My name is Jane.

First name Jane, last name Young. And that's all that I'm going to tell you about me, at least as far as identification goes. But I will let you in on a secret of mine: I'm a Controller. A voluntary Controller at that, although I certainly didn't start off that way. What in the world is a Controller, I'm sure you're not asking (unless you've been living underneath a rock for over two decades), and what the heck is the difference between a voluntary one and an involuntary? But I'll humor my own question anyway. A Controller is someone who has a Yeerk inside their head, attached to their brain and able to control every single movement and read every thought. A voluntary Controller is someone who agreed to let that Yeerk into their head while an involuntary obviously didn't. However in the present there is literally no way for anybody to be an involuntary Controller since all the free Yeerks are now closely monitored by the authorities for any abuses, and every Yeerk eligible for hosting had to both pass a background check and be vetted by at least two or three other Yeerks (I can't remember how many specifically) before they could even be considered for addition to the pool of host-able (I'm sure that that's not a real word) slugs.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I just called a Yeerk a slug. Big whoop. But if I've got a Yeerk in my head then how come I call them slugs for time to time a lot of the other voluntaries out there have nothing but positive things to say for their worms? Well, like I said earlier, I didn't start off as a voluntary. But my present circumstances meant that for all intents and purposes, I needed a Yeerk in my head in order to become a functional human being once again.

Like many former and current Controllers, my association with the Yeerks started with the Sharing. However, unlike many, I didn't join the Sharing because I felt the desire or need to belong to something bigger, or even just to improve the quality of life of people. No, my reasons were much more selfish: I joined the Sharing so I could get extra credits to my name and hopefully get into the college of my dreams. If only my fifteen-year-old self had known what was in store for me, I probably would have just joined the Scouts or volunteered for the Red Cross or donated to the Salvation Army. But joining the Sharing looked like it was much easier than anything involving those other organizations that I had mentioned. Besides, all I knew about the Sharing back then was that they did picnics at the park and the beach and went on field trips to the Gardens so it had seemed like a no-brainer back then.

Long story short, I got in way too deep with the Sharing. I wanted to go for that full membership because I thought that that would look really good on my college application, make me look like I'm really committed to the cause. Only when it was too late did I find out that full membership in the Sharing actually involved putting one of these little gray slugs into my ear so it could crawl up to my brain and take control of my body. I wasn't willing to go that far just to get into my favorite college but the Sharing, well, they wouldn't take no for an answer, as many a former Controller will attest. The next thing I know, two aliens with blades all over their bodies were shoving my head into this gray sludge and something was crawling into my ear, which was painful at first but then either my body got used to the sensation or my ear went numb and I could no longer sense pain from my ear. Sure, there was something still in there crawling even further inside but's it like getting an injection of anesthesia; I can only sense and not really feel.

And that was how I met Lilly, or Lilten Eight-Six-Two-One of the Sulp Niar Pool as she liked to call herself. At first, Lilly was all aloof and distant. She basically refused to acknowledge me for as long as she could, and only it was until I had created such an insane racket inside my own head that Lilly spoke to me, as opposed to of me, for the first time. ((Silence, human!)) I distinctly remember those to be Lilly's first words to me. ((I am in control of your body now. You are now in the service of the Yeerk Empire, and you will remain quiet while I perform my duties or I will silence you by force!)) Funny how that's what I remember about Lilly the most and not all of the other things.

Yeah, I know, this doesn't look good at all for Lilly. But like I said, this was the absolute beginning of our relationship, and even though she now knew every single secret I've ever had up to that point, she wasn't about to do the same for me. Lilly did lay down the ground rules of being a Controller and made it abundantly clear that as long as she was in my head, she was going to be in control of me 24/7. But even at the very start, I could sense something was off with her. Sure, Lilly would accept her orders from her superiors to continue recruiting new members to the Sharing but once we were back out of the Yeerk Pool, she would claim any number of reasons why she couldn't recruit, and if she did begin recruiting, it wasn't with any enthusiasm at all. Sort of like she was going through the motions. Lilly didn't get called out on it because it turned out a lot of the students in my high school batch were also "full members" of the Sharing, enough that Lilly could do what she did unnoticed.

