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TehUltimateMage

Animorphs: Redux (IC TOPIC)

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<I expected such a high-ranked war prince to be more talkative. Pity.> The Visser raised his tail and I flinched, expecting him to behead Elfangor immediately. Instead, the trampling of a hundret feet rang through the night air, the sound as percussive as firecrackers. Something else was coming out of the ship. My eyes squinted, trying to make out the shapes within the darkness of the Blade Ship.

 

Those aliens seemed to fit the common stereotype of 'aliens' as lizardmen. Kind of. From the light of the ships washing over the gravel of the abandoned lot, their dark green scales over rippling muscle and flexible serpentine necks were evident, but so were the bony blades and spikes jutting out of their limbs and tail. They wouldn't have looked out of place in a dinosaur book, with their taloned feet and beak-like snout. From their foreheads sprouted sharp horns that raked forward, and their golden eyes shone with savagery. What had we gotten ourselves into? One strike of an elbow blade looked like it could easily eviscerate a human (and for overkill's sake some of them even carried guns). I would prefer that my innards remained inside of my body.

 

<Hork-Bajir-Controllers,> Elfangor whispered to us. <They... They were once a peaceful species, but are now merely pawns for the Yeerks.>

 

I didn't think it could get worse, but the stomping of the Hork-Bajir was soon overtaken by sounds of hissing and skittering. Huge worm monsters scrambled out in a much less organized fashion, some climbing on top of others to race for the front seat of the spectacle the Visser was no doubt preparing. Joke's on them -- we got front row seats to the unfortunate and drawn out confrontation between the Andalites in which Visser Three had the upper hand. Those aliens were like centepedes, but a hundred times bigger; as long as a van and with a mouth with rings of teeth like a lamprey surrounded by soft red globes I guessed were supposed to be eyes. Their exoskeleton was a disgusting shade of yellowish green and their proportionately small legs were crab-like -- many, many pairs -- and their front legs ended in crab claws.

 

<Taxxon-Controllers,> Elfangor spat. <Unending hunger, irredeemably evil.>

 

The new aliens arranged themselves obediently in rows as if they were soldiers. That's what they probably were. Soldiers to the Visser, who turned around to address them. <You should all be honored to meet the famed Prince Elfangor! Hah hah hah!>

 

The Hork-Bajir joined his guffaws with a sort of huffing, hiccupping noise, while the Taxxons hissed and jeered, and I even thought I heard some human laughs from the shadows. Some were dangerously close to where we were hiding. I focused on the image of a small animal -- a mouse, a roach, anything -- to attempt to activate Elfangor's blessing, but it was no use. I hadn't acquired anything.

 

With a whip of his bladed tail, the Visser commanded silence. <I bear you the unfortunate use, Elfangor, that you are the last Andalite in this sector of space. I was rather thorough with the destruction of your Dome Ship. One of my better jobs.>

 

<There will be others!> Elfangor shouted back, his resolve firm. It was admirable. He was staring down his death, literally.

 

<How optimistic. They will be too late, however. This world shall be mine.>

 

<Why Humans? You have many more physically capable slaves across the universe. Why Earth?>

 

<You Andalites are a more stupid species than I thought. Why Earth? There are so many hosts on this planet! Billions of them! Billions of ignorant bodies ripe for the plucking. With such numbers... I will truly become an unstoppable force in the universe!>

 

Elfangor struggled onto his hooves. He was ready to die, to die as a warrior who fought to the end for what he stood for. The Visser went on, <And once we have spread to the corners of the cosmos, I will personally see that your family receives special treatment from my closest lieutenants.>

 

That was it. Elfangor's tail darted forward, a blur to the human eye. Visser Three barely parried with his own tail, but found himself knocked off-balance by Elfangor's follow-up tackle. Bright red blood splattered onto the concrete from the gash in the Andalite-controller's shoulder as he hit the ground.

 

Elfangor's flanks heaved, and he was dripping blood himself. All four of his eyes stared at the Visser, defiant. I cheered him on mentally. Visser three's crowd jeered, showing their discontent at the development.

 

But then from the ground, Visser Three began to change. His blue coloration faded to a purpleish red. His front legs and arms split into multiple tentacles, his rear legs thickened to bear his new weight has he rose to his feet. His body grew to three or four times his size, inflating like a balloon. An impossibly wide mouth split open where his head used to be, and seemed to smile with rows upon rows of pointed teeth behind vividly red lips. I think a little vomit rose up my throat. The transformation was not aesthetically pleasing, and his new form even less so.

 

He tried to grab Elfangor with a tentacle. The Andalite watched his movements carefully, and cut the waving arms down with his tail, spilling unearthly purple blood and calling forth roars from the throat of the abomination the Visser had become.

 

But ultimately, his strength failed him and the Visser threw him into his mouth and crunched. The Taxxons immediately went berserk, clampering to collect Andalite morsels that fell out of his maw.

 

I gripped my face with both hands, nails digging into flesh, to stop myself from screaming. My vision went foggy. Tears.

