Categories > Books > Animorphs1 Reviews
The Ellimist. Erek King. The Iskoort. Just how did the Ellimist get Erek to go on that mission?
Manipulation is an art.
I was thinking about that as I watched the scene before me, a group of human youths deciding whether or not to skip school.
Of course, it was a complicated decision. On the one hand, a huge battle of the bands is taking place on the beach. And it's free. Plus the first thirty-five people get free t-shirts and hot dogs.
A brown-haired boy, off to the side, scoffed at this. "T-shirts, Benji, you have a million of. And you can get a hot dog anytime you want, doesn't your cousin own the hot dog stand down on the beach?" Gray eyes, with an almost metallic sheen, rolled.
"Erek, don't be a jerk," another girl reprimanded.
"It's okay, Jenny," Benji (short for 'Benjamina') said. "I know Erek's a jerk, and just wants to show off by getting the highest score on his history test."
The brown-haired boy, known to the masses as Erek King, smirked. "I love you, too."
Jenny poked him. He was currently pretending to be her boyfriend.
Yes, pretending, and no, probably not for the reason you would assume.
Erek and Jenny were not just pretending to be a couple, they were pretending to be human.
Fascinating, isn't it?
Benji turned to the other three characters in their show of six. "What d'you guys think?"
Alonzo shrugged. "My sister is singing in one of the groups, Maniacal Rush. I say we go."
Benji frowned. "Isn't that jock George Mason the leader of Maniacal Rush?" she asked. "I thought Mariela hated Mason."
"You don't have to like someone to make beautiful music with them," Erek pointed out. "And I never said I didn't want to go, I just said t-shirts and hot dogs are a stupid reason to."
You would think that, wouldn't you, Erek? Especially since you don't wear t-shirts or eat hot dogs.
You don't wear anything but a lie, and you eat up nothing but faint glimpses of happiness and joy you are allowed to receive. I'm sorry about that, I truly am. And I'm sorry about what I must now do, but I have no choice.
Those children we both dote on so, those Animorphs would not survive without your unique abilities and knowledge.
With this in mind, I 'reached' for the stretch of space-time surrounding you, careful to keep your timeline separate, and hit a sort of, oh, stop button.
Benji stopped her persuading. Jenny stopped trying to keep her faux-boyfriend in line. Alonzo stopped staring into space.
Erek stopped listening.
I watched in amusement as his cold gray eyes narrowed slightly, as he took in his surroundings. The six were on their lunch break, and at a secluded table.
But all other tables were silent. Forks stayed in the air. Mouths did not close. A paper airplane stood still in the air, not moving.
Finally Erek stood up.
"Come to warn me of the dangers of ditching?" the cheeky android asked.
OF COURSE NOT, I answered. WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR LIFE IS NOT MY CONCERN.
"Convince yourself first, Ellimist," he retorted. "The events of my entire life, all of them happened at your discretion."
Erek played a recording of an exasperated sigh. A habitual reaction. He had learned that humans often sighed in reaction to anguish or frustration, and after all those years of playing the part, many human quirks had become part of his character.
"I ask you humbly: please take a form that I can see." He looked around the room, years had made him familiar with my tricks. He was looking for any form I might take. "I'm not in the mood to deal with a demi-omnipotent deity."
I should explain that last comment. As he is a machine, logically someone must have built him. The ones who did were called Pemalites.
I, for lack of a better term, built them.
Thus, like many races of the galaxy, the Pemalites looked to their Creator as their chief deity.
Other races did, too, if I interfered with them early enough in their development. Some planets adopted worship of me as a separate religion, different from the norm. The Ellimist is a being with many fable and fabrications added to his true likeness.
Of any race, of course the Pemalites', as I did create them and trusted them with many precious secrets, version of my tale was the most accurate. Years had distorted things (for example, I was not a ninety foot tall pink tree with powder blue floppy ears and a brick red muzzle). But they know of my rival, Crayak, and his servant, the Drode, and they know not to be tempted by him.
Knew, I should say. They were killed by my rival.
This is the information I have come to capitalize on. This is the emotional blackmail I must use to manipulate the android waiting for me.
I thought for a minute, and then projected an image to represent myself before Erek. I choose a furry gray creature, roughly four feet tall with large, floppy ears and a thick muzzle obscuring his lower face. The creature was bipedal, and as a crowning touch, was graced with two large, curious eyes, colored a deep robin's egg blue.
It was an adult Pemalite, except for one minor detail.
No Pemalite ever had eyes that were this shade of blue.
If Erek noticed my eye color (and in fact, he did), he made no mention of it. Instead he gawked at my form for a moment, before collecting his famous cool. Most knew him as one who did not get upset. Not easily, anyway.
