1 9 96

It happened one night, in a city called Buffalo, in a state called New York, on a continent called North America, on a planet commonly known as Earth. It wasn't a city that was a landmark on any space chart. But it was here that something extraordinary happened: something that would forever change the lives of everyone in the known universe.

Particularly five young human teenagers.

That night, they were on their way home from the mall. Three boys, two girls. They took a short-cut through an abandoned construction site across from the shopping center. It was late, almost ten-thirty. The most they were worried about was getting caught by their parents and grounded for life.

They didn't intend on meeting up with a crashed Andalite named Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul. They didn't intend on finding out about the species that threatened to enslave the entire human race. They didn't intend on being given the greatest weapon in the known universe: the power to morph into any animal they could touch and acquire.

Together, the five witnessed for the first time the ultimate horror of their enemy as the Abomination, Visser Three, devoured the helpless Andalite warrior who had risked his life and reputation to save a world where he had once lived, and yet had never been to.

They were only eleven years old.

1 9 9 9

They called themselves the Animorphs. After three years of battling the Yeerks that had brought so much horror onto their race, they still survived – and had grown slightly. Instead of five, there were six. Aristh Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthil, younger brother of Prince Elfangor, had joined their fight as well. He was, and will always be, considered one of the Animorphs.

The Animorphs were beginning to make head wind in the silent and secret war when they suddenly disappeared without a trace. No one knew what happened to them. They were declared missing. When the sudden attacks by the "Andalite-bandits" stopped, the Yeerks put two and two together. The morphers who had caused them so much grief were human.

They were fourteen years old.


The war was beginning to come out into the open, but many refused to realize it. And so, many humans continued on with their lives, not doing a thing about the increasing number of Controllers. They were inflicted with a very common human disorder: they believed that since they had done nothing to the Yeerks, the Yeerks would do nothing to them. They were immune. Many had to learn the hard way. As more and more people were taken, more and more people believed that the other had done something horrible to deserve this fate, but that it would pass over them.

As the Yeerks prepared to launch the main attack and infestation on Earth, they were struck a fearsome blow: the leader of the Yeerk invasion, known as Visser Three in the time of the Animorphs, now known as Visser One, disappeared. He was never seen again.

Chapter One


In the dark chambers of the Council of Thirteen, the Emperor sat on his throne at the head of his room. On either side of him sat six other Controllers – twelve in all. And in front of him, shaking with fear, was a young Yeerk by the name of Ennayram 8-0-4. Wishing with all her might that she could stop her human host from showing her fright, she prepared to give her report to the Emperor.

"The invasion is g-going well, sir," she said timidly in the interstellar language of Galard. "But due to the un-unexpected absence of V-visser One, we have fallen b-behind schedule. Many f-free humans know of the invasion, and some are st-starting to fight back. S-sub-Visser 84 has b-been wuh-working to rid us of this problem, but in the p-past two years, our forces have begun to drop. And there are r-reports of an Andalite space fleet heading for our lo-location.

"Many of us f-feel that a n-new leader sh-should be appointed f-for Earth, as it appears that Sub-Visser 84 is n-not properly doing hi-his job." Ennayram finished her report and looked at the Emperor with no hope in her eyes.

The Emperor narrowed his eyes and looked at his frightened subject. "You make a good point, Ennayram 8-0-4. Yes. It does appear that Sub-Visser 84 is not taking care of the situation adequately. We will have to do something about that."

Ennayram relaxed visibly, then turned to leave. Suddenly, Four stood up. "If I may, my liege, direct your attention to Law 8012, RL4?"

"Halt, Ennayram," the Emperor said. He nodded in the direction of his Councilmember. "Let us say I have not heard of Law 8012 of the RL4. Tell me about it."

Four nodded in recognition. "The Law strictly states that talking against ones higher official is forbidden on any command post of the Yeerk Empire. Command Earth has been a post of ours for eighteen Earth years, and Sub-Visser 84 has headed the operation for two of those years. Tell me, Ennayram 8-0-4 of the Sulp Niar pool: how long have you been stationed on this planet?"

Ennayram gulped. "F-five months, s-sir."

Four looked amused at the information. "I see. So you, a five month veteran of Earth, have come forward to the Council of Thirteen to indulge the idea that your commanding officer needs to be relieved of his position, a commanding officer who I happened to know was Visser One's second for several of the years he was in charge. Are you aware, Ennayram 8-0-4, that you have just broken Law 8012 of the RL4?"

"I wasn't aware that such a law existed, sir."

"You weren't aware that such a law existed. Now, I find that hard to believe. In preliminary training, every Yeerk is indulged on the laws of the RL1 through RL12. You must have known about this law. It existed before you did, therefore you must have been taught it during training. Which means, Ennayram, that not only are you guilty of treason against your commanding officer, you are guilty of attempting to deceive every member of this Council." Four sat down and leaned forward, resting his chin on his claws. "Emperor, may I direct you to the punishment of breaking these laws?"

"Let us say I have not heard of the punishment for breaking Law 8012 of RL4 and Law 9 of RL1. Please, Four, enlighten me." The Emperor's gaze never once wavered as he stared down at Ennayram, which caused her to break out into a cold sweat.

"The punishment," Four said, gazing as well at the ill-fated Yeerk, "is death. By lack of Kandrona."

The Emperor nodded. "Ennayram 8-0-4 of the Sulp Niar pool, on this date you have been sentenced to Kandrona death. Let this be noted."

"No!" Ennayram cried out. "Please, no! I'm innocent! I swear to you that I'm innocent!"

The doors to the chamber opened, and the Emperor motioned to his guards to take her away. The Yeerk's cries could be heard throughout the fortress.

The thirteen members of the Council heeded no attention to the screams. They never did.

The doors closed once again, and the Emperor leaned back on his throne. "The situation on Earth has taken an unfortunate turn," he said to his ever-listening council. "This situation will need to be taken care of. Earth is valuable to our plan. Their rich supply of hosts will allow us to double our efforts against the Andalites." His glowing eyes, the only visible part of him, focused on one member of his Council.


Nine looked at him.

"You will journey to Earth. You will relieve Sub-Visser 84 of his command and deal out the necessary punishment. Then you will oversee the continuation of the infestation of Earth."

"Yes, Emperor," Nine said, nodding. Nine stood up and proceeded to move towards the door.

"Oh, and Nine?"

"Yes, Emperor?"

"Don't underestimate these humans."

"Yes, Emperor." Nine walked through the doors and nodded to the guards.

A malicious grin spread across Nine's face.

Chapter Two

202 9

No. T'auk's mother was indignant. I will not allow this. I will not allow you to board that Dome Ship to Earth. There is a full scale attack on that planet!

The one-year-old Andalite turned to look at his mother. I'm almost two, he said. The Electorate has specifically requested my presence on the StarSword. It's the first time she's been in space since they had her refitted. I've already sent in my papers. You can't change my mind.

Just wait until your father hears about this, his mother threatened.

T'auk continued to prepare for leave. I've already done what you've asked by becoming a scientist rather than a fighter pilot, Mother. It's not like I'll be doing any of the fighting myself. You're so overprotective! Just because of what happened before, you think --


A tall male entered the scoop. Don't you dare bring up what happened before, and don't you dare speak to your mother that way. I just found out that you have signed up for the science legion on the StarSword. I won't allow it.

T'auk narrowed all four of his eyes. He wasn't afraid of his father, nor was he afraid of his mother. The Electorate has summoned me, he said calmly and coolly. I've already signed up. I am going to Earth. There is nothing you can do to change that. He picked up his flight bag. If you have a problem, take it up with the Electorate.

He marched past his parents.

Night had fallen. The StarSword was set to depart from docking bay six at dawn. T'auk didn't need to report until three hours before the scheduled departure time. Five hours before departure, he found himself standing solemnly near the river that flowed at the edge of his family's property. It had been two hours since he'd stormed out of his scoop, and neither his mother nor his father had come after him.


T'auk whirled around, his tail ready.

It's just me! a soft voice said. T'auk relaxed his tail as the figure stepped into the moonlight.

