New Beginnings [Aximili]
Spring 2007

He had finished morphing to the turkey vulture.  It was his favorite bird, but he figured he might need to get a smaller one if he continued with the dormitories.  He had more reason to be careful, now.  

Finding that human-Controller in the forest had been the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Forlin knew now that he wanted to fight.  “Andalite!” she had hissed so vehemently that Forlin could swear the trees shook with her hatred.  Nesra Seven-Zero-One, she had introduced herself as.  When he had asked about the human host, she said that she was inconsequential.

At every turn, she had tried to knock him out.  He had taken her communicator which she’d been using to try and signal her people here, and he’d destroyed it—crushed it into pieces against his tail blade.  Then when she’d drawn her Dracon on him, he’d dodged its blast and knocked it from her fingers.  Desperate, she’d drawn a knife on him, and he’d taken that from her too.

And so, for a time, they’d had an opportunity to talk to one-another.  She had wondered why the Andalite refused to kill her.  She spoke of an Earth resistance that she thought he was a part of.  And she’d told him a lot of nasty things about how the Andalites waged war.  And pointed out that they had neglected Earth.  He wondered what he should believe, and which parts were clearly her trying to win the Andalite over to her side, so that could bring him back with her to…wherever the Yeerks had their headquarters.

<I do hope this Visser Three does not kill you for neglecting to turn me in,> he’d said before stunning her with the handheld weapon, which she had called a Dracon beam.  He had then fled, burying the weapon on the edge of the forest before he’d taken flight.  And now, here he was, soaring on a thermal, the city beneath him.  It was cast in a new light for him—Yeerks could be anywhere.  Even in his dorm.

He alighted in the tree by his room, and—when he was sure nobody was watching—he flew into the open window, landing on the cold floor.  He began to demorph.  As soon as he had hands to do it with, he pulled the curtains shut.  It was not long before he was fully Andalite, standing in a messy dorm room.

He suddenly felt utterly exhausted from the day’s events.  He checked his phone for messages, then closed his main eyes and was soon fast asleep.  He didn’t know how long he’d slept when it happened, though…

< There's an Andalite on campus. >

He almost hadn't believed the mirrorwave call when it had gotten relayed to him via one of the members of the local Resistance. Especially since he just so happened to be in Portland at the time, coincidentally there to help the local groups take out a smaller Pool. He'd actually been getting ready to leave with those he'd brought with him from the base, just a few minutes from morphing back to his human form so he could head to their rendezvous point.

It seemed...too convenient.

Since the Resistance member on campus had been directed at him through the only other member of the group capable of morphing, Ax directed his thought-speak towards her. Directly mirrorwaving towards a specific person was hard when one didn't know them but he'd gotten a lot of practice after the capture of Prince Jake. < This is Aximili. Who am I speaking to? >

There was a moment of silence and he tilted his head slightly as he waited for her reply, certain she hadn't been prepared for suddenly having one of the remaining active Animorphs speak to her instead of her fellow fighter. Then she tentatively replied, < Sharon. Sharon McLeod. >

< Hello, Sharon, > Ax said with a 'smile', despite knowing she couldn't see the expression. He'd picked up the habit over the years. < You're certain that there's an Andalite on campus? >

< Dead certain, sir, > came the immediate reply. Several years ago he would have tilted his head at the 'sir' but he'd gotten used to hearing it among the Resistance. < I was walking back to my dorm after my last class and just happened to glance across campus, which is when I saw this great big bird fly into an open window of another dorm. >

He'd been on Earth long enough to know that bird's didn't usually deliberately fly into buildings.

Sharon went on to say, < So I figured I should hop up and investigate. Ducked a corner to drop my bag, morphed my sparrow, and hopped up into the closest tree. I got there just in time to watch him close the curtains. Sparrow eyes aren't exactly like a hawk's but I could definitely make out seven fingers and eye stalks. >

< I see. Are you still outside the dorm now? >

< Yes, sir. >

Nodding to himself, Ax turned to the currently present Resistance members Dennis Cook, who had just returned to his own body from morphing to communicate with Sharon first, and Spencer Steele, who was one of the three non-morphers in Portland. < How far away is the campus? > he asked, directing his thoughts towards both of them.

Dennis shrugged (he'd admitted when they'd gotten lost during scouting that he wasn't originally from the area) and Spencer rolled his eyes at the other man before he replied, "Thirty to forty minute drive depending on traffic. Sharon would have the flight time if you wanted to go that way."

