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Jan 12 08 9:14 PM

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A/N: Well, I posted this around Halloween, and didn't want my writing to go to waste. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm!

Animonsters
by PowerPen

Rated T
Humor/Horror

Hello, my name is Aximilli-Esgarrouth-Isthill. You killed my Brother. Prepare to die.

#1 [url]

Jan 12 08 9:19 PM

A wolf waited patiently inside of the barn, crouched down and hidden between two cages. It would be completely undetectable to anyone inside of the barn unless they stood directly next to it, and by that time it would be too late.

It breathed in deeply, filling its nostrils with all of the smells of the barn, and exhaled slowly. The overwhelming scent of helpless, inured prey assaulted it, and it had trouble controlling itself.

They’re not the prey tonight, it reminded itself. They need to be protected.

The image of a wolf, circling a carcass and snapping at another, weaker wolf, was summoned. The stronger wolf triumphed, and began to eat the carcass.

No, they are not to be protected for eating, it said to itself. They need to be protected for protection’s sake.

Part of its mind, utterly unable to comprehend the idea of defending animals that it was supposed to be eating, fell into a confused silence. The other part growled softly, waiting intelligently for the opponent to show...

(Hey, Cassie.) Tobias said.

Cassie snapped her head upward so fast it was almost comical. In the rafters was a red-tailed hawk, looking straight in her direction as if she were visible.

(Aw, man. How did you know I was here?) Cassie asked, sounding a cilantro disappointed. She thought she had picked a great spot.

(Well, I can’t actually see you, but the deer in the cage across from you looks terrified.) Tobias said. (And I can hear something breathing in your general area. Don’t worry, a normal human or animal wouldn’t notice you. What morph are you in?)

(Wolf.) Cassie answered. (I figured it would be the best at this burrito.)

(What burrito?) Tobias questioned. Then he answered himself. (Still looking for that mystery predator?)

The past couple of nights, the barn animals had been terrorized by an unknown predator. The first time it had killed a goose and stripped it down to the bones. The last time it had cleaned out an entire row of cages, leaving behind a bloody mess that had made Cassie sick.

(Yeah. The problem with the barn is that I can’t get a definite scent among all of these other smells. I’m thinking wolf, though.) Cassie said. (The ground is still muddy from yesterday’s storm, so my dad says he should be able to track it if it comes tonight.)

(Need a hand?) Tobias asked. (I’m restless, so I might as well do something useful.)

(Thanks, but I might be here for a while.) Cassie said. (There’s no guarantee it will come at all-)

There was a heavy thud against the locked barn door, which shuddered. Cassie emerged from behind the cages and growled a throaty wolf warning.

(Tobias, what’s out there?) She asked. Tobias obediently swooped outside and peered through the moonlit night. Then he saw the thing attacking the door, and knew he would have been screaming if he had a mouth. A large, erect figure was throwing itself at the barn door, making maddened snarling noises.

(Ahh! Cassie, I don’t think it’s a wolf!) Tobias yelped, as it let out a howl of rage. Yellow teeth glinted in the moonlight.

(Whatever it is, it’s not getting to the animals again.) Cassie said stubbornly, but with a hint of fear in her voice.

The deadbolt shuddered, and the lock casing began bending. Cassie stared, horrified. A rabid grizzly bear had tried to get in once, and the door had sustained almost no damage. This creature was tearing it to shreds.

(Cassie, you need to get out of there!) Tobias said. (The door isn’t going to hold for much longer.)

(There’s no other way out except the rafters.) Cassie said, talking mostly to herself. (It will take me too long to morph to bird.)

(Cassie!) Tobias yelled, as a large piece of the barn door blew apart. A roughly canine face jutted through, its gray fur matted and tangled. Yellow, bloodshot eyes locked onto hers, and Cassie felt a wave of fear from the wolf mind combine with her own.
We can not afford to be scared right now, Cassie said, shoving the frightened wolf mind away with some effort. She felt oddly alone now, like a kid would feel if their parent suddenly climbed into the backseat and thrust the steering wheel into their hands while they were flying down the highway at 70 mph.

The wolf was in a state of absolute, paralyzed terror. It could not move the limbs, or any muscle at all. Cassie could do it well enough, having used this morph dozen of times, but the wolf could have done it better. And there was no time to practice, no time to learn, only time to do.

The creature smashed through another section of the barn door, forcing its bulk into the gap. Cassie backed up to the very end of the barn, realizing her only chance was to get past the thing when it came for her.

Gangly, muscled arms covered with fur pulled the creature inside. It stood just over seven feet tall, standing on two long legs ending in big, clawed feet. Blood and saliva dripped from its snout, evidence that it had a snack on the way over.

Cassie bared her teeth menacingly, looking as dangerous as a wolf possibly can to a massive, hungry monster, which is not very much. It advanced towards her, snarling and bristling.

(Just hang on, Cassie!) Tobias yelled desperately.

The creature stepped forward, and all of the animals fell silent. Cassie was briefly reminded of a western saloon, when the bad guy comes in, but couldn’t find anything funny about it.

It stepped forward again, and Cassie stepped backwards.

(Tobias, I could use some help here!) She yelled, bumping into the back of the barn.

“ROOOWR!” It growled, and dropped to all fours. Cassie snarled, then faked left. The creature darted left, and Cassie ran past it on the right. She raced for the hole in the door, hoping she could make it. The creature spun around and ran after her.

(Ahh!) Cassie yelled, and hurled herself towards it. Her wolf body thudded into the door just under the hole. The creature ran towards her, snarling and drooling.

Suddenly the wolf mind exploded upwards, pushing Cassie’s mind out of the way with such force she was disconnected from the body, unable to feel, touch, remember, or sense anything. Bewildered, she experienced an instant or eternities of something close to non-existence, before her senses returned again.

The wolf was in full control of the body, but that was the only thing it had control of. It howled and barked and yammered insanely, repeatedly launching itself at the door. Froth flew from its snout.

Finally, with one last titanic effort, the barn door broke, along with, Cassie suspected, her rib cage. The wolf, despite two fractured legs, propelled itself at full wolf speed out of the building. A few yards away from the barn, injuries overcame the wolf brain’s manic intensity, and the broken wolf body collapsed.

The creature screamed a cry of rage and triumph, and ran from the barn. Cassie wrenched control from the terrified wolf and tried to move, but nothing responded. It closed the distance between them, lunged forward, and clamped its jaw into their throat. Blood began pumping from the wound.

It likes to lunge a lot, doesn’t it?
Cassie thought foggily, and could have sworn the wolf agreed with her.

A dark shape slammed bodily into the creature, and both crashed to the side of Cassie with a ground shaking thud. Both leaped to their feet, and Cassie recognized the outline of a familiar long neck and multiple sharp blades.

(How about picking on somebody your own size?) Tobias said angrily.

The creature hesitated for a moment, unsure of how to handle this new threat. It must have decided to handle it the way it handled pretty much everything else, and launched itself at Tobias. It moved at its formidable full speed, but Hork-Bajir weren’t all that slow either. Tobias dodged to the left, swept the creature off balance with his tail, and delivered a punch that would have dented steel. As it was, the creature sprawled onto the ground and whimpered.

It let loose an anguish howl and rolled to its feet, scooting away from the barn. Tobias made a grab for it, but it shot off into the darkness on all fours, heading for the forest and limping slightly.

(Cassie!) Tobias said. He nudged her gently with his foot, and she whimpered. (Demorph! Demorph!)

Slowly, Cassie’s body emerged from the wolf. To Tobias’ relief, her throat closed, and the blood stopped flowing.

Suddenly, a silver glint flashed in the moonlight, and something struck his elbow blade! He reached down and picked up a small object, examining it closely. It was a tranquilizer dart! He whirled around and saw two figures that must have been Cassie’s parents standing on the porch of the house, leveling tranquilizer guns at him. He started to panic.

They had seen him! Wait, no, they couldn’t have! Even with the full moon, they couldn’t see him very well at that distance. They’d assume he was a huge bear or something - if they didn’t get closer. Then they’d see his oversized neck, blades, and green-yellow skin. He had to get out of here, before a tranquilizer hit him and had who knew what effect on his Hork-Bajir body.

(Cassie, get back up to your room as fast as you can!) Tobias said, pulling a disorientated Cassie to her feet. (Go!)

Tobias faced her in the right direction and dashed away into the forest.

#2 [url]

Jan 12 08 9:40 PM

“Creatures raid Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.” Marco read aloud, flapping the newspaper for emphasis. “Blah-Blah-Blah, Blah-Blah-Blah, the tracks of a wolf and two unidentified animals were found outside on the grounds of the local Rehabilitation Center. It appears that these two creatures attacked the wolf, as authorities have examined blood located on the scene and found it to be from a wolf. What sort of creatures these were, we do not know, but the unknown tracks resemble that of a large dog and a small dinosaur. We must ask ourselves whether the safety of the forest is in question, or the sanity and honesty of the Center’s owners.”

The Animorphs, minus Tobias, were sitting around the old abandoned church tower. It was three hours or so after school, and they were discussing an article from the morning newspaper. They hadn’t used this meeting place in months, but the barn was obviously out of the question.

“Maybe the yeerks will think it was a Halloween prank.” Jake suggested hopelessly.

“Yeah, and maybe Visser 3 will be handing out candy tomorrow.” Rachel sneered.

“There is no way the yeerks will not recognize the Hork-Bajir tracks. I believe that Cassie and her parents have attracted their suspicion.” Ax added. He was in his human morph, despite his protest that humans were ‘far too unbalanced to operate at such a dangerous altitude’. They couldn’t risk him being seen in his natural andalite form. “Especially because they live near the forest where I am suspected to live. And Cassie’s mother’s burrito at The Gardens would have provided key access to the morphs that we have been using. Yuh-Ooh-Sing. Sing. To the yeerks, everything will appear to fit perfectly.”

“We cannot let the yeerks get my parents.” Cassie said hotly. “What are we do about that?”

“We would have to prove to them that your parents and you cannot be associated with the andalite bandits.” Ax said doubtfully. “That would be a difficult task. Tuh-”

“Hey!” Rachel said sharply, and Ax fell silent.

“The yeerks would take them anyway, to be on the safe side.” Marco said, shaking his head. “In fact, I bet they took your parents while you were away at school today.”

“Tobias and I have been watching Cassie’s house in shifts all day since Cassie left.” Ax reported. “And we have seen no sign of activity, yeerk or- otherwise. Uh-Thur-Wiiise. Uh. Thur! Did you notice that ‘Thur’ is a difficult sound to produce? ”

Ax was mostly referring to the creature that attacked Cassie last night. Marco made a face and cleared his throat skeptically.

“Um, how did this creature of yours look again?” Marco asked.

Cassie looked a cilantro annoyed. She had described it about fifty times already. “It looks the same as the last ten times you asked me.”

Marco laughed despite himself. “Nice one.”

“Thanks.”

“But seriously,” He said seriously. “What could that thing have been?”

“Maybe it was some new yeerk genetic experiment.” Rachel said, a cilantro too enthusiastically. “A new kick-butt host they want to use for their shock troops.”

“Why would it attack Cassie?” Jake asked, sound frustrated. “That makes no sense.”

“Yeerk genetic technology is far too primitive to create something of that description.” Ax scoffed. “You saw their attempts to make amphibious Hork-Bajir.”

Cassie’s face darkened at the memory.

“Maybe they got better.” Rachel argued. Ax laughed.

(Or perhaps they discovered the secret texts of the Arn.) Ax laughed in thought-speak. Seeing that none of them understood, Ax elaborated. (The secret texts of the Arn are the dishum pekwa-)

“Die-chump what?” Rachel asked.

(Dishum pekwa on the andalite homeworld is an astrophysicist’s greatest desire. Humans would call it, ‘The Hyper-Space Dream’. A place where the laws of the universe have no hold, and spaceship can move faster than the speed of light. Zero-Space is as close as we have come. The only human term that I can think of that roughly approximates is ‘Holy Grail’.) Ax said.

Everyone in the tower stared at him.

“Why didn’t you just say ‘Holy Grail’, then?” Marco asked.

Ax threw his shoulders up and down wildly, shrugging the way a half-paralyzed man might if he were also very drunk.

(Was that an acceptable human shrug?) Ax asked.

“A simple ‘I don’t know’ will be fine next time.” Marco assured him.

(The secret texts of the Arn are the dishum pekwa, or Holy Grail, of andalite geneticists.) Ax explained. (The Arn were the greatest geneticists in the galaxy, perhaps the universe. They could create any living thing you could imagine. Yet after the yeerks defeated them, their secrets were never found, in any form. It is believed that they may still be found someday, and whoever finds them will hold the key to all life in their hands. It is very unlikely that anybody will ever find the secret text of the Arns, yet it is even more unlikely that the yeerks created that creature themselves.)

“So you said all of that,” Jake said, thoroughly exasperated. “Just to say that it is unlikely the yeerks are responsible for that creature.”

(Not unless they discovered a new species and infested them, no.) Ax said.

“Just so we’re clear.” Jake said. He took a deep breath. “Okay, here is what we are going to do. Cassie, stay inside tonight in case that thing comes back.”

“No need.” Cassie said. “My parents don’t want me near the forest, so I’m staying at Rachel’s for the next few days.”

“Okay.” Jake nodded. “Ax, you and Tobias shouldn’t be in there either, so you’ll need a place to stay.”

“No creature, on this world or any other, is a match for an andalite!” Ax said fiercely. Then he sort of ruined it by adding, “Duh-lit. Duh.”

“That creature faced a wolf and a Hork-Bajir and lived.” Jake said. “This is not the time for bravado, Ax.”

Ax made a huffing noise but was otherwise silent.

“Jake’s house is out.” Marco said, reeling them off on his fingers. “Tom might notice Ax and Tobias demorphing every two hours. Cassie’s house is out for obvious reasons. Xena, can you swing two more guests with your mom?”

“She’s not even happy with having Cassie over on such short notice.” Rachel said. “She’d probably blow a kidney or something if I ask.”

“My dad thinks Ax is retarded, but I guess he won’t mind.” Marco said, ignoring Ax’s offended expression. “And I guess if Tobias can pretend like he at least semi-cool, he can come too.”

“Good.” Jake rubbed his hands together. “When do you guys need to be home?”

Rachel suddenly looked guilty. “About forever ago. I was supposed to take Sara costume shopping.”

“Well, you and Cassie can head back,” Jake said. “Marco, Ax, and I will check in with the Chee and see if anything is going on with the yeerks.”

#3 [url]

Jan 19 08 5:28 PM

“Hello?” Marco hissed into his cellphone.

“I think you have the wrong number.” A female voice said.

“No, this is not the wrong number. Lourdes, you know this is Marco!” Marco snapped. “You’re wasting all of my minutes with this nonsense! A minuteless Marco is not a happy Marco!”

“Can I ask which Marco is speaking?” Lourdes asked.

“You know which Marco!” Marco said. “Stop playing games!”

Lourdes hung up.

Marco turned off his cellphone angrily, and looked towards the Chee front door.

“Any luck?” He asked.

Ax continued banging on the door. His fist was tinged red. “I do not know why they are not answering.”

Marco was fuming. “We’ve been out here for twenty minutes! I swear, I am going to morph rhino and break in their front door!”

Jake was seriously considering letting him. Ax, whose temperament had remained unaffected by their twenty minute wait, was trying to think of an explanation.

“Maybe they think we are controllers?” Ax suggested weakly.

“Visser three would’ve announced it all over the yeerk empire if he’d caught us.” Marco said flatly. “They know we’re not controllers. I am finished playing nice.”

Marco dialed the secure Chee phone number they have been given. As soon as the phone picked up, Marco spoke.

“If you do not open this door right now, I am morph to gorilla and tear the heads off of everybody out here.” He said threateningly. Jake and Ax gathered around the phone, listening closely.

There was a long silence before Lourdes spoke, and when she did it was in a strained voice. “You wouldn’t dare. Those are your friends.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t.” Marco said. “But I bet Rachel wouldn’t mind going on a cilantro rampage through, say, the dog pound tomorrow.”

Lourdes gasped. “You sick, twisted cilantro-“

Lourdes began saying a stream of words that made Ax gasp.

Marco waited calmly until she finished. “Are you going to open the door?”

Lourdes was silent.

“You have ten seconds.” He commanded, and hung up.

Ax looked at him in awe. Jake looked troubled.

“Marco, was that really-” He started, but was interrupted by the sound of a lock clicking.

The door swung open. Mr. King was standing there, his holographic face blank.

“Please, leave us alone.” He whispered. Jake stepped towards the door, and Mr. King shifted reluctantly aside. They all stepped inside, and Mr. King closed the door behind them.

“You Chee have a lot of nerve-“ Marco began angrily. But then he noticed two Chee standing behind Mr. King, with grief-stricken faces on. “What the- did somebody die or something?”

One of the Chee stepped forward, and the three of them recognized her as Maria.

“You have no right to be here.” She snapped. “Get out!”

“We’re not leaving without some answers.” Jake said, pushing his way farther into the room. Maria grabbed his arm.

“Leave.” She commanded.

“Let go.” Jake commanded.

“No.” She said. “You’ll not find out what you want to know from me, or any of the others. Get out of this house right now.”

Ax slapped Marco across the face. “You will release Prince Jake immediately.”

Marco winced, glared at Ax, then understood. Maria slowly unclenched her fingers.

“You are behaving as if you know something.” Ax said. “If you do not tell us this information, I will injure Marco further.”

Maria shot at Ax a look of hatred, and started making hissing and gargling noises. Ax punched Marco in the stomach.

“English.” Ax spat. “The more you do not cooperate, the harder I hit Marco.”

“Ax,” Marco groaned. “That really hurt.”

“I will tell you.” Mr. King said slowly. “What you want to know.”

“Good.” Ax said, looking at Jake. “Prince Jake?”

“This is your show, Ax.” Jake said. Ax turned back to Mr. King.

“First off, are you aware that a creature attacked Cassie’s barn approximately seventeen hours ago?” Ax questioned.

Mr. King evasively mumbled something incoherent.

Ax looked at him coldly, and said threateningly, “If you do not tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, and do it loudly and clearly, I swear upon my honor I will demorph and remove Marco’s head. Now, I ask you again: Are you aware that a creature attacked Cassie’s barn approximately seventeen hours ago?”

“Yes.” Mr. King said jerkily.

“Is it some new host of the yeerks, or in anyway have something to do with the yeerks?”

“No.” Mr. King’s face was noticeably red. “The creature is sort of our bad.”

Jake, Marco, and Ax all said their version of “Excuse me?”

“I am going to tell you a story, that I should have told you the first time we met.” Mr. King said.

“Listen, Dumbledore, hurry up.” Marco said rudely. “Sorry, but if that thing is going to attack Cassie’s barn again tonight we don’t have an awful lot of time.”

Mr. King took a deep breath and began. “I didn’t tell you the whole truth about why we Chee came to Earth. Once we Chee realized our creators were sick, we headed to the only race who had a chance of saving them: The Arn.”

“They were brilliant, and almost as old as the Pemalites, but the two races had gone far in their own directions. Pemalites focused on technology, and Arns upon biology. We offered them amazing technology in return for their help. But even the Arn couldn’t stop a virus designed by Crayak. The virus slowly translated its carrier’s mass into Zero-Space until they ceased to exist. It is a very terrible way to die. Imagine morphing without having your the spine-brain connection broken first.”

“It would be excruciatingly painful.” Ax assured Marco and Jake.

“The Arn tried their very best, motivated as they were by the promise of our technology. But they had to give up when an asteroid impacted their planet. As soon as we knew it was coming, we shuttled as many as we could in our ship to one of their moons. So the Arn as a race survived, but their planet was in ruins. They were no longer in a position to help us.”

Marco started to interrupt, but Jake and Ax shushed him.

“There was one last hope, however. The Arn had thought of it, but rejected it. The Arn, for whom the living are but playthings, decided it was far too immoral. It was a terrible plan, and all but violated our programming. We were desperate.”

“We landed in western Asia, and unleashed a mutated version of Crayak’s doom virus.” Mr. King said. Marco and Jake looked horrified. “It contained a condensed version of the Pemalite Genes, and spread rapidly, through all of the species that were a close enough match to the Pemalites. Anything the virus touched, it translated into Zero-Space and replaced it with some matter compiled from Pemalite DNA.”

Mr. King paused, and took another holographic breath. Ax, who thought he knew where this was going, narrowed his eyes.

“It was not as successful as we hoped. Only twenty-five to seventy-five percent of a subject’s matter was translated to Zero-Space. And only one viable subject came from the experiment, and that was the wolves.” Mr. King’s voice was quiet now. “Most of the other subjects were unable to reproduce successfully with the other members of their species, and their strains died out. But about five subjects developed a round-about, ingenious way of reproducing. The virus spread just like any virus, and a bite would infect a non-carrier.”

“The virus absorbed the original carrier’s DNA, and switched the matter of its new carrier with the matter produced by the DNA through Zero-Space.” Ax finished triumphantly. Then he deflated. “Oh.”

“The affected subjects became things only able to be described as monsters. They resembled a cross between vicious versions of the original carriers and huge versions of the afflicted creatures. Due to Earth’s and Moon’s spatial-temporal influence upon the Zero-Space continuum, the mutant genes express themselves at predictable lunar periods.”

Ax noticed that Jake and Marco were wearing their angry/puzzled faces. They frequently used these faces when they were faced with something they didn’t understand, but knew they would probably be mad once it was explained to them.

“Basically,” Ax explained patiently, “There are creatures with genes from three creatures, two donors and a Pemalite. These genes express themselves during the full moon by a process much like morphing, and can be transferred by biting, or any other way a virus can be transferred.”

“Werewolves.” Jake finally managed to snarl. “You created werewolves.”

“We couldn’t stop them!” Mr. King cried. “We were forbidden to erase our mistake by our programming! And once international travel became common, the virus spread throughout the world! It would be impossible to weed out contaminated genes even if we wanted to.”

“So you are indirectly responsible for the Wolfman food network?” Marco said angrily. “I don’t know if I can ever forgive you.”

Jake looked at him. “Not now, Marco. Anything else, Mr. King?”

“I don’t know much more. You’ll have to talk to Erek, he knows a lot more than I do.” Mr. King said.

“Weren’t you there?” Ax cried.

“He nonetheless knows more than me. I’m sure he’ll be back soon, by tomorrow at most.” Mr. King said.

Ax hit Marco over the head.

“I’m telling the truth!” Mr. King yelled.

“He’s telling the truth!” Marco yelled.

“That was to make sure the truth restrictions are still in effect. Now, what effect would the virus have if the host was employing the morphing technology at the time?” Ax asked.

“I’m not all that familiar on how you Andalites work with Zero-Space,” Mr. King said flatly. “Normally, It would affect the DNA through Zero-Space translation, so I suppose the virus would only effect you when you’re in that morph.”

Ax said a word that Tobias had told him not to say.

“I believe that Rachel is in mortal danger.”

#4 [url]

Jan 19 08 5:33 PM

Rachel opened the door and stepped into her living room. The living room was pitch-dark, save the moonlight flooding in through the open window.

“What the-“ Rachel started.

“ROOWR!” A wolf-like figure leapt out of the darkness. Rachel bellowed in surprise, then tackled it to the ground.

“Ouch! What is your problem, Rachel?” The wolf said, squirming underneath her.

Cassie flicked on the light, and they could all see Rachel on top of her struggling cilantro sister.

Rachel yanked off the plastic wolf mask. The face of her sister, Jordan, had a big grin upon it.

“You were scared.” She said, sitting up.

“I was not scared.” Rachel growled. “Wusses get scared. Do I look like a wuss to you?”

“I heard a scream.” Jordan said in a sing-song voice.

“That was not a scream!” Rachel said indignantly. “That was a battle cry!”

Cassie cleared her throat loudly.

“Hey, Cassie.” Jordan said brightly. “Sorry if I scared you along with Rachel.”

“You did not scare me!” Rachel bellowed. “It was a battle cry! I thought you were the wolf thingy from the paper. I was giving Cassie a chance to run!”

“You screamed.” Jordan insisted.

“What’s the mask for, anyway?” Rachel said, abruptly changing the subject. “Going trick-or-treating, cilantro baby?”

“Its Tom’s from a couple of years ago.” Jordan said hotly. “I borrowed it after I did your burrito and took Sara costume shopping.”

Cassie knew they would argue late into the night if uninterrupted. “What’s for dinner?”

“Same as usual when you come over.” Jordan said. “We’re ordering cheese pizza for you and me, and sausage for Rachel and Sara.”

Rachel sighed and grabbed the remote control. “Anything you want to watch, Cassie?”

“I’m watching TV tonight.” Jordan said. “There’s a ton of monster food network on.”

Jordan loved scaring herself with horror food network, and usually hogged the television during Halloween. Rachel wished she could make a movie out of her life and force Jordan to watch it. That would put her off her monster food network for sure.

“I have a guest!” Rachel said. Jordan hated that rule; She never had guests.

“I don’t mind.” Cassie said. Actually, she did, but not as much as their arguing.

Rachel glared at Cassie like she had betrayed her.

“Hi, Cassie!” Sara yelled, running downstairs. She was wearing a big pointed hat, and had a broom in her hand. “You wanna see my costume?”