And another thing: although Lilly had made it clear that she could break me and force me into submission any time she wanted, she didn't, and nor did she really want to. But like I said, she was so distant and aloof at the start. I wouldn't have minded her being such a slacker, at least in the eyes of the Yeerk Empire, if only she talked to me, even if it was just once a day or so. I tried to get her to talk a few times, but every time she would tell me to shut it or she would have my family forcibly infested. And I would have believed her if Lilly hadn't been so determined to not recruit anybody into the Sharing. Eventually I did get Lilly to talk, but only after some probing and prodding, and in the end she was just like any other slacker who didn't want to get told off about her slacking by anyone in authority: she didn't want a snitch for a host.

((I did not ask to become part of this invasion, Jane,)) Lilly told me. ((I am only trying to survive just as I am sure you are. You should have just said yes during the full membership orientation. And you should consider yourself that I am the Yeerk assigned to you. You have seen how the other Yeerks treat their hosts. If you had been assigned to one of them instead of me then your life would become a living hell, much more than you think it is right now. I have been nice to you, Jane Young. I would appreciate it if you could do the same to me.))

((Nice? You crawl into my head, take control of my whole life, do my homework, kiss my parents goodbye, threaten to infest my whole family, and you call yourself nice!?)) I scoffed. ((You've got some nerve for slug!))

((And I am telling you that this situation that you are in right now is the best that you are going to get from the Empire,)) Lilly continued. ((But you know what? I won't stop you. If you want to inform my superiors about my dereliction of duty upon my next feeding then you are free to do so. You can even request for a new Yeerk at the same time if you want to. Your next Yeerk may treat you better or they may treat you worse. But know that I know many other Yeerks out there who will jump not only at the chance to infest you but also your family, everyone else you know, and anyone who asks you about the Sharing. But if you want to take your chances with one of those Yeerks then you are free to do so. I will not stop you.))

I gave it a good deal of thought, and in the end I didn't go ahead with my "threat" to tell on Lilly. We remained together for the last two years of the invasion, Lilly still trying to ignore my existence for as long as she could, and then the Yeerks surrendered after the Andalite battle fleet finally arrived. Lilly turned herself over to the authorities, and she was confined to one of the Yeerk Pools on Earth that hadn't been damaged or destroyed by the fighting between the free humans and the Controller armies. And that was the last that I heard of her, or at least that's what I thought.

One of the unspoken realities of the aftermath of the Yeerk invasion was that, of the tens of thousands of humans who were finally released from Yeerk control upon the surrender and after it, a lot of them (both involuntary and voluntary Controllers) had been changed irrevocably by the presence of mind-controlling body-snatching alien slugs in their heads. Much of the focus was obviously on the involuntaries as they struggled to return to their pre-invasion lives, but what people didn't know (or chose to ignore) was that many voluntary Controllers also suffered problems trying to reintegrate into society. Aside from the obvious in which these former voluntaries were identified and singled out (often by former involuntaries who recognized the voluntaries from their journeys to their respective Pools) and often discriminated against, many former voluntary Controllers found that they had problems controlling their own bodies once their Yeerks had been forced out of their heads. This problem wasn't always suffered by the voluntaries; many involuntaries also had problems moving their bodies after the war. But most of those with control problems were voluntaries, and many of those voluntaries with control problems had let their Yeerks have control of their bodies for the vast majority of the time they were infested. Further studies then revealed that many of the involuntary Controllers who also suffered control problems had been those who gave up the fight during infestation or had been broken by their Yeerks. And the problems seemingly varied from person to person. Some former hosts looked like they were only moving deliberately or in slow motion while others needed help from canes, crutches, wheelchairs, or other people to move around. I had even heard rumors of people who fell into comas or were completely unable to breathe once their Yeerks had left them.

