn't be going anywhere. We made our way out of the bathroom, to find a bigger battle already going on.
Jake, a tiger, chewing on a Hork-Bajir's wrist like a dog with a bone who hadn't eaten in a year.
Rachel, a grizzly, slashing at her two Hork-Bajir opponents.
Tobias, a hawk, soaring up, then diving down to slash the eyes of Hork-Bajir, human, and Taxxon alike.
Ax, as an Andalite, his tail blade slashing like a bull whip, knocking out creatures left and right.
Alyssa, a mountain lion, jumping on the back of a Hork-Bajir attempting to slice Jake in half.
And at the center of it all, Visser Three himself.
Kill them you fools! Kill them or I'll kill you all myself!!! > He screamed. We were losing though. There had to be fifty Hork Bajir surrounding them, and more on the way. Rachel was missing a paw. Alyssa had a deep cut down her back. We ran for the center
Marco! My dad! > I said. Marco looked around for a minute, then found him. He came up behind my Dad, and tapped him on the back of the head. Marco grabbed his unconscious body, and tossed him into the indent we'd been in before.
Jake! > I yelled. He was being flanked by five Hork-Bajir, and there was blood in his eyes. No way could he win. I leapt at two of the opponents, sinking my fangs into his neck. I kept biting down until he stopped moving. I released him, and went for the next. I swung my paw at his forehead, knocking him off balance. He stumbled right into Marco, who rewarded him with a milk gallon sized fist right in his face.
Thanks guys. > Jake said. I could hear the pain in his voice.
Pitiful! I'll take care of them myself! > The Visser crowed. I couldn't figure out why, but then I saw. He was morphing. Our signal to leave.
Guys! He's morphing! Get my dad and go! > I yelled. I'll hold them back as long as I can! I'll be right behind you! > I called. I guess they took my advice, because they started to withdraw. I, on the other hand, charged straight at the beast that Visser Three was becoming. He was probably twenty feet tall, and acid green. The delicate Andalite hands sprouted huge claws, with red tips. Three massive legs held the creature up, and a surprisingly small head adorned the top. I ran straight for him, and sunk my fangs into his side.
No! You musn't! > Ax called. A split second later, I realized why. Acid! My gums and teeth were melting!
Auuuughhhhh!!! > I cried.
Hahaha... do you like this creature? It's called a Goreliak from the Hork-Bajir home world. Quite a remarkable creature. Hydrochloric Acid flows through its veins like blood. > Visser Three called. Then, he reached down, and picked me up with one claw. The red tips on the claws were like fire! I don't think I'll kill you. Just force you to demorph. Then the Yeerk Empire will have another Andalite body for use. > The Visser said.
Ross! No! > Alyssa cried.
G...Get out of here! Go! > I yelled. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Rachel kick Alyssa in the stomach. It was about as subtle as you can get as a bear, but it got the point across. They left. Visser Three threw me onto the ground.
Put him in a holding chamber. Make him demorph. > Visser Three said. Two Hork Bajir guards grabbed me roughly, and threw me into a seemingly plastic box, with no exit. I caught a brief glimpse of a girl. A blond girl. Like Rachel. But this wasn't Rachel... no... I sensed evil coming from her. Her arm wasn't like the rest of her... it looked robotical. The sides of the box went black. I was alone.



***




I had no choice but to demorph, or risk being trapped as a crippled leopard for the rest of my life. I did it quickly, then remorphed to leopard once more. No way they'd get a slug in my ear. "I assume you've demorphed and remorphed, Andalite?" a female voice said. I looked around. The walls of the box I was in went transparent. A girl was standing there. "Are you the bird I've become so familiar with?" She asked.
Bird? Tobias? Then this was....
No. It couldn't be. Could this be the same person who had tortured Tobias to the breaking point? If it was, then I didn't stand a chance. My will wasn't nearly as strong as Tobias'.
"No? Too bad. I wanted to see him again. But I can amuse myself with a new Andalite." She said, and walked over to the control panel, which sat a few feet from the box I was in. On it, I could see two dials. One red, and one blue. What did it mean? "Your friend was more talkative. He became quite familiar with this machine. If you don't want to get comfortable, I suggest you demorph." She said.
Tell me who you are, Yeerk. > I spat.
"My, you're a rude one, aren't you? Classic Andalite tongue... my name is Taylor." she said, and twisted the red dial. A searing, bone crushing pain wracked my body. I screamed. I screamed, and screamed, and screamed, until she turned the dial off. Was this what Tobias had to endure?! "Demorph." She said simply.
Never. > I said. She shrugged, and turned the dial again. It was worse than before. So painful that I thought I might rip open my own head, just so I could stop feeling the pain.
"Demorph!" She screamed, then turned off the system. "I'm not done with you. Remember that." She said, and walked out. The walls of my holding chamber went black again. I was left to rest... for a while, at least.



