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TehUltimateMage

Animorphs: Redux (IC TOPIC)

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"We can't tell you who we are. Or where we live. It's too risky, and we've got to be careful. Really careful. So we don't trust anyone. Because if they find us... well, we just won't let them find us.

 

"But know one thing. We are the Animorphs."

 

Animorphs: Redux

 

BOOK 1: The Genesis

"Before you know it, you've changed a lot..."

Lauren's gotten into another heap of trouble she never even asked for after she and her friends chanced upon a strange light in the night sky. The light turned out to be a spaceship warning them all of an evil they never could have imagined, and the five kids were abruptly given a chance to fight back as humanity's last hope. Lauren, Simon, Abigail, Andrew, and Taylor have gained the ability to morph into any animal they've touched, and that is their only weapon against an attacker they know little about...

 

Current Narrator: Lauren

Current Area: At the bookstore at the mall

Current Threat: None

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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Lauren

My name is Lauren. No last name, not gonna bother. I can't tell you where I live, what school I go to, and definitely not my social security number. Aside from identity theft, these things have to be kept tip top secret because we don't want them to find me or my friends. If they found us, they would serve our behinds on a silver platter... or worse. I don't want to think about what would happen. It's kind of weird being a fifteen-year-old with mortal enemies. The extent of the worries of a normal teenager include relationship drama, homework, and the occasional party gone too wild. Then again, ever since that Friday night at the mall, nothing has been normal for us since.

 

I'm typing this up so you would know the truth. It might be weird and unbelievable, but I swear this is all real.

 

It all started when me and my bud Simon were hanging out at the mall in a totally platonic way. We were at the bookstore, and while we can all agree that the library is not my element at all, I could get myself distracted enough with the home dec. department and the weird owl statues they all seem to have at the place where books are bought. I actually enjoy reading at the bookstore. I really like DIY books and the stationery parts, too. Some people sincerely think I'm dumb because I don't do my homework -- on the contrary! I can pen some wicked poetry.

 

Anyway, Simon was trying to decide between The Birds of the North Vol. 1 and The Birds of the North Vol. 2. I rolled my eyes. If he needed books about birds, I could have given him my mom's whole collection. She used to be an avid bird watcher, but it's not like she needed them anymore. She hasn't spent much time at home as she used to. The money needed to take care of the farm has to come from somewhere. Now, just because I live in a house with a little farmland doesn't mean I'm a total country bumpkin. We barely have any livestock. My parents and grandma just seem to like the atmosphere. My dad's a vet who specializes in wildlife and sometimes I find myself unbearably surrounded by raccoons or some other species and I have to clean up their poop. It's the worst.

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He couldn't decide on which of the two he should get. Simon was weighing the pros and cons of both volumes, finding that doing so only made his dilemma worse. For one thing, the first volume didn't highlight songbirds as much as the second volume did but he had read the second volume before. By this fact, he leaned a bit more towards getting the first volume. However, he loved to read about songbirds, no matter that he'd read about them before so this made him want to get the second volume.

 

Oh the tough decisions of an ornithologist-in-training....

 

Anyways, Simon finally decided on getting volume one because of his stronger desire to learn new things than reviewing old knowledge. "Should we get the others?" Actually, it was highly likely that the others - Andrew and Taylor - had been waiting almost the entire time for Simon to make his decision; they usually were. The lanky-looking boy had a tendency to take his time on things, preferring to sort and work through things to avoid rushing at the last minute. He was not an overachiever, completing tasks weeks before they were to be done, but he wasn't a procrastinator either. At least, in the way of school work or projects that had deadlines. Personal projects and decision-making was another matter entirely; he simply moved at his own pace.

 

Heading to the cash register, Simon paid the fifteen bucks plus tax and soon walked towards Lauren with the book in a plastic bag, idly grasped in his hand, and change stuffed into his pocket.

Edited by Narvix

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Taylor sat in a chair at the bookstore, reading a book. It was a paperback, already paid for, which would soon be added to her growing collection of book. The book was about technology growth in the European Middle Ages, and she needed it for a school assignment. Well, she didn't really need it. While the assignment had to be sourced from books, not internet articles, she could have borrowed a book from the library. She thought the book was interesting, though, so she decided to buy a book. With a decent allowance and not much to spend it on, books were a good choice.

 

Glancing up at her book, she could see Simon at the cash register. Oh, he'd finally finished? That was good. She wasn't really bothered that he'd taken awhile; decisions shouldn't be made rashly, and it wasn't like she was bored. It was just that they had been in the bookstore for awhile now, and was there really that much difference between the two books that he was deciding on? They both seemed to be about birds of the north. Well, maybe there was some difference that she wasn't picking up on. Honestly, she was focusing more on reading her book. She shut the book with the soft sound of pages hitting each other, then stood up and carefully placed the book in her nearly-empty backpack. The other things included in the dull blue backpack were the rest of the money she had brought, a half-full tea thermos, and a few granola bars.

 

She strode over to Lauren and Simon. Lauren wasn't Taylor's favorite person. She was too irresponsible and rash, two of Taylor's least favorite traits. However, she, Andrew, and Simon were all hanging out at the mall, so she could tolerate Lauren for an hour or two. The mall was fun, and you had to get out of the house sometimes. "Finished?" she asked Simon politely. "Good. Do either of you know where Andrew is?" They were probably either in the Starbucks next door or behind one of the bookshelves.

Edited by Backup77

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Andrew leaned against the wall and drank his coffee, reading a science magazine. He had a few of them in a plastic bag that he had slung over his left arm, but just now he was reading an issue of National Geographic, in which one of the shorter articles detailed a complete food substitute called "soylent".

 

Andrew was just outside the Starbucks where he had gotten his coffee, waiting for his friends to be done in the bookshop next door. Andrew has absolutely no idea why he had these friends, since he preferred to be alone at least part of the time. But over time he had developed friends with whom to discuss what interested him, go out and do things in-town as a group, and overall have an excuse to spend money without feeling foolish. These friends were Simon, Lauren, and Taylor.

 

He drank some of his Tall-sized coffee. He did not take anything with his coffee; he only drank it black. Andrew was fond of coffee, and while it did not taste good black, it tasted worse to him with cream or sugar added. Besides, coffee is a functional drink. It is not meant to taste good, it is meant to keep you awake. He finished reading the article and drinking his coffee when he figured he should go find his friends; it felt like it had been a bit and he tended to loose track of time when reading.

 

Andrew reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a scratched old brass-plated watch. It was a very old watch, with a manual crank for power and a loop that formerly held a chain. He opened the watch to reveal a heavily damaged clock face. Its shortest analogic needle pointed past the seven, but not quite half-way there. The longer needle was beyond the third hour, seeming to indicate a time of 7:20 or so. It was typical of Andrew's friends to be somewhat late, since Simon never knew what to get at the bookstore, while he always knew what to get.

 

Andrew put his watch away and put the National Geographic back into his bag. Throwing away the empty Starbucks coffee cup into a nearby trash can, he made his way back to the bookstore to find that Lauren, Simon and Taylor were already at the checkout.

 

(I was forced to edit Abigail out, due to Moon's absence. I hold hope that she will return, although I doubt she will return in time for Abigail to be an original Animorph)

Edited by Coryn02

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"Should we get the others?" he suddenly asked. I snapped back to attention and shook my head. Our little group collectively had the patience of a saint, and by the time Simon made his monetary transaction our little gang had already assembled: me, of course, Simon who looked kind of wimpy and willowy, dark and brooding Andrew, and Taylor. I've always suspected that Taylor never really liked me, from how her looks of disdain pierced through her glasses and shot right through me. I kept reminding myself that she was nothing special, with her dainty lips and smattering of freckles and oh-so-superior glare. Plus, she kept shooting down my great ideas. Maybe it's because our personalities clash.

