A.N: Hey, guys! An update, yay! Thanks so much for all of your reviews. I love hearing what you all have to say!

To "aaaarrrggghh!!!": umm, please don't kill me? Pretty please?

CHAPTER 17: Hanging by a Thread

Cassie's POV

Jake had told us all to go home and get some rest before we put our mission into action. We all headed to our separate homes. Well, all except Marco. He was going to stay with the Cullens due to his transformation.

We were going to go tomorrow. We didn't have the best plan, really. Were the Cullens expected to just walk around aimlessly until they found something strange? Also, the Yeerks would be sure to notice a hawk flying around the Pool. It wasn't a good plan but we were pressed for time. Who knows how long T.O. Ondar has to live, if he's even alive? He had told us to leave him and go on. Really, though, I don't see how anyone could survive with his condition.

I had morphed osprey to get home. But "home" wasn't where I was going. I flew for a little over twenty minutes until I got to the clearing where T.O. Ondar had landed. I landed on a tree branch and looked out. It was a horrible sight. What used to be a pretty meadow close to Tobias's territory now looked like a wasteland. The crashed ship debris was still there, jammed into the earth, leaving a small crater forever punched into the forest floor. Grass was charred, small trees and bushes had been ripped from the ground, and bits of shrapnel were scattered everywhere. It was a terrible sight. I was not here to observe the destruction, though. T.O. Ondar couldn't have gone far.

I flew to the ground and demorphed. The Andalite had to be somewhere close. There was no way he could have gotten very far with his condition. For about a half hour, I searched everywhere. I looked in places where I knew there were crevices, fallen trees, and small caves, but there was nothing. Whether he was alive or not, the Andalite was nowhere to be found. I was about to morph back and go home when I heard it. There was a rustling sound in the bushes from somewhere close, back near the destroyed clearing.

The bushes started shaking. I focused on the wolf morph, but didn't start it. Instead, I stood, ready to morph if there was any danger. Suddenly, the bushes exploded and out came what resembled a giant wolf. It was huge, russet colored, and looked about ready to rip my throat out. It was also Jacob Black.

Jacob faltered. He fell back and "shifted" back to human. It's bizarre to watch. It was like fast-forwarded morphing. What would have taken one of us three minutes took Jacob less than three seconds.

"Whoa," Jacob began, "sorry, Cassie, I didn't see that it was you. Bit of a mess here, huh?" Jacob spread out his arm, indicating the demolished clearing. "I ran across your other Andalite, Ondar or whatever. He looked real bad."

I nearly jumped my own height. "You found Ondar?? Where is he!?" I don't usually yell but now I knew that Ondar was alive!

"Hey, slow down. Don't give yourself a heart attack. He's around. You don't want to know why I tried to attack you?"

"Changing the subject, huh? Okay, why did you attack me?"

"I'm protecting this place," Jacob explained, "imagine what would happen if someone came and saw this disaster. It would be headline news. It wouldn't be long before someone found Ondar. So I stay here as a sort of sentinel, making sure no one gets too close."

"Okay," I said, "so, where can I find Ondar?"

"Follow me."

I walked with Jacob for a few minutes until we arrived at a very small cave. The Tactical Officer would be very cramped in such a small space. I walked inside.

"Hello? Ondar?" I called out into the cave.

‹Animorph?› I heard a weak thought-speak voice call from within. I went a little farther inside.

"Hello? T.O. Ondar?"

‹Welcome, Animorph. Though, I must ask, why are you still here?›

The Andalite was a horrible sight. He lay crumpled on the hard ground of the cave, seemingly paralyzed. There was some kind of syringe stuck in his head. I figured it was a device from within his quarters that he had retrieved. It seemed to keep him alive.

"Our leader, Jake, has scheduled the departure for tomorrow morning. We already have a plan." I didn't tell Ondar how poor our plan actually was.

‹Good, good. Your journey will not be in vain. Though, there is no time to waste. You must make haste with your plan.›

Ondar's voice started to falter and he sounded very weak. It was as if his life was just hanging by a thread, ready to be cut at any moment. I wondered how long he had left.

"I should go," I said, "you look like you need to rest."

‹Very well,› the Andalite replied, ‹good luck tomorrow.›

I left the cave and followed Jacob back to the clearing.

"I should be getting home. I'll be grounded if I'm not back soon."

"Okay," said Jacob, "bye, Cassie."

"Bye, Jacob."

I began the osprey morph and headed back home. Something seemed strange about Ondar. He didn't seem to be concerned about himself at all. He's just barely alive and he's talking to me like it's any old visit between friends. I also didn't like the look of that needle. It seemed to be just life support, but something about it unnerved me. Maybe I was just nervous about what was to come. We had never before deliberately tried to do something this stupid before. We've done some crazy things but this just about topped it.

My house came into view and I demorphed in the barn.

"Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!"

"Hello, Cassie," my mom answered, "it was getting late. Your father and I were getting a bit worried about you.

"You missed dinner," my dad pointed out, "what's left is in the fridge."

"Oh, man, I'm sorry," I said. I was still shocked at how easy lying was now, "I'll be back sooner tomorrow."

If I ever come back from tomorrow…

I couldn't think like that! We would come back.

I ate dinner without really tasting it. Who could think about food at a time like this? We were all going to embark on a dangerous journey the next day. I said good night to my parents, trying not to imagine it being the last good night I ever said, and tried to fall asleep.

I was in the Yeerk pool, in wolf morph, battling a Hork-Bajir. I lunged for the throat but then thick skin became fur, strength became weakness, and then Ondar spoke.

‹Hello, Animorph. T.O. Ondar is gone now.› He pointed at the syringe on his head. ‹Help me get him back, Cassie, he's gone! Gone, GONE!"

Ondar began ripping at his skull, tearing out bits of flesh and fur, all the while screaming, ‹Gone, gone! Your journey is in vain! Do NOT LEAVE!›

I jerked up. It had been a dream. Gone? What? What did it mean? How was the Andalite gone? Why ad Ondar been ripping his skull apart? It seemed as if he wanted to die. He didn't want to be saved.

I reasoned with myself. It was just a dream. Nothing to worry about.

We were going to save Ondar and we were going to come back.

A. N: What does the dream mean? Will they come back alive? Review!