|#13: The Change|
Detailed Plot: While hunting for breakfast, Tobias spots a magazine depicting kids in school and becomes wistful for the time when he himself was a school kid. He recognizes that there are some awesome things about being a bird, but misses his old life, and goes to visit the other Animorphs at school. He connects with Rachel and finds out she has been named an outstanding student, while he hasn't been invited to her ceremony. He understands why not, but he's kind of hurt. Despite that, he focuses on his project of mapping where the entrances to the Yeerk pool are.
After Rachel's had time to morph a bald eagle and follow him, Tobias takes her out to show her a car wash entrance to the Yeerk pool, but they get kind of turned around somehow and end up in the forest nowhere near where they were trying to go. Then they notice a tree moving how it shouldn't. It's covering up some kind of hole in the ground, and both of them witness a Hork-Bajir coming out of the hole. Soon another one comes out, and it's apparent they're escaping because soon a bunch of human-Controllers start chasing them and attacking them with weapons. Rachel and Tobias realize that the Hork-Bajir need help if they're going to get away from the Yeerks, and they decide to provide that help because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." They proceed to thought-speak to the Hork-Bajir and get them to follow them to safety. But one gets hit by a Yeerk's truck in the chase and slams into the bushes. The unhurt Hork-Bajir expresses dismay and refers to the hurt one as his "kalashi," and clarifies that it means it's his wife.
Tobias and Rachel manage to get the unhurt Hork-Bajir to a cave for safety, but the hurt one is left in a ditch and that's the last they saw of her. They meet with the Animorphs and discuss what was going on, and they determine that the escaping Hork-Bajir were probably somehow walking around without Yeerks in their heads, which was why they tried to get away. Marco suggests this whole thing is a trap because it's so convenient for Rachel and Tobias to have coincidentally witnessed the Hork-Bajirs' escape at the perfect time to help them. They decide to go ask the hiding Hork-Bajir--who is heartbroken over his kalashi--what he wants, so they can help him. Cassie is still confused about why Tobias somehow ended up somewhere he didn't mean to go.
Ax and Tobias meet with the Hork-Bajir and find out his name is Jara Hamee. (Jake thinks the name spoken out loud sounds like "Jeremy.") He has a violent reaction toward Ax because he is an Andalite, and he feels that Hork-Bajir and Andalites are enemies because Andalites tried to save the Hork-Bajir and they failed to do so, leaving them as slaves and killing them when they are helpless tools of the Yeerks. They agree to a truce, though, and Jara Hamee proves that he is not infested by a Yeerk by slicing his own head open with a wrist blade, which is apparently painful but not fatal for a Hork-Bajir. This satisfies their doubts about his being a free Hork-Bajir, and as Jara Hamee heals from his self-inflicted wound (surprisingly quickly), they talk about his lost wife. He is suffering greatly without her.
The members of the Animorph team that are playing lookout notice that large groups of human-Controllers and Hork-Bajir are surrounding them and that they have about five minutes to get out of there before they're found. They could all escape easily by morphing, but they're concerned about Jara Hamee getting away, so they decide to cause a distraction. Tobias comes up with the idea that one of them can morph a Hork-Bajir and be a decoy while they hide the real one. Rachel volunteers first even though Ax thinks he should do it. She acquires Jara Hamee's DNA, and Tobias feels very guilty because other people are taking risks because of his ideas.
The Animorphs find themselves actually taking the upper hand and chasing some Controllers until they find out they're headed into a trap, so they try to back out of it. Tobias, while hitching a ride on Rachel's Hork-Bajir morph, ends up falling into a bush when she trips. But when Tobias is trying to fly out of the bush, he finds himself way up in the sky even though he didn't put himself there, and though he sees a Hork-Bajir on the ground he knows it can't be Rachel because Rachel is still where he left her. Human-Controllers have the Hork-Bajir surrounded, and one of the humans begins to morph into an Andalite. It must be Visser Three.
Visser Three begins speaking to the Hork-Bajir and addresses it as Ket Halpak, using the name mockingly because Visser Three thinks Hork-Bajir clinging to their real identities is amusing. This is Jara Hamee's wife. To cause a distraction, Tobias decides to try to get the hawk he knows to live in this territory to come out and act as a decoy. He does some risky things to provoke the other hawk, and they work; the bird comes out trying to protect its meadow. Visser Three of course spots it and instructs the human-Controllers to aim at it, while Tobias himself attacks Visser Three from behind and damages his Andalite stalk eyes. While chaos ensues, Tobias thought-speaks to Ket Halpak and asks her to follow him, which she does, and she too escapes.
When Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak are reunited, they have a joyful reunion, but the Animorphs are concerned about how they're going to hide these two. Tobias suggests they take them to a hidden valley he knows about, and they figure this is a good idea, but then Tobias is left wondering how he knows about this valley, because he hasn't seen it. The picture is in his mind and he doesn't know why.
