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Fanfic / Daemorphing

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They can't tell you their real names, or their dæmons' names. The Yeerks are everywhere. But they're going to fight back.

Daemorphing is an Animorphs AU incorporating the cosmology of His Dark Materials.

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Most setting tropes from Animorphs apply, though plot tropes may or may not.

Additional worldbuilding and guides for readers unfamiliar with one or both canons can be foundhere.

All Spoilers prior to Destroyer Of Worlds, the second most recent full fic in the series, are unmarked, to avoid whiting out half the page.


This fic series provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Children should not be fighting a shadow war to protect their parents.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Interspecies bonding over art is a recurring theme, whether it be the Paradox Family and Andalite thought-speech-singing, more instances of bonding over stories and legends than can be counted, or Tidwell and Illim's shared appreciation of poetry.
  • Aliens Love Human Food: It's downplayed a bit, and he learns more about it instead of just cramming things into his mouth, but Ax still sure does enjoy eating human food.
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  • All Therapists Are Muggles: Defied. After Loren insists on it, the Chee serve as therapists to the Animorphs until their alliance breaks. Elgat Kar provides therapy in the valley.
  • Animal Motifs: Humans in this setting have dæmons, animal-shaped manifestations of their souls. Poetry prefers a scientific angle to Pullman's more symbolic approach, so snakes are not symbols of evil or deception and lions don't denote nobility. Tobias's Elhariel is a European storm-petrel, a bird that flies great distances alone. Jake's Merlyse is a whiskeyjack, a corvid that thrives in the harshest winter. Cassie's Quintavion is a vampire bat, manipulative towards its prey and intensely altruistic towards its cave-fellows. Marco's Diamanta is a timber rattlesnake, a patient ambush predator with close bonds to its friends. Rachel's Abineng is a sable antelope, a huge beautiful antelope that contends against lions to protect its herd. And Sixth Ranger Loren's Jaxom is a zebra duiker, a tiny shy antelope that will nonetheless fight ferociously to defend its territory.
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  • Ascended Extra / O.C. Stand-in: Lourdes and the other Chee who tended to replace the Animorphs whenever the kids had to be on a prolonged mission are fully developed characters. They're not alone. As well as the Walking Spoilers mentioned lower on the page, the Peace Movement Yeerks, Arbron and the Taxxons, the various stranded Andalites, and Toby and the other Hork-Bajir are given much more focus.
  • Badass Army: The Free Hork-Bajir. No morphing power, no tech, still are able to keep freeing their people from the Yeerks.
  • Badass Family: Are you related to Elfangor and on Earth? Then you are badass no exception. There's the Andalite legend himself, Loren who retains all her Andalite Chronicles badass, Tobias, and Ax.
  • Biological Weapons Solve Everything: Zig-zagged. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. The Iskoort world ended up the way it is now (quite nice) thanks to judicious use of a retroviral weapon, the quantum virus used on the Hork-Bajir world solved nothing, the one the Andalites were planning on using against the Yeerks on Earth would not have accomplished much, but the Guardians Of The Galaxy are planning on using a modified version of that to deliver the Iskoort retrovirus to all Yeerks on earth
  • Bond Creatures: As in Lyra's world in His Dark Materials all humans have daemons, which here are explicitly parts of themselves. Non-humans morphing humans do not form daemons, but unlike in HDM characters can't tell at a glance that something is an animal or a daemon - so when Ax morphs human and goes out in public, Tobias rides on his shoulder.
  • Breather Episode: Self-Defense and Putting Down Roots are much lower on the violence and horror than typical for the series or source material.
  • Chekhov's Armory: Earlier installments in the series set up giant walls of guns to go off - some of them get fired, like Bridge to the Stars having the Yoorts being Yeerks modified by a retrovirus going off all the way in Destroyer Of Worlds when Cassie talks Estrid into making a contagious version of said virus using DNA from a Yoort morph.
  • Competence Zone: Defied. While the team starts at thirteen, Loren is in her late thirties or so and Eva and the Governor are likely older than that.
