|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
- "Visser One. Formerly Visser Three. Esplin 9466."
"Of course. So, this mission is major. If it's being named after the reigning visser. [...] I think Visser One is about to launch open war. Entire cities might be incinerated. Whole countries. Maybe, just maybe, if we strike now, if we do everything we possibly can, maybe we can keep that from happening. I'm not sure I could live with myself if we didn't do all that we could."
- ―Ax and Jake to the other Animorphs
The Deception, published in September 2000 and written by Elise Smith based on an outline by K.A. Applegate, is the forty-sixth book in the Animorphs series. It is the ninth book narrated by Ax and the fifth book with Ax as the sole narrator.
The Animorphs and Ax have managed to contact the Andalite home world. But the battle is far from over. Visser Two has arrived to Earth, and he's not happy about the state of things. He decides the best way to take over Earth is to have the humans destroy the people and the land the Yeerks don't need. He decides to start World War III.
Ax and his friends know that Visser Two means business and there will probably only be two ways to keep him from destroying everything they know: Find a way to stop the war. Or find a way to stop him...forever...
The book begins where the previous book left off, with the Animorphs having just begun a Z-space transmission with the Andalite fleet. They inform the Andalite fleet of an impending ambush on the Anati homeworld. The Andalites are skeptical of the genuineness of the information thinking that the earth resistance might lie to them in order to become their top priority. They remain skeptical even when Ax confirms the information, saying that he may have confused his loyalties.
Ax, Tobias and Marco intercept a Yeerk transmission that the newly promoted Visser One has a plan to conquer the world by a war between the most populated country (China) and the United States. The humans would exhaust their weapons and would not be able to retaliate. The Animorphs steal an F-16 from an air base and fly out to sea to the USS George Washington. They crash it into the sea so the Yeerks would not think they were being invaded. They infiltrate the ship and find Visser Two, whose host is a high-ranking officer in the Navy (Admiral Carrington). The Yeerks find out that the Animorphs are on the ship and have reinforcement. Bug fighters began invading the aircraft carrier. The Animorphs attack, and fight alongside the non-controller American military personnel. The Yeerks have commandeered an American submarine and plan to use it to launch a nuclear attack against the Chinese and instigate World War Three.
In order to stop this, Ax commandeers an F-14D Tomcat fighter loaded with a nuclear warhead, against Jake's decision, abducts Visser Two and threatens to use the bomb to destroy the Yeerk pool and the city above it (along with the families of all the Animorphs). Visser Two calls off the attack that would have instigated the war. Ax realizes he would have dropped the nuke and wonders if the rest of the Animorphs, particularly Jake, will ever be able to forgive him.
- Visser Two
- Hedrick Chapman
- Various Hork-Bajir and human-Controllers
- Edriss 562 (Mentioned Only)
- Esplin 9466 (Mentioned Only)
- Visser Four (Mentioned Only)
- Samilin-Corrath-Gahar (Mentioned Only)
- Arbat-Elivat-Estoni (Mentioned Only)
- Council of Thirteen (Mentioned Only)
- Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul (Memory) (Mentioned)
- Forlay-Esgarrouth-Maheen (Memory) (Mentioned)
- Noorlin-Sirinial-Cooraf (Mentioned Only)
- Estrid-Corill-Darrath (Mentioned Only)
- Gonrod-Isfall-Sonilli (Mentioned Only)
- Aloth-Attamil-Gahar (Mentioned Only)
- Gafinilan-Estrif-Valad (Mentioned Only)
- Mertil-Iscar-Elmand (Mentioned Only)
- Ax's Scoop
- Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic
- F-16D fighter-bomber
- USS George Washington
- F-14D Tomcat fighter-bomber
- Andalite homeworld (Memory) (Mentioned)
- Anati homeworld (Mentioned Only)
- The Gardens (Mentioned Only)
- United States Armed Forces fighter aircrafts
- Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
- Bug fighters
- Dracon beams
- Dracon assault cannons
- Time Matrix (Mentioned Only)
- Yeerk pool (Mentioned Only)
- The Animorphs' plea to the Andalite fleet, as well as their warning regarding the Yeerk ambush waiting for them on the Anati homeworld, are not taken seriously by the Andalites, who believe that Jake is lying to have Earth placed on the top of their priority list and that Ax's allegiance may no longer be to his people.