 

I don't usually hang out with Simon's crew, to be frank. But deep down, I don't regret the decision (even though I sometimes do). They're just all… really quiet folk, all holding books while I stood empty-handed. "I bet it's getting late," I said, kickstarting the conversation. "I don't know about y'all, but I need to head home before it gets too shady to get through the construction site."

 

The construction site was, I forgot to mention, abandoned. What used to be big dreams and bigger aspirations was reduced to an amalgamation of steel beams and pipes and eroding concrete sprinkled with cigarette butts and broken beer bottles. Nobody knew why they stopped building it so suddenly -- but only thirteen-year-olds would be scared of crossing it. I cut through there all the time to avoid taking the long route around to the mall. In fact, I passed through the abandoned construction site to get there that day. And if I just wanted to kill some time, there was plenty to explore.

 

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Hanging up his too-small apron in the back of the coffee shop, Roderick looked forward to heading home and relaxing after another afternoon of work making coffee and having customers get pissy at him for spelling their name wrong. Customer service? Totally sucked. There were literally a hundred different ways to spell Erin, how was he supposed to know exactly which one people meant? Just one month into being a barista and Roderick knew he'd never drink caffeine again. Ever. Aside from that, he felt huge and awkward behind the counter. Being pleasantly cordial to strangers was not his thing. Standing still for hours was not his thing. He supposed it could have been worse, though. Inhaling second hand coffee bean fumes and being surrounded by boring books had to be better than flipping burgers.

 

Either way, it was over for now, the last drink and scone he'd handed out in the hands of Lauren (her name he HAD misspelled on purpose. Had to have SOME kind of fun after two hours on shift). Technically, she'd just finished a few minutes before and she seemed in the middle of impatiently trying to corral a small herd of other students out the door. Roderick only recognized one of them. Sort of. The one holding the cover with birds on it was one of the regulars, both in terms of his frequency in the bookshop and him being picked on by Roderick and his fellow football players. He didn't really have a name for the face, though. Sam? Simon? Decided upon outcasts all kind of blurred together.

 

He had no real opinion or idea about the other two. Never a reason to pay attention to them before.

 

Checking his watch and the windows in quick succession, Roderick knew if he wanted to catch the game live on TV he'd need to haul ass and take the construction site shortcut. Work wasn't exactly next door to home.

Edited by emberwing

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"It's already shady in that area," Simon responded. He didn't know the exact time and didn't want to bother with pulling out the small brick of blue plastic and plexiglass his family called a phone to check. All he knew was that he had taken quite some time to decide on a book - again. "If the construction site is an option, then we can't get separated. No one walks alone, right? All those rumors about madmen and killers always finding victims on their own in dark and abandoned areas." He shrugged a shoulder. At the least, he'd make sure the others were okay halfway through to walk by themselves.

 

Sure, the "buddy system" was a little childish but, last he checked, he had parents that fretted a great deal. On top of that, while he wasn't strictly banned from walking through the construction site after dark, he tried his best to follow his mom's wishes that he avoid it entirely. But, with Lauren, she was always going to take the shortcut home so he was frequently failing to do as his mother would like.

 

The bird-boy stepped out of the bookstore, eyes finding Roderick as the larger boy spotted him in turn. "Hey, Roderick. Finished your shift?" he asked dryly, already knowing that it would have been useless to try and avoid the jock. Both boys had a very tense relationship with each other. The jock bullied the nerd and the nerd would make smart-mouthed comebacks that further prompted the jock to bully him. Of course, most of it were swirlies in the toilet as punishment for the provoked quips that Simon made.

 

However, he knew that Roderick took the construction site to get home too. It was hard not to know when he tended to tell tall tales about it with enough detail to make them sound true. This being the case, and with Simon being the one to have some sliver of worry for even those he didn't like, he asked, "Will you be heading through the construction site?"

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"It's already shady in that area," objected Simon. I laughed it off. His parents were much too overprotective of their ward. Me? As long as I'm breathing, I'm fine to my dad.

 

"If you're such a sissy, I'll just ask Roderick to go with me," I simply stated, expecting someone to ask 'who's Roderick?'. Instead, Simon's mood soured as the mentioned party passed. Roderick is tall, towering over even Andrew, and would be fifty shades of intimidating even if he wasn't black. It's no wonder he made the football team. Simon looked like a pile of toothpicks in comparison, and I kind of figured why they didn't seem to get along.

 

Nevertheless, I waved. "You should come with us on our way back through the shortcut," I suggested. He knew the lay of the land almost as well as I did. "It's because Simon's afraid of hobos. It'll just be like old times!"

 

Old times meaning doing ridiculous dares for pocket change. It was his "fault" that I've gotten better at climbing fences and making quick getaways! Roderick has been my friend since middle school and even though we never formally hang out very much, I still see him often at work. He's finding ever more creative ways to misspell my name when I order my chai tea soymilk latte.

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Andrew waited as Simon got his book and everyone gathered into a familiar group; Taylor, Lauren, Simon and himself. Lauren was the odd one out here, being the only one who didn't like books. All the same, they were friends and usually came to the mall together like this.

 

After a short period of silence, Lauren tried to start a conversation concerning the route they were going to take out of the mall.

 

Andrew rarely ever went to the mall alone, but when he did he always took the same way he got in to leave. But since he was usually with his friends, who tended to take the path through the abandoned construction site, he did too because it was a shortcut for everyone.

 

While he would never admit it, Andrew was uncomfortable in the dark. It was too creepy, because it was too hard to see any possibilities of danger. Andrew was not afraid of the dark, but rather avoided being afraid.

 

Simon's point was pretty valid. The dark was a good place to be attacked, and more crimes happen at night than any other time because of the stealthy advantage, although truth be told, Simon was still a slave to his parents' will.

 

Andrew was thinking about the deeper aspects of fear when Roderick arrived. Roderick was one of those people Andrew did not think so highly of; while he respected Roderick for all that he was, it was hard to think nice things about someone who stuffs kids in lockers whenever they aren't doing sports.

 

Andrew, not being the sort of person to lose his cool easily, acknowledged Roderick's presence with a glance and a short wave. Lauren welcomed him, and as such he had to be respected. But since he'd gotten what he came for (coffee and a new magazine to read), he did not want to linger at the mall, mostly to avoid any argument between Simon and Roderick. He tried to end the conversation Lauren had started as best he could.

 

"Simon, you're unlikely to be attacked if you're with others. You can't have witnesses to a crime and expect to escape, and there are five of us here. But if you're all planning on arguing about it, I'm going home on my own. If not, now is better than never."

Edited by Coryn02

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When she was alone, Taylor never went through the abandoned construction site. However small, there was still the chance of being attacked, which was something that she liked to avoid. Besides, biking around didn't take too much longer, and it was easier and much safer to run on the sidewalks. The broken beer bottles and pieces of old building material jutting up from the ground had a tendency to trip runners, making it easy to fall and cut their hands open. She assumed so, at least, having never had the decidedly unpleasant experience of tripping in the construction site.

 

If she was walking home from the mall with her friends, however, she didn't mind. As Andrew had said, being attacked wasn't such a problem when you were in groups. Besides that, all of the other dangers were pretty easy to avoid. Watch where you were stepping and you probably wouldn't trip. Simple. While she valued Simon's cautiousness, perhaps he was now taking it a bit too far. They all wanted to get home, after all, and sooner was better than later. Her parents didn't mind if she went through the construction site with a group, though they encouraged her to stay out of it if it was late at night or if she was alone. They trusted her to make responsible decisions, and she intended to make sure that she didn't abuse their trust. If she continued to prove that she was trustworthy, then she got more privileges. It was something that Elise didn't seem to get.