  • Cool Old Lady: Cool Middle Aged Lady? The Governor doesn't get to be quite as awesome as in canon because this meeting with her doesn't go so badly that she has to take charge of her own rescue, but Marco's still impressed by her quick thinking and resilience.
  • Cub Cues Protective Parent: In Loren's first battle she's able to tap in to her battle morph(bison)'s protective rage when Tobias is in danger by telling the bison instincts that predators have her calf.
  • Dark Fic: Vanilla Animorphs is already very dark considering it's middle-grade fiction, but it does sometimes avoid using the word 'death', for example. One foundation of the source material is that all aliens, even the gross weird ones, are people, but it doesn't completely embrace that until late, and the Animorphs aren't terribly disturbed by how many innocent Hork-Bajir they've killed. Daemorphing tries to maintain a similar ratio of silliness, heartwarming moments, and horror, but it doesn't flinch.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: When Loren joins the team, the Yeerks believe she's David and call out to 'him', since they know he joined and could be tempted and don't know he was killed. Loren automatically makes some effort to play into this, but a few fics later Taylor pointedly asks what's David's mother's maiden name.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: 'Draco' is overstating it, but the petulant self-centered aspects Canon Tobias sometimes shows when talking to Hork-Bajir are absent in Daemorphing Tobias, as is Canon Tobias's rejection of the concept that there are innocent Yeerks. In general Daemorphing Tobias is less reserved, more pro-social, and willing to reach out to people of many species, probably because he's so much less isolated in this series. For that matter, all of the Animorphs and not just Cassie are readier to see Yeerks as people.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Most Hork-Bajir have an imperfect understanding of English and a better grasp on Galard and their own languages.
  • Emotion Control: Some Andalites are good at djafid, or projecting images and emotion with thought-speech. The emotional effect is compared to hearing acapella music in an unknown language. Esplin's constant aura of malice is compared to singing The Imperial March at all times.
  • Enclosed Extraterrestrials: Poetry's Andalites are aware of the concept of clothing and will wear protective personal equipment when warranted, though they still wander around naked the rest of the time.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Defied. Rachel understanding she has anger issues doesn’t fix them, not even when two allies die to keep those issues from getting her killed. Tobias finding a real family doesn’t fix the damage his aunt and uncle did, Marco’s extra-strength PTSD can’t be vanished.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones - Visser One loved the kids she had while infesting Allison Kim in her own fucked up way - protecting them is her price to not take her secrets to the grave.
  • Evil Colonialist: The Yeerks. And then A Place To Stand reveals that the Andalites are only marginally better.
  • Fantastic Racism: Is absolutely everywhere. Everyone is prejudiced against someone, more or less.
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions - Ax invokes the Andalite equivalent while arguing with Estrid - pointing out that she's already massively broken their laws with her bioweapon.
  • Fix Fic: While the series has some aspects of a fix-it, such as addressing continuity errors and solving problems in some very different, less immediately disastrous ways, notably this also makes a great number of new problems appear, and makes the threat posed by the Andalites even more explicit, without the means canon used to defuse it.
  • Freedom from Choice: Much of the appeal of infestation to Mr. Tidwell is that he just lost his wife and doesn't have to try to manage his emotions or his life. As soon as Illim shows remorse, Mr. Tidwell forgives him completely and their relationship becomes codependent.
  • Good Running Evil: After the Bright Clear Line, 'Visser One' is actually Eva and Aftran 942 working together.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: How the Andalites see the war, how the Yeerks see it (with kill replaced with enslave), how the team starts off seeing it until Aftran shows up.
    • By the endgame the enemy is everyone who sees things this way. Quoth Cassie: “It’s us versus everyone who thinks that everyone else is just meat.”
  • Guns Are Worthless: Absolutely not, Rachel very nearly gets killed by a sniper with a simple conventional rifle in Welcome Home.