Thankfully I didn't suffer too many problems myself. Due to my status as a former involuntary Controller, I was afforded months of free physical therapy by the state, and the first few days of my therapy were quite difficult because I could barely lift anything with my arms and I needed a walker to get around. I hadn't lost too much weight during the invasion; in fact, I think I might have gained a pound or two, but according to the tests that my physical therapists did to me, my mind was acting like I had lost between thirty to forty percent of my muscle mass. According to them, they had only seen that kind of loss on patients with muscular dystrophy or atrophy or whatever they said it was. I was as fit as anybody my age could be but my arms couldn't lift the same weight and my hands couldn't grip as strongly; it was as if I had the strength of someone twice or even thrice my age. The physical therapists couldn't figure out why, and they had nothing to go on except my past as a Controller. Days turned into months, and months turned into years, and yet despite all the training in the world my strength and grip and all the other things the PTs measured remained the same.

Then one day, a study was released which revealed that some scientists had developed a hypothesis which said that Yeerk infestation could possibly help improve the prognosis of those going through post-invasion physical therapy. I know, it sounds crazy. Why in the world would you trust the same thing that had made you lose control of your body to get that control back? I mean, no kidding that it wasn't a popular study from the moment it was conceived up until it was published, and even when the Yeerk Peace Movement offered to back the study, people still didn't like the idea. Even today there are those who say that the study was not truly scientific because it had backing from an organization which would stand to profit (not in a monetary sense, of course, but you know what I mean) from the success of said study. And yet here we are.

The study was conducted with two groups of twenty former Controllers each, all drawn from various backgrounds, some involuntary, others involuntary, and others who were voluntary and were host to Peace Movement Yeerks. One group continued on the same therapeutic regimen that they were on before the study, while the other group were allowed to be infested by Yeerks (which had been vetted by the Peace Movement) during their regimens. The groups were then allowed to continue their original treatments for six months, and then after those six months the progress of both groups along their treatments were compared to their therapists' original prognoses made at the start of the trial period. What the study revealed was that while the first group (the one without Yeerks) had improved right on schedule (with a variance or whatever it's called of ten percent), the second group (the one with Yeerks) had improved by as much as ninety percent (somewhere around seventy percent was the average that I remember, but I also remember seeing someone who said that the improvement rate was ninety percent).

The release of this study had the effect of reintroducing Yeerks into the public consciousness. We were finally talking about the damned slugs again after collectively deciding years ago that they were a taboo subject. Two sides inevitably formed after the study was released. One side, spearheaded by the Peace Movement but also including Yeerk nothlits and even some former hosts, said that allowing the remaining unmorphed Yeerks to help, heal, and rehabilitate former Controllers was a very big and vital step towards reconciliation between humans and Yeerks. The other side, composed mainly of people who had suffered during their infestations and their relatives but also including some prominent and highly influential people, argued that those former Controllers who needed Yeerk help were too weak, and that no self-respecting human would need help in the form of brain-invading aliens to recover. It was a very intense debate between the two sides, something like the one between pro-life and pro-choice (which I would very much like to avoid discussing at all costs, thank you very much), but back then I didn't really care. I had had enough of Yeerks to last me a lifetime.

It turned out that that study that had been published was just part one. Part two of the study came out a few months after part one did, and it was about the progress of the study participants after they went back to normal life. The group with Yeerks during their therapy kept their Yeerks while the ones without, well, you get where I'm going. The two groups both went six months with only occasional remedial therapy sessions, and then after the sixth month the groups were tested for their strength once again. This was when the study discovered that the group with the Yeerks had managed to keep the strength they had gained during their initial therapy while the group without Yeerks all suffered some sort of regression (averaging around fifty percent according to the study). This of course only stoked the fires of the debate, and both sides claimed the whole study as proof that they were in the right. The pro-Yeerk side said that this is exactly how humans and Yeerk can reconcile while the pro-human side said that there's no way that the study could be taken seriously because the Peace Movement had its slimy palps all over it. But the real legacy that this study left was its influence in the decision to legalize voluntary Yeerk infestation in the United States. Well, that and that poor kid who was stoned to death for being a voluntary Controller.

