In the Blink of an Eye
Smitten x Kitten
((Author's note: It's been a very long time since I've taken a look at this story; however, it's sparked my interest once again! I've revamped it some. Hopefully I'll be more faithful about updating this time around. Also, I changed my penname! It seemed a little silly to have a plural name when it was only I, one writer, again.. soo.. without further ado..
Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own anything to do with the Animorphs. That, my friends, would be stealing, which is unethical!))
My fever was raging. Blood scorched through my veins, searing my mind, throbbing and aching with every struggling heartbeat. My yamphut gland was swollen with disease particles, near the bursting point. Death's frozen caress wasn't far off now; I could feel it. An eerie cold crept through my soul as my fever raged, desperately, vainly attempting to flush out the deadly virus.
The sun mocked my fate, dappling its cruel rays on me through the pines of what the humans call the Rocky Mountains. Weakness prevented me from reaching the cool shade of my scoop; I'd collapsed only hoofsteps away from it.
I'd been destined to die from the very start; the men had seen to that. Alone, on an alien planet so far from home, no one would ever know the truth.
The men would say I died in action, a casualty. How easy I would be to pass off, just another lost soul in the cruel war between Andalites and Yeerks! Worse, I would be used as proof that women were of no use in the Andalite Military. Women were weak. Women were unfit for battle.
And one I agreed with: Women were fools. Or at least, this one was.
The truth of their evil deeds would be lost to the intangible, invisible pages of history.
Distantly, I felt my body convulse as the frigid peace swept through my flaming body. In spite of my cowardice, in spite of my many, many mistakes, I had no regrets, although.. I would have liked to taste the magnificent blue "cotton candy" (as the humans called it) once more.
As my stalk eyes fluttered shut, the wonderful images of the humans' tasty treats were replaced by more distant memories.. Where the seeds of my destiny were sown.
How I loved to run!
I could feel my innards bubble with joy as my four hooves connected solidly with the grass beneath them, kicking up brown clouds of dirt in my wake. A warm breeze rippled my violet fur, and the scent of the good, sweet grass my hooves crushed filled my nostrils. I ran with the innocent freedom and joy that only a child could feel during those dark times.
The emerging threat of the Yeerks' spread throughout our galaxy was no concern of mine! Today was too glorious of a day to worry about such distant matters! Sunlight bathed my flank in a golden light, making the silky strands gleam with the dewey sheen of my perspiration. Far off, the distant cries of a Kaffit bird loudly rebuking its young chimed like the tinkling of bells. It was the sound of joy, of freedom... and of life.
Fatigue pulled on my legs, urging my conscious to stop, rest, but I knew I could not! Already, the looming dark shadow of my pursuer was gaining on me! Adrenaline made my fur stand on edge as I attempted valiantly to move, faster, faster! My hooves dug into the rich earth as my lungs caught fire. I was swift, but not swift enough.
The dark menace grew until suddenly his muscular arms encircled my torso. No!
I attempted to squirm away, lashing out with my tiny scalpel that passed as a tail blade. It clanged lightly against my enemy's, glancing off the side of the massive scythe. No! It could not be! I struck again and again, each time expertly countered until he'd wrestled my tail in the submissive posture beneath my belly. His voice echoed inside my head, mocking me, laughing at my plight.
(Ha! I have caught you, Maeglin. Surrender, and halt your pitiful attempts to flee, for you are now my prisoner!)
I briefly considered struggling, but he had an iron grip, and besides, I was tired. I turned, nuzzling my face into the solid chest as he swept my tiny figure up into his arms. At that age, I was still small enough to be held and cradled.
(Let me go, Nelium. I'm much too sweet to be your captive!) My voice held a hint of whiney protest.
When he didn't immediately release me, I glared at him. Nelium, my brother, smiled warmly at my pout with his stalk eyes.
(Oh no! What a predicament I am in!) An expression of contemplation crossed his countenance before a sly gleam reflected in his eyes. He drew out a heavy sigh, as if he regretted what he was about to say. (However, rules of engagement clearly state that when the victor has acquired a resistive captive, they may bring out their secret weapon of destruction.)
(I've never heard of that before,) I stated stubbornly, squirming against his heavily muscled chest.
(Oh, I believe you have,) Suddenly, Nelium plunked me on the ground, and much to my horror, brought out his "secret weapon".
Peels of laughter rippled through all minds close enough to hear. My brother's fourteen fingers flew over me, hitting every one of my most ticklish spots with practiced ease. No! It was then that I realized what the weapon must have been... and it was worse than any torture my young mind had conjured up!
(No! Nelium! Cease and desist at once! Nelium!) His fingers hesitated briefly when I kicked at him and actually managed to connect my hoof solidly with the side of his face.
