My name is Warren.
That's all you get. I'm not giving you my last name, or telling you where I live. I'm no fool. Unfortunately, I'll be giving you a lot more dangerous information about me than any of the others will as it is.
I'm sure you've heard about the Animorphs and what they go through by now. If you haven't then you're not supposed to. So I'm going to skip the explanation on the Yeerks and whatnot. But I will tell you this: Jake, Cassie, Marco, Rachel and Tobias weren't the only people in the construction the night an Andelite landed. I was too. And like them, I gained the power to morph into any animal I touch. At first I didn't want to believe that anything out of the ordinary was happening. I hoped I'd just had a nightmare or hit my head while I was riding my bike around the makeshift track I'd made in that old place. But I still got involved when Jake sent Marco to recruit me.
Admittedly, I tended to end up doing a few things on my own and needed the others to bail me out once or twice, but I still ended up with the group and did my part to help save Cassie in the team's first trip to the Yeerk Pool.
Unfortunately, that was also my last battle. And the last time I morphed. You see, I was discovered to have a genetic illness, a recently discovered one called Brugada Syndrome. The electric impulses from my brain to my heart are incorrect and it causes an abnormal heart beat. It gets worse over time and eventually you die. There's no medication for it, all a doctor can do is monitor it and insert a defibulator into your chest to zap your heart back into motion when it stops. Once it was implanted in me, there was no way I could morph again. It doesn't morph with me, so it would burst out of a small morph or the wires would disconnect from my heart if I morph something that pulls it away from it. And even if I morphed creatures close to human, the scar I got from the incision would disappear and SOMEONE would notice. There was a little mistake that left it an inch thick.
I got pretty depressed after that. It was the illness that killed my Dad after all. So my mother organised for me to travel with my uncle to cheer me up. It was awesome. It definitely made me happy again. I even got to join in some mountain bike races, not that Mom will ever know. But now I'm back. I have to admit, as much as I've loved having a semi-normal life seeing the world, I'm curious about how the Animorphs have been going. The last time I saw them, Cassie had just taught the others how to morph clothes and I was watching enviously as they were trying out bird of prey morphs. I hope they've been ok.
Well, I guess I'll find out soon. My home is just around the corner.
"Honey, you're home!" A barely got the door open before jumping at my mother's cheer. Running down the hallway, she quickly threw her arms around me in an affectionate hug. Before I left, it would have been pretty embarrassing happening in front of other people, but it's been almost a year. I missed her more than I'm willing to tell her and I hugged her back tightly. "Wow, look at you. You've grown a bit! And you definitely weren't this muscular when you left." She smiled as she pulled back, looking me over.
"Well, we've been getting a lot of exercise." I muttered, blushing slightly as I rubbed the back of my neck. "Uncle Henry was keen to show me just what the world has to offer."
"And he smiled for almost every minute of it." Uncle Henry grinned, tossing one of my bags into my hands. "Well, except during the scorpion incident and the stampeding Zebras. Don't worry, he got out unscathed both times." He added reassuringly, throwing his hands up defensively as Mom's face turned horrified. "In fact, in the scorpion's case, the thing went really still the second Warren noticed it on his skin. Like it was in a trance or something. It was almost too easy to take it off of his neck." He muttered, more to himself as he reflected on the experience, not noticing my nervous look or the return of Mom's previously calming fear. He probably shouldn't have mentioned exactly where we'd found that thing.
"Anyway, how's Lexie?" I asked hastily, desperate to change the subject as I walked further into the house, bags in hand and the adults right behind me. It seemed to have the desired effect as Mom took a deep, calming breath before smiling again.
"She's doing really good. She joined the netball team and is over at one friend or another's house each weekend. She was very excited when I told her you were coming home. She missed you as much as I did." Mom answered. "She'll be home around five. So, tell me about all the different things you've seen and done. But please, don't tell me about another case like that scorpion."
Chuckling, I sat down with Mom and Uncle Henry on the couch and told her about...most of the stuff we'd seen and done. It took a good while even without the stuff that would have my mother fainting with horror, after all, I'd been everywhere from safaris to carnivals. By the time we were finished talking, the sun had already fallen and my little sister was home, hugging me to death and telling me that she missed me over and over again. Before I left, I would have been annoyed with how clingy she was being, but I could only smile and hug her back now. Being away for so long definitely made my heart grow fonder.
