Disclaimer: I only own Casey and his family. All other characters are properties of K. A. Applegate and/or the other authors who are with me in this roleplay/collabfic.

I don't think tiny chapters of 1k words or less are meaty enough, so from here on out I'll try grouping chapters together more often so they cross at least 2k words. I'll be going back through the first few chapters and might consider merging a few.

A/N #1: {{}} = Thought-speech.

A/N #2: Personal thoughts are italicized.

A/N #3: Implied Gore Warning.

*~*~*| Chapter 7 - The Visser |*~*~*

Oh shit. Oh shit. OH SHIT.

That cry was the most chilling thing I had EVER heard – and it meant that Elfangor was losing his fight.

We were out of time.

Against my better judgement, I rushed to the ship's boarding ramp, alongside William. The rest followed. I think we both – all – wanted to see for ourselves. See what could bring down the regal warrior Elfangor appeared to be. See the enemy we would be fighting.

Peeking into the construction site, we saw Elfangor, standing within a solitary spotlight like a cage fighter. He was staggering, hindlegs buckling, as he desperately tried to snap his tail at his opponent. An opponent who, while injured and bleeding, managed to keep herself underneath his stomach, where his vision was limited and his tail obstructed.

Yes. "Herself". His attacker was a "she".

His attacker was human.

No! His attacker is YEERK!

The Yeerk, presumably Visser Five, had a blade driven INTO his belly. Dark blue liquid trickled down her twisted face as her gleefully cackling voice pierced the night.

Then, with superhuman strength, she heaved – and something sinuous–

A wave of nausea slammed into me with the force of a tsunami, and before I knew it –

"HURREAGGH!"

My stomach had introduced the remains of my dinner to the once-pristine ship.

What I saw…

I saw…

I… will never forget that sight.

Even if I live to be a hundred.

Even if I live forever.

I desperately wanted to turn my eyes away – so very badly wanted to ignore this gruesome visage. I wanted to just pretend – pretend that NONE of this was happening –

Yet, I watched.

I watched silently as she crawled out from beneath Elfangor, her limbs streaked with deep blue and crimson red.

I watched helplessly as she took her blade to the base of his tail and began sawing.

I watched, fighting back tears, as… as she wrapped the grisly trophy around her neck, lovingly caressing the gleaming weapon she had wielded in battle.

And I watched as this malevolent monster sat down in front of the defeated Andalite, giggling triumphantly, to watch him die.

I had seen enough.

Time to leave.

*~*~*| 7 |*~*~*

I think none of us were ready to process what we had just seen. I'm not sure if I even wanted to, because that would mean admitting that… that… had just happened.

My stomach was still churning, and I tried as best as I could to push the queasiness away and refocus on the present.

It wasn't just me, though. Everyone else was silent, but at that moment, our faces said everything. Even Al, who was one of them, seemed dazed at the barbarity displayed by one of his fellow Yeerks.

That, if anything, actually made me feel like… like maybe he wasn't all bad. Yes, he was still a slaver. But maybe, just maybe, he meant what he said about rebelling and this could push him even more towards us.

That was a lot of maybes.

Erik was speaking.

"Anyone here know how to fly? I failed my driving test three times, so someone else should do the honours."

I glanced out once again at the aftermath of the battle.

Oh god, are giant yellow centipedes clearing- no, EATI-

Nope. Not. looking. NOT. LOOKING, I chanted to myself as my guts prepared for round two.

"I can fly," Will stated, voice hard. "But it would take me an-"

THHHHWAP

"ACK!"

"OW! FUCK!"

"What the hell?!"

For a split second, chaos reigned. I watched as the blue cube fell as if in slow motion. It bounced once, twice – and then rolled down the rest of the way, coming to a stop in the no-man's land between us and a terrifying death.

A feeble squawk sounded from between us, and when we turned to look, we saw a dazed seagull lying in the middle of the ship.

What the hell is a seagull doing here? And why did it just divebomb Will?

"Will?" I asked. "Are you okay?"

When there was no reply, I looked up to realize that Will stood frozen in the middle of the ramp – a ramp that placed him in full view of the construction site.

