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Oct 20, 2020 2:41 AM
Meanwhile, back at the ranch,
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<I can leave his head and he will be fine, but we need to be very very careful about not startling him or his mind control precautions might force him to explode> the Visser tells his staff. 

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-- they will do their best to be really careful not to startle him. Is that what happened to Dupont Circle.

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Leareth, as soon as he has his mouth back, can confirm that he's pretty sure that's exactly what happened at Dupont Circle. Though having your safehouse stormed by dozens of Controllers is a little more than 'startling'. 

...He doesn't have his Gifts back. That's really frustrating. It makes sense that Nayoki's conditional set-command functions differently from the compulsion, and - well, he doesn't feel safe, right now, he feels terrified and helpless and not having magic is really not helping but, well, it seems he can't think his way out of that paradox although he spends a while trying. 

Leareth doesn't mention that this might leave him unable to explode. It's possible the compulsion would override the set-command with less pressure on it, they did not extensively test the interactions under extreme circumstances. 

He's also so, so tired, and still feels awful, much more noticeably so now that he's the one driving his body. "Was I injured badly?" he asks the person in medical-looking clothing. "I feel very terrible right now." 

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"You spent a while not breathing much oxygen. I don't think there's going to be long-term damage, your Yeerk would've noticed, but I'm not surprised you don't feel great. You can put the mask back on, if you want." There's one next to his bedside.

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He does feel mostly capable of having thoughts, which is at least indicative he didn't rack up actual brain damage. (If he did, maybe Matirin will give him morph about it?) 

Leareth puts the oxygen mask on, and then asks Emril if she can please stay here and, as the non-Yeerked person there, make sure nobody sticks a Yeerk on him. He's exhausted but doesn't think he can sleep otherwise. 

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Yes, of course. (Poor Leareth. She can tell that he doesn't have his Gifts back, though she also hasn't mentioned it.) Emril drags a chair over to the hospital bed and sits next to him. It's...weird, seeing the commander of the army she worked for like this, but of course he's a person too, who can be injured and tired. 

...Eventually, once he's asleep, she reaches out and takes his hand. So she can do a bit of Healing while she's here anyway, she thinks, and he'll wake up feeling better. Also he's had such a bad day, an even worse day than hers, and he did such an impressive thing, convincing the Visser to surrender, and it feels unfair if he doesn't, in exchange, get someone to sit with him and hold his hand. 

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The Visser's people keep him updated. No one has answered. They may have jumped off planet, or just not be sure what secure communications look like. 

(Is he sure they have to surrender. The Andalites are going to murder them all or at best lock them in pools forever while they debate whether Yeerks ought to be allowed to exist.)

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Maybe. Although Leareth is, he thinks, on their side. The bigger consideration is that he's pretty sure the alternatives are all worse. Either the Andalites are going to win, with the resources they still have, or they're going to use their weapon to kill everyone on Earth. Leareth is pretty sure that plan was already laid. 

Mhalir is not, when in possession of all the facts, willing to gamble on a (slim, he thinks) chance of winning outright, when losing means that billions of people die, even if the Pool ship gets away. All the Yeerks locked in pools for fifty years is still better than that. 

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It feels so unfair, for Yeerks, who are too decent to kill five billion people, to lose precisely because Andalites are that evil and willing to stoop that low. 

(Alloran is so baffled.)

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Mhalir paces in Alloran's body, and tries not to fret unproductively. Eventually manages to pull himself away from watching the computers. Tells his staff to wake him for anything Andalite-related, and gets some sleep. 

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In the morning they alert him of a hyperspace jump. About a hundred million miles out. Presumably the Andalites but they won't be able to tell until they get closer.

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<Could we broadcast a message to them now, if we wanted to> It would be awkward if it was someone else but how much worse can that really make things.  

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They could. The latency on responses will be considerable but messages will work fine.

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<Please transmit a short, straightforward message repeating the offer of surrender and asking to discuss terms while the Andalites approach Earth.>

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This is done. 

The reply comes about sixteen minutes later, almost exactly as long as the necessary delay imposed by the latency. It reads 'This is Ashul-Isfalet-Corril, commanding the TailStrike. We request the immediate return of all prisoners taken in the course of operations on Earth yesterday, and await your proposal to end the possession of unwilling hosts on Earth within thirty days."

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<We will immediately begin preparations to return all prisoners in a way that allows verification they are Yeerk-free. Would appreciate your input on what precautions you wish to take here. We will begin work on the specified proposal.>

(Which notably does not say they'll implement one.)

Visser would like his people to start work on planning that, though, if it's the best that ends up being possible. They should have fairly good records, at this point, of which hosts are voluntary, but he wants all of that re-checked. (Because, thanks to people like Enstat, there may be more now than before.) He of course expects the Thoughtsensers will want to check this themselves, for any humans opting to stick with their Yeerks. 

Mostly, Mhalir is at this point placing all his hopes for a better outcome than "exiled to pools on their home planet" on Leareth, and Leareth's existing rapport with Matirin. He doesn't say this, though. 

- it's somewhat worrying that he's not talking to Matirin. The commander could be dead. Or just injured. Or still on Earth, in hiding somewhere. He won't know for a while. 

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<Leave the prisoners in an outdoor area without Yeerk or allied forces supervising, unconscious if their precautions do not permit them to wake up safely having been in your custody. Do not interfere with shuttle access to pick them up. We will be prepared for pickup at 13:00 GMT.>

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He is willing to do that. Asks his people to select an appropriate outdoor area, and then goes to check if Leareth is up. 

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Leareth is up and feeling less like he might be dying, although he still hasn't gotten out of bed. Emril is sitting with him. 

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The Visser stops in the doorway, not coming any closer. He's in Andalite form again. <We are making arrangements to return prisoners this afternoon. I wished to ask if you could help convey to your people, or perhaps assess them yourself, to determine whether we can afford to keep them conscious while we remove their Yeerks> 

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Leareth spends a moment blearily trying to determine if that means they probably believed Vanyel, or not. 

"I think the compulsions should not trigger in any cases if they did not for either of us," he says, tiredly. "Emril can check them with Thoughtsensing though. I am still feeling unwell and do not wish to go anywhere until I must." 

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Emril is happy to help. The fact that she can Mindspeak and Heal is in itself a decent indicator she's free, to the Yeerked people, and once they have more with Gifts back they can check each other. 

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Mhalir thanks Leareth and takes Emril with him, twisting one of his stalks to watch Leareth with a worried backward glance. He looks a little better, but he must have really taken a hit from the gas exposure and hypoxia. Mhalir tries not to fret about him, it's not productive. 

He explains the suggestions for handling the Velgarth compulsions and provides them Emril. He's less sure what to do about the Andalites. Hopefully their Yeerks can just tell him if they're convinced enough of the rescue not to immediately kill themselves when freed? 

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The Andalites' Yeerks can answer that. The Andalites believe it and are willing to provisionally not kill themselves though most of them are very determined to kill their Yeerk if they get any opportunity. 

 

Alloran feels this way too, not that anyone asked him.

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Mhalir would, at some point, really like to be in someone's head who doesn't detest him with every fibre of their soul, and if they're not frantically trying to win a war anymore, and are instead doing something else... Well, it changes things. He leaves that alone, for now. 

They can take the precaution of briefly sedating the Andalites while the Yeerks actually remove themselves, so they can be taken away safely without risk of murder. 

Still a while until arrival. He paces and worries and asks that they send an update to the ship once they've chosen a location. 

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