Uncle Henry left the next morning, much to my disappointment. Needless to say, he's an adventure junky. He's got it good, he travels around the world constantly, bungy jumping, chasing wolves, hiking, anything you can think of, and he gets paid for it. He's the star of his own show. It was always his dream to make the world see just how full and exciting it actually is, how you don't need giant, man made contraptions to have the time of your life. That nature provides even cooler ones. And I have to say that I agree. I'm going to miss hanging out with him and climbing steep cliffs or drifting on inflatable tubes down underground rivers. It was nothing short of awesome. But now I'm home and I'll just have to deal with it. All well, the construction site's still there. Hehe, I wonder if my old track is still clear to ride.
That was one of the many things I wanted to find out today. It was a school day, but fortunately, Mom let me have the rest of the week off to readjust to being home. You know, rest, relax and watch some TV. The problem with that idea was that I'd grown too accustomed to doing things every minute I was awake every day. Quickly getting bored with channel surfing, I decided to grab my bike and go for a ride around town. To see if anything's changed, and to find out if anything that looked like Yeerk activity to me . That being said, with no communication with the others since I left and how little we knew to begin with, unless a building was sporting the word 'Sharing' or 'Yeerks Are Us', I wasn't likely to notice anything.
Not much seemed to have changed at all. Nodding to a few people here and there, I rode my bike around all the main roads and found that the only thing that seemed new was that a Starbucks had opened where an old Chinese restaurant had once been.
"How mundane. Staring mindlessly at the TV would have been more interesting than checking out town." I muttered, feeling a little disappointed. I guess after a year of constantly seeing new things, I've grown a need for change. "Don't think that." I groaned to myself, shaking my head as an image of watching my hand turn into a German Sheppard's paw crossed my mind. Thinking about change took me right back to where my need for change started from: my desire to change my form. But I couldn't think about that. As much as I'd hoped it was my overactive imagination when it all started, I still wanted to help fight. And I wanted to morph even more. I missed the playfulness and energy of a ferret and the power and fearlessness of the hyena. Nothing like becoming a super predator to make you feel invincible. And I wanted to know what flying on your own wings was like. The others had looked and sounded so ecstatic and free when they were trying bird of prey morphs.
Groaning as the thoughts refused to leave my head, I pushed harder at the pedals, riding as fast as I could to the mall. Maybe the arcade would help clear my head.
"Wow, what happened here? Did some miss the mark in a sky diving competition or something?" I asked, staring wide eyed at the ceiling. I'd just made it to the centre of the mall, real close to the arcade, only to find the area dull and gloomy. It had always been bright and cheery before, painted white and with lot of both artificial and natural light shining all around. It was easy to see why though. Looking up, I could only frown with disappointment and confusion when I found wood covering a good chunk of the skylight. The thing had obviously been shattered and judging from the tape surrounding the floor beneath it on the level below me, it was broken from the outside.
"They say a tiger did it." A voice said excitedly from behind me. Turning around, I found myself facing a boy about my age, maybe a year or two younger, with a big smile on his face. "A big one. They say it came from the Gardens. When they found it, it looked like it was dying, but later that day it was back in its habitat without a scratch on it. It's the towns' newest and biggest mystery."
"Meaning everybody knows it." I responded, feigning a curious smile. I however, am one of the few who know the answer to it. Jake. I thought as the kid walked off, shaking my head and trying, and failing, to force down my concern. I remembered full well watching the orange and black striped fur appearing on Jake. I remembered watching him tear through controllers at the Yeerk Pool and leaping at Visser Three in a morph the size of a building. And I knew he got the morph from the Gardens. The pieces all fit.
And that was what worried me. What was going on that caused him to be in such a dangerous situation in the first place? And where were the others at the time? Was he alright now or was he trapped in morph on a stretcher somewhere? Was he...
"Aw, this is not what I came here for." I groaned , rubbing my temples. I'd come to avoid thinking about parasitic, alien slugs and shapeshifting teenagers on a suicide mission, as Marco would put it. But everywhere I thought of brought back something. It was like it was the town itself that was doing it! How is that possible? I'd been morphing for like three days before I stopped and I pulled away from the others completely after a week! Yet despite the little knowledge I had and how long I'd been gone, it was all getting rubbed up in my face not two days since I returned home.
"I should of just stayed home and channel surfed until I died of boredom." I muttered with a sigh as I entered the arcade. "I'm gonna have to check up on them now. I need to know they're ok, or I'm not going to stop worrying. But..." My eyes lit up as I followed the games to my favourite. A pinball machine. I loved games that kept me moving fast, even if it was just my eyes and fingers, and it didn't get much better than watching the silver ball zip around like a torpedo and timing the perfect moment to knock it back up when it came to the hole. "They're in school right now. I can worry later, when I can get answers. Right now, let's see if I can break my old record." Grinning, I headed straight for it, digging my hand into the ever present pile of quarters in my pocket.