Aimesea had been T'auk's shorm since they were foals. Now, almost two, they were a couple as well. It was unusual for Andalites to pair off at such an early age, but for the two it seemed natural. T'auk realized with a start that this would be the first time they had been apart for so long.

Hi, he said quietly, lowering his tail to the ground. How did you know I was here?

She smiled. Your parents called mine, asking if you'd stopped by. I guessed that you probably didn't want to talk to them. It's about the StarSword, isn't it?

He folded his legs beneath him and leaned against a rock. Yes, he sighed. They found out while I was packing. He gaze swept towards the flight bag nestled in the bushes. So did Aimesea's.

You couldn't have kept it a secret forever, she said softly.

I know, he agreed. I was just hoping that I'd already be light years away from here when they found out. They could tell from what I was packing that I wasn't getting ready for a serenity trip with Jassel.

Aimesea laughed. I told you they wouldn't go for that.

T'auk smiled for the first time that night. Trust Aimesea to lighten up the mood a little. So I left early, he finished. Now I've got two hours to kill, and I don't know what to do.

She walked over to him and settled on the grass beside him. I'm glad I caught you, actually, she said, all laughter gone. I know we said our good-byes yesterday, but it just didn't feel right, being so casual and all. She leaned forward and softly caressed the side of his face. I'm going to miss you.

T'auk closed his eyes briefly, savoring the kiss. When she pulled her hand away, he took it in hers. And I'll miss you, he murmured, kissing her softly. Suddenly, everything that he'd been holding down erupted, and he pulled her close. Aimesea gasped softly as they kissed again, with more passion than ever before.

Should we stop? he murmured, stroking her head gently.

No, Aimesea breathed.

T'auk clutched his flight bag as he approached the Tactical Officer of the ship. War-Prince Breeyar was a renowned warrior – he had been stationed on the StarSword years earlier, back when Captain Feyorn had been in charge. Though that had been six years earlier {Author's note: one Andalite year is equivalent to seven Earth years} and Breeyar was now a little over ten years old, he still carried within him the knowledge and skill that he did when he was three.

As the line moved forward, T'auk scanned the growing crowd. The StarSword wasn't due to depart for three more hours, and already people were beginning to gather. But T'auk was interested in only one person: Aimesea.

She'd been asleep by the river when he'd roused himself. He hadn't had the heart to wake her up, and though he hadn't wanted to leave, he knew he had to. This might be his one chance to escape his parents' overbearing hold on his life. He'd written her a quick note explaining where he went. He only hoped she'd see it before dawn.

Science officer T'auk-Emanel-Cooraf reporting for duty, T'auk said when he approached the T.O.

Breeyar nodded, a twinkle in his eye. Yes, of course. Commissioned by the Electorate themselves. I was wondering when you'd get here. He handed T'auk a slip of paper. Report to Doctor Coalmeer-Shwad-Algro for your assignments.

Thank you, sir, he said, bowing his head and taking the paper. The crowd had grown, and once again he scanned for her. When he saw no sign of her, he took a step towards the boarding plank.


He stopped and turned around. Pushing her way through the crowd was Aimesea! Glancing at the T.O, he hurried forward and stopped her at the edge of the crowd. T'auk and Aimesea's relationship was watched with amusement by several people – they all knew about it. Everyone decidedly gave them space, and no one commented.

I was afraid I wouldn't catch you, Aimesea said, looking up at him.

T'auk smiled slowly. I'm glad you did.

I love you, she whispered.

He looked down at his shorm and, now, lover. I love you too, Aimes. He kissed her gently. Behind him, the siren blasts for launch preparation began, and he was forced to break the kiss. I'll be back, he said. I promise.

You better! she called as he hurried to the loading dock.

He stopped and turned at the entrance, and continued to watch as the loading dock doors closed, and blocked her from view.

Chapter Three


Well, T'auk, what do you think?

Dr. Coalmeer looked over at the young scientist with whom he had worked with for the past two Earth years. They were getting their first scan reading of Earth.

Despite all the horror and war that the planet had seen over its years, T'auk had to admit that the planet was quite beautiful. There's a lot more water than there is on Cranger, T'auk mentioned.

Coalmeer nodded. Yes – the planet's surface is mostly water. Land only covers about 25% of the surface. They have four major oceans and several seas. The two white masses at the top and bottom of the planet are large ice caps. Frozen water.

T'auk nodded. I can see why the environmentalists want to preserve this world.

Behind them, Tactical Officer Breeyar entered the room. Hey, you two. What are you doing?

Coalmeer and T'auk turned to greet the new arrival. Just looking at the scan readings, T'auk said. What about you? It's not often that we see you so far from the bridge.

Captain Galuit wanted me to inform you that, once we come out of Z-Space, we'll be expecting several Yeerk forces. Since neither of you are going to be expected to fight, we want you ready to evacuate.

Evacuate? Coalmeer repeated. Why?

Breeyar sighed. The last Dome Ship we sent into this area was the Galaxy Tree. As you probably know, that was the fight where we lost Princes Nerefir and Elfangor, as well as several other warriors, doctors, scientists, and cadets. That was 35 Earth years ago. The Yeerk force is expected to have almost tripled since then.

Any news on who leads the invasion now that Visser One has been pronounced dead? Coalmeer asked.

There are rumors that Nine has taken control.

T'auk and Coalmeer both turned to look at the Andalite Prince. Nine? T'auk managed to choke out. A Council of Thirteen member is overseeing Earth? I thought this was only a Level Six civilization!

Breeyar nodded. It is. But, if you remember, Visser One had a lot of problems in the beginning. Humans, it appears, are very resistant to slavery. They have very profound ideas about freedom. They even had a war over it in one of their countries. And then there was the small band back in the 1990s … well, that's what I heard, anyway. Most of that is classified.

If it comes to an evacuation,Coalmeer said, will we head towards the planet surface?

It's the most probable point, Breeyar confirmed. But let's hope it won't come to that. A voice crackled over the intercom system, requesting his presence at the bridge, so Breeyar said his good-byes and left.

Come on, T'auk, Coalmeer said. We better start preparing.

As they began wrapping up equipment and specimens, T'auk asked, What did Breeyar mean? About a small band in the 1990s?

Coalmeer sighed. It's very classified – Prince Lirem-Arrepoth-Terouss himself ordered that. See, back in the Earth year 1997, we received a Z-Space communication call from a radio telescope on Earth. A young Andalite cadet – his name wasn't released – whom everyone had believed dead had actually survived, and was continuing to fight the Yeerks.

One cadet? How old was he?

Not much older than you, actually, Coalmeer said. My father, who worked with communications then, received the call himself.

But why was it classified? T'auk set down the instrument he was holding and looked at his friend.

No one is certain, Coalmeer said slowly, but a rumor circulated that the resistance was human. A small troupe of morph-capable humans.

It was T'auk's turn to be surprised. Morph-capable humans? That's unreal! Andalites are the only ones with that technology! Did the cadet give them the power?

No one knows, Coalmeer said. And I doubt we will ever find out. The resistance disappeared in the year 1999.

They were destroyed?

No one knows. Coalmeer sighed and looked at an instrument panel. We're about to come out of Z-Space. Breeyar will no doubt want the two of us ready by the evacuation launches. Do you have everything?

Just a minute. T'auk reached across his work station and removed a small holo. There were two pictures inside. One was of his parents. The other was of his love, Aimesea. It'd been two Earth years since they'd seen each other. I never go anywhere without them.

A mechanical voice sounded throughout the ship. Exiting Zero Space. Entering Milky Way Galaxy, System 22, Planet Earth.

Coalmeer and T'auk headed for the launch bays, talking and joking about the two years that had gone by. At least they've begun to let females into the military, Coalmeer said. I always thought they'd make good pilots.

T'auk just shook his head. You've thought they'd make more than good pilots, he teased the older Andalite.

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

T'auk was about to answer when suddenly, the entire ship rocked. Red lights began to flash, and Breeyar's voice came over the system. All units report to fighter bays. All units report to fighter bays. Everyone else, prepare for possible evacuation. This is the real deal, folks, so lets make it happen.

