View Single Post
Old 11-10-2017, 10:47 AM
Kalir's Avatar
Kalir Kalir is offline
I have a Plan
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Utah
Posts: 6,999

So for Book 53: The Answer, we start off with Yeerk fighters literally blasting buildings in the Animorphs' home city, shooting jet fighters out of the sky, and burning a huge circle of scorched earth around the area to ensure that they can't escape without being seen. More importantly, this is the penultimate book, as narrated by Jake Berenson. Yeah! At this point, they don't bother at all with the "we can't tell you anything else about us or the Yeerks will find us" line. Instead, they admit that the Yeerks know damn well who they are and that this is the all-or-nothing mission.

Additionally, this is the first narration by Jake we've seen since he lost his parents to the Yeerks. This Jake is completely different from the Jake we've seen narrating all the books beforehand. That guy was a reluctant leader of a kid, but he had a natural presence and sense of duty that made him the best possible fit the Animorphs could've had for the job. Jake Berenson is a haunted and vicious person who alienates his team on accident and has a drive to win at all costs, including the lives of people he cares about. Sure, he tells himself it'll all be worth it once the war is won, but... well, let's just go through the book and you'll see what I mean.

First off: the mission is to destroy or otherwise incapacitate the main Pool ship that has been in orbit around Earth all this time. This mothership is certainly able to fight, but as it serves as a safe point for all manner of Yeerks, it's generally not risked in such a way. However, it's landed within the quarantine zone the Yeerks have burnt out, so the Animorphs have a shot at getting onboard it. At this point, though, Visser One absolutely does not trust anything whatsoever, and getting onto it will require everything they have.

At first, Jake doesn't really have a plan. The concept is simple: steal the Pool ship and use it against Visser One. The actual "how" is harder. Jake tries to rally all the factions he possibly can to help, including US military forces as led by one General Sam Doubleday (and the meeting with him is pretty funny, at least). The Hork-Bajir, of course, are unconditionally in. The Chee have recently vanished, and Erek's house is of course a smoking crater right now. And the auxiliary Animorphs are suffering from even worse morale after taking a few casualties in recent combat.

So imagine Jake's surprise when a completely different, but not new, faction comes out of nowhere offering help. During an attack on a new Yeerk pool site being built, Jake is captured by Taxxons, including Arbron, Elfangor's old friend and a Taxxon nothlit. Arbron explains that the Taxxons are starting to see another path they could take, one where they wouldn't have to serve the Yeerks. Indeed, the Yeerks have kept them under a tight leash, up to and including restricting them from Escafil device access. So Arbron and the Taxxons promise to ally with the Animorphs, provided they can all go nothlit in another form, any form, just to keep the hunger away.

Jake returns to the group and lets the others know the score. Ax, of course, objects to the plan on account of him being faithful to the Andalite war effort, to which Cassie responds by guilt-tripping him into revealing what his late-night correspondence with the Andalites have really revealed. Ax claims that the Andalite people at large have bought into military propaganda for so long that they don't have any idea what they're really doing, and that the Andalites plan to quarantine/incinerate Earth from orbit. Course, the answer there is the same: use the Pool ship comms to tell the Andalite civilian leaders what's gone down.

In any case, Jake goes down to meet the Taxxons, complete with a new morph at Cassie's recommendation and a full retinue of Animorph spies. Arbron asks him to demonstrate to the Taxxons what can be done here, and Jake obliges with the new morph of an anaconda. He explains that once an anaconda does eat something, it's pretty much set for months before it needs to eat again, and that they'll be glad to offer this form in exchange for their aid (helpfully leaving out the part about the Andalite war council for the sake of keeping Arbron happy). The Taxxons are sold, and the Animorphs have a new ally faction.

But we're not done yet. The next person to show up and ask for aid is none other than Tom himself. He spends a lot of time being a generally smug jerk, but eventually lays out his own terms: if the Animorphs spare him and let him have the Blade ship, about a hundred of his own soldiers, and the Escafil device, he'll give them the codes to the Pool ship's intense security and get out of their hair. Needless to say, nobody here trusts him worth a damn. But in letting Jake know this plan, he tips his hand, and Jake comes up with a plan in one flash of insight.

Remember how, at the end of the David trilogy, their plan to trap him in rat form is the most careful, calculated, and cruel thing they likely were ever to do? Jake's plan may be more calculated, and it's absolutely more cruel, but it's not careful at all. Right off the bat, he asks Marco to go get the Chee, and Rachel to follow Tom to the Blade ship. We won't find out what Rachel's part of the plan is yet, but for now, she's out of the book.

