|“||I'm just a gamer, like you. But perhaps with a different philosophy. I don't play the game to save the species, but to annihilate it. I play the game of genocide.||„|
|~ Crayak to the Ellimist|
|“||Sleep well, little human, I'll see you in your dreams.||„|
|~ Crayak's ominous words to Jake|
Crayak is a recurring villain in the Animorphs book series. He is an unfathomably powerful reality warping Eldritch Abomination who exists outside of the universe and strives to extinguish life. He is locked in permanent conflict with the Ellimist, a benevolent creature of equal power, both indirectly influencing the situation to further their goals.
The Ellimist Chronicles
Much like the Ellimist, Crayak began life as an organic being in a distant galaxy, amusing himself with intricate games of skill and strategy, eventually driven to empower himself by mechanically-enhancing his body - ultimately fusing himself with the planet-sized construct that was his starship and roaming the galaxy as a mechanized demigod.
However, where the Ellimist used his technological prowess to save lives and encourage peace, Crayak used his starship body to destroy life wherever he found it. In the end, his actions drove the dominant power of his galaxy - an as-yet unnamed omnipotent being - to exile Crayak into the Animorphs universe, casting him out to wander the stars of the Milky Way for all eternity.
Angry but not overly inconvenienced by his banishment, Crayak continued his games across his new playground, destroying life and manipulating peaceful civilizations to apocalyptic wars. Eventually, he became aware of the Ellimist's presence in the galaxy, and decided that he would make an amusing challenge in his ongoing game of genocide: having discovered his future opponent's efforts to preserve life and uphold the peace between species, he set out to undo his work one planet at a time, going so far as to cultivate a crop-destroying parasite just to reduce a peaceful species to cannibalism and eventual extinction.
Once the Ellimist became aware of him, Crayak challenged him to their first game: three sentient races, each situated on a different planet, two out of three doomed to extinction via an asteroid; after forcing his opponent to choose which species was to survive, he then revealed the game was rigged, killing the surviving race anyway. For thousands of years, Crayak led the Ellimist on a deranged pursuit around the galaxy, pausing only to start additional games in every system they visited – always ending with Crayak cheating and claiming a death toll in the trillions.
In the end, the Ellimist was so disheartened by his losing streak that he retreated from the battlefield to reconsider his approach, even going so far as to briefly retire from his spacefaring lifestyle in favour of a simpler life on the Andalite homeworld. However, to Crayak's surprise and anger, the Ellimist returned to space with a renewed sense of purpose - and began beating the seemingly victorious gamer at his own game: for every species that Crayak had annihilated, the Ellimist created two to replace them - even creating a race of benevolent proxies known as the Pemalites to nurture life throughout the galaxy.
A millennium later, the two opponents met again: however, the Ellimist had spread his consciousness across an entire fleet of vessels, and Crayak's single gargantuan warship could not best them all; in the end, the battle became a hurried flight across the galaxy, the two foes strafing each other with immensely powerful blasts of energy - the two technological demigods destroying countless worlds in the crossfire. Unable to defeat the Ellimist, Crayak set a trap, luring his enemy into the depths of a black hole vast enough to consume the bulk of his fleet and destroying the surviving ships one at a time.
However, as a result of the countless technological augmentations and zero-space connections he had made over his long lifespan, the Ellimist somehow survived his destruction, transcending mundane reality to become a nigh-omnipotent being. Once he began aware of this, Crayak was eventually able to replicate the Ellimist's transformation, becoming a similar entity. Still, they soon realized they could not destroy each other, and their continued attempts to duel head-on would only end with the destruction of the entire universe; with Crayak unwilling to die but unwilling to live in peace, the Ellimist challenged him to a new game - one that was to be fought through proxies.
One such proxy was the race known as the Howlers, a genetically-engineered species created solely to kill; over time, these being succeeded in wiping out the Pemalites - along with countless other peaceful races across the galaxy. Another proxy was his favorite emissary, the Drode, a malevolent trickster who supposedly sold out his entire species to earn the powers that Crayak offered him. Having been named for a word that translated literally to "wild card," the Drode was regularly sent out into the galaxy to tempt and manipulate certain inhabitants of the galaxy, repurposing them as pawns in Crayak's intricate games.
By the start of the series, Crayak has also begun taking an interest in the activities of the Yeerk empire: recognizing their capacity for destruction and domination inherent in their search for host bodies, he and the Ellimist conducted the newest round of their game around the Yeerks' eventual fate - Crayak betting that they would continue their conquest and eliminate anyone who stood in their way, the Ellimist gambling that they would be defeated but eventually find a new and better way of life.
With the Hork-Bajir decimated and the Andalites barely managing to hold the empire at bay, the Yeerks' victory seemed certain. However, the Ellimist arranged for a new group of proxies to act in his stead - a group of individuals that would eventually be empowered with Andalite morphing technology and become known as the Animorphs.
