|Megamorphs #4: Back to Before|
Detailed Plot: After a particularly gruesome battle in which Jake had to watch a human-Controller suffering and begging for help while complaining of cold, Jake finds himself mulling over what it would be like if only this was not his life. He wonders if there will ever be a way out since fighting the Yeerks seems to be just delaying the inevitable. But as he thinks about there being a way out, the Drode appears and says that Crayak offers him a chance to just "say the word" and he will change things so that Jake and his friends never walked through the construction site. Being so tempted to lay down his burden of responsibility, he slips and says the words that the Drode asked him to say if he agrees to this little change, and . . . everything changes.
Shifting to Cassie's perspective, we have Rachel and Cassie at the mall shopping, and they run into Jake, who's with Marco and Tobias. Cassie acknowledges liking Jake and wonders if he likes her. They agree to walk home together, and though Jake suggests that the guys can protect the girls if they walk through the construction site, they all decide to take the safe, long way instead. Tobias sees a "meteorite," which of course is actually the Andalite ship crashing with Elfangor inside. They're missing their rendezvous with the dying Andalite and the blue box to give them morphing power. And just for a moment, Cassie feels a weird tingling like something isn't right. . . .
Tobias gets a turn at narrating, noting that he's staying with his neglectful, alcoholic uncle and has unknown parents. He gets ready for school while thinking about bullies Jake once saved him from and why he doesn't really feel like he's accepted by Jake's friends. Then he gets beat up in the bathroom and some guy tells him his life doesn't have to be like this, giving him a card for The Sharing.
Cassie's having trouble sleeping because she keeps hearing a call from somewhere else; readers of the series can tell she's being disturbed by Ax's thought-speak cries like when they managed to find him in the original continuity. She gets up and goes out to the barn to tend the animals, since that is something that will calm her down, but she keeps hearing the weird voice from the water, and also can't shake the feeling that she's seen Marco and Rachel and Jake hanging out in her barn with a hawk, even though that group has never been to her barn. She thinks she's losing her mind.
Ax gets a turn and discusses his isolation under the waves in the Dome ship, attacking targets and practicing his fighting. He wonders if his brother survived, and worries about who is going to find him. He sees a shark and wonders if he might have to decide to venture out of the ship, facing whatever possibly hostile reality might be out there.
Tobias ends up at a meeting of The Sharing, being taught how to play pool by a guy named Bill. He enjoys getting compliments and fellowship and appreciates the message of everyone banding together to be part of something larger. He sees Jake and his brother Tom there too, but Jake doesn't see him. Meanwhile, Marco's next to Rachel in the dark watching a science movie on a field trip, and he asks her to go out with him. She says no. After they leave the theater when the movie fails, Marco tries to pursue his date request and Rachel plays with him while waiting for Melissa Chapman to finish in the ladies' room. But then Marco gets an inexplicable glimpse of his mother (who he thought was dead), in a blonde wig looking confused, and runs off to try to catch her. Rachel, for reasons unknown even to herself, decides to help Marco chase his mom, and the two stick to her in hot pursuit as she gets wise and begins to run away in earnest. She makes a call and goons arrive to stop them, and Rachel helps Marco do a smooth acrobatic move to pull a fire escape down so they can chase her. But then the men start firing guns--then lasers--at the two kids, and the seriousness increases.
Meanwhile, on his ship, Ax constructs an ingenious way to trap and acquire a shark, and manages to do so with a couple of his trials becoming errors. He decides to leave the ship and try morphing a shark, but then he ends up having to rush into it because a Bug fighter arrives and starts shooting at his ship. His shark morph is successful, and though he gets shot at a couple times he doesn't hit trouble until six Taxxons come after him. He easily bests them, though, and feels confident.
Jake has agreed to go to a meeting of The Sharing with Tom when Cassie calls asking if he'll study with her. Rachel appears to be egging her on in the background, and Jake would really rather hang out with her, but he feels he has to uphold his promise to Tom. When he says what he'll be going to, Cassie gets a little weird at the mention of The Sharing, and for his part, Jake got a vision of a mouthless face with extra eyes when Tom said Mr. Visser would be at the meeting. Jake agrees to study with Cassie the next day, and wants to know why she's acting weird. It comes out that she knew Marco and Rachel were going out but not that they'd seen Marco's mom or gotten chased with guns. Cassie's annoyed that Rachel didn't say anything.
Back at meetings of The Sharing, Tobias is beating Bill at pool and deciding whether to become a full member. He has nothing else going for him in his life and has witnessed the way Sharing members stick up for each other--some have saved him from bullying since he started coming--so he tells his mentor that he wants to get sworn in. When he sees Jake there, Tobias tells Jake he should become a member too, and Jake says the whole "being a part of something big" speech bothers him because he doesn't like the idea of loss of individuality. Tobias wishes him luck and goes on when he's called to take the plunge and become a member. He gets led by his mentor Bill down a hallway and is asked by Chapman why he wants to be a member. He says he agrees with everything Mr. Visser says about being part of something big. And then he gets an inexplicable vision of what he really wants: to fly on his own wings up on a great thermal. He has no idea why he's thinking about flying as a bird, but he agrees to surrender himself to The Sharing. But he's put off by the handcuffs and neck harness he's asked to submit to, and decides to back out. They end up forcing him to accept a Yeerk in his head, and Tobias becomes a Controller.