 

Roderick... he was a football player, wasn't he? Kind of a jerk and bully, if Taylor remembered correctly. Not the nicest person to be around. Roderick coming along wasn't an idea that she liked, but things could be worse. From experience, she had found that arguing with Lauren was... difficult. Both of them were stubborn, so arguments didn't usually end very easily. Taylor usually ended up thinking that she had won, but she suspected that Lauren did as well. Taylor continued to try arguing with her, of course, but this didn't seem to be worth speaking up against. Roderick had every right to walk through the construction site with them, even if it ended up annoying her. If he ended up being trouble somehow, then Taylor would try to make sure that he left. "Let's go, then. Don't worry, Simon. We'll all stick together, and no one will do anything stupid." The last bit was said with a pointed glare to Lauren. She was the only one who would do anything that could get them into trouble, besides Roderick. Taylor didn't really know him that well, though.

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"Afraid of hobo's, huh?" Roderick asked, raising his eyebrows skeptically. "Spooky. He's kind of dressed to fit in with one, but whatever. I'll save you all from the crazy people." He personally didn't find much to worry about in regards to the construction site. It was abandoned, for one, and second was that Roderick had never been in the habit of being easily intimidated. In his experience the world just wasn't much of a scary place. Sure, his parents probably wouldn't like the idea, but that was kind of the point of not telling adults about a lot of things. They'd just tell him not to do it; adults as a general whole were complete and utter killjoys.

 

Bodyguard Roderick, Scary Escort Guy Roderick; he could get behind that. Whatever. He just wanted to get home fast. Pushing out the front doors of the bookstore and quickly crossing the street, he opted to take a running start at the high fence surrounding the abandoned lot, climbing up and jumping over it with a grunt. The metal links banged against each other with a loud clamour and the gravel crunched under his sneakers. Technically, no one was allowed in here, and technically there was a gate with a padlock rusted to the point of uselessness, but that was the boring way in.

 

Looking around, the construction site seemed truly empty, not even a stray cat to be seen in the fading dusk light. A slight breeze sent a few leaves and plastic bags skittering across the cracked pavement, the only source of movement and life in the shadowed area. Roderick snorted, turning around to face the somewhat slower of Lauren's gang. Bunch of wusses was what they were.

Edited by emberwing

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"It's settled then," I declared, if only for Taylor's benefit. My upper lip twitched imperceptibly as I restrained myself from saying anything else. Everyone just wanted to get home and make up the time Simon spent perusing books. Arguing would just make everyone stay longer.

 

Glancing back from time to time to make sure the other three were still with us, I matched Roderick's brisk pace and crossed the road to the construction site. Neither of us was known to take the easy way in; instead of going through the swinging gate, we climbed the chain-link fence dotted with no-entry signs. He vaulted over almost effortlessly. (Thankfully no one was watching when I scrambled up the last bit much less gracefully than I would have liked.) The half-crumbled cement structures cast stretched shadows along the ground and the setting sun tinged the clouds an ominous red. It felt like we were in some sort of post-apocalyptic setting -- the only hints of active civilization were the freeway behind us and the tiny houses across the field ahead.

 

I slowed down once I caught up with Roderick, drawing long breaths through my nose. "Not everyone's a star athlete like you," I wheezed. I sounded terrible. So out of shape. "It's going to take forever for them to catch up."

 

And forever it kind of did take. I scratched shapes in the gravel with my foot while we waited. Daylight faded completely by the time we regrouped, and I began to regret dragging the sloth crew along. Simon seemed to be entranced by something in the sky and not at all watching where he was going. It was not unusual for him to have his nose in the air, but I doubted there would be any birds flying out past dusk.

 

Curious, I followed his gaze where a bright light streaked across the sky, getting brighter and bluer by the second, bluer than anything I'd ever seen before. "The heck is that?!"

 

The light came closer and slowed down and hovered above us and my stomach sunk. Nobody moved, out of fear or shock or I don't know what. Wind whipped our hair up and tossed it upwards. Personally, I was stuck in some state of disbelief, as if this were some strange hallucination. I did not have time to be in a B-rated sci-fi movie, especially one where the spaceships looked like cute little blue pod things with stinger tails! It wasn't exactly big -- probably two minivans long -- with what looked like thrusters set on the bottom of stubby wing shapes. All in all, it didn't look like it could fly very well. I was surprised it even managed to land upright with a gentle hum and without crashing into debris, from the amount of scratches and burns that scorched and tore into its surface. Finally, it stopped. All the blue lights turned off except for an arc drawn on the front of the pod, where a doorway began to crack open.

 

At one point in your life you might have believed in this and even found it cool that a real live spaceship was a dozen feet from you, possibly harbouring real live aliens, but right now all I wanted was for this to be an elaborate hoax, for a camera crew to jump out from behind a wall to announce that we've been Punk'd. No such luck. I was just stood there with a frown, flabbergasted.

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He wasn't amused, it was clear by Simon's frown. "I'm not afraid of the homeless. I just don't know how I should act or what I should say around them so I try to avoid their attention." There had been a time when one dusty, middle-aged, woman had taken hold of his coat sleeve when he was downtown. She'd begged him for a bit of change and then started to rave about how the telephone poles and streetlights were plotting against her, that Simon had to protect her. He was able to get free of her bony grasp and clawing fingers with Lauren's help but the boy had been unnerved. It just wasn't easy to tell which ones might be crazy and which ones might be "normal" in the head. So he attempted to stay out of the reach of them all.

 

After a moment's pause, Simon rubbed at his eyelids and sighed. He didn't want to make a response to Roderick's attempted jab about his clothes and, at the same time, he wanted to make his own retort about the jock. The lanky boy chose for the better way to go and kept his mouth shut, following the group towards the mall entrance and heading out into the parking lot. As they walked further away from people minding their own business and finishing their days before going home, the group moved closer to the abandoned construction sight. Simon knew the path well so busied his mind on counting the steps as he watched the sun set and the stars trickle into sight.

 

It was dark when he and the other two slow individuals caught up with the more reckless type beings. Simon let Taylor pass through the loose gate first, glancing at Andrew to see if the boy would go next. Again, Simon looked up...

 

And paused.

 

It wasn't a shooting star, crashing satellite, or a meteorite burning to nothing in the atmosphere. No. The blue light came closer as the wind began to stir, gently at first and then like a storm. Simon, despite his fixation on what was happening, winced as dirt was blown into his eyes. His arm shot up to shield his face as he tilted his head downward. Lips parted to speak (or really, shout because of the wind) but words of inquiry lodged in his throat. Instead, he stood mute at the sight of what now occupied the empty space before the little group.

 

Something like the sound of pressurized air or the pulling open of a refrigerator door carried to his ears as the archway cutout became an actual entrance. Damaged metal creaked and slammed down against hard dirt, brilliant light spilling out from inside the ship. Yes. It was certainly a ship. Simon had to blink his eyes against the harsh light until they had adjusted. Then he took a step forward, past the unfinished concrete mold of a room's corner. It seemed, after that one step, his body was no longer hindered by frozen awe. He took a second step, then a third and a fourth.

 

"H-hello? Anyone in there?" he tried, shaky at first until he steadied his voice.

 

<Hello.>

 

Simon's skin crawled, but not from disgust or actual fear. The voice, so calm and collected, touched the edges of his mind softly. It felt like his mother's fingers when she would brush any of his unruly hair out of his face. He hadn't expected a voice in his head but then, what was he to expect? "Will you come out? Where we can see you? We won't attack you," he stated. Should he have added some fine print to his comment? Something along the lines of "so long as you don't attack us?"