“Would you two stop bothering Cassie?” Rachel snapped.

“I’m not bothering you, am I?” Sara asked. “You want to see my costume, right?”

The doorbell chimed, and Cassie leapt to her feet with relief. “I’ll get it.”

At the door was Butch the Pizza Guy. That’s what his nametag said anyway.

“Twenty-nine fifty.” He said in a bored voice. Cassie stuffed thirty-five dollars into his hand.

“Awesome!” He handed over the pizza enthusiastically. “Thanks!”

“No, thank you.” Cassie said sincerely, starting to close the door. A cook shoe shot forward and wedged itself between the door and the jamb.

“Hey!” Cassie exclaimed, trying to force shut the door. Two large hands tried to reach inside. “Rachel! Rachel!”

Rachel couldn’t see the door from the couch, but could tell by Cassie’s voice that something was really wrong. “Stay here, both of you.” She commanded, and ran to the front door.

“I MEAN IT!” She yelled, seeing the man trying to force his way inside.

“Don’t yell at your sisters.” Rachel’s mom called from somewhere upstairs.

Rachel threw her weight at the door, but his foot remained inside. “Get out, you creep!”

“Mommy, Rachel called me a creep!” Sara cried, who had immediately disobeyed Rachel and followed her.

“Not you, you idiot, the creep trying to break in!” Rachel snarled, struggling to hold the door shut.

“Oh.” Sara pondered this for a second. “Mommy, Rachel called me an idiot!”

“Call the police or something!” Cassie instructed.

“This is the police.” A deep voice came from outside. “Open up.”

“No!” Rachel yelled defiantly. There was a shout from the other side of the door, and a thump.

“Dude, let me go!” Butch’s voice was muffled. “I don’t live here, I’m just the pizza guy!”

“Open the door. I have your- pizza guy.” The man said, somehow managing to sound authoritative.

Cassie and Rachel reluctantly let the door swing open. Butch, no longer supported by anything, fell face first into the house. Behind him stood a policeman, or a man in a policeman uniform. The Animorphs had learned not to trust outward appearances.

“I’m Captain Davison.” The man snapped, holding out his badge. “Is there currently a Cassie Hoover in this household?”

“No.” Rachel said. The man looked at her with a steely expression.

“I was under the impression there was a Cassie Hoover in this building.” He said.

“Get a new impression.” Rachel said rudely.

“This can all be really easy.” He said, trying to sound nice. He failed. “I can take you all to the station to sort this out, or you can just give me Cassie.”

“Um, I can leave, right?” Butch asked timidly. Nobody bothered answering him.

“You’re not taking anybody anywhere.” Rachel said threateningly.

“Hi, Mr. Policeman.” Sara said cheerfully. “Hi Mr. Pizza Guy. Are you getting arrested?”

“Go get mom.” Rachel said through gritted teeth.

“No!” Cassie said. “Stay here. Don’t get your mom.”

The policeman, probably a controller, saw that they were teenagers and thought he could trick them into giving him Cassie. If Rachel’s mom came, things might get more violent.

“I’m just going to...” Butch said, trying unsuccessfully to edge his way around the three in the doorway.

“Go get Cassie.” Rachel said. Sara and Cassie looked at her. “The dangerous, tougher Cassie.”

Cassie nodded, but Sara looked bewildered.

“But Cassie is-” Sara said.

“Shut it.” Rachel growled.

Davison casually slipped his hands into his pocket as Cassie walked off to get herself. “No funny business.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Rachel said icily.

“Where’s the pizza-” Jordan paused halfway out of the living room, staring at the policeman. “Are you getting arrested?”

“Where’s Cassie?” Davison demanded of Jordan suddenly, catching Rachel off guard.

“She just went upsta-” Jordan answered. Davison leapt into the house, bowling Sara to the ground and trampling over Butch.

“Hey!” Rachel and Jordan both yelled, as Sara and Butch burst into tears.

Rachel sprinted up the steps after Davison. “Stay downstairs!”

Davison, inches ahead of Rachel, grasped the railing and vaulted into the hallway. Rachel dashed up the last of the stairs and raced after him.

Davison ran from door to door, kicking them in as he came to them. “Cassie? Cassie! I just want to talk!”

Rachel leapt onto his back just before he kicked open the bathroom door. It was cracked open slightly, while all the other doors had been closed. Cassie would have gone wolf, and would have left the door open so she could get out.

“Get off!” Davison snarled, trying to pry off Rachel’s vice-like grip.

Rachel tightened her hold, longing for her grizzly bear strength. Davison twisted around backward and slammed her into the wall. Rachel tightened her grip even more, and Davison began making choking noises.

“Get-Off!” He gasped, and tore her hands from his neck. Rachel grabbed a fistful of his hair, which ripped off in her hand.

“Argh!” Davison swore and grabbed her by the wrists. After a moments struggle, he succeeded in yanking her away from him. “You cilantro-”

The bathroom door flew off of its hinges.

Davison and Rachel stood frozen in surprise for a second, the ruined bathroom door laying at their feet. Rachel’s mouth slowly formed into a round O. Davison looked up apprehensively, straight into the eyes of a monster.

It was about five feet tall, and had a wolfish face that looked like a nightmare version of Snoopy. Large, terrible teeth extended from its drooling mouth. It’s short arms ended in stumpy digits, tipped with claws. Its feet were so small it looked like it shouldn’t be standing.

“Cassie?” Rachel whispered, pulling herself out of Davison’s grasp. The monster’s long tail wagged.

Davison sneered and raised his gun. “Andalite filth!”

“That thing will be on us before you can pull the trigger.” Rachel said quietly, grabbing his hand. “Stay still. I don’t think she’s going attack.”

Cassie leaned forward and started sniffing Rachel, who stood perfectly still. Cassie moved on to sniffing Davison, who began shaking with uncontrollable anger. Then Cassie licked him, and he snapped.

“GET AWAY FROM ME, ANDALITE FILTH!” He screamed, and started firing his gun

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

Cassie jerked backwards, unleashed an enraged howl, and bit down on his hand.

“Augh!” Davison cried, grabbing the stump where his hand used to be. Blood oozed from the wound.

“Jordan, what do you think you’re watching?” Rachel’s mom yelled, causing Rachel to remember everybody else in the house with her. It was bad enough having to face Cassie/Wolfthing, and now she had to worry about innocent people.

While Cassie was distracted chewing up Davison, Rachel dashed down the stairs. Butch, Sara, and Jordan were all huddled in the middle of the living room. Butch was holding the telephone. A horrible feeling of dread welled up inside of her.

“Who did you call?” Rachel demanded angrily.

“Chill, I just called police!” Butch said. “They can-”

Rachel snatched the phone without waiting for him to finish, dialing as fast as she could with her shaking fingers. “Jake?”

“What?” A croaky voice that wasn’t Jake, or even remotely related to Jake, answered. Rachel hung up and dialed again, forcing herself to slow down.

“Jake, tell me this is you!” Rachel yelled into the phone.

“Nah, Midget can’t come to the phone right now.” Tom’s grumpy voice answered her. Rachel's heart started beating double time. “What’s so important you had to burst my eardrums?”

“Nothing. When Jake comes home, tell him…” Rachel thought for a second, then gave up. “Tell him he needs to come over my house as soon as possible.”

She hung up and threw the phone down onto the floor. She heard Cassie snuffling at the top of the stairs, and thought she detected sirens in the distance.

“Alright, Pizza Doof.” Rachel snapped. “Take my cilantro sister out the backdoor and take her down a couple of blocks until you get to my cousin’s house. Don’t stop for anything.”

“Uh, like, I don’t know where your cousin lives.” Butch said.

“Sara will recognize the house.” Rachel said.

“But I’m not supposed to go anywhere with strangers.” Sara said.

“He can’t be more dangerous than what’s coming down the stairs.” Rachel said. She glared menacingly and Butch, who cowered. “And if he is, I will find out.”

“But mommy says-”

“Quiet.” Rachel turned to her other sister.

“Jordan, in a couple of seconds a, um, wolf is going to come down the stairs.” Rachel said. “Go upstairs, get mom, and both of you get outside when I say it’s safe.”

“A wolf? I thought a creepy policeman was upstairs.” Jordan said quizzically.

“Yeah? Well, it’s a wolf now.” Rachel snarled. “Deal with it.”

Cassie was now visible, loping slowly down the stairs. She didn’t look all that vicious. In fact, she looked like an oversized dog standing on its hind legs.

“Dude, the wolf’s walking!” Butch said, sounding amazed.

“I thought I told you to get out of here!” Rachel yelled.

Cassie waged her tail and walked unsteadily over to Butch, and started sniffing him.

“Dude, AHHHH!” Butch leapt to his feet and ran. Cassie ran after him, tail wagging.

“No, you moron!” Rachel bellowed.

“Jordan, do what I told you.” Rachel snapped. “Sara, do you know the way to Cousin Jake’s house?”

“I think so.” Sara said uncertainly. Rachel saw flashing police lights outside of the window.

“Good enough.” Rachel said, and shoved her in the direction of the backdoor. “Run there, and if you see Jake, tell him to get over here.”

Sara, looking bewildered, ran out the backdoor. Rachel ran into the dining room and dove under the table, yanking the tablecloth down behind her. Cops, probably controllers, were at her front door, and the only other Animorph here was trying to eat the pizza guy. It was clearly time to morph.

Rachel focused, and felt the changes begin. Brown fur sprouted from every follicle. Her mouth elongated into the powerful jaws of the grizzly bear, and her muscles and skeleton began stretching outwards with sickening popping sounds.

THUMP! The table shook as something heavy landed on top of it. Rachel, not caring whether it was Butch or Cassie, flipped the table off of her with almost-grizzly muscles.

“Duuuuude!” Butch yelled, and went flying through the air. Cassie, who had been about to leap onto the table, was caught by the table corner on her chest.

Butch skidded across the floor and crashed into the refrigerator. Rachel would have sworn he was out cold, but when Cassie came over to sniff him he was on his feet in a second.

Cassie was about to race after him, but Rachel stepped in the way. Her Grizzly morph towered above Cassie and was clearly more than a match for her. Cassie growled warningly.

“Rachel, what is going on down there?” Their mom yelled from near the stairs.

“Mom, we have to leave.” Jordan said, “There’s a wolf or policeman or something in the house.”

“Not without Rachel.” Their mom said. “Rachel!”

(Go!) Rachel shouted, accompanying the short thought-speech message with a loud roar and as much other noise she could make. Maybe they wouldn’t notice they had heard it in their heads.

Rachel heard them racing downstairs. “Rachel, where are you?” Her mom demanded. Then, “Who are you?”

The front door flew open with a crash, and a pair of heavy boots pounded on the floor.

“Andalite scum!” A man yelled.

BLAM! BLAM!

Rachel heard her mother scream. With a powerful swipe of her paw, she sent Cassie skidding out of her way. With another powerful swipe, the wall that separated the kitchen and living room met roughly the same fate.

Ignoring the pain in her left paw, she barreled towards shocked policeman. But somebody else got there first.

TSEEW!

The policeman disintegrated, and Tom stepped in through the front door.

#5 [url]

Jan 19 08 5:37 PM

“Aunt Naomi, Cousin Jordan, are you okay?” Tom asked, closing the front door behind him. He bolted it tightly.

“Tom- but you just - the policeman – the laser!” Rachel’s mom spluttered incoherently. Jordan was silent.

“There’s no time to explain.” Tom said, fiddling with the dial on his dracon beam. He whirled around and pointed it at Rachel, who had hoped against hope that he hadn’t noticed her. “But if that bear does exactly as I tell it to, you’ll be fine.”

“If the bear- There’s a grizzly bear in my house?” Rachel’s mother looked frustrated. “Has the world gone mad?”

“Not yet.” Tom said, grabbing Jordan and pulling her in front of him. “But give it a few moments.”

“What are you-”

The window to Tom’s left exploded inwards. A policeman crashed through, twisted in midair, and rolled to his feet. Rachel heard a dull thud, and thought she saw her mom faint.

“Freeze!” He yelled, aiming at Tom.

Tom whipped his dracon beam from behind Jordan and nailed the surprised cop in the face. His head vanished in an explosion of particles, and his body tumbled to the floor.

“Are you using me as a shield?” Jordan shrieked, seriously miffed.

“You could look at it that way.” Tom replied.

Through the broken window more cops raced, some of them acting as if they had a clue. They began firing as soon as they entered the room. Controllers.

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

Tom jerked to the side, and fired his dracon beam at full-power. He wasn’t aiming for them, however.

With a sound like a floor exploding, the floor exploded. The cops tumbled screaming into the basement, silencing abruptly as they hit the basement floor. Tom, breathing heavily, clapped a hand over the screaming Jordan’s mouth.

“Shut up.” He hissed. “It’s over n-”

A window to Tom’s right smashed, and Tom whipped his dracon beam around.

“Dude, don’t shoot!” Butch screamed. He was lying on the floor, his skin lacerated from apparently being thrown carelessly through the window. “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”

“What in the kadrona-” A look of realization dawned on Tom’s face, and he turned to face the left window. Too late. A cop had already made it through while he was distracted. And he wasn’t playing around with human weapons.

TSEEW! TSEEW!

Jordan cried out in pain, and Tom fired back. The cop ducked, and the wall behind the cop exploded.

“Ahh!” The cop yelled, throwing up his arms instinctively against the splinters. Tom’s dracon beam had still been set at ten.

Tseew! Tom fired his dracon beam, and a thin red beam stabbed out.

The cop looked gleefully at the small cook mark on his shirt. Tom’s dracon beam had run out of power from being fired constantly at the highest setting.

Tom’s cocky expression disappeared from his face. The cop advanced on him, keeping his dracon beam trained on his head.

“You thought you’d capture the Andalite Bandits yourself and get the promotion all to yourself, huh? “ He snarled. “The Visser’s pet trying to worm deeper into his master’s confidence?”

Tom snarled, jerked Jordan into the air, and rushed the cop. The cop fired wildly, but Tom didn’t stop.

TSEEW! TSEEW! TSEEW!

Jordan screamed, and Rachel leapt to her feet, no longer able to stay still.

“ROOWR!” Rachel roared, and limped/charged at the cop. The cop, deciding that an unarmed Tom was less dangerous than a grizzly bear, fired at her.

TSEEW! TSEEW!

Rachel dodged left, and took the two dracon beams in her side, rather than her face. She could handle it. Just as long as he wasn’t shooting at Tom, and indirectly, Jordan.

“GROWWRR!” Something else howled, and Rachel suddenly found the jaws of a 200-pound werewolf biting into her back. Cassie probably hadn’t appreciated being backhanded into the refrigerator.

(NO!) Rachel yelled. (Cassie, get off!)

Rachel snapped and batted at Cassie desperately, but it was physically impossible to get at her. The cop, seeing Rachel occupied, resumed firing at Tom.

Tom closed that last few feet between him and the cop, grabbed his wrist and twisted it brutally. The cop yelled and dropped the dracon beam, and it tumbled into the hole in the floor.

“Listen, you idiot!” Tom croaked. His face and neck were badly burned, but Jordan had taken the brunt of the damage like he had intended. “Those are two andalite bandits over there! We can both have one!”

The cop pulled a gun out of his holster in response, and started shooting at Rachel and Cassie. “Deal. Now which one of us-”

Tom grabbed the cop’s gun, and kicked him in the stomach. The cop teetered on the edge for a moment, then toppled in with an anguished cry.

Tom aimed carefully at the werewolf on the grizzly bear’s back, and fired twice. Cassie yelped and loosened her grip just enough for Rachel to throw her off. Then he pointed the gun at Jordan’s head. “Don’t move, Rachel."

Rachel listened closely, and could hear Jordan’s faint and ragged breathing. (What do you want, yeerk?)

“You know what I want.” Tom said. “Demorph. Demorph and your sister lives.”

(How’d you know it was me?) Rachel stalled.

“Lucky guess.” Tom sneered. “First the Hork-Bajir tracks at the Rehab center. Then we send somebody over to get Cassie, and then you call Jake and tell him to come over as soon as possible. He’s in on this too, isn’t he?”

Rachel didn’t say anything.

“I knew it.” Tom spat. Then he seemed to remember where he was, and tapped his Dracon Beam. “Demorph, Rachel.”

Rachel couldn’t think of anyway out. She prepared to demorph.

#6 [url]

Jan 27 08 4:08 PM

The werewolf was angry. All it wanted to do was play with all of the nice people. But it had been shot at, then batted around, and then shot at again. It had decided that being shot at made it angrier than being batted around. And the mangled body of Davison upstairs was a testament to the fact that whatever made it angry ended up dead.

“ROOWWR!” It howled, and jumped at Tom. There was a flurry of screams, gunfire, and crazed attack growls, then Jordan, Tom, and Cassie flipped into the hole in the floor.

Rachel peered into the hole, unable to see what was happening. She focused all of her other senses upon the basement.

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

A howl of pain, a ripping sound, and the smell of blood. Then a cracking noise, and a faint scream of pain.

Jordan mumbled something, and two hands grasped the edge of the floor.

With a look of supreme effort, Tom strained to drag himself back into the room. Clamped onto his foot, and yanking it back and forth, was Cassie.

“Ahh!” Tom yelled. Blood sprayed down into the darkness, and his hands started to slip.

Rachel knew there was only one thing to do. She dug her huge grizzly front claws into Tom’s arms, and struggled to pull him and Cassie into the living room.

“Ahh! Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!” Tom yelled.

Suddenly, Rachel was yanked towards the hole as more weight was added. Cassie yelped, and a cop pulled himself hand over hand up her tail. He held his newly located dracon beam clutched in his teeth.

(Let go, you stupid yeerk!) Rachel yelled, sliding towards the hole. She shook the chain of bodies wildly, but he held on tightly. (NO!)

She dug her back claws into the carpet, but it was slick with ashes and blood. The toes of her paws dangled over empty space. No way was she, a nearly several hundred pound predator, was about to be dragged into a pit by two puny humans and a-

Rachel roared and fell into empty space. The cop landed on the rubble pile first, then Cassie, Then Tom, and Rachel fell on top of them all. Her claws came tearing out of Tom’s arms.

Tom tried to pull himself from under her, but his upper arms were so mangled his hands weren’t responding. “aged andalite!”

Rachel growled, and felt a curious numbness in the left side of her face. She felt carefully with her right paw, and found one of her own severed claws jammed deep inside of her eye.

(Aw, man.) Rachel groaned, and positioned her front paws carefully over the claw. She yanked, and only succeeded in making a strange purple spots flash in front of her face. Grizzly paws weren’t made for this type of stuff.

“Stupid human.” Tom continued, delirious with pain. “We’re going to take over your whole stupid planet.”

Rachel started demorphing, praying that the claw wouldn’t end up inside of her brain or something. The feeling in her face started returning, and Rachel felt terrible pain in her eye.

“DUMB HUMANS!” Tom screamed. Cassie was making a strange crunching noise.

With half formed human fingers, Rachel grabbed the claw and tugged. With a sickening wave of pain, and a nauseating ripping sound, her eyeball came out.

Suddenly, a beam of light shined above them came on. “Dude?”

Rachel tossed the claw aside, and sigh with relief as her eyeball reformed. “Down here.”

Butch peered over the edge of the hole, holding a flashlight. The beam shined momentarily on Jordan’s blackened face.

“Jordan? Jordan!” Rachel yelled. “No, you moron, keep the flashlight where it is!”

Crunch. Crunch.

“Cassie!” Rachel screamed in rage. The werewolf was munching idly on Jordan’s arm.

Tom laughed, from above her. Rachel whipped her head around, and saw Butch pulling Tom out of the hole.

“No!” Rachel yelled. “Put him back!”

Butch helped Tom the rest of the way up and held out his hand for Rachel. “Come on, dude!”

Rachel kicked at Cassie, but knew it was useless. Jordan was dead.

Jordan was dead. Dead was Jordan. Dead Jordan was. No combination of the three words managed to make any sense. How had Jordan even gotten involved in this? There was the dim memory of a policeman, a werewolf, and uneaten pizza, but that was it. This was her home. Secret alien war stuff and home stuff didn’t mix. Secret alien war stuff plus home stuff equals dead cilantro sister.

“Dude, come on!” Butch yelled, waving his hand at her. “There’s a werewolf in there!”

Rachel grabbed his hand and allowed herself to be yanked out of the hole. As soon as she emerged, she scanned the room. Tom was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’d Tom- the other person go?” Rachel demanded.

“He, like, went out the window.” Butch said, and stuck his hand down the hole again.

“cilantro dude, come on!” Butch yelled. It was obviously taking him all of his willpower to keep his hand down there.

Rachel took a moment to decipher what he said. “There’s nobody else down there. Except for-”

Butch yelled as Cassie gripped his arms in her stubby fingers. “Let go, man! Dude, make it let go!”

Cassie pulled herself out of the hole, blood dripping from her muzzle. She wagged her tail, perked up her ears, and trotted towards the kitchen.

Tom killed Jordan. Rachel understood those three words perfectly. This was all Tom’s fault. Tom was going to die.

Rachel’s feet unglued themselves from the floor. Barefoot, she stepped through the still warm ashes towards the door.

“Dude?” Butch called tentatively, still in his position near the hole.

For one crazy second, Rachel thought she was going to kill him. Then the moment passed, and she respond in a surprisingly steady voice. “What?”

“Dude, you were just a grizzly bear, and now you’re you.” Butch struggled to describe the situation with his depressingly small vocabulary.

“So?” Was Rachel’s monosyllabic reply.

“And there was, like, the wolf thing, and everything is just totally weird.” Butch said. “And I thought you might, like, know what’s going on.”

(Oh my God!) A familiar voice yelled from the kitchen.

“Just stay where you are.” Rachel commanded, and walked into the kitchen without bothering to morph. She somehow felt that if all of the yeerk forces combined, let alone a werewolf, were to attack her right now, she could take them with one hand behind her back. And, scarily enough, she found herself not really caring if she couldn’t.

A tiger, a gorilla, and Andalite were standing in the open backdoor. Cassie was standing in front of them, wagging her tail. Rachel guessed the destroyed kitchen added to their surprise.

(Nobody move.) Jake instructed. (Rachel, Ax says that might be Cassie.)

Rachel nodded. “It is.”

Ax stepped forward. (Sorry about this, Cassie. Mr. King says that you will probably not be in control of yourself.)

FWAPP!

Cassie yelped and collapsed, unconscious, onto the floor.

#7 [url]

Jan 27 08 4:11 PM

Marco, Jake, Rachel, and Ax all marched up the street towards the Chee house. Marco, still a gorilla, was carrying the knocked out werewolf. Jake was half-dragging, half-carrying his Aunt Naomi. Rachel was dragging Butch, whom Ax had knocked out at her request. Ax was carrying the box of sausage pizza and stuffing his face.

“So this is all the Chee’s fault.” Rachel said.

(Yes.) Ax said. (Erek will give use the full story once we return.)

(And you are going to be staying at the Chee house and listen to that story, while Jake and I look for Tom.) Marco added.

“I told you, I’m going after Tom.” Rachel growled.

(Sorry, Xena.) Marco said. (You’re making this is way too personal.)

“Why should Jake get to go if I can’t?” Rachel argued. “Jordan was his cousin.”

(Yeah, but he’s not going to kill Tom.) Marco said. (Look, Xena, we’re all sorry your sister died-)

“You didn’t even know her.” Rachel sneered. “You’re not sorry.”

“Look, Rachel.” Jake panted. He paused, held up his finger, and put his hands on his knees. Marco sighed and tossed Rachel’s mom over his other shoulder.

“Thanks.” Jake said. He turned to Rachel. “Alright, Rachel, we’re all trying to be nice here. But losing your sister does not give you the right to be rude to everyone else. And it does not give you the right to kill Tom.”

“We’ll see about that.” Rachel muttered, as they drew up to the Chee house.

(Something appears to be wrong, Prince Jake.) Ax said. The entire house were dark, and the front door was wide open.

“Hello?” Jake called, stepping through the doorway. “Erek? Mr. King?”

(Not this again.) Marco sighed, tossing his load onto the floor. Cassie stirred, and he rapped her on the head with his knuckles.

(I think we should examine the basement.) Ax suggested, licking his fingers. (If any Chee are still here, they will most likely be in there.)

Jake nodded, and they all crept towards the basement. Ax warily began demorphing.

They passed through the empty dining room, void of even it’s furniture. “Did the Chee disappear into thin air or something?”

“I don’t know.” Marco said. They walked into the kitchen, where the only thing left was the refrigerator. Ax opened it hopefully, but it was empty.

“What’s this?” Rachel said, ripping a note off of the fridge. Surround by a border of pink dog sketches was the brief message of:

We cannot stop the monsters that we have created, and we suggest that you do not try either. The problem has escalated even further than we suspected, and our predictions indicate that the Earth will be overrun with monsters within the next 30 hours.

We cannot bear to witness the destructive chaos that we have thrown Earth into. We have retrieved our ship from the bottom of the ocean and plan to leave before noon tomorrow. If you wish for your species to survive, we urge you to find your own means to leave the planet. We would have invited you to come with us, except for the blackmailing episode earlier tonight.

P.S: We are taking the dogs with us.