All joking ceased as Coalmeer and T'auk exchanged glances. They knew how serious Breeyar's announcement was, despite his attempt at loosening things up. The StarSword was under attack.

For several hours, the battle raged. A small handful of Andalites were waiting by the evacuation pods. Suddenly, Breeyar appeared. The Captain was right behind him, as well as a few bridge officers. We have other evacuation pods preparing, Galuit said. Let's start filling up.

What's going on, sir? A female pilot named Shamia asked.

The Yeerks have just brought an Empire ship out of Z-Space, he said grimly as he boarded the launch. As soon as everyone here is loaded, jettison away from the ship.

Sir, there are only fifteen here, Shamia said. We can hold at least twice as much.

Galuit nodded. We could, if there were twice that much to hold. We're all that's left in this sector of the ship.

Another blow shook the Dome ship. T'auk suddenly realized why his parents had been so afraid. This was why.

Coalmeer and T'auk exchanged glances, then nodded in agreement. There was no telling what might happen.

Launch sequence initiated, Shamia's co-pilot said.

Every Andalite tensed up as they were ejected from the StarSword's launch bay. Outside in space, a battle raged between Class A Bug Fighters and Andalite Photon Blasters. Dracon beams and Shredders ripped through the cold blackness of space.

Do you see any other launches? T'auk whispered.

No, Breeyar replied.

Shamia, Galuit said. Head for Earth.

Heading for Earth.

The launch turned towards the planet. No one noticed.

That was too easy, Galuit said a moment later, after they had slipped right between two Yeerk Scouts. I don't like this.

Sir! Imoteo exclaimed. Radar is picking up a Bug Fighter heading straight for us.

Prepare to enter the atmosphere, Galuit ordered tensely.

Coalmeer stared at the captain. Entering the atmosphere at a breakaway dive? he whispered. Captain, that's suicide! There's no way our hull temperature can withstand that.

Galuit stared right back. A Skrit Na freighter once raced through the Taxxon world atmosphere at a Maximum Burn, and fired three shredder blasts. It, and its two pilots, survived. Are you telling me that our M-class Evacuation Pod can't handle a breakaway dive through an atmosphere of twelve-thousand kilo-dense?

Coalmeer was shocked. A Skrit Na freighter . . .? No, sir. I guess maybe we can handle it.

We're sure as hell going to try, Galuit said. Shamia, take us into the breakaway dive.

Breakaway dive commencing.

Hang on to something, T'auk, Coalmeer said quietly. This could get rough.

T'auk gulped and gripped the safety rail attached to the wall of the launch with one hand. In the other hand, he gripped the holo of his family. He wondered if he would ever see them again, than dismissed the thought. He had to see them again. He'd promised Aimesea that he'd be back.

Entering the atmosphere.

None of them were prepared for the backwash of heat that filled the launch as they dove full out into the atmosphere of the planet below. Almost everyone except for Breeyar and the two pilots stumbled backwards as the launch began to tilt downwards and the pressure began to build up. Keep her steady! Breeyar shouted. We don't want to lose anyone back here.

Bug Scout's on our tail, sir! Imoteo shouted, glancing at the radar screen.

Continue breakaway dive, Galuit said tightly. We can't let them catch us.

Shamia looked grimly at the status report on the computer interface. Sir, we can't keep this up much longer. The launch was damaged in the initial hit to the StarSword. We have to land somewhere.

That Bug Scout can't catch up to us, Galuit said grimly. We're the only Andalites left in this sector, and I will not give into those body-snatching slugs. A look of vengeance was in his eyes as he thought about his deceased wife and children. They hadn't even been killed in battle: they'd been slaughtered helplessly. And there was another reason, too. I promised a friend I'd protect this planet, he said softly.

Breeyar and Coalmeer looked at him, but tactfully didn't say anything. They went back to just trying not to fall to the back of the ship.

We're losing control, Imoteo reported. We have to come out of the atmosphere!

What's the status on that Scout?

He's weakening, but too slowly, Shamia answered.

Do we have weapons systems on this launch?

No, sir.

Galuit sighed. All right, then. Prepare for an emergency --

He didn't get a chance to finish his sentence. All of a sudden, a bright beam of light shot from the Bug Scout's left Dracon beam, skimming the sky, and slamming directly into the hull of the launch. They never saw it coming.

The last thing Galuit saw before slipping into unconsciousness was a large crack appearing in the middle of the ship.

Slowly, Breeyar opened his eyes. First his main eyes, then his stalk eyes. He was dimly aware of lying flat on his side, with a shooting pain in his skull. Gingerly, he reached up with his hand and touched the back of his head. When he withdrew, blood covered his fingertips.

A rustle behind him told him that he wasn't alone. Grimacing as he moved, he managed to sort of climb to his feet, although he had to hold onto the rock he'd hit his head on for support. Behind him, Dr. Coalmeer was struggling to get up. Coalmeer? Breeyar asked. Are you okay?

My leg is broken, he said with the authority doctors often had in their voices. I won't be walking anywhere soon. Where's everyone else?

I don't know, Breeyar muttered. Captain? Shamia? T'auk? Are you out there?

Ungh. A though-speak groan caught their attention. Half covered by shrapnel from the wrecked ship, Captain Galuit was desperately trying to free himself. Captain! Breeyar shouted.

I'm okay, Galuit said quickly. Shamia and Imoteo are still in the ship. I don't think anyone else survived.

Coalmeer looked around frantically. T'auk! he shouted. Where's T'auk?

Shhh. Shamia stumbled out of the ship, half supporting Imoteo's weight. Breeyar quickly hurried over to give her a hand. He's not here, she said. Half the ship was blown away in the atmosphere – it could have landed anywhere within a thousand mile radius. We're missing about half of the crew – T'auk could be with them.

We need to find him, Coalmeer said immediately.

Galuit finally got loose of the shrapnel. He had a long cut down his right arm and his left flank. One stalk eye looked badly bruised. You're not going anywhere on that leg, he said with conviction. How's Imoteo?

Alive but unconscious, Shamia reported. We need to get to shelter soon – night's going to fall.

Breeyar couldn't help but look around at the planet's surface. So this is Earth, he said, gazing at the wild foliage around them. Doesn't look like people have been taking care of it recently.

They've probably just been trying to stay alive, Galuit said. Which is what we should be doing.

A tree moved.

Hey! Coalmeer shouted in surprise. Did you see that?

See what?

The tree moved again, and so did a bush.


Breeyar shook his head. I didn't – hey! The rock Breeyar was leaning against suddenly moved, and he almost lost his hold on Imoteo and his balance. What the – are these things alive or something?

"Not really alive," a calm voice said. "More like programmed to act that way."

They turned to look at the strangest thing they had ever seen.

"My name is Chee-Tala," the small robot said. A hologram of a human woman appeared around it. Many refer to me simply as 'Jenny'. Welcome to Earth."

Chapter Four

2032 – Present day

In the middle of a torn up neighborhood, six figures suddenly appear out of mid-air.

"Hello," one of them said. "Where are we?"

A tall, blond female looked around. "I think we're on Earth."

The first one shook his head. "No. This can't be Earth. I know what Earth looks like. Remember? I was born on Earth."

"So were the rest of us, duh," another boy said. "With the exception of the Ax-man here."

Everyone looked at the boy in surprise. "Tobias!" the blond exclaimed. "You're human!"

Tobias shrugged. "Don't ask me."


"And the immortal one speaks," muttered the first boy. "What else would you like to tell us?"


"I don't think he's going to answer you," a third boy said unnecessarily.

"So what else is new." The first boy shrugged, then looked around. "Okay. There's no people around. Everything's destroyed. It looks like my room."

The shorter female reached down and picked something up off the ground. "Marco," she said, "it is your room."

Marco looked at what apparently used to be part of his stereo at one point, but was now just a useless, melted, misshapen pile of plastic. "They trashed my sound system," he said dully. Then he gritted his teeth. "Now they will pay."

The only non-human in the bunch, a young Andalite, looked around. First we must figure out when we are. We have the where, when need to when. It is obvious that quite a lot of time has past since we were last here. Prince Jake, may I morph to human?