< I see, > he said. Then Ax turned his thoughts back towards Sharon to say, < Do you think you can give me directions to the campus? I would like to investigate this myself. You're within your time limit, correct? >

Sharon's reply was enthusiastic. < Only been in for a few minutes, sir. I'm fine. And I can give you the same path I take whenever I go to and fro from campus. >

< Good. I will contact you again momentarily when I am ready to leave. >

< Sir! >

Shaking his head at little at the enthusiasm, Ax turned to face the two men as he said, < I'm going to look into this myself. If I don't contact Drele within twenty-four hours, I'm going to give her instructions to mirrorwave you, Dennis, since she will already know where to direct her thoughts. > Directing thought-speak was a slightly more difficult think for the few free Hork-Bajir who had taken on morphing ability when they had still had the Escafil Device. Drele Madon was smarter than the average Hork-Bajir, hence why she was his second on field missions, but she had to have a perfect mental image of who it was she was mirrorwaving. Which she already had established with Dennis during their raid of the Pool.

Dennis groaned but Ax was already turning his attention elsewhere, calling out to the Hork-Bajir herself. There was a long pause and then he heard a sharp, < Yes, Aximili. You are coming now? >

< There's been a small situation that I need to investigate, Drele, > he replied. < If I don't get back in contact with you within twenty-four hours, contact Dennis here. >

< The grumpy one. >

He chuckled at that. < The grumpy one, > he confirmed.

There was silence for a moment then Drele asked, < This important, Aximili? Enough to delay return? > It was a good question since missions had a certain time table for returning from before the rest of the Resistance started thinking that the whole thing had gone wrong. With possibly delaying a day, he was dancing close to the deadline of their's. But...if there really was an Andalite on campus here in Portland, he felt he needed to know. Needed to know why.

Or if this was an elaborate trap.

< It's important, > was all he replied.

< Twenty-four hour, > the Hork-Bajir commented sharply. < I will be on time. Be safe, Aximili. I will keep others at point. >

< Be safe, Drele. >

As he cut the conversation, Ax cut his eye stalks back towards where the two men had been. Spencer was writing out something - likely the official report of the mission - and Dennis had disappeared. He gave a brief goodbye to the man still present, who just gave a vague wave of his hand and a grunt in acknowledgement, and made his way towards the back of the house they occupied (which was actually the home of one of the other members of the local group). Stepping out into the small backyard, which was surrounded by a privacy fence and deliberately protected from view, he focused on the form of his northern harrier.

Moments later, he was fighting for altitude as he reached back out to Sharon to say simply, < I'm ready. >

* * * * * * * *

After nearly two hours of watching the dorm, Ax had gone with Sharon back to where she'd hidden her backpack and told her to continue on with her night. That if he needed her, he knew how to find her. She had hesitated and still looked worried when she'd finally turned and left after his reassurances.

Then he'd oriented himself towards the dorm window, morphed to fly, and made his way inside. He sat on the wall for nearly thirty minutes, debating what he was going to do while watching the sleeping Andalite through the segmented eyes of a fly. Finally he decided if it was a trap, then he was going to break it open head on.

He could practically see Rachel's smile at the idea. Plans that went head on up against something in their way were typically her idea. Especially when breaking open traps. Sometimes that sort of plan was the best thing for a situation and if he was going to confront this in the time frame he had, then he was going to do it in his own body.

As he finished morphing back, the last of the fly disappearing, Ax looked at the Andalite before him. He appeared to be older than himself by a few years and he had the vague impression of...familiarity? That was impossible, however. The only Andalites he had know had been the other crews members of the GalaxyTree and they had all died, murdered by the Yeerks just the same as his brother had been.

'Frowning', he turned his head and eye stalks around the room and it looked like the typical dorm room. Exactly the same as the few others he'd been in over the years, seeking somewhere safe with Resistance members who were residents on various college campus'.

Who are you? he wondered to himself as he turned his gaze back to the other Andalite, shifting his weight from side to side as he adjusted his tail mentally to the space in case he needed it.

Forlin had been utterly exhausted, and sleep had grabbed him its warm embrace. The window was still slightly open but covered by curtains, and so he had a nice breeze while he slept, and when day became night, he would hear the cicadas, a sound he’d always grown to love.

But, something was wrong. Forlin was alert as he was sleeping, albeit usually relaxed in here alone. Still, he kept a stalk-eye open, and he’d seen as something was emerging from the fly, growing. An appalling thing to look at but Forlin kept his main eyes focused as the Andalite emerged.

What if this was one of the Yeerks? Forlin’s tail moved to the alert position, though he doubted he would fare well against a trained warrior or something of the sort. How had he been found? He’d left the Controller unconscious and alive—she couldn’t have followed him, could she? No, he’d made special effort to keep her off his trail just in case. So this Andalite must have found him some other way.

He hoped this was a free Andalite, not a Controller. He’d never met any of his kind—of course he had prior to his memory loss but that, he couldn’t remember—here on Earth, and there was some void within him that made him feel so alone. A void that the mere presence of this Andalite could fill.