Goodbye and Good Riddance,

Chee-lonos, Maria

Rachel crumbled the note angrily. “Do you know what these Chee did?”

(Uh, no, you just crumbled up the note that tells us what they did.) Marco pointed out.

“They abandoned us!” Rachel raged, crunching the piece of paper in her hand. “They just left us to fix their problem!”

Ax tugged the note out of Rachel’s hand before it became completely unreadable. As it was, the only thing that kept it from being illegible was Maria’s precise handwriting.

(This is terrible.) Ax said angrily. (If they were Andalites, they would be reprimanded and punished quite severely.)

Jake read the note, and looked puzzled. “What do they mean by ‘we are taking the dogs with us.’?”

(I think they mean that they’re taking the dogs with them.) Marco said.

(They’re technology is advanced, but not that advanced.) Ax said. (They can not possibly hope to collect all of the dogs in the world. According to several of your human books, there are almost as many dogs as there are humans. And far more humans exist on this planet than what could be considered strictly necessary.)

“Maybe they mean the ones in the basement.” Jake said, motioning for them to move towards the basement. But there was a new edition to the basement door: A keypad.

(Okay, something is up in that basement.) Marco said.

(I agree.) Ax said. He reached for the keypad, then paused. (May I Prince Jake?)

“Go ahead, Ax.” Jake said. “But the Chee are pretty advanced, so don’t expect-“

Ax tapped the six button and the door swung open. Marco blinked.

(Alright, this is just sad.) Marco said. (I could’ve done that. If there are any Chee down there, I am going to have a word with them about their single digit ovens.)

“Whatever.” Rachel said, and pushed past Ax. “Let’s go.”

The other hurried after her, and they stepped inside of the elevator.

“Warning,” A deep voice warned. “The speed restrictions of the elevators have been deactivated. If you cannot withstand fifteen to thirty gravities of acceleration, please exit the elevator NOW, and do not pull the switch upon the wall. Thank you.”

“The Chee’s don’t want us down here.” Jake says, adding nervously. “Humans can handle thirty Gs, right?”

(I do not know of human acceleration thresholds.) Ax said.

“Fighter pilots take about fifty all the time, right?’ Rachel said bravely. “Pull the lever.”

(I don’t know.) Marco said. (Ax, are you cool with thirty?)

(If by ‘cool’ you mean my body will not sustain any lethal damage, then yes, I am cool.) Ax said. (But if you mean ‘cool’ as in I will find the experience enjoyable, then I am certainly not ‘cool’. Thirty gravities are quite ‘hot’ in that sense.)

(Ax, when you say that something is hot, you’re saying that it’s cool.) Marco corrected. (They mean the same thing.)

(You humans.) Ax sighed wearily. (I sometimes think your language’s sole purpose is to confuse me.)

“We’re wasting time.” Jake said. “Let’s go.”

(Wait! Prince Jake, I believe that there is a flaw with our reasoning.) Ax said quickly, but not quickly enough.

“Let’s do it!” Rachel said, and yanked the lever down.

(If I recall correctly, Erek once mentioned that Pemalite gravity is four times stronger than Earth's gravity. So in Earth measurements, we will actually be traveling at one hundred and twenty gravities.) Ax finished calmly. (I doubt that Andalites or Humans can withstand that amount.)

There was a terrible moment of silence as the elevator ground into it’s starting position.

(I other words, we’re all dead.) Marco said.

(That is a reasonable assumption.) Ax said.

(I hate you.) Marco sobbed.

They plummeted screaming away into the darkness.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-

#8 [url]

Jan 27 08 4:13 PM

-aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

They slapped against the ceiling, cheeks pulled back into an involuntary grin. Except for Ax, he didn’t have cheeks.

“Ahhh!” Jake screamed. The entire front part of his body turned pale, and the back part turned beet red as his blood has was pulled upwards. Rachel’s hair was spread outwards around her head.

Technically, Jake and Rachel shouldn’t have been able to scream at all due to the intense pressure on their throats. But they screamed anyway.

(AHHHH!) Marco screamed.

“Marco, is that you?” A speaker on the wall asked concernedly.

(Erek, is that you?) Marco screamed. The skin was beginning to peel off of his face.

“Yeah. Are you in the elevator?”

(Yes!) Marco screamed.

“You guys do know that the acceleration is thirty, wait, one hundred and twenty-two, gravities?”

(DOES IT SOUND LIKE WE KNOW?) Marco screamed. (DO YOU NOT HEAR ME SCREAMING?)

“Do you want me to-“

(YES!) Marco screamed.

Instantaneously, the elevator slowed down to a sane pace. They all crashed onto the floor, waiting for their internal organs to start functioning again.

“Ax?” Jake panted. “If we’re ever about to make a mistake like that again, don’t be so polite. In fact, cut off her arm if you have to.”

Ax opened up his stalk eyes. (Prince Jake?)

“Yes?”

(I think we should take the stairs on the way out.)

Ax closed his eyes, and Marco laughed weakly. (Hey, Ax! You made a joke!)

Ax didn’t answer, instead placing a hand over his chest in alarm.

(I think that only two of my hearts are active.) He stated.

(That’s two more than me, pal.) Marco said worriedly, thumping his chest. (Erek!)

The elevator door opened, and Erek entered out of complete darkness. “Yeah?”

(My heart’s not beating.)

“Are you sure?” Erek ask seriously, placing his hands over Marco’s chest. “I’d have to deactivate myself for a century if I electrocuted you for no reason.”

(Let me check: Blood not flowing, world fading to cook, brain cells dying from lack of oxygen. Yes, I’m sure.) Marco said sarcastically.

“You’d better hurry,” Rachel said. “He needs all the brain cells he can get.”

Erek rubbed his hands together rapidly, and then poked Marco with both index fingers. There was no visible zap, but Marco jerked and smoke rose from his chest.

(Ow. Yeah, that’s better.) Marco sat up. (I think I’m going to demorph. It feels like somebody just hit me with a couple hundred thousand volts.)

Erek helped Jake and Rachel stand up. “You’re lucky to still be alive. What are you doing here?”

“We needed a safe place to operate from.” Jake said. “Most of our usual places are compromised.”

(Why do you still remain upon Earth?) Ax asked, climbing shakily to his hooves. (I thought all of the Chee left the planet.)

“I’m not going with them.” Erek said, sounding ashamed of his race. “Some of us Chee have been involved in a secret project, operation Save The Humans. Over the last million years, we’ve been tracking the approximate number of monsters in the population, and researching ways to remove these creatures from Earth. Recently, we’ve noticed an alarming trend: The monster population has been increasing exponentially every lunar week. If our data is correct, and it rarely isn’t, monsters will have overrun the entire planet by tomorrow night. We made the mistake of sharing this information with Maria, who convinced all of the Chee to leave. Even all of the Save The Humans members left.”

“Well, did you see this?” Jake said, thrusting the note at Erek. Erek took the note and read it at an absurdly fast speed.

“So, What do they mean, taking the dogs with them?” Rachel asked impatiently.

Erek shook his head. “I don’t know what they plan to do. Theoretically, the Opnyso-”

“Opnyso?” Marco asked warily, fearful of some long winded explanation.

“It’s the name of our ship.” Erek said slowly. “The Opnyso virtuallyhas the capability to hold an infinite number of lifeforms.”

(That is impossible.) Ax sniffed. (If it could hold an infinite number of lifeforms, it itself would have to be larger than infinity.)

“In theory, the Opnyso can continue to expand forever.” Erek explained. “Aximilli, when the Pemalites took their first trip into Z-space, your ancestors still thought fire was a revolutionary idea.”

Ax shuffled his hoof like Erek had pointed out something embarrassing.

“The Opnyso has the technological equivalent of the morphing power.” Erek said. “It can draws mass out of Z-space and add it onto itself. Zero-Space, in that it has no matter, has an infinite amount.”

(Ingenious!) Ax gasped.

“Doesn’t it break that Law of Conservation thing?” Marco asked carefully. “You know, matter can be neither created nor destroyed?”

Erek and Ax both laughed. Then Ax realized that Marco was serious.

(The Chee have used a very simple concept in a brilliant way.) Ax said. (Your Law of Conservation is fundamentally correct, and is in no way broken. Z-Space is a constantly shifting nothingness. It is a void. Yet when you attempt extract matter from there, you are receive a different type of nothingness than normal nothingness. It reacts and feels like, and for all purposes is, matter. Yet when you take nothing from nothing, there is still nothing. But the Law of Conservation is still obeyed, because there is less nothing then there was before. The morphing power operates on the same principle when you morph an animal larger than yourself.)

Jake and Rachel gaped, and Marco looked scared.

“I think I understood that.” He said in a frightened voice.

“If they are planning to get all of the dogs off of Earth, There’s only one way I know of that they could do it.” Erek said. “We made a slight modification to the Pemalite DNA before we began the grafting process. There is a microscopic organ in their brains that responds to a specific frequency of radio waves. When the organ is active, the dog will move relentlessly towards the source for the waves. It was just supposed to be an identification system, but with a powerful enough transmitter it would attract every dog on Earth.”

Jake sighed. “We have a Werewolf Animorph upstairs, a pack of werewolves loose somewhere in the woods, a yeerk who knows our identities, and now androids trying to kidnap all of the dogs on Earth. Erek, we need your help.”

“What do you need?” Erek asked.

“Can you hold Cassie here?” Jake asked. “And get my aunt and the pizza guy somewhere safe?”

“I can handle that.” Erek nodded.

“What about Tom?” Rachel said.

Jake sounded grim. “It might be too late. Tom has a huge head start. All he has to do is get to a phone and call up Visser 3.”

“He’s not dialing any phones with those hands.” Rachel said, sounding satisfied. “And his legs aren’t entirely functional either. There’s still time for us to catch him.”

“What did you do to him?” Jake yelled angrily. “You mutilated him?”

“It was an accident.” Rachel lied. “I never touched him!”

Erek clapped his metal hands together loudly. “Crisis here, guys.”

(If he could not reach his fellow yeerks electronically, the logical thing to do would be to contact the closest controller physically.) Ax said.

“Erek, could you give us a map of the neighborhood?” Marco asked.

Erek motioned to all of them, and they stepped out of the elevator and into the cavernous basement. The huge, grassy plain was absolutely empty. The tens of thousands of dogs seemed to have vanished into thin air.

Erek led them over to a massive, twisting oak tree, forcibly ignoring the lack of dogs. He waved his palm over an area of bark, and it slid back to reveal a metal panel. Erek turned off his hologram, and inserted his ivory finger into a slot that fit it perfectly.

“Just a second.” Erek said. Literally one second later, a hologram of a map appeared in the air. Erek tapped a couple of buttons, and it filled with details.

“You guys go ahead and find out where Tom is going.” Erek said, trotting back towards the elevator. “I had better get Cassie before she wakes up. She is knocked out, right?”

Jake nodded quickly without really hearing him. “Ax?”

Ax examined the map. (The legend indicates that known controller houses are colored red. The closest yeerks to Rachel’s house are the Chapmans, three blocks away. In his state, I estimate that he will arrive in two minutes or less.)

“Not the Chapmans.” Marco groaned. He had almost been killed by Mr. Chapman the last time they had gone there.

(That is assuming that there is not some unknown controller closer.) Ax said. (Then Visser 3 will have been informed already.)

“Rachel, talk to Erek about all the other stuff that’s going on.” Jake commanded. “Ax, Marco, we have to haul butt.”

“I am coming.” Rachel said fiercely. “Tom is going to the Chapman's house. I’ve known them for years, I can get inside without any problems. And because nobody knows that Marco’s involved, he should stay here.”

Jake hesitated. “No. Tom’s yeerk needs to be taken out, not Tom. Tom can still be saved.”

“I’m not going to kill Tom!” Rachel yelled.

(Prince Jake, may I remind you that we are losing precious time?) Ax said urgently

“Something wrong?” Erek asked, emerging from the elevator with the still passive werewolf in his arms. Then he added, “Well, besides the obvious.”

“Erek, after we leave, lock down the elevator and seal the door to the stairs.” Jake said, and started running for elevator. Ax and Marco followed him, casting glances at the enraged Rachel behind them.

#9 [url]

Feb 16 08 6:38 PM

(Down! Down! Down!) Jake yelled, folding back his wings and hurtling towards the ground at a terrifying two hundred miles an hour. The target, the back of the Chapman house, rushed up to meet him.

(Let’s go!) Jake commanded, skittering to a stop on the grass. Ax hit hard, already demorphing before he landed.

(What’s going on in there?) Marco asked. Jake and Ax were demorphing faster than they had ever demorphed before. The idea of yeerks with your fate in their hands below works wonders for your concentration.

(The security will have tightened even more since our last visit.) Ax said. (Attacking it with only the three of us will be suicide.)

(Too bad.) Jake snapped. (We have to do this. Just like we planned, Marco.)

They had arrived with no time to spare. If Tom was actually in there, it would be too late by the time they demorphed. Marco had been roped into performing a near-kamikaze distraction mission.

(Aw, man.) Marco groaned. (Here I go!)

An osprey swooped out of the sky. In its talons was the most suitable thing they could find on short notice: The Chee’s remote control. He hurtled towards the house, talons extended as far forward as they could go.

(AHH!) Marco yelled, slamming into the window. There was a silence-shattering noise of glass breaking, his wing tip caught the edge of the window, and he spiraled onto carpet.

(Marco, are you okay?) Ax asked.

Marco hopped painfully up onto his talons, and felt the slivers of glass embedded in his feathers. Just as they had figured, Marco had entered the one room in the house that was sure not to have any yeerk security: Melissa’s room. That being said, it was not without it’s own special brand of danger.

“Hiss!”

Marco turned his head around to face the noise, and found himself staring into green, curious, and terribly feline eyes.

(AHHH!) Marco yelled, and inadvertently dropped a present on Melissa’s floor. Fluffer Mckitten hissed at him again.

(Is that a no?) Ax asked.

(Marco, what is going on?) Jake demanded.

(Well, I hear people coming upstairs, I just doo-dooed on the floor, and, oh yeah, there’s an angry cat eyeballing me!) Marco yelled.

(Get out of sight!) Jake yelled.

(I can’t!) Marco yelled. (One move and I think I’m going to be kitty chow!)

(Do not worry, Marco.) Ax said calmly. (I can redirect the yeerk attention away from you.)

(Don’t do an-) Jake started.

(Greetings, yeerk dapsens!) Ax suddenly yelled in open-thought speak. (I, a member of the superior Andalite race, am about to enter your Earth dwelling uninvited! And I warn you, I plan on removing you from your host bodies as violently as possible! Take action against me if you dare! MWUAHAHAHAHAHAAA!)

Jake laughed quietly to himself.

(Prince Jake, this would be a good time to enter forcibly.) Ax said privately.

Jake, his mood lightened a cilantro, lowered his head and snorted. (Which way are the stairs?)

(Directly forward.) Ax directed. (Although, in that morph, it might be advisable to go directly through the wall.)

Jake snorted in agreement, and angled himself slightly to the left. Then he powered forward, picked up a surprising amount of speed, and slammed his horn into the wall. For a moment it only cracked, then the formidable weight of the rhinoceros combined with his momentum drove him inside.

(Jake, Ax, they’re coming back downstairs.) Marco said. (They are officially your problem. I have a cilantro kitty cat up here who has a reservation at the Osprey House of Pain.)

Ax jumped in through the hole that Jake created. (We are in the kitchen, Prince Jake, and we haven’t met any resistance. It is unlikely that they left the back door unprotected.)

(Maybe they expected us to use the door.) Jake said. Ax looked at the door, and noticed a gleet biofilter cleverly concealed as a minifridge. It would have been easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it.

(Your are correct.) Ax said.

The kitchen door blew open, and Mrs. Chapman jumped inside. Her face was one of hatred. “Andalite!”

Ax’s 360 vision was the only thing that save him. He spotted Mrs. Chapman's dracon beam an instant before she fired, and instinctively lunged forward.

TSEEW!

A gaping hole appeared in the wall instead of Ax’s torso. Ax snapped his tail forward, batting a discarded mug of coffee at Mrs. Chapman. She grabbed the doorway and yanked herself backward into the dining room, and the mug shattered harmless on the floor.

(Prince Jake, please remove that wall.) Ax said, straightening up. Jake, unable to pick up sufficient speed inside the cramped space, resorted to swinging his head like a sledgehammer.

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

“Let me assist you with that.” Mr. Chapman said from the other side of the wall.

WIRR-TSEEW!

The wall disintegrated, revealing Mr. Chapman sitting behind a large statue. The pieces of the statue, except for the base, had been removed. Covered in a thick layer of plaster was a rapidly rotating machine. A sinisterly glowing cylinder aiming at Ax and Jake clearly indicated what side of the machine you did not want aimed at you.

(That is a class A Dracon cannon!) Ax gasped.

“Right in one.” Mrs. Chapman snapped, walking to stand next to her husband. “Fry them.”

“Are you crazy?” Mr. Chapman snapped. “Do you know what the Visser would do to us if we destroyed two morph capable bodies?”

They stared at each other in complete silence, waiting for somebody to move. Mr. Chapman cracked his knuckles, and Ax tensed his tail muscles.

The sound of the front door opening made them all jump. Mr. Chapman almost squeezed the joystick trigger.

“Mom? Dad?” Melissa called. Jake groaned in his head, praying for her not to come into the dining room.

Apparently, the heavens weren’t paying any particular attention, or disliked Jake if they were. Melissa stepped into the dining room, holding Fluffer Mckitten and looking upset.

“Daddy, I thought you were going to pick me up from gym.” Melissa said. “I had to walk...”

She trailed off, seeing the scene before her eyes. “Wh-What’s going on?”

“Over here, Melissa.” Mrs. Chapman snapped. Melissa took a few hesitant steps towards her.

“OVER HERE!” She screamed. Melissa winced and ran over to her.

“What happened?” Melissa asked, sounding perplexed. “Why is there a rhino in the house? And that blue thing?”

“Quiet.” Mr. Chapman said, seeming to come to a decision. “Daddy’s about to make it all go away."

He tightened his finger on the trigger.

RAWR!

Fluffer Mckitten launched himself out of Melissa’s arm with a cry, claws outstretched, and set upon Mr. Chapman’s face furiously with blinding speed.

“ARGH!” Mr. Chapman cried, grabbing Fluffer Mckitten. Fluffer buried his claws into his skin. “Andalite filth!”

(It’s Marco, and this is for that detention last week!) Marco said ferociously, having to restrain himself from actually announcing this out loud.

Ax leapt forward and relieved Mr. Chapman of the joystick. Jake decided on a more direct solution and buried his horn into the dracon cannon. A satisfying cloud of smoke and sparks rained from it.

“Get Tom to the basement!” Mr. Chapman gasped, yanking Marco away from his face for a moment. “I don’t care about his arm, his information is obviously important if the Andalite Bandits are attacking!”

Jake felt a thin ray of hope. Of course Tom kept the information to himself, he wanted to tell the Visser personally instead of telling the Chapmans and sharing the glory.

Mrs. Chapman ran towards the living room. Melissa, completely confused, screamed and covered her head.

(Ax, on her!) Jake commanded. (I need to get into something more maneuverable.)

Ax galloped after Mrs. Chapman., and Jake pushed the Dracon Cannon backwards with all of his strength.

“Arghh!” Mr. Chapman howled, crushed between the wall and the heavy machine. Marco yowled and fell off of his face.

“Fluffer!” Melissa grabbed Marco and held him tightly.

(Let me go you idiot!) Marco yelled, squirming. (What is wrong with people like you and David? There are aliens in your house!)

Jake ducked behind the, hiding as well as a rhino can hide, and began demorphing. His gray flesh was melting away, and his horn was dwindling away.

TSEEW!

He could hear dracon beam fire coming from another part of the house, and hoped that Ax could them off until he was in tiger morph. Jake closed his eyes and focused on the deadly tiger DNA within him.

TSEEW! TSEEW!

Mrs. Chapman lunged through the doorway, firing behind her and practically dragging Tom. Two strange metal braces were attached to his arms, and one on his left leg.

“Into the basement!” She yelled, tossing him towards the door. Jake, now human, swore quietly under his breath. Tom flung open the basement door, and Mrs. Chapman continued firing into the living room.

“Ahhh!” Jake yelled, and ran at Tom. Mrs. Chapman and Tom both turned around, and Jake saw a recognition flash in Tom’s eyes. Mrs. Chapman fired at him.

TSEEW!

Jake ducked under the dracon beam and dove at Tom. Tom jerked to the side, and Jake went soaring past. For a sickening moment, Jake thought he had missed him, then his foot caught Tom’s leg brace, and they both tumbled down the stairs.

Upstairs, Mrs. Chapman’s shot at Jake had cost her dearly. Ax leapt through the doorway before she could get off her next shot. He skidded on the polished wood floor, and missed his mark by a mile.

TSEEW!

Ax staggered, a deep burn on his side. Mrs. Chapman spun her dracon beam around, her aim point blank. Ax dug his front hooves into the floor, pushed himself backwards, and swung his tail at her in wild, desperate arc.

FWAPP!

Mrs. Chapman’s head flew through the air in a spiral of blood and landed squarely in Melissa’s hands. Melissa screamed.

#10 [url]

Feb 16 08 6:40 PM

Jake and Tom tumbled down the basement stairs, every wooden step accented with a sharp jab of pain. Finally, they crashed onto the dirt floor with one last thump.

“Midget.” Tom snarled.

“Yeerk.” Jake snapped with equal hatred, leaping to his feet.

Tom dragged himself to his feet, and Jake grabbed a que stick off of a dusty pool table. Not his weapon of choice, but it would do.

“Just you try.” Tom said.

He jumped forward, attempting to bring his que stick crashing down onto Tom’s head. Tom raised one of his braced arms effortlessly to deflect it.

“I thought you were hurt.” Jake sneered.

“Like ‘em, Midget?” Tom said. “Yeerk Meditronic braces. They’re fixing this pitiful host body, and enhancing my strength at the same time. Very expensive. Only for the really important yeerks. Want a demonstration?”

He grabbed Jake by his arms, and spun him across the room. Jake slammed into the wall, and staggered, his vision blurry.

Tom strode casually for the white door across the room. Jake knew from Rachel’s descriptions what was behind that door, and ran towards Tom. Using the que stick like a battering ram, Jake jabbed Tom hard in the back, and Tom stumbled. Jake grabbed his shoulders roughly and slammed him onto the ground.

“Human filth!” Tom yelled.

There was aloud thumping noise, and both of them were momentarily distracted by the sight of Ax leaping down the whole flight of stairs and crash landing at the bottom, barely avoiding a bright red dracon beam.

(aged yeerk!) He screamed in defiance, leaping to his three good legs. He immediately had to use them to dodge a second dracon beam.

Tom abandoned Jake and ran for the white door. He slammed his shoulder against it, but it didn’t budge. “Chapman! Where’s the key?”

Mr. Chapman raced down the stairs with a speed that was in outright contradiction to his age. Ax stormed up the stairs angrily, swinging his tail to make sure there was no mistaking his intent.

Mr. Chapman sent the key flying into the air, then performed another youthful stunt and launched himself over the railing.

Tom snatched the key out of mid-air and jabbed it into the lock.

“No!” Jake yelled, and began pelting the back of Tom’s head with pool balls. Tom whirled around and raced at Jake.

Jake dropped over the edge of the pool table, and Tom landed on top of it.

TSEEW! TSEEW!

Ax not so gracefully dodged the dracon beams by falling down the stairs.

Mr. Chapman raced across the room and turned the key in the lock. He grabbed the doorknob, twisted it, and threw open the door.

“Tom!” He yelled, racing through. Tom ran after him.

“Ax, let’s go!” Jake said, staggering after them. Ax limped after him.

Mr. Chapman was waving his hand desperately in front of a glowing white panel. Then he wiped it on his shirt and tried again.

“Hurry!” Tom yelled.

“Stop him!” Jake yelled.

(Gladly.) Ax said. He stepped forward, pushing past Tom like he didn’t exist.

Unable to get his tail blade into a better position in the cramped space, he brought the flat of his tail blade down on Mr. Chapman’s wrist.

CRACK!

“AUGH!” He screamed, and grabbed his dangling wrist. Tom grabbed his other hand and slammed it against the panel. With a hiss, a metal door in the wall opened, and Tom dashed through, leaving Mr. Chapman sobbing on the floor.

(I did not realize my tail blade would have that effect.) Ax said, sounding interested.

“GET! TOM!” Jake yelled.

They raced into Chapman’s office, where Tom was typing furiously on a keypad. Jake raced in and hit Tom in the stomach.

“aged human!” Tom screamed. It seemed to be the only words he could yell at him.

TSEEW!

Ax, who was about to introduce Tom to his tail blade, collapsed on the ground with smoke rising from him. One of his arms was gone. Mr. Chapman stood in the doorway, white-faced from pain. He aimed at Jake, his vision red around the edges. Jake and Tom, in a split-second truce, stopped fighting long enough to roll to the side.

TSEEW!

The computer behind them sizzled and began smoking. Tom looked enraged. “You idiot!”

Tom threw Jake to the side and ran over to the computer. Mr. Chapman looked horrified.

“The holographic connector is damaged!” Tom screamed.