 

I didn't really see what happened after that. I never knew how strongly I could feel about someone I had met less than ten minutes ago. A laser cracked in the air, disintegrating all traces of the Andalite's landing. The cube -- I pat my bag in a fit of worry to make sure it was still there -- was the only thing we had left to remember him by.

 

Now that he was gone, I regretted not running away when we had the chance. The public execution over, the Visser shrunk back to his Andalite form and gathered his troops, though some Hork-Bajir and humans -- humans for sure, and a voice that sounded oddly familiar -- were looking around the site quite curiously, ready to end any unfortunate soul who had seen the event.

 

In other words, us. I couldn't outrun one of them, and I doubted Simon could have, either. Not in this emotional state. But we crawled to one of the more completed buildings and snuck through there.

 

Then we ran like hell, putting as much distance between us before they noticed we had been there. Please, let this be a bad dream. Please let me wake up.

 

~~~

 

I woke up in a cold sweat. I somehow made it home, and laughed to myself. Maybe it was a dream after all! Except the dirt-filled clothes I was still in claimed otherwise. The lizardmen, the Taxxon, the execution, the human laughs... I remembered them clearer than any dream I had before.

 

I checked my phone. Saturday, six in the morning. The morning sun shone through the window of my room, much too serene compared to the mess of thoughts in my head. I rewound the events I remembered, trying hard to gloss over the bloody bits. I scrambled out of bed, the sinking feeling of fear driving a pit through my stomach as I reached for my bag, dumping out all its insides -- all those notebooks and pens -- until the object I was looking for fell out and tumbled onto the floor.

 

I snagged the blue cube right away as if afraid it would run off. Relief flooded through me as the keepsake was safe, but the feeling was steadily replaced with a sense of foreboding terror.

 

It wasn't a dream.

 

The need to curl up back into my bed was mighty, even if I had the morning rounds to do. I needed a moment to sit down and re-evaluate my priorities. I stared at my phone for a long moment from the floor, still gripping the cube with more force than necessary.

 

Then I picked it up in a swift movement, pushed the middle button twice to flip through my saved numbers, and dialed for Simon, half-hoping -- believing -- that he would wake me up from the second layer of nightmares.

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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No rest for the wicked.

 

Was he wicked then? Simon slid to the ground, the rough surface of his bedroom wall snagging shirt fabric and causing it to bunch in several places. Swallowing stiffly, he focused on regulating his breathing, worrying his lower lip until he drew blood. As the faint, coppery, taste sparked the tip of his tongue, he shoved a knuckle in between his teeth to bite back the scream that rose.

 

Somehow, he had survived the nightmare that had unfolded in the construction site. Somehow, they all survived in their little ragtag group of book nerds and jocks. Did he believe any of it was real? Did he want to believe it? Obviously, Simon didn’t want to. However, his racing heartbeat and the headache of clustered images in his head wanted to convince him otherwise.

 

He didn’t sleep that night. He couldn’t sleep. His hands trembled ceaselessly, his vision spun, and his stomach churned. At some point, he rushed to the bathroom and made unpleasant friends with the toilet. Horrible images of Elfangor, the Visser, Taxxons, and Hork-Bajir continued to pester his mind. The Visser’s otherworldly shift and the ensuing bloodbath of Taxxons….

 

In the safety of his room, he began writing and scribbling out sketches at his desk. Anything and everything he could translate from his mind, setting the confusion of information onto paper. Most of it was incoherent or in some foreign language. However, a few things were clearer to understand. The more he wrote down, drew out, the less his head hurt. The information remained in his mind but it was less demanding now.

 

The soft, lonely, glow of his small desk lamp isolated him from the darkness of his room. It was a familiar scene for an abnormal night. Usually, it helped to comfort him. Now, it seemed to only watch him, as if waiting for something to happen.

 

Simon’s cellphone began to buzz, the obnoxious vibration barely muffled by his pillow. How much time had passed since he sat down and began writing? He didn’t really know but it was long enough. His hand hurt greatly, the muscles cramped from so much writing. Fumbling with his phone, he answered with shaky hands. “Lauren?” His voice was soft but more from exhaustion than anything else. “I….”

 

What was he going to say? What was she going to say? Did he hope everything that he witnessed wasn’t real, that Lauren was just calling about some author of one of his favorite book series coming to town for a book signing?

 

A sinking feeling filled his stomach, a looming despair pressed against his shoulders. Lauren wasn’t calling for a book signing, he knew.

 

Last night did happen.

 

His stomach churned once more, his body growing cold as his skin became clammy with sweat. Wetting his lips, Simon sat down on his bed, grip tightening on his phone. ”Simon? Tell me I’m dreaming. Please… Nothing happened last night. Right?” She sounded tense, her voice coming through the receiver on a whispery breath. It was that tone of voice that betrayed her desire to cry. ”Say something, please. I need to know it was all just a nightmare….”

 

Simon couldn’t get his voice to work, his lips opening and closing without making much sound. Swallowing hard, he shook his head and grunted faintly. “I-I’m sorry… I wish it was. Lauren,” he paused, a hint of fear and desperation entering his tone. “Lauren, I’m sorry! It’s all real!”

 