  • Has Two Mommies: Mertil's parents, seen in Shattered, are both women, but he calls them his mother and father - to Poetry's Andalites, "mother" refers to which parent more usually carried the infant in a pouch marsupial-style, riffing off of Ax's observation in canon that all human fathers are male.
  • Heel Realization - Part and parcel of Yeerks joining the peace movement. The Empire's culture is so deeply racist that most Yeerks don't quite get that they're hurting *actual people*. See Illim in Hospitality and Aftran in Seeing In Color for examples. It takes Ax longer to be fully disillusioned with Andalites, but he gets there.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Thoroughly subverted, both with dæmons and with vegetarian aliens. A motif Poetry uses repeatedly is "predators are cowards".
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Visser Three tries to out Visser One as a ‘host sympathizer’ by demanding she shoot one of the children of her previous host dead. Visser One wasn’t a sympathizer in general but was attached to that life … but by this point had been kill-and-replaced by Aftran, who decidedly is. Aftran does it anyway.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: The motivation of basically everyone. Even the Andalites profess to treasuring freedom but do not lack it, as a species.
    • Most Empire Yeerks, thanks to a horrifically toxic culture, believe that they can only be ‘free’ with a host and don’t care what the host thinks or see them as a person.
    • The Animorphs, Free Hork-Bajir, and the Guardians in general are fighting to keep their (sometimes adoptive) planet free from imperialist bodyjacking brainslugs
    • The Yeerk Peace Movement wants to be free of the fascist government that would destroy them for daring to care about other species and not want to enslave them.
  • Kids Raiding the Wine Cabinet: When the Animorphs are forced to retreat to Kref Magh they snatch a bottle of limoncello which comes out a few times and is passed around.
  • Kill and Replace: At the climax of The Bright Clear Line, Eva executes a captured Visser One, and works with Aftran impersonate the Visser, allowing them to act as a mole at the very top of the invasion.
  • Killed Off for Real: Besides characters who die in the backstory or very early on, such as Elfangor, various characters who either live or die at some later date are killed. These include David, Edriss, Tom's Yeerk, Alloran, Edriss's son Darwin, Arbat, and several original characters.
  • Kill the Host Body: Happens a lot. The Animorphs don’t really have the ability to kill Yeerks any other way, and Aftran reveals that not killing but inflicting severe damage is actually worse - the Yeerk will survive but the host will be killed as useless. Not doing this to Human-controllers gets called out for the specisism it is and is one of the things that leads to them being ID’d as humans.
    • The Free Hork-Bajir have not having to do this down to a fine art, though they can only manage it on Hork-Bajir they've captured. Good Thing You Can Heal.
  • La Résistance: The greater umbrella organization of anti-Yeerk factions, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Lighter and Softer: In some specific ways, Daemorphing is lighter than canon. Tobias has closer relationships with several different people, so his life has more joy in it, plus he's never singled out to be tortured. Ax connects with his 'aunt' Loren, and with the free Hork-Bajir, so he's not as lonely. Marco's mother is saved from Edriss, and even if she then walks back into danger with Aftran in her head, it's a different kind of stress. The Animorphs manage to save Tom, so even though that leads to its own woes Jake isn't tormented knowing about his brother's suffering. Rachel is able to stay more in touch with her inner joy and protectiveness, not lashing out as readily. Cassie... has a very hard time either way, but the other Animorphs are more sympathetic to her point of view. And thanks to Loren's efforts the kids all get therapeutic talks with Chee until that alliance splits, so they're not quite as trapped in cycles of trauma.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The first two chapters of Welcome Home are just a long string of Oh Crap moments as various people find out that the Empire knows the Andalite Bandits are humans, starting with Eva and Aftran and continuing on to the parents - who are also finding out that the war exists as they're being evacuated.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Rachels mother Naomi mistakenly assumes that Rachel is dating Cassie. While Rachel at no point says she’s not into girls she’s definitely into guys and is dating Tobias.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Removed from the vanilla series. "I said several words I can’t repeat" becomes "Oh, fuck me with a chainsaw."