He had been seen.

Great. This just keeps getting worse!

William slowly stepped forwards down the ramp. I couldn't see what kind of monstrosities he was facing, but I was thanking the heavens that it wasn't me in his position, because he clearly was a lot calmer under pressure than I was!

Then again, I suppose he didn't have any other choice.

"We need to do something! We can't just let Will go out there alone! Once they ask him something specific, he'll be toast!" I hurriedly whispered to the others. "Al, you know some of these guys and what they're up to, right? Go out there and help him, and I'll have no problem letting you use the cube afterwards!"

From the inside of the ship, we heard some faint fragments of the ongoing conversation.

"Of course I know what it is! What kind of fool do you take me for?!"

"You've got to get it to the Visser right away!"

"Well duh!"

Goddamn it, Will.

"I haven't seen you before… what's your name!?"

"Uh… Jake."

"No, not your host's name, you idiot!"

"AL! Get out there and help him, NOW!" I hissed.

Al, thankfully, still had his wits about him. He squared his shoulders and marched out, projecting the image of a person (Yeerk?) in command.

"Aftran 212!" he barked. I could hear the undercurrent of practiced rage in his voice. I guess the Yeerk military had their own version of drill sergeants. What I knew of them from movies, anyway.

"If you fuck up one more time I'll personally starve you out! Get back in that ship! I want everything lined up and prepared for the Visser and the science teams. Everything! Together! If you drop another little piece…!"

The transformation was jarring. One moment he was this rather meek character trying to convince us that he was on our side, and the next he turned into the kind of person who would vehemently insist that his grandmother could run faster than you.

In the end, Al resorted to some vaguely threatening comments towards the Yeerk who had accosted Will, which finally got them to back down and shut up. I suppose Yeerk underlings were not that big on the initiative scale, then – act like you know what you're doing, throw in some sense of self-preservation into the mix, and they'll obey without asking questions.

On our side, Anna went after the kamikaze seagull, which was now weakly flapping about. After collecting it, we took several steps back, retreating some distance from the entrance of the ship to make absolutely sure that we couldn't be seen. I racked my brains, wondering what on Earth this new complication was.

Elfangor gave us the cube. The cube gave us the power to morph. And now some seagull attempts a fly-by robbery of the cube when we're stuck in the middle of this battlefield?

No. There's no way this is a coincidence. It's an Andalite. For sure.

Anna had clearly come to the same conclusion.

"And just who the hell are you?" she demanded, withdrawing a knitting needle from her sleeve and jamming it against the seagull's belly.

*~*~*| Chapter 8 - The Other |*~*~*

The seagull desperately struggled, eager to escape being impaled – I'm pretty sure it saw Elfangor's fate – but her grip on it was far too tight.

"Chill, Anna!" I frantically objected. "We don't need a repeat performance!"

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Al and Will return, with Al giving out instructions. "Get to the controls. They'll be obvious. Get another for weapons systems, we might have to use them… though hopefully not. I'll make sure no other 'problems' come in." That was certainly a good thing! I was content to listen to him for now – at least he seemed to have a plan for saving our lives.

…yeah. I definitely tasted the irony in that statement.

Wait. This is an Andalite craft, and another Andalite just entered the picture. Surely we can trust it (for now) to help us get out of this Yeerk territory.

"Look, Andalite, whatever your name is. We need to get out of this place quickly before that madwoman comes back – I'm sure you saw what happened to Elfangor earlier! Are you familiar with this ship? Can you help fly us out of here?" I asked.

"We're not Yeerks!" William called out from the other end of the ship.

Well, that certainly wasn't true… but I guess getting out of here immediately was our main concern, and what the Andalite didn't know wouldn't hurt it, or us, for now… hopefully.

Without warning, the seagull suddenly started to grow! As what was once a bird suddenly became a writhing lumpy mass – white feathers melting into blue fur, bulging lumps appearing on its head before *sproinging* into those stalk eyes that could see in nearly every direction, hooves bursting out of its chest – I found myself simultaneously fascinated, yet somewhat disgusted, at the impossible sight. So this is what morphing looks like.

