Friday, February 9, 2024

Friday Creature Feature - Hork-Bajir

I mentioned in a recent podcast episode that I started re-reading (listening on Audble to) the Animorphs series. Reading chronologically, I finished The Hork-Bajir Chronicles last week and it felt like as good a time as any to do a Creature Feature on another Animorphs alien species: the Hork-Bajir.

Despite their fierce, carnivorous appearance, the Hork-Bajir are herbivores, genetically engineered by the Arn. After their planet was decimated by an asteroid strike, the Arn created the Hork-Bajir to farm trees and revitalize their planet. So their beaked faces, tyrannosaurus feet, and forearm blades weren’t for fighting or killing, just for slicing bark off trees. 

They’re mostly simplistic, tribal creatures. When the Arn created them, it was impossible to completely eliminate their intelligence, so every so often there was a Hork-Bajir born with exceptional brains and cognition, despite their general unintelligent appearances. However, these “seers” were believed to be born to lead the Hork-Bajir at a crucial time. Notable Hork-Bajir seers include Dak Hamee and Toby Hamee.

The Hork-Bajir were one of the first major species enslaved by Yeerks. Before that point, no Hork-Bajir even knew their blades could be used for fighting. Dak Hamee and Aldrea tried to resist but no free Hork Bajir remained. After that point, they were the major foot soldiers and fighting force of Yeerks on Earth and abroad. 

During the war between the Animorphs and the Yeerks on Earth, a handful of Hork-Bajir were freed by Tobias and Animorphs (with the Ellimist guiding their rescue) and they were led to a valley where the Hork-Bajir were able to live free and peacefully. Throughout the war, the free Hork-Bajir managed to free more of their brothers and sisters. When the Anirmophs were found out, they and their families were gratefully taken in by the Hork-Bajir and given refuge. After the war, the species was relocated to Yellowstone and given protective status.

The most heart-breaking part of the Hork-Bajir story for me is how innocent they were. Other than the seers, they basically had the intellect and mental development of a toddler. They didn’t have any concept of violence or fighting until their enslavement. “The Hork-Bajir Chronicles” shows the mind of an enslaved Hork-Bajir and it was sad to read. They’re a symbol of innocence in this dark tale. As if teenagers fighting an alien race aren’t enough to traumatize you, now we have a power-house alien with the mind of a child, suffering silently inside. 

It makes me think of my daughters and to imagine those little girls mentally tortured like that… that’s not something a parent wants to dwell on. So next time you pick up an Animorphs book and the Hork-Bajir controllers come around, remember the child-like mind inside.

Hork-Bajir controller, as shown on the 90s TV show

As illustrated in the ongoing graphic novels

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