child soldiers v. bodysnatching aliens: ANIMORPHS

Discussion in 'Fan Town' started by itsAlana, Jun 19, 2015.

  1. roach

    roach hump rumpus professional


    my working theory of yeerks is that the yeerks bred for the empire are super fucked up by regular yeerk standards. like here's a species that lived in constant contact with itself for ages and ages— it's stated or at least implied that yeerks are the descendants of shipwrecked yoorts. but they made it worked, they had a synergistic relationship with the gedd, they had stories and songs and dances and rituals and culture. they had, by virtue of their physical limitations, very little violence and probably even less murder. how would one yeerk murder another? i think the yeerk to be killed would have to be forced out of the pool and kept out till it dried, or forced to the bottom of the pool until it died of kandrona starvation, or one yeerk would be appointed to go into a host, grab up the condemned yeerk, and crush it. so the expulsion or murder of a yeerk from a pool would have to be a group decision, and then a group action. i can't imagine how one-on-one murder would even have been committed.

    and then— bam. a few pools of yeerk collude to steal weapons and spacecraft from the visiting andalites. they scoop up their home pools, i believe, and zoom off. these renegades, a couple thousand— a couple hundred thousand?— now have the power to kill one-on-one. point a gun, pull the trigger. shove a comrade out an airlock. pick up a rock or a knife and smash. they now have this incredible capacity for slaughter in a way their mentality, cultural or individual, had never before had to deal with.

    humans have evolved killing each other one on one, and to various extents we've formalized it, we've got checks and balances. we mostly don't kill family or friends, we mostly kill outgroup members or subordinates we've been conditioned to view as subhuman, and murder is generally an act of extreme emotional duress. we have to be trained to be soldiers. we aim for resolving conflicts peacefully, or at least limiting the damage of violent conflict.

    horkbajir have an enormous capacity to damage each other, and they're very careful not to. they feel grief and horror when they injure each other accidentally, and they also don't seem to have any social structure or resource shortage that would drive them into stressful enough conflict that they'd want to injure each other. they're cooperative.

    by the same token, really, andalites are cooperative herbivores with a built-in lethal blade, and their culture has a lot of rituals to re-direct conflict and aggression. they spar, they play games, they have a pretty strict hierarchy, they have a strong concept of respect. honestly the way andalites deflect aggression and group conflict is something i'd love to know more about, since they don't have a sense of humor. maybe if you're all telepathic you don't need a sense of humor the way humans do.

    BUT OK ANYWAY here's yeerks, with no prior capacity for individual violence, separated from their homeland and the context of their prior culture, and now they can just kill each other and everyone else all they want. they go nuts. they organize clumsily into a military heirarchy and rule each other through top-down violence. like, we're constantly seeing higher-ranked yeerks beating up on, or flat-out executing, their subordinates, without mercy or regret or hesitation. it's hideous: they don't view each other as comrades anymore. they don't have friends. their teammates are temporarily assigned and no one will stick up for anyone else. we don't see yeerks defending one another from harm or punishment, and being betrayed for a promotion is something everyone seems to expect. the yeerks in the empire are living in a dystopian nightmare, knowing nothing but that their lives are to be a brutal and joyless climb up a ladder of domination, and if they fuck up they get kicked off the ladder to die.

    look at how they invented a peace movement. they learned about peace movements from humans and a significant percentage of this bred-for-war insanely-stressed-out brainwashed-to-conquer population was like 'whoah! hey! yeah! let's do that! we want to be friends with humans, we want to work together'. aftran came around to cassie's way of thinking in, what, a few days? she was so lonely, and scared, and suspicious, and terribly easy to befriend. yeerks can't possibly be meant to live the way the empire yeerks are told to.
    • Like x 16
  2. roach

    roach hump rumpus professional

    also, heartbreakingly, i think each yeerk that became friends with their host did so in horrible isolation. they're taught to dominate, and subjugate, and that the host was just a suit to wear, a slave to drive, and then they learn to function in a family and at school or at work and listen to music and humans, on their part, are extremely prone to making friends in duress. it's a component of stockholm syndrome: when we're isolated and under threat, we reach out and make allies out of whoever the hell we can reach. and i think on yeerks' part, unless they're completely sadistically insane, it's got to be fucking demoralizing to spend every goddamn minute of every goddamn day doing your job with the soundtrack of your host screaming furiously at you. better for everyone to make a compromise— look, if you shut up for an hour, i'll get a coffee. i'll put on your favorite song. i'll spend some time with your kid. i'll find out how that sitcom ended. and that starts a conversation.