"An... interesting choice, Ellimist."
"I wanted a figure you could relate to," I explained gently, in a Pemalite-esque voice. "Why don't you drop your hologram?" I suggested. "We are alone."
Erek snapped back from his contemplation of my choice of projection. "I would," he said, sarcasm evident in his tone. "But the humble face my creators fashioned for me is incapable of displaying my utter disgust for you."
I smiled my firmest smile, which fit easily onto this Pemalite face.
"I'm pleased to see you never lost your sense of humor in all this time." And I truly was. "It seems it has only been further enhanced."
"If you mean it's more cynical, you're right on the button," Erek answered. "And if this is a social call, by all means, pull up a chair. I'd share my lunch with you, but it's only a hologram."
"That will be fine," I said. "I come to you seeking a favor."
Erek raised his eyebrows in what a human would call a "no, really?" sort of expression.
"What sort of favor?" he asked suspiciously. I could not blame him. My favors usually included being in a place you don't want to be, and retrieving a something you'd rather not know existed. My first favor of him had been to retrieve the Time Matrix, an artifact I had created by accident.
While designing my Pemalites and their environment, aboard my body/ship, I had gotten careless. Creating a species from scratch is difficult; I used samples of DNA from other races I had encountered, and also caused a chemical reaction to create new, fresh DNA.
When combined together with a catalyst, ammonia, water, methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen create simple nucleic and amino acids. Including deoxyribonucleic acid, and ribonucleic acid, which are commonly known as DNA and RNA, respectively.
My catalyst got out of hand, however, and reacted with several other alien pieces of my technology to create the Time Matrix. Upon realizing the potency of the weapon, I hid it away on the Pemalite homeworld, where it would never be found.
But I lead Erek to it, and he brought it to the planet Earth, to plant it as a catalyst for my plans.
I loved that; created by a faulty catalyst only to become a useful one.
But that's neither here nor there.
I sighed myself then. And looked at Erek, the fake holographic boy sitting me. 'Erek' was a shield, protecting the heart of the being, the Chee concealed within. But I liked this shield, for this way I could clearly see his emotions play out on his face.
"I'm not going to enjoy this, am I?" he inferred. "Like that's any big surprise," he added. "Still, I thought, once Cassie told me about Tobias getting his morphing powers back, you would use them as your pawns, and just put me back in the toy box."
"I'm afraid it is not that simple. I cannot put any of you 'back in the toy box' until you die."
"Fantastic," he said dryly. "What is it this time?"
"Well, you will not be alone this time," I said with a faint smirk. "I am asking you to accompany the Animorphs on a mission to the Iskoort homeworld."
"Iskoort? That's a race I've never heard of."
"They're from the other side of the galaxy," I explained. "Nearer to my homeworld."
"I see. Why?"
"Please, no mind games today," Erek requested. "I just spent a day relearning everything I know, surrounded by a mass of teenagers. I could actually feel my I.Q. dropping."
I chuckled. "Fine, we will not play games." My laughter halted, and I bade him to look at me seriously in the eyes. "You know of my war with Crayak, do you not?"
"Well, the Iskoort are part of that battle," I explained. An integral part, down the line. "I want them to thrive. Crayak does not."
"I see." His cool eyes held a dangerous spark. "So you plan to drop your hidden ace down and let them protect the Iskoort?" He snorted. "You know they won't go for that. Not without structure and rules at least. They have a duty to Earth, not some species they never heard of."
"They did extremely well on Leera," I pointed out calmly. "They had no prior knowledge of Leerans, except for what Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill knew, and what they saw on Royan Island."
"True. But Visser One was in charge of the efforts on Leera, for a period of time. That involves Marco, and therefore, the Animorphs. You should learn something about subtlety, Ellimist. Subtle issues are going to nail you in the end."
A joke, of course. He knows how subtle I truly am.
"You're right, of course... what is it you're going by now?" I smiled. "Erek, was it?"
"Yeah. So, answer me this, Ellimist."
"Just what in your name do I have to do with this?" he asked. "If it involves you and Crayak, that means a fight. Which is something I cannot do." He shuddered briefly. Or his hologram did. Memories of the Matcom incident, fresh and clear in his mind as if it was happening now, were flooding him. I did regret that incident for him, despite his sarcasm and disliking for me, I was quite fond of Erek.
But it was necessary. I needed him to... appeal to the Animorphs. And he had performed beautifully. First he had been willing to fight alongside them. Then he had protected them. Next, he had proven that he had a good heart, and could feel remorse for when he did wrong. Finally, he had proven a valuable asset.
It had left him scarred and upset, but he worked himself into my plans. He had plenty more duties and assignments waiting for him, and many involved unhappiness on his part. It was a shame, but it had been difficult to work the android into my plans at the last minute.