"That would be a good idea, Ax," Jake said, scanning the area for signs of life. "And don't call me Prince."

"Yes, Prince Jake," Ax said, now fully human.

"Do you think the mall is still standing?" the blond wondered.

Marco rolled his eyes. "The mall is not our top priority right now, Rachel."

"What is our top priority?" the second girl asked.

Jake sighed. "At this moment, I don't really know. Maybe we should just look around for signs of life."

Marco nodded. "And if it's a hurt clam or something, Cassie can rescue it."

Cassie punched him lightly on the shoulder. "Ow!" Marco cried in mock protest. "No beating up on the fragile and cute one, please."

"Give me a break," Rachel muttered. "You know, I'm starting to wish Erek had come back with us. He'd probably be a real help right about now."

"Ax, can you figure out what year we're in?" Jake asked.

Ax bit his lip. "The planet's rotation has changed slightly – it will take a moment for my internal clock to calibrate the change."

"How big a moment?"

"Two days," Ax said.


Tobias suddenly looked around. "Did you guys here that?"

"Hear what?" Marco asked. "I didn't hear anything. I think all those years with hawk hearing is causing you to hear things, Bird-boy."

"Wait!" Rachel hissed. "I hear it, too. Voices."

Jake crouched down behind a half-crumbled wall. "Get down," he snapped. "If it's Controllers, we can't let them see us."

"There!" Cassie exclaimed quietly. "A couple of kids, coming this way."

Two boys, appearing to be the same age as the six, were moving silently and stealthily through the rubble. One was tall, with long hair and the beginnings of a mustache on his upper lip. The other one, the one doing the talking, was short, also with long hair (but not as long) and seemed very sure of himself. Both were carrying weapons, but it was impossible to see what kind.

Suddenly the tall boy stopped, tapped the other one on the shoulder, and pointed in the direction of the wall. "Oh man, they see us!" Marco yelped.

"Move, move, move!" Jake commanded. He stood up and started to turn around.

"Freeze! Freeze or I'll shoot!"

"Do as he says," Jake whispered, freezing.

The two boys hurried over, pointing their guns at the new arrivals. "All right," said the shorter boy, the one who had spoken earlier. "Tell me who you are. You don't dress like a Controller, but you don't look like a Rebel, either."

"Rebel?" Marco squeaked. "What is this, the Civil War?"

"Wrong fight, Marco," Rachel snapped. "That was the Union and the Confederate. We learned that in school just before we left, remember?"

The shorter boy arched an eyebrow. "You're joking, right? School? No one's gone to school for ten years. Everything we learn, we learn from the older people."

"What do you mean, no one's gone to school?" Jake turned around. "What year is it? How did everything get like this?

The taller boy looked at his friend skeptically. "Just humor them," the shorter boy muttered. He looked back at the group. "It's the year 2032," he said. "It's been fifteen years since the bombs dropped that wiped out the national capitals of the world."

The six kids stared at each other in shock. "2032?" Cassie whispered. "But that's impossible!"

Ax shook his head. "Not impossible, really. The Ellimist said that we wouldn't return to the same time that we left. It's very probable that they are telling the truth, and that it really is 33 years from when we left."

"Now I'm confused," the shorter boy said. He kept his gun pointed at Marco. "Tell me what's going on."

Easy, Geoff, Carson.

Everyone started at the thought-speak voice.

The shorter boy turned around. "Captain Galuit," he said, nodding to the approaching Andalite. "We didn't know you were on patrol."

I didn't expect to be, Geoff, Galuit said. He looked at the six. I don't suppose you would remember me.

Jake and Ax looked at him. "Leera, right? 1998?" Jake asked. "You were the Force Commander in charge of blowing up that big continent."

Galuit nodded. Geoff and Carson exchanged glances. "Wait a minute," Geoff said. "You know these guys?"

Galuit nodded again. Congratulations, you two. You've just found the missing resistance. I don't know how they got here, or where they've been, but by the gods it's a good thing you've returned.

"You mean . . .?" Geoff started at Jake.

These are the Animorphs.

Chapter Five

Galuit, Geoff, and Carson began to lead the Animorphs back to their hideout. While they walked, they told their story.

"The bombs fell in 2017," Geoff began, "shortly after the arrival of the invasion's newest leader, Nine."

"Nine?" Marco echoed. "Boy, did they run out of good names when they got to him."

Galuit laughed derisively. Don't mock Nine, Marco. Nine is a member of the Council of Thirteen, and one of the most bloodthirsty Yeerks around. Nine is worse than Visser One. That's Visser Three to you.

Marco stopped grinning and began to look slightly green.

"Nine took over for Sub-Visser 84 (no one knows what became of him), and suddenly, we humans lost the upper hand. The bombs fell, and more than three thousand people were killed. Twice that many were captured. Only a small handful of us, the ones who knew about the invasion and chose to do something about it, hid underground. Carson and I were born hiding." Geoff was talking and scanning for enemies at the same time. He didn't sound like he really cared that he had never known true freedom.

So you hide? said Ax, who had demorphed.

"That doesn't explain what you're doing here, Galuit," Jake said.

My ship, the StarSword was sent to Earth in 2029, he said. A year ago Earth time, we reached this planet and came out of Z-Space, only to be forced to evacuate. My evacuation launch was the only one to survive, and we were shot down in the atmosphere. The launch split apart, and half of our crew disappeared with it. The other half – my half – crashed about three miles from here. Five of us survived. He sighed. We were all badly injured, but the Chee rescued us and took us to their underground cavern.

"So, do you fight the Yeerks or hide?" Tobias wondered. "Are those weapons self-defense or what?"

"These weapons are stolen merchandise from the Yeerk compound," Geoff said. "Until recently, when we began building our own, the only way we could get them was to steal them."

The Yeerks may run this planet, but they can't call it their territory until they've gotten every last one of the Rebels, Galuit said. The Rebels are any free human on the surface – or in our case, under it.

"That still doesn't answer my question," Tobias pointed out.

"We fight them," Geoff replied. "Or we try to. We're a small resistance, really. We have one base underground, which thankfully the Yeerks haven't found. It's the fourth base we've built, and this one is actually thriving."

It's more like an underground city, really, Galuit said. Much of it is part of the Chee cavern. Even though the Chee can't fight, they are great allies.

"We total about one hundred and thirty members at this moment," Geoff added.

"Members?" Rachel repeated. "Of what?"

Of the AAA, Galuit replied. The Andalite-Animorph Alliance. It's a secret resistance that we Andalites helped build up, with the help of our human friends. We are a separate militia from the regular Andalite military – they don't know we exist. And we'd like to keep it that way, for now. Aside from the 130 members on base, we have smaller encampments all over the world. Twelve, in all. At least one on every continent aside from Antarctica.

Jake raised his eyebrows. "You mean that humans have actually built a resistance against the Yeerks?"

Geoff nodded. "It's a pretty decent one, actually. Before the Andalites came, we were a sad bunch. Then they came and helped us get the city underway. We've got running water, electricity, all the necessities. A lot we've had to steal from the Yeerks, but we hope to eventually change that."

When do we get to see this base? Ax asked.

Carson stepped up to a large rock and, glancing both ways, shoved it aside. An artificially made tunnel was underneath. Right now, Galuit said. The base is inside the mountains, and we have several tunnels leading to it. We should be there before dark. Motioning for them to follow him, he stepped down into the dimly lit tunnel. Carson came last, pushing the rock back in place.

A Human-Controller pushed his way through to Nine's chamber. "I have an urgent report for Nine," he said breathlessly. "I need to speak to Nine immediately."

The guards glanced at each other, and conferred quietly. One of them pressed a small button on an intercom. A moment later, a buzzing sound was heard, and the doors swung open.


The Controller stepped forward into the dark chamber. Nine stood behind a large desk. When the Controller entered, Nine nodded and sat down. "What is this urgent report for me?"

The Controller was breathing heavily from running. "I was on patrolling duty when I saw two human children. I recognized one of them as part of the AAA, and I think the other one was a member as well. I went closer, to see if perhaps they would lead me to their base, but instead they led me to six humans. Human children."