    and who else does the yeerk have to talk to? to share their frustrations and fears with? they can't show weakness in front of their comrades. and even if the human host doesn't want to die because she thinks she might be free again some day, she's still going to throw in and cooperate with her yeerk in the mad scramble of 'survive this fucking assignment'. they bounce ideas around. they, maybe, sympathize with each other. and the yeerk goes to feed for a few hours every three days. that's all the time the yeerks get to be yeerks, to inhabit their own bodies: a quick gorging on an artificial sun's radiation, in a featureless steel pool, in a cave filled with the wretched screaming of their slaves, surrounded by a couple thousand randomly-assigned semi-strangers. and the yeerks swim around and gossip a bit and brag, probably, about how well subjugated their hosts are. what good yeerks they are, so dominant, so sadistic, so unmoved by their hosts' sniveling and so steadfast and strong and brave and powerful in the service of their empire, their hierarchy. this is right, they tell each other. we're right. i'm right.

    and the yeerk that's friends with their human thinks: it's just me. i'm the only one here who's weak like this. who likes their host like this. and if anyone finds out, i'll be killed, and my host will be reassigned— to that guy, there, maybe, boasting about the cruelties they just can't wait to inflict on their next slave. and so this yeerk brags, too. they've crushed their host. they're totally in charge. no problem. no weakness. no need to doubt their loyalty.

    and every yeerk in the pool swims alone, and goes back to their host— three days, in the sun, eating cookies, watching cartoons, playing games, talking with someone who knows them, who can know them. and their host says 'did you miss me?' and the yeerk, the yeerks, in their dozens and hundreds, their thousands maybe, says yeah.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
    • Like x 14
  3. itsAlana

    itsAlana let me tell you about the vorkosigan saga

    /yells a lot very loudly about how much better your meta is than mine

    write yeerk meta forever and also marry me so you can whisper meta to me every hour of the day
    • Like x 1
  4. strictly quadrilateral

    strictly quadrilateral alive, alive, alive!

    @roach i haven't even read these books and i'm crying thanks a lot
  5. Starcrossedsky

    Starcrossedsky Burn and Refine

    I was going "oh my god, who wrote all this great meta" and then I looked at the username. Bless. (I may or may not have a yeerk/host problem, especially in cases of second-yeerk where the host genuinely was abused by the first.) (don't look at me.)

    On a related note, though, something that was brought up in Daemorphing - the Yeerks in space are probably malnourished. Like, they're getting their basic needs met in the Kandrona, but I assume that just like humans, they have various nutritional needs beyond the basic demand for food. Even if they could get those in the pool objectively, or from their hosts, the ship pools are super crowded (in the way that happens when you're both building an army and also have removed a prey species from its natural predators) and it's said right out in HBC that you had to distinguish yourself to get a host, and while I imagine the pressure is off on the Earth side, they can't take too many humans into space for fear of raising suspicions and the only earth-side pool we see is the one the Animorphs always have to infiltrate. So for Space Yeerks there's still a massive shortage of hosts and way overcrowded pools.

    So even if they're not actively starving, I'm sure the vast majority of yeerks have some major nutrient deficiencies going on. That's also something that's going to effect the culture, even if most yeerks aren't aware that they're lacking something because they never experienced the home pool "diet."
    • Like x 3
  6. roach

    roach hump rumpus professional

    oh man that sounds like a scenario for some really choice hurt/comfort tho. like a situation where a yeerk's first host is a thoroughly trained hand-me-down host, and the yeerk is really taken aback at how acutely humans feel pain and misery. and treats the host sternly but not cruelly, which slowly turns into a growing fondness and protectiveness, made even more confusing by the way yeerks get tangled up in humans' lives by having to pretend to be them. and there's things they can't do: the yeerk can't free their host. all the hosts' family and friends will be killed or enslaved. the yeerk can't strike out with their host on their own. the yeerk will die, the human will be recaptured. the yeerk can't advocate for better treatment of hosts. that's pathetic at best and seditious at worst. the human can't let on to other hosts that their yeerk is treating them well. the yeerks of the other hosts will hear. so these two both want to survive the war— and then what? what future is there for them? if the yeerks win then there'll be billions of humans to infest and they're sure to be split up sooner or later. if the andalites win they'll surely destroy every born-for-battle soldier, and the humans will cheerfully let them. and the yeerk remembers the hork bajir plague: if the andalites don't win fast enough and easily enough, they'll wipe out everyone.

