|#46: The Deception|
Detailed Plot: The Animorphs are taking a risk using a Z-space transponder to talk to the Andalite homeworld. Jake announces himself as the resistance, and he explains that the Andalites should ignore a different planet's Yeerk efforts because the whole thing is a trap. But whoever they're talking to on the other end insists that Jake can't be trusted because he might lie to manipulate them into coming to help their planet, and then when Ax tries (using their source of info, Visser One, as proof), they dismiss him too because his loyalty may be compromised. The Animorphs just can't win, and away they run when the Yeerks track them down and start shooting at them.
Back at the free Hork-Bajir colony, where Marco now lives, Ax discusses with the others how they really need to be able to intercept the Yeerk transmissions so they can be ahead of the game. They can only understand a small percentage of the transmissions, and Ax is frustrated with this, so when Marco suggests an illegal solution, they end up going forward with it, using the NSA's computers. And finally they can understand what the Yeerks are talking about. Visser Three has now been promoted to Visser One, and his plan--dubbed 9466 after his original Yeerk name--is to start outward military invasion of Earth, scrapping the covert operations. Visser Two, a Yeerk they've never met, is on his way to Earth to work on the operation.
The Animorphs meet at Cassie's barn and discuss what they should do. Ax doesn't know if the Andalite fleet will believe in them and come, and that thought is stunning to him, but for now they have to deal with the fact that Earth needs to fight back if the Yeerks are moving in for open war. They examine some latitude and longitude details that they overheard on the Yeerks' transmissions and discover that they're planning some kind of mission in the middle of the ocean. Clearly they need to get out there, and they don't have a morph that can do it in time, but Jake realizes they've got to start taking what they need to win the war (despite Cassie's protests). They agree to steal a military jet and get themselves to the place where history is about to be made.
The group sneaks into the Air National Guard locker room and Ax takes out the only people inside, rendering them unconscious. Rachel acquires the female and Ax acquires the male, and they grab flight suits and pretend to be the pilots. Ax ponders how compelling it is to be human and how that makes him uncomfortable. They put the real pilots in lockers and head off to the planes, with the others on Ax's human body as fleas. They head out to steal the jet and have no problems getting rid of the maintenance crew and taking off. They must get to their destination within two hours or Ax won't be able to demorph (he'll tear out of his pressure suit and probably die). They're almost there when they get a transmission asking them to return since they didn't get clearance, and then after a pause they get another transmission in which they've clearly been identified as impostors. If they don't come back, they'll be shot down. Ax increases speed and they find an aircraft carrier. The carrier notices that they're in its airspace. Jake asks for an update on their situation since as fleas they can't follow the action very well, and Ax and Rachel explain to the others what's transpired and what's happening right then.
They determine that they must ditch the plane because they're being pursued, so Ax tries to make a controlled crash landing into the water. This is very risky and they almost don't survive, but Ax manages to demorph and rip his way out of his suit, and frees himself. Everyone else seems to have survived and demorphs, and they morph to seagull to get to the aircraft carrier. Jake rattles off everything he knows about this type of carrier--which turns out to be quite a lot, as he's been studying leaders and military operations--and advises his team not to morph anyone on board unless they know they can look like they know what they're doing. They know that a crashed air force plane is not going to be easy to explain, but if the Yeerks are on the aircraft carrier they will probably suspect infiltration and be on higher security alert.
A helicopter arrives carrying Chapman (who is dressed as if he's Navy), and they decide they need to follow him into the inside of the ship. They fly down an airshaft and end up below the deck, where birds obviously are going to get noticed. But since the people pursuing them seem more worried about whether they'll poop on things, they know they aren't suspected (by these folks at least) of being Andalites. They fly until they get to a laundry room, and demorph behind some clothes dryers. Then Ax knocks out the only soldier doing laundry inside, and the others morph to cockroach while Ax becomes the pilot again. They climb into his pocket after he gets dressed--borrowing a uniform from the laundry, of course--and they head out to try to find Chapman.