I had assumed all of the Chee would destroyed with their masters. But when I noticed that Erek's space-timeline was not ending with the others around him (and that several others were not ending, as well), I realized what a glorious opportunity it was.
I looked Erek straight in the eyes at that moment. "The method that will decide the fate of the Iskoort is a contest of champions. It is to be seven against seven."
"Six Animorphs plus me against..." he trailed off. "I'm waiting for an answer."
"Seven... Howlers?" he breathed.
It was a hurricane of emotion that swirled across that deceiving face. The illusion of skin blanched to the color of the Earth's pale moon. The cool gray eyes lost their metallic sheen, and became as solid and dark-colored as an aged rock. His eyes widened to the point where they almost popped.
Pain, confusion and betrayal spun through his stony eyes. Pain at the horrific memories that must be resurfacing. Confusion as to why I would subject him to this again. Betrayal for doing so.
He attempted to speak. "How... Howlers?" he asked, almost childlike. "Oh my God, no. No, you can't!"
He stood up, stone-cold irises morphing into blazing melted steel. "Are you trying to get them KILLED? You MONSTER!" Erek exclaimed. "Monster! Those who call Andalites the meddlers of the galaxy know nothing about you, Ellimist!" Wounded, flicking off his hologram to prevent it from betraying him, he stood before me, pure Chee. "An Andalite may be a ruthless bastard, but this... This is too much!"
Expressionless as sutiiru, for that was the metal that truly made him up... he collapsed back into his chair, smashing it with his weight. It didn't faze him, as I immediately set it right.
"Ellimist, you can't... they'll die...
"They'll die... just like my creators, like every Pemalite I ever knew... what if they use the germ warfare? We've never managed to find the cure, even though we still work on it as dutifully as we ever did."
"Calm down," I said softly.
"They don't have a chance."
"They always have a chance," I said strongly. "One of the rules is that both sides, Crayak's and mine, always have a chance of escaping alive. Whether or not they find it, though, is their problem.
"That's why they need you."
"Me?" His android form smiled the Chee smile, the only facial expression they are capable of. "If I were biological, I might have forgotten about that."
"Luckily, you are not." I sighed. "You are exactly right. Alone, against the Howlers with only their morphs, they are defenseless. Of course you remember their most potent weapon."
"Yes. They need you to be there, with your vast knowledge of the Howlers. I know how long you spent studying them when they occupied the Pemalite homeworld."
"Days," he said listlessly, memory consuming him again. "Weeks. Months. A hell of a long time, to simply stare and absorb." He shook himself briefly.
"So, basically what you're saying is... you want me to protect the Animorphs from the Howlers?"
"Educate them, at least."
I raised my Pemalite brow, as he clicked his hologram back on. "How come?"
"I'll go nuts." He looked at me, pretend human to pretend Pemalite. "I'll go mad. I can't face them. I'll be trapped in a blind rage, with nothing to do but roll over and shut down.
"Take someone else. They won't want me, I can't fight with them."
I had thought he might react like this.
I turned away to look out the lunchroom window, at the frozen world outside. How many of them were not ignorant to the fight the Animorphs fought, I wondered. Later I could find out.
I turned back to Erek the Chee. He looked ill.
I reached into my proverbial deck, and pull out my final ace.
"What?" he snapped.
"I will make you a deal. Barring the resurrection of your creators and the end of the Yeerk invasion, what is it you most desire?"
"I wish the dest... de-s-t-ru-ccccccc-shuuunnnnnnnn..." The hologram died again, as his torso bent over. His head was now parallel to his knees.
a mechanical thoughtspeak voice announced to everyone who could hear. Which was only me.
Despite the dire circumstances, I smiled at the sound of the faux-Pemalite voice. They had invented machines that could use thought-speak, though they themselves spoke verbally. The thought-speak machines were intended to not alienate any aliens in the vicinity.
I thought a minute, and Erek perked up. I had simply sped up his rebooting process.
"You desire the destruction of the Howlers," I said, without preamble. "I cannot do that."
"Death is better than they deserve," he argued. "What I wouldn't give for a gentle death sometimes."
"I empathize." And I did. "I can promise you this, however, Erek: if you go on this mission, and help the Animorphs succeed in defeating the Howlers, they will never take another life."
"If, and only if, the Animorphs succeed."
"If, and only if," he repeated. "You DO know this is emotional blackmail, right?"
"I do. So, will you or won't you? What is your decision?"
Before the word came out of his mouth, he was in Cassie's barn. I sped him through the few hours it would be until I finished dealing with the Animorphs themselves and dropped him there. I heard his response as I left for the Animorphs' school to tell them my story.