My name is Derane Three-Four-Four of the Fleet Niaar Pool.
I am a Yeerk. I am an organism that forces itself into the heads and brains of other organisms and takes over all of their bodily functions, taking control of every part of their body and even their memories until only the host's consciousness is left behind to cower in the back of its own mind.
In our natural state, Yeerks are blind, deaf, and senseless slug-like creatures, which is why we need to squirm our way into other creatures' heads in order to gain access to these wonderful, wonderful senses.
Another species called the Andalties once took pity on our kind and gave us the tools and technology to step out of our Pools on our homeworld and take to the stars. But then when we Yeerks began conquering other species of aliens, the Andalites declared war on the Yeerks and we have been fighting ever since. We Yeerks have had our victories, and the Andalites have had theirs.
As this war between us and the Andalites entered its thirtieth cycle, the Yeerks stumbled upon a planet called Earth. This planet was home to a bipedal sentient species called humans, and their population numbered almost six billion individuals. Imagine that! Six billion potential hosts for the Yeerk Empire! If we could infest them all then we can crush our Andalite enemies under our collective might!
The invasion of Earth was launched as quickly as a substantial force could be assembled, but we had to go about it very, very carefully. If the humans got wind that they were being invaded by alien slugs from outer space then those six billion potential hosts could very easily turn against us, and we would then have to turn our weapons on them. All-out open conflict, as envisioned by Visser Three, will most likely lead to ailam-lok', a very costly victory for the Empire. (The closest human analogue to the term would be a pyrrhic victory, in which the victor incurs losses as great as or greater than the loser. The loss of potential hosts while fighting against the Yeerks is a constant worry for those in the Empire.) And there is no doubt in my own mind, now that I have seen these humans (figuratively speaking, of course) for myself that the Empire will lose tens of thousands of Hork-Bajir and Taxxon forces to the humans' forces before the loss of millions of their own will finally force the humans into surrendering. Visser One had said much the same thing when she was presenting her plan of slow and secret infiltration and infestation of the humans to the Council of Thirteen, and therefore there was no surprise that the Council picked One's plan over Three's.
Before I was reassigned to the invasion force on Earth, I served as a Bug fighter pilot with my host being a Taxxon (as their numerous claws and pincers were best suited for piloting Bug fighters). When I was reassigned to Earth, I was assigned a human host: Elizabeth Van Arx. Elizabeth had been a member of the Sharing, the invasion's primary front, and she had been selected for elevation to full membership, which meant that she had been selected to become the next host of a Yeerk. I soon learned the reason for Elizabeth's elevation to "full membership", so to speak: Elizabeth was a human pilot, and her primary duty was flying humans to and from their urban agglomerations on their subsonic atmospheric craft called "airliners". The Yeerk invasion of Earth, through the Sharing, was spreading itself throughout the politico-national entity known as the "United States of America", and my primary objective in Elizabeth was now to fly both Controllers and potential hosts to and from these cities where Yeerk Pools had been constructed for the invasion.
Flying these airliners was a vastly different experience from flying a Bug fighter. For one thing, Bug fighters were extremely responsive under a skilled enough pilot, while these human airliners were cumbersome to a point. Even a Pool ship could turn faster than an airliner, but I did learn from Elizabeth's memories that this was the entire point of the concept of the human airliner. The airliner was meant to transport its passengers to their destinations in relative safety and comfort, and speed and tight turning radii were not necessarily important to the passenger experience. Once I had learned to accept this concept and not compare the airliners to Bug fighters, my own flying experience improved considerably. I even felt like I was enjoying my time here on Earth.
But then Andalite bandits attacked and managed to destroy the primary Kandrona supplying the Pool to which I was assigned and was underneath the city in which Elizabeth resided. At first the Yeerks in the Pool managed to survive on the supply of portable emergency Kandrona generators located inside the Pool, but eventually those ran out and the Yeerks began to starve. Visser Three was forced to shuttle Yeerks to and from the Pool ship in orbit while a new Kandrona was constructed for our Pool. Of course, only those Yeerks whom Visser Three liked and those Yeerks who were considered important to the invasion were brought up to the Pool ship to feed. The rest of us were left to starve to death.