I couldn't help the proud smile that grew on my face as I left the mall. My pocket was now considerably lighter, but I managed to not only beat my old score, but the machine's high score too. Awesome. I barely stopped playing to eat and was back at it pretty much right after swallowing my burger. It wasn't until a bunch of kids started cheering as they reached the place that I realised just how long I was in there and decided that it was time to go. The Animorphs would be out of school by now and if they weren't in the mall, my best bet was Cassie's barn. A quick sweep of the mall was enough to know that they weren't there, so I jumped on my bike and took off, sighing as the wind blew through my hair. Pinball was fun, but I was born to ride the bike tracks. Tobias once said I may love flying even more than he does, seeing as the sharp turns and the feeling of the wind were so similar. It only made me even more jealous when the others gushed about their bird morphs.
Swerving with ease between pedestrians and parked vehicles, I made it to the farm pretty quickly. I was thrilled, I'd grown faster. But my concern quickly returned as I reached their driveway. slowing down, I rode halfway up it, but my body started shaking so much that I had to get off and walk the rest of the way.
I was nervous, to say the least. What had been going on? How much ground had the Yeerks gained since I left? What the hell was Jake doing fighting on top of the mall and was he ok?
"And how will they treat me?" I couldn't help wondering, only growing more nervous. "After all, we weren't exactly close. And I'm the one that left the fight. Heh, I still can't figure out if Marco was more annoyed or envious that I got out the saving the world thing so easily." I smiled humourlessly, absentmindedly rubbing the hard bulge in my chest. I had enough reason to suspect their issues with me. They knew why I couldn't fight and understood it, but they still may have grown to resent my freedom from the war over time. I don't know how they think, I barely knew them at all before Elfangor appeared before us and gave us the morphing power. I was never any good at making friends. I was too shy, reserved, and spent way too much time on makeshift bike tracks to make friends. The few people I managed to gather the courage to talk to usually disappeared within a few months. They could even accuse me of being a controller, though I could easily back out of that one. I'd been moving too much to use a ground based Yeerk Pool, with photos to prove it. Besides, if I was a controller, that would be the end of it. Armies of Yeerks would already be capturing them and taking every secret that they have acquired during their lives from their heads.
"Come on Warren, buck up!" I muttered angrily, gritting my teeth as I reached the barn door. "They're good people. You know them well enough to know that! Yeah, Marco's annoying and nearly ruined your grade science, but even he is decent enough. Now stop worrying yourself sick over nothing like you always do and get your butt inside."
Setting my bike against the barn wall, I took a deep breath ...and walked through the door, ready for anything the group my say. So, you can imagine how annoyed I was to find only Cassie's Dad inside.
"Just my luck." I muttered softly, my eye twitching with irritation. But I was still loud enough for the man to hear me as he wrapped a bandage around the back of a stag.
"Hello. Can I help you?" He asked, politely, but suspiciously. Understandable enough. I just walked into his barn without consent. For all he knew, I was a vandal.
"Hi. Sorry to bother you. I'm looking for Cassie, is she around?" I asked, giving him the most sincere smile I could. "I just got back into town and was hoping she'd be home. I haven't heard from her in a good while."
"Oh, I see. And what would your name be?" Cassie's Dad asked, offering me a smile of his own. Not that I didn't see through it. He wanted to compare what I said with Cassie later to make sure I'm being honest. It was all in his eyes and the way his body moved, as if he was consciously falling into the casual posture.
"I'm Warren." I responded, offering my hand which he shook firmly. "It's nice to meet you sir."
"It's nice to meet you too Warren." He replied with a grin. Now he had my name, he seemed less suspicious. Probably because he had everything he needed to check the validity of my story. "But Cassie and her friends have been and gone. I overheard them say something about dealing with David and then they took off."
"Oh, ok." I said disappointedly, frowning at the ground for a moment before looking up with a small grin. "Thanks anyway. Can you tell Cassie I stopped by? I really wanna catch up with her and the others."