By the time Obama signed the Human-Yeerk Reconciliation Act into law, I had been in and out of physical therapy for over ten years. Sadly, I could see no end in sight for my problems. I had actually improved throughout my therapies; my real problems were that I would have episodes where my hands just can't grip anything. One moment I would be holding a cup and suddenly the cup would slip out of my hand and fall. It wasn't just cups though; I would often drop pencils and towels and whatever just happens to be in my hand whenever I suffer an episode. Also, my legs and knees would just buckle for no reason at all. None of my therapists could come up with a solution for any of these problems, and even I was getting desperate. If I wanted to get a job, any job, I couldn't be dropping things left and right and falling down stairs or tripping over stuff. The healthcare may be free but I've got other bills to pay for. And if getting a Yeerk back in my head is going to help pay those bills then so be it.

So I applied for voluntary infestation. I did it online because I was more comfortable doing that. I filled out a questionnaire asking questions such as why I wanted to become a Controller; if I had been a Controller previously; and if I had answered yes to the previous question, for how long was I a Controller; and if I wanted to be in control most of the time or if I was okay with my prospective Yeerk getting much of the time in control. I answered the questionnaire, sent it off, and then I waited for a reply. Finally, after a few weeks I got an email from the Human-Yeerk Alliance (the new name of the Peace Movement that they took after voluntary infestation was legalized) telling me that my application had been accepted, and that I could finalize the process by going to the nearest Pool. The email even told me that I could request a specific Yeerk at the Pool, and they would check if this Yeerk was still available and had not been made to become a nothlit.

Now that got me thinking. I knew that by this point, all of the Yeerks available for infestation had been vetted by the Peace Movement beforehand (there was some discussion about getting Yeerks to breed to increase the supply but the application numbers hadn't justified increasing their numbers just yet) but I was still not that comfortable with the idea of just any Yeerk coming into my head and seeing what I see, knowing what I know. And then I remembered a name, a designation, and a Pool of birth: Lilken Eight-Six-Two-One of the Sulp Niar Pool. I hadn't heard of anything about her after she surrendered herself back in 2002. I didn't know if she had become a nothlit or if she was swimming around in some Pool somewhere. But she was the only Yeerk I really knew, kind of, and better the Yeerk you know than one you don't, right?

I went to the Pool nearest to where I lived, and as this was just months after infestation was legalized there were still quite a few protests going on in front of the new Pools (or "community centers" as the HYA had dubbed them) where accepted applicants came to finish the process and be infested (or re-infested in the case of former Controllers). The Pool that I went to was one of the smaller locations so the protests there were similarly small, but there was still a crowd picketing at the entrance, jeering at everyone who went in and came out for selling out to the enemy. I remember this lady, maybe somewhere in her fifties, look me in the eye and tell me, "You've just sold your soul to the devil, young lady!" I mean, okay, some of the more well-known Yeerks like Esplin Nine-Four-Six-Six (aka Visser Three) were evil and should be called evil, but the one Yeerk I do know kind of personally isn't that evil. She's more of a slacker than anything else, but certainly not evil.

I went past the protesters and into the Pool. Some things were still familiar, like the gray light coming from the sludge and the rock-like walls (even though this Pool was now in a ground-level building) but there were some things missing from the Pool that I remembered like the cages for the involuntary hosts. Now that was something that I was glad had not made it into this version of the Yeerk Pool. I went to one of the offices to the side of the Pool, told them my name and my application number, signed the waiver, and then I asked them if Lilten Eight-Six-Two-One of the Sulp Niar Pool was still available. The person in charge of processing the applications told me that they would check, and then lo and behold, a few minutes later they came back and said that not only was Lilten still available for infestation, but she had also been transferred to this very Pool just a few weeks before. Isn't that something?

