The whole thing had stemmed from their desire to help Ax blend in when he was in his human morph. His habit of 'playing with mouth-sounds' was losing its novelty, and becoming a serious handicap both for stealth and comfort.

Leave it to Marco to find the solution. He'd taught Ax to rap.

Really, when he thought about it, Marco realized this showdown was inevitable.

He stepped out onto the stage with its soundtable. Marco wasn't great, but he could create a passable beat. Anyway, he wasn't the one people were coming to watch. Taking the mic, he calmed the crowd, and began the necessary introductions.

"Coming in on my left, in his one-night appearance in human morph, we have the Sultan of Cinnamon, the awesome aristh, Aximili Esgarrouth-Isthil!"

Ax walked on, looking perplexed at the crowd.

"And on my right, also appearing in human morph... He's a murderous mofo who demands respect, rising to the top of the food chain in a stolen body. You may know him as the Shah of the Sharing, or answer to him as Visser Three. Esplin 9466 Primary!"

The amount of boos and applause were equal; Visser Three's human morph was middle-aged, with greying hair and shrewd eyes. He took a place on the stage and did not move a muscle, but stared down the overattractive teenager.

"Ax, take the mic, you're up first."

Marco started up the beat, and within seconds Ax had begun. It couldn't be denied: Ax was a natural.

"Andalite's on the stage, with a slug on the floor
It ain't just the mucus, you're slime to the core
There's an Ax here to chop you, and that isn't a boast
And it isn't hard to see why you lack voluntary hosts
Because you're hideous, really, you look like the Drode
I'm so ill that my Tria gland's gonna explode

You think you're makin' Visser?
Pull my seventh finger, miss, or
Mister, or something, no really, let me know
Because I hear you got three genders, but you'll never make a grub, ohh!

You'll never see me comin', I can take any form
We got a whole band of warriors, yeah they're my shorm
I'll swing my tailblade and cut you to ribbons
Then swing into the trees and we're outie as gibbons!"

The applause was too wild – they had to pause there, while Marco whispered to Ax.
"Dude. We don't have gibbon morphs."
Ax looked surprised. "Why not?"

Marco shrugged. "I dunno, it never came up."
Ax frowned at Marco. "Wouldn't it be more logical to acquire every possible form?"

Marco barked a laugh. "We have all we need!"
"Do we have unobtrusive flight forms capable of both speedy and long-distance locomotion?"
"Absolutely!" Marco assured him, then had to think about it: "...But we never use them, because. I mean, FALCONS! WHEE!"

There was an awkward silence; the noise had died down, and now Marco had to resume his post to avoid looking like an idiot who'd just screamed 'Falcons, whee!'.

The poise with which Visser Three took the mic was hypnotic. He advanced in on Ax as he went.

"Silly Aximili, you look so small
I wouldn't even call you an aristh at all
You're barely prepared to keep your hooves on the ground
How do you hope to do battle when you're playing with mouth-sounds?
You're just a fish out of water, I'm armed with Yeerk technology
And even though they're scared of me, my goons are gonna follow me
I got hundreds of soldiers controlling Hork-Bajir
I'd tell you 'bout their homeworld, but you'd pretend not to hear

I'm a parasite, Andalite, humans are cattle
They can't unite, they kill EACHOTHER when they battle!
I got you in hiding, you're on the run
Maybe focus on strategy, instead of cinnamon buns?
And speaking of deliciousness, here's something to discover
While you were watching pretty fishies, I ATE YOUR BROTHER!"

He shouted this last right in Ax's face, and the poor guy flinched, stumbling back and nearly offstage, into the arms of Cassie. She looked at him – he gave her a silent signal that he would do this alone – and steaming with energy and anger, he gave his retort to Visser Three.

"Yes I know you killed my brother, and we returned the favour
Though I gotta point out he only supported Yeerks for their flavour
I have a blood oath of vengeance, that ain't cinnamon treacle
I swear by the stars, I'm gonna make you a vecol!

Back it up and pack it up, go back to your own planet
We don't understand surrender, so you'll just have to can it!
We're freein' Alloran so he can stomp on your corpse
Don't you ever fuck with Earth, 'cause we're the ANIMORPHS!

... I mean Andalite Bandits.