"Not a problem. I'll let her know." He nodded while I held back a smirk. Of course he would. He wasn't sure that I was being honest. Nodding in thanks, I said goodbye and headed back out the door, grabbing my bike and taking off down the driveway. I was getting a little irritated again. I couldn't find the Animorphs, I didn't know anything about this David guy, probably a controller causing a problem, Jake had been discover to have crashed through glass and fallen two stories deep into the mall on his deathbed and I had a suspicious father on my case.
"At least I know the psychology books are sinking in." I muttered, taking one last look at the man watching me leave from the barn as I rode off. "My Dad would be so proud." I added with small grin, turning my eyes skyward. My Dad had been a psychologist. I asked him once why he wanted to be around depressing people all day when I was five. I couldn't understand it. But he just smiled amusedly at me and said because he loved the looks on people's faces that appeared when their traumas had been ended and the feeling you get from knowing that you've helped your fellow man find the happiness in their lives that they deserve. The warm feeling of helping people.
When he died a couple of years ago, I poured myself into his books, hoping that the tricks my father used to help others become happy again were in there. They weren't of course, there are no tricks to it. It's all about noticing the particular movements people make and connecting the dots of sometimes completely irrelevant information and finding the emotional issue behind it to help your patients realise exactly why they feel that way and help them get it off their chests. The books were a good distraction however, and I learned a lot. I found them interesting and reread them here and there a few times since then and I seem to have picked up the skills along the way.
"Hmm, I wonder if psychology skills could help with the Yeerks? Maybe I could at least help find the Yeerks' motives. Or help Cassie Keep everyone calm and sane." It was an idea. If I couldn't help on the battlefield, then I could at least help with the planning and breaking down of enemy strategies right? Shrugging, I decided to leave questions like that until I actually found the Animorphs. But I was going to make sure that I could do something. I'm sorry, but you can't tell me that we're being invaded by real life body snatchers, make me morph capable and then expect me to sit on the sidelines, completely uninvolved while I was actually living right in the middle of it. No way.
As a gentle breeze hit my face again as I rode down the street and pulled me out of my musing to see a few pieces of wood forming a ramp before an fallen trash can, I smirked and picked up speed. It was practically daring me. Pumping my legs as hard as I could, I rode right up the wood and into the air, swinging my bike sideways as I flew over the trash can before realigning it the way it was for the landing. I laughed as I hit the concrete and continued on my way, the small thrill being more than enough to lighten my mood. Enjoying the air I got, I decided to head to my old track at the construction site. It was probably still how I left it, more or less. And really, what were the chances of yet another life changing experience happening in an unfinished, abandoned construction site?
I think I jinxed myself.
It turns out that I was right about my track. Other than a few new puddles from recent rain and more beer bottles, it was exactly how I had left it the night I met Elfangor. All the concrete bricks were where I left them, there was maybe one sink hole that had managed to grow and a scorch mark, probably from that fateful night. It's not like the Andelite ship landed very far away. When the ship blew up, fiery debris could have easily landed here.
With a large grin on my face, I kicked away a few cans and bottles before setting myself up at the start of the track. Swinging my leg over my bike, I planted my foot firmly on the peddle, tightened my hold on the handle bars and was about to kick off when...
Please don't do this. PLEASE! I'll do anything, I swear, just let me out. I don't want to be stuck like this. Please!
I nearly fell right over the handlebars as the 'voice' practically screamed in my head. Thought-speak. I'd recognise a telepathic conversation anywhere. Only it was a voice I didn't recognise. It was a male voice and it sounded like the owner was desperate and terrified beyond his wits. Like he was ready to cry in pure horror.
Jumping off and dropping my bike to the ground, I turned my head from side to side, trying to find the voice's owner, help him if I could. The problem was I had no idea where it was coming from. That's the thing about thought speak, it's in your head. It doesn't travel from one direction or another, it's straight from one mind to the other or others. He had to be close if I was hearing him, but that didn't help me pick a direction.
"What I wouldn't give to morph German Sheppard right now." I muttered, frowning when I still couldn't find the source of the 'voice'. "The scent would lead me right to him." Getting fed up with the hopeless observation, I decided to just head to where Elfangor landed. If I was going to get dragged into Animorph related stuff twice in this construction site, why not at the exact, same spot?
You can't do this to me Rachel! It's inhuman. There's nothing more horrible to trap me as. I froze at that. The 'voice' said Rachel. As in Animorph Rachel? I thought you guys had more honour than this! Where are your morals?
"Screaming like crazy in the back of my head." Now THAT was a voice I recognised. And what was more, Rachel was actually talking, not using thought speak. It was soft, I almost missed it, but it was enough. I didn't waste any time running to my right, slowing down only to avoid debris and sink holes between me and my targets.