- The Animorphs discover that Esplin 9466 has been promoted from Visser Three to Visser One, and that he is launching an initiative known as "Operation 9466" with the help of Visser Two.
- Ax hacks the National Security Agency in order to decrypt Yeerk transmissions, and breaks the Law of Seerow's Kindness by giving the NSA software capable of cracking any human codes, in exchange for allowing him to use their databases.
- Jake announces that henceforth they must do whatever is necessary to win, with Marco and Rachel in approval, and thus the Animorphs discard their rule against acquiring and morphing sentient beings without permission.
- The Animorphs steal a military jet from the Air National Guard and infiltrate the USS George Washington, where they discover that Operation 9466 is a campaign to instigate World War III by having China and the United States engage in nuclear war.
- Ax decides to save millions of human lives by sacrificing a few thousand, and knocks Jake unconscious when he protests. With the help of the other Animorphs, minus Cassie, Ax proceeds to steal a fighter-bomber with a nuclear weapon onboard, with Visser Two as a hostage. Ax flies the plane over the Yeerk pool in the Animorphs' hometown, threatening to drop the explosive and destroy the pool and all the Yeerks in it, as well as the thousands of people living in the city, unless Visser Two calls off the attacks against China; Visser Two acquiesces and World War III is called off, with Ax being left to muse how Andalites truly are meddlesome in the affairs of other species.
- Ax remarks that he views the Animorphs as his family and that he also considers himself human in some ways, and wonders whether the Animorphs, especially Jake, will forgive him for his actions.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||--||Peregrine Falcon, Flea, Seagull, Cockroach, Siberian Tiger|
|Rachel||Human (female Air National Guard officer Michele Leary)||Bald Eagle, Flea, Human (female Air National Guard officer Michele Leary), Seagull, Cockroach, Grizzly Bear|
|Tobias||Human (male United States Navy catapult-and-arresting-gear officer)||Flea, Seagull, Cockroach, Human (male United States Navy catapult-and-arresting-gear officer)|
|Cassie||--||Osprey, Flea, Seagull, Cockroach, Wolf|
|Marco||--||Osprey, Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim), Flea, Seagull, Cockroach|
|Ax||Human (male Air National Guard Captain Joseph Felitti), Human (male United States Naval Officer), Human (male United States Navy Lieutenant), Human (male United States Navy Admiral Carrington), Human (male United States Naval Aviation Fuel Officer)||Human (male Air National Guard Captain Joseph Felitti), Seagull, Human (male United States Naval Officer), Human (male United States Navy Lieutenant), Human (male United States Navy Admiral Carrington), Human (male United States Naval Aviation Fuel Officer)|
- The cover quote is, "The Animorphs have never met Visser Two. Until now."
- The inside cover quote is, "Prepare for takeoff...."
- As of this book, the order of the narrators changes from Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Tobias/Ax and Marco to Ax, Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie and Marco.
- This marks the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first time that an Animorph has acquired a human morph, with Ax having acquired eleven humans by this point, not counting Ax's acquisition of a random human in the alternate timeline presented in Back to Before.
- As of this book, every member of the Animorphs has acquired and used a human morph.
- Ax mentions the instances where he communicated with fellow Andalites after being stranded on Earth, citing his radio call through Z-space (The Alien), the traitor Samilin-Corrath-Gahar (The Decision), the members of Unit 0 (The Arrival) and Gafinilan and Mertil (The Other).
- Ax and Tobias mention the events of VISSER, chasing Visser Four through time using the Time Matrix, with Tobias recalling the blood shed during the various battles and Ax remarking that it was that event that taught him about humans and their violence in war.
- The name of Visser One's (a.k.a. Esplin 9466) conquest is called Operation 9466.
- ANIBASE: On the side of the jet, if you look closely, you can make out the names of two captains: Orson (the cover artist's cat) and the cover artist himself, David Mattingly!
- This was the last volume for which a French edition was produced, until books 53 and 54. Books 47-52 were not published in French, and book 53 is labelled "Volume 47".
- Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul is referred to as a War-Prince, despite the fact that his attained rank was that of Prince.
- Ax has an Apple laptop on p10, which changes into an iMac on p15.
- 'Episode' is spelled 'epsiode' on p94.