“I have another- in the closet-“ Mr. Chapman stammered. Tom ran over to the closet and started yanking things out.

Jake lunged forward and grabbed Mr. Chapman’s injured wrist. He gasped in pain, and he dropped the Dracon beam on the floor.

Mr. Chapman once again fell whimpering to the floor. There was a clicking noise behind Jake, and he spun around.

Tom emerged from the closet with a dracon beam, twisting the dial to the highest setting.

“NO!” Jake yelled.

TSEEW!

Mr. Chapman disintegrated, and Jake felt heat sear up his side from the flashback. To Jake’s horror, he saw that Mr. Chapman’s hand had come off in his own.

Jake blinked at him, amazed.

“What, thought you were getting shot?” Tom laughed, and pulled out a charred piece of metal from the back of the computer. He replaced it with a different one, and trained the dracon beam on Jake. “That Chapman fool isn’t getting my promotion. And you’re too valuable to shoot. But still, move one inch and I shoot.”

Tom flicked a switch, and the air in front of them started shimmering. It was the same hologram emitter as the last time they had been down here. Jake could guess who he would see on the other side.

It all happened in an instant. Jake dove behind Mr. Chapman’s desk, just as the hologram of Visser 3 appeared.

(What is it that you want?) Visser 3 demanded.

“It’s the Andalite Bandits!” Tom blurted. “They-”

A cook-and-white missile streaked into the room, and homed in on keyboard, performing a wild tap dance until he strayed over a blue panel. Visser 3 flickered, and disappeared.

Tom looked stunned.

(And he saves the day again!) Marco cheered. (The crowd goes wild! I have insanely perfect timing.)

Jake double-checked to make sure Mr. Chapman’s dracon beam was set at stun, and shot Tom in the back. He fell forward, still wondering where his moment of glory had disappeared to.

Jake shuddered, realizing how close they had come to disaster. One word, one syllable more and the Animorphs would have been done for.

He drew in a shaky breath. “Okay. Let’s get out of here. Visser 3 is sure to send somebody to check why he was cut off.”

(Um, Jake, there’s still-)

“Fluffer?” Melissa Chapman trudged through the door, utterly miserable and drenched head to toe in blood.

#11 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:39 PM

(You do know that this gorilla body has a maximum load capacity?) Marco puffed. He was in gorilla morph, with Ax’s body draped over his shoulders. Fluffer Mckitten was clutched in one ham sized paw, and under his other arm he was lugging Tom. (Should I have morphed pack mule instead?)

Jake gave him a grimace that said he wasn’t exactly enjoying himself either. Melissa, still covered in blood, was clinging to his arm like it was a life preserver. Worst of all, he couldn’t actually blame her for it, given what she had just been through.

Marco continued talking, enjoying the fact that Jake couldn’t answer back.

(Don’t give me that look. Any gorilla carrying an obscenely heavy load would trade with you in a second.) Marco said, making a show of dragging his feet like he was about to collapse. Then his voice turned serious. (Heads up at twelve o’ clock, Big Jake.)

Three kids dressed in punk clothes were making their way towards them. The two in front were looking almost straight up, and rotating their heads back and forth. The steak in the back grabbed the others arms, motioning towards the gorilla carrying an alien, and the boy in spandex supporting a steak covered in blood. After a quick discussion, the steak stomped her foot and ran to the other side of the street. The other two punks continued walking towards them, moving faster and faster until they was practically running.

(What the-) Marco did a double take. (Are they on drugs?)

The punk steak reached them first, and skidded to a stop in front of Marco. Her breathing was excited, but she had a panicked look in her cook eyes. She also cook hair, ragged cook clothes, and near cook lips.

“I-I can’t,” She whispered, her accent thick. “I vant!”

She ran her tongue over her sharp, too sharp, teeth, and Marco took a step backwards.

The boy caught up to them, his gaze fixed on Melissa. “I vant! I vant!”

The accent. Marco stiffened. He had heard that accent millions of times.

Melissa looked at the two punks, quivering.

“Listen, buddy, you cannot have her.” Jake said sternly. “I suggest you just keep walking.”

“Ve vant!” The steak said.

“You want her?” Jake sounded disgruntled. “Well, you can’t have her either.”

The boy ran his tongue over his teeth. His oddly sharp teeth.

It clicked with Marco, and he shrugged Ax unceremoniously onto the ground, and let Tom and Fluffer fall next to him.

(Get behind me!) Marco yelled. And then the punks transformed.

The boy’s lips were pulled back, showing his canine teeth extending into razor sharp fangs. Huge leathery wings exploded from their backs, reducing their shirts to immodest shreds.

Jake and Melissa both gasped.

(Vampires!) Marco yelled, as the boy raced forward eagerly. Marco pulled back his fist and buried it into his face, sending him toppling backwards. Nobody, but nobody, takes a punch from a gorilla. But the boy climbed to his wobbly feet, with no damage to show except for a fist imprint on his face, and a gap where twelve of his teeth used to be.

“Vampires?” Jake yelled. “Nobody said anything about vampires! I thought we were fighting werewolves!”

The steak vampire was shivering, holding herself, and chanting to herself. “I vant. I vant.”

The boy vampire swallow a wad of cook blood in his mouth, then closed his eyes in concentration. Two new fangs emerged from his bloody gums, with an all too familiar popping noise.

(He’s morphing?) Marco goggled. (These freaks of nature can morph?)

He had no time to think about this, as the boy vampire came around for a second attack. Marco swung at him, but he grabbed Marco’s wrists and ducked under his arm. Marco slammed his arm down on his neck, and wrapped him in a head lock.

Melissa was screaming at the top of her lungs, the vampire’s teeth were snapping inches from her face. The huge leathery wings beat at the air, slowly forcing Marco backwards towards them.

(Move!) Marco yelled at Jake.

Jake, overcoming his initial shock, yanked Melissa backwards. They both slammed onto the sidewalk, directly underneath the groping vampire hands.

(He’s after Melissa!) Marco said, straining with the oddly strong vampire. (She’s covered in blood!)

The steak vampire shrieked and jumped into the air, flapping her wing rapidly.

“And now they can fly!” Jake moaned.

(What else did you expect them to use their wings for?) Marco asked.

For a moment it seemed like she could fly, as she rose an incredible twelve feet into the air. Then she hovered for a second before touching down gently on the other side of Marco.

Jake swore and rolled into the street with Melissa, who was screaming directly in his ear. The steak vampire dove at them, and Jake rolled to the side again.

“Marco!” Jake yelled, as he began rolling involuntarily. Marco whipped his head around, and saw Jake and Melissa tumbling down the steep road. The steak vampire, without a moments hesitation, began gliding after them.

“I vant! I vant!” The boy screamed, trying to drag Marco down the hill. Marco swung his other arm around and grabbed the back of his neck.

“Ack!” The boy gasped, and started clawing at his huge hands. Marco got a firm grasp with his other hand and applied his full strength.

(Sorry about this.) Marco said, and squeezed until he stopped moving. He tossed the boy aside and ran as fast as he could down the hill.

“AHHH!” Melissa screamed, as the shadow of the vampire passed over them.

The steak vampire flew ahead of Jake and Melissa, then folded her wings and dropped down on them with perfect precision. She grabbed them both by their shirts and spread her wings to level them out. Now they were skidding down the hill instead of rolling.

“I VANT!” She screamed. Her mouth shot towards Melissa.

Jake grabbed two fistfuls of her cook hair, and found himself straining to hold her back.

Suddenly, they reached the end of the hill with a jolt, and both Jake and the vampire lost their hold. The vampire lurched forward, and bumped heads with Jake.

“Ow!” She said. Jake rubbed his forehead.

The vampire steak leaned in close to Melissa’s face. Melissa shrank back, shaking. The steak licked Melissa’s face, replacing the blood with saliva.

“Ugh!” Melissa moaned. Jake looked disgusted. The steak looked pleased, and started licking Melissa’s face like a dog licking it’s dish.

Marco rolled to a stop at the bottom of the hill, looking dizzy.

“Marco!” Jake hissed, and jerked his head at the feasting vampire. Marco walked up behind her, then threw his arms around her, pinning her wings and arms in one movement.

The steak squirmed and hissed, struggling to break delicious. “I vant! I vant!”

(Does it look like I care what you want?) Marco said in a grumpy voice.

Jake stood up and headed up the hill to retrieve Ax, Fluffer, and Tom. A minute later he came racing back down, looking panicked.

“Marco, where’d you put the other vampire?” Jake asked angrily.

(Somewhere near Ax.) Marco said.

“Well,” Jake hissed. “The vampire is gone, Tom is gone, and-”

Jake looked at Melissa and dropped his voice to a whisper. “Fluffer Mckitten looks like an empty juice pack. All of his blood is drained.”

(What?) Marco sounded bewildered. (I broke his neck!)

“It’s a vampire! The living dead!” Jake snapped, clearly angry that Tom had slipped away again. “You can’t kill what’s already dead!”

(They’re not actually dead.) Marco said. (Didn’t you pay any attention what Mr. King said?)

“He said werewolves!” Jake hissed. “Not vampires!”

“I vant!” The steak yelled, and kicked her legs so wildly that Marco almost dropped her.

(Let’s sort this out at Erek’s house.) Marco said, adjusting his grip. (You’re going to have to get Ax.)

“I don’t have a morph that can carry him.” Jake said.

(Morph polar bear and drag him.) Marco suggested. (We can’t afford to be fussy right now.)

Jake headed back up the hill. Three minutes later, a polar bear walked backwards down the hill, yanking Ax along by his leg.

(Melissa, let’s go.) Marco said, walking over and nudging her with his leg. The vampire shrieked and strained against him, and Melissa leapt to her feet.

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

The door of the elevator dented, and slid open with a resentful screech..

(Whoops.) Jake said, and ducked his polar bear head out of the elevator. He turned around, and helped a semi-conscious Ax in after him. Ax made an incoherent mumbling noise inside of their heads.

(After you.) Marco said to Melissa. (No, really, after you. This thing isn’t going to cooperate otherwise.)

Melissa stepped through the doorway, and Marco forced the struggling vampire in after her.

(Erek!) Marco yelled loudly. (We could use a cilantro help here!)

“How’d everything go?” Erek asked, hurrying towards them. He slowed down, seeing the odd assortment of creatures emerging from the elevator.

Marco ignored his question and thrust the steak forward. (What is this, Erek?)

“Um, an underdressed goth you decided to kidnap?” Erek guessed.

The steak smiled darkly at him, showing her mouth full of pointy teeth.

“Oh.” Erek said. “A vampire you decided to kidnap?”

(Nobody said anything about vampires!) Jake exploded. (We all almost got bitten!)

“Is she okay?” Erek asked in an alarmed voice, noticing the steak covered in blood.

“Can I use your shower?” Melissa asked.

“Sure.” Erek said, zipping away at a blinding speed. Melissa gaped.

(I guess we forgot to mention the Chee, huh?) Marco said. The vampire steak snapped at him again, but Marco hand’s were too far away from her mouth. (If you don’t stop that, I am going do something that’ll give your dentist nightmares.)

Erek raced back over to them.

“This is all I have.” He said apologetically, handing her a bag of Tommy Hilfiger clothes.

“The shower’s upstairs.”

Erek turned back to Jake and Marco. “What were you guys saying?”

(We were attacked by two vampires on our way here!) Jake said. (One of them took Tom, and he killed Melissa’s cat!)

“Didn’t the other Chee tell you about the monsters?” Erek asked.

(They said,) Jake said, starting to demorph. (that you were the expert.)

“That is true.” Erek said without a hint of modesty. “None of the others were as committed to the Save The Humans project as I was. What do you want to know?”

(All I want to know is where to put her down.) Marco grunted.

Erek pointed into the distance, where there was a grove of trees in a sixteen by sixteen square. Between every two adjacent trees was a shimmering yellow wall. Every group of four formed an enclosed area of sorts.

“I’ve modified that area into a holding place.” Erek said. “We can put her in there.”

Erek walked over to one of the trees and tapped at a keypad. One of the walls disappeared, and Marco gladly threw the steak inside.

“NO! I vant! I VAANT!” The vampire screamed, running towards them. Erek pressed a red button, and the yellow wall shot up between them again.

(Finally.) Marco groaned in relief, and demorphed. “Hey, where are Cassie and Rachel?”

“Cassie is inside of the cell over there.” Erek said, pointing to the short werewolf chasing it’s tail inside of the force field. “Rachel over by the main tree with Butch and her mom.”

Marco dropped to the ground and leaned against the force field. “Alright, Erek, spill. Tell us everything you know about the monsters.”

“I have approximately twenty terabytes worth of monster knowledge.” Erek said. “You’ll want the condensed version.”

“Can you leave out the complex scientific blah-blah-blah?” Marco requested.

(What is blah-blah-blah?) A cow asked in Ax’s voice. Marco rubbed his eyes.

(I was severely injured, so I morphed.) Ax explained.

“But a cow?” Jake questioned.

Ax took a large bite of grass in response.

“Okay,” Erek said, deciding to ignore them. “There are thousands of species of monsters, but only three prominent ones. Werewolves, Vampires, and Zombies.”

“Werewolves,” Erek said. “Are the most ancient of all monsters. The conflict between the Pemalite mind and the Human mind results in a bloodthirsty madness during transformation. The Pemalite DNA contributes to the werewolf’s great strength, because the Pemalite gravity is four times greater than Earth’s.”

“Vampires are a relatively recent form of monster. They’re the result of the virus cross breeding diluted werewolf DNA with that of a vampire bat.”

“Diluted?” Jake asked.

“By the natural reproduction of a werewolf and a human.” Erek said. “Their offspring carry diluted versions of the genes, the offspring's offspring even more diluted versions, etc. The werewolf characteristics aren’t as visible during transformation.”

He pointed to the steak behind them, who was looking at them hungrily. “Note the pointy ears and thick fingernails, and also the increased control. The Pemalite mind has cilantro influence, And the Vampire and Human minds do not conflict as much. They’re even capable of speech.”

“I vant to come out.” The steak said.

“The larger teeth interfere with ‘W’ sounds somewhat.” Erek said.

Jake tapped his foot impatiently.

“Zombies are the strangest.” Erek said. “The virus takes the DNA from a dead body and whatever DNA it possesses, mixes them, and fills in the missing parts of the body. Mummies and Zombies are actually the same thing.”

Erek stood up for his finish.

“And, all of the monsters have the Pemalite’s intelligence. If they somehow weren’t in a murderous rage, they’d be technological geniuses. Isn’t that interesting?”

Marco and Jake stared at him. Ax mooed.

“You left out one teensy cilantro fact.” Marco said. “How do we stop them before they overrun the world?”

“I have no idea.” Erek sighed.

#12 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:42 PM

Rachel, Marco, Ax, Erek, and Tobias were positioned around the dining room table. Rachel and Marco were eating cold slices of cheese pizza. The gray light of dawn trickled through the window, reminding them all how late they had been up.

(An estimated eighteen hours remain to find a solution.) Ax said.

“Eighteen hours to save the world.” Marco groaned. “I need some sleep.”

“Actually,” Erek announced. “Our figures suggest that the monster population doesn’t grow steadily. It leaps every night at the full moon. So six o’clock tonight can be consider the point of no return for Earth, when the monsters have not actually overrun Earth, but their doing so is inevitable.”

“I’m too tired for math.” Marco groaned

(Quit whining.) Tobias snarled. He had ended up watching the barn all night, since Ax had failed to relive him. Tobias obviously needed his sleep.

(I revise: An estimated twelve hours remain to find a solution.) Ax said.

“I think we should be searching for a way to repair the mutated DNA.” Erek suggested.

“Well if you can magically find a solution in twelve hours, please do.” Rachel sneered. “Otherwise, we should be realistic and find a way to exterminate these monsters!”

“You should be realistic-“ Erek started, then got a startled look on his face. “Does anybody hear that?”

“Hear what?” Rachel demanded.

“No, of course you don’t hear it.” Erek said. “Turn on the TV!”

Marco walked skeptically over to the counter and turned on the television.

(Aahh!) Tobias yelped. Everyone else winced as a high-pitched squeaking erupted from the television.

“They’ve started the gathering!” Erek yelled over the noise, changing the channels rapidly. Every station was emitting the same noise. Only he could detect the subtle slight differences in the sound. “They’ve hijacked your satellites orbiting Earth! Each one is transmitting a location for the dogs to go to!”

“Wait, wait, go back!” Rachel said. She thought she had seen the flash of a picture between static stations.

Erek flipped a few stations back, and looked in amazement at the television. There was a flickering picture of a man in a suit on the screen. He was yelling to be heard over the high pitched noise in the background.

“-you saying, Gladys?” He yelled. “What’s wrong with the signal? Not our signal? Ours is the only- We’re still broadcasting?”

He turned to face the screen, and plastered a smile on his face. “Good morning, viewers!”

“There seems to be a global incident!” He yelled. “Concerning our planets communications! On every station in the world except for ours, there is a mysterious high-pitched signal!”

His voice dropped. “Gladys, what the hell is this high-pitched signal?”

There was a pause.

“I don’t care if the government wants to use our channel! I need to tell our viewers something!”

There was another pause.

“We are the only newstation broadcasting right now!” He yelled. “I have about a billion people watching me right now, this is my big break! Tell those (Bleep!) government (Bleep!) to go (Bleep!) themselves!”

(What do those bleeping noises represent?) Ax asked curiously.

A darkly dressed man walked onto the screen and grabbed the newscaster by his shoulder, yanking him roughly off the screen.

“They represent the end of his career.” Rachel said.

A few seconds later, another man sat down in the chair. “This is an official announcement: Do not attempt to use any communication device. They are all off-line due to technical difficulties with the satellites. Your government has this under control.”

Erek got a sick look on his face. “What if the yeerks find out about this?”

(How can they not?) Tobias said. (It’s pretty hard to miss.)

“I wonder where they’re broadcasting from.” Erek said worriedly. “Only the Pemalite ship and our transmitter here is powerful enough to pull this off. But if they have the Pemalite ship in an unsecured area, the yeerks could track-”

“Through this station, we have received news from the International Space Station. Their story will seem incredible, but they have live footage to back it up.” The man said. He leaned towards the camera, and the screen switched to a cook backdrop.

“Five bucks say the yeerks found the Opnyso.” Marco said quickly.

Erek looked at Marco, and Rachel glared at him reprovingly. But when Erek turned around, Rachel quietly placed a five-dollar bill on the table.

“Oh my God, Janet, look a this!” A voice whispered from behind the camera. “You’re never gonna believe this!”

The camera swung around for a second, and they saw a briefly flash of a floating woman pulling herself towards the camera. Then the screen turned back to the porthole, where an amazing scene was unfolding.

The Opnyso was hanging in space, like some giant green dog. Crawling all over the surface and conjuring up un avoidable images of fleas were the Chee, attaching numerous satellite dishes to the ship’s head.

“What the hell are those things doing?” A man yelled from somewhere. Apparently, all of the astronauts had abandoned whatever they were doing.

(I see the bleeping noise was not used this time.) Ax said smugly, having figured out on his own what the sound meant.

Rachel smirked and picked up the ten dollars, when a Bugfighter rocketed dangerously close to the porthole. There was a yelp, and the camera jumped backwards. “What was that?”

TSEWW! TSEEW!

A red beam sliced into the Opnyso, and Chee began tumbling off into outerspace. Erek cried out, and Marco triumphantly snatched the money out of Rachel’s hand.

“Come on, green dog spaceship!” One of the astronauts yelled.

“Those robot punks were stealing our satellites! Get em’ bugs!” Another yelled.

The Animorphs were taken aback for a second, before realizing he was referring to the shape of the bugfighter.

“Can’t we do anything?” The cameraman asked desperately.

“We shouldn’t get involved!” The astronaut Janet said. “We don’t know who the bad guys are!”

“Neither do I.” Marco muttered darkly. Erek whirled around and gave Marco a look that said that he should be happy Erek didn’t have the Pemalite crystal right now.

Suddenly, the man from the newstation appeared on the screen again. “Take no action against anyone!”

The screen flickered back to the space station. “You’d better tell that to John, he’s trying to use the canadarm-”

The screen flipped back to the man. “Stop him!”

The screen flipped back to the ISS, and it showed the camera pointing at the floor and bouncing up and down. The cameraman was running for John, it seemed.

(Why do we keep seeing that yelling man instead of your primitive space dwelling? Isn’t your planet interested in this?) Ax asked.

(The Chee took down all of the other satellites.) Tobias explained. (We only have one channel to transmit information on. When that government guy wants to talk, he has to bring the station back to himself.)

(That is a typically primitive system.) Ax said. Then he burst into laughter.

The camera was position behind a man, who was holding a joystick. Out of the window, a large robotic arm was moving through it’s warm-up sequences.

(Does this John person plan to attack the bugfighters using that?) Ax laughed. (I know that even humans cannot be that primitive.)

“It was supposed to be a peaceful vessel.” Erek said coldly. “It was designed purposefully without weapons.”

(That will certainly be very useful to them when they are blasted to their constituent atoms.) Ax said.

“John!” Janet yelled. The camera turned, and showed her racing up the corridor. “How do you know what the bugs are doing? Maybe they’re saving us!”

“Hey, guys, they’re changing back!” Jake yelled unexpectedly from the basement.

Jake had been watching Cassie and the vampire steak for the last fifty minutes. They were now on their way back to human, and both had some serious explaining to do.

Everyone at the table looked at the basement door, then looked at the TV.

“Go.” Erek rolled his eyes and picked up the TV, transferring the plug from the outlet to a socket in his chest.

Everyone piled into the elevator, eyes glued to the TV. John and Janet were busy wrestling with the joystick.

“This would kill as a TV show.” Marco commented.

“That one’s aiming straight for us!” The cameraman yelled, pointing to a bugfighter rocketing towards them. “Still against attacking them?”

Janet quickly decided that the ‘bugs’ deserved no better treatment than their earthly counterparts, and gave John control of the joystick. “Squish ‘em.”

John yanked the joystick to the right, and the canadarm connected with the bugfighter like a bat hitting a baseball. The outer shell of the bugfighter ripped open, and two Taxxons spilled into outerspace, legs wiggling in agony. The wreckage spiraled off into the distance.

“What was that?” Rachel exploded. “Don’t bugfighters have shields and stuff?”

(Yes, they do.) Ax said. (But they are only to guard against energy assaults. In space fights, it is rare to make physical contact with anything anymore. Long ago, my ancestors battled with missiles, and could protect against them quite well. In recent times, shielding a ship from physical attacks would not be cost effective.)

“So the yeerks are being cheap?” Marco laughed.

(Actually, I do not think the yeerks were anticipating such a crude assault.) Ax said.

TSEEW! TSEEW! TSEEW! TSEEW!

Two Bugfighter blew past the viewport, firing angrily. The canadarm intercepted one of them, and the belly of the bugfighter sliced open. But the space station was damaged just as badly.

(Your space station does not happen to have shielding, does it?) Ax asked sadly.

(Not really.) Tobias said, as screen was bathed in red emergency light. (They’re running on backup power now.)

“I’m killing the lights!” Somebody yelled, and the screen went dark. The voices of panicking astronauts could still be heard.

The screen was briefly illuminated by an explosion outside of the window, and the astronauts cheered.

“I think I can draw some of the bugfighters away.” Erek said, heading towards the main tree. Jake ran past him, glancing quickly at the TV in his hands.

“They’ve changed back.” Jake gasped, his hands on his knees. “But something’s up with Cassie, she’s a wolf.”

Rachel marched over to holding area, and saw a wolf sitting where the werewolf used to be.

“Cassie?” Rachel demanded. The wolf growled.

Jake grabbed Ax and shook him roughly. “What’s wrong with Cassie?’

Ax, with applaudable restraint, pushed Jake away gently. (The Escafil technology was never meant to be used in conjunction with other Zero-space technology. We have a strict prohibition of morphing during the Z-Space leap upon our spaceships.)

“What are you trying to say?” Rachel snarled.

(When the Chee’s virus transformation took effect, was Cassie in wolf morph?) Ax asked.

Rachel remembered that Cassie was supposed to have been morphing a wolf, and nodded.

(Tobias said that Cassie was in wolf morph when she was attacked by the werewolf.) Ax said. (Z-space is inherently unpredictable. During the incompatible matter transferences, it may be possible that Cassie was ‘lost in the shuffle’, so to speak.)

“What can we do about it?” Jake asked.

(There is nothing we can do about it.) Ax said calmly. (All that remains of the process is this wolf.)

“That’s it?” Rachel yelled. “She’s just gone?”

(Cassie was the victim of unfortunate-) Ax started

Rachel slugged him in the face, and Ax yelled, grabbing his nose. A blue liquid poured between his fingers.

“Everything is your fault!” She yelled, while Ax stared at her speechlessly. “And not just you, every damn alien that ever decided to come to Earth! The Yeerks, the Chee, and your stupid brother most of all!”

FWAPP!

(Elfangor is not stupid.) Ax said angrily, his tail blade an inch from her neck. (I should remove your head for such a remark!)

Jake stepped between Rachel and Ax’s tail, looking uncomfortable. “Rachel is just trying to pick a fight. Ax, lower your tail.”

(I will not tolerate such blatantly disrespectful comments about my brother!) Ax snapped.

