|#30: The Reunion|
Detailed Plot: Marco, after dreaming about his mother probably dying in an underwater incident in a previous book, decides to skip school and goes downtown, where he inexplicably runs into his mother in disguise. Why she has on a blonde wig and contact lenses he does not know, but he decides to grab a stranger's human morph and follow her. The next guy who comes through the door happens to be a Mr. Grant, who's a bigwig at the office, and he pretends it's "Take Your Son to Work Day" and bluffs his way through the guards because Mr. Grant is in an acquiring trance from Marco's taking his DNA. They get into an elevator and Grant doesn't remember what happened, but then Marco is tracking his mom/Visser One, and morphs a fly right there in the elevator so he can land on her briefcase and find out where she's going. Once getting that done, he feels he has enough info to leave, but then he gets sucked into an air filtration system and has to morph back to his own form to avoid getting blown completely away.
After escaping the vents, morphing Mr. Grant to avoid a nosy employee, and going back to school, he makes plans for meeting the others at the barn later, and blows Mr. Chapman off with an excuse about his absence. He tells the other Animorphs about his downtown adventure and finding Visser One, and they discuss what it means. They conclude that because Visser Three saw them spare her life in a previous book, he probably thinks she's a traitor, which explains the disguise (maybe). But how is she getting Kandrona rays and what is she trying to do? That's the question.
They decide to investigate her office, but Jake, Cassie, and Rachel can't go because of some obligations. Jake and Ax doubt Marco's ability to remain calm and collected during the mission, though, so it's made clear that the smart thing to do would be letting just Ax and Tobias go. But since Marco insists that a) he's avoided revealing himself twice during confrontations with her and b) he's free, Jake agrees that the arrangement is fine IF Tobias is given the power to make the call in an emergency. Jake also pulls rank on Marco and tells him his behavior will cause them to have "very serious problems" if he runs off to skip school like that again.
Tobias, Ax, and Marco go on their mission, morphing cockroaches and sliding down stair railings to get to Visser One's office. They get in through the ventilation system and find that complicated holograms have kept people from seeing what's really in the office were they to glance through any of the windows. What's really there is a command center, and she's got pictures of the free Hork-Bajir colony, which is terrible news for them. But worse, for Marco, is seeing that the Yeerk is feeding with a portable Kandrona, and his mother is clamped into a vise contraption that goes around her neck. Overwhelmed by the knowledge that he's looking at his mother while she's free of the Yeerk, he moves to talk to her, but Ax stops him, forcibly. He recognizes that if they were to fail to free her and the Yeerk reinfested her, the resistance would be blown. Then they have to hide in the bathroom because a Yeerk force finds her office and starts attacking.
They jump out to save her life and overwhelm the Hork-Bajir, and some retreat, but Visser One herself does not want to take help from Andalites and tries to kill them too. Marco, in gorilla morph, holds his mother down with his huge body and they make a big show of pretending they're going to kill her, with Ax going on about avenging Elfangor's death. She begs not to be killed and Marco lets her up, but then they demand that she tell them everything about the free Hork-Bajir, and during this discussion she reveals that she is formally accused of treason--a gashad, as Yeerks call it--and any Yeerk can kill her on sight. She says she was first demoted to sub-visser rank, but then Visser Three challenged her loyalty and the Council of Thirteen allowed the gashad to be placed. She is trying to use her secret knowledge of the free Hork-Bajir colony to get back into their good graces. They make a deal with her that they will give her the free Hork-Bajir colony if she helps Ax kill Visser Three. She takes the bait because she understands that Andalites are honor-bound to kill those who killed their family members.
After making the deal with the ex-visser, they fly away and go to Cassie's house to ask for a good morph to use on a mountain. Tobias and Ax are concerned about his plan and privately talk to Cassie about how he's acting, but Marco figures that much out, and believes himself to be in possession of a plan that is a "bright, clear line." He absolutely does not believe his feelings for his mother are interfering, and he believes his plan will result in the two Vissers destroying each other. After Cassie recommends a mountain goat for their morphs, they fly to The Gardens and get the morphs.
They manage to get the mountain goat morphs with a little bit of goat interference, but in the meantime Tobias and Ax are still doubtful that Marco can pull off his mission, while Marco seems to be taking some private pride in the fact that he has convinced himself he can let his mother be destroyed for the greater good. He argues with himself about it while he can't sleep, knowing that what he's about to do is "cold," but aware that this is a war, and eager to have Jake's complete trust.