”Just get here as quickly as you can. Please…” Lauren said, her words rushed and almost cut off as she ended the call.

 

Jumping to his feet, he fumbled around his room as he quickly changed out of his dirtied clothes and into a clean set. Knowing his friend as well as he did, she was certainly in tears now. Especially considering how she hung up without waiting for a response from him.

 

No one was up yet so he scrawled out a brief note for his parents about where he’d be. With his phone in hand, fingers pushing a string of numbers to call Andrew, Simon hurried out of his house and onto his bike, wheels spinning towards Lauren’s home.

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(If writing were exercise, this would be a marathon.)

 

Andrew woke with a start. His mind was alive with indistinct nightmares; from what he could dimly recall, he was being hunted by some sort of pack animal and was about to die when the nightmare stopped. The very thought of it made him nauseous, so he tried to put it out of his mind.

 

Recalling what he knew of what happened last night, Andrew concluded in an instant that everything that happened was real. His clothes were still dirty, and he remembered everything that happened at the construction site. The Andalite, the Taxxons, the Hork-Bajir, and the truly evil Visser.

 

The war prince Elfangor died a truly immoral death, but that wasn't even the worst of what Andrew experienced. He and Roderick had a close brush with death, and the idea of ever doing anything like that again....

 

Andrew couldn't bear the thought any longer, and locked himself in the bathroom as he heaved out his last meal. After a while, when he stopped retching, Andrew looked at himself in the mirror. He was very pale, and could not stop shaking.

 

Rubbing his eyes, he went back into his room for his pocket watch. As he expected, it was on his night-stand. The clock face read 5:37. There wasn't much point in trying to sleep some more; he didn't even think he would be able to if he even wanted to. The nightmares might come back.

 

Andrew searched his mind, trying to remember what happened to the others. Roderick parted ways with him after they escaped the Hork-Bajir, and the others had already left from the building they met in when they all snuck away.

 

Suddenly, Andrew found his mind flooded with thought. Hundreds of images, conversations in strange languages, images and experiences flashed behind his eyes. He was brought to his knees with a crippling headache.

 

After a few minutes, when the headache largely went away, he tried to make sense of what happened by concentrating on specific memories. Andrew started to understand what he was thinking about. Ripping spare pages from a notebook and grabbing a pen, Andrew wrote what he could.

 

After a while, it almost felt like he was watching himself write instead of doing the writing himself. His headache began to clear. Some of what he wrote was in English, though almost none of it made any sense but was clearly structured with grammatic order. Sometimes he would switch back to a strange alien script, and then to English again.

 

He continued to write, writing a whole line of script in about three seconds even as his hand started to seize up. Andrew also surprised himself by lowly whispering to himself in a way that he didn't understand but knew was coherent.

 

He continued to write down everything he could think of that Elfangor had experienced, and as he did the memories disappeared from his mind. Eventually, his headache had subsided entirely and he could no longer recall any thoughts that were not his.

 

The end product of his work was a large stack of paper covered in strange writing and what seemed to be gibberish composed of the Latin alphabet. He taped a band of paper together and fit it over the papers, binding them together by the middle. Andrew knew these were going to be worth something, so he hid them away underneath his nightstand.

Just as he considered going back to sleep, his phone started vibrating. He took it out of his pocket and checked the number. The caller was Simon; there could be no other reason for him to call. Simon was calling about the construction site. After a moment's hesitation, he answered the call.

 

"Simon?"

 

"Andrew, come to Lauren's house. We gotta talk."

 

"Where does Lauren live again?"

 

"The other side of town."

 

"That really told me a lot, thanks."

 

"Now's not the time. She lives on that farm just on the outskirts of town."

 

"Right. I'm on my way."

 

Andrew ended the call. He emptied out his schoolbag and put the notes inside. He figured the others would want to take a look at them. He didn't bother to leave a note for his parents, it was unlikely they'd realize he was gone. If he needed to, he could just make up an excuse; they'd believe it because of how reliable he was.

 

As he began to bike away from home, Andrew wondered what the others were thinking about right now. He wouldn't be fooled by how calm Simon sounded.If the others reacted to the construction site anything like he did, they were probably losing their minds. Like he was himself.

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Panting and gasping, Taylor reached her house and ripped the door open, slamming it shut behind her. With shaking fingers, she pulled off her shoes and tossed them to the side. She stumbled as she climbed the staircase. Pain shot through her knee, but it felt dulled and unreal.

 

Like everything else.

 

Once at the top of the stairs, Taylor opened the door to her room and rushed inside. She grabbed the doorknob and twisted it to lock the door, but didn’t let go. Couldn’t. Her knuckles were turning white and the sharp edges of the doorknob were digging into her palm, but all she could do was grip it harder. She leaned against the door with her other hand, taking in large, gasping breaths. The air seemed far too thin, and there was no way to breathe without feeling like she wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Her heart was racing, and her vision grew blurry.

 

