Chapter 1 (Ax)

My name is Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. I suspect that most who read this will have heard of me, so I need not elaborate upon my past circumstances. I have become quite well-known, among both Andalites and humans, since the end of the great Yeerk war. If you have not heard of me, suffice it to say that I am an Andalite, but for three years I fought alongside the famous group of human children known as the Animorphs.

But that was long ago. Now I was back among my own people. On a mission to find and destroy the Blade Ship, a deadly threat to any peaceful world. A vessel that carried the last remnants of the Yeerk Empire.

This mission had gone terribly wrong when my ship, the Intrepid, had happened upon a strange alien craft. The craft, which we had assumed to be dead, had suddenly fired upon my ship. I was not aboard my ship when this happened. I, and a handful of my crew, had already boarded the alien craft. We were looking for a small amount of earth DNA, which turned out to be a few strands of fur. Polar bear.

The fur had been the bait in a trap. And, like a fool, I'd walked right into it.

I watched through a small window as the Intrepid pulled away, leaving me and what remained of my crew stranded. Abandoned aboard a strange, alien, and very hostile craft. I knew that the departing Intrepid took with it my best chance for survival. Perhaps my only chance.

So much the better. I now had nothing to lose. I would die with honor, alongside my fellow warriors. The best end I could have wished for.

But, regardless of my dismal chances of survival, I was not dead yet.

((Follow me!)) I yelled to the rest of my boarding crew, a good force of more than twenty Andalites. I trotted down a hallway, towards the center of the ship. ((The bridge will be at the center!)) I continued as I ran, ((If we encounter no one else on this ship, we should be able to override the autopilot. And if it turns out that someone is on board with us, then we shall override them!))

As the Intrepid began to accelerate away, I sent a private message to Menderash. ((Jake! Menderash, find Jake, tell him what's happened!)) I yelled at the top of my voice, hoping against hope that Menderash would hear at least the word Jake. It was strange. Even now, even after having been among my fellow Andalites for the past three years, it was a human that I trusted more than any Andalite to come to my aid. If I died, I trusted Jake to take up my mission where I had left off. And if, by some miniscule chance, I survived this mission, then I would be grateful to serve under my former prince once more.

I led my crew of Andalites deeper and deeper into the ship. I could feel the ship's acceleration in the floor beneath my hooves, but I did not have time to worry about whatever battle might be going on in space around the alien ship I was in. No time to worry, only time to find a way to join the battle ourselves.

Finally, after having run an exhausting distance, a span of seemingly endless corridor at least the length of a Dome Ship, we reached the bridge. As I predicted, it was at the heart of the alien ship's gigantic star-burst shape.

But there was no one there. It appeared that the ship had powered up and fired upon the Intrepid, all on its own. Was it possible that such a behemoth of a ship could be controlled by remote?

No time to worry about that now. I jumped to the nearest station, and ordered my technicians to do the same. As I worked to make sense of the unfamiliar interface, the panel began to glow. Before long, the entire bridge was glowing with intense, searing light.

A deep, mind-filling voice greeted me. The voice somehow went beyond spoken speech. Beyond thought-speak.

"Hello, little Andalites," it said tauntingly. Mockingly. "Brave, valiant, noble little Andalites. Weaklings. Bravery is not enough anymore. Courage means nothing for the weak. Power is all. I am all. I am the One. You, pitiful creatures, you are nothing."

The light was even brighter now. So bright that closing my eyes made no difference. I saw nothing but blazing, searing white.

I could see only one thing through the white inferno. A shifting, perpetually changing face. I saw it as much with my mind as with my eyes.

"Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. War-hero. Prince. The Great Aximili. You will make a worthy hostage. Yes, you I will take. The rest of you will die."

As the creature spoke, I began to feel my own body dissolve. My arms, my legs, my body, began to feel vaporous and indistinct, as if I were a ghost. As if the light were tearing my very atoms apart, but without pain. I cannot truly describe it, but I could sense myself fading. My mind, too, was growing weak. I tried to lash out with my tail at this hideous creature, but I already knew that I barely even had a tail left to strike with. And I didn't even know where to aim. How can you strike out at light?

The One only laughed at my efforts. "Do not embarrass yourself with your pitiful resistance," it said. "You are becoming a part of me. There is nothing you can do to stop it."

((Vile abomination!)) I shouted with what was left of my mind. My thought-speak was barely a whisper.

The One merely laughed again. "You ought to be honored, Andalite. There are not many creatures left in this galaxy that are even worth taking. I consider you worthy, Aximili. Although I doubt you will consider that to be any consolation."

That was the last thing I heard as my mind and body vanished into the world-consuming light.

Animorphs characters and universe do not belong to me, as much as I might wish they did. They belong to Katherine Applegate. Got it?