I might or might not have gagged in response.

"Don't look at it! Take it easy, we don't need you getting sick again." Will said, a little abruptly. I guess he was still a bit sore about me stinking up the ship earlier.

"Well, sorry," I said, a little stung. I mean, it isn't like I can't take care of myself. I also don't generally make a habit of projectile vomiting, it's just, you know, stress… and that whatever happened earlier caught me completely by surprise…

The Andalite completed un-morphing (de-morphing?), the last vestiges of the seagull beak schlooping back into its mouthless face. It stood proudly in the middle of the ship, cutting an imposing figure – or it WOULD have, if Anna hadn't been stunned by the change, forgetting to let go of the seagull she held. Instead, the completely nonplussed centaur found itself within her embrace.

"AAAAHHH!" Anna shrieked, releasing her hold and jumping backwards. The Andalite barely glanced at her, instead addressing the pair trying to figure out the controls.

{{I will help you pilot this vessel away from here if you agree to give me the cube,}} it said imperiously.

Now, I didn't know about Andalites in general, but this one was certainly far different from the noble warror Elfangor was. It spoke like it expected all of us to bow to its commands, with no possibility of negotiation. And that… rubbed me the wrong way. Coupled together with my emotions regarding my previous… indisposition… I wasn't anywhere close to thinking about acquiescing.

"Well? Yea or Nay?" Will asked.

What? Are you kidding?!

After Elfangor gave it to us?

After Elfangor DIED for us?

And this new guy thinks he can just prance in and DEMAND things from us?

In normal circumstances – in which this was decidedly NOT one – I would've just given it back to him. But this new wrinkle just took things one step too far.

What followed next was a cacophony of noise, as a small argument broke out with Anna and I on one side and Erik on the other.

"You just tried to steal the cube!" Anna protested, and then looked over at Will. "Nay! Way, way nay!"

"If it means we leave right now, then I vote yes," Erik said, staring at his sister, attempting to communicate nonverbally.

"Are you kidding me?!" Anna exploded. "Elfangor died to give us this cube! We don't know who this guy is! We don't know if he's with us or against us! You don't think it's pretty convenient that this guy decided to be a seagull to try and steal the cube after Elfangor died, instead of backing him up while he was still alive?!"

"We were fine until you decided to attack us! Your actions put both Al and Will in danger, and now you think you have the right to order us about? You OWE us!" I glared at the interloper. Trust was a rare commodity in short supply, and I certainly didn't feel like giving any away tonight.

Anna took a steadying breath, before addressing us all once more. "Listen to me. All of you. Including you, Bossy Blue. Elfangor said it himself: they could be anywhere. We know they can infest humans. We know they can infest aliens, too. So, Bossy Blue, we have absolutely no reason to trust you. Especially because you tried to steal from us. We don't know that you're not flying us right back to your base - whoever your people are. Elfangor said that he was breaking a law, and the Yoghurts want us dead, so either way you could just betray us if you wanted to. You guys, they could be anyone. So we can't trust anyone. Especially not someone trying to take our one and only weapon from us before we've even used it. Someone who might have been able to save Elfangor from being murdered. We can't trust him."

No disagreement from me there.

Anna and I backed over to the controls while keeping an eye out for the new Andalite. Anna started whispering in quiet tones to Al, while I stood ready to help out with piloting the craft if Al needed it. No, I didn't trust him either. I didn't, and probably couldn't trust ANYONE. But as of right now, I trusted him a great deal MORE than the overbearing blue horse.

"I'm sure we can come to some agreement. But please! Help us! We're desperate! The Yeerks will kill us if we don't leave now!" pleaded Will.

And as if to highlight the urgency of the situation, we heard hammering on the hull of the ship and the sounds of weapons firing as the ship rocked.

Our time was up.

*~*~*| Chapter 8 |*~*~*

As always, thanks go to /u/Shiiang (Anna), /u/mrmrspears (Erik), /u/tman008 (William and Elfangor), /u/deadbravo (Alazar), and /u/apostolicnerd (Zed, the 2nd Andalite) for allowing me to use their words my retelling of the story.