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Out of the Blue Box

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War-Prince Escafil remains an enigmatic figure in the history of Andalite technology. The lead scientist on the development of the device that bears his name. In interviews buried in the depths of archives with both his colleagues and Escafil himself before his death, a picture of the scientist emerges. Did you ever find it funny that Escafil conceptualized and aggressively developed a technology that many still question the use of, but that solves all our problems perfectly?

My name is Allarin, and I appear to be an Andalite.

Among the few universals that xeno-sociology posits after centuries of researching hundreds of alien species is that all gendered species have a few members who identify as a sex other than the one they have been assigned as birth, except of course, for us Andalites for whom those mistakes have never been made. The biological and psychological abnormalities present in other sentient species simply do not appear in our own proud and perfected people.

The fact those mistakes have never been made does not preclude the fact that this is not my body. Not my large hooves. Not the heaviness of my tail blade. Not the configuration of my genitalia. None of this is who I'm supposed to be. I want to be a scientist—the traditional female occupations—and when I told Mother about my ambition, she simply mentioned that gender roles are changing, and just as the Yeerk war has brought females to the military, our sciences still need the best and the brightest too, even if they are male. She cites Escafil, lead of the development team that created the iconic genetic reconfiguring technology. He was successful, renowned throughout the galaxy, and he was male.

How do you tell your mother, that's not the point? The point is only partially that males can become scientists and females can become soldiers. The greater point is that Allarin-Macaron-Sirinul as a male Andalite simply does not make sense, and as such, males in the sciences really are not relevant to her interests.

Besides, have you ever noticed how fervently Escafil worked on a device that while in development appeared to have no immediate military or cultural uses? It took him twenty years to gain the right to develop his technology on official time, and before then, it consumed his off hours. And have you noticed, the eccentricity of Escafil. Geniuses always have a reputation to uphold, but those habits, those peculiarities of Escafil have always echoed in me. He walked funny, like his hooves were too big for his frame, and his balance quite off. Then there's the story of Escafil's blade, buried so deep in the archives, I thought I would need electorate-level access just to contemplate the file's existence.

During the process of testing genetic reconfiguration, a question came up: What of injuries to the original body? One might suppose this would be an easy question to test. Create a minor cut on a non essential part of the body, morph something and morph back. What Escafil did was shave his tailblade down until it was about the size of an Andalite female's, to the horror of those watching. Then he morphed to a Kafit bird, and demorphed, his tail restored to a size typical of male Andalites. An interesting example, if one considers the myriad of other ways he could have tested the morphing technologies capacity to restore the original body. A few brave witnesses have even implied that Escafil seemed disappointed in the restoration.

He also talked in interviews about how the morphing technology was not just an advantage in the war against the Yeerks—although any significant development in Andalite science and technology post-Seerow was always a potential military development—but how morphing could be used in medicine for the treatment of both physical and psychological afflictions. What psychological afflictions those might be always seem to get lost or scrambled in the data transmissions.

Circumstantial evidence, I know. But it's compelled me, ever since I realized that I should have been female. Have you ever thought about the fact that Escafil worked so hard to create a device that solves our problems perfectly? Have you ever wondered if maybe that line, about how among all sentient species only Andalites never experience dissonance between their gendered bodies and their minds, is just a lie?

Of course you have.

I met you, my friend, my shorm, when we were in school together. I saw myself in you. The way you swaggered and tried to wear your blade bigger than it looked. The way you sighed at those delicate hands of yours. We made that connection, sensing that we shared a similar problem even if the concept of transgenderedness only entered our language after we made contact with alien species.

And I propose a solution. We use the morphing technology to acquire each other. If anyone makes an inquiry, this is simply for practice, of course. You may have times while performing xeno-ethnological observations where a male body would be most useful for you, as I have times where the use of more delicate hands, such as the ones your current body possesses, would be a benefit.

If there was, to say, an almost alien-like dissonance that gets resolved as a result of this morphing experience, that would perhaps be an unrelated side benefit that we would not need to mention to our Prince. We could consider this an experiment, whether the feelings of gender dysphoria experienced by alien species could be relieved through the use of Escafil's device, a blue box easily held in the palm of a hand.

Imagine aliens, morphing. That would be the day.