“So you’re not going to listen to me. Your Prince.” Jake said.

(On my homeworld, we have a saying: Obedience before pleasure, and honor before obedience.) Ax said. (So with all due respect, Prince Jake, no I am not.)

Jake threw up his hands and stepped backwards. “Fine! Kill each other. See if I care!”

Fortunately, they didn’t get a chance to. An ear-splitting, eardrum-bursting whine exploded through the basement.

(AHHH!) Tobias screamed, falling from the air and twitching on the ground.

Ax grabbed his ears and accidentally sliced into Rachel’s shoulder. Jake fell to his knees.

There was a click, and the whine dropped to a bearable level, but everyone felt their skin tingling.

“Sorry!” Erek yelled, peering out from behind the tree. “That was the transmitter. I turned it on to the same station as the Pemalite Ship, and the transmitter here is more powerful. The yeerks should lock on to our signal and leave the ISS and the Opnyso alone.”

“That’s nice and all,” Marco yelled back. “But doesn’t that mean the yeerks are going to be coming here?”

“Yeah.” Erek said. “But at least the other Chee and those poor astronauts are safe.”

“But we’re not!” Marco yelled.

There was a loud rumbling noise above them.

(What was that?) Tobias asked nervously.

“I think that was the house being stormed by yeerk troops.” Erek said. “That was fast.”

“Erek!” Rachel and Jake yelled at the same time.

“We’re about a mile underground.” Erek reassured them. “And the basement ceiling is made out of reinforced Pemalite biometal. It would take them weeks to get down here.”

The elevator made an unexpected dinging noise, and climbed upwards to pick up some passengers.

“Or they could just take the elevator!” Marco yelled.

“But-“ Erek stammered. “How’d they guess the security code?”

“Erek, when this is over, we are going to have a long, long talk about your fixation on the number six.” Marco said.

#13 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:43 PM

A young man, about twenty, stepped through the doorway, swinging his dracon beam back and forth. When nothing suspicious revealed itself to him, he hissed into his walkie-talkie. “Pok, Terry, Hobbes, let’s go!”

A Hork-Bajir known as Pok eased himself through the narrow doorframe, followed by two middle-aged men who’s names logically must have been Terry and Hobbes.

One of the middle-aged man snatched the walkie-talkie from the young man. “Eleri, I told you that wasn’t necessary. And my name is not Terry, it’s Meridai 538!”

Hobbes shrugged. He didn’t mind people calling him by his host’s name.

“We don’t want any humans to know we’re yeerks, duh.” Eleri said.

Meridai gestured wordlessly to the seven-foot alien behind them.

“Fine, I’ll call you Meridai.” Eleri said. "Now, you take the upstairs, while Pok and I check out this floor.”

Meridai pulled out a hand-held signal tracer and consulted it. “Our target is downstairs, Eleri. The distometer is acting up, though. According to it, we’d have to tunnel about a mile under the surface.”

Meridai chuckled, but neither of his companions cracked a smile.

“Hey,” Hobbes said. “Do you hear that?”

Every fell silent, and they heard the faint sound of a shower upstairs.

“Someone must be up there.” Eleri said excitedly. “Let’s go check it out!”

Hobbes grabbed Eleri’s arm before he could race off. “It’s probably a decoy, or just an innocent human. I’ll go check it out, you three head down.”

Hobbes crept quietly upstairs, his dracon beam drawn. Eleri sighed disappointedly and walked over to the basement door.

“I’ll go first.” Eleri said, and started kicking at it with his booted foot.

Pok looked at Meridai. “Grubs these days. Much derskash to the human culture.”

Meridai sighed his agreement, and tapped Eleri on the shoulder. “There’s a security keypad. This is definitely the work of the bandits.”

“Well, you’re the code breaker.” Eleri sneered. “Get to it.”

Meridai pulled out his mechkey set. It was state of the art, designed to break even the toughest locks. But when he searched for a sub-atomic code signature, it turned up blank. He ran the search again, and received the same result. Something must have been screwing up the electronics in this place.

“Get comfortable.” Meridai groaned. “I’ll have to brute force this thing.”

He pulled on a thick glove to protect against any booby traps the Andalites may have put on it, and began taping at the keypad. With 9 digits to choose from, and a limit of twelve digits, the possibilities were endless.

0. Nothing happened, not that he expected it to. He hit the clear, and tried again.

1. Clear.

2. Yawn, Clear.

4. Clear

5. Meridai itched to skip right to the eight digit ovens, but this was the procedure taught during training. No andalite in their right mind would have a one digit-

He pressed the six button, and the door swung open.

“Woah.” Eleri said, impressed. “That was fast. Nice burrito, Meridai.”

He clapped him on the shoulder and walked into the elevator. Pok followed him.

“Wait!” Meridai commanded. It had to be a trap. “This is- too easy.”

“Warning,” A deep voice said, making them all jump. “The speed restrictions of the elevators have been deactivated. If you cannot withstand fifteen to thirty gravities of acceleration, please exit the elevator NOW, and do not pull the switch upon the wall. Thank you.”

“They just try scare us.” Pok grumbled out. “Dusi fine.”

Eleri reached for the lever on the wall.

“Wait! What if they want us to think it’s not a trap, but it is?” Meridai said.

“What if they want us think they think we think it’s not trap?” Pok argued.

“But what if they want us to think that it’s not a trap, and they think that we’ll think that it’s not-”

Eleri impatiently pulled the lever, and they shot into the darkness at a deadly thirty Pemalite gravities.

(Sweet move, Ax-man.) Tobias said, hearing the elevator crash to a stop.

(It was nothing, really.) Ax said modestly, still tapping at the control panel. (I have also created a new security code that, combined with the Chee’s anti-signature technology, will prevent further yeerk troops from entering.)

“So if you have four digits.” Marco lectured a few yards away. “That makes 9 x 9 x 9 x 9 possibilities, or...”

“6,561 possibilities!” Erek said, amazed. “That’s incredible! I’ve never looked at it that way before! A whole new, secure world has opened up for me!”

(Actually, Marco, you are not using the correct formula...) Ax trailed off as the elevator shuddered.

Two large, clawed hands forced the elevator doors apart a crack. Rachel narrowed her eyes. “Something survived.”

There was a pained grunting noise, and the heavy metal doors crunched apart. Out staggered the largest Hork-Bajir any of them have ever seen, looking bewildered.

“Where I?” Pok demanded, holding Eleri’s dracon beam. His fingers didn’t fit inside of the trigger, he had to use his claw instead.

(You are where you do not belong.) Ax said, stepping towards him. Ax looked like a miniature pony compared to Pok.

Pok growled. “Andalite filth!”

TSEEW!

Ax skittered to the side, barely dodging the dracon beam. It created a small crater in the ground, igniting the grass around it.

Pok, despite his host’s choppy speech, was actually brilliant. He realized that those Andalites in human morph could demorph and butcher him in a second, no matter how large his host was. He also realized that this whole area looked highly flammable, and pointed his dracon beam at the largest tree.

“No!” Erek yelled. “That’s the control tree! It’s packed with electronics!”

Ax leapt forward.

TSEEW!

The tree reacted better than Pok would have expected. The trunk went up in a column of fire, and every individual leave started exploding.

“No! No! No!” Erek yelled.

FWAPP!

The Dracon beam went flying into the air, and Ax and Pok began fighting furious

POP! POP! POP! POP!

The leaves on the tree exploded, raining down sparks in all directions and setting the grassy field ablaze. Pok had unwittingly picked a perfect target.

“I have to go shield the transmitter!” Erek yelled. “You guys get out of here!”

Marco and Jake jumped to their feet, but Rachel grabbed their arms.

“Cassie’s still down here!” Rachel said.

“It’s a wolf-” Marco started, but Jake cut him off.

“Erek!” Jake yelled at the retreating android, covering his head as a shower of sparks flecked his skin. “Where do you turn off the holding area force fields?”

“Across the field!” Erek yelled, waving his hand towards the far end of the basement. “There’s an emergency release switch! On the cilantro pine tree!”

“Tobias, help take out that Hork-Bajir!” Jake snapped. “Rachel’s the fastest, you go pull the release switch. Marco and I will get to the cells!”

Jake kneeled down, and his skin started shifting. Marco had no idea what he was morphing.

“What are you doing?” Marco yelled.

“Go!” Jake barked, and everybody took off

FWAPP!

SWISH!

Pok and Ax circled each other, trading blows. Ax was visibly tiring.

“Die, cilantro Andalite!” Pok growled.

“TSEER!”

Pok looked up, and instantly regretted it. Tobias raked his talons across his eyes, blinding him in his left eye.

“GRASH DERNASH!” Pok bellowed.

FWAPP! Pok felt the cilantro andalite cut into his leg, and slashed downwards. Ax took the wrist blade on his left arm.

(Yeerk filth!) Ax said defiantly, and slashed at Pok. Pok ducked, seeing the hawk dive downwards again. The bird fluttered past harmlessly.

Small patches of fire were now joining together, lowering the number of safe paths. Rachel ran as fast as she could, swearing to her scorched feet that if she lived, she would find a way to morph shoes.

“Pine tree, pine tree!” Rachel said to herself, leaping over a short wall of fire. She looked around for a pine tree desperately, but saw only fire and smoke everywhere she looked.

A cluster of leaves burst over her head, and tiny bits of red-hot metal pelted her face.

“What kind of morons make their machines out of trees, anyway?” She screamed to nobody, slapping at the burning embers.

Meanwhile, Marco had gotten himself thoroughly lost. A patch of young, green trees had caught fire, filling the air with smoke. He coughed, picked a direction at random, and dashed forward.

Pok blocked the tail of the cilantro andalite, wondering where the bird had gotten to. If his left eye had still been functioning, he would have seen the hawk hopping harmlessly towards him, holding a not so harmless device.

TSEEW!

Pok’s left leg disintegrated, and he toppled over sideways. Ax swung his tail, and Pok lost a far more important body part.

(Ax, follow me!) Tobias said, dropping the dracon beam and taking off. (The others are- actually, I don’t know what the others are doing. I just know they’re somehow going to need us to save them.)

(Marco!) Jake called.

“Jake!” Marco yelled.

(Marco, you’re headed the wrong way.) Jake yelled. Marco spun around, and saw a wolf bound into his clearing. (The holding area is this way.)

Jake took off, and Marco hurried thankfully after him.

Quietly, and without warning, the glowing orb above them winked out. The only light was the eerie flickering orange light from the fire. Marco swore as he accidentally crashed into a burning tree.

Tobias also swore. Through the smoke, he thought he could make out a figure surrounded by fire. (Rachel, is that you? You’re in a very bad spot, you know!)

“I know that!” Rachel yelled. “Just tell me how to get to the freaking pine tree!”

(You’re right on top of it!) Tobias yelled. (It’s that tree that’s on fire!)

“Well that narrows it down!” Rachel bellowed. “I’m being cooked alive here, Tobias!”

(To your left!) Tobias yelled. Rachel gritted her teeth and grabbed the burning lever.

Jake and Marco emerged panting next to Cassie’s cell just as the red button started blinking. Marco slammed his fist onto it, and the force field disappeared. Inside, the wolf was whimpering pitifully, but when Marco came closer it growled at him.

“How do you plan on getting her out of here?” Marco asked. Jake barked at the wolf, and it walked over to him submissively.

(I acquired the alpha male, remember?) Jake said, racing for the forest. He yapped at the wolf and it ran after him. Marco paused to get his catch as much breath as he could from the smoky air.

“Hey!” A hoarse voice yelled from far off. “Hey!”

Marco pushed his way towards the voice, scrambling over a fallen tree.

“HEY!” The voice screamed. Marco coughed and emerged next to another holding cell. The entire inside area was filled with smoke, and he could barely see the steak pressed up against the force field, screaming at the top of her lungs. “HEY!”

“What do you want?” Marco demanded. “I’m trying to get out of a burning alien wilderness here!”

“So am I! Let me out!” She yelled, coughing and slamming her palms against the force field. “I’m suffocating!”

“You still seem to be able to scream awful loud.” Marco commented, squinting at her mouth.

“Open the door, or whatever the hell this is!” She gasped, sliding down the force field.

Marco looked at her sideways. “Are you going to try to bite me again?”

“No!” She rasped, falling onto the floor. “I swear! I wasn’t in control of myself! It was the person in my head.”

Marco, now having heard her pronounce three ‘W’ words flawlessly, pressed the red button. The steak fell forward, gasping for air. The fire inside of the cell roared and leapt towards the new supply of oxygen, and she was almost yanked back inside by the backdraft.

Marco punched the red button again, trapping the fire inside of the cell.

“Come on. You’re not safe yet.” He said. The steak rolled over and gave him the evil eye.

(Come on!) Jake said. He, Ax, Rachel, and the wolf were running for the elevator.

(Not the elevator!) Tobias yelled, floating high above for a clear view everyone. (You never take the elevator! Take a hard left and head for the stairs! Marco, Vampire, you are going the wrong way!)

“My name is not ‘vampire’!” She snarled weakly, staggering through the burning grass. “It is-”

“Don’t care!” Marco said. They came to the stairwell door, which was already flung wide open. The other five were dashing up a mile’s worth of stairs. Ax was ahead, but tiring, and Jake and the wolf were catching up. Tobias had simply floated straight up on the hot air created by the fire and was waiting for them at the top.

Five minutes later, Jake and his follower came to the final step. Ax came thirty seconds later, making loud wheezing noises through his bloody nose. Rachel was right behind him, holding her side.

(Open the door!) Jake yelled. Ax grabbed the doorknob with his delicate hand and pushed open the door.

(NOOO!) Tobias yelled. (Don’t open the door until everybody’s here!)

It was too late. The massive vacuum that was the basement began flavor in air.

(Don’t you remember your fire safety?) Tobias ranted at Jake, as they dashed through the door. Rachel grabbed the corner of the wall and yanked herself to safety. (Huh?)

Ax snagged Tobias before he got sucked back down, and forced his way through the door against the suction.

Marco and the vampire steak were a normal staircase’s length away from the exit when the suction hit them. The steak was pulled down a few steps before she managed to catch herself.

“What’s happening?” She screamed.

Marco didn’t answer and, using each step like a ladder rung, started pulling himself upwards. The vampire grudgingly followed his example.

(Come on!) Tobias yelled. Marco pulled himself up to the final step, and strained to reach the edge of the floor. (Reach for it!)

Jake leaned forward and bit into Marco’s arm. The wolf, mistaking Jake’s intent, snarled and snapped at Marco’s head.

“Ow! Ow! Pain!” Marco said, as Jake dragged him around the corner. The wolf snapped at him again, and Jake growled to make her stop.

“Out of the way!” Erek yelled from somewhere below. “Out of the way!”

The android was zooming up the stairs, flames licking his heels. The stairs were crumbling away literally milliseconds after his foot left them.

The vampire screamed. Erek, like some action movie hero, snatched her up, dove through the doorway, and slammed the door in one fluid movement. The dull red metal door immediately glowed white hot.

(Will that door hold?) Ax asked.

“It should, at least for the first couple of days.” Erek said. Then he added sadly, “That fire is going to burn for at least a week.”

“What were you doing down there?” Marco asked, panting. “I thought you’d have been gotten out.”

“I told you, shielding the transmitter.” Erek said. “If that thing had overheated, the resulting explosion would have killed everything within a half-mile radius.”

(Oh. That wouldn’t have been fun.) Jake said. (So, is that thing still transmitting?)

“Yup.”

(Can yeerks still pick up the signal? You know, track it?)

Erek closed his eyes, and listened for the high-pitched whining. “It’s pretty quiet, but if I can hear it there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to.”

(Let’s go somewhere else.) Jake suggested.

#14 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:44 PM

Erek strolled down the sidewalk, holding a leash. Trotting next to him and attached to the other end of the leash was the wolf, complete with a collar and an ID tag. Erek looked passably like any other kid taking his dog for a walk.

Jake and Rachel trailed a cilantro bit behind, looking sadly at what used to be Cassie. Wedged tightly between them was the nameless vampire steak, still covered in burns of every degree from her lack of the morphing power. Between their morphing suits and punk attire, the three of them looked passably like any group of circus freak show escapees out for a walk.

Tobias, Marco, and Ax flew cover in bird morph. They looked passably like three birds flying cover.

Melissa wasn’t here. You don’t want to know what happened to her. You really, really don’t. All you need to know is that it was very disturbing, and all of the Animorphs were emotionally scarred for life.

What was that? You want to know what happened to her? You really, really do? You want to be disturbed, and emotionally scarred for life?

Too bad.

(Pedestrians ahead.) Tobias warned. They were avoiding as many people as possible in case the wolf could still transmit the werewolf virus, or the vampire suddenly went bite happy.

Erek pulled his ‘dog’ down a side path, and the others followed him. “So, any plans?”

(I have no idea.) Marco said. Rachel shrugged.

“Ax? Erek?” Jake said. “You two know about all of this Z-Space stuff. Is there some way to stop the monsters from transforming?”

(My knowledge of Zero-Space physics pales in comparison to Erek’s.) Ax admitted reluctantly. (At the time I was supposed to be learning it, I was distracted by the tail fighting competition that was being held later on.)

“Erek?” Jake prodded.

“Let me try to simplify this.” Erek said, with the same non-offensive tone Ax used all the time. “Z-Space is outside of the universe, yet the two are closely intertwined. Every piece of matter in this universe affects the configuration of Zero-Space in uncertain ways.”

(Yes.) Ax piped in. (For example, a blade of grass in a field somewhere may change a three day trip in Z-Space to a year long journey, or a grain of dirt may make the morphing time limit three minutes or so longer.)

“You mean the time limit isn’t always two hours?” Rachel said.

(No. The time limit is because of the fact that matter cannot stay still in Z-Space. After a cilantro while, it has drifted out of range of the morpher. The time this takes varies.) Ax explained. (As a matter of fact, the base time limit is not even two hours. It was determined to be two of your hours, five of your minutes, and thirteen of your seconds. We say two hours to err on the side of caution, because the time limit has never dropped below that, except in the immediate presence of a cook hole or super nova, where Z-Space is most unpredictable.)

(Wow.) Marco said. Erek cleared his throat loudly.

(I apologize.) Ax said. (Please, continue.)

“Well, a large piece of matter, such as your moon, affects Zero-Space predictably.” Erek said. “In Earth’s case, it eases the transition of matter to Z-Space. Have you ever found that you can morph easier when the full moon is out?”

(Now that you mention it, morphing is a lot easier.) Tobias said. (I’ve never noticed that before.)

“Well, the same goes for the monsters.” Erek said. The steak suddenly looked interested. “Crayak’s virus works through Z-Space, so ours does too. It’s sort of like the morphing power.”

“It’s voluntary?” Rachel yelled, looking like she was going to kill the steak. Erek quickly shook his head.

“No, no.” he said. “It’s so effortless to transform during the full moon, they almost can’t help it. The slightest thought of transforming, and they do. One werewolf, well known among us Chee, also was a Buddhist, and avoided transforming every night of the full moon through meditating.”

(So that’s your solution.) Marco said dryly. (We teach all of these monsters Zen before the full moon rises tonight.)

“I’m just providing you with information.” Erek said. “And besides, I think you have your religions scrambled.”

(You know, I actually understood that.) Tobias said. (You did a much better burrito of explaining than Mr. King did.)

“Thanks.” Erek said. “So, anyone have a stroke of genius?”

“Why don’t we blow up the moon?” Rachel asked.

“That would not only have catastrophic effects on your planet’s ecosystem,” Erek said. “But it would have unpredictable effect on Z-Space. Every monster might be stuck in their transformed states permanently.”

The steak shuddered. “I wouldn’t wish this curse to be permanent on my worst enemy.”

“And you only have to deal with the vampire’s mind.” Erek said. “Werewolves endure a hundred times the madness.”

(If Earth is taken over by monsters,) Ax gasped suddenly. (The accumulated matter would block all transportation through this section of Z-Space!)

(A Z-Space traffic jam?) Marco laughed.

(It is not funny!) Ax snapped. (The majority of the yeerks ships would be trapped in this sector of the galaxy during the full moon.)

“That’s at least on consolidation if we fail.” Jake grumbled

(No it is not!) Ax said. (They would attempt to correct this problem.)

“Like...Correct it?” Rachel asked hopefully.

(No, correct it.) Ax said.

“Ah.” Rachel understood. “We can’t let them do that.”

“What can we do?” Jake sighed. “I think this is hopeless.”

(No way!) Tobias said.

“I know, Tobias, we’re not-” Jake started.

(No, really!) Tobias yelled. (Look over there!)

(Oh, wow!) Marco said.

“What?” Rachel yelled.

(I can see into the living room of that house over there!) Tobias said. (Look at the TV!)

“You three might have superman vision, but I don’t.” Rachel said. “Which way is the house?”

(East.) Ax said. (Or port, or to your left.)

Rachel walked right up to the window and peered in. “Man, I can’t see!”

“Rachel!” Jake snapped, as she climbed up onto the porch and rang the doorbell.

“Hey, Rachel, wait-“ Erek called.

There was a shuffling noise, and the door opened. A woman stood inside, holding a half-eaten granola bar. “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, it’s an emergency.” Rachel said. “My friends and I need to see what’s happening on the TV.”

The woman looked skeptically at Rachel’s clothes, and then at her two suspicious looking ‘friends’. Then she saw Erek, and her face lifted.

“Erek King? Is that you?” She said.

Erek smiled. “Hey, Mrs. Hoffenburg.”

“How lovely to see you again!” She said. Jake looked back and forth at them, puzzled.

“If it’s not too much trouble, could my friends and I come inside?” He asked. “We had to get out of the house in a hurry, and it’s really cold out here.”

“Of course, sweetie.” She said, after a moment of hesitation. “Missy and Taffy will love to see you again. I’m sure Taffy’ll get along great with your dog!”

“Um, this dog isn’t too friendly.” Erek said, with a glance at the wolf. “I’d better tie her up out here.”

“Well, okay. Come on in, dears!” Mrs. Hoffenburg smiled and walked inside.

“I used to baby-sit her daughter, Missy.” Erek muttered as they went inside. “And the dog, Taffy, naturally adored me. Mrs. Hoffenburg thinks I’m the sweetest thing since apple pie.”

“Wouldn’t she be surprised, huh?” Rachel said snidely.

“Not now!” Jake hissed, a Mrs. Hoffenburg came back. She was holding a box of granola bars.

“Come into the living room.” She said, her voice slightly forced, with a sideways look at the vampire. “Any friend of Erek’s is- a friend of mine.”

Rachel and Erek plopped down on the couch. Jake and the steak sat down awkwardly next to them.

“So,” Mrs. Hoffenburg said, standing in front of the TV. Rachel tried to peer around her large form. “Erek, introduce me to your cilantro friends.”

“This is Rachel,” Erek said, pointing to Rachel. Rachel forced a smile. “That’s Jake, and that’s, uh-”

Jake nudged her, and the steak mouthed something. Erek made a small shrugging motion.

“I didn’t catch that last name, dear.” Mrs. Hoffenburg said, shifting so that she blocked the screen in it’s entirety.

“Would you move!” Rachel demanded. Then she added, too late, “Please?”

Mrs. Hoffenburg frowned deeply at her and sat down in a nearby seat. “No need to rude, now.”

Eliza, The steak mouthed illegibly. Erek shrugged helplessly, and turned away from her.

“That’s Jenny.” Erek said.

“Hello to you all. Granola bar, anyone?” Mrs. Hoffenburg thrust the box at them, making it seem more like a politely worded order.

Rachel and Eliza took one. Jake took one reluctantly, and crunched into it with a pained expression. Erek took two, and her smile returned.

“Erek!” Somebody shrieked. Erek spun around and scooped up a cilantro steak, dressed in a purple witch costume. It reminded Rachel with a pang of Sara. Hopefully, her mother and Butch had followed her instructions and contacted everyone even remotely related to the Animorphs. Right now, if everything had gone correctly, they all should have been heading for Utah. But with her mother there, Rachel would not be very surprised if they weren’t.

“Hey, Missy.” Erek said. Behind his hologram, his head was really watching the TV. “Nice witch costume.”

“I know. Mommy and I went to the Costume Stop yesterday and...” Missy went on and on about something none of them really cared about.

On the television was the crystal clear picture of the astronaut Janet, John and an unknown astronaut. When the unknown astronaut spoke, however, it was clear that he had been the one holding the camera back on the ISS. Because it was clear that they were no longer on the ISS.

“-pulled us right out of outerspace!” The cameraman gasped, sounding excited. Behind him was a strange blending of nature and technology, like all of the Chee’s creations. The familiar grassy floor of gently contrasting colors, the trees and flowers in an insane variety of hues, and the simple beauty of a central waterfall. It was all arranged in such a way that would make an earth artist weep.

“The Chee ship.” Erek whispered. “I can’t believe they let humans on.”

“Well, those guys did just get finished saving their butts.” Rachel whispered back. “I think we should remind them that they owe Homo Sapiens one huge favor.”

“There’s still one of those bug ships after us, and they just got finished blowing up the space station.” The cameraman said, grinning inappropriately. This was one of the most exciting moments in mankind’s history, and he couldn’t contain himself. “There goes a couple billion dollars!”

Eliza watched the television with her brow furrowed, understanding just about as much as Mrs. Hoffenburg.