The next day, Marco gives everyone the plan, and Jake seems sad because it involves destroying his mother, but he's also just as interested as Marco in the big picture. Everyone seems a bit startled, but it's Cassie who speaks up and insists that they acknowledge this is Marco's mother they're talking about, not just "Visser One." Marco repeats that his mom is only one person and she can't get in the way of the war. He wants the Yeerks leaderless and the free Hork-Bajir safe. He proposes getting Erek the Chee to generate a hologram for the purpose of fooling the Yeerks, and he sends Visser One an e-mail message about the rendezvous. They have Visser One arrive in a certain place in the neighborhood, where they arrange to have her seen and marginally assisted by Chapman while he jogs. The constructed "sighting" goes well and Chapman has quite a reaction to seeing her--he blanches and runs by, and she pretends to not be intimidated at all. Tobias speaks to her to give instructions and assures her the "Andalites" will protect her if necessary. Of course, Chapman runs right to a pay phone and makes a call. Tobias manages to continue his role as an Andalite, and is believable because he doesn't use specific human terminology sometimes, sounding alien to her.
They lead her around the mall, making her buy a scarf and gloves. They assure her that human-Controllers are watching her, which keeps her in line, and then a human-Controller actually does interrupt her and falsely accuses her of stealing the scarf she just bought. Rachel, with her hair in an uncharacteristic style and a hat on, pretends to be an outraged witness of the scarf purchase and causes a scene over the false arrest, which temporarily frees the ex-visser, but they know for sure now that she's being followed by at least five Controllers. They make her buy rope and pitons and boots, and then she gets in her rented car and drives according to their instructions, with some cockroach-morphed Animorphs hiding beneath her seat. Cassie begins to talk to her and tells her some information about where they're going, dropping the bomb that they know she has loyal troops too. During the conversation between the ex-visser and Cassie-pretending-to-be-an-Andalite, somehow the fact that human-Controllers rarely end up reported dead comes up, and they can tell that she suspects they are humans, but they don't say anything to confirm or deny her suspicions. They just don't really know what would throw her off the trail.
When she arrives and gets out of the car, they instruct her to go hiking, and then Marco, Cassie, and Jake morph to human in the car. Marco becomes a bird and flies out of the car, but then Visser Three arrives in a limo with an entourage and blows up the car, seemingly with Cassie and Jake still inside. Visser Three also completely vaporizes a concerned ranger who comes when he hears the explosion. Marco can't believe he screwed up this badly, and then of course the Yeerks start shooting at him too. He manages to get away, but realizes he has to play Jake's part in his original plan. He rendezvous with Rachel and Tobias and has to admit that he believes Jake and Cassie to be dead. He sees a red-haired human moving quickly toward the ex-visser and keeps his eye on him.
Rachel and Tobias pose as free Hork-Bajir and meet up with the ex-visser, pretending to believe her an Andalite. She knows the name of Rachel's morphed self and knows the password, and though they pretend to be confused about why she can't morph, she just says she's ill. They help lead the way up the mountain, and she uses her climbing equipment to slowly climb. Visser Three's entourage keeps getting bigger, and they don't want to kill her yet because they're sure she's going to lead them to the free Hork-Bajir, thinking she's going there because she wants to use the colony's discovery as a form of redemption. Marco's plan seems to not be working out so well, but Tobias continues to trust him even though Rachel objects. What doesn't make sense is that Ax hasn't shown up when and where he's supposed to. And when Visser Three chooses a morph to follow the ex-visser, he chooses something that's got the chameleon ability to shift colors. Marco didn't know the plan would involve having to not be able to see Visser Three's morph.
Marco has to demorph, so he chooses a cave and does so, then stews for a while until Ax finds him and tells him Visser Three's forces are coming. He morphs the mountain goat to get away and disguise himself, and has fun with the animal's ability to prance up the rock. He meets with Rachel and Tobias (who are in their Hork-Bajir morphs) and, of course, the ex-visser. They're at the top of the mountain, and Marco, playing the role Jake was supposed to, tells his mom that he's also an Andalite, and gives the order for the Hork-Bajir colony to be revealed. Erek's hologram obeys his command, but unfortunately he makes a cultural reference while saying "Behold!" and his mom recognizes that Andalites don't make pop culture jokes. She says he reminds her of someone she knew a long time ago, and Marco has trouble controlling himself.
