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Fanfic / Animorphs: The Reckoning

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"You know who does have brains, though?” I continued. “The Yeerks. Maybe a thousand of them already. A thousand human brains, a thousand slaves, except those slaves can’t even think without their masters knowing about it. There is nothing standing in their way except us—did you get that? This isn’t some movie, where humanity’s going to rise up and pull some bullshit trick out of its ass. The Yeerks are winning. Did you not see Elfangor get eaten? Do you not understand the stakes? He was coming to destroy the planet because he thought that might be the only way to stop them."
Marco, describing the story's stakes
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Animorphs: The Reckoning is a rational fanfic of the Animorphs series by Duncan Sabien, aka TK17Studios.

The story is a retelling of the original Animorphs canon, where all characters are smarter and many aspects of the universe are more realistic or internally consistent. By the author's description, "Visser Three is competent, the Yeerks are moving rapidly, and the Animorphs are actually trying to win (but are inexperienced and unprepared)."

The story cycles between points of view, with a different point of view for each chapter (in a fashion similar to the canon books), including the six main characters, Visser Three, and various secondary characters. Each of them has their own strengths, weaknesses and their perspective on the plot, and the series has been praised for avoiding the pitfall of making one super-smart Mary Sue protagonist, featuring several compelling, complementary characters instead.

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As of March 2020, it is still being updated at a semi-regular pace of at least one (very long) chapter a month.