Now was my chance! Maneuvering my four hooves beneath me as quickly as I could manage, I leapt up at him and he allowed me to tackle him to the ground. Although I attempted to inflict the same tickling torture on him, he was not nearly as sensitive as I, so instead I leapt to my feet and bounded off as swiftly as my legs would carry me.
Eventually, he caught me and we tumbled onto the sweet grass together. I gazed up at the cloudless sky, gasping heavily beside him.
(Young one, you've been graced with exceptional agility. In a few years, I won't be able to match you!) Oh, wouldn't that be a joyous day? To be able to outrun a full-grown warrior? I shivered with delight at his praise. Unfortunately, his next words weren't quite so lovely. (It's a shame you weren't born a male. You could have gone to the academy, become a warrior.)
I stiffened in his arms... His comment stung. All my life, I'd lived in Nelium's shadow; my father had wanted another male so badly.
All Andalite parents wanted male children. The Yeerk war was taking its toll; soon the ratio of women to men would be 3 to 1, with a growing gap.
I was supposed to have been a boy. Father had taken all the right herbs to promote that Y chromosome, had seen countless doctors to ensure that success, had even bought a few charms (something very frowned upon in this age of science), and yet.. here I was. Chromosome matched XX.
I'd accepted my parents stoic demeanor toward me, their covertly hostile insinuations. This was my life, this was what I knew. But this? Coming from Nelium? My hearts suddenly felt heavy within my breast, and a flash of guilty anger seized me.
It just wasn't fair.
It'd always been so easy for Nelium. He'd made it through the academy with outstanding achievements and awards for his strength and bravery. He had honored mother and father.
Me? I was a mere child. A female child. I didn't even have the option.
Instead of wrestling with my father and learning the ways of combat and warfare, I'd been steered toward the more delicate arts. The useless arts. I'd begun training as a morph dancer, and, despite my talent, had barely won more than a grunt of approval from my war-hardened parents.
I enjoyed my dancing, I really did, but I longed to fight alongside my brother, to see the way my parents would stiffen their shoulders with pride, lift their tails a little higher as I valiantly battled Yeerk scum. In my fanciful games, I was an Andalite warrior, sailing across the galaxy, my brother leading the way.
Unfortunately, as I would eventually discover, war is not so fanciful.
Before I could muster a response that would conceal my wounded pride, Nelium suddenly sat up and peered thoughtfully in the direction of our scoop. Sure enough, another Andalite was tearing towards us, eyes ablaze. My brother leapt to his feet, tumbling me none-too-gracefully to the hard, unwelcoming ground. Geiast, my Nelium's shorm, was fast approaching, and was practically leaping with excitement.
Irritated at having been so easily forgotten, I shuffled to my hooves and glared menacingly at Geiast. As I stood there, waiting impatiently to be acknowledged, I realized that they were involved in a private thought-spoken conversation. They'd left me out!
My hands fisted indignantly. I arched my tail as high and prominently as I could, attempting to make myself a presence to the two full grown warriors in front of me, wanting to be included. How could he just leave me out like that?!
It was probably because I was a female.
When I still hadn't elicited a response, I snorted childishly and pawed at the ground.
Nelium suddenly looked down at me, clearly thrilled. (Maeglin, I must leave. Immediately. I've been called upon once more to fight!) He flexed his tail importantly, his chest puffed out and he placed his hand on my shoulder. (Stay safe, my Sister.) Before I could utter a protest, he departed without another word, heading for our scoop.
(Nelium! Again? Wait, Nelium, come back!) I called after him, but it was no use. I remained where I stood, riveted in place. It was true that it was rare a warrior get time off, but I had thought that since he had recently received it, he would have been home for a more extended length of time.
Wrong. Rage clawed at my hearts as I stared at his retreating figure. The Yeerk war was pulling apart my family. My tail quivered before I slammed it against the ground.
Ow! I cradled my injured tail against my body, stroking it where it throbbed. His words mocked me.
It's a shame you weren't born a male...
I stared at our scoop a long time, fighting back the stinging prick of tears.
A male wouldn't cry.
Despite this thought, the liquid I so despised trickled down my cheeks in tiny rivulets. Nelium eventually emerged from the scoop with Geiast, and ran towards the horizon where a tiny spacecraft was settling down to the ground.
He didn't look back.
Sounds suddenly assaulted my ears from all directions, and there was a voice in my head! No.. make it stop.. make the noise stop...! Colors swirled around me, blurring the mutating, monstrous shapes rising from the earth all around me. Were these the hellions here to claim my tainted soul?
Peace... I longed for peace...
How different things would have been, if only I'd been born a male.