Events of the Series
Crayak's presence is felt for the first time in The Capture when Jake, the leader of the Animorphs, is infested by the Yeerk known as Temrash 114 (who was originally infesting his older brother Tom). After the other Animorphs manage to fatally starve it, the parasite's death throes briefly grants Jake a psychic glimpse of Crayak himself, sitting on his throne, staring down at him; from then on, he relives the experience in his nightmares, in which an ominous red eye keeps proclaiming "soon." Doubly terrifying, the true nature of Jake's vision is not explained until much later in the series.
In The Atack, Ellimist eventually reveals Crayak's true nature and purpose when he chooses the Animorphs as his champions against his foe's team of Howlers in a battle decide the fate of the Iskoort. As it eventually becomes clear, the Iskoort are a parasitic race similar to the Yeerks, but have embraced symbiosis in order to live in peace with bioengineeed host-bodies: the Ellimist is hoping that the Iskoort might one day meet the Yeerk empire and teach them that ruthless expansion in pursuit of hosts is unnecessary; Crayak wants the race eliminated before they can pose a threat to his newest pawns.
After a grueling and horribly one-sided across the Iskoort city, Animorphs eventually manage to defeat the Howlers by accessing their hive mind and using it to spread Jake's happiest memories among the race. Suddenly realizing the horror of what they've done, the Howlers on site become essentially useless to Crayak; though he destroys the "infected" proxies and does his best to cut off the transmission of memories through the hive mind, some of Jake's recollections do make it to the rest of the race. As a result, the Howlers abandon their violent ways, and Crayak is deprived of his most effective proxy race.
In The Exposed, Crayak sends the Drode to wreak havoc among the Animorph's allies, intending to take revenge on Jake for spoiling his game. By this time, the group has become close friends with the Pemalite robots known as the Chee, and so the Drode does his best to annihilate them: finding the Pemalite ship hidden deep in the ocean, he uses the still-active machines on board to sabotage the Chees' holograms and leave them paralyzed in public, threatening to expose them to Yeerk scrutiny.
With less than a day before at least one high-profile Chee is discovered, the Animorphs descend to investigate the Pemalite ship, where they are confronted by the Drode: gleefully toying with them, Crayak's emissary gloats over the fact that, with Visser Three's troops closing in and nowhere for the group to demorph without being seen, they are doomed to either die in combat or be trapped in their giant squid forms forever. He also takes a great interest in Rachel, the most violent of the Animorphs, hoping to recruit her for his master. However, the plan falls apart when Erek the Chee arrives on the scene and is able to use the ships' technologies to repel the invaders. Furious, the Drode departs.
Crayak and the Drode next appear in Megamorphs III: Elfangor's Secret: with Visser Four having found the Time Matrix and used it to wreak havoc across history, the present is briefly rewritten into a technologically-backwards fascist dystopia where the intellectually impaired are used as slaves, women are treated as second-class citizens, and the Yeerks are guaranteed a victory. Though amused by how monstrous the Animorphs have become in this new timeline, Crayak cannot tolerate one of his pawns running lose across time and space with the means of casually changing history in hand. So, he restores the Animorph's original personalities and has the Drode offer them the chance to stop Visser Four before he can make anything worse - but only if one of them will be sacrificed by the end of their mission. Though reluctant to accept the deal (knowing that the sacrifice will almost certainly be Jake), the Animorphs have no choice but to agree to Crayak's terms.
The journey through time leads them to the Battle of Agincourt, the Crossing of the Delaware, the Battle of Trafalgar, Princeton University 1934, and finally the D-Day landings at Normandy. At all of these points in the past, Visser Four has made distinct changes, affecting devastating changes to history. Worse still, Jake is shot dead while crossing the Delaware with George Washington. However, after managing to end the threat of the Yeerk saboteur, the Animorphs are able to undo his actions by going back in time and preventing the parents of Visser Four's host body from ever meeting, ensuring that history is never changed and Jake never dies.
In the next Megamorphs book, Back To Before, Crayak extends another deal via the Drode - this time to Jake alone. Having been forced to leave a wounded controller to die in agony, Jake is at the end of his psychological tether and can no longer stand the miseries of the war; as such, when the Drode offers him the chance to go back in time and avoid joining the war against the Yeerks, he is tempted. Though he tries not to give him, the constant badgering of the trickster gradually wears him down and accepts. As such, history is altered: the five friends never visit the abandoned construction site, ensuring that Elfangor dies alone, the morphing technology is not passed on to a human resistance movement, and humanity is left defenseless against the Yeerk invasion.