After night falls and everyone but Ax and Tobias have gone home to warm houses, Tobias thinks and watches over the Hork-Bajir. While talking to Ax about why Hork-Bajir hate Andalites even though they tried to save them, Tobias starts telling Ax about how he doesn't know why he knows about that valley, but suddenly more information pops into his head from nowhere. Taxxons are in the forest tracking the Hork-Bajir and he doesn't know how he knows. He sends Ax to go get Jake, and he leads Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak out into the forest to run from the Taxxon trackers. But none of them see well in the dark so they're not moving very fast, and Tobias doesn't really know where to lead these guys. He quips that a voice in his head will tell him, at which point Jara Hamee admits that he was also guided by a "head voice" to escape, having been told there would be someone to help. Tobias, recognizing himself as the "help" that was sent, decides he's no longer interested in being someone's chess piece, and he tells Jara Hamee to stop walking in order to force whoever's controlling him to reveal himself. Suddenly he is in another dimension talking to the Ellimist.
Tobias claims he wants to get "paid" for his services if he's going to be puppeted this way, and he tells the Ellimist that he must know what Tobias wants. Tobias is thinking he wishes to be human again (but hopes he can keep his morphing power to retain the ability to fly and ability to fight in the war), though the Ellimist suggests maybe Tobias doesn't know what he wants. According to the Ellimist, Tobias is a factor that's crucial to an entire timeline, which doesn't really impress him. Soon he's back in the forest where he was, still leading the Hork-Bajir around. When they stop to eat, Tobias learns that Hork-Bajir have blades all over because they use them for stripping tree bark and eating it, but those blades make them good soldiers for the Yeerks and they're peaceful creatures caught in the middle of the war.
Tobias goes off to get breakfast and gets so focused on his own thoughts that he misses the fact that a bobcat is stalking him. He has to use a stick to poke it in the eye when it lunges at him, which is a very un-birdlike thing to do, but the human in him told him what to do. But then while he's trying to fly away, he has a near miss with a Taxxon that's suddenly in his way. The Taxxon eats the bobcat, and as he flies away he sees tons more of them, plus Hork-Bajir in the forest. They're really combing the woods for those lost free Hork-Bajir! When Tobias encounters Jake in peregrine morph, he's relieved, and he finds that the others are in bird morph (except for Ax on the ground). Cassie brings up the fact that Tobias keeps being in the right place at the right time and that maybe he's being manipulated, and he tells them about his encounter with the Ellimist, who's trying to save the Hork-Bajir. He tells them that the Ellimist promised to make him human again if he helps rescue them, but then he realizes he can't remember the Ellimist promising. Hmm.
Back with the Hork-Bajir, they decide to take a risk and let Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak know they are human, and demorph in front of them. They agree they would rather be dead than re-enslaved, which is good because they would have to be killed if the Yeerks got them back due to the nature of the information they now have. While leading the Hork-Bajir out to the valley, everyone's hungry, but no one can eat because stripping bark would be a sign to their pursuers and everyone is playing a protective role. Tobias does stop to snatch up some lunch, though, and just when he's down hunting helicopters arrive and he didn't spot them as quickly as he would have if he'd been where he belonged in the sky. He tries to warn the others but gets blown off course and breaks his wing on a branch.
A raccoon discovers him, a helpless flightless bird, and chooses him as prey. He gets dragged off and is about to get eaten by the raccoon when the Ellimist pokes into his brain and asks if he'd like his reward now. He says yes and the Ellimist says "It is done." But Tobias hasn't been transformed into a human again; he's just been given the morphing power once more. His default form is still the hawk. He is angry and disbelieving, but he thinks fast and acquires the raccoon, then begins to morph into it. That scares the raccoon off, but then he's unable to use his new morph to quickly return to his friends. Only after running a while does he remember that he could morph back to his hawk body and cover more ground while ridding himself of the injury he received.
Tobias finally returns to his friends, but not before he notices that the Yeerk pursuers are getting closer to where they are and there are Yeerk vehicles ahead of their path. The Yeerks start a forest fire with Dracon beams so they can hem the Animorphs in, and they shoot anything that flies above the trees. But they realize that the Yeerks are bringing out such major force to stop any Hork-Bajir from escaping because they want the Hork-Bajir to be without hope, and that they might consider themselves successful if they think Ket Halpak and Jara Hamee are dead. They decide to morph the Hork-Bajir and pretend to be dead. Tobias gets to pose as Ket Halpak while Rachel uses her existing Jara Hamee morph. Everyone's as outraged and paradoxically thrilled with the morphing situation as Tobias is himself.
Cassie (as a wolf) and Ax (as himself) run ahead with Ket Halpak and Jara Hamee to get them into position for their plan, while Jake morphs a peregrine falcon and gives directions to Rachel and Tobias in their Hork-Bajir morphs. They let the Taxxons and Hork-Bajir tracking them catch up with them, but then they have to run toward the ravine where they're planning on pretending to commit suicide. But the fire and Jake's confusing directions prevent the plan from going smoothly, and Tobias and Rachel are forced to fight their way through. Rachel manages to jump off the cliff, but then three Hork-Bajir and Visser Three appear to stop Tobias from doing the same thing.