Forlin wasn’t about to sound cold or anti-social, despite the fact that this other Andalite was basically intruding upon his dorm. A dorm that, thankfully, had no roommate. <Hello?> he said awkwardly. He was nervous when talking to him, and it showed. <I am Forlin. Y-you’re the first Andalite I’ve seen on Earth. How’d you find me?>

Odd questions to ask indeed, but Forlin was scared and rather nervous. He pawed the tiled floor with a hoof.

Ax noticed the other Andalite's tail move first.

Logic and instinct said he should react immediately against the unknown, especially if this was a trap. A tail fight inside a human dorm room between two full-grown Andalites was only going to be messy. Yet...from the room itself, he didn't really think this was a trap.

That didn't stop him from readying his own tail to strike, however. He hadn't survived on Earth as long as he had by being a completely trusting fool.

Then he stilled as the other spoke. Ax 'frowned' before tilting his head to the side, a habit he'd utterly picked up from spending time with Tobias in their human morphs. It was one of those avian gestures that his shorm was unable to rid himself of and it came out most often they came across something curious.

< Hello, > he replied as he noticed the nervous pawing on the floor. A Yeerk would not have controlled himself enough to pretend to be nervous. Not with the hatred that many of them still bore to the Andalites. Then he brought his main eyes back up to meet the other's as he went on, < You are not the first of our kind I have met. >

Ax wanted to know more, to know how he was the first of their own kind this Andalite had seen but that could wait. < I am Aximili. >

< As to how I found you, > he replied as he 'smiled'. < Well...let us just say that I and my friends have eyes in many places. >

As if he was going to come out and say that they got lucky. Never give away your hand, as Marco had said once. It had applied to cards when he and a few of the Resistance members had been trying to teach him poker, back before things had fallen further apart, but Ax had learned that it could be turned to much more than just that.

Aximili might notice that Forlin's dorm room was quite a mess. The bed was made up, however, though it was covered in various items: stuffed animals, a Nintendo DS that was currently plugged in, a backpack, and books. Forlin didn't sleep on the bed and thus he mostly used it to store stuff. He found it too small to actually recline on, unlike the bed at his home. He had two desks that were facing each other, with room to move in between them. They were high enough for him to access as an Andalite…for the most part. One desk had his desktop computer, the other had his rather old laptop. Welcome to the Machine by Pink Floyd was playing on the desktop machine.

On a dresser facing the desks (he could watch facing the one with his laptop, though he could also watch with a stalk-eye from his desktop) was a television. His trash can was almost full, and there was a recycling bag beside it. One looking at all of the wrappers would realise that Forlin went to Taco Bell a lot, and there were a fair deal of pizza and Cinnabon boxes. There were posters up on his wall; one was of Cyrodiil and it had come with his Oblivion game. The other was the TARDIS from Doctor Who.

Suffice to say, it was a place he didn't want to fight in.

<I know, it's a mess–I don't get a lot of visitors,> he said with a laugh. Forlin could hear, through the door, the sound of other freshmen romping around and being crazy. Little did they know there were aliens behind the door that read "Collin Henderson." <Sorry about being so cautious, Aximili. It's nice to meet you. It's just…I had a bit of a run-in with a Yeerk earlier, and I'm scared that she followed me. I made certain, but I'm still paranoid, y'know? Your friends…are they other Andalites?>

He did hope the other Andalite was not going to take him away from his home. He had lived on Earth for so long that he would not leave it behind. And he had so many questions for the other Andalite that he didn't know where to start. <I've been alone on this planet for years, since I crashed back in '96,> he said. <Humans have been kind, but I suppose there's something about meeting one of your own species…>

< You are not the only one who is cautious, > Ax replied as he turned his eye stalks towards the noise from outside the room, his main remaining on Forlin. < I half expected this to be a trap. It's not the first time a rumor of an Andalite here on Earth has come to us. Though it is the first where we actually saw one first. >

He then focused in on the other with all four eyes, taking a step forward. < You have not met your own kind but you know of Yeerks? How exactly is that? > Then he stilled and shook his head before nodding absently. < Forgive me for sounding...angry. It is simply quite difficult to believe. >

How did he know of Yeerks but not recall his own kind? He couldn't have been young when he came to the planet, Andalites rarely let their children go far out into deep space. Certainly not to a 'backwards' place like Earth. He'd been terribly young himself, only really allowed on such a trip because Elfangor had urged it. So how...

Then Ax's eyes went wide and he took another step forward. His hands spasmed nervously at his side and he abruptly clenched them into fists as his tail swayed nervously back and forth. < The Earth year 1996? You... >

He paused, wracking his brain for the names of those on the GalaxyTree but he hadn't known but a few by name. Being Elfangor's younger brother had kept him a bit aloof from the others.