I can't remember for how long I waited. Must have been a few hours at the very least. Finally though, my name was called, and I went into this smaller room with a contraption that looked like a dentist's chair except with a small tank where the dentist's tools would have been. A woman was sitting where the dentist would have been while working on your teeth, and she was typing things into a keyboard connected to the small tank. I didn't recognize the woman but I had a feeling that she was a Controller, like I was about to become. Again. "So, Jane," she said in a chipper tone as I sat down on the dentist's chair thingy, "welcome back to the Yeerk Pool. How are you feeling?"

"Nervous," I admitted.

"You were involuntary before, right?" the woman continued. "Got your head shoved into the sludge by the Horks, didn't you? Well, we don't do that here now." She laughed at her little joke, but I was not really inclined to share her humor. She seemed very happy about the thought of helping a Yeerk infest someone, too happy for my liking. But I knew that I had to go ahead with this if I wanted to fix myself.

"Anyway, Jane, here's your Yeerk. Lilten Eight-Six-Two-One of the Sulp Niar Pool, just like you asked for." She let me look at the monitor mounted on the side of the tank to confirm that it was indeed Lilten in there. Not that I would have recognized her after all these years. Heck, I wouldn't have even recognized Lilly back during the invasion. I was way too busy tuning out the screams of the other involuntaries to focus on small things like what my Yeerk looked like outside my head. But the screen said that it was Lilten, and I was inclined to believe that.

"Now, I believe you know what to expect next," the woman told me. "So I'm not going to bore you with it. Just lay your head down, and let me get you strapped in."

"Strapped in?" I asked. Why in the world would I need to be strapped in if I had agreed to be infested again by my own free will?

"Oh, it's just protocol, part of the procedure," the woman waved off. "The first-timers don't really know about the initial pain so they flinch, and we don't like the head moving around so we keep the heads strapped in. Just to make it fair, it's applied to everyone."

"Okay," I nodded, still not absolutely sure or convinced of the reasoning. The strap went over my forehead and kept my head from moving around too much. The woman stood up, reached into the tank, and scooped out the Yeerk inside. "One last look to confirm: are you sure you want to go ahead with this? Full-time infestation? No trial period, going all in?"

I nodded, or at least I tried to nod, but the strap obviously prevented me from doing so. "Yes," I said out loud. "I'm sure. Let's go ahead. Let's do it." Really, I just wanted the procedure to be done and over with so I wouldn't be able to chicken out at the last second.

"Okay," the woman nodded back. "Ready? In three, two, one…" I felt something cold and slimy touch my right ear, and I tensed up and drew a sharp breath. I forced myself to look at a dried blob of paint on the ceiling and clenched my fists as a pain began to develop in said ear, and then in an instant the pain was gone. I could still feel something moving around in my ear but not so much the pain. "Steady, steady, easy now," the woman told me. It sounded weird because I could only hear her through one ear, the one that was facing away from her. And then I felt my right foot relax. I wasn't even aware that I had been clenching my feet through all this, and now it was relaxed.

Other body parts followed in a random order, like my right knee then my tongue then my left pinky then my left lower eyelid. Eventually it was my whole body that had gone, and my earlier tenseness along with it. I was breathing, I was blinking, but I wasn't doing any of those things. At least not by myself. And then I heard a voice that I hadn't heard for over ten years.

((Well, well, well. Jane Young. What a pleasant surprise,)) Lilten Eight-Six-Two-One of the Sulp Niar Pool said to me. ((I was not expecting you to become my new host.))

((Join the club, Lilly,)) I replied. ((I wasn't expecting to become a Controller again, and yet here we are.))