    in the face of such isolation and hopelessness they would sort of have to be there for each other. just get through the next three days. and the next three days. and the next three days after that.
    • Like x 6
  7. itsAlana

    itsAlana let me tell you about the vorkosigan saga

    • Like x 4
  8. roach

    roach hump rumpus professional

    • Like x 3
    • Agree x 1
  9. Starcrossedsky

    Starcrossedsky Burn and Refine

    Don't forget that if it's been a long-term infestation, the character the Yeerk has to portray is different from what the host is really like (especially if the host was taken young). So even if they come to be comfortable with allowing the host a little control, a little interaction with their family - the reality of the host's personality is going to be different from the Good Little Sharing Member the host's family has come to expect.

    Your suffering tastes delicious over potatoes, with a slight sprinkling of dill.
    • Like x 1
  10. itsAlana

    itsAlana let me tell you about the vorkosigan saga

    shhhh i have always been fucked up over animorphs, this is just taking it to "re-reading Vorkosigan Saga" levels of emotional pain ok

    Speaking of which can we talk about how profoundly fucked up Andalite culture is? Because hot damn. Maybe abandoning and turning away from the sick made some sense when they were herd animals-- remind me, did we see any notable ablism in TEC with the protodalites?-- but with their non-war culture seeming to focus on people living in small, relatively isolated family groups where each member's job is just something they love doing (theoretically, though we see how female andalites are pushed into 'gentler' jobs, even when they're spitfires), you'd think systemic and deeply ingrained prejudice would be hard to maintain society-wide outside of the military.

    Though, on the other hand, Ax did go to what seems to have been a general school before he became a cadet (at like Andalite 15 years old, which is fucked up), with multiple other andalite kids present in person. I wonder how that works?
    • Like x 1
  11. BPD anon

    BPD anon Here I sit, broken hearted

    I'm thinking of eventually doing an AU where they have the blue box from the start and need to use it because at least one animorph dies on every mission. The original ones are all gone by like book 10. That's like one of the only ways the books could have been even better and it pleases me greatly to think about it. Also there is no incompetent visser three, just a terrifying visser one.

    Like there would have to be some kind of book with all the info replacement animorph a would need, and there would have to be a protocol for David types since that's not just going to happen once. And they try to recruit adults and it goes horribly wrong because the adults expect authority when they've never been in battle, so there's another hassle to deal with. And they hold their recruits for three days to make sure no controllers get in but what if one found a way around that, possibly with oatmeal before the animorphs figure it out? I mean they might start with the handicapped like in canon, but eventually that would stop what with how many mobile people they would need. And it has to wear on people to see their close teammates dying around them so often, so what if some of them went a bit crazy and tried to surrender? And of course there would be more nothlits than just Tobias. And the yeerks would want their hands on that protocol book. Oh and they could recruit Melissa and all the problems that would cause. And maybe that human controller who Cassie helped escape in book one? Also in a world where the animorphs are dying left and right Cassie might be less inclined to help the cause and more inclined to just stop people from dying, so she might be more of a free agent who tries to hinder the other animorphs.

    Let me know if this sounds dumb, it's just vague ideas for a future fic.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
    • Like x 2
  12. Zin

    Zin Professional Lurker

    @roach *rolls in your meta and keens* the fics you've done with the yeerks - especially the one with the post-war nothlit - KILLED me.

    So, anyone looking, you should check them out, like 110%+? Because dammmn.

    Fawning aside, all of the meta and discussion in this thread is freaking delicious I love it and Beeps? YES YES YES DO IT DO THE THING 0.0
    • Like x 2
  13. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    Animorphs: This is why the Prime Directive is a thing.

    Animorphs: Go back in time and show the Andalites some Star Trek. Save the universe.
    • Like x 1
  14. itsAlana

    itsAlana let me tell you about the vorkosigan saga

    Well, they at least got Ax in to one of the movies!