Breathe, breathe, just focus on breathing and calm down and it’ll all be okay... Haha. Things had always been okay before, hadn’t they? Maybe not great, but okay, except this wasn’t like before at all. Everything was completely different, and she couldn’t trust anything. She couldn’t calm down, not when everything was so wrong and when she couldn’t breathe. The sting of tears pricked at the corners of her eyes while her gasps turned into choked sobs.

 

She wasn’t sure how long she was like that for. Time didn’t seem to flow right, and everything seemed unreal and out of focus. All she knew was that at some point her breathing and heart rate began to slow. Focusing on keeping her breaths steady helped, until at some point she was calm enough to lurch to her feet. When had she fallen? It was difficult to remember.

 

Things seemed to be rather dreamlike after that. She went through her nightly routine mechanically, not thinking about anything other than the present. Sleep came soon, but was disturbed throughout the night.

 

The next morning she felt a little better, though not much. Anxiety gnawed at her stomach, but she wasn’t crying or breathing too quickly. Her hands still shook as she got dressed and she felt exhausted, but she wasn’t caught in a hopeless blur. That was good, at least.

 

There was a temptation to try to convince herself that the events of the previous night had all been a dream. It almost felt like it had been a dream. Unfortunately, pretending that it had been a dream would be lying to herself, and she was a terrible liar. Her memories seemed blurred, yet were vivid in some places. The terror deep in her stomach, the gleam of the morphing cube, the Andalite’s calm conviction that he would die. No, those things didn’t seem dreamlike at all. A nightmare at best, but she knew that even that was wrong. Despite none of it fitting into her worldview at all, despite how it wasn’t right, it had happened.

 

She clenched her fists, and her breathing started to speed up again. Aliens were not normal. An alien invasion was something that she had never even considered with the slightest hint of seriousness. How was she supposed to react? She had no plans, no ideas on how to go on with her life and make things normal again.

 

There was a knock at the door. Taylor jumped, the noise distracting her from her thoughts. She glanced down at her palms and rubbed them where her nails had dug into her skin. A heavy sigh left her. She didn’t want to talk to anyone, or to let anyone see her as such a mess, but it would be rude to leave whoever was at the door waiting. As far as she knew, her parents were still asleep, and Elise definitely was, so she forced herself to stumble down the stairs and open the front door.

 

It was Simon. He looked exhausted, like he hadn’t slept all night. Taylor’s mouth went dry. If she hadn’t been fully convinced that the events of the previous night had happened, she was now.

 

“We’re all meeting at Lauren’s house,” he said.

 

Taylor nodded stiffly, but didn’t trust herself enough to speak. She left a note on the kitchen table, grabbed her bike, and followed Simon to Lauren’s house.

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Roderick had indistinct memories of making it through his front door. He seemed to be running on autopilot, with a vague but concrete hope in his head that if he just made it home, things would make sense. He’d stumbled past his mom, tripping up the stairs past his brother’s empty rooms and shut the door behind him, leaning back against it as if to singlehandedly barricade his room from all monsters. He waited for his hands to stop shaking.

 

He wasn’t sure if he stood there for a century or just a couple of seconds. Eventually he let himself slide to the floor. He felt numb, but it was steadily giving away to paranoia.

 

There were aliens trying to take over earth. There were aliens and they could be anyone. There were aliens and they had killed Elfangar. He himself had just nearly died.

 

Did the others make it out okay? Lauren? Andrew, Taylor, and Simon? What if they’d been captured? He’d lost track of Andrew when they’d gotten out of the construction yard, so he was probably about as fine as anyone could expect them to be. They were all probably fine.

 

His hands hadn’t stopped shaking. There really wasn’t any way Roderick was getting sleep tonight.

 

So Roderick did the only thing he could think of to do.

 

He grabbed a couple of his dad’s sleeping pills and essentially gave himself a ‘have you tried turning it off and on again’.

 

He didn’t quite get a full nights sleep, but it was a night uninterrupted by nightmares, or dreams of any kind. When Roderick remembered why he woke up feeling so relieved about that he tried to go right back to sleep again.

 

He gave up on that after about two minutes and sat up stiffly in bed. Any last ditch attempts at shoving himself neck deep into denial went out the window upon seeing the filthy state of his crumpled clothes from yesterday on the floor. There was even a little dirt spot in front of his door where he’d just sat and stared at nothing for god knows how long.

 

Well, okay. Aliens.

 

Roderick stood up. Roderick ate breakfast. Roderick brushed his teeth and let the dog out into the backyard. Roderick was determined to tackle this as calmly as possible, and when Mitzi trotted back inside he picked up his phone and called Lauren.

 

He waited for her to pick up and launched straight into it.

 

“Lauren, I’m seriously freaking out over here. Throw me a bone and tell me I hit my head last night.”

 

“No dream, Roderick,” Lauren confirmed wearily.

 