Turning around the half finished wall I hid behind when Elfangor landed, I came to an immediate halt as my hazel eyes found Rachel's shocked blue ones. Judging from her posture, she'd been sitting down and jumped up, ready for action when she heard me coming. Now she was just astounded by who she was facing.
"Warren?" She asked amazedly, as if she didn't quite believe it. Beside her, in a cage, a white rat ran right up to the bars closest to me and pushed itself up on them. I swear it actually managed to pull off a hopeful look as it stared at me.
"Hey Rachel. Long time huh?" I asked, offering her a small grin. "Guess who's back?"
"A bit late for that." She commented, calming down and trying, but failing, to grin back. It ended up looking like her lips were wobbling. "When did you get back? And why are you here of all places?"
"I got back yesterday. And I can ask you the same thing about being here." I responded, eyeing the rodent. "I got an urge to ride my old bike track when I couldn't find Cassie at her barn or the mall. Then I heard someone's desperate thought speak. So, why are you torturing rat boy over there?" I asked, pointing to the cage.
Please save me. She's trying to trap me in this form. He cried desperately, not bothering with the details. I guess he was able to deduce that I knew all about the Animorphs and their powers from what I'd said before. Plus, he was so desperate, he'd beg for the help of Visser Three if he was here.
"What is going on Rachel?" I asked, my face turning firm. I knew that she would have to have a really good reason to do something this horrible. It was despicable. Not even Rachel would be willing to do this and that was written all over her face. Cassie would flat out refuse to do something like this unless there was no other alternative. I mean come on, being forever trapped in a body that's not your own would be bad enough, but a rat? One of the world's most disgusting and pathetic creatures? For a human, being trapped in that morph would be nothing short of hell. "Who is he? And why are you resorting to this? Killing him would be nicer."
"His name is David." Rachel started, biting her lip. Her distress at what she was doing was obvious from the second I saw her. Now it only seemed to be getting worse after what I'd said. "He recently moved into town, found the Morphing Cube, intact, and tried to sell it over the internet. Visser Three found out and attacked his home. We managed to save him and the cube, but his family was infested and his house was destroyed. It was either make him one of us or leave him to be infested. Obviously, we made him the newest Animorph."
Rachel kept going from there. She told me about taking David on their mission to save the Presidents and Prime Ministers. She told me about his betrayal. She told me about what happened with Saddler and David's demand for the Morphing Cube so that he could make some brainless thugs become his morphing minions. And finally, she told me about the plan to stop him, all of it in detail, to the point where she told me about using his arrogance against him.
By the time she was finished, I could see why they had resorted to such a move. David favoured aggressive morphs and he singled the Animorphs out. Add his viciousness to his morphs' raw power and most Animorphs didn't stand a chance. Trying repeatedly to kill them, and whatever he'd done to Saddler, were actions worthy of the Yeerks.
But I could see past what made him look evil.
"How long does he have before he's stuck?" I asked, hoping I'd gotten everything I needed in time. I wanted to save him if I could. And save Rachel and the other Animorphs' souls. If Rachel was this negatively affected, I didn't want to know how Cassie, or even Jake, Marco and Tobias were dealing.
"He has...ten minutes left. Rachel answered, looking down at her watch. Idly, I wondered how she had it. Judging from the leotard, she'd definitely morphed before coming here.
"Oh good. There's still time." I sighed, letting out a large, relieved breath.
"What do you mean 'there's still time'?" Rachel asked, her face turning hard. "You want to save him? After all I just told you? He'll kill us Warren. And he won't fight the Yeerks, so they will take over everything uninterrupted. We can't let that happen."
"We won't and he won't." I stated firmly before crouching down before the cage, on the opposite side from the door so Rachel wouldn't get too worried. Giving Rachel one last 'trust me' look, I turned a serious face to the rat. David. "I'm going to ask a few questions and I want you to give me honest answers, ok? And bear in mind that I am your last hope. You might wanna cooperate, unless you want to drag that ugly tail wherever you go for the rest of your life."
Ok, ok, I'll tell you anything! Just save me. I don't want to be a rodent forever. He cried, even more desperately than before. Probably because he knew how close his worst nightmare was to becoming reality. Good. That meant that he wouldn't lie to me. The truth will spill out before he could stop it in his state.
"Why did you attack the Animorphs?" I asked, already sure I knew the answer. I was confident that I knew all of the answers. I just had to make sure that I was right.