“Too bad we lost the canadarm, we could give those b-----s the ol’ Earth one-two.” He nudged Janet. “Hey, what do you think of that name? Buggers, like their ships! I just thought of that right this moment, on the spot.”

John whispered something to him. He grinned sheepishly.

“Ah, whoops, sorry about that Orson.” He chuckled. “Guess that’s not too polite anyway, huh? Trying to kill us ain’t such great manners either, but maybe they’re just misunderstood.”

An unhologramed Chee walked onto the screen. “Make no mistake, human, the yeerks are not misunderstood. Do you think they destroyed your space station for your well being? Do you think they killed your fellow astronauts for their health? They would have let you asphyxiate in outerspace, if we had not gotten to you first. They are not nice aliens.”

All three of them looked shocked. They had never seen their rescuers in person before. Janet collected herself first

“Hello.” Janet said, extending her hand. “I’m Janet, this is John and Gary.”

“W-We’ve got a real live alien here!” Gary stammered. He grabbed the Chee’s hand and shook it up and down. “We’re the first humans to meet an alien!”

Jake made a scoffing noise, and Mrs. Hoffenburg looked at him.

“Just choked- on a raisin.” Jake said.

“Come.” The Chee said. “We would like to show you our spaceship.”

“We get a tour of the ship?” John said, amazed. “We-We thank you for your hospitality.”

He bowed, trying to be the marinated responsible one that established a good relationship, while Janet and Gary ran to follow their Chee host eagerly.

“Isn’t this exciting?” Mrs. Hoffenburg said. “Too bad it’ll turn out to be a hoax.”

“Come on.” Jake said, standing up. “We have to go.”

“Okay, dears.” Mrs. Hoffenburg said, not sounding too sorry. “Come back soon, Erek!”

Erek gently slid Missy onto the couch, and waved as he closed the front door. “See ya, Missy.”

Rachel blinked hard a couple of times and hopped off the porch. Jake chucked his barely eaten granola bar into a nearby waste basket. “Nasty stuff.”

“Gerbil feed.” Eliza agreed, tossing her uneaten one in with Jake’s.

“Hey, that’s a cute kid in there.” Rachel said to Erek under her breath.

“Yeah, Missy’s great.” Erek said with a knowing smile, and untied the wolf from the porch railing. “cilantro kids are like puppies, almost.”

That was a high compliment coming from Erek.

(Hey, what happened?) Marco complained. (We could see the TV, but I couldn’t hear anything.)

(They can tell us later.) Tobias said. (We had a couple of great ideas out here that we think will work.)

(Ahem.)

(Alright, Ax had two great ideas, and all three of us bung out one together.) Tobias said grumpily. (Jeez.)

#15 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:45 PM

“So you think that Hork-Bajir came here in a bugfighter?” Jake said, wandering around the front yard of the Chee house with his arms outstretched.

“Had to.” Marco yelled from up on the roof. “He didn’t walk here, and he’s too big to fit inside of any of the nearby cars. They must have landed somewhere near this house and never bother to uncloaked it.”

(I still don’t see a shimmer.) Tobias said. He was scanning the area from above to see if he could detect the telltale shimmering of a cloaked yeerk ship.

“I wouldn’t expect you to.” Erek called. “The ship that you saw shimmer was much bigger than a bugfighter. Bugfighters are easier to hide.”

(Fly morph.) Rachel groaned. She was going through as many morphs as she could think of, to see if they could detect it. (Nothing. Are you sure this bugfighter is even here?)

“Positive.” Marco yelled.

“I’m about to scan in concentrated ultraviolet! If you don’t want your insides cooked, you should take cover.” Erek said. Everybody stopped what they were doing and ducked down. In Erek’s vision, everything was bathed in a freaky violet light, but there was no bugfighter. “Nothing.”

(I wouldn’t expect you to find anything.) Ax said. He was doing the same thing as Jake, but in the backyard. (The yeerks stole their cloaking technology from Andalites.)

(Hey!) Rachel yelled. She was in bat morph, and flying above the roof. (I think I ‘see’ something. Marco, go to the center of the roof and stand on your toes!)

Marco did, and felt his fingertips brush something. “Man, I walked under that spot like six time!”

(Maybe next time you won’t be so short.) Rachel said. Marco stuck his tongue out.

(Ahh, short range sonar.) Ax said. (Another example of technology so old we have stopped defending against it. This will make an interesting report for the Andalite council when I return to the homeworld.)

“Everyone to the roof!” Jake said, beginning his morph to falcon. (What are we going to do with this thing anyway?)

(We’re have to catch up with the Opnyso.) Tobias said. (Right now they’re racing around Earth being chased by a pair of bugfighters. We’ve got to take them down, and then convince the Chee to help us.)

(What for?) Rachel asked.

(Tonight, we put on the biggest magic show the world has ever seen.)

(Weapons unlocked.) Ax announced, tapping at the control pad. (Main thrusters unlocked. Fuel cells unlocked. We now have sufficient control to launch, but many other systems are still offline. Should I unlock them, Prince Jake?)

Jake looked out of the window at the red glow of the setting sun. “Forget it. We’re barely going to make it as it is.”

They all simultaneously glared at Erek.

“Hey, back off.” Erek said, holding the wolf in his hands. He was sitting in the back and looking guilty. “I know exactly what you plan to do with this ship, and helping you unlock it would be a severe violation of my programming.”

“Yeah, yeah, we know.” Marco said. “Somehow, that doesn’t make me any less annoyed.”

(Launching.) Ax announced tersely. (The stabilizers are not online, so you may feel an initial jolt.)

The bugfighter growled like an old truck engine, and then started up with a bump. Everyone wobbled, but managed to stay on their feet.

(We are accelerating.) Ax said. (We should pass through your atmosphere in twenty to twenty-five of your minutes. After that, we should intersect the Opnyso and it’s pursuers in eight of your minutes.)

“They are everybody’s minutes!” Marco snapped. He was tense.

(So in about a half of your hour, we will be engaging two bugfighters in combat in our semi-workable state.) Ax said, already hard at work putting vital things such as shields, energy distribution, and secondary thrusters under their control. (What will be our battle plan?)

“Two quick shots, maximum power.” Marco said. “We come up behind them, and they think we’re here to reinforce them. Then we fire. If that fails, we cloak and skedaddle. We wait for their next go around for another shot.”

“The weapons are mine.” Rachel said, leaping for the seat.

(Prince Jake is already familiar with the weapons.) Ax pointed out. (We do not have time for you to learn how to use them.)

Rachel growled, but knew Ax was right. “Fine.”

Jake slid into the seat and grasped the large joystick. The sky outside of the viewport was growing darker and darker, until you could make out the turnips and the huge flaming chunk of metal.

“Flaming chunk of-” Jake gaped. “Ax, get out the way!”

Ax calmly ducked the ship under the red, burning shard of metal. (I think that was a piece of your space station, Prince Jake.)

“Okay,” Jake panted, clutching his rapidly thumping heart. “I’m okay.”

Outside was an artificial meteor storm of plastic and metal. Twisting, melted blobs of unidentifiable objects whizzed past them. Ax expertly maneuvered above the worst of it.

(Here they come.) Ax said. The radar blipped, with one red dot and two green dots forming a triangle on the screen. (Prepare yourself, Prince Jake.)

The Opnyso flew past them, the tips of the rear legs glowing a brilliant white. Two bugfighters zoomed after it, and Ax dove to join their formation.

“Positive, number thirty-two.” Their communication cackled. “Stick close.”

“Uh, positive, positive.” Jake stammered.

(Fire!) Ax shouted.

TSEEW! TSEEW!

One of the bugfighters exploded. The other only got hit in the rear thruster.

“Negative, you dapsen, Negative!”

(Fire again!) Ax yelled.

TSEEW! TSEEW!

The bugfighter rolled, and the two dracon shot passed within a hair’s width of either end. The it performed a neat about face and fired it’s own dracon beam.

TSEEW!

(Left thruster damaged!) Ax yelled. (You must get him, Prince Jake!)

TSEEW! TSEEW! TSEEW! TSEEW! TSEEW!

“Jake, the bugfighter’s gone! Stop before you drain all of the power.” Marco said, snatching the joystick and placing it in it’s socket. The lights had dimmed some. “I think you exploded the explosion’s explosion.”

(I will unlock the emergency power.) Ax said, a hint of annoyance in his voice. He started, keeping two eyes on the viewport and the others on the control pad.

Rachel tapped Eliza, who had her eyes squeezed shut. “You can open your eyes. The battle’s over.”

Eliza opened one eye, then closed it again. “It’s not the battle. I just don’t like outerspace. It’s too high up.”

(There is no ‘high up’ in outerspace.) Ax said semi-reassuringly. (There can be none when there is no gravity. There is a low and high within the confines of the ship’s artificial gravity, but in that range you are actually very low down.)

“We went into the sky, and we haven’t touched the ground yet.” Eliza grumbled, refusing to open her eyes. “It feels high up.”

(Perhaps you will feel better upon the Opnyso.) Ax said sympathetically. (This enclosed space is aggravating my claustrophobia. There is plenty of room for me, and it creates the illusion of a planet surface that may ease your acrophobia also.)

(If we can get on.) Tobias said grimly. (The Opnyso is hailing us. Open communications?)

“Do it.” Jake said.

The viewport instantly converted into a viewscreen. Maria the Chee’s holographic face appeared before them.

(How did I know it was going to be her?) Tobias said privately to them.

“Greetings,” Maria said, not looking surprised in the least to see them. “We thank you, Animorphs, for saving the Opnyso. We are indebted to you, and are pleased that you escaped the fate that threatens to befall the rest of your race. However, even though you have done much for us, we hope that one more request will not be taken in ill.”

Maria’s angry looking face was in contradiction to every word that came out of her mouth.

“That depends on what you want.” Jake said.

“We only ask this,” She said politely. “Turn off your transmitter! Please!”

Jake looked startled. “Excuse me?”

“We will withdraw our earlier refusal to allow you passage!” Maria pleaded. “We will bring along enough virus delicious humans to colonize a new planet, we have even found a very nice one and set it aside for you! Just turn off the transmitter!”

(Why is it so important that we turn off the transmitter?) Ax asked. (That is the only thing preventing the yeerks from pinpointing your position.)

“It is also preventing the DOGS from pinpointing our position!” Maria yelled. A look of realization passed over Erek’s face. “The loading was supposed to have started hours ago, and now we’ll have to leave some behind!”

Erek place the wolf on the floor and strode forward. “Maria, the transmitter can’t be deactivated anymore. It’s surrounded by oxygen starved fire. If I even opened the door, the results would be catastrophic.”

“I bet an Animorph could find a way to get down there.” Maria said, looking at Jake. “You could think of it as repayment for all the favors we did for you.”

“Favors you did for us?” Jake said angrily. “You need to repay all of the favors we did for you!”

“All of the spying we did for you.” Maria said, ticking them off on her fingers. “All the times we’ve posed as you. And your three astronauts we rescued.”

“Uh-uh,” Rachel said, jumping to her feet. “What about the time we went to the bottom of the ocean to reactivate the Opnyso? And when we went to get the Pemalite crystal for you, that you never even used? And, those astronauts saved you, not the other way around. And guess what? We just saved you again!”

“Not to mention,” Marco added. “This whole mess is your fault anyway.”

Maria turned red in the face, realizing there was no way she could top that. “And what’s your plan?”

She remained passive while they described it to her. Then she pursed her lips and said, “Deal.”

Everybody cheered in their heads.

(Time is short. This plan will have to be set in motion immediately.) Ax said. (Prepare for docking, Opnyso.)

The viewscreen flickered off. Ax piloted quickly over to the Opnyso. It quickly grew in size as they approached, until it filled the whole viewscreen.

(Where is the port?) Ax asked.

“Head for the head.” Erek said. As Ax swiveled the bugfighter in that direction, they all saw the extruding part of the head opening to closely resemble a dog with it’s mouth open.

(interesting.) Ax said, but made no further comments. As they flew inside of the ship, a red light scanned over them.

(Hello, friends.) A cheerful thought-speak voice said. (I’m sorry to see that your ship has class A twin dracon cannons. We’re going to have to deactivate those before you enter.)

Ax snarled as the weapons went off line.

(We’ve set the access code to a random number, which, if you request, we will give you upon your exiting. Have a nice stay!)

“If you request?” Marco shook his head. “I’ve gotta hand it to them, your creators had nerve, Erek.”

“Land over there.” Erek said, pointing to a field of waving grass. “Turn the thrusters off so you don’t burn anything.”

Ax aimed the ship in that direction, closed his eyes, and turned off the thrusters. Miraculously, the ship continued on it’s course.

(Amazing!) Ax gasped.

“Localized artificial gravity control.” Erek said with a shrug like it was no big deal.

The ship touched down in the field, with it’s hatch touching the wall. The bugfighter’s hatch opened, revealing a panel.

The Animorphs, who had been through this routine before, sorted themselves by species. First Ax touched the panel, then Jake for the humans, then Tobias, then Erek pressed the wolf’s paw against it. Erek then tapped a red button below it, and the wall slid open, revealing the same beautiful landscape they had seen the last time they were here. Eliza looked awed.

(Better?) Ax asked her, stepping into the grassy field.

“Better.” She sighed, falling onto the ground and hugging it. Ax dug his front hoof into the ground.

“Hey, don’t eat the grass.” Erek warned. “It’s electronic, like every other plant on here, and I take it Andalites aren’t designed to eat silimunior.”

A Chee was approaching them rapidly from the other side of the field. Jake turned to face him.

“Greetings,” He said curtly. “I’m Chee-perzo. My human name is Frank, and I welcome you to the Opnyso. I wish that we had time to show you around the ship, but we need to get to the Main Tree immediately.”

“We understand.” Jake said. Frank nodded, and motioned for them to follow him.

“Let’s go, Eliza.” Rachel called. Eliza started to get up, but Frank stopped her.

“No, let her stay here. Her presence is not required at the Main Tree.” Frank said quickly.

“She will be no trouble.” Erek said. Frank made a face.

“Very well.” Frank sighed as if they had asked him for a kidney. “Everybody come along.”

Erek bent to one knee and clipped the leash to the wolf’s collar. Frank walked towards the giant arched doorway through which he had entered, without looking behind him.

“Okay,” Jake hissed quietly. “We walk in a single file. Ax in front, Erek in the back. These guys are acting funny.”

“Actually, it is tradition that the Main Tree be occupied by only those who are necessary.” Erek said. “Perfectly normal.”

(Ah. A Pemalite security measure.) Ax said wisely.

“No. Pemalites believed that the least amount of people possible should be working at all times.” Erek corrected him.

Frank paused in the archway several yards ahead of them and turned around. “Please, we must hurry.”

They walked towards him, and he turned back around and began moving again. Through the archway, and into a hallway that seemed to be made of swirling light.

“That was the Corridor of a Million Shades.” Erek said hurriedly as they stepped into a transparent tube. He wished he had time to give a proper tour. “Unique to the Opnyso and designed by Chee-zorro, also known as Erek King.”

(You made that?) Tobias asked, as the transparent tube slowly lifted them onto another floor.

“Yup. I did most of the hallways on this ship, they were my specialty.” Erek said proudly. “And this. This is the Main Tree.”

It was the mother of all trees. A silver-bluish trunk about as wide as a house, with thousands of curving branches extending from the top. The branches, instead of leaves, had long strands of red vines twisting around each other. The Main Tree wasn’t as tall as some of the trees the Animorphs had seen, but it was impressive nonetheless.

“Wow. Nice tree.” Rachel said. That was the biggest understatement of all time.

(Impressive.) Ax said. (What are the holographic capabilities?)

“Well.” Erek answered, typing on a panel embedded into the surface of the tree. “If I turn off the power to everything else, we’ll get a couple million GU’s.”

“Is that good?” Jake asked.

(It is very good.) Ax said. (Let us begin phase one.)

#16 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:48 PM

“Team Zorro closing in upon x-axis position. Give me more cable.” Erek announced over the Chee net. Jake nodded, able to hear him over the Chee net enabled headphones he had been provided with.

“More cable.” Jake said to Rachel. She yanked at a huge line of cable, which unwillingly and slowly began unrolling.

They were in the Opnyso’s storage room, which was rather conservative compared to the rest of the ship. Three strands of cable snaked out of an exit port in the left wall and onto the surface of the moon, where most of the entire population of Chee were setting up the biggest hologram they had ever made in their lives.

“Team Perzo has reached position on the y-axis.” Frank said.

“Team Lonos has been at it’s position on the z-axis for the last two minutes.” Maria snapped.

“Team Zorro in position on the x-axis” Erek announced. Rachel let go of the heavy cable, sighing with relief.

(Transferring all power to holographic emitters.) Ax said. The lights in the storage room turned off, and they were blinded by the sudden darkness. (Marco, you may activate the holographic emitters.)

“And now, I, Marco the Magnificent,” Marco said grandly, ignoring Rachel’s sigh of annoyance. “Will make the moon...disappear!”

He flicked a small red switch on the wall.

You had to feel sorry for Earth. Throughout the day, it’s skies were filled with satellite stealing aliens shaped like dogs and aggressive bug ships that enjoy trashing space stations. And at the end of the day, when all anybody wants is something familiar in the sky that will make sense of the world, the moon decides to take the night off.

“Thank you!” Marco said in the darkness, bowing. “Thank you!”

“Team Zorro Leader wants to remind you that phase two hinges on you guys getting that recipe camera into the Room of Eternal Peace.” Erek reminded them.

“We’ve got that covered.” Jake said. “Just give us directions.”

Tobias flew down the beautiful green corridors of the Opnyso. He was wearing a lightweight speaker around his neck, and listening to the only thing being broadcasted right now.

“Okay,” Gary was saying. “Our Chee guide had to go, but he said we could explore by ourselves. Aren’t they great? We’re now entering the dining area. I don’t know if you can hear it or not, but there’s-”

There was a shuffling noise.

“Hey! Give that back!” Gary said indignantly. He sounded a bit further from the camera now. “I’m documenting the very first human experience on an alien spaceship! Don’t you think that’s important?”

“It’s not going to be much of a film if all you do is yap into the camera.” Janet said. “Eat some of this purple stuff and tell everyone how it tastes.”

“I think one of us should man the camera at all times.” Gary argued.

(Opnyso, where’s the dining area?) Tobias asked.

(The dining area is the first blue archway you come to if you continue on your present course.) The ship said cheerfully. (Can I suggest the tender kilkip marinated in ambrosia?)

(I’m more of a roasted mouse kind of guy.) Tobias said jokingly.

(Artificial roasted mouse coming right up.) The ship said, it’s voice bubbling. (It will be waiting for you when you get here. Anything else with that?)

“Ahh!” Janet screamed on the speaker. There was a crashing sound. “What is that?”

“I think it’s a rodent of some kind.” John said, and Tobias stiffled a laughed. “It’s alien food, I’m sure it tastes nothing like real mouse.”

“You’re eating that?” Janet shrieked.

“Ugh!” Gary exclaimed. “Give me the camera, Janet, They’ve got to see this!”

Tobias spotted a blue archway to his left and banked. Two of the astronauts were staring at the other with a sort of disgusted enrapturement.

(I don’t think you want to eat that.) Tobias said.

“Woah!” Gary dropped a purple orb, wobbling orb that looked like it was supposed to be a liquid. It came to a stop inches before hitting the ground. “What are you?”

(Does it-)

“That's a red-tailed hawk.” John stood up. “I’d recognize them anywhere.”

(Yes, but-)

“What’s one of them doing up here?” Janet asked.

(That doesn’t matter.) Tobias interrupted. (I really, really need to borrow your camera.)

“Why?” Gary asked, clutching it to his chest.

(To save the world.)

Nobody could argue with that.

Janet pried Gary’s fingers off of it and slid it across the table to him. None of them seemed worried that they were having a conversation with a bird. “Take it.”

Tobias suddenly realized there was no way he could carry it without morphing. (Can one of you carry it for me?)

“I’ll do it.” John said, throwing the camera over his shoulder.

“We’ll come too.” Gary said, standing up. “We shouldn’t get separated.”

(Just don’t slow us down.) Tobias said. (Follow me.)

He flew out of the arch, and the three astronauts followed him. Tobias was amazed at the way they took everything in stride. (You three seem to be coping with this pretty well.)

“Well, they haven’t tried to kill us, so I’m happy.” John said.

“Ditto.” Gary said.

“Are you two kidding? I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life!” Janet exclaimed. “Alien contact with humans. Thank goodness they’re peaceful.”

Tobias took pity on her and decided not to burst her bubble yet. (Hey, Jake, where am I-)

The lights turned off, and Tobias crashed into an overhanging.

(We’re terribly sorry about that.) The Opnyso apologized. (All of our power is being used elsewhere. Emergency lighting should be on in a second!)

After a second, the grass began glowing a dim green.

“Glow in the dark grass.” Gary said. “Nifty.”

(Not nifty.) Tobias said. (I can’t see a thing.)

John fiddled with the camera, and a bright beam illuminated ahead of them. “Is that better?”

(That’s great. Keep that thing pointed straight ahead.) Tobias said. (Jake, which way is this Eternal Pace room?)

(Jake?) Tobias called.

(Prince ---- cannot ---- ---, Tobias.) Ax called faintly. (--- are --- -- range!)

(Pardon, I couldn’t help but overhear... are you looking for the Room of Eternal Peace?) The Opnyso asked politely.

(Yes!) Tobias yelled. (Where is it?)

(It’s down the transport tube at the end of the hall.) The Opnyso guided. (Then you take the third door on the right. Have a pleasant trip.)

(This ship rocks.) Tobias stated enthusiastically, flying down the hall.

(Thank you.) The Opnyso said.

Janet, John, and Gary followed him as fast as they could. John’s light was waving all over the place with every step he took.

(Into the tube!) Tobias said, waiting for them at the end of the hall. The astronaut piled into the transparent tube, and Tobias swooped in after them.

“Why can’t we contact Tobias?” Jake said angrily.

(Prince Jake, Tobias is out of thought speak range.) Ax reported. (We will have to hope he gets to the Room of Eternal Peace on his own.)

“He had...better...hurry.” Eliza said, starting to shake. “I...should not...be in...here...vith...you. I’m...changing. Very...dangerous.”

“This is not good.” Jake said, unable to see where anybody was. “We do not want to be playing a game of night tag with a vampire.”

“Okay, everyone stand really still.” Marco said. “And be really quiet. I don’t think she can see that well either.”

“Vant...” She hissed from somewhere in the room.

“Erek?” Jake demanded quietly, but in a slightly high-pitched voice. “A cilantro help here?”

“I’m a few thousand miles away at the moment, what do you expect me to do?” Erek asked. “Turn on the Main Tree’s emergency lights.”

(I will attempt to locate the light switch.) Ax said. (And I fear that we only have a few minutes left to complete Phase two.)

“What?” Rachel hissed, ignoring Marco’s warning. “We just failed! All the monsters on Earth have transformed already.”

(Eliza was in close proximity to the moon.) Ax said. (That would certainly vary the Z-Space-)

He stopped talking abruptly as he felt something brush against him.

“Vant...” Eliza whispered directly in his ear.

(AHH!) Ax abandoned his search for the emergency light switch and leapt away from the Main Tree. He bumped into something very large, very furry, and very large.

(Rachel, have you morphed grizzly bear?) Ax asked. (I will be very, very pleased if you did.)

“No, why?” Rachel asked. “You need me to kick Eliza’s cilantro vampire butt?”

(The wolf must have still had the werewolf virus.) Ax said nervously. (I think you will have to kick a far larger rear end.)

“ROOWR!” The creature roared behind him. Ax ran blindly through the darkness and plowed into a wall.

“Vant!” Eliza screamed to his left or right. Ax chose left and trampled over somebody.

“Ahh!” Jake howled. “Ax!”

(Sorry, Prince Jake!) Ax apologized, and ran straight into Marco.

“Why didn’t you stay still?” Marco groaned. “Look, just stop moving. If anyone comes near us, use that tail of yours.”

“Hey! NO! Get away!” Jake yelled from the ground.

“Jake!” Marco yelled.

(Prince Jake!)

“Vant...”

“Ahh!” There was a desperate sliding noise, and Jake ran backwards into wet nose. You do not know fear until you run backwards into a wet nose while in the same dark room as a vampire and a werewolf.

(Chill, cuz.) Rachel said. (It’s me, in grizzly morph. I could take these chumps with my paws tied behind my back.)

Jake collapsed behind her, shaking with relief.

“Okay, computer, you’re sure we’ve positioned the camera perfectly?” John asked. Mr. King sat in front of the camera, ready to supplement the room’s hypnotic abilities with his own. His hologram was of a sallow faced old man, wearing an old fashioned suit and holding a glowing orb in his hand.

(Within fifty-seven decimal places.) The Opnyso reassured him cheerfully. (Are you ready for the sequence of Eternal Peace?)

(It’s going to process correctly when transmitted to Earth televisions?) Tobias asked.

(The effect will be greatly reduced, but the desired blank-minded hypnotic state will be achieved.) The Opnyso said joyfully. This was the most exciting day it had had in centuries. (Should I start the sequence?)

