|#33: The Illusion|
Detailed Plot: At a dance with Rachel, Tobias finds himself caught up in the moment long enough to almost run out of time in his human morph. He worries that Rachel tried to trap him in his human morph (for various reasons, some of them selfish on her part). Tobias makes a mad dash for the outside and just barely makes it in time to morph back to his hawk self. He doesn't want to be human, and doesn't want to be out of the fight.
At an Animorphs meeting, Erek the Chee explains that the Yeerks want to test their Anti-Morphing Ray, and that the only morph-capable person they have to test it on is Visser Three (who won't volunteer). They have to try to capture one of their group in order to test the ray, so they determine that capturing Tobias should confuse them into thinking the ray doesn't work, since if anything it'll force him back into hawk form or have no effect if he's already in hawk form. Because The Sharing is opening a new community center, there's a three-day event coming up, and they decide to try to get Tobias captured while it's going on. Jake agrees to go as himself, with his brother.
Meanwhile, Tobias has to acquire Ax's DNA in order to be able to pose as an Andalite for the Yeerks. He's overjoyed because in a bizarre way, Andalite culture is sort of his culture too, being that his father was Ax's brother in human morph. He feels he's enjoying a birthright when Ax teaches him some things about Andalite culture, tail-fighting, and rituals.
On the mission to check out the dedication ceremony for the Yeerks' new community center, Jake is with his brother, Ax is in human morph taking advantage of the eats, and Tobias is flying overhead. The others are in fly morph getting into various predicaments, with Cassie having to be saved by Jake when Visser Three tries to swat her. Tobias and Ax end up sneaking into the center, looking for clues. They find that there's an entrance to the community center at a playground, and go to check it out.
Knowing they're on their way to a trap, they follow a known Controller in and end up causing a distraction with Ax, while Tobias has Rachel in fly morph tucked into his feathers. He gets caught by Chapman and a human-Controller named Taylor, who turns out to be Sub-Visser Fifty-one. Tobias tries to put up a fight as if he really didn't mean to be captured, and is defeated easily by Taylor, who has a false arm. He begins to morph to Andalite in order to make them think he's demorphing, as if he's going to fight them. He's just gotten his Andalite tail and not much else, but then, unexpectedly, Taylor deploys a gas that paralyzes everyone--including some of her own people, though she herself has taken the antidote--and this causes Rachel to fall out of Tobias's feathers, stuck as a fly on the ground. She and Tobias are separated, and Tobias is taken into the inner sanctum.
Tobias finds himself trapped, still with an Andalite tail, in a tiny box. When the box releases him he sees he's in a slightly larger box, and he demorphs back to hawk. He can see through the walls of the box, and outside are Taylor and Visser Three. First Visser Three taunts Tobias and tells him they destroyed an Andalite and his scoop in the forest, as well as destroying other Andalites along the way. Tobias assumes they're bluffing. Then he brings in two scientists who are Controllers, and gets them to demonstrate the Anti-Morphing Ray. Tobias feels a strange sensation when it's aimed and fired at him, but nothing happens. The scientists, under Visser Three's orders, are fed to Taxxons, and Taylor is left the task of making Tobias demorph. She promises to torture him, while he maintains that he will not give them another Andalite body to infest.
True to her word, Taylor tortures Tobias with a special device that gives her direct access to his pain centers. The first jolt leaves him exhausted and panicky, and he can't move. But the second jolt brings him to a different place. He gives in to his hawk self and is able to accept pain, since as a human he would rationalize and understand that there was a way to stop it. As a hawk, he doesn't have the ability to ask why. He just tolerates. He experiences many painful memories while being tortured, and eventually Taylor realizes he's using his morph as a shield and tries to use the pleasure setting as a contrast to the pain setting to drive him mad. Memories of childhood are triggered, the few good ones he has, and in between, Taylor taunts him about only having a few minutes left in his morph before he's trapped as a hawk. Of course, this doesn't concern him. When he finally passes the limit of his time supposedly in morph, Taylor taunts him, but she is also clearly frightened. By her estimation, he's ruined a morph-capable body. She also doesn't know that Tobias is about at the end of his rope, and he tries to distract her by taunting her about her upcoming death, surely about to come at the hands of Visser Three for failing him. He says he won't give in because he wants her to die.