"Lilten?" the woman called out. "Lilten? Have you made it? Are you connected?"

((Excuse me, Jane, while I tend to my duties once again,)) Lilly said. ((May I?))

((Wow, you actually remembered to ask,)) I nodded internally. ((I'll have to remember to put that on your evaluation.))

((Very funny, Jane,)) Lilly snorted as she gave me a mental eye roll, and then she took full control and spoke. "Yes, Terliss, Jamie, I am here," she said. "I am fully connected."

"Good, good," Jamie or Terliss or whoever was in control nodded. "Jane, can you hear me? Are you all right?"

((Now it's your turn,)) Lilly told me, and just like that I was in control of my body once again. "Yeah, I'm here," I said in reply to Jamie's question.

"Great!" she said. She then removed the strap around my head, which allowed me to sit up. That was a bit difficult because my neck had suddenly turned a bit stiff. I could still move my head around, but it was a bit hard and painful at the same time. But other than that and the four-inch alien slug now wrapped tightly around my brain, I didn't feel any different than when I had come in to the Pool. "Everything all right? Everything okay between the two of you?" Jamie or Terliss asked me.

"Yeah, I'm fine," I replied. "We're fine." It felt weird saying that. I felt weird saying that. But I knew that I would have to get used to it real quick.

"Great," she said yet again. Did this woman have any other words in her vocabulary? She typed in a few more things on the keyboard and wrote something on a clipboard which she then gave to me to sign. Once I had put my signature on the paper, the woman took the clipboard back and said, "Remember the three-day rule. We all know that Kandrona starvation and the fugue sucks for the Yeerks, but if you don't take good care of Lilten, things are going to suck for you too, Jane."

"Yeah, thanks for reminding me," I replied. As if my life wasn't already going to suck with Lilly in my head.

((I heard that!)) Lilly cried out.

((No, you didn't,)) I said back. ((You didn't hear anything.))

"So, I'm sure you might have seen that we have a few, well, 'friends' outside," Jamie/Terliss said. "So I would understand if you didn't want to go out the way you came in. That's all right; there's an emergency exit out back that you can use if you don't want to go out front. So, um, thanks," she said, and the last one caught me by surprise because it sounded like a completely different person saying it.

"Thanks? For what?" I asked.

"For, you know, this," the woman said, gesturing at everything and nothing with her hands. "Letting a Yeerk back in your head. Not everyone likes it, but if they only knew why some of us choose to do it then maybe they wouldn't hate us as much."

I wanted to say that perhaps that's the reason why the protesters hate us voluntary Controllers so much, because they know exactly why some of us needed the Yeerks back in our heads. But I kept my mouth shut, and instead I just nodded. "You're welcome," I said, and then I went on my way.

((What did you mean by that?)) Lilly asked me as I walked to the emergency exit at the back of the Pool. ((That the protesters hate us because they know why some of you would want or need my kind?))

((I would love to tell you all about it, Lilly,)) I said with more than a little sarcasm, ((but we both know it would be quicker if you just see for yourself.))

((Is that permission? Are you giving me permission to look into your memories?))

((Surely you can't be that stupid, Lilly. Of course it is.))

I stopped in the middle of the hallway because I didn't want to trip over something while walking at the same time that Lilly was accessing my memories. I watched as Lilly perused the last ten years, and while she didn't react when she saw what had happened to my hands and legs, I had the impression of someone holding a hand over their mouth in surprise. ((Oh, Jane, I am so sorry,)) Lilly finally managed to say. ((Are you saying that I did this to you?))

((Not just you,)) I replied. ((Your fellow Yeerks did the same thing to thousands of humans like me, and now you're going to help me get through this.))

((Jane, you should know that I never wanted that to happen to you,)) Lilten said. ((The muscle loss, the tremors, the loss of grip… You should not have gone through that just because of me.))