He narrowed his eyes. "I recognized the children. Four of them were declared missing back in the year 1999. My host was sixteen at the time, and we remember it well. My host recognized one of the humans."

Nine suddenly leaned forward. "The morph-capable humans?" Nine demanded.

He nodded. "It's the right count, and they appeared to be extremely confused. Had it not been for the fact that Force Commander War-Prince Galuit-Enilon-Esgarrouth showed up on the scene then, I probably would've attempted to capture them at that moment. But as it was, I made another discovery.

"I continued to follow them, to make sure that I wasn't hallucinating, and I discovered the names of the two boys, Geoff and Carson. I also discovered that the Animorphs, as they call themselves, were in fact involved in the loss of Leera. It appears that they have been in bio-stasis since 1999, because they look exactly the same age as they did when they left."

"Is that all you discovered?" Nine wanted to know.

"No, my liege," he said. "I also found one of the AAA's secret tunnels to their mountain base. And I know how to get inside."

Nine smiled, a truly terrifying sight. "Very good. You will most definitely get a promotion for this." Nine stood up and prepared to order a meeting when it stopped. "You said you knew one of the children."

He nodded. "I'm not clear on the names of the others – it's been thirty-three years, after all – but the one in charge is the younger brother of my host body."

"What is his name?"

The Controller smiled. "Jacob McCain. He was fourteen when he disappeared."

Chapter Six

Once they had arrived at the base, everyone was thoroughly exhausted. Even though all six Animorphs were eager to see the base, Galuit insisted that they get some rest first.

Jake woke up early the next morning in the room that Galuit had given him. Marco was in the bed on the other side of the room, snoring softly. Jake shook his head and thought, Well, at least he's not talking in his sleep. Then he noticed something folded up on a chair next to his bed. He got up and picked it up.

It was a uniform. He remembered a show he used to watch on the Sci-Fi channel called SeaQuest DSV. This uniform looked a lot like the ones on the show. It was a one piece navy blue jumpsuit with a white turtleneck underneath. A hat came with the outfit, and a pair of shoes as well. The hat had this symbol embroidered on it:


On the breast pocket of the uniform, the same symbol was written, smaller, but there was something underneath it.

J. McCain

Status: Animorph

"Cool," Jake said softly, fingering the fabric. He grabbed the rest of the uniform and a towel, and hurried into the bathroom. He wasn't looking his best and, let's face it, he hadn't had a shower in about a week – or thirty-three years, depending on how you looked at it. He was glad Galuit had said that there was running water.

Stepping out of the bathroom half an hour later, wearing the complete ensemble and placing the hat on his head, he grabbed a pillow and threw it at Marco. "Hey, Sinclair," he said, walking over to his sleeping friend. "Marco. Wake up."

Marco snored louder. "Marco," Jake said, shaking him a little. Marco rolled over onto his stomach and shoved a pillow over his head. But Jake was determined to get him out of bed. Going around to the other side, he grabbed the mattress. "Have it your way," he said, pulling the mattress up and sending Marco and everything else rolling.

"Hey!" Marco protested. "What was … where'd you get the uniform?"

Jake grinned and put the mattress back down. "I found it when I woke up," he said. "There's one for you, too. Now go take a shower and get changed. Rachel's probably already up and demanding to know what's taking us so long."

Marco muttered something under his breath, grabbed the uniform and headed for the bathroom. "What time is it?" he asked from the shower.

"Seven o' clock, I think," Jake called back as he started picking up.

Marco stuck his head out the curtain. "Seven o' clock in the morning? What are you doing, waking me up this early?"

"Galuit said they run this place on a 30 hour day," Jake said, not paying attention to Marco's indignant tone. "It's really not that early."

Marco continued his shower, muttering under his breath every few seconds.

When he came out, where a snug-fitting uniform a lot like Jake's, only with the name M. Sinclair instead of J. McCain on the pocket, and his hat in his hand instead of on his head so that his hair could dry, he sat down on the bed Jake had just finished with. Combing his fingers through his now damp hair, Marco asked, "Do you think anyone we know is here? I mean, I know they'd be a lot older, but I'm still curious."

Jake nodded. "So am I. I'm hoping we'll find out some information about Tom. Maybe we could ask Galuit, or if he's busy, Geoff or Carson."

"I doubt Carson would tell us anything," Marco said. "He didn't talk once yesterday."

Jake grinned. "With Geoff around, he probably doesn't need to."

Someone knocked on the door. "Are you guys awake in there?" Tobias demanded.

"Yeah. We're coming." Jake grabbed Marco's arm. "I don't know about you, but I'm starving. Let's see what kind of food they have around this place."

"If everyone here is a vegetarian, I'm going to scream," Marco muttered, following sedately behind his friend.

Fifteen minutes later, the six of them, plus Geoff and Carson, were seated around a round table in the cafeteria. "So, have you gotten a chance to look around yet?" Geoff asked.

Cassie shook her head. "About the only thing we've seen is what was on the way here."

Carson grinned and took a bite of his breakfast. He glanced over at Marco, who was staring at an orange on his plate. Marco held the orange up. "This," he said, "is a perfect orange. It's a perfect sphere, with a perfect blend of vitamins and citrus, with the perfect amount of juice, and the perfect shade of orange."

"Your point?" Jake asked, shoving a forkful of eggs into his mouth.

"It's not an orange," Marco said. "No orange can be this perfect." He hit it against the table a few times, then held it up. "It doesn't even bruise! It's abnormal."

Geoff laughed. "That's because it's a chemically engineered orange, grown in our very own laboratory. With almost every animal, even cattle, on the endangered species list and the impossibility of growing food in a garden, we had to figure out some way to get our food. We can't exactly go to the grocery – hold on a second."

Carson was tapping Geoff on the shoulder, looking annoyed. When Geoff looked at him, he started moving his hands frantically. First he held up his pinkie and placed the fist of his hand against his chest, followed by crossing the index and middle fingers and drawing them away from his mouth, then pointing at Geoff, next moving both index fingers back and forth from his lips at the time, and finally doing a few quick hand signals. He ended the flurry of activity by tracing a question mark in the air.

Everyone stared at Carson. "What that all about?" Jake asked.

Geoff positioned himself so that they could hear him, and so that Carson could read his lips. "I guess we forgot to mention that Carson is deaf. He lost his hearing when he was five, so he can speak, but it's sort of muffled. He can read lips, but mostly he prefers communicating in sign language. Some of us have to be fluent in it in order for him to keep up in the AAA."

"What was he saying just then?" Marco asked.

Carson tapped the table. "Ask me yourself," he said in a muffled voice. "I can read lips."

"What were you saying just then?" Marco repeated, looking at him.

"I could not understand what Geoff was saying," Carson said slowly. "He was not facing me. I asked him what he was talking about."

"Wow," Cassie breathed. Carson looked at her, confused. "I'm sorry," she said, shaking her head. "It's just that I've never met a deaf person before. I've never seen sign language, either."

Carson just shrugged, then signed something to Geoff. Geoff turned to Cassie. "He said he'd be glad to teach you some signs sometime. He'll teach some to all of you, if you want."

Jake smiled. "That'd be great."

Ax looked confused. What does 'deaf' mean?

Geoff sighed. "It means that a person can't hear anything. Carson was born hearing, but when he was five he came down with meningitis and lost his ability to hear sounds. That's why he can lip read, and speak words."

Oh, was all Ax said. He didn't quite understand it. Andalites communicated using thought-speak, which didn't involve the ears, and he'd never heard of an Andalite losing his ability to hear.

Geoff stood up and smiled. "Come on. Let's get rid of our chemically engineered trash, and Carson and I'll show you around. By the way, those uniforms look good on you."

"Chemically engineered trash," Marco muttered, looking at the perfect orange peel on his tray. "Thrills of the future." He tossed the peel into the trash, set his tray on a pile, and trooped after the group.

Chapter Seven

"Over here we've got the med-bay," Geoff said, "and behind that is the laboratory. The command center is smack in the middle of the entire complex. We've got apartment buildings, and a engineered park – we've got a lot of things."

"But no school," Tobias commented. "I don't get it. I see kids here – no school."

