Everything has no beginning, no end... it is an ever-growing moebius strip of knowledge, with link after link being grafted into the chain of nodes...

Theoretically speaking, you should be able to travel on Everything forever without ever seeing the same node twice. But that is assuming that the noding class stays one step ahead of you, laying down the railroad tracks just in front of the train...

You remembered it felt like the breath was stolen from your lungs. You fell to your knees and squeezed your eyes tightly, but the pain was still unbearable and you thought you might split from the inside. You felt it first, and heard it later, the feeling of the flesh tearing and your back ripping in two. The scream caught in your throat and the stars appeared vibrant and bright before your eyes and the last thing you remember was the fade to black.

You woke up slowly, as you always do, but instead of your bed you were on the floor. And something was different, something your brain took into account immediately. You stood slowly and saw your reflection in the bedroom mirror. Wings. You had wings. Hey, what the ? Wings? You reached back and felt them, soft and smooth and white and perfect, and you tried to shift them, as you would your arms, but it seemed unnatural. Complicated. You finally noticed the pain then, after the initial shock. You could feel the blood running down your back and the ache that had started. Your breath was shallow and uneven and the sting brought tears to your eyes.

You wondered if everything this beautiful hurt this much.

In hindsight, you thought not much had changed. It was harder during school, of course, because you had to fold the wings into turtlenecks and gym uniforms while they itched and scratched at your back. They would spread and flutter without your permission, and although no one ever noticed you, you thought they might notice them. You thought it was cruel, having just evolved out of that awkward stage of growth where your limbs were too long and your front teeth too big, having these wings stuck on your back because weren’t you insecure enough, without the feathers? After school, you would escape home as soon as possible, avoiding your mother at all costs, to allow the wings their openness in the privacy of your bedroom. They would flutter, content for the moment, and you realized that you were wrong. Everything had changed.

You remembered your dreams more now, and they were harsh and bitter and you woke feeling more exhausted then when you first closed your eyes. In school the static would start, buzzing and ringing and pulsating through your head, making your eyesight blurry and your steps disoriented. Your schoolmates would flash and change into a sea of colors, mutating into a giant rainbow of blues and greens and oranges. You were shocked at first, thinking you had stepped into some freakish Technicolor nightmare. Their feelings made their colors change, you realized, some sort of aura-reading mood ring and how weird is that? But you were used to weird by now, wings taken heavily into account. You learned to stay away from the dark ones, dark red and black and other bitter, angry colors. Their anger made your senses clog and the static flash until you almost collapsed under the weight of it against your heart. But the grays and browns were worse, their depression making every sound and color soft and muted, like you were sinking slowly, drowning.

It was only later that you realized that here was where faith was lost.

Even when you were younger you thought about elsewhere. Ireland, perhaps, or Egypt, even Montana seemed appealing. But you knew without saying, without asking, you would stay. Born here - raised here, live here - die here. Like your siblings before you. Because family, or its illusion, was most important.

You were bound before you were born.

Sometimes, the enclosed bitterness you associated with the wings would rise to the surface, sharp and precise, before settling in the pit of your stomach. So when your mother asked again, why your grades were slipping and why you were alienating yourself and why you seemed to stop talking altogether, you screamed in irritation but extended the wings and wrapped them around your body like a shield. She stared at you with large, disbelieving eyes and placed a hand over her mouth, struck speechless.

You realized it felt good to breathe again.

Slowly and cautiously, she approached you and ran her fingers through your glossy feathers, and you started crying. She held you and whispered soothingly, like you were five again and afraid of kindergarten, and called you an angel. You stopped and shook your head, quickly dismissing the idea. Angels were good and pure and perfect and dead and last time you checked you were none of those things. And suddenly you didn’t want to think anymore. But then she was talking about God and church, and you didn’t think you could step foot inside a church again. Because somehow sprouting wings made you examine yourself, and your sin, more closely.

You wondered if it was a sin to impersonate an angel.

You became restless soon after and Ireland (or Montana, possibly) became less of a fantasy and more of a reality. You suffocated under your mother’s insistent watch and the wings still itched to open, becoming the only part of you that didn’t like to hide. School came to an end and the bite of spring relaxed into the lazy heat of summer. And all you could think about was escape. You had to get away from this town and clear your head. You made the decision final and you packed what little you had slowly and deliberately, to somehow prolong the inevitable. And you had to remind yourself, as you strapped the remaining suitcases to that poor excuse for a hunk of metal, never mind a car, that this was all you ever wanted, anyway.

You wrote the last postcard to your mother while atop a cliff in Montana (you had finally decided) and remembered wondering if it would reach her. You spread your wings, still soft and smooth and white and perfect, unlike the rest of you, to their impressive length right outside in the August air. You stood and watched as the sunrise swallowed the remaining shadows and the morning heat consumed you. You felt it burn through your insides, igniting sparks and flames and fires while you glowed sunbeam bright from the inside out. A burst of blinding light and you leapt from the edge, leaving the static and your Technicolor world behind, and felt the energy split and crackle around as you flew.

And you realized, as you soared through the air and fell into the sun, that everything this beautiful, this perfectly angelically beautiful, hurt this much.

.the.end.