Then Visser Three arrives, and the two vissers face off. They both claim to have ships in orbit, and neither is bluffing. Visser One says Visser Three is under arrest for criminal incompetence, and orders are given to destroy the colony, so Erek makes it look like the colony is taking fire. But since really there's rock under there, the mountain starts to fall apart, endangering everyone. Rachel and Tobias are being attacked by real Hork-Bajir. And Visser One signals for a ship to come get her. Marco knows what he has to do, and decides to headbutt his mom so she'll fall off the cliff. And just before he does it, he tells his mom "I love you," at which point she knows who he is. But out of nowhere, Jake attacks as a tiger, and stops Marco from doing it. He holds Marco down. Visser One tries to shoot him with her Dracon beam, but Cassie comes down as a bird and attacks her so she can't fire. And then she falls. All Marco can think is that he wants to believe Jake's thought-speak voice saying "Hang on." The real free Hork-Bajir, who were brought by Ax, are helping push back the tide of Hork-Bajir-Controllers, and Visser One's ships fight Visser Three's ships in the sky. Marco just waits for it to be over and lets Jake hold him down.
He doesn't remember how he got back home but he plays sick all week, fading in and out of coherence. Jake tells him the back story of how they'd seen Visser Three's forces arrive and so they'd gone back to roach morph in case he attacked. When the car blew up, Cassie was already in roach morph and wasn't hurt, but Jake was only halfway there and almost didn't wake up in time. Cassie got him back to himself, and eventually they'd made it up to the rest of them, where Jake helped Marco. While talking to Rachel, Marco asks her what she would have done if both her choices were horrible in a situation like his, and she says she'd just hope someone would take the choice away from her. She also says that there was no body for his mother and no evidence of a destroyed corpse. She thinks maybe his mom was rescued by the Bug fighter that was coming to get her off the rock. He worries about what he will do if there is a next time.
New known controllers:
New morphs acquired:
Marco: Human (Mr. Grant), goat (mountain)
Rachel: Hork-Bajir (Maska Fettan)
Ax: Goat (mountain), Hork-Bajir (Maska Fettan)
Tobias: Goat (mountain)
This book was ghostwritten by Elise Smith.
Jake asserting his "rank" as leader doesn't happen very often, but it's handled well in this book because he recognized Marco has a weakness with regards to his mother being used as Visser One's host body. Marco having a sincere urge to say "yes, sir" to him--in a non-joking way--is a testament to the fact that Jake is unequivocally accepted as leader.
In this book Marco and Tobias talk in thought-speak without reservation to Visser One. In the past, this was considered a huge no-no, and only Ax--the only true Andalite--was allowed to speak to Yeerks on the off chance that a human might "sound" like a human to anyone. Nobody seems to care about that in this book.
A Yeerk death sentence or fatwa is called a gashad.
Marco flies to and from The Gardens to get a goat morph. However, after having morphed to fly back home, Marco still describes having soreness and injuries from his encounters with the goats butting him and falling down the rocks. His injuries should have been healed.
While making their plans to trap and trick Visser One, Jake needs someone to go get Erek, and Tobias flies off to do so. Only a few sentences later, they're discussing strategy and trying to decide who will morph Andalites, and Tobias is in the conversation as if he hasn't just flown away. (And he plays an important role in that conversation, too.) There's no way he's flown to and from Erek's house within maybe half a minute, and the narration doesn't mention him coming back.
During the carrying out of their plans, there are several points where people who are not in morph are answering in thought-speak, which isn't supposed to be possible unless the human form is a morph.
Rachel in Hork-Bajir morph is recognized by the ex-visser as "Maska Fettan," but it is not clear why Rachel acquired this morph (or whether perhaps the visser just made a mistake). Her Hork-Bajir morph was Jara Hamee before. Ax has also acquired this morph. The identity of Tobias's Hork-Bajir morph is not pointed out, but unless he also acquired a different one for use in this mission, he is likely playing Ket Halpak. It's possible Rachel simply chose a different morph so nothing would seem suspicious with two of the same Hork-Bajir being seen by Visser One.
Since it's unclear in this book whether Visser One survived the fall she took, it only makes sense that the Animorphs should be panicked that she figured out who Marco was. If she still has loyal Yeerks on her side, it seems it'd be very very easy to just kill Marco since obviously she knows where he lives.
Marco: This is our most spectacular weapon. The others are cunning, courage, and secrecy. (And in my case irresistible cuteness.)
Marco: I've found that if you act like a moron, adults tend to leave you alone.
Marco: "Please don't shove your horns into my kidneys."
Marco: Kids would study us in school. Bored, probably. And then the teacher would tell the story of Marco. I'd be a part of history. What I was about to do. Some kid would laugh. Some kid would say, "Cold, man. That was really cold." I had to do it, kid. It was a war. It's the whole point, you stupid, smug, smirking little jerk! Don't you get it? It was the whole point. We hurt the innocent in order to stop the evil.
Jake: "Ax, do you think we can play the roles of arrogant Andalites?"
Marco: "What do you do when you have to make a decision, and each choice is horrible? What would you do, Rachel? If it was your mom or dad or sisters. What would you do, Xena?"