 

<I know you won't and neither will I. Only, do not be afraid.> Afraid? Of what?

 

A silhouette began to form in the entrance, a slim figure with delicate looking arms and gray-blue fur. It - he - looked like some kind of blue centaur with startling features. No mouth, only a few small slits for what Simon assumed to be a nose, a set of green eyes and, swiveling around on stalks, two more green eyes. However, Simon's gaze was mostly drawn to the creature's tail. It was a long, slender but well muscled limb that possessed a wicked, curved blade. The way it was held made the boy think of scorpions and, he highly believed, that this being could move it just as quickly as a scorpion or snake as it struck. Maybe faster.

 

The creature took a step towards them, a slow and stiff looking action. But the centaur-like being collapsed and Simon darted forward to catch him. Seven fingers curled around the boy's arm as human eyes found the disheartening wounds.

Edited by Narvix

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After the short discussion on the dangers of homeless people, Roderick and Lauren ran ahead of the rest of the group. Andrew did not hurry and felt no compulsion to move any faster than he was.

 

He was about to go through the main entrance into the abandoned construction site with Simon and Taylor, until something made Simon look up into the horizon just as the sun moved out of view. This was by no means unusual for Simon, but something about his expression made Andrew look up as well.

 

Andrew's jaw gaped in astonishment at the bright blue blur moving across the darkening sky. He immediately ran through his mind the possibilities of what it could be; too fast for a helicopter, too slow for a jet, but the unusual blue light made him think of something from outer space. But there was no way it could be a meteor or a comet because neither gave off blue light when entering the Earth's atmosphere. Had he not been so perplexed he would have considered it decidedly unusual.

 

It seemed to be headed their way, as the wind began to pick up as it grew closer to them. Andrew would have run, but he was rooted to the spot. The wind grew greater in speed, until it was a billowing fury blowing dust everywhere. He had to close his eyes and look away until the dust cleared.

 

When he could see again, he saw a spaceship before him. There was no denying it now; this was a machine designed for interstellar travel by an alien species. And it had landed right in front of him and his friends.

 

The ship seemed rather odd. It was as long as a school bus, being round at the front end. It seemed to be the cockpit of the ship. The ship also had two stubby-looking wings with devices that reminded him of jet engines on the ends. The plane's back end extended upward into a spike, resembling a hook or claw. Andrew didn't think it was just for looks, although it did not seem as if it were designed to move. On the whole, aside from the claw, the ship looked rather cute, and almost organic-looking.

 

Simon somehow got up the nerve to speak to the ship, in spite of his cautious nature. Andrew not only feared that whatever was in the ship would kill them, but would also argue that whatever was in the ship probably didn't understand or speak English. He was still unable to speak, surprised as he was by this encounter with an alien ship.

 

Simon asked if anyone was inside with an unsure voice, and Andrew was completely stunned that he heard it reply 'Hello'. And it wasn't like hearing at all; it was more like his mind was a cave and the voice simply echoed and reverberated throughout. The voice sounded as if it were male, and it seemed completely calm. Simon then asked it to come out, saying that they would not attack it.

 

The alien replied that it knew that they would not attack him, nor would he attack them, but it asked them not to be afraid. Then, it did come out of the ship, and its appearance startled Andrew more than the ship.

 

The alien looked much like a centaur, hooves and all, except that it was mainly blue in colour, except around its hands and face. It also had too many fingers, no mouth, or a nose, other than two slits on a red part in the middle of its face. But that wasn't the worst part at all; It had two eye-stalks on its head, reminding him of a snail's eyes. The way the stalk-eyes looked at him was unsettling to say the least.

 

It also had a muscular tail, equipped with a lethal-looking curved blade. The tail was held in an arched manner, and was almost as long as the alien himself. It reminded him of the way a scorpion's tail was held above its body. This alien might seem friendly, but it could easily kill them all with its tail alone.

 

Andrew was both surprised at how much it resembled Earth biology and repulsed at how utterly unfamiliar some of its body was. He also realized his ship was made to resemble his kind.

 

The alien staggered forward a few steps, after which it fell to the ground. Simon ran to the alien and caught him. Andrew saw the horrible burns on the alien's right side.

 

Finally getting his nerve back, he walked through the gateway past Taylor to the alien. He knelt beside Simon, looking at the wounds with concern.

 

"My God, what happened to you?"

 

<I have been fatally wounded. I will die.>

 

Andrew did not expect the alien to say something like that, no matter how severe his wounds were. But he wanted to help it. Andrew had no idea why, but he felt like he had to help it in the best way he could. Only with difficulty did he speak again.

 

"Do you have a... A dying wish? Something you want us to do for you before you die?"

 

<Yes. I have come to warn you about the Yeerks.>

 

The alien cried out voicelessly, his eyes shut tight in agony. Andrew almost felt as if he were dying too, and it pained him to see the alien like this.

 

"Why are you warning us about the Yeerks? What are they going to do?"

 

Andrew felt as if he already knew the answer inside, but he needed to be sure. He was filled with dread when it replied.

 

<They have come to destroy you.>

Edited by Coryn02

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Taylor walked slowly along with Andrew and Simon. While she wanted to get home quickly, she didn't want to leave them behind. Hadn't they agreed to stick together? Lauren and Roderick obviously hadn't remembered. They, of course, decided to climb over the fence instead of being sensible and just walking through the gate. Show-offs.

 

She reached the gate and walked through. Poor Roderick and Lauren- they looked bored. It was their own fault for running ahead when they shouldn't have. Taylor was distracted from her thoughts when Lauren shouted. What was it now? Though, she couldn't really feel annoyed. Lauren did sound like she was shocked, like there was something worth looking at.

 

Taylor looked up.

 

It was a bright streak of blue. She paused, wondering what it could be. It was unlike anything that she had seen before. It wasn't like a meteorite, or a plane, or a balloon. No, none of those at all. At first it most resembled a meteorite, but meteorites weren't blue and faded. Instead, the blue thing seemed to be slowing down and getting... closer?

 

As it got nearer, Taylor squinted against light and dust that was being kicked up by the object. Before she could figure out was it was, besides that it was about the size of a school bus, the dust flying around became too much and she had to turn her face towards ground. When the dust settled, she rubbed her eyes and stared at... whatever it was.

 

Her first thought was that it looked somewhat like some sort of spaceship from a children's cartoon, but that wasn't right at all. For one thing, there was a deadly-looking, hooked thing sticking out of the back end of the object. A children's cartoon wouldn't have something that looked so much like a weapon. It also couldn't be a spaceship because alien spaceships couldn't exist. At least, they didn't land in the middle of abandoned construction sites without contacting people first. Taylor wasn't the sort to believe in government conspiracies, so she didn't think that the government would know about aliens and not tell everyone.

 

What could it be, then? Taylor tried to think of something, but her mind was horribly blank. She could only think of the silliest ideas. A prank. An X-Files-like government test.

 

Any other ideas that she might have had were stopped by the sight of Simon walking towards the object. What was the idiot doing? It could be dangerous, they had no idea what it was... She tried to tell him to stop, but the words caught in her throat.

 

<Hello.>

 

It was like a calm, masculine voice, but she wasn't hearing it. Instead, it was rather like what she would have expected telepathy to 'sound' like. Sort of echo-y and reverberating, but perfectly clear and easy to understand. This, of course, shocked Taylor enough that she didn't quite pay attention to what Simon said next. It was something about asking the alien to come out of the ship and not attacking it. None... none of this was possible. Probable. Not spaceships, or aliens, or telepathy. It just didn't happen, not in her nice, normal life. Right?