"Actually, we do have one – it just doesn't teach us about history and reading and stuff. Our parents or guardians take care of that."

"The school is more like a training camp," Carson added.

{Author's note: Considering that we now have a deaf character in the story, whenever you see anything in "…", the character is speaking. Regular italics is when they're using sign language, and "italics" is when a character is signing and speaking at the same time. Just thought I'd mention it before anyone got too confused. J }

"Not everyone actually joins the AAA," continued Geoff. "And not everyone wears the standard uniform. Carson and I are civilians working undercover for the AAA. We go out to the surface and spy on the Yeerks. Carson's a great spy because, as long as he can see your mouth, he can figure out what you're saying."

"And I'm very good with reading body language," Carson said, smiling modestly.

"I bet," Rachel agreed.

Tobias was looking towards the roof of the cavern. "Hey, are those birds up there?" he asked suddenly.

Geoff looked up. "Yup. We've been raising them ever since every bird on the surface was wiped out. The only animals that exist anymore are the ones the Yeerks raise for food, and the ones the AAA protects as endangered. It'll be awhile before the species begin to come back. We built the aviary so they could have somewhere to fly underground."

"How many species do you have?" Cassie asked.

"About twenty," replied Geoff. "That's just in this complex. There's an encampment or two, one is Australia and one in Africa, completely dedicated to protecting the animals. We have about five different bird types: cardinal, harpy eagle, woodpecker, merlin, and two eggs from a Harris hawk that haven't hatched yet. We're hoping one will be male and the other female – otherwise we may have to genetically evolve mates so that they can breed. Some of those up there actually are genetically created so that the breeds can survive."

"You're really working to save them," Cassie commented.

The animals on Earth are part of what makes this planet so beautiful, a deep voice said from behind them. Humans aren't the only creatures that need protecting from the Yeerks.

Geoff turned around, and so did Carson. "Hey, Breeyar," Geoff greeted the Andalite. "Jake, Marco, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, Ax, I'd like you to meet --"

War-Prince Breeyar-Shamtul-Arrepoth, Ax whispered in awe.

Have we met? Breeyar asked.

N-no, but I've heard of you, Ax said quickly. My brother, Prince Elfangor, was stationed on the StarSword with you when he was just an aristh.

Breeyar's eyes lit up in recognition. Your brother was Elfangor? That must mean you're Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthil. It's a pleasure to meet you, after all these years. You're looking mighty well for your age.

The ice was immediately broken, and soon everyone was talking like they'd known each other for years. Breeyar amused the Animorphs with stories about when Elfangor had been stationed on the StarSword. I remember one time when he and aristh Arbron – excuse me, Warrior Arbron – sneaked onto the bridge during a systems check. We were checking the intercom system, and Elfangor was directly next to the speaker when the sound check went off. He complained about his head ringing for weeks!

He never told me that! Ax said, laughing.

No doubt he didn't, Breeyar agreed. Elfangor never was one to talk about his shortcomings, was he?

"He still isn't," Tobias said, then clamped his hand over his mouth. It was too late, though – the damage was already done.

Geoff, Carson, and Breeyar looked at him. Suddenly each and every one of the Animorphs were very uncomfortable. They'd agreed not to mention a word about the Golden Communities, or Elysia, because they didn't want their credibility tainted. {And take it from me, the author: if you told someone you'd spent the last 33 years in the land of the dead with a bunch of people from the past, and you never aged a year, your credibility would be tainted, too. Not to mention you'd be trying to figure out how to decorate a large room with padded walls.}

What did you say? Breeyar asked. And what's your name?

Tobias gulped. "My name is Tobias," he said. "Tobias O'Conner. And, um, well, you see --"


Galuit was standing in the entranceway to a hallway. Tobias nervously turned to looked at him. "Yes?"

Come here for a minute. I'd like to speak to you. Breeyar, why don't you take our friends to the training center and show them around for a bit. Galuit shook his head when Breeyar started to say something. I'll notify you when I'm through.

Yes, sir, Breeyar said.

And Tobias, looking like a dog with his tail between his legs, walked slowly over to Galuit.

Chapter Eight

Meanwhile, elsewhere, someplace many miles away (but still in Buffalo and not over the rainbow), Thomas McCain, also known as Tom, sat silently on the bottom of a large metal cage that had been his home for every three days for thirty-six years. For several years, he'd screamed at the guards outside his cage. Then he'd pleaded. Then begged. Now, he just sat there, thinking about what life used to be like.

Only now he was thinking about how good it would feel to grab the Yeerk that had sold out his brother and squeeze him until he popped, or maybe stuff him in a shell, fry him , and have escargots for dinner. He'd never had escargots before, but he'd eat them just to get a rise out of the Yeerks if he had to.

I'll never complain about snails for the rest of my life, he thought, just as long as I get out of this place.

Tom looked out through the bars of the cage and dismally noted that a Hork-Bajir was on his way towards him. He was the only host in the cage, so that meant his new Yeerk was ready. Thanks to the information his old slug had given Nine, he was being given to a lesser Yeerk. Guess it's back to guard duty, Tom thought with a derisive laugh.

The Hork-Bajir opened the cage and grabbed him roughly. Tom knew better than to protest, though – a Gedd had done that a few days ago and had been served to the Taxxons for dinner that evening.

Tom had the routine down: walk to the end of pier, get on your knees, mutter a few indecent comments, get your head shoved under the water, and sit in the corner of your mind for the next three days threatening to do bodily harm to the thing controlling your body.

But this time, it was different. When Tom's head came out of the pool, he wasn't locked away in some corner of his mine. Confused, Tom walked away in a daze. He had felt the Yeerk crawl into his head. It should have seized control.

But I don't want control, Tom, a voice said.

Who are you? What's going on?

My name is Acissej – call me Aci. Since you appear surprise, I'm betting you've never heard of the Yeerk Peace Movement, have you?

Um, no.

Okay. I'll fill you in as we go. You're going to need to act like a Controller while we're around other people until we get there, though.

Get where?

The AAA base, Aci replied. We have to warn your brother.

Tobias was seated on a couch in Galuit's office. He'd just finished going over the whole story about Elysia and the Virus and Crayak. Galuit was standing next to a large window overlooking the entire base. I'm going to make this clear. As of now, I don't think it would be a good idea to mention Elysia or the Golden Communities to anyone other than me, your friends, Geoff, Carson, and Breeyar. I'll fill them in for you. I'll also tell Dr. Coalmeer and the other two Andalites in this base, Imoteo and Shamia. Don't worry – they can be trusted.

"You mean, you believe me?" Tobias was amazed.

Of course, Galuit said, turning away from the window and towards the boy. He smiled, remembering another farfetched story he had once been told. It was a story that had turned out absolutely true. I remember when I was Captain of the Dome Ship TailStrike. A young aristh had just returned from out of nowhere and had flown into a bold suicide mission, going head to head with Visser Three's Blade ship. He told me a story about how he had ran away from the war for three years, and lived on a distant planet, but that no one would ever know about it. I found it farfetched, but I believed him, because he told the story in a very convincing way.

Galuit looked fondly at Tobias. You also told your story in a very convincing way. I believe you, Tobias, just as I believed that aristh. He became a very dear friend of mine. And I made a promise to that aristh, when he eventually became a prince.

"What kind of promise?" Tobias asked.

It was just before the Galaxy Tree was due to depart for Earth. He was very quiet about this mission, like he knew it would be his last. So he asked me that, if anything should happen to him, I would someday search for his so, whom he had left behind when he returned to the war, and look after him. And I agreed.

"Did you ever find your friend's son?" Tobias asked.

Galuit laughed. I not only found his son, I found his brother and the entire resistance that he left as his legacy. That aristh was your father, Tobias: Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul.

Tobias stared at the Andalite, a million thoughts running through his head. "You knew my father?"

You don't seem very surprised, Galuit said, skirting around the question. I would've thought you'd be shocked to find out that your father was an alien.

"I already knew," Tobias said. "He left me a letter that was read to me on my fourteenth birthday."

He did, did he? Galuit said. I wonder how he managed that.

