"I still don't get how," Melissa griped.

"It's complicated," I admitted. "Something to do with Sario Rips and sub-temporal restabilizations. I, uh, didn't take it all in, I had more immediate things to worry about."

"I'm glad you're alive. But I mean, how much did I miss when I wasn't paying attention? You guys were getting sliced open when I was worried about passing eighth grade. My parents-they were slaves for four years!"

"The Yeerks know everything," I reminded her. Where was Cassie to explain things when you needed her? All I knew how to do was fight. "They had all your parents' memories, all their thoughts. Thousands of other people went through the same thing."

"I should have seen," she protested. "That first year, I could tell something was wrong! But I couldn't think of anything weirder than they were getting a divorce."

"Divorces are stressful," I said. "I should know. And yeah, it would be great if Earth was full of Leerans who knew something was wrong, but it's not."

"Leerans?"

"Never mind."

"You can tell me. I mean, if it's time-travel nonsense I'll understand even less than you, but not everything needs to be a secret anymore."

"That's true," I said. "There's this aquatic planet, okay, and the Yeerks tried to make the fish-people there into Controllers."

"How did you get there?"

"Uh, well, we were morphing mosquitoes, and a spaceship collided with the rest of our...body mass in Z-Space." Before she could ask me a physics question I didn't know the answer to, I rushed on, "Anyway, that's not the point, the point is that they were psychic, but they were actually decent people and wanted to fight with us. The Andalites, well, a lot of them were jerks, but you know how Andalites are."

Melissa giggled. It had only been months since the idea of the whole world having opinions and stereotypes about Andalites was a pipe dream, and yet here we were.

I had worried whether I fought because I loved the war for its own sake. To some extent, I still did. But another part of me wondered whether I loved the rush of being one of the only ones in on a secret. The blue box had set us apart from other human, given us the chance to fly and swim and rage and rebound from injuries that would have stopped anyone else dead in their tracks. Maybe it wasn't peace that scared me, but being normal.

And yet, I was still set apart. Not on a pedestal, inaccessible to the rest of the world, but forged by my memories. Those couldn't be replaced, couldn't be acquired. But they could be shared.

"So," I went on, "we morphed into these Leerans, and it was easy to be sure that there were no Controllers around. Of course if anyone had snuck up on us, we'd have been in trouble."

"I mean, obviously you got out of it."

"Wasn't obvious at the time! But anyway..."