“Well…it was worth a shot, I guess.”

 

Her voice sounded shaky, and that in itself was freaky. “Listen, Simon’s already on his way over, and I think he’s getting Taylor and Andrew. Hurry up and get to my place, okay?”

 

“Rodger dodger.”

 

As he got his bike out of the garage and pedaled for the edge of town, the newly risen sun began to warm the air. It was way too beautiful a day to be hearing echoes of the Yeerked humans laughs and seeing paranoid images of Hork-Bajir, Taxxons, and the Visser out of the corner of his eyes.

Edited by emberwing

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I'm not sure how long I cried. It was his tone of voice, the sound of utter despair of the confirmation of your worst nightmares… Things like that tend to turn minutes into years.

 

Time to make more calls. If only to make sure everyone was alright. Everyone had to be alright. I couldn't deal with myself if they weren't. My mind went wild with images of those monsters, taking my friends and slicing them to bits, and those horrible, horrible worms consuming everything until there was nothing left…

 

Tears choked up my throat, but I barely felt them run off my face. I buried my head in my pillow again, trying to steady my breathing which came in rugged gasps. Easy does it. I didn't have Andrew or Taylor in my contacts. Taylor! no matter how many times I might have wished her dead through middle school, right now I wished with all my might that she would have made it through last night. I bit my lip. I'd have to leave Simon to deal with it. It's not that I didn't trust him. I just wanted to hear their voices with my own ears.

 

The phone call with him went stellar. I only broke down after thirty seconds. No-way josé was the same thing going to happen with Roderick. I couldn't show weakness. Trying not to think of anything at all, I made the call. That was at least two out of four accounted for at least. Three of five against an army of parasitic aliens. It would make a good action cartoon, if it were not our reality.

 

The air seemed to weigh down on me as I finally willed myself to get up and get into new clothes before the gang arrived, tucking the cube back into my bag and cleaning up a little. What would we even do? It was real. It was unfortunate. The decision to meet here was an unconscious one made on the fly, and I had no idea what to talk about, or how to even deal with the situation if there were less than four faces showing up at the gate.

 

I checked the time again. Astonishing how I only cried for about fifteen minutes. I still had a little time, and there was one thing I wanted to confirm. Brisk morning air greeted me along with the light of the rising sun when I stepped out of the house, shutting the door quietly behind me. Not a cloud in the sky. The nice weather wouldn't last too long, I knew, because winter was on its way here and the forest trees were brilliant shades of orange and yellow. It would be a shame to have this taken away from us.

 

I wanted to run and keep running in one direction, into the woods or the grasslands, never to come back. Responsibility was the only thing tying me back, not only from a family perspective, but also for my friends and for the world. It was a frightening concept.

 

My steps brought me past the chicken coop and into the barn, where Dad usually housed the wildlife he came across. His most recent patient was a fox with a sprained leg, and it looked positively miserable in the dawn light. It was staring through the grid of its cage as if it was gazing down its own imminent death. "You and me both, bud," I leaned down and told it, not sure if the animal would understand. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch, with everything else going on. We could become freaking animals if the alien was right.

 

Right, we had the power to become animals. I looked at my hands, focusing on the folds of my palms to shut out my thoughts. Could I -- could we really do that? I didn't really want to try. Trying meant finally embracing this madness.

 

Pfft. As if I need any more confirmation that this was more than a dream. I needed an animal who was docile enough to let me touch them.

 

"Morning, Maisie," I greeted my horse in the stall. The brown mare simply blinked as I put my fingers on her face. I remember when I got her. She was my first and my only and probably had many imperfections, but I loved her. It might be a bit mean to say, but this horse was the one animal I actually cared about in this place. I focused on the image of her I knew too well.

 

And as silly as it sounds, I imagined being her, feeling the wind blowing through my mane as I ran through lush pastures. It was a silly thought that I might have had when I was still in elementary. I was expecting it to fail, but when I felt my bones in my face reorganize themselves with worrying but painless cracks reverberating through my skull, I snapped opened my eyes and nearly screamed.

 

Change back! How do you change back?! I touched my snout in a panic with shrunken fingers, human lips suddenly protruding far from my head. My clothes were tight around my body, and hair started growing in places where humans weren't supposed to have hair. I didn't want to find a mirror. I probably looked like something from a low-budget werewolf film.

 

This was enough for me. Maisie shuffled uneasily in her stall, and I thought about my normal self with human fingers and human features. The ground came a little closer as I shrunk back to my normal height. Better freak out now, when no one was here. Because it was something we'd inevitably have to do again.

 

I shook my head, repeatedly touching my face so as to make sure that it was indeed human while on my way to the front driveway. They arrived, first Simon and Taylor, then Andrew, then finally Roderick. Everyone was alright, I could confirm. I almost wanted to burst into tears again, to hug each and every one of them even though I hardly knew half the gang. We found a nice spot in the barn to gather, surrounded by these creatures. Hopefully things would be less horrifying now that we were all in this together.

 