Tobias smirked. "Well, I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. It's classified."

Galuit just shook his head. You'd make a great spy, Tobias. Which brings me to something that I was going to ask you and your friends – how would you like to become full time members of the AAA? You'd have titles and jobs, and a steady paycheck. The paycheck isn't much, but it's decent.

Tobias was startled. "A full time member of the AAA?"

Galuit nodded. You and your friends are the original Animorphs – the animal morphers. The term Animorph has, until now, been used for any freed human. You'd be a valuable asset to the team.

"I'd have to talk to Jake," Tobias said. "I mean, we kind of make decisions as a group. One for all and all for one, that sort of thing."

Galuit looked blank.

"It's from a book called The Three Musketeers by Jules Verne, I think," Tobias said. "It's an excellent story. Anyway, I'd have to bring it up with Jake."

Of course, Galuit said. The offer will always be open.

Suddenly the door flew open. A Hork-Bajir hurried in. A first, Tobias was startled – then he remembered that Geoff had mentioned some Hork-Bajir from the valley had survived the bombings and had joined the AAA movement. "Sir!" the Hork-Bajir said, hastily saluting.

As you were, Galuit said in an official tone. What's going on?

"The guards at the South tunnel have apprehended a Controller," said the Hork-Bajir.

Then have him placed in the holding cell until the Yeerk dries out.

"We would, but there's a slight problem with this Yeerk."


"Yes, sir." The Hork-Bajir glanced nervously at Tobias, then continued. "The Yeerk claims to be part of the YPM. The Yeerk Peace Movement."

Chapter Nine

Breeyar was showing the other Animorphs the indoor pool in the training center where they did underwater tests (there were two pools in the complex: one for recreation and one for scientific experiments) when a message came over the transmission.

"Would Breeyar and the Animorphs please report to the South tunnel connection STAT? Order issued by Captain Galuit."

I wonder why he wants us at the South tunnel connection, Breeyar wondered, hurrying out of training center.

"Maybe Carson didn't shut the door tight enough," Geoff suggested.

Very funny, Carson signed.

I'm serious, Geoff told him. Remember last time you didn't close that thing tight enough?

Oh, shut up.

Jake glanced at Marco and shrugged. "I think they were being sarcastic about something."

Geoff glanced over his shoulder. "Carson was being sarcastic. I was being serious. About two months ago, Carson forgot to seal the West tunnel. An entire species of bird escaped through it. We never saw them again."

Carson either didn't understand was Geoff was saying, or didn't hear him, because he had no reaction to the accusation.

"How do you know if the tunnel is sealed?" Rachel asked.

"It makes a clicking noise," Geoff explained. "So it wasn't really Carson's fault. He couldn't hear the noise, and no one with him was paying attention. That's why Dr. Coalmeer installed the lights to the lock. They go on if the door is sealed. Carson hasn't made a mistake – hey, I wonder what's going on?"

A large crowd had gathered around the connection between the base and South tunnel. Two Hork-Bajir guards were holding a man between them, but not very certainly. Galuit and Tobias were hurrying over, followed by the messenger.

The man turned, and Cassie got a clear look at his face. "Hey, that looks like . . ."

"Tom," Jake gasped, hurrying forward. No one tried to stop him as he pushed through the crowd.

Tom caught sight of his younger brother coming forward. Jake, suddenly remembering that Tom hadn't been Tom the last time they'd met, stopped short, almost running into Tobias.

Galuit came forward. My name is Galuit-Enilon-Esgarrouth, he said. According to our computers, there is a Yeerk living in your head. Normally, we take all intruding Controllers to the holding cell for three days, but the Yeerk inside of you claims that he's part of the Yeerk Peace Movement. We've heard that such a movement exists, but we haven't had any proof.

"Tom" nodded. "I have resumed control of my host so that I may speak to you," he said. "I am indeed part of the Yeerk Peace Movement, and I come with urgent news. The Yeerk who had this host before me located your entrance to this base – that is how I was able to get in. He has told Nine and has been promoted. The entire project is hushed, so it was by pure luck and chance that I was given to Tom.

"Nine also knows of the existence of the Animorphs," Aci – because that was who it was – continued. "While Nine's forces here attempt to enter your base, Nine itself will be in Old New York. A new Kandrona Wave/Particle Generator is scheduled for delivery, and will be placed in the torch of the Statue of Liberty."

I thought the statue was turned into a Taxxon hive, Breeyar interjected.

"It was," Aci confirmed, "but the torch is still intact."

When does this Kandrona get installed? Galuit wanted to know.

"In one week, it will be too late to do anything about it. The Statue will be evacuated of Taxxons until then, so that they can't install the Kandrona without harming anyone," Aci reported.

How do we know this Yeerk is trustworthy? Breeyar asked Galuit silently.

How do we know you're trustworthy? Galuit asked Aci.

Aci smiled with Tom's mouth. "My name will tell you all. I am Acissej 1-5-5."

Every person there drew in a sharp breath and stared at the newcomer. Jake and the Animorphs couldn't figure out what was so bad about the name. They wanted desperately to believe Aci, because it would mean Tom was no longer the enemy.

Galuit was the most stunned of all. But Acissej 1-5-5 was . . .! He looked at him, stricken.

Aci nodded. "Yes. I am Visser Seven."

Galuit immediately shuttled the group into his office. After locking the door and turning the speaker to OFF, he turned and looked at Aci. Visser Seven was declared Killed In Action.

Aci folded his (her?) arms. "I faked my own death because some other Yeerks were catching onto my trail. If they followed it enough, they'd see that I had tie-ins with the YPM. I can't have that, now can I?"

Does the YPM even exist? grumbled Breeyar.

"YES!" Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, Marco, and Ax all shouted at the same time. Every single person in the room jumped, and stared at them. Jake looked sheepish. "Yeah, it does," he said. "We met some members of it a long time ago. Well, it wasn't so long for us, but – you get the picture."

"Only members of the YPM know of its existence," Aci said {Or maybe it was Tom – I'm not too sure on who's talking when myself. Oops, sorry.} "How did you find out?"

"Ever heard of Aftran 9-4-2, Illim, or Nemu 5-0-5?" Cassie asked him.

Aci gasped. "Of course," he said. "Every YPM member knows of them. Aftran, Illim, and Nemu were some of our best and most loyal informants."

"Then you have your answer," Jake said calmly. He couldn't stop staring at his brother – still under Yeerk control, but a lot closer to freedom than before.

It seems our friends here believe you're trustworthy, Visser 7, Galuit said, despite obvious protests from Breeyar. I myself am not entirely convinced, but I am willing to give you the benefit of doubt. On one condition.


That you leave the Yeerk Empire and join the AAA.

Aci thought about what Galuit said. "I would," he said finally, "but there's the matter of Kandrona. I notice that you don't have a suitable Yeerk pool here. It's necessary for my survival."

Cassie pulled Jake aside. "What?" he asked.

"Remember Aftran?" Cassie said. "Ax still has the Escafil Device that he and Marco used in Elysia to contact Erek. If it could be modified, maybe we could give Aci the power to morph. He – she – could stay over the two hour limit, but still be a large help."

Jake nodded. "It might work. Galuit?"


"I have an idea."

And Jake proceeded to tell Galuit Cassie's idea.

Chapter Ten

In a galaxy far, far away, in a place where Luke Skywalker never set foot ('cause if he did he'd be one sorry little Jedi), twelve robed figures – well, okay. Eleven robed figures and one pair of glowing red eyes {Red seems to be the evil color, you know? I mean, first there was Crayak as the Big Red Eye, now we've got a pair of glowing red eyes belonging to the Emperor – who no one ever sees – but I'm digressing. Let's try this again . . .} Eleven robed figures and one pair of glowing red eyes stood waiting, anticipating a call from their thirteenth member.

Nine appeared in a hologram before them. "Hello, Nine," the Emperor said. His faithful followers echoed the greeting. "What is this urgent report that you wish to inform me of?"

"The Kandrona Generator is prepared to travel to the installation point," Nine informed the Emperor. "Also, we have managed to locate an entrance to the stronghold of the AAA. I am preparing troops to storm the base at noon tomorrow."