 

Things got much worse when the alien stepped out of the spaceship. She couldn't deny it any longer; the object was a spaceship. The creature - person - that stepped out of the ship was so obviously alien, yet its - his - torso was strangely human-like. His head, however, wasn't very human-like at all. It almost fell into the uncanny valley, thought maybe not quite. He lacked a mouth or proper nose, instead having three narrow slits where a nose could have been. Perhaps they were nostrils of some sort. Two of his eyes were the most normal part of his face, except for being an unnatural shade of green. His other two eyes, however, were the most abnormal. They stood high on roving, twisting stalks.

 

Below his torso, he almost looked like some sort of blue-and-tan deer, or perhaps a light horse. The overall effect made him look quite a bit like a centaur, if such a thing existed. Unlike a centaur or deer, however, he had a long, thick tail. At its tip was a huge, scythe-like blade. It glittered in the blue light from the ship, and caught Taylor's eyes. If she needed any confirmation that the alien was dangerous, that was it.

 

Suddenly, the alien collapsed and Simon ran forward to help him. Andrew walked towards him as well, but Taylor stayed rooted to the spot. She didn't feel like she could have moved even if she had wanted to, and she didn't want to get closer to that tail. The alien looked like he needed help, but she didn't even know if it would be possible to help an alien.

 

The alien explained that he was going to die, and that something called the Yeerks were coming to destroy them. It was amazing that someone could be so sure of his own death, to say that so calmly. Taylor's mouth was dry and her mind was still reeling, but she found the courage to speak. "Why?" Her voice came out cracked and scared. "Why?" she tried again, now sounding more normal but no less scared. "Why would they be coming to destroy us?" These 'Yeerks' needed to have a motive. Taylor didn't think that she could take it if they were just coming to attack them for no reason.

 

<The Yeerks are parasites. They are helpless without hosts, so they have come to Earth to enslave all humans and kill those that stand in their way. You must stop them.>

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Waiting for the others was so boring- didn’t they know how to pick up the pace a little? Stuff didn’t exactly sit around and wait for people to catch up. Folding his arms and tapping a foot restlessly, he startled to the side when Lauren gave a shout next to him, pointing wildly at the sky.

 

It was a bird. It was a plane. It was...to be honest, Roderick really wasn't sure what it was. Blue, huge, distinctly alien were the only words coming to mind. If space ships existed, he probably would have explained it as such- little else seemed possible. Wind roared around them, dust stung in his eyes, and Roderick felt his jaw drop lower and lower as the- the thing hit the ground with a thud and shook the earth beneath his feet.

 

Should he do something? He should do something. A giant prank spaceship had just landed- no, crashed- in an abandoned construction site in a small coast town out of nowhere and though he knew he should snap a pic or charge inside or something, Roderick stayed rooted where he was, eyes wide and jaw gaping.

 

Simon, it seemed, had no such reservations, the boy taking unsteady, lurching steps towards the thing. He might have called out a question to it, but the stunned roaring in Roderick’s ears was still too loud, it felt as if everything around him was muffled and-

<Hello.>

 

Goosebumps erupted on his skin, the hairs on the back of Roderick’s neck standing on end. That had come from inside his head. He was sure of it, sure as there was a real live space ship not meters away from him and sure as the figure that was coming out of it.

 

If he’d trouble explaining the ship, Roderick was having a harder time wrapping his head around the alien. Probably the closest comparison would have been a centaur- it had the general idea with four hoofs and a human-shaped torso as far as two arms and a head went, but there was also a tail with a wickedly sharp blade shape on the end, a distinct lack of a mouth in the place there really should have been one, and the snail-eye-stalk things twitching above it’s head. Trying to take all that in, it took Roderick another few moments to realize that on top of all that, the alien was as blue as the ship it came in.

 

It wasn’t quite comical enough to not be terrifying. Not even it stumbling and falling to the ground made Roderick forget about that tail of it’s, and in the moment Simon ran forward to help it he felt sure he’d get his head neatly sliced off for his trouble.

 

But the alien didn’t attack him, or any of them. Rather, it was hurt, badly, and warning them insistently in that creepy mind-speak of it’s of something even more dangerous than it was coming. To be more precise, already there.

 

<We were trying to stop the Yeerks,> the alien’s voice in his head explained, trailing ghost fingers across his mind. <But they ambushed us, and I fell. They will be coming to rid all traces of me and my ship. You are not safe here.>

Edited by emberwing

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Simon was the first to react. One shaking step after the other, he padded forward, bravest of us all. Braver than me, who stood trembling and useless. He called out, and to all our astonishment (and Taylor possibly pondering the improbability that aliens would know English), came a reply. A deep, masculine voice, firm yet tender, reverberated in our heads.

 

<Hello.> The very word gave me goosebumps, but I relaxed, suddenly feeling nostalgic. Like I've known this alien forever.

 

"We won't attack you," said Simon.

 

<I know you won't, and neither will I,> replied the alien.

 

As he stepped out of his ship, as slowly as Simon had approached him, my fingers itched for my phone. I wanted to be the first to snap a few pictures of a live alien and throw it on the Web. What a hoot that'd cause! He looked nothing like the green and gray people with big heads even as he emerged through the ship's -- for it was certainly a ship -- door, a blue light shining behind him. His torso was humanoid enough although dusted with blue and tan fur and the rest of his body looked like a small horse. Like its ship, the blue alien had a wicked tail that I hoped to God that he would not use on us. But, my eyes were fixated on his head. Instead of a mouth, he had three slits on his face that to me, looked like a strange flattened nose. That was probably why he spoke through telepathy. The eyes were normal enough, but on the top of his head were two more eyes at the end of a pair of antennae. They swivelled and jerked around, scanning the surroundings, while the alien's main eyes watched us unblinkingly.

 

He stumbled and collapsed and would have hit the floor if Simon hadn't caught him. If the poor thing had a mouth, it looked like he would start coughing blood. I cursed under my breath. I was the only one who would even stand a chance to know how to treat the wound scarring his flank, yet my mind was blank. I never learned how.

 

<I have been fatally wounded. I will die.> No! There had to be something, something I could have done! The words were stuck in my throat. I never felt more helpless.

 

"Do you have a… a dying wish?" Andrew was by his side as well.

 

"He's not going to die," I said softly, more to convince myself than anyone else.

 

<I have come to warn you about the Yeerks.> Yeerks. That one word was packed with dread and despair. And yet, what he said next was even more chilling.

 

<They have come to destroy you.>

 

There was an eerie silence. It was quiet enough to hear the sounds of rushing cars on the freeway far, far away. Far away from this place of haunting revelations. Taylor was the first to speak up again. "Why?" Fear stained her tone. It was hard not to be afraid of some force from outer space coming to destroy the human race. "Why would they be coming to destroy us?"

 

<The Yeerks are parasites. They are helpless without hosts, so they have come to earth to enslave all humans and kill those who stand in their way.> He paused, as if catching a breath. <You must stop them.> More ominously, he added, <You are not safe here.>

 

It was my fault that everyone was in danger, I realized with a jolt. We were caught in the middle of a war between two alien species. The revelation tingled down my spine and weighed down my stomach. It was enough that I couldn't save the alien, but it was an entirely different thing if one of my friends died because I led them through a dumb shortcut to shave off a few minutes of travel time. No one would die tonight, or because of tonight. Even if it was the last thing I'd do. Feeling a little more determined, I stood straight and took a few steady steps toward the alien. I can't change the past. I can't change what I can or can't do. I can only change what was happening now.