Ax has ventured out of the ocean and has acquired a human morph after figuring out what the dominant species is. He's quickly adopted into a mental institution, where he's quite keen to receive cookies. But the doctor denies his request since he made a big scene last time, and he decides he should go elsewhere. He doesn't think there's much of a chance that Andalite technology is accessible anywhere on Earth, but he has to know whether the Yeerks have inifiltrated, so he decides to use television to show himself and see if Yeerks react to an Andalite.
Odret-One-Seven-Seven is the name of the Yeerk that infests Tobias, and he pretends that he is under the protection of the Yeerks' Council of Thirteen. He is Visser One's ally and tells Visser Three his request to switch the invasion style of Earth from covert to overt is denied. Tobias panics mentally because his body and mind have been stolen, but there's nothing he can do about it, and now he knows fully what The Sharing is about. Visser Three is distracted when someone reports that an Andalite is on TV.
Meanwhile, Jake is telling Tom he's not interested in joining The Sharing, but then they see the Andalite on TV and Tom gets a phone call. He asks Jake to cover for him and leaves the house. Jake thinks his brother has a weapon, so he follows him by hiding in the car. He witnesses a shootout--with a difference, though. Everyone has ray guns, not regular guns, and he gets shot at (though not deliberately). He witnesses Tobias in attendance, with Visser Three. Jake hallucinates morphing into a tiger, but doesn't know why. All he knows is that his brother helped take a bunch of prisoners without explanation down at the TV studio.
Cassie has Jake, Marco, and Rachel over at her barn and they get to hear about how Jake was shot at. And they discuss the alien on TV, which Cassie didn't see but can nevertheless envision. She keeps feeling that they had all been here many times before, and that someone's missing in the rafters, and . . . that the alien they're discussing should be standing with them. Cassie continues to share her visions of how things "should" be, and what words about Mr. Visser and other discussions bother her, and how she keeps dreaming she's an animal. Jake agrees with her and shares his experience with a vision of being a tiger. They don't know what's going on, but they decide they need to figure out what's really going on, and suddenly they're all turning to Jake for advice on what should be done.
Tobias finds himself being directed by his Yeerk, Odret, to carry out Yeerk business, and one day he's appearing before Visser Three, who has realized he is loyal to Visser One and makes him admit it under the threat of Kandrona starvation. He admits readily and offers to switch sides, but Visser Three prefers to kill him, and does so. Tobias is dead.
Marco helps Jake search Tom's room without being suspicious, but find nothing. Rachel calls and says to turn on the TV, where they see Ax again, broadcasting information about the Yeerk invasion. Cassie recognizes him and tells the others his name is Ax. Then Tom arrives, having overheard Jake discussing The Sharing with Rachel and Cassie--he knows he's found out, and aims his gun to make Jake come with him. Marco and Rachel save Jake, but Tom knows they were talking to Cassie and she lives farther away. Before they can get to her, reinforcements for the Yeerks arrive, including a Bug fighter that tries to kill them. Jake finds himself barking out orders and acknowledges that he's the boss. They flee, but some of the shots find their mark and Marco gets shot. Jake and Rachel are forced to leave him behind.
Ax goes to a Circuit City and watches footage of the invasion. He tells customers who are wondering whether the aliens are opposed to their violence that in fact these are bad guys here to destroy and enslave them. He decides Earth is very important and that the war has to be ended before the Yeerks take it. He witnesses Bug fighters and the Blade ship arriving on the planet.
Cassie narrates and discusses the desperate situation. Marco's gone, Jake can't go home because of Tom, Rachel can't go home because she'd attacked Tom, and Cassie herself can't go home because she'd been seen. She calls her parents and tells them she isn't coming home and they tell her the aliens are probably friendly and the first contact is inspiring, and that she should come home as soon as possible. Cassie wonders if her parents have been taken by the Yeerks already. They have to go into hiding, and do so for several days. At the mall where they're getting food at the food court, suddenly a disturbance occurs and people start running, so Jake asks Rachel to find them a hiding place since she is a mall expert. Then they see a Hork-Bajir, and Cassie automatically knows what it is and starts thinking about morphing, then catches herself in her thoughts and wonders what she means by that. Rachel declares that she's going to try to fight it, and pulls out a ray gun that Jake had picked up during the last fight. More Hork-Bajir appear and Jake tries to attack with his ray gun too. But they lose their weapons and get cornered by Hork-Bajir, and Cassie finds herself imagining the Yeerk pool without having seen it. Then Ax rescues them, and gets injured in the fight as they attempt to reclaim their weapons. Rachel grabs a severed Hork-Bajir head and attacks other Hork-Bajir with it and they try to help Ax out, and Jake gets a gun again. Ax asks Jake for the weapon and he refuses, so Ax takes it from him anyway. Cassie finds that she knows his name, or at least part of it, and tries to talk to him but Ax doesn't understand how they know each other. He asks if they'll lead him to the roof of the mall.