Despite that, he pretends to just be a desperate, trapped Ket Halpak, and he barrels at Visser Three, who wisely steps aside in case he's knocked off balance. Tobias plummets, and he's caught by Marco (in gorilla morph) who's hiding in a cave on the way down. He's also caught Rachel, of course--according to plan--and they wait in the cave. Down at the bottom of the ravine, the real Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak are lying on the ground pretending to be dead while Cassie and Ax as wolves pretend to eat them. (They're actually tearing parts of their bodies off and pretending to make a meal of them, but Hork-Bajir heal quickly, as previously demonstrated.) Visser Three laughs and points out the "dead" Hork-Bajir to the others, and makes everyone look upon them as an example of what happens when one tries to escape the Yeerk Empire.
After the Yeerks have left, the group completes leading the Hork-Bajir to their new home--a valley that they joke is the Garden of Eden--and the Hork-Bajir couple says that they're planning on having kawatnoj here, which is their word for children. After they're settled, Tobias returns to his home--which, as a bird, is his meadow.
Tobias isn't interested in talking to the others, so he avoids their attention. He turns his resentment over in his mind and thinks about his human life, but then when he goes to sleep, he awakes in a room that used to be his. He appears to have traveled back in time and sees himself in the bed as his human self, noting from the calendar on the wall that it's before he'd ever gone through the construction site.
The old Tobias wakes up when the bird Tobias's wings make noise, and they have a short chat. Tobias the bird tells human Tobias that this is just a dream and that he should walk through the construction site with Jake. He's realized that this boy is not who he is anymore. And then, because human Tobias reacts with disbelief that a bird is talking to him and says he can't go back to sleep, Tobias the bird acquires his own old DNA to put human Tobias in a trance. And when Tobias the bird wakes up and hears the Ellimist's voice reminding him of the two-hour limit, he realizes what's happened. He can be his old human self again if he wants to. But if he morphs into his old self and stays past two hours, he'll be trapped in that morph. He'll be human, but he'll be out of the war--and he'll never fly again. But even though he's not sure how happy he is about this outcome, he does know he now has many opportunities he didn't have before . . . like going into human morph and getting to attend the ceremony for Rachel getting her award.
New known controllers:
New morphs acquired:
Rachel: Hork-Bajir (Jara Hamee)
Tobias: Raccoon, Hork-Bajir (Ket Halpak), human (Tobias)
It appears to be a shock to the group that Hork-Bajir could be female, so it seems they must have been thinking of them as genderless or male. What's strange is how Marco fires off a bunch of jokes based on female stereotypes when he hears that Hork-Bajir have females--suggests they might put makeup on their wrist blades, or cry at "chick" movies, or get frightened of bugs and snakes. I somehow doubt Marco would have made gender-based jokes about finding out there were male Hork-Bajir, so this suggests some kind of annoying sexism going on here.
Tobias mentions in his narration in this book that he has a pact with Cassie that he won't eat her wildlife patients recovering in the barn.
This is the first book after Tobias is trapped as a red-tailed hawk that he gets to morph again.
Interesting that in this book, Tobias and Rachel have to morph into a Hork-Bajir couple whose real selves are romantically connected, while Tobias and Rachel themselves are romantically connected . . . but Rachel has the Hork-Bajir male's body and Tobias has the Hork-Bajir female's body.
Visser Three doesn't seem concerned that Hork-Bajir getting eaten by wolves would leave alien bones around. It's unclear whether this really doesn't concern him or whether he's just too stupid/ignorant to know that the bones would remain. Alien skeletons could be a major red flag for the media, so it probably should be of concern to Visser Three.
When the group is joking about the Hork-Bajir valley being the Garden of Eden, Marco announces that no clothes are allowed in the Garden and demands that Rachel be the first to strip. This is one of the most straightforward risqué comments in the books so far.
We find out in this book that we can tell a male Hork-Bajir from a female by looking at their horn blades. Males have three blades and females have two. There is another invisible difference that is "only for Hork-Bajir to know."
Tobias gets taken into the past by the Ellimist and is allowed to touch and acquire his human self. This is of course a paradox, but considering that Ax claimed in a previous book that having two of someone existing at the same place and time would cause annihilation of both, it doesn't seem the in-universe physics should allow this meeting.
Tobias: More than any other person alive, Jake held the future of the human race in his hands. Strange to think, huh? That some big, sleepy kid in sneakers and a jacket was the leader of the only resistance to the Yeerk invasion of Earth?
Marco: "Can we please act more mature here?"
Marco: "I remember when Jake used to be fun. Now he's such a grown-up."
Tobias: "Hah. Right. And eagles may fly out of my butt."