((Well, I got them just the same, and now you're going to help me get rid of them,)) I told my Yeerk. As I approached the exit, it was then that I realized that something didn't seem right. ((Lilly, hang on a minute,)) I said. ((Why are you suddenly a thousand times more talkative now than back then?))

((Oh, that's simple. Times have changed,)) Lilten replied. ((I am no longer beholden to serve the Yeerk Empire. You're no longer an involuntary Controller. There is no longer a chance that I will be reassigned to another host or that you will be assigned to another Yeerk. We can now be friends, or at least talk to each other. And isn't that what you wanted from me in the end?))

I was dumbfounded by what I had just found out. ((You've got to be kidding me,)) I finally managed to say. ((You're kidding me, right? The only reason you didn't want to talk to me back then was because you didn't want another Yeerk to find out you had been talking to me?))

((Well, yes, of course,)) Lilly replied with a tone that said that it was the most obvious thing in the world. ((If I had indulged you in a conversation like you wanted back then, and then you were reassigned to another Yeerk and that Yeerk looked through your memories and saw our conversation, they could have reported me for host sympathy. And if that had happened, I wouldn't be here to help you.))

Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. The reason why Lilly refused to talk to me back during the invasion was because she didn't want to get told on by a fellow Yeerk. She really was a slacker through and through.

((You think this is all a joke, Jane?)) Lilly suddenly shouted, and at that moment she sounded like the Yeerk that had invaded my privacy and threatened to infest my whole family. But a moment later and she was back to the new and friendlier Lilly. ((Do you know what the penalty for host sympathy is? Kandrona starvation. A long and drawn-out Kandrona starvation. Visser Eight knows how to make starvation last for months, knows how to make you beg for death, and he won't let you die until he's had his fun. That was what was in store for me if I had talked to you about more than just my duties to the Empire. But now… Now, we are both free of that yoke. We are now both free to live as we please.))

I pushed the door of the emergency exit open and stepped out into the open air. I stood outside on the pavement, feeling the sun on my skin and the wind blowing my hair. I watched the cars passing by on the street and stared at the colorful fruits and flowers in the park across the street. I could have sworn that I heard Lilly sigh in satisfaction. ((This is what many Yeerks really want, Jane,)) she told me. ((Not conquering entire planets and species, but just the chance to experience the universe in a body with good senses. Some, like the ones who run the Empire, may like doing that, but the Yeerks I know just want to live without thinking about war again.))

((Yeah, I think I can agree to that,)) I nodded. ((It's probably why that girl, Jamie, said thank you to me back there.))

((Oh, yes. Terliss had told me all about her host Jamie when I arrived here. She's a big softie, Jamie. Thinks that all Yeerks deserve to have a willing host, each and every single one of us. Terliss is just happy to be back in her head. Says she prefers Jamie's company to the others she's known.))

((Speaking of Terliss and happy, she seemed to really like getting to put you in my ear,)) I said.

((Ah, yes, Terliss definitely enjoys doing the infestations for the applicants,)) Lilly laughed. ((I have a feeling that Jamie encourages Terliss because it makes her happy. It's either the perfect combination or the worst combination ever to be made.))

((Oh, don't be so judgmental, Lilly,)) I said as I hailed a cab to take me back home. Ah, if only life could always be like this. Just walking around and looking at stuff for your alien brain slug to appreciate. But if I had known the places and situations that putting Lilly in my head would take me then I probably wouldn't have let her in there in the first place. Maybe.


A/N: Yes, I'm back! And with perhaps one of the longest chapters I have ever written. This is the start of the official part two of my After the War series, the one which is an actual sequel and not a mid-quel or whatever you call something that's set in the middle of a story. This one was quite a long time in the making, and I don't know how often I will be able to update, but I do hope you appreciate it all the same. As always, leave a review or a comment if you feel like saying something, anything, about my story. Whether it's constructive criticism or just saying you like it is fine by me. Thanks! - GR