 

"There has to be some trick to it," I said. "Nothing's invulnerable."

 

<You are correct. Yeerks must exit the host body, called a Controller, to feed every three of your days.> He continued with a hint of urgency. <I have sent a message to my homeworld. The Andalite armies will arrive, but it may take a long time. You must warn your people, before it is too late!>

 

I shook my head. No one would believe us, pictures or not. And if a Yeerk came across the photos… I shivered. There went the idea of taking a photo.

 

<Perhaps…> Contrary to his pressing tone, the Andalite seemed to be deep in though, his tail swaying gently from side to side. <Perhaps this would be a boon to you. Go into my ship. There will be a small blue box. Bring it to me.>

 

I hesitated. Which one of us was he talking to?

 

<Go! There isn't much time. The Yeerks will find me soon.>

 

Didn't have to be reminded twice. I sprung, my shoes clattering on alien steel as I ran up the ramp and into the spaceship. The inside was simple enough. The ceiling above was round, as was everything else furnishing the interior. There were no chairs, not even in front of the few buttons I assumed was the control panel -- not that I could imagine the four-hooved alien sitting. He probably controlled the ship with his thoughts anyway. The rest of the ship was rather unremarkable, a uniform, shiny off-white. The cube stood out against it with its bright blue. It looked fairly normal. No strange engravings. No telltale cracks hinting that it could open up. It wasn't even glowing. The blue cube fit comfortably in my hand, kind of the size of a softball. I wondered how this thing would help at all. Only the Andalite could tell us.

 

As I was ready to return, I spied a little hologram of a few of the blue aliens clustered together. My throat tightened. The two larger Andalites were standing with two tiny ones, and I guessed they were family. This alien was a true soldier, carrying a picture of his family, only to die thousands of light-years away on a distant planet. This was a war we had to fight, for the Andalite's sake.

 

I hurried outside. We had to honor his dying wish. "Here it is." I handed over the cube. He grasped it with one of his many-fingered hands.

 

<Thank you.> Before I could inquire about his family, the cube began glowing blue and he began to speak. <You are still young. I know you have no power against the Controllers, but I can give you an ability that no other human being has ever had.>

 

Laser vision? I thought hopefully. Or maybe flight, or invisibility.

 

<It is a technology exclusive to Andalites. The power to morph.>

 

"Morph? Like Power Rangers?"

 

The Andalite continued as if he hadn't heard. <The power to become any other species. Any animal.>

 

Oh. Shapeshifting wasn't that bad of a superpower. Still, I felt bad for being disappointed.

 

<You will only need to touch a creature to acquire its DNA and become that creature, through concentration and determination. There are limits of course. Problems. Dangers. But you must persevere.> A crackle sounded through the air, and I thought I saw red slight shooting across the sky. <Yeerks!> spat the Andalite. His thought-speak seared deeply into my mind. <If only I had the leisure to explain. You must quickly decide if you wish to receive this power.>

 

"Of course," I whispered, darting a glance first to Simon, then Roderick, then Andrew and finally Taylor. Not everyone would be willing to throw away their life like I was about to.

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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Yeerks.

 

For some unknown reason, that word left the foulest taste in Simon's mouth, filled him with fear and anger. Perhaps it was because of how the Andalite "spoke" the word through its telepathy. The boy's stomach was twisted into knots as his reeling mind tried to grasp everything at once.

 

Aliens were going to enslave the human race because they needed host bodies. But, why humans? Why not any other creature? Surely, there was some sentient species out there in the vast regions of space that would willingly accept these Yeerks?

 

Destruction certainly didn't sound like a nice experience.

 

Suddenly, the blue creature sounded faintly hopeful and Lauren rushed into his ship as had been urged. She returned with a small, simple-looking, cube and, when the Andalite took hold of it, it began to glow. <You are still young. I know you have no power against the Controllers, but I can give you an ability that no other human being has ever had.> Simon stared at the glowing cube, still holding the creature as it spoke. <It is a technology exclusive to Andalites. The power to morph.>

 

Power Rangers? Really Lauren? If the alien they saw now wasn't anything like little green men, then what would make her think of a TV show? But the alien went on without fail, as if unaware of what Lauren had said. <The power to become any other species. Any animal.>

 

Morphing animals? Shapeshifting, of all things! That was the exclusive technology that Andalites had? Simon's palms were sweating, feeling the heat of the Andalite's body through his blue and tan fur. Andrew, Taylor, and Lauren all had questioned the creature, pressing for information in their frightened states. Rodrick was so far silent through the entire exchange.

 

Then there was a slight sound and a flash of red light in the night sky. The Andalite had venom in his telepathic voice, alongside growing fear. The lanky boy could feel those emotions in the alien's words, felt his own fear begin to crawl along his chest. <You must quickly decide if you wish to receive this power.>

 

And Lauren was agreeing....

 

Simon caught her gaze, giving a small nod in return. His lips were pressed into a tight, thin, line. Thoughts raced madly through his mind, two or even three sides of an argument clashing and creating a ruckus in his brain. Aliens were here to destroy the human race and an unknown ally was offering them a means to fight back. But, how? How were they supposed to fight an enemy they knew nothing about with animals? Animals had their built in weapons, yes, but that didn't mean the Yeerks would have something less. If anything, they were likely to face something much, much, more dangerous than a lion, tiger, or bear.

 

Oh my! Simon was certainly pale in the dark night, the blue glow of the ship undoubtably making it difficult for the others to tell. Finally... His hand pressed firmly against the cube in the Andalite's grasp, his eyes shifting towards the others. "You all know me... I gotta put my neck out for the assaulted...." A nervous smile.

 

<Quickly! You all must make your decision! The Yeerks will be here any moment now to be rid of me. If they find you here, your destruction will be guaranteed!>

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The alien went on to explain that the aliens were parasites that wanted to enslave humanity, since they required host bodies. Unless the alien meant something else entirely, the invading force of Yeerks seemed to be parasites. Andrew's mind instantly drifted to a horror-science fiction movie he watched alone a few years ago.

 

The Yeerks were also said by the alien that they would destroy anyone who got in their way, which was precisely why Andrew was about to object.

 

When Lauren asked about a vulnerability, the alien went on to explain that the Yeerks had to leave their host body, called a Controller, to feed every three days. He also added that while he called to the Andalite armies- this, Andrew supposed, was what the alien's kind called themselves- for help, they would take a long time to arrive, probably too long to save Earth if it weren't taken over by then.

 

The Andalite then seemed to have a moment of realization. It mentioned something that may help us, and told us to fetch a blue cube inside of his ship.

 

Andrew hesitated to move, until Lauren decided to go in and get the cube. She came back a few moments later with a small blue cube. Andrew thought of the Cosmic Cube from the recent Marvel movies, only smaller and did not glow. Once she gave it to the Andalite, it did glow a bright blue light like his ship.

 

<You are still young. I know you have no power against the Controllers, but I can give you an ability that no other human being has ever had. It is a technology exclusive to Andalites. The power to morph.>

 

Lauren made a brief comment about Power Rangers, and were he not in deep thought about the Andalite's words it would have been all Andrew could do to not either knock her lights out or burst out laughing.

 

The alien continued on in spite of Lauren's words, saying that the power was to allow them to become any other species of animal. In essence, they were all about to become genuine shapeshifters.

 

<You will only need to touch a creature to acquire its DNA and become that creature, through concentration and determination. There are limits of course. Problems. Dangers. But you must persevere.>

 

Suddenly, Andrew heard a piercing sound in the night and an ominous flash of red light was briefly seen in the skies. He got the feeling that they would not remain here for long, one way or another. The Andalite also noted the sound and light, Andrew felt hatred and slight fear from the Andalite. <Yeerks! If only I had the leisure to explain. You must quickly decide if you wish to receive this power.>

 

Lauren agreed quickly, and Simon said that he had to stick his head out for the assaulted, each pressing their hands against the cube.

