Chapter 4

"Whatever you do, from now on, try not to kill any animal. Even a tiny one, like a fly." Jake stressed. "I have been squashed before, it was not pleasant."

There was a knock at the back door, and Buffy opened it to find a tall, pretty blonde girl in a leotard standing next to a shorter, darker guy with black hair and a suspicious look on his face. "Hey." She said, "I'm Rachel, and this is Marco. You must be Buffy."

Buffy nodded. "Slayer of all things that go bump in the night. Come in." Rachel and Marco followed Buffy back to the family room. They got there in time to see Cassie walking down the stairs.

"How did she, oh, she came in with you guys." Willow asked and answered.

Cassie nodded. "I was a flea on Jake."

"Guys," Jake said, "This is Rachel, Marco, and Cassie."

"I thought you said there were six of you." Dawn said.

"I was getting to that." Jake replied. "Before you meet him, I just want to let you know that he probably looks a lot like a demon or something. But he isn't, okay? He's an alien, an alien with no mouth, and four eyes, two of which are mounted on stalks, and are pretty disturbing, but try not to be weirded out."

Everyone nodded, and Ax walked down the stairs gracefully and walked to the center of the family room, smiling with his eyes as only an Andalite can do at the awed group on the couch. {I am Aximili Esgarrouth Isthil, but Prince Jake insists on calling me 'Ax.' Feel free to do the same.}

"Prince Jake?" Buffy asked expectantly.

Jake rolled his eyes. "It's a rank or something. Don't ask. Anyways, now you know who we are, what we look like, and that most of us are human. That places a huge responsibility on your shoulders."

"Aww come on!" Xander shouted. "We've been fighting to keep the forces of hell from erupting out of this town for years! Isn't that enough responsibility?"

"WE'RE PREVENTING ALIENS FROM TAKING OVER THE PLANET!!" Rachel roared. "And what's more, we've been doing it since we were 14! I've seen more carnage than any world war two veteran, and trust me, I know because I've seen that too! And you know what the worst part is? Every Yeerk we fight, every Yeerk we kill, we kill the host too. Every enemy we take down is hiding in the body of an innocent creature, so don't say shit to me about responsibility! You guys have it friggin' easy! Did Jake tell you about his brother?"

"Rachel." Jack warned.

"No Jake, he's my cousin too and Xander needs things put in perspective!" She turned to glare at Xander, who was still staring defiantly. "Jake's brother is a Controller. Every day he goes home and has to sit at the same table as the slug who's holding his brother captive. He's our leader, and he has to live with the enemy! Can you imagine what that's like? Having to try and act normal while you know the truth, that the thing you're joking with or talking about last night's game with isn't really him, that's he's really trapped in his own body, trying hard to scream, to get back control." Xander's gaze began to drop. "For years Marco thought his mother was dead. Turns out she's a Controller too, and one of the highest ranking ones. We might have to kill her to end this. Tobias, in his first mission, got trapped in the body of a hawk. He gave up his whole life because of his responsibility."

Xander looked back up, his gaze much softer than before. "Look, I'm sorry." He said. "I didn't realize quite how bad it was. You live in a town like this you start to think there can't possibly be anything worse."

"Unfortunately there is." Rachel replied. "We're living it, and we want it to end."

"How can we help?" Willow asked, putting on her resolve face.

"Yeah." Dawn added. "I want to help too, and umm, Ax, why are you staring at me?" Everyone turned to look at Ax, who had focused all four of his eyes intently on Dawn.

{I'm sorry.} He apologized, averting his gaze. {It's just, it's nothing.}

{Ax-man what's up?} Tobias asked privately.

{I do not know, my friend. Something about Dawn does not feel right, but it feels familiar at the same time. I cannot, as you say, put my finger on it.}

{Huh.} Tobias replied, {Well let me know if you figure it out.} Tobias turned back to the conversation to see Buffy and Jake discussing possible morphs.

"So a vampire is out then?" Buffy asked.

Jake nodded. "If it's really dead, then yes. Not all demons are dead, right?

Buffy shook her head. "Nope, just vampires."

"A Polgara demon could be a good a good morph." Giles added. "They're a little rare, but there might be one or two in town. Fast, strong, and they have retractable spikes in their arms."

"Sounds a little better than teeth and claws." Rachel said approvingly.

"Okay, so tonight we look for a Polgara demon." Buffy said. "I'll go see if I can't get some information now. By the way, what was that huge responsibility you mentioned?"

"Since you know who we are, then if the Yeerks get you, they know who we are too. That means if you're ever in a situation where one or all of you are going to be taken as hosts, well, let's just say that you can't, under any circumstances. If you do, it's over. We won't have a chance, and neither will Earth. Am I clear?" Jake asked, his eyes revealing the hidden message. 'Do not get caught, kill yourself if you have to.'

Buffy nodded. "Got it. Did everyone else get that?"

The group nodded solemnly.

"Good." Jake finished. "I'm also going to talk to my sources. Tobias and Ax will come with, Rachel, Marco, and Cassie will stay here. I'll be back in a couple of hours or so."

Buffy left, and Jake and Ax quickly morphed into their bird morphs, then Willow opened the back door for them and the group of three birds took off. {So where are we going?} Tobias asked.

{I set up a meeting with Erek.} Jake replied. {I want to double check that this town is Yeerk free.}

The group flew for about an hour before landing in a small quarry, where Erek was waiting for them, disguised as a large rock. Once the group had landed, Erek expanded his hologram to cover all of them. "Jake, Ax, Tobias how're things?" He asked.

{Not bad Erek. Seems we may have made some good allies. So what's the word on the town?} Jake asked.

"The town is Yeerk free. Seems the high death rate has discouraged them from building any sort of installation there. I wanted you to know that something is going on though."

{What do you mean?} Tobias asked.

"The Yeerks are trying to infiltrate a military complex in Colorado, something is going on there and they have no idea what it is. Anyway, if nothing else this means that you'll have some time to do what you need here. Meet me back here in two days and if I have any more info on what's going on in Colorado, then I'll tell you then."

Jake nodded his feathered head. {Thanks Erek, see you later.} The three birds turned and took off and headed back to Sunnydale. {Okay guys,} Jake said excitedly, {let catch us a demon.}


Sorry about the wait, I know it's been a while. Anyway, decision time for you guys. Should I cross this with SG-1 too, or should Colorado be a dead end. Review and let me know what you think!