    TBH though Andalites need the hippy social commentary more than they need reasons to slam poor Seerow
    • Like x 1
  15. roach

    roach hump rumpus professional

    Frankly I'd really like MORE post-war nothlit stories, of yeerks settling in to non-human forms. Especially if Yeerks were pressured to pick endangered animals and help out conservation efforts as a sort of parole sentence. So like, elephants, gorillas, chimps, dolphins, seaturtles, parrots... Imagine like the stress of both working with human conservationists and warding off or fighting human poachers and trying to integrate yourself into the local elephant herd. There's some good stories there, I bet.

    Also: what if yeerks could agree to a term as a short-lived species like the big cats or raptors and get another shot at the escafil device, and a new body, should the fill out (survive) the 5-10 year term. That would probably please a bunch of adventurous or thrillseeking or combat-eager yeerks. A five year stint as a wolf at yosemite, then off to india to re-establish cheetah populations, then to south america to be an okapi, then off to the ocean to report on what, exactly, great white sharks are up to.

    Imagine there already being jobs lined up, though, universities and conservation institutes desperate for the nothlit's service, the andalites and human law enforcement agencies disgusted to inform yeerks the list of options they have, and who wants them and what their terms are and the accommodations and salaries offered. The yeerks are supposed to be on parole, not offered health insurance and a six-figure income!

    But yeah, the aliens were invaders, yeah, they violated basically every human right it's possible to violate, but so have other humans, and anyway who wouldn't be interested in working with a talking alien rhino?

    (also consider, andalites and government agencies having to deal with all the eager scientists and furries and hippies who want to go be whales too)
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2015
    • Like x 12
  16. roach

    roach hump rumpus professional

    popping back in late to continue to be amused at the environmental ramifications of a bunch of human scientists getting a crack at the escafil device, like,

    andalites: i guess you could use this for spying? idk man we like trees and grass and water and that's about it. animals are boring, why would you actually ever want to be something besides an andalite.


    andalites: uh.
    • Like x 11
  17. rigorist

    rigorist On the beach

    Fun fact: Katherine Alice Applegate is my tenth cousin, once removed.
  18. roach

    roach hump rumpus professional

    hey yeah, i just thought of something. among us humans, who are also a group species, the 'nuclear family' structure is a fairly unusual social structure, and generally arises due to specific economic and social circumstances. usually, humans form kinship groups of 20-200, of related and honorary group members, where everyone helps one another out with work, chores and childrearing. clans, colonies, tribes, troups, farms, holdings... the modern nuclear family structure of two isolated parents with a few kids is incredibly fragile and stressful. ideally one parent brings in enough money at an out-of-home job, the other parent handles at-home work and childrearing. any disfunction— a death, a divorce, an abusive parent, job loss— poses a huge risk to the integrity of the unit, and this subjects all members to an enormous load of stress that just wouldn't be there with more members around to share duties.

    so: why the hell is a herd species, in a time of war, living in isolated family groupings of 2-4? in dome ships the crew seems to number several hundred and they do fine, although they are of course subject to a very strict heirarchy. ax mentions that there was, at 'one point', in 'history', a city period where andalites lived communally in enormous numbers, and this was unhealthy. i think he said unhealthy? i wonder if that city period is more recent than a young kid like ax would be able to conceptualize— where anything that happened a hundred years ago is super ancient— and the andalite homeworld is still recovering from a period of heavy pollution and intraspecies conflict.

    few children per family, far-spread societies except in space crews, a huge focus on gardening, and only three or four harmless animal species left could easily point to a society formed as a response to the catastrophic failure of its predecessor. even the contempt for vecol could be an extension of the new order, a hard-nosed 'return' to a 'natural state', in which the sick, weak, and unnatural have no right to life. you see in human back-to-nature movements a big indifference towards people who need technology like insulin or wheelchairs to survive. like 'oh, well, it's sad you'll die, but everyone else will be better off without chemicals and roads and stuff, really!'
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
    • Like x 9
  19. KarrinBlue

    KarrinBlue Magical Girl Intern

    Please excuse me while I sob into this meta.

    I always wondered if, many many many decades into the future, Yeerks might be able to use their powers for some kind of good? I am mostly imagining a Yeerk as like. Brain helper buddy! Who hangs around in your head and helps people deal with brain stuff, if they want. And it could be helpful because if someone doesn't quite know how to explain how they are feeling then their brain helper Yeerk could go over and give a direct memory to a doctor or something.

    This is too idealistic for Animorphs, I know, but I like to think about it.
    • Like x 4
  20. itsAlana

    itsAlana let me tell you about the vorkosigan saga


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