Book #54 in the series Animorphs by K.A. Applegate.

Disclaimer: If you've heard of Animorphs and you're thinking "Aww, how cute," maybe you should read my introduction to the first book to see how wrong you are.

THE BEGINNING

Animorphs #54
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot:

Rachel, Jake's insurance plan, cashes in her chips at the beginning of the book, turning into a grizzly and attacking Jake's brother. After a horrible battle in which she had to bite off Tom's head, she ends up defenseless in her human body, and is killed by a Yeerk morphed as a polar bear. Jake is in shock about having sent his cousin to kill his brother, and Tobias's heart is broken, but Marco and Cassie get him through the rest of the war. Because Erek drained the Pool ship's power, they can't stop the Blade ship from getting away into space, but then when the Andalites show up Jake is able to make an alliance with them, with Ax's help. They reluctantly let Jake have morphing cubes so he can keep his promise to the Taxxons and the Yeerks who have surrendered.

The war is officially over and Ax is named a prince among the Andalites. During the aftermath, Marco enjoys movie deals and riches, Jake broods and gnaws on his guilt, Cassie pursues Hork-Bajir welfare and a veterinary education, Ax gets command of his own ship, and Tobias is missing. They have a funeral for Rachel which involves Tobias taking the ashes away, but nobody sees him after that. The remaining three meet for Visser One's trial, where he's convicted of war crimes.

After, they try to go on with their lives but then Ax is captured and taken to an area of space where Andalites are not allowed to follow. A surviving Andalite brings this news to Jake, and Jake organizes a team to go rescue Ax. Cassie is excluded because caring for the Hork-Bajir is now her purpose--and she has a significant other who's not Jake. Tobias remains mad at Jake for how he handled getting Rachel killed, but he agrees to join the rescue and so does Marco. Together with two secret military volunteers from classes Jake teaches and the Andalite who brought the message, they steal a ship and name it Rachel, and off they go to fight a horror even more overwhelming than the Yeerks.

About this book:

Narrators: Rachel, Jake, Cassie, Marco, Ax, Tobias

New known controllers:

 

  • None

New morphs acquired:

 

  • Jake: None
  • Cassie: None
  • Marco: None
  • Rachel: None
  • Ax: None
  • Tobias: None

Notable:

 

  • Jake's morph at the beginning of the book is stated to be a Bengal tiger. The tiger he actually acquired was Siberian; this is a continuity glitch since there was no other tiger acquisition adventure.

     

  • A line stating that Tom's Yeerk screamed with Tom's mouth is inaccurate because he does it in thought-speak.

     

  • Marco discusses having released a book about his life with the assistance of a ghostwriter. It's notable that Applegate acknowledges ghostwriters here since many of the Animorphs books were written by them.

     

  • This book uses thought-speak quoting within thought-speak--as in, a thought-speaking Andalite quotes what another Andalite said in thought-speak, and the same symbols are used--but one of the thought-speak quotes was never closed.

     

  • No big reunion drama or really any notes at all were made about the fact that Jake's parents were alive. They have to have been because Jake mentions buying them a house and then moving out. Mostly none of the parents are followed up on. Marco seemed to be very stuck on his parents being back together before the war ended, but he doesn't mention them at all in the post-war story and it's never mentioned what became of his dad's marriage to another woman. It's never mentioned whether Rachel's dad was found or whether he'd been taken during the phase of the war when the Yeerks were trying to seize the Animorphs' families. Her mother cried at her funeral but her dad wasn't mentioned. Cassie's parents aren't discussed. And Tobias, who fought for the chance to get to know his mother, doesn't appear to associate with her at all.

     

  • Interesting that Jake calls the male recruit by his last name but the female recruit by her first name.

Best lines:

Rachel: I did what I do better than anyone. What Jake counted on me to do. I attacked.

Rachel: "Did I . . . did I make a difference? My life, and my . . . my death . . . was I worth it? Did my life really matter?"
Ellimist: "Yes. You were brave. You were strong. You were good. You mattered."

Jake: I had ordered my cousin to execute my brother. How would I ever explain that?

Erek: "A diversion? You're going to tell me you needed a diversion so Jake massacred seventeen thousand sentient creatures? A diversion?"

Marco: I don't want to say I'm ruthless, I'm not. But I have the ability. I can see the ruthless way clearly. I have to sort of add the morality back into the equation after the fact.

Jake: "At this point we have to set aside the necessary ruthlessness of war, the suspicion and hostility, and turn instead to the more satisfying duties of making peace."

Asculan: "Who exactly are you?"
Marco: "This is Jake. Jake Berenson. President of Earth."

Marco: Humans weren't freaked by aliens--they'd been expecting them for years and were just relieved they weren't The Borg.

Cassie: In the public imagination, Jake was still some melding of George Washington and Patton and Batman.

Marco: "You have to trust your instincts, not your doubts."

Marco: "So what do we call her?"
Tobias: "She's beautiful. She's beautiful and dangerous and exciting."
Marco: "She would love it. A scary, deadly, cool-looking Yeerk ship on a doomed, suicidal, crazy mission that no one can ever know about? She would love it."
Jake: So it was that we went aboard the Rachel.

 



Next book: The Ellimist Chronicles

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