  • No Biochemical Barriers: As in Animorphs proper, aliens can breathe Earth air and eat Earth life just fine. However, Andalites have to graze all day just to feel full of nutrient-poor Earth grass. And while Taxxons can and do live on exotic meats and soils, this is not complete nutrition for them and even in the best of circumstances they feel catastrophic Hunger.
  • Non-Human Non-Binary: Some Yeerks, Taxxons (who have entirely different conceptions of gender) and at least one Chee. For extra complexity value Yeerks don’t have a native concept of gender because of their bizarre reproductive cycle and all Yeerks with a gender identity picked it up from another species and not all of them picked up human or human-analogous identities.
    • Some Andalites are "split-hearted" and referred to as "they" and "daughter-son"s.
  • Not Used to Freedom: It's mentioned that some Hork-Bajir are so accustomed to being controlled that being without masters scares them, and they have to be taught freedom.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Used briefly by Tobias to make Visser Three decide he’s irrelevant in Carry On Wayward Son by pretending to have a bad leg. Used longer by Loren. As in the source series, the morphing power repairs her eyes and restores her sight, but she continues living her life as a blind woman for months.
  • Planet of Hats: Played with, Defied, and Justified with the various aliens.
    • The Yeerk Empire Yeerks all come from a single settlement and the empire ruthlessly cracks down on dissent. Several characters state that various dissidents would be perfectly normal elsewhere on the Yeerk homeworld.
    • The Hork-Bajir and Taxxon cultures from their homeworlds were mostly wiped out between the Yeerk conquest and other apocalyptic events.
  • Predators Are Mean: Thoroughly subverted, both with dæmons and with carnivorous aliens. The Taxxons with their insatiable Hunger are alarming and have a dark sense of humor, but are still people with motivations more complex than finding their next meal.
  • Questionable Consent: Any host-Yeerk relationships under the Empire is this at best. Even with Peace Movement Yeerks, the hosts have no power, don't have a real informed choice about being infested, and no option to take it slow or walk away. Peace Movement hosts are able to escape on a few separate occasions, but it means abandoning their old lives and becoming refugees.
    • Ex-voluntary Julissa, rhapsodizing on how being infested made her better at understanding people, doesn't mention whether her Yeerk's previous hosts consented to have the intimate details of their lives shared with her.
  • Recursive Fanfiction: There are several one shots based off this, in addition to the author's own divergences.
    • Through Bars, showing a scene in The Tree Of Life from another perspective, has been canonized.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: There are virtually no Peace Movement-aligned Yeerks with Hork-Bajir hosts - any who had one found a way out of that assignment as quickly as possible. This is because Hork-Bajir are captive bred. A sympathetic Yeerk giving their host up to the free Hork-Bajir, as in Mother Sky and Father Deep, is assumed to be participating in that and regarded with the same hostility as any other Yeerk.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Estrid is portrayed more harshly as her canonical willingness to create a genocidal virus that might jump species is more fully examined and condemned and her doubts and discomfort about doing so are nonexistent, not to mention the usual suite of Andalite -isms that applies to her. She also decides to secretly clone Toby, apparently For the Evulz.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Downplayed, much as it is in canon, but dæmons can't settle as whales because whales are sapient in this setting.
  • Shapeshifting Heals Wounds: As in canon, but characters are more aware of and willing to exploit it, doing things like starting to morph after being wounded and reversing the morph as soon as the injury is repaired.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Arbron, Elfangor, and Tobias all become nothlits as in canon, but Aftran doesn't become a whale, nor does David get trapped as a rat. Tom ends up spending too long as a Hork-Bajir instead.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Most dæmons fit. One single named character has a dog dæmon (Marco's stepmother Nora), one single named character has a cat dæmon (Rachel's father Dan). Two people have corvids, Jake and Rachel's mother Naomi, but they're a whiskeyjack and a bluejay respectively rather than crows or ravens. Canines, felines, and large black corvids are all very popular animals for dæmon fics.
  • Self-Mutilation Demonstration: Jake makes the point that when you can morph, pain and damage don't really matter by having Ax cut his hand off.