Animorphs: The Reckoning provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The story takes place in the late 2020s, as confirmed by Word Of God (spoiler warning: That link will take you to the discussion thread for Chapter 44).
  • Action Girl: Rachel, as per canon. She kills seven Mooks in her first fight (some of them armed with guns) and gets into more fights over the course of the story than any other protagonist.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change:
    • Tobias. In canon, he was raised by two neglectful relatives. In this version, he becomes a rough orphan living in an institution who went from one adoptive family to another.
    • Tidwell. In canon, he was a teacher at the kids' school. In this version, he's a private security guard.
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  • Adaptational Heroism: In canon, Marco was extremely reluctant to take any part in the war, and only started to truly invest himself when Visser One's identity was revealed. This version of Marco is much more invested, and berates the others for not realizing how important their role is.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: A staple of Rational Fic. All characters tend to make significantly better decisions than in canon, and make a serious effort to consider the long-term consequences of their choices. Visser Three in particular goes from the Ax-Crazy Bad Boss to The Chessmaster who feels Surrounded by Idiots.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Tobias is a little more cynical and brutal in this version.
  • Adults Are Useless: Defied. Tidwell provides tactical and technical advice to the kids that helps them blow up the Yeerk pool. Later, Tobias notes that the government agents he contacts are all serious and competent.
  • Alien Invasion: Of the infiltration type. Notable in how seriously the invasion is portrayed: people are suffering, the aliens are overwhelmingly dangerous, and characters are very aware that humanity may actually be defeated.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Played with. The Yeerks speak the languages of their hosts, and the Andalites can communicate ideas telepathically. Ax and Elfangor are also capable of understanding and communicating in English, thanks to a translator implant.
  • All Men Are Perverts: When Rachel morphs into Marco to read his mind, she notes that his thoughts almost immediately go there. Not that he's completely wrong.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: The Ellimist and Crayak, as in canon. Although the fact that neither of them cuts loose isn't treated as a bad thing.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Defied. Tobias and Jake note that the war feels a lot less black and white when they consider the Yeerk's probable motivations for waging it. Cassie notes that the protagonists are Not So Different: the Yeerks think they can get what they want through slavery, the Animorphs think they can get what they want through murder.
  • And Then What?: That question is asked a few times in the background.
    • Garett complains that, even if they completely destroy the Yeerk forces on Earth, they will still be in danger when the much larger reinforcements arrive.
    • Tobias muses that there is no way to predict what will happen if they do win the war, since the advance technologies the aliens have brought to earth will cause massive unpredictable societal shifts.
    • Rachel points out that a most of the protagonists' strategies have been "find biggest, shiniest target and blow it up, then deal with the consequences".
  • Animal Espionage: Downplayed. The Animorphs acquire most of their intelligence by morphing other humans and reading their thoughts.
  • Animorphism: Obviously. Although morphing animals is less important than in canon, as the kids use more varied applications of their power (passing as other humans, smuggling weapons, telepathy).
  • Anti-Hero: The main characters all commit extremely brutal acts.
    This was a side of Jake I’d never seen before—cold and cruel and completely uncaring. [...] He sounded like a killer, like a sociopath, like—
    —like somebody whose father is being held captive in a concentration camp inside his own head.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Rachel points out that some of the protagonists are likely to die before the war is over.
    • Jake gets locked in self-morph after the first attack on the Yeerk pool, essentially going comatose and brain-dead as his consciousness is obliterated, leaving only the inert body. Erek King eventually manages to wake him up.
    • Cassie is killed by the asteroid after trying to rescue a kid in the Yeerk pool. It is strongly implied that this death is permanent.
    • Jake, Marco, Garrett, Tobias and Rachel are killed by Visser 3 in a failed ambush, and Ax is gravely injured. They are restored thanks to Tom's morph copies of them being given to some civilians in a cancer ward, who sacrifice themselves to become nothlits of the Animorphs. Ax's death is treated somewhat more seriously, and his morph duplicate sheds his former identity, renaming himself Helium.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Averted. Andalite lasers can slice through concrete and Yeerk armor like warm butter. At one point, the protagonists steal a weapon from the Yeerks that shoot antimatter pellets (although they never get to use it).
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At the end of a long session of extremely grave confessions between each of the kids, Marco tells the others "Well, if we’re not going to have any secrets anymore, I might as well go ahead and confess: consoles are better than PCs, I liked the prequels more than the originals, and I’ll take regular fries over curly fries any day of the week".
  • Ascended Extra: The names of the posters in the Reddit chapter are derived from The Reckoning fans from the r/rational subreddit.
  • Assimilation Backfire: The Yeerks tend to absorb their hosts' personalities over time.
    • Visser Three becomes violent, ambitious and uncaring of the Yeerk people after infesting Alloran.
    • Aftran, the main Yeerk colony on Earth, becomes slightly more pacifist after prolonged isolation and overwhelming exposure to human minds. This gets them killed by Visser Three.
  • Author Filibuster: Rachel has a long internal monologue on the value of life, and how she's been dismissing the gravity of the deaths she's seen and caused.
  • Bad Boss: Deconstructed. After Visser Three kills the entire coalescion Aftran with a meteor strike, Telor's mouthpiece tells him in clear terms that he is no longer trusted, never mind how much they need him.
  • Batman Gambit: Jake explicitly has this as a quasi-superpower. He is very good at anticipating his enemies, and manages to locate and infiltrate the Yeerk pool that way.
  • Brown Note: Thought-speak directed at non-Andalites is this. Upon his first contact with humans, Ax causes seizures and hallucinations when trying to communicate with a grateful family he arbitrarily rescued from danger. Tobias describes Ax's unpracticed thought-speak as like razor blades being dragged across his brain. Garrett is particularly good at this, using a sort of psychic scream to incapacitate hundreds or thousands of people at once.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Jake eventually abdicates his role as the unofficial leader of the Animorphs. Marco's narration reasons that as the "leader," he feels partially responsible for the entire group's actions and consequences, even when individuals act make major decisions on their own.
  • Colony Drop: Visser Three drops an asteroid on the Animorphs' hometown to kill two birds with one stone: the Animorphs themselves, and the increasingly mutinous Aftran pool. He succeeds in taking out Cassie, and all but two Yeeks from the pool.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Subverted. Nobody uses the name "Animorphs" at first, until Marco comes up with it while trying to boost Jake's morale. The name sticks.
  • Composite Character: Marco's mom, Eva, seems to have inherited some of the backstory elements of Tobias' mom, Loren.
  • Death by Adaptation: Cassie dies in the meteor strike.