 

<Quickly! You all must make your decision! The Yeerks will be here any moment now to be rid of me. If they find you here, your destruction will be guaranteed!>

 

Andrew considered the thought. Having this power would be amazing, and with it they were meant to turn into animals and fight off an invasion of parasitic aliens with the goal of enslaving the whole of humanity. On the other hand, if things were as dire as they seemed from this, maybe they could turn into animals and hide out until they could strike back. Soon enough, he decided to accept the power. Giving a clearly affirmative nod, he pressed the palm of his right hand against the cube.

 

He privately thought to himself that this was the beginning of the end.

Edited by Coryn02

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Taylor listened (was it really listening?) and watched everything in a daze. The alien requested that someone run into his ship and retrieve a blue box. With the urgency in his voice, Taylor took a small step forward. It was the most that she had managed since the incident had started, but her fear and worry kept her from continuing. Why? What would the alien need a blue box for? Something was probably inside it, but...

 

She didn't need to enter the ship, anyway. After a reminder from the alien, Lauren ran forward and into the ship. "Don't," Taylor tried to say, but it came out as barely a whisper. It sounded feeble, and even she could barely hear it. She didn't even know if she meant it. Maybe everything seemed like it was dangerous, and it was, but the alien seemed sincere about not wanting to hurt them. He didn't even have a reason to want to hurt them, and Taylor felt like he was telling the truth about the Yeerks.

 

Lauren would be fine, Taylor was almost sure.

 

When Lauren did some out of the ship (safe and unharmed, of course) and handed the cube to the alien, it began to glow. That surprised Taylor. It almost seemed mundane, the simple glowing, but she had expected the box to contain something. What was the use of a glowing cube? It obviously wasn't just a fancy glow stick. She had never seen anything like it before, and hadn't a clue what it would do. The cube wouldn't have looked out of place in a Doctor Who storyline.

 

The alien explained. Supposedly, the cube would give them the power to 'morph'- to turn into any animal. That seemed absurd. How would such a thing even work without killing them? How could the alien know if the cube would work on humans? Where would the extra mass come from, or go if they morphed in a smaller creature? How could a simple glowing cube give someone superpowers? It barely even felt worth considering, and that was before the alien mentioned dangers with it.

 

And the others were agreeing.

 

"I- I- no." There was a shaky sort of laugh in her voice, making her sound hysterical. Perhaps she was. "This doesn't make any sense. You- you can't just say that there are dangers without explaining."

 

None of this was fair. She had never expected the universe to be fair, but this was ridiculous. Maybe the others would just throw away their lives and accept something like this without protest, but she didn't want to. Everything about the alien's tone suggested urgency, something that she really didn't like. This didn't give her any time to properly decide, to weigh the pros and cons. She just couldn't accept the alien's offer.

 

Yet... how could she not?

 

The Yeerks were coming to take over the world. That, at least, had been clear, and the red streaks in the sky reinforced that. She doubted that she would be able to forgive herself if she could have helped, but didn't. In a way, wouldn't that make it her fault? It's not fair, she repeated to herself.

 

When was it ever?

 

"Promise me that it won't hurt me directly," she pleaded.

 

<I promise.> He looked directly at her. <It is okay to stay safe and reject this, but make your decision now.>

 

Taylor squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them and walked forward until she was close enough to place her hand on the cube. This might have been something that she would regret later, but if she couldn't help she could just back out, right? Receiving this 'morphing' power wouldn't hurt her, so she could just never use it.

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Roderick finally felt himself come unstuck when the scythe-y tailed alien asked for someone to get something from inside his ship. His spaceship. No way Roderick was passing that up. Not even if this was not secretly kind of really freaking him out. He made a few shaky steps forward, but Lauren was already on it.

 

“Hey,” he tried, but it came out pretty weak. Lauren was already gone. One would almost think that this entire thing hadn’t caught her off guard at all.

 

She was in and out pretty quick too, all lickety-split. Then, there was a dying alien on the ground, a dying blue alien with no mouth, four hoofs, and a sharp tail marooned on an alien world and warning of incoming invasion from gross ear Yeerk things. Also, the red lights in the sky that were getting bigger and closer way too fast for comfort. Definitely also that.

 

And just to make things weirder, the alien explained how the little glow-y cube Lauren had grabbed from the spaceship had the supposed power to grant them the ability to turn into animals. Which, if he could turn himself into a T-Rex with it, sounded pretty cool, but it didn’t exactly stir up a lot of optimism Roderick’s mind. How was crappy morphing powers supposed to save the world?

 

“You know what would probably work better? Lasers.” he suggested. “From our eyeballs.”

 

<If you were to obtain the DNA of an animal that had such an ability already, then yes, you could do that,> answered the alien. Man, Roderick still wasn’t used to the whole head-voice thing. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

 

The blue alien then proceeded to promise- Tina? Taystee? Taylor- that the mighty morphing power or whatever wouldn’t hurt them. Which, yeah, that made Roderick feel a bit better about all of this. Could his word really be trusted though? Actually, was it even possible to lie to people if you were telepathically linked and communicating through the mind?

 

Probably not.

 

The Yeerks were coming to take over the world and here he was hesitating about the most exciting thing to ever happen to him. This was the kind of opportunity people dreamed about. In fact, this whole thing might have all been a dream anyway, and Roderick could be waking up any minute now, but he figured he might as well wake up with the satisfaction of knowing he stepped up to be The Hero.

 

With that sobering thought in mind he walked forward, leant down, and solidly fistbumped the cube.

 

Hella.

Edited by emberwing

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One by one, we put our hands on the cube. (Well, Roderick bumped it with his huge fist. Figures.) One on each side, with the alien's seven thin fingers cradling the base. For a heartbeat nothing happened. Then, without warning came an electric jolt that ran through my nerves and prickled at my skin for barely half a second. Well, maybe not a jolt, but more of a tickle that permeated every cell in my body. Was that it? That was anticlimactic. I sort of expected a surge of pain or power that always seemed apparent in movies. The cube barely did anything! The faulty piece of trash started to power down and lose its glow after doing its supposed job.

 

<There is one thing you must absolutely remember,> said the Andalite. Despite his urgency, he chose his words carefully. <You must never stay in animal form for more than two of your Earth hours.> I recoiled from the strength of the message. His grave tone etched the words into my mind. <If you do, > he went on, <you will never be able to return to human form.>

 

A shiver ran down my spine. Two hours meant the difference between life as a human and life as an animal.

 

Two hours.

 

The feelings of dread and unease amplified as the Andalite raised his main eyes to the sky where the roach-like shapes of the Yeerk Bug fighters began to descend in formation. But there seemed to be another larger shadow hovering behind them, even blacker than the night sky. The alien's blue fur seemed to stand on end. <Visser Three! You must flee!> His stalk-eyes continued to track the blinking red lights of the ships above, while his main eyes focused on me. He was smiling without a mouth, a bittersweet look in his bright green eyes like a proud father seeing his children go. I didn't know what a 'Visser Three' was, but was most certainly bad news. I braced myself to run, scanning the surroundings for something, anything, that could be used to defend the injured Andalite.

 

<I would rather this be in your hands than fall into those of the Yeerks.> I was the only one who still had my hand on the cube. Nodding, I gingerly wrapped my fingers around it, brushing the alien's many-fingered hand. I tucked it into my satchel. We'd have to find a safe place to hide it, if we made it out alive. The looming shadows above were bigger, closer, close enough that we could hear their slight hum.

