Offer of a Lifetime
Disclaimer: I do not own Animorphs.
I've always been a big fan of the Animorph books. I don't remember why, but several years ago when the series had just started my father got me a box-set from Amazon that had the first ten books in it. I liked them well enough at the time, I suppose, so he continued to order every book in the series for me as they came out.
I was only ten when the series ended so while I enjoyed it, a lot of things were lost to me. Over the next few years, all sixty-four books (the fifty-four regular ones, the four chronicles, the four megamorphs, and the two stupid alternamorphs no one will admit exist) sat untouched and taking up an entire shelf in my bookcase.
Then, nearly two years ago, I started picking up the series again. I was taking an advanced class in school that unfortunately meant that I had summer homework and the book I was supposed to read was really boring. I like history well enough but the history of the middle ages was really not my thing.
In order to try to avoid my homework without feeling like I was completely wasting time, I started looking through Animorphs again. To my surprise, they were a lot better than I thought they'd be and I quickly went through the entire series. Some books I really decided that once was enough for (Atlantis from Hell, anyone?) but others I've read time and time again and even have parts of it memorized. Not that that's weird or anything.
I was just putting down my all-time favorite, #31 the Conspiracy, when I noticed that I wasn't alone in my room. There was a blue glowing humanoid in my room.
"I have got to get out more," I muttered, shaking my head.
"You're not imagining things," the creature assured me.
I snorted. "Says the figment of my imagination."
"I am the Ellimist," the Ellimist introduced.
"I feel like my subconscious is trying to tell me something but I'm not sure what," I remarked, scratching my head. "Possibly something to do with me giving Animorphs a rest already?"
"I have a proposition for you," the Ellimist announced. "Can you suspend your disbelief for long enough to hear me out?"
"I don't generally think that indulging your hallucinations is a good idea but on the other hand there's always the possibility that I'm not crazy, merely sleeping," I mused. "Alright, why not?"
"You didn't like how Animorphs ended, did you?" the Ellimist asked.
It seemed to be a rhetorical question but I answered anyway. "That's hardly an uncommon opinion. Why do you think there are so many people who write their own book 55? I mean, I can understand where KA is coming from with the 'war is hell' message but that doesn't mean I'm willing to accept that everyone but freaking Cassie who has to invent moral qualms every time she turns around dies in a suicide mission. In fact, since it ends before they die I choose to believe they somehow pulled off rescuing Ax and then forced Tobias and Jake to get some much-needed therapy back on Earth."
"That's not what happened," the Ellimist said sadly, shaking his head.
"I don't believe you," I insisted, crossing my arms.
"Well, I would know," the Ellimist told me. "I was there for them in their final moments the same way I was for Rachel."
I sighed. "Are you really going to force me to read one of those continuation stories now? They get a bit too complicated for my tastes and always end up somehow bringing Rachel back to life which is usually contrived and all I want is for the non-dead people to stay non-dead!"
"You could do that," the Ellimist agreed. "Or you can listen to my proposition like you said you would."
I gestured for him to continue. "By all means."
"If you don't like how the books ended then why don't you change them?" the Ellimist asked me. "I've noticed you often complain about elements of the series like how the Animorphs seem to think it's suspicious if they hang out more in school when making new friends is never suspicious, Cassie and Jake dating gives the group a reason to come together, and they hang out in public all the time outside of school. Or how Cassie decided that morphing into an animal and then not giving into its instincts is comparable to Yeerks enslaving people when by that logic she'd have to give into all of her own instincts or else she'd be just as bad as the Yeerks. Or how-"
"Alright, I get it!" I interrupted. "So I'm a nit-picker. What do you want me to do? Write a giant fix-fic for the entire series? That sounds like it would take way too much time and effort."
"No, I'm not suggesting that," the Ellimist replied. "I really wouldn't have shown up here if that was what I was all I had to say."
"Then why are you here?" I demanded.
"I am here to offer you the opportunity to become an Animorph," the Ellimist revealed dramatically.
I started coughing. "I…what?"
"You can become an Animorph," the Ellimist repeated obligingly.
"The Animorphs aren't real," I pointed out. "And for that matter, I'm pretty sure you aren't, either."
The Ellimist raised an eyebrow. "Only pretty sure?"
I shrugged. "Well who knows how it goes with higher powers?"
"Technically, you're right. In your universe, the Animorphs are not real. In their universe, I assure you that they are," the Ellimist told me.
"So…KA didn't really create the plot? She just somehow saw that it was happening in parallel universe and so decided to copy what was happening down?" I asked incredulously. "Or are you saying that once she wrote the Animorphs, they began to exist in some weird book universe?"
"Does it really matter?" the Ellimist asked rhetorically. "Can't you just accept that there is a universe out there where the Animorphs are real and that you could join them?"
"Tell me more about this," I requested.