Then Ax quietly asked, < Do you know the name GalaxyTree? Nerefir? Elfangor? > If he had crashed in the same year, it could not be a second set of Andalites come to the planet. It had to be the GalaxyTree.

Aximili was making Forlin a bit nervous, the Andalite again pawing the ground. And then he apologised, and Forlin replied, <It's-it's okay.> The other Andalite's points were valid, he supposed. <I ran into a Hork-Bajir a long time ago, and a human with a Yeerk in her head, recently. I think I lost my memories. I don’t remember much from…before my crash.> His ears tilted back slightly. He felt ashamed of how he was.

Aximili was surprised at the things he'd said, the date in specific. He spoke of a galaxy tree, Elfangor, Nerefir. <Yes…these names are familiar. Who are they?> he asked. He wanted to know. He wanted to know everything.

Lost. His memories lost.

The words filtered in among the comment that the names were familiar and his hearts ached in his chest. To have the first Andalite he had come across in years who wasn't a Controller or a madman on what amounted to a suicide mission have no recollection of who he was was...disappointing. Yet he recalled when Rachel had lost her own memory all those years ago and knew he could not blame Forlin.

It was not his fault that he did not remember.

He did, at least, recall something if he knew the names.

Forcing himself to unclench his hands, Ax 'smiled' and replied, < The GalaxyTree was one of our ships, a Dome Ship sent here to Earth to investigate how far the Yeerk invasion of the planet had gone forward. Prince Nerefir was its captain, I once called him "Old Hoof and Tail". He and nearly all of the rest of the fighters on the ship died in orbit around this planet to the Yeerk forces. They...we underestimated them. >

Once he had been proud of the prideful nature of his people. On Earth, he'd learned all too well that their pride had too often been their undoing.

Shaking his head, he continued, < And Elfangor, Prince Elfangor, was my brother. He... > Habit stopped him from continuing his usual spiel to new Resistance members about how his brother had given away the morphing power and broken Seerow's Kindness. Then Ax reminded himself you do not care that he broke the law, only that he did the only thing he could to save Earth and lost memories despite the Andalite face in front of him and finished, < He managed to land here on Earth, injured and dying, and was found by five human children. Before the Yeerks descended upon them, he broke the law of our people to not give our technology to others and gifted them the morphing ability. His action has helped stall the invasion. >

Forlin listened to what Aximili said. The GalaxyTree…yes, it was familiar. And a bout of sadness washed over him, knowing it had been destroyed, its crew killed. That the Yeerk presence here had been underestimated. They had all died protecting Earth, except for some like Aximili, and likely Forlin.

Elfangor had crash-landed, had given five humans the power to morph and this had stalled the Yeerk invasion. This Elfangor, Forlin had felt there was something amazing about him and he realised now what a hero he was. Sharing technology, the Yeerk had called it Seerow's Kindness and had told Forlin it was the Andalites who had unleashed the Yeerks upon the galaxy, and the Andalites who did things like wiping out the Hork-Bajir to try and clean up their mess. But Forlin felt that this Elfangor had done a good thing.

<Does Elfangor still live?> he queried. Injured and dying, one could morph out of one's wounds, and Forlin was hopeful.

It had been 21 years; a long time for a lot of things to happen. How did they manage to stall the Yeerks for that long? There was so much that Forlin did not know about his people. Though…who were his people? He had been on Earth for a long time, learning to be human and understand things the way a human did. He still felt like an outcast among humans; he just did not know how to think like they did. And he barely knew anything about Andalites…

<The Yeerk I encountered, she told me bad things, about Andalites. I want to know the good things. I know nothing about my species…>

He hadn't quite expected Does Elfangor still live? to be the first question asked. Maybe Forlin's memories weren't lot forever.

< No, > replied Ax. < He was killed. >

The burden of revenge is on you.

The words rang through his skull but without the thrum of need that they had once had back then, when their parents had spoken the revenge ritual during that one short conversation he'd managed to have with them. He had accepted, like a good son should at the time. But that was before he'd had several hundred humans and aliens looking at him for some idea of how to fight the Yeerks.

Before he had to help build an army to fight his people's war.

Slumping slightly at the second question as well as the thought, Ax had to laugh and shake his head. < Good things, > he commented quietly, a little bitterly. Then he straightened back up and 'smiled' at Forlin. < While a Yeerk isn't the person to learn things about our people from - they're quite biased - they aren't necessarily wrong. >

He fixed all four eyes on the other Andalite as he continued, < I can tell you good things but...I've been here for a while myself. As I'm often told, I've grown quite cynical of my own kind for someone who spouted their praises in my youth. >

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