Erek shows up ready to help, as ever, but Jake's not here to play nice. Remember, Chee programming flatly prohibits anything that might cause violence, but Jake still needs their hacking expertise and hologram tech. So he says "hey, you help us sneak onto the Pool ship regardless of whether fighting happens there, or I execute my hostage Chapman. Yeah I took Chapman hostage, but if that's what it takes to ensure you follow this plan that NEEDS TO WORK, then that's how it goes." Erek is furious, but his programming means he has to stick with it.

Next up is the US military and auxiliary Animorphs. Their task is to attempt a massive ground-based assault, which is meant to be a Trojan horse. By the time they attempt their attack, the other Animorphs are meant to be on the Pool ship already. Needless to say, they're not thrilled about this either, since they'll be taking the brunt of the Yeerk defenses, but Jake isn't having any of it. While we're at it, he tells Ax to lie to the Andalites, telling them to hold off on their attack because we're going to deliver an entire Yeerk warship right to them.

As for the actual infiltration, it's a little complex by necessity. Jake lets Tom capture "Cassie", which is to say Erek in hologram disguise, and personally deliver them to Visser One. The other Animorphs sneak onboard, with Tobias in Taxxon morph and the Hork-Bajir already in place. And a good thing too: Tom orders the Taxxon Tobias to devour Cassie, hoping to kill off all of the Animorphs at once. Yeah he was totally backstabbing them, why are you surprised by this?

The Pool ship's security is, as mentioned above, intense. They shift codes every hour on the hour (also Tom might've sped up the cycle to fifteen minutes), and Ax and Erek need all the hacking chops they have to seize even a single station per cycle. While this is going on, Visser One has the Pool ship take off now that he's gotten one of the main Animorphs he wanted, only to see the combined forces of the US military and auxiliary Animorphs below. He gleefully goes to focused Dracon fire from the Pool ship on each of the Animorphs in the army, delighting in each one horribly killed. And they're not shy about depicting this either, literally the first casualty gets her back half of her rhino body vaporized.

Once he finishes, he switches to a wide dispersion shot to slowly roast the remaining US soldiers. But before that happens, the helm isn't responding, and the Pool ship no longer has a shot as it's drifting off course. Visser One finally realizes that he's been duped, at least in part, and orders his soldiers down to engineering to hunt down the Animorphs. Jake reunites with the rest of the Animorphs for the next stage of their plan, but they'd really like to know where Rachel went at this time. And when Jake tells them that he sent Rachel off to assassinate Tom and stop the Blade ship from leaving, they uh... they don't take it well! Especially not Tobias!

But no time to tell Jake he's an awful leader, we have a Pool ship to disable. The Animorphs hurry to the bridge to bait Visser One there, hoping to get him to attack the Blade ship held by Tom since Erek flat refuses to hack it. The bridge also serves as the main site of the titular Pool. Which means its time for another rescue mission! All the caged hosts are busted out as quickly as possible, and Jake takes Marco and Ax with him to the Pool maintenance controls. See, there's a flush sequence involved so the Yeerks can maintain the pool. If they were to initiate it now, they would launch seventeen thousand, three hundred and seventy-two Yeerks into the vacuum of space.

Jake hesitates for a bit on that. This is a long way away from the guy who turned on a Jacuzzi to kill a bunch of alien parasites he didn't know anything about in order to save his homeworld. At this stage, Jake absolutely knows the stakes, and one could make a very good case that killing these Yeerks now, especially with their hosts freed and the Pool ship disabled, would be needless. But this isn't the Jake we knew before. This Jake wants this war won at any costs, and if that means killing seventeen thousand enemy soldiers with a single order, he does it. The entire pool freezes upon leaving the ship, killing all the Yeerks within.

Visser One eventually meets them at the bridge, and at this point the guy is more defeated than they've ever seen him before. He's not only clued into their assault completely, but he's figured that Tom has betrayed him as well. He'd like to fire the Pool ship's weapons on the Blade ship, but their power is being drained by Erek, so he can't even do that. He complains that he lost to a traitor rather than to the Animorphs, but the guy's basically gone full "whatever" about everything. Losing as badly as he has, that'd be enough to throw anyone clean into the "emotionally dead" level of uncaring.

The book ends with Tom's gloating over his imminent victory and escape cut short by Jake's appearance by Visser One. He lived through Tom's treachery! Wow! Also everything is awful forever.
Reply With Quote