"You would be given a pre-paid-for house in the Animorphs' town-"
"Do they live in Santa Barbara?" I cut him off. I knew I really shouldn't, but I'd always been curious. "I know a lot of people think that but in the last book, Jake mentions after the trial that he was living in Santa Barbara now and not continued to live there. Had he lived somewhere else after the war but before the trial, I would've expected him to say that he was going back to Santa Barbara. For that matter, do they even live in a real town at all?"
"If you accept my offer, you'll find out the answers to all of that and more," the Ellimist promised. "Now, this house will have a secret room only you can get into where all of the Animorphs books will be stored just in case you need to consult them."
"Even the alternamorph books?" I asked. "Because those kind of sucked."
"If you don't want the alternamorph books then I suppose you don't have to take those," the Ellimist replied, beginning to sound a little annoyed.
"How useful would the later books really be? I mean, either I pretty much do exactly what happens in the books thus making my presence entirely superfluous or things will really start to divulge from the books and they won't be any good to me," I pointed out. "I mean, if nothing else say I find a way to save Jake's family and keep the morphing cube out of Yeerk hands. The entire end of the series would be completely different than the books say and who knows if they could win without Tom's Yeerk's betrayal and the Taxxons?"
"You could always try letting the Yeerks get away with the morphing cube like Cassie does," the Ellimist suggested. "Particularly since, unlike her, you know just how much that pays off."
I made a face. "Maybe. I still couldn't in good conscience actually let that happen, though. Yeerks who can morph is a terrible idea while they're actually still fighting. And if my actions were to somehow cause the Animorphs to lose then the last thing the universe would need is morph-capable Yeerks." A thought struck me. "COULD my actions cause the Animorphs to lose?"
"It's a possibility, of course," the Ellimist conceded. "Crayak insisted on it when I wanted to offer you this chance. I find it highly unlikely, though, as long as you maintain the same basic security a group of unprepared thirteen-year-olds managed to devise."
"How would I even meet the Animorphs? It took a truly desperate situation to make them even consider making new Animorphs after David-the-idiot-sociopath," I pointed out. "Would I find the cube and track them down instead of David?"
"You would walk through the construction site with them and meet Elfangor," the Ellimist answered. "Although if you would want to find the cube yourself instead of allowing David to get caught up in this then that's certainly one change you could make."
I stared at him. "So…I'm supposed to be an eighteen-year-old who decides to walk home with a bunch of thirteen-year-old I don't know? They wouldn't find that at all disturbing and creepy at all. And if I did manage to become morph-capable that night, wouldn't I run the risk of them trying to put me in charge by virtue of being five years older than them?"
"Would that really be so bad?" the Ellimist asked me.
"I might make for a better leader than Jake. I might get us all killed – if we're lucky – in the first week. I really don't know and I do know that Jake manages to win. Risking Earth for my vanity is not something I'd be prepared to do. And Jake always makes it sound like leading would suck, anyway," I informed him.
"That sounds like the mark of a good leader-" the Ellimist started to say.
I glared at him. "Not. Happening."
"You could always be de-aged to younger than the eighteen, if you'd like. Perhaps thirteen like the others," the Ellimist offered. "And you could maybe go back and be a new student a few days earlier than the meeting with Elfangor so you'd have time to meet the others."
My eyes widened in horror. "Oh God no!"
"What?" the Ellimist asked, puzzled.
"Thirteen was not a good year for me! I had braces that year, you know, and kept breaking the brackets. I was trying to grow out my bangs so my hair was a disaster for months until my ex-bangs were long enough to stick behind my ears. And don't even get me started about my acne…" I said with a shudder. "Besides, what kind of thirteen-year-old is allowed to live by themselves?"
"Alright, so you could stay eighteen," the Ellimist conceded.
"How long would I be there? Just until the end of the war? Forever?" I wanted to know.
"If you really want to leave at the end of the war then I suppose you could but I had rather assumed that you'd want to stay with your friends and the people that you helped save," the Ellimist replied.
"What about my family? Would I just disappear and they'd never see me again? Would they spend the rest of their lives wondering what happened to me and imagine all sorts of horrific scenarios?" I demanded.
"I would have thought that you would appreciate not having to hide while you're at home, unlike the others, but if you truly wish it then I could bring your family, too," the Ellimist offered.
I stared at him. "And leave them trapped in a different dimension and forever cut off from anything and everything in their lives? They would kill me. And I'd be putting them at risk for infestation just by virtue of them being there. And even if all went well, they'd eventually be refugees that lost everything like Rachel, Cassie, and Marco's families. AND unless I managed to come up with a really convincing lie, they'd know about the Yeerks and really doom us if they got infested. I can see my parents joining the Sharing, you know. What that stupid cult pretends to be is right up their alley."
"So…would you want to bring your family or wouldn't you?" the Ellimist asked, frowning a bit.
I crossed my arms. "When did we decide that I even wanted to go?"
"You don't?" the Ellimist couldn't believe it. "Then why ask all these questions?"
"I like to have all of my bases covered," I said simply.
"Why wouldn't you want to go? It would be an adventure and the opportunity of a lifetime," the Ellimist assured me.