One of those Yeerks considered important to the invasion of Earth was Eslin Three-Five-Nine. He had been assigned to a human working in the observatory near Elizabeth's town and therefore in a prime position to possibly provide a warning on the approach of Andalite forces to Earth despite the primitive state of the humans' space-observation technology. Eslin and I were both from the same pool; we had undergone training together, and we both understood each other on an almost instinctive level. In fact, Eslin and I had become scane – we had become bonded to each other. We were already two-thirds of a trifecta, a bond which forms between three Yeerks who will eventually merge and give rise to a new generation of Yeerk grubs. But for Eslin and I, we had gone beyond scane. We were, in human terms, lovers.
So when Eslin found out that I had been deemed expendable to the invasion, he was understandably furious at Visser Three and afraid for me. He knew that these were probably the last hours that he would spend with me, but I told him to just enjoy himself and to remember me after. I saw off Eslin as he was loaded aboard the Visser's Blade ship for the journey to the Pool ship even as I had resigned myself to the fact that I was about to die. But the strange fact of the matter was that I did not seem particularly bothered by that fact. Every Yeerk knows what happens to those who die of Kandrona starvation. Even Elizabeth's gloating about my impending doom from the back of my mind did nothing to bring me down.
What I did know was that the fugue was not the last thing that I wanted to experience in this life, so I came up with a plan. It was a crazy, outlandish and foolhardy plan. It was a plan centered solely on revenge and retribution. It was a plan most probably conceived in the madness of the early stages of my own starvation. But I wanted to show Visser Three that he and his cronies were not safe from death as well. And if my plan succeeded, I would not face a slow death. Instead I would die in a blaze of glory and hellfire; a much more palatable alternative to the death that I currently faced.
The Sharing had chartered an airliner from Cascadia Air, the airline for which Elizabeth worked and flew, to transport a group of its members to the urban agglomeration of Portland, where a new Pool had just been constructed, so that their Yeerks could feed and stave off starvation that little bit longer. The airliner would not be able to fly fast enough for me to feed in that Pool, even without the accompanying traffic problems from the airport to one of the Pool's entrances, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to enact my plan.
I used Elizabeth to "pull a few favors", as the human saying goes, to get myself on that chartered plane to Portland. Most notably, I was able to get a place on the flight crew by swapping with the first officer originally assigned to fly the charter, telling him that I would gladly take his place so that he could go and attend his younger daughter's birthday. Finally, the day of the flight came around, and I went to the airport. After checking in, I decided to leave one final message for Eslin. I walked to the payphone and deposited a couple of quarters and dialed the Eslin's host's number at the observatory. As the phone rang, I cursed quietly once again the primitive state of Earth's technology, relying on wires made of copper and glass for the vast majority of their own communications.
"Hello, you've reached the office of Gary Kozlar," said Eslin's host's answering machine once my call had connected. "I'm unavailable at the moment so leave your message after the beep."
"Es—Gary," I began, briefly slipping up on Eslin's name before I managed to refer to him by his host's name once again. "It's De—Liz. I just wanted to say that I love you, and that by the time you get back from where you are right now, you'll know why I won't be able to call you back anymore. Goodbye, my scane." I then hung up before I could say anything more than was necessary. I was tearing up, but I blinked the tears away and composed myself. There was no turning back for me after this. I was committed now that I had shown up at the airport. My throat had also gone dry, and not just because I was on the verge of tears. I had displaced my own Kandrona starvation into the form of thirstiness on Elizabeth's part, and I had taken to carrying bottles of water around with me to drink, knowing that they would do nothing to stop me from starving but drinking them nonetheless. I drank some more water and then I walked over to the plane that had been chartered by the Sharing to fly some of its members to the Pool in Portland.