It initially appears as though Earth is doomed: Tobias is recruited into the Sharing and infested by a Yeerk; Ax is left trapped at the bottom of the ocean with nobody to rescue him; and the rest of the team is left unprotected. However, Cassie begins to experience inexplicable bursts of intuition that allow her to reunite the team and form a much more ad-hoc resistance movement. Eventually, they are able to defeat the Yeerks, but only at the cost of numerous innocent lives. Realizing that Cassie is a living time-space anomaly, the Drode rages that the Ellimist cheated by including her in the Animorphs, but is ultimately forced to concede that Crayak lost again. As such, the alternate timeline is undone, everything is returned to normal, and the Drode leaves in a huff.
Aside from his non-chronological appearances during The Ellimist Chronicles, Crayak's final appearance in the series is in The Return. Here, he strikes a bargain with David: having been trapped in rat form by the Animorphs and abandoned on a deserted island as punishment for his betrayal, David has been aching for revenge ever since, and with the help of Crayak and the Drode, he is given the perfect opportunity to do so. Sent back to the mainland, he recruits two gullible street thugs with the promise of money and captures Rachel, intending to trap her in rat form as well. However, once Rachel realizes that David's grand claims of having an army of rats on his side, Crayak and the Drode appear before her and reveal that they want her as a champion.
Despite Rachel's best efforts, she is slowly tempted towards a Faustian bargain, both by the offer of the power she needs to destroy Visser One, and by the threat of being trapped forever in rat form if she does not comply. Eventually, she agrees: she is then is given a superhumanly-empowered new body that can will new forms into existence and ordered to kill Visser One in a duel to the death. Though the Andalite controller puts up an impressive fight thanks to his own morphing abilities, the powers that Crayak has empowered Rachel with are too much for him to resist, and he is left helpless. However, Rachel suddenly realizes that striking the final blow will make her Crayak's pawn for all eternity, and refuses to go through with it, allowing herself to be returned to rat form. Fortunately, she is eventually able to talk her way out of her box and demorph in time to escape being trapped.
Crayak's fate at the end of the series is left unclear, but it is heavily implied that the Howlers' destruction and the Yeerks' final defeat allowed the Ellimist to gain a definite advantage over him, allowing him to seriously hamper his apocalyptic ambitions for the time beings.
Crayak is never fully described, but the few that is described appears as a gigantic and monstrous entity, far too horrific and alien even by the standards of the creatures encountered over the course of the series, to the point of being unable to fully process. From what little Jake, the main hero, was able to observe during their brief meetings, he appears as a gigantic, limbless, biomechanical, red eye sitting on a throne miles high. He communicates through thought-speak perceived as deafening screams, said to shake those who hear them to the atomic level.
Prior to his ascension, Crayak's original body took the form of an imposing body equipped with immensely muscled arms and his distinctive cyclopean eye; upon witnessing his physiology, the Ellimist suspects that his species evolved for subterranean life.
By the time the two beings meet, Crayak has already begun the mechanical augmentation that will ultimately lead him to omnipotence, having essentially fused his biological body with his ship's internal systems in much the same way as the Ellimist himself. However, where Ellimist spreads his consciousness across an entire fleet, Crayak cloisters his mind in one massive planet-sized ship, as if to emphasize his selfish, egotistical nature.
Crayak is not omnipotent in the strict sense of the word, but he is so incredibly powerful that it makes little difference to a human perspective. He can warp reality as he pleases and toy with the laws of physics, matter and energy, putting victims through all sorts of situations that could very well be real or illusion, and entering dreams like nothing. He creates species of monsters and dangerous beings and can grant power to anyone.
Crayak is a dictator and a sadist by nature, horribly cruel, vicious, violent, hateful, sadistic, relentless and unforgiving. He regards other life forms as either toys in his galaxy-spanning games or inconveniences to be eradicated. Furthermore, he also makes it abundantly clear that even his devoted servants are little more than tools to be discarded swiftly should they happen to outlive their usefulness - or if better pawns are located. In the event that they fail him, his lackeys will be annihilated without mercy. Any promises made to lure others into his service are nothing but tempting lies.
Reveling in destruction and suffering throughout the galaxy, Crayak took great delight in undoing the Ellimist's attempts to foster peace, annihilating the species that he had worked so hard to save, and gleefully cheating his way through the challenges he had arrange for Ellimist to ensure that he would always come on top no matter how hard his opponent tried. Crayak's sadistic, genocidal behavior reaches its logical conclusion in the form of his ultimate goal: as the events of The Attack make clear, he wants to pit all races in the universe against one another until all sentient life has been obliterated with the exception of a single victor species, which will then be made to worship him as a god.
Befitting his nature as a sadistic gamester, Crayak is also extremely petty and does not take losing well: He is prepared to go to any lengths to eliminate those who have bested him, no matter how briefly, and spends considerable effort to get back at Jake for defeating one of his major assets. It is also stated that he wants revenge against the all-powerful being who exiled him from his own dimension, and has held this grudge for many thousands of years prior to the events of the series.
However, Crayak rarely deigns to speak to others in person, and often prefers to interact with others through his chosen emissary, the Drode.