 

"You heard him! Let's run!" Following my own advice, I ran. A spotlight shone on the Andalite's ship, making it look suddenly very tiny; the Andalite himself stood firm with his tailblade held ready. I could only admire his bravery from behind a half-broken wall. The round Bug fighters landed with a whirl, one on each side of the blue ship, enclosing it even if they were sure their quarry could not flee.

 

Then the third ship began to descend. It was huge and imposing and looked nothing like the bumbling Bug fighters. It was ten times their size. It was long and streamlined with wicked wings on the back like the blades of a battleaxe. I thought it had no place to land, but anything directly under it was either blown away or blown to bits. Dust flew everywhere, and a bulldozer in the way was blasted with red beams and disintegrated. The ship's very presence weighted down the air and instilled an instinctual fear. I could barely breathe. I screwed my eyes shut in an attempt to slow my racing heart.

 

<Visser Three's personal Blade Ship,> commented the alien. <Seems like he is here to take care of unfinished business.>

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A brief sensation shocked his nerves, almost as if he came into contact with the charged electrons of a metallic surface. It was that familiar prick of electrical surprise that made Simon slightly doubt the reality of all of this. Pulling his hand away, he inspected his hands, brushing the tips of his fingers. He felt normal and nothing had changed on his hand. For some reason, he sort of expected to get some kind of Gedwëy Ignasia or something like that. Shaking his head, he curled his fingers against his palm.

 

<You must be careful! You cannot remain in the form of any animal for more than two hours, or you will be trapped forever in that shape. You must leave now, the Yeerks are coming! They will not hesitate to kill you. But most importantly, they can never find out about the gift I have given you. If they do, you will wish they had killed you.>

 

The blue cube was no longer glowing, returned to a plain, simple, looking object. Words laced through his head again from the alien’s telepathy, issuing a heavy warning. Stuck in animal form? By simply going over the two hour mark? Simon didn’t know if he felt intimidated by that knowledge or if he felt that things would happen as they did.

 

Like tonight?

 

Something sank in his heart. Some feeling of terror and uncertainty began to take hold as his whirling mind finally absorbed the gravity of the situation. This was a different kind of fear, different from the fear he felt when the Andalite spoke about the Yeerks. This was the fear that made him want to crawl into a hole, curl up, and disappear into the dust.

 

”You heard him! Let’s run!” Heard him? Simon glanced at the other four and then at the alien, following the creature’s steady gaze to see the specks of red light growing closer. Ever closer.

 

For a moment, Simon watched the lights and then turned his gaze onto Lauren as she ran. His legs wouldn’t obey his mental commands. Andrew simply stared at the red lights, unmoving. He didn’t look like he was going to run. Maybe, he was trapped to the ground like Simon was, fixated with some emotion or frozen by the reality.

 

If this was reality.

 

Something grabbed his wrist, too many fingers curling around the joint. The touch startled Simon, making him jump and turn his head quickly towards the Andalite. Where was the cube? It wasn’t in the creature’s hands anymore. Flicking his gaze at Lauren again, he barely spotted the blue object in her possession.

 

The Andalite’s other hand reached for Andrew’s, similarly catching the other boy’s attention. He seemed a little unsettled, but otherwise ready to listen. <I don’t have very long now, but perhaps, I can give you extra knowledge that may help.> Fourteen fingers released their wrists, a blue and tan furred palm firmly pressing against their foreheads. Oddly, the touch felt slightly cool to Simon, as if the Andalite’s body temperature was at a lower degree than his own. Well, maybe that was the case.

 

A speeding train of images and jumble of words assaulted Simon’s mind, crowding his thoughts and hitting against the sides of his skull. It left a dull, throbbing, headache but the lanky boy didn’t care. Stumbling back on legs no longer glued to the ground, he caught himself before he hit the solid dirt. It was hard to think, to sort out the information suddenly given to him. Flashes of image fragments stitched to other pieces filled his vision but they didn’t seem right. Whispers of phrases and words passed through his ears but they might as well have been spoken in a foreign language. Maybe they were, he didn’t know, couldn’t sort things out.

 

The urge to cry and shout gripped his chest but Simon shoved the desire down, only wanting to flee now. Shoes slipped against the dirt until they found decent traction, gripping the ground as he pushed away from the Andalite, its ship, and the approaching red lights. He wanted to keep running, to leave everything behind him. But his footsteps stopped beside Lauren, back finding the broken wall and sliding down until his rear rested against the dirt.

 

<Visser Three's personal Blade Ship. Seems like he is here to take care of unfinished business….>

 

The words barely got through to Simon’s thoughts, his mind still too confused by the new knowledge he possessed. He couldn’t do anything in his unstable state, hands covering his mouth to keep the sound of screams unheard or to keep himself from growing sick. He wasn’t certain. Vaguely, a flag of concern waved among his tangled thoughts, wondering about Andrew and if he was alright.

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((The first half. The second half will be posted once we exchange some words on the Chatzy.))

 

I wanted to run. I wanted to run to the ends of the earth and ditch these bad aliens right where they were. Run until my lungs gave out, until each breath came as a ragged rasp, until my legs gave out under me. I didn't even want to entertain the possibility that they could be faster than us -- than me.

 

And yet my limbs were frozen. I couldn't look away out of some weighted sense of duty or twisted sense of curiosity; the first because I couldn't leave my friends, no matter how intolerable, and the second because I wanted to know what a Visser was.

 

And maybe see if I had a chance to save the good alien after all.

 

Roderick and Taylor had dispersed like I commanded, but Simon and Andrew still stood before the andalite. I mentally urged them to hurry and either run or find a place to hide, desperately wishing that I also had telepathy. It was too risky to shout out loud and besides, I wasn't sure if they would be able to hear me through the wind whipped up by the landing ships and, maybe it was just my imagination, but even that wind managed to smell foul. I ducked back behind my wall just as Simon came over and joined me, but even though I was relieved, I couldn't relax.

 

The halberd-shaped Blade Ship, easily fifteen times the size of the Andalite Fighter with enough room for a tank or five, landed with much more finesse than I expected it to. Red lights dotting its side gave the illusion of a thousand pairs of eyes staring out from the darkness: a sharp contrast from the andalite's bright blue comet. The door at its head made an earth-shuddering creak and with the slow hissing of air, opened out like a hatch with a ramp extending out to the ground six feet below.

 

A single shape stepped out of the darkness of the Blade Ship. Four hooves clomped on the metal ramp at a leisurely pace. The shadows of a sickled tail were cast on the broken walls by the etherial light shining out from inside the ship, dancing as it swayed back and forth. It had a blue-furred flank. The torso of a man. Snail eyes.

 

I was just about to shout something along the lines of 'We're saved!' because this was obviously another andalite on an enemy ship, but I bit my tongue when our andalite gave us another warning. <Do not trust him. He is Visser Three, the single Andalite Controller in-->

 

He was cut off by a booming voice assaulting my brain. I covered my ears out of reflex. It was a voice that was filled with loathing, contempt, and a healthy dose of pure evil. It wasn't even hammy, cartoony evil. It was just... evil. No doubt that was the Visser. The opposite of good news.

 

<Long time no see, Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul.> The new andalite savoured every moment Elfangor lay there, suffering from his wounds. <How are you on this fine Earthen night?>

 

Elfangor gave no response, but all four of his eyes were trained on the Visser as if trying to bore through his skull to kill the Yeerk within. I made eye contact with Simon. Maybe we could make a run for it (for real) if we tiptoe away while he was distracted? His clouded gaze, filled equally with confusion, terror, and despair, told me that it would be useless.

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