The airliner was a Boeing 737, the most popular airliner in the world according to both its manufacturer and the pilots who flew the plane, the real Elizabeth Van Arx included. I myself also happened to like it because it was the human aircraft closest in performance to a Bug fighter (and even then, it still doesn't come close to be in actual competition). I walked into the cockpit of the 737 to find that the other pilot, Berga One-Five-Seven (in his own host, of course) was already inside and going through the preflight checklist. We both knew of each other's status as a Controller but for the sake of the cockpit voice recorder (a genuinely clever human invention that monitors the speech of their pilots during the flight of their aircraft), we referred to each other by our host's names.
"Liz!" Berga said in actual surprise. "I didn't know you'd been assigned to this charter. What happened to Alfred?"
"I swapped with him," I replied. "Alfred didn't want to miss Chrissy's third birthday so I told him that I'd fly for him today."
"Okay, Liz, just make sure that you don't get too funky on me on the way to Portland," Berga said, a subtle reference to our own situation of not having enough Kandrona spoken in such a way that humans wouldn't actually know what we were talking about if they could listen in. After Berga had finished the preflight but before we were actually supposed to take off, I went into the cabin to look at the passengers, trying to see if any one of them were someone I knew. None of Visser Three's right-hand Yeerks like Iniss and Sub-visser Fifty-one were there (not that I expected them to be here seeing as they are the Visser's trusted subordinates) but I did see one of the Visser's friends onboard: Akiss Nine-Four-One, a prominent leader of the branch of the Sharing in Elizabeth's city, was there. I nodded at Akiss and gave him a smile; he nodded his head back and returned to whatever document it was that he was reading at the moment.
"So, Liz, do you want to fly to Portland or should I do it?" Berga asked me as I returned to the cockpit.
"I'll fly us out of here, Steve," I replied. "You can take care of the return leg."
"All right, your call," Berga said. He then made contact with the tower and said, "Tower, this is Cascades 9054, ready for pushback."
"Roger, Cascades 9054, you are now cleared for pushback,"
"Cascades copies, Tower, 9054 cleared for pushback."
Berga and I went through the before takeoff checklist as was mandated by the human authorities. We then waited for our turn to take off from the runway. It wasn't particularly hot, but as I was both nervous about carrying out my plan and because my body was getting thirsty, I was drinking a lot more water than was normal for a human, and Berga picked up on this. "Liz, are you sure you're all right?" he asked me.
"Yeah," I said, wiping my mouth after drinking the water. "I'll be fine."
"Cascades 9054, taxi to position and hold runway 24L," the control tower said.
"9054 copy, taxi to position and hold runway 24L," Berga repeated.
"Cascades 9054, cleared for takeoff runway 24L."
"9054 copy, cleared for takeoff runway 24L."
My left hand moved the engine throttles forwards, taking them up to takeoff thrust. As the pilot flying, my responsibilities were to get this airliner into the air and then keep it there on the way to our destination. Meanwhile, Berga's job as the pilot monitoring was to keep watch of the instruments. Why the humans still needed to watch over their instruments when they already had some sort of automation built into the systems of their aircraft was a mystery to me, but as part of my cover, I had to "roll with it," so to speak.
"80 knots," Berga called out. "100 knots. 120. V-1. Rotate!" I pulled back on the control column to raise the plane's nose. I felt a pulling sensation in the region of my navel, and then the hook went away and I could feel the aircraft rising away from the ground and the pull of gravity. Berga reached across to raise a lever near my knee, and the three lights beside the lever briefly turned red before they flashed green once again. "Gear up," Berga said. Berga and I then worked on configuring the aircraft for the flight to Portland, but only I knew that Portland was not going to be this airliner's ultimate destination.
"That's it, then," Berga said after we had completed the final item in the after-takeoff checklist. "Nothing else for us to do in the next two hours."
"Well, you certainly won't be doing anything now," I said to that.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Berga asked.