Because they followed me when I left. His answer was immediate. Because I knew that they'd never let me leave and do my own thing. They'd try to force me under their control. So I was right. It was self preservation and a need for freedom.
"Why did you take Saddler's place?" I asked next, though form the look on Rachel's face, she thought it was obvious. But unlike her, I had a feeling that it was more than having a roof over his head and comfy bed to sleep on.
I didn't want to live in a barn like an animal. He started, misery mixing in with the fear and desperation. I wanted to live like I always did. Have a bed and a TV, hot, well cooked meals and...to have someone there to take care of me. To love me. To feel like I was wanted, not to feel like the new kid, the homeless kid that was expected to do as he was told and treated more like a bother that most of the others felt that they could boss around. I wanted a Mom and Dad. I couldn't have my own, so...
And there it was. Despite his confident, arrogant attitude, he wasn't dealing with his life being shattered. The guy lost EVERYTHING at once and was thrown into a situation so far out of his world that he had no chance of dealing with it and adjusting. His loved ones wanted to kill or infest him, he was reduced to living the life of poverty, Marco wasn't being the most welcoming of people, it felt like the Animorphs were trying to take away every ounce of his free will and he'd gone through one traumatising situation after another while the team was trying to survive the most important and dangerous mission of their lives. It was too much at once and he snapped. He became so desperate for a normal life, or at least as close to one that he could have, and to regain at least a little control over his own life that he went off the deep end and lost himself. Anyone would have in his situation.
Sparing a glance at Rachel, I nodded as her eyes widened in realisation and guilt. Like me, she too had connected the dots between what had happened over the last week and what he'd said too and come to the same conclusion. She closed her eyes tight and dropped her head shamefully as I turned back to ask my last question. I didn't have time to berate her about what she'd had a hand in doing to this kid and I wouldn't have anyway. One look at the tears threatening to fall down her face made it perfectly clear that she was guilt ridden and beating up herself for her part in it. Not that the Animorphs were entirely wrong. They had been trying to protect him and stop him from blowing all of their cover. They just took it a little too far and didn't notice just how bad David's mental state was. Probably because of the attitude he exhibited. A defence mechanism.
"Why did you want the morphing cube back?" I asked softly, looking right into his tiny eyes. "Why did you want a bunch of morphing thugs under your control?"
For when the Yeerks came. Or the Animorphs did. David answered. Neither group would ever leave me alone forever and I knew that I couldn't take on a whole group on my own. I wanted a way to stand up to them.
"I see." I nodded, satisfied with everything he'd told me. I didn't need to ask about the money swipe Rachel had mentioned. It was just another part of wanting his old life back. his father was a spy, they get paid pretty damn well. Just another reason why it was so hard to live a life with nothing but hay and injured animals. "I'll make you a deal David. I'll let you out so you can morph back. And I'll help you find and free your parents. After that, well, your father's a spy right? Surely he has few aliases with working bank accounts he could tap into right? The three of you could move to a house in a small, out of the way town somewhere together. You wouldn't have to fight anymore. You'd have to stay in the house most of the time, but it would still be comfy living. Is that what you want?"
Yes. David responded immediately, his voice suddenly ringing with hope. That would be perfect.
"Good. Now here's the conditions." I said firmly, my voice leaving no room for argument. "First off, no doing anything illegal. No stealing or anything. And the other is that under no circumstances will you ever do anything to hurt the Animorphs again. Not attacking them, no telling the Yeerks anything about them, no sabotaging their plans. You leave them alone. Do you agree?"
YES! I promise! I won't hurt them. They leave me alone, I'll leave them alone. I swear. Just let me out and have a deal.
"Alright then." I said, turning to look right at Rachel as I got up and rounded the cage. "You're not going to stop me are you?"
"I..." She started, indecision crossing her eyes. I couldn't blame her for the hesitancy. Misguided, desperate and unstable as David had become, that still didn't change the fact that he had tried to kill them all. Plus, she barely knew me any better than she new David. She didn't know if she could trust my judge of character and she definitely still didn't trust David. But she had heard everything I had. Everything he said and all of the desperation and misery in his 'voice'. I could tell that she was pretty sure he was being honest and she didn't want to trap him in morph like this. It was a very difficult decision for her. Let me save him and spare her and the others the guilt and pain of what they'd done and risk David attacking them again or force me to leave him in the cage, trap him in morph forever, and stop him from ever being a threat again scarring every Animorph in the process.