"…I'm glad everyone's still in once piece," I started. I tried to make a joke about not having anyone's head shipped in a box, but it didn't make its way out of my mouth. "So… yeah. I almost became a horse."

 

That was probably one of the worst out of context sentences I might have ever said.

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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After hanging up the phone from calling Andrew, Simon turned a corner and slowed his speed, looking for Taylor's house. He'd gone to her place a couple times before in the past for a group project but, that had been about it. 227 right? No.... A frown began to form on his face as he tried to remember what house she was, exhaustion finally creeping upon him.

 

"Oh!" A short exclamation when he recognized the place.

 

Hurrying, he dismounted and left his bike propped up in the driveway, walking up to the front door and knocking. He hoped he didn't wake up her family; he didn't want to figure out how he should explain his ridiculously timed visit or his disheveled appearance.

 

Finally, the door opened and he was relieved to be greeted by Taylor. “We’re all meeting at Lauren’s house.” Right to the point. Simon figured it best not to drag things out. Taylor nodded in response and turned back inside, scribbling something down before heading out and grabbing her bike.

 

He took them to Lauren's place in silence, his mind too busy trying to cope and think of nothing at the same time. The boy's knuckles were white, his grip tightened as much as possible on the handlebars of his bike. Now that his head wasn't as muddled with the ocean of information Prince Elfangor had given him, he was able to process the events of last night much better.

 

But he didn't want to.

 

Lauren had her breakdown on the phone. Simon wasn't sure about Taylor. However, he felt like he couldn't show any faltering in front of her, or the others. Maybe if he showed himself to be steady, he'd actually feel steady and help keep everyone from losing their minds, including himself.

 

It wasn't working though and he eventually had to stop, coming to a halt at the end of Lauren's street. His body trembled as he rested his head against the handlebars of his bike, face hidden from Taylor's view. Something wet trailed down his cheeks and he sniffed, lifting his head to quickly wipe off his face.

 

What was happening?

 

He just wanted to be a normal kid, with a normal life. He already had to deal with hormones and puberty, with the social standards that mean kids created beginning in school.

 

Simon didn't want to have to deal with some alien invasion on top of that.

 

By slugs no less!

 

After a few more minutes of hiding his face in his hands, he inhaled deeply and gripped his bike's handlebars again, glancing back at Taylor. "Sorry. I'm fine. Let's just get to Lauren's...," he murmured, trailing off as he started peddling again.

 

In another minute or so, they came up to Lauren's driveway. He spotted her at the end and waved reassuringly. Soon after he dismounted and propped his bike on it's stand, Andrew showed up with Roderick arriving shortly afterwards. Good. Everyone was alive.

 

Giving Roderick a mild nod in greeting, he waved at Andrew in turn before they all moved into the barn where they sat in uncertain silence until Lauren spoke up...

 

About becoming a horse.

 

He swallowed hard and rubbed his face, raking fingers through his unkempt and filthy hair. "Almost? Did something stop you halfway?" Simon asked, trying to be as nonchalant as Lauren's own attempt. Truthfully, he wanted to panic and his wavering voice betrayed that fact.

 

"Oh, this is insane! We're all insane! Who are we kidding? Last night happened but there's nothing we can do about it! If we go to anyone, they'll lock us up as they laugh and point fingers!" he erupted, pressing his hands against his knees.

 

Then he started laughing, covering his eyes with a hand as he leaned back. "This is nuts.... Lauren's done it slightly so we know this is real. Now I want to try."

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(Thanks, Backup, for pointing out where I called Lauren Rachel by accident.)

 

While Lauren started to talk about her partial transformation and Simon started to realize how real this was, Andrew somehow retained his normal demeanor. He seemed just as apathetic as ever, perhaps even more so because his will was trained on keeping calm. But on the inside, he felt like a trapped rat. Part of his headache had returned as well, but he did his best to ignore it.

 

He first turned his attention to Simon and his borderline hysterics.

 

"Which is why nobody should be morphing. Quite apart from the curiosity of others, I think that any use of the morphing power would probably result in our capture."

 

Then, turning to Lauren, he explained what the knowledge Elfangor gave him could say about the interruption of the morphing process.

 

"The morphing process requires absolute focus to be carried to completion. If your concentration is not sufficient, it will stop at whatever state you were in until you decide to return to your original form or continue the change."

 

Andrew then paused briefly. Was he really going to say this? For the sake of practicality, he figured it was best that he decide with the others rather than on his own.

 

"I don't think that we can stop the Yeerk Empire alone, but remember what Elfangor said : There would be others. The other Andalites know what happened here, and they will be coming to save Earth. If we can just slow them down..."

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A horse. Lauren had almost become a horse.

 