"It would suck on SO many levels," I disagreed. "This isn't your typical case of 'Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World.' The Animorphs really get traumatized by what they go through. Rachel ends up becoming a freaking Blood Knight by the end of the series and she starts scaring me before she even realizes she has a problem. They all get regularly dismembered and desperately need therapy. Why in the world would I want to sign up for that?"
"You'd be saving the world," the Ellimist said enticingly.
"The Animorphs already have that covered," I said dismissively.
"You could save Rachel," the Ellimist continued to try to tempt me.
"Or I could end up ruining everything forever," I argued.
"You could have the power to morph," the Ellimist almost sounded desperate.
"Yeah, with an obligation to get myself regularly dismembered while becoming a ruthless killer and with a two-hour limitation that I would totally end up going over and getting myself trapped," I retorted. "I've never been very good with time. If you just said 'hey, do you want to be a shape-shifter' then I might have agreed but there's something I like to call 'not worth it' and this fits into it right here."
"But you could do so much good," the Ellimist said wistfully.
"You are asking me to basically abandon everything I know and love and ruin my new life by joining a horrific war over a freaking book series. Granted, it's a good book series but still. The fact that they have problems and mess up is in no way my fault and so I have no obligation to try to fix it. Besides, I'm really not that selfless," I told him frankly. "Or masochistic for that matter. And did I mention that the series ran from 1996 to 2001?"
"What does that have to do with anything?" the Ellimist asked quizzically.
"Since canonically, the story takes place over three years it either starts in 96 and ends in 99 or starts in 98 and ends in 01. From what I've heard, there really isn't much on the internet around then. I've read the account of the internet given in 16. If the place where you could go involves a time when it would be faster to look through a book for information than to Google it, then it is a scary, scary place that I want nothing to do with. In fact, was Google even founded back then?" I wondered.
"It must have been at some point in the series as it was founded in 1998," the Ellimist informed me. "Well, technically in 1996 it-"
"I don't care that much," I interrupted. "And cell phones! Don't even get me started on cell phones! The only one with a cell phone appears to be Cassie. Her dad has one they used once and Cassie has one 'for emergencies only' that if she does all her chores she can use for non-emergencies half an hour a week! How can I possibly be expected to deal with conditions like that? When Jake used the internet in 21, Tom wanted him to get off because they only had one phone line! And what do they even use for music? Walkmen?"
"Little things like technological advances really aren't what's important here," the Ellimisat argued.
I laughed. "The hell it isn't! I'm sorry but I just don't have it in me to go through the nineties again after experiencing the wonder and joy that is the new millennia!"
"Well, if you're sure…" the Ellimist began hesitantly.
"I am," I said firmly. "Hey, why did you even choose me in the first place? Why not some other random Animorph fan?"
"I have my reasons," the Ellimist said mysteriously, leading me to believe that I'd been chosen at random just like the two most effective and indispensible of the Animorphs. Though I must admit, while Cassie being subtemporally grounded made up for what I saw as her blatant idiocy and often Strawman Morality, I didn't really get the others. Yes, Ax was the brother of Elfangor. How did that make him an necessary to the team instead of some other Andalite young enough to break the law of Seerow's Kindness and defy his own people? With what happened in 52 I could MAYBE see it as because he wanted to protect Elfangor's legacy but the others really made even less sense.
Tobias was Elfangor's son that he couldn't have possibly conceived in a universe where he never stayed on Earth with Loren. Yes, how did that make him a must-have? He didn't even know about it until 23 and it was very rarely ever brought up again and didn't give him anything more to add to the team than he already did nor did it seem to remotivate him in the fight against the Yeerks. And even if it did, that still didn't explain why he was so important he had to be specifically chosen instead of being a 'happy accident.'
And Marco? Sure his mother was Visser One's host but did that mean that Visser One chose at random and Marco was picked for that? What would have happened if Visser One had chosen someone with a child even younger (since she did say she chose a host with a child on purpose)? Or who was already a Controller before she left? And yeah, finding out about Visser One remotivated Marco but Jake was motivated just fine by the fact that any Yeerk was in his brother, it didn't have to be a titled one. Really, you'd think any old relative of a Controller would have worked just fine.
For all the talk about the Ellimist 'stacking the deck' in Megamorphs 4, the only Ace I saw was – shudder – Cassie. Sure, replacing Marco with, say, David would have resulted in Earth losing but I'm sure that replacing Marco with one of thousands of other teenagers living in what may or may not be Santa Barbara would have had them end up just fine.
The Ellimist continued to look at me, clearly hoping that I'd take his offer after all.
"Did you need something else?" I asked politely.
The Ellimist sighed. "I guess not. Tell you what, though. I was really looking forward to this so I'll just leave the offer on the table for you for the rest of your life just in case you ever change your mind."
"I won't," I said firmly but the Ellimist was already gone.
Well…that was weird. I had been planning on reading another one of my favorites, #6 the Capture, but maybe that could wait until later.
I needed a drink.