"No." She said softly, shaking her head. "I'll trust you and give him one last chance. But be warned David, if you ever tread even a single toe out of line again, I will trap you in a morph so horrible that you will wish we left you as a rat, even if it's the last thing I ever do." She added fiercely, all of her compassion and upsetment disappearing to be replaced by raw, venomous rage as she delivered her threat.
Sighing in relief, not wanting to go up against Rachel in this matter, I opened the door to the cage and watched as David leapt out. He was demorphing before he even touched the ground.
As he did, I was reminded of something. How disgusting morphing can be. Rachel once said that watching me demorph from ferret was the worst one she'd seen yet. However, I swear watching David's rat morph become human had to be worse. The first thing that changed was that all of his fur shrunk back into his body, leaving him bare and removing any chance of hiding the changes. Next his body started growing bigger as the sound of creaking bones and squelching organs filled my ears.
I grimaced, feeling ready to puke already and he was only about halfway to human. His torso started changing next, reshaping from the roundish, plump body of a rat to a skinny human chest as a tight black shirt appeared over the skin. His arms stretched and thickened next while his paws turned into hands and feet, his legs growing and reshaping while bike shorts appeared half a minute later. By the time he'd stopped growing, only the rat's face and tail remained. Gotta tell ya, it was an ugly sight. I was dry heaving as the tail finally started getting sucked into David's back and his face pulled his nose back and bulged into a human shape. The last change was rather amusing though. Once the rest of him was fully human, his blond hair shot up from his bald head like grass on super speed before flopping down and resting around his forehead and ears. That and the fact that he was hugging himself, feeling up his body before it even grew, muttering 'oh yeah' and 'oh God' over and over again.
"Um, do you want a room?" I couldn't help myself, snorting at the sight. If it got any more intense, he'd be screwing himself.
His hands quickly dropped to his sides at that as he gave me a sheepish look. Clearing his throat, he offered me his hand. "Thank you for saving me." He said gratefully, offering me a thankful grin as I took the offered hand.
"You're welcome." I nodded.
"But how are you going to help me save my parents?" He asked as he let go, looking down and putting his hands in his pockets. I got the feeling that he wasn't used to talking to someone he actually felt he owed. It was like he didn't know how to talk without the attitude Rachel had mentioned. "And how do you know about all this anyway? Are you one of the spies in the Yeerks' forces that Rachel mentioned?"
"No. I'm one of the Animorphs. One of the originals, just like Rachel." I answered, shocking the boy. "I'm number six. But unlike Rachel, I can't morph anymore. I have a defibulator implanted in my chest and metal doesn't morph with you. So I've only been in one battle."
"So how do you intend to help me?" David asked, raising an eyebrow. "I don't mean to be offensive, but you sound kind of powerless. Useless against the Yeerks."
"Wow, you sure have a way with words blondy." I muttered, a little offended. "Trust me, I've dealt with plenty dangerous situations as a human over the last. I can definitely be of SOME help. I already have helped you for crying out loud, you're human again aren't you?" I asked a little snippily. "But before anything else, we'll need to find out where your parents are. Maybe the spies you mentioned could help with that." I added, turning a questioning look towards Rachel.
"I am NOT taking David to see them." She said firmly, staring defiantly at me. "I may be willing, even if it is still hesitantly, to give him one more chance, but IO am not exposing all of our secrets to him. Knowledge of our spies is staying far from his reach."
"Ok, why don't you go and ask them for the info yourself then?" I asked, raising an eyebrow, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"I guess I could do that. If you make sure he doesn't follow me." Rachel agreed, though her face didn't look any less fierce.
"If you go off alone, who's to say that you won't bring the whole gang back to trap me again right now?" David cried as Rachel went to leave.
"Nothing. But you're going to have to trust me, because this is the only chance you've got of getting what you want back." Rachel retorted spitefully, turning to give him a venomous glare. She might be giving him a chance, but it was still perfectly clear to me that everything she'd learned from our conversation hadn't changed the fact that she loathed David. But that was ok. She didn't have to like him to help him.
"Why don't you take Warren with you? He'll calm the others down." David snapped, though I wasn't sure whether it was out of anger or fear of what Rachel would do.
"Because someone has to watch you. You know, so I don't have to worry about you going sociopath on us again." Rachel snapped back.
"Then why don't we have Tobias take me to them?" I suggested, immediately ending their argument as I stared up at the sky. "Unless I'm mistaken, that's him soaring his way here right now."