Taylor’s initial reaction was to disbelieve her. Lauren was lying, or the stress of the previous day had gotten to her and she was imagining things. People didn’t just become horses. After everything else Taylor didn’t need any other absurd things to have happened. She just wanted to forget everything. Why did she even come, why didn’t she stay home…

 

Her nails were digging into her palms again, and there were tears starting to form in her eyes. Simon’s outburst wasn’t helping. After all that, and he still wanted to try morphing? Maybe he really was going crazy, or maybe they all were.

 

Andrew wasn’t any better. What, he thought that they were just going to stop the Yeerks without morphing? Not that she wanted to morph. It was the last thing that she wanted to do, but… well, five teenagers didn't have a chance of stopping an alien invasion on their own without superpowers. Morphing wouldn’t help much anyway, not against a race of space faring, mind-controlling alien slugs (why was this happening to her), but it would have to be a bit useful.

 

"What, you don’t want us to morph, but you expect us to hold off the ...Yeerks for long enough for some Andalites to save us?" It was the first thing that she had said since the night before. Her voice was hoarse, desperate, and there was a noticeable pause before she said the names of either of the aliens. Still, she hoped that she had at least gotten some of her point across.

 

"And another thing, how do you know all this about the morphing?" This time there was a bit of frantic anger in her voice. The Andalite had never mentioned anything about the morphing stopping because of a lack of concentration. He hadn’t had time. So how could Andrew possibly know about this? Was he a Controller? Taylor was exhausted, and the inconsistency bothered her.

 

She was being paranoid, she knew. Even if Andrew somehow was a Controller (and he most certainly wasn’t), there was no way that he’d be stupid enough to expose himself like that. She took a deep breath to calm herself. There was no use in panicking, however rational a response it might seem. Still, there was definitely something that Andrew hadn’t told them yet, unless he was just guessing, which she doubted. "Just... please explain."

Edited by Backup77

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“Tyler’s right, where’s all this extra info coming from?” Roderick crossed his arms, scowling suspiciously at Andrew. “Did you have dreams or something? I bet you had dreams, that wouldn't surprise me at this point." He paused. "I get it though, morphing is creepy as hell and unless I can become a dinosaur or dragon it’s neither cool enough OR worth it. What’s a cat going to do against aliens? We need, like, a lion. Or wasps. Every single wasp."

 

He then leaned forward and jabbed Andrew with his pointed finger. "Waiting for the Andalites though? That's nuts. Are you nuts? You're talking crazy talk. We have no idea how long it'll take them to get here, and in the meantime the space slugs aren't exactly gonna be twiddling their thumbs. What if they never come, huh? What do we do then?"

 

Roderick bit himself off before his mind could get further down that track and clenched his fists, trying to get his breathing under control. When Simon had had his tantrum he’d only just held back from telling him to shut up, but now that he'd had his own outburst he really couldn't blame the guy for freaking out. They were all kind of freaking out.

 

Deep breaths. Calm down. Worry less about the future. Don't think about space slugs.

 

“So, you became a half-horse,” he said loudly to Lauren. “Congratulations on that by the way. Since you’re the first one to kind of try out this whole Mighty Morphing Power Rangers biz, would you say you’re on the way to harnessing your ability? It’s a lot of responsibility this Elfangor guy’s saddled us with.”

Edited by emberwing

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"The morphing process requires absolute focus to be carried to completion. If your concentration is not sufficient, it will stop at whatever state you were in until you decide to return to your original form or continue the change."

 

Simon blinked, staring at Andrew as if he sprouted a pair of antennae. How did the boy know such a detail? Had Prince Elfangor given him some kind of “owner’s manual” on morphing? He sounded as if he was spewing nonsensical things that made every bit of sense in the current situation.

 

"And another thing, how do you know all this about the morphing?"

 

”Taylor’s right, where’s all this extra info coming from? Did you have dreams or something? I bet you had dreams, that wouldn't surprise me at this point. I get it though, morphing is creepy as hell and unless I can become a dinosaur or dragon it’s neither cool enough OR worth it. What’s a cat going to do against aliens? We need, like, a lion. Or wasps. Every single wasp.

 

“We can’t morph dead or fictional animals so dinosaurs and dragons are out of the question…,” Simon mumbled quickly. Drat. Taylor had beat him to asking the “how do you know?” question first and Roderick supported it. Lamely, Simon pointed at her and muttered, “What she said….”

 

Andrew responded with little to no pause. “Back at the crash site, Elfangor gave me and Simon his memories. That sounds nuts, but it is true. I also wrote these,” he turned away to pull a bundle of papers out of his bag and held them up for everyone to see.

 

Simon’s mouth opened slightly before he closed it, rubbing the back of his neck. Maybe he should have brought his own. “Wish I’d thought of that….” he mumbled, glancing at the ground. After a moment, “I wrote down all the junk that filled my head last night. I don’t understand three-quarters of it though.”

 

“How much do you remember of what he taught you?” Andrew inquired, sounding curious.

 

“I remember this Seerow guy and what he did. There’s this law about Seerow’s… Seerow’s Justice? No, no… It’s… Seerow’s Kindness.”

 