Ax manages to overhear discussion that leads him to the deck where the admiral is talking to Chapman and some others. He invites the captain, Captain Plummer, to come below and be given a present which will make things less dull out on the ocean. Ax manages to plant two of his roach friends--Jake and Rachel--on the captain and they are able to observe that the "gift" is a portable Yeerk pool, and they immediately begin to try to infest the captain. Jake and Rachel get off the captain while Ax frees the others from his pocket. They all decide they need to demorph, and they're sighted by a couple of crew members while they're in the process. Then they morph to battle morphs and attack. During the fray they find out that the admiral is Visser Two. The Controllers fight back, and Ax dumps the portable Yeerk pool (though it's too late to stop the captain's infestation). Two Yeerks are on the floor. Jake asks Ax to try to move the battle out of the narrow room so they have more room to fight, but non-Controller humans are rushing in to try to protect their senior officers, and they have to bail because they can't attack people who are just doing their duty.
They find a place to hide--someone's office, with the someone in it--and Ax morphs the pilot again and steals the man's clothes. Cassie helps. They decide to try to find the Combat Information Center. Ax, in human morph, follows a young lieutenant he saw come out of the Center, ambushes him in the bathroom, acquires him, and takes his clothes. Looking like the right man for the job, Ax is then able to get into the room. He witnesses Chapman, Admiral Carrington, and Captain Plummer watching a screen which indicates that the Chinese have just fired missiles at them. Apparently this is the Yeerks' way of starting another World War.
Ax hears thought-speak from Jake, very faintly, and explains what's going on. Jake orders him to acquire and morph the admiral and order the return attack called off. Ax has no idea how he's supposed to do something like that, but he figures out a plan. He shoots the admiral with another man's gun and pretends that man did it, which causes pandemonium and causes medics to grab the admiral. Ax hurries out, demorphs, sends Cassie to find the others and get them to the admiral's quarters, and then manages to knock out the medics and steal the admiral. He locks him up after acquiring him and stealing his clothes, then goes back to the control room and orders the plane recall. Chapman protests and he claims he'll tell Visser One that Chapman's a traitor if he doesn't obey. Then he tells him to meet him in his quarters in five minutes.
So, of course, when the lower Yeerk officers get there, they find the Animorphs waiting for them. They force the plan out of Visser Two, who brags about it because he's a fanatic and can't contain his glee over how the Yeerks have plotted destruction. They had planned to have both the U.S. and the Chinese think the other initiated the attack, and though the Animorphs have stopped the Americans from actually firing on the Chinese, the government is still going to get reports of it. He'd planned to have the humans fight each other and kill many of their number while depleting their resources and weapons, to make it easier to enslave them. Ax, under Jake's command, tries to drag the information about which sub they're using to start a nuclear war with China, but he of course won't tell them, and claims not to care about dying. But then Bug fighters approach the carrier and start shooting, forcing the Americans to fight back. In the chaos, Visser Two disappears.
The Animorphs run and try to help in the battle, but Ax has his eyes out for Visser Two. Marco's unable to stop the returning U.S. aircraft from getting shot down by the Yeerks, and hand-to-hand combat breaks out on the deck. The Animorphs in their battle morphs are fighting alongside the soldiers, who have figured out the Earth animals and the blue alien are on their side. (Of course, against Hork-Bajir, that's predictable.) Ax spots Chapman and decides to use him to find Visser Two. He can't follow Chapman easily because there are stairs and Andalites aren't good with those, so he asks permission to borrow a nearby soldier's DNA and clothes, which he gives willingly. Ax morphs the man and runs after Chapman. He finds him in the Control Information Center, where he's hiding from battle because he's a coward. Ax closes the door behind him and traps Chapman, who turns around in realization that one of the Andalites is there. He tries throwing his coffee at him but Ax has a gun, and threatens him. He claims he will kill Chapman if he doesn't tell where Visser Two is. But Ax is so focused on his anger that he wasn't on his guard, and when the door opens it hits him from behind and he loses the gun. Chapman shoots him in the leg and he blacks out.