"The AAA do not know of this?"

"No, my liege," Nine replied. "However . . ."

"What?" demanded the Emperor.

"The Animorphs, sir," Nine said quickly. "The morph-capable humans who gave Esplin 9-4-Double Six, the late Visser One, so much trouble during the beginning of the invasion. It appears that they resurfaced and have allied themselves with the AAA. If they here about the Kandrona – well, they did manage to destroy one back in the late 90s, and you remember what happened then."

The Emperor, who was certainly not pleased with this bit of information, narrowed his eyes. "Well then, Nine, I would advise that you make sure they do not find out about the Kandrona."

"Of course, my liege," Nine said, bowing its head.

Chapter Eleven

Imoteo entered Galuit's chambers. The South tunnel is being prepared for destruction, Captain, he said after saluting. Also, the Yeerk is beginning to wake up from the sleep.

Galuit looked up. Has it been two hours already?

Yes, sir, Imoteo replied. And I believe that Jake is very eager to be able to talk to his brother.

Galuit nodded. Send Aci to me, and release Tom.

Yes, sir.

Tom felt extremely uncomfortable about wearing the AAA uniform. However, it was the only decent change of clothes that they could give him, and the rags he had been wearing earlier were in very poor condition. Imoteo had taken Tom to the cafeteria before going to retrieve Aci, and now Tom was busy shoving food into his mouth.

"You look like you haven't eaten anything in years."

Tom swallowed quickly. "Hey, midget," he said. "You're looking good in your old age. 47 and you don't look a day over 14."

Jake rolled his eyes and sat down with his lunch. "Strange day, huh?"

Tom nodded. "Very strange. But let me tell you – it is such a relief to be able to choose what I want to eat, to be able to eat as much as I want, to walk, to talk all on my own. You have no idea how amazing it is!"

Jake took a bite out of his sandwich. "I know a little," he said. "I had a Yeerk in my head for a few days, several years ago. In fact, he was your Yeerk before he was mine. Temrash something or other. He was being saved for the governor, but when I fell into a boiling Yeerk pool, he decided he liked my brain instead."

Tom nodded emphatically. "I remember!" he said. "No one ever found out what happened to the slug."

"He became a stain on the bottom of my shoe, that's what," Jake commented. {I know that was from the show and not the book. I just thought it was a better ending. So sue me.}

"I hope you threw out the shoe," Tom said.

"In the dump," Jake confirmed.

Suddenly Tom peered at the hamburger in front of him. "What?" Jake asked.

"I think there's something wrong with this meat."

"Probably because it's not meat," Marco commented as he came up behind Tom. "It's a perfect chemically engineered meat byproduct, because cows are an endangered species." He sat down next to Jake with a bowl of ice cream.

Tom looked skeptically at the burger, and Jake said, "I noticed you found something edible."

Marco muttered something and shoved a spoonful of ice cream in his mouth. "What?" Jake asked. "I didn't catch that."

"I said," Marco swallowed, "that the ice cream's got a shelf life of 480 years. It's official. The food of the future sucks. Just once I'd like to go to McDonald's and order an Arch Deluxe with a large Coke and a side order of fries. But no. Meat's not aloud, soda has too many chemicals in it, and every freakin' potato in this place is grown from a test tube."

"Not to mention the Arch Deluxe was a limited time only deal," Jake said, taking a bite of his sandwich.

"And the last McDonald's was destroyed by the bombs," Tom commented.

Marco shoved the spoon into the ice cream and took another bite. "That's it. I'm officially complaining."

"You're officially complaining? What were you doing earlier, praising the stuff?" Jake and Tom gave each other a discreet high five under the table.

Marco glared at them. "Oh, go eat your ham sandwich wanna-be." He grabbed his bowl and stalked out of the cafeteria.

"What's his malfunction?" Tom wondered, taking a bite out of his meat byproduct.

"That's the problem," Jake said, sipping his glass of purified water. "He doesn't have one."

Marco was halfway to his room when he spotted Geoff sitting on a bench. Shielding his ice cream from any little kid who happened to walk by, he walked over and sat down next to him. "Hi," he said.

Geoff opened his eyes. "Hey," he said. "What's up?"

Marco shrugged. "Not much. I'm just eating my 480-year-old ice cream and chilling." He hit the scoop with his spoon. "How it got in the bowl, though, I'll never know – it's practically frozen solid. I've scraped maybe an inch off this thing."

Geoff laughed. "That's because there's no way to melt it."

Marco sighed. "No wonder it has a shelf life of 480 years." He set the bowl down next to him. "So, what were you doing?"

"Just thinking."

"About what?"

He sighed. "My mother," Geoff said. "I was two when she died. My father was taken by the Yeerks before I was born, and my mother was killed while on duty. She was a spy for the AAA. Breeyar's been my guardian ever since." His face showed no emotion. "I don't really like talking about it."

Marco looked at him. "My mom's dead, too. Well, kind of. It's a long story."

"You don't want to talk about it, either," Geoff said.

"Yeah," Marco agreed. "So, just one question. Who was your mother?"

Geoff thought for a moment. "Breeyar told me once. Let me think. Oh, yeah, now I remember. Her name was Jordan. Jordan Lansing."

Marco stared at the boy.

Chapter Eleven

Several hours later (ever wonder how many several is? I mean, it seems like it should be seven, but then again, it implies that it could be more or less, because a few is three, a couple is two, a single is one . . .) {Author's note: I did not write that. I swear. That was the work of my very crazy friend who's trying to take over my stories. But I'm going to leave it to make her happy.}

Several hours later, Galuit had rounded up the Animorphs, the Andalites, and some other main people and had them seated in his chambers. Imoteo, how is the destruction of the South tunnel going?

We're almost finished, he said. No Yeerk will be able to use it.

Galuit nodded. Very good. Now. Thanks to our newest ally, Visser Seven, we know that the Yeerks will be occupied with two tasks: one is trying to break into our base. Many troops will be around our entrances. I'm issuing orders for no one to leave this base.

Then there's the problem with the Kandrona. I'm going to request that a small platoon steal into Old New York to destroy it. Galuit looked at the group around him. I'm not going to order anyone who doesn't want to go. This is strictly a volunteer matter. However, I would like to request that at least three Animorphs join this platoon.

"Will you be going?" Jake asked.

No, Galuit said. I need to stay here and watch over the base. Breeyar is going in my place.

"I'll go," Jake said.

"Me, too," Marco said quickly.

"I'm with them," Rachel replied.

"Now there's a big surprise," Marco commented, then shielded himself as Rachel threatened him with a plastic potted plant. {I ask you, what is the point of potting a plastic plant? Especially if you're underground? These are things I just don't understand.}

Galuit nodded. Anyone else?

Geoff quickly volunteered, and so did Aci (in his new human form), but Tom and Carson decided to stay. Galuit all but ordered Coalmeer to do, since he was the only doctor who had had field training as well.

Galuit looked at the assembled platoon. Okay, he said. I wish the seven of you luck, and I hope you return soon.

Breeyar looked at the platoon. We leave at midnight.

{Hi, it's me again, the ever annoying author. Sorry about all my comments, but this fic was getting way too serious. I wanted to lighten it up a little. I just can't do a complete serious fic. Anyway, I promise I won't interrupt quite as much in the next one. It took me fourteen straight hours to complete this before I took a week off for vacation, so I hope you guys appreciate it.

Anyway, that's the end of 2032, which chronicles the beginning of everything that happens after the Elysia Wars. The next story won't be out for at least a week, due to a much deserved vacation, but here's a preview:}

Danger Zone

Before the Animorphs returned home, the most the AAA ever did was hide out, free a few Controllers, and try to stay alive. Now they've got a real chance to do some damage to the Yeerks – especially their new leader, Nine. The ninth member of the Council of Thirteen. All they have to do is sneak into the ruins of Old New York.

Then Marco receives a silent cry that holds certain danger for the sender. Undaunted, Marco sneaks away from his platoon in search of the person. But what he finds may be more than he bargained for.

Much more.

In a world of fear and slavery, they are the only hope.