***




It was no use. I couldn't deal with the pain, or the thought that I'd be stuck in this god awful morph for the rest of my life. I'd folded.
"A human!" Taylor cried gleefully. "Tell me, how many of you are there? How many humans? Ahaha! This will vault me to the Visser rank! Unless..." She didn't say anything else, as a human voice played through Taylor's radio. "I'll be back, human." She said, and walked out. A few minutes later, she walked back in carrying an unconscious human. I recognized her immediately.
Rachel!
What was she doing here?!
I heard one of the guards talking to Taylor. "We found her wandering around the pool, looking suspicious. We think she might be one of the Andalites in morph." The guard said. Good, so they didn't know for sure or not if Rachel was morph capable, and if she was, they still thought she was an Andalite. Taylor closed the door, and walked back toward me. That was the first time she had left the room since I had demorphed. As far as I knew, she might still be the only one who knew I was a human. I intended to keep it that way.
Taylor opened the top of the box, and hefted Rachel inside. The walls of the box went black again. Great, more solitary confinement. But then, a few minutes later, Rachel began to stir.
"God damn worthless whore piece of-" I cut her off.
"Are you okay, Rachel?" I asked. I heard a thud on the ceiling, so I assumed Rachel has jumped up and hit her head on the ceiling of the box.
"Ross?! Is that you?!" She exclaimed.
"Yeah... what are you doing here?" I asked. She didn't say anything for a few minutes, then.
The rest of us are around the pool in various morphs, looking for you. They found me, and knocked me out. I'm telling Jake and the others where we are right now. > Rachel said, then demorphed back to human.
"She... she saw me demorph." I said. Rachel sighed.
"We were afraid of that." Rachel said.
"I couldn't take it... I mean... she.." I stammered.
"We know. Tobias told us all about that torture, remember?" She said.
I sighed, and took the small ring out of my pocket. "Hey Rachel... If I don't make it out of this... can you give this to Alyssa for me? Today is our anniversary." I asked. Rachel glared at me.
"Oh shut up." Rachel said. "You're going to make it, just like I am." She said.
"Please, Rachel. Just do it for me." I said, and handed her the ring. She sighed, and took it.
We didn't speak for a while after that. Maybe it was the fact that Taylor could be listening to our every word, or because there was simply nothing to talk about. I felt a hand on mine later. I looked over at her.
"You don't know what it's like... to have to be the reckless and stupid one all the time." She said. What was I hearing? Rachel getting emotional? "I get scared just like everyone else... I talked to Jake about it. he told me not to let the others know... he said that it I started getting all scared, everyone else would too. It's not fair." She said. I put my hands on her shoulders.
"It's okay, Rachel. We know you're not some moronic amazon with a death wish." I said, and rubbed her back comfortingly. She turned her head, and looked at me. She was smiling. Very un-Rachel. "Rachel...? Are you okay?" I asked.
"I'm fine... it's just.... well...." She stuttered. This was insane. I was going to lose it if Rachel was losing it. "Ross, why are you good to Alyssa?" She asked me.
"W...what?" I said. This question had really taken me by surprise. "Why? Um... because I love her... " I said. What was she getting at?
"I've never been treated like her... Tobias is never around, and is still adament about staying a bird. I know I'm an Animorph, but I'm a girl too... Don't I deserve to be treated like one?" She asked.
"Of course you do." I said. What else could I say? She turned around to look at me.
"I'm glad you feel that way..." She asked. What was she doing...?
"Why?" I asked.
"I... I've had a sort of crush on you for a long time." She said. I moved away from her instantly.
"Whoa whoa whoa.... hold the phone." I said.
"Please Ross... do this one thing for me." She said.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Kiss me. Just once. Like you kiss her." She said. Was she INSANE?!
"What? No!" I said firmly. She grabbed my upper arms.
"Please.... I just want to feel a real kiss... just once." She said. Great. I'd brought this on by agreeing with her. What else could I do?
"...Okay..." I said.
"Thank you..." She said, and closed her eyes. I sighed, and leaned my head in, and pressed my lips against hers. I kept trying to envision Alyssa, but it wasn't working. All I could see, was this blond goddess sitting in front of me. I deepened the kiss, and pulled her closer to me. Stop! Stop it! I cried internally. But I couldn't do it. I kept kissing until the box went clear again.
"Hello, lovebirds." Taylor said with a smile.


To Be Continued...









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