Chapter 1 (Shaliph 443)

My name is Shaliph-four-four-three.

And I am a Yeerk.

You've probably heard of Yeerks before. The fact of our existence is no longer a secret, now that the great war against the Yeerks is over. Everyone on earth now knows about the evil, little grey slugs that could crawl in your ear and take over your mind, enslave you completely and totally, take away your free will. Everyone knows about the race of parasites that used to spread from world to world, like a virus, conquering and enslaving one innocent race after another.

Well, you can forget that image now. That isn't what we are anymore.

With only a few exceptions, none of us still live as parasites, thanks to morphing technology. After the war, the Andalites, meddling hypocrites that they are, forced most of us to become what they call nothlits, trapped forever in a body not our own.

It seemed like a good idea at first, even to me. But, as time went on, and the Yeerk-nothlit Act was enforced more and more, I saw what it really was we were giving up. We were gaining the freedom that came with having our own bodies, but we were losing freedom, too. The freedom to be who we are. The freedom of choice.

I'm sure I sound like a hypocrite, a Yeerk talking about 'freedom' and 'choice.' But then again, if I'm a hypocrite for wanting my race to have the freedom to choose our own lives, then the Andalites are far worse hypocrites for taking that freedom from us.

If I had to do it over again, I would have stayed a Yeerk. I would have fought to the death against the Yeerk-nothlit Act. I would have refused to give up my people, my culture. My self. Not for all the host bodies in the world.

Turning away from the path of parasitism was a terrible mistake for us. I saw that now. Letting another race tell you your kind is evil, letting them tell you what you are and what you should be, that was a mistake. The entire Yeerk peace movement was just a terrible, misguided mistake.

Don't get me wrong. I understand why the peace movement came into being. Sure, I'd started out all gung-ho about conquest and enslavement, like most Yeerks. But upon coming to earth, and being assigned a human host, I began to look at things differently. There's something about infesting a human being that just . . . changes you. With Gedds, and Hork-Bajir, and even Taxxons, it's merely an entertaining challenge to conquer the mind. I can't really describe it to a non-Yeerk, but it really is an amazing feeling. Knowing that you can be so powerful, with only your thoughts! Oh, the power, and the intoxicating feeling of pride!

Humans . . . aren't quite like that. Humans are the first species that we've infested that really make you feel like you're doing something wrong. They plead for freedom more convincingly than any Hork-bajir ever could. They try to reason with you, they hate you, they plot against you. They fight you. They force you to think about what you're doing to them. That is why so many Yeerks have 'gone human,' when almost none have ever 'gone Hork-Bajir,' or (heaven forbid) 'gone Gedd.'

I can't deny that my first human host changed me, too. She was a lawyer. Gail was her name. She was very opinionated, very argumentative. She didn't like what I was doing, and she never let me forget it. At first, I would just fight back, still in the general Yeerk frame of mind that my host was just a challenge to be overcome.

Then, it gradually began to dawn on me that we weren't really all that different, Gail and I. She saw my resolve weakening, and changed her tactics. Instead of fighting me openly, she began to engage me in almost-friendly mental discussions. It was through those conversations that my frame of mind really began to shift. I began to realize that my host, my 'slave' was, in many ways, my equal.

That was a fairly world-shattering revelation to me. To almost any Yeerk. And that is, I think, why so many Yeerks hide from that realization. Why they are so determined to deny that their slaves are anything like them. Because it would turn their lives upside down, make them question everything. And, in the end, it would be this single, simple truth that would destroy us.

Because of this one moral qualm, we were now losing whatever broken fragments of our own culture that the Andalites had left us with. In the easily foreseeable future, the entire Yeerk people would be only a distant memory.

Our nothlit descendants would be brought up in a world where their Yeerk ancestry was shameful. They would be taught to hide what they were, to try to forget and erase our culture. The next generations of Yeerks would simply dissolve into the very cultures that their ancestors were once trapped as. Human. Hork-Bajir. Taxxon. Gedd. Andalite.

But we would not disappear peacefully. We were not about to fade away without a fight.

I was not going to be forgotten.

My sleep was interrupted by the piercing note of my alarm clock. I shut it off without looking at it, just as I do every morning. After a moment, struggling to rouse myself from my rest, I sat up, and glanced at the clock. Seven oh five. Not bad, considering my usual tendency to stay in bed for at least a good ten minutes after the alarm goes off. Human bodies have such a hard time of transitioning between sleep and consciousness. But, of course, I was used to that by now.

I yawned, stretched, and checked my reflection in the mirror. The human form I had chosen was young, barely even a teenager. I had wanted to start my life as a human fairly close to the beginning. Start with a fresh slate, as it were.

I checked my hair in the mirror, reaching for a hairbrush to smooth out the tangles. I had sort of orange-blond hair, a mix between red and blond, reaching down just a bit past my shoulders. Not perfectly straight, but not really all that curly, either. Just a little bit uneven in texture. My eyes were somewhere between brown and green.

I'm a mixed morph. I worked pretty hard to make my appearance unique. I decided to be female, just because that was how I thought of myself. Yeerks don't have sexes, of course.

I got dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and slacks, the outfit I'd picked out the night before. I wanted to look my best today.

I am a member of the New Resistance. We were holding a meeting today.

Instead of fighting against parasitism, like the old peace movement did, the New Resistance consists of Yeerks who fight for the right to be what we are. Almost a complete reversal, but then, the popular attitudes among Yeerks have reversed, too. So many of them are happy to be nothlits. They don't understand why we would want to hold onto our past. Our past is a disgrace to civilized races, they say.

That's exactly what the Andalites have always told us, I say. And since when have we ever let them tell us what to think?

Today would be a very important meeting of the New Resistance. The top secret Project Legacy would finally be revealed to the next tier of our organization. And that tier just happened to include me.

All I knew at this point were the rumors. That Project Legacy would rebuild the Yeerk Empire, bigger and more grand than it was before. That it would keep us alive, keep us Yeerk. That it would let us take back what the Andalites took from us.

And I knew one other thing.

The Andalites were wrong to think that making us nothlits would change anything. That the Act would make us harmless. That it would make us anything but Yeerks.

My name is Shaliph-four-four-three. I am a Yeerk. A Yeerk is what I will always be. And no one, human or Andalite, can ever take that away from me.

First chapter of The Rebirth. Whoohoo! No, this doesn't mean that The Difference is over. I just thought I'd get a head start on the sequel.

Note: Parts of The Rebirth won't make as much sense if you haven't read The Difference, but, hopefully, you'll still understand what's going on. Therefore, reading them in order is recommended, but not required.

Hmm, was there something else? Oh, yeah, the copyright thing. Yeah, yeah, I don't own the Animorphs, don't sue me.

Another note: I accidently posted the wrong version of this earlier. I made edits, then saved it under a different name, then uploaded the wrong one. Oops. Well, I fixed it now, but if you were wondering why parts of the story suddenly changed, that's why.