The Beginning is the fifty-fourth and final book in the Animorphs series.
No one ever thought it would come to this. Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, Marco, and Ax know that even if they could have warned people in the beginning, no one would have believed their story. A story about an invasion of parasitic aliens. So, for all this time, Jake, the other Animorphs, and Ax have secretly fought a desperate battle. Secretly held the Yeerks at bay.
But those days are over.
It's come down to the final battle between the Yeerks and Animorphs. And no one knows who will win, lose, or live...
Continuing on immediately from #53: The Answer, Rachel attacks the Yeerks in control of the Blade ship, and kills Tom, before dying at the hands of his Yeerk allies shortly after; the Ellimist briefly stops time to memorialize her death, tells his own story to her, and she dies. Tom's morph-capable Yeerks escape in the Blade Ship, abandoning the disabled Pool Ship to the Animorphs. Visser One, realizing that he was defeated, leaves Alloran-Semitur-Corrass's body after being knocked unconscious by Ax. The remaining Animorphs, as well as Alloran (freed after nearly two decades under Visser Three/One's control over his body), contact the Andalite fleet, and after hours of negotiations, the Andalite fleet promotes Ax to rank of Prince, and declares the war over. The Animorphs attend Rachel's funeral, and Tobias flies away with Rachel's ashes.
The remainder of the book plays out over the course of three years after the war. Jake, Marco, and Cassie become instantly rich and famous, while Ax returns to the Andalite homeworld a hero. Surrendered Yeerks are allowed to choose an animal form in which to become a nothlit, and similarly Arbron's Taxxons are granted their wish and become nothlit anacondas or other big snakes, relocated to the Amazon Rainforest. Unable to morph out of his Taxxon form, Arbron is soon killed by poachers. The free Hork-Bajir colony is moved to Yellowstone National Park, and are protected by Toby Hamee and Cassie; while humans and Andalites develop an alliance, based mostly around Andalite access to human junk food. Marco embraces his new fame, and winds up becoming the self-proclaimed "spokesman" for the Animorphs, as well as a TV star; Cassie rises as an activist for the environment and the Hork-Bajir; however Jake adjusts less easily than they do to the new conditions and becomes depressed.
A year after the conclusion of the war, Esplin 9466 is put on trial in The Hague, Netherlands for war crimes and is found guilty. Jake has slumped into depression in the year since the war ended, having minimal contact with his friends and not morphing at all. During Jake's testimony at the trial, Esplin's defense lawyers attempt to discredit Jake by claiming that he is a war criminal for his actions, such as his emptying of the Pool ship that killed 17,000 Yeerks. Though this objection is overruled, Jake is deeply shaken by it, as he feels that it, along with many of his actions during the war, was immoral or mistaken. In a desperate bid to cheer Jake up, his friends capture him and dump him into the ocean, thinking that by forcing him into a dolphin morph (dolphins being naturally happy) they can cheer him up. Jake remains aloof however.
Two years after Esplin 9466's sentencing, Ax is charged with finding the Blade Ship. He notes that the military is being shrunk back, and that he easily has the most interesting assignment. The ship crew finds a mysterious DNA sample, a polar bear. Ax leads the investigation team. As First Officer Menderash-Postill-Fastill later recalls, the ship came alive and attacked. Menderash broke off from the ship, but they were then attacked by pirates. He is the sole survivor.
Meanwhile, Jake finally concedes and agrees to train some special ops teams to use the morphing power. After a few months of meetings, two Andalite officials approach him. Menderash relays Ax's story. Jake agrees to help. He approaches Cassie and Marco. Cassie is now a government official. With her boyfriend, Ronnie, she scouts out new areas for the Hork-Bajir to inhabit. Cassie offers to come, but Jake declines, saying that her role is over, and that she is doing what she wanted to do the most. He gets her to find Tobias, who has since shut himself away from the world, and has remained angry at Jake for Rachel's death. Marco agrees to come, but only after yelling at Jake, and telling him that he cannot undo his past mistakes, and that, just as during the war, they will only succeed if they follow his instincts, no matter how "crazy, reckless and ruthless." Jake selects two of his students (Santorelli and Jeanne Gerard} to come as well. They were picked because they have no close friends or relatives.
As the mission is top-secret and unauthorized, Jake and the others conduct a very elaborate plan. Marco knocks out two Andalites who are guarding a shuttle. They use the shuttle to take off and board a former Yeerk cruiser. Then they crash the shuttle into the ground. The official story would be that terrorists overpowered the Andalite guards but could not pilot the ship and crashed.
The ship is an elegant cruiser. Menderash, following an Andalite tradition, believes it bad luck to board the ship before it is named; after Tobias notes that it is "beautiful and dangerous and exciting," the group gives it the only fitting name, the Rachel. After several months in space, the Animorphs find the Blade Ship, only to discover that Ax has been assimilated into an entity only known as The One. The One threatens to consume the Animorphs, as it had done to Ax. Jake comments on Marco's earlier call to be "crazy, reckless and ruthless," and, with a smile that Marco notes makes him look like Rachel, orders them to ram the Blade ship.
- Captain-Prince Asculan-Semitur-Langor
- Greta Van Susteren
- Sergeant Santorelli
- Prince Caysath-Winwall-Esgarrouth
- Ronnie Chambers
- Efflit 1318
- The One
- The outside cover quote is "It began with six. It will end with five...".
- The inside cover quote is "It's the beginning of the end...".
Contributions to the Series' Story ArcEdit
- Rachel and Jara Hamee are killed.
- Visser One/Three surrenders and the war ends.
- The Taxxons and surrendering Yeerks are given the ability to choose one permanent morph and be set free in a natural habitat.
- Visser One is found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to several consecutive life sentences.
- The Andalite morphing ability is released to the US government in exchange for Andalite 'vacations' to Earth, in which the Andalites are allowed to morph into humans.
- The series finally closes with somewhat of a cliffhanger ending, introducing a new enemy called 'The One' which may be affiliated with Crayak or The Five.