Following my gaze, Rachel smiled and David turned nervous as they spotted the large bird coming our way. Its brown feathers shined in the sunlight, but what really stood out was the red tail feathers. As he got close, I couldn't but grin at the sight before me. Though I was sad for him, being stuck in the form of another creature, unable to experience things that humans long for, like a hug, Tobias always seemed so free and full of life in the sky. I knew he wanted to be human, but he loved his wings.
Warren? What are you doing here? And what is David doing in human form? What have you done? He cried as he landed, turning his fierce eyes back and forth from me and Rachel, though always making sure that David was in his field of vision.
"Hi Tobias, nice to see you again too." I said happily, ignoring the less than acceptable start of the conversation. "I'll happily tell you everything, and I'll do it on the way, but right now I need you to take me to see the spies in the Yeerks' forces that would know where to find David's parents while Rachel satisfies her distrust of David and watches him."
Huh? You expect me to just go along with this? Tobias demanded, shocking me a little. Last time I checked, Tobias was pretty shy and passive. It seemed the war, or the hawk, had toughened up Tobias. If it was Jake saying this, yeah, ok, but there is no way I'm leaving Rachel with one of our most dangerous enemies here to lead a guy who's had nothing to do with the war for a year to one of our most guarded secrets. Who do you think you are to just come by and ruin our work and endanger us all Warren? How do we know we can even trust you?
Ouch. That hurt. My chest hurt and a stinging sensation started to occur in my eyes as I bit my lip and dropped my head to the ground, trying to hold back the tears. I wasn't trying to ruin their plans or cause trouble or anything. I just wanted to help.
"Tobias, stop that! It's not like he just did it. And he did it with my consent." Rachel snapped angrily. Gasping, I whipped my head up to see Rachel glaring at the hawk. If I wasn't having a sensitive moment, I would have found it amusing. Even with the mind and body of a hawk, the rage Rachel was pointing his way still had him taking a step back. I'd never seen a hawk looking nervous before, yet Tobias had just managed it. "He heard everything I knew and talked to David. What David said was enough to convince ME Tobias. Me, of all people. And we both know he was telling the truth. So we made a deal. We let David demorph and help save his parents and he leaves us alone and plays the good, law abiding citizen."
"Well, I only promised I'd help." I said softly, a little shocked, but grateful that Rachel was joining in as I rubbed my eyes. "You plan to help too?"
"Of course. If you're going to save them, and not get caught yourself, you're going to need my help." Rachel said, staring at me like I was crazy. I had to grin to myself at that. Thinking about it, I'd have to be crazy to think I could keep Rachel out of a fight. "Now Tobias, please take Warren to see Erek. He'll explain the whole thing on the way. And once you've found him, you can even clue Jake and the others in on the plan, as long as you tell them everything and make sure they don't try to hurt David unless he does betray us."
Alright. Tobias said resignedly as he moved to more stable ground. Give me a sec. I wanna be able to talk on the way.
Raising an eyebrow confusedly, I went to ask him what he was doing, only for my lungs to lose all the air they held. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Tobias was growing! And his beak was changing. He was morphing!
"What? But how...I thought you were stuck!" I stuttered when I found my voice. My disbelief only grew as the feathers became mere tattoos on his skin before disappearing completely while his talons turned into soft, pink toes. Tobias went over the two hour limit. He shouldn't be able to demorph.
I gained the power to morph back a while ago from an all powerful being. He responded as his wings reshaped into arms and his fingers grew. Watching his form change shape, I was very glad I was some distance from him. I remembered the sounds of bones thickening and only just heard them and organs growing and changing a few minutes ago. I didn't really want to hear it again. "But my true form is still the hawk." He said as his beak finished changing into soft, pink lips. "If I stay human, I'll lose the power to morph again forever."
"An all powerful being's been playing around since I left?" I asked as Tobias finished morphing before holding up my hands. "Actually, hold that thought. I've had enough shocks for one day already. Let's just find this Erek guy and track down the body snatched parents."
"Oh, if you meet Erek, you'll be in for another shock." Rachel said, grinning at me as I followed Tobias. I gave a nervous David one last grin before turning away and following Tobias back towards the street, letting my face turn nervous the second the newest Animorph couldn't see it. It had been half an hour since I'd found an Animorph and I already had a mental overload. The morphing cube still in one piece, a new Animorph that almost killed the others and was almost trapped in morph all due to a major nervous breakdown, all powerful beings and Tobias gaining an attitude and regaining the morphing power. And more surprises were on the way.
Welcome back Warren. Instead of hello, you get a headache.