“I can’t really remember much about that… But I think that is why we’re fighting this war. What should we do about this?” Andrew started, looking as if he was beginning to panic. ”Because I don’t really know anymore! We’re just kids, what are we supposed to do?!” he exclaimed, gripping his right temple.

 

S-Should I talk about what I know concerning Seerow’s Kindness? Andrew is starting to freak out…. Would it help the situation? Simon questioned himself, worrying his lower lip.

 

Before he could speak up, Andrew was talking again. “The way I see it, if we fight, we all die. But if we don’t fight, we’ll become slaves in our own minds! How can we call ourselves human if we let the entirety of civilisation come crashing down? Is that worth whatever life we might have if we run?” He hung his head in despair, silence left in the wake of his words.

 

Feeling awkward, Simon shifted in his seat, staring briefly at Andrew. Should he try comforting the other boy? Should he reassure him that everything would be okay even if he wasn’t certain of that himself? Andrew’s words were heavy and very much thought-invoking. The same internal war that Andrew was likely experiencing raged on in Simon’s own mind. Do nothing and you’ll be enslaved. Do something and you might be killed in the process. Which was the lesser evil?

 

Personal ambition or righteous servitude at the cost of everything you want to save?

 

"Waiting for the Andalites though? That's nuts. Are you nuts? You're talking crazy talk. We have no idea how long it'll take them to get here, and in the meantime the space slugs aren't exactly gonna be twiddling their thumbs. What if they never come, huh? What do we do then?"

 

Cowardice or craziness?

 

Finally, “Against self preservation, I need to vote for craziness. I don’t want to sit by and watch the Earth be invaded when we’ve been given an ability to stand up against it. Elfangor broke the biggest law of the Andalites: Seerow’s Kindness. He wasn’t allowed to give any other race Andalite technology after what occurred with the Yeerks. However, he did. He gave us morphing technology and insight on what is happening. There’s a reason for that. There has to be. Why would he give this to us if he didn’t believe that we could stand a chance?”

 

Andrew sighed after a few moments and responded to Simon’s momentary heroics. “You’re absolutely right… I was a fool to think that we should do anything different. I’m in,” he stated, smiling.

 

Despite the lingering uncertainty, Simon smiles in light of Andrew’s support.

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Taylor she mentally corrected. Not Tyler. She nearly laughed at her reaction; someone getting her name wrong should be the least of her worries. Yet she was bothered by it- that and Roderick’s puns. Was it really necessary to joke at a time like this? They didn’t need to waste any time or energy on useless things, least of all puns! Even if Roderick wasn’t planning on contributing (and, if so, why was he even here?) then he could at least be so courteous as to not distract anyone else. They were busy, or at least should be.

 

...Gave them his memories? That didn’t make any sense! You couldn’t just- well. She had recently met a telepathic alien, so maybe the idea wasn’t as far-fetched as it seemed at first. That doesn’t matter! Who cared what she had seen already? Memory transfer was stupid and ridiculous, and Andrew had to be lying, or making it up, or had hit his head the night before. Something, because Taylor didn’t care how many papers Andrew had as evidence. It couldn’t have happened.

 

Simon, of course, had to ruin it all by agreeing that it had happened.

 

They couldn’t both be making it up. Unless they planned it before…? No, no, that wasn’t it. There wasn’t a reason for that. Neither of them had anything to gain by lying like that, and Taylor couldn’t see either of them doing such a thing. Surely they both knew that this wasn’t a joke.

 

Taylor wasn't sure that she could handle everything. Andrew’s outburst certainly wasn’t helping. What, they were deciding what to do already!? She needed more time to think, to talk about it and decide exactly what to do! Try to save the world, or no? This was a life and death decision, not something that you could think about in just a few minutes. Surely they wouldn’t accomplish anything anyway. Roderick was right, what could animals do against aliens? It was hopeless, and stupid to try. They’d just get themselves killed. They had seen that Yeerks’ weren’t weak, Elfangor had died-

 

Ah, but if they didn’t try they’d just get enslaved! With fighting at least they had a chance... barely, but at least it was there. Everyone else, too- they wouldn’t just be fighting for themselves. The Yeerks would try to enslave the entire world. Without anyone to stop them in time, or at the very least slow them down, everyone on Earth would be enslaved. It would be wrong to abandon everyone. It went against all of Taylor’s morals- if you could do something to save people’s lives, you had to do it. She couldn’t just give up on that idea now, could she?

 

She clenched her teeth and dug her nails into her palms, hoping that the pain would help her focus (it didn’t). Frantic thoughts ran through her mind, fighting over the two choices. It wasn’t like she could change her mind later; if she decided to help, she knew that she’d be too stubborn to stop trying. If she decided not to, she’d be too cowardly to change her mind. With a deep sigh, she spoke.

 

“...Simon’s right. We can’t just stand by and do nothing, not when we can help. Even if we can slow the Yeerks down a little bit, it’ll help.” Maybe- “If we can help the save the world, we have to do it. This isn’t a game. If we quit before we even try, everyone on Earth will be enslaved. They’re counting on us.”

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