That was when I made my move. I took out the small metal tube from my pocket and pointed it at Berga. He knew what it was immediately and he raised his hands in front of him and said, "Wait! What are you—?" But he couldn't finish his sentence before I fired the Dracon beam straight at his chest. I had fine-tuned the beam so that it wouldn't immediately disintegrate Berga and his host, but the beam still went through one of his hands and through his chest. Berga's host slumped back in his seat, and Berga himself made to crawl out of the human's ear canal before he got his body stuck to the human's brain after death. I pocketed the Dracon beam and then I turned on the radio and called out, with the proper emotions of worry and distress, "Los Angeles Control, this is Cascades 9054. My pilot just went unconscious, and I think he's unresponsive as well. Requesting vector back to LAX if possible."
"Cascades 9054, Los Angeles. Turn to heading one-zero-zero and maintain flight level one-six-zero. Would you like to declare an emergency?"
I waited for a humanly appropriate time before replying. I had to act as if I was both flying the plane and trying to assist my pilot, which I was not. "Uh, yes, Los Angeles, roger that," I finally said after thirty seconds of silence. "Cascades 9054 declares emergency."
"Copy that, 9054."
I then used my hand to turn the autopilot's navigation heading towards magnetic bearing 100 as the control center had instructed me. I also set the altitude to 16,000 feet, or flight level 160 according to the humans' aviation language. I asked the center, "Cascades 9054 requesting permission to drop to flight level one-two-zero." I believed that I would have better sight of my target flying in at 12,000 feet as opposed to 16,000 feet.
This time it was the control center's turn to take their time replying, but in their case they were probably actually trying to determine if my current flight path would take me across the path of any other aircraft in the sky at the moment. "Negative, 9054," the control center finally replied. "There is heavy traffic on flight level 120. Maintain level 160 and await further instructions."
"Copy, Center. Cascades 9054 out." I then removed my headset and set the autopilot attitude down to 12,000 feet anyway. My plan was to fly this plane towards one of the less heavily-defended entrances to the Yeerk Pool and then crash into the Pool itself. And I didn't need humans shouting warnings into my ears while doing so.
At the moment, I needed to concentrate on every movement that I was doing. I was already in the early stages of the fugue. My whole body was tingling. Sweat was dripping down my head and my cheeks. My throat burned with thirst. I needed to accomplish my plan before the fugue rendered me helpless and unable to control my host.
And then, out of nowhere, the real Elizabeth Van Arx burst out of the recesses in the back of my mind and fought for control of her body. She was able to wrest control of only her right arm, but it turned out that that was all that she needed to regain. She used the right arm in her control to push the control yoke down, and just like that the Boeing 737 was in a nosedive. ((DIE!)) she screamed as loudly as she could inside our mind.
I retook control of my arm and raised the plane's nose back up. The sudden movement of the yoke had disconnected the autopilot, meaning that I was now flying this aircraft by myself. And flying an aircraft while trying to fight a resurgent host for control of her body was not an easy thing to do at the very least. ((You fool!)) I shouted at Elizabeth as I struggled to keep the aircraft flying as level as possible. ((You're going to die with me anyway! Why not wait until we crash into the Pool!?))
((If I'm going to die, I'm going to die on my own terms, not as part of an alien's murder-suicide attempt!)) Elizabeth shouted back. And then in my fugue-weakened state, she managed to retake control of more parts of her body, including her arms and legs. Elizabeth used her right arm to push the control yoke back down once again, and then she used her left hand to shove the engine throttles to their forward stops and her feet to deflect the rudder to the right, thus ensuring that even if I was able to retake control, which I did, I would not be able to return the aircraft to stable flight unless I had the benefit of high altitude, which I didn't. The sky became the ground, and the ground became the sky. The 737 was flying inverted, and it was headed straight for the grassy hills below.
"Live free or die, you slug bitch!" Elizabeth shouted defiantly one last time before I made one more concerted effort to regain control of her body. And even as I finally shoved her back into the back of my mind, she was cackling madly as the ground rushed up to meet us. The last thing I saw was the grass outside of the cockpit windows and then I felt an extremely crushing pain all throughout my body, and then I felt my own Yeerk body being pressed and crushed against an unyielding surface before everything went black and I felt nothing more.