If this is your first time dipping into the Animorphs Re-Read, I strongly suggest you head back to the beginning and start there unless you’re already familiar with the books. Alternatively, check out our new and improved Animorphs Re-Read index for a list of every post in the series.
If you’re reading this, you’ve successfully made it to the second part of the IGA’s Visser recap-a-thon. Congratulations! What follows is sure to be a life-altering experience for everyone involved.
Look at all those books!
I’ve gotten far enough in the main series recap that I’m about to move beyond the point where I stopped reading when I was a kid, so there are some gaps in my Animorphs collection. Luckily, a friend of mine has an attic full of old books. The magnificent haul pictured above came from there.
You can’t tell from the picture, but they smell like jalapeno peppers. This is a good thing.
Now on to the recap!
Last time, Visser One (aka Eldriss) had just finished playing a memory recording of her first day on Earth, in which she landed in Iraq and infested a guy in the middle of an American bombing run. She decides to go and visit this ‘America’ place, but the recording gets cut off before we can learn about her first encounter with a Big Mac.
The Council of Thirteen breaks for lunch. Visser Three uses the opportunity to propose an alliance with Eldriss – if she joins him, they can take over Earth together and start their own Yeerk Empire! With hookers and blackjack, presumably. Eldriss sees through his cunning plan and tells him to be a bit more subtle if he wants to goad into her saying something treasonous, then asks him how he ever managed to rise to his current rank in the first place.
Back to the recording!
Eldriss sifts through television signals in an effort to work out where America is, but all she gets is a confusing mixture of recorded events and what appear to be fabricated simulations. To her horror, she discovers recordings of human spaceships traveling at ‘Warp Factor Six’ (six times the speed of light! In regular space!), but she quickly works out that this isn’t real. I’d like to imagine Visser Three in the same situation. He’d probably fly off the handle and demand to be taken to the headquarters of the ‘Federation’ so he could decapitate this ‘Captain Picard’ at the earliest opportunity.
(WAIT, fanfiction idea: Janeway and the Voyager crew stumble across the Yeerk Empire. Shenanigans ensue.)
Eldriss is utterly baffled by the idea of ‘entertainment’, which I guess means it’s a foreign concept to every other species the Yeerks have encountered as well. This might explain why the Andalites are such humorless assholes. In a hi-larious misunderstanding, she determines that Hollywood is the most important city on Earth because of how often it’s mentioned on TV. She decides to go there immediately.
I’d make a joke about this being the explanation for Tom Cruise, but I’m above taking pot-shots of that nature.
Long story short, Eldriss infests a woman and comes around to the primitive human notion of ‘gender’, while Essam does the same thing by infesting a man. Eldriss’ host is a failed actress type, which leads to lots of ‘humorous’ dialogue between them about how Host Lady is totally hot and how Eldriss doesn’t really get the concept of hotness as applied to physical attraction. Also Host Lady is addicted to some sort of drug, which Eldriss also doesn’t understand. I’m starting to think the Yeerk Empire is best described as an interstellar European Union.
We cut back to the trial, and Eldriss considers telling everyone that the ‘Andalite bandits’ are actually human. The only reason she doesn’t is that she doesn’t want to leave Visser Three in a position to take Earth and steal her thunder if she loses the trial. Oh, and it was Eldriss’ first encounter with the human desire to surrender control (to drugs, or fiction, or charismatic leaders) that gave her the idea for The Sharing. So Visser Three can’t even claim credit for that. He argues that the slow infiltration method hasn’t worked, and pushes for an all-out attack.
Just as it looks like he and Eldriss are about to get into a fight, a bunch of Andalite bandits attack! But wait, something is wrong: Eldriss notices that there are only four attackers, and that the usual unmorphed Andalite member isn’t among them. She had a few theories to explain Ax before learning the truth (he couldn’t morph for some reason, he remained in his natural form as a kind of intimidation tactic) – of course, by this point she knows, or at least suspects, that he’s the only real Andalite among the ‘bandits’.
Eldriss: All of the points
Visser Three: 0
Anyway, it turns out the attack is faked. The tiger and grizzly bear are just ordinary animals, and the two Hork-Bajir are Controllers who were tricked into participating. Visser Three kills them all, making himself out to be a hero in front of the Council.
Visser Three: 1 (Provisional)
Garoff, Eldriss’ old mentor, suggests that the timing here might be a bit too good to be true, but he doesn’t openly question it. Eldriss realises that her only hope is to get the Animorphs to attack for real, although she can’t think of any way to do so without getting in touch with Marco. (This would be an excellent time to keep in mind her phone call to him at the end of The Proposal.)
Visser Three takes this opportunity to play his trump card: an insane homeless man who was once the host of Essam. ‘Spacey’, as he now calls himself, drops the bombshell that Essam and Eldriss had human children during their initial time on Earth.
Visser Three: 2 (Grudgingly)
Garoff doesn’t seem entirely comfortable talking about the whole thing:
“And did you really cause your host bodies to reproduce?” Garoff demanded incredulously.
Definitely the Space-EU.