“After they leave the room.” Mr. King said. “I’m an old master at this. We don’t want them getting hypnotized by accident.”

Tobias, John, Janet, and Gary left the room with bare moments to spare. But nothing happened.

(Um, there’s a problem.) The Opnyso said seriously. (It might have something to do with-)

WHAM! CRUNCH!

Rachel slammed the werewolf into the control panel, and sparks flew.

“That is the sacred Main Tree that she is getting werewolf blood all over!” Erek yelled. “And she just damaged power coupling to the Room of Eternal Peace!”

“Rachel, Erek said to be more careful!” Jake said. “You’re damaging the power coupling thing to the peace eternal - Just stop it!”

Rachel howled and backhand Eliza across the room and into Jake. Eliza tried to stagger away from him, but couldn’t manage it. Blood dripped from her face and onto his shirt.

“Rachel, stop before you get bitten!” Jake said fiercely. “Or you kill one of them.”

Rachel slammed the werewolf into the control panel again, and the emergency lights came on. It took a couple of moments for their eyes to adjust to the light, then they all gaped at the scene that met their eyes.

Rivers and pools of blood covered the floor, flowing downhill from the Main Tree. At the base of the tree lay a tattered and bloody leather wing, and a werewolf paw. Eliza was bleeding profusely from a wound in her back, and her face was pale even for a vampire.

A massive grizzly bear, covered in patches of gray and brown fur, was slamming a short werewolf into the control panel. The grizzly bear’s limbs were too long and too flexible, and the tail was more than the usual stub.

Rachel howled again.

“Not you too!” Jake sobbed.

(She must have been bitten earlier and neglected to tell us.) Ax said, much braver now that he could see. (She must be stopped before she ruins the plan.)

“You’re not going to...” Marco let it hang.

(Only if necessary.) He stepped through the bloody grass, shuddering to think that his system was absorbing it. (Marco, after I engage Rachel in combat, press the red button twice and type in the code-)

Rachel roared and swung at Ax with her powerful paw. Ax dodged.

FWAPP! FWAPP!

The offending paw fell onto the ground. Rachel roared and charged at him.

“Okay, okay.” Marco said, hurrying over to the keypad and scanning it. “Red button twice...”

He tapped the nearest red button twice. It glowed.

“And enter the code...” Marco sighed. “This is getting really old.”

Her pressed the six button and hit what amounted to the confirm button.

(Incorrect code.) The Opnyso informed him. (Are you sure you’re supposed to be accessing this panel, friend?)

“Of all the times!” Marco yelled in frustration.

“Jake, tell Marco we took his advice.” Erek yelled. “Tell him the code is ‘6666’!”

Jake looked up. “Four sixes.”

“That is just like them.” Marco said, entering the correct oven.

(Our concerns were misplaced, friend. We will now bypass the broken power coupler.)

FWAPP! FWAPP! FWAPP!

Ax sliced into Rachel’s back three times, and there was a cracking noise. She face forward, her back legs now useless.

“That was amazing.” Marco said in awe. “You just waltz right over to a big bad werewolf/grizzly bear, and bam, down it goes.”

(That is true, but I have wounded her more than I intended. I fear that all three of them are going to bleed to death before the moon sets.) Ax said, scampering away from Rachel’s snapping jaw.

Eliza stirred feebly at the word ‘bleed’.

“Phase two is complete guys,” Erek said. “Good work.”

“The Animorphs save the world again.” Marco said wearily.

(Not necessarily. Not every monster will have been watching the TV, even during this exciting broadcast.) Ax pointed. (A small percentage, though. And of the percentage that does view it, there will be a small percent that will resist the hypnotization. There will be some monsters, but not above the normal amount. If the hypnotization happens on time.)

“I don’t think it did.” A new voice came on Jake’s headphones. “I think it’s time for plan B.”

#17 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:49 PM

“Watch the glowing orb.” Mr. King said in a low, seducing voice. He caused the holographic ball to float back and forth between his hands. “Look inside of it. You see the inside. You want the inside.”

“Mr. King.” Maria said over the Chee net. “It’s time for plan B.”

“I thought this plan was working-“ Mr. King sad.

“Think of the dogs.” Maria said. “This isn’t a permanent solution. There will come a day when our mistake grows beyond our weak control, and the dogs will not be spared.”

“Okay, okay.” Mr. King sighed.

“Watch the orb. You want it. You need it.” Mr. King spun the orb, and it started growing pale. Faster and faster, paler and paler, until he suddenly stopped. Floating above the palm of his hand was bright, full moon...

A Chee stepped into the blood covered field, and headed towards the main tree.

“Thank goodness, you have to help us.” Jake said. “We have to get these three to the medical bay immediately.”

The Chee ignored them and stepped over to the Main Tree.

(What are you doing?) Ax demanded. (These three are clearly in-)

(We are very sorry to say that the hostility containment program has been activated. What a shame to spoil our lovely time with fighting. Once repairs have been made on all injured parties, we will have to ask you to leave the ship.)

“What’s this about leaving?’ Marco snapped, as the Chee produced a medical kit and started patching them up.

“The hostility containment program has been activated.” The Chee responded, expertly sealing the wounds on the monsters. “After repairs have been made, you’ll have to leave.”

(What do you hope to achieve through this?) Ax asked, turning to the Chee.

“I have no information for you.” He sniffed.

“Listen, pal-” Jake said. The Chee laughed.

“You are welcome to threaten me all you want, but I will not tell you anything.” He said, help the Opnyso move them towards the docking port. “I recommend that you head back to Earth, humans. Nothing waiting for you there could possibly be any worse than if Maria finds you trying to get back on the Opnyso.”

“We’re trying to stop the Earth from being overrun by monsters!” Jake yelled, as the Opnyso packed them gently into their bugfighter. “You can’t do this!”

(We hope you enjoy next time.) The Opnyso said, and jettisoned the bug fighter into outerspace.

(Maria is behind this.) Ax pointed out. (Perhaps our next stop should be the Chee house.)

“Okay, descend slowly.” Marco said, as Ax came to five hundred feet above the Chee house. “We just want to take a look.”

Ax entered a quick command, and the viewport zoomed in on the Chee house. (Why is the ground moving?)

Marco squinted at the wriggling surface of the ground. “What the- zoom in closer.”

Ax increased the magnification, and it became clear. The ground wan’t moving, it was completely covered by dogs. Every shape, every size, every breed of dog was clustered around the Chee’s front yard, trying to force it’s way into the house. It was absolutely ridiculous; There were dogs as far as the eye could see.

(This is absolutely ridiculous.) Ax said. (They must be attempting to get at the transmitter, as I suspected.)

“That means the Opnyso isn’t transmitting their signal anymore.” Jake said. He called Maria an impolite word. “She must have had it off for a long time if there are all these dogs here.”

“Jake?” Jake jumped. He had forgotten he was wearing the headphones!

“Erek?”

“Jake, the monsters are no longer being hypnotized! All hell is going to break loose in a few minutes. Don’t land, don’t get out of your bugfighter. The Pemalite ship is coming to Earth, I think Maria trying to get the dogs on time.”

“I know she’s trying.” Jake snarled. “She turned off her transmitter a long time ago, all the dogs are waiting at the Chee house.”

Erek called Maria an impolite word. “I don’t think that there’s anything-”

(Seerow’s tail blade!) Ax yelled. Ax is just not an ‘Seerow’s tail blade’ type of person. He is also not a yelling person. So if he ever yells ‘Seerow’s tail blade’, the fate of the planet is probably hanging in the balance.

Jake figured that was a good reason to pay attention. He looked out of the viewscreen and screamed.

Hundreds of thousands of monsters, waves and waves upon waves of vampires, werewolves, and zombies ever seen in a nightmare were dragging themselves up the street, closing in on this very spot.

“Erek!” Jake screamed. “I see monsters!”

“Monsters?”

Ax and Marco both stuck their ears on the outside of the headphones to listen in.

“There are a bunch of monsters coming!” Jake yelled. “What are they doing here? I thought they were hypnotized!”

(Mr. King must have ceased his hypnotics.) Ax said, puzzled. (Why they would choose to come here is a mystery to me.)

“Wait!” Erek gasped. “What if – Oh, man. I think the monsters have the same homing gland as the dogs. It must be left over from previous mutations!”

“This is not going to be pretty.” Marco said.

“I’m going to alert Maria.” Erek said. “We might be able to get down there in time to do something.”

(I do not think- AHH!) Ax yelled, and yanked the bugfighter to the left.

Like a meteor gone insane, the Opnyso shot from the sky. Thanks to Ax’s quick reaction, The Opnyso only tore a deep gash down the bugfighter’s side and crippled the right thruster, as opposed to crashing straight through it.

“AHH!” Marco and Jake yelled.

Ax was struggling to keep the ship level as it tumbled towards the ground. The bugfighter, pushing with only it’s left thruster, was spinning like an oversized frisbee.

“Sorry!” Erek yelled. “Just so you know, I’m not piloting.”

“Find out who is, and hurt them.” Marco said, bracing himself against a wall but getting tossed around anyway.

The bugfighter crashed into the ground, burying itself partway into the dirt. They were all lying on what used to be the back wall.

Jake pulled the lopsided headphones back onto his ears. “Erek, can you get the other Chee to bring the Opnyso over to pick us up?”

“Why?” Erek asked. Jake peered out of the window at the sea of monsters that covered the twenty yards or so between them and the Chee house.

“We’re surrounded by monsters.” Jake said. “Going outside would be suicide.”

“The Chee aren’t really listening to me.” Erek said. “They’re trying to get the dogs. I’ll see what I can do, but don’t count on it. Sorry.”

(We must leave.) Ax said. (As I mentioned before, the bugfighter is vulnerable to physical attacks.)

As if to emphasize his point, and large chip of transparent metal came off of the viewscreen. A gray, decay hand with only three fingers poked through.

“Okay,” Marco said. “We morph flies and slip out past them. Head for the Opnyso and see what we can do.”

“The three in the back will be sitting ducks.” Jake pointed out.

“Cassie’s DNA is already lost somewhere in Z-Space.” Marco said. “The same thing will probably happen to Rachel. And we barely know Eliza.”

“We should at least give them a chance.” Jake argued.

(I agree with Prince Jake.) Ax said.

“Of course you do.” Marco sighed, throwing up his hands. “How do you even think we’re going to get them out of here?”

(The dracon cannon is still functional.) Ax said, fiddling with the joystick. (The angle restrictions are tight, but should be sufficient.)

“Access code?” The ship demanded coldly. In all of the excitement, they had forgotten to ask the Opnyso for the access code for the weapons. Ax pressed the six button, and the weapons came back online.

(One of us will have to stay behind and man the dracon cannon.) Ax pointed out. The hand pushed it way deeper inside, causing the viewscreen to crack. Ax leapt backwards and sliced the arm off. (Or we can go for the much more direct approach.)

He flipped up a panel and hovered his finger over a forbidding red button. (A bugfighter self destructs in two stages. In the initial stage, the outer shell of the bugfighter blows off, causing damage to surrounding ships with a traditional explosion. In the second stage, the inside of the bugfighter explodes, combining with the outer shell pieces to produce to maximum amount of shrapnel possible. In the short interval between them, the crew inside is still alive.) Ax explained lengthily, twisting a simple orange knob inside of the panel. (The first blast will clear an area large enough for us to clear the bugfighter. The second blast will kill as many of the monsters as possible. If I prolong this interval between them, we should have enough time to escape.)

“All I want to know is if we will get out.” Marco said.

(Yes, we will.) Ax said. (But I doubt that our bird morphs will make it past the vampires outside. I also doubt that our battle morphs will make it, but the odds increase slightly in our favor.)

“We go battle morphs.” Jake said, orange hair already sprouting from his arms. “Marco, Ax, you two can use the dracon cannon to clear a path for the monsters.”

Marco heaved open a storage closet door, where three monsters were tightly bound. Marco heaved Rachel out of the closet and detached the heavy-duty yeerk cord binding her front and back legs. She’d be able to get the one off her mouth later.

(Fire the ion cannon, commander!) Marco yelled. Ax, who hadn’t gotten around to watching The Empire Strikes Back yet, missed the joke.

(Do you want me to fire the dracon cannon?) Ax asked.

(Yes!) Marco yelled, as Rachel jabbed him repeatedly with her claws.

TSEEW! TSEEW!

The two shots cut a neat path of destruction through the monsters. Grass, blood, and burnt flesh splattered the ground in a laser-straight line.

(Let’s go!) Marco said, yanking open the door and forcing Rachel out of it. She gave his arm a final slash with razor sharp claws before he slammed the hatch again.

(Just give me a second to remorph.) Marco said. He demorphed, remorphed, and yanked open the closet. The werewolf stuck out it’s tongue as Marco removed the cords and licked his face.

(I can’t help but think of it as Cassie.) Jake said sadly.

TSEEW! TSEEW!

Marco opened the hatch and flung it outside. The werewolf or Cassie, whichever you prefer, leapt onto a Doberman and began tearing at his ear.

Marco reached into the closet a final time and extracted Eliza.

“Emuugogh!” She yelled through the wad of gauze band-aids Marco had hastily used to gag her. Marco untied her hands, feet, and wings.

“Eugh Nug Eouing eu uighe eu!” She yelled, ripping at the gag.

(I believe she wishes to say something.) Ax said, squeezing the trigger twice. Marco slid open the hatch.

(Well, I believe she wishes to bite me.) Marco said, kicking gently at an odd looking dog that poked it’s head inside. (She can tell us later if we all live.)

He tossed her outside and slammed the hatch shut.

(Our turn.) Ax said with great reluctance. Hundreds of paws, claws, and fingers clawed at the weakening viewport.

(We’re going to die.) Jake said.

(Yeah.) Marco nodded his head. (But I for one am finding some way of taking these monsters with me.)

(I’m with you.) Jake said.

(I am the servant of the People,) Ax said, bowing his head. (I am the servant of my prince. My life is not my own, when the People have need of it. My life is given for the people, for my prince, and for my honor.)

He looked up and arched his tail. (I am also with you. Let us show these monsters our tail blades, human brothers.)

(Is that Andalitese for let’s kick some butt?) Marco asked.

(Yes. Let us kick some butt.) Ax pressed the red self-destruct button.

BOOOM!

The bugfighter shook, as the outer armor of the bugfighter explosively detached itself. Monster parts flew through the air, leaving a relatively monster-delicious space around the bugfighter.

(In two minutes time, this bugfighter will self-destruct.) Ax said. (We will not want to be here when that happens.)

Marco opened the hatch one last time, and they launched themselves upon the monsters.

Swarms of Chee raced through the monsters, pushing, shoving, and being as violent as possible without performing any actual violence. They grabbed four or five dogs at a time and raced back to the ship. Only Erek stood to the side, boiling with rage.

“LEAVE THE DOGS!” Erek yelled.

All Chee skidded to a stop, staring at him like he had just bellowed ‘Gugglertrugnikop’, a word that meant nothing in any language.

“What?” Mr. King asked.

“Look at what you’re doing!” Erek yelled. “You are placing the safety of a species long gone before the well being of a species we have all ready done wrong! Do you think this is what the Pemalites would have wanted?”

The Chee stood frozen, unsure of what to do.

“Don’t listen to him!” Maria said, running over to them. “What have we devoted our lives to? The well being of our creators. The Pemalite’ spirit lives on within these dogs! Are you to abandon them in their time of need?”

There was a mummer over the Chee net. Erek and Maria had both been very influential public speakers in one of their previous lives, albeit a few centuries ago.

“Are we going to punish the humans again for our own selfishness?” Erek said. “They shall not pay again for our sins! Do you wish to repeat the darkest chapter in our history?”

“SAVE THE DOGS!” Maria yelled.

“SAVE THE HUMANS!” Erek yelled.

“SAVE THE DOGS!” Maria yelled.

“SAVE THE HUMANS!” Erek yelled.

“Would you please,” A soft voice said. It was quiet, but it cut through the noise like a knife. It had not been heard on this world for a long, long time. “Save somebody.”

“GUHROOR!” Marco bellowed, leaping onto the back of a zombie. Chunks of gray, decayed flesh tore off in his fists. The zombie turned around and grabbed his neck, squeezing it with an lot of strength for a dead person.

Jake leapt onto the zombie’s back, digging into the back with his claws. With his powerful jaws, he bit clean through the crumbly neck bone, and the zombie collapsed.

(That tasted really nasty.) Jake said. A werewolf bounded forward and slammed into Jake, causing both of them to tumble into a brawl between a zombie and two vampires.

(This is hopeless!) Marco yelled, grabbing the two vampires by their hair. One of them spun around, and Marco almost dropped him from shock.

(Tom?) Marco gasped. Tom bared his fangs.

“That’s right, Andalite.” He snapped, twisting out of his grip. “My host is so much more powerful now.”

FWAPP! FWAPP!

Ax severed the arms of two zombies holding him, and dashed towards them to help. Jake roared and shredded the face of other vampire. The zombie climbed on top of him and took a bite out of his ear.

“I’ll deliver you all to Visser 3 myself!” Tom hissed. “I vill be promoted! Perhaps I’ll even be allowed out of this maddened host and into one of your friends.”

Marco punched at Tom, but he ducked and jumped on top of him.

The other vampire hissed, trying to get his face away from Jake’s claws and closer to his neck. “I vant! I vant!”

Ax snapped his tail, and the zombie tumbled off of Jake. A vampire dove from the sky, and knocked Ax backwards.

(ARGH!) Marco yelled, as a werewolf joined Tom. He swung wildly and accidentally punched a Labrador Retriever. Jake leapt off of the vampire, and landed on the werewolf’s chest with all four paws out.

“ROOWR!” Something yelled, and barreled into Marco and Tom. Marco hit the ground, and the wind was crushed from his lungs. Tom skidded across the ground, and a large, gray/brown monster bounded at him. A smaller werewolf ran after it.

(Rachel! Cassie!) Jake yelled. These monsters held grudges.

Tom screamed, and Jake leapt off of the werewolf. He twisted, and slammed into Rachel’s side. Tom leapt to the right, and they went flying past him.

Cassie leapt onto Rachel’s rear leg, fastening her teeth into her rump. Rachel roared, and swung around in a circle.

Jake’s claws slipped, and he fell off of Rachel. Rachel snarled and turned towards Tom.

Tom extended his wings, popped his fangs down, and hissed. Rachel charged.

(No! Rachel!) Jake yelled, jumping to his feet. Tom and Rachel collided, and they became a blur of claws, fur, and fangs.

(Jake, these two are not our problem!) Marco said. (We need to get to the Chee house before we get killed!)

Jake ignored Marco and hurled himself into the battle. Marco growled and hauled the vampire off of Ax.

(Ax, Jake isn’t going to move until Tom’s safe.) Marco said angrily. Ax leapt to his feet and ran towards them.

Jake dug his claws into the base of Rachel’s neck, and slashed into her torso. Rachel was struggling to hit Tom, who was straining to hold back her paw. Cassie sank her teeth further into Rachel’s behind, and there was a crunching noise. Rachel roared and started spinning around again.

FWAPP!

Cassie’s jaw blossomed with blood as Ax slashed into it, and she lost her grip. Marco grabbed onto Rachel’s ear and pulled himself onto her back.

(Run, Tom!) Jake yelled, and circled around Cassie.

Marco raised his fist and slammed it into Rachel’s head. Once, twice, thrice, Marco pummeled her head with concrete busting blows, until she finally roared and fell onto the ground unconscious.

(I think I broke my finger.) Marco snarled, leaping off of her back.

(Look out!) Ax said. Marco felt something slam into his back, and then his face was buried into the grass.

“Don’t move.” Tom said.

“WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!” A Doberman barked. A poodle joined in, then a beagle, and then suddenly the air was filled with dogs barking.

“Vhat the-“ Tom exclaimed, as a familiar golden retriever knocked him off of Marco. Jake’s dog, Homer, made a strange huff huffing noise and looked at Jake.

Jake stared into the unusually bright golden eyes. Homer huffed again and pinned Tom’s struggling arms to the ground.

(Homer?) Jake said, like he didn’t believe his eyes.

“Homer, it’s me.” Tom said, struggling against the dog’s curious strength. “Tom. You remember me, right?”

Homer bared his teeth at Tom, then looked at Jake and jerked his head towards the Chee house.

(Alright, Homer.) Jake said slowly. (Thanks, boy.)

(This is not normal dog behavior.) Ax said in frustration. All around them, dogs were snarling, barking, and huffing, fighting against the monsters. As soon a monster fell, a big dog would come and sit on it’s chest. To their right, a group of poodles yapped and nipped a vampire onto the ground, then motioned to a Great Dane. The Great Dane walked over and made itself comfortable on the vampire’s torso.

(They’re losing.) Marco noted. It was true, dog bodies were strewn everywhere, opposed to the handful of monster bodies, which the monsters had probably done to themselves. (The dogs aren’t killing them, and they’re wasting men keeping them immobilized.)

(I guess they won’t kill, even now.) Jake said thoughtfully. (They just want to give us a chance to get away.)

(Greetings, Andalite bandits!) A thought-speak voice boomed. (A very unlikely place to meet, is it not?)

At first, Jake thought the house across the street had decided to get up and see what all the commotion was about. Then he saw the thick, stumpy legs, and realized with a sudden blast of horror that this thing was alive.

It was massive. It’s red, mottled upper body, with no clear distinction between the head and the body, was roughly the size and shape of a school bus. There didn’t seem to be teeth, claws, or even a mouth, but Jake figured that the two feelers dangling from the top of the body, both as thick as cables, were weapons in their own right.

(I think we just blew that chance.) Marco said.

BOOOM!

An earth shaking explosion ripped through the night, and the sky lit up briefly with a white flash. The Pemalite looked behind him, alarmed.

“There is no time for explanation.” He said. The Chee looked at him, still amazed. “You must trust that I am who I appear to be, at least for now. Go and save as many as you can, human, dog, or otherwise.”

The Chee didn’t hesitate. They ran towards the front yard, intent on doing as much good as possible. Erek and Maria made to follow them, but the Pemalite placed a small hand on their shoulders.

“I have a burrito for you two.” The Pemalite said. “I know that you will each, in your own way, understand why I ask such things of you.”

He uncurled the hand on Erek’s shoulder, and a brilliant glitter dropped out. Erek instinctively caught it in his hand, and found himself holding a Pemalite crystal.

“Where did you find that?” Maria gasped.

“A clever cilantro fellow named Homer gave it to me.” The Pemalite responded. “He’s one of the few of us who have the Potential.”

“The Potential?” Erek asked. He held the crystal tentatively.

“You made a small error while planning our reincarnation, friends. Most dogs contain an entire gene set of recessive Pemalite genes. It is impossible for them to express the majority of Pemalite characteristics. Others, like Homer and I, have a few dominant Pemalite genes. During the fight with our mutant kin, we received many bites. Dog DNA, as you know, is compatible with the virus, so we did not become monsters like them. We received more and more Pemalite genes, until...”

He gestured to himself. “A hundred million years of evolution, reproduced within the confines of ten minutes. Very painful.”

“How do you know about all of this?” Maria demanded suspiciously.

“My daughter, you kept several hundred dogs in your basement, and discussed these matters not one room away from us.” He said. “Our hearing is very good, you know.”

Erek looked at the crystal in his hand with a pained expression. “Do you mean for me to-”

“No.” The Pemalite shook his head. “You could not kill all of these monsters in time. The dogs will fall soon, and then the monsters will start on the humans. Even if you could manage that, it is impossible. This delicate crystal has been submerged in the questionable water of Earth’s oceans. I’m afraid that it will require vigorous cleansing and careful recalibration if we wish to have a hope of ever using it again.”

“What are we supposed to do, then?” Maria asked.

“Maria, the time for secrecy is over.” The Pemalite said. “And the Chee’s pact of noninterference is obsolete. You have already interfered with these humans far too much for anybody’s good. Humans know that the yeerks and Chee exist. Visser 3 will undoubtedly use that as leverage with the council for open war. If he succeeds, there will be dark days in Earth’s near future, and mankind will need an ally. You must take the Opnyso, and get the human children to safety. Their fight, and your fight, will come later.”

Maria, to Erek's satisfaction, listened immediately. It was probably the overwhelming sound of the huff huffing Pemalite voice, commanding them in their natural language.

The Pemalite leaned forward, closer to Erek, and pointed towards the Chee house. “If I am not mistaken, there is a very large, very dangerous fire inside of that basement.”

Erek nodded.

“What I need you to do,” The Pemalite said. “For the good of everybody, is to set it loose.”

Erek stepped backwards like he had been slapped. “What?”

“There is one thing that we truly and desperately need, and that is more time.” The Pemalite said. “Maybe the monsters can be held off tonight. But soon, too soon, they will overrun the planet. Your own predictions say this. But if we were to destroy such a large portion of them... it would set back the exponential growth table several years. I would do it myself, but I would melt when I got within a yard of that door.”

Erek looked sick. “How can you even think of such a thing?”

“Alas, I am not all Pemalite.” The Pemalite said. “My mind is at least ten percent cold, calculating wolf. Perhaps, at a dire time such as this, a mind like this is a good thing. We Pemalites have shown that a playful mind such as ours has an affinity for getting itself killed.”