  • Death of Personality: When morphing sentient beings, the morpher can 'awaken' the personality of the body, including their own, to speak with them or access their memories. The extremely temporary nature of the morph's lifespan — including the fact that, from their perspective, they went to bed one night and awoke with minutes or hours to live — is heavily Played for Drama.
    • After being severely wounded in battle, Ax agrees to remain in his morph armor to heal his wounds, resulting in the death of the original Aximili. The morph clone takes on the name Helium and no longer thinks of himself as Ax.
  • Decomposite Character: Aftran seems to have been split into two characters:
    • Aftran 927 has the same relationship with Karen as her canon counterpart.
    • The Aftran coalescion inherits the "let's cooperate with the humans" part.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Ellimist/Crayak uses one to better engage the main characters.
    • The protagonists quickly start thinking of the Chee's holograms as being this.
  • For Want of a Nail: This is the Ellimist's preferred way of operating, as seen in the Interlude chapters. All of fate seems to operate according to his grand, eon-spanning machinations. A tenth of a degree difference in a supernova, the last words of an alien dying alone on a battlefield, or a slight breeze on an already windy day can change minor decisions millenia later.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Ax is first trapped in a sunken spacecraft with only the Living Memory of his brother for companionship, and even once rescued and befriended by the Animorphs, the lack of a Psychic Link that Andalites normally have with their peers gives him what he describes as schizophrenia. He remedies this by voluntarily hosting a Yeerk, Temrash, whose constant mental feedback and companionship benefits him greatly.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Cassie refuses the Ellimist's offer to teleport her to safety, away from a meteor strike. In her place, she demands he save Marco's dad and Tom, both controllers, as well as Erek the Chee. Cassie attempts to integrate a trapped child into her morph and fly to safety, but she is shot down by a Bug fighter and dies in the impact.
  • Hive Mind: In this adaptation, this is how Yeerk pools work. An individual Yeerk is sentient, but each forms only a small sliver of the immensely brilliant collective intelligence.
    • The eib which Andalites possess is implied to be sort of like this, a sort of communal background consciousness, the result of being a highly social and telepathic species.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: Jake frequently morphs Cassie to help him grieve her death, eventually coming to this conclusion. While he and the others survive the meteor strike to carry on the war, he views Cassie's decision to sacrifice herself attempting to save a bystander as her abandoning the cause, letting her die a hero while the others struggle to make a difference. It's part and parcel with his Heroic Self Deprication over his death and subsequent revival on his first mission.
  • Last Kiss: On the Arn homeworld, Marco, on the verge of death after being grievously wounded, sheepishly admits that a kiss from his first love — Jake — wouldn't be the worst way to go out. Jake obliges.
  • Meaningful Rename: Following the Recap chapter, Aximili comes to terms with the fact that his injuries are too severe to heal, and agrees to remain in his morph armor past the time limit, healing himself at the cost of his continued consciousness. The morphed copy, which Ax describes as his "revenant," declares that Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill has completed his purpose and finished his journey, renaming himself Helium — named for the atom which floats but does not burn, which contains three or four parts, as he does, a combination of Aximili, Temrash, Elfangor and Tom's minds.
  • Mind Hive: After realizing that being the only Andalite in light-years is causing him to slowly Go Mad from the Isolation, Ax voluntarily agrees to host Temrash, the Yeerk formerly infesting Tom Berenson. Ax, Temrash, the Living Memory of Elfangor, and the remnants of the still-living Tom which imprinted on Temrash, get along generally well, as Ax slowly begins to exhibit the others' traits, such as Tom's catchphrases and human gestures, to Jake's dismay.
    Marco: It was Ax — not the lost, frightened cadet, but the strange, unsettling hive-mind that had slowly been incubating inside of him, the shadow of a dead warrior and a fragment of an eldritch nightmare bound up with the mind of an alien kid and the ghost of my best friend's brother.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Marco Levy, Tobias Yastek, Cassie Withers, and David Poznanski. In canon, their surnames were never mentioned.
  • Order vs. Chaos: In contrast to their canon counterparts, Ellimist and Crayak self-identify as gods of chaos and order, respectively.
  • Puny Earthlings: Ax has a very derisive opinion of humans, though he slowly warms up to them. This attitude lessens after hosting Temrash, whose lived experience as Tom heavily colors his mannerisms. Eventually, he even makes pop culture references and speaking normally.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Ellimist and Crayak. The Interludes explicitly describe the Ellimist as a player at a very intricate computer, slightly manipulating things as arbitrary as a gust of wind, making a woman in the past decide to take a coat to change the present.
  • Sense Freak: Ax's nigh-unstoppable fixation on taste. In the original narrative, Ax had an unhealthy love of cinnamon buns, bordering on the psychotic. Reckoning!Ax is no different, but the consequences of a person who is literally unable to control themselves is Played for Drama when Ax ruins a mission, and their cover, upon encountering the buns for the first time.
    • The Yeerks, as a whole, also come off as this. Essak, the Yeerk in Marco's father, recounts the indescribable joy he felt the first time he saw the stars, as Yeerks, in their natural state, are blind, mute and deaf. He made it his goal to bring knowledge of the sky back to his pool to motivate them.
  • Starfish Language: The Arn language is comprised of concepts and emotions transmitted by colored patterns projected across their bodies, which is translated in the narrative as stream-of-consciousness. On their homeworld, the Arn record their deeds and life stories with bio-engineered flowers which grow across entire hillsides.
  • Tele-Frag: As morphed bodies are Z-space 'constructs,' the morphs and everything with them are lost when returning to their base form. One Yeerk learns this the hard way while infesting a morphed Tobias, only to be shunted off into Z-space and scattered into nothingness as he morphs back.
    Tobias: I was the sole witness to its panic as the universe dissolved around it.
  • Translator Microbes: How Ax can communicate with the kids. The translator is stated to work at least with American English thanks to a database Elfangor somehow collected during his time on Earth.
  • Troll: Marco's internal narration and conversations on the Arn homeworld, where he carries on with eight other Marco morph clones. He's unable to stop himself from cracking wise and making immature jokes out loud (to other version of himself) and internally (to everyone), even in life-or-death situations or when comforting the dying.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Ax certainly seems to think so by the late game, arguing that no matter what choice the Animorphs or their allies think they make, the Ellimist has been manipulating all of history to lead them to make that decision according to his will.
    Aximili: Whichever path we chose, it was always the one the Ellimist wanted. Inevitably. Infallibly. To think otherwise is sheer folly.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: The alien beam weapons work by teleporting matter into and out of Z-space thousands of times in an instant, with the resulting friction inflicting various degrees of damage.

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