Eldriss describes how she infested a new host in a swimming pool, drowning her old host in the process. And yes, this all makes her far more threatening than Visser Three’s ‘I’m going to decapitate everyone’ blustering. She describes how Allison Kim, the new host, tried to kill herself and Eldriss at the same time by managing to strategically close one of her eyes as Eldriss was driving down a busy road, eliminating her depth perception just as a truck in front of her began to break. She admits to being impressed by Kim’s resourcefulness, which Visser Three pounces on by claiming that she became sympathetic to humans.
Eldriss then delivers the following epic smackdown:
“I intended to win, Visser, not to make brave noises and loud speeches. When I began the mission to Earth we might, with luck, have been able to assemble and land a force of fifty thousand Hork-Bajir and twenty thousand Taxxons on Earth. Five billion humans, each firing a single bullet, could have missed nearly a hundred percent of the time and still wiped us out!”
<We can terrify them into surrender!> Visser Three cried.
“Ignorant fool! Humans have fought thousands of wars. Thousands! We as a race have fought a mere handful. They run straight into the bullets, Visser Three, again and again. Did you know that? They attack against insane odds. They defend what can’t be defended. Outnumbered, outgunned, surrounded, hopeless, they will still fight, fight, fight till they are each and every one dead. Something you might know if you stopped posturing long enough to learn something!”
Visser Three: -9 * 10.2356
Also she’s obviously referencing the Animorphs with the whole ‘outgunned, surrounded, hopeless’ thing. Because she secretly admires them do you see.
Interestingly, Elriss raises the possibility of Garoff being the ‘Emperor’, suggesting that there is in fact a single Yeerk running the whole show even if his or her identity is kept secret. Is this the first time we’ve seen mention of that? It seems like an important point.
I should also mention that Eva is causing a ruckus in Eldriss’ mind throughout this whole thing. She really can’t wait to see the Eldriss die of Kandrona starvation.
Garoff decides to do a more direct memory probe, reading Eldriss’ memories in a more controlled manner. In another flashback, Eldriss reveals that she had a somewhat more hospitable relationship with Alisson Kim, since they both shared a desire for knowledge. Eldriss even admits that she found it ‘pleasant’ to talk to her.
Garoff searches through Eldriss’ memories to the point where she gave birth to a pair of twins, a boy and a girl, and confirms that she did in fact love ‘her’ children as if they were own. Not only that, but she and Allison and Essam and his host ended up in a sort of weird four-way relationship. It sounds like both Yeerks were close to being in the same position as the voluntary Yeerk/host pair from DER PARASIT.
Having seen Eldriss’ memories of her children, Eva suddenly agrees to help her contact Marco, and even warns her about an obvious trap Visser Three has set for her before she can stumble into it. Eldriss convinces Garoff to call for another break, and manages to steal a human Controller’s phone in the Yeerk Pool’s canteen. She goes to the nearest bathroom and makes the same call we saw at the end of The Proposal, only now we get to see the whole conversation:
“You know who this is,” I whispered.
“No,” he said flatly. “Not my mother. A Yeerk.”
“Okay. Granted. But she needs you. She needs you and your friends.”
“Don’t play stupid, Marco. I know you. What you are. What you do. You are needed. Now. As quickly as you can. You need to be seen.”
“It’s not a trap!” I whispered urgently.
“I know. Like you said, you know me. If you wanted me dead it would be easy. You could take me, infest me, and have all of my friends within a few hours. So you need me. This is about your little personality conflict with Visser Three. You’re desperate. But you won’t give me up to Visser Three because you hate him more than you hate us.”
I almost choked. From almost no information he had painted a very cogent picture of the situation.
Then I almost laughed. “I once thought you were too soft, too gentle.”
“Yeah, well, things change.”
<You’ve had enough time in there!> Visser Three said from outside the toilet.
“Marco, I’m out of time!” I hissed. “Will you do it?”
“Forget it. Too tough a target, Visser.”
“It’s your mother’s life on the line, he’ll kill her, too! He’ll use her to torture me.”
“The Yeerk pool is too secure,” Marco said calmly.
My mind was racing. Incredible! The little monster was cold-bloodedly writing off his own mother!
“They…they deliver fresh meat for the Taxxons later today. This evening, I guess. In an hour and a half! Comes in by transport ship. They open the dome ingress.”
<Visser One, get out of there or I will have you dragged out!> Visser Three roared.
“Where’s the dome opening nowadays?” Marco asked laconically. “I think we kind of messed up the last one.”
I told him in quick, spare detail. Then “You’ll do it?”
He didn’t answer. Instead he said, “Mom, I know you can hear me. I don’t know if I can save you. You understand that, right? I’ll do what’s right. I’ll do what I have to do.”
It was his only show of emotion. His voice cracked when he said “Mom.”
<I know you will. I love you,> Eva said, silent, a prisoner in her own skull.
“Marco, your mother loves you,” I said.
But if I’d been expecting him to soften, I got the opposite result.
“I know my mother loves me, Visser,” he said. “And let me make one thing clear: There’s no deal between us, you and me, Yeerk. I’ll kill you for what you’ve done to her and to my dad. Count on that.”
Man, Marco has turned into a real badass over the past few books.
And I do believe that’s as good a place as any to stop for now. Come back next week for the final installment of the Visser re-read! And yes, I did surreptitiously change the numbering on the previous post from ‘Part 1/2′ to ‘Part 1/3′. You were right, people who told me I’d never get it in done in two posts!