"Freak!" I heard from behind me, just before something small and hard hit me in the back. A rock, I assumed.
I let out a yelp of pain and surprise and whirled around to face my attacker.
Three humans, faces twisted into masks of sneering hatered. "Alien freaks!" one of them shouted at me, stooping to pick up another rock.
Three against two. Leena and I knew nothing about fighting, we wouldn't stand a chance against them. We ran.
I turned back only once, long enough to see that they were chasing after us.
< Hurry!> Leena told me. < Look for somewhere to hide, we won't be able to run from them forever.>
Another rock struck my shoulder and I heard Leena cry out in pain. < Why do they hate us so much?> I half sobbed.
< They just don't understand,> Leena said. < I guess they figure "You've seen one, you've seen them all.">
< That's stupid,> I told her angrily. < If they'd just get to know us...>
< But they won't,> Leena said sadly. < Old habits die hard, I suppose.>
< And so do we,> I said firmly. < There! Into the mall! They can't attack us in there.>
< Are you sure?> Leena asked. < What about that story on the news last night about those Anti-Alien terrorists?>
< They don't have guns,> I said with more confidence than I felt. < At least it's better than waiting for them to catch up and stone us to death!>
Leena sighed but didn't argue.
As soon as we entered the mall, we quickly slowed our pace from an all out run to a quick stroll. I looked around nervously, suddenly expecting some crazy "Anti-Alien" human to turn the corner and start shooting holes in us.
Leena seemed to sense my nervousness because she gave me a sort of reassuring smile. < Don't worry,> she said. < Look, there's one of the mall guards right over there. We're perfectly safe.>
< A few minutes ago you were reminding me of the 'Anti-Alien' human on the news last night,> I said with a wry smile. < And now you're pointing out mall security to me?>
Leena chuckled and suggested we get some lunch at the food court.
As we headed for the food court, I looked around in amazement. Nearly a decade had passed since the Animorphs, previously thought to be "Andalite bandits," had defeated the Yeerks. Now Earth was a sort of meeting ground for the many different species involved. Humans, Andalites, Hork-Bajir, members of the Yeerk Peace Movement and their voluntary hosts, and even a few Taxxons could be seen in this mall.
Human vendors had quickly adapted to cater to the many new tastes. Tail Blade Wax could be found in stores next to Horn Filers and Artificial Pool Liquid for Yeerk PortaPools.
Even restaurants had seemingly sprung up overnight offering a wide variety of alien foods. Specially fertilized and watered grass was planted and grown in the "Grass Grove," a restaurant aimed at Andalites. You could get your choice of leaves and bark from around the worlds in the "Harvester Cafe." And many restaurants had refused to serve Taxxons at buffets after they found out how hard it is to fill a Taxxon.
I felt something bump into me from behind and immediately tensed up with the irrational fear that the humans had followed us in and were attacking us again.
< Excuse me,> a female Andalite said. < I didn't see you there.>
I almost laughed at myself. Someone had just accidentally bumped into me. I nodded and smiled at her and she walked off.
< Relax,> Leena told me. < We'll be fine->
Leena was suddenly cut off by a loud scream near one of the entrances.
"Die you alien freaks!" a crazed human voice shouted from the same place the scream had originated from. "I'll make you pay for what you did to me! Every last one of you!!!"
< Oh no!> Leena gasped. < An Anti-Alien!>
A group of security guards ran past us towards the distraction. I could hear them saying to stay calm, just stay calm, everything will be fine, get out of the way.
< I think now would be a good time to leave,> I said to Leena.
< Good idea,> she quickly agreed.
We hurried out the closest exit and-
-ran into someone.
Someone with a large gun.
Someone with the Anti-Alien insignia on his chest.
< No,> Leena sobbed silently.
"Alien freak," the man sneered, pointing the gun at our chest. "Traitor."
"No!" I shouted desperately as he pulled the trigger, and then nothing.
< We found another one,> a police officer called to the detective in charge of the investigation. < Looks like she panicked and tried to escape.>
Detective Thompson sighed and shook her head sadly, heading toward the nearby exit. "Species?" she asked.
"Human host and a Yeerk," Officer Palsa said, sitting on a crate with a laptop on his lap. "I'm running a search on her fingerprints."
"Any ideas what was used?" Thompson asked.
< Looks like a shredder,> Officer Instolm said, pointing to the massive chest wound on the victim with his tail blade. < Or a variation of one. The burn marks match.>
"Suspects?" the detective asked.
< Joseph Trenton, a member of the Anti-Aliens group,> Instolm said. < His fingerprints were found on the host's body and the door.>
"Speaking of fingerprints," Palsa spoke up. "I found a match for the girl. Her name was Leena Divenson, voluntary host of Senit Three-Seven-Eight of the Linsod Pool."
"Any next of kin?" Thompson asked.
"Ah," Palsa scrolled through the information and sighed. "Her parents, Jenny and Mark Divenson. And Senit's pool should probably be informed."
< What is the deathcount so far, Detective?> Instolm asked.
"Counting them," Thompson said, nodding toward the lifeless body. "Twenty-seven."