When he wakes up, he's locked into the room and still in human morph, cursing his stupidity to let anger cloud his judgment. He demorphs, makes short work of the lock by using his tail, and escapes. Outside it's pandemonium, and Ax assumes most of the humans on board have been killed or infested. He finds the captain, who's got a fatal wound. The Yeerk tries to get out of the dying body but doesn't do it fast enough. Ax holds the Captain's hand and assures him it wasn't his fault as he dies. On the deck, many people are trying to escape in lifeboats, but the Yeerks are shooting them from above. Ax finds the others and they say they've found Visser Two, and they want to try to coax the information out of him about which nuclear sub is about to attack China, but they don't think they'll be successful because Visser Two wouldn't respond before. But Ax has an idea.
He proposes to Jake that they might be able to get Visser Two to confess if they threaten to bomb the Yeerk pool, which will have the side effect of killing tens of thousands perhaps. (Hosts as well as Yeerks, of course.) Jake tells Ax they cannot do such a thing even to save more people, and he claims he just can't give an order like that. Ax realizes it was inappropriate to ask Jake to make that decision against his own people for the greater good, recognizes that the burden has to be on him because he's an alien, and apologizes to Jake as he knocks him out.
Ax sends Cassie to go tend to Jake and pretends he passed out. Then he enlists the help of Rachel, Marco, and Tobias. They're willing to help him steal a plane armed with a nuclear missile, but they figure out that something's not right, and Tobias and Marco realize he's not acting under Jake's command. But he explains his plan and they go with it. They muscle Visser Two onto the plane, take off (though Jake runs out screaming for him to stop right at the end; he ignores him), and they let the visser see what they're doing. Ax explains that they're going to bomb the Yeerk pool if he doesn't call off the nuclear sub. The visser thinks it's a bluff but Ax insists it isn't, and keeps flying closer. The way he's thinking as he looms closer suggests he actually is willing to do it, so he's not bluffing. The Yeerk finally submits and says he'll order the sub to self-destruct. And he wonders aloud whether Ax actually would have done it. He can't answer, but he wonders what he'll be facing when he gets back to Jake.
New known controllers:
New morphs acquired:
Rachel: Human (Air National Guard pilot Michele Leary)
Ax: Human (Air National Guard pilot Captain Felitti), human (young navy lieutenant), human (Admiral Carrington), human (a young soldier)
Tobias: Human (catapult-and-arresting-gear officer)
This book is ghostwritten by Elise Smith.
Ax points out how "humans are an odd species" because they can change their minds on a moral issue very quickly. It's odd he suggests this is a human quality, because he and other Andalites have done the same thing. Surely he can't be unaware that Andalites also display hypocrisy?
Ax mentions having a vague hope of returning to the Andalite home world after the war on Earth, and entertains notions of starting a family with Estrid. Problem here is that in a previous book he was pretty clear about "not liking" her after some of the things she said about humans, even if he found her attractive. This might not be completely contradictory since people do fall in love with and marry people they don't much like, but it doesn't seem like Ax would want to start a family and raise children with someone who thought it was okay to screw over another species because "they're not us."
It's odd that Rachel would be chosen to be Ax's backup pilot on account of her "nerves of steel" when both Marco and Jake have more experience with flight simulation. Rachel might be brave but she doesn't have experience.
This book mentions again that Andalites have two hearts, further establishing that an earlier book made a mistake when suggesting that Andalites have three.
Rachel uses thought-speak while in her human morph, which is something all of them should be able to do anyway, but earlier books suggest that they cannot. This retcon makes more sense.
It seems ridiculous that Chapman is able to disable Ax and render him unconscious, but then only locks him in a room. Seems much more likely that Chapman should have infested him immediately as that would have given him a morph-capable body and all the "bandits'" knowledge. Instead he leaves him in a room by himself where his natural form can easily escape. That is some poor decision-making.
Ax: Humans are an odd species. They will proclaim a particular ethical and moral stance one day. And the next, they will proclaim an opposite stance with equal passion.
Rachel: "Well, that was lucky."
Marco: "What with being officially dead and all now, I'm actually in an F-16D. And I can't feel a thing. My life is great. Isn't my life great?"
Jake: "It's a Nimitz class. Biggest warships in the world. Built by Newport News Shipbuilding Company, out of Virginia."
Marco: "What do we get for risking our butts? Nothing. Nada."
Ax: "The Yeerks must have seen Jake, Cassie, and Tobias. Take great care."