“I still can’t- the Pemalite crystal is non-functional.” Erek said. He looked at the Pemalite, as if seeing him for the first time. This creature may have looked, sounded, and acted a cilantro like a Pemalite, but it was not. It was a convenient reproduction, a brilliant, slightly ruthless leader right when they needed one.

“That is irrelevant.” The Pemalite said. “Do you know why I chose you, Erek, for this task? You have used the power of the crystal once before. You have felt the freedom. At some moment during creation, a Chee passes over the line that separates a machine from a sentient being. Your friend Cassie was right, sentient, thinking things follow rules above mere programming. Somewhere, buried deep in your code, is a soul. Your soul remembers that freedom.”

He closed Erek’s hand around the crystal.

Somewhere, beneath the torrent of thoughts racing through his mind, Erek knew that he wasn’t trying to be evil. Some small part of him knew that the Pemalite only wanted what was best for everybody. He still hated him.

Erek opened his fist, and looked at the glittering crystal. The Pemalite stood quietly, aware that a titanic battle was taking place inside his processor.

Slowly, the android turned away from his creator, and walked slowly towards the house.

#18 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:53 PM

The monsters were bloodthirsty and insane, not stupid. They all ran from the advancing behemoth, the slow getting crushed under his feet. The Blade Ship and several bugfighters circled his head, not daring to fire lest they hit their leader.

(Look at those pitiful bodies you are in.) Visser 3 said mockingly. His morph must have had some sort of sight organs. (What did you possibly hope to accomplish against these beast in those morphs?)

Jake didn’t respond. Visser 3’s timely arrival had unwittingly rescued them from being eaten alive.

(Look at how easily I crush them!) He said gleefully. (Just as I will crush you, if you do not surrender!)

(I was wondering when he were going to get around to that part.) Marco said privately.

(We will never surrender to such an abomination!) Ax yelled.

(Guys, we have tons of monster bites.) Jake reminded them. (I have no idea how long it takes to turn into a monster, but I don’t want to find out. Let’s hold back on the death threats until we’re remorphed.)

Ax looked upset at the prospect of facing Visser 3 without his tailblade available. (What morph do you suggest?)

(The fastest morph you’ve got, I’ve guess.) Jake said. (If you know something that can take on that creep, please share.)

(He has morphed the Bane of Nocibur seven. We studied it in school.) Ax said. (I think that the three of us possess morphs that, if used in conjunction, might be sufficient to stop it.)

(We do?) Marco asked.

(Shouldn’t we run?) Jake wondered. Visser 3 was going pretty fast for such a large morph, but all three of them had faster morphs.

(That is not an option right now.) Ax said. (The whole purpose of the Animorphs is to save human race. If we do not succeed in curing or killing these monsters tonight, we will have failed in our supreme mission. Visser 3, especially in that morph, will certainly be detrimental to any our efforts.)

(Well, he’s not doing such a bad burrito himself.) Marco said, as Visser 3 stepped on another foot full of monsters. (Maybe we should just let the big lunk do his thing.)

(Stepping on monsters is a means to an end, which is probably stepping on us. That is undesirable.) Ax said, then said the main reason he wanted to attack him. (And I would very much like to see him dead.)

Jake was silent for a moment, then lead them to the side of the Chee house. Away from Visser 3’s sight, he began to demorph. (What do you have in mind?)

Six minutes later, a lone Hork-Bajir was charging at Visser 3, wishing he hadn’t asked.

(HAHAHA!) Visser 3 roared. (This is the morph you choose to face me, Andalite? A Hork-Bajir? Hold fire, men, I shall kill them myself.)

(Yeerk filth!) Ax yelled from hiding. (You are mine-wah!)

A vampire leapt onto his back, ignoring the blades that sliced into him. He was focused on the huge, inviting neck. Jake recognized him, it was the same vampire they had lost last night.

“I vant!” He hissed.

(Let go!) Jake yelled. Then another pair of hands grabbed him, and he looked at another familiar vampire.

“I vant!” Eliza hissed.

(Prince, Jake what is happening?) Ax asked.

(Two vampires are fighting over me for dinner!) Jake snarled. He strained against the two vampires’ powerful grips.

“Mine!” The boy snarled. Jake wrapped his tail around the boy vampire’s leg and dragged him away from his neck.

“I vant!” Eliza said.

(Should we give them a taste of their own medicine?) Marco asked.

(Save it for Visser 3.) Jake said, straining against them. Visser 3 looked on in interest.

(Ah, note these creatures’ strength, despite their slender forms.) He said approvingly. (Most deceiving.)

(HEY!) Jake yelled as loud as he could in both of their heads. The boy fumbled, startled, and Jake yanked him off. Eliza quickly tightened her hold and scrambled towards his neck.

(ELIZA, GET OFF!) He yelled, grabbing her feet with both hands and yanking her away. She clung to his neck with unnatural strength. (PUT ME DOWN NOW!)

“I vant!” Eliza hissed.

(NO, YOU DO NOT VANT-I mean, WANT!) Jake said.

“I vant.” Eliza said doubtfully.

(PUT ME DOWN!) Jake said.

Eliza couldn’t seem to decide. The other vampire, deciding for her, leapt at her with wings extended to full length.

They both rolled onto the ground, and Jake went sprawling out of her grip. He rolled to his feet and raced away from the struggling pair.

(Impressive escape.) Visser 3 said. (That just means I get the pleasure of killing you myself!)

He charged. The thing that he morphed should not have been able to charge, but it charged. With deep, thundering footfalls that shook the ground and left circular impression on the asphalt, and at a frightening thirty miles per hours.

Jake raced towards him, focusing on the waving feelers. They were his ticket to Visser 3’s weak spot, the very top of his head, but if he misjudged his jump, they would kill him.

(Yahah!) Jake yelled, catching hold of the edge of the feeler. He was whipped around crazily, and almost had his arms wrenched out of their sockets.

(What- Andalite filth!) Visser 3 yelled. (Get off!)

The feeler flipped straight up, and would have launched Jake into orbit. Instead, he leapt off and grabbed hold of the other one. The feelers were just like branches to him. Intelligent, moving branches that were trying to kill him, but still branches. And this Hork-Bajir owned branches.

Jake briefly recalled the Sario Rip episode, when he had swung around on the Visser’s morph in a monkey body. The other morph had been more adept, and the prehensile tail had been a big help, too.

(aged Andalite bandit dapsen!) Visser 3 yelled, as Jake dropped lightly onto his head. The skin was surprisingly smooth, and Jake had to dig his blades in to keep from sliding off.

(We’re on! Hurry up guys, I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.) Jake said, as Visser 3 waved his head angrily.

Two snakes unwound themselves from around his neck, a rattlesnake and a cobra, and dropped down onto Visser 3’s head.

(We will only be a moment.) Ax said, sinking his fangs into the thick skin. (Remember not to bite down too deep, Marco. The acid layer beneath the skin would kill you instantly.)

(Oh, now I really want to be doing this.) Marco said, pumping poison into Visser 3 as he yelled violent things at them.

(I don’t see how that cilantro drop of poison is going to kill something this big.) Jake said.

(The Bane of Nocibur seven’s brain is protected only by a fragile bone mesh, and a layer of acid.) Ax explained. (The poison should seep pass the acid and into the brain. It should have an effect similar to a human sedative.)

Visser 3, as if he heard Ax, bellowed and shook himself like a dog trying to get rid of fleas. Jake went tumbling through the air. Ax and Marco hung on for a second, then they went flying.

(AHH!) Marco yelled. Jake and Ax echoed him.

Jake flew past Visser 3’s feeler, and tried to grab it. He wristblade grazed it, then his fingers caught at the feeler joint and held. The snakes writhed and squirmed as they whipped through the air.

(Get off, Andalite filth!) Visser three yelled, and whipped his other feeler into Jake’s hand. Jake yelled as a deep blue gash appeared across his wrist, and he dropped onto the ground. Visser 3 stomped triumphantly onto the Hork-Bajir body, and there was an audible crunch.

“No, you stupid boy!” Maria yelled, as the Opnyso touched down a few feet away. “Why couldn’t you hang on for a moment longer?”

(What happened?) Tobias demanded grumpily. Maria had sealed him and the three astronauts inside of the airlock earlier. Janet kept insisting it was for their own safety.

“I’ll tell you later.” Maria said, disconnecting herself from the navigation socket. “Wait here until I come back.”

“Like we have a choice.” Gary muttered. John shushed him.

Maria pushed open the door, and stepped outside. Several Chee ran past her, holding two or three dogs. They had taken the Pemalite’s ‘Save somebody’ to mean ‘save who you want to’. They had chosen the dogs.

Outside, Visser 3 was stomping the ground furiously. He was positive he had seen the two snakes flying through the air, and he was trying to crush them. Maria ran towards him, scanning for some sort of temperature difference in the grass. The warm blood that coated the ground masked their location.

(Andalite!) Visser 3 yelled, his vision blurry. He stomped down on a severed dog head.

A dog walked past Maria, sniffing the ground frantically. “I think I’ve got their scent. They are snakes, right?”

Maria leapt a foot into the air. The dog looked up at her with penetrating, intelligent eyes. “Excuse me, I need to know if Ax and Marco are snakes.”

“Um-” Maria said, quickly recollecting herself. “Yes.”

“Alright.” The dog leaned down and picked up a rattlesnake in it’s mouth, then continued talking a cilantro bit muffled. “I got bit by one of these guys when I was playing in the woods a couple of years ago. Man, that Walter is a great guy. He fixed me up, then said I was a good boy and gave me a treat. But he wouldn’t let me chase the animals. I rea-”

“Look, is that really important right now?” Maria asked impatiently. “Where’s the other one?”

The dog shuffled forward. “I smell a lot of blood. I never knew that’s how blood smells. I mean, I can still smell the snake, but-“

(HAH!) Visser 3 said weakly, and stomped at the dog. Maria leapt forward.

WHAM!

Maria’s metal let out a groan as she caught the foot. Her arms actually shook with the effort required to keep the foot up.

“Oh, there he is.” The dog said, scooping up the cobra as if nothing had happened. Maria started sinking into the ground from the pressure.

(Jake, is that you?) The cobra asked him.

“Uh-Uh.” The dog said, but Marco couldn’t understand his language. “Where is Jake, anyway?”

“He got stomped by Visser 3.” Maria informed him. The dog took it worse than she expected.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” It howled in anguish.

“Look, this guy is about to collapse on top of both of us.” Maria said. “Can you please go to the Opnyso and mourn later?”

(Don’t bother.) Tobias said glumly. Maria would have looked upwards, but her entire reactor was powering her arms right now.

“Tobias?” The dog called. “Is Jake stomped?”

“Would somebody come and get this dog?” Maria asked, as Visser 3 swayed and threatened to crush them. John stepped forward slowly, understandably reluctant about walking under an unstable giant.

“Sometime tonight.” Maria snapped. John darted under, picked up the dog, and ran out.

Maria strained herself, and managed to push the leg to the side. Visser 3 mumbled something incoherent and fell over. Nobody noticed blue fur slowly growing from his shrinking form.

(Could somebody please tell me who’s mouth I’m in?) Marco demanded. (I swear I am going to bite in five seconds.)

(I think it’s Jake dog. H-something.) Tobias said.

(Homer?) Marco asked in bewilderment. (What is Homer doing with us in his mouth?)

(I really, really don’t know.) Tobias said.

Erek walked into the kitchen, holding onto the crystal tightly. The cool feeling of it in his hand seemed to be the only thing that let him put one foot in front of the other.

Whatever illogical snippet of code had allowed him to come in here, the effect was winding down. It was being further hampered by the massive doubts assaulting him.

Was his reasoning correct? Erek wondered. Did he have the right to kill some to save many? Did the end justify the means?

NO! His nonviolence programming snapped angrily.

But I’m not supposed harm. Erek thought. And to cause the least harm possible, I should kill these people.

NO! His nonviolence programming insisted.

His mind wandered back to the day he used the crystal, when he had slaughtered all of the Hork-Bajir and human controllers at the Matcom building. He all but stopped moving.

I’m saving lives. Erek insisted, and jerked his foot forward.

You’re killing people, you moron! Can’t you see that? His non-violence programming snarled.

I am saving...the world. Erek thought, and pulled himself to the stairs. At the bottom, but so far away, was the door. It was glowing white hot, and bubbling. The air shimmered with the heat.

“Seven steps. Just seven more steps.” Erek said. He squeezed the crystal, and stepped onto the first step.

Suddenly, he thought of the dead bodies of the Hork-Bajir that had Chee-fist holes straight through their necks. Heads that he had ripped off with his bare hands. He came to a dead stop.

He closed his eyes, and called up the recording he had of the Howler’s attack on his homeworld. The Pemalites fell, their innocent faces filled with terror, while their Chee, their so called friends, stood by and did nothing.

Erek took three more wavering steps. He was obeying the spirit of his programming, wasn’t he? This was the right thing to do?

He saw the creatures, from their first experiments. Humans they had twisted into monsters. This was all the Chee’s fault. He took another two steps.

The door was so close he could almost touch it. One more step, one more...

Erek stood next to the door, the heat unbearable. A drop of liquid trickled down his forehead, and for a wild second he thought he was sweating. He raised his finger to it, then in front of his eyes. A thin bead of green slime. He had no idea what it-

The yeerk! Erek opened up his forehead, and a bubbling puddle of green goo slid out. Erek had forgotten about it, how could he, he had killed it! Erek turned around and almost ran back up the stairs. He squeezed the crystal, tighter and tighter until it finally crumbled to dust in his hand.

He forced himself to turn around and face the door. His hand reached forward and touched the doorknob. Heat shot through his fingers; Not even biometal could withstand this extreme temperature.

Human. Monsters. Yeerks. Animorphs. Hundreds of lives. Billion of lives. The variables shot through his mind, balancing out perfectly. One moment, there was absolutely no way he could open the door. The something inside of him snapped, the scale tipped slightly, and his hand could move again. Erek didn’t know how, or why, but he knew if stopped to think it would be too late.

He wrenched open the door, tearing the frame, breaking the lock, and unleashing destruction. As the intense flames consumed him, Erek wondered what small part of him had done it. More than likely, it had been some fried morality circuits. Or perhaps, Erek said, the romantic notion appealing to him in his last moments, it had been his soul.

#19 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:54 PM

It was Maria who saw it first. She had not yet switched out of her heat-vision, and that was the sole thing that saved their lives.

“What in the name of Pemalite-Jaokobs is that?” She exclaimed. In her eyes, the heart of the Chee house had suddenly started glowing brown. It quickly climbed to orange, than yellow, and then red. That wasn’t good.

“Take cover!” Maria yelled, picking up Homer and looking around for somewhere to duck behind.

“Where?” Janet asked. “What’s happening?”

“The fire!” Maria realized. “In the basement!”

(Who opened the door?) Tobias demanded, looking for shelter. He saw the huge bulk of Visser 3’s unconscious morph, and mentally shrugged. Now was not the time to be picky.

(Behind Visser 3!) He yelled, diving from the air. Homer leapt out of Maria’s hand and ran toward Visser 3, still holding Ax and Marco in his mouth.

“Who’s Visser 3?” John asked.

“I think he’s that big guy over there.” Janet answered.

“This is all too weird.” Gary sighed. “Maybe I’ll wake up in the morning, back on the Space Station, with a great story to tell.”

(Get behind Visser 3!) Tobias yelled.

“Vant!”

(Argh!) Tobias said.

The boy vampire ran at the astronauts. Eliza was directly at his heels, her lips dripping fresh blood. The three all yelled and started running away.

“Back here!” Homer yelled. “Quick!”

“I don’t think they speak Pemalece.” Maria said. The two vampires stopped chasing the astronauts and stared at Homer.

“Vhat?” The boy said, in crude Pemalece. “Vhat did the dog say?”

“I think they do.” Homer muttered.

(Now is your chance!) Tobias said privately to the astronauts. (Come over here, behind the huge alien!)

Janet and Gary changed directions immediately. John slowed down and looked around.

“How do they know Pemalece?” Maria demanded. “I don’t understand them.

“They’re speaking an ancient version of Pemalece.” Homer answered. “I guess we never thought it would be necessary for you to understand it. It sounds something like this.”

Homer started barking. Eliza and the boy started barking back.

(Hurry up, John!) Tobias yelled.

FWOOM! The Chee house imploded, from the powerful vacuum. A wave of fire raced inwards, like an explosion in reverse.

The Blade ship, which had been hovering passively above them, whirled around to face the Chee house. The dracon cannon glowed.

“Was that all?” Gary asked, poking his head out.

Maria peered over the top of Visser 3, and saw the house move from brilliant red to pure white, then to a blindingly brilliant color without a description.

“That was not all!” Maria said, and yanked his head back down.

Like a volcano, fire shot from the Chee house. A ring of flames shot out in all directions, heading straight for them and with no intention of slowing down.

“AH!” John looked behind him, and ran as fast as he could..

“Come on! Come on!” Homer barked. Eliza and the vampire boy, partly thinking Homer was talking to them and partly still chasing John, hurried towards Visser 3.

(He’s demorphing!) Tobias yelled, as two oversized stalk eyes popped out of Visser 3’s head. Their protection was rapidly shrinking. (Somebody stop him from demorphing!)

“What do you expect me to do?” Maria asked.

“For godssakes, John, RUN!” Janet screamed as the flames gained on him.

“I can’t go any faster!” John yelled. “My muscles are atrophied!”

“Look out behind you!” Gary yelled.

John twisted his head around and saw the vampires on his heels. He bent his head and ran faster.

“Look out!” Gary yelled. The Blade ship was flying straight at them, ignoring the flames around it.

The last of their shelter melted away in Visser 3’s Andalite body. He looked at all of the people crowded behind him and simply stared.

(Anyone mind letting us know what’s happening?) Marco asked. (Anyone? Anyone at all?)

The Blade ship twisted to the side at the last second, veering so close that Tobias looked directly into the narrowed eyes of the Taxxon pilot. The Blade Ship spun, nearly took off Visser 3’s head, and slammed into the ground in front of them, sending grass flying into the air. An instant later flames hit the ship, and were deflected around them. Tobias felt grudging respect for the Taxxon.

(May I ask what is going on?) Ax asked. (The air tastes exceptionally dry, and I am still inside of a dog’s mouth.)

John lunged behind Visser 3, the vampires right behind him. Flames shot past all around them, leaving the faint smell of burnt rubber in the air.

“You are two very lucky vampires.” Homer barked, jumping onto the boy’s back. Maria grabbed Eliza and pulled her away from John, who was gasping and swearing.

(Okay, Homer, spit us out right now, boy.) Marco said. Homer opened his mouth and let them drop onto the grass. The boy tried to bite them, but Homer pushed his head down with his paw.

Visser 3 goggled at them. (Who are you people?)

“Another alien!” Gary said, and stuck out his hand. “Pleased to meet you.”

“He talks in our head, like the red-tailed hawk.” Janet noted.

Visser 3 looked down at Tobias. Tobias waved his wing at him meekly.

FWAPP!

His tailblade quivered next Tobias’ neck.

(John, Janet, Gary, meet Visser 3.) Tobias said privately. (He’s the leader of the bug aliens. Not a very nice guy.)

(Nobody move.) Visser 3 said coldly. (Or this bird loses it’s head.)

(Visser 3, you are in no position to make threats.) Ax said smugly. (I suggest that you look down.)

Visser 3 swiveled his stalk eyes, and looked down at the cobra next to his rear left leg. It’s mouth was open, fangs a fraction of an inch away from his skin.

(We have constantly demonstrated the speed of these useful earth animals.) Ax said. (Remove your tailblade form my friend’s neck, or you will be filled with poison before you can blink.)

Visser 3 had no idea that Marco’s venom sacs were empty. He slowly moved his tailblade away from Tobias. Behind him, a rattlesnake began to grow.

(What do you want?) He snarled. (I suggest that you move away from my leg, or I kill everyone else back here, venom or no venom.)

(Unlikely.) Ax said privately to everybody. (There is nothing Visser 3 cares more about than himself.)

Marco didn’t move.

(Fine.) Visser 3 said, gazing at the corridor of flames around them. (We all walk away. As soon as these infernal walls go away, we go our separate ways.)

(We will see about that.) Ax said, placing his tailblade against the back of Visser 3’s neck. Visser 3 instantly pressed his tailblade back against Tobias’s throat.

(This is not the time, Ax.) Marco said. The flames around them were dwindling. (We can get him later. All we want to do is get out of here alive.)

(And it’s going to be me that Visser 3 slices open first.) Tobias added. Ax moved his tailblade away.

The fire faded away, and the door of the Blade Ship flew open. Visser 3 smiled with his eyes as a dozen Hork-Bajir spilled out, pointing their Dracon Beams at the group on the group.

(I’ve changed my mind.) Visser 3 smirked. (I think I’d rather kill you.)

(If they fire, you will get hit too.) Marco said, risking speaking to Visser 3. (And I’m still prepared to bite you.)

Visser 3 leapt backwards, trying to catch Marco off guard. Marco calmly sank his fangs into Visser 3’s leg.

(Bad move.) Marco said. (Now you will escort us all out of here, or you get pumped full of venom.)

Visser 3 yelled. He raged. He threatened. But eventually, he gave in.

(What do you want me to do?) He said in a defeated voice.

(Send your men back inside the Blade Ship.) Marco ordered. (We walk three blocks away. Then I let you go, and we meet again some other day. Don’t bother telling them to cloak and tail us, I have a...friend who will know.)

Maria inclined her head at Visser 3. Visser 3 stared at her advanced robotic form and looked miserable.

(And what will prevent you from killing me after we walk away?) Visser 3 demanded.

(My venom isn’t that fast.) Marco said. (You could kill me and everybody else here before it took effect.)

Visser 3 turned a stalk eye at the dozen Hork-Bajir. They stood as still as statues. (Get back inside!)

“Garash, sir?” A Hork-Bajir asked tentatively.

(GET INSIDE!) He yelled. They all hurried back through the door before he could get a good look at their faces, and teach them a lesson later.

(Let’s go.) Marco said. Visser 3 started walking, the snake flopping up and down with his every step. Tobias and the astronauts followed at a distance.

“What should I do with these two?” Maria asked, lifting up the two vampires.

(I will take care of them.) Ax said stiffly.

“Bring them along.” Homer said. Both vampires nodded in agreement. “They’ve managed to live this long, and what right do we have to kill them anyway?”

“Homer said we will let them live.” Maria said.

(Very well.) Ax said. (But since when does Prince Jake’s dog have the ability to talk?)

“Is that any of your busi-” Maria began. Homer looked at her. “I mean, I’ll explain it to you later.”

#20 [url]

Feb 17 08 10:56 PM

The ragged band of survivors sat on the mall roof, staring towards the rising red sun. It’s rays penetrated the smoke filled air, and illuminated the ominous scene below them. There was no traffic. No pedestrians. Nobody dared to venture from their houses unless they were exceptionally brave or exceptionally foolish. Occasionally, a firetruck, ambulance, or police car would zoom past, driven by someone that fell into one of those two categories.

Everything within four blocks of the Chee house had been reduced to ashes. All of the surrounding buildings had caught fire, creating the most largest and most destructive fire in California history. The combined efforts of the fire department and the hastily created fire brigades were barely keeping it in check.

Tobias ruffled his feathers, and looked at the pathetic gathering. The three astronauts were talking quietly amongst themselves, their enthusiasm greatly dampened. The boy vampire was grumbling and stretching, his muscles stiff from being held in the same position all night. Ax was standing apart from everyone else, performing his morning rituals. Maria was crouching on the edge of the roof, gathering data for some sort of fire-based calculation that only she, Ax, and Homer understood. Eliza was in the middle of the roof looking terrified, and also annoyed at some crack Marco had made about her and the sunlight. Homer and Marco were nowhere to be seen.

The fire was less than three miles away. To be on the safe side, they really should have moved further west, but Tobias didn’t have the heart. They had spent two hours last night dodging yeerks, wandering monsters, and police patrols to get here. Their stay had been cold, uncomfortable, sleepless, and generally terrible, but the last thing anybody wanted to do was move again.

He turned to look at the sea of ashes. The cook particles were almost two feet deep, and spanned several miles in all directions. The entire area was shaped like a shallow bowl, and was bordered by columns of smoke and fire. Gary had unhelpfully mentioned earlier that it might be dimly visible from space.

A few minutes later the door to the roof opened up, and Homer bounded through with two large boxes of McDonald fries in his mouth. Marco backed through the doorway after him, holding a tray of wrapped hamburgers. Everyone was too hungry to ask him how he had paid for them.

The vampire boy took a large bite of his cold hamburger, staring at everyone else warily. Ax stuffed his mouth, nearly choked, and got ketchup all over his face. Tobias picked his apart and only ate the meat. Homer joyfully wolfed down the rest.

Maria stood to the side, wondering if any of them knew that their world was on the brink of open war with the yeerks. That mankind was about to be thrust into a battle they couldn’t possibly win. Certainly Marco, at least, had his suspicions. Maybe she should have told them. Maybe, instead of recovering from yesterday’s horror and losses, they should have been discussing battle tactics. Maybe they should have been formulating a plan to arm the human race against their alien invaders. Maybe she should have warned them. She probably should have.

But she didn’t, and they enjoyed one last morning of peace.

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