They run up some stairs, following Rachel, and then Jake asks Ax to disable the stairs by shooting them away. They run toward the ship that's floating above the mall and Ax says they're going to take it. They're very close, running toward its ramp, when a Hork-Bajir attacks Rachel and she is out of the fight, permanently. Cassie screams at the sight and Jake tries to pull her along with him, following Ax, but then a Hork-Bajir shoots Cassie and she evaporates. Ax tries to encourage Jake to come along with him, but they run into Visser Three, and though Jake thinks it's okay because he's an Andalite, Ax knows better and faces him warily. Visser Three chops one of Ax's arms off suddenly, and then Cassie fires at him and vaporizes his upper body. But wasn't Cassie dead? They hear a disembodied voice insisting that she was supposed to be dead, and she tells the others "it's breaking up," whatever "it" is.
They board the ship. Ax makes short work of the Taxxons on board, seals off the bridge, and orders a takeoff. He broadcasts a distress signal to Andalite ships, and suddenly there is a gorilla on board. It's Marco, and he doesn't know why he's there or why he's a gorilla. The disembodied voice again says he was supposed to be dead and this isn't right. Cassie notices it's coming apart more quickly now, and Jake asks Ax to explain this but he thinks Cassie knows better than he does. He lifts the ship into orbit and targets the Yeerk pool with the ship's weapons, preparing to fire.
The Drode appears and calls a time-out. Then the Ellimist appears and they start arguing. It's explained that Cassie is an anomaly--she is "sub-temporally grounded"--and the Drode is angry because he feels the Ellimist has meddled. After all, this supposedly random group includes a sub-temporally grounded girl, Elfangor's brother, Elfangor's time-shifted son, and the son of Visser One's host body. The Drode feels the "deck" was stacked. Apparently Cassie disrupts the timeline if it shifts because of her groundedness, which caused some of the other ripples mentioned in the story. At that point she speaks up and wants to know what's going on. The Ellimist asks whether this new situation feels better to her, and makes Rachel and Tobias appear. Cassie says it's better but that Tobias should be something else, at which point he becomes a hawk.
The Ellimist explains that the Drode can continue the timeline, where this group almost annihilated the Yeerks, or he can let them go back to where they belong. They suddenly remember all their other lives, and Jake feels horribly guilty after realizing he gave in to Crayak's offer to allow this other timeline to exist. The Ellimist comforts him and tells him it will end someday. He tells them that only Cassie will sort of remember the alternate timeline because of her strange status, and she knows she can't tell Jake that he gave in or Tobias that he might have become a Controller or Rachel that she might have dated Marco if things were different. They ask how they get back, and suddenly Jake is in his room experiencing the proposal from the Drode again. And this time, before he can speak, the Drode says to never mind, and it all never was.
Narrators: Jake, Cassie, Tobias, Ax, Marco, Rachel
New known controllers:
New morphs acquired:
Interesting that this book finally acknowledges that no one knows why Rachel and Cassie are best friends. It's been pretty clear all along that they've nothing in common.
Cassie refers to herself as "African-American" in this book, which she hasn't done before, and also expresses some unprecedented insecurity about whether being black might affect how Jake, who's white, feels about her.
In the other Megamorphs books, the chapters in which Ax narrates are labeled "Ax." In this book, the first Ax chapter is labeled "Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill." The others are labeled "Aximili."
Other books suggest that Rachel has a capacity to think Marco is cute. In this book, both seem to acknowledge that each other are good-looking, but what they're attracted to in each other is all intellectual--daring, decision-making skills, bravery.
The Yeerk that infests Tobias in this reality is called Odret-One-Seven-Seven.
President Clinton is mentioned as being in office, solidly dating the story.
The Drode is complaining about "a group of six supposedly random humans that contains these four," but earlier in the sentence one of these "four" was "Elfangor's brother," Ax. He's not a human.
The Drode: "It will happen, Jake. You know that. The cave. The day will come. You know what the cave is, Jake. You know what it means, that dark cave. You know that death is within. When she dies, when Cassie dies, it will be at your word, Jake."
Cassie (about Rachel): I wonder where she gets the indifference. I wonder how she can have every boy in school throwing himself in her path, and be indifferent.
Rachel: "How do you expect to get through life without an appreciation of what goes with what?"
Marco: "Great. A meteorite falls out of the sky and totally misses the school. That is so not fair."
Marco: "You know, you should go out with me."
Ax: I had learned one thing: If the rest of Earth's species were anything like this Blue Blade, the Yeerks had picked the wrong planet.
Jake: "I don't know. People start talking about how the individual has to give way to the group, I just, I don't know. I get kind of . . . jumpy. [ . . . ] I don't want to be 'a part.' Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just my own mental block. But anytime someone starts talking that stuff, I start looking for the exit door."
Dr. Duberstein: "You have to at least give me your name."
Ax: "Then I must go elsewhere in search of cookies. The cookies formed by two thin, round, black discs with a layer of adhesive white substance between them are the finest accomplishment of your species!"
Ax: "Are you able to run on those two legs?"