In the ensuing conversation between Taylor and Tobias, he finds out that she's a voluntary host, and that she was one of those girls who had it all until she was in a house fire and was burned and crippled. She joined The Sharing to take advantage of the members' hospital which promised advanced technology to fix her, but she saw how her former admirers and friends turned on her when she was no longer perfect and had become ugly. She saw human nature for what it was and wanted to join an organization that would trample it. She reveals that she didn't want to change bodies because she liked Taylor's memories and wants them for herself. But soon after revealing all of this and having Tobias say she's insane, she stops playing around and begins torturing him again, for no purpose except to hurt him.
Tobias experiences a connection with Elfangor during the torture, feeling that memories of his father are filtering in to him through a tail-blade pressed to his forehead. He "remembers" Elfangor's experiences and is reassured that he has to endure this out of respect for life. It's a strange spiritual experience and he has a feeling that this isn't just a hallucination. But soon when Visser Three comes in and insists that he will talk, he tries to threaten Tobias by showing him a tortured bald eagle. He says he will feed the eagle to the Taxxons if Tobias doesn't talk and tell him where their friends are. Tobias believed the eagle might be Rachel. But then he sees an Andalite growing from a flea morph, behind the Visser and all the guards. It's Ax, and the eagle is actually a dying one from Cassie's barn that they let get captured. Ax ends up opening the door to let the others in in their battle morphs. Rachel is a grizzly, and she can see from one glance at Tobias what he's been through. It enrages her.
During the battle that ensues, the Animorphs team is heavily outnumbered, and though Marco's actions help free Tobias, Taylor attacks him and tries to throw him into the Yeerk pool. Tobias ends up using an Andalite morph and freaking Taylor out since he can still morph. He almost gets tossed in, but holds on, just barely, by clinging to a protrusion in the rock until Rachel comes to attack Taylor. Tobias pleads with Rachel to let her go. He figures Visser Three will finish her, being that she's the one who lost a prisoner, and Tobias doesn't want Rachel to end up doing something that the Yeerks would do.
After they all escape, the Animorphs team is spending some time in human form flying kites. Tobias asks Ax about his hallucination with Elfangor's tail blade, and he's surprised because there is an Andalite superstition about people being able to send memories through DNA which can be triggered at times of imminent death. It's unlikely this is just a myth considering Tobias didn't even know that myth and still experienced it. When Rachel arrives and kisses Tobias, he thinks about being unsure of his nature--bird, boy, Andalite--but knows for sure that at least he's the person Rachel loves.
New known controllers:
New morphs acquired:
Tobias: Andalite (Ax)
This book is ghostwritten by Ellen Geroux.
In this book Jake admits to having begun to study famous leaders, but jokes that no one should let on because he wants his brilliance to seem unstudied.
Cassie makes an excuse about not being able to go to The Sharing meeting because she says her parents will notice her missing and would worry. Nevertheless, she is part of the mission, with no commentary. By this point it's common for them to get the Chee to pose as them when they need to be at a mission, but this setup was never discussed.
Tobias is the first of the Animorphs to morph an Andalite, and he points out through his experience that Andalites have an instinct for optimism.
Visser Three's thought-speak voice is said to strike Tobias's ear. Seems like a poor description since thought-speak doesn't use ears.
Taylor hits Tobias with her fake arm at one point, and he notes that it's her right arm. But later in the book Taylor is spilling out her experiences about how she lost her limbs and got burned, and she refers to having "lost her left arm." She's only supposed to have one false arm so it's unclear which one is "really" artificial.
There are several thought-speaking glitches when Visser Three and Tobias are both talking in thought-speak; two of Taylor's spoken lines are framed in thought-speak as well, but this is a mistake.
While Tobias is experiencing Elfangor's memories, several phrases are used to describe his experiences which sound like things humans would say, such as "making a retching noise" (Andalites don't have mouths, so they can't "retch"), "expelling" breakfast (they can't vomit) and experiencing "nausea" (which seems like an odd way to describe it if they can't vomit).
Tobias: It's funny. We've been on so many missions together. Battled Hork-Bajir-Controllers side by side. Saved each other's lives time and again. And still, after all that, it's something as simple as dancing that makes my heart pound.
Ax: "This looks promising."
Taylor: "Your childish loyalty is amusing. But you'll learn, Andalite. You'll learn that it's foolish to protect your friends. Friends always betray you."
Tobias: "You've failed him. Visser Three won't tolerate failure. You know that. But I guess that's life in the happy little Yeerk Empire. I won't give in. Do you know why?"