  • Sixth Ranger: After adding David, as canon did, and having to remove him, the Animorphs end up adding Tobias's mother, Loren, to the team. Loren, understanding the stakes and being motivated to help as David never was, has friction with her teammates sometimes but is a much better Animorph. Later, after the Animorph's families are evacuated to the valley, Tom also receives the morphing power and it's not as disastrous as David, but it doesn't work out anything like as well as Loren.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Well, they're seen that way, especially venomous ones. After Dia settles, Marco can no longer convincingly play the harmless, clueless kid.
  • The Story That Never Was: Played with in A Place To Stand. None of the events happened but the information and memories acquired radically change the course of the series.
  • Symbiotic Possession: The only kind the Yeerk Peace Movement believes is OK. Unlike canon, what precisely this means is explored, a lot. And it's not the only thing they're interested in.
    • Notable cases include Tidwell and Illim, Cassie and Aftran and spoiler: Eva and Aftran while impersonating Visser One.
    • Rachel and Tobias use morphing to do this with each other as well.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Not all the groups in the Guardians Of The Galaxy get along. The Free Hork-Bajir don't like the Peace Movement, the Peace Movement has its own internal divisions, former involuntary hosts don't always get along with former Peace Movement hosts, the Chee outright quit over the plan to use a bioweapon to make involuntary infestation impossible.
  • Terrestrial Sea Life: Humans who've settled as aquatic animals don't need to keep their dæmons in water. They aren't 'real' animals and won't suffocate, but water is more comfortable and allows them to move. Tanks that can be worn on character's backs or put on wheels come up many times, and homes modified to have clear plumbing allowing a dæmon to swim freely from room to room.
  • The Stations of the Canon: Are increasingly missed as the series progresses. The first few installments are essentially Animorphs + Daemons but by The Tree Of Life the specifics of canon events have fully left the building.
  • Threesome Subtext: Subverted. Poetry deliberately built up Jake Marco Cassie subtext and then it actually happens in Destroyer Of Worlds.
  • There Are No Therapists: Defied. Thanks the Chee and Elgat Kar therapy is actually available.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Toby in canon has hints of a desperate, ruthless mindset, but is always exactingly polite and deferential, making careful statements that gently suggest awareness of how the Animorphs value humans more than Hork-Bajir. Toby in Daemorphing is a main character and that desperate mindset is at the fore, as is resentment about the Animorphs' priorities. Eventually the other Hork-Bajir stage an intervention - as the valley's seer, she's had to take up so much responsibility in such a stressful situation that she's started to act harshly even when it's not warranted.
  • Translator Collar: Taxxons can wear these.
  • Walking Spoiler: Aftran, Tom and Melissa - not by existing, but by being important.
  • Wise Tree: Daemorphing takes a concept which comes up once in canon - that Elfangor has a psychic Guide Tree that can't quite speak or comprehend events like a person can, but can hear and understand his feelings - and develops it into the Andalite equivalent of dæmons, much as in His Dark Materials bears have armor.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Dissected in much greater detail than in canon. In Welcome Home, during a battle against Hork-Bajir Controllers Jake encounters a Human-Controller and briefly starts his usual consideration when fighting humans, how to get her out of the way without killing her, before giving up on it. The host is present and probably unwilling, but that's the case with most people he fights.
  • Woobie Family: Are you related to Elfangor and on Earth? Then your life will suck horribly.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Various characters and the series itself. Canon obviously has the Animorphs in constant peril, but dodges out of permanently killing them or harming other threatened children until the finale - in Daemorphing, sometimes those threats are realized.
  • Xenafication: Canon Loren has a strong introduction in the Andalite Chronicles, and when she's reintroduced she risks her life to save Tobias, but then she majorly fades back. Daemorphing's Loren becomes a full Animorph about halfway through the series, fully participating in their actions.
  • Xenophobic Herbivore: Andalites. The military might be mild or helpful to a few alien individuals they consider harmless, maybe, but they don't care